Thursday, November 24, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving

Image by blogfriend Fearguth, November 2015.
We spend a lot of time criticizing the Thanksgiving myth, of that first feast at Plymouth Plantation, where the Indians, having helped the Pilgrims survive into their first harvest, come to share its fruits at the same table; for its false consciousness and historical decontextualization, ripped out of the record of exploitation, theft, and violence that marks the white people's takeover of the continent, but maybe we ought to remember that it is, after all, a myth.

Athena didn't leap, an armed baby, out of Zeus's skull, either! You can't expect a myth to be true! Maybe we should be thinking about the picture itself, of that multicultural table, as something we yearn toward, prospectively, without any illusions about the actual festival of 1621, toward the time when we can all sit down together, conscious of our identities and willingly sharing across the boundaries, those who have more obliged to share more, or even better to make it real every day, or as real as we can, imperfect and selfish as we all are by nature.

The Thanksgiving myth is really about celebrating diversity! It doesn't mean anything if everybody at the table is the same, or if we pretend we're all the same; it derives its meaning from the differences, from dramatizing whatever differences we have, even if it's just generations or genders, but ideally racial differences, and being generous about them, not just with food but with attention, and not just attention but a little surrender, maybe of allowing the other person to be touchy and ready to get indignant, maybe of noticing how touchy we're feeling (with good reason!) ourselves.

And tomorrow, Resistance! Have a great holiday.

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names.


Tom Hilton said...

Yes, indeed--well said. That's what I love about that Thomas Nast cartoon--it captured exactly this spirit, back in 1869.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Fearguth said...

Thanks, Yastreblyansky!