Archive for the ‘Chat’ Category

Malina, by Ingeborg Bachmann. Published by Penguin Modern Classics, 2019.
ISBN 978 0 241 36624 0.

The novel, Malina, published in German in 1971, is considered by many to be a seminal work in the oeuvre of Austrian writer, Ingeborg Bachmann.
She is mostly now known for three volumes of post-War poetry. She has also written radio works, essays, short stories, two operas, a ballet. She was also very close to Paul Celan, and associated with major German post-War writers.

The novel is part one of a projected three-part trilogy, temporarily entitled Ways of Dying. The other two parts were incomplete on her death, but have since been published from notebooks and papers.

Oh yes, she is also known for her death. 
Since 1951 she had mostly listed her residence as Rome. It was here in 1973 that she died, alone, due to an apartment fire. The official cause was given as being due to smoking in bed. 
Readers atuned to her works have long wondered about that given cause.

Malina is not a comfortable read.
It is a novel in three sections – well four, if we accept the Cast prefix. They are:
Happy with Ivan; The Third Man; Last Things.

It is uncomfortable because as the book opens we meet the narrator, who incidentally shares many attributes with the author, in a period of withdrawal, leading to crisis. She refuses all invitations out to address talks, ceremonies, awards. Even the letters she dictates or attempts to write herself are unravellings rather than explanations.

Is the narrator happy with Ivan? It is a toxic relationship, and yet she is fixated on him; her every action and thought is centred on him. And yet he abuses her verbally, is dismissive of her personality, abilities. And she seems quite accepting of this, and dotes on this.
This is a deep exploration of toxic relations.

And it gets worse in Section Two, The Third Man. Here, Malina the character, is cool, objective, says little. The whole section is a deep exploration of the character’s relationship with her father. It is given in a wide and varied series of abusive vignettes. The narrator approaches the term ‘Incest’ early on. Yes, she writes, There was incest
And there was also the game of jealousy, of gaming for affection, playing off each other. With Ivan. With Malina. With the sister Melanie, whose father flaunts as his new source of affection. And there are the violent outbursts, breaking furniture, throwing of household objects to hurt by the act, rather than contact.
And yet, as the section works through its nightmare scenarios, we see the narrator gain self mobility again, the strength to fight back. To leave.

But what of Malina?
Published in 1971, we see here the period’s reliance on therapy as cure-all, the psychiatrist as psychopomp walking the therapee through traumas.
Malina has that about him: cool, rational, reasonable; not dismissive but gently easing the narrator back to the centre of the problems. Walking through the battlefields together.

Ivan, in turn, in retrospect, comes to assume something of the mantle of the abusive father: that relationship being played out again. And the narrator is the willing, indeed, even eager, participant.

Did Ivan want that? Did he fall into a toxic hole? Was he also incapable of climbing out? We do not know.
Was it, possibly, a post-war psychic turmoil that wrapped them all in its coils? Was this the fall-out , the further play-out, of the War?

Or is that serpent with all in its coils the Nazism of past experience, or Western post-War capitalism, or, further, patriarchy itself?

There are no discernible big Politics in the novel. The father-figure as authoritarian, and, by extension, as leader, is written out clearly.
And Ivan, the name? The character is married, with children. He is Hungarian. Is he suggestive of Soviet-model authoritarianism? 
As the novel was being written Leonid Brezhnev was Soviet leader. The Hungarian Uprising had been bloodily crushed (as had the Prague Spring).

This Soviet period is what is now known as the Era of Stagnation.

How does this help? Other than as re-emphasising the intial A in authoritarianism?
The Cold War was dropping down further degrees on the thermometer, and any youthful hopes of a glorious turn to the red – in Germany in particular – were becoming ossified. After 1968’s disintegration of hopes and revolutionary fervour, all was played out.
Later, of course, the extreme groups emerged out of the frustrated hopes: The Red Brigade etc.

A static situation, under authoritarian power; loss of hopes of change; and the unresolved foment of psychic horrors from the war. Ingeborg Bachmann’s own father had been an early and willing Nazi Party member.

Why is the second section called ‘The Third Man’? Is there a connection with the Carol Reed film of 1949?
Both book and film are set in Vienna. Ok.
Both have one of the central characters – Harry Lime, The Father – as betrayers, morally repugnant, and who degrade all who they come into contact. And yet, they also have devoted friends/relations who seek them out. The outcome, in each case, is disillusion and broken relationships.

It may be that the setting of Vienna has a meaning I cannot as yet ascertain. The narrator is insistent on this setting; Ungargasse in particular acquires an importance. It maybe the importance of groundedness, that is, of a specific that she clings to for safety, security.

There are two forms of conversation exchanges in the book. One consists of fulsome and developed sentences, and is the ME:, (other): form. The other form is of truncated conversations, fragmented and half said things the reader must fill out.
In light of Ingeborg Bachmann’s great interest in Ludwig Wittgenstein’s works, I was wondering whether this latter form was an approach to the ‘private language’ that Ludwig Wittgenstein suggested was an impossibility.

If a language was private to oneself, then communication would be impossible. In the novel we see innumerable attempts to communicate inner turmoil, to move from private language/world experiences, to common speech communication with others. Ivan’s responses tend to be evasive, colluding. Malina remains objective, he companions the narrator through her difficulties, but does not judge, control, nor direct her.

Is he the ideal therapist, or philospher? For Ludwig Wittgenstein the philosopher must become a therapist in order to untangle the knots of reasoning that hamper philosophical discourse.
The Ungargasse in Vienna is in part very close to the Wittgenstein family home, between Parkgasse and Kundmanngasse, on the Geusaugasse corner.

The book opens with letters that cannot be written, and ends, in Last Things, with a postman who cannot deliver letters. He stores them up, unread, unopened. Communication, with one self, and with others, as social glue, as life-saving, is paramount here.
The book opens with the narrator fully taken up with Ivan, and by Last Things has turned against men altogether, finding their limited range of romantic and sexual responses ridiculous, a symptom of men’s ‘sickness’. She admits an interest in men, oh yes, and cites examples, but in the telling it becomes a matter of observation, as of another species.

We find in her telling of post-War Vienna Sigmund Freud’s case-studies incorporated into the text; we find direct reference to Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde. Is there Robert Musil here as well? Does the desultory interest in chess reference Stefan Zweig’s short story? Interestingly Stefan Zweig’s Post Office Girl novel’s title has a different meaning in the German: The Intoxication of Transformation. Is this intoxication what we find played out in Last Things?
Does the change in the narrator, then, play with bildungsroman formats?
It is also possible that the general tone of the book, of enervated and denigrating references the works of Thomas Bernhard.

The narrator’s character has developed in Last Things, she is more outward-looking, out-going, extrovert, even. And so has that of Malina; he is no longer the objective, cool character, but rather limited in response, outlook.
At one point in this last section the narrator makes some rather strong comments.
Ooo-kay.
So she’s provoking, challenging, confronting. But to what purpose?
This is part of the piece where she takes on Freudian case-study.
Shortly after this section Malina slapped her face. Was she furious? No. Was she distressed? No. Was he? No.
Both carried on as normal – she looked for a suitable blusher to hide the marks so she could go to a meeting; he suggested a shade.

The toxic-relationship is still being played out, on another level.

Does Ivan appreciate how difficult to is for a woman to have integrity, autonomy? Does Malina? Each time the answer is No.
How can a woman exist as a whole person in that world? The narrator approaches the dilemma of the options available: to be a ‘part-ner’, or to try to be a whole person. There seems little to possibility of the two being one.

The crack in the plaster – is it an indication of demise/complete collapse? Or a way out of an enclosed space?

*

One other thing struck me – the father-vignettes in Section Two of Malina remind me of the extensive father-vignettes that make up a huge section of Hungarian writer, Peter Esterhazy’s Celestial Harmonies, published in 2000. Here the novel fictionally negotiates the true-life Esterhazy patriarchal family line. In particular, and colouring the vignettes, is the discovery of the author’s own father’s role as secret police agent: betrayer and smiling State accomplice. Or entrapped, caught in the coils of State security machinations?

Why do I find the book so difficult to read? The subject matter, obviously. But there is also that, as readers, we unable to help with the distress. We are held as helpless witnesses to partially seen scenarios, and experience some degrees of the suffering of the narrator.
The writer also had periods of hospitalization due to psychological states.

We become party to degrees of that, and those states of distress. We are unable to help or assist, and so the narrator’s inability to cope becomes ours, by our empathetic reading.

This is part of the power, and responsibility, of a work of fiction.

Publishers Weekly, noted, on the book’s publication:
Part of the problem derives from the veiled yet critical references to Austrian history, which are satisfactorily explained only in the excellent afterword.

We no longer have that ‘excellent afterword.’ A pity.

On the 7th day of the 7th month, every year, is the Tanabata Festival in Japan.
Why only then?
It is all based a story from early Japan.

This is the story, one of the many, connected with the Milky Way in the night sky. In Japan it is known as the River of the Sky.

It is the story of two lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi, who represent the stars Vega, and Altair. They are only allowed to meet on the 7th day of the 7th month, every year, at the River of the Sky.
It is a based on poems in the Manyoshu volume, ‘Collection of Ten Thousand Leaves’.  It can be traced back, in turn, to an old Chinese tale, The Weaver Girl and the Cowherd. The corresponding Chinese festival is the Qixi Festival, of the 7th of the 7th.

The Weaver Girl,  was, of course, a princess, and… was she weaving the pattern of the stars and constellations? Her father grew concerned that in her lonely profession she was not able to meet any young men. He invited the cowherd (who herded the cows of heaven?), to meet her.

The meeting went very well, and in time they fell in love. They were able to marry.
On marriage, however, they neglected their duties.
It was thought best for all if they were separated, and only allowed to meet once a year. On meeting, though, they found themselves on opposite sides of the Sky River. Orihime wept so much and so hard that a flock of magpies took pity, flew down and made her a bridge with their wings.

If it rains on the seventh day of the seventh month, though, the magpies may not be able to come.

Tonight he takes his one journey of the year
             Over the Heavenly River, passing Yasu Beach –
He, the love-lorn Oxherd longing for his maid,
Whom he can never see but once a year,
Though from the beginning of heaven and earth
They have have stood face to face across the Heavenly River

……………………………………………………………………………………….
 Tonight, this seventh night of the seventh moon – 
Strangely it thrills my heart.

(excerpted from: Japanese Love Poems, Selections from the Manyoshu. Edited by Evan Bates, Dover Publications Inc., 2005)

People write messages, poems, prayers, and hang them from trees on this day.

Astronomically, on this date, the distance between Vega, part of the Harp constellation, and Altair, The Eagle constellation, is bridged by a group of stars called The Coathanger, more properly Brocchi’s cluster.
This arrangement forms a straight line with a few dotted stars above this in the centre.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brocchi%27s_Cluster

600px-Collinder_399_Paslieres_2007_08_05

Is this Hikoboshi’s boat?

This is a dual Romanian/English publication.
Available from:
Colectile Revistei ‘Orizont Literar Contemporani’, Bibliotheca Univeralis

Effs

There are so many untold stories.

Early mornings I would be waiting, shivering, for the early bus to go to work. One companion of those mornings was a Romanian man. Once he told me, ‘Boating was my life, then. I would have happily spent my whole life sailing on the Black Sea.’
‘One year,’ he said, ‘everyone was issued with iodine tablets. No exceptions; no explanations. That was thought to be sufficient. I remember it; it was 1986. The year of Chernobyl.’

*

Daniel Dragomrisecu has set himself a very important task, in this book. He is rescuing the memories, the works, the reputations of people lost to the old regime. People who fell out of favour. People lost to time’s relentless tumble.
He gives us eight recollections, and revaluations.

Romania.
The Ceausescu regime, with its grand empty palace and boulevard. Claudio Magris, in his book Danube, writes: “Hiroshima” is the name  bestowed by the people of Bucharest on the quarter of the city  which Ceausescu is gutting, levelling, devastating … building his Centre, the monument to his glory.

But what of the starving villages’  untold stories?

What Daniel Dragomirecu has done here is collect together articles and memoirs he has published in newspapers, magazines, journals, and published them in a dual translation book, called Effigies in the Mirror of Time.

Ok, we started with Romania, but we need to narrow-down, zoom-in. Let’s find Moldavia, and in Moldavia, the region of Vaslui. This is the hub for all the stories, the personalities.
How often do we hear or read news from Moldavia?

We have here writers, intellectuals, philosophers, engineers, and a comedy actor: the exuberant, gifted, Constantin Tanese.
This sketch-song of his could well be a timeless anthem:

Nothing has changed / Everything is the same
/ Everywhere the same lies / So what have we done? /
Revenge is plotted behind the scenes / As it has not
been seen before / The country is full of VIPS / So
what have we done? / Our people leave, our people
come! / This is the famous slogan, / We have been
fools to vote again / So what have we done?

The story was that he was shot whilst on stage – he was doing a satire on Russians, the new power. A Soviet officer in the audience stood, up and shot him dead.
Did it really happen? Was that how we wanted him to go?
Or was the end of the great man more prosaic?
Truth and legend, both are necessary, both are stories from which we gain life and sustenance. But truth must take precedence; always.

When communism was abandoned, many here in the West hoped that the best of that regime – or was it the most durable? – would be combined with the best/most durable in the West, to create a better society. The old Marxist dialectic, with its synthesis: how people love to make patterns.
Now, it seems, many feel what they have instead is another lost possibility. Because what modern capitalism has to offer is repugnant in many ways. And durability does not promise anything, either.

In the West these ideas, the dialectic, were never put into practice; we did not witness its effects on people as with the people Daniel here rehabilitates.

Take, for instance, Cezar Ivanescu (1941 -2004). He was an uncrowned prince among academics: Don Cezar. Writer, philosopher, critic, academic par excellence. He was severely beaten in the 1990 Miner’s Strike, and hovered between life and death for weeks.

As a less violent example, take Nicolae Malaxa (1884 to 1965). Born in humble circumstances he grew up and developed an acute managerial sense combined with a dedicated engineering skills. Train engine maker, car engine manufacturer, heavy-engineering magnate. Only to lose it all when all his great enterprises were nationalised under the new regime.
What the man could have done for Romania.

Many here were academics, writers, poets.
We ask now, what is the worth of such work? We ask that because everything now is monetarised, including health-care, basic necessities. Cultural value differs from monetary value; there is also the value of a persons’ life in itself.

And the irony of free-thought. In the context of the early part of last century when these people were young, free-thought still meant mostly left-wing ideas. And so when left-wing ideas became a (supposed) reality, they found themselves once more on the margins. Why was this?
Left-wing practice had its own very special character. Only those who legislated knew what it was; this is a well-known managerial tactic, to keep everyone off-balance.
What was one of Stalin’s first acts as leader? Get rid of all the old Bolsheviks.
The old and out-of-place ideas and idealists had to go. The last thing they needed was free-thought.

Teodar Rescanu (1887 to 1952) was such a left-wing idealist. And writer: it is heartening to see his books being re-discovered.
He was out-of-step with the new regime. He had been imprisoned for his support of the left, but even that did no good with the new boys. He was black-listed, and the ostracism became increasingly brutal as conditions hardened.  Suicide was always an option, and he chose it.

One of the many virtues that stand out among these exemplars, is their dedication to the people, and to the idea of Romania. It almost becomes as if the whole communist experiment has a hiccup in history, a glitch, that all are quickly working at eradicating.
That is, until you see the human dimension.
The people in this book are ones who lost out to that glitch, and the ones who follow – this is especially illustrated in Daniel Dragomirescu’s relationship with Don Cezar, and in turn with poet Ion Enoche – are left to reconcile this loss, and rescue from it a sense of human value.

V I Catarama – it is very hard to find general information on the man. And yet at one time he was an esteemed man of letters, and teacher – an Apostle of Education, as Daniel Dragomisrecu entitles him.
He fell foul of the system in 1958, and was held until 1964. He was the son of a farm worker, a left-wing supporter. It was not enough.
His reinstatement was marginal; he was allowed to teach. Although the continued scrutiny this entailed must have been oppressive.

Ion Enoche is an interesting case: on the fall of the old regime, he still had no place. He had become such a thorough non-conformist he could no longer adapt to any system. Daniel Dragmirescu implies that the over-riding  atmosphere after the fall of the regime was predominantly political, and busy with rebuilding the new Romania.
Enoche could not adapt to this, he was singular, and one-directional; his sole focus was poetry, a poetry cleansed of any politics, official or otherwise.
How was this possible?
Daniel Dragomirescu gives a moment from one of his works:

a poor, bedraggled, and starving Roma woman was riffling through a garbage can
for ‘a ray of sunshine.’

The set up of contrasting elements, and steering of image out of one circumscribed field of imagery towards another, more open and encompassing one, one of human values, is masterly.
It is, still, we could argue, political.
See also:
https://ion-enache.blogspot.co.uk/

Another online source related to this book is:
Ion Iancu Lefter: https://cumpana.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/pagina-121.pdf

*

This is such an important and necessary project.
It only tells a fraction of the story, of course; he acknowledges this.
It is a work of love, as well as rehabilitation.

May I suggest that he follow it up with a companion book, on the subject of notable women?
I would eagerly look forward to such another book.

Black Lives Matter

Posted: June 2, 2020 in Chat
Tags:

i.m. George Floyd

This cannot go on.

Press Return

Posted: May 11, 2020 in Chat
Tags: , ,

and does everything return to ‘normal’ again, the factory setting of our pre-Covid-19 lives?

Here’s a first hand account from Italy, of partial-lift freedom. This is the real:

https://etinkerbell.wordpress.com/2020/05/09/en-plein-air/

Very early one morning in the late 1880s two young men were trying, with a little difficulty, to make their home. They found themselves walking along the misty banks of the Seine. They were carrying on an animated but rather fractured conversation that had started up earlier that evening. In the distance they saw another man making as to circuitously pass them by.
This was difficult, due the staggering motion of their own walk.

The younger of the two hailed the man, Monsieur! Monsieur! The man looked over, a little reluctantly, Yes? He replied, What is it?

But what on earth can bring a honourable man like yourself out into the early morning, like this?

As you see from my uniform, monsieur, I work for Customs and Excise. It is my job to be out this early.

No, no, sir, what I see when I look at you, sir, is an artist, an artist I say!

You mistake me, sir; I know nothing of painting.

No, unmistakably an artist, sir. I see it in you.

I have never painted in my life.

It is written all over you, sir. Believe me, I know of these things. You, sir, are unmistakably, and without doubt an artist. And I would wager, a very fine one too!

The man hesitated, a look of confusion passing over his face. Then out of it, as a sun rising through the mists on the Seine, he smiled, amazed: Do you know, sir, I do think you are right! Indeed I do think you may be so! Your name, sir?

Jarry. Alfred Jarry, the younger man replied. And you, my dear man?

Rousseau, sir. Henri Rousseau.

Well, la douanieur, I expect to see your name everywhere from this day forth. Au revoir!

Ah, the legends of old Paris!

Here’s another Jarry one.

Here he resolved not to buck the system, that would be counter-productive, but to adhere to the rules as closely as humanly possible. He still ended up on report constantly.

One time when instructed to sweep the barracks square as a consequence of some misdemeanor, he was found still standing to attention, broom over shoulder, some time later. When asked to account for himself and his dereliction of duty, his reply was, I was ordered to sweep the square, sir. I was not told in which direction.

Laval barracks.
Jarry had spent some years of his childhood in Laval. And oddly enough Henri Rousseau was born there also. Is it possible Jarry recognised the accent? Is that part of the back-story?

On leaving school, and adrift in the grown-up world, I had to find myself a job to earn money.
I had applied to be a printer, taken the exams, and passed them. It was only because friends were doing the same; I had no idea what it entailed, what I wanted to do, or what was out there.
Work was becoming tighter, even in those days. I was told it would take probably about 18 months to find me a printing post, so… ‘get something in the meantime.’

I had always a passing interest in the sciences (not that school encouraged it much) and got myself a job as trainee laboratory technician at Manchester University.
I had… a job! I was earning money! And let the printing go.

This job coincided with a period of student unrest: strikes and sit-ins. I was on the fringes, neither a student, nor not a part of their ‘scene’, and so gathered quite a sobering view of the dynamics of the heady student sit-ins.

I was working in the Department of Botany, at the university. I was on the periphery, for which I am thankful.

I came across the following blog, which covers most of the tutors and academics in the department at the time. Only a few of the people there I do not recognise:

https://ianpopay.wordpress.com/2012/01/29/victoria-university-of-manchester/

John Hartshorne, a rather quakerish-looking character, and an excellent and much respected teacher, took us for genetics,

Eric Simon, a shortish, bespectacled, rather intense and very good teacher took us for plant physiology, often in the Robinson lab, with its original drawing of the structure of IAA (indole acetic acid) on the wall.

Bob Pecket, Brian Truelove and Ron Butler also taught us plant physiology. Bob was a slighly rotund, always cheerful character who, Nigel tells me,  was knocked down by a car and never fully recovered. Brian was from Leeds – he went on to do very well at Alabama Uni. Ron Butler was a cheerful red-faced individual who, as he told me years later had done some of his national service in Kenya.

Prof John Colhoun, was head of cryptogamic botany and plant pathology, and a redoutable Orangeman.

The smooth and handsome, prematurely grey David Park also lectured in plant pathology. When he left his replacement was George Taylor.

John Tallis lectured in ecology, and his speciality was peat bogs, which included palynology, cooking up peat samples in hydrofluoric acid so that only pollen grains were left. Tallis was generaly regarded by students as rather odd and I remember we were shocked and surprised when we learned that he was to be married!

Peter Newton was a young, blond, very casual lecturer in horticulture. He was a terrible lecturer so far as we were concerned, once wrapping up a lecture, obviously ill-prepared, after only 20 minutes.

Elizabeth Cutter, a research student of Wardlaw at one stage, dealt with morphogenesis, how plants develop their structure and form. In appearance she was a characteristic female botanist, and later went on the do well at Davis, before returning to Manchester as professor.

David Smith was a briliantly clear teacher of palaeobotany. He always joked that while Clive Stace said Manchester was the furthest north he’d ever been, it was the furthest south that David had been!

Clive Stace, a very intense young man, taught taxonomy and was a very good field botanist. Dr Dormer always said the there were two kinds of taxonomists – the extensive, who covered a lot of ground, and the intensive who covered little ground but did it very thoroughly. Dormer classed himself as the former and Stace as the latter. Clive went on to become the great authority on the British flora.

Dr K J Dormer (Keith, I think, but I do not remember anyone actually being so bold!) was a good lecturer but,as I have said, a rather scary person at times. He had published papers on the control mechanisms governing the formation of spines on holly leaves by mathematical determiantions based on the numbers of spines on the two sides of the leaf,  Or something like that.

The one missing from that list was the department head, Professor David Valentine. He was a large bear of a man, but a gentle bear. He knew his importance, his status. He was guarded, yes that is precisely the term, by his secretary… whose name escapes me. She made it her mission to be fearsome and obstructive on every possible front and occasion, guarding her professor. Her reputation went before her.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_H._Valentine

But it is this last name on the blog list that I am remembering here:

Dr K J Dormer.
Kenneth, not Keith, apparently.

His position in the department was that of Reader, he had a Chair, but not the professorship. For years he languished in the shadow of that position, filled by Professor Valentine.

The unsurpassed handbook of botany, Lowson’s Botany, was a joint editing enterprise by Drs Simon, Hartshorne, and Dormer.
This was somewhat before my time, as were the publications that made Dr Dormer’s reputation:
https://www.amazon.co.uk/K-J-Dormer/e/B001KHXBH6/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1

Dr Dormer’s arrogance was unparalleled; a very unlikeable man. I remember his office distinctly – strange how you remember more clearly the details you were most wary of.
And yet… there is always the And yet… I met him again about 20 years later, in an area I would never have expected.

There is, near me, a very wealthy area, mostly a domicile town, but a haven for top football stars and TV personalities.

I was between jobs, so was picking up cash delivering leaflets door to door. I was covering parts of this town. It was earlyish still in the morning, when down the road as I went up came a slightly dishevelled figure: hanging raincoat, trousers a little too short. Coming up close… Dr Dormer!

Of course, I blurted it out, ‘Dr Dormer!’
He was a little taken aback, as I was. We chatted, then he told me his tale.
It was like an Ancient Mariner moment; maybe this was his counselling: tell the tale until it no longer has any meaning.

Dr Dormer’s Tale

As you may remember, we had yearly student field-trips to certain isolated, designated spots of open countryside. I had a hobby – landscape photography. Always took all my equipment on those trips.
The more remote the region the better. For specimens, you understand.

I had taken my camera, stand, lenses, out with me; end of the day; get some shots in.
In one field – it looked a likely spot. I heard a noise; turned around.
It was a bull, and running at me. I had no time to do anything, dropped everything, tried to grab its horns and… wrestle, somehow.
It just threw me down. So easily.

But instead of goring, it… knelt. On my chest. All its weight, on my ribs.
The pain was agonising; I heard ribs snapping. The pain; couldn’t breathe.
I must have passed out, fainted. When I came round, it had wandered away, no longer interested.
The pain; couldn’t breath, barely move.

Eventually after what seemed hours I heard someone in the next field. I had to try and attract their attention. That was so difficult.

I was in intensive care a long time. This is my weekly physiotherapy session; that’s where I am going now.

He seemed broken, somehow.
But still had some of the old Dormer about him, asking what I was doing, and the gleam in his eyes. Was it a sneer?

I had taken my BA (yup, Arts, not Sciences) by then, as a mature student. But he must have known many students like me: gained their degree, then….

You can read so many things into his tale: the landscape photography, for one, as an opener onto the private man.

Incidentally, the following incumbent of the professorship Chair was Dr Elizabeth Cutter, also a keen landscape photographer, and an angler.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elizabeth_Cutter
And yet I find the bare bones of her story moving, very touching: there must have been times of joy. Wiki does not give those.
She co-wrote a history of the Botany department.
She battled the education cuts in the 1980’s to save the department, by amalgamating it with the Zoology department, and others, under the umbrella of Biological Sciences. Only to retire, to look after her ailing mother, live quiet and out of the way, with, Wiki says, ‘No known living relatives.’

In France, Ireland, Chile, Cyprus, Spain and Germany, dance lovers of all ages – professionals and amateurs – have responded to the call and danced their own individual NELKEN-Line. And many more will be able to join, because the project continues

http://www.pinabausch.org/en/projects/the-nelken-line

The ‘Season’s March‘ also known as the Nelken Line:

https://youtube.com/watch??v=vJpgjsOr6hk

And really quite joyous.

There is an argument that says at times like this we must face up to our fears, explore them. I suppose it’s a kind of the Ancient Greek idea of catharsis. But catharsis has never been acceptably defined.

That is all well and good, it fits in with Middle eastern religious thinking very well: a successful graft, to use a term from gardening (not a practice promulgated in Eden, I dare say. For there our reasoning raises all the dark corners and tangled thorns of ‘the natural’ as a basis for behaviour. Farming; I wonder what celebrations hunter-gatherers had? Successful hunt? Returning safe from the hunt? Finding new spreads of berries, fruits…?)
Catharsis though, also now has the relish of the flagellist about it.

And celebration seems to get forgotten along the way. For celebration is where those dark roads are to lead to.

The Season’s March celebrates what we have left of a basic pattern of life, that is outside of our fears and horrors. It is above droughts and bush-fires, of back-breaking farm work, ploughing, fruit and veg harvesting: celebration is a time out of time.
It is also an activity.

The Season’s March is a leisurely celebration of life.

The term Nelken Line alludes to the particular performance by Pina Bausch’s Tantztheater of Wuppertall, in which The March first occurred.

Enjoy:
https://vimeo.com/273317019

https://vimeo.com/243863216

https://vimeo.com/240967153

Keep yourselves safe; breathe deep and properly deep.

There are many, many problems with our time and people that I have struggled with over the years.
How can we move ahead if still held back by these… they must be glitches, plummets into madness? ‘The blindness of God,’ perhaps.
If we think of ourselves as planing onwards towards better futures, – think of a slow low and elegant curve upwards, of improvements in general technological, scientific, especially ethical and moral codes. Then does this leave us open to misrepresentation and misinterpretations of our basic human nature? And so, prone to perpetuating these same horrible acts?

One of these ‘problems’ I have been struggling with has been how people could, that is, certain officials backed up by the rank and file officers, think it acceptable to release poison gas onto battlefields, into trenches, of the opposite forces.
The recent Times Literary Supplement has an article on Einstein’s brief stay in England. Mentioned in a sideline is Fritz Haber who helped develop this ‘tactic’. So, we have a name.
https://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/the-public-and-private-lives-of-albert-einstein-p-d-smith/

How could anyone think that was acceptable behaviour under any circumstances?
Is my problem a lingering belief in an agreed gentlemanly conduct, even in wartime. The two 1929 Geneva Conventions, perhaps?

I began to wonder whether there was something about the German make-up, at that time, beset by War reparations, the Financial crisis, and the Soviet Union’s internationalist programme.
And then, of course, there was the Holocaust.
Completely unimaginable how that could be perpetrated, on such scale and over such a length of time. How was that possible?
Not that there have not been pogroms of great brutality throughout history. They are easy to forget, especially if one’s own history glosses over such self acts.

The scale, I think, is the problem.

I have come across incidents in history, going way back, of equal and sustained barbarity. All smaller scale, but as bad in their ways. Precedents, then.
And then I came across this book review:
Factories of Death: Japanese Biological Warfare 1932-45, and the American Cover Up

https://contagions.wordpress.com/2012/07/14/japanese-use-of-plague-during-world-war-ii/

That the Japanese military had indeed been conducting biological tests on prisoners using ‘plague, glanders, anthrax’ etc to see which was most effective, i.e. quicker, and most contagious. They extended these tests to villages, to find which could decimate larger areas.
This was conducted in Manchuria/Manchukuo, preWar.
Now, Manchuria was bordered, in the West and North, by the Soviet Union.
They also were carrying out similar tests, and along this same border.

So, is the German make-up exonerated?

It is the military mind, then, surely…
how it isolates itself from common morality ( how could you kill wholesale otherwise?) but in time becomes self-sufficient in its own utilitarian ethics and morals.

And so, in a little way, but nonetheless revealing, is myself looking for cause (blame?) in the German make-up, that gives a quick glimpse into my failings (get the hint? Conjugate my) – a lack of sufficient background knowledge.

I reviewed a book some years back, The Causes of War, by Professor Hidemi Suganami, published by Oxford University Press:

https://pure.aber.ac.uk/portal/en/publications/the-causes-of-war%28486854c0-7420-4dc2-b947-48ff5f1b0090%29.html


His conclusion? Wars exist because they are continue to be seen as a viable option.
It sounds banal, especially after the hugely meticulous research and arguments he perused and conducted.
Wars seem as viable an option now as they ever have.
Short-term thinking and blinkered reasoning.
It is the aftermath, though, that takes generations, centuries, to struggle to accommodate, or reject, that wars leave behind is the real face of war

And so, that is where I begin here, as part of those attempts to accommodate the problems of my time , and yes, as can be seen, even attempt a brief rejection (German make-up).

We are all prone to these creeping errors of thought. We all must be constantly on guard – against ourselves, that is, our mono-cultural attitudes, backgrounds, and prejudices.

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/11/european-colonial-powers-still-loth-to-admit-historical-evils


This is not something that needs to be started now – it is the common practice of modern historians and cultural materialists, and has been for many years. It’s already on its way.
Let’s climb on board.

Music for self isolators

Posted: March 28, 2020 in Chat

Latino beats and rhythms for life and love

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xTlNMmZKwpA

Here’s to you all.

Best wishes, hope, and better days.