Posts Tagged ‘multiculturalism’

Notes On Multi-Cultural Experience: Music And Growing Up

March 5, 2009

For a long time, as a writer, I have resisted writing about multi-cultural issues, or from a multi-cultural perspective. I thought for all this while that the reason I did not want to write like this was because I was not drawn to multi-cultural topics, and there was also, for me, something naive and hackneyed about it. The greatest cliche of all was that of the stereotypical cross-cultural experience, usually involving gaffes at a party and tensions in a relationship. I felt that these ideas had already been written about so extensively that I could do no better than sound the same tired aphorisms and come to the same, well-trodden, conclusions.

More recently, I started considering the possibility that I didn’t have a reason for not writing about multi-cultural issues, merely a rationalization for it. This realization about myself was itself revelatory enough, that it has inspired me to shake off a long-held moratorium on writing about multi-culturalism and plunge headlong into the thick porridge of thoughts, experiences, ideas and ideologies that had been brewed over many decades by writers of this ilk.

What is this rationalization? I believe it’s simply that because I don’t really know what “culture” means, or haven’t cared to come to terms with what it means to me, I haven’t actually been in a position to write about multi-culturalism. I have been incompetent and the trick was to pretend I was indifferent. That was where the rationalization came from. Perhaps also I was avoiding the troubles that come with grappling with the role of “culture” or “my culture” in defining who I am. Intellectually speaking, I have been performing a difficult surgical procedure of separating from my identity the very notion of “cultural conditioning.” It’s like pretending your skin doesn’t exist really, but I didn’t think it was particularly naive to think of myself as purely what I make of myself, rather than what my cultural background has made of me.