DAY 193: Memory

November 20th, 2016 § 0 comments

As I’m confronted by my complete failure to comprehend the results of the US elections, it seems to me to be time for a radical rethink of this blog’s policy, perhaps indeed to issue a new mission statement. Having devoted a year or more to refugees and Calais in particular, isn’t it time (particularly after the disastrous U.S. election result) to abandon politics and focus on the things which I do well – Chinese translations of Finnegans Wake or Iranian women mathematicians winning prizes for their work on pairs of pants? Please vote (remembering that popular votes this year have been disturbing in their results):

1. Yes, change course please!

2. No, stick to the same old stuff.

I’ve spent so long thundering against neoliberalism; and now I find that neofascism,b731 which is the current alternative offer, could be, nay is, even worse. But there will surely be plenty of time to consider the Trump programme and the fairness of applying the term ‘fascist’ to it.

In the meantime, you will probably have been wondering, as I have, about how you play Scrabble in Arabic. It’s all very well to say, as my sources do, that the rules are the same, the number of tiles roughly the same the board more or less identical; that for example there are two ط tiles and one ظ tile. But this, in a language characterised by triliteral roots, where كتب means (with modifications) almost any noun or verb or adjective which has something to do with writing, I expect that the scope for messing about with the rules is much wider, particularly if you’re from Sham and are allowed to add a b- to the beginning of any verb.

I’d welcome advice on this (or indeed on Scrabble in Dari, Pashtu or Tigrinya) before I make some rash statement.

Going back to Calais, (just to harp on for a moment) if I told you that the life of the children who have ben removed from the jungle and dumped in centres across France was far from easy, and in some cases akin to forced labour – would you be surprised? In one case, the charity Safe Passage was told that two boys had already run away from the centre and two more were considering fleeing with one saying “If others run away I am not going to stay”.

Many said they felt they did not understand what was happening with their asylum applications and three of them had not spoken to anyone “official” (meaning a lawyer, French or UK authorities or local volunteers) since their arrival.

Nearly a quarter (24 per cent) said they had not been given clean clothes since their arrival but all said they had access to showers, hot water and at least three meals a day and only two said staff had not made them feel welcome.

 Calais ‘Jungle’ exodus: Charity boss likens refugee treatment to Nazi persecution

Rabbi Janet Darley, Citizens UK Leader, said: “We are hugely concerned about the safeguarding of children in the CAOs in France.

“The Safe Passage team have had reports of forced labour, and unaccompanied children being made to live with adults.

“Although the CAOs are, on the whole, safe places for the children to live, they cannot be used as an excuse to delay the transfer of children to the UK.

“Every day children are separated from their families in the UK, or the opportunity to be placed with foster families, they are missing out on their childhoods.”

Following the destruction of the camp there was furore among charities and campaigners after it emerged that some refugee children were sleeping in the open air as the safe space accommodation designed to look after them was reportedly full.

French authorities were criticised for not having the reception centres up and ready in time for the destruction of the camp.

So far some 350 child refugees have arrived in the UK out of the estimated 2,000 living in the camp when it closed but charities are urging the Home Office to settle at least 1,000 by Christmas.

The Home Office said it remains “absolutely committed to bringing all eligible people to the UK as soon as possible”.

At times like the present it seems like a duty to fight depression, while at the same time not giving way to mere frivolity. How many people there were, as Fairouz reminds us, holding umbrellas, waiting; but no one would wait for me!

Oh how many people there were
On the corner waiting for others
And it would rain
And they would hold umbrellas
But even on the clearest days, no one would wait for me
Oh how many people there were
On the corner waiting for others
And it would rain
And they would hold umbrellas
But even on the clearest days, no one would wait for me
I’ve been stuck in this small store for about a hundred years
Even the walls are bored of me
But they’re too shy to say so
And I have my eye on his beauty
And he is in the streets
I sing him songs,
But he is too busy with himself
I waited for so many dates
But no one waited for me
Oh how many people there were
On the corner waiting for others
And it would rain
And they would hold umbrellas
But even on the clearest days, no one would wait for me
I’ve been inventing addresses for about a hundred years
I don’t know who they’re for
And I send them news
But someday loved ones will come to me
And the one who remembered everybody, in the end remembered me
Oh how many people there were
On the corner waiting for others
And it would rain
And they would hold umbrellas
But even on the clearest days, no one would wait for me
No one waited for me
Adesh kan fi nas (قديش كان في ناس)
قديش كان في ناس عالمفرق تنطر ناس و تشتي الدنيي و يحملو شمسية
و أنا بأيام الصحو ما حدا نطرني
قديش كان في ناس عالمفرق تنطر ناس و تشتي الدنيي و يحملو شمسية
و أنا بأيام الصحو ما حدا نطرني
صار لي شي مية سنة مشلوحه بهالدكان ضجرت مني الحيطان و مستحيه تقول
و أنا عيني عالحلى و الحلى عالطرقات غنيلو غنيات و هو بحالو مشغول
نطرت مواعيد الأرض و ما حدا نطرني
و يحملو شمسية ما حدا نطرني
صار لي شي مية سنة عم ألف عناوين مش معروفة لمين و وديلن أخبار
بكرا لا بد السما ما تشتيلي عالباب شمسيات و أحباب يخدوني بشي نهار
و اللي ذكر كل الناس بال
This brief lyric seems to sum up much of our current despair; the many people, the boredom of the walls, even the rain.

So let us consider , while we can remember it, the multiple uses of memory

alphabetbig16th century memory alphabet

(or Zochrot as it’s called in Hebrew). This is made the easier by the appearance of Anna Lisa Tota and Trever Hagen’s 570-page ‘Handbook of Memory Studies’ (Routledge, £108.37, may be cheaper on Amazon but not much). In this huge volume (naturally, Anna Lisa and Trever got dozens of toilers in the fields of memory studies to collaborate), I found most intriguing the sections on memory in cells, and quantum mechanics; though I can’t say I’ve got near reading either of them. But if you wanted to know about the cellular memory – which Wikipedia calls a ‘pseudoscientific hypothesis’, here goes:

‘The Cellular Memory is the complete blueprint for your existence. It is the energetic expression of you as a holistic being. The labels “mind”, “body” and “spirit” are artificial labels that exist to make it easier for you to comprehend your multidimensional existence on earth. Each point within your cellular memory contains all the information of the whole. This information is infinitely accessible to each and every cell of your body. If you magnify your cells down to your atoms, you would see that you are made up of subtle bundles of “info-energy.” This info-energy is comprised of physical, mental and emotional data that comes from all of your life experiences, genetic heritage, and past generations. Nothing we experience escapes being imprinted into our Cellular Hologram in the form of a cell memory. What we commonly refer to as “The Cellular Memory” is the collective energy field generated by these individual cell memories. It operates behind the scenes of our subconscious mind.’

I leave you with that challenging thought. Let’s see the neofascists try to monkey with my cellular memory, say I!

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