Hugin & Munin

Hugin and Munin Fly each day Over the spacious earth. I fear for Hugin That he come not back, Yet more anxious am I for Munin. (R.B. Anderson, Norse Mythology)

Thought (Hugin) and Memory (Munin) seem to have lost their way in our post-modern, material, short-attention-span culture. We operate on reflex, gut instincts (we are the Colbert nation!), and spare little attention to slowing down, to folding ourselves inward, to using our minds to think about things. I don’t just mean the conservative fuck-heads who are running our government, or even those selfish, short-sighted men and women who control the purse-strings to electability who run things from behind the scenes. I mean, how many times have you or I signed a petition simply because it came from or the ACLU? I don’t necessarily think it is a wrong thing to do, mind you, but I’m just trying to make the point that we don’t often look deeper in to the issues, do our own research or our own thinking about issues, regardless of what political side we are on.

Ok, let’s not be disingenuous here, I think liberals and progressives do think things through a whole bunch more than the far-right, but my point is that all of us could do with a little more thinking about ourselves and our world.

I also find it interesting that Odin was more concerned about Memory than Thought and I’ve been thinking about that all day. I haven’t necessarily come up with a brilliant thought or blisteringly bright analysis, but if you think about it (can’t really have one without the other can you?), Memory makes you, well, you. If you can’t remember your past, yes, you are doomed to repeat it, but more importantly, you have no genuine sense of self. Our memories are the shape of us.

Ok, so perhaps Snow and the Bush administration have not lost their memory so much as they simply lie to the American public, but the fact that they can get away with such obvious lies, being called on them only by a small number of fringe media or comedy writers, seems to indicate that the mainstream media and the American public at large are making no effort to remember what happened in the past.

Another example is that America is now arming and supporting various Sunni insurgency groups in the hopes that they will fight against al-Qa’eda which was a Sunni group supported, armed and trained to fight against certain of our “other” enemies.”

Many writers and reporters have traced al-Qa’eda and other terror groups’ origins back to the Afghan war of 1979 1992, that last gasp of the Cold War when US-backed Mujahideen forces fought against the invading Soviet army. It is well documented that America played a major role in creating and sustaining the Mujahideen, which included Osama bin Laden’s Office of Services set up to recruit volunteers from overseas. Between 1985 and 1992, US officials estimate that 12,500 foreign fighters were trained in bomb-making, sabotage and guerrilla warfare tactics in Afghan camps that the CIA helped to set up. Yet America’s role in backing the Mujahideen a second time in the early and mid-1990s is seldom mentioned — largely because very few people know about it, and those who do find it prudent to pretend that it never happened. Following the Russian withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 and the collapse of their puppet regime in 1992, the Afghan Mujahideen became less important to the United States; many Arabs, in the words of the journalist James Buchan, were left stranded in Afghanistan ‘with a taste for fighting but no cause’. It was not long before some were provided with a new cause. From 1992 to 1995, the Pentagon assisted with the movement of thousands of Mujahideen and other Islamic elements from Central Asia into Europe, to fight alongside Bosnian Muslims against the Serbs.

Why are we allowing this? Why do we seem to willfully forget our own history? Memories are more than just pretty baubles, they are the very fabric of who we are, the warp and woof of our lives, but so much of our attention these days, these perilous and frightening days, seems to be on one pretty shiny thing after another. Can we say “iPhone” boys and girls? Or “HDTV” or “Paris Hilton” . . . the list of distractions goes on and on. I’m as guilty of letting memory fly away as anyone else, with my computer fetish and my love of cool tech toys. Concerted thought and concerted memory take time, take energy, and when you are always ready to be distracted by the next tech podcast or the next url, then the time and energy to focus become diffused, stretched out to nothingness. Oh sure, we think “gee, that’s bad” or “gosh, that’s not write” or “golly, those are bad bad men running our government,” but then we forget about it, look at the next catalog, or website or television channel.

Before I get too abusive–and this is self-abuse here folks, because I’m sure that you are better at this than I am–let’s just return to the image of two ravens, black feathers. sharp beaks, tough talons, as they fly the world, taking it all in. Combined, thought and memory make understanding and really, one can live without either. I just hope I can remember to put out some bird-seed and keep a place for Hugin and Munin in my life. Heck, they were good enough for a god to keep around, so I could do worse than give them the honor that they are due.

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