Jack said the Japanese say 'to be angry is to make yourself ridiculous'. We mock public anger by referring to Grumpy Old Men. Grumbling is wasteful. The Aussies are on to something when they refer to 'whingeing poms'. Charles St.John's book is a pleasure to read because he has no idea of what' s going to happen to his world, or rather he writes as if that were the case:
"I am one of the unproductive class of the genus homo, who, having passed a few years amidst the active turmoil of cities, and in places where people do most delight to congregate, have at last settled down to live a busy kind of idle life...Though by habit and repute a being strongly endowed with the organ of destructiveness, I take equal delight in collecting around me all living animals, and watching their habits and instincts; my abode is, in short, a miniature menagerie."
Alan Credland wrote - just a few years ago - a book of melancholy for the loss of winter stubble, salt marshes, winding tide creeks, field ponds, unploughed pastures and small fields - often replaced by rape - hectares of dazzling yellow, towering pylons, lost place, loomed skies obscuring the celestial night - all made trickier to deal with because city visitors, following the heritage signs of a commodified 'countryside', are mostly blind or indifferent to the devilish details of such seismic change. Some of the many who've bought into a constructed rural idyll now complain about mud on country roads, noisy stock - especially cocks crowing - and church bells. Credland isn't angry. What I think is important is not to hold on too hard to the externals. Age makes change more apparent.
Mum and I went to the Highland Field Sports Fair at Moy on Friday and Saturday. We greeted friends in the committee tent - hugs and kisses, tea, cake and sandwiches, in the background the cracking echo of shotguns. Shopmobility provided an electric scooter that carried mum around the many stands. Long ago her husband, Angus, was an originator of this annual event. I bought a couple of cured rabbit skins for Teal's dummy. Never was there more equipment nor more information available for enjoying the worlds described by Credland and St.John, and yet here those worlds have gone, in all but facsimile - with game reared and shot for employment in the leisure economy, deer culled for their own protection, most fishing the result of stocking. There are niches - few and secret. 'Field Sports' are set up against 'Blood Sports' - one group of city folk making a symbolic stand against another group of city folk, with those who work the land picking up what they can while hiring, from the further reaches of Europe, men and women willing to work for wages on a land designed, until very recently, for concentrated food production. (I've been reading Rose Tremain's latest - The Road Home) Even so a streak of violet pink, from a field of rose bay willow, seen from the car as we drove to Alturlie Point yesterday, to walk with the romping dogs beside the tranquil Moray Firth, reminded me of the proliferating growth of set-aside. Change is puzzling. What I feel is separation from the ground - through my own ill-education about it; because I don't work on it, and hardly ever did. This is why there were tears of happiness in our urban eyes as we gazed on Emily Kngwarreye's work at the Tokyo Art Centre a few weeks ago. This blighted creation is what Chatwin traces with such witty curiosity in The Songlines. This is what Paul speaks of in his biography of Jack - the rift between us and the land and its denizens. I struggled to write of this over ten years ago in Internal Polity. It's a recurrent recognition of lost place, unarticulated, outside popular sympathy, a quiet unexpressed, and so repressed, bereavement - hence this morning's waking nightmare.
At least four of my relatives are heading for Beijing; two via the Trans-Siberian railway - bound to witness great events, great spectacles, China rising and the smog around the magnificent 'bird's nest' stadium is a potent symbol of the way we are fouling our own nest far beyond China (I've collected 1788 images for the Flickr group International flytipping). I embrace the rift of modernism. Existential angst is the self-chosen price for devotion to the daemonic mysteries of science, committment to evidence based policy, faith in scepticism and enduring doubt. No other route is really on though, a bit weary at times and, prompted by dreams, I like to dip my toes gingerly in the sea of faith - wrap myself in the folds of its 'bright girdle', and of course, there are visitations.
...on Poros, the villa Galini, where, distracted and overcome by the beauty of the landscape from his windows, Seferis had difficulty writing. About this he wrote 'Life is so beautiful that if Homer had not been blind he would have written nothing.'
If with the tongues of men I speak, and of angels, Love I do not have, I have become a gong resounding or cymbal clanging. And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know mysteries all, faith mountains move, Love I do not have, nothing I am. Love is generous, virtuous, Love does not envy, boast, not proud is. All she protects, all she trusts, all she hopes, all she perseveres. Love never she fails. Be it prophecies, they will cease, Be it tongues, they will be stilled, be it knowledge it will cease. So remain, Faith, Hope and Love, these three. But the greatest of these is love
The musician is Zbigniew Antoni Kowalski (also called Preisner). The soprano is Elżbieta Towarnicka, singing in Greek. The song is for the 'Unification of Europe', based on the Greek text of 1 Corinthians 13, from a film by the Polish director Krzysztof Kieślowski's - Three Colors: Blue
Ean tais glosais toon antropoon lalokai toon angeloon, agapen de me echo, gegona chalcos echoon e kumbalon alaladzon. Kai ean echo profeteian, kai eido ta mysteria panta, pistin ore metistanai, agapen de me echo, outen eimi he agape makrotumai, chresteuetaihe agape ou dzelloi, erpereuetai, ou fysioutai. Panta stegei, panta pisteuei, panta elpizei, panta upomenei (pasted gratefully from a YouTube comment, but I'm hoping someone will write it out for me in Greek letters)
εαν ταις γλωσσαις των ανθρωπων λαλω και των αγγελωναγαπη δε μη εχω, γεγονα χαλκος ηχων κυμβαλον αλαλαζον.και εαν εχω προφητειαν και ιδω τα μυστηρια πανταωστε ορει μεθυστανην.
αγαπην δε μη εχωουδε ημη.
η αγαπη μακροθυμηη αγαπη ου ζηλει, η αγαπη ου περπερευεται, ου φυση ουτε.
η αγαπη παντα στεγει,παντα πιστευει, παντα ελπιζει, παντα υπομενειη αγαπη ουδεποτε εκπιπτει ειτε δε προφητειαι καταργηθησονταιειτε γλωσσαι παυσονταιειτε γνωσεις καταργηθησετε Νυνη δε μενει, πιστις, ελπις, αγαπη, τα τρια ταυτα, μειζον δε τουτων η αγαπη.