Friday, November 04, 2005

Powells is featuring a lovely essay by Leora Skolkin-Smith, author of Edges: O Israel, O Palestine. I love what she has to say about identity, place, and the senses:

Where do we go, what do think when the outside world demands we define ourselves only by fading borders and fragile, ambiguous nationalities? How to write about what actually matters to us — love and daily life, desire and non-political feelings (like maybe towards a sibling, or a parent, not just an "enemy" in the news)? What, in the end, is real freedom and true cherished land? For me, it is inside us, those very sensory details, smells, touches. Writing Edges: O Israel, O Palestine (which focused on family conflicts, on people simply thrown into the maelstrom of war without any real purpose for being there except by birth) showed me a way to make my own peace with the problems of self-definition, and how to transcend those literal borders, the burdens of a prescribed "nationality." It was a terrific journey. And now, when people ask me why I spent so much time describing the details and smells of fig trees, limestone, and pine needles instead of the politics of the land, I feel I can say: "Because they are part of me, they are me, where I really lived."

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