Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Commemorate by not remembering

If ever you feel that it's all just too complex to untangle and it's nothing but congestion of the country and the soul from now on and you daydream of becoming Winnie-the-Pooh, read something like this, and thank whatever deity you prefer or have created that you were not born in Hungary. A taster.

The enthusiasm of the Hungarians is always short-lived. Foreigners see this as perhaps their most characteristic trait. Together with the way they cry at parties. And curse fate, bent over the table.

But instead of entering the murky waters of the national character and the soul of the people, let us rather concentrate on Hungary's peculiar brand of communal national remembrance – this memory without remembering, the fact that in Hungarian history, strangely, the way memory works is by blocking out precisely that which is to be commemorated.

Remembering meant suppressing memory. In other words: the more deformed the memory, the more truthful it appeared.

This was occasioned by the 50th anniversary of the 1956 uprising. (Highlighting in original)

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