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Anastomosis, Attenuations and Manichean Allegories Heaney and the Complexities of Ireland

Anastomosis, Attenuations and Manichean Allegories Heaney and the Complexities of Ireland

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Published by eob910
A deconstructive reading od Seamus Heaney as a cultural critic. A critique of postcolonialism
A deconstructive reading od Seamus Heaney as a cultural critic. A critique of postcolonialism

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Published by: eob910 on Feb 10, 2014
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02/10/2014

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Journal of Commonwealth and Postcolonial Studies
:
Ireland Postcoloniality and Contemporary Irish Literature
, Volume 7, Number 1, 2001, pages 41-66
 Editor:
 Gautam Kundu,
Georgia Southern UniversitySpecial Issue Ireland, Postcoloniality, and Contemporary Irish Literature (Spring 2001
Editors:Caitriona MoloneyHelen ThompsonFrederick SandersBradley Uniersity!la"ama State UniersityGeor#ia Southern Uniersity
 
Anastomosis, Attenuations and Manichean Allegories:Seamus Heaney and the complexities of Ireland
Eugene O’Brien,ni!ersity of "imeric#,Ireland
$he %ostcolonial &ontext
'
The area o$ the postcolonial has "ecome one o$ the most popular $acets o$ contemporary theory% &ndeed, the ery term 'postcolonial( has "ecome the latest 'catchall term( to 'da))le the academic mind( *+aco"y -.% /riters such as Ed0ard Said, Gayatri Chakraorty Spiak and Homi Bha"a hae theori)ed the notion o$ cultural 'otherness(, and hae pro"ed the interstices o$ colonial and imperial 0ritin#s to unearth the 'place o$ the other(% Ho0eer, the  parameters o$ the term 'postcolonial( seem to hae "een dra0n "y a process o$ accretion, rather than "y any $orm o$ ri#orous epistemolo#ical en1uiry, and it is to0ards an interro#ation o$ this process, 0ith particular re$erence to the case o$ &reland, that this paper is directed% The undercuttin# o$ /estern uniersalism is an important tool in the arsenal o$ the  postcolonial critic, an undercuttin# $or#ed on the "inary opposition o$ sel$ and other% &n an early oerie0 o$ the postcolonial
mentalite!
, entitled
"he #mpire $rites %ac& 
, this criti1ue o$ Eurocentric uniersalism is lin#uistically $ormulated in the dissipation o$ the initial capital in the si#ni$ier 'En#lish( *denotin# standard En#lish ortho#raphy and pronunciation., into di$$erent 'en#lishes(, 0hich #rant alidity to the di$$erent 'en#lishes( spoken throu#hout the 0orld:
&n order to $ocus on the comple2 0ays in 0hich the En#lish lan#ua#e has "een used in these societies, and to indicate their o0n sense o$ di$$erence, 0e distin#uish in this account "et0een the 'standard( British En#lish inherited $rom the empire and the en#lish 0hich the lan#ua#e has  "ecome in postcolonial countries%3/e need to distin#uish "et0een 0hat is proposed as a standard code, En#lish *the lan#ua#e o$ the erst0hile imperial centre., and the lin#uistic code, en#lish, 0hich has "een trans$ormed and su"erted into seeral distinctie arieties throu#hout the 0orld% *4.
This approach to lan#ua#e is admira"le, $ocusin# as it does on the $act that no lin#uistic usa#e, or reception, is politically innocent% 5ostcolonial theory poses these uncom$orta"le 6
 
1uestions 0hich, in Ed0ard Said7s readin#, trans$orm the
 'eimlich
0orld o$
 ans)ield  Par& 
 into the
Unheimlich
 slae estate in !nti#ua, as the En#lish proincialism o$ Sir Thomas Bertram7s estate is seen as dependant on !nti#uan su#ar plantations run "y slae la"our *Boehmer 89.% !lso, "y reealin# the repressed otherness that constitutes Eurocentric sel$hood, such an approach per$orms the important theoretical act o$ "rin#in# the si#ni$ier o$ slaery to the $ore o$ the ciili)ed dra0in# room, 0here hitherto, 0ealth 0as thou#ht to hae appeared 0ithout any pro2imate cause% ne could also interro#ate !usten7s o0n ie0 o$ her 0ork as a 'little "it *t0o &nches 0ide. o$ &ory on 0hich & 0ork 0ith so $ine a "rush( */att . $rom such a postcolonial  perspectie, "y lookin# "eyond !usten7s Eurocentric scopic $ield to the skull, and corpse, o$ the elephant $rom 0hom the iory 0as ori#inally ac1uired% This economic reductiism, 0here"y a t0o;ton mammal is reduced in 0orth to the t0o iory tusks, and in this case, to t0o inches taken $rom one o$ those tusks, is synecdochic o$ the colonial process% The alue o$ this mammal is de$ined in terms o$ its material 0orth in a European capitalist market, as opposed to that o$ its indi#enous ecolo#ical surroundin#s% !ny aspect that is not alua"le in this conte2t, is discarded to rot in its homeland% The elo1uent silence as to the mode o$ ori#in o$ this piece o$ iory is paradi#matic o$ the colonial mentality, 0here"y the 'other( is not only assimilated into European society, "ut is deemed to hae "ene$ited "y so doin#% !usten $urther dissem"les the iolence that is a necessary part o$ the imperial and colonial  process "y her euphemistic choice o$ decoratin# tool in the metaphor% Generally, one associates iory ornamentation 0ith carin#% <elicate desi#ns are usually chiselled out o$ the iory, to o$$er a relie$ a#ainst the smooth 0hiteness o$ the sur$ace% By usin# the term '"rush( instead o$ a carin# or cuttin# tool, !usten is unloadin# the metaphor o$ all associations 0ith iolence and slau#hter% Her metaphor, in short, is an aesthetici)ation o$ the colonial and imperial processes o$ ac1uisition, appropriation and transportation o$ o"=ects o$ alue $rom the colonial mar#in to the imperial centre%
S&ull 
 and
&ni)e
 are elided into
ivory
 and
*rush
, as aesthetics and notions o$ ciili)ation and culture, silence any notions o$ iolence and con1uest%Ho0eer, =ust as <errida and >acan pro"lemati)e the aetiolo#y o$ meanin#, so theoretical 0ritin# must interro#ate theoretical 0ritin# i$ it is not to $all open to a
tu +uo+ue
 char#e o$  pre$erential readin#% The epistemolo#y o$ the postcolonial is "ased on the "inary opposition o$ 8

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