In every generation there are a few souls, call them lucky or cursed who are simply born not belonging, who come into the world semi-detached, if you like, without strong affiliation to family or location or nation or race. But those who value stability, who fear transience, uncertainty, change, have erected a powerful system of stigmas and taboos against rootlessness, that disruptive, anti-social force, so that we mostly conform, we pretend to be motivated by loyalties an solidarities we do not really feel, we hide our secret identities, beneath the false skins of those identities which bear the belongers’ seal of approval, But the truth leaks out in our dreams; alone in our beds (because we are all alone at night, even if we do not sleep by ourselves), we soar, we fly, we flee. And in the waking dreams our societies permit, in our myths, our arts, our songs, we celebrate the non-belongers, the different ones, the outlaws, the freaks. What we forbid ourselves, we pay good money to watch, in a playhouse or movie theatre, or to read about between the secret covers of a book. Our libraries, our palaces of entertainment tell the truth. The tramp, the assassin,, the rebel, the thief, the mutant, the outcast, the delinquent, the devil, the sinner, the traveller, the gangster, the runner, the mask: if we didn’t recognise in them our least-fulfilled needs, we would not invent them over and over again, in every place, in every language, in every time.
No sooner did we have ships, than we rushed to sea, sailing across unknown oceans in paper boats. No sooner did we have cars, than we hit the road. Now we send mechanical photographers into orbit, or on one-way journeys to the stars and we weep at the wonders they transmit; we are humbled by the mighty images of the far-off galaxies standing like cloud pillars in the sky, and we give names to alien rocks, as if they were our pets. We hunger for warp space, for the outlying rim of time. And this is the species that kids itself it likes to stay at home, to bind itself with – what are they called again? – ties.
Salman Rushdie p.73