Thursday, 15 September 2011


As somebody sayed earlier this year, “The right has won the economic battle, the left has won the cultural battle and the centre has won the political battle.” An the left (Marxism, existentialism) rejecks the norie of identity cleekit tae place. The indwaller o twinty generations’ staunin haes nae mair claim on the hainit walth o a place nor the new-come ferrylouper, an nae mair richt tae decide whit bude tae be hained an haundit doon in the future. The left sees national, regional an ethnic tradeetions as reactionary. It haes an insteenctive mislippenin o sicna ongauns whan it funs thaim hingin on in wastern society (though it cuiters e’en the maist barbaric aspecks o fremit cultures, bit lat that flee stick tae the waa).

Sicna wey o thinkin pits local dialecks an e’en a national leid lik Scots in the caufie’s stall. A EU report twa-three year syne concludit that there wis nae guid reason for the dwinin o leids sic as Breton an Sardinian – naither in-migration nor inter-mairriage:
the decline derives from a rejection of the language associated with a negative identity that links with the relegation of the language and the language group into a world which is conceived of as ‘traditional’(‘Euromosaic: The production and reproduction of the minority language groups in the European Union’, ISBN 92-827-5512-6).
Modernity haes a horror o bein auld-farrant, mired in the glaur, afflicktit wi nostalgie de la boue. Economically tae – aathing that is free or hame-made, aareadies staunin an no needin for to be dung doon an biggit up again, is nae wey profitable.

There a German wird Heimat, meanin ‘hame, yer native place’, wi un-set-owerable connotations o the kintraside, village life, bairntime an community. The norie is fylit for us acause it was haused be the Nazis (Blut und Boden, bluid an muild). Nanetheless the romantic norie o Heimat spicks tae a profund feeling o the human hert – the tendency tae grund emotions an powerfu memories in a place. Paul Devereux screives, in The Sacred Place:
place becomes an agent that provokes our sensibilities, that can stir the seeds of spirituality within us. … Despite its widespread occurrence, it is a sense for which there is little cultural currency in our modern world … and such experiences tend to remain private (p.20).
Or as a poet pits it:
An is this chaumer really a chaumer, or a bosie,
An fit is aneth the windae: a street or years?
(Sheena Blackhall, ‘An Owresett in Scots o a poem by Ivan V Lalie, frae an Inglis translation by Charles Simic: Places We Love’, The Barley Queen)

We spick aboot ‘ruits’ acause oor childhood memories is that strangly yokit tae places, the places whaur we first entert intae consciousness o wirsels. The soon o local vyces is pairt o the sense o place. Nae wunner that Scots is that evocative for fowk that grew up wi’t.

The faimily’s sleepin sae Ah winna gang rakin amo ma beuks. Ah tak doon whit comes nearest tae haun tae mak ma pynt better nor Ah can screive, an shair eneuch fun this:
Ower the slow blak watter o the sheugh, an awa
Ower the sookin fog an gruppin ling,
The boag streetchin oot aheid, far
An far
(from James Fenton, ‘Dinnis’, On Slaimish)
an this:
Ma kin around me, leevin yet, or ghaists,
ma mither’s roses, yella, rid an cream;
a thousand simmer waddins in their scent.
(Rab Wilson, ‘A Sonnet Oan Ma Birthday’, A Map for the Blind)
Bairntime, cauf grun, hame, poetry, dialeck – thon’s Heimat.

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