Friday, September 06, 2013

System of 'down'

At a recent reading in Accra an audience member asked me about my perspective on insanity after I read an excerpt from one of the new stories for my forthcoming collection THE CITY WILL LOVE YOU (no info yet, but you can keep an eye on my Random House page).

Later, (readers from Accra will understand how my mental leap happened) I started thinking of how, in Ghana, the word 'down' is used directionally in a sense that doesn't lead to a basement - or to wherever Curtis Mayfield said hell is (note what the B-side of the song was when the 7'' was released). If a Ghanaian says bus stop down, they often mean down a slight incline away from or down a road away from 'bus stop'. 

I believe this is how our city's mental asylum ended up naming a whole neighbourhood. In England, it would have been Asylum Valley or something cute like that; in Ghana, it's Asylum Down - and I kind of like that; it's more militant, like saying DOWN with ASYLUMS, because - in truth - my view, my perspective on insanity is that many of the people who get put away for a while are just bad actors, they're simply not very good at acting normal. The rest? Well, we can talk about that if you meet me in Asylum Down!

what i'm reading/listening to
Some Betty Wright compilation - full of innuendo

Friend of My Youth by Alice Munro