Friday, January 26, 2007

A Hypothetical Case

An author who resided in a country that had once had the misfortune of being ruled by another wrote a story. He had no particular intent in writing this story other than narrate a tale which plagued the figment of his imagination. The characters of this tale had ambiguous identities. The reason for this was that the author was much enamored by certain of his friends who had ambiguous identities. Neither the author, nor anyone else in this world believed that this had any particular significance.

A critic read the story after a few years. He had a brilliant flash of inspiration. Ambiguous identities were a way to show postcolonial resistance. Even if the author did not mean it, this was the way that the 'text' manifested its postcoloniality. People listened to the critic and liked the idea. Thus, the idea was born that postcolonial text show resistance by having characters with ambiguous identities. Most people stated believing in it. Other authors too cue and purposefully began to create characters that had ambiguous identities.

A few decades later a philosopher looked dispassionately at the whole affair. He too had a brilliant flash of inspiration. He realized that characters having ambiguous identities was not an inherent property of postcolonial texts but one that was created by the critic at some point. In fact, the critic could have chosen any random property and that could have become a symbol of postcolonial resistance. People listened to this idea a liked it. Authors took cue and did not necessarily include ambiguous characters in their intentionally postcolonial stories. That particular period in postcolonial literature was named Ambiguous Identity period. Students of literature now had to take into account the time period in which a text was written before they did a postcolonial analysis.

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