Tuesday, 30 May 2006

Islands and other prisons

Some people, especially those hailing from the European, African or Middle East continents, sometimes seem to envy us islanders. Living on an island produces in them some kind of strange attraction that can be quite perplexing. It maybe has to do with that inkling that islands must be dainty, delightful places fairly immune to the craziness of the modern world.

It is not uncommon that most of these people actually crave to come and live on an island such as ours, precisely when most of us want to get away, if only they could. It doesn’t seem to be the confinement within frontiers that seems to distress us most, for all countries have borders. Nor does it appear to be the smallness as such, for many other countries are also relatively small. Maybe neither the density of the population, for, surely, many cities are much thicker and compact than our entire country.

What seems to really afflict us most deeply is our severance from mainstream culture. In fact, this detachment is really more acute than most of us seem to appreciate. For the fact that we have to import everything, from textiles and victuals to art and ideas, is qualitatively and essentially unlike producing something. Our isolation indeed makes us actually incapable of being players, even in the most insignificant of manners, within the cultural production process that is continually taking place on the mainland that surrounds us. We simply cannot contribute to the progress and wealth of the world. We cannot but be spectators.

Our isolation is our imprisonment. Many immigrants or prospective immigrants aspire to our relative material comfort and economic stability. But to us such things are not completely satisfying; to such an extent, in fact, as to make us conscious of a higher level of anguish. And that is the mental oppression to which most of us are prey to, and which is endemic to such places as the one that we are condemned to live in. It is an oppression that stems from our insignificance, and, not surprisingly, is made the more pronounced by the expansion of high-tech means of communication.

Our islands are yet another cage of gold.

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