Friday, September 4, 2009

Who am I?

I've been reading an interesting discussion on Wikipedia that started when someone edited the page about me and removed the word "American" from the phrase "Thai American." Then this person and that person chimed in on the discussion page (one of them even claimed that I had had to have royal permission to change my name to S.P. Somtow). When I butted into the discussion page myself to explain that I am one of those two-passport people, someone said it wasn't a reliable source. In fact, they went on to say that I should have to declare my nationality on this blog before it could be deemed a reliable source. As someone whose works frequently get printed in Asian American anthologies or appear in Asian American Lit Course reading lists, and whose novels are listed in the Library of Congress catalogue under "fiction, American" ... I think it's rather late for this to suddenly be a matter of controversy.

Western culture always likes to think in polarities. You have to be right wing or left wing ... black or white ... true or false ... a man or a woman. In Asian cultures, people often have no trouble holding simultaneously opposing beliefs, understanding that they are often simply different perspectives on a reality that can never be wholly subjective.

I, and my work, are a living embodiment of the polarity between having to have polarities and not having to have them. Does this make it a meta-polarity, or simply an n-dimensional one? Is it recursive? Or is it subversive?

I would answer your question but I must warn you that I'm not a reliable source.

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