Monday, July 31, 2006

In Memory of Primo Levi

Today is Monday, 31 July 2006.

One of those moments when life, memory, “whatever” … slaps one in the face.

I was consulting one of the several sources I use to note days in history …

On this date in 1919, Primo Levi was born.

(I have several hand-kept lists of dates, and I’ve often considered composing them into one Master Calendar, which I would enshrine on the walls of my study … but, thus far, I choose to rummage through my sources, hand-written, books (and O the Web!) each day by each day, so that, often, the anniversaries of the greatest moment sneak up on me, and can have, by surprise, something of the effect they once had upon me, years ago, when I first learned of a birth, a death, a battle, a discovery, and what each meant … I consider it a fact of the greatest importance that we each recall continuously that we live and move and have our being in the flow of time, of millions of lives, human etc., (I just saw one estimate that 7,000 generations of homo sapiens --- the jury is out on that characterization!) have lived since the brand was invented …)

If we all kept this fact constantly in our minds, had the proper reverence for life … The completion of the exercise is left for the student.

Primo Levi is remembered, I suppose, primarily, as an author of “Holocaust literature”. God, how I would burn all those brands at the stake. Because that’s all they are: “Holocaust literature”, “gay fiction”, “chick-lit”, “Dead White Males”, etc. Marketing considerations should not disfigure human life.

Everyone of us who writes, seriously, writes about the human condition. And, because we humans are part and parcel of the Universe, that also.

A few days ago, I finally acquired a biography of Levi, The Double Bond: Primo Levi: A Biography, by Carole Angier. Not had a chance to do more than sample, but looks excellent. There’s a coincidence for you.

Today I think that if for no other reason than an Auschwitz existed, no one in our age should speak of Providence”. Primo Levi, Survival in Auschwtiz


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