Not what I wanted to blog about

I was thinking all night of the post I’d write about a clock, an 18th century clock. It started with the clock, anyway, and ended up being more about a mother and daughter.

It was going to be a post about self-isolation and self-improvement, about reason and tolerance defeating ignorance and greed, about women’s fight for equality and independence; about jealousy and love, egos and guillotines; about rebellion and restraint; about philosophy, education and religion; about gaiety, satire and burlesque – lyrics from Gypsy were going to be included (“Sing out, Louise”) – it was a mess, less than the sum of its parts.

The object still exists for you to look at. All you need from me is a link. No words. Everything has been said before. No more blogging, I say.

Instead, I’m copying and pasting a Tweet from the journalist John Crace, about today’s cause célèbre, the latest gobsmacking hypocrisy of the Vote Leave coup leaders who are turning the ancient democracy of Great Britain into a shoddy dictatorship, a tax haven for corrupt, nihilist capitalists, while the rest of us, if we survive the plague, will die from poverty and bitterness, and malnutrition from lowered food standards.

We will be deprived of freedom of movement to work and live and love where we want in Europe, our continent. For some of us, that freedom and that love are the meaning of life itself. We have been dispossessed. We are aliens in our own country.

Tick tock.

The rich will still be able to do what they want, just as Cummings, Great Britain’s eminence grise, did during lockdown, when, knowing he and his wife had COVID-19, he flouted government restrictions by travelling 260 miles to visit his elderly parents with his four year-old child.

Cummings, in his own mind the child of Machiavelli and Nietzsche, doesn’t care; the pastiche prime minister/world king manqué and his equally over-entitled, even creepier associates (who can’t wait to stab him in the back) don’t care; they know there will be no consequences for the shameless. They are unaccountable. They have called democracy’s bluff.

They prey on human frailty. They play on the ordinary person being as selfish and venal as they are. They taunt and tempt like the sleazy admen and dodgy goods’ salesmen they are.

Everything they offer you has fallen off the back of a lorry. They know most of us know. They don’t care. Look how we can spin! Aren’t we funny! More entertaining than the Opposition. Razzamatazz! (Theatre is dead, due to Coronavirus, showing off isn’t.) Bragging how you have twisted the truth impresses more, nowadays, than telling the truth.

If you weren’t as bad as them before, you will be soon.

Tick tock.

John Crace on Twitter:

According to @michaelgove
and other cabinet ministers,
those of us who didn’t break government guidelines
to drive 250 miles just didn’t love
our families and friends enough

Another Tweet, from Aditya Chakrabortty, sums up the depth of this government’s betrayal of a nation:

If only Number 10 had acted as quickly and forcefully on the pandemic in March as it has to save Dominic Cummings

And, because I can’t bear to leave you without something old and pretty, here’s the link to a relic from the Age of Enlightenment and Reason, a neoclassical feminist clock illustrating the power of solitude:

Mantel clock eMuseumPlusb
Mantel clock c. 1768 made for Madame Geoffrin (1699-1777) The Wallace Collection

“One must work with time and not against it.”
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

Take care of yourself first

ToiletteDelicious

“I went to collect the few personal belongings which…I held to be invaluable: my cat, my resolve to travel, and my solitude.” Colette

“The world is very lovely, and it’s very horrible–and it doesn’t care about your life or mine or anything else.”
Rudyard Kipling, The Light That Failed

“He’d never seen anything in a cat’s face but simpering incuriosity and self-interest” Jonathan Franzen, Freedom

“After the attrition of thirty humdrum years, he no longer loved her for her human qualities. He still found her attractive because she was as self-possessed as a cat. Observed or unobserved, wherever she was, she behaved the same, with the same rhythm and attention to detail, a graceful selfishness, true to herself, if not to him.

He was as absorbed in her as she was in herself. Watching her brushing her hair, applying ineffable creams to her face and body, swiping her tablet as if it were a mirror to her other, secret selves, or eating her small helpings of balanced meals at the same table as him without once looking at him, he felt he barely existed. He was not offended. He admired her independence and indifference to other people’s petty jealousies. When she came home in the small hours, without telling him where she had been, he knew better than to ask. She was her ‘own damned cat.'”
Noëlle Mackay, Human Rites

“Nothing resembles selfishness more closely than self-respect” George Sand, Indiana

What are you doing while the world burns?

Boris Johnson is reputed to compare himself to Britain’s World War II leader, Winston Churchill, a showman with genuine political foresight whose rhetoric thrilled a nation into active resistance: “we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender”.

A narcissist who thrives on attention, Johnson probably won’t be upset by some of the hilarious parodies now in circulation:

Johnson and Trump are both corruptly democratically elected dictators and share personal characteristics. There are two differences, balancing each other out. The first is personal. Trump is stupid and instinctive, Johnson is intelligent and calculating. The second is circumstantial. Trump rules a super power, Johnson is the figurehead of a declining power that has done the “stupidest thing any nation has ever done” (Bloomberg) in choosing Brexit, making its own people poorer and its global influence impotent.

Johnson did not believe in Brexit in 2016, and we may safely assume he doesn’t believe in it now. He doesn’t care. He believes in himself. It is not a coincidence that humans are being led by megalomaniac lying narcissists at the beginning of the end of the world. Even if we didn’t vote for them ourselves, we didn’t fight hard enough to stop them.

So we are all accountable.

We have got to fight harder. Or have we? What do you want to do? People have always adapted, haven’t they? Survival of the fittest and all that? Is that what you want? Is that the sensible thing to do?

Johnson’s absence lotus-eating while Trump plays WWIII games with world peace and the Australian burns has been called cowardice. That jibe would cut most of us to the quick. Not Johnson. Not Trump. Their narcissism gives them armour for self-preservation that the average person doesn’t have.

They don’t care. That’s why they are successful, that is why they were elected by people in flight from the horrors of reality, overfed on lies and false promises, bored by facts, obsessed by structured reality shows, who wanted leaders in their own image to reassure themselves that they are good. They don’t care that it’s a lie. That’s where we are in evolution. The age of denial before extinction.

It’s not going to happen in your lifetime? So you don’t care? I hold you to account. I hold myself to account, too, but I would rather scream alone in the dark than break bread with any collaborator.

We are witnessing the slow agonizing death of our world, and most people don’t care. So they follow leaders who make not caring look aspirational.

Look! Be a PM or President with a subjugated trophy women at your side! Look! Tax havens! Free use of millionaires’ villas on sleazy sex islands! Look!

Look!

baby kangaroo

Look!

Australia

Look!

sof_aacute__by_ekhi_guinea-d756999Sofa by Ekhi-Guinea

We still have a choice. We either continue to self-medicate or we get off the sofa and fight.
If we are financially able, we must give money to those who need it more.
If we are physically able, we must resist and protest.

Goodbye, bloggers

Humanity’s untold crimes

YOUNG WHALE KILLED BY PLASTIC WASTE IN THE OCEAN
The Guardian

dead whale

“Action must be taken by the government against those who continue to treat the waterways and ocean as dumpsters.”

We are all accountable, by someone, in the end. Thoughtlessness is evil.

WHALES ARE BEING KILLED BY PEOPLE’S THOUGHTLESS LITTERING OF THE OCEANS

Same story reported in The Independent

“Darling! The set was wonderful.”

via “Darling! The set was wonderful.”

It’s one of those site-specific shows in which the lead actress, in the title role of “Sweet Melancholy”, is upstaged by a live, cooing, flying prop; the play is in blank verse, and the director, after blaming everyone else at the Tech Rehearsal, has lost the plot; but the set design is wonderful….

Joseph-Marie_Vien_Sweet_Melancholy_(1756)
Joseph-Marie Vien Sweet Melancholy 1756.
Cleveland Museum of Art. Image: Wikipedia

Melancholy, as you know it, was never this sweet. This looks more like Wistful Posing, though maybe you have missed the point about contemporary self-consciousness. Mid-drama, she, Melancholy, looking as pretty as possible, rearranges her drapery and takes a selfie.

You would be at a loss for words when you congratulate your friend afterwards, if it wasn’t for Vien’s sophisticated colour scheme, daring to put Melancholy’s acid yellow dress against a dark grey background, and his dedication to historical detail in the props and furniture, pioneering a fashion in neoclassical home interiors.

The smoke from the antique brazier is scented, sending the front rows, especially the critics, into drowsy raptures. That might explain the liminal moment when you thought you heard the dove speak.

You travelled far to get here, to a disused temple in an inaccessible part of the old City, where no buses dare to stop. You took three wrong turns on your way from the station. You are dismayed by the thought of missing connections on the long journey home, and arriving tired and dispirited in the lonely night.

You imagine yourself slumped unprettily on a chair, holding your head in your hands, mourning your losses, knowing that bad as the day has been, there is always hope tomorrow will be worse.

You promise yourself that if you can ever afford it – ach, if only you’d got that film job the other day – you will buy a neoclassical upholstered chair and incense-burner, and recline elegantly in a full-length, yellow silk gown, to sweeten your own melancholy.

You are not lying when you reassure Sweet Melancholy that, “You looked like a goddess on that set, and deserve awards just for acting with that pigeon.”

Summer fires

All in the golden afternoon
….
In such an hour,
Beneath such dreamy weather,
To beg a tale…
“There will be nonsense in it!”‘
Lewis Carroll, preface to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865

gainsboroughwoodedlandscapeThomas Gainsborough Landscape with a Woodcutter and Milkmaid 1755
Oil on canvas

“Nostalgia is denial. Denial of the painful present.
The name for this denial is Golden Age thinking – the erroneous notion that a different time period is better than the one one’s living in – it’s a flaw in the romantic imagination of those people who find it difficult to cope with the present.”
Midnight in Paris, 2011, film written and directed by Woody Allen

“Say not thou, What is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not enquire wisely concerning this.”
Ecclesiastes, Chapter 7, Verse 10, King James Bible, 1611

constablebrightonJohn Constable (1776-1837) Coast Scene at Brighton: Evening, oil painting, ca. 1828
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

      “….colours from the sunset take:
From something of material sublime
Rather than shadow our own soul’s day-time
In the dark void of night.”
(Keats, Epistle to John Hamilton Reynolds)

“Set yourself on fire with passion and people will come for miles to watch you burn”
attributed to John Wesley (1703-1791)

marsdenmoorfire1

“The people who started the moorlands fires are responsible for a catastrophe that has endangered an enormous number of people. People are having to evacuate their homes, livestock has been lost and natural beauty spots have been ravaged. Resources have been sent from fire and rescue services all across the country.” Fire Brigades Union general secretary Matt Wrack speaking of the wildfires on Saddleworth Moor, Lancashire, England, which spread for 2 weeks during the heatwave of late June and July, 2018

“They never reached a golden age, or found El Dorado. ‘The journey, not the destination matters’, Rachael incanted, out of habit,
while they could see there was nothing left that glittered through the smoke ahead,
and the smell of burnt dirt did not stop rising from the ashes.
Philippa was in too sour a mood to stomach either irony or elegy and she snapped back:
‘Catch on fire and people will come for miles to see you burn’.”
Noëlle Mackay Human Rites 

gainsboroughevening3Thomas Gainsborough (1727-1788) Wooded Landscape with Herdsman and Cattle

‘And now the tale is done,
And home we steer, a merry crew,
Beneath the setting sun.’
Lewis Carroll (1832-1898), preface to Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 1865

The Levee of the Great High King

The Universe, O my brothers, is flinging wide its portals for the Levee of the GREAT HIGH KING.
Thomas Carlyle, THE FRENCH REVOLUTION

After the attrition of thirty humdrum years, he no longer loved her for her human qualities. He still found her attractive because she was as self-possessed as a cat. Observed or unobserved, wherever she was, she behaved the same, with the same rhythm and attention, a graceful selfishness, true to herself, if not to him.

He was as absorbed in her as she was in herself. Watching her brushing her hair, applying ineffable creams to her face and body, swiping her tablet as if it were a mirror to her other, secret selves, or eating her small helpings of balanced meals at the same table as him without once looking at him, he felt he barely existed. He was not offended. He admired her independence and indifference to other people’s petty jealousies. When she came home in the small hours, without telling him where she had been, he knew better than to ask.
She was her own damned cat.

On balance, he suspected that she wasn’t having sex with anyone else. She felt entitled to go where she pleased and would despise him for thinking badly of her.
Honi soit qui mal y pense. Showing his age, he thought of the ancient chivalric motto as translated by Sellar and Yeatman in his grandfather’s bent and faded paperback copy of
1066 And All That. He murmured it aloud: “Honey, your silk stocking’s hanging down”.
Though she barely listened to a word he said at the best of times,
allusions and non sequiturs, messages from the spaces in between, were catnip to her,  and she smiled at him.
Noëlle Mackay, HUMAN RITES

….anything self-conscious is lousy.
You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.
Ray Bradbury

Well, it all comes to this, there’s no use trying to live in other people’s opinions. The only thing to do is to live in our own.
L.M. Montgomery, EMILY CLIMBS

THE PRIVATE LIFE OF KING CAT

Our fault

This is one of mankind’s greatest crimes. The ivory trade is threatening elephants with extinction. Persistent poaching of animals with the biggest tusks has messed with their evolution. Elephants are being born without tusks. 

Humans are a plague on the planet we share with other animals. We are our own worst enemy. We still have the power, if not the will, to protect other animals from us.

Image: Getty

SIGN AVAAZ PETITION TO END THE IVORY TRADE

SHARE THE LINK

 

 

Our biggest gift to the world

Global warming will exceed 4C by the end of this century The Independent

“There can now be little doubt: this will be the last century of civilisation in any form we currently recognise.”
Christopher Oxford

Shame on all of humanity

MAN-MADE CLIMATE CHANGE IS RESPONSIBLE FOR STARVATION OF POLAR BEARS IN THE ARCTIC,
FILMED BY CONSERVATION GROUP
IN “SOUL-CRUSHING” VIDEO (The Guardian)

Our species is accountable. Our burden of guilt is immeasurable.
Instead of wallowing in our own sentiment over animated polar bears in cute Christmas ads, we should be saving real animals from our wanton destruction of the planet we share with them.

I never wonder to see men wicked,
but I often wonder to see them not ashamed.
(Jonathan Swift)