Sunday, 11 October 2015

A short history of power by Simon Heffer, was my other holiday reading.

As I read I was reminded of my mother and how her face seemed to register the flux of her understanding and her readiness to be interrupted.

I have had a troubled and defiant relationship with history. I remember telling a sociologist that I had no sense of history. Impossible, he said. A few years later I wrote to him to say I'd found it after all, as I rounded a bend into a village somewhere northwest of London, where the wind, said the woman in the shop, came straight off the Urals.

A short history of power is long in its reach: Thucydides to the present day (before yesterday), much of the northern hemisphere, a little of the southern, tumultuous battles and obscure retribution, emperors and inadequates, gods and ideologies (why have I always disliked that word?), it is what it says on the tin and still leaves you unsatisfied.

Holiday reading? you ask.

Well yes. I slip between the cracks, pick up on what I know something about, sail on familiar names, like Kublai Khan and Thomas Carlyle, slide about on my fractured knowledge and then fall asleep.

Like listening to an unfamiliar piece of music, new spaces, new notes, no notes, no meaning, as John Cage said, just sound.

Infiltrating the synapses, affecting the future in ways you can hardly tell.

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