All About Me: Identity in Laferrière
First, some good news. I will be presenting on Dany Laferrière and my idea for a digital project related to him work at the 2013 MLA in Boston. The first is a roundtable that I put together, Building Bridges Within Digital Humanities, will be focused specifically on how DH can be used to enrich our understanding of translations and translating. The other panel, Accessing Race in the Digital Humanities, will deal with the performative aspect of Laferrière’s work, relating it back to jazz, and how DH can bring back these elements.
I’ve also finally tuned in the manuscript for the collection of Laferrière essays, including the interview I did with him over email. I’ll save the final set of ten questions for the book, but I want to focus here on the answer to my last question, about blogging and digital media:
I want to ask you what you think about new, digital mediums that writers have access to, like blogs and other forms of social media. Do you think that this is an opportunity for readers to really get to know the writers behind the opinions, as you have put it? Or, conversely, is it still important to be published in traditional ways, on paper (another sentiment you have expressed)?
First, a little background. I thought of asking this question because of the perfomative aspects of his writing and his general persona. He is and is not his narrator, Vieux Os. He is an is not the person we see on TV. I liken him to a trickster, and I think that it isn’t an accident that Legba appears frequently in his writing as an image. The Internet is continually evolving, changing, mutating, much like his own revisions, adaptations, and mutations of Laferrière’s own corpus. In particular, he has worked in other media (film, TV, radio, print journalism), so I thought that perhaps there was an opportunity or interest in these new medias. But, alas, I was mistaken.
Les blogues ne m’intéressent pas. Je ne vois pas l’importance d’écrire à des gens en particulier. Quand j’écris c’est pour des gens dont j’ignore l’identité. Le lecteur se rend en librairie quand cela lui chante. Et il lira mon livre s’il veut. Il n’est pas obligé de m’écrire non plus. La littérature circule librement. Les blogues, c’est un univers plus étroit. Plus étouffant, je dirais. Je trouve le livre, dans sa version de papier, plus libre et plus moderne.
Blogs hold no interest for me. I don’t see the relevance of writing for a particular audience. When I write, I remain ignorant of my audience’s identity. The reader will go to the bookstore when they are drawn there. And they will read my book if they want to. And they are under no obligation to write to me, either. Literature circulates freely. Blogging is a narrower universe. More stifling, I’d say. I find books, printed on paper, are freer and more modern.
I am fascinated with this answer. I’m not sure, yet, what this says about his attitudes towards writing or his identity as a writer and artist, but I think it’s really a lot to unpack. But it certainly, for me, brings up a lot of questions about my online identity, who I write for, and if blogging really is “freer” or if it’s as Laferrière puts it, more stifling.