The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory


From Evernote:

The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory

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The Disintegration of the Persistence of Memory – Dalí

Referring to the widespread cuts enacted by the government, he said "if the French government tried to do what they’re doing here, there’d be riots in the streets." Not Brian Lenihan, but a fishmonger in a small market in southern Spain, on Friday. The echoes, albeit in another language and with different reference points, can sometimes be disorienting, spooky even.

Several people have complained to me that the Spanish are unable to get their act together and resist, but this has always been the way, because of envy and what’s often referred to as la picaresca, a readiness to take cynical advantage of someone else, often momentarily and spontaneously, in order to get your own way. 

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There are words for this sort of thing in Ireland too: mé feinism, cute hoorism, and they are just as readily deployed in every day conversation to provide boil-in-the-bag individualised explanations for complex social and historical problems, leaving to one side any sort of consideration of, for example, the character of the State. I must say,I get some grim amusement from hearing certain people in Ireland go on about how people’s belief in the Bible or homeopathy is backward nonsense, but if you say to them that the problem in Ireland is mé féinism, or declare, that we all lost the run of ourselves and need to tighten our belts, they’ll nod in agreement with vigour.

Perspectives such as these -which use a lens of genetic predisposition to put an end to history- are widespread, and they are debilitating. They sit neatly alongside dominant notions of individualised responsibility-guilt for one’s predicament, and natural superiority of some people -or even peoples?- over others. 

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And they block out inconvenient historical facts, such as, in the case of Spain, millions of people who engaged in anti-fascist resistance, including thousands of guerrillas who fought in the French Resistance at a time when so many of the supposedly rebellious French, including many erstwhile French leftists, supported the Vichy regime. But these facts are inconvenient because they undermine the standing of the regime in power. 

What is more convenient, from the point of view of mass media outlets, as placed in evidence yesterday and today, is to venerate the likes of Manuel Fraga instead, the former leader of Alianza Popular -the precursor of the ruling Partido Popular- and previously minister in the fascist Franco regime, who died yesterday and who has been given an uncritical and at times effusive send-off. 

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Manuel Fraga

This was a man who ordered communists be shot to death and who never swayed from his stance that Franco’s putsch had been an action undertaken by the finest people Spain had produced. Incidentally Fraga, who -as Juan Carlos Monedero noted yesterday on a radio phone in, would never have been allowed participate in German post-war democratic politics on account of his fascist past- received the Schumann medal from the European People’s Party, a short while before John Bruton did. Thus the past is sterilised, any light that knowledge of it might cast on present day class antagonisms and associated confusions is snuffed out, and the way is paved for further domination. If you have no idea where you have come from, you will have still less idea about where you can go.

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