DAY 199: Not yet

January 21st, 2017 § 0 comments

PEOPLE! It’s like a bad hangover;hangoverand everyone is going around like Trumpday is the end of the world. I know a number of truly appalling things can happen, and you don’t need me to remind you. But remember:

1. The USA is not the only country in the world! In terms of population, it’s tiny, with 4.34% of world population (compare China and India, around 17). The vast majority of people in the world aren’t Americans.

2. It isn’t EVEN the richest country in the world. It has 16.14% of world GDP (which isn’t near to being a majority), while China has 16.32%, ahead by a very small margin.

3. Most people in the USA AREN’T Trump supporters; he notoriously didn’t get a majority of the popular vote (Clinton beat him by 2.1%), and as usual a lot of Americans either chose not to vote or were prevented from voting. There are some wonderful Americans, like Beyoncé or Judith Butler (BLM and JVP respectively)

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4. A lot of people in the world, however misguided they may be, either don’t know or don’t care who the President of the United States is. If you live in Bethlehem or SowetoSoweto_township or Irkutsk or Mogadishu or… your immediate oppressor is likely to be the important one, and events in distant America may impinge less than we (in Western Europe) think they should.

Yesterday I was teaching a class about the history of Babylonia in the 3rd millennium BCE, when notoriously life was a bit nasty, brutish and short, and empires had a habit of wiping one another out violently with little regard for the living standards of the population. (As Ibn Khaldun, who I’ve referred to earlier, remarked in relation to medieval North Africa.) And I was reminded in a lecture at SOAS the other day, what seems terrible to the population (e.g. living under Daesh, being massacred and having your cities and monuments

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destroyed) may be what the psychoanalysts would call ‘secondary gain’ to the archaeologists; more broken bits to put together.

Indeed, as a mathematician, I believe that there are many things that even Trump can’t monkey with, like the value of pi. (I recall that in 1897 the Indiana legislature attempted to pass a bill defining it to be 3.2 – an attempt lost, according to Wiki because ‘one senator observed that the General Assembly lacked the power to define mathematical truth’. Will Trump see his power as extending further?) 

It may have only marginal relevance to all these reflections: but here’s a clip of the Oxford Maqam, due to perform at King’s Place. I would give you the dance sequence from Bande à Part which I posted a year ago; but that would be self-indulgent, you can look it up.

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