lest we forget

“…the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.” – Milan Kundera

I just have a few quick things to say; I wish I had the time to expand on this and say something more, but I’m already swamped with work. All things considered, I recognize that it is a great privilege to be busy working on intellectual projects that I enjoy.

Anyways, this is a great piece from the Guardian by Harry Leslie Smith, a veteran of the Second World War. Today is always an emotional and complicated day; sometimes I feel like the way we’re told to “remember” is really a way of “forgetting.”

What (and why) are we remembering? Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori? Or the experiences of those who fought and suffered and died in ancient wars, and their dream to build a world without such unfathomable human tragedy? This is an especially pertinent question at a time when the State that commands us to “remember” is undercutting social support for the very veterans we honour.

Today, like every Remembrance Day since I first encountered it at 17, I will be returning to Erich Maria Remarque’s “All Quiet on the Western Front” and reflecting on its protagonist’s single vow: “to fight against the principle of hate that meaninglessly pits young men of the same generation but different uniforms against each other.”

This is the most important day of the year. Never forget.

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3 thoughts on “lest we forget

  1. I think the way we are instructed to remember are productive of who we consider as belonging to ‘us.’ I think it is time to stop remembering and start forgetting, if remembering means reproducing a conception of the state built fundamentally on inequality and exploitation.

    1. Fundamentally, I agree. I think there is a lot about Nov 11 worth remembering, but very little of that overlaps with the official discourse. Hopefully next year I’ll have more time to flesh that idea out… working on comps really cuts into the amount of time I have for thinking about real life, haha.

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