Tuesday, October 16, 2007

It is the DOOM of men that they forget...

The above title is a quote from the 1981 movie ‘Excalibur’ as delivered by Nicol Williamson in his off-beat but effective portrayal of Merlin the Magician. Ironically it stuck with me and I have never forgotten it, nor have I failed to use it when I wish to sound both wise and ominous. Memory is one of those universal subjects of fascination among humans which explains why it not only figures heavily in psychology and studies of the brain but in our art and entertainment as well. Gaining, losing, or viewing memory is a plot device used with such common frequency in storytelling that we barely recognize when we’re exposed to it. Our minds have been trained to transition through time and space seamlessly when following the thread of a particular story.

Memory is of course instrumental when conceiving the passage of time and taken to a further extent, reality itself. If we have forgotten something then how real was the experience in the first place? How many moments have we lived through that wind up having a minimal or negligible effect on us because we lack the ability to store everything we may or may not have done? Do we actually forget more than we remember? If that is the case and if you believe that our subconscious somehow accounts for our unremembered events then might we not be a species formed more from our forgetfulness than our remembrance? What then of a made-up memory? Can remembering a lie have a deeper effect on our development than forgetting the truth?

Hmm… Marijuana…

Myanmar has probably slipped from memory though its mere mention might reactivate and recall what has recently gone on there. It hasn’t stopped, though it being out of front page news might cause one to think that there is stasis or inactivity in that beautiful but benighted part of the world. I’ll admit to feeling that way at least. Sadly it isn’t so.


This report claims that around 200 people have been killed and 6,000 detained. Let’s be clear however, those 6,000 detained are basically at death’s door what with horrid prison conditions, forced labour camps, and the tender mercies of an enforcement establishment with a penchant for firing into crowds in broad daylight. Monk corpses are being found in the surrounding jungles.


A science organization with access to satellite imagery has tracked not only the eradication of several Burmese villages but what seems to be the forced relocation of even more people. Bush clearing on a mass scale indicates that camps may be being created to accommodate a large migration of people.


There is no question that the ruling junta is unpopular, so how can they carry on? It stands to reason that so long as they are swimming in cash they may act with impunity. And so we learn that 90% of the world’s rubies hail from Myanmar. “Fiery Gems from a Fairytale World!” so the advertisements go. Lovely.


Here’s a few more stories for the memory books. I for one am really, really tired of the “Inconvenient Truth” slogan being used to describe everything from Hillary Clinton potentially winning the Democratic nomination to my eventual dependence on bladder control undergarments but that aside this is a very good article on that whole Armenian genocide thing. The motive as to why the Ottomans would have wiped out up to 1.5 million Christians is explained. What's not is the motive of congress to vote on this.

Pure speculation but this might be a way for the Democratic congress to undermine the war in Iraq rather than take the more politically dangerous route of cutting funding. If Turkey wouldn't allow the U.S. to move supplies through their ports then the war effort would have a serious logistical challenge on their hands. Furthermore if Turkey is emboldened by a shaky alliance to move into Kurdish Iraq as they want to then there would be another outbreak of violence. I wouldn't be surprised if the Democratic party desired and even pursued an agenda that would ensure bad news to continue pouring out of Iraq up until the 2008 election. Cynical? Yes. Tinfoil hat crazy even? Yes. I'm just throwing it out there.


Steve Rogers; the original Captain America died not too long ago in a very politically-charged story, gunned down on the steps of a courthouse where he was prepared to submit his secret identity. His death was as much of a statement regarding the modern American identity as it was a money grab to sell ultra-collectible comics. He will be replaced – by whom in the Marvel universe is a closely guarded secret – but the new/old costume has been revealed. The re-addition of a handgun has lowered the jaws of some but again I think this to be another spot of social commentary couched in a bit of “Malibu Stacy with a New Hat” style of marketing. Let’s hope it’s a super gun that gives bullets the ability to change course mid-shot. Then maybe the Captain can go back in time and unwittingly fire on John F. Kennedy, thus confirming the Magic Bullet theory. Ooh! Good thing I have Stan Lee on speed-dial!


Finally in something more archaeological than political there is a massive dig going on right now in Hanoi to fully uncover the thousand year old palaces of the Great Viet; Bronze Age founders of North Viet Nam! Their symbols were both the dragon AND the phoenix which in ancient times stood for Twice the Awesome!

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