on multiculturalism

“I don’t believe complete assimilation is possible… Every step, every entry into the flows of existence can be seen as a beginning, a commencement of a brand new way of seeing oneself in the world… Of course those of us who grew up on the threshold of cultures perhaps have a more developed sense of this ‘being in a world’ as opposed to simply ‘being’; we are more conscious of the character of the realm, more skeptical of its sway, we have private quarrels with it and ourselves, and all this adds up to, I think, a special form of solitude. We would, like anyone, wish to belong truly and deeply but we know we can’t, not wholly, not ever. It’s when we try to fix our positions vis-à-vis the culture, when we try to deny the unceasing, dynamic nature of the exchange, that tragedies arise, whether it’s in the soul of one person or an entire nation.” [Chang-rae Lee]

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