Thursday, May 20, 2010

Ideas & Images

Last evening we watched an Argentinian movie, ‘Conversations with my Mother’, a delightful little comedy drama. The theme was universally western – middle-aged executive, ambitious wife, two rebellious kids, suddenly out of work and in mid-life crisis, and a cranky, common sense talking mother. Buenos Aires, Los Angeles, Paris, Christchurch, even Mumbai. Life goes on despite all the economic ideas.

What am I reading at present? I have two non-fiction on the go. After watching the DVD on the painter David I plucked off our shelves, Anita Brookner’s life. I skipped the explanation of Rousseau and his ilk. In my student days I studied them. They let lose many of the ideas that still free-float around. But liberty can turn quickly into tyranny. Or anarchy. Look at the streets of Bangkok at present.

My criticism of David is different from Scharma’s. It was not so much that he immortalised Marat. It was that he heroically deified Napoleon. I fell in love with Paris in my first visit. With one exception, the Les Invalides and Napoleon’s Tomb. The glorification of that man I found sickening. Part of his status is the mythical figure that David’s paintings accord him.

The other book is one that Oliver lent me, Matthew Wright’s ‘Behind Enemy Lines’. It’s a first person account of escaped Kiwi prisoners-of-war in Nazi-occupied Greece, Yugoslavia and Italy. Brave men. I was particularly intrigued by one who rose high in Tito’s partisan army and when the war was over came home and drove a taxi in Temuka.

Who knows how one will react when caught up in events like that. My relationship with an early girl-friend foundered after we saw the movie ‘Cockleshell Heroes’. Her eyes were shining bright from the heroism of those brave Englishmen. She assumed all men would act so well. I was young and fool-honest. We quarreled at my lack of surety. I learnt a lot quickly about the dangers of a single-sex boarding upbringing for girls. We lost touch. I presume she learnt more about men as I had to about women.

I admire these men, ordinary Kiwis, living by their wits and old-fashioned number 8 fencing wire mentality. Also the local people who risked their lives to assist them. One of my stepfather Dick’s heroes was Sandy Thomas. Captured in Greece, he escaped and was given sanctuary in the Mount Athos monastry. His account ‘Dare to be Free’ tells of his experiences.

Pam has sent through for my interest another blog. Her vicar’s, It’s He has been touring the Holy Land, Greece and Turkey. I have found it extremely interesting. The blog contains photos of Mt Athos. It is very different from the mental picture I had formed about the place from Thomas’s account. Beware of books. They are like pictures. They create images.

Peter’s blog gave me an image for my latest poem.

After Church

light glints through stained glass
we would be pure of heart but
history happens despite our pain.

outside, a mellow breeze lifts
spirits, an immense pohutakawa
sheds its blood-red spikes

a jet with its anonymous
passengers flits overhead
a car alarm rackets our peace

great is Diana of Ephesus
a daily sacrifice will raise the sun
tax cuts & we mustn’t be jealous.

It seemed an appropriate poem to put up on budget day before the document is delivered to the nation.

I’m also re-reading Judith Wright’s poems. An Aussie battler whose clear-sightedness leaves me breathless.

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