Mimicry, Hybridity & Am Bi Valance

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Mimicry, Mimicry, Ambivalence and Hybridity When Robinson Crusoe set foot on the island and declared it his own, a new page was inscribed in the history of colonialism. The shipwreck becomes a historical moment in this history. Defoe is able to create a textual plantation with the undaunted Robinson at its center, involved in a double (d) divine action of invention and original self-invention. The footprint, however, will unsettle his undisturbed tranquility, and fear enters the stage. Neither t
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  Mimicry,Mimicry, Ambivalence and Hybridity W hen Robinson Crusoe set foot on the island and declared it his own, a new pagewas inscribed in the history of colonialism. The shipwreck becomes a historicalmoment in this history. Defoe is able to create a textual plantation with the undauntedRobinson at its center, involved in a double (d)   divine action of invention and srcinalself-invention. The footprint, however, will unsettle his undisturbed tranquility, andfear enters the stage. Neither the bible nor his guns will bring him peace. Crusoe willundergo the painful experience of recurrent traumatic nightmares before the event.The silence is broken. The Other has already inhabited the Self prior to the uncannyencounter: anxiety   invades the body and mind of the stranded hero. The textualempire is shaken by the unknown: The island is full of noises. The capturedabsent/present utterances are therefore unbounded; authority is de-authorized (is it?),and writing hybridized.What is hybridization?, Bakhtin asks:It is a mixture of two social languages within the limits of a single utterance,an encounter, within the arena of an utterance, between two different linguisticconsiousnesses, separated from one another by an epoch, by socialdifferentiation, or by some other factor.   (358)When on a certain Friday, the encounter actually happens, Crusoe will demonstrate tothe highest degree of perfection the noble qualities of an English tradesman-Gentleman: those of making and self-making, prowess and determination. Driven byan instinctive sense of a charitable concern for the meek, he rescues a young crioloscannibal from being devoured by other cannibals. Faithful to the already-establishedSpanish tradition, he names him Friday, teaches him English, the words of God, andabove all, the basics of humanity; in other words, he has driven him out of utter darkness to an overwhelming whitening light.Under these conditions, however, Crusoe paradoxically is more isolated than ever since the words he hears are his words --the very words he wanted Friday to say, torepeat. Crusoe is blinded by his narcissism. He seems, Brantlinger states, almost towill his isolation, and to cling to it even when it is being invaded (Brantlinger 3).Friday does not exist. Friday is a lie, an illusion created by a mad masterlyimagination. He is an ever incomplete, insubstantial image, a mere inorganic shadow,a dark spot on the ground, an image. Friday is filling an empty space cynically prepared and strategically organized by the colonizer as a speaking subject. Themirror-image that Friday is striving to see reflected will be a distorted one, a neither-nor : one that is ambivalent, doubled. It was one of the tragedies of slavery and of theconditions under which creolization had to take place, Kamau Brathwaite states,  that it should have produced this kind of mimicry; should have procduced such mimic-men. But in the circumstances this was the only kind of whiteimitation that would have been accepted, given the terms in which the slaveswere seen . Nevertheless, some postcolonial critics argue that it is precisely this kind of mimicrythat disrupts the colonial discourse by doubling it. For them, the simple presence of the colonized Other within the textual structure is enough evidence of theambivalence of the colonial text, an ambivalence that destabilizes its claim for absolute authority or unquestionable authenticity. Hence, today, the term hybridityhas become one of the most recurrent conceptual leitmotivs in postcolonial culturalcriticism. It is meant to foreclose the diverse forms of purity encompassed withinessentialist theories. Homi Bhabha is the leading contemporarycritic who has tried to disclose the contradictions inherent incolonial discourse in order to highlight the colonizer'sambivalence in respect to his position toward the colonizedOther.Along with Tom Nairn, Homi Bhabha considers the confusionand hollowness that resistance produces in the minds of suchimperialist authors as Rider Haggard, Rudyard Kipling, and E.M. Forster. But while Nairn sees their colonialist grandioserhetoric as disproportionate to the real decadent economic and political situation of late Victorian England, Bhabha goes as far as to see this imperial delirium forming gaps within the English text, gaps which arethe signs of a discontinuous history, an estrangement of the English book.Theymark the disturbance of its authoritative representations by the uncanny forcesof race, sexuality, violence, cultural and even climatic differnces whichemerge in the colonial discource as the mixed and split texts of hybridity. If the English book is read as a production of hybridity, then it no longer simplycommands authority.   His analysis, which is largely based on the Lacanian conceptualization of mimicry ascamouflage focuses on colonial ambivalence. On the one hand, he sees the colonizer as a snake in the grass who, speaks in a tongue that is forked, and produces amimetic representation that ... emerges as one of the most   elusive and effectivestrategies of colonial power and knowledge (Bhabha 85). Bhabha recognizes thenthat colonial power carefully establishes highly-sophisticated strategies of control anddominance; that, while it is aware of its ephemerality, it is also anxious to create themeans that guarantee its economic, political and cultural endurance, through theconception, in Macaulay's words in his Minute on Indian Education (1835), of aclass of interpreters between us and the millions whom we govern --a class of personsIndian in blood and colour but English in taste, in opinions, in morals and inintellect --that is through the reformation of that category of people referred to byFrantz Fanonin the phrase, black skin/white masks, or as mimic men byV.S.Naipaul.  On the other hand, Bhabha immediately diverts his pertinent analysis by shifting thesuperlative certainty of the colonizer and the strategic effectiveness of his politicalintentions into an alarming uncertainty. Macaulay's Indian interpreters along with Naipaul's mimic men, he asserts, by the very fact that they are authorized versions of otherness, part-objects of a metonymy of colonial desire, end up emerging asinappropriate colonial subjects...[who], by now producing a partial vision of thecolonizer's presence (88), de-stabilize the colonial subjectivity, unsettle itsauthoritative centrality, and corrupt its discursive purity. Actually, he adds, mimicryrepeats rather than re-presents....(author's emphases ), and in that very act of repetition, srcinality is lost, and centrality de-centred. What is left, according toBhabha, is the trace, the impure, the artificial, the second-hand. Bhabha analyses theslippages in colonial political discourse, and reveals that the janus-faced attitudestowards the colonized lead to the production of a mimicry that presents itself more inthe form of a menace than resemblance ; more in the form of a rupture thanconsolidation.Hybridity, Bhabha argues, subverts the narratives of colonial power and dominantcultures. The series of inclusions and exclusions on which a dominant culture is premised are deconstructed by the very entry of the formerly-excluded subjects intothe mainstream discourse. The dominant culture is contaminated by the linguistic andracial differences of the native self. Hybridity can thus be seen, in Bhabha'sinterpretation, as a counter-narrative, a critique of the canon and its exclusion of other narratives. In other words, the hybridity-acclaimers want to suggest first, that thecolonialist discourse's ambivalence is a conspicuous illustration of its uncertainty; andsecond, that the migration of yesterday's savages from their peripheral spaces to thehomes of their masters underlies a blessing invasion that, by Third-Worlding thecenter, creates fissures within the very structures that sustain it.
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