Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sensing a pattern

            Borders bring to mind such physical things.  They divide land, they keep things out, and they keep things in.  I never realized that we have borders that are less tangible too.  In King’s Borders, the mother draws a line between herself and Canada and America by declaring herself Blackfoot.  Well maybe I want to be Blackfoot, too.  Sorry, can’t do it.  It’s like Lester says about the Temple in Salt Lake City—you need a pass to get in.  The only difference between the building of the Temple and the Temple of man is that one of them is accessible; the other is closed at birth.

            Borderlands caused me to rethink Borders almost as soon as I started reading.  While Borders was all about identifying with one singular race/people/place, Borderlands presents the issue that people face when they do not have a singular home.  What if you cannot declare yourself Blackfoot?  What if you have to choose to be Irish because you have red hair and freckles or to be German because there’s technically about 60% of Frankfurt in your veins?  How technical can you be about who you are before you’ve become absurd?  The borderlands are the no-man’s-lands between and within us.  Except they are not really “no” man’s lands—they are one man’s lands (if you say it fast enough, it sounds like woman’s lands…just saying).

            I’m starting to sense a pattern, here.  In Who’s Irish?, the question of inside and outside and sides is presented in little Sophie Shea, the Chinese-Irish nudist.  Her outside is beautiful Chinese, but her inside is wild Irish.  How do our heritages factor into our selves?  Can a child that young already have the weight of two cultures around her shoulders?  Is it possible that we can be everything and nothing of these cultures at once?  

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