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[10 Sep 2007|10:10pm]

It's such a shame this journal is dead. I actually think we have some gifted people here with interesting views on great books - I just wish we all wrote a bit more on these great books.

Last year I met my boyfriend, got a fulltime job and this year I bought a house and spent 3,5 months rebuilding and redecorating, so I didn't have much time to read.

I must confess, the only thing I did read is Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, a book on growing vegetables in pots and a book on the cyrillic alphabet. Nothing I could write about here. I know I read some other books this year, but they didn't even impress me enough to remember the titles.

Well, I'll make an effort to read more and write about it more, and I'd love to read more of your thoughts on the world's greatest books.

Somehow I always come to this community when I think about giving another go at writing a thesis. After four failed attempts I'm thinking of giving it another go. Last november I dropped out of uni, which felt great. Actually, it still feels great. What's less great is that I'm wasting my time working in a supermarket. The more I work there, the more I realise I'm far too intelligent for the job and my brains are starting to rot because I'm not using them. I don't care about diploma's and just want to do something fun, something I like, something good for the world, something that maybe for the first time in my life will make me feel like I've achieved something. I've always suffered from this incapability to be proud of myself.

The problem is, I don't know what to do with my life. I want to be respected and looked up to, but not be a slave of other people's expectations. There are so many things I want to do, and I want to do all of them at the same time. I'd love to work with plants or animals, I like food and wine, I'd like to have my own company and have a high position in a company but on the other hand I'd love to be able to just stay at home whenever I want and bake cakes every weekend and watch tv sitting on the couch with a dog on my lap. I want to teach, write articles on every subject imaginable, travel, be a great cook, learn everything there is to know about wine, grow rare vegetables, have a rose garden, keep animals, own a company, act, sing, play the violin and learn russian at the same time and of course there's no way I can be this superperson that can do everything perfectly and at the same time as well. I don't want a career that just goes from here to somewhere up the ladder, I want to try different steps on different ladders and I feel like a sim having to choose this one career path and practise my speech in the mirror every morning or make gnomes.

I'm sorry this doesn't have much to do with literature, but I really admire those people that can do anything, that seem to always get more opportunities and make the right choices... There used to be this girl at my university, all the professors liked her and she could get anything done. Yeah, she was bright, but she wasn't the only one. I really hated her, because she was so damn perfect; pretty, smart, always cheerful; she got the teaching position I wanted, she got the scholarship I wanted. I was jealous of other people with parents or uncles in the right places, they got all sorts of great jobs that I could only dream of at that stage; I worked hard but I just didn't know the right people. And then the only chance I did get of doing something special, writing a review for a journal, I couldn't take because I was too busy at the time. I was naive, I thought I'd get another chance like that again but of course I didn't and I still regret the fact that I didn't take more risks and just do it.

One thing I've learned by now is that it matters how I feel about myself, not what other people think of me. If anyone ever tells you you have to do the things that give you energy, listen to them, they're absolutely right. Take risks, don't waste time because of what other people might think. You mean more to the world as a unique individual than as just another gnome-crafting Sim.
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Introductory Post [23 Sep 2006|11:48pm]


My name's Claire and I've just left Nottingham University reading Russian and English Studies.  I joined this community because I love reading but never seem to find enough time for it and I also find it hard to find books I really like as most books I try to read are either too hard or too easy for me,  it's sohard to get the balance right between something that's a good read and a challenge and something that just makes you want to throw the book into a far corner (eg Ulysses).  My favourite books/authors are Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov, Regeneration by Pat Barker and The Remains of the Day  and The Unconsoled by Ishiguro but there are others I've read and have quite enjoyed but couldn't read many times over like Arnold Bennett's Anna of the Five Towns, Guterson's Snow Falling on Cedars and Camus' The Fall and The Outsider.   There are so many authors I haven't read yet though so  I thought I could get some ideas here.

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JM Coetzee - Slow Man [20 Sep 2006|01:21pm]

When Coetzee's latest novel, Slow Man came out, I had just given up my first attempt at writing a thesis. I'd chosen a complicated subject and couldn't even do all the research within the 11 weeks I had to complete the thesis. I failed, I gave up and went on a vacation to Yorkshire.

I could have chosen to work on it during the summer holidays, but I felt miserable because I failed, in my opinion, for the first time in my life, and second of all, because, allthough people tell me I'm not a bad writer, writing always makes me feel inadequate. I have a complicated relationship with writing. In my heart there's nothing I'd love more than become a writer; non-fiction, maybe because I feel like I'm too serious and dull to write fiction. On the other hand there's no thing I hate more than having to write.

In a futile attempt to escape writing, I decided to get my degree in translation studies, where - I was told - I didn't have to write a thesis, but had to make a long translation instead. Of course something had to go wrong, and on the first day of the year they told us they had changed the rules. The closer I came to having to write my thesis on postcolonial translation theory, the more I wanted to write on Coetzee. No doubt another attempt to escape, but this time I have to choose what I want to escape more. I hope that this time I'll do more than spend too much money on books the library doesn't have.

I just finished Slow Man, about two hours ago. I don't know what to think and I'm not sure I (dis)like it. So more about that, when I've had some more time to think.
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[27 Oct 2005|06:02pm]

Yesterday I finished Nights at the Circus by Angela Carter? Has anyone read it? I thought the first two parts were great, but the third part was very vague. In one chapter Lizzie loses her handbag, and in the next she is said to take a pack of cards out of her handbag, but in the next chapter it's gone again. And I really didn't get the ending. Is she fact or is she fiction? I don't know.
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[13 Oct 2005|10:43pm]

Hi all, I know it's been a while since anyone posted here, but I might as well try and see if I can resuscitate this community.

Last week I read Kurt Vonnegut's Slaugherhouse Five. I didn't know what to expect, but it certainly wasn't this. I thought it would be a more traditional story about war. Anyway, I thought it was absolutely great, the way he writes about the war without actually writing about it. I like the way he uses SciFi to talk about the war, because usually this genre isn't seen as literature, I usually don't expect SciFi novels to have literary value anyway, I guess I'm a bit of a literary snob.

Vonnegut, Kurt. Slaughterhouse-Five or The Children's Crusade. A duty-dance with death. 1969. London: Vintage, 1991.

my notes on Slaugherhouse FiveCollapse )
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New [31 Jul 2005|11:17am]
Hello, I also equate reading with life. I'm eighteen and will be attending bard college in like six days or so. Some of my favorite books are Trust by Cynthia Ozick, Regeneration by Pat Barker, The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood, The Bloody Chamber by Angela Carter, and What I Loved by Siri Hustvedt. And my favorite poet is Louise Gluck. Currently reading: Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami, Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino, Deception by Denise Mina, and You Are Not A Stranger Here by Adam Haslett. Some of these currently reading books I have unapologetically neglected because I am in the midst of cleaning my room, though they are all worthy of time and and mental energy.

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[28 Mar 2005|03:11pm]

I finished Lolita this morning, and I'm afraid I didn't really like the second part. Nabokov complains about people who don't like the second part and wonder what the point of it is, but I can't help wondering about it anyway.

I think Lolita is a strange character, I'm not sure if I find her very realistic. The way she acts (or at least, the way Humbert says she does) makes me wonder how much of this Lolita wanted to happen. She was the one who kissed him, and she didn't seem to mind him touching her, but somewhere in the book it changed. When exactly, and why, I'm not sure. I think it's because her mother is dead, and she is not the one in control anymore. It's not a game anymore, and Humbert starts treating her like a possession. On the other hand, she doesn't really seem traumatised. The way she talks to Humbert and the way she talks about their relationship seems inappropriate, with her calling him a brute and saying thinks like "that night in the hotel when you raped me" or smth. I'm also not sure if she really believes Humbert killed her mother, or if she's just saying that to hurt him.

The afterword in my edition said that Humbert is not an unreliable narrator, but I'm not so sure if I agree with that.
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[27 Mar 2005|05:02pm]

I'm reading Lolita at the moment. It's really easy to read, funny, beautifully written. I'm halfway through, and I'm wondering what's going to happen, because Lolita and Humbert have been travelling for ages now and it's getting a bit dull.
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July's People by Nadine Gordimer [03 Mar 2005|10:15pm]

I finished July's People by Gordimer today, and it was a lot easier to read than Burger's Daughter. Less politics, more human interaction. I didn't really get the ending, though. Anyway, I think it's an interesting book. For people who don't know what it's about: it deals with the relationship between a family and their slave, July. The family has to flee Johannesburg because the blacks are killing the whites, and they go and live with July. They don't really think they were treating him as a slave, and although in some ways they have been taking really good care of him, they have not even bothered to ask his real name in all these years that he worked for them. Of course there are some problems when this rich white family has to live in a small village of mud huts, and July's wife and mother aren't too happy about them living there either.
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Burger's Daughter by Nadine Gordimer [01 Mar 2005|02:01pm]

I finally finished Burger's Daughter, and I can now confirm that I did not like it. The last part is very chaotic, I did not get why Rosa went back to South Africa, or why she ended up in prison. I don't really know what Gordimer's point is. Nothing really seems to happen. At first I thought Rosa was developing her personality, but then suddenly in the end the book only seems concerned with politics again.

I'll have to read July's People for class on friday. At least that's a lot shorter.
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Nadine Gordimer - Burger's Daughter [27 Feb 2005|05:46pm]

I've started reading Burger's Daughter again, and I still think it's difficult to read. I'm now at page 187, so nearly at the end of part one. Dialogues are really confusing, sometimes you can't tell who's talking. I don't really know what to say on the novel. Don't really have any ideas on it. My teacher said something about Rosa wanting to go back to the imaginary order, and I found this passage where she is in bed with Baasie which also seems to illustrate this:
I was remembering a special, spreading warmth when Baasie had wet the bed in our sleep. In the morning the sheets were cold and smelly, I told tales to my mother -- Look what Baasie's done in his bed! -- but in the night I didn't know whether this warmth that took us back into the enveloping fluids of a host body came from him or me (137).

It seems like Rosa didn't develop a personality yet. She does what she was brought up to do, she does not rebel against her parents. "It was a contact visit? -- I fall back easily into the jargon of prison visiting. It will always come to me, the language I learnt as a child" (134). She also mentions that at some point she wanted to kill her father. She has relationships with men, but they are not really love affairs. She felt like Conrad was her brother and Conrad wanted to learn more about her father and her upbringing, she was Noel's contact person in prison, and the Swede wanted information about Lionel. Maybe she fell in love with Noel, but when he disappeared to Europe and got married she felt used.

Gordimer, Nadine. Burger's Daughter. London: Bloomsbury Publishing Plc, 2000.
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Representation of Miranda in The Tempest [20 Feb 2005|08:00pm]

I wrote this paper a while ago, I think it sucks, but maybe any of you can find something interesting or useful in it... The Representation of Miranda in The Tempest and its adaptationsCollapse )
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J.M. Coetzee - In the Heart of the Country [20 Feb 2005|07:11pm]

I read In the Heart of the Country by J.M. Coetzee this week, and I thought it was pretty confusing. Initially I thought it was too confusing, but at a certain point it got a bit better and actually became really interesting. The book can be interpreted in many ways because it is so confusing. One cannot really tell what is 'fact' and what is fiction. The main character gives several versions of the same event and shows that she is an unreliable narrator by interpreting things incorrectly and contradicting herself.

It is unclear whether or not the main character, Magda, killed her father. She says she shot him, and buried him, but in the end she is feeding him. I got the impression that she did kill him, although my teacher did not think so.

It is also difficult to say what the story is about. My theory on that is that it is an allegory of colonialism, and a lot of critics seem to agree with that. Magda shoots her father because he has an affair with Anna, a servant, or at least that is what is suggested. She seems to be jealous, this is suggested in a scene where she thinks Anna and her father are having dinner when she is up in her room having a migraine (although there is no real evidence that this is the case, since she can only hear her father talking). There are two servants, Hendrik and Anna, who are married.

Magda feels very useless, she sees herself as a cleaning device or something. She is lonely. Her mother is dead, she does not have any brothers or sisters (she believes that they died, although there is no evidence for that). She hears voices, she imagines things. Her interpretations and the various accounts she gives of certain events seem to be a way to give meaning to her life: "I make it all up in order that it shall make me up" (79).

She tries to write her own story and calls herself "[a] woman determined to be the author of her own life" (68). My idea on this is that she does not succeed in this and that reality keeps pervading her narrative, that there is a case of trauma. There are several references to abuse and rape, Magda pays a lot of attention to her father's genitals when she has to wash his dead body, she also describes the penis of Hendrik, and pages 3-4 seem to point to incest: "Wooed when we were little by our masterful fathers, we are bitter vestals, spoiled for life. The childhood rape: someone should study the kernel of truth in this fancy." In the end she is also raped by Hendrik, and they end up having sex every night when Anna is sleeping. Magda has always felt like a hole that needed filling up, and she is looking for that in Hendrik, she is looking for someone to make her into a whole being, but it does not work. She does not like having sex with him.

Magda is trying to make peace with Hendrik but it does not work. This I think can be seen as a reference to colonialism. Magda cannot just ignore her position, cannot ignore the position of blacks in South Africa and just make everything alright because in the end Hendrik can not be equals with her. Hendrik has to flee for the police because he is afraid they will accuse him of the murder of Magda's father and thinks Magda betrayed him. Hendrik raping Magda can be seen as an attempt to attack the colonizer. Rape has always been important in colonisation because on a metaphorical level colonisation is more or less like rape, but women were also often raped by the colonisers so they would produce slaves. Magda also thinks it is not clear what her relationship to Anna and Hendrik is, she invites them into the house and tries to become friends with Anna.

The novel is concerned with language. Magda talks about meaning, about différance (although she does not use the word), there is a lot of self-reference, and there are some references to Lacan, e.g. "It is a world of words that creates a world of things" which is a quote from Lacan's Ecrits.
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[03 Feb 2005|05:30pm]

[ mood | contemplative ]

Could anyone recommend some good F. Scott Fitzgerald short stories? I've only read novels by him and I'd like to give his shorter fiction a try.

Also, is there anyone willing to share their opinions on The Beautiful and Damned? I've noticed it's usually Fitzgerald's least mentioned novel, but I kind of enjoyed it, although it had some definite flaws.

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Introduction [16 Jan 2005|04:06pm]

[ mood | productive ]

Hello, all. I'm a 16-year-old high school junior and aspiring writer. Some of my favorites books include: Catch-22 by Joseph Heller, The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway, The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Dog of the South by Charles Portis and A History of the World in 10 1/2 Chapters by Julian Barnes. Some of my favorite authors, of the ones not listed above, are: James Joyce, Charles Dickens, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Albert Camus, James Thurber and J.D. Salinger. Compared to the people with whom I go to school and the fellow citizens of my hometown, I think I'm pretty well-read, but I realize that my tastes may seem a bit obvious and boring in a literary community like this. Oh well.

That's it.

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[16 Jan 2005|10:36pm]

I read Othello this week. Normally I don't really like Shakespeare, but I thought Othello was a lot of fun to read.

On a different matter: I'd like everyone to post more, because it doesn't work for everyone to wait for others to start a discussion or write something interesting.

There are 21 'members', thirteen of whom haven't even bothered to introduce themselves and haven't contributed any posts or comments. I'd like that to change. The point of a community is that there are several people writing in it, but it's now been three weeks since anyone posted.
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Translating Shakespeare's Stagecraft, Jean Michel Déprats [28 Dec 2004|02:16am]

According to Déprats, translation is a process of making choices. Since not all aspects of the original can be preserved, translators have to define some principles of translation. Déprats asks if translation for the page and for the stage are different forms of translation.

In the history of French Shakespeare translation, there are three sorts of translation:
* creative translation or adaption
* source-oriented academic translation
* literary translation (by major poets)

He does not approve of this, because he says that there aren't three different Shakespeares, and it would be desirable to combine all aspects of translation. Déprats claims that the language of stage and performance intervenes between the source and target languages. The oral world has to be taken into account, and the translation is put to the test by the actor. Rhythm, melody and voice are important in theatre translation, and the translator should be aware of the actor's demands.

Although I agree with most of what he says, I do think there are some problems. For one, why aren't there different Shakespeares, or why should there be academic translations? If people are interested in certain aspects of Shakespeare or translation, why shouldn't there be different translations for people with specific interests? And if there is only one Shakespeare, then what does that Shakespeare look like?

The other problem is that translators have to translate the works behind their desk, and it's not possible to discuss every single line with all the different actors. Does the translator only have to be aware of 'the actor' in general, or of the demands of a specific actor?
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Essay for "ideology and identity" [27 Dec 2004|06:54am]

Ok, so i wrote this essay on Ayn Rand's Anthem, and even though i don't know how it was graded (and if it was any good), i'll post it for you to cast stones at me. Enjoy.

essayCollapse )
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Glyph by Percival Everett [27 Dec 2004|12:24am]

Glyph consists of eight chapters. Each of the chapters consists of several titled paragraphs. The names of the paragraphs return throughout the novel. So the structure is:

Deconstruction Paper (only with Paper crossed out) RALPH
différance, pharmakon, unties of simulacrum, supplement, bedeuten, spacing, ennuyeux, libidinal economy, peccatum originale, ens realissimum, causa sui, supernumber, seme, ephexis, incision, bridge, Vexierbild, vita nova, degrees, anfractuous, ootheca, tubes 1 ... 6, donne lieu, umstände, mary mallon, (x)(Cx→~Vx)├ (x)[(Cx&Px)→~Vx], exousai, derivative, incision, subjective-collective
A Plot with a View BARTHES
différance, bridge, anfractuous, ens realissimum, seme, ephexis, degrees, incision, ennuyeux, mary mallon, pharmakon, spacing, ootheca, exousai, supernumber, libidinal economy, donne lieu, vita nova, Vexierbild, tubes 1 ... 6, (x)(Cx→~Vx)├ (x)[(Cx&Px)→~Vx], derivative, umstände, causa sui, subjective-collective, bedeuten
Pronounced Articulations SAUSSURE
différance, degrees, seme, donne lieu, ephexis, incision, (x)(Cx→~Vx)├ (x)[(Cx&Px)→~Vx], unties of simulacrum, bridge, ens realissimum, exousai, spacing, libidinal economy, umstände, tubes 1 ... 6, peccatum originale, ennuyeux, subjective-collective, ootheca, vita nova, derivative, mary mallon, Vexierbild
Figures and a Pair of Graphs MORRIS
différance, umstände, (x)(Cx→~Vx)├ (x)[(Cx&Px)→~Vx], Vexierbild, degrees, incision, ootheca, seme, supernumber, derivative, bedeuten, ephexis, donne lieu, mary mallon, pharmakon, anfractuous, bridge, ennuyeux, supplement, libidinal economy, peccatum originale, exousai, vita nova, ephexis, unties of simulacrum, tubes 1 ... 6, äusserungen, causa sui, subjective-collective, ens realissimum
The Straight and Narrative GREIMAS
différance, subjective-collective, spacing, libidinal economy, unties of simulacrum, degrees, seme, anfractuous, incision, bridge, (x)(Cx→~Vx)├ (x)[(Cx&Px)→~Vx], Vexierbild, exousai, umstände, ootheca, tubes 1 ... 6, peccatum originale, mary mallon, pharmakon, ephexis, supernumber, vita nova
Lost in Place HJELMSLEV
différance, ephexis, ootheca, derivative, subjective-collective, peccatum originale, supernumber, Vexierbild, donne lieu, degrees, ennuyeux, pharmakon, (x)(Cx→~Vx)├ (x)[(Cx&Px)→~Vx], supplement, anfractuous, unties of simulacrum, bridge, exousai, ens realissimum
The Period Is the Point RALPH
différance, subjective-collective, incision, exousai, seme, anfractuous, donne lieu, unties of simulacrum, derivative, ennuyeux, libidinal economy, spacing, bridge, ootheca, ens realissimum, ephexis, causa sui, supernumber, degrees, Are Meanings in the Head?
Shades Are Just Dark Glosses RALPH
difference, anfractuous, unties of simulacrum, pharmakon, ootheca, tubes 1 ... 6, incision, umstände, subjective-collective, vita nova, Vexierbild

The last line is on a separate page: "The line is everything."

The first paragraph of each chapter is différance, except for the last chapter where suddenly it's difference. äusserungen and Are Meanings in the Head? do not return in the novel. The paragraph titles do not seem to be connected to the text (or not yet, in any case), except for Are Meanings in the Head? and the strange formula, which is actually explained in the text right before it appears. Vexierbild is the only word that starts with a capital. Paragraphs with the same titles don't seem to be related, although I'll pay more attention to that later. Incision is used twice in the first chapter. Not all these titles appear in every chapter.

Most of the words I'm not familiar with, although libidinal economy did ring a bell, it's a concept by Lyotard as far as I know. Vexierbild has something to do with psychoanalysis, at least that's all I could find online. The formula stands for: "No Children are Volunteers. Therefore, no children being tested by Psychologists are volunteers."

I looked up Mary Mallon, she was called Typhoid Mary because she was a healthy carrier of typhoid. She refused to be examined, refused to acknowledge the fact that she was ill, and kept on cooking for people and so spreading the disease. In the end the authorities had to lock her up forever because she did not want to stop working in kitchens. I don't see what she's got to do with the story (yet) or with any of the theories or philosophers discussed in the novel. There are some strange poems on the body, e.g. one on the sternum, all written by Ralph, but I don't know what to make of them either.

The only thing I can think of is that it's important because of Ralph's physical condition. He is very smart, but he doesn't think he's intelligent because he can't drive a car and needs diapers. He can think like an adult, but (apart from the fact that he can write) physically he's still a baby.

What is also strange is that, although Ralph uses difficult words like iconicity or emetic and claims that he passed straight into the symbolic order, he makes mistakes like "Is that a bear dere. Ouch, bear bite me." Sometimes it's in a context where he tries to ridicule others, which might explain the spelling, but sometimes there's no explanation for them.

Smoth Ely Jelloffe, one of the charachters, is Smith Ely Jelliffe, who wrote on psychoanalysis and drama.

Psychoanalysis plays an important role. Much of the novel seems to be based on Freud, his theories on language, but Ralph also doesn't like his father and he liked sucking his mother's nipples.
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Glyph and Erasure by Percival Everett [26 Dec 2004|04:45pm]

From Erasure by Percival Everett:

Classes did end as all things must, and right on schedule, and with the welcome news that my promotion to professor had come through. But the news did nothing to erase my depression over the rejection of my novel, now the seventeenth one.
'The line is, you're not black enough,' my agent said.
'What's that mean, Yul? How do they even know I'm black? Why does it matter?'
'We've been over this before. They know because of the photo on your first book. They know because they've seen you. They know because you're black for crying out loud.'
'What, do I have to have my characters comb their afros and be called niggers for these people?'
'It wouldn't hurt.'
I was stunned into silence.

From Glyph by Percival Everett:

Have you to this point assumed that I am white? In my reading, I discovered that if a character was black, then he at some point was required to comb his Afro hairdo, speak on the street using an obvious, ehtnically identifiable idiom, live in a certain part of a town, or be called a nigger by someone.
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