Hunger stimulates memory; when people become hungry they remember food. But there is more to memory than that: to remember may also be to make a stand against dehumanization. The New York Times journalist Frank Prial wrote a piece about the kidnapping of the French correspondent Jean-Paul Kauffmann in Lebanon in 1985. Every single day of his confinement he recited by heart the names of the 61 producers listed in the 1855 classification of Bordeaux wines. The 1855 classification was organised into five groups according to their quality and price. Kauffmann would carefully write them all down on empty cigarette packets, only to lose the list each time his captors moved him – 18 times in all. Then one day they took away his pen. By the end of 1986, he had begun to forget some of the fourth growths, and then some of the fifth. His forgetfulness distressed him; and he tells us that he became Proust without the madeleine: his madeleine was his memory. He felt he was wandering away from civilization, that he was losing his humanity.

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Politics of Faith

Jan 2006 - Dec 2016

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