Picking up on that point in the Gourevitch article (“Alms Dealers”, New Yorker, Oct 11, 2010), and thinking ahead to Weil (Gravity and Grace coming into playwriting class) –
A the Harvard law professor David Kennedy writes in The Dark Sides of Virtue (2004): ‘Humanitarianism tempts us to hybris, to an idolatry about our intentions and routines, to the conviction that we know more than we do about what justice can be.’ [Michael] Marin, who came to regard humanitarianism as every bit as damaging to its subjects as colonialism, and vastly more dishonest, takes a dimmer view: that we do not really care about those to whom we send aid, that our focus is our own virtue. He quotes these lines of the Somali poet Ali Dhux:
A man tries hard to help you find your lost camels.
He works more tirelessly than even you,
But in truth he does not want you to find them, ever.
This quotation plunges us into a severe region in a nuanced article; I recommend the whole thing. But it raises questions relative to the Rwanda/Uganda trip each summer, and to the dramaturgy of Soulographie. If I take pride in anything regarding these structures, it is that we do so very little. What we accomplish with the Centre by Centre festival, for example, we accomplish through and with local partners; we have long, long been frustrating to many of the people we’ve met in Africa, because we have such trouble articulating our agenda. That’s because we don’t really have one; we want to discern the local agenda and learn from the local efforts to fulfill it. Our process of learning can perhaps fortify local teaching (what we have to learn is so vast, we provide rich opportunity for articulation). Soulographie, in its shape as a spiral series, is incapable of doing one thing – maybe in doing anything. Maybe it’s a water spout… it twists energy around a hollow (unnamed) center – a center that owns itself (genocide).