Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tizita: A New World Interpretation by Dag Woubshet Download The Full Article Here

In Amharic, the word tizita has three related meanings. It can mean, in the first place, memory and the act of memory. Some dictionaries parenthetically add nostalgia, or the memory of loss and longing—and nostalgia certainly evokes the word’s attendant mood, its melancholy, which is discernible in the way Amharic speakers use it even in the most quotidian exchanges.

Secondly, tizita refers to one of the scales or modes in secular Ethiopian music, one that conjures up in sonic terms the word’s dictionary meaning of nostalgia.

Finally, and incorporating the two, tizita refers to a signature ballad in the Amharic songbook, which always takes the form of an expression of loss. At bottom, tizita is a ballad about the memory of love loss. The lovelorn singer takes up as the subject the departed lover and, simultaneously, the unrelieved memory of loss that the lover’s departure has prompted. ...

The longing in tizita is without resolution, since the possibility of restoration or return is always thwarted. Unlike other acts of nostalgia that “try to repair longing with belonging,” tizita is akin to what Svetlana Boym terms “reflective nostalgia,” which “thrives in algia, the longing itself, and delays the homecoming—wistfully, ironically, desperately.” Like the blues, tizita keeps alive the apprehension of loss...."
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Born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Dag Woubshet emigrated to the United States when he was thirteen. Not so many years later, he received his Ph.D. in the history of American civilization from Harvard University and joined the Cornell University Department of English as an assistant professor.