Daily Archives: October 11, 2019

page 140 of 231 of Exit West

I hadn’t thought about how they are also buying time for their cell phones, how they have purchased units of future which can be exchanged for packets of data-nowness that equate to a connection between people. And as Saeed worries about how cell phone connections are unreliable, Nadia worries about the connection / promise she made to Saeed’s father to stay with Saeed – yet now they wander London separately.

If the fox, as the old lady suggests, is a symbol of their love, and if the fox / love is a noble thing that also roots around in the trash, then perhaps Hamid is saying that even in the trash there are pockets of love, that the animals we see (and that we are because we are “monkeys who have forgotten that [we] are monkeys”) are not animals but expressions of love only. I’m reminded of Bergson.

page 136 of 231 of Exit West

Maybe not the most romantic vow ever, but perhaps the most true when she says “Let’s agree to try harder not to speak shittily to each other”. And in a way this is the most romantic thing they’ve done in this house, holding hands in the dark, listening to pirated pop songs on a cell phone’s crappy speaker.

page 133 of 231 of Exit West

She’s describing that they are building up a tolerance to the intolerance that is growing between them, like allergies. And this is related to how she describes people in dorms forcing themselves to be on their best behavior in order that it might become second nature to how once you are also unkind, that too can become second nature, Tolerances work both ways.

Now they are borrowing on time itself, from the future for relief today and this creates the image of time folding in on itself, the future folding back towards the present as the past is also catching up to their present. In this house they are in an eternal present with the curve of space-time quickly folding in like a black hole. Perhaps that is what these doors are, “black holes in the fabric of the nation” (129)

page 131 of 231 of Exit West

While I’m not sure I agree that this suicidal man has found peace in the beauty of seaside Namibia, I do like the contrast of his unhappiness though he is surrounded by plenty while Saeed and Nadia are struggling to live even though they have nothing. Yet everyone is miserable in their own way, and the “nearby blackness” of the door is like that misery lurking inside everyone.

page 129 of 231 of Exit West

Hamid is playing with how the locals (whites) fear migrants moving into the ‘nice’ neighborhoods and buying the ‘nice’ houses and thus removing the whiteness of a neighborhood. As if nice houses can only be occupied with the white people.

He’s also playing with the excesses of the west in how the wealthy often have multiple homes and they leave them empty with only foreign housekeepers coming by to clean them

page 127 of 231 of Exit West

Sad to see their marriage (though they aren’t married) falling apart even though they are free from war. The more free they are the easier it is for the pressures of the world to drive them apart, as if two different winds were blowing at them in different directions and these winds were getting stronger. In London, with a moment of luxury, they seem further apart than ever. Is this a comment on the west, too?

page 125 of 231 of Exit West

“she thought her body looked like the body of an animal, a savage” is a complex line because it deals with the issue of how people who belong to a place see refugees as animals, not as humans. And here Nadia also sees that animal in her and she wants to wash it away, as if a shower will remove how other people who belong will see her. Hamid might also be alluding to how the Nazis forced the Jews into “showers”.

No Rose, yet felt myself a’bloom

Reeds and Cranes, 19th century, Kiitsu Suzuki
Background Image: Reeds and Cranes, 19th century, Kiitsu Suzuki

This comes at the end of one of the Master letters in which she asks the mysterious Master to come visit her in Amherst (“[this summer – could]”). She very much wants to spend time with Master, so perhaps this poem is saying that even without her having a token of love, a “Rose”, she still feels herself “a’bloom” with pleasure at the thought of their meeting, and the thought of Master coming to her causes her to soar “in Ether” as if in an ecstasy even though she is not a bird (which could represent her not having hope Master will actually come).