Wilful Blindness and Nothing New Under the Sun

 

img_3381We are wilfully blind to the problems faced by rest of the world. Even the euphemism the ‘third world’ satisfactorily distances us.
We squabble over ‘getting our country back’ while millions face starvation due to war and drought and further millions drown in an attempt to reach this other world only to find the drawbridge being hastily drawn up and the portcullis down.
The global picture is so much bigger and more important.
Our children will remember us with shame for our wilful blindness and pettiness.

There are many precedents in history and the phrase nothing new under the sun springs to mind as well as a poem by Louis MacNiece at the outbreak of WW2. (Substitute the name of politician/tyrant of choice to update)

Louis MacNeice’s Autumn Journal

Conferences, adjournments ultimatums,
Flights in the air, castles in the air.
The autopsy of treaties, dynamite under the bridges,
The end of laissez faire.
After the warm days the rain comes pimpling
The paving stones with white
And with the rain the national conscience, creeping,
Seeping through the night.
And in the sodden park on Sunday protest
Meetings assemble not, as so often now
Merely to advertise some patent panacea
But simply to avoid
The need to hold the ditch; a bare avowal
That may simply imply
Death at the doors in a week but perhaps in the long run
Exposure of the lie.
Think of a number, double it, treble it, square it,
And sponge it out
And repeat ad lib and make the slate with crosses;
There is no time to doubt
If the puzzle really has an answer. Hitler yells on
the wireless,
The night is damp and still
And I hear dull blows on wood outside my window;
They are cutting down the trees on Primrose Hill.
The wood is white like the roast flesh of chicken,
Each tree falling like a closing fan;
No more looking at the view from seats beneath
the branches,
Everything going to plan;
They want the crest of this hill for anti-aircraft,
The guns will take the view
And searchlights probe the heavens for bacilli
With narrow wands of blue.

Autumn journal (Fabre) was written in February 1939

Objects of delight

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I see myself  in my final hours, about to face my last judgement, clutching favoured treasures in the palm of my hand.

A perfume bottle – a caprice with daffodil-yellow puffer, not much taller than my thumb, pretty with a sensual shape and feel, or a red bracelet made with nibs of bright coral with a tiny silver pendant of a scallop shell – emblem of the Camino de Santiago which will always sit high in my heart.

This no doubt betrays a shallowness. A crucifix, a rosary, or photos of my nearest and dearest would perhaps be more appropriate, but it is objects I will chose for the memories the engender.

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Romance of a holiday

Near the entrance to the anthropology museum in Mexico City an elderly woman sat on the pavement, her head bent diligently over her embroidery. Garments folded neatly on a mat beside her, immediately eye-catching, shouted their bright colours. I haggle over the last remaining smock with another customer. The memory of the holiday is too vibrant to permit leaving it behind even though I suspect the lovely garment will languish back home where the light is too grey for the tropical flowers to make sense. The other customer graciously concedes.

Then I ask for a photo, certain this is as much a mistake as the haggling; a typical patronising outsider; a tourist and the old woman, struggling to her feet, agrees without reluctance but without a smile. I explain the smock is a present for my elderly mother who would love to see who had made it and finally she grins. The customer who had so kindly gone without her smock also agrees to a photo

 
  

Love-Hat Relationship

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The Love-Hat Relationship
Aaron Belz
I have been thinking about the love-hat relationship.
It is the relationship based on love of one another’s hats.
The problem with the love-hat relationship is that it is superficial.
You don’t necessarily even know the other person.
Also it is too dependent on whether the other person
is even wearing the favored hat. We all enjoy hats,
but they’re not something to build an entire relationship on.
My advice to young people is to like hats but not love them.
Try having like-hat relationships with one another.
See if you can find something interesting about
the personality of the person whose hat you like.

Unrest in Mexico City

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Zocalo the large square in Downtown Mexico City that featured in Spectre the James Bond film of 2015, slowly dismantled giant Christmas decorations. Riot police with shields lined every street corner. The President was visiting the Palacio and we assumed the high police presence was for his benefit. The Palacio containing Diego Rivera’s murals and a botanic garden, both of which we particularly wanted to see was closed to the public.
As we wove through traffic back along La Reforma, a famous boulevard in the city, in our open-top tourist bus it became obvious the police we there for another reason. The road was filled ten, fifteen deep with men and women with flags and slogans. Organised, but loud and angry. There seemed to be more than one grievance but the massive gripe was the 20% rise in the price of petrol. GOBIERNO TRAIDOR, treacherous government, a huge banner slung around the Angel, symbolic for its depiction of heroes and martyrs for Mexico’s freedom, ASESINO and RATERO would challenge any president. There have been riots already over this increase that the president had promised not to.
Other prices will rise, no doubt.
We are staying in a particularly comfortable area where dining out for breakfast lunch and dinner seems the norm for some just as begging or selling their wares, or shining shoes is the norm for others. Contrasts are huge. Financial and personal.
No huger than Britain where in the current climate they are set to widen cavernously. That yawning gap between the haves and the have nots that renders the poor invisible and hardens rich hearts to stone.
It was, up to a point, heartening to see the strength and determination of the demo although we did not witness what happened when they arrived in Zocalo to be met by the barrier of riot police shields. At home there is apathy. In spite of films such as I Daniel Blake, that should cause the gorge to rise up against the injustice inhumanity and facelessness of ‘the system’ forever stacked against those most in need of its help. Perhaps the marchers are the swathes of middlemen. Those who manage with difficulty and sacrifice but still have fire in the belly and see the proximity and the fate of those who have slipped down the ladder a few rungs.

There were young Mexicans on the tour bus quite obviously not in the same financial predicament. They laughed at the demo, they happen often . I could be mistaken and I sincerely hope so, at their total lack of concern. We need more compassion, empathy, understanding. We need something as yet unfound – more equality. Could it be as as Pope Francis says not more that we need, but less? Less disparity. The trouble is those with the most are the least likely to share.

Any Human Heart

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Often, in the view from my window, sea and sky merge.  Obviously  different elements and entities and yet there on the horizon is an intimation that one disappears into the other. Sometimes they merely reflect each other like a blend of fact and fiction.

I have been reading Any Human Heart. Had I bought the book rather than a download  I might have thought twice. It’s quite a tome and I usually go for short.  But I’m having a William Boyd fest at the moment and the note stating five hours left to read, that would normally send a frisson,  ‘have I five hours left to give?’ I  ignore happily. It’s a really enjoyable read. Logan, the (anti?) hero, witnesses and participates in the major events of the twentieth century in a grand sweep, meeting novelists, artists, even  the Duke and Duchess of Windsor. I like the improbability of the names and  the pretence. A blur of real and unreal that can constitute a good novel.

Reflecting on the improbability of life and fiction, William Boyd and me both, a few choice quotes worth pondering.

What do you believe in?

‘(A) credo of two hates and three loves: hatred of injustice, hatred of privilege, love of life, love of humanity, love of beauty.

The meaning of life?

‘That’s all your life amounts to in the end: the aggregate of all the good luck and the bad luck you experience. Everything is explained by that simple formula.’

Advice for budding writers perhaps?:

‘In good prose precision must always triumph over decoration…Wilful elaboration is a sign that the stylist has entered a decadent phase….sometimes a plain dish of lentils is all that the palate craves even if one insists that the lentils come from Puy.’