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By Noshir H. Antia

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The dynamic of self and other relations is central not because it enables us to know one another, not because there is something to be commended in such knowledge, but because our identity as human beings relies upon such a relation to give meaning and purpose to our lives in the recognition that we are each incomplete beings who are consigned by the very limits that life places upon us ultimately not to know. The Other is able to see those parts of us we cannot, as we are also able to see part of what is closed to the Other.

Each one exists in a nexus of relations with others. This communication with the others is essential to its cultural integrity. Even if it may be conceptualised as the enemy, or as outside the category of human beings as recognised by that particular culture, there is still a need to come to an accommodation with what exists external to the situation in which we find ourselves. No matter how much we may try to assert the singularity of our Experience of Culture 18/7/01 17:00 Page 27 THE DIFFERENTIATION OF CULTURES 27 own cultural experience, the image of the Other necessarily impinges, even if often that image is distorted.

1984: 13) Columbus was modern in the sense that, as an individual, he yearned to discover new lands, to open up horizons. While it may be that the profits that such adventures might bring only secondarily interested Columbus himself, without that secondary interest (which would soon predominate and become the primary concern) such discovery would have been impossible. This widening of horizons is also to be perceived in the arts, and most notably in the invention of perspective, which deepened the image that could be created within a picture frame, a ‘conquest of reality’ that provided a window on the world reflecting the outward thrust of Western society.

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A Life of Change by Noshir H. Antia


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