Pico Iyer brings ‘Soul’ to globalization
Published: Thursday, September 12, 2013
Updated: Friday, September 13, 2013 00:09
On Tuesday, award-winning author Pico Iyer spoke to a crowd of 300 people at Benton Hall on the current challenges and advantages of globalization. As he approached the podium, Iyer expressed his delight at having the opportunity to speak to Miami University’s students.
Described as a living example of global movement, Iyer said he intended to deliver an extremely informal, human take on globalization. He began by reading the opening pages from his novel “The Global Soul” to bring to light the lack of knowledge most have of other cultures.
“We assume we know everything about each other because we can look them up on a screen when we really don’t know anything more than our grandparents,” Iyer said.
One major theme he addressed was the concept of home. He explained how it is increasingly difficult to answer the question “Where are you from?” due to globalization. This is a subject that has always been personally intriguing for him, Iyer said in an interview prior to the lecture.
“Your home becomes a work in progress,” Iyer said. “You may never complete your home and definitely know where you are from.”
He argued that people do not have one home anymore because they have access to the whole world like never before, but though people may have a more expansive definition of home, they must remember to always build their homes out of their passions.
“We are carrying our homes around with us and that is what enables us to fly,” Iyer said.
He also spoke on the evolution of countries and cities in the world due to globalization.
He used Los Angeles as an example because it is only 100 miles from his Southern California “home,” arguing that it could be identified as a microcosm for the world which has become in itself a “global city.”
“We are living in a global city such as a worldwide Los Angles fighting for global supremacy,” Iyer said.
He told the story of how he stayed in the LAX airport to get a feel of how “foreigners” act in a different country and to better understand what a global city is. Speaking from experience, he described living in an airport as living in a subsection of limbo because in an airport, travelers are essentially not under the jurisdiction of any one country.
Looking ahead, Iyer said the future of globalization lies within cities.
“Countries have too many rivalries with each other; cities do not worry about contentions but instead have a strong sense of pride within,” Iyer said.
He drew heavily from his personal experiences and explained how he had visited Japan on and off for 26 years. Every time he arrived at the airport he was strip-searched because of his skin color. He didn’t mind.
“They are foreign to me. I am foreign to them,” he said.
He concluded by encouraging the audience to remember that they are guests while visiting foreign countries.