What, in our house?

More victims of the British government’s “hostile environment” for immigrants:

The couple had been living and working in the UK for more than a decade, but ran into difficulties when they applied to renew their visas. Both were ordered to report regularly to Eaton House, a Home Office centre in Hounslow. When they attended on 7 March, they were told they were to be forcibly removed from the UK that day and put on a plane to South Africa.

“An immigration official at the airport accused Nancy of faking her collapse to avoid being put on a plane,” her husband said. “He told Nancy that he would handcuff her hands and feet and make her walk to the plane like a penguin, and that he would put her onto the plane even if he had to carry her.”

Officials then decided to put the couple into detention instead.

“We were detained separately, but after we were released Nancy told me that a nurse at the detention centre told her she was too ill to be detained, but the nurse was overruled by a superior and she was held overnight,” said Fusi Motsamai.

The next morning both of them were released, but she collapsed and died of a pulmonary embolism five days later. The Guardian

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves

Something has gone very wrong in our country, and like a terminally ill person in denial of their mortality, about half the British public aren’t admitting it. Such things don’t happen in Britain, they believe. It’s only other nations that commit atrocities, build concentration camps, persecute innocent people. “It wouldn’t happen here”. It is happening here.

“What, in our house?” enquired Lady Macbeth, on hearing of the murder of King Duncan, which she had just instigated.

Ellen_Terry_plays_Lady_Macbeth
Photograph by Window & Grove of Ellen Terry as Lady Macbeth, based on the renowned 1888 production in which the great actress, and artist’s muse, starred with her partner, Henry Irving. Image: Wikipedia.

Britain’s hostile environment exists for all people of foreign birth who have considered this country their home, and paid their taxes, very often married and had children here. The people being threatened with deportation, held in detention, insulted by officials and deprived of urgent medical attention include Commonwealth citizens and EU Nationals, none of whom were told at the time they settled here that their right to remain was temporary.

Brexit means Brexit, and history will call it toxic.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves!
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves

The nations not so blest as thee
Must, in their turn, to tyrants fall,
While thou shalt flourish great and free:
The dread and envy of them all.

We have fallen to tyrants, because enough people keep electing them; we aren’t going to flourish, if we submit to Brexit; we’re not the dread and envy of anyone; we are despised and pitied.

Ambrogio Lorenzetti An Allegory of Bad Government Fresco 1338 -40. Palazzo Pubblico, Siena. Image: WGA
The demonically horned female personification of Tyranny sits in the centre, surrounded by yes-men.

Truth drips slowly, like blood through a transfusion filter.

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The Autonomous Woman

I’m still looking at her. I lied in the previous post about ambivalence. I know very well that she is informed, not defined, by other people’s abuse.  This post is too long for comfort, but if you want to see Artemisia Gentileschi meet Jane Austen, read on.

marymagdaleneArtemesiaG The Penitent Mary Magdalen 1620-25
Oil on canvas, Galleria Palatina (Palazzo Pitti), Florence. Image: WGA

“Till this moment I never knew myself”
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, 1813

Of all women, why should the Magdalene repent? As a composite of erotic and spiritual love, a triumphant victim of patriarchy who earned her own living, became a player in global religion, and a legendary heroine of romance, we should be honest enough to celebrate, not patronize her.

Whatever the true source of her anguish, the distraught Magdalen is looking into the darkest shadows of her psyche. She is examining her own actions, thoughts and feelings, holding herself to account. We are looking at her at the moment she knows herself.

Gentileschi also cast Mary Magdalene, the sinning woman, as the personification of  Melancholy, an ambivalent attribute.

ArtemisiaGentileschiMaryMagdaleneMelancholy

Artemisia Gentileschi, Maria Maddalena come la Malinconia 1621 -25.
Oil on canvas. Museo del Soumaya, Mexico City. Image: Wikipedia.

The Renaissance began the modern cultivation of melancholy, or predisposition to depression, as a desirable creative condition, on the dubious premise that the more you suffer, the better your art. This has been proved true only in cases where there is pre-existing talent and a strong technique. Intensity of feeling alone never wrote a good book or painted a great picture. greatest struggle is to transmute personal experience into art

Gentileschi’s interpretation of a passive Temperament is characteristically unromantic: the sensual, dishevelled Magdalene is slumped in her chair, looking like a lethargic and sulky teenager, the opposite of her usually dynamic heroines.

Gentileschi (the daughter, not the father, the overshadowed Orazio, a dutiful father and fine painter in his own right) is a colussus straddling art and gender history. Continue reading