Catalyst Arts + Platform Art’s – November 2019

Past pleasures

November has come and gone and plans to get a blog out were thawrted and put aside but having started I think it worthwhile to put across what I observed and some reaction to the very good shows is to be put in writing along with some visual elements from the shows.

I take a long external look at the needs of art and how responses are so important to us in this and other times.

First is foremost
Whatever you conceive of as a concept it becomes a philosophy by being first ‘a specifically philosophical groundwork acquired through original self-activity, and therewith that firmness of basis, that genuineness of root which alone makes real philosophy possible.’

It is fascinating the syntax of language in forming the above view is heavily grammatically dependant on instilling adjectives which are themselves from nature. The beginning is based in the reality of known things such as ‘groundwork’, ‘activity’, ‘root’. The core is this use age which enables visualisation and connection to an idea which is never seen until the expression of it. Paint is the same in its development and execution of internal ideas.
The invisible Kantian standpoint of an a priori point of it existing before the present becomes a transcendency.

Patterns are the evolution microbial atom generator and the invisibility is the lock which holds the structure of existence together and in continual metamorphosis. So many artists are pattern seekers and evolve beyond that to contain pattern by dislodging the media to create another element.

With Athenite precision the artist has got hold of an idea which contains two parts. One is the unseen part and fanciful (not at all used in a derogatory way) but the construction manifesting other events. The Second is the fluid substantial existence of a manifest part. The actual physicality and production of the piece. It is experienced in a time portion while altering through its own structures of connections which Thirdly we stand apart from and linearly observe. When we are gone it continues as something other.
So there are in actual fact three not two parts.

Platform First

There is a unique moment of confluence, a meeting of ideas and about the coming together of factors or ideas. With an important harmony in Platform Gallery the works individual and combined of Paul Hallahan and Lee Welch show development is a matter of choice and is able to form from separate choices. How this is effected is not the point but it is neither unimportant this synergy is playing out with the work of different artists.
In a busy remorseless cascading visual feast in all media – print and font are implicit in having us observe an image or product. Here there is refuge from overindulgent and a coat of many colours identity crisis projected in abstract expressionism.

The certitude of form and editorial is harnessed with skill and amplitude by both artists. Seeing these paintings has a zen effect and a kind of primordial response as it seems they convey aim the chosen restrictions on marks and even in Lee Welch’s formative native kind of expression leads you on a journey forward but also and more so in the basic origins of pictorial sensitivity. By not approaching the tropes of restoration and period art they employ a vision of familiar participants in art.

Paul Hallahan has developed a water based approach devoid of rush or sudden instant immersion by using that watery transfer of colour in a fluid orchestral way. He has said he often paints with music as a soundscape. It could be fast in tempo or pastoral and it’s not necessary to know but it indicates the phenomenology of painting in a continuity of deliver of what inspires to what we are responsive to. Time is therefore another aspect and the work has a form in advance but fluctuations as it evolves it would appear.

Paul Henry is a reference point as is Grace Henry who is supposed to have combined the paint palette for the condition of colour blindness that only became publicly known sometime after his passing. The implication is that the essence of colour and the loss of sight by Monet and Matisse made them obtain aspects of their art no less beautifully formed as we appreciate those as well as the untroubled – can they be called ‘sight paintings’? They would have painted the tones of the day, where they were in the light preferred as observed and dusk daylight dawn, were in all parts equal.

Choosing to work in minimal ways the exchange of tones is enlivened beyond colour comprehension and maybe stimuli of full colour is set aside for another more subtle and in some sense moving flowing confluence akin to ‘event’ ‘occurence’ and not derivative of symbolic figurative themes. It is in my fires more a case of taking familiar art history themes and advancing current contemporary messages as visual – that word again I’m afraid! – confluences.

This essence is apparent in both artists with the combined work and its admirable the suspect ego often carried in creative work as a driver is confidently never present in canvases that are again taking colour and absences – Lee Welch has as colour the canvas chosen to be worked and both enjoy the informality and microbial speech patterns of canvas. It is even more enjoyed when you realise this exhibition is in a former line house trade building and flax colour is very provocative with the light poring in from the Antrim Hills beyond Belfast where the bleaching process took place to end up as finished damask in these trading and storage facilities.


When you look at the canvas there is a sense of journey intended or otherwise implied where damask and silver tableware is symbolic as it is tiny in the ‘period’ leanings of art history and patronage seen in several paintings. That is remarkable and what Gerard Carson’s recently passed father Cairan would have seen as that complex thing Happenstance. Really remarkable as the work in the Gallery shows. The work is an essay in show – the word show. The directness and need to or not to analyse the work is the appearance for our pleasure and experience to behold. There is communication on many levels in all the work.

In the small space there is the video installation of Paul Hallahan’s dog who has passed away. She is a pure bred Black Labrador retriever and is seen from beyond the grave. It is a homage to a well known and sadly missed and wonderful artist and person William McKeown who passed so young. His partner arranged the showing of a film in his honour of his ‘howling’ dog at a memorial and today his work is on show at Talbot Rice Gallery Edinburgh. Notable simplicity and connections can be made.

Catalyst Arts November

Hyperobjects Catalyst Arts until 5 December 2019

This exhibition has 10 contributors. 1 of which is the archive of Art Research Matters,and artists define the space as a unit of material examinations very attuned to the wastefulness alongside natural productivity of earth’s compass. It is enthralling and exotically bewildering as the newness of each action is absorbed in time. I will not dwell on too many pieces as the whole is comprehensively covered in a Catalyst Arts well written exhibition note as following on from – as a logical exposition of the joint Arts Research Matters (the meaning is fluid) with among others Platform Arts – the Timothy Morton hyperobject Styrofoam. I loath the word while it represents a hideous amalgam of architectural, construction utility devoured in multiple global buildings and often adored homeware pieces.


In the case of Jez riley French a performance of dissolving music into found objects and tailing his own sonic collection was a great event in it arriving as a soft piece of gentle and intrinsic intricate of how sound exists everywhere. In silent places unvisited using his much loved and Attenborough films and multiple geographies of screen and exhibition spaces. The detail is from his dissolving in acid ancient glacier rock and we hear the release of the trapped air from millions of years ago. It is symbolic of the dissolution of our existence and elsewhere in the Catalyst Arts space the combination of objects is the counter and opposite narrative. By hearing this dissolve in the library of other sounds the ecology of our universe is made real again in art form. Matmos is an artist video with the music developed an relayed through video and the plastic contained in an album sleeve alongside for posterity.

Then the glass containers the sound was mixed in are sitting still and some osmosis is carrying on. of Slime Dynamics II. Jasmin Märker

The opposite narrative is explored by Jasmin Märker has a derivation which is scientific and natural. It’s described limitingly as bio-art. By the combining of elements, some already composed from other chemicals like those combined to make plaster, fertiliser, there is an exploration of what happens when these elements (the list of others contains foraged mushrooms, oat bran, common house spider along with other ‘objects’). It has the Hyperojects exhibition name, a bit off putting, of Slime Dynamics II. Jasmin Märker is straight to the point. The installation takes the form of preformed tiles and accompanying wall pieces that create a luxurious environment. Much as our own earth is a luxury environment which in no small element remains a luxury.

The installation is in my eyes that ‘platform’ Jasmin creates for the amalgam or organic actions to continue once introduced to each other. It is as a W ord sits alongside another and describes another form. The object be it of our desire or destruction. In conversation with the artist I obtained recommended reading. In pursuit of silence. Film. Timothy Morton Humankind. It is a book on human nature. This recommendation is parallel and touches on the way the forms we see represent in a way the manner creation happens. The impulsive narcotic behaviours compelling us to think and mutate in art form and in our lives. The geography is changed. Here is a small contemplation in an arts space. Returning to the space after a week or two the evolving matter is alive and well. It proclaims the miracle of existence not only of ourselves but the matter that strings us together and connects us with this unexplained existence. The nature is absorbing and trough their piece which I find to be – after the signs floated in the audio of Jez Riley French totally successful in its object. Hyperobject in many layers of meaning and was seen and continues to put forward notions of what that metamorphosis is dong in the present time.

The actual location is being microbiology at work and even the doors are providing defences and barriers to the installation within.

There is insufficient time or space in this critique to cover the other installations but it is safe to say they all collectively made a deep impression and expanded the means of learning objectively.

Sent from my iPad

All views are my own in this essay.

John Graham

3 December 2019

Belfast

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Politics : Sovereignty – Mind the Gap

Jus Peril – Is the Supreme Court overreaching?

24 September 2019

(1) R (on the application of Miller) (Appellant) v The Prime Minister (Respondent)

(1) Cherry and others (Respondents) v Advocate General for Scotland (Appellant) (Scotland)

Lady Hale, Lord Reed, Lord Kerr, Lord Wilson, Lord Carnwath, Lord Hodge, Lady Black, Lord Lloyd-Jones, Lady Arden, Lord Kitchin, Lord Sales

In her reading of the unanimous verdict of 11 Supreme Court Justices Lady Hale used the word ‘quite’ to elevate the word ‘exceptional’ to describe the circumstances the Supreme Court has been summoned to Judicially Review.

I was struck by the tone in a ruling which did not need or require such prefacing.

The Supreme Court has in my view made clear it was effecting a radical reformation of its place Constitutionally. It sought as has been increasingly apparent and brought into focus by Sir Jonathan Sumption in The Reith Lectures his observation of the Law intervening upon Democracy in making Political decisions through Justices ruling.

Wiki provides an insight

The rule of law is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as: “The authority and influence of law in society, especially when viewed as a constraint on individual and institutional behavior; (hence) the principle whereby all members of a society (including those in government) are considered equally subject to publicly disclosed legal codes and processes.”[2] The phrase “the rule of law” refers to a political situation, not to any specific legal rule.

Use of the phrase can be traced to 16th-century Britain, and in the following century the Scottish theologian Samuel Rutherford employed it in arguing against the divine right of kings.[3]

2. [2] Oxford English Dictionary online (accessed September 13, 2018; spelling Americanized). The phrase2] Oxford English Dictionary online (accessed September 13, 2018; spelling Americanized). The phrase “the rule of law” is also sometimes used in other senses. See Garner, Bryan A. (Editor in Chief). Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th Edition, p. 1448. (Thomson Reuters, 2009). ISBN 978-0-314-26578-4. Black’s provides five definitions of “rule of law”: the lead definition is “A substantive legal principle”; the second is the “supremacy of regular as opposed to arbitrary power”. “the rule of law” is also sometimes used in other senses. See Garner, Bryan A. (Editor in Chief). Black’s Law Dictionary, 9th Edition, p. 1448. (Thomson Reuters, 2009). ISBN 978-0-314-26578-4. Black’s provides five definitions of “rule of law”: the lead definition is “A substantive legal principle”; the second is the “supremacy of regular as opposed to arbitrary power”.

[3] Rutherford, Samuel. Lex, rex: the law and the prince, a dispute for the just prerogative of king and people, containing the reasons and causes of the defensive wars of the kingdom of Scotland, and of their expedition for the ayd and help of their brethren of England, p. 237 (1644): “The prince remaineth, even being a prince, a social creature, a man, as well as a king; one who must buy, sell, promise, contract, dispose: ergo, he is not regula regulans, but under rule of law …”

Samuel Rutherford – Of the dissenter tradition against rule by The Church of England.

Rev. Prof. Samuel Rutherford (or more correctly Rutherfurd), was born at Nisbet (now part of Crailing) [4], Roxburghshire, about 1600. It is an area, Roxburghshire, Selkirk and Peebles, my late brother David once stood for Parliament. Samuel Rutherford according to the record acted treasonably – After the Restoration he was one of the first marked out for persecution, his work Lex Rex was ordered by the Committee of Estates to be burnt at the Crosses of Edinburgh and St Andrews, and he was deprived of his office of Principal. Further, he was cited to appear before Parliament on a charge of treason, but he died 29th March 1661 [the date — 20th — on his tombstone is an error].

Establishing a New Establishment

In this 24/09/19 ruling the 11 Justices have overreached their power of Judgement in declaring by the non acceptance of The Queen as Head of State of being minded to assert the right of her Prime Minister To in his judgement to prorogue Parliment in order to assert the policies the Prime Minister sought to put in place in the Queens Speech as a joint establishment before Parliment.

Unsurprisingly this Supreme Court roster is replete comprehensively, with well educated elite scholars.

Lady Hale, Richmond High School for Girls.

Lord Reed, George Watson College.

Lord Kerr, St Colman’s College.

Lord Wilson, Bryanston School.

Lord Carnworth, Eton College.

Lord Hodge, Trinity College.

Lady Black, Penrhos College.

Lord Lloyd-Jones, Pontypridd Boys College.

Lady Arden, Huyton College.

Lord Kitchin, Oundle School.

Lord Sales, Royal Grammar School.

The assertion of the Supreme Court rules out the mind of the Sovereign to make as Head of State any judgement on the requests made by her Prime Minister. It is a removal of Sovereign principal and principle.

The establishment of Sovereignty has been brought to be null and void and not the ultimate power of Authority by the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court has in the words of The Leader of the House of Commons effected a ‘Constitutional Coup’ the like of which is unprecedented in the History of these Islands.

The Judgement

The Supreme Court used an obscure and 300 year old piece of Scottish Law. It belongs within the Scottish ‘claim of rights’.

The English Law of the Supreme Court has set aside the ‘bill of rights’ for England and I presume Wales in its use of the Scottish established principle .

In view of the Supreme Court judgement the Justices have expanded the Great British Law to be inclusive of both a ‘chain of rights’ and a ‘bill of rights’.

This is a precedent involving in the judgement Scottish Law which is in use in the absence within the English bill of rights of such a rule of law. This establishes union of the two separate Legal systems hitherto independent. By so doing the Scottish Devolved Government in the event of a vote to dissolve its nation from Great Britain by referendum would leave the Supreme without the ability to use the Law it relies on in this judgement.

Political Reformation

This indicates the politicalisation of the Law Courts which sets in train new Constitutional and Political Law which is not based in Parliamentary Law or made by Parliament by representatives of the people acting under Sovereign Supremacy not Court Supremacy.

The people have been denied their Sovereign leaders prerogative to assert the wishes so joined by herself and her Prime Minister in the functionality of her Parliment.

The Supreme Court has decided the Head of State is a mere figurehead and the Courts of Justice are the Supreme Authority.

Conclusive Reformation

The conclusion is the Constitution is for Law not Parliment to provide.

This is therefore the dissolution of Sovereign Rule over Parliment Rule.

The Head of State is sent; a ruling so to be unauthoritative, by the Supreme Court as the judgement is her Parliment must and can sit without the authority of the Head of State.

The assertion is The Queen is merely a notional figure. This is itself derogatory and an opinion not based in fact. The Queen has a position itself unique and deserving of the utmost respect. The Supreme Court diminish their own status in taking that opinionated view.

Rule of Law in the UK

For the Law to exist it is the will of the Sovereign to authorise the will of Parliment in its representations by Election to produce the joint functionality of these Islands, GB and NI.

Northern Ireland and The Belfast Agreement

It remains noted that the purpose of The Belfast Agreement, referred to in the manner of its date of inception as The Good Friday Agreement a word stands out before all others.

It is this – ‘strategic’.

The reason it is of the utmost importance is the placing in the agreement of the intention, should it be the will of the people, not the UK Parliment, to remove itself by Election from the UK.

The UK has therefore given indication of it having no longer anystrategic’ interest in Northern Ireland. For a wider historical viewpoint I have added a pocket 1177, onward John de Courci bibliographic sourced from present reclaimed accounts. This is seen in the footnotes.

What Strategic Interest?

From the above it is apparent without question that the UK had strategic interest in Northern Ireland before that statement.

The strategic interest was the control by proxy of Ireland as a non threatening independent state which would be tied to the UK by the formalised agreement on the formation of the ROI and NI and not as previously, at risk of the Unity of Ireland being a location for a Republic empowered as a Socialist Country which could provide a template for the overthrow of the Head of the UK State and Sovereignty itself.

Sovereignty in use

The fact is the Sovereignty was the ‘Strategic’ hold held by the UK in times of political uncertainty through the era of ‘the troubles’ and before then, the resolution of British occupation of Ireland dating from 1177, a whole and individual country without a Sovereign.

Independence

In the Second World War Ireland was neutral for a reason. It was not an imperial state and was not under immediate threat, of being occupied in the period war was developing, by a foreign country. The participants from Ireland in the Second World War were on a voluntary basis.

Ireland had participated according to reports; Operation JB, by former British Secret agents, in allowing U-Boats to be refuelled in Lough Foyle and the German nation also had an emissary office in Dublin which allowed back channel discussions and conversations to resolve he conflict.

Exaggerate and simplify is the scope of journalism. Is that the same in the writing of Historical records?

The Supreme Court have as a set of thinkers have exposed a fault line in going through logically to mine the origins of the State. Within it is not an edict, that is a purity of description but a dependence on the philosophical outcomes previously manned into human relations within these islands. They apply the force given to them in expressing not definitively but as a ruling the place in a moment of law putting structure and form to something they have deduced in the present. They avail upon thought which is manifested by the reasoning that interceded in an earlier period without, through modifications or reformation the law of the land.

Nutshells

The interesting thing is the origins in religiosity of the kernel of their ‘in a nutshell’ collective agreement.

David Hume and John Locke were of immense influence in the formation of principles of justice and therefore compliance with edict as pursued in the land. A Court of Judgement was approved by the Sovereign reign to put to effect their agreement to such principles which identifies their moral and intellectual integrity. The rule of law was therefore a precedent set by power for power and allowed the acceptance and implementation of edicts to prevail to societal benefit. Or so it seemed. Certain privileges including a stays within education and inheritance along with appointments were based on how effective compliance lay within the person in both understanding the establishment and system they prevailed upon for societal need. That need was expressed by Religion in the period that the 11 judges hark back to as the footstool on which they eat their wearisome deliberations. That religion was embedded in the thinking inherent in the Bible in all it forms with Gnostic and the less coherent and exacting spiritual scientific structures of transcendental subjectivity that bore no practical and therefore mediations able to be used in the order of humanity’s improved lot. The sciences and religious therefore clashed and met somewhere in the middle.

The core the nub whatever its perceived as, however deduced, was in itself a hugely important doctrine which became the substance and gift of the state that controlled by its honorific blessed rule, the religious coherence of what could be held in the land, namely The Church of England. Samuel Rutherford was part of a ‘Scottish’ Enlightenment lent virtue by the French and other liberal; in its reforming sense, thoughts. It is as if and I hold this myself to be hugely significant ‘Religion cannot divide, it converges on the same spirit’. Without the Enlightenment there would be no opposition to the Church of England whose authority in the eyes of the State are the Supreme basis of all that descend from it. Legally and physically.

The Dissenters were from all parts of these Islands, Welsh, Scots, English and Irish. The tradition in Northern Ireland became the non-subscribing Church. The non-subscribing meaning is defined by the Church not signing as Presbyterian Rules require, subscribing to the Westminster Covenant.

The simple truth at the heart of this Religious Presbyterian faith, the subscribing faith, in its conventional form is inclusive of a doctrine which believes, through signing up to The Westminster Covenant, the Pope as an anti-christ which is in essence an unchristian edit.

Paradoxically it may have been the very reason the advance of the Age of Enlightenment took hold.

There was a part of a ‘Scottish’ Enlightenment lent virtue by the French and other liberal thinkers and Philosophers. It is debatable what Nation; Ireland or Great Britain the Philosopher Francis Hutchenson, born in Killyleagh, Co. Down in 1111 was ‘attached’ to;

Religiously in its reforming sense, thoughts converged as found material in the Word. It is as if and I hold this myself to be hugely significant ‘Religion cannot divide, it converges on the same spirit’. Without the Enlightenment there would be no opposition to the Church of England whose authority in the eyes of the State are the Supreme basis of all that descend from it. Legally and physically.

Across these islands and in sympathy with the ethos of Religious freedom appearing in France, Dissenters were beginning to assert the ideas in a passively and coherent way which unsettled the ‘yoke’ of Great Britain and it’s Colonialism.

The Dissenters were from all parts of these Islands, Welsh, Scots, English and Irish. The tradition in Northern Ireland became the non-subscribing Church. The non-subscribing meaning is defined by the Church not signing as Presbyterian Rules require, subscribing to the Westminster Covenant.

The simple truth at the heart of this Religious Presbyterian faith, the subscribing faith, in its conventional form is inclusive of a doctrine which believes, through signing up to The Westminster Covenant, the Pope as an anti-christ which is in essence an unchristian edit.

For the Parliment of the UK formed on the basis of a Religious overriding moral and ethical identity with State endorsement that allows the reversal in power onto Sovereignty it creates a Parliment of no limits. The Law is Sovereign Law enabled by the activities of the instruments of its power. The Commons and Lords. The conformity is by dint of alliances to concepts of right and wrong and with faith or without that is held in thought as the adopted Church itself adopted by the rule of Kings as Samuel Rutherford once described it.

As Lady Hale pronounced with use of the word ‘quite‘ the more potent and stone under which authority is held and consumed is the word ‘divine‘. I would be wrong to, though am tempted, to use the description ‘magnificent’ in front of divine but it creates the trap of the logic of Law pertaining other than to precise agreed meaning. The flaw also seen in the Lady Hale conflation that exposes so much.

Religious Laylines

In learning about existence the human enters a world as a corrupt body weighing done on its soul. Righteousness has been seen as a survival mechanism since mankind first appeared. Skirmishes and Violence as manifestation in part of the ‘corruption’ that trait to not listen to the inner soul, became suppressed by common food and the authority of Righteousness was claimed by the Religious.

Replications of a state of grace were symbolised and franked onto cities and tribes as they formed a garden of peace. The faith replaced gods of astronomy and the lay lines were forgotten and replaced by the possession of belief systems themselves lucid and formulaic. The vocabulary fell on the people as order. When Augustine and others replaced the belief systems of Pharaohs and rulers of tribes the semblance of common purposes overlapped and grew in Western Christianity and outran Eastern Religious concepts. Of course that summary is a gross generalisation but I put it in that way to illustrate the entry of Religious Power alongside Temporal Power as an expedient compact unrivalled and therefore dominated by the Religious and therefore Papal, Roman ideology.

There are numerous examples and collisions of time based conclusions ,ade into approximations of truth in the context of Law.

Aristotle was the lode stone that indicated there were alternative views equal and more compatible with the human condition however and this paradox became visible and remains visible in difference.

Gelasius preceded the emergence of the Bible and analysis of the threat and peril that it would replace as thought in stone. Then the sacred authority [auctoritas] of priesthood and the royal power [potestas] had an unsettling period of transition which was filled by the eminence of the Bible.

The sectarianism of theology and secular rights are found in the tapestry of Law.

The result is disappointment and divergence occur. The Law exists upon agreement and the onus of delivering that Law is left to a simple odd number.

Such apparently secular Countries and Communities as Korea and China have long since discarded the rule of moral and ethical authority by creating their version of the rule of Law. Absent of divinity. There is a full some charge of discarding the divine in open societies also.

Phillip IV and Fairness

If Lawyers have a smugness and that is too harsh a claim, it could arise in the way Law has impinged on Religion and Theology to the point their cohorts were spoiling for a role and investiture in the political thinking that came from the plenitude of power advancing in the world as vision alongside science and university according theory to the societies hungry for peace and prosperity. These were the belief systems generating while Phillip IV (Philip the Fair?) and irony upon irony (the fair arising from the fair complexion not complex truth) Innocent III. Candidates for giving extremis to the politic. Extremism not having been uncommonly a trait or failure humans expressed in the corrupt self.

If is easy to relate to the concordat seen in Decretales 1.15.1 ; ‘for the difference between the priestly dignity and the royal is as great as the distance between the Sun and the Moon.‘ In that world they had only that measure and it is the case the infinity is greater in our present understanding, beyond our knowledge and the interstellar. The divine occupies the corrupt of priest and royal whole setting differences beyond imagination in the polar opposites of divinity each brings mankind.

What Non-Subscribing entails.

In the Non-Subscribing Faith the ethos takes the form of nothing existing between the creator and us. That meaning is in itself open to the interpretation any individual wishes to attach to it and their faith is individually formed with a shared inclusivity as a means of absorbing spiritual life alongside physical life.

The placing of a Covenant as a device to attain faith entry is an anathema in a sense.

Keeping faith

I am a regular Church goer and belong to a non-subscribing Church, not as a member but as an expression of community where thoughts are gathered and found in individual collective experiences acknowledging the individual has the oversight of their own mind and converge in common thought as a means to adhere to the human condition placed in us by means we have no proof of.

Since the decision by the law Lord’s and Lady’s the outworking in people consumed by the authority it creates have been prominently and purposely obtaining some hubris and gravitas in relation to their own view, whatever that might be. Such is the stirring of Media and communication of a variation of beliefs.

The media have unwrapped the meaning without as far as I can see taken any direct notice of the question of Religion and State, that have over centuries preceding the 1689 Samuel Rutherford observances and the question was seriously created in the Lawful sense around the twelfth Century.

The Church of Who

The Church of England relies on the advance of their subjects from one world to the next by compliant measure with their set values.

As I noted before this is not to say they are Christian as they would confess or profess to be. No Christian slays others in the name of Jesus or any dynamic of theology.

In the writing of Niccolò Machiavelli ‘The Prince’ powers of goodwill were set against power for powers sake. In his treatise he as is his predilection, setting anti-thesis and generalisation to the fore as a method to advance arguments. Placing the readings to be testament to subsequent rulers acquiring his methods and elliptical curvature of circular things he brings nevertheless a degree of exposure to the malaise and disfigurement of any virtue the Religious may have conceived, however his methods of projecting it were often exaggerated.

In ‘The Prince’ iii. Composite Principalities; while a Florentine state advisor, probably, Machiavelli writes – ‘….disorders chiefly arise because of one natural difficulty always encountered in new principalities. What happens is that men willingly change their ruler, expecting to fare better. This induces them to take up arms against him; but they only deceive themselves, and they learn from experience that they have made matters worse.’

How obvious is this in conflicts new and renewed along former dissolution?

That idea of principalities bore down on the Machiavellian desire for the formation of an Italy divided by five powers and the Papacy. The realm he constructed was the acquisition of ‘The Prince’ envied in the heirachy of Spain in advance of Italy. Legal and Physical ran hand in hand and always do. Primacy achieved by rule of Law in the Doctrine of the rule of Kings. The second part the ownership of property and land at the behest of followers of the ruler.

Whereas William Shakespeare introduced and possibly provides an arc for the English; he being Catholic in some form, knew the symbols of paradox and earthly wisdom taken ahead of Godly art which was noble and divine. ‘The Tempest’ invents an island borne of disharmony and unity. Niccolò Machiavelli was sans regard for divinity or goodness and deceived himself, as he claimed deception troubles others, in the seeking of fortune and power which is the myth Gods make in and of time. Whatever form or entity that will be, that nature resolves all.

Notorious Belief

Belief systems are scarcely wise enough to envelop such foresight as the Age of Enlightenment by human reasoning but provide the arid terrain of such finality astrophysics describes. Arid in the sense all is gone elsewhere from our earthly existence.

Eschatology is a realisation of the encounter with death.

The word arises from the Greek ἔσχατος eschatos meaning “last” and -logy meaning “the study of”, and first appeared in English around 1844. The Oxford English Dictionary defines eschatology as “the part of theology concerned with death, judgment, and the final destiny of the soul and of humankind“.

Where the Bible open as it is to the Resurrection the binding destiny of a departure from life and the transience of the Soul is held as belief by many awaiting the saviour.

Bookish thoughts

I have yet to read the dystopian fiction ‘The Testaments’ by Margaret Atwood who in the course of releasing her book lost her partner of many years Graeme Gibson novelist (Five Legs: 1969) and fellow Canadian whose writings were considered as liberating of nature and environment through his unorthodoxy.

By beginning with the futuristic science laden prophecy of a divided world Margaret Atwood in ‘The Handmaids Tale’ she provided an alternate despairing fiction as both a warning and concurrent prophecy in delivering the wildfire of mankind/womankind in a conspiracy of belief without honour. False honour and liberty is attained at a cost and complicity in it are the humans at the top of the survivalists arc. By introducing us to this the continuation is surveyed as advanced some twenty years on.

The wintertide is enclosing the world while seeing it from the perspective of women. Unlike Niccolò Machiavelli and other rules based institutions this is akin to the retelling of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. The parables may exist in ‘The Testaments’ with each Testament telling a story from a different viewpoint though that is not a view outworking from reading the book but a passing conjecture. The Machiavellian warning is rulers must be conscious of being internal subversion from his subjects; and external aggression by foreign powers. Julius Caesar’s rule by extravagant liberty contrasts with the Machiavellian assertion nobility should be seen honouring property avoiding also rapacious interest in women in societies alliances.

The conjecture of passage from the promised land in exile and return to expel the sins of the world seems plausible but how is it possible except by authoritarian rule and then morals and ethics fail it.

How does the author convey the ailment of a survivalist authoritarian society seemingly built on the pursuit, perversely of purity and exemplar godlike creation of life? Could the heaven be achieved on earth?

The thesis presumed is the impossibility of it as is seen and exposed and the nature of existence is beyond the beyond, a loose term often relied on by poets. Understanding power Niccolò Machiavelli places in ‘Room 101’ virtue, realising in his simple basic treatise ‘in order to maintain his state he is often forced to act in defiance of good faith, of charity, of kindness, of Religion. Quite a catastrophic outcome for the people, that the ruler, if they are to retain power, must at times resort to evil. A circus of vanities is liberated and notoriety in appearances to be doing good are made like Pepper’s ghost seen but not reality. Playing on deceiving the people by appearances of virtue while silences are heard and noises off ignored through patronage. That requires a version of Religion faithful to Sovereignty.

As Julius Caesar found there is always one who is willing to do the deed and at the Last Supper the knowledge Jesus took to the table was that in his midst betrayal was already orchestrated and his comfort was the Word he revealed.

Reason and Personality

Since the decision by the law Lord’s and Lady’s the outworking in people consumed by the authority it creates have been prominently and purposely obtaining some hubris and gravitas in relation to their own view, whatever that might be.

Lords aleaping

The very structure of society in the UK has many flaws and amongst the leading contenders is the element of class differences which undoubtedly exists and it manifests in the establishment. What is never put across in debate however are the day to day efforts in all classes of good works and the Eton label is but one example. Amnesty International and Friends of the Earth founders were ex-Eton and they carry none of the entitlements Boris and lots of his mates seem to. The point is it is a varied world and all good is good wherever it obtains from. If only they were conscious of it when learning at the higher privileged levels there might be more good to come from that element.

From The Times I snapped this yesterday. (Judges not necessarily Lords)

Seditious by CoE

‘A legal revolution and it’s never been arrived at before.

A Sir Jonathan Sumption quote on the judgement arrived at.

While people go after the personalities and profiling the Judges the use of person becomes a new aspect which the Supreme Court unfortunately presents. Ego is invoked as a context for verdict. The bossy (allegedly) Lady Hale overstretched by not only appearing in a garb which matches the pitiful T. May reliance on decorative ornamentation, her role and its presumably allowed by dint of gender but is actually a diminution of what should be balanced and scaled. The decorum seen in Courts were subverted so why is this any different? Apparently art gym and domestic science are not her skills but a bully tendency and compelling others to blackmail her is not a child’s friendly characterisation coming through others experiences of the Law Chief in their discoveries. Then not to have anything except teaching the Law and not having external experience around the use of the industry capitalist et al add to blunt the presentation. Their is unusually a quotient of difference among Judges.  Law should not split along highly divide lines as it ought to be clear and calculating holding moral and ethical choices inherently present to be availed upon.

That provides the 11 ruling as being only the eventual evidential conclusion Sir Jonathon Sumption has arrived at. The exactitude of Law is found in and entrapped by the Sovereign pinnacle the establishment has embodied.

Sir Jonathan Sumption reveals, of his working with Lady Hale, despite past disagreements he has the view Lady Hale has not overstretched. In absolute agreement I think this points to the only possible judgement being arrived at as it is Sovereignty unalloyed.

In a small way connections to this Judgement and how it arose I read another fine judgement by a leading commentator. Of the advance of the British insurgency perceptions, actually reinforcing the EU insecure intransigence soon to be taken apart, is fostered here and elsewhere by ‘the thought police of the multilateral establishment.

It reads into it the same observation the Supreme Court point to which is on both local and globally the ‘self-preservation and aggrandisement as international solidarity and cooperation.’ The foundation of multilateral organisations charged with preserving world order has imploded. Moderation and pragmatic deployment of the best available outcomes for many is no longer at play. The moral authority of judges relies on the Law itself constructed not in the Age of Enlightenment from where the judgement came; its failure being the Samuel Rutherford compulsion to make others write into the Word an exception the then and now conceit riven Church of England advances human misery in its ruling practice.

Storm in a Changing climate

The media have unwrapped the meaning without, as far as I can see, having taken any direct notice of the question of Religion and State, that have over centuries preceding the 1689 Samuel Rutherford observances and the question was seriously created in the Lawful sense around 1300 and it is ‘loosely’ in the Age before 1050 a conflab based on patronage which in anticipated ways broke down and became ‘disintegrated’ until other autocratic measures appeared. In the history I have read I notice the Germanic assaults on Roman power which may have arise in some part in the Middle Eastern insurgence against Roman in earlier times. This might appear another thread of G.B. Politics and the overthrow of Hitler and a resolution found in E.U. Agreements becoming the forerunner of institutional polarity. The notion held here is that the anti-E.U. is no more than that natural outworking and hopefully a truthful return to Grace.

It is a Grace obtained by the Swedish Greta Thunberg whole as is well documented the people she names and confronts are at the very destruction of the virtues the proclaim to be in charge of. That is the Law of Religious freedoms and the Word as reconciled by State.

‘Ordet’ is the Word and it’s Grace is present in Greta Thunberg.

Footnote/s

I use the observations of the following article in part of my constructing the arguments above.

Global elites mock anti-EU feeling at their peril. by Jeremy Warner

follow on Twitter or see at telegraph.co.uk/opinion

Sources/Acknowledgements

Even the Telegraph title is clever and interesting. Instead of speaking only of the UK’s democratically expressed anti-EU feeling which is the reason Brexit exists, it speaks of the Global historic change across methods of creating a pragmatic moral and progressive future.

Boris and Prometheus is a hypothesis and prophecy understood by Jeremy Warner who I continue to see as being very astute on Political and Societal movements in World Politics as constructed for a readership that is not Cabalist, Papist, Royalist but Capitalist before all else usually.

I wonder what he thinks of the Sovereignty and adherence thereto that causes us such grief and harm. It may not be in place were it not for Queen Elizabeth II who has seen and dealt with so much in her lifetime. In other words the UK is largely accepting of the figurehead for the focus it provides without understanding its implications in the running of a society based on rule and division which the two party system (pros-cons) heralds in.

Our nearest neighbour and ally being France succumbed after the Second World War to strident Communism as a binding source as the acts of bravery in the French resistance came from the left politic and it was an antidote to the Gaullist ideals which subsequently overtook them. They choose that route as it was a infant version never realised even at their ‘69 soft revolution.

I also make use of ideas cultivated in the writings The Crisis of Church and State 1050-1300 by Brian Tierney and offerings from the partially sceptical community commons Wikipedia for what it’s worth.

Origin of Borders and Ireland’s woes – some of them!

On the British occupation of Ireland many take it back to the very rampaging and warring by John de Courcy. His motivations are and remain unclear except his own quest for power of some kind. Obedient and disobedient to Kings of some standing eventually the Vision of Religion overtook him and this was also a source of his downfall.

This is a version of his story. The 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica

Who would dare to disagree?

‘COURCI, JOHN DE (d. 1219?), Anglo-Norman conqueror of Ulster, was a member of a celebrated Norman family of Oxfordshire and Somersetshire, whose parentage is unknown, and around whose career a mass of legend has grown up. It would appear that he accompanied William Fitz-Aldelm to Ireland when the latter, after the death of Strongbow, was sent thither by Henry II., and that he immediately headed an expedition from Dublin to Ulster, where he took Downpatrick, the capital of the northern kingdom. After some years of desultory fighting de Courci established his power over that part of Ulster comprised in the modern counties of Antrim and Down, throughout which he built a number of castles, where his vassals, known as “the barons of Ulster,” held sway over the native tribes. After the accession of Richard I., de Courci in conjunction with William de Lacy appears in some way to have offended the king by his proceedings in Ireland. De Lacy quickly made his peace with Richard, while de Courci defied him; and the subsequent history of the latter consisted mainly in the vicissitudes of a lasting feud with the de Lacys. In 1204 Hugh de Lacy utterly defeated de Courci in battle, and took him prisoner. De Courci, however, soon obtained his liberty, probably by giving hostages as security for a promise of submission which he failed to carry out, seeking an asylum instead with the O’Neills of Tyrone. He again appeared in arms on hearing that Hugh de Lacy had obtained a grant of Ulster with the title of earl; and in alliance with the king of Man he ravaged the territory of Down; but was completely routed by Walter de Lacy, and disappeared from the scene till 1207, when he obtained permission to return to England. In 1210 he was in favour with King John, from whom he received a pension, and whom he accompanied to Ireland. There is some indication of his having sided with John in his struggle with the barons; but of the later history of de Courci little is known. He probably died in the summer of 1219. Both de Courci and his wife Affreca were benefactors of the church, and founded several abbeys and priories in Ulster.

A story is told that de Courci when imprisoned in the Tower volunteered to act as champion for King John in single combat against a knight representing Philip Augustus of France; that when he appeared in the lists his French opponent fled in panic; whereupon de Courci, to gratify the French king’s desire to witness his prowess, “cleft a massive helmet in twain at a single blow,” a feat for which he was rewarded by a grant of the privilege for himself and his heirs to remain covered in the presence of the king and all future sovereigns of England. This tale, which still finds a place in Burke’s Peerage in the account of the baron Kingsale, a descendant of the de Courci family, is a legend without historic foundation which did not obtain currency till centuries after John de Courci’s death. The statement that he was created earl of Ulster, and that he was thus “the first Englishman dignified with an Irish title of honour,” is equally devoid of foundation. John de Courci left no legitimate children.’

See J. H. Round’s art. “Courci, John de,” in Dictionary of National Biography, vol. xii. (London, 1887), to which is added a bibliography of the original and later authorities for the life of de Courci.

All views are my own in this essay.

John Graham

3 October 2019

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Catherine the Great – European Fantasy TV


Catherine the Great
The new subscription series, Catherine the Great delivers a suspect history while illuminating the vestiges of contemporary Political and Sovereignty  in Europe. Starring Helen Mirren it is made for her electric acting skills and lineage appropriate for her own history. Some critics have said of it there is no magic sparkle or gold-dust in the drama for an audience expectations of provocative spellbinding theatrical lustre. It is just not hot enough and Potemkin is as near as it gets to a potboiler.

In ‘The Europeans: Three Lives and the making of a cosmopolitaCulture’ by Orlando Figes has formed a theme in his book around three characters one of which is Turgenev; Focusing on the intertwined biographies of a famous French opera singer of Spanish descent, her French impresario husband and one of Russia’s most beloved novelists, and as a historian remarks on the leaders taking forward Europe in this period.

Pauline Viardot – became Turgenevs supporter in more ways than one and mari complaisant where Figes attempts a continent in constant change – technology not being the least alteration.

He has again written in review, his account of his viewing of this tangential series with some ‘warnings’ he describes thus ‘But there are many small errors, a few large ones, and dramatic licences abound (spoilers ahead).’
By his account and depth of knowledge and no spoiler alert needed as I won’t reveal the ‘allegations’ of discrepancy here, The Times 4 October 2019, Review (2 Arts article) does deliver the needed autopsy on the drama and fulsomely, with if it’s anything to go by, a promise of an excellent twist of the History seen in the Banquet of the Vanities often seen through English historians eyes though this is unintentional but my viewpoint given our recent times.

The world of media is a fanfare of opposing histories and no more so than seen in the deliver of a certain kind of meritorious justice, so it is contended by the Judges of The Supreme Court on the material Considerations they avail of in reaching their decision.

It is looking more and more absurd and demonstrative of a blatant lie being conducted on behalf of the people of these islands, GB and Ireland.

How is that so you may ask. The series Catherine the Great is a fine element to attune yourself to history and the ‘Rule of Kings,’ delightful contexturalised by Lady Hale and her Supreme Court colleagues in filling us in on the remnants othering shared history and by dint their authority to preside and pronounce of difficulties of stewarding a country as it conducts itself among neighbours.
Naked hubris called out

Orlando Figes has created a context which is invaluable to discerning not decreeing the formulation of the record.  The drama series only serves a little recognition of history and its therefore a good question to ask this,  Why is this drama altering in effect – it is also a version but without the spoilers of the above article – undoubtably off piste.  It is due to the consumption of drama and partially though it was hardly a precedent, Downton Abbey conjecture of lives in smart antiquated buildings. Even they are confiscated of truth in these dramas. Stanley Kubricks red coated drama was an exception to the narrative swirl and conflagration in ‘Barry Lyndon’. The dramatic accounts are seen honestly dishonest in such as Shakespearian drama and No Theatre elsewhere displays of a version of the past.  An appetite expects the formula to be as near cognition as the soul allows.

In his writing the review there are facts I wish to consume and add to a following narrative on ‘the rule of kings’ having written immediately previously my analysis of where that history leads us. A new history is upon us. It is no small coincidence Orlando Figes book has the title – ‘The Europeans.’

Catherine the Great he points out was one Sophie of Anhalt-Zerbst, a minor German state. Arranged Marriage would take her to Russia at 17 where in 1762 she became Empress of Russia. That is a pivotal point in any account of Europeans.

The advance of a form of rule by Catherine the Great is hinged on the male protagonists around her and allies or enemies to the throne she occupies. Several lovers and conquests, tested beforehand by a Countess Bruce who noted their willingness or aptitude for her appetite and patronage seemed a sure common means to stabilise and conquer her peoples willingness to be ruled. The imperial bedchamber is a retreat where she obtained as much male sexual comfort as she could and stayed relatively loyal to some of her consorts. Potemkin being highest in her affections and finding in him an alliance equal to her ambitions of statecraft. By her alliances she was in control of the destiny of Russia and she thought Europe.

By 1773 an heir had been conceived though the convention of the hereditary male becoming Emperor was a minor obstacle to Catherine the Great living up to her reputation and her offspring born in 1754. When Prince Paul the son assumed to be heir where normal protocols to hold but when he becomes 19, Potemkin is now embroiled in a relationship which savoured the expansion and nature of the Russian Empire sought by Catherine. With a historians insightful gaze Orlando Figes notices in the acting the chemistry ‘ – and there is a chemistry between him (Jason Clarke as Potemkin) and Mirren’s Catherine who is tough, tyrannical, emotionally closed, but more vulnerable in his presence.’

That sounds as though it has the convincing, authentic power of period detail in the portrayal of relationships. The mores were not a stricture of guidance to be morally bound to the Ten Commandments for example but a position of realism in turbulent times.

Her quest it seems from Orlando’s reading of the historical records is parallel to the religious one I see in the stewardship becoming more akin to the Lutheran doctrine she had left when becoming – it is perhaps legitimate to call it her arraignment in the sense she was completely and inducted – of the Russian Orthodoxy.  It is possibly a century earlier the radical ‘reformation’ in advance of other European Kingdoms including a Great Britain the Bible was no longer an asset confines to elite Religious but now was among the people as an Orthodoxy and template for God and the influence of the Bible.

Emerging Configurations on knowledge.

The Russians had, in this open freedom to consume and debate the virtues of Religious belief systems, been given a tool which subsequently would overthrow the lineage of Sovereign authoriety as practiced by Catherine the Great.

It is a view which would take a lot of persuasion in practice though I put it forward as a possible bridge in the construction of Europe’s state. Were it not for the intervention of Industrialisation and another ‘costume drama’ enters my mind, with Antony Hopkins as an exile torn between the past and his ancestry and the youth testaments of his daughter and friends seeking equality and a positive socialist life ahead. The subsequent fractions and divisions came destructively to a head in the twentieth century. This drama ‘Howard’s End’  fills in, partly in a very apposite way the English dynamism in the abrupt departure of the slave ridden empire; Russia had abolished slavery, substituting it with servitude converting them to serfs in 1725 long before Catherine’s reign.

Unravelling the historical immorality it had perpetuated was in all of Europe a yoke which caused its own internal demise. Catherine the Great sought with Potemkin her long held belief; and it may have been from a uniquely Religious Lutheran Orthodox itinerant perspective been conceived as a role to follow in her sense of herself, the expulsion of the Turkish implantation in Greek and the Volga uprising as establishing an authoritarian based after all is said and done on a Religious philosophy equal and of the same consequence as the Age of Enlightenment. Paradoxes abound and Samuel Rutherford would have been found as not only a dissenter but a deeply flawed reader of The Bible in advocating the intervention, which was already in place in the regime of the Church of England but bound up in ‘rules of the Kings’ a theology requiring the believer to press allegiance to a higher edict and put in place something between them and God.

Orthodoxy did not prevail upon its followers any hidebound sense of Sovereignty but collided instead with the reverse Communism of Catherine the Great. It is an extraordinary complex construct to make but it might bear some examination.

Arraigned Compacts

There is a joining of stories in the work of Orlando Figes writing in both, ‘The Europeans: Three Lives and the making of a cosmopolitan Culture’ and the following review in The Times 4 October 2019, Review (2 Arts article) stresses the account drama and screenplays provide a view that conflicts and obscures understanding of history and narratives assumed then thought about.  I….the above book for instance Turgenev is honoured with the praise for his toiling on subjects he has no reward for, … Turgenev acted as a peerless cultural intermediary, introducing Tolstoy and Tchaikovsky to western capitals and Flaubert to the Russians. Figes writes of him being an advocate of reason, progress and democracy.’  “a Republic of Letters based on the Enlightenment ideals of reason, progress and democracy”.  The plasticity of the literature – not only his but all writers – it can be observed claimed the supremacy of the narrative by its own eloquent reasoning and ease of understanding.  This was therefore the conveyance Kings Queens and Revolutionaries clung to and set there compass by.

Countenance of Religious Affectations 

From the essay looking into the Supreme Court Judgement (the previous blog!) I arrived at the observations made in Niccoló Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’ and again see so much to relate this to. I struggle to remove the image, the appalling image of a ‘judge’ with the fabric spider cobweb around her neck and telling us of the import of rule by – and this is where religion and the misuse of ‘the rule of Kings’ occurs – as an atrocious suppression of the Word.  The situation in Italy as seen by Machiavelli is in his gift to repair. The notion the Florentine intelligence can be transported beyond its realm is not seen as problematic but possible.

So it is with Catherine the Great and the bold Potemkin who see their task to rid the world at least in Europe consigned to misfortune and bickering among sensitivities drawn down over thousands of years as surmountable. Little did they know and when discarding the preeminence of what appeared at least in part to exist within them, a dislike based on Religious doctrine, their replacement by royal decree and rule they were discarding with it their soul.

In a Puritan way there is reasonable course to disentangle religion from the methods of men. The reason delivered first to us arrives through light. Age of Enlightenment etc. are the runes of spiritual life. Indian culture is similar in its Diwali hinge. Our spectral vision is limited to the range the human can take in while wavelengths outside that human spectrum lie what in the past have accumulated thoughts subconsciously held and unexplained.

Overtures to 1812 

Inspiral spectrums of thought are only realisable by the vast outside influences assembled by the mind. You will a phrase into existence and compose a range of notes to stimulate your life force. It is as though I do my work by sleeping and unconsciously combine possible futures as seen in the eyes of the past. Thought dreaming. Sleep and see the sunsets and act as though your passivity beyond the fact of death as you in that stillness absence of conformity as vers libre, that living octagon of constant revisionism and regularity. When the parameters outside n the daylight side of living exist to produce the combinations of Orchestra, Theatre, Poetry, Organisation of beauty in functionality and use it exceeds our worth and world of ourselves. This accumulation is the stuff of influence and the inspiration is without. Those rays of light and otherness begin to mean things and some cam detect the cosmic influence beyond rejection and elimination.

The modern Culture offered and absorbed seeks to provide an extreme of interest and the literary crime wave is itself a questioning ambiguity and surging by that confusion as artful cold crime analysis.

All contained in the lines of a book and screening of a reality formed of false indicators and misleading trails and analysis. We compose our curation of the world and ourselves by a distortion of self and created illusion. The appetite is growing and the Google super comport can only advance the churn of indigestible form of invisible history.

To join the histories of the ‘Continent’ is by any account a broad sweep using various reference point. For these observational viewpoints I use literature and the arts. The Drama and influences of the body politic often taking its directions from the canvas of Entertainment and visual metaphors sometimes transparently opaque.

The range of European History and its Collisions

Below are a selection of notes from Wiki, Common Eductional websites which are used here as another way to join the dots and see what – if it is at all provable – the actions present a confusion of objections while having some legitimacy and coherence.  It asks why the paths taken were so intensely random and happenstance.  Was it will by our inner selves?

Continued narratives

The French has several Revolutions and the following is an introduction to the French then the connection with Russian and its role on the fervour of Revolution brought about in no small part by the lessons and paradoxes expressed by the literary elite.

Let’s begin with the royals sporting across Europe in aims to modify the world according to their ambition.

* (1494) France and Austria began the Italian wars
* (1515) Reign of Francois I began
* (1519) Leonardo da Vinci died
* (1539) French became the official language
* (1559) Cateau-Cambresis Treaty ended Italian wars
* (1562) Catholics and Protestants religous wars
* (1589) Henry IV was first Bourbon King of France
* (1593) Henry IV turned Catholic; religious wars ended
1600s – 1800s
* (1610-1715) Reign of Louis XIII followed by absolute monarchy of Louis XIV
* (1720) Last outbreak of plague in France
* (1756-63) Seven Years War; France lost all colonial possessions and Canada
* (1778-83) France assisted the 13 colonies in the American War of Independence
* (1789) French Revolution ended rule of monarchy
* (1792) Louis XVI overthrown, First Republic created
* (1804) Napoleon crowned Emperor of France
* (1815) Napoleon was defeated at Waterloo; monarchy reestablished
* (1830) The French Revolution (or July Revolution) middle class revolt, King Charles X forced out.
* (1832) Cholera epidemics
* (1848) Founding of Second Republic
* (1851) Coup d’etat instigated by Louis Napoleon
* (1852) Louis Napoleon III crowned Emperor
* (1870-71) Alsace-Lorraine regions lost to Germany; Napoleon III overthrown
* (1875) Third Republic began
* (1889) Eiffel tower built.

Then the familiar 20c and wars begin a transformative World Picture begins.

Puskhin and his Literary Genius

The future of uncertainty is it’s certain.

It was something Alexander Pushkin might have thought as his departure from a promising life came in a duel at 37 years old and the malevolent Queen of Spades called three days after his being fatally wounded by D’Antes who had spoken pitiably and grossly of his wife’s family. He had in his dying, sought for his wife to be looked after by the Tsar. In facing into a future where his youth had gone he made some gestural indications in his folly to take comfort in killing an enemy or be killed so reckless was his vision of his future. He fell without his talisman ring having also returned, (never turn back) for a sable coat before proceeding to the duel site on the banks of the Black River outside St Petersburg in his coach, passing unawares his wife returning from sledging in the Winter freshness. It was a tad Byronesce maybe, this disastrous act being a supplicant of the romanticists Greece and Rome had entrapped him in affairs as society had witnessed the malevolence attached to circumstances becoming public. Now the history of Catherine the Great and Alexander Puskhin are intertwined as a people’s History told with an irony of Royals and Revolutionary thinking on both their parts. Some things never change.

The story of French Revolution precedes the overthrow of the Tsars. Known to his entourage as ‘The Frenchman’ his Moscow writing found him by 1820 banished by government who decided his poetry was dangerously subversive. They sent Pushkin out of the capital and into exile in the south of Russia, 1700 kilometres from his family and friends in St Petersburg. He was sent first to Ekaterinoslav (now Dnepropetrovsk in Ukraine) and then to Kishinev (now Chisinau in Moldova), moving to Odessa (now Ukraine) in 1823.

By the time he had formed his thoughts on the wider possibilities history informed him of, at the end of 1825 Tsar Alexander 1 died and in the following year his successor Tsar Nicholas 1 freed Pushkin from exile. Pushkin moved back to central Russia, living some of the time in Moscow, some in St Petersburg and travelling a lot. He became interested in the reformer tsar Peter the Great (1682-1725) and dedicated historical work to him. At this time he also became interested in his own family history and wrote a story Peter the Great’s African based on the life of his ancestor Abram Ganibal. His mother having been of African descent. At the time of her death he bought a grave alongside her for him to rest.

The peculiar interest in tyranny and it’s place in society was a duel in itself within Puskhin. His friends included many who were involved in a political group which was later known as the Decembrists. They were a group of officers who disagreed with the very harsh political system at the time. They are called Decembrists because they had an armed revolt in December 1825 to try to stop Tsar Nicholas coming to the throne.  Pushkin wrote Ruslan and Ludmila at this time, a number of beautiful lyrical poems, and also some very political poems like Freedom. This starts with the declaration “I want to praise Freedom, I want to attack the evil of kings” and calls the tsar “Wicked autocrat!”

https://www.findoutaboutrussia.co.uk/pushkins-life.html

That extract comes from the above link, a composite view for children so innocently removed from overbalance or overbearance. His innocence of the worlds harsh realities seemed to be distant when in this removal from the turbulence and complete reversals of fortune Politics and the Reign of the Tsar encountered daily. He ought to have discovered through his African aristocratic legacy when only obtaining minor status as part of the elite. Being amongst aristocrats himself much of his life he was neither elite nor poor hence his probable annoyance at exclusion. The expulsion nullified any part in the big events that were unfolding. The only scope was his literary genius. It was Tsar Nicholas 1 who freed Pushkin from exile.

History has it that Puskhin provides a narrative of change while the powers provide the history. The fascination of history was an occupation brought about by his South Russian exile at his maternal homeland.

The fascination of the pre-history is him seeking the organic outworking among races and this is tied to ‘The Frenchman.’ His knowledge is accumulating and in the dramas he filed his own life and visions of depraved rule.

Peter the Great (1672-1725)

Peter was Michael Romanov’s grandson and under his rule Russia underwent many changes. It was Peter who made Russia one of Europe’s great powers and who helped it recover from the scars left by Ivan the Terrible.

He did this firstly by opening Russia to the West. He wanted Russia to be as modern and advanced as Europe and poured all the country’s money and resources into making it a kind of European paradise.                     

He asked the best Western engineers, craftsmen, merchants and shipbuilders to come to Russia and help him to modernise it. He also sent thousands of Russians to Europe to learn these trades and receive the best education possible. He even went himself – and worked in the shipyards of Holland and England.

Peter founds St Petersburg in 1703 Credit: http://www.herodote.net

In 1703 Peter declared that a town was to be built on the boggy marshlands of the delta of the Neva River. Over several years of frantic and often difficult construction, a city emerged. It was called St Petersburg, and Peter made it the capital of Russia instead of Moscow. St Petersburg was built to be a work of art, whose beauty would rival that of any European city. In fact, many early European visitors to St Petersburg described it as resembling a theatre set, such was its uniform and somewhat unnatural beauty.

Here are some other reasons why Peter was such a force for change in Russia:
1. He tried to change Russia from what he thought was a deeply archaic, superstitious and closed country into a modern haven of European civilisation.
2. To do this, he took extreme measures to make everything in St Petersburg exactly how he wanted it: he told his nobles how to live, how to build their houses, how to cut their hair, where to stand in church and how to converse politely in society.
3. In one of his most radical reforms, Peter made the Boyars servants of the crown. In this way he laid the foundations of an 18-19 century European-style absolutist state, where the monarch reigns supreme. The new aristocracy was suddenly totally defined by its position in the civil and military service and its rights and privileges were set accordingly.
4. In a surprising twist Peter even banned beards across all classes. This was a particular blow to the Boyars who wore theirs long in the Orthodox style, but all Russian men were subject to the law. To help enforce it, Peter even introduced a Beard Tax, payable if you refused to shave your beard!
5. He also made big changes to improve the economy, education and Russia’s military strength. He built up the army and the navy, making Russia a real military force to be reckoned with. In particular the Russian navy was really created by Peter who had hundreds of ships built by foreign experts.

Lifeline even now

Pascal had written another book for the Church after Pensées he formed another view which liberated him from dogmatic theory. He denounced Christianity by His Vers Libre on mathematics and science reasoning he went towards parthenogenesis and being separate from the need to believe one thing or the other. This magical delusion was Pascals downfall. It lmeant his best thoughts were not received by the populist and staggeringly they are still there even plays we have not seen or heard of all trapped in a bibliographic cemetery. The mocking tones of the authors seen preeminent like Voltaire were very often favoured due to the splendid cloak they gave to Royalty such as Catherine the Great. Delusion is a wonderful thing Pascal thought. His anti-religious thoughts were consistent with the well known maxim, it is better to believe, just in case. Pyrrhonism of living by thought is a paradox sent to sleep and put asunder by scepticism lent by the creator. That creator is the author of all and us.

Seeing the nothingness of belief in it’s unconquerable reason and the formed reality faced of war and dreadful outcomes for the earth’s inhabitants killing to survive among animals and complacency the compact only civilisation can construct to alleviate pain.

Not to question the religious life but know nothing of the other religious life is a nerveless position. The truth is beyond recognition but it’s invisible cloak surrounds and makes us alive.

Although we can see that Peter did much to modernise and empower Russia, we can also see why many did not enjoy Peter’s reforms. After all, by forcibly Europeanising Russian life he was trying to rid Russia of much of her cultural history and heritage. Of course, he was not completely successful and much of the old Russia remained, especially outside of St Petersburg.

The Napoleon part of Russian history is also astonishing in its exultation, it’s compelling act of restructuring, on the part of Napoleon who would not have the same analytical sense of the land he sought to conquer that Puskhin held even greater than the Tsars and this accorded a total clash of cultural values neither religious or colonial but a federal universal purge in the fashion of Alexander the Great and many others before them.

The act of exulting; lively joy at success or victory, or at any advantage gained; rapturous delight; triumph. This is the human failure. The obtaining advantage through warfare. Triumph is a potent word. From sport to self awareness all is in gain or loss while nature dismisses all-comers.

Napoleon invades in 1812
French Emperor Napoleon was becoming annoyed with the Russians and their Tsar, Alexander I. Napoleon had placed a European-wide ban on trading with Britain, mainly because it was almost the last remaining European country that wasn’t answerable to him. But the Russians kept breaking the ban because it was bad for their own trade. So in 1812, to teach the Russians a lesson, Napoleon decided to invade.

It turned out to be a huge mistake. He hadn’t planned for the terrible road network in Russia, making progress slow. The farms didn’t grow nearly enough food to support the gigantic army of 500,000 men and 50,000 horses he had taken with him. Soon they were starving, exhausted, and ridden with disease. As a final blow, the bitter Russian winter came. While Napoleon’s and Alexander’s troops did take part in some fierce fighting, in the end the French army could not cope with the harsh Russian conditions.

Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow Credit: Universal History Archive/Getty Images

Eventually, defeated, Napoleon decided to go home to France. Before he left Moscow he set it on fire. His armies had a terrible journey home and by the time Napoleon returned to France, only a fraction of his men were left alive.

One important consequence of this invasion was that some Russians began to reject the Europeanisation that had become such a large part of Russian life since Peter the Great. They wanted to go back to their roots, and to make Russia Russian once again, rather than an imitation of a culture and history that weren’t even theirs.

Slowly and over a long period of time, Russia began to recover its own culture, heritage and style.

The 1917 Russian Revolution
The Romanov dynasty came to dramatic end in 1917 under the rule of Tsar Nicholas II, through an event commonly known as the Russian Revolution.

L-R: Maria, Tsarina Alexandra, Olga, Tatiana, Tsar Nicholas, Anastasia and Alexei.
Tsar Nicholas II was married to a German Princess called Alexandra. Together they had five children, four girls – Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia – and a much wanted son, Alexei. Nicholas was a devoted family man and he and Alexandra had a very happy marriage.

Unfortunately however, Nicholas was not a very competent Tsar. He was autocratic but lacked authority and confidence. Too often in the years before the Revolution, Nicholas made bad decisions, such as going to war with Japan in 1904 when the country could not afford it and was ill-prepared. Russia’s subsequent defeat led to riots and strikes, and in 1905, on a day now known as Bloody Sunday, demonstrators asking for changes were shot on Nicholas’ order. The Russian people were poor, hungry and dissatisfied and Russia was ripe for revolution.

In response to the growing crisis, Nicholas first reduced some of his own power by forming a government but this was not enough, and he abdicated in February 1917. A provisional government was formed but in October 1917 a man named Vladimir Lenin took advantage of the weakened state and staged a coup d’état: he took control of Russia.

Catherine Puskhin Voltaire Rousseau
Here’s a thing as they pronounce now and again contradictions of their objectives.
In currently historical narratives the personalities of the makers of Revolution – or the ones who recognised change as inevitable – the Religious having exposed evil and given moral guidance through various interpretations of ‘The Word’, as Russians sway to Orthodoxy, The Age of Enlightenment and the following outcomes of Democratic will manifesting. In England the King James Bible was a result of the Europeanise and the new ideology brought by Charles II and the recovery of Royal privilege in 1659 when his Europeanism brought about by compelled exile a bit like Pushkin, his thoughts had accumulated wider visions neither Puritan nor Revolutionary but liberal in universality.
This is the Cosmopolitanism Orlando Fuge refers to presumably but with Turgenev came a worldly sense beyond perhaps European Enlightenment.

Catherine was also ambitious and ruthless. She dramatically expanded Russian territory in the Crimea and Ukraine, and three times invaded and partitioned Poland between neighbouring empires. Her reformism froze when the French Revolution erupted in 1789, inspired by many of the principles she had espoused, and she joined a European coalition to crush it.

Rousseau’s self destructive personal life saw the burden of the impossibility of perfection laying heavily having rejected his own children and consigning them to the Paris Foundling Hospital. This form of self destructiveness manifested in Pushkin as he floundered on the twin towers of hope and virtue. Power and Powerlessness with the ruthless Machiavelli streak The Prince again seen as humans fatal flaw. Flea bag with wings.

The strange demise of Rousseau is mystifying still. On the Public theorising he was proof of the power of ideas in placing into the domain of autocracy

Catherine the Great’s intellectual pursuits extended far beyond her collection of art. Exchanging letters over a fifteen year period with French writer, historian and philosopher Voltaire, she was spurred to bring Russia into the modern era through ideas raised by the Enlightenment and its supporters.

What is perplexing about Catherine’s relations with the Russian writers of her day – Radishchev and Denis Fonvizin in particular – is that she did not tolerate the kind of free thought practiced by her French protégées, Diderot and Voltaire.

Rousseau was a fierce enemy of Voltaire and he is not mentioned here in the history of Catherine the Greats love and embracing of French ideas. They played into her quest to involve in her project. The Greek project all of Europe so the reading of Rousseau would be bound into the philosophy around ‘The Age of French Enlightenment’.

It has been claimed that Diderot’s thought was a corner stone of the French Revolution, and while Catherine would never support such free thought in her own country, she supported Diderot financially.

To illustrate this contradiction even further, in 1790 during the French Revolution Catherine sent Radishchev into Siberian exile for 7 years after he published his travel diary A Journey from St Petersburg to Moscow which documented the problems in Russia that surrounded her reign.
Alexander Pushkin, the 19th century poet, novelist and playwright, was highly critical of Radishchev’s text, claiming that it did not comply with the poetics of narodnost’ – populism.

Catherine seems to be trying to save her image and legacy to force into the Russian psyche thoughts of a broad Europe.

Yet when we look at the content of Rasdishchev’s Journey today we see that Pushkin’s judgment is unfounded. Radishchev’s book is indeed an encyclopaedia of Russian life of the time. Pushkin’s evaluation may have been prompted by the censorship conditions of absolutism which prevailed after Catherine the Great in unmitigated form, demonstrating the impact of Catherine’s rule on not only Russian writers of her own time, but subsequently as well.

John Graham

7 October 2019

Belfast

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Lifeline even now

Pascal had written another book for the Church after Pensées he formed another view which liberated him from dogmatic theory. He denounced Christianity by His Vers Libre on mathematics and science reasoning he went towards parthenogenesis and being separate from the need to believe one thing or the other. This magical delusion was Pascals downfall. It meant his best thoughts were not received by the populist and staggeringly they are still there even plays we have not seen or heard of all trapped in a bibliographic cemetery. The mocking tones of the authors seen preeminent like Voltaire were very often favoured due to the splendid cloak they gave to Royalty such as Catherine the Great. Delusion is a wonderful thing Pascal thought. His anti-religious thoughts were consistent with the well known maxim, it is better to believe, just in case. Pyrrhonism of living by thought is a paradox sent to sleep and put asunder by scepticism lent by the creator. That creator is the author of all and us.

Seeing the nothingness of belief in it’s unconquerable reason and the formed reality faced of war and dreadful outcomes for the earth’s inhabitants killing to survive among animals and complacency the compact only civilisation can construct to alleviate pain.

Not to question the religious life but know nothing of the other religious life is a nerveless position. The truth is beyond recognition but it’s invisible cloak surrounds and makes us alive.

The Souvenir A Film Review

The Souvenir Director Joanna Hogg 2019 UK/USA 2hrs Cert. 15

Writer. Joanna Hogg

Honor Swinton Byrne as Julie, Tom Burke as Anthony, Tilda Swinton as Rosalind, Richard Ayoade as Patrick, Jaygann Ayeh as Marland, Jack McMullen as Jack, Hannah Ashby Ward as Tracey, Frankie Wilson as Frankie, Barbara Peirson as Anthony’s Mother, James Dodds as Anthony’s Father, Ariane Labed as Garance.

The Souvenir

Julie meets Anthony, who works at the Foreign Office, and he moves in with her after her roommate leaves. He delivers a postcard with a picture of the girl in “The Souvenir”. He later takes her to the London Gallery where the painting is hung. Julie says the girl looks sad, while Anthony says she looks determined. Beginning as a normal early twenty something relationship a foreign office apparatchiks nonsensical privileged buffoon; a touch hard but you’ll follow my meaning later, Antony conceals from Julie a girl from a wealthy farming family his drug habit. So begins the journey of betrayal and the delusional conceit warps the malleable minds of the protagonists as they try to forge realism by different means in this coming of age melodrama with more than a mirror of the image the title is borrowing.

Subjective artifice

This is a tragic symbiotic well dramatised screenplay based around a painting authored by the versatile Director Joanna Hogg in a Martin Scorsese production with BBC Films and BFI support. Set in eighties London it is in some part a memory of the Director Author but made into a English melodrama of a kind. The aim is to show more than the elements of a young romance. It ostensibly tries to put across in this story the complexities of the art of artifice in life as well as what seems to reflect the authors own experiences of her empowerment through the medium of film. Director of Photography David Raedaker summons up some painterly scenes as a fluid narrative roster of cinematic techniques none of which deflect you from the unfolding power of the piece. It is interspersed with what appear to be diary entries by Julie.

Painterly hand

The 16th century painting the essence of the film is based around is The Souvenir by Jean-Honoré Fragonard which is a small romantic oil painting on panel which is presently under restoration at the Wallace Collection Manchester Square. I remember The Swing by Jean-Honoré Fragonard but not the former unfortunately as it conveys what this film tries to convey about art it’s conception, it’s disadvantage of being unreal but woven with the thought and purpose of communication of feelings as the artifice of film – so the arch sets out to show. The letter the young woman Julie is holding is a note she responds, lost in nature and carving a love note on a tree while her obedient dog; Spaniel equals fidelity, watches his mistresses purposefulness. The paradox of love being ethereal and not present without hardship and overcoming the singularity a relationship needs. This is a woman claiming in art, her representation while the painter observes and propels us to think on what we observe. Whether this film achieves this is the challenge.

The depiction of this woman is also conveying status and a muse is the artists medium in that Jean-Honoré Fragonard himself survived successfully into later life expressing exuberantly to the society of the time – as this film tries in parallel to do – observations and realisations of emotional themes.

The ornament of art

When sold in 1792 in went under the original title ‘Lettres de deux amans habitans d’une petite ville au pied des Alpes’ (“Letters from two lovers living in a small town at the foot of the Alps”). A book in which the girl is Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s heroine Julie. It would have been a flavour of the rococo nature of the film to follow had it that as its title.

The rocaille meets the barocco of the style Jean-Honoré Fragonard excelled in finding his style sensible of the times.

So far so complicated.

The art of unspoken words

The film is an august attempt charging the main character Julie with the dilemma of loves needs and possibilities by using the industrial strength acid LSD deflowering of the masculine throes of tormented Antony floundering empowerment in its waste. Shelley comes to mind in the intercept of costume department, furniture styling and lack of proportionality n the Byron device.

Stronger were the woman’s survival and womanly instincts coming through. The rational of French 16th century society turning in the Revolution Is sanguine but not trite in its exploration of to depict softer emotions of love, pity, sympathy and grief, a type of emotional sensitivity which as we digress the French excel. Take ‘Macron’ic personas proliferation (G7 Iran Brazil) and even imitation of ‘old guard’ Napoleonic myth makers. Getting towards screen writing a bit Proustian also and let the onslaught begin!

The film never approached rapprochement of French style or dramatic tremors but for the occasional side swipe at the class from across a glistening glass or sombre car scene.

Eighties angst and bombs

Set in the eighties it brings in Antony’s fastidious denial of what his work entails obliquely. He has a concealed, for a while at least heroin habit that is centrally along with eighties smoking habits which jar and do not placate even if continuity is attained while domestic scenes sexual and emotional are testing the relationships shifting heaviness. By avoiding the reasons Antony is so distraught and damaged we are failed in seeing his character as anything other than the floundering dandy type and habit fuelled despot Little is revealed about.

Julie is not yet in control of her feelings and allows over-generously the out of control behaviour of Antony. Much is made of the emotional scars as they consume Julie and the family of Julie is supportive and placed in the narrative as benign and forgiving parents. There is a generational gap and delayed realisation of Julie’s predicament. It becomes a joint and shared set of problems which has a substance and form which other parts lack.

An app is now available for you to set up a personality profile – in those days it was something like Dateline or Matchmaker – not just a box of costly crocs to impress along with the exotic date at Pizza Express avoiding Eastern tummy troubles. The app is compared to the alternatives and allowing parents to vet or suggest is not now a go to as they it has to be said might have a select view of you and an overprotective seat at the table.

There are awkward dining scenes with all parties doing what I thought at times was improv and a bit Mike Leigh. Tilda Swinton is acting royalty and gives a tension filled anxiety laden caring delicately portrayed character as Julie’s mother. She is in fact Honor Swinton Byrnes mother – as you probably guessed.

There are some quibbles on my part as to the success of some scenes which may seem one dimensional and not lifted to two even on occasion.

For a middle act there is a journey in the stylised vision of Antony’s view of what should be perfect. This fragility is played out in a Venice sequence and is provided with the copious painterly steps and bridges with a crossover to the third act and the continuing complexities.

The film school observations are navel gazing and black comedy of a kind and the over analysis (I contribute I confess) is necessary. The reason becomes clear as halfway to fifty a change in perspective takes place in the self examination of Julie. A fellow student who has none of the advantages including race of the central privileged upper middle class (stereotyping is eighties and smoking allowed) posits entitlement seen to this day unfortunately as we faze out on a political landscape where either educational lift or loads of money are seen as a door opener it falls without levering open the can of worms it seems to involve. It is after protracted calamity and a slowish pace to the denouement the film becomes overpowering in its emotional cut and thrust.

Head health

An occasional jokey reposts from a working person is glanced. In the immediacy of this relationship Julie takes a stand and while not offering choice – I thought a picnic scene might have been the relocation of Antony to one of those Surrey Mental Hospitals on the Downs or the Peper Harrow reformatory of liberal thinking once home to Will Self. It didn’t have any of that vibe or coarse energy and suffered from its formula of class which may or may not have been intentional.

There are genuinely graceful scenes and sensitively portrayed. There are literal reflections and in a composite element to the narrative – Antony’s past loves were a challenge – named notionally as Desiree – a famous Christine Rossetti poem strike a chord.

When I am dead, my dearest

When I am dead, my dearest,

Sing no sad songs for me;

Plant thou no roses at my head,

Nor shady cypress tree:

Be the green grass above me

With showers and dewdrops wet;

And if thou wilt, remember,

And if thou wilt, forget.

I shall not see the shadows,

I shall not feel the rain;

I shall not hear the nightingale

Sing on, as if in pain:

And dreaming through the twilight

That doth not rise nor set,

Haply I may remember,

And haply may forget.

The poem as the panel oil painting is a miniature of emotions caught as microbes of existence.

The music was brilliant and interspersed with glorious arias and operatic death in Venice oblique reverberance.

Conclusion **** 4

16th Century painter Jean-Honoré Nicolas Fragonard is a notable deportment in this film. The elegance and majestic allegorical canvas are seen in their absence from the film as only postcards and asides. The Souvenir is perhaps that lock keep. In a recent interview with actress Lindsay Duncan on the Theatre and play Hansard said of that medium and it might apply to Cinema or other forms “I don’t think Theatre should be preachy, it should be more skilful than that. Like a Trojan horse carrying important stuff inside.” That is a very astute observation from a maker of art. The emotions of ‘parts’ she goes on to say of Hansard “It offers the chance for us to see ourselves from the outside looking in. At the moment we need every possible way to take stock and remember what is important in life.” Hansard is delivered to QFT in a live screening on 07 November 2019. So eighties, so now.

The Trojan horse here holds its content tightly with the literature eloquent and taut, like the romantic period it seeks to allude to giving thoughts of ‘that love must suffer for loving; the deeper planted, the more it must suffer, in that all true passion of love at its highest force inevitably ends in tragedy: …… But why should sorrow be always creeping in upon joy?’ (Ch.14 Castle Dor)

This film is episodic and is while fluid in its visual dexterity is unable I feel to impose the stark reality of the situation Julie deals with. It is a very watchable contained and clear story which is set to continue as filming of The Souvenir has already started. Whether it achieves the scope of the emotional tapestry seen in the painting will be for you to decide.

John Graham

30 August 2019

Belfast

Screening at QFT Belfast from 31 August to 5 September 2019 and possibly beyond.

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Belfast Film Festival Shorts 2019

It is a few weeks since this event at Queens Film Theatre took place and I have not been diligent enough through other events and Easter, the orthodox one is this weekend 28 April 2018 – Bulgaria Greece and other places celebrate it according to their calendar, and I have progressed to having I hope done justice to each film seen at the Short Film Festival day which was superbly well supported by an appreciative audience. The festival continues and here is an event worth checking out.
On Wed 8th May at 8pm in the @BFFBeanbag BFF are screening THE CAT.
A cat from outer space teams up with a young alien girl and her knight, along with an adventure novelist named Wisely, to fight a murderous alien that possesses people. £3
(link: https://belfastfilmfestival.org/films/the-cat)
belfastfilmfestival.org/films/the-cat
In true blog style I’ve mentioned or wedged in Schrödinger’s Cat to my bag below. Read on it’s pretty obvious where you will find it.

Stigma

Set on the coastline of Co Down at the iconic St John’s Lighthouse near Killough, which Brendan Behan once painted (temporarily) its signal yellow and black hoops are like a wasp warning of angry inhabitants maybe. This short film is visually beautiful while using the still existing heritage to often good effect. By its location at the metaphorical edge of land and water, the changing surfaces made raw by weather, time and the period in which it is set, is a casting back towards a more institutional rigid time not far removed from religious intransigence. Playing on the notion people are in the lap of the gods and mystic unknowns Stigma presents a story of loss and return.

The innocence of a child is used very effectively by the young engaged actor portraying a boy seeking answers from everything he casts his eyes on. He finds a washed up garment and gets chastised for bring it back home. It perhaps contains in the adults thoughts an apprehension. Apparitions occur and the twists and turns are delivered here with tension and hold the viewers attention not least because the cinematic overtures are seen at their best on this large screen showing. It is about borders and boundaries I felt, much as the exhibition I recently saw at the Mac International 2018 and the black and white coastal people bounded by sea. Renata Poljaks images and videos are intense and similar in some ways. It’s called Yet another Departure.

The star of the piece is undoubtedly the locality. I have loved this place and the nearby St John’s ruin of a Church or Meeting House – actually like a temple – it is profoundly able to throw you back to the ancient perils and dreams this landscape must have held many years ago. For dramatic effect only the static framing and painterly type realism of the type seen in work by Peter Greenway jars slightly. I was taken back to one of my all time favourite films Ordet though there is barely any comparison due to the singular nature of the either. Ordet takes surrealist dramatic overtures to places never before encountered, where the personalities of the people are similarly vexed and confounded and the coastal location is in all conscious in the same place mentally. Stigma is a very good short film and while it is limited in its projection of thoughts of stirred reality and imagined themes. It only sent a chill into my bones when the hand held element of a beach scene develops. It became a different type of film only then and evaporated in a mist.

Stigma holds an imprint of the hand of God, obedience and renewal with stigmata often conveyed in terms as stigmatise, this is anything but and is an excellent film if somewhat stilted in its mystery.

***** 4

Aines Place

It’s always difficult to come up with a convincing and none too stretched narrative to present a short story but this film found itself able to deliver in a short time a tense, thoughtful, warm yet disturbing scenario well held in some parts, particularly the props, with scene setting and occasional moving objects or one particularly. One minute an object there, the next gone and so forth set management trickery wth subtlety.

Very well edited directed and acted it hosted a story of a young ‘Holiday let’ visitor finds herself bombarded in her quest for tranquility and brochure led scenic isolation which presents something of a nightmare. The complexity is found in encountering misconceptions and falsehoods and is disturbing slowly. This is about a visitor and my graphic – photo as with all the ones here – is just a visual headers and not part of the films imagery.

The concept of creating a warm environment, all pastel shades homely cottage, Yankee candles etc, held the pleasing perceived outlook for only so long. It looked as it should but dropped its psychological hit in a similar non threatening way. Maybe the need or want was not to make it too dark as an entertainment.

Ballykissangel ‘orishness’ crept in, in too many ways unfortunately and it jarred with its simplistic stereotypes, though complex and relevant in terms of predation and harm, given the lost unanswered travellers this island has and probably many others have in their closet. Recently there have been warnings of ‘stalking’ or ‘criminal’ intent and outcomes with ‘lets’ in properties in the press and this film is in that context a small cautionary note.

A thing I was able to take from it came from an unusual source yet instantly ubiquitous with our country and symbolism used in other lands. It was the dolmen providing a context a trinity of stones with supporting the slab of humanity on top. No reading of dolmens is fixed and I have found that theory for myself and you may accept or discard it, of the trinity being air water earth and simultaneously Father Son and Holy Ghost or their tokens of the times they were invoked or passed on.

*** 3

Land of Winter

The relationship with religion once again is explored. Set in the bottle neck of drinking in Temple Bar a young man returns to a festive time in Dublins evening with the shimmering reflective Liffey and swan neck Halfpenny Bridge his backdrop. I thought the booze culture had moved in the new millennium but the milieu of escape by drowning in the black stuff reigns on and so the pubs visited turn the taps on of possibilities. For all the type cast Temple Bar elements this film shoots higher and beyond the bars and confines of the grand canal. It is very very engaging and in no small part due to the lead actors portrayal of their respective lives. When Gerard is befriended or picked up by a girl with smarts enough to discard her drunken happy bunch of work companions, she ensnares herself and her new companion on a journey in the nighttime taken up with life’s harder questions. It is a talented burlesque and brazen epiphany like journey which is a joy to watch and allows you to be carried along with the discoveries within the characters and of each other. While shades of Yeats and Joyce were present it was not pretending to be other than a story of a present day pair of lives connecting beautifully, to strong a word perhaps but a synergy is apparent while they are alone and together for a short while. The thought occurs of the night time presenting the best time for discovery but there is a dawning, literally, and a fresh beginning to be encountered. So the conversation held at four o’clock in the morning which you and others may have prematurely held their hat on is (almost always?) lost in the new days resurrection of self.

An accomplished well paced, edited and not insignificantly, excellently scripted piece filmed to within an inch of believable resonance.

**** 4

Hindsight

Set in the present and in a Prison Visitors room a picture is presented of a young family dealing with one coming to terms with his mistakes. The man Tony is in his early thirties and his wife Paula comes to visit with their young daughter Tilly taking it all in her stride – life has introduced no alternative – Tilly knows they are having some problems and finds herself locked in prison of sorts herself with her dads absence and all are understandably locked in a situation which creates uncertainty and disorder. While this is not a prominent feature of the film it is resonant. The film conveys this with good insightful elements while growing the main new situation of a relationship conducted with a prison between them. Tony has become a drug addict and is showing signs of recidivism but it’s signalled there may be a reintroduction to his past habits and dealing inside is another dilemma which has consequences.

Having sensitivity and a good script takes this story to believable places and mental pictures present externally as well as those seen in play, so we are able to bring connection and engagement with things you do not normally see conveyed or are exposed to through cinema. The emotional content and context is the core transporting element in this film and it is delivered with skill and intense dramatic effect by its cast and crew. The agency of some sort of a budget was not wasted and this is a complete piece leaving questions and empathy and concern in its insight to the justice system and family.

Challenge is paired with hope.

**** 4

Early Days

When it comes to creating a meaningful story as a short film this ticks all the boxes.

I found the nature and this is a natural subject of a new life entering the world, touched me with its insightful cadence and deliberation on new motherhood. Post natal depression is unlocked and that is hopefully too much of a spoiler. The programme paragraph states its contours similarly.

Kate is cared for by loving visiting parents and is bedded into life as a new mother to a wonderful child, – this is a star in the making as the well behaved baby plays a baby infant so well even down to the feeding routine! – and we clasp the intensity of emotional warping which is hosted here in this natural phase of childbirth. There are flashbacks and disturbances seen and unseen. The merging of the real and imagined is totally convincing carrying us along and into this tenderly directed, conspicuously adept conception. Birthing a story and baby in the one compass is thoroughly and provokingly immersive. I was taken by the strangeness and irregularity of the crossover play with our emotions as well as the ones being portrayed. That being the merging of real and imagined which Kate herself is going through. The father is also pulled into our attentive grip. The baby is never left outside the story and this core is essentially what drives it.

When it comes to providing answers along with discoveries it also gives advice and insight. Some advice comes from an unexpected source and is beautifully rendered.

Consummately held this story was able to carry and there are many variations possible on this theme with all kinds of motherhood working on different planes, this is a presentation of how post natal depression sometimes appears and this is a very convincing telling however unique this one was.

***** 5

Finding Shakespeare

Last years winning short at Belfast Film Festival was set in a boarding school. This is also set in a school, one which is so clean and tidy and spotless it could be be taken from the land of make believe which it leads us towards. Those familiar with Shakespeare are asked how does this compare with life today. Always. Will S has set for us a bibliography of languages roots and minds workings in complex accessible narrative in play form, to last as long as man inhabits earth. Only children of a certain age don’t always like being brought to the party. Schools are where learning happens and Will S has enabled generations of deep mining for clues to our mortal coil while setting our heaps of quotable expressions. He has provided experts and careers aplenty.

Before google was invented it was often impenetrable but with predicative text and numerous other things we seldom can equate reality with what is and not question it. A quote is predictably going to cover that.

This school is the setting for a visitation and a kindly one. A puckish character arrives to help the children learn. The classroom is a hornets nest of buzzing teenage melancholy and energy replete with growing certitudes soon to be prevailed upon by marauding adulthood discoveries. Maeve is the central schoolgirl who is not for stereotyping and is proprietorial of her latent wisdom and not wishing it to be disrupted by interlopers such as the bard or even classmates or indeed home. Individuality is key and these differences are the metier and scope of all of Shakespeare’s work.

When teacher sets a task to discover the inner workings of the any play in the bards repertoire the anxious pupils devour and pulp the fictions according to their own personality and preoccupations. Romeo and Juliet is a core candidate for one or two.

In a Puckish aside; Will S has made this expression our enabling evocative phrase, imagination comes to the fore and presents the essence of the nature of forming extraordinary stimulating ideas and concepts often contested in the new found encyclopaedia of search engines. Newspapers, archival libraries and definitive conjecture speculated by ‘teachers’ is brought into play here, literally, by the films central premise. The contest of language and AI is witnessed.

I thought this was a film which would best suit a young audience though it clearly would be found equally warm and engaging to all generations. Guilty as I am, I use in front of younger folk, along with many others I guess, the foresight of knowledge obtained through attention to Shakespeare’s vast worldly contribution in a presence of wise counsel as an adult. It fills a huge hole in our wisdom no matter how tenuously you approach it. We take the wondrous gift often for granted and use it everyday in some manner or other.

By skilfully and well constructed, colour-filled, luminous, playful containment to the Shakespearean themes the filmmakers give a delightful treatment of our own preconceived ideas and positioning when it comes to Shakespeare. K. Branagh has it in spades and digs for the treasure, though in flexing his filmic skills he lately has indulged a bit to far without licence. So into it he begins transgressing! This film does nothing like that and creates an original – though it is heavily influenced by the axiom of the work itself – perspective.

Is the meticulously kept Holy Child Primary School actually in use or is it in measures?!

Now what is Measure for Measure really about?

**** 4

Hold the Line

Holding the line of 12 minutes and keeping it paced and moving smoothly for a short film is a difficult line to travel. This film does it superbly in many distinctive and authoritative ways. The use of line as a metaphor is something henceforth unavoidable!

With another announcement on the daily news today (15/04/19) of a new Belfast call centre beckoning young people to their cause, it is ironic as this film launches an interrogation of what it takes to be nice on behalf of corporations in customer service. A theory, not here presented, is that good manners are a deceit and hide any credible concern as unconcern or something along those lines. Hold the line traverses the perceived and expectations of civility in today’s commonly confrontation filled driven life.

Laura O’Shea who plays the call centre operator, M; she withholds her name for logistical and personal reasons, is also the writer and co-produces with Karen Millen this no or low budget adventure. Because of its conversation based premise, it holds its key in the daily communications of answering all comers queries, it therefore hits a few sucker punches to a person whose own rights and privileges are invaded and abused. The menial task of call centre work is a depersonalised persona vial of an often found vile house.

M (Emma) is in a room with few symbols of corporate wealth. Acting as the outreach arm of a broadband provider – a subtle communications nod – M is first found answering a call from a young male whose patience is nil and profane and abusive behaviour his default. Laura O’Shea immediately in her tiny facial movements and attentive eyes and body language shows the anxiety brought to her in an everyday situation. The symmetry of her face and hidden dexterity is palpable as she emotionally expresses all our own thoughts and perceptions in reaction to this private/public conversation. It is a conversation we all are familiar with and the exploitation of the power dynamic is put across in uncomfortable and very believable terms in this brilliant piece. There is a soft beauty in Emma’s face and we are conscious of this isolation through Kate O’Shea’s subtle delivery.

Without it sounding preachy or finger wagging this is a piece which doesn’t over-egg the cause of creating an interesting thought provoking tale and one which maybe is able to indicate to the wavering, the need to be civil wherever or however you conduct these conversations were the end receiver should not personify the ‘agency’ ‘corporate’ entity your having a problem with. It is too often the case.

I liked the Converse shoes and direction was crisp and contained in a claustrophobic confined boiling kettle of a brew so this came across as a short film with answers of a kind and aspects of kindness thankfully emerge in its delivery.

***** 5

Her Very Own

In a country where parents are brought to court or fined for keeping their child away from school for unexplained or improper procedural reasons it is a place where some thought is needed in realising the undercurrents often at play.

This film looks at a mothers single parenthood and her boy Benjamin is a component in the stress and compression of feelings in a broken family situation. Maeve is a woman in her thirties whose home is like a prison and she is only holding down agency work and its impermanence which is part of present spray culture makes her depression and anxiety manifest in OCD type behaviour. It is a hard watch as there is no opening to empathise as the film keeps you on the outside. Perhaps that is variable and personal.

Automatically school protocols and institutional formality enter. In each scene dealing with an authority figure the frame is a head profile signifying confrontation and the meetings are similarly framed with there being boundaries set and metaphorical walls erected which bring the problems to a heightened level and inevitable consequences arise. Whether it was that or the serious subject given a treatment which was hard hitting and convincing it made me uncomfortable and prone to lock out the morals of the tale. I followed the story and took in the mental disturbance centrally in Maeve’s world. Setting herself insurmountable goals and trying to perfect through OCD all around her felt an inexhaustible exercise but one which offered some hope albeit condensed.

A very well made short film well delivered by the small cast and it probably accomplished its compressed goals in a smooth production.

*** 3

I am not a monster

We are taken into a privileged place. A period manorhouse where the flock wallpaper and Farrow and Ball paints, Sanderson patterned curtains and wall mounted stuffed animals are all ingredients which may go someway to explaining the characters we are to meet.

Enter the house one hooded paranoid young man who identifies himself to his mother on the doorstep as Ambrose. He is not expected by her or his brother whose presence at the manor is due to his impending engagement to a very attractive girl called Catherine who must wonder what exactly the gene pool is like in this family.

Ambrose is not dissimilar in appearance to David Thewlis – actual name David Wheeler, and by now a formidable talent seen to effective credit in Fargo and Ode2Joy.

After awkward greetings and excuses are made the film begins to unravel its beastly narrative. Dealing with a mental illness and paranoia Ambrose is unsettling to everyone and his place in this otherwise happy reunion, intended as a welcome to the bride to be it disturbs in its throes of engagement. Pun intended.

It helps if some of the characters can be tangential and offer some way to compensate for their – generalities are part of the restrictions short and feature films often send you towards – unlike-ability – no connections or sympathy is, without effort, made possible.

So the story takes on a dark funny comic potency and though it is dealing with the mental problems of its central character it is led to the use of absurdity and superficial instruments. It was a good in everything it set out to achieve I would imagine but it’s became a victim of its narrow and highly contrived situation.

There are several promising indicators regardless of this one viewpoint on the probable success of the team given another more reasonably formed story. It was in places executed extremely well and throwing curves is only successful when there is another twist or curveball or two in the mix. So onto the next one.

*** 3

The Owl

I will set out the very paragraph taken from the programme to begin a discourse.

A man Nick played by Emmet Kirwan arrives uninvited to his best friends birthday party, where he discovers why his friends have abandoned him.

This is a dark film which builds to a shocking conclusion in its limited orbit.

Arriving at night at a rural farmhouse with his guitar the period of Midsummer’s eve comes to mind and immediately that pagan festival is thought of through the fireworks of a group of youngsters seen in the distance silhouetted against the embers of their bonfire. Ireland has its affinity with this time period and here it is possibly in use. The still honoured tradition is found in Mayo for example across the bays fire illuminated the night sky. The kitchen is deserted when he reaches the house and music resonates from another room.

That is the setting and introductions for something more problematic is in play. The tension is provided in noises off and when he uses some smokes of another occupant of the house who then appears. This is Tracey played by Aoife Duffin and director of another short film, Sister, whose drugs he has just helped himself to.

The owl is the harbinger or carrier of death in many eyes and this shadow falls across the film and the Director Neil Winterling whose cv is lengthy and impressive (The Shore being one) brings heft and disturbing contemporary thinking into this horrific piece. It’s not a genre of any kind just a highly individualised and compressed short story delivered with formidable credulity and it shocks and haunts beyond its minimal visit to the screen.

**** 4

Troubles

Being an entry in the Belfast Film Festival the immediate presumptions need to be thrown away. This is conspicuously not about the Troubles although – and its hard to fathom – it might refer to a parent long gone. It’s never clear.

It begins in a quiet rural pub at night with all the lights out and a concerned young man crouching and hidden from sight asks someone close by him to be silent as the knock on the door comes. It follows a car pulling up outside and seems a harbinger of some bad intent perhaps in this otherwise tranquil place. With the title a deliberate and perhaps tangential (mis)lead the thoughts f malevolence and perhaps violence come immediately to the front of this film.

The story is about a group of musicians and it centres on the course of them continuing their session after this interruption. They are young people with a way of making their own craic and defining their space in life by their joyous engaging symbiosis. Playing traditional music that is. After some initial catching up the visitor and returnee he is outside with his drink having a smoke and is joined by one of the group.

As we have reached this point it is realised, and its not a spoiler in any sense giving the lead up to it, the pair have a lot of past to unpack.

One of the most memorable parts of any of these short films is their musical contribution and the song it closes with seems to transport the watched and watching into a past where requisition is called for. Response to the past and avoiding avoidance. It is superbly rounded in its simple format and only briefly through the mistake referred to of leading your expectations to what might be signalled concerning the ‘troubles’ without enough clarity, it is an excellent piece of thoughtful filmmaking. Powerful in many ways.

There is an air of young people making sense of things together without the outside and past being too invasive. It is present though and they are aware of it and the lineage of traditional music and sean nos is captivating in al senses of the word.

The talents of Bronagh Taggart are again seen in this production; partner Jonathon Harden directs. Those fingerprints are definitely touching it with emotions forward and convincing, the nerves being on its creative pulse. The DoP duties performed by Ryan Kergnohan is positioning this team in a strong way as filmmakers again. Work is seen as collaborative including the cast skills and the visuals are still and framed unfussily but with the deft lighting and shadowy darkness the story is invoked strongly.

**** 4

Juggle

In the continuous heavenward ascent of the Commercial Capitalist up-reach of Dublin’s squalid businesses the focus is here on a company director on the take and make. Having shafted a computer designer he has apparently shafted another and is asked to pay the consequences. As the Guinness Observatory once gave solely the view spread from its costly Protestant brewery across the city beneath, towards another, BusArás, a Michael Scott flagship – and homage to departures near the Custom house – now the Spencer Docks and new Financial section herald an embrace of all things greed orientated. Whether this is the premise and intent it is a salutary tale excellently told about the dislodgement of apparent ‘reward’. As various battles currently play out over mainly slices of the people’s needs, housing, medicine, transport, communications and new technology, the emphasis is on shifted from the internal ‘chancers’ to the invitation to more international chancers.

With AI coming to the fore maybe that was the software paydirt. The first actual marketable robot was manufactured back in the early eighties and Adam 12 were made, Eve 13 where made and Ian McEwan reminds us in a recent book Eve sold out and the character in his novel could only obtain an Adam. So this is, for the sake of this review, a computer programme minting it for the Juggler who has to decide how to deal with the outcome of one of his session.

We are getting replaced and the buildings are temporarily hosts to aspirations in the cloud or clouds. It’s the robots that need to be taxed. The Tesla car could eventually solve some energy void but it needs to be built as do all the other fragments which make up our existence. Few will be needed to make the assembly lines function.

The story is captured mainly in an empowered woman whose chutzpah or smarts, show the juggler to be out of his depth.

The film is annoying in the sense the juggler is annoying and you wish he would behave and cease his nonsensical vibe. As a premise it just about gets away with it and in its closure someone gets to find a future not necessarily on this plane.

*** 3

What Betty Sees

Opening with a shot of a woman striding out on the Belfast streets we are taken to 1979 and the woman stops to examine some indistinguishable chalk graffiti (washable poster paints are available – the only misstep!) on a brick wall and family waits gathered to greet this fortune teller. With a brew having been made three girls of a family in which there are 12 siblings altogether Mother needs to be indulged by the 3 girls seated and pressed into submission for the forthcoming tea leaf reading. Brilliantly handled by Director Colleen Forward whose first film this is; you would never have guessed it at all, it is summoning skills of recollection and wishes in this true story. As a group of three the girls could not be any different and they are shy, confident, practical. They exchange these elements on different scales at times. This introduction to fortune telling for them is full of peculiar expectations where the scales of life are to be encountered in tea leaves. The mother is conspiratorial in leaning towards the prospect of babies. I used to live close to a house where a fortune teller lived and you would see a pair usually, of an older woman accompanied by a younger one in their Sunday best and often on a Sunday step through the front gate and knock the door. An hour or so later they would emerge looking down and deep in a conversation with their futures revealed and no longer in the mists of conjecture.

The three are told their futures, while the flashbacks, flash forwards, shows Colleen using her imagination thoroughly, with deft insightful storytelling easily woven, though it is due no doubt to hard work in the crafting in the creative process and well spent time. Strong attention to detail is apparent, in for example a nod to 1979. Spellbound is a band Forward has a connection to and there is a leaflet on the mantle piece advertising this, her fathers band.

The tea leaves blow in this order for, 1. Bernie, 2. Theresa, 3. Marie away.

The vibrations of their different connections to the reveal, reverberates in the senses of the watcher. It is a bit like a visit into a very private space and the mystery is taken as read and counterintuitive thinking is temporarily discarded. For the sake of imaging a future the perils are pronounced as are the beliefs and superstition in play in taking in a form of belief or advisory for cautious reference.

Very well acted and imagined it was a production deposited in a few minutes with slick editing and smooth dialogue and ease of entry to the unfolding story.

There are obvious markers made in the capacity of all involved for other engaging stories and it won’t stop here or at lest that’s what the tea leaves say as I stare into the tea brewed uncommonly with loose tea in this 21st century. The future and past seem wrapped up together here.

***** 5

The Man who shot the Ket

This is a bonkers short film which in the black and white noir style of a comic book crime thriller is hallucinatory ket dust by Rian Lennon and his assembled Belfast ne’er do wells. He orchestrates a stand-off on mega proportions which grows in absurdity as it continues delivering in only the way, genuinely, Belfast speak is spoken when hot wired to eejits of low intellect but full of Street creds.

The opening is a knock on the door in a run down tenement and a young man, The Man who shot the Ket is questioned robustly and thoroughly working on the absurdity, by a young smart girl. Theresa is her na,e and texting is her game. Both are in danger of falling over in trying to keep up the persona granted by low expectations and low returns on life.

The big deal is a missing item which is worth very little whatsoever in real terms but people could die over its mishandling given the narrative telling of this enclosed and tightly shot scenario. Beautifully coherent in filmic and noir terms along with several one liners any Belfast novelist would pay his TV licence for.

In a fix wouldn’t be in it. The fix is one which the antagonist/protagonist – don’t know which to believe is playing it straight as a version of Ricky Gervais in bad light might seem. Office it ain’t but it’s all I have to go on. Dickhead and lots of sweaty profanities are exchanged as the head melt continues to a bizarre loss having been realised and that’s where the Ket came in. It’s not a Cat is Ket. On yesterday’s bus I was talking to a couple who were smuggling Schrödinger’s cat but it turned out to be hidden in a handbag, (there is no cat we have no cat!) enroute to its home where cats are banned. This gameplay with the Ket is almost verging on the possibility that quantum physics are in play, and its a Larry Cowan intervention as Producer maybe, of a thoughtful theme of a state known as a quantum superposition as a result of being linked to a random subatomic event integral to the plot that may or may not occur. Or possibly not.

The Ket exists but will our friend Stevie find it. In glorious black and white this story is picture compared and boxed to within an inch of its credibility and delivers a complete and brilliantly rendered and portrayed joyful escapist twang of a short. Elasticity is needed to take you with it. A lot of Orson horsin’ before closure.

It’s a bit like finding your uncle was an alligator and that’s what made him snappy all clues were there. The writing and directing of Rian Lennon is a very comment treatise of the genre with lots of Belfast scurrilous behaviour. I wonder how it might appeal elsewhere as there are no compromises and there shouldn’t be by adapting it for wider consumption. The wonder of it is local or wider?

Regards the drugs, give me some Dulce and Yellowman any day as it is as much stimulant as my man can take. I’m utterly affected after this.

**** 4

A film about Sandhoppers.

What’s it about? You’ve not been mislead. These are intelligent creatures the microscopic lens of Nicholas Leogh is savouring it it’s tribute to a little skillful high jumper that for some reason requires propulsion that no other creature really needs. Predation must have happened early and seeing in close up instillation these charm and lead to a charmed existence in this extremely short lived film. Their lives are not brief but the condensed probably correctly identified priority of mating is invoked, I wanted to avoid that word but the shortest film of the day gets it and it is a love story with a shell of an outlook but symmetrical drawn.

**** 4

One new friend

Gemma lives in a house of fundamentalists who supercharge her moral outlook with rigid boundaries. So when she seeks out friends, as is the present default/dilemma, it is done on-line to a large degree. With a video-cam clipped to the monitor on her hom computer she sets about the web and the text alerts are framed on our screen as questions and frameworks form and fix.

By taking a dark subject by using the device of a short story this is a shout out to pay attention. Predation is soon encountered and made physical. There is a meeting which is possibly stretched too far but is acknowledged as one that might easily happen though it’s quite remote I would have thought. A plush apartment, maybe a booked AirBnb is a scene of discomfort and danger.

Where it goes is probably easily predicted given the tells as it progresses. It was very cohesive and carefully handled but lacked the authority for me of a convincing believable story no matter how close and real thes situations are. It needed perhaps some jeopardy on the part of the instigator and fell a bit short for me.

*** 3

Vegetables

Vegitarianism is on everyone’s lips but not necessarily the item itself.

In a dystopian context in a Wicklow forest a set of zombie types are in the fields searching for their daily bread. Give us this day our daily beetroot or carrot or turnip. Taste doesn’t matter but availability does. There is a set of three who are first aware of the other people who are boobing up and down. We have seen them and they are the zombie like ones. Rooting literally at the edge of their decomposition for vegetables to live and they have hit pay dirt.

The film takes time to hit pay dirt as the climax or core part is a confrontation when these sets meet each other. The set on the outskirts are like the custodians in the Handmaids Tale those seeking out and securing for themselves through weaponised means their predatory needs. This is perhaps after the control elite colony has collapsed or been cast outside. The queen bee perished. Her the wings of the weaponised ones are brought sharply in and they find dealing with what they find disruptive and unclear.

Zombie films are not my favourite though Train to Busan, the South Korean one is superb. Lobster wasn’t bad either but wasn’t as dystopian as the local The Survivalist shocking treatment. This avoids cliches and tropes of the form and is therefore putting out a very well thought out set of ideas and it leaves the viewers with satisfying engagement which carries beyond the Cinema door.

**** 4

Fifteen

Taking the true unjust imprisonment of Paul Hill and his treatment while incarcerated as it’s purpose this is a claustrophobic and dark but realistic interpretation of the well known saga of long term lack of justice in British and Northern Ireland justice system. The betrayal of us all by thugs in Government and on the streets committing needless murder and maiming is palpable in the few short minutes of this films existence.

Fifteen years to obtain any sort of justice. Both sides of the Irish Sea people let this boil and spill out. Those who knew the wrong people were convicted and said nothing while the pretence of peace was on the agenda, got on with their own scripts of endeavour. Police and Prison officers fell for their forces propaganda and dealt out their own justice.

Paul Hills years are spent most of the time in solitary confinement and his jailers use of methods of torture in their own sickening deeds conflicted with their job as duty officers charged with restoring prisoners others put inside by ‘The Crown’. Lord Longford knew the radical restorative aims missing in British prisons and campaigned to resolve it.

Here though the years are tabulated chronologically and episodically and the central thee conveyed is the immense injustice involved. Also present is the human capacity to approach new stages of life while trying not to unpick or discard an unshed-able agony.

The parts that best played out in this for me were the closeness and personal focused elements. This is a formulaic approach which only veered into the surreal as close up aspects were explored but I wanted more of the surreal as the years for us that have grown up with the troubles as part of our person close or removed at times, have built a saturation of thoughts that appear every tine such treatments appear. It’s not that they are not welcome, all insights are worth it and are needed more and more but this was a fairly well trodden path though immense and in it its short timeframe remarkable.

**** 4

Burnt Oranges

Spun off in one minute and thirty seconds this is a tale of a man coming to confront his imprisonment and what is behind it. It is a psychosis and a grippy misread ion his own skull is combined with a score of some strength. It was a dubious and unaffecting film for me.

** 2

El Hor

In a homage to the fulcrum of black and white photography and motion study this is a visual feast. At its centre is landscape of the universe in its patterns so synthesised and binary yet kaleidoscopic. The binary is not a universal norm but here the division of the screen is complemented by a pair of Saluki dogs. The Dog Star is summoned. The eyes of the Saluki are studied. The flow of their white long haired coat is studied. By seeing the fluid motions of these beautiful creatures it is something of a ancient philosophy incurred in the bred having occupancy of transposition in ,a s mind of their harbouring more than we can imagine. There are certain dogs such as collies whose intellect is such they can after a few years; ask any dog behaviourist it’s true!, be aware of words humans speak and respond accordingly. So these Saluki get to be top dogs because of their looks and a modicum of intelligence transpositioned by humans.

The score is a synthesised and electronic score which is synchronised with the film and is after its rising to the fore around midway places the film into an enveloping complexity of symmetry and the dogs are seen only in patterns and cloudy shapes. The landscape of the Wicklow Hills is another player with its rivers and narrow valleys and wondescape of again Irish ancient mutations.

Directed by Diane Lucille Campbell this is a highly accomplished film with lots of very fine tuning and allowing for the worshiping of the Saluki – Herons – Giraffes and all creatures great and small (NI hymn!) have a role in the appreciation of the universal truths in front of our eyes everyday – it does form a distinctive and therapeutic diversion. Significantly by using black and white the focus intensifies and it is a as a lovingly film and performs homage on to our world in a small but in itself a complete way.

**** 4

No Place

There is a breakdown on a scale which is devastating for a young family in this modern Ireland where the hubris and ecstatic content of the Politicans ignorant and ignoring the devastation of bailing out corruption by citizens who have washed their hands of and have Courts and Politicians rinsing of remaining residue is viscerally exposed in this treatment. In hotel accommodation and out on a limb with no meaningful assistance Angela has her two very young kids to keep from harm by their social situation. If it’s an eviction or an estrangement from a marriage or even both it is a set of circumstances only the fittest and with contingencies and family support could address. Angela does relatively well but comes a cropper when the work she is still holding onto is cut off. She has been dealing with an agency doing in the present day ‘third party’ devolved employment responsibility, one without rights or protections – Government has seen to that – the question is why this country has allowed this to happen and how it affects so many mostly women? At a crisis point it has the appearance of a normal set of circumstances but it’s not and is a surreal 21st century collapse of social cohesion and its effects are staffing.

Faced with being single parents in their cris the margins are gossamer thin. This is a very clear and disturbing important film in its small scope as a short but it’s message is palpable and real.

In terms of how the construction of the story and its evolvement there are scenarios the filmmakers will have set aside and they run with just the one set of ideas and outcomes but have been it is clear choosing one out of many such is the variable scenarios they could equally have formed. Perhaps there is a place to put a short set of stories as common parallel but totally unconnected otherwise – stories of say half an hour or even one hour where each tells a story of modern Ireland and locality not ‘universality’ is foremost and able to put across the rural and city based stories that are haemorrhaging the Island. North and South have situations caused by different issues and this focus on Housing and repossession is just a taste of what might arise in future societies.

Laura Kavanagh and Michelle McMahon are to be applauded for this work and hopefully they have more opportunities to expand and create more eyeopening narratives.

***** 5

First Disco

Brace yourself for teenage bullying and troubling coming of age. In a world where appearance is bought and traded as the opium for a successful life those whose difference from standard issue trademarking ideals are found to have them exposed at every turn. The period detail in this short is the most interesting feature for me as the clothes and music are in my mind not as bad as they now appear retrospectively. The film shows them in a better light than they were in my view! To ,any well cared for artefacts maybe. Even blockbuster mainstream film has a tendency not to harm the props. No dirt no soiling. No torn or half worn items are seen – it’s not the fault of the filmmakers here alone – they like many others need a continuity and an authenticity runner. So it’s a comically and dark at that comedy at times tale of a young girl going to, see title. Her friend is a fan of pop and the music just streams out. Too shy Too shy is a case in point Katchagoogoo. Sums up the teenage angst which google is not around to sort out. Friends are the only go to. Trauma with bite is what this entails. Teeth bridges are a strain on looks and pickupability. One of the school has a look which is Elizabeth Taylor made, or in the younger style of said actress. She is the focus of the Male gaze. Her looks are strikingly attractive and she causes ripples around the playground. The colourisation is very uniform – the colours are great in other words – and sharpness is a detail not lost here.

Without hammering this fairly narrow concept into a corner the story is probably informative in many ways to those unfamiliar with the way things were and still are. The purpose is well fulfilled and delivered in cinematic conventional ways and the streets have names. Avocado Avenue, Avoca Place. Bono is not far from here, thinking of new lyrics for U2 having nearly worn the Avoca Streets out in his early years in this Dublin setting. Warm sun eventually falls from the ever-present daylight it shows throughout upon the young girls affected by this angst and it concludes in Shakespearean circumspection.

*** 3

Under Growth

Keeping up often in the issues a lot of these films address, the coming of age and angst ridden days feature as when new family situations are thrown upon children and their ways of coping are carefully examined in several diverse ways. This is the territory of a girl whose estranged father is a man in need of the Alka-Seltzer often and sits at home watching the snooker. It begins with Hayley played by Soraya Abbas who is very plausible and hoovers over the possibilities giving you ample latitude. In terms adjusting to this set up and an indoor life which is in limbo she is now looks to be content making up games and angers her father who tells her to go outside. This is Waterford territory resplendent in its outsider status. This is set on an estate which has an outside and she soon is in woods and this adventure talked on new meaning. Stephen Jones playing the father gives it a gripping edge which is commonly the exploration of filmmakers Dreamboat and Evin O’Neill.

It is a sensitively crafted film with the plausibility of the situation not a hinderance yet it carries bite and resonance which is spookily real. Another film made by Dreamboat – Brothers Evin and O’Neill. I was struck by the direction particularly as this was a film with fantasy interwoven with splendid ease and with Soraya Abbas at the helm of the scope of the film it was the capable and astute cinematography of Narayan Van Maeve providing the visual spirit seen in abundance. The roles of the others and there are four parts are taken by Dad Stephen Jones, Mum who delivers her to her unwitting adventure Fiona Lucia McGarry and the creature of whom we have said little played by Dmitry Vinokurov.

The surreal element was somewhat an escape mechanism and it fell short only by a hairbreadth of being volumous, universal, fable or ancient lore. It was without doubt imaginative which is why this film has been so successful at Festivals.

**** 4

Spook

Trippy films come out of drones and landscapes with the latter lending their evolving nature upon our eyes. Seeing only about 5% of what is taken onto our eyes little cellular biological receiver – the other 95% is made up of the itinerary of experience and brains functional memory – it transports us into a new way of seeing in microscopic detail at times.

In Lyndsey Dower, Cillian Jacob and Natasha Everitt there is an ensemble whose actions are intwined with the Waterford landscape they inhabit. The meadows and glens are where a pair of millennials sit and observe each other separated by onlynthe wind and the grassland. Jess, Lyndsey Dower is the girl who is spooked by the guy Alan, Cillian Jacob whose vibe is one of nonchalance well as some incredibility by way of not having any everyday intelligence. His matter of fact illusion is crafted on purpose perhaps and Jess is compelled to stalk Alan and his early morning wandering bring elements of discovery. Innocence is transportable and overhead is a UFO – is that not often the case after a pint or two in Tully’s? The hallucinogenic symmetry of roundabouts seen from the UFO or the drone camera are spectacularly mesmerising in keeping with this imaginary other world Jess is thinking Alan is from. Alien only in the sense he is not understood, Kess has to find out his truth.

Darkly sinister in only a modicum of spookiness the film is imaginative and closely observant of the separating of humans and the galaxy beyond. Being a part of something we are only able to touch inside occasionally we are in this short taken to observe our own perceptions via. the incredible space observatory of a drone accompanied by land based cameras. This is the valley of the possessed – on the outskirts of Waterford.

There is a lot to explore and this is carefully conceived as a beginning and the approach is beautifully rendered at times.

**** 4

Violet

In a familiar claustrophobic province beset with religious difference portrayed as separateness it is recognisable once the opening provides an election leaflet as a calling card. In a household stuck in the dark ages, pre-enlightenment, the scope of the movie is pointed fore squarely at stereotyping of families. Because this province (NI) uses religion in a way David Hume (atheist philosopher) whose inspired advance that spiritual oneness is not reached or received without internal examination, the sense of others in collectives is found as the default. Francis Hutchenson Ulster’s most forgotten philosopher who inspired Washington and the Declaration of Independence and therefore well regarded in the US, is oblivious to the mindset seen here.

Discussion and reasoning are our place in the world in order to fathom its immense questions before attaining some possible truth.

Love is not the parents problem but their way of dealing with it is imprisoned in their comparing themselves and their position in a community as paramount. It conflicts with their ideals when a discovery is made of their daughter’s sexuality. Very ably played the journey of the film will be familiar to teenagers dealing with their own sexuality and how the outside world reacts has a very pronounced affect on their acceptance of themselves and their feelings. Caught in a situation which is god fearing it presents a view through religion of how damaging fixed attitudes pervade and destroy even when love is at the heart of the parents own values. This conflict is visible in the parents and they have to come to terms with this home based dilemma of outlook and belonging. Which family do they belong to? The ‘brethren’ or their own flesh and blood?

None of these notions or precepts are overplayed and indeed they are carefully registers as not to become – dare I say it – preachy. Contexts are examined though stereotypes though and fundamentalism is described as code without deviation. Often films will fall down on using some standard avenues and this one jars slightly in having some of those demons.

The modernity of the pairing of young women whose friendship becomes intimate is very well played and thoughtful and is almost a separate element of the bullying hectoring and demonic passages it takes to get to their loving relationship. They are scenically in a literally abandoned place, one which is comfortable and representative of simplicity and necessity. Siobhan Kelly and Emily Lamey are fine actresses whose high level of dramatic intelligence cautiously delivers the tragic circumstances of self awareness in a closed society framework.

Magnificent music by Ross Johnston pours out along the narrative with illuminating cadence and resonance merging the mawkish internal thoughts of a young woman who is in turmoil and has few religious avenues to put her own spiritual meaning alongside her sexuality and being. That is common enough and the sensitivity of self alongside religious spirituality is a difficult place gay Christian people of both genders particularly find themselves when the election calling cards are dealt with prejudice and malice in mind, such as the DUP presently cling to.

Christopher Whiteside and Madi (Madeline) Graham provided artwork for the film as well as directing it.

**** 4

Mr Spice

For a change in the society we are part of the Indian Community is put into the forefront of a dramatic piece of cine,a which is not racially based or following tropes of racism in narrow minds but one of terrorism and blatant racketeering underpinned by the viewpoint of a businessman Mr Spice who plies his trade from a shop on – recognisably Sandy Row in Belfast.

Director David Moody has found a very able central actor in Philipson Cherian and the situation of running an ethic food shop is used for a scenario where trouble in the form of intimidation is rife.

When a young man, Fintan Woods as Michael seeks refugee one night from violence he has been subjected to his pursuers come knocking on Mr Spices door. Mr Spice sees his duty as a decent man to administer some assistance to Michael in his hour of need. There follows a series of interactions – between the injured and Mr Spice and his customers, Aimee McGoldrick plays a woman customer and music is woven into it through the talents of Ganesh Kumbla.

The community of any neighbourhood is never evident from a first encounter and underlying themes are found everywhere. This could be anywhere and happens to feature a shop well know to gastronomes. Mr Spice is a new fictional representation of how human beings can and do look out for each other. Fear is brought by the ‘hoods’ – actors faces are not seen so here’s a credit in case you weren’t recognised – head hood Callum Carragher, junior hood Lee Ross. Outfitted and predatory to the gilt these guys do confront Mr Spice with a mindset of real threat and menace.

How you react is important and this is the key to the story as it delivers some thoughtful items to ponder. Fairly believable and convincing in its characters it was a nice side step into bringing forward some international aspect to the Belfast film screen.

*** 3

The Family Way

For your convenience there is a morning after pill or if too late for that and you’ve a funny feeling then predictor strips are a go to instead of the Doctor. For a family of practicing heterosexuals Mum and Dad are knocking on forty and their daughter is knocking on eighteen and they share a house. When a predictor is called upon for both, they make the mistake, or one of them makes the mistake of hiding in the same place the test and therein is created a non discreet journey through smallsville suburbia.

Nuno Bernardo calls upon several and many well known faces (18 are cast!) to carry across this farcical comic episode. Clara Harte is the daughter Ruth, Ciara O’Callaghan is the mother Julia, and Steven Gunn, his real name honest, is the Dad. But who’s expectations are whose? Roisin Kearney has constructed a fine script and plays the characters against their predicament on a road trip ending in a harmonious and family way. Dad Robert is confronted by the boyfriend of Ruth who is unexpectedly – there are plenty of jokes within the film itself, made aware of something in the oven. His rugby mates come along for the craic and support. Even a priest is invited into the home crisis. There is a soothsayer and he’s directed a few glorious films himself and his part is in the engine-room of the driving story. Ruth and Julia go in search of confirmation. The Priest is not involved here. They circumnavigate parts of the town Swords might be the place, and look out for Chemists – the local one is gossip central – and a few visits start the telling of the tale but the tests don’t. Rosie O’Grady”s pub becomes a focal point where they can retreat to discover mode.

Trouble is around every corner in this well paced comedy of errors. Eventually the carry on comes to its conclusion, sort of and all is fine at home again.

**** 4

The Invention

Back in the day when Gallahers, Woodbines, Embassy, No.6 Cigarettes, were all the rage youngsters looked about for their first drag of a cigarette. In keeping with tradition there is a trade off to be made and the older lads get to find out who has the smarts in their streets. Older actors than the apparent age slightly deflect from the believable story. They are guys who are not old enough to get a hold of cigarettes from the local shops but are old enough to play poker all day and in their hideout of a club of sorts.

Frankie is no ordinary kid and has his own likes and dislikes along with a cleverness his mates or the older ones don’t possess. His record player is his finest treasure and he needs to buy records so needs to explore ways of making money.

Leo McGuigan assembles a decent crew and cast with a young smart kid as principal well chosen and Luke Walford portrays a young boy protective of his family and cleverness his passage in life. There’s nothing too difficult or problematic.

As a son of a devoted father he becomes aware of his fathers debt to a local criminal played by Frankie McCafferty who chooses for back up the shapes and menacing height of Larry Cowan as a sidekick. Larry is as soft as marshmallow. The production is superbly realised with authentic though the cleanliness is not something I associate with 1968, but the film brings home a lot of bacon as the ploy is to take the cigarettes from the grocery while the prized ham is sliced and wrapped at the back of the shop.

Necessity is the mother of invention and Luke Walford as Frankie is splendid in his invention and gets his father out of a scrape. No mean feat and wonderfully directed and photographed as the warmth of infinity prevails and some standards of decency emerge.

This film has been all over the planet and got some rave reviews in film festivals of note. It is good to see the work in its home context.

**** 4

Hope you can go find these and enjoy them.

John Graham

30 April 2019

Belfast

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First Interstellar Contact

Space is a busy place

On 19 October 2017 an observer at the Hawaii telescope, Robert Weyrek, was quick to observe an elongated object tracing across the universe of our solar system. What he discovered required to be followed so he contacted astronomers globally who he knew had the capacity to trace the object so involving Micheal M based in the Mediterranean.

Confirming the existence at the trajectory given it was instantly realised this was either a new comet or asteroid though it was some time later before it was found not to conform with the characteristics of those objects. Neither an asteroid of rocky composition that was circulating the Sun within its gravitational pull, nor a similarly held object of icy gas composition, a comet, it behaved as though it was from outside the edges of our solar system and from interstellar space.

There has never been a sighting recorded of an object from beyond the solar boundary lying beyond Neptune the outer most planet of our galaxy.

This object had been travelling, it is estimated, 14 billon years – figures here are not to be relied on but mere guides so refer to the scientists for accuracy data.

In a lecture hall in Belfast this week Professor Andrew Fitzsimmons brought the story in which he played a part in the verification and tracking of the object later to be named Oumuamua – my word search has not found it but it is a Hawaiian word for something from outside, the farthest, that has come to visit us.

https://www.cosmos.esa.int/documents/13611/1603502/ESAC_seminar_06_14.pdf/565e2596-84ff-c9ad-c8b4-871018da9dd6

When Oumuamua appeared it was within a period of turbulent world weather systems that compromised sighting as the weather cover limited the telescopic observation over the three nights it was most vivid and observable.

Calculations of the accumulated data on the sightings became a flurry of scientific activity and discovery from these computed returns. Firstly it was established the object was on a trajectory confirming it was not of this solar system. It was travelling on a line which is a hyperbolic paraboloid. The phenomenon is known and somehow anticipated as scientists have determined such curvatures to exist but held within our own solar system by gravitational force.

Oumuamua did not follow its hyperbolic paraboloid pathway within the constraints of the suns gravity but profoundly travelled on a path unheard of or unseen before. Therefore it is realised it is the sole object from outside our solar system to visit us. Now it is somewhere beyond Saturn and Venus heading away on the linear route it conforms to. Conforming to the geometric characteristics of behaviours enabling them to be categorised is itself a conformist element. The outer interstellar solar systems have through concurrent observations on the data acquired since this sighting confirm the behaviours have common themes. The gas and solids Oumuamua and asteroids, comets are formed from coincide with their counterparts in the suns orbit.

One observation of the data found for example the linear track of Oumuamua was complying with an object which in its propulsion was leaving behind in its wake gases and tiny elements discarded in the same way asteroids and comets left behind debris and gas as they travelled onward.

That data was a very important fixed element of the story so far as it concluded it had infinite possible outcomes that paradoxically were tangible. Science had enabled through centuries of observation and accumulation of knowledge a theory to be produced yet it was clear it was telling us the infinity beyond had characteristics somehow similar to our own solar system.

Observation is a practice of astronomy reliant on telescopes on earth placed in the clearest cleanest air on hilltops or pollution free zones enabling the best results. The limitations of observation is itself a profound paradox. For it is only with earth’s resources we seek an abundance of infinite unknowns.

Tools for seeing

We only have a few millennia of tools to conduct earth limited devices for discovery.

Telescopes are now mirrors with cameras and billions of mega pixels are collated and correlated. There is a telescope being built in Chile to come into commission around 2020. It only has an eight metre wide mirror. The reason is it is all that is needed to see the solar system we are within and seeing beyond that is impossible due to the return of light and the concentration of impulses would be overwhelming in their scope. That is how I see it.

For greater discovery it may be necessary to have space based telescopes and some devices indeed accompany space exploration missions.

Deciding what Oumuamua looks like is another element of the scientific trail. The detective work is speculative and all images you see are drilled down data with an end result of a consensus shape and set of behaviours.

Put succinctly it is shaped like a chocolate eclair (200 metres?) long and spins and rotates as it travels with some chocolate left behind as debris and nice vapors of chocolate left behind to savour. That leads onto its density as that is another unknown. It has not been discovered if it had a front seat driver or onboard catering like a space station.

As it carries onward and leaves the solar system going into interstellar space it leaves behind many perplexed people and hundreds if not billons of questions.

In its wake it leaves us still unaware what dark matter is. Knowing only the composition of a 20th of the known elements in our solar system.

In its wake we are left knowing the matter we are composed of is expanding outwards and is unresistant to a pull of gravity making the dark matter itself an expanding unknown. The forces of our universe have been seen not to compromise other than in very small measures Oumuamua and it came and went leaving little traces of itself but leaving behind proof of its existence.

We know the expansion of the universe as Big Bang theory in converse to the Big Implosion theory as it is evident through as late as 1998, the effect is observable. There are clusters of scientists looking nightly and 24/7 on earth to the skies and just as Oumuamua appeared on 19 October 2017 it is very probable further sightings will provide evidence of already present objects we have hitherto been unable to see or detect. The asteroid count is increasing almost daily and around 750,000 are now identified amidst all other objects associated with the solar system.

The exploration of space is a preoccupation since humans existed in order to define meaning and some semblance of creation. Over centuries and on the shoulders of gaints such as Galileo and scientists such as Halle and Enckle a story is developed in our need for a narrative.

While the discoveries could and do play a part in understanding of the earth’s behaviour and our possible fate as a planet in a corner of a unexplainable infinity. The Oumuamua is on a pathway in the region of the universe ‘north’ of our solar system and apparently there are more encounters likely to be experienced in this part of the Cosmos. The tail of the universe is where the arrival came into, arrived and is on that outward trajectory after making the hyperbolic parabolic curvature on the plane estimated and extrapolated by observering astronomers.

It’s possible extra-terrestrial life has caught up with the noise of earth and they will have found the latest instalment of Eastenders when Lofty has returned to Waldorf after 30 years absence and the Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 are deposits carrying out of date news. They may be wondering what life is.

The ships Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 can be said to be the first objects mankind has sent and gone beyond the barrier known as the interstellar limit or boundary.

The real results are seen here –

http://www.issibern.ch/teams/1ioumuamua/

and here it is seen as no big deal!

https://www.space.com/43015-interstellar-visitor-oumuamua-not-that-special.html

While Earth’s sun may see an ‘Oumuamua-like space rock swing by twice per year, ‘Oumuamua “will never encounter another star,” Laughlin said. “The odds of it coming close to another star are roughly 1 in every 10^14, 10^15 years, so those brief and exciting moments in September and October were wonderful for us, but they were really the time of ‘Oumuamua’s life.”

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook. Original article on Space.com.

I detect a momentary lack of acknowledgement and perhaps a degree of discovery envy. The fact being no other sighting ever preceded this one. The discovery however it is evaluated is still an extraordinary occurrence. By reasoning of the scale of the flyby stated in the article above it as relevant as a report on a football match. It is a conjecture only made possible through the origins of the discovery of Oumuamua making it a pointless conceit advancing nothing. It is after all a first contact.

There is no shortage of theories and news.com.au posted this

It’s accelerating: admittedly by only a tiny amount, but something is giving ‘Oumuamua a push. It could be comet-like ‘outgassing’. But at no point has the mysterious object been seen to have a comet’s tail.

It has a weird shape. Based on its erratic flashing, astronomers have inferred ‘Oumuamua must be long and thin. Few known asteroids and comets are like that.

But … for it to be an alien artefact would be extraordinary.

And to prove that would require some extraordinary evidence.

However, our chances of learning anything more from our first known interstellar visitor are very slim. It’s racing away — back into deep space — at some 95,000km/h.

There are, however, other possible — and more probable — alternatives.

“I think we should look at the alien option given this asteroid is unusual, but while a more mundane explanation is reasonable it surely must be preferred,” says Monash University astronomer Michael Brown.

John Graham

25 February 2018

Belfast

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Welfare of all our citizens : I’Daniel Blake

THE NORTHERN IRELAND NARRATIVE 

This was finally shown by the BBC and what it became was a finally visually representation amidst an onslaught of NEWS concerning Brexit and Conflicts occurring alongside national disasters across the globe in the Yemen and Syria.

My earlier review is still relevant and more so in the light of such as the Justice for Jodey campaign. https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/justice-for-jodey

I’Daniel Blake a BBC film directed by Ken Loach and written by Patrick Laverty, will broadcast this film hopefully in the near future. It is reviewed separately by me.

It is a stimulus to further discussion on all aspects of our Welfare Society.  A chosen part of our life’s and human responsibilities.  To deny others what we take for granted in order to survive is not what the Law’s on Welfare were constructed for.  To not offer assistance not only a legal obligation but a moral responsibility removes an essential element of our own life’s – it makes us less human and undermines the core of civil society. That which we strive for.
Political Congestion

For all the Political signals saying these ‘Welfare Reforms’ are a necessary piece of housekeeping; separate and apart from the huge and criminal corruption of tax avoidance, property sequestration, civic governance and health privatisations the ‘Welfare Reforms’ are given leading political status as measures appropriate to instil rudimentary economic control and provide a level playing field with which the Workplace administrators, the Public authorities (here the Civil Service is a large front and back office employer) the Manufacturing, Service, Agricultural, Health, Food, Financial, Building industries can manage with the provision of minimum wages supplemented by the Government they fund through any number of donations, tax and costing trade offs. 

The list of party benefactors here is not produced. Providing a cheap and compliant workforce while overlooking workplace and reduced unionisation and dismantling protections is the trigger for focussing on the unemployed and those who cannot work or have no means to live under the immigration, refugee, asylum catchments orchestrated for political ends and not need. There six also a dynamic in education to enable coding, systems engineering, those functions necessary to develop robotic simulators of human beings, as a ‘replacement’ and gifted compliant workforce, the strategy almost gains status as a new industrial revolution gone leagues ahead of Moores Law in development.
Singularly absent is the scrutiny in state arenas to question the veracity of how education and workplace skills are developed. Are the ends know or justifiable?

 Decades of devaluing humans.

Dr Eileen Evason has advised Local Government Departments (has been the advisor to the Forst and Deputy Forst Minoster here in Northern Ireland in ‘resolving the nuts and bolts’ of the Welfare Reforms so as to cause least hardship – while at the same time ignoring their punitive unfairness) for a decade or more on Committees and advisory panels – while supporting the de facto positions which have caused extreme hardship, deprivation and even death as a consequence of the imposed Welfare Standards which maintain lives at levels below poverty in households across Northern Ireland with innumerable social, health and harmful consequences. It has been going on for longer than a decade yet no Local Government authority has been able – (in a unified Assembly brought about on the foot of a supposed resolution to a violent period when so called revolutionaries took up the cause of ‘Social Revolution’) to bring housing, employment, educational, human rights equality to these Islands.  

Not only did they fail to consider the death toll wars inflict, they delivered nothing in the face of the very problems encountered back some 40 years previously. Advances which would have naturally evolved advanced with the same embittered constraints instead hidden from plain sight and Sovereign politics North and South reman. Ask who are the persons those Sovereignties comprise. They are of course the global non-national wealth ownership stake in control of Banking worldwide, sequestration of land, minerals and property whose game changer is the advance of digital transference of capital so far unimagined. It is a simple matter to demonstrate to Governments the movement of capital is the means to bring them down and hence the compliance wherever viable, with their needs.  

The macro defines what the micro is. It is the manipulation of the functions of a states people in a pliable complicit pseudo democracy enabled by wise chins such as Dr Eileen Evason, the Department for Work and Pensions Minster past designate, Ian Duncan-Smith, sometime leader of the Tories and the incumbents Labour advisories included, Frank Field for example, whose realisation is Social Welfare for slow learners. The effects of past Social reforms have been devastating and encroach in their parallel implied, implicit ongoing reach into the means of production – all forms of employment (zero hours contracts are a hideous social disgrace for a state such as this) – health provision, education access and the starvation and victimisation of destitute highly troubled victims of War seeking refugee – wherever – on the heel of wars which have huge connections back into the political drivers of every portion of these islands.

Refugees and Asylum seekers in this Society

It is hard to bring together the strands of injustice faced by various factions of society. The levels of poverty; the common indices relate, in this part of the world are an endemic social ill. Then are those factors of destitution; a word used by groups of refugees and asylum seekers not extremely close to the conditions faced by people born and raised here who are now in severe and desperate need. How is it possible or worthwhile to separate these dual forms of destitution. There is no valid reason. Moreover, the fact they exist is a binary hub of an underclass whose means to ‘escape’ poverty has been put into a set of circumstancial binds constructed for political means and ends. They relate to the provision of active and an enabling of a workforce compliant with the constituent needs within the nations, provinces boundaries. It is highly influential in dispersal and service distribution. The needs are not met despite thecLaw holding all protections ogf the Human it is possible to enfranchise. The HMRC is firstly a declaration of intent which successive Governments have employed without conviction. They set up quangos to simulate the narrative of access through Citizens Advice, through The Law Centre and a raft of internally directed charities whose functions are to manage the margins. Except the margins are now the main body of need from destitution to service provision. Both aforementioned are heavily subsidised by Government and are managed by Government intervention on key strategy aspects.

Intercessory or Interposing

The intermediaries are not what they project. The charities are spoon fed gestural support, Government assistance etc, while starvation, deprivation, homelessness, mental health, rudimentary health and housing provisions fall extremely short through lack of will by successive Governments, of the levels it is possible to implement and put in place to accord with agreed standards and therefore comply. The duty is withheld. The duty is functioning in a barely face preserving way, with the puppets of CAB and The Law Centre eking out already existing Legal requirements they themselves have in part played an orchestrated role in formatting. They are the back stop or firewall put in place by Government to provide palliative care to a corrupt under resourced societal need. They literally operate as a palliative.

it is the same with ‘The Human Rights Commission, The Charity Commission, The Equality Commission who all function here as a shopfront for legislative inadequacy be it in execution or basis of intent. They exist to present a face of Compliance with world commitments.

Palliative – to relieve or lessen without curing; mitigate; alleviate.

to try to mitigate or conceal the gravity of (an offense) by excuses, apologies, etc.; extenuate.

Cohorts

Manchester has its own Law Centre and it is campaigning (as The Law Centre NI does) for Access to Justice. Yet alongside this they perpetuate the DWP line which is the roll out of the appalling Universal Credit regime. Just like NI the people are pushed into a system past by this legal firewall which is subsidised by Government. If anything different is the case I would of course be glad to hear of it.

https://www.gmlaw.org.uk/services/employment-and-support-allowance-esa/

& the Access to Justice campaign has good supporters and the narrative is following other campaigns in Social Housing and the breakup of Housing Associations by stealth or has already happened in Glasgow. Try obtaining Social housing there and the SNP have already admitted – Nicola Sturgeon – their catastrophic mistakes. Maxine has voiced over a Film on Social Housing.

Mitigators

The silent mitigators are voters who fail to recognise wisdom and honesty in policy and intent among themselves and selected representatives. They are wholly appropriated by perversities of Christian or moral values in a dangerous disruption of the inherent values most intrinsic and evident within the human race. It is un-divined and without appropriate intellectual credibility. It destroys the ability to develop long term meaningful and productive strategies to deal with inherent and long held traditions and values which are not in any way going to hinder self development. The caring and sharing we are familiar with in our minds should and can be our motive force enabling greater societal stability and security of future paths.

Lack of Unity

When put to refugee and asylum seeker groups ‘Who are your advocates?’ they wil refer mainly to there own Charity organisations, peri feral charities and faith groups who focuss on and engender support for their plight by whatever means possible. They advocate for advocacy without penetrating the walls of LegislativecPolicybFormation which in the main is driven from on high and in any case has been discussed at a broad sometimes academic led level and or in reaction to commissioned studies and reports form Universities and Specialist Advisors.  

Why do refugee and asylum seekers not lobby MPs and MLAs? It is because they lack the access, means and professional advice usually in the hands of more locally based lobby groups who have a recognised constituency base. In other words they have basically nothing and with it no proper voice. Why can they not find allies in the community? It is because by aligning with a particular group – religious and humanitarian organisations stand apart – they find Political alliances are formed. Of course these alliances are themselves acts of patronage to illustrate and demonstrate a lead on a subject vexing all at the same time. Trade Unionists are a good advocacy alliance though they themselves have progressively been weakened and are constantly facing employment deficits and fundamental political stasis. The protection of workers rights has for profit motivated ends been dismantled over the past two decades and more. Therein lies a problem of unity with workers who in the majors understand and appreciate the problems faced by refugees and asylum seekers. So the division remains.

Whose alliances?
By forming alliances with particular brands of Politics they would find it extremely hard to not be caught up in ‘local’ divisions and become a ‘political football’ for parties to use when ever it seems useful to – they could likewise be accused of supporting one party against another alienating a vast number of people. There is not one party which has not been seen to comply with state obligations to provide care and services on demand – citing Home Office functions operating as a thing onto themselves without the ability to intervene – it’s not a devolved power therefore they are off the hook, while behind their Assembly cabinet, party office doors, reject the needs as secondary to the indigenous population whose own levels of deprivation in many cases are in the same parlousxstatecascthosecin the incoming and resident refugees and asylum seekers.
Advocacy needs to come from leaders of Political Parties. Theresa May has an appealingly regressive pandering Tory history to come out fro underneath. Jeremy Corbyn has a Labour prospective pou pulsation to convince on numerous issues of competencies including a fair and just economy and workers rights, as well as the moral and correct human approach to citizens of this world in face of natural and man made conflict. Those who are in need not of displacement and refugee but a a proximity to their homeland stable and capable of proper supportive structures politically. This is only achievable by imposed UN functional mandates – imposed regardless of the deflecting and constant narrative manipulation which provide cover for the undermining forces.

Societal responses

Within any society there is a culture which forms the web of societies values and beliefs. It is interwoven across many separate faith groups, secular groups and this of none forming a diverse and adjusted tolerance otherwise there is breakdown. Here we have seen that breakdown through mistrust and intolerance. To begin the process of communicating with other props whose needs have been well documented, have been under years of scrutiny – South African and Zimbabwean people have an automatic right to remain yet are cast into a limbo without formal identity despite their presence. Others are destitute having fled the Congo, Nigeria, Syria, Libya, Iran, Afghanistan and Somalia among the vast numbers fleeing conflicted repressive societies escaping forced marriage, persecution.  
In Northern Ireland we take for granted the daily opportunities to socialise with people of any background, to have freedom of movement and to choose forms of recreation and entertainment and indeed worship. This is seldom possible – not only because other the below poverty line existence and destitution forced onto people but their everyday lives are further traumatised by the limbo of limited human interaction. This we find through work and the diversity of interests we have.  

The refugees and asylum seekers in our community cannot retrieve their own cultural history, can access in limited ways their faith groups, cannot summon up work and interaction opportunities because it is denied them. Work is not allowed. Volunteering is scarce and only limited to numbers for basic tasks and do not provide proper outlet for skills and learning opportunities. What is needed is a form of access to work which will not impinge on local commerce and be on a level platform of employment and remuneration. The minimum wage is intended under a Labour Government expected to be an hourly minimum of around ten pounds per hour. Zero hour contracts would be abolished. Accordingly the shake up would see the Employment rights spread throughout industries as well as providing a motivated dynamic workforce lifting people from poverty requiring supplementary state income. Along with this the unemployment restrictions on hours people can work without loosing their benefits can be also used in relation to all immigrants, refugee and asylum seekers. That is to allow employment initially on those same terms as part of the process of assimilation.

The ‘Northern Ireland’ Home Office require people to ‘sign on’ once a month WITHOUT receiving anything at all. No benefits (social security) only a subsistence is given which is not available in all cases. Housing is subject to very demanding terms and when a person is on a process of appealing a rejected application – (information is not complete or a discrepancy exists) they then are debarred from accommodation and made ‘homeless’. 

Another perceived issue is the repatriation of money to dependants not living here is seen as a drain on the economy while families maintain support at a distance. This has to be addressed by the establishment of rights for the person who lives here in full. It is up to them how they then dispose of their income. If they have dependants abroad then these people would require reunited in some way. 

By allowing everyone in the country the right to work the dynamics of all employment would change. The rates of income would advance if a Labour Government were to be elected, a raft of people would be lifted out of limbo into gainful employment or at least be given the opportunity through the limited hours restrictions a basis to use and develop their skills alongside others in the community. Itself a gain and lesson for the local community. The development of employment practices and financial balance and fairness would increase the market monetarist ion of small and medium sized businesses with more income around. As noted earlier, it is a common enough expectation for money to be repatriated. Think of the money of post depression America and Europe circulating back to communities on the edge of poverty. A relief mechanism is needed on a global scale outside the corrupt levels of governance. The danger exists – a) that any repatriated money goes straight into the hands of military groups. b) the so called leaders of communities will ‘tax’ those in receipt of money. c) the very banks at the receiving end can skim off large portions of currency dealing.

Greedland

Those are outcomes which can be curtailed by rigid compliance of money transference and is not alone a ‘black economic device’. Most technologically advanced nations are adept at concealing in shadow banking off-shore locations another level of capital outside the declared wealth. 
There is also the recurrence of newly wealthy countries buying land, property and assets in foreign countries as a sovereign or private gain un encumbered by local rules.  

There is also the phenomenon of lets say a country called Greedland has acquired a mountain of property debt which the debtor refuse to pony up for to the Banks they owe to. The Banks go down or are caught in a ‘safety’ net by there state and those loss making assists are now in a heap in a failed market. Life support in the form of money printing comes along, external marshals of the club books are brought in and massage the heart and lungs to resemble a form of life and a country has its future drained from it for many years as it is put on the support machine. Along come a bunch of dubious monetised loss adjusters who offer you a cash deal – give us your entire portfolio and in return we will give you the card Camille tricked off Napoleon. It’s a game learnt in the movies. To you it might look like a puff pastry but it’s like that game, a game in which the players bid for the privilege of naming the trump, stating the number of tricks they propose to win, a bid in this game to take all five tricks of a hand. So ingenious. So turned over the ruination continues as within the skids were oiled to take it down the slipway.

Overseas aid

Children have a right to parenting from both parents and that objective must be set as a priority to stabilise future lives disrupted by the present circumstances. How that is achieved is through political will. The children without parents whose lives have been subjected to displacement and are orphans can have a reconnection with their own homeland and family identity re-established through the technological mechanisms and data control methods now available. The abandonment in camps of 50% plus child occupancy is a human disaster in need of complete overhaul and immediate concerted effort to resolve with innovative and medically approved ways. The resources are available only the sharing is not evident. The newly wealthy countries and those neighbouring failed states or states in conflict need to contribute to the recovery of the displaced and engage fully in restorative programmes regardless of faith or ethnicity. The problem is one which is unparalleled and with all probability be overcast by natural disasters on which unity and cohesive joint actions need to prevail to lessen their global impact. In every case of natural disaster there are global implications. These are also the source of many present displacements and their management is local as well as global.

Regarding the movie

I, John Graham, demand you listen to your vital signs while watching this movie. Your heart the most central organ shal feed your brain to take in the depravation disintegrating world we purport to share and live on. Do not fail to breathe as your lungs appruptly fail to take in air so shocking shall be the halt and statis of your normal living view outside your head resulting in oxygen deprivation, stilled lives, stilted persons barley knowing how to survive before your eyes. No normality is this seen amidst the everyday, that lunacy of a race of what is known in art as vanished vacated extinct personas fate no longer the risen people. Carpe diem resultant helicopter flats as sky rise slums traded piece by rent by debt. Sacrament of heat escaping shells of flesh surrounding windows taxed as hope goes out the dor to the auction house for a dollar doubling as a score. Body warmth is paid for on tricks turned for some hapless she’ll indifferent to their themselves the outer inner world as their victim carefully chosen surrenders as they pass the threshold through their door. Pickets in police cars remonstrate in stripes pervading rough justice before it reaches the court doors. This malfience is seen in the wrecked life’s whose sin is committed needing to sign on and seen as being needy brings minimum security, breaches dignity it sails out the door down every capital Tyne, Thames, Lagan, Severn, Clyde. Life’s wrecked by civil servants and so called charities doing the diverts work of Government while no one takes responsibility or drives down into the causes and perpetual harm that manifests.

To be further edited for the blog and which will follow on from the post of the film review.

John Graham

25 February 2019

Belfast

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The Milkman : A Review

This is time before.

The Milkman

Things happen in a dislocated way unhinged but always relentlessly moving forward as though it was normal or a normal in need of explanation. Events occur unexplained or unexpectedly such as the punch through at the car spares incident then the disappearance of the maybe boyfriends parents. Who fed them? Were social workers around?

These things of narrative causality happen in waves. They approach and space out time while the core element – the character of the first person is built up with a clinging to books centrally as an escape mechanism. Others have drink terrorism and abuse as their chosen escape.

There are period books making the person appear detached as other novelists frequently do, particularly women writers to detach themselves from the hurtful content within their existence. It is a shameful existence but other people’s shame. Tristam Shandy. Then Ivanhoe as a tumult of adventure and Action is full of consequence so the maybe device is a counterpoint to reality in the readers mind. Why are you not in a fit of rage? why put up with these folk behaving this way? The point is she is acknowledging powerlessness while keeping ownership through her imagination of different results. They do not occur but the device of detachment through books and the maybe non commitment trope becomes even more important.

The descriptions of the other characters fall into the nerve centre of our own recollections of people by the pigeon-holing of divisions. Particularly in memories relevant to those in this place though in a discussion group (local) we discovered the story can transport itself to other world locations in various periods – all continents apply here. It reflects our use of certain devices and influences, religious, familial and political. For external readers it puts a distorted portrait of life through comparison with her analytical forward and the skill is this bombardment and collection of words repetitive, relentlessly conversing, traversing, turned inside and out creating a burden and baggage as relentless narrative and the method used pours out the realism in a literary form untroubled by convention. Is it successful or purposeful? Sometimes it is a strain and not needed for local enlightenment but it ‘maybe’ storytelling of necessity because of the question – how do you explain this idiocy to outsiders.

The waterworks is a good place to start with the runner separating themselves and keeping ahead. We found the author was a prolific runner in her Belfast days and this is a known quantity therefore and useful metaphor and device. The other – the milkman appears – I think of the milkman running with his underling running behind saying in a squeaky voice ‘BillynoBilly slow down tell me what you want me to do’ the hideous violent edifice is held in a pyramid of interlocking pieces – all secterian people need apply – (Anne Burn eschews the – dash – used in previous work and enters into a T.S.Eliot freeform (other non para writers need not apply) ) all feeding of each other’s fears including the milkman’s. It is found his quest is not fulfilled or being according to script or scripture – morality is a sideline.

Tribeca boundaries are disintegration in modern vandalism.
What’s the difference between a Belfast playground and a Belfast Building site? On the building site you have to wear hi- vis vests.

Living on integrity street is a red rag to some. There are some near the knuckle insights into the background of power Demi – Monde figures. Their life being a corrupted one itself. The renouncers are to the forefront neither antagonists nor perpetrators of the nub of the conflicting views but part of its origin. The origin is living in them. They will not let go or relent nor why should they as they carry the converse.

An exercise in not being vigilant and as communal treatise it sends the message, by your insouciance you are as bewildered as the next person only they are loud sometimes and cannot conceal their disgust, like the deflection of nuclear boy seeking a rabbit hole unique to himself. Purely a coping mechanism. Third brother in law was fiendishly caught up rag bag of emotions. Wildness in the park was routinely a road or pathway to keep to those steps and forward, were important in that wilderness.

Then there are the mind games that occupy the novel and the cars, cameras, all dissociative objects put into the flat screen narrative where we look back from into this seventies eighties scenario, in a analogous box in the corner – that huge period tv is now regurgitating the troubles into living rooms while simultaneously existing in the street red or not.

Sunset on Lisburn (referring to the classes and opening new vistas) opens up a whole new horizon. The limitless sky. There is no blue up there all of a sudden only other colours yet the blue is still thee.

This is a whole new meaning in viewing and seeing as observance, only comparison has been the narrative choice so far.

Interestingly the topics of rationality arise and it is as if writer is taking a tough subject and deconstructing it as words and incident – take the ‘feminist issue, France, Joan of Arc’ all interconnected through her sisters and then puts it back on the shelf in a completely reconfigured – on logics basis – neither agreeing or disagreeing but replete with new insights and a polished viewpoint.

When religion is spoken about it is when the gathering of women – “not just from the warring religions here but also a smattering of the lesser known, lesser attended to, indeed completely ignored (dissidents? quakers? evangelicals?) other religions.

Quaker
Dissidents
Evangelist
Jewish
Hindu
Muslim
Buddhist
Baha’i

The centrality of the figure of the Milkman is a contemporary attempt at conquering the male female differences without marking out new territory which feminism and other political tests that are putting out the brutality of a male centric dynamic which is seen tangible through the needs of the women, who try and establish her as one of them, in a flawed reasoning, as writer is gearing in her own mind voices neither of male or female constraints.

The poisoners tale. Laid up and legs do they work today? Then there is the momentous the purse is reached for for in the house when the purse is reached for the clasp opened then something big is happening. It could be something is so fraught a chip dinner is needed there is no time for a dinner to be made. Monumentous.

The death of the milkman after so many state mistakes was followed by an epiphany as the survivors, mostly the edge of proceedings males and the feminists who didn’t know they were feminists, taking a step into the blue yonder and the sky and sunsets were as always thee and always altering in colour and hue. Intensity works only for some for others it’s poisonous and some will over you solutions which are indigestible.

The Snibby McSnib drew backward as the door opened. They went in and we stepped over the trampled hedge and Bolty McBolt laughed.

Precursors – The disused cottage in Wexford (where the English landed) Derek Mahon is cited by some for it’s similar exposition.

Mushrooms looking at the keyhole and the light.

The meaning is squeaky clean and the pages turnable. Necessity is the mother of ruin.

John Graham

Belfast

16 January 2019
 

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More unattended wisdom!
Nietzsche did not accept this
synaesthesia Idea developers enlighten.

The eternal recurrence of the same. Is not the reparative always seeming a negative as it is past tense. Nietzsche declined to bite that apple. Instead the dilemma takes on a whole greater extension of its thinking as a positing of the notion of parallels which undertake change providing constant revision yet are totally different presences of the same outcomes.

The phenomenon of light is itself not seen to contain everything of the world or universe as was the sought meaning – held to bear – but synaesthesia is a characterisation of existence of a foretold truth lying within the science of elementary life.

The turmoil is unchanging as the spectacle is only moderately altering and its transformation is seen as cast but is itself timeless in the body we are within.

The universe as the body. Music is mere mathematical theory in search of harmony in a fixed range of audibility which we have limited access to. To be faithful to your existence you have to embrace failure and disappointment renewal of ones self. Treating the imposters of those emotional experiences as temporary fate.

Greater fate waits as the discovery of the world reveals new stories, the same told though synaethesia as differences of the same. Religion does not disavow human nature as a temporal state outside of divine spirituality as Nietzsche dismisses religions moral authority as being without any spirit. Existence is devoid of spirit and the driver is mastery by and of the individual.

Collective states of weakness he saw as behaviours themselves a mediocrity of shameful non persuasion. Unintentionally he cast or maybe purposely the majority in conformity of charity or good deeds as playing to the lowest stare while ignoring it most certainly was what made his ideas real.

The masses were the foundation stones for greatness to be built on and were themselves mighty realizations of the strength of character which had them rejoice at oneness and an equality that perpetually remained a moral goal and having religion as its guide to express this hitherto unobtainable virtue, he neglects to understand the meaning of science.

Just as he rejected Wagners themes of mathematical expressions embracing as the did temporarily good and evil those poles were transcended by musical composition of a modulation and harmonic derivation which confounded the masters of good and evil within it. He rejected Wagner while seeing a state of hubris in performance that live on Switzerland had made him unprepared to accommodate.

The great Shakespearian depths of despair and the radical inward thinking had people inventing extensions to language to keep averse with the telling of a playwright. A mere writer not of sound bites and moral treatise but the gambit of conflicting harm and joy set in again a synaesthesia.

The authors of the Age of Enlightenment were far more in philosophies terms, a visionary realm of ideas developers. Their riches poured out through literature beyond the unknown but the realisable. The science of seeking answers to atomic and molecular states of being.

So there is no illusion.

Modigliani Female Nude 1916 : UMNI exhibit

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The Ulster Museum is Home to the Courtauld Institute owned Female Nude 1916 by Modigliani for several months and is currently on display on Level 4. until Oct 28 2018.

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In situ

In 1916 Amedeo Modigliani made his mark on the roll call of innovative painters and artists by discovering for himself a means of reaching beyond the normal day to day portrayal of figures and in observing their forms and persona.  His breakthrough was immense and it presided alongside other expressionist painters as signalling their forging of a method of seeing which hitherto had been associated with the primitive art of African or Tribal representation, themselves suggestions of nation or people in the essence of their existence, in the moment to be taken as informative of them and the way they saw themselves.

 

 

There were several parallel ongoing pursuits of these ‘laws of lawless art.’  The extent to which Modigliani was alone in achieving a breakthrough of this magnitude is a debate matching infinity.  Races singled out the line and drew on walls or on pottery, or paper symbols of the most interesting thing around them, themselves. The human shape and deportment became a goal of self realisation and the life force found was firstly lent in these simple lines as a record alongside animals and adornments while they often were seen sans clothes or with few garments.  It became their projection and mirror.

 

 

Beyond the Western ideal and sanctuary of patronage and mostly hierarchal societal record including the religious there was a necessary alteration by the twentieth century, of placing a fresh editorial gaze on the act of seeing humans and how they inhabit a picture throwing new light literally on the viewers perceived recited notions of self and arts role in life.  Some later exponents went beyond this as indeed did the practioners themselves.  Picasso became an obsessive and many would say a misogynist which is see often in his work.

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F. E. McWilliam’s Gallery Banbridge Co. down. Glass cabinet image.

Level 4

The precious object that is Modigliani Female nude 1916 is in a small room of the Ulster Museum for a short period and the high Victorian windows are draped partially with protective white cloth filtering the streams of daylight found illuminating the pictures within.  The filter works and the natural light is subdued. The daylight lamps of the artificial supplementary light is carefully graded in its presence allowing the vivid colour and individuality of this work to convey its communicative self to the viewer.  Many have been and return to see it time and again because there is no solitary promised answer in reading the painting and it is continually rich in its candid figurative depiction.

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You can see a window reflected in the glass protection of the painting top left.

Other paintings such as the O’Brien do not have glass only canvas and paint between it and the viewer.

What is seen is a figure of a female regards but not regarding by returning a look. She is in a pose which neither is common or contrived.  The purpose of line is a first engagement this painter makes with his model figure. She is neither a form meant to reveal a representative body or shape of a female but is a woman whose occupation or purpose is to lead the painter towards the aim of finding a means of conveying more than the body as a form but to imbibe an essence of a human who happens to have the appealing form of a woman in her full force of life.

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Woman’s Head. Artist:Amedeo Modigliani (Italian, Livorno 1884–1920 Paris)
Date:1912. Medium:Limestone
Dimensions:26 7/8 × 6 1/4 × 9 1/2 in. (68.3 × 15.9 × 24.1 cm)
Weight: 75 lb. (34 kg), Classification:Sculpture
Credit Line:The Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls Collection, 1997

By the time Modigliani has reached this point in his life he has tried his first love, sculpture but like many artists before him it did not lend him its mystery to enable his thoughts to come out in those three dimensions.

 

In 1909, after meeting Constantin Brancusi, Modigliani began to produce sculptures by carving into stone, completing about twenty-five works throughout his short career. The style of these abstracted, elongated heads is echoed in his subsequent figure and portrait paintings. Fittingly, this particular head, with its strong connection to African sculpture, was originally owned by the American artist and African art collector Frank Burty Haviland. Haviland lived in France and Modigliani became familiar with his collection. In addition to African art, Modigliani’s sculptures reflect his knowledge of ancient Cycladic, Sumerian, Egyptian, and Greek art.  Met Museum text.

The Romanian Brancusi was a favourite and revered friend of Modigliani and the connection is not lost in the application of visual effects as one is now finding the essence of his work accessed through the simple device of line on one plane.

Simple it maybe but it is incalculably intimate in its dynamic.

Painting dynamics

The piece is regarded as having an unorthodoxy in art taking it back to the primordial instinctive throwback beyond the renaissance and challenged th mores of the world of patronage of the arts while taking out the sensuous and sexualised component and objective servile diminished role played elements often seen band depicted previously in the horizontal form that feminine objectivity Picasso had shown ‘the regard as thief of the jewels of womanhood in his Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

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Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Painting by Pablo Picasso and a Photo by David Bailey

That regard in Les Demoiselles d’Avignon being sent back with spades to the viewer looking into the collective as a band of protective women creating a homogeneous foil and asking questions of the one who seeks insight of them/selves.

Life

At the age of 35 Amedeo Modigliani became the victim of Tuberculosis and died following his earlier periods of poor health. With his frailty he was occupied in hiding the illnesses he had succumbed to by the apparent act of concealment through drug abuse and alcoholism.  In order to appear as someone whose outward demeanor may have been taken as a consequence of the behaviours of alcohol and drug consumption among his fellow artists he nevertheless was in a worse state of decline than those afflictions might have has on him.  He was know as a poetic and romantic womanizer with his personality and health possibly driving him to those distractions.

The painting

In the models flesh tones are seen the blue faint covering of the ground where his technique has built up, through modifications and layers, a semi transparency as flesh is seen damaged and slightly coarse having it seems been achieved by hard bristles and Amedeo stabbing and stippling of the bodies fleshy tones.  It is not overly done as the blue tinges are apparent beneath. Also the belly is raised by the luminousity of a white globe of her stomach giving another view and state of fecundity.

White is found in the left arm in the elbow crevice and I took that to signify and it probably is not!, vitiligo as the meaning of her vulnerable working body might be found lacking in minerals and vitamins out of a poor diet. A kind of symbolism entering. Then there are other ‘marks’ and these are widely accepted, as the appear in the lower parts of the painting due to studio carelessness.

They add, do not detract from the vitality and energy coming through the painting. This is itself a derivation of a style which an artist displaying his continued and unsettled enjoyment of his own work is temporarily in a state of transition and wondering where on the next canvas abrushes mark should be made.

The production of his ‘muse’ through this nude figure is strikingly provocative in that it undermines the stasis and unsettles by its uncompromising frankness and the perfect non sexual overtones but the strength of the woman’s body as human strongly over arching the whole of the notion of ourselves as species.

How extraordinarily perceptive and resolved this work has become in complete conflict with its dynamic and continual motion and emotional projection. This surely must have been a component in Amedeo‘s sense of himself as an artist despite his longing to be a sculptor he had reached further than his peers and created a new radicalism in acceptance of flawed beauty in painting.

There is undoubtedly life in this painting after its seemingly resolved completion. It disowns tranquility, it abhors looking as a sexualised object, it resents the act of being regarded, it shows its point of belonging in human form. There seems to be an act disassociated of itself from its locality in the composed space by the organisation of the blue ground which in the higher part is more consistent and less disturbed than the lower segment implying a wall and floor where the red couch is protected in a vague white soiled sheet just visible beneath the buttocks of the model and affording some protection in its placement.

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My sketch pastel begins! A2.  The next stage is at the foot.

The Painting & Paint colour

What if it were a drawing and without ‘colour’?  I imagined it as firstly about the act of line drawing which it has a distinctive attribute. Then I posited the thought that ‘colour’ is only an embellishment. The rendering to produce light and share dynamics. This is a very wrong attitude with which to approach it.

The form of light and shadows is fully realised, in black and white by modern photographers such as one who put this above all other considerations, David Bailey.

The conquest is seeing what the light produces but Bailey’s work is akin to drawing, being in black and white.  Here in this painting the evolution from the line element takes many side moves.  The hair in the left is seen having been taken in, maybe a bulk of hair existed formerly and was painted back; it certainly appears that way, to effect the outlines flow rather than truly represent it and the right hand, possibly present and visible at one point, is kept hidden to achieve the flow of the line.

Then there is the mystery or discarding of a primary light point.  There is only the front universal point of light which negates reasoning as to where shadow is found. The paint itself is the shading element and it’s texture the convenience delivered by brush marks and of a sharp gouging effected in the hair for example giving that plural feeling of it having neither a source but being in sculptural form a third dimension advancing with movement. Under a kind of universal light.

Perfectly flawed it is a hard act to follow and this is as I opined earlier a feature I believe which gave impetus and cause for Amedeo to produce further and more challenging work.

The maturity of the return to painting in a further simplified and reduction of marks is seen in his later work as he is vexed by the ‘treatments’ and beautiful wonderous lines of centuries before and the earlier, the more profound, its own examination rewarded him in discovery.

Additions

A year or so ago I wrote this on the predicament of the model whose anonymity is transparent as she is neither the object of the completed work nor a character assumed from the past. The aloneness and emptiness is striking now when I think of the Modigliani pursuit of his art when consumed by this painting.

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Some negative aspects relating to the curation.

If there are some criticisms of the room and it’s interpretation of the lineage and common approaches to be made, it is the use of very tenuous art held by the Gallery in its own collection as a stark contrasting difference.  The delivery is failing in many places. Using the ‘theme’ of the model is the route taken, not the act of the mark and the line.  The servile component of life modeling is a trope and not what the painting is primarily about.  Ratifying it by using a ‘portrait’ by a local artist even a twentieth century one is laying claim to small connections.  So what if the artist in the glass mosaic is featured herself within the work shown?

Being in the work as model is neither near or revelatory in the nakedness sense giving a threadbare tribute?  To artists, imagined scoping is outside the context and in fact a distraction of quite harmful presence.  There is in the ‘life model’ comparisons, only one showing the contrast between a vertical nude and horizontal nude; the latter being the previous approach taken all through and since the renaissance.  A wandering connection again is made and it is a mighty problematic one, conflicting and not a complementary distraction.

In the O’Brien Life model with a barely visible child, as with the laundry woman, there is no substantive connection whatsoever in setting it alongside, in the room as a ‘relief’ of emphasis or anything else.  An allusion is taken in respect of ‘women in 1918’ which is quite facile and out of kilter with the main work.  This phenomenon goes back centuries and still exists.  It is wholly utilised in this way I find, because of what the UM has in its collection and is clutching at straw metaphors.

The best thing to do is to ignore the room’s additional works and concentrate on the immensity of the work and avoid this distracting padding.  The abstraction of colour and choices made to effect a flow had gone missing in all other work. I found myself sketching one, the face below for example, merely to find the quality of line. I also looked at the effect of a pastel line drawing on blue paper to see the effect of the colours magic within the painting and it is obvious the line and oil is a combination which is spectacularly successful here because of it’s transparency, luminosity, roughness and eveness in parts as handled and dispersed here.

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It ended up as this.  I believe the reason it became so different and colour, which is such an incredible thing to realise in seeing the actual painting with the blue and flesh tones coming out at you from the canvas means it needed something entirly different in approach when using something other than oil paint.  This is pastel on an A3 size pastel textured blue sheet.

John Graham

3 July 2018

Belfast

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On Chesil Beach : A Film Review

 

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On Chesil Beach

Directed by Dominic Cooke, Produced by Elizabeth Karlsen, Stephen Woolley. Screenplay by Ian McEwan Based on On Chesil Beach by Ian McEwan.
Cast Saoirse Ronan … Florence Ponting, Emily Watson … Violet Ponting, Samuel West … Geoffrey Ponting, Billy Howle … Edward Mayhew, Anne-Marie Duff … Marjorie Mayhew, Rasmus Hardiker … Waiter 2, Bebe Cave … Ruth Ponting, Adrian Scarborough … Lionel Mayhew, Jonjo O’Neill … Phil, David Olawale Ayinde …, Wigmore Audience Concert Attendee, Bronte Carmichael … Young Chloe Morrell, Bernardo Santos … Cinema Couple, Philip Labey … Bob, Ty Hurley … Wigmore Concert Attendee, Oliver Johnstone … Ted
Saoirse Ronan, Billy Howle, Emily Watson, Anne-Marie Duff, Samuel West, Adrian Scarborough.  Music by Dan Jones, Cinematography Sean Bobbitt, Edited by Nick Fenton, Production company Number 9 Films, BBC Films. Distributed by Lionsgate, Bleecker Street.
Duration 1hr 50mins. Cert. 15. Country United Kingdom. Language English.

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Short Navigations

This is a story told in three time periods and it begins and mostly occupies the earliest period and its immediate rub up to wedlock. Over 60% hovers around the earlier period. The later times are visited in reflection and as indications of how things have turned out for Florence Ponting (Saoirse Ronan) and Edward Mayhew (Billy Howle).  The times change them irrevocably and the outcome of this story is far from the imagined prospect when we first enter the story as it reaches the honeymoon reservation of a posh hotel in Dorset overlooking the shingle headland or bar of pebbles that create an other worldliness of escapism and is harbinger of hope and romance.

Setting

Where is Chesil Beach and is it sunny and hot? ; not always a pair.  Well it is the jurassic coast of Dorset, Southern England and more notable for its shingle and Portland Bill and Portland stone, no sand is to be seen along it.  Apparently the crew where filming this in late autumn 2017 and it was obviously a chilling time but colour grading works wonders.

People in 1962

Both these young people are acutely sensitive to the sensibilities of the times and in their being born during the war are acutely aware of the dynamics of peace and a new frontier of a Cold War developing in the struggle for supremacy in Russia and Germany alongside its reconstructed allies and temporary reparations in European idealised modernity.  Both have first class honours degrees and Edward is a product of a teacher and headmaster father Lionel ( Adrian Scarborough). He has two siblings, twin girls born after an accident befalling their mother Marjorie (Anne-Marie Duff) now housebound, if not naked and watching the squirrels as people inhabiting her comfortable and mature garden.  A recent short film at the Belfast Film Festival concerned itself with dementia and was called Monkeys in the Garden. Not to make light of it, it too was a vision of how lives are affected by a moments occurrence or breakdown of the bodies defences.

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Portraits

We see the view of Edward through this revision in his life, in respect of his mother’s injury and his anger, which is a feature not currently present, is recalled in anecdotes.  Florence (named after the City? hardly the type given the austere ma and pop!) knows little about him other than his reformed side and CND encounters.  An academic he is nevertheless keeping tabs on the grosser forces within him, his aggression is a tool and servant but he feels inadequate as it is his intellect and inability to deduce his own belief system.  He is shifted of course by events and this is borne out over the going back and reveal of certain aspects of his childhood.  OK I said there were three time periods, perhaps there were others crept into for pathos.

For Florence’s story it is also interlaced with similar anecdotes with a delightful toff in the form of mother Violet, (Emily Watson), a constantly austere wannabe Jackie Kennedy alongside her status hungry and sometimes mysterious husband Geoffrey  (Samuel West) and easily rattled egotist electronics factory owner played in intentionally hammy fashion. Florence  is a music student with a leadership quality and is wholly wrapped up in the pathways music opens. Florence has attained a post of behind the scenes general dogsbody at The Wigmore Hall, Wigmore Street which lasts three years. Her own aspirations in performance are fulfilled in lower recitals but cleverly she puts across a form of music which lasts.

Musics healing

I remember on the way home from work often passing the along the Wigmore Hall rear alleyway at a time uncertainty hung over the arts funding of that long established place and lunchtime performances by the and for the BBC Radio audience proved to be a cultural asset heavily embedded in good music played to the highest possible standard open for public consumption and egalitarian defiantly hoping against hope and Thatcher the continuance of the philosophy behind excellence as common property to be cherished.

The alleyway features here intact and unspoiled as before, its indentures prosaic and tangible despite the troubled periods seen through its existence.  It is a remarkable presence and feature of West London a little distance from Oxford Street and Harley Street.  Florence had the opportunity of assisting in performance as page turner to Benjamin Brittain and the evening performances had an international element equal in such a conservatoire atmosphere a smaller bolt hole away from the grander Albert Hall and Royal Opera House.  The atmosphere inside was a musical paradise and retreat.

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Notes as words

Throughout the film the choice of music is a stirring counterpoint othe emotional twists and turns and it is obvious this is a very important strategic tactic as it fills the cinema with a richness of audio pinnacles and troughs accompanying scenes of despair and unalloyed joy. Mozart, Bach, Haydn, Rachmaninov, Brittain, Beethoven all feature in the deliberate layering on us of a timeless appreciation of the emotions evolving. Were the music is at its height often the emotion is mixed and nervously exchanging between us and what we see a sense of elevation while it in reality is a one, visually which had none of the material a book can convey.  These are the awkward extremities of the young lovers own deeply felt disoriented disordered conflict of expectations.

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Mis-steps

Here I have to place my failure to accept, in large parts, the premise inherent in the novella.  I found the absence of enquiry or even a consultation of a Doctor by Florence off kilter.  There is a deficit and no dimension of mental disturbance in the mind of Florence whose horrible construct of the sexual act is a peculiarly obstinate block her life has not prepared her for. There was at the time a new emphasis on the workings of the brain and R D Lang etc. Freud preceding brought it forward into the public realm along with TV and middle class enquiry.  The book is able to push boundaries where a script will not allow and this film depends too much on the concepts of the viewer filling in the spaces and stiltedness of some of the imponderables.  The fluency of prose Ian McEwan is stretched to replicate in this screenplay.  On Chesil Beach she discloses in a speech, her anxiety in a long soul searching yet still unformed or fully expressed contempt of the actual response she articulated in circuitous explanation leaving Edward in a pale of despair.
There is a feeling the film does not convey the real problems on the side of Edward either. While we are left to assume certain things about Florence and then are unable to gauge the extent of hurt and damage they cause and with things also causing her uneasiness and tense suffocating anxiety. There is in Edwards situation a sense of male entitlement of sorts given his deliberations in the led up to the troublesome (more than) bedroom scenes. It would have been, either a sense of duty to perform or be heroic and actually create a magnificent, unforgettable night of continual passion and lovemaking (!) as if it’s something as a male he is programmed to do, he is also contemplating the strangeness of these feelings and unable to equate eroticism with the needs of his partner and new very virginal wife. Then it creates an emasculated reaction and even more harm. There is a chasm between their thoughts and the film does not deal with them sufficiently well to overcome the visual awkwardness. There is still in these times a fearfulness that the awkwardness and newness of the experience may not fit ideals. Those ideals are themselves at the root of the problem and the present day information and education. It depends where it is found and Edward is also a person whose intensity does not help which itself is not adequately explored. Florence has to ask about his character and that is supposed to be a formation of a judgement for a clearly clever woman?!

London, we have a problem.

The way the conversations are developed are very attentive to the authors intent and premise.  The question lurking is has he found a very unusual compelling story and is it to be seen as a wider component of the times and traditions, behaviours of the times.  With both having long spells in London and away from their parental conformity I thought it too much of a stretch to see them as hesitant, micro living reclusive people without own warnings and experiences overlap, usually and relying on their own lives experience which has dramatic absence.  Dorset becomes the past.  No place for Corset jokes.  A flaw is the inclusion of a later phase where shared living, in the 1975 period a collective and therefore contagion of sorts, fleshing out a sixties vibe in the seventies where – while sharing a bohemian household was frequent – the set up appeared forced.  In the sixties it would hardly have been less of a communal existence yet it was not explored or the arrangements for living not examined in detail.

Psychology undeveloped

Audacious as some of the story may appear; the exploration of the psychology at work having an unrealised importance, I felt a lot of the developing story had empty aspects, mostly concerning the limitations imposed on both of the experiences either had of life.  For present day young people this compressed uninformed pathway is unreal.  They are conscious as well as familiar with, such instinctive sexual stirring emotional decisions and are are empowered by numerous, almost too present, events of sexual diversity, behaviour and relationship guidance. Parental intrusion is not a problem and often is a shared appreciation of discovered evaluation. The advice is also overwhelming currently as the meaning of the bodies acceptance of itself is accumulated in a set of terms and outcomes, comparisons are often fluctuating between less obvious mental pictures.

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A lot of time is spent navigating the origins and the precipice we are on which is concealed within the story, in keeping with the dilemma of her heightened displeasure of the sexual act once it sets its seed inside her head in the inevitable pitch of consummating their marriage on their wedding night. This is a narrow filter unsuited to cinema as it is left hanging.  Even cinema itself is not approached although a nod to the times seen in the film which is in their orbit, A Taste of Honey shows a conflict of familiarity with sexual education.  The prospect is imagined and unreal and in her preparation she is compelled to refer to books which he4 younger sister who follows her every move, is equally excited about though not to the extent of imagining the meaning of the words outside her sisters own thoughts. Everything centres around the thoughts and wildest capture of ideas by Florence which she finds necessary and driven too by another set of conflicts which are not forgotten but suppressed. By taking the story through the motions of arrangement and outside diversions she is able to distract herself sufficiently to eradicate some of the worst until it becomes unavoidable once she is in Room 8 at the hotel and eager to please and share herself with Edward and embrace the moment. It heralds great stress and it is a staccato immersion into the ritual of love making which she and he have no notion of how it ought to serve them. Now they serve it and become overburdened lustfully not lovingly entwined.

Neither are practiced at the physical act of union and become transfixed by the prospect of it on their wedding night. Alone they discover that lives can become transformed by a gesture not made or a word not spoken.

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Storytelling

In the bibliography of Ian McEwan there first comes, First Love, Last Rites as if it became a precedence of his novella On Chesil Beach. The straining loss of words is compellingly tale of tense human love and bonding past feeling.

THEY WERE young, educated, and both virgins on this, their wedding night, and they lived in a time when a conversation about sexual difficulties was plainly impossible. So the opening lines of the book draw us towards Florence and Edward in July 1962. Their day had joined their families in St Mary’s Oxford in a ceremony which went well including the reception and here having travelled in Florence’s mothers borrowed car arrived under a cloudy sky and with insufficient warmth to dine as planned outdoors. Instead they are together in the wedding suite dining and savouring the experience unique to both in many ways. In emphasis it is perhaps intentional to begin with the first two words in capitals in the book as they in the readers mind due some sympathy and empathy given their lack of worldliness. In fact it is not as it is a motif used in each chapter though none the less meaningful.

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When those times were presaged by moral virtue and humility it is only proper, as the Vicar might say, that they were chaste lovers on the brink of a loving long relationship not without reward for their sacrifice of self control. For Florence her talk with her Minister is an ordeal and both find it difficult to identify with each other and the preposterous notion of not getting married is one option Elizabeth takes as an absurdity. The pleasure quotient is not spoken of. Duty is the key instrument here and she is as first violin a leader in all she accomplishes. The prologue is not a good one.

Indulgences are meaningful only if they are satiated and lent great impact in the fact they are prove positive of unrequited love.

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Burden of the past

Belief is something neither have a great deal of time for. The realities of home life are its representation and compliant structure is the invocation. Some mores have it as a societal burden on pain of loss of a godly blessing.  The morality first coming from a Church and sanctified by a class of ancient ritual.

Ian McEwan compresses into a short novel the disturbance of tranquil exquisite expectation by moving into the bonding of a young couple empty illusion. The physical prospect of penetration was for Florence no longer a misty concept formed out of friends explicit stories or happenstance and part knowledge obtained by the troubling loud engorged actress screaming in high pitched orgasmic ecstasy engagement. Of Edwards pleasure and own needs she would have no knowledge only in his expression would she see his physical endurance while both would be marrying each other’s thoughts in their new union and one neither had felt before. Before the Vicar and hiring of the hall for the reception Florence seems to have mislaid her concerns until the moment of the actual aloneness.  If in the journey to the Hotel she was anxious it was suffused with the pleasure of filing away all the memories and even the road ahead was newly seen.  Observation does not seem one of Edwards strong points either as the anticipation is always countered by the more effervescent reality. Twenty two years have passed and new things happen all the time. These are however formative moments and ones to signal and lay down markers for the future they would share.

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Hidden Histories

Edward knew from University about the collapse of empires and his sojourn into conquering his love would have been shaped beforehand by a strategy to be a most humble and obedient servant to his new wife in satisfying her desires he would have comfort, not of a strange woman (The Comfort of Strangers another notable McEwan!) or innocent (The Innocent) passing encounter but a long to be lasting companion for life with all others forsaken. It is an occupied territory long held by Ian McEwan, this folly of loves testimony. Regardless of motive or morals he has attested to the problems enduring through many creative characters all having a degree of familiarity in our recollections but some are born out of sheer fantasy and the innocents here are in a realm which would have been common enough if borrowed thoughts and language are required to see it manifest in the pages.

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How accurate?

There must have been couples off to the seaside hotel with anxieties and pleasure equally mixed in a heady cocktail of expectation in earlier times, say the fifties and even earlier. Would protection be worn would they have enough passion or energy after the matrimonial ceremony and ritual acceptance of good wishes that heralded their journey into this future? They would not sometimes have had a rehearsal of lovemaking or been conscious of the powers within to see them comfortably through and in isolated limbo until they lay sleeping newly married and partly fulfilled in their dreams of finding a partner who became in that moment a formula for life. Improbable as it may sound or seem, the casting of Saiorsce Ronan whose previous collaboration with the authors vibe was her breakthrough movie, Atonement, and then as a fourteen year old, is once again fixed in the lines of the book.

Ian McEwan has described (at his lucid best) his twenty two year old bride ‘as bringing to mind an American Indian woman, a high born squaw. She had a strong jaw and her smile was broad and artless, right into the creases at the corners of her eyes.’ the remarkable aesthetic of the beautiful candescence that Siarsce Ronan can occupy the screen with.  In one publicity picture she is (freezing) on the Chesil Beach sitting with a forlorn gaze looking to embrace a situation that is exciting alarming and new while pouting over thoughts of days ahead. She fits the part remarkable as most illustrious actors do. having the facial balance and restrained openness and beauty which beguiled and captured truth of a kind rarely seen in cinema.  While sexuality was always present they each have, had an allure beyond that which is where this character is required to be in her worldly thoughts of beyond sexual pleasure and its meaning and wanting to know what that building block is in essence why they need to stick together.

Both are on the front of this dilemma as they are at twenty years old inadequately prepared in the era and societal cultural doctrines open to new consciousness. As adults together learning.

While watching, it is ones own knowledge and experience which fill in the gaps of language used by Ian McEwan in the book, a novella which is searching in this film to pass on the eloquent and carefully composited words and juxtapositions employed in the book.  Without self knowledge this film will not work and it is obviously crafted and made for a mature audience. With it als obeying seen in our media profuse times there is a connection to be made by the younger viewer and empathy is even more raw and intensely gripping. A sliding doors routine of what ifs.

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Weather the storm?

My favourite beach is at Blakeney in Norfolk where the seas-edge is forever moving, appearing to me as the edge of the temporal and physical world. That horizontal bent line which formers the outermost point is out further than the moving edge. The curve of the earth visible in the melding of the sky and seas infinity ingathered but going untouched out beyond us. Chesil Beach possibly has the same frontiers. There is the headland of Portland Bill to be found close by.  Behind it is the masons yards where hewn stone is cut and honed to facilitate a memory or vision to be put into a building.  Land is present there.  In Norfolk the elements see to it there is continual erosion.  No land is safe as the coast is claimed incrementally in tiny invisible motions of waves relentless cycle.  That turning of land into minerals swept away is almost the tangibility of the lovers quest to become another human being by having cause and effect.  There is no going back.  Immortality is attained while life is still present. Such are the promises and such are the illusions.

Conclusion ###3

It is difficult, particularly after ladybird to critique a film Saoirse Ronan is in and which she is on her game and filling her obligations and more.  Alongside an equally  strong performance by Billy Howle who goes through a more exposed later life, and with a very well cast supporting group there is a painful conclusion this film is not reaching the high bar it sets given the prose and narrative strength and form the original book achieves in spades.  No spades on this beach but a lot of digging and hiding of sensitivities none more alluded to than the core of the psychology Florence has become accustomed to.  There are few of any joyess parts and sadness is always present in particular what might have been.  The couple are ideally matched and are able to dispose of their similar but separate forms of middle classery.  They are intellectually matched but both are without the stronger need of emotional intelligence and it is obtained through hard learning.

Ian McEwan has created a new version of the story and my recommendation after seeing the film would be to visit the book if you have t altedy done so all that time ago.  There is a good display of the boundaries of film and story which is requires masters of the genre to overcome.  In the book those mis-steps seen here are not in the least visited and the beauty of language – the spoken words are few in the book and the reliance is on your constructing and building your own characters even visually and the casting has lent as much support as possible.

An enclosed compressed tale which it is hard to unravel.  Complexity exists though there are narrow confines expressed here denying access to what you have come to understand.

 

John Graham

25 May 2018

Belfast

On at Queens Film Theatre from Friday 25 May to Thursday 7 June 2018 and on general relaease.

 

 

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