Thursday, 30 October 2008
Wet morning in Frankfurt
Very grey,with fat rain threatening to thicken and scurry. Arrived yesterday afternoon, caught taxi to hotel in a Turkish area of town, or at the edge of it, next street up. A nice bookshop there, its window filled with poetry. Stoppped for a kebab lunch then to meet K at the middle of the nearest bridge. We walk along the embankment to the, mostly re-created, medieval centre where we have coffee. Then to the Judische Museum where I am to talk with Cecile Wajsbrot.
The city mayor attends and about forty people. As a conversation it is more a series of monologues about views of Israel. I make my only substantial point, that being that people should have the opportunity to live somewhere where they are not in a perpetual, vulnerable, minority and where they can have some say in defining themselves rather than being defined by others. Also, that since one has to die anyway, I'd rather die in a dignified manner of my own choosing within the normal terms of human life, and if that means being killed resisting humiliation I would sooner do that than be humiliated and dead anyway, thank you.
It's easy enough, you'd think. This doesn't apply solely to Israel, of course, but to all, including Palestinians. But it does apply to Jews too, as much as to Muslims or Christians or atheists or anyone else, and, it seems to me, Israel is the only place that can happen for Jews. Which does not mean I have any particular desire to live there or even visit, though if I were invited I would accept. It would no doubt be a strange experience for me since I have never lived in a Jewish milieu nor do I even desire to live in such. I am talking about basic human dignity, and while I am far from romantically idealistic about this to the extent as to think such dignity is immediately achievable, we ought damn well to try.
Then to dinner in a nearby restaurant by the river, K, her parents, Cecile, a friend and our friend Eva and Raphael from the museum. Spend the meal talking about art, the differences in language and manners between Hungary, Germany and England. Three of the four of us are rooting for Obama, the fourth is worried by him. Not long to wait now.
The New and Collected has arrived at home. I will be the last to see it. 500 pages of about thirty years writing. A bargain at the price, if you ask me, but then why would you? See that horse? It's got a mouth. Ask it.
Home in the evening, thank heaven. C waits, open armed. Work waits, sharp clawed.