Mascarade



On se rappelle de la détermination forte et sincère de Nicolas Sarkozy lorsqu'il a été élu Président de la France. C'était bien entendu avant que la crise économique imprévue frappe cruellement le monde, en plus des autres préoccupations belliqueuses bien graves. Naturellement tout le monde a été pris de court, Sarkozy inclus. Mais il a gardé le cap, malgré l'obligation de s'adapter aux exigences des circonstances extrêmement difficiles. Pendant le pire de cette période on dirait que l'opposition n'existait point. Tant que l'on sache, il n'y avait aucun son de leur côté, aucun engagement, aucune suggestion pratique, aucune aide.

Pendant sa campagne Sarkozy n'a pas employé de slogans. Il n'y avait pas de 'Yes we cans' déléguant en somme la responsabilité aux peuple des reformes extravagantes pendant une des pires 'made in America' crises financières jamais enregistrées. Sarkozy n'a pas donné priorité nécessairement aux considérations internes plutôt qu'à celles représentant l'un des plus importants dangers depuis la seconde guerre mondiale que doit faire face le monde démocratique.

Si Sarkozy avait un slogan il ne serait pas créé par une agence spécialisée à la création de l'image. Il aurait été personnel, sincère et surtout non exprimé. Il aurait été 'Yes, I can'. 'Oui, je peux faire en sorte que les choses bougent positivement de nouveau après les années dormantes de 'mitterandchiracism'. 'Oui, je peux faire des reformes si nécessaires.' Oui, je peux inciter les meilleurs de l'opposition de faire partie de mon équipe'. 'Oui, je peux aider à déléguer les positions de responsabilité aux vrais talents de l'opposition comme Dominique Strauss-Kahn.*
'Oui, je peux faire de mon mieux pour faire face aux vrais problèmes de la France et du monde'.

Pendant ce temps l'opposition attendait dans les coulisses. Elle attendait la meilleure occasion pour jouer leur rôle classique, pour se manifester enfin, pour prendre avantage d'une opportunité au moment propice. C'est quand le peuple, déjà las et impatient après quasi deux ans d'efforts à serrer la ceinture, s'adaptant à une crise économique parmi les pires jamais subies, sont bien plus faciles à persuader, manipuler et exploiter. Naturellement ils sont prêts à écouter les autres et de vouloir croire à des miracles et des mirages. Mais il faut éviter les illusions. Il faut écouter attentivement ce que l'opposition propose.

L'alternance politique est essentielle en démocratie. Il est de notre devoir alors de considérer très attentivement les propositions de l'opposition en préparation des prochaines élections.
Que sont donc ces propositions? Qu'est ce que c'est sa politique d'alternance?
On n'entend que les critiques et les affirmations vagues et fausses. Rien donc de nouveau. "La République est abîmée" (Ayraut). "Il faut réparer les dégâts qu'on a fait à la République" (Royal). "Il est temps de se regrouper autour des valeurs fondamentales aujourd'hui". "Nous serons demain dans la rue aux côtés des syndicats" (Ayraut). Les mêmes formules vides, surtout cette dernière qui ne peut guère être considérée inspirée ou flambante neuve dans son originalité.
Même François Bayrou, au milieu de nulle part, dérive sur un bateau de la même taille avec son dernier crie: "Dans la vérité des attitudes et des valeurs"...
Rien donc de réelle, de concrète, à part des bruits qui démontrent que les autres partis manifestent leur présence de nouveau- et ceci après qu'un gouvernement élu ait fait face avec courage, application et vrai engagement pendant une période extrêmement difficile dans tous les égards- sans aucune aide réelle d'une opposition quasi inexistante.

Car il y a des moments, des périodes, où les parties politiques de toutes tendances devraient s'unir et manifester leur solidarité, surtout contre toutes les menaces externes quelles qu'elles soient. Mais aujourd'hui il semble que tous les prétextes soient bons à exploiter, dans le but de gagner encore quelques points partisans bon marché.

Récemment on entend aussi de la part de Jean-Marc Ayrault (Président du groupe Socialiste, radical, citoyen et divers gauche à l'Assemblée nationale) une révélation inspirée à propos de l'enlèvement des cinq français au Niger par al-Qaida. "Je crois que nous sommes en face d'une menace terroriste et il ne faut pas prendre de risques". Une telle déclaration riche d'instruction n'est pas dépourvue d'un sous-entendu. Voire- 'peut-être le gouvernement est en train de prendre les risques en essayant de les sauver'. Selon l'opposition, serait il donc mieux de ne rien faire que de prendre des risques? Ceci malgré le fait que nous ne savons pas encore ce qu'al-Qaida va exiger avant de condescendre à libérer ses otages, si jamais ils seront liberés.

La seule arme trompe l'oeil de l'opposition consiste à compatir les français avec l'idée que d'étendre l'âge de la retraite à 62 ans au lieu de 60 ans actuels est totalement injuste, et si l'opposition est élue, naturellement cette reforme sera annulée. Cette proposition ne prend en aucun compte le problème croissant regardant le financement des retraites lié au fait que la prévision de vie aujourd'hui est en augmentation constante. Quand l'âge de la retraite commence en moyenne à partir de 65 ans partout ailleurs, attaquer une telle reforme relativement modeste pour faire plaisir aux naïfs, sinon aux égoïstes, est totalement irresponsable et dépourvu de réalité.

Tout ceci de quelqu'un qui n'a même pas le droit de vote. Mais aujourd'hui si l'alternance est partie intégrante de la démocratie, il faut au moins qu'il y ait une alternance vraie et non une indigne mascarade de populisme. Il faut aussi des personnages de conviction, intègres et fidèles qui donnent priorité à leur pays avant leurs propres ambitions personnelles. Si en fin de compte on considère Blair, en principe de gauche, et Chirac, en principe de droite, on n'a même pas besoin d'avoir une orientation politique. Ce qui compte aujourd'hui et peut-être plus que jamais, c'est justement le personnage, son intégrité, son courage et sa détermination. La partie (modérée) qu'il ou qu'elle représente est relativement sans importance.
En somme, le plus de poids que l'on donne à son parti, le moins de poids que l'on donne à soi même.
*Écrit bien entendu avant la gaffe monumentale de DSK..
____
Italiano


Text and image © Mirino (PW) September, 2010

Noah's Flood



The Chester Play of 'Noah's Flood' was one of the 'Mystery Plays' referring to God's redemption of mankind in the Old Testament. They were probably written earlier than the 15th century but were rewritten conserving much of their medieval feeling, especially regarding what might be considered Chauceresque humour based on human nature.
'Noah's Flood' was produced for the last time (according to the Norton Anthology of English Literature) in 1575. The guild responsible for the production of the play was 'The Waterleaders and Drawers of Dee'. They carted and sold water, which could also be considered appropriate for this particular theme. The text was last revised in 1974, but for the sake of the poem certain words and a fair amount of the spelling haven't been changed.

The parable of Noah might have an increasing ecological significance regarding life survival and man's destiny. For would it not be reasonable to believe that without being fully aware of it, man's ultimate responsibility is to safeguard and perpetuate life elsewhere in the universe?

As the play of 'Noah's Flood' is rather long, I have only cited about half of it. The passages that were probably the least 'modified' refer to the problem that Noah had in persuading his wife to board the ark. (In my brief, 'irreligious, shanty doggerel', the problem was solved by applying the ungodly law of 'natural selection'). The cited verses that might have been 'modified' in the 16th century, refer to the 'clean' and 'unclean' beasts. This seems to suggest an influence of Jewish law.

 '(...)
NOAH. 
Now in the name of God I begin
To make the ship that we shall in
That we may be ready for to swim°                       float
At coming of the flood.
These boards I pin here together
To bear us safe from the weather
That we may row both hither and thither
And safe be from this flood.

Of this tree will I make a mast
Tied with cables that will last,
With a sail-yard° for each blast,                                 spar
And each thing in their kind. 
With topcastle° and bowsprit                                 armed crow's nest 
To sail forth at the next wet°                                   rain
This ship is at an end.

Wife, in this vessel we shall be kept;
My children and thou, I would in ye leapt°      I would like you to jump aboard
Noah's wife-                                      
In faith, Noah, I had as lief thou slept
For all thy frankish fare.
I will not do after thy rede.°          In spite of your 'polite' (French) manner I'm not coming
Noah-                                                  
Good wife, do now as I thee bid.                                                  
Noah's wife-
By Christ, not ere I see more need,
Though thou stand all day and stare.

Noah-
Lord, that° women been crabbed ay°                    how/always
And none are meek, I dare well say.
That is well seen by me today
In witness of you each one.
Good wife, let be all this bear°                                behaviour
That thou makest in this place here,
For all they ween° that thou art master-               think
And so thou art, by Saint John.

God-
Noah, take thou meinie,°                                         household
And in the ship hie° that ye be;                              hasten
For none so righteous man to me
Is now on earth living.
Of clean beasts with thee thou take
Seven and seven ere then thou slake,°                  (Genesis 7. 2-4)
He and she, make to make,°                                  mate to mate
Belive in that thou bring.°                                      See that you do so quickly

Of beasts unclean two and two
Male and female, but mo;°                                     but no more
Of clean fowls seven also
The he and she together;
Of fowls unclean, twain and no more,
As I of beasts said before,
That shall be saved through my lore,°                 teaching
Against° I send this weather.                                 before

Of meats° that may be eaten,                                 foods
Into the ship look they be gotten,
For that may be no way forgotten.
And do this al bedene.°                                             at once
To sustain man and beasts therein.
Ay till the water cease and bin.°                            stop
This world is filled full of sin,
And that is now well seen.

Seven days been yet coming;°                               are yet to come
You shall have space° them in to bring               time
After that it is my liking
Mankind to annoy.°                                                afflict
Forty days and forty nights
Rain shall fall for their unrights,°                         sins
And that I have made through mights°               through my own power
Now think I to destroy.

Noah-
Lord, at Your bidding I am bain.°                        ready
Sithen° no other grace will gain°                          since/avail
It will I fulfill fain,°                                                 gladly
For gracious I Thee find.
An hundred winters and twenty,
This ship-making tarried° have I,                       delayed
If through amendment Thy mercy
Would fall to mankind.°                                       should mankind deserve Your mercy

Have done, ye men and women all;
Hie you lest this water fall,
That each beast were in his stall
And into the ship brought.
Of clean beastes seven shall be,
Of unclean two; thus God bade me.
The flood is nigh, you may well see;
Therefore tarry you nought.

Shem-
Sir, here are lions, leopards in;
Horses, mares oxen, and swine,
Goats, calves, sheep, and kine
Here sitten thou may see
Ham-
Camels, asses, man may find,
Buck and doe, hart and hind.
All beasts of all manner kind
Here been, as thinketh me.

Japhet-
Take here cattes, dogges too,
Otters and foxes, fulmarts° also;                                polecats
Hares hopping gaily can go
Here a cole° for to eat.                                            cabbage
Noah's wife-
And here are bears, wolves set,
Apes, owls, marmoset,
Weasels, squirrels, and ferret;
Here they eat their meat.°                                       food

Shem's wife-
Here are beasts in this house;
Here cats maken it crouse;°                                   merry
Here a raton, here a mouse
That standen near together.
Ham's wife-
And here are fowles less and more-
Herons, cranes, and bittor,°                                   bittern
Swanes, peacocks- and them before,
Meat for this winter.

Japhet's wife-
Here are cockes, kites, crowes,
Rookes, ravens, many rowes,
Duckes, curlews, whoever knowes,
Each one in this kind.
And here are doves, digges,° drakes;                    ducks
Redshanks running through the lakes;
And each fowl that leden° makes                          song
In this ship man may find.

Noah-
Wife, come in. Why stands thou there?
Thou art ever froward;° that dare I swear.           bold, difficult
Come, in God's name! Time it were,
For fear lest we drown!
Noah's wife-
Yea sir, set up your sail
And row forth with evil hail;°                                      ill luck
For withouten any fail°                                                doubt
I will not out of this town.

But° I have my gossips° every one,                        unless/friends
One foot further I will not gone.°                            go
They shall not drown, by Saint John,
And° I may save their life.                                         if
They love me full well, by Christ
But thou wilt let them into thy chist,°                      ark
Else row forth, Noah, when thee list°                       you please
And get thee a new wife.

Noah-
Shem, son, lo thy mother is wrow;°                        angry
By God, such another I do not know,
Shem-
Father, I shall fetch her in, I trow,°                         trust
Withouten any fail.
Mother, my father after thee send
And bids thee into yonder ship wend.°                    go
Look up and see the wind,
For we been ready to sail.

Noah's wife-
Son, go again to him and say
I will not come therein today
Noah-
Come in, Wife, in twenty devils way,°                       in the name of
Or else stand there without.°                                   outside
Ham-
Shall we fetch her in?
Noah-
Yea, son, in Christ's blessing and mine,
 I would ye hied you betime,°                                  hurry before it's too late
For of this flood I stand in doubt.

Song

The Good Gossips-
The flood comes fleeting in full fast,°                     very fast
On every side that spreadeth full far.
For fear of drowning I am aghast;
Good gossip, let us draw near.

And let us drink ere we depart,
For oftentimes we have done so.
For at one draught thou drink a quart,
And so will I do ere I go.

Noah's wife-
Here's a pottle of Malmsey° good and strong;     two quart measure of sweet wine
It will rejoice both heart and tongue.
Though Noah think us never so long,
Yet we will drink atyte.°                                               at once

Japhet-
Mother, we pray you all together-
For we are here, your own childer°-                      children
Come into the ship for fear of the weather,
For his love that you brought!°                                 for the love of God your redeemer
Noah's wife-
That will I not for all your call
But I have my gossips all.°                                      unless I have all my friends
Shem-
I° faith, mother, yet thou shall,                             In
Whether thou will or nought.                                       (he drags her aboard)

Noah-
Welcome, wife, into this boat.
Noah's wife-
(slaps him) Have thou that for thy note!°             trouble
 Noah-
Aha, Mary°, this is hot!                                              by Mary- (an oath)
It is good for to be still.
Ah, children, methinks my boat remeves.°          moves off
Our tarrying here me highly grieves.
Over the land the water spreads;
God do as He will.

Then they sing and Noah shall speak again

Noah-
Ah, great God that art so good,
That° works not thy will is wood.°                     whoever/crazy
Now all this world is on a flood.
As we see well in sight.
The windows I will shut anon,
And into my chamber I will gone.'
(...)
____
                  
Noah's Flood performed at St. Mary's, Gillingham  (Part 1)   (Part 2)
                 
                Noah's Ark found                            Noah's Ark found contested 
 ____

Intro text and image © Mirino (PW). 'Part of Noah's Flood' (last revised by R. M. Lumiansky and David Mills) from the Norton Anthology of English Literature (source) with many thanks.  September, 2010

Dutch digressions

















He had left Holland as though it were an unfinished book that he was too young to appreciate. It had been his second Dutch experience, and it's probable that the personal circumstances and professional constraints of the time, had contributed towards what later on appeared to him to have been a less positive period in some ways than he would have liked.

His first experience there was even worse. But then he was an addled minded young duck lost in a tangle of chickweed in the interminable maze of canals in Amsterdam. Although supposedly he might have felt freer to paddle around in what now seems to have been a hazy, foolish and irresponsible dream.

So the final day of departure was like turning the last page of another complicated, glossed over chapter. In fact he considered it so 'final' that he also left his Dutch grammar books, dictionaries, novels and exercise books behind as though they too belonged to an irredeemable past.

Recently however, long afterwards, It came about that there was an excellent pretext to go to Holland again. An important celebration and immediate family reunion, naturally in very good company, and with very kind friends.

Just a few days, but this was all that was needed to break the old spell.

Amsterdam seemed bigger than before, even more cosmopolitan, and everyone appeared to look more interesting and intelligent.

He saw the Rembrandt's in the Rijksmuseum again. The small, sensitive self-portrait carried out when Rembrandt was only twenty two years old. Such a daring play of light and shadow that makes it even more of a timeless masterpiece. It was next to the portrait of his mother, or rather the amazing portrayal of her high-lit right hand, gently and humbly placed upon the large, open bible. Incredible detail, subtlety and finesse to which no reproduction could ever succeed in doing justice, because of the fine relief of the paint itself.

And then there is the similarity of Amsterdam, of Holland's history with that of Venice, for example. Although due to the expansion of the Ottoman Empire, the decline of Venice began as early as the 15th century, both republics gained their great wealth and international reputation from their maritime power and trade monopolies. The Golden Age of Amsterdam began in the mid 16th century and lasted throughout the 17th century when it became the wealthiest city in the world. The other, obvious similitude of the republics regards the construction of dikes, the retrievement of land, the creation and maintenance of canal systems, and rigourous water level control.

Revisiting, even briefly, this diadem corner of Europe is particularly satisfying for the rare Europeans who have, hopefully at last, become mature enough, less myopic and more open minded to fully appreciate all that Europe has to offer. And this so clearly reflected in the vast, individual history of its nations, their inimitable art (including culinary of course) and architecture.

Thus free of whatever self-inflicted restrictions, one is now willing and able to return to Holland in the not too distant future. Not to try to dig out old, unread chapters, but just to be there once more to see, smile, and appreciate everything and everyone, all the more so, and for very good reason.

___

Text and images © Mirino (PW). (Rembrandt's mother courtesy of Google). September, 2010

The Vole


Ever since his grandfather came back from The Field of the Giant Stones, in such a state of terror that all his whiskers had turned white, no sensible vole had ever dared venture there.

'Old White Whiskers,' as he was known as, enjoyed his fame and loved to relate his adventures. Each time he told 'The Famous Tale', he would add a little bit more to make it even more exciting.

His grandson, who was considered a headstrong, not particularly sensible vole, admired his grandfather very much. Although he didn't believe half of the old vole's story, he always pretended he did. And even if it was so incredible, it inspired the young vole in many ways.

When he was old enough, he decided, he would have his own adventure, and see for himself.

So one day, when he had grown little bigger, he set off towards The Field of the Giant Stones.
It was a calm, autumn morning. The grass was bejewelled with dew drops. The earth was still sodden from the fierce storm of the day before, but the sun shone quite warmly through a thin curtain of cloud.

The young vole kept his little ears well back (for maximum speed) then made a dash as fast and as straight as he could. First there was a ditch in which he got even wetter from the long grass there, then he went under the great bushes and brambles that seemed endless, and then, there in front of him was the first of the Giant Stones.

They were huge, squared blocks of grey stone deeply embedded in the ground and covered with moss and lichen. Some of them were were so high that they appeared to touch the sky.
It was believed that they once belonged to ugly giants. Perhaps it was true. But it didn't seem to be a dangerous place at all that day.

The little vole thought how foolish everyone was. In any case he was almost certain that he would never be scared of dark monsters and moving shadows that make awful noises. He measured only an oak leave in length, but he thought he was big enough to look after himself.
Without the slightest fear, he nibbled nice grasses that he found between the stones as he explored.

There was one moment when he was startled by the sight of a large, white bird. It was strange, but seemed so peaceful that he felt quite safe.

When he grew bored, he went home.

He never told a single vole about his daring visit to The Field of the Giant Stones.
He would listen to his grandfather, and he loved him all the more.

From the Rainbow Series

The Bank-vole illustration is another of the 'animal series'. It was first published as one of a series of 16 folding cards. It was also published in 'The March Hare'. The following is the original, children's 'doggerel' poem that goes with it.

Saving for the winter
And many rainy days.
The Bank-vole seems
To spend his time
In the best of ways.

His fortune grows about him
Enriched by golden sun
And blest by charming rainbows 
When rain-cloud's work is done.
__

Texte  and images © Mirino (PW) September, 2010