The Book of Embraces

A blog post for Provisions Library on September 19, 2011:

One of my favorite authors is Eduardo Galeano, an Uruguyan journalist and historian. He has an amazing way to write about history from the perspective of the loser or the victim. His books read like a novel. Perhaps you are familiar with his books: Memory of Fire (a triliogy), We Say No, or Open Veins of Latin America, which I am currently reading (tell you more about it in another post. But I just discovered that the Provisions Library also has the Book of Embraces, in our collection.

The Book of Embraces is a collection of parable, paradox, anecdote, dream, and autobiography of Galeano’s travel while he was in exile. Galeano is at his best when he writes in short bursts. “Celebration of Contradictions” on page 124 is one of my favorite:

“Idiot memory repeats itself as tragic litany. Lively memory on the other hand, is born every day, springing from the past and set against it. Of all the words in the German language, aufheben was Hegel’s favorite. Aufheben means both to preserve and to annul, and thus pays homage to human history, which is born as it dies and builds as it destroys.”

German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel

I like this anecdote because it represents art and social change, what Provisions focuses on. Art pushes the envelope by questioning. A new art movement is building while destroying the achievements of the past and present. Similarly, social change programs tries to fix the problems of the present system by bridging the gap, but these initiatives create new challenges.

It is amazing how Galeano is able to capture the moment and the future in what he presents.

To be continued…


About John Costa

I am a farmer in training with a background in finance, organizational sustainability, and project management. My expertise is making the business case for local food enterprises.
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