To the Welsh Critic Who Doesn't Find Me Identifiably Indian Summary

To the Welsh Critic Who Doesn't Find Me Identifiably Indian Summary

The poem is an all-out assault against cultural fundamentalism in the form of a second person address—or dressing down, perhaps—of those who engage in the sort of lower-gear expression of prejudicial bias that often goes unrecognized as cultural bias.

The Welsh critic having trouble with issues of cultural expectation is immediately outed for stereotyping them into a homogenized box that gives them the illusion of knowing the speaker without needing to actually know the speaker. This illusion of knowledge is based on the speaker’s dark skin having originated in some country where violent political upheaval is regular TV entertainment and the supposition that they are British Lit student given to reading Keats.

The speaker also scornfully addresses the common tendency to assume the ultimate fantasy of such foreign visitors to England is live out the rest of their life as a character from Edwardian fiction. Then the speaker shifts gears and admit the critic may well have some good reason for their expectations: the lack of the requisite passion for the game of cricket, a lack of fluency in the Tamil dialect a less than culturally pure belief in the existence of nirvana.

There is then an abrupt consideration about how a shared language paradoxically becomes the wedge that creates distance between the cultures that share it through an extended utilization of a literary device known as anaphora in which the same phrase is repeating at the beginning of a number of lines. In this case there are eight lines that begin with “How much” followed by three lines that begin with “How I say.”

The speaker asks the critic to consider things like how much of that shared language belongs to each, how much should be carefully considered and how much should be said in impulse, how much slang and how much proper diction are considered acceptable and finally how the speaker pronounces certain words. All of these considerations of language use serves as means to measuring the identity of the speaker without the need to ever speak to them as a means of actually establishing identity.

The object of the speaker’s ire is now situated not as mere critic, but mediator of identity and then proceeds to chastise them for manufacturing the elements that define this created identity they now criticize the speaker for not meeting. These manufactured elements of identity include casually accumulated underground slang, literary interpretations of the speaker’s culture by writers from the critic’s culture, the expectation of stereotypical pronunciation failures, embedded images from the most convenient consumer interactions with foreigners from basically the same region.

Finally a sardonic cry of help to become as sociologically relevant across the globe as those western cultures which feature prominently even in the history books of non-western countries.

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