The Anomaly of Jewishness Remains
IT IS the things you don’t remember, that you couldn’t possibly remember, that come back with the most overwhelming sense of familiarity: you see them, you smell them, you taste them, and they are intimate and altogether familiar, as if you had seen or smelled or tasted them just the day before. And it is only your own wonder as to why you should notice them when they are so familiar-only this wonder that tells you how unfamiliar the scents and the sights really are, how long a time has passed since you were last among them. Outside the Lydda airport terminal building, the smell of the air of Israel was at once in my nostrils, and though I had not known before that I knew the smell, I recognized immediately what it was. There was the sea in it, and sand, and orange blossom-but one can no more describe a smell than one can remember it, until one smells it again. And as with smells, so too with tastes, and the sight of such things as the illuminated black and yellow boxes advertising Nesher beer, the white enamel plates with black lettering that doctors use to announce their specialties, the names of cigarettes, the sand that sifts through the cracks in the pavements of Tel Aviv. These and a hundred other things which I had forgotten were the most sharply familiar of all; the things I thought I had remembered, I found most changed. The mind distorts what it consciously remembers, keeps intact what ii imagines it has forgotten.
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