Tag Archives: CLR James

Archive everything (or, the necessity of cultural historians)

To this day I regret not interviewing John La Rose before he died.

I regret not following through on a proposed project which would have chronicled the lives of different generations of Trinbagonians in London – The New Lonely Londoners: a documentary by Fred and sin

I regret the botched handling and inevitable collapse of a similar but separate venture, the hours and goodwill wasted, the stories that go untold.

I regret the steady erosion of our cultural heritage, fading with the memories of our elder and elderly practitioners.

Oui, je regrette beaucoup.

Because even as we fret about the loss of our historic architecture, we are losing the architects of our history.

But we do not need to lose them forever, not if we archive those lives.

We need to preserve the interviews we do have with our past and present icons, and the videos, the books, the letters, the music, the lectures, the newspaper articles, the blog posts, the photographs, the podcasts – our collective memory.

But it’s not just about preservation – it’s also about dissemination, about sharing those memoirs and re-telling those tales.

Which is why I was delighted to discover that the complete archives of both Caribbean Beat and the Caribbean Review of Books will soon be freely available online.

This is outstanding effort by MEP, and an amazing resource.

I have lists, scribbled in various small black notebooks, of people I’d like to know more about, books I must read, music I must listen to, articles I must find. (Hello, my name is sin, and I am addicted to data.)

Like this one, written in 2005: “X-Ref article on Trini filmmaker London in Caribbean Beat March 99.”

Soon, I will be able to cross that item off the list (and hopefully, remember why I underlined it three times in green ink).

But where do I go to find the texts of the lectures given by CLR James? Where are Eric Williams’s speeches? And Noor Hassanali’s? Where can I find early recordings by Lord Shorty? Where can I find copies of The Beacon or The Minerva Review? Where are the stories about the hanging of Michael X?

For I have searched and researched and I have found nothing; my lists grow longer and the gaps in our collective memory grow wider.

I regret not having interviewed John La Rose. But Horace OvĂ© did – and he recorded it. Now, if only I could find a copy of his Dream to Change The World….