Abstract

When Wilson Harris made this statement he was referring to those whom he calls 'the nameless forgotten dead', i.e., the suffering multitudes whose lives usually go unrecorded in history books, yet who carry the burden of history. They are involved in what he has termed 'the paradox of non-existence',^ the fact that so much experience, both actual and psychological, is passed over in silence in factual history or conventional narrative and appears to be non-existent. For Harris these unrecorded, unwritten lives are 'a catalyst of sensibility'.' The function of art is to retrieve them from forgetfulness and to give life to these 'unborn' existences. It is also to transform imaginatively through a metaphorical discourse the given categories of the conventional narrative. In this way historical catastrophe can become a warning for the future; it also becomes 'seminal' in the sense that through art it may lead to a vision of rebirth and an alteration of stark opposites into a relationship of reciprocity.

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