Friday, August 12, 2011


“Until August 1914 a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state, beyond the post office and the policeman. He could live where he liked and as he liked. He had no official number or identity card. He could travel abroad or leave his country forever without a passport or any sort of official permission. He could exchange his money for any other currency without restriction or limit...For that matter, a foreigner could spend his life in this country without permit and without informing the police...the state acted only to help those who could not help themselves. It left the adult citizen alone”
From the opening paragraph of AJP Taylor’s English History 1914-1945

Yes, I know, there was much that was wrong with England at that time.

But still, that every single line in the above paragraph is no longer true, and will never again be true, is a matter for regret.

1 comment:

julie said...

I like Anne Carson's definition of nostalgia, her belief that it is composed of two separate moments: then and now. One can never experience nostalgia for what (for him) has never been experienced, although, paradoxically, the "then" that he brings to the "now" was never the "then" that he "now" perceives as "then" . . . just as Franco (in Oliver Sack's "Anthropologist on Mars") would never again be able to paint Pontito, Italy, his childhood home, if he were to return there; the city of his nostalgia is an invisible city, and exists only in his imagination. . . . And what do we do with(in) our imaginations (those hollowed out space within our brains in which we "keep" objects and others . . . in which they move and have their being) if we have glimpsed (ah, the neurobiology of glimpsed!)the "Mona Lisa" or Balthus' "The Street" for only 30 seconds. Where does the painting exist, and how, while further images and ideas accrue until three months later, perhaps,or six, the painting becomes a poem?