2010, a reluctant last glance

What an awful year! Earthquakes, floods, volcanic irruptions, epidemics, yet more revelations of priestly pedophelia, and finally such a white Christmas that too many who planned to go anywhere were grounded or snowed in. God must be getting angry.

Even Iran finished up having trouble making ends meet, and earlier on in 2010 we were all beginning to think that the one whose name almost everyone now knows how to spell, would begin to carry out his ungodly plans in 'His' name. Nature, by it's own laws, always has the final word. This then must include human nature, therefore it has to apply to money. After all, war is a costly business. The war against the Taliban will therefore be as endless as the unlimited, financial support they obviously benefit from. That Obama finally decided to stretch things a bit more regarding when, in his modest opinion, the war will end, (at least for the USA, which would logically include Nato) won't unfortunately alter the truth of this basic equation.

It seems incredible that civilisation now casts a yearning glance back to the 1930s, when Muslims such as Atatürk had it all sorted out so reasonably, responsibly, maturely and in an up to date way, even then. When Lebanon was a multicultural jewel, the fine example of what can be achieved in the Middle-East.
How is it possible that 75 years or so later, so much of the Muslim world seems to have regressed beyond all hope and reason? Where are the Atatürks of our epoch? The only Muslim authorities who seem to have the most clout, are mad, radical clerics.

While in Europe we still seem to be sadly reduced to counting our euros. The ECB certainly can't be eligible for the first prize for prevision. By not appreciating the real difficulties their strong-euro 'bundesbank policy' would eventually create for southern European countries and 'out on a limb' Ireland, Monsieur Trichet and company seem to have fallen, with the euro, into their own trap. The only positive outcome is that in spite of the belatedly, lowered interest rates still being higher than those in the USA and the UK, the euro, ironically- and sadly too late for too many- has fallen to a more correct exchange value. As dismally, the european stock exchanges have finished the year more or less at the same level they were at the end of 2009 if not 2008.

In France the opposition, if any, has spent the year shuffling about without much conviction. Mme. Royal has tried hard to persuade herself that her time has come once more to figure as the opposition's number one star on their political stage. The only real hope for the party- that appears to be as dated as it's clumsy logo- would be Mr. Stauss Kahn. But he seems to believe that his post with the IMF is more prestigious than representing the Socialists for the next presidential elections. Considering that, plus the precious time needed for his more private pursuits referred to in a book by 'Cassandre', also published in 2010, he might be right.

Assange's assailments also began this year to harass our heads of States. Many of the more important leaks, regarding Afghanistan, for example, should already have been common knowledge. Other, even more important information in this regard, has been openly published in book form, even alluded to on Viewfinder, but as far as I know, although such facts must have been classified, they have never been divulged by WikiLeaks.
Taking on such a weighty engagement of exposing State secrets should require careful and responsible choice-determining consideration. But by all accounts, being careful and responsible doesn't seem to figure among Julian Assange's priorities.

The year is also ending sadly for the Ivory Coast. Laurent Gbagbo refuses to pack bags and go, insisting that the election results were rigged and that he is the victim of an 'international' plot led by the former colonial power France, to oust him. Mr. Ouattara, however, has been recognised internationally as the legitimate victor. The difference is there.
We all know, for example, that the elections in Afghanistan were massively fraudulent, but Karzai is recognised internationally as the legitimate victor. If that creates a problem for the first concerned, the Afghanis, made up of various ethnics, (unfortunate enough not all to be Pachtoun, thus neither adequately represented nor adequately protected) perhaps they will get over it. At least Karzai's opponent, Doctor Abdullah is a gentleman. As the right hand man of Massoud, it could hardly be otherwise. Hopefully his time will time, before it's too late.

Berlusconi has again proved to the world that he, (money and the media) are immortal. This whilst everyone, all political tendencies combined, was hoping that the Italian page would at last be voltata. But even 'incoherent reason' must prevail if there's still no one to replace him or willing to do so. In Italy the year ends on the same, smelly note corresponding with that of the beginning of Berlusconi's PM reign after Prodi's exit. 3,600 tons of Naples' rubbish (recorded in November of 2010) were left in the streets to rot and cause serious health risks again. 1400 tons still remain to add their fetore to the festivities of Naples' New Year's Eve.

But to return to the Ivory Coast. Considering the religious upheaval in the world, it seems curious that Mr. Gbagbo of the Christian south has less International support (which means that of the USA) than Mr. Ouattara of the Muslim North. And this, even without going into what could be a legitimate, constitutional argument on Gbagbo's part. But perhaps it's another sign of our times, or maybe we return to the final word dictated by the laws of Nature, which must include human nature, therefore it has to apply to money..
Might this also suggest yet another case of- l'homme propose, l'Occident dispose..?

In spite of such merciless, malodorous and mercenary notes, let this end with sincere good wishes to everyone for a far more positive, peaceful, prosperous and more pleasantly perfumed New Year!

Text by Mirino. Image by kind permission of artist, David McKee, with thanks. © December, 2010

The Otter

Have you seen the Otter
Skating on the ice?
No one does it better
Or looks quite so nice.

Figures of eight
And pirouettes
Performed with ease and grace,
Vanishing, where it's thin,
Leaving little trace.

Vous avez vu la Loutre
Patiner sur la glace?
Il n'y a pas de doute
Qu'elle a de la classe.

Des figures de huit,
Des pirouettes
Exécutées avec grâce,
Disparaissant où la glace fond
Laissant peu de trace.

Avete visto patinare
Sul ghiaccio la Lontra?
Nessuno può farlo meglio
Con tale facilità.

Figure di otto,
Poi piroette
Eseguite con grazia,
Scomparendo dov'è fesso
Lasciando poco traccia

Text and image © Mirino, December, 2010

A Christmas message

To be there for the first heavy snow at 2000 metres seems a privilege. Early snow that brings the promise of a good season for all those who depend so much upon it.
Virgin snow yet to be furrowed with the criss-cross traces of skis and snow-boards. All in good time for the school holidays that bring the families and queues waiting for the ski-lifts.
Twelve degrees centigrade below zero, but exhilarating, crunching through the deep, new snow in the evening.

Another December, and another Christmas, each one different from the last. This especially when the parents are no longer there. From then on we go our own ways, making our own criss-cross traces, with our own families, and new memories to add to the album.

This is the third December for Viewfinder. Sometimes writing seems like murmuring to oneself in the dark, or better still, throwing personal thoughts and messages out to sea in bottles. One never knows who finds the bottle and is interested enough to pull out the cork to read the message. One has no idea of the reaction one's message might incite, whether it would be boredom or pleasure.

But when the bottle is found and opened, and the message is read, even if it's only by a relative few, according to the statistics it's read all over the world! And the knowledge of this is even more exhilarating than crunching through new snow at 2000 meters!

It also makes one smile, to imagine that even modest messages are getting through the culture barriers. To believe that whatever our differences, we share the messages in bottles. And this increasingly so, as time goes by and the world gets smaller, because of the miracle of our ever improving means of communication. Knowing that the sun sending its last rays to wish us 'good night', is sending its first rays elsewhere to wish so many others, 'good morning'.

Let this then be another little message in a special, celebration bottle..

Merry Christmas, peace and goodwill on earth for everyone.


Text and images © Mirino. December, 2010

Anne Boleyn

She was no ravishing beauty. Anne Boleyn's most striking features were her dark hair, her dark, almond shaped eyes and her long neck. On her left hand she had an exiguous, sixth finger that she deftly hid.
It was said to be an evil omen, or even the sign of a witch.

She certainly bewitched Henry VIII into going to extremes in order to marry her. Sir Henry Percy, heir to the earldom of Northumberland had also fallen madly in love with Mistress Boleyn. The poet, Sir Thomas Wyatt the elder, was totally enchanted by her as well, and wrote 'Of his love, called Anna'.

Wyatt's grandson recorded an anecdote, that in 1527 or 1528 his grandfather took a locket from Anne as a trophy. During the same week, Henry VIII took one of her rings, which from then onwards he always wore on his little finger.
During a game of bowls with courtiers including Wyatt, the king insisted that he had won the final throw. He pointed at it with the ringed finger, and whilst casting a meaningful glance at Wyatt, repeated- 'I tell thee it is mine'.
Wyatt asked if he might measure the distance between the wood (a 5 inch ball) and the jack (a 2.5 inch ball), and used the locket to do so. The king immediately stamped off muttering words of having been deceived, leaving all the players quite perplexed.

The second verse of Wyatt's sonnet- 'Whoso List to Hunt'  (adapted from Petrarch's rime 190, refers to Anne Boleyn.

Who list° her hunt, I put him out of doubt,                       °cares
As well as I, may spend his time in vain.
And graven with diamonds in letters plain
There is written, her fair neck round about,
"Noli me tangere, for Caesar's I am,
And wild for to hold, though I seem tame."

('Noli me tangere quia Caesaris sum'  "touch me not for I am Caesar's" was inscribed on collars made for Caesar's hinds before they were set free, thus supposedly safe from hunters).

The Plague also insidiously forced a separation between the King and Anne. In 1528 he sent her yet another message of "wishing myself, specially on evening, in my sweet-heart's arms, whose pretty dukkys I trust shortly to kiss".

Henry was determined to marry Anne Boleyn, also with the intention of fathering the much required son and heir to the throne. However, Pope Clement VII, then subject to Catherine's uncle, Charles V, newly proclaimed Holy Roman Emperor, refused him the right to divorce from Catherine of Aragon. This led to Henry's reaching the monumental decision of renouncing allegiance to Roman Catholicism, declaring 'Henrician Supremacy' by proclaiming himself Supreme Head of the Church of England.

Cardinal Wolsey had to go, also to Anne Boleyn's satisfaction, and Sir Thomas More was the natural choice as the Lord Chancellor's successor. He was much respected, certainly by the king, and already had established an international reputation for his writing. He first refused the honour and responsibility, having his own reservations about the King's 'Great Matter', but Henry coaxed him into accepting the title by assuring him that he would be spared from all such concerns and should 'look first unto God, and after God, unto him'.

It was considered that there never was, nor ever would be a Chancellor more honest and accomplished as Sir Thomas More. But Henry was unable to keep his promise or leave More alone. To try to appease his tormented mind he needed the humanist to renounce his neutrality. But this Thomas More could never do. His refusal to take the Oath of Succession unless it was reworded, was considered as treason, according to the newly devised 'Treason Act', and this tragically led to him being tried and condemned to death.

Could one not reason that due to her effective, 'feminine tactics' and insatiable ambition, Anne Boleyn had inadvertently changed the cause of English history? Henry's initial, fired-up passion for her certainly seems to have determined the nation's acquiring it's democracy and independant parliament sooner than most, if not all, European nations. Yet Anne, of course, fell victim to Henry's tyranny as well, for not having been able to fulfil his obsessive but self-deluding expectations.

Sir Thomas Wyatt wrote his poem 'V. Innocentia Veritas Viat Fides Circumdederunt me inimici mei'  (My enemies surround my soul) when he was imprisoned in 1536. It was from the Bell-Tower during his period of imprisonment that he actually witnessed the execution of Anne Boleyn.

History is full of ironic consequences, unprepared for reflections from the deformed mirror of the future. Anne Boleyn's daughter was to become Queen Elizabeth I. Her Golden Era and Reformation was to establish another, particularly important precedent, for the United Kingdom and posterity.

Text © Mirino. Sources- Norton Anthology of English Literature. Henry VIII and his Court (Neville Williams). Image- Wikipedia, with thanks (Anne Boleyn circa 1534. Artist unknown).                                                  December, 2010

The Willow


By the clear, little stream, running over its bed of bright pebbles, grew an old willow tree.

It was stubborn and unsociable. It grew alone and had no desire for any company, other than the little stream, the earth, the sun and the rain.

Many of its old limbs were useless. Long dry shoots still curved up from them, like huge, bleached ribs of a strange animal.

The greater part of the tree was very much alive, priding a full crown of bright orange shoots in the spring, before they were graced with yellow catkins and slender leaves.
The foot of the tree and exposed roots were often moss covered in the damper seasons. It gave the willow a comfortable air, as it it were wearing thick, green, carpet slippers.

There were times when the little stream became so low that it stopped flowing past the willow. Its bed would become quite dry. The old tree would then push its roots deeper in search of water. It would weep a little to itself when it had to make another sacrifice, before the stream finally returned.

The stream always returned.
The old willow tree would sigh and let fall its bright leaves in the autumn. Then the stream would take them riding over the stones down the hillside, like tiny, golden ships.

But once, after a long, hot summer, the stream didn't return.
The old tree bent its back to the sun and used its resources sparingly. More of it's branches were given up, and it let fall its scorched, curled leaves much earlier than usual.
Yet, no matter the loss, the old willow was certain that it could wait. The stream would return, as it always did.

The autumn and winter brought no relief, for there was still no rain. There was only some powdery snow that the cold, dry winds scattered at random.

The following spring the earth was hard and dry. The new grass was thin. The rain showers came, but they were insufficient, and the old tree braced itself once more to face the summer months.

With great effort it had produced some new shoots, but it was weak. It bent lower, old and tired. Yet deep in its heart was still the faith that all would be well. The stream would return, as it always did.

But the drought brought the fire which burnt the fields and hedgerows.
The old willow tree cracked and groaned as it too fell to the flames.

A few of its young branches, somehow spared, were left in the dry bed of the stream, while the fire burned on, up into the hills, destroying everything within its reach. 

After the fire, the rains came.
The parched earth gratefully received the water.

During the winter, the little stream returned, as the willow always knew it would. It rushed happily along its bed, finding its pebbles and polishing them again.
It soon met in its path the last, young branches of the old willow.
They were gently lifted and pushed to the sides of the bank where soft beds were made for them. And there they lay until the water claimed them.

But slightly higher on the bank there was one small shoot partly covered with earth pushed up by the stream. It made strong roots during the spring and gradually grew up on the bank of the stream into a fine willow tree.

It bowed over the charred trunk of the old willow as if in homage, then it grew straight and proud.

And each autumn the little stream would take its leaves to ride over the stones down the hillside, like tiny, golden ships.

From the Rainbow series

Text and images © Mirino (PW) December, 2010

The cause

How to establish a coherent conformity of world history using national records and interpretations must sometimes be a very difficult and challenging task, certainly regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians.
Yet there seems little historical doubt that following the Bar Kokhba rebellion (2nd century AD) the Romans renamed "Provincia Judea" (derived from "Judah") to "Syria Palaestina". Thus the Romans, and not only the Prophet, set a precedent of portentous consequences.

The Palestinians have many supporters in different parts of the world, including Europe, but one sometimes wonders what they are essentially supporting. What is the Palestinian cause? No one seems able or willing to give a precise answer, and this despite the fact that these supporters are fully informed of all the latest details of how badly the Palestinians are being treated by their prepotent neighbours.

When one refers back to the UN agreements of 1947, it seems that the Palestinians had relatively little say in determining their own future, for the Arab League and their Higher Committee assumed the weighty responsibility of deciding for them.

At such a time following the second world war, the world rightly felt that the intolerable injustice to the Jewish people should be properly dealt with once and for all. Since the radical consequences of the Bar Kokhba rebellion, one might reason that the world took its time in advocating that justice should prevail, but such is history.

However one considers the UN agreements of 1947 regarding the Partition Plan and the proposed international administration of Jerusalem, the Palestinians would certainly have benefited more, had those who assumed to represent them, agreed rather than categorically refuse, to ratify the terms of those agreements.
As nothing then was officially settled, it inevitably led to an ungodly and interminable 'free for all'.

The world must have been persuaded that the day after Israel had declared its independence in 1948, and was invaded by five Arabian countries with the militarily support of four others, the Jewish State would have no chance whatsoever. Yet not only it survived, it could probably have benefited far more from military gains of additional territories and spoils of war, but the Israelis were, and still are, only interested in Israel, and being allowed to live in peace.

But to return to the Palestinian cause. Considering how many 'peace negotiations' have taken place during the past half century between the Israelis and Palestinians, the cause, certainly of the 'moderate' Palestinians, seems so obscure as to be non-existent.

In contrast, the cause of the 'immoderate' Palestinians is extremely clear. So much so that again one wonders if it really is the Palestinian cause? How many Palestinian families, who, for example, have been caring for their olive groves for generations, would really approve of the total destruction of Israel and the complete Islamisation of the Holy Land? Wouldn't they prefer to be left in peace as well? Yet this seems to be the only apparent Palestinian cause.

One also wonders why the Palestinians who supposedly have been living in the Holy Land since the Jews were banished by the Romans in the 2nd century AD, have never officially tried to establish their State? Was it because they had doubts about their right to do so, or because they weren't interested and never thought it necessary?

This right certainly exists, but it's dwarfed by the consideration that the territories allocated to them but not ratified in 1947, have constantly decreased due to the effects of endless conflict. It also seems to be considered undesirable by the 'immoderate' Palestinians who might believe that by establishing the State of Palestine, either within the reduced confines or even according to the original partition plan,
the Palestinians would then be obliged to recognise Israel's right to exist.

Is this then the Palestinian cause? Or is it the Islamic cause? Must the Palestinians continue to be deprived and to suffer endless martyrdom for the Islamic cause? Such seems to be their fate, initiated by the Romans, then the Prophet, and finally the Arab League's refusal to sign the UN agreements in 1947.

Let us then assume that fate, as well as Islam, decrees the destruction of Israel in order that the Holy Land be entirely Islamised.
At such a time would there be anything sacred left of the Holy Land worth Islamising? Even if the Muslim intelligentsia would still believe that the land so pummelled by diabolical war was still 'holy', what guaranty would humanity have that the Muslims wouldn't then fight amongst themselves for this tiny portion of the world, by then a bomb-blasted, mini-desert where ancient temples, priceless archives, synagogues, wailing-walls and mosques would all have been pulverised to dust, along with their loyal guardians? And this would only be the initial effect of the cause.

History confirms that the Hebrew religion is the oldest of the monotheist religions. If Jerusalem and the Holy land are to be safeguarded for posterity, ideally there should be real co-operation and agreement between the authorities representing the three religions of Abraham. But despite whatever possible co-operation, is there a people more unified, more qualified and more dedicated than the Israelis themselves, to properly assume this responsibility?

The right to live in peace, to be recognised and respected, naturally should apply to all peoples whatever their culture and religion. The Holy Land seems to be an epicentre. A nucleus of humanity in a sacred place that represents a fundamental part of the history of civilisation and the monotheist religions. This to such an extent that if Israel were invaded, would it be unreasonable to believe that it could foment into 'the final battle', Armageddon? And if Israel and Jerusalem were destroyed, could this not lead to the infernal and irreversible culmination, the Apocalypse?


By Mirino, Satellite photo of Israel by kind courtesy of Nasa, with thanks. December, 2010

Les sondages

C'est la grande campagne anti-Sarkozy en ce moment. Une campagne coordonnée par tous les autres partis combinés pour le dénigrer autant que possible. Même avant que le gouvernement nouvellement formé n'ait fait ses preuves.

Pour Bayrou, 'Sarkozy parle plus de lui-même que des français'- comme si ce n'était jamais le cas en ce qui concerne François. Selon lui 'il s'est coupé des français'. Villepin dit la même chose, comme s'il est à court d'arguments.

Pour Aubry, 'le Président est déboussolé et donne l'impression de ne pas savoir où il va'. (Cette dernière précision est sans doute pour ceux qui ne connaîssent pas le sens du mot 'déboussoler').

Pour Marine le Pen, 'Sarkozy est mort et le remaniement marque la victoire du Chiraquisme', comme si Jacques n'avait jamais cédé sous la pression des syndicats. D'ailleurs selon lui 'les français sont ingouvernables'. C'est probablement une phrase de Mitterrand.

Puis pour couronner le tout (sur LCI hier matin) selon IFOP Paris-Match, la majorité des français souhaite la victoire de la gauche aux prochaines élections.

Nous savons que les sondages varient selon l'agent responsable. Ils dépendent sur la formulation de la question, les circonstances sociales au moment où elle est posée, le choix du milieu du public interrogé, et globalement, sur le résultat recherché.

Mais disons que le sondage de IFOP Paris-Match soit vrai et la majorité des français souhaite donc la victoire de l'opposition. D'abord quelle opposition? Représenté(e) par qui? Avec quelle politique pour continuer à faire face à la crise économique? Qui parmi cette opposition est capable de faire mieux que le Président actuel?

On a du mal à imaginer Mme Aubry, et encore moins Mme Royal, obtenir des contrats à l'étranger valant des milliards. Il n'y a personne d'autre capable de continuer à faire des réformes nécessaires sans céder à la pression syndicale. Personne parmi l'opposition n'est capable de créer des emplois, à part des faux qui saigneraient encore plus les ressources financières françaises.

La politique de 'justice sociale' de l'opposition est certes valable après quelques bonnes années de belles récoltes. Mais vu les circonstances contraignantes actuelles, elle est limitée à opposer pour opposer, à défaire pour défaire- (la reforme de la retraite, entres autres). Une politique de populisme, à court terme, donc forcément une politique myope, pour faire plaisir aux syndicats et à ceux qui les suivent, ceux qui n'ont pas trop d'égard ni sens de responsabilité à propos des problèmes graves qui pèsent sur la nation, et l'obligation qu'elle doit assumer pour assurer l'avenir.

En somme, si cette vague majorité donnée par les sondages IFOP Paris-Match souhaite retourner au pays des rêves, ce serait seulement pour renvoyer à plus tard des problèmes qui risquent de devenir alors cauchemardesques.

Text and image © Mirino. November, 2010

The Water-lily

There were many, fine water-lilies on the lake, but the most splendid emerged like a king amongst his courtiers. Its petals shone like pearl-white silk, and they were held stiffly, as a proud colonel would display his dress uniform.

When not devoted to its own reflections, it would out-stare the sun whom it regarded as quite unreliable. And when the sun had gone, the water-lily would disdainfully close its petals, neatly encasing its golden stamen and pistil.

In spite of its overbearing starchiness, the water-lily was admired and respected by all the other water-lilies. They accepted without question that it was the most brilliant, the most eminent and high ranking of them all.

But one spring, while the water-lilies still slept, there came The Great Thaw, which changed everything.
There was so much water that the usually calm and hospitable lake overflowed with excitement. Soon the currents were so strong that many of the water-lilies were rudely pulled out of their beds and washed away.

When the waters finally settled, the largest water-lily found itself loosely embedded in a miserable pond. Even the surrounding nettles looked down and made stinging remarks.

When it finally managed to bloom in the summer, it felt so ashamed! Never had its petals drooped so before, and never had they shown such ugly, brown stains!

The poor water-lily spent a drab month in the little pond. Yet in its lonely state it had time to reflect  more deeply than it had ever done before. It began to accept the shadows that it had always ignored.

It rooted itself more firmly, and gradually the little pond seemed less murky and unpleasant.

Towards the end of that summer, things began to look up a little. Even the nettles seemed less hostile.

The water-lily slept through most of the autumn, winter and early spring. As it slept it had a dream, as water-lilies sometimes do.
It dreamt that it was summer and time to bloom again. But when it opened its petals, they fell off and floated away leaving it completely naked. All the other water-lilies waved their handsome heads as if with laughter.

The following summer, when the water-lily's bud had risen to the pond's surface, it began to open its new petals with timid apprehension.
The pond had become larger and deeper. There were other plants in flower on the banks. Damsel-flies showed off their fine colour and lace. Birds darted in and out of the elegant reeds, and butterflies basked in the sun.

It was truly a beautiful sight, crowned by the perfect bloom of the water-lily.

The damsel-flies paid homage. The tall reeds bowed reverently in the breeze, and the water-lily, in full bloom, (with its new leaves, of course) was more worthy of such honours than it had ever been.

From the Rainbow Series

Text and images © Mirino (PW) November, 2010

Le problème

Dominique de Villepin semble toujours avoir du mal à ne pas se trahir. Mais les français ne sont pas si dupes.
Il y a certaines histoires sur lesquelles la page a beau avoir l'air d'être tournée, mais en réalité elles ne sont jamais oubliées. On est toujours 'contaminé', ou pour le mieux, 'responsable mais pas coupable'.

Sans doute Monsieur de Villepin a ses qualités positives, mais elles sont forcément minées par sa Sarkophobie criarde, qui manifestement ne diminue pas avec le temps.

L'ex-Premier Ministre parait se comporter comme si le temps, justement, n'existait pas, comme s'il n'y avait aucun changement de hiérarchie depuis son bref terme d'office. Il semble croire qu'il est toujours au dessus, même du Président de la République, parce qu'il s'agit de Nicolas Sarkozy. 

Comment est-il possible que Monsieur de Villepin puisse croire qu'il a le droit de faire une telle affirmation publique diffamatoire que "Sarkozy est un des problèmes de la France"?

Il s'agit quand même du Président de la République, qui malgré toutes les difficultés imprévues, n'a jamais cessé d'assumer ses responsabilités en appliquant sans faille ses convictions selon les besoins de la France, et aussi pour lesquelles il a été élu.

On est libre de l'aimer ou non, mais personne ne peut nier ces faits, ni qu'il s'agit d'un homme intègre et résolu qui prend ses responsabilités très au sérieux en refusant que d'autres, qui n'ont pas cette responsabilité, dictent la loi selon leurs intérêts personnels et leur manière de vouloir voir les choses.

Car même si Monsieur de Villepin réussit finalement à persuader les français qu'il est assez digne pour devenir, lui aussi, Président de la République, ce n'est pas certain qu'il en a l'envergure, l'intégrité, les principes et le courage pour assumer un tel devoir aussi bien que le Président actuel. Un Président qui mérite non seulement le respect que son office exige, mais aussi le respect pour ce qu'il est.

Text and image © Mirino, November, 2010



The book had been thrown away as rubbish. 'Narvik' by M. J. Torris, written probably in 1941 and published in 1942, limited and numbered to 25 copies.
It has the following dedication- "A mes comarades de la 1re D.L.C..."

The book's pages had yellowed but none were missing.
It was written for the French soldiers (five battalions) who alongside Norwegian,  Polish and Spanish troups, with the intermittent support of the Royal Navy and RAF, fought against the German occupation of Norway and regained the strategically important northern town of Narvik (of the permanent 'iron route' from Sweden). The blockade key for Great Britain.

'(...) Il est onze heures du soir. Le soleil s'est caché. Et, aussitôt, surgit le froid, brutalement. On grelotte, on claque des dents. les pieds sont insensibles. Sous le blouson et la chemise, le torse se crispe, se serre, s'amenuise. On comprend ce que veut dire : "transpercé" de froid.
La bise se lève, cinglante. En quelques minutes les chaussures sont verglacées, les guêtres, mouillées, se durcissent.
Les hommes creusent des trous dans la neige, profonde de deux metres. Tout le monde s'y met, pour se réchauffer. Et on s'installe côte à côte, serrés l'un contre l'autres, enroulés dans les pèlerines, les pieds dans le sac. Pas question de dormir!'

They weren't as well equipped as the Norwegians to fight in such extreme conditions. During the days and nights of the attack the temperatures could sometimes drop below -20°. They had to drag themselves up deep, snowy slopes under the withering, machine gun fire of the solidly defended positions. Yet they succeeded, at considerable sacrifice. They then had the advantage and the impetus to push on, to rout the enemy and perhaps even free Norway. But incredibly, after all their efforts, they were ordered to evacuate Narvik and Norway altogether, leaving the Norwegians with the obligation of negotiating neutrality with Germany.

The main reason for this was that at the same time France had been forced into signing the armistice.
It's not hard to imagine the feelings of the French soldiers after such a brilliant achievement, so far from France, to learn that their homeland had been obliged to capitulate and to sign what were considered ignominious terms.

'En proie à ces réflexions, et cédant au
découragement, peu d'entre eux goûtèrent
au repas du soir, peu allumèrent du feu et
beaucoup, ce soir-là, n'allèrent pas porter
leurs armes aux faisceaux. Ils se couchèrent
chacun à la place où ils se trouvaient, mais le
chagrin, le regret de leur patrie respective, de
leurs parents, de leurs femmes et de leurs
enfants qu'ils n'espéraient plus jamais revoir,
les empêchaient de dormir.'

The remaining contingent of the French battalions evacuated to England were well treated, but because of the capitulation, the relationship couldn't be the same as it was previously. The French were even expected to disarm before boarding the dilapidated cargo ships bound for Casablanca, but they were finally allowed to keep their small arms and automatic weapons.

Another reason why Norway had to be abandoned, was that the Royal Navy wasn't then able to continue to assume the defence or maintain the necessary lines of communication because of the increasing demands due to the rapid expansion of naval war zones. The dire circumstances regarding France, dictated new priorities.
In trying to give the Narvik campaign the necessary naval support, It had also suffered too much from the Luftwaffe dive bomb attacks, and the RAF didn't then have sufficient means to effectively counter them.

Obviously the few examples of this book were published (Fayard) during the German occupation of France, so unless published secretly, it would have been subject to censorship. One nevertheless gets the impression that in Norway in 1940, fighting under such difficult conditions, there was a degree of mutual respect between attackers and defenders. There is no allusion to the Waffen-SS, no anticipation of the hate, horror and madness of the Nazis in this book, as if the battle for Narvik were another war in itself. A war in miniature, 'according to the rules', but still with all the most advanced, available technology of the time.

Even though the French left behind many of their fallen comrades, it seemed sacrilege to them, for example, to destroy their supply of wine that at one point they also had to abandon. So perhaps the Germans were able to celebrate the regaining of Narvik without the slightest opposition, even more.

'(...)Ils n'étaient qu'une poignée! Sur mer, quelques torpilleurs; sur terre, quelques bataillons. Trois bataillons norvégiens, cinq bataillons français, trois bataillons polonais, quelques légionnaires espagnols exilés, un dizaine d'allemands. En tout, vingt, vingt-cinq mille hommes peut-être! (...)

(...)Ils n'étaient que vingt-cinq mille à Narvik. Mais chacun de ces hommes connaissait sa force et sa valeur, et savait la déployer, "l'engager" tout entière, pour se montrer digne de son pays (...)'

If there is anyone who's father or grand-father, of whatever nationality, knows anything about this particular episode of WW2, especially if he played an active role, it would be an extremely precious contribution to a small part of history that deserves to be remembered, and certainly not thrown away, as rubbish.
Narvik (Naval battles)

Text by Mirino. Source 'Narvik', M. J. Torris. Images Nasa, and Wikimedia Commons, with thanks. November, 2010

Pentagonal politics

To get a more balanced idea of world news, it's always interesting to compare information by reading journals from various nations. Nowadays they are all easily accessible on the Web and many of them are also in English.
It's interesting if not amusing, for example, to read the 'Tehran Times', and enlightening and sometimes reassuring to read the French articles from the Lebanese 'L'Orient Le Jour'.

Recently I came across this article in the 'Kabul Press'. I refer mostly to this particular Afghan news item because it's obviously an important one that surely deserves attention and diffusion.

The Viewfinder posts on Massoud underline what certainly could be regarded as fatal mistakes made by Europe and America regarding Afghanistan. But it seems that the West is slow in correcting the tendency. Articles such as 'Obama mission..' in 'The Times of India' also point out what they consider to be incoherent Afghan politics, or impolitics, continually practised by the Pentagon and the United States government. The article in the Kabul Press is also particularly revealing in this respect.

After all that has happened in Afghanistan, (and the USA) and in view of all the information available (as well as leaked) since the end of the Afghan-Soviet war, one is bound to pose the obvious question. How much longer is it going to take before the West and Nato start seriously querying the wisdom of pouring millions of dollars and modern, military equipment into Pakistan in order to defend Afghanistan against the Talban movement originally conceived in Pakistan, if not still fostered there?

Should there be some subtle motive that one is unaware of, for what seems to be over casual, blind-faith and generosity, perhaps someone more informed would be able and willing to disclose it.

By Mirino. Image from Reuters, with thanks. November, 2010



La dernière fois qu'il y en a eu là haut, à 1200 mètres, dans les forêts de pins, de chênes et même de châtaigniers de ce coin des Alpes Maritimes, il y en avait tellement que l'on ne pouvait pas les ramasser toutes. C'était il y a sept ans. Depuis on n'en trouvait plus, jusqu'à la semaine dernière.
Car ici il faut les conditions spéciales pour les chanterelles. Une très bonne humidité d'octobre, pour faire répandre la mousse, une chaleur douce du soleil automnal. Elles craignent le gel, comme les délicates filles trop frileuses. De la fin d'Octobre jusqu'à la fin de novembre sinon plus, tant que le temps reste assez clément, sans gel donc y compris la nuit, même à cette altitude- ce qui est justement rare- elles peuvent nous régaler.

Leur 'chant' est leur couleur et leur parfum. On sent ce dernier sur nos doigts après une belle journée dans les forêts à les ramasser délicatement de leurs lits trempés et spongieux de mousse.
On trouve aussi des sanguins et même parfois des trompettes de la mort. Elles sont très recherchées malgré leur nom sinistre. Mais trouver les chanterelles me semble une fête exceptionnelle. Elles cachent leurs longues belles jambes crème orange sous leurs petits jupons ici plutôt brun clair, et bien camouflées. Elles semblent être là, uniquement pour l'occasion, et bien entendu c'est vrai.

  Nous voyons des traces de sangliers partout. Eux aussi cherchent avec efficacité mais beaucoup moins de délicatesse, ce qui leur plaît. On sent l'odeur de la terre, des pins, de bois pourri qui retourne doucement à la terre. On respire et on se sent d'autant plus vivant.

Celui qui a 87 ans. l'infatigable, le maçon artiste dont on a déjà fait allusion. Celui qui peut tailler toujours la pierre. C'est toujours lui qui nous fait découvrir tous ces coins quasi secrets.

Mais ce privilège spécial est surtout ce cadeau généreux de la nature. Et d'autant plus comme il s'agit d'un événement assez rare. Une synthèse des conditions et des circonstances qui comprennent, bien entendu, notre présence. Une journée ensoleillée d'automne, magnifique et inoubliable.

Il y a bien évidemment beaucoup de recettes pour des champignons, et chacun a ses préférences.
En ce qui concerne les chanterelles, (du grec. cantharos: coupe) les opinions varient selon le pays et l'espèce trouvée. Ici on les sèche pour les garder, bien quelles puissent aussi être congelées. Séchées, celles de cette région retiennent tout leur parfum et saveur. Si on fait une sauce pour accompagner un rôti, par exemple, quelques chanterelles sèches ajoutées à la sauce froide qu'elles absorbent en répandant en échange leur propre parfum poivré et fruité, avant de verser le tout autour de la viande dix ou quinze minutes avant qu'elle soit cuite, donne toujours un résultat délicieux. 

Text and images © Mirino. November, 2010

Nostalgie française

On aurait préféré se concentrer sur un autre sujet plus intéressant, mais on revient tout naturellement à cette situation insensée, peut-être aussi dans un effort de rester sain..
L'ironie est que les syndicats auraient bien plus à gagner actuellement, exerçant la responsabilité, en arrêtant leur mouvement, que de continuer à tout prix jusqu'au point de risquer de perdre leur raison d'être.

Vexés, ils considèrent qu'ils ne peuvent pas reculer. Ils veulent un autre 'Mai 68'. Mais les temps ont changé, même si certains patrons de syndicats semblent être toujours coincés 42 ans en arrière. Ce n'est certainement  plus le 'Flower Power' printemps de la France.
On ne va pas gagner la partie non plus en rendant encore pire la situation économique. Si davantage de petites entreprises font faillite en conséquence, il y aura forcément davantage de chômage- ce qui rendrait tous les problèmes, y compris celui des retraites, encore plus graves.

Le gouvernement est censé faire des réformes jugées nécessaires pour garantir l'avenir des français. C'est une responsabilité qu'il assume, évidemment, de manière sérieuse. Il ne cherche pas donc à gagner des concours de popularité en les faisant, mais il est clair que les syndicats veulent déformer le principe et la vérité de cette réforme de la retraite votée par le gouvernement et le Sénat, pour faire peur aux français, y compris les jeunes aussi pour lesquels cette reforme est justement conçue.

Quand on lit sur les pancartes de ces braves manifestants, des subtilités comme "Casse-toi pauvre con", on a plutôt l'impression que cette minorité devient un amas hors de contrôle. Il ne viendra jamais à l'esprit de cette personne grossière qu'il est en train d'insulter la France entière, une majorité silencieuse qui respecte les principes de la démocratie.
Là ils traversent non seulement la ligne de l'illégalité, mais aussi celle de la folie haineuse. Là ils sont avec les voyous et les criminels. Protégés par les syndicats, ils sont convaincus qu'ils peuvent tout faire impunément. Mais cette ligne représente aussi celle de la sécurité nationale.

On lit aujourd'hui sur une pancarte d'un jeune: "Je ne veux pas perdre ma vie à essayer de la gagner".. Voilà une autre phrase dépourvue de sens, qui va justement de pair avec ces manifestations. Autant dire encore- "Je ne veux pas vivre"..

Pour se faire valoir il faut d'abord avoir quelque chose de positive pour le mériter. Peut-on affirmer qu'il y a quoi que ce soit de positif et de méritant derrière ces manifestations? Est qu'il y a quelqu'un parmi tous ces démonstrateurs- un autre Robespierre (préférablement plus sain) qui rayonne d'intelligence et de qualités positives méritantes? Y-a-t'il une personnage en mesure de garantir un avenir glorieux pour la France?

C'est certain qu'il y a ceux qui ne seront pas d'accord avec de telles opinions, mais ce serait d'autant plus intéressant qu'ils se manifestent, pas seulement dans les rues, mais aussi en exprimant leurs opinions honnêtement pour permettre à la majorité de mieux comprendre leurs revendications, pourquoi ils manifestent, et surtout les 'jeunes', pour qui cette réforme devrait au contraire mieux rassurer.

 Text by Mirino. Images AFP, with thanks. October, 2010

The Shrew

Shakespeare's 'The Taming of the Shrew', was first published in 1623. It's thought to have been based on an earlier, 16th century play. Today, although still a favourite classic, the idea would be considered unacceptably condescending towards women in general, and even more so to those who assume professional and ministerial positions of responsibility. As if women of character should, in any case, be subject to such harsh, 'husbandry discipline' in order to become 'worthy wives'.

Already too much of today's world advocates 'religious' radicalism, a senseless regression and imposition of barbaric, pre-medieval values. Thus women subject to such regimes are deprived of the freedom and opportunities they should otherwise enjoy, which wastefully include governmental  responsibilities they would also be fully capable of assuming.

There is therefore comfort in the thought that even in 14th century England, after centuries of religious antifeminism, authors such as Chaucer (1343-1400) with his 'The Wife of Bath', for example, revealed the ecclesiastical hypocrisy of the time, and obviously defended such women with the valid and amusing argument he wrote for her, which included biblical references.

We also note that although God ignored the argument and spirit of Noah's wife (in 'Noah's Flood' ca. 1475/1575), he never punished her, and when she was finally dragged aboard the ark, Noah gave her full credit for her character, if not for her principles.

Such respect and admiration of feminine spirit, beauty and character, is prodigiously expressed and eternally conveyed by Shakespeare (1564-1616). But then of course England was ruled by a queen, Henry the eighth's daughter, Elizabeth I.

There is noblesse and generosity, as well as something that has to be tongue in cheek, in Katherine's final speech, considering that Petruccio's incoherent behaviour and unkindness hardly deserved such devoted obedience and admirable loyalty.

Perhaps it could also serve as a reminder, that behind great men, (though they be rare) there are often even greater women.
'Fie, fie, unknit that threat'ning, unkind brow,
And dart not scornful glances from those eyes
To wound thy lord, thy king, thy governor.
It blots thy beauty as frosts do bite the meads,
Confounds thy fame as whirlwinds shake fair buds,
And in no sense is meet or amiable.
A woman moved is like a fountain troubled,
Muddy, ill-seeming, thick, bereft of beauty,
And while it is so, none so dry or thirsty
Will deign to sip or touch one drop of it.
Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
They head, thy sovereign, one that cares for thee,
And for thy maintenance commits his body
To painful labour both by sea and land,
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold,
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe,
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks, and true obedience,
Too little payment for so great a debt.
Such duty as the subject owes the prince,
Even such a woman oweth to her husband,
And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour,
And not obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebel,
And graceless traitor to her loving lord?
I am ashamed that women are so simple
To offer war where they should kneel for peace,
Or seek for rule, supremacy, and sway
When they are bound to serve, love and obey.
Why are our bodies soft, and weak, and smooth,
Unapt to toil and trouble in the world,
But that our soft conditions and our hearts
Should well agree with our external parts?
Come, come, you froward and unable worms,
My mind hath been as big as one of yours,
My heart as great, my reason haply more,
To bandy word for word and frown for frown;
But now I see our lances are but straws,
Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare,
That seeming to be most which we indeed least are.
Then vale your stomachs, for it is no boot,
And place your hands below your husband's foot,
In token of which duty, if he please,
My hand is ready, may it do him ease.'

'Why, there's a wench! Come on, and kiss me, Kate.'
They kiss.
The less significant, more earthly shrew (animal) is one of the smallest mammals existing. As well as being ferociously territorial, it has a voracious appetite and must eat 80-90% of its own body weight each day. But in keeping with the shrew's size, and especially as it takes a fair amount of cheek to follow up lines of Shakespeare with such a doggerel poem, the font size of the following (for all ages that goes with the above illustration from the 'animal series') is reduced so as to be relatively inconspicuous.

Old Mother Shrew
Made a very fine stew
Of earthworms, flies
And wood-lice.

In neat earthenware
She presented the fare
And made everything
Tasteful and nice.

She thus became vexed
Peeved and perplexed
               When she realised                
The family was late

And no shrew was less tame
When they finally came,
And no shrew's nest
Was in a worst state.

Old Mother Shrew
Caused a hullabaloo
And the dinner was hurled
Out the door.

(But before they arrived
She had shrewdly contrived
To eat all that she could,
And more). 


La vieille musaraigne
Prenait beaucoup de peine
A préparer un dîner

En faïence de terre
Elle mettait des vers
Des poux, des mouches
Et des herbes

Elle était donc vexée
Déçue et perplexée
Quand la famille n'arriva
Que tard

Et peu apprivoisée
Lorsqu'ils fussent arrivés
La pauvre, elle en avait

Avec hargneuse harangue
La mère musaraigne
Leur jeta le dîner

(Mais avant leur arrivée
Elle eût quand même décidé
De manger autant qu'elle pouvait
Et plus).

Source- 'The Oxford Shakespeare'.  Intro text, image and doggerel © Mirino (PW).
October, 2010

La jeunesse éternelle 2

Peut-être devrait-on retourner à ce sujet, cette situation insensée française. Une 'guerre' entre les syndicats- organisations qui semblent dépourvus d'une capacité de proposer quoi que ce soi de constructif pour résoudre un problème de manière  responsable- et un gouvernement élu défendant une réforme jugée obligatoire et juste.
On commence ceci devant la télé, le 17 octobre. Il parait que 10 français ont protesté contre cette réforme de la retraite devant l'ambassade française au Canada. Manifestation impressionnante de solidarité dans un pays où l'âge de la retraite commence normalement à 65 ans et où, même à cet âge, elle n'est pas obligatoire.

Comme les chiffres des manifestants établis par les syndicats, contre ceux établis officiellement, semblent importants pour les uns et les autres, analysons les choses plus radicalement.

Au 1° Janvier 2010, la population de la République française était calculée d'être 65,447,374 de personnes dont 62,793,432 vivent en France métropolitaine. 2,653,942 de français vivent ailleurs dans les départements et territoires français.
Si la 'majorité silencieuse' prend le chiffre des démonstrateurs des syndicats au sérieux donc, ce qui serait déjà indulgent de sa part- par exemple qu'au lieu du chiffre officiel de 800,000, ils acceptent qu'il y avait même jusqu'à 4,000,000 de manifestants dans les rues. Prenant uniquement les français qui vivent en France métropolitaine, ce chiffre, accordé généreusement aux syndicats, ne représente qu'un peu plus de 6% de cette population. Si la responsabilité d'un gouvernement élu est aussi censé être à l'écoute de ceux qui ne manifestent pas et doivent en plus subir les conséquences négatives, imposées de manière anarchique par des organisations qui ainsi abusent de leur pouvoir, il est clair que même si un gouvernement aimerait faire plaisir à ceux qui ne le méritent point, il n'a aucun autre choix que de continuer à assumer ce qu'il estime être sa responsabilité pour laquelle il a été élu.

Ces genres de démonstrations sont aussi gonflées par des sans-papiers qui, grâce aux syndicats, sont convaincus que leur régularisation est déjà un droit acquis. (Si d'ailleurs c'était le cas pourquoi ils doivent manifester?). Encore pire, elles sont gonflées par des élèves y compris les mineurs, ainsi entraînés dans la folie. Ils semblent tous être déjà conditionnés à croire que l'Etat a la responsabilité du bien-être de leur vie entière. Comment ces 'jeunes' peuvent-ils être déjà si préoccupés par une éventualité tellement distante, mais pour laquelle, ironiquement, cette reforme est progettée à garantir? 
Il y a parmi eux aussi des casseurs, comme toujours d'ailleurs, et si cette pauvre mère avait davantage d'influence sur le comportement de son fils, qu'elle semble vouloir assumer avec les media, en montrant sur son mobile l'image triste de son enfant sérieusement blessé, il ne se trouverait jamais dans cet état douloureux en premier lieu.

Sur l'autre côté, en prenant de tels risques pour agir contre une réforme conçue pour son propre bien si loin dans son avenir, aurait pu être encore plus fatal. Et si depuis, ce garçon a appris quelque chose, il comprendrait que son action irresponsable va déterminer le reste de sa vie, surtout s'il perd un œil. Se sacrifier pour une cause noble et juste, est une chose, mais le faire pour une telle bêtise flambante, attisée par des syndicats et une opposition qui semblent plus que jamais déraillés, en est une autre.
Inutile d'ajouter qu'il vaut mieux être là pour bénéficier de ses années de retraite, que de se sacrifier avant d'avoir même choisi sa profession ou comment on aimerait vivre sa vie, que la nature et le destin lui ont généreusement accordé.

Text by Mirino. Top photo © Olivier Coret (fedephoto.com) 2nd photo by AFP, with many thanks. October 2010 

La jeunesse éternelle

Quand l'âge moyen normal de la retraite en Europe est actuellement de 65 ans, (67 ans en Allemagne, 66 ans aux USA) on comprend mal pour quelle raison on manifeste en France contre une reforme qui, selon les circonstances critiques, commence quand même de manière très modeste.

Pour citer directement Le Progrès.fr:
'Il y a en France 16 millions de retraités, soit près d'un quart de la population. Les pensions qui leur sont versées représentent 279 Mds €, soit plus de 14 % du PIB. Elles permettent d'assurer un montant moyen de pension de 1 400 € mensuels. En raison de la forte croissance du nombre de retraités (+ 280,000 par an depuis 2006), les régimes de retraite sont confrontés à des déficits importants. Ce déficit s'élève aujourd'hui à 32 Mds € et on estime que si rien n'est fait, il ira en s'aggravant dans les années à venir (70 Mds € en 2030, 100 Mds € en 2050). Porter l'âge légal de droit commun à 62 ans en 2018, en l'augmentant chaque année de 4 mois à partir de la génération 1951, et augmenter parallèlement de deux ans l'âge d'annulation de la décote est la mesure phare de la réforme. En pratique, les personnes nées en 1950 seront les dernières à pouvoir partir à la retraite à 60 ans. L'âge de la retraite à taux plein devrait être en outre porté à 67 ans, et non plus 65 ans'.

Un argument classique de l'opposition, aussi dans l'espoir de mobiliser les 'jeunes', est qu'en prolongeant l'âge normal de la retraite en France, on va forcément augmenter le chômage de ces derniers en conséquence. Il est difficile d'apprécier la logique de cet argument. Ne peut-on suggérer, par exemple, que dans le domaine de la productivité, l'effet serait l'inverse. Logiquement si on travaille plus, on produit davantage, si on produit davantage on crée davantage d'emplois. La mentalité de l'opposition a toujours semblé limitée dans cet égard. Pour eux tout est une question de partager ce qui existe déjà, comme s'il s'agit d'un vieux gâteau. Comme si la possibilité que quelqu'un soit capable de créer une nouvelle entreprise, inventer un nouveau produit qui réussira, est hors de question.
L'idée mal inspirée des '35 heures' appartient à cette même illogique. Que si on travaille moins, on crée davantage de travail pour les autres, car on partage tous le bon vieux gâteau. D'ailleurs l'expérience pénible a montré non seulement que le contraire était le cas, mais dans les secteurs importants comme ceux de la santé, le résultat a été une pagaille monumentale.
Aujourd'hui on voit que ce même genre de die-hard dogme et populisme persiste, autant inchangeable et périmé que le logo de l'opposition.

C'est aussi une tactique honteuse de présenter sans cesse le 'travail' comme s'il s'agit de l'esclavage. Car tant que l'on peut faire durer le mythe, le scénario de l'exploitation des pauvres travailleurs, victimes des sales capitalistes patrons perpétuant sans vergogne la tyrannie du 19° siècle, (un bel accomplissement pendant une des pires crises économiques jamais enregistrées) les syndicats peuvent continuer à se faire valoir. Comme si personne ne peut jamais aimer ou obtenir une vraie satisfaction de ce qu'il ou qu'elle fait. Comme si la conception d'un vrai challenge, de réussir à réaliser une ambition, ou quelque chose de bien, est aujourd'hui inconcevable, inutile ou impossible.

Il y a des métiers et des vocations, fatigants et dangereux. C'est donc normal que l'âge de la retraite soit maintenu au minimum dans de tels cas, mais il ne devrait pas non plus être une obligation. Il serait stupide et contre-productif, par exemple, qu'un chercheur passionné par son travail, et en train d'aboutir à un résultat important grâce à tous ses efforts, soit obligé, tout d'un coup, de prendre sa retraite en raison de son âge.

A cause de cette crise économique, l'opposition et les syndicats français sont manifestement en manque d'idées et de raison d'être. Sauter sur cette occasion semble bien irréfléchi et irresponsable. D'y entraîner des sans papiers pour augmenter les chiffres des démonstrateurs, essayer d'y entraîner les lycéens, ceux pour lesquels ces reformes sont d'autant nécessaires, est encore plus irresponsable.

On dirait finalement qu'il y a aussi un problème sérieux de morale et de valeurs en France, sinon ailleurs en Europe. Il y a des années, après avoir demandé à une superbe dame d'un certain âge- et bien plus de 65 ans- quel était le secret de sa 'jeunesse éternelle', elle avait répondu sans hésitation, et avec un beau sourire, 'le travail'.
Text by Mirino. Source- Le Progrès.fr. Images AFP, with thanks. October 2010


Pour certains, les artistes sont censés porter des blouses amples de travail tachées de peinture à huile. Ils ont le devoir constant de ne jamais arrêter de peindre ou de dessiner, jusque à la mort, sinon au delà, telle est leur volonté et leur devoir de 'créer'.
Comment considérer les artistes ainsi limités et relégués? L'art, miroir de l'humanité, n'est-il pas partout? Même vivre est un art.
La musique. Non uniquement l'art de la virtuosité brillante d'interpréter ou de reproduire les œuvres les plus sublimes ou compliquées, mais surtout la volonté et la capacité de composer. De se perdre dans sa musique, de s'exalter, de jouir, de peindre avec les sons anciens, modernes ou nouveaux, s'exprimant de manière hors du temps, laissant derrière soi cet art comme un écho mélodieux de son âme qui résonnera à jamais.   

L'architecture, reflétant à travers les siècles la culture des nations, la grandeur, la noblesse et les aspirations de l'homme.

Je connais un maçon qui a quatre vingt huit ans. Il a commencé son métier à quatorze ans, et même à son âge aujourd'hui il a toujours les mains d'un artiste. On ne peut pas se tromper, car c'est un vrai artiste. Il le sera tant qu'il vivra. Il a toujours fait son métier avec amour et engagement. De le regarder travailler, tailler la pierre- qu'il fait toujours d'ailleurs- est une joie. (Matière à réflexion pour ceux déjà quasi mort, ceux et celles qui donnent tant d'importance à la période où ils ne comptent plus travailler).

Bien évidemment la cuisine est aussi un art, non pas nécessairement dans l'aspect pictural des résultats, comme, par exemple, un petit pois situé bien esthétiquement à côté d'un coulis de crème de balsamique étalé avec panache et précision, mais dans ses résultats entiers, y compris un vrai panache d'odeur et de générosité qui ne pourrait que réjouir le palais.

Parfois, mais pas très souvent, on voir des chef-d'œuvres de publicité à la télé. Ils sont alors souvent mieux que les produits qu'ils sont censés promouvoir. C'est encore de l'art.

Je me rappelle d'un film qui s'appelait Walk on the Wild Side. En fait je n'ai aucun souvenir du film même, mais je me rappellerais toujours des titres de l'introduction.
Le caméra suit la silhouette d'un chat, son trajet au long d'un trottoir de banlieue américaine. Il marche à côté, et parfois à travers des lattes manquantes, d'une palissade en bois dilapidée. Une musique accompagne parfaitement ses pas félins subtils. Je me rappelle même qui en était l'auteur.
Du film donc je ne me rappelle plus de rien, mais ce chef-d'œuvre d'introduction (de Saul Bass) m'avait fait une impression inoubliable.

Il y a bien entendu beaucoup de chef-d'œuvres en tant que films. Tellement d'ailleurs qu'il ne serait pas juste de citer quelques uns sans essayer de les nommer tous. Mais il serait malhonnête de ne pas reconnaître que la majorité sont produits aux Etats Unis. Et s'il faut beaucoup d'argent pour faire un bon film, inutile d'ajouter qu'il n'est jamais le critère principal.

Il va sans dire que la photographie est un art. Même si l'image est obtenue en appuyant sur le déclencheur 'sans se fatiguer davantage', on est toujours en train de s'exprimer, par son regard, son choix de l'image, son habilité de voir, de comprendre les jeux de couleurs, les situations, de savoir composer, encadrer, et surtout de pouvoir prevoir.

Ne peut-on suggérer alors que tous ceux et celles qui pratiquent leur métier, ou leur vocation, avec vrai engagement et amour, en donnant le meilleur d'eux ou d'elles mêmes, sont des artistes?

Il arrive aussi des périodes dans le vie où on a fait ce qu'on voulait faire, comme on voulait le faire, et on a simplement envie de se concentrer davantage sur d'autres choses et de développer d'autres intérêts. Mais ça ne veut jamais dire que l'on a abandonné 'l'art', comme si c'est possible en tant qu'artiste d'être 'infidèle' à l'art, ou à soi-même.

Au contraire, on continue son évolution, sa vie, de façon la plus naturelle. D'ailleurs on essaie toujours d'exprimer en ligne et couleur, même avec les mots. Et parfois peut-être revient-on à la source de soi-même, car c'est aussi de cette manière, avec cette aspiration, que certains artistes ont commencé.

Et si on estime que ses efforts écrits nécessitent parfois un dessin ou une peinture personnelle pour les illustrer, eh bien, on reprend ses pinceaux comme si de rien n'était, car en tous cas et quoi que l'on fasse, on reste toujours ce que l'on est, jusqu'à la fin.

The Sculptor

 Tomorrow she will be ready. Perhaps his finest work.

She would be cast in bronze. The colour of life. She would be immortal. 
He must see that great care is taken for the mould. She is fragile and delicate.

He paused, then as if asking for more strength he looked up, filled his lungs and sighed heavily.

He flexed his aching fingers once more, then slowly wiped his hands on his tattered, clay-stained sweater.

Before he touched her again, he trembled with fatigue. But he no longer feared to lose his control and intense concentration. It was as if she now governed her own creation. 

He was very tired, yet his eyes were wide open. Were he blind he could still finish this work, such was the power she now seemed to hold over him. And his hands worked on, instinctively, as if obedient only to her.

He was no longer young. He had always lived and worked in his own world of dreams and ideals for no one but himself. But now he worked uniquely for her.

The lamplight flickered. Shadows also modelled her light, dancing form giving her even more life. He was her slave and devotedly he worked on through the night.

Her face, now complete, smiled down at him. As if conscious of her own, warm charm, she followed his feverish movements with mocking tenderness. She seemed to move with such grace and ease. She was yielding and subtle, flowing and inviting. She was his déesse of enchanting beauty.

Smoothly and irrevocably she led him into her world.
Imperceptibly at first. Slowly turning, on and on, then faster and still faster, sweeping round and round, dizzily onwards led the dance into a jarring, blissful culmination. The vortex of infinite love where they were one. Then as one, the spent lovers gracefully danced on, and their dance was eternal.

The concierge tapped lightly on the door. She was about to go out and wondered if he needed anything. She tapped once more but didn't insist, knowing how much the old man preferred to be left undisturbed. She sighed and shook her head as she went back down the narrow staircase.

Morning sunbeams filtered through the murky skylight. On the floor lay the damaged figure of the dancing girl. In places the bent, wire frame had broken through the drying clay.
The old man lay next to the figure. Sunlight caressed his peaceful face. He looked as though he were carved in marble, like a beautiful sculpture.

The Sculptor (1982). Text and images © Mirino (PW) October, 2010