Sad that Oliver Sacks has died. The Professor and his elements. He is now going back to being one with them. With some of them at least.
Would it be just to compare this sadness with the harrowing images of asylum seekers clashing with border patrols at the edges of Europe? We put up barbed-wire fences, meters high. We let them die in trucks on the highway, gulping for air. We send in the police, we deploy the army. What are we afraid of? Whom are we going to fight against? Hungry and thirsty people, with their malnourished kids up on their shoulders and (if lucky) a suitcase bursting with whatever little things they thought were valuable?
How will a fence manage to stop someone who had the courage and the will to leave their home, their language, their family and friends (if they still had any) and set on a journey hoping for a life worth living? This fence, all fences actually, all these awry looks and empty anxieties are only here to lure us into sadness. Yes, lure! It seems we are not capable of thinking straight about this issue. Are we really willing to go through with it? Standing high on the other side and, every now and then, throw a “Sorry! No can do!” at those struggling behind it? Are we ready to watch them shrivel away or wait until they will simply disappear, one day?
Perhaps, sadly, we are.
Or perhaps they will manage. After all, each fence is there to be bypassed. There will be a breach. If not here, then a hundred kilometers away. If not now, then in a few days or weeks. They have nothing to lose because they have lost everything already. And it’s not chaos they want to spread, it’s not terror they want to instill. Just life. They only want a life, their own, and nothing more.
Wouldn’t anyone want that too?
Isn’t that a right?
Perhaps this is meant as a crusade in reverse, where battles are fought by simply marching in, empty-handed, where even time is worthless because it too will get crushed by the will of the displaced, of the many, of those who only want to be human, to be an individual.
There is a story about The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, by Oliver Sacks, in which we get acquainted with Dr.P., “a man of great cultivation and charm” who “visually, was lost in a world of lifeless abstractions”. He could not tell a rose from a “a convoluted red form with a linear green attachment”. He could not tell a glove from a “container with five outpouchings” that would most certainly “contain its contains”.
I hope there will be no story about The Europe Who Mistook The Asylum Seekers for the Enemy. I hope there will be a way to cure our own visual agnosia.
I hope we are not going to fall into futile Daedalian analyses but instead we will start saving these lives.
All of them.
I hope we stop wallow in sadness.