A Jester

by pasdelabas

I just listened to a comparatively recent lecture by Zizek

He made a point via recalling having recently read a late autobiography by a survivor from Auschwitz. The author is quoted saying something which offers justification for cruel but necessary treatment of the Palestinians by the Israeli state. He repeats the criticism made of this book which suggested that it was inappropriate perhaps inexcusable for someone who had witnessed and been subject to such inhuman treatment to pass such similar judgement on others. The point is, Zizek emphasises, that there was nothing good about Auschwitz, it produced nothing good. There is nothing good about suffering, it is not something that you come through with some sort of wisdom gained, it is something that dehumanises, eventually kills and not some sort of route to great understanding.

I was speaking with Zdenko the other day along with his sister Alana and Emilia. I had explained to them that K, the sister of one of our friends, had contacted me and was probably going to ask for money. There were great problems in the household. And that I couldn’t give them money. I explained I had already given some money before. Did you get it back I was asked? That wasn’t a problem I said but I can’t do it all the time. I can’t keep giving money. I won’t keep giving money. They replied to me? But will they give it back to you? Do you think they’ll give it back to you? I assented I believe through my body language to suggest that this would not happen but I said that was not even the reason. It was that I couldn’t keep giving money. I tapped my right hand on to the left of my chest saying: Duhkal Man O Jilo. It hurts my heart. It grieves my heart. They laughed kindly because, as I understood, they had recognised I had spoken a proper sentence in Romany.

I don’t believe I do put suffering on a plinth. There is a lot of suffering amongst the Roma. And expressing it is important. But I’m not expecting to learn a language that is a wisdom of suffering. I am learning a language so that I can also speak as I am with people who will not gain access to my language.

Learning Romani is a hobby. Something chosen out of a particularly un-perverse egoism. A quite deliberate pleasure taking process that engages all my senses. I didn’t know where it would take me when I started. But it takes me into what can feel at times like marshland. Deep Forest.

But I see more and more that the route into the language is a route into knowing people. I’m learning with some help from that Slovakian grammar which allows me to short-circuit certain pattern recognitions but the working memory that produces speech emerges through listening and speaking and recognising patterns in both. So it’s taking me through a marsh at the moment. But it’s also making me see that I’m standing on dry land.That I know where the dryland is. I don’t even know of course if it as a marsh or a forest.

I know it’s full of ghosts, some people have told me that. I’m a fool in that world. I’m not a fool in my own world. At least not in the same way. But I am a fool. A jester for the Roma.