Effects of globalization on the poetry of a mid-sized language

On my weblog, I have just posted a brief essay on the effects of the Internet and poetic globalization on Dutch poetic culture. Here's a fragment:

There is a subtle difference between the poetic situation in one's language being influenced by outside influences, and the continuation of some debate that comes from an outside context within one's own language. The balance seems to shift now more towards the latter end, and this raises questions about the status of Dutch in such debates. Because of course the positions of Dutch and English are highly asymmetrical. American experimental poets may often show a genuine interest in what happens in Holland; but the things that they might be most interested in, poetry generally considered fringe within Dutch literature, is often just unavailable to them.

Of course this simply reflects the cultural realities of globalization; but it also points to a striking contradiction within Dutch culture. The Netherlands has always been a major player in globalization - modern global capitalism was practically invented here. Many aspects of Dutch society are internationalist to the bone: banking, trading, etc; there exists a great openness to the world on this level. On the other hand, there is residual authentic Dutch culture that, from a global point of view, cannot but appear provincial - particularly to the cosmopolitan Dutch themselves. For the sake of cosmopolitan expediency, the Dutch have always been very ready if not eager to ignore their own culture. Symptoms of this abound: from the complete impossibility for foreigners to learn Dutch because the Dutch will always speak English to them to the oft-encountered attitude among Dutch readers that they will only read English, German, French but not Dutch literature, to the near impossibility of establishing enduring Dutch traditions in the arts since generation after generation of artists is again more impressed by outside models. Dutch culture, then, can - and perhaps should - be defined as "that which the Dutch are willing to relinquish."

No comments: