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'Post-colonial Literature' is a stupid title

Michael Dom 2
Michael Dom - "I completely reject 'Post-Colonial Literature' as a valid category for considering Papua Niuginian literary works"


Fragment I

LAE - Post-colonial literature is a stupid title. But I do understand the objective of those academics determined to force us writers to accept it.

They see it as a starting point which, while seemingly logical in an historical time frame, provides a false indication of where our personal creativity and the creativity of our people really began.

The term ‘post-colonial’ is not as important as the self-inflated egoists populating the literary world would like us to think it is.

It’s much too convenient for academics and other arsewipes to place us all in a box and tie a ribbon around it.

'There. Thesis done.'

Fuck off!

It's usually the case that such dumbass ideas are cooked up by intellectuals.

I reject it completely as a valid category for considering Papua Niuginian literary works.

There seems to me to be a reduction in constructive means of working towards betterment when foolish notions of victimisation from colonial masters is the starting point for review.

I would rather own my country's history.

Therefore, taking that position allows me to think of the arrival of colonialism as merely a blink in the thousands of millennia-long prehistory as well as present and future history of this nation.

The 'white people' had their time here, and now we can continue with our own journey through nationhood.

There's no doubt that the colonial period was a significant time, however that does not equate to a post-colonial period defining the rest of our literary history.

An icon of fucked up colonial power

By the same notion the post-colonial period is not the only factor that affects our political, social and cultural wellbeing.

Get over it. Or just how 'all powerful' do you think the 'white people' were?

A sense of being victimised does not place us in an appropriate position to take control of our own state.

Why? Because it is such a weak observation.

Colonial period involved both colonisers and colonised.

So why does post-colonial only refer to the colonised?

Tell me about the post-colonial literature of the United States of America. When did it begin and when does it end?

By that fucked up ideology of power hegemonies and by divorcing ourselves of responsibility, we rubbish our own proud heritage.

A heritage which, although considered less organised, civilised and integrated than the Western heritage (also still in its developing phase), is nevertheless a valid and successful means of ensuring our people’s survival.

The post-colonial period started at independence. So, everything written before then was colonial literature.

And there was a fair bit of writing going on during that period, the most infamous of which was the anti-colonial writing.

The academics can't even agree on when Papua New Guineans even started writing during the colonial era.

Of course those first writers must have been reading even before they put pen to paper.

And to what imaginary and cultural landscape was the new learning paralleling or superimposing or blending itself?

Fragment II

Dom bookWhenever we do write 'anti-colonial' poems and essays, to me, they turn out stilted and stuffy and counterproductive to an ability to elevated thought.

They’re too cloying, invoking a nauseating kind of wallowing in manure feeling.

In short, disgusting.

What's more, it's not apparent that practical plans may be drawn from such 'anti-colonial' writing.

And of course they wouldn't be because the punks just want to burn down the house not build it up.

The 'real PNG writing', the pleasantly and inspiringly memorable works, have less to do with anti-colonial reckoning and more to do with a focus on ourselves.

To my understanding, ‘The Crocodile and ‘Wanpis did that very well.

Fragment III

The CrocodileMy contention is that our work gets labelled under that convenient categorisation by literary intellectuals who constantly refer to Pacific poetries as post-colonial literature.

They define their own categorisation, that is, their own limitations, and then try to overthrow English Literature with their fancy mambo-jumbo.

Na mipela ol manmeri nating inosave mekim wanpela kain toksingsing na tokstori bipo long dispela taim ating?

[Were our people so ignorant that we didn’t know how to create poetry or stories before this (colonial) time?]

WanpisOf course the colonies had a reset after the end of the colonial period.

That does not mean that native creativity hit the reset button too.

That kind of thinking is what got our Haus Tambaran lintel and totems chain-sawed down.

We learned the colonists’ languages and culture and now we try to view ourselves in their lens.

(As I appropriated the sonnet to make it my own view.)

I now use the term post-colonial with disgust, as a necessary description, like a dirty word that is unfortunately very apt.

Response I - Philip Fitzpatrick

Phil Fitzpatrick recentTUMBY BAY - There’s a whole field of academic study based on post-colonialism.

“Post-colonialism is the critical academic study of the cultural legacy of colonialism and imperialism, focusing on the human consequences of the control and exploitation of colonised people and their lands,” says a Wikipedia editor.”

The central assumption seems to be that the colonial period has a profound impact on future generations. That is, modern day PNG culture and literature owes its form and existence to the colonisers.

The post post-colonial period is a lot more interesting.

Response II - Ed Brumby

Ed BrumbyMELBOURNE - While I cannot disagree with the essence of your rant, I wonder also if you are not, perhaps, over-reacting somewhat needlessly.

The thinking person knows or understands that a nation’s and a society’s literature, be it oral or written, is not a static phenomenon. It is influenced by, is reflective of, and ‘represents' the nation or society at particular periods and ‘develops’ accordingly.

I appreciate that the terms ‘pre-colonial’, ‘colonial' and ‘post-colonial are not simply signifiers of particular periods, they represent much more than that, especially for those who were colonised.

Nevertheless, at the simplest of levels, they remain useful as indicators of those periods.

That said, the arrogance and motivated forgetfulness and ignorance of some so-called intellectuals know no bounds.


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Kurumbi Wone

For me, reading and studying postcolonial literature is about deciding whether or not to accept, reject, or go beyond it.

Also, we should study and critique everything, including colonial religion and texts as well as our oral traditions.

A time of uncertainty and crisis, such as this, is the ideal time to reexamine everything and determine whether some good can be extracted from it to build something stronger and better for future generations.

Lindsay F Bond

Ahh, Michael. At some time to come, your prognostication will be high among the headings in, 'How the wrest was won'. And I hope it is widely and graciously understood.

In the past week, in this southside neighbouring nation, headlines have been piked on protests where disparate 'strains' of Australian demographics swelled and wreaked havoc on the Melburnian sense of orderliness.

Internationally, subverting of commercial (was it only military?) interests brought more than flutter of eyes upon purchasing power and prowess, and may have swamped a vestige of allied cooperation.

Much as a mid-Asian nation has magnified its presence and perhaps intention, your promotion of the unbinding of academia's wrap of literature in PNG will be a song sung in singsings far beyond the cur-rant day.

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