DAY 18 (Last of 2012)

December 29th, 2012 § 0 comments

It’s the time when me and my friends post reminders of the anniversary of ‘Operation Cast Lead’ – the three week war waged by Israel on the Gaza strip; which began on 27th December 2008 and ended three weeks later

Reports on the massacre are many and you will probably have seen the results; the latest from Amnesty is at The UNHCR report (so-called ‘Goldstone report’) is at, but it’s 400 pages, 24 pages for the executive summary.

My point isn’t exactly to protest, although I did it, rather ineffectively, in a small demonstration opposite the Israeli Embassy; it’s rather a meditation. Many of us feel, at one time or another, that some political event has a particular significance for them. It almost becomes personalized, their event, through a sharing of its significance with some community of ‘people who feel the same’. I think of the miners’ strike (peculiarly English), May 1968, Vietnam… I feel that Cast Lead was such a defining event.

In a lighter mood, today comes the news that Tracey Emin is getting the CBE. Slightly appalled – would Morris and Burne-Jones, whose work I visited yesterday, have accepted it? (Not that it existed then.) I gather that Keith Richards turned it down, as apparently did Hockney; while there is a good vitriolic outburst by Benjamin Zephaniah on the implications of an award with ‘Empire’ in its name, at It’s appropriate, perhaps, to send Tracey a copy of Browning’s ‘Lost Leader’ (on Wordsworth) as a New Year present:

Just for a handful of silver he left us,
      Just for a riband to stick in his coat—
Found the one gift of which fortune bereft us,
      Lost all the others she lets us devote;
They, with the gold to give, doled him out silver,
      So much was theirs who so little allowed:
How all our copper had gone for his service!
      Rags—were they purple, his heart had been proud!
We that had loved him so, followed him, honoured him,
      Lived in his mild and magnificent eye,
Learned his great language, caught his clear accents,
      Made him our pattern to live and to die!
Shakespeare was of us, Milton was for us,
      Burns, Shelley, were with us,—they watch from their graves!
He alone breaks from the van and the freemen,
      —He alone sinks to the rear and the slaves!
We shall march prospering,—not thro’ his presence;
      Songs may inspirit us,—not from his lyre;
Deeds will be done,—while he boasts his quiescence,
      Still bidding crouch whom the rest bade aspire:
Blot out his name, then, record one lost soul more,
      One task more declined, one more footpath untrod,
One more devils’-triumph and sorrow for angels,
      One wrong more to man, one more insult to God!
Life’s night begins: let him never come back to us!
      There would be doubt, hesitation and pain,
Forced praise on our part—the glimmer of twilight,
      Never glad confident morning again!
Best fight on well, for we taught him—strike gallantly,
      Menace our heart ere we master his own;
Then let him receive the new knowledge and wait us,
      Pardoned in heaven, the first by the throne!
(Wordsworth didn’t actually get any awards, although he got an income as distributor of stamps for Westmoreland. But of course society artists like Reynolds had been having them for a long time.)
No time for new year resolutions; what should they be? Increasingly worried about ethics since watching (over Christmas) the Swedish movie of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo – yes, I was on a break from reading the ‘Critique of Practical Reason’. It appears that Lisbeth Salander’s ideas on punishment (e.g. setting light to serial rapists) are decidedly Old Testament; and googling ‘ethics + Stieg Larsson’ revealed that there’s, predictably, a whole academic industry out there coping with this question. I can’t wait to get started on it.
Here, for those of you who are starting on a journey, is Schubert’s ‘Gute Nacht‘ from the Winterreise, sung by Fischer-Dieskau (who else?).

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