“Je me souviens”

In Current reading, En français dans le texte, Hautvoir, Local projects, proto drafts, Sanford Meisner on September 14, 2015 at 8:27 am

A moment, years ago in my place of origin. I was part of a minister’s staff, and attending a Party meeting in his name. Back room stuff where people feel free to say what’s on their mind. The great, inclusive “we” in which we can say what we think of “them”. Did I hear the word xenophobia? Did I hear the word racism? No. I heard a lot of us/we and they/them. Don’t ask in which camp were the troublemakers.

Fast forward to a few days ago: a friend asks me to have a look at a website. She knows I’m a fast reader and wants a general opinion on someone’s vast social engineering project, designed to make the world a better place and humans, a much more congenial bunch. So I read about the woes afflicting humankind and how, really, we could all get along so much better. Who am I to disagree? I note, in passing, that the project’s headquarters are in Florida. Can’t help wondering how the great social experiment is faring over there. My memories of Florida include some nice beaches and gorge-out potluck suppers, but not only. They also include jarring discrepancies in income and all related matters – housing, transportation, clothing, food, community folklore and myths, etc.

“Je me souviens” – I remember. The official motto from my place of birth. I remember what? I remember how? I remember to what purpose?

Finished reading Cynthia Ozick’s Foreign Bodies last night. A moment in the novel when the narrator’s brother goes ballistic (again), this time at the thought that, by marrying a Romanian Jew, his son has “stepped back” two or three generations from the father’s struggle to leave dark Europe behind. If you don’t remember, they say, history repeats itself. A circular argument, like most truisms.


Spent most of Sunday afternoon, measuring and cutting out large squares of fabric – some from curtains I’ve owned and transformed over the years, some from fabrics donated by a friend. There will be fifty-seven squares in all (forty-five cut out already). These will be ironed out and sewn into a patchwork applied to a background fabric – yellow for the curtains on the window, burnt orange for the curtain closing off the living room.

I had bought the fabric for the original curtains in Alsace over fifteen years ago, and used them to separate the kitchen and dining room in the farmhouse where I last lived in Québec. The fabric – a toile de Jouy pattern – shows Europeans landing in America with muskets, and greeted by feathered men, women and children, bearing flowers and/or spears.

Remembering. And then…?


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