Thursday, July 4, 2013


You read about Wimbledon and Tahrir Square on the same page. You do not know whether to settle your mind with an intuitive reliance on Djokovic or join the anticipatory agitation of a nation far away. The news decentres but does not unhinge and you go to sleep tipping your hat to the opening chapter of The Book of Laughter and Forgetting:

'The bloody massacre in Bangladesh quickly covered over the memory of the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia, the assassination of Allende drowned out the groans of Bangladesh, the war in the Sinai Desert made people forget Allende, the Cambodian massacre made people forget Sinai, and so on and so forth until ultimately everyone lets everything be forgotten.
In times when history still moved slowly, events were few and far between and easily committed to memory. They formed a commonly accepted backdrop for thrilling scenes of adventure in private life. Nowadays, history moves at a brisk clip. A historical event, though soon forgotten, sparkles the morning after with the dew of novelty. No longer a backdrop, it is now the adventure itself, an adventure enacted before the backdrop of the commonly accepted banality of private life.'

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