Some years ago the above 'psychic painting' showing my 'true universal home' was mailed to me by an artist working on the other side of the world. I was humbled to receive it and I have to say, it is a continual source of hope and inspiration.
Reviewing a copy of the newly published posthumous collection Who Travels down this Narrow Road by Henry Pluckrose (1931 - 2011) Matador ISBN 978-1-78088-076-1 for David Pike at Pulsar (see LINKS) I was greatly impressed by the anti-war poem Simply Poppies.
I hope that the late Henry Pluckrose and the folks at Matador will not be too disturbed if I quote briefly here from the poem Simply Poppies which impressed me so much.
LATEST: According to one Japanese source there are plans to seal part of the affected area with an 88 km (54.68 miles) wall made from steel and painted over. The colour blue has been mentioned as a possibility. If that's the case, I'd like to suggest the sea-and-sky-blue patch design still visible in the radioactive ruins as an appropriate pattern for the wall.
A legendary 1,000 year old cherry tree growing near Fukushima used to attract 300,000 visitors whenever it flowered. Like many other attractions it is unfortunately now out of bounds. The tree shown in the above photograph is in Vienna, Austria.
George Szirtes, always one for a good idea, has an interesting post on his blog under the title: Being photographed . . . (see: blog updates).
Why do we keep the photos we keep and discard the ones we discard is what he wants us to think about, and being George Szirtes much more besides.
Do we keep the best of them merely to boost the ego? Do we get rid of the worst because they make us look worse than we really think we should look?
I must admit I'd never thought of this topic as a blog subject; but having now considered it I see that it does interest me.
As far as I am aware I have in the course of time habitually deleted or thrown away the out of focus, the boring and uninteresting, and the images where the light was too dim or was overwhelmingly bright etc.; in other words the technically bad compositions.
Unlike George Szirtes I have never had the idea that my nose chin and neck wouldn't pass a Hollywood screen test. In my case its my ears, George!
A child once remarked to her teacher: Mr Williams has the biggest ears I have ever seen!
But nevertheless I have never consciously worried about how my ears appear on a photograph - not since junior school watch-the-birdie days at any rate!
Below are 3 photos of me, all selected completely at random - I come complete with 3 noses and 5 ears!
I like 'A' the best. There I see something of my brother.
When all is said and done it's not the size of our ears but it's what we have working between our ears that matters. And that is something one can't easily photograph.
Günther Grass, the controversial German writer recently published a poem on the subject of an upcoming Iran v. Israel nuclear showdown. See my earlier post 'Grass' - three posts below.
Grass has been declared a persona non grata bythe Israeli interior minister. How long before they ban his books?
I am not a particular fan of Günther Grass's writing. I don't consider him to be in the same league as German writers W G Sebald, Thomas Mann or Thomas Bernhard for example.
I can honestly say that I found Grass's world famous Tin Drum to be repetitive and boring in the extreme. But that is not the point. That's merely a matter of my own personal taste in literature. The point is that the Israeli administration has shown that there is no place for art, in particular poetry, which does not match the official Israeli line.
The Nazis, you may recall, had a similar policy when it came to the arts.
I believe it was Winston Churchill who said:
I may not agree with what you say but I defend your right to say it.
Members of Austria's GLOBAL 2000 are shortly to present details of the evidence they have gathered concerning the explosions at Fukushima one year ago. They will show for instance that there was released into the atmosphere 168 times more radiation than from the Hiroshima bomb . . .
The story continues in Vienna, Austria on 16th April.
Here's a 5-star book tip for your Easter holidays. It will shake you to the core. You will never be the same person again.
It's all about one man's walk along the edge of the sea. The sea is the German Ocean. Or in Suffolk it would be the North Sea. The man is a German and he lives in England. You'd think he'd know. But he doesn't. Or even if he does he doesn't. And neither do I. To me it's all one ocean. Or one sea. Whichever you prefer.
In the Rings of Saturn the tidal effect is at work. It's a hypnotic thing. What debris shall we find on the beach today?
It begins: "In August 1992, when the dog days were dawing to an end, I set off to walk the county of Suffolk, in the hope of dispelling the emptiness that takes hold of me whenever I have completed a long stint of work."
It consists of ten haunting chapters (nearly 300 pages) and many blurred photographs.
My recently purchased paperback copy was published by Vintage Books (8.99p) and it is the excellent English translation by Michael Hulse. The original Die Ringe des Saturn was published in German by Eichborn Verlag, Frankfurt am Main in 1995.
Now try what follows for size. I almost typed Sizewell. But that's another chapter.
"A second snap shows the severed head with a cigarette between lips still parted in a last cry of pain. This happened at Jasenovac camp on the Sava. Seven hundred thousand men, women and children were killed there alone in ways that made even the hair of the Reich's experts stand on end, as some of them are said to have admitted when they were amongst themselves. The preferred instruments of execution were saws and sabers, axes and hammers, and leather cuff-bands with fixed blades that were fastened on the lower arm and made specially in Solingen for the purpose of cutting throats, as well as a kind of rudimentary crossbar gallows on which the Serbs, Jews and Bosnians, once rounded up, were hanged in rows like crows or magpies. Not far from Jasenovac, in a radius of no more than ten miles, there were also the camps of Prijedor, Stara Gradiska and Banja Luka, where the Croatian militia, its hand strengthened by the Wehrmacht and its spirit by the Catholic church, performed one day's work after another in similar manner. The history of this massacre, which went on for years, is recorded in fifty thousand documents abandoned by the Germans and Croats in 1945 . . . "
". . . one might also add that one of the Heeresgruppe E intelligence officers at that time was a young Viennese lawyer . . ."
". . . competent in the technicalities of administration, occupied various high offices, among them that of Secretary General of the United Nations. And reportedly it was in this last capacity that he spoke onto tape, for the benefit of any extra-terrestrials that may happen to share our universe, words of greeting that are now, together with other memorabilia of mankind, approaching the outer limits of our solar system aboard the space probe Voyager II."
The recording was a complete waste of time.
Jasenovac and the countless other atrocities littering the ages of human civilization are more than enough to deter the friendly extra-terrestrials from dropping by to greet the Earthlings.
Sadly it will always be so for when the blood is up we shall always behave in our usual cowardly manner. We shall go on doing so until we obliterate ourselves. Until we become splinters of ice in the cosmos. We are driven by the madness of the crowd. We lose the capacity of independent and rational thought. Our judgement is flawed. It is our fate.
There's a line somewhere. It goes: "They will say 'Where were your poets?'". It has to do with the war. The first or the second. One of those. It may one day have to do with the third world war for all anyone knows.
The German novelist and Nobel Prize winner Günther Grass has, as he sees it, broken silence and written a poem to the theme. It's general tone (in translation) is here.
Grass, like many of us, is deeply concerned that the precarious situation existing between Israel and Iran regarding nuclear weapons and potential nuclear weapons might suddenly spin out of control.
In particular he is angry because his own country, Germany, is supplying Israel with U-Boats capable of launching nuclear warheads.
He articulates the problem of Germany's guilt past and present. He says that there can be no excuses this time if things go wrong. There can be no claim of "We didn't know".
Naturally, Grass, will be labelled an anti-semite by many for his stance. He expects this.
People will also say of Grass that he is "nuts". He expects this too. It is nothing new for writers to be labelled "nuts". Some of the world's most brilliant poets were certainly "nuts". Perhaps one has to be at least a little bits "nuts" to want to write poetry. Or even to want to read it.
History teaches that you may also have to be "nuts" to want to go to war. Kings who start wars to expand their territory, or who start wars to cling to power, tend to lose their heads.
In the poppy fields the longest war in modern history, it's now 10 years, still cannot be won. The nuclear weaponed powers of Pakistan, India and China twitch in the grass in the background like nervous snakes and tigers.
Carl Sandburg said it best of all in his poem titled
Pile the bodies high at Austerlitz and Waterloo.
Shovel them under and let me work -
I am the grass; I cover all.
And pile them high at Gettysburg
And pile them high at Ypres and Verdun.
Shovel them under and let me work.
Two years, ten years, and passengers ask the conductor: