Monday, January 19, 2009

More On Palimpsests


This just in from Josh Lander:

While reading up on Halakha Talmudic law today I came across a passage from Baudelaire that reminded me of your recent post about tests, brains, memory and palimpsests. Here’s what the good poet had to say on the matter:
What is the human brain, if not an immense and natural palimpsest? My brain is a palimpsest, as yours is too, reader. Innumerable layers of ideas and feelings have fallen one after another on your brain, as gently as light. It seems as if each were swallowing up the previous one. But in reality none has perished […] Forgetting is only momentary therefore; and in such solemn circumstances, in death perhaps, and generally in the intense excitement generated by opium, the whole immense, complicated palimpsest of memory unfolding in an instant, with all its superimposed layers of dead feelings, mysteriously embalmed in what we call oblivion […] Just as every action, thrown into the whirlwind of universal action, is in itself irrevocable and irreparable, an abstraction of its possible results, so each thought is ineffaceable. The palimpsest of memory is indestructible.
-Charles Baudelaire, Les Paradis Artificels (1860)

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Josh and Ryan,
I love the Halakhic! Have you read rabbi Jacob ibn Habib's commentary on it!?

-Sarah

Anonymous said...

Great post!
-Havel

Mable Callahan said...

Longtime reader, first time commenter. Commendations sir on a blog that constantly provides interesting commentary and insight on a multitude of issues. I have noticed that you are interested in a wide range of subjects ranging from Japanese literature to talmudic law: what's next, manga? If it wouldn't be too much trouble, as a loyal reader, I would like to make a request and hope to see in the near future more content related to the fields of criminal justice and police work. Please!?


your loyal reader in Dublin,
Mabel