Purple Magazine
— The Island Issue #35

archipelagic thought

ESSAY

text by EDOUARD GLISSANT
artwork by XAVIER VEILHAN

Archipelagic thought: the thought of an assay, of intuitive temptation in apposition to continental thought, which is above all systems of thought.

In continental thought, the mind moves daringly, but we think that we see the world as a single block, as a mass, as a projection, as a kind of imposing synthesis, exactly like seeing rolling aerial views of configurations of landscapes and reliefs.

With archipelagic thought, we are familiar with the rocks in the rivers — even the smallest rocks and rivers — and know the shadow holes, that they open and close, where in Martinique zabitans [inhabitants] shelter (in fresh water, blue and gray crawfish threatened by pollution), and are called ouassous in Guadeloupe (names for the river bottom, names of belonging), (I call them resolute pleasure, everyone knows how succulent they are).

We no longer wash away our fatigue there. We don’t party there anymore. But we don’t forget a single one of these wild, dirty, dried-up rivers all around us, whose troubled waters still provide refuge for quantities of creatures, whether protected or threatened by perdition.

The expression “act locally, think globally” (detail versus totality) does not announce a predetermined dual obligation, but a proliferation without limits, which is now common knowledge, you find it in the glass walls of our biggest cities and in the ruins of the most neglected villages. This remarkable injunction pushes us to think not in the world, which would have brought back the idea of conquest and domination, but with the world — in terms of relationships and equivalences (of difference). The local is essential.

END

XAVIER VEILHAN, HELIOS, 2020, PRIVATECOLLECTION, COPYRIGHT VEILHAN/ADAGP, PARIS, 2021, COURTESY OF PERROTIN GALLERY, PHOTO DIANE ARQUES/COPYRIGHT ADAGP, PARIS, 2021

[Table of contents]

The Island Issue #35

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