Yesterday I read The Daily Coyote book, which I highly recommend, both for the amazing photography and the equally fantastic story.

Early in the book, Shreve, the author, mentions a quote from a Salman Rushdie book that grabbed me, though I’ve read little of Rushdie’s work, so I looked it up. The longer excerpt I found is even more fascinating, telling, and poignant. When I was younger, this is the type of quote that would have me dropping the book and jumping up to go grab my notebook or a scrap of paper and pen to record it.

I’ve posted the quote below, without comment, since it seems that whenever I express my thoughts and feelings on this particular topic, I get told I’m wrong and am subjected to expressions of my value to others, etc., which, while sweet, misses the point. 🙂

“For a long while I have believed…that in every generation there are a few souls, call them lucky or cursed, who are simply born not belonging, who come into the world semi-detached, if you like, without strong affiliation to family or location or nation or race; that there may even be millions, billions of such souls, as many non-belongers as belongers, perhaps; that, in sum, the phenomenon may be as “natural” a manifestation of human nature as its opposite, but one that has been mostly frustrated, throughout human history, by lack of opportunity. And not only by that: for those who value stability, who fear transience, uncertainty, change, have erected powerful system of stigmas and taboos against rootlessness, that disruptive, anti-social force, so that we mostly conform, we pretend to be motivated by loyalties and solidarities we do not really feel, we hide our secret identities beneath the false skins of those identities which bear the belongers’ seal of approval. But the truth leaks out in our dreams…: alone in our beds (because we are alone at night, even if we do not sleep by ourselves), we soar, we fly, we flee. And in the waking dreams our societies permit, in our myths, our arts, our songs, we celebrate the non-belongers, the different ones, the outlaws, the freaks. What we forbid ourselves, we pay good money to watch, in a playhouse or movie theatre, or to read about between the secret covers of a book. Our libraries, our palaces of entertainment tell the truth. The tramp, the assassin, the rebel, the thief, the mutant, the outcast, the delinquent, the devil, the sinner, the traveller, the gangster, the runner, the mask: if we did not recognize in them our least-fulfilled needs, we would not invent them over and over again, in every place, in every language, in every time.” — Salman Rushdie, The Ground Beneath Her Feet

8 Comments on born not belonging

  1. thanks so much for posting this – I read it in 'The Daily Coyote' as well, and couldn't get it out of my mind…

  2. Amazing….a search for the quote from Shreve's book led me here…where I find another wander….hmmm…maybe Rushdie is right, and there are more of us than we know. Anyhow, I blogged about it too, and linked to your blog. Thanks for posting the full quote. 🙂

  3. Amazing – I am reading The Daily Coyote right now – and the reference to this quote got me searching – leading me here………

  4. I just started reading The Daily Coyote and, like you, this quote demanded that I look at it. Thank you for posting this and making it so easy to find. I will be pondering it for some time to come.

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