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.

18 April 2013

With this regard their Currents turn awry, And lose the name of Action.

How might an artist do best?

This question arises through observation and discussion about Peter Garrett, former singer for Midnight Oil turned Parliamentary functionary.

How can we dance when our earth is turning 
How do we sleep while our beds are burning
- as sung by Peter Garrett, Midnight Oil

Whether 'tis Better to be In
And, being thus InSpoken, 
Bound by Cabinet Solidarity
Or Out 
And OutSpoken...

Whether 'tis Nobler...
To be, or not to be, that is the question:
Whether 'tis Nobler in the mind to suffer
The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,
Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them: to die, to sleep
No more; and by a sleep, to say we end
The Heart-ache, and the thousand Natural shocks
That Flesh is heir to? 'Tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die to sleep,
To sleep, perchance to Dream; Aye, there's the rub,
For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause. There's the respect
That makes Calamity of so long life:
For who would bear the Whips and Scorns of time,
The Oppressor's wrong, the proud man's Contumely,
The pangs of disprized Love, the Law’s delay,
The insolence of Office, and the Spurns
That patient merit of the unworthy takes,
When he himself might his Quietus make
With a bare Bodkin? Who would Fardels bear,
To grunt and sweat under a weary life,
But that the dread of something after death,
The undiscovered Country, from whose bourn
No Traveller returns, Puzzles the will,
And makes us rather bear those ills we have,
Than fly to others that we know not of.
Thus Conscience does make Cowards of us all,
And thus the Native hue of Resolution
Is sicklied o'er, with the pale cast of Thought,
And enterprises of great pith and moment,
With this regard their Currents turn awry,
And lose the name of Action. Soft you now,
The fair Ophelia? Nymph, in thy Orisons
Be all my sins remembered.

On Q & A a week ago, in a discussion about "sex work" and (the apparently now-contentious term) "prostitution", Germain Greer said :

GERMAINE GREER: Well, one of the major tenets of modern feminism is the protest against the commoditisation of people. Now, if you're selling sex services with a clearly understood bargain between two people which will be honoured by both sides and which both sides are fully cognisant of what's going on and you're not connected to organised crime or any of the other horrors that beset prostitution, I don't see that it's any different from having to smile for a living. You know, you can't be a waitress and be grumpy. Even though it's work that makes you incredibly grumpy, you've still got to smile and make people think that it's all up and it's all pippy-poo and it's all fun even when it's absolutely not fun at all. Most of us have to sell ourselves in some way or another. In some ways, just selling sex is to sell less of yourself than when you become a company person, when you become identified with your employer, when your employer dictates your very mental processes. We are all involved in selling things that shouldn't be sold at all. It's called capitalism. It's the system. And Eve was the first person to work in it. 
A comparable other who made the artist-to-government move before Garrett is Glenda Jackson, actress turned British Labour Party parliamentarian.

Jackson first came to our attention 
(and to that of Theatre of the Actors of Regard) 

in Peter Brook's Marat/Sade : The Persecution and Assassination of Jean-Paul Marat as Performed by the Inmates of the Asylum of Charenton Under the Direction of the Marquis de Sade. (So impressed were we by the film of the play, we bought the book of the play by Peter Weiss.) 

Glenda Jackson played Charlotte Corday; a role that might be seen to presage her own commitment to the art of politics.
Marie-Anne Charlotte de Corday d'Armont (27 July 1768 – 17 July 1793), known to history as Charlotte Corday, was a figure of the French Revolution. In 1793, she was executed under the guillotine for the assassination of Jacobin leader Jean-Paul Marat, who was in part responsible, through his role as a politician and journalist, for the more radical course the Revolution had taken.

Jean-Paul Marat was a member of the radical Jacobin faction which had a leading role during the Reign of Terror. As a journalist, he exerted power and influence through his newspaper, L'Ami du peuple ("The Friend of the People").

Corday's decision to kill Marat was stimulated not only by her revulsion at the September Massacres, for which she held Marat responsible, but for her fear of an all-out civil war. She believed that Marat was threatening the Republic, and that his death would end violence throughout the nation. She also believed that King Louis XVI should not have been executed.

from Wikipedia : Charlotte Corday
Last week Margaret Thatcher died. The British Parliament called a special session for tributes to this former three-times elected Tory Prime Minister. 

Should one not speak ill of the dead, as custom dictates? 

What of hypocrisy? Here's an artist on such tributes by politicians for politicians :
Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.
The evil that men do lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noble Brutus
Hath told you Caesar was ambitious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault;
And grievously hath Caesar answer'd it.
Here, under leave of Brutus and the rest, —
For Brutus is an honorable man;
So are they all, all honorable men, —
Come I to speak in Caesar's funeral.
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Brutus says he was ambitious;
And Brutus is an honorable man.

Mark Antony, Scene 2 : Julius Ceasar by William Shakespeare

We think it worth reading into the Hansard (sic) of bLOGOS/HA HA the speech that Glenda Jackson delivered to the hissing pit of Tory scorn.

[John Bercow, The Speaker]
…Glenda Jackson
[Glenda Jackson]
Thank you to the speaker. It is hardly a surprise that Baroness Thatcher was careless over soup being poured over Lord Howe, when she was apparently perfectly prepared to send him out to the wicket with a broken bat. Mr. Deputy — Mr. Speaker, when I made my maiden speech all in this Chamber, a little over two decades ago, Margaret Thatcher had been elevated to the other place. But Thatcherism was still reeking as it had reeked for the previous decade, the most heinous social, economic and spiritual damage upon this country, upon my constituency and my constituents.
Our local hospitals were running on empty. Patients were staying on trolleys in corridors. I tremble to think what the death rate for pensioners would have been this winter if that version of Thatcherism had been fully up and running this year.
[John Bercow]
Hold on.
[Glenda Jackson]
Our schools, parents, teachers, governors, even pupils, seemed to spend an inordinate amount of time fundraising in order to be able to provide basic materials such as paper and pencils. The plaster on our classroom walls were kept in place by pupils’ art work and miles and miles of sellotape.
Our school libraries were dominated by empty shelves, very few books, and those books that were there again, were being held together by ubiquitous sellotape and off-cuts from teachers’ wallpaper used to bind those volumes so that they could at least hang together.
But by far, by far the most dramatic and heinous demonstration of Thatcherism was certainly not only in London, but across the whole country in metropolitan areas, where every single shop doorway, every single night, became the bedroom, the living room, the bathroom for the homeless.
They grew in their thousands. And many of those homeless people had been thrown out on to the streets from the long-term — the closure of the long-term mental hospitals. We were told it was going to be called — it was called — Care in the Community, what in effect it was, was NO CARE at all in the community.
I was interested to hear about Baroness Thatcher’s willingness to invite those who have nowhere to go for Christmas. It’s a pity she didn’t start building more and more social houses after she entered into the right to buy, so perhaps there would have been fewer homeless people than there were.
As a friend of mine said, during her era London became a city Hogarth would have recognized and indeed he would. But the basis to Thatcherism, and this is where I come to the spiritual part of what I regard as a desperate, desperately wrong track that the lead – that Thatcherism took this country into is that we were told that everything I had been taught to regard as a vice, and I still regard them as vices, under Thatcherism was in fact a virtue: greed, selfishness, no care for the weaker, sharp elbows, sharp knees, they put the way forward. We heard much, and will continue to hear over the next week of the barriers that were broken down by Thatcherism, the establishment that was destroyed.
We can’t take it.
[Glenda Jackson]
What we actually saw — the word that has been circling around with stars around it is that she created an aspirational society. It aspired for things. As indeed one of the former Prime Ministers, who himself have been elevated to the house of Lord, spoke about selling off the family silver, and people knowing under those years the price of everything and the value of nothing.
What concerns me is that I’m beginning to see possibly the re-emergence of that total traducing of what I regard as being the basis spiritual nature of this country, where we do care about society, where we do believe in communities, where we do not leave people to walk by on the other side. That isn’t happening now.
And if we go back to the heyday of that era, I think it will – we will see replicated yet again, the extraordinary human damage that we as a nation have suffered from, the talent that has been totally wasted because of the inability to genuinely see the individual value of every single human being.
My honorable friend my Hackney referred to the fact that although she had differed from with Lady Thatcher in her policies, she felt duty bound to come to pay tribute to the first woman Prime Minister this country had produced.
I am with generation who was raised by women. The men had all gone to war to defend our freedoms. They didn’t just run a Government, they run a country. And the women that I knew, who raised me and millions of people like me, who ran our factories and our businesses, put out the fires when the bombs dropped, they would not have recognized their definition of womanliness has been incorporated an iconic model of Margaret Thatcher to pay tribute to the first Prime Minister deputed by female gender, okay; but a woman? Not on my terms.

[John Bercow]
Point of orders to Tony Baldry.
[Tony Baldry]
Mr. Speaker, the conventions of the House in respect of those occasions, rare occasions on which the house chooses to make tributes to a person who has been deceased are well established.
This is not and has never been a general debate on the memory of the person who has been deceased, but an opportunity for tribute, not an opportunity for honorable members to denigrate the memory of the person who has been deceased.
[John Bercow]
Resume his seat. I’m grateful to the honorable gentlemen for his, and I use the term advisably attempted point of order.
Let me be explicit for the benefit both of the honorable gentlemen and of the house. All honorable and right honorable members take responsibility for what they say in this place. The responsibility of that Chair is to ensure that nothing un-parliamentary occurs. Let me assure the honorable gentlemen for the avoidance of doubt.
Nothing un-parliamentary has occurred. We are debating a motion that says that this House has considered the matter of tributes to the Baroness Thatcher. That is what we are doing and nothing has got…

Transcript Source: LYBIO.net

 A Person Looks At A Work Of Art/

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