Tuesday, February 5, 2019

My Log 694 Feb 5 2019: Chronicles from my Tenth Decade: 128 Yesterday I forgot to recommend the book Memory of Fire; I now seriously urge all readers to find that book and enjoy a unique account of what has happened, and is happening, in Latin America.

In my last effort written yesterday, I forgot to include an essential piece of information. The reason for that, which has to do with my lack of computer skills, I will explain later. But first, the missing information.

When I came to the point in my narrative of the Venezuelan imbroglio where I thought I needed an exegesis dealing with the history of United States imperialism in the southern continent (and of European as well, of course), I thought an easy way out would be instead of writing my own feeble account,  to recommend any readers who might have stayed the course thus far to read a book. Not just any book, but a really marvelous book, one of the best books it has ever been my pleasure to read, a three-volume work called Memory of Fire written by the late great Uruguayan writer, Eduardo Galeano.

This deals with the history of Latin America, but it is like no other history book I have ever read. It is comprised of hundreds of 500-word essays, each one accompanied by a number that refers to a particular source listed in the back of the book. Galeano  has not reproduced anything from these source books, but has simply used something found therein  as the trigger for his own essay on a variety of subjects so broad as to suggest that no aspect of Latin American life has been neglected. These essays are by turns hilariously funny, seeringly brutal, philosophical in places, poetic and inspired elsewhere.  The totality is that you feel you have been almost living in Latin America as you have read on. Of the cascade of deliriously positive reviews I have read, I like this tribute by John Berger, the radical English critic: “To publish Eduardo Galeano is to publish the enemy: the enemy of lies, indifference, above all, of forgetfulness. Thanks to him, our crimes will be remembered. His tenderness is devastating, his truthfulness furious.”

The book is an easy read, and is just one of several excellent works by this author, who went into exile for more than a decade during the military takeover of his country. One of his first books was called The Open Veins of Latin America, a book written in a white-heat anger, a copy of which was handed to Barack Obama by Hugo Chavaz the Venezuelan President, during a speech he was making at the United Nations in New York, an event that lead to an immediate  huge increase in the book’s sales all over the continent.

I think this is relevant to the Venezuelan situation because most thoughtful observers today believe the American position is directed not just to overthrowing Maduro, but to consolidating the comeback of American hegemony over the entire continent after the retreat during the so-called “red tide”, which at one time saw mildly leftist governments in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. Many observers have warned that these years during which Latin American governments have begun to exercise relative freedom from  American domination, have not been forgotten, and that large sectors of the populations in each of these countries are no longer ready to be pushed around.

In these circumstances it seems kind of sad that our Liberal government has established the so-called Lima group along with the right-wing countries of the continent, ostensibly in an effort to establish a Canadian policy independent of American policy. Yet, whatever their aim might have been, their weekend meeting came to the same conclusion as that of the Americans, that the Venezuelan military should be encouraged to support the pretender to power, rather than the duly elected president. Plus ca change, plus c’est le meme chose. I suppose, when you choose allies like the daft new President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, nothing better is to be expected.

Now, as to why I forgot to mention this book Memory of Fire yesterday, I have a sorry tale to tell.  I started to write a piece yesterday, and had to feel my way slowly before coming to a conclusion, for I don’t have any particular reason to support Maduro, and was just trying to get a sense of what seemed to really be happening, although I have always been sympathetic to Chavez’s Bolivarian revolution, and against American imperialism.   I worked it over for several hours, crouched over my computer, sitting in my chair, occasionally going to sleep as inspiration fled. Eventually I had it ready to post on the web site. But I fell victim to a fault I am quite aware of but tend to forget from time to time --- I had not saved the piece under a heading for storage.  Recently my Microsoft Word has adopted a strange habit, instead of just going in an orderly fashion into its place on the desk top, a piece will shoot out full blown on to the screen, in as many as twenty or sometimes thirty copies, one sitting on top of the other. This is a royal pain in the ass, and in closing them down --- throwing them away, in other words  --- I have to be careful that I am keeping a finished version somewhere or other. Yesterday I omitted to do that, got into a rhythm of cancellations, and accidentally cancelled the whole thing I had spent so long slaving over.

Then I spent two or more hours searching for it somewhere in my computer, but it seems not to be there, so I just decided to forget it: in any case, I could scarcely remember anything I had written.  I turned on some show or other on Netflix, watched it for a while, turned it off, and with the loss of my hard-won piece nagging at me, I sort of remembered the opening sentence, and began to re-write it as closely as I could manage.

It was this re-written version that I put up on my site at the end of the day, and it was this version in which I forgot to include the recommendation to read Memory of Fire, that I had originally included in my first piece.

Ah, well, wot the hell, wot the hell, toujours gai, toujours gai!, as the great man said.

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