Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Excuse me, Mr. Zimler?

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WR: Richard, what amazes me about your book is that you have never visited Goa and yet one gets a distinct impression as if you spent a year here...

RZ: What a wonderful compliment! I wanted to go to Goa, but English and Portuguese friends kept telling me how much it has changed over the last forty or fifty years, and I was worried that some aspect of its present landscape and culture would "infiltrate" the picture I had already formed in my head of Goa at the end of the 16th century. I didn't want to risk any modern details in the book – anything that wouldn't be accurate for the 16th and 17th centuries – so I didn't go.

(from an interview to Richard Zimler, published in the Goan Daily "Herald")

Ok...I have to get this one straight...Zimler formed an image of Goa at the end of the 16th century by working in the libraries and archives of Portugal or Europe. Possibly by looking at images of landscapes, buildings, objects and people. And when he had to decide if he should visit Goa, he took the advice of some people who told him Goa had changed a lot since 1961 and thought it better to stay put.
This means he did not consider it important to see or hear what the Goans - or Indians - think of the Inquisition or what traces this phenomenon has left in Goan culture and landscape. Therefore, his books relapses into a classical form of Orientalism - Zimler detatches himself from his topic, avoiding the "breathing in" and the first hand observation of the present culture whose past and historical phenomena he describes.

And I just wonder if it was a Portuguese of Goan background who influenced his decision not to visit this place...this place that continues weaving and exporting black legends.

4 comments:

Constantino Xavier said...

Excellent, Sidh! Totally in agreement with you. But then, I think we should stop giving Mr. Zimler publicity this is just what he wants - in fact, I more and more feel that he is just a soundbite-obsessed writer seeking to attract attention.

jaipas said...

Obrigado...E tens razão, Constantino. Aínda assim, aflige-me que livros como o do Zimler tenham audiência em Portugal, contribuindo para a construcção de uma imagem distorcida de Goa.

AC said...

Então pá quando se bebem uns finos no piolho?
abraço

jaipas said...

Viva! a partir de dia 12 de julho bebem-se finos no piolho e afins...
Até breve, abraço.