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& i look thru my recent afterdinner Padwriter emails to my PC since last week & find myself reading this — and remember that in yesterday’s post I wrote something about the majority of voters, & some thoughts in the second of these (but you need to read the first to get it) resonates with that, so i’ll post them (not without adding & changing a few things here & there).
wed 140709 8:40 pm [updated 140716]
“Visible consequences are iceberg tips, most results of actions are invisible to the doer” – David Mitchell, number9dream
just finished this one, after first reading his first, Ghostwritten, which i found by reading a review of his latest on the guardian, really & most rewardingly had to suspend my disbelief to go with it, & now, after reading a reply of his on a talkback the guardian posted, started at last to read Yukio Mishima, his first, Spring Snow, & enthralled by the opening chapter’s story’s move into the long, moving, & detailed description of the artistic photograph of the scene, centered on an unpaired wooden cenotaph, of thousands of massed soldiers, each of them also representing more than one of the war dead. I found myself immediately connecting that poignance ( the translator’s apt word, for me at least) with my feeling with the dead & dying in the still ongoing Israel-Palestine war & those who have represented or are representing them or will represent them at services or gatherings or rallies there &/or will think alone of those of them they knew &/or cared for, of who they were, & of how & why they died, not that all who die by war have services afterwards or people representing them, & also, in the Russo-Japanese case almost all those who died by war were soldiers, still, before in World War II the world’s major powers made the killing & even the targeting of civilian populations an integral part of modern warfare… Then I realized that what I was feeling while imagining all that this scene was suggesting to me was building on what I felt when I first read the brief chapter the Yitzhak Laor posted on Facebook today from his novel הנה אדם, a title I don’t know how he’d want to translate, if it was in biblical Hebrew it’d be Behold Adam; but in modern Israeli Hebrew it could be Here’s Adam, or Look at Adam, or Look, Adam, or Here’s a Person Adam, or Look at a Person, or Look, Man – because, apart from the biblical first man’s name, adam means ‘a person’ or ‘man’, a meaning that isn’t lost when we discover that the novel’s hero’s name is Adam. & I reread the piece, & added a brief comment to this morning’s like, & now I think I’ll try to translate that powerfully moving & cutting piece of writing that increasing build to the intensity & depth of feeling of its closing sentence.
thur 140710 8:58 pm [updated 140716]
& after reading a later par in Mishima, I think that’s what good fiction can do, let you feel so fully what a fictional character is feeling & experiencing, & as you’re feeling it you realize you’re feeling something like what someone real, not a fiction, could or would have felt in such a kind of situation & more… & what in fact can do that if not the fictional imagination? what can humanize, can open the gates of empathy that people who have evidently never opened them to others if they cannot identify them as belonging to the grouping of whatever kind that they identify with (& a part of becoming a member of a grouping, & everyone born into any human society does that to start with, is distinguishing between us and them)… How in my life reading fiction, first of all John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, opened me to the universalizing empathy that becomes a sense of solidarity with all who are oppressed anywhere, and to a socialistic vision of a more just and humane world. But could I have got to that from Steinbeck’s book if I hadn’t experienced empathic identification with so many fictional heroes (& non-heroic protagonists too) before that? for I was already an avid reader & absorber of fiction, in books, comics & films, & had been since I learned to read, & still (& more, again, in recent years), but now i can get it in so many other forms too, songs, the occasional poem, films, tv series, sometimes illuminating & sometimes recreation is enough…
& I’m thinking like if that’s what does it or can do it, how important it is to have good fiction available & accessible to children, & how that can’t ever happen wherever there’s One Book, one text, that’s sacred while all others are profane &/or prohibited if not properly subordinate to the Book as determined by its socially acknowledged interpreters, & how I was saved from that by being born to a generation already emancipated from that & by having always lived in countries where good fiction was freely available & accessible.
& i’m wondering is it only a certain kind of sensitivity, temperament, (something genetic too?) that makes it painingly obvious to some people that the occupation is wrong, is a cancer in & of Israeli society, in & of life in Palestine, & so is returning asylum seekers to Sri Lanka or many other things the Abbott government is planning for Australia, I write here only of the two countries I feel closest to because they have been & still are so central in my life, but come on now, there’s awful shit going down right now in lots of places that lots of people we don’t know are suffering, benefiting from, enjoying, etc., etc., so what is it distinguishes us ‘leftists’, who want peace, equal rights, an end to occupation, inhumane detention, who feel compassion, solidarity & shared-humanity with the oppressed & dispossessed by an occupying power, who feel helplessly frustrated, angry, all those things that distract us from our own ongoing etc., etc. – from those who fear &/or hate &/or demonize &/or dehumanize the Other & are willing to detain, dispossess, invade, besiege, bomb, kill & wound demolish homes & fruit-bearing trees of generations of them to ‘protect’ their own survival &/or comfortable existence &/or power &/or profit? what does it take to make someone swing from ‘right’ to ‘left’? It’s easier for me to imagine someone swinging the opposite way, can imagine an increased fear, a fear increased by something personally experienced, even tho particulars don’t prove anything, but many minds can shake logic away, especially if with it comes the added benefit of suddenly & at last belonging to the majority, no longer to be smirked at as one of those goodie-goodie-goddam leftists… but what could bring someone to swing from right to left?