[Colonial & Postcolonial Theory]

The Performative and Processual: A Study of Hypertext/Postcolonial Aesthetic

Unitary Subject-- Hypertextual/Postcolonial Subject

Part Two: Crossing the Borderlines

Jaishree K. Odin, University of Hawaii at Manoa

In Almanac actions take place in literal as well as metaphorical borderlands which separate the U.S. from Mexico. Silko's borderlands represent a world where people of heterogeneous histories come together, occupying the fringes of psychological, emotional and social landscape. They are engaged in different discourses, threads of which run across the borderline, extending deep in to the regions of Mexico, over into the edges of central America. The common thread of these discourses is the capitalist exploitation of the people, land and resources- the stories of those who are being exploited and those who do the exploiting. In a world of transnational capitalism and flexible accumulation, it is not national boundaries but the pathways of capital that determine who occupy zones of political, cultural, as well as economic marginalization. In Almanac, this is testified by Rambo's Homeless Army on this side of the border and El Feo's Army of the Poor People on the other side of the U.S.-Mexico border-the members of both armies are outside the cycle of both the production as well as consumption.

Silko's text thus seems to single out capitalist modes of operation as one of the major factors responsible for the continued oppression of people as well as desecration of the earth. Oppressed people, Almanac proposes, especially the indigenous people of Americas, can forge alliances across the borders and fight the white hegemony that the text associates with the capitalist modes of production. The Native Americans who live in this world of corruption and decadence cannot completely keep themselves free of the violent lifestyle of their oppressors, also referred to as "the destroyers" in Silko's text. In such a world of violence, Lecha's remembering of the forgotten cultural history becomes an act of deliverance of life in the barren terrain where death mimics as life. As the transcriber and decoder of the old almanac, Lecha becomes the guardian of collective memory and tribal history, thereby becoming the tribe's storyteller. It is Lecha's stories Sterling remembers as he walks to the snake shrine. Her ghost armies march in his head. In Sterling, thus, Lecha finds her first listener whose life is transformed through the power of stories.

Silko herself assumes the role of tribal story teller who in writing her Almanac wants the reader to listen to her stories. In mapping out the topological terrain of Native American experience, her work operates at the level of dreams for a better society for her people. Even though some narrative threads speak about armed revolution, the overall thrust of the multiple narratives when seen in relationship to one another seem to be to raise the consciousness of people so that they become subjects of their own stories. As Silko notes "The ancient Pueblo sought a communal truth, not an absolute truth. For them this truth lived somewhere within the web of differing versions, disputes over minor points, and outright contradictions tangling with old feuds and village rivalries" (1996:32). The experience of Silko's Almanac does not lie in any single narrative thread but somewhere within the web of different threads in the relationship they forge with one another. Tacho, one of the twin brothers leading the Poor People's Army towards north, wants to fight his wars at the level of dreams, whereas Lecha fights her war at the level of words by decoding the old almanac and making it accessible to people. Similarly Silko by writing her revolutionary Almanac engages in a war that is fought at the level of stories because she herself points out that for her "the only way to seek justice (is) through the power of the stories" (1996:19-20) Silko's fractured textual surfaces represent Deleuzian smooth space where the itineraries take precedence over reaching a destination, even as the need for a final destination is constantly reiterated in the multiple narrative threads. The moments of deterritorialization are seen to be as important as reterritorialization in order to make possible politics and identity. There is a movement from one to the other and transformations of one within the other. Her narratives are both "in space" and "for space."

Postcolonial OV PoCo Theory Themes