I don’t think the people of this country at the psychological level want to believe that their country does not work. Going far back as in ancient Greece the theme of self-delusion was popular in works of art. Self-deception is one of the fundamental themes in plays, poetry and novels. Some of the greatest masterpieces in literature have self-deception as their central focus.
It really would take several columns to list some of these superb writings down the ages. Shakespeare was fond of introducing that subject. King Lear labored under self-deception. Emily Bronte’s painful book, Wuthering Heights, is essentially about Heathcliff’s world of self-illusions. Amit Marcus, the Jewish scholar, who specializes in the subject, in his book, “Self-Deception in Literature and Philosophy,” cites the famous Russian novel, “Lolita” as a powerful narrative on self-deception.
The work of Sigmund Freud had a deep impact on self-delusion in literature in post WW2 Europe. Fascinated with Freud’s account of our revulsion of who and what we are, European writers like Sartre, Camus, Koestler, among others pursued the theme of self-illusions at a time when Europe stood buried in the ashes of war’s aftermath.
Naipaul’s essential point about West Indian society is that we are living with self-delusions, thus we cannot break out of that prison to invent even the most mediocre of ideas.
Naipaul’s pen is more relevant to Guyana. The University of Guyana had to fall flat on its face because year after year, as each vein in UG’s anatomy dried up, those in charge eulogized the further fictional enhancement of the institution. When the denouement came, even then the self-fooling mind didn’t accept that UG had collapsed. UG of course is a microcosm of the larger society. And the larger society cannot and will not believe that Guyana has been a 19th century failure and is still in that mode.
This has been a long preamble to the main argument of this piece here and that is the foolish people that are responsible for the functionalism of State. What I am about to describe for you does not exist in real life with one exception, Guyana. If what I am about to describe in this column, you find explainable in logics then you are living in a morbid world of self-illusion, even deadlier than the adult man in “Lolita” who craved for the attention of his underage lover.
Here we go. For three months – March, April, May, the flow of traffic east and west on the Railway Embankment was stopped because of the building of a new bridge at Liliendaal on the Embankment itself. If you worked at Caricom, wanted to shop at Giftland Mall or use the Aquatic Centre, you had to get to these places, using the western end of the Embankment and after the Aquatic Centre, there was a dead end because of the bridge construction. People going from Sherriff Street into the Embankment could not proceed because there was no passage after Liliendaal.
It was a placid time on the Embankment. Some nights my wife would say to me; “Look how quiet it is.” (I live on the Embankment and my wife finds the traffic overbearing at times). I loved the closure in a selfish way because many nights I took my dog on the Embankment outside the Aquatic Centre, removed the harness and let her roam. There was no moving vehicle to hurt her.
Please note; for three months, the Railway Embankment from Sheriff Street going west was closed off to traffic. The bridge was completed last week and it was back to business. I would not be able to let my dog roam outside the Aquatic Centre and my wife is going to resume her nagging about the traffic noise.
Tell me now, dear readers, if you are going to believe what you are about to read. On Monday, June 5, days after the Railway Embankment was opened to traffic, it was closed again from Sheriff Street.
You want to make a guess, why? No! You are wrong. Not to fix some defect on the bridge; not to complete a little finishing touch on the bridge. The street is closed because they are desilting the northern trench of the Railway Embankment from Sheriff Street eastward.
This country is a failed state where commonsense and rationality died decades ago. Obviously any sane mind would ask; why didn’t they clean the trench when there was no vehicular traffic for three months? I say in all honesty, there cannot be another silly country like this. Do Guyanese believe in their mind this country works?
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