David Jones, artist and poet (1895-1974) begins his PREFACE TO THE ANATHEMATA :

'I have made a heap of all that I could find.' (1) So wrote Nennius, or whoever composed the introductory matter to Historia Brittonum. He speaks of an 'inward wound' which was caused by the fear that certain things dear to him 'should be like smoke dissipated'. Further, he says, 'not trusting my own learning, which is none at all, but partly from writings and monuments of the ancient inhabitants of Britain, partly from the annals of the Romans and the chronicles of the sacred fathers, Isidore, Hieronymous, Prosper, Eusebius and from the histories of the Scots and Saxons although our enemies . . . I have lispingly put together this . . . about past transactions, that [this material] might not be trodden under foot'. (2)

(1) The actual words are coacervavi omne quod inveni, and occur in Prologue 2 to the Historia.
(2) Quoted from the translation of Prologue 1. See The Works of Gildas and Nennius, J.A.Giles, London 1841.

28 November 2011

from Pillory to Post

bLOGOS/HA HA watched the Walkley Awards presentation on SBS last night. The most contentious decision - we noted that many in the audience of peers did not clap the acceptance speech - was for Most outstanding contribution to journalism to WikiLeaks.

This award was sponsored by Sky News, which is partially-owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation. A fine irony.

Appropriately, it was announced by senior journalist and 2010 Gold Walkley winner Laurie Oakes, a past defender of WikiLeaks and someone renowned for his own reports of leaked documents.
Most outstanding contribution to journalism
Sponsored by Sky News

This year’s winner has shown a courageous and controversial commitment to the finest traditions of journalism: justice through transparency.

WikiLeaks applied new technology to penetrate the inner workings of government to reveal an avalanche of inconvenient truths in a global publishing coup.

Its revelations, from the way the war on terror was being waged, to diplomatic bastardry, high-level horse-trading and the interference in the domestic affairs of nations, have had an undeniable impact.

This innovation could just as easily have been developed and nurtured by any of the world’s major publishers – but it wasn’t.

Yet so many eagerly took advantage of the secret cables to create more scoops in a year than most journalists could imagine in a lifetime.

While not without flaws, the Walkley Trustees believe that by designing and constructing a means to encourage whistleblowers, WikiLeaks and its editor-in-chief Julian Assange took a brave, determined and independent stand for freedom of speech and transparency that has empowered people all over the world.
And in the process, they have triggered a robust debate inside and outside the media about official secrecy, the public’s right to know, and the future of journalism.
Laurie Oakes at the Walkley Awards last year :
Oakes criticised Ms Gillard and Attorney-General Robert McClelland for their comments about WikiLeaks' release of US diplomatic cables.

"What they said was ridiculous," he said.

"To brand what the WikiLeaks site has done as illegal when there's no evidence of any breach of the law, I think is demeaning ... I think as journalists we should make that our view."

read full SMH article here
Julian Assange accepted the award on behalf of WikiLeaks. He appeared by video, from his house arrest in England, with a backdrop of the upside down and wrong way around logos of the five major financial organisations that refuse to facilitate funds to WikiLeaks.

click here to watch the video of Assange's speech

Switched then to ABC 24 where there was a formal debate in progress : That WikiLeaks is a Power for Good

The third speaker for the affirmative was Stuart Rees, academic, author, Director of the Sydney Peace Foundation and Emeritus Professor at the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at the University of Sydney in Australia. He concluded with an extract from the once pilloried pamphleteer Daniel Defoe, from his poem A Hymn to the Pillory ( read it here ).
Exhort the justice of the land
Who punish what they will not understand,
Tell them he stands exalted there
For speaking what they would not hear.
The background to that, from here. Sounds familiar...
On 16 July 1703 Daniel Defoe began to serve a three-day sentence in the pillory at Charing Cross (Trafalgar Square), part of his punishment for having written the "seditious libel" of The Shortest Way with Dissenters. This satiric pamphlet had suggested that instead of passing laws against all religious Dissenters - Protestant "Nonconformists," such as Defoe - the quicker, cleaner solution would be to just kill them. Defoe's proposal was taken seriously, if not embraced, by many of the Anglican Tories in office; when everyone realized that it was a put-on, and that the anonymous author was Defoe, they flushed him from his hiding spot and took revenge for their embarrassment: a hefty fine, time in Newgate Prison, three sessions in the pillory.

detail from a much larger scene (here ) Daniel Defoe in the pillory 1862 line engraving by James Charles Armytage after Eyre Crowe

Another of the many who have paid dearly for their efforts to share information/power with the people is William Tyndale. For his translation and publication of the Bible, from the Hebrew and Greek of the educated power elite to the English of the many, he had to flee England. Arrested in Brussels by an ally of the English King, and tried there on charges of heresy, he was "strangled to death while tied at the stake, and then his dead body was burned". (Ironically, it is he who coined the term scapegoat.)

William Tyndale cries out "Lord, open the King of England's eyes". Woodcut from Foxe's Book of Martyrs (1563)

A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/

someone looks at something ...