During the course of my everyday activities, I once had a strangely startlin g sight created by glass. It was at the scene of a typical small factory on the outskirts of a large city, something which I see every day as I drive to the University where I teach. The factory, which lay just beside an old-fashioned railroad crossing, was so simply constructed that it would perhaps be more aptly described as an enclosed work area than a factory. A disproportionately large mound of broken glass always stood on the empty ground in front of the meager structure. When the sun's rays passed through, the small pieces of broken glass became a strange prism of polarized light. As the seasons change, the light always struck my eye from a variety of angles as I drove past.

One day, I was astonished to sense movement that somehow suggested a wavering fluid in the solid pieces of glass. It was because the small pyramid-shaped mountain of glass, standing about 7 or 8 meters high, bore down on me exactly like an enormous white-capped wave widely striking a seacoast, heralding an approaching storm. It was then the I had a visual hallucination of "glass made of water."

The factory was obviously one that recycled broken glass into sheet glass. Broken glass was melted down and turned into new glass for different uses. I have never inquired about where broken glass came from. But, as the uneven light radiating from the mountain of glass attested, there was no mistaking the fact that glass products used in countless different ways throughout Japan had been gathered in that place simply because they were made of the same material. Glass can be mixed with all other kinds of glass. In that sense, it is fluid like water. Georges Bataille has aptly described animalint elligence, which does not objectivize things or create cognitive boundaries between objects, as a state in which "water exists within water." The ontol ogy of water, too, is clearly something that is ensured by this sort of inner continuity.

If so, there is a strange correspondence between the dark faces of all the workers at this factory in recent years, which suggest the existence of workers from different countries, and the ontology of glass which resembles a fluid. Glass is a hard amorphous substance without crystals that is made by melting silica, limestone, and sodium carbonate at a high temperature until they fuse, whereupon the mixture is rapidly cooled. Thus glass itself is a composite of different materials. By the same token, the cultural heterogeneity now developing among the glass factory workers constitutes a hybrid chaos that rejects the formation of a solitary crystalline structure like the local culture of the workers' homelands, such as Brazil, Thailand, Iran, China, or Peru. When these two levels are juxtaposed, it is evident that glass, figuratively speaking, possesses a privileged nature as a cultural metaphor that vividly suggests the migration, hybridity, and intermixing of countless human beings, a phenomenon that is sweeping society today.

In this way, the everyday scene at the glass factory strongly suggested to me the fresh potential of a writhing fluid as a composite form possessed with in contemporary culture that is seeking to emerge out of what is still a fragile, precarious existence.

* * *

My discovery of the affinity between water and glass immediately invited associations with the city of Venice, whose existence has continued to find these two substances as irreplaceable assets. It is no coincidence that the 13 th-century Venetian city-state floating on the sea gave rise to a unique glassmaking art, the gift of cultural contacts achieved through a mode of commu nication that linked the city with the world by means of water. In the history of ideas, one can also find grounds for the metaphor of fluid in Venetian glass, assuming that the sea, as a conduit for civilization, was responsible for the spread of glassmaking technology.

This slightly "touristic" correlation lures me beyond Venice to a city lying only 500 kilometers to the southwest that has been cursed in modern times. Historically, as the point where the Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, Islamic, and Jewish religions converge, the ancient city of Sarajevo has formed a unique cultural crossroads in Eastern Europe. Now, however, as the capital of Bosnia-Herzegovina, the city has acquired a reputation as one of the most brutal and protracted urban battlefields in the former Yugoslavia.

Cuaderno de Sarajevo (Sarajevo Notes, 1993), Juan Goytisolo's account of Sara- jevo as a battleground, has been acclaimed for its reportage steeped in historical insights, including the following passage:

"The city lying before my eyes is now nothing but a wasteland. Injuries, mutilations, entrails, festering wounds, scars that make one want to avert one 's eyes...... High-rise buildings with sparkling glass soar like beehives with plugged openings. The sight of glittering windows reflecting light, intermingled with windows here and there whose glass has been knocked out, suggests the socket of an eye that has been gouged out or the cross-tempered look of a one-eyed person. The burned-out automobiles and buses make manifest the fears fanned by fire in the middle of the street." (1)
An image comes to mind of the Spanish author intently wandering through Sara- jevo, where scarcely a house without broken windows exists, where window frames, steel skeletons, and concrete blocks lie in naked view. In this city, the scattered fragments of glass seem like the most eloquent testimony, confirming, after the fact, the falling artillery shells, bomb explosions, machine-gun attacks, and random sniper fire. In Sarajevo, the pieces of glass are fragments of the illusion of the multi-ethnic, multi-lingual nation, which has shattered exactly like scattered pieces of glass. The illusion of an in clusive nationalism has burst. Rallying cries of regional nationalism, ethnic self-determination, and the dispassionate-sounding "ethnic purity" rule the darkness of indiscriminate slaughter. The autistic impulse to destroy roams unchecked, nullifying political and religious principles. Just as the scattered pieces of glass no longer retain a trace of their former selves, the civil war has moved inward from the level of group conflict, becoming reduced to a struggle between individuals, and then to a struggle within individuals between mind and body, memory and history, consciousness and the unconscious. In a surprising way, the countless pieces of broken glass reflect this deepening civil war, which shows no signs of ending, and which the German writer and philosopher Hans Magnus Enzensberger has called a "molecular civi l war."

At the same time, however, a kind of handmade light produced by glass illumi nates----together with a faint yearning to live----this violent darkness of the night, which, one could argue, the entire world, under the threat of ter rorism, is simultaneously experiencing. The Sarajevo Survival Guide (1993), a book compiled by a Sarajevan activist group called FAMA that adopts the pr actical form of a guidebook, brilliantly delineates the reality of the city- turned-battlefield as a place where people live. After describing the strat egies used by residents to obtain water, the book explains how the dark nigh ts are spent:

"SARAJEVO BY NIGHT means that life follows the line of the sun. Without civ ilization based on inventions of two Americans----Tesla who was born in the neighborhood and who we are proud of, and Edison, who they are proud of---- you have to learn to go to sleep early and to wake up early. So many evenin gs are spent in envy of those who have electricity. But Sarajevans have mas tered the art of making kandilo, which is the light, usually hanging before an icon. To this Greeks have given the name----kandelos. Recipe: fill a gl ass jar, or a glass, half with water and a quarter with oil. Then cut five to seven millimeters of a cork, and drag through it cotton string, or a carp et fringe, or any piece of burning material. In order for the wick to stay above the oil and burn, a tin strip of some two centimeters is used and plac ed above the jar. Through that strip runs the wick soaked in oil."(2)
It is impossible to shut our eyes to the fact that not only civil war but also our society itself is now experiencing molecular cracks. the foundations of identity that confirmed traditional social and cultural boundaries, such as the nation, ethnic group, and native tongue, are being thrown into limbo by relentless migration and the contradictions of the post-colonial world. As the fictional nature of collective, systematic frameworks that have regulated the process of self-identify become manifest, cultural politics involving identity and difference have begun to focus the spotlight on the molecular structures that exist within given entities.

As this inevitable cultural displacement progresses, efforts to return once more to an illusory world order have only intensified. The world's reactionary, repressive response is becoming harsher toward the writers and artists, scattered around the world in a kind of diaspora, who are breaking down national barriers and the walls around linguistic communities, as they seek to launch new interlinking alliances rather than reverting to essentialist illusions.

As Goytisolo correctly implies, the coolness of the European community toward the city of Sarajevo can also be perceived as an expression of hatred and antagonism by those seeking to maintain ethnic and religious dominance, toward this hybrid city, with its unique history of heterogeneity at the crossroads of multiple religions and cultures. Sarajevo has lived through the centuries as a "setting for encounters and convergences, a setting where differences, instead of producing exclusion, mix with and enrich each other as a result of their mutual influence and interpenetration." Indeed, the city may have been forced to bear today's tragedy precisely because of that history of cultural mixing.

How are we to envision, beyond the glass fragments on the streets of Sarajevo today, the new position of autonomy that might in the future be obtained by individuals who are trying, consciously or unconsciously, to transcend the borders that divide cultures? This kind of question inevitably demands of us fundamental changes in the topography generated by the awakeness of identity.

Now that the customary boundaries of the self founded upon the uniqueness of all forms of expression (political, intellectual, and artistic) have been broken, what we need to do is to practice what could be called a new "politics of subjectivity." In that sphere, the identity of the self will no longer exist as something self-evident from the differences that distinguish the self from others, Instead the connective power of identity will be measured in terms of the strength of otherness, which renews autonomy itself while constantly traversing the self. It is a matter of perceiving the flow of otherness that permeates an entity, and, indeed, of diving into the thick of the molecular battle being waged inside one's own body.

At that point, subjectivity will no longer possess borders. Living without borders also involves transforming the focus of the self into a setting for dynamic communication and association. The Chicana poet Gloria Anzaldua, who keeps producing words noted for unusual tolerance and cohesiveness on the Mexican-American border, a region characterized by relentless cultural intermixing, appeals to all like-minded individuals trying to embark upon the politics of subjectivity, urging them to "become a crossroads":

In the Borderlands
you are the battleground
where enemies are kin to each other;
you are at home, a stranger,
the border disputes have been settled
the volley of shots have shuttered the truce
you are wounded, lost in action
dead, fighting back;
To live in the Borderlands means
the mill with the razor white teeth wants to shred off
your olive-red skin, crush out the kernel, your heart
pound you pinch you roll you out
smelling like white bread but dead;
To survive the Borderlands
you must live sin fronteras
be a crossroads.(3)
The phenomenon of the self is regarded not as an integrated unit that possesses a clear-cut kernel and outer form, but rather as a crossroads, or as a kind of bend in the road. That naturally leads to the abandonment of fixed personal attributes. However, the loss of one's native place, or expulsion from one's homeland, conversely draws all domains in one's own direction, as infinitive virgin territory that disseminates unlimited selves, not as territory that one can possess. It also becomes a setting where endless journeys are enacted. Everything changes radically for those who, by means of a transformation in perception fanned by travel, have eliminated the rigid system of discrimination between the self and other. Individuals who are always categorized as the other, as the minority, as exotic or third-class, by those in authority who continue to govern the controllable "world", turn around and discover the ugly face of the rulers mirrored in the stereotypes that have been! forced upon them. The reason that travel simultaneously bring about the endless relativising of the outer world while transposing the other into the self.

The Vietnam-born filmmaker and poet Trinh T. Minh-ha, who emigrated to the United States before the confusion surrounding the fall of Saigon when she was a child, continues to produce experimental films that, from her perspective as a wanderer, void the illusory dichotomy of Orient/Occident. She describes thus the benefits that travel as a crossroads brings to our thinking:

"To travel can consist in operating a profoundly unsettling inversion of one's identity; I become me via an other. Depending on who is looking, the exotic or is the other, or it is me. For the one who is off- and outside culture is not the one over there, whose familiar culture I am still a part of, or whose unfamiliar culture I come to learn from. I am the one making a detour with myself, having left upon my departure from over here not only a place but also one of my selves. The itinerary displaces the foundation, the background and what it incessantly unfolds is the very encounter of self with the other--other than myself and my other self."(4)

Such travelers are sometimes referred to as "migrants," " refugees," or as membres of a "diaspora." However, they do not directly denote the actual experiences of exiles or refugees. That is because, at a time when the possibility of travel is open to all people, travel itself becomes a habitat for those who bravely choose to sever their own existence from the roots of fantasy, and transfer it to routes that are founded in the depths of history. It means leaving one's native of the realm of travel, which constitutes displacement.

Following Edward Said's expression, let us call the locus of that journey an "ec-centric journey." A Palestinian intellectual in exile, Said has been forced to lead the "exotic existence" of a permanent wayfarer. He is not referring to traditional modes of travel, what might be called the journey of a colonialist, who has a guaranteed starting point, destination, and home to return to. He is talking about the most real of modern man's ideas of travel: wandering with major detours along the central axis underpinning world order. There, travel is not a means of possessing information about distant lands, exploiting it as Western knowledge, or usurping and ruling territory. For Said, the ec-centric journey is envisioned as the awareness of a shipwrecked person in a drifting boat.

"An intellectual is like a ship wrecked person who learns how to live in a certain sense with the land, not on it, not like Robinson Crusoe whose goal is to colonize his little island, but more like Marco Polo, whose sense of the marvelous never fails him, and who is always a traveler, a provisional guest, not a freeloader, conqueror, or raider."(5)
The phrase about "living with the land" strikingly suggests the new conditions of the shipwrecked person in contemporary culture. It is not the thinking of the colonialist, who possesses, assimilates, and usurps land; nor is it the approach of natives who re-mythologize an organic sort of reversion to the land. What Said is gently trying to propose here regarding our future as a diaspora is a "traveling theory" that is liberated from that kind of territorial thinking as well.

The mention of the 13th-century adventurer and Venetian merchant Marco Polo's name in such a vision triggers further associations. What if we superimpose the displaced persons belonging to the modern diaspora on the journey of Marco Polo, who spent 26 years traveling from Little Armenia, to Persia, Tibet, Cathay, Chanpa(Vietnam), and along the Indian Sea, before he returned to Venice in 1295--exactly 700 years ago--and conveyed to Westerners for the first time an image of the East? To put it another way, the countless fragments of glass produced by the cultural hybridity encompassing contemporary society and molecular civil war can be divined in the brilliance of the Venetian art of glassmaking which flowered in the thirteenth century as a result of medieval cultural interaction.

Once again I have discovered a mysterious seed of reality lurking in that strange vision of "glass made of water." Glass as a handmade light illuminating the darkness of civil war, as a crossroads, as an exile, as a shipwrecked person. In its fluid form brimming with the plasticity of water, I perceive the existence of a new horizon that links land, culture, identity, and language in the future. The Nobel-prize winning poet Derek Walcott, a native of Saint Lucia in the Caribbean Sea, has written:

The inlaid copper laurel of an oak
shines through the brown-bricked glass above your head
as bright as whisky.
In his position as a person exiled from his archipelago (the West Indies), Walcott employs a variety of rhetorical figures to express new transfigurations in a world to which the sea continues to be linked. In "Forest of Europe," a work dedicated to the Russian poet Joseph Brodsky, who migrated from a Gulag archipelago (Russia) to an emigrant's archipelago (Americas), and was a wanderer of Venice("Watermark"), Walcott continues, after the above verses:
Who is that dark child on the parapets
of Europe watching the evening river mint
its Thames and the Neva rustling like banknotes,
then, black on gold, the Hudson's silhouettes?
From frozen Neva to Hudson pours,
Under airport domes, the echoing stations,
the tributary of migrants whom exile
has made as classless as the common cold,
citizens of a language that is now yours.(6)
It goes without saying that contemporary transcultural intellectuals and artists who cross cultural borders have been granted citizenship in a newly emerging alliance called "exile."

(Translated into English by Janet Goff)

(1)Juan Goytisolo. Cuaderno de Sarajevo{Sarajevo Note}. Madrid: El Pais/Aguilar, 1993.
(2)FAMA ed.,Sarajevo Ryoko Annai{Sarajevo Suvival Guide}, Tokyo: Sanshu-sha, 1994.
(3)Gloria Anzaldua, "To live in the Borderlands means you," in Borderlands/la Frontera: The New Mestiza.San Francisco: Spinsters/Aunt Lute, 1987.
(4)Trinh T. Minh-ha. "Other than myself/my other self," in George Robertson et al., eds., Travellers' Tales: Narratives of Home and Displacement.London: Routledge, 1994.
(5)Edward Said. Representations of the Intellectual. The 1993 Reith Lectures. New York: Vintage, 1994.
(6)Derek Walcott. "Forest of Europe," in Selected Poetry. Oxford: Heinemann, 1981.

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