Dualistic Chaos

In looking at Repeating Islands and in reading Antonio Benitez-Rojo’s The Repeating Island: The Caribbean, there is more in common that simply a name. The author brings up the theme of dualism and Chaos, with a capital ‘C’ for reasons that outlines the Antilles’ ongoing lack of perfect order. Through out this reading of the Introduction and parts of chapter & and the Conclusions, Benitez-Rojo makes strong point for the common thread through the Caribbean that is it’s European past. The dual understandings we can derive from Caribbean culture from a western perspective and also as part of it. In many ways, he attempts to outline the birth of the countries/islands aka archipelago that collectively makes up Antilles but connecting the Chaos that birthed the current culture. With roots in African, European, and indigenous peoples, each island has created it’s own history with bits and pieces of the Chaos they endured at the hands of mercantilism and capitalism during the colonial period. We also see repeating cultural patterns that are reflected in the various transmutations of religious icons/figures/celebrations in the Caribbean. Here the Antilles is a repeating Island that in many ways repeats the history of it’s predecessors in various ways that can only be defined as Chaos.

If we take this understanding outlined by Benitez-Rojo and then look at the Repeating Island blog, we can still see some form of Chaos and dualism. Now this chaos I refer to is a lack of order, a lack of what seems to be a connection, but in it all, there is a connection: the culture of Antilles. Each articles looks at either social/cultural/political issues relating to the Caribbean, showing its connections to the West. The site itself states that provides “News and commentary on Caribbean culture, literature, and the arts.”  For example, the blog post Steve McQueen: ‘12 Years a Slave’ an opportunity for a conversation, we see how a successful western film has provided a connection to the Caribbean in the form of talking of African slavery that defined not only America but various Caribbean states. Popular culture here plays a role in providing us a look at ongoing ideas voiced by Steve McQueen of Caribbean ancestry. He refers to the chaos of slavery that is still evident in the Antilles and worldwide but often forgotten since we see that it is in the past.

Much like Benitez-Rojo’s commentary, this blog attempts to provide a current and ongoing conversation on Caribbean life. Through the lens of his commentary, we can see the dualist chaos that the blog displays as connection to the Antilles. We can appreciate the dual reality of each commentary, and especially as an American of Caribbean ancestry I can understand the importance of these conversations.


  1. In reading your post and thinking on the idea that “slavery is forgotten,”
    I cannot help but to remember my first reaction to the “12 Years a Slave” trailer, which was “Oh Lord, another slavery movie.” In talking about my reaction with my black peers I found there initial response to be in alignment with me own. On the hand, my non-black peers seem to be more open to the viewing of this slave narrative. So, to expand on Naomi’s around taking responsibility for slavery, I must ask, are we as a “black people” not taking responsibility for our own history?

    The slave narrative offers valuable firsthand accounts of the history and real human experience of slavery. The historical impotence of these narratives is incalculable. So, then what is it that creates this aversion to the dissemination of these histories. It is the medium it is presented through, that being film. Do the images presented though this medium make us so uncomfortable with the history of exploitation, oppression and abuse perpetrated against to black bodies that we rather disown this history, condemning it to be forgotten.


  2. Luesly, I agree with you, I also believe that slavery and its aftermath, can definitely be seen in the Antilles as well as other place all around the world. In my opinion I think the reason why slavery is forgotten, is simply due to the fact that no one wants to take responsibility for slavery. I think that is one major problem.

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