Saturday, November 18, 2006

New Soueif article on Palestine

Ahdaf Soueif writes about the place of Palestine in the world in this week's El-Ahram.
The first time I visited Warwick was in the summer of 1985. I visited the Castle and as I walked through the State Rooms and the Towers, I was touched by sadness that what had been a real life, with ambitions and sorrows and loves, with continuity, had become -- merely -- a spectacle for tourists.

Then, I came across the "oubliette". An oubliette is a deep hole in the ground where you throw people who are to be, well, oubliƩs : forgotten. It was terrifying, in its simplicity, its blatancy, its everydayness. You did not even need great skill to build your own oubliette. And at this point, the fact that the Castle had mutated into a tourist attraction became a comfort. That a life in which balls and banquets or a quiet family evening by the fire could take place while some wretch was forgotten in a hole in the ground not 50 metres away -- that that life had become untenable was OK. It was medieval, I told myself. It was how they did things then. It was over.

How weird, then, how nightmarish, that it isn't over; that we still have oubliettes today


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