All to the sound of very distant music

In Absurdlandia, coffee, Local projects, Music, notes on June 9, 2016 at 7:18 am

Corals don’t need a leader to organize into complex forms and colonies. With a nod toward human leaders who think they lead, humans don’t need leaders except as an excuse when the mess becomes unmanageable. “Not my fault, I was just doing my job. For complaints, see the next one up on the chart.”

Bureaucratic mazes. No one needed to sit down and design them. They grow on their own. Their growth is as much a consequence of attempting to contain the mess, as it is of willful decisions to deny access to whatever the service purports to be.  A matter of improving the service, they say, as they add another roadblock forcing you into the next dead end. Kafka comes to mind? Yes but also the joke of the Jewish pessimist who says: “it can’t get worse than this”, and the Jewish optimist who answers: “yes it can, don’t give up yet.”

I may have missed an important deadline for the renewal of someone’s authorization to stay in-country. Unless I find someone to handle the matter before tomorrow noon, the person is in deep trouble. Trouble is: only so many hours in a day, and only so much energy I can put into navigating the maze. The mental image of a dug-out in a waterway choked by water hyacinths – lovely to look at, but how the hell do you reach dry land, a dry shack, food, music, human company…


A young one – fifteen, sixteen? In need of help before his decisive exam in French literature. In both trial exams, he was marked a six out of twenty i.e. an F. I review the exams with him and the comments from the corrector. An hour into the two-hour session, his confidence builds up to the point where he asks me to explain some of the words used by the corrector and some of the instructions heading the questions. His exam is on the seventeenth. The family’s been in-country for three years. The boy speaks fluent Arabic and Italian. Writes almost-appropriate French. His chances of achieving a passing grade? I don’t even give that a thought. Next and final catch-up session: tomorrow morning.

As for the questions in the trial exams, they reminded me of the trick questions examiners throw in to eliminate as many candidates as possible. What the successful ones will have gained? In most cases, precious little except relief. Ordeal over and parents off their backs.

Do I look forward to time away from impossible tasks and deadlines, plus mind-numbing sessions of basic French grammar and of repeating “no, that’s a b, not a d”, or “no, six times seven is forty-two; I repeat, you write down the two and carry the four“?


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