I wonder: does reading something resonate more than hearing something? Anyway something I’ve just read really resonates with me, an essay by David Rieff ‘In praise of forgetting’. He suggests that there is, and certainly has been, too much emphasis on remembering and not enough about forgetting. Whilst I think it’s a given we need to have some sense of a historical perspective to explain and understand the present there is the selective remembering that feeds the less desirable of our natures. For example I’m sure it feeds many of the fevered minds of those wanting out of the EU. I know that much of the ‘lest we forget’ trope reinforces the forces of nationalism and is but a short goosestep to racism, fascism and similar. Much of the remembering is selective and is associated with great animosity between fellow beings and rages all over the world.
It seems easier to hate than to love, certainly it’s easier for those with power, or aspire to power, to employ fear of ‘the other’ to retain or gain power. And the way the Scots behave when England roll into town to play the rugby football and they kindly provide a piper to walk in front of the team bus for it’s 20 mile journey to the ground so that hordes of woad covered kilt-wearers can hurl verbal aggression about remembering Bannockburn and the like.
Maybe Mr Rieff has a good point about some judicious forgetting and “to commit to the hard work of forgiveness”.
This chimes with a new book I’m trying to read by Adam Phillips called ‘Unforbidden Pleasures’ in which he argues that we are so restricted by the restrictiveness of our thrall to the forbidden. Seems to me that the elevation of remembering certain things or events helps underpin this restrictiveness, so not only do we get the nastier political stuff but also sadly deny ourselves much of the more enjoyable stuff of life. Mr Phillips uses Oscar Wilde’s thoughts such as from his ‘The Soul of Man under Socialism’ and Wilde’s definition of ‘public opinion’ as ‘an attempt to organise the ignorance of the community, and to elevate it to the dignity of physical force’. For Wilde this is very detrimental to art and artists as it becomes stereotyped, degenerates or vanishes entirely. Things can only get better and Born in the USA. As Wilde writes:
“Indeed, the moment that an artist takes notice of what other people want, and tries to supply the demand, he ceases to be an artist (or she ) and becomes a dull or amusing craftsman (or craftswoman), an honest or a dishonest tradesman (or tradeswoman)”, much like the rolling stones.
And has anyone else noticed in many TV dramas the number of non-speaking solicitors that sit in police interview rooms next to their clients. I’ve become somewhat obsessed watching them as they can’t speak and how they actively listen, make important notes and use various facial expressions. What a sad git I am, Oscar would not approve.
An incredible full page photo in today’s Grauniad of the funeral in Rawalpindi of the bodyguard of one Salman Taseer. Taseer was the governer of Punjab and he was murdered by this bodyguard in 2011 because he criticised Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. The photograph shows thousands of men, I looked in vain for even 1 woman, actually there was one but she’d been stoned to death for showing an ankle. I think Mr Wilde would recognise this as as an example of ‘public opinion’.
And poor barclays bank grumbling about the their ‘too high fines and taxes’. I agree, should just jail them.
Keep on forgetting on, love Duncan.