On a personal level it has been a very enjoyable week including a performance of the Nutcracker by Northern Ballet on Saturday night. The choreography was excellent, costumes wonderful, sets created with great imagination and the music delivered with fantasia delight.
One aspect that stood out for me were the integration of
young dancers from the Elaine Milbourne Theatre Dance School (researched
their name) into the story where they dance with the adults but also as some of
the most delightful playful mice on their own. What a wonderful incentive for
young and gifted to pursue a difficult career whose creative output enchants by working with talented adults. This particular ballet from
Tchaikovsky is to my mind one of his most playfully imaginative and it was
wonderful to sit back and let my imagination run freely. Mmmm difficult today as I listen to a
recording and type this.
Music of a different form was provided by Celtic Woman on Wednesday at the Sage. The performance was slick, very professional with good but not brilliant vocals and excellent percussion. Id travel to hear those two guys with some great kit. The songs selected were those you’d find at the exit duty free shop at any Irish airport. Pretty girls in lovely dresses singing of sweet things. Would have been happy to take my mother, glad to have gone (once) but would not return. They are said to do very well in the USA. The song style was such a contrast to that of Christy Moore the other week at the same venue who delivered lyrics of passion and fire.
Saturdays lecture form the Explore programme was on Max Beckman and his Triptychs. Had to think twice when I saw the topic in print first. Three pictures linked thematically, yes thats it. Historically the two side panels were hinged to the centre picture and this mechanism was used particularly when used for religious themes during the Renaissance when the panels could be opened to reveal all three pictures at spiritually significant times. Nowadays its generally three pictures on a wall. Max’s themes were varied around such as the “Departure” shown here and he provided next to no guidance on what they were supposed to be saying. It was good learning to explore his various Triptychs noting symbolism common, to discuss with others and to learn about the artistic portrayal of complex ideas from a great lecturer Peter Quinn. Very much a wonderful working of the mind morning.
Thoughts on Tragic Paris
A few years ago when wondering in Vietnam I came across what was an American cigarette lighter from the “war” engraved “Fighting for peace is like fucking for chastity”. True: from observation rather than personal experience. The lighter is no longer with me but the words remain engraved on my mind. The Americans got beaten there (Vietnam) by a non conventional army and a few years after the French had been beaten in same country by the same army. Conventional armies are not good against non conventional ones.
What has transpired this weekend in Paris could have happened is so many other cities across Europe and frequently does in the Middle East but with far less media coverage. Our free and open society is vulnerable to such attacks by whomsoever carries them out. Last nights outing by myself to the Nutcracker was via public transport, through a crowded Grey street so joyful and lively to a packed theatre not too far removed in layout from that in Paris. I did not see a single policeman last night nor any trouble and so it should be. But so many opportunities to kill should ones mind be so evil.
However, there are several countries such as Iraq where life is not like that here at home. We as in the Western democracies removed a dictator there whom we did not like and replaced him with a weak and frail democracy exploited by crookedness and tribalism. In the resulting structural vacuum ISIS has exploited opportunities, recruiting those favoured by Saddam, seizing control of tracts of land and several important towns. An uprising in neighbouring Syria has allowed the ISIS cancer to spread there. The West is still involved in providing support to a weak Iraq army and weaker rebels in Syria. Vacuums are bad as evil thrives.
We are very quick to play the military card from Vietnam to Afghanistan because we have the best toys available but we are dangerously careless in our lack of forethought as to what will replace the mayhem. We learn lessons and dispense experience gained through blood as if a seasonal fashion. It is great to hear of peace conferences such as planned for Syria but without embedding democratic structures such as a free press, education equality, judicial processes, property rights, ensuring personal security and safety to name a few basics then we will create another demonic structure such as Libya etc and not a democratic one.
We bomb others with impunity via drones, long range missiles
which makes it seem safely clinical and risk free (to us). Blood and guts are delivered via tv pictures without texture or odour and we have
seen so many of those that we are emotionally desensitised. My artist of the week
Max Beckman had a nervous breakdown during World War 1 when he served as a
medical orderly because of the horrors on the Eastern front not that the
Western was much better. War up close is awful: It should be the last option
not the first. If we wish to carry on fighting for “peace” we should realise it
can be on our doorstep too. We should therefore learn not to be shocked if
others wish to kill us because war has no rules. I hope we can do better but fear we prefer the roll of the drum, the flashy toys and pressed uniforms.
Yoga this weekend has pushed and challenged me and must start practising during the week as I see opportunities to improve.