Foxy, “Tena’s Song,” 1978.
Feel better about life, Sunday morning.
Suga Free & Pimpin Young f/ Nate Dogg - “15 Minutes To 5” (Empire, 2013)
Suga Free is a national treasure.
Malcolm Little ad!
Years ago, an issue of Transition magazine (the journal of Harvard’s Dept. of African and African American Studies) used this as the cover, with the caption “The Secret Relationship.” Genius.
Lonnie Holley, “All Rendered Truth,” 2012.
“Who does more, and who does less—the one who can remember but cannot talk, or the one who forgets and can thus speak?”
Freud was not alone in his awareness of the dangers of an excessive faculty of recollection. Among the posthumously published papers of his younger Austro-Hungarian contemporary Franz Kafka, one finds an untitled aphorism that presents the problem of remembering more and doing less in an abbreviated and exemplary form. It reads as follows:
I can swim just like the others. Only I have a better memory [ein besseres Gedächtnis] than the others. I have not forgotten the former inability to swim [literally, “the former being-able-not-to-swim,” das einstige Nicht-schwimmen-können]. But since I have not forgotten it, being able to swim is of no help to me; and so, after all, I cannot swim.
The unnamed speaker of this brief text stands in the same position with respect to swimming that the Freudian aphasics occupy with respect to language. One could say, in the terms of Kafka’s lines, that they can–or could–speak “just like the others”: their recurring “remnants” are the proof. Only a detail remains to he added, which at once clarifies and transforms the sense of their faculties: their memory is better. The aphasics “have not forgotten” the “signs” once printed on a “transcript” of their psyche. But since they have not forgotten them, being ahle to speak is of no help to them; and so they ultimately cannot speak.
One might go still further in the reading of Kafka’s prose. It would he another variation on the theme. One could imagine that aphasics are those who could “speak just like the others.” Only, one would then add, “they have a better memory”: they have “not forgotten the former inahility to speak” (or “the former being-able-not-to-speak”). Their memory would then be much better than good. For it would extend to the age of infant babble in which every individual life begins. It would reach back to the “epoch of life” to which no “sign”—other than the blankness of the unmarked “transcript” itseIf—would be adequate. Silent, the aphasic would obstinately bear witness to what was never written and what could not be said. One would then be obliged to conclude that at times, remembrance can be as destructive as oblivion can be productive: in this case, the end of memory would lie in muteness, and forgetting would lead to speech. There is no doubt that achievement, in these terms, grows difficult to measure. It could be rash to propose any summary judgment of the relative accomplishments of those speaking beings who can and who cannot speak. Who does more, and who does less—the one who can remember but cannot talk, or the one who forgets and can thus speak? Among lesser animals, the possibilities are many; privation bears more than a single mask.
Daniel Heller-Roazen, Echolalias, 2005, 145–47.
“Black Bush,” Chapelle’s Show, 2004.
Ten years after Iraq, and this seems to be a very accurate way to remember the time.