tag : bright yellow-green apples: April 2006

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Saturday, April 29, 2006

the problems of hysteria

Should I stay or should I go, now?

To put it bluntly, I don't think the Home Secretary should resign. I also think that a lot of the calls for his resignation, over the recent furure, have rather spurious basis.

Firstly there seems to be a fetish for resignations, such that any mistake is enough to require one. Every minister and every mistake, the the catcalls are the same. It's lost any real meaning when there actually is a cause for resgination, which does crop up from time to time. They are ignore the fact that it would take a while for someone else to bed into the post, which might further delay and sort-out of the problems.

Secondly, there appears to be a lot of whollyness about what's actually happened. Foreign nationals have committed crimes, of varying degrees of seriousness, and then served their times in jail before being released. Yet people act as if criminals have been released prematurely, accidentally, and will all roam the streets looking for another offense to commit. And thus they must be expelled, to their home countries, before they unleash their crime waves upon us all. It does seem to be a cocktail of fear of foreigners and fear of criminals - both of which become inflated into a monstrous beast - that is behind the hype. At worst, this mistake in the system might be seen as a case of there being insufficient post-incarceration care - but this should be seen as common to all who're released. The hysteria is absurd, and you don't help people not to reoffend by shooting them off elsewhere. Otherwise it's just NIMBY xenophobia.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Or: how violence develops and where it can lead

"Let there not be too much talk about blood here, since only necessary differences in level are to be regarded as inevitable; we would therefore direct the reader to television and the movies and the appropriate musicals and grusicals; if there is to be something fluid here, let it not be blood. Perhaps attention should merely be drawn to certain colour effects: the murdered Töges was wearing an improvised sheikh costume concocted from a rather worn sheet, and the effect of a lot of blood on a lot of white sheet is well known; a pistol is then sure to act almost like a spray gun, and since in this instance the costume was made of a large square of white cotton, modern painting, stage effects would seem to be more appropriate here than drainage. So be it. These are the facts."

How is it that I can be so utterly squeamish, and yet relish the beauty and precision of this extract from 3 of The Lost Honour Of Katharina Blum? It's certainly one of the most satisfying stories I've read for a long while and - like the film Fight Club - manages to touch parts of me that're rarely stimulated and satisfied. Through a combination of rigourous attention to aesthetics and a sharply observed story. It's an appropriate comparison to make, in some ways, cos Heinrich Böll's short story is very cinematic. Though its target is as much about media manipulation as a critique of the alienation that can come with modern materialism.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Christ is risen and life is freed

CLICK ON the image, for the message.

"When Isaias foresaw all this, he cried out:
"O Hades, you have been angered by encountering Him in the nether world."
Hades is angered because frustrated,
it is angered because it has been mocked,
it is angered because it has been destroyed,
it is angered because it has been reduced to naught,
it is angered because it is now captive.
It seized a body, and, lo! it discovered God;
it seized earth, and, behold! it encountered heaven;
it seized the visible, and was overcome by the invisible."

Happy Easter to you all.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

heady days (edited)

A couple of weekends ago, before going to the second SCM gathering, I was at my chapel's annual spring fair. And for once I was doing the bookstall rather than the plants. Pleasant as they are, it was fortuitous as they wouldn't have afforded me the chance to be part of a brief flurry of controversy. Gasp! The new joint circuit minister, a lovely lass who shall remain nameless, came over to browse and then firmly declared some of the material to be occult. I assumed she was joking in some way, as nobody's ever spoken like that round these parts, so did my mock "oh what will become of us?" face. But she went on to insist, in all seriousness, that they should really be cast out the building as liable to corrupt the ickle minds of new Christians. Satan likes to sneak in them with - ahem - subtle ways such as books of the clearly occult type. Who was the author concerned but Dennis Wheatley?

I've never heard of him, but decided this was a reason to acquaint myself. Thus far The Irish Witch is no disappointment; it's brilliantly trashy, with stilted dialogue and terrifyingly clunky scenarios. It's fair to say that, in amidst gentlemen out for the defence of honor and licentious young ladies, there are no surprises on the horizon with this tale. So not only did I get to nostalgically re-live the heady days of my bust-up with Reading University Christian Union over issues around the bookstall, but I've got a tacky bit of literature to laugh over. Huzah!

I thought it might be helpful to give you an idea of the kind of book this is, so here’s an extract that brilliantly epitomises the whole sorry enterprise:

"It is not I who refuse, but your mother."
Jemima’s blue eyes opened wide.
Lady Luggala gave a gasp of dismay. "There! Oh Satan help me! By throwing me into a tizzy about Charles going off to the war and our losing him, you’ve led me into disclosing that she is not dead, as I’d given you to understand."
Springing up from the chaise-longue, Jemima cried, "Who is she? Who is she? I insist that you tell me."
"No, child! No! That I cannot do. I am sworn to secrecy."
"’Tis too late!" Jemima flared. "To me it is a secret no longer. Who could have refused your request that I should be admitted into the Hell Fire Club? Only one person. The Irish witch. It is she who is my mother."

It has the feel and flow of a locale amateur dramatics convention. Unlike The Blind Assassin, which is a beautiful and subtle story that manages to be profoundly moving without ever straying into cloyingness. But woven within it there are funny and clever pulp sci-fi short stories, rather like the above story. Only they have a point.