Lo primero que quiero es dar el Feliz Año a todos los que han apoyado
este blog, a mi familia en La Plata, a los miles de lectores amigos, editores, a mis profesores, a los académicos que siempre nos escriben, e incluso al pequeño club de los enemigos de Fernando Báez, a todos los que aman las ideas y los debates, los buenos libros, para todos
Este año se ha iniciado muy bien porque Fernando Báez, ex-Director de Biblioteca Nacional, fue seleccionado en la antología HOW THEY SEE US, magistralmente editada por el notable escritor y biógrafo James Atlas. La obra que circula en los actuales momentos en todos los Estados Unidos es una recopilación de los ensayos de los mejores escritores del mundo sobre cómo ven ellos a la llamada superpotencia solitaria, lo bueno y lo malo. El debate va ser enorme, con mucha altura.
Aqui está la nota de San Francisco Chronicle:
Nonfiction review: 'How They See Us'
Sandip Roy, Special to The Chronicle
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
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You can call it the revenge of Edward Said. His 1978 book, "Orientalism," was about how the West sees (and defines) the East. Sept. 11, 2001, flipped the direction of the lens. Suddenly it became important to understand how they saw us. Americans started to wonder, "Why do they hate us?" President Bush insisted it was because of our freedoms.
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The contributors from around the world in the anthology "How They See Us" don't hate the United States at all. They are more like lovers betrayed. Fernando Báez remembers how his father, who had never been to the United States, idolized John F. Kennedy. Báez, director of Venezuela's National Library, who went to Baghdad and saw its ransacked museums and libraries, now calls himself "an émigré of the lost paradise of his memory."
Báez is one of 21 writers from around the world who render their impressions of the United States. Almost as soon as it sets up the premise - how they see us - the book struggles to keep the perspectives fixed. In today's world of mirrors, the definition of us and them shifts constantly. Chinese writer Da Chen lives in the Hudson Valley, in New York. His daughter shops at Forever 21. He is published by Random House. Is he really "them" or is he now "us"? By including him in this anthology, is it not forever rendering him as part of "them"? "How They See Us. Typical self-centered, We-Are-The-World type of lingo," writes Alberto Fuguet. "Not: How We See Them."
The United States seems to think that with each change of administration it is redefining itself afresh. The rest of the world has longer memories. It holds on to inconvenient truths - coups and revolutions - even when Americans, with their short attention spans, have moved on.
"America is a pair of heavy black boots dangling out of a low-flying army helicopter," writes Iraqi Canadian Leilah Nadir.
This is not post-9/11 America as much as it is post-Abu Ghraib America. The anger and disappointment of writers like Nadir is not surprising, even if editor James Atlas insists that the collection is not about "Bush-bashing."
What is more interesting are the writers who offer intriguing insights into Americanness that goes beyond the laundry list of foreign policy debacles. "Individualism in the United States belongs to the economic realm, while culture is largely a matter of conformity," observes Terry Eagleton, from Dublin, Ireland. What is abhorrent to her, writes Iranian Zarah Ghahramani, is "the ungovernable need of many Americans to think well of themselves in every circumstance."
Perhaps that need also lurks behind this anthology. There is a conceit in holding up a mirror but only to see how we (meaning Americans) are reflected in it. What we do see reflected in the mirror are not Americans as much as two aspects of America - foreign policy and popular culture. The love-hate relationship of the world bounces between these two poles, the fascination with popular culture ("Dylan was our soundtrack") directly proportional to the hypocrisy of American policy abroad.
Now Americans are trapped in their own make-believe. Hollywood has spent years telling us the guys in the big helicopters with heavy arms are bad, the lonely renegade hero is good. So an audience in fairly pro-American India cheers when small-arms fire brings down a U.S. Black Hawk in "Black Hawk Down," writes Sunny Singh. The suicide warrior martyr is not an Islamic phenomenon, he argues. Think back to "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid" or "Aliens III."
The anthology offers fascinating glimpses into this notion of how to be American by those who are not. "The consensus among non-Americans seems to be that we all know how to be better Americans than the Americans," writes Nigerian-born writer Chris Abani. Yet the refrain of "I loved the idea of America, but am disappointed by its reality" can grow wearying. Da Chen's paean to what the United States has given him is almost refreshing in his unabashed enthusiasm for his new country. It's a far cry from his childhood in China, scooping up dog poop to fertilize the family's vegetable plots.
But one wishes that in an anthology that looks atpost-9/11 America there were an essay by someone from Afghanistan. Atlas, the editor, may well have tried to get one. But the first country attacked in response to 9/11 has no voice in a book that opens with Atlas leaning out of his apartment window in Manhattan on that September night.
Perhaps Mourid Barghouti is right when he quips that the answer to "how do they see us" is simply "Very well."
How They See Us
Meditations on America
Edited by James Atlas
(Atlas; 274 pages; $14 paperback)
Sandip Roy is host of the New America Media radio show "New America Now" on KALW 91.7 FM in San Francisco. E-mail him at email@example.com.
Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/12/30/DD441B07NG.DTL&type=books#ixzz0bTc5NwGV