Jun 272013

[T]hese days we are wont to say not so much that all fiction is homesickness as that all homesickness is fiction—that home never was what it was cracked up to be, the haven of safety and affection we dream of and imagine. Instead, home is conceived of mostly as a conservative site of enclosure and closure, of narrow-mindedness, patriarchal attitudes, and dissemination of nationalism. And, indeed, the notion of “home” may have been, in recent times, peculiarly overcharged, as the concepts of “country” and “nation” have been superimposed on each other with a seeming inevitability. But the nostalgia of exiles for their birthplace has undoubtedly often been augmented by this conjunction of geographic and patriotic longing.

The transports of patriotism, narrowness of provincial perspectives, and confinements of parochial traditions are not plausible solutions to the dilemmas of our time. And yet continual dislocation, or dispersion, is both facile, and in the long run, arid. Can anything be rescued from the notion of home, or at-homeness, that is sufficient to our condition?

—Eva Hoffman in “The New Nomads”, in: Letters of Transit: Reflections on Exile, Identity, Language and Loss, Andre Aciman, ed.

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