The Economy of Attention

My column last week was an interview with Nicholas Laughlin, who is, among other things, the editor of The Caribbean Review of Books.  We used the news from Haiti as the occasion for a discussion of how the crisis is being understood within the region, and went on from there to consider the question of where the center of gravity of Caribbean cultural and intellectual life is now. The exchange went extremely well, covering a lot of ground; and I found it rewarding, given that it moved my own understanding of certain things forward from what I had picked up while reading C.L.R. James over the years.

The interview was noted at Critical Mass; as it happens, a CRB contributor also a finalist for this year's NBCC award in fiction. The column also generated a little bit of Twitter attention. But that was all; otherwise it didn't provoke much discussion. No doubt I was naive to think it might. The whole point was that the Caribbean is (and for centuries has been) tightly connected to the rest of the world -- and is not growing any less so. This seemed like a good time to consider that reality, if ever there were one. But that's not really the dominant perspective, for which the Caribbean is of interest chiefly as a place for tourism, reggae, and philanthropy.

Well, so it goes. You do what you can.
February 2, 2010 7:14 PM | | Comments (3)



i missed this column when it first went up, for some reason. very glad you pointed to it again. great interview.

If you want it to be really widely read and reposted: simply turn suffering into spectacle and exploit, exploit, exploit the spectacle. The problem is that you had a serious conversation that touched on larger issues of transnational scholarship and uneven development.

Good point! I'll not make that mistake again. From now on, I'm just going to write about celebrities. And vampires.

I'm not going to mention this in the column itself but you can expect to see some big changes there in weeks ahead.

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