Ils sont souvent les bienvenus, et de toute façon, quoi qui arrive, il y a toujours des changements dans l'air. 'Le printemps arabe' en est déjà un bel exemple.

Par contre, malgré le fait que DSK, quel que soit le verdict, a fait un faux pas très grave qui aurait pu (sinon aurait du) faire couler la gauche, apparemment nos fameux sondages n'enregistrent aucun changement. C'est comme si n'importe qui à gauche, ou ailleurs, ferait l'affaire comme Président de substitution, plutôt que subir un autre terme de Sarkozy.
Même si c'est un trait français déjà trop vu, changer pour changer dans ce cas particulier (les présidentielles de 2012) serait totalement dépourvu de sens.

On n'a que se poser la question fondamentale- qui actuellement de gauche, du centre ou même de l'extrême droite nouvelle, pourrait faire mieux que Nicolas Sarkozy a déjà fait, pas seulement sur le plan national, mais aussi sur celui international? Son comportement et son engagement sur la scène internationale ont été exemplaires.

Si la France sort relativement indemne d'une crise économique monumentale, c'est certainement aussi grâce à lui. Pendant toute la duré de la crise, il n'a jamais cessé d'obtenir des contrats internationaux importants, dont le dernier est une commande russe pour des navires.

Son équipe a été l'une des meilleures, plus sérieuses et professionnelles pour constituer un gouvernement français, que la France n'a jamais eu depuis belle lurette.

On ne peut même pas affirmer que son gouvernement pratique une politique de droite, tant il s'est constitué de ministres de diverses tendances. Le critère de Sarkozy a toujours été la qualité et la capacité des individus, et jamais leur tendance politique.
D'ailleurs le concept de polarité politique semble devenir obsolète à mesure qu'il est évident qu'il n'y a plus aujourd'hui une manière 'droite' ou 'gauche' pour gérer un pays. Il n'y a que la meilleure manière possible selon les circonstances, celle qui convient le mieux pour le pays tout entier.
Ce critère devrait s'appliquer naturellement pour le choix du Président. Evidemment ce n'est pas ce qu'il ou qu'elle représente politiquement qui compte, c'est ce qu'il ou qu'elle est en tant qu'individu.

Les sondages peuvent continuer donc à présenter leurs chiffres absurdes, statistiques sur commande, résultats médiatiques voulus et obtenus, mais les français ne sont pas à ce point des imbéciles.

En anglais on dit "a change is as good as a rest", (un changement est aussi bon qu'un repos) mais il n'y a pas de repos pour un gouvernement élu, ni pour le peuple qui l'élit.
Pour 'changer pour changer' on n'est pas aussi bête de s'habiller en vêtements d'été, en plein hiver. L'engagement d'élire est total et très sérieux, encore plus aujourd'hui que jamais.

Parmi les candidats disponibles il n'y a vraiment pas photo, mais pour ce qu'elle vaut, c'est seulement l'opinion objective d'un vieil oiseau déraciné (ou disparu) qui n'a même pas le droit de vote..
Text and image © Mirino. May, 2011

John Webster


Although there are many (including the Norton Anthology of English Literature) who rate John Webster (circa 1580-1625) as second to Ben Jonson; after reading his 'The Duchess of Malfi', it's difficult to rate him anywhere near Jonson. There are moments, sparks, good bits of macabre intrigue, but on the whole the tragedy seems incoherent in many ways. One can't imagine his 17th century audience blissfully leaving the theatre after the performance. One imagines them picking holes in it, asking questions like- 'why did Daniel de Bosola do such dirty deeds without first securing his position, and why did he do such things in any case? Was it a satire? The mad gang were too lucid and intelligible to convince anyone they were raving mad. They, along with their silly song and tiresome repartee, did little to improve the play, etc..'

Amongst the better parts, here's an example of one of the verses supposedly cited by Bosola before he authorises the executions required by the Duchess' beastly brothers Ferdinand and the Cardinal.

'Hark, now everything is still
The screech owl and the whistler° shrill    °A bird than warns of death
Call upon our dame aloud,
And bid her quickly don her shroud!
Much you had of land and rent:
Your length in clay's now competent.°         °enough
A long war disturbed your mind:
Here your perfect peace is signed.
Of what is 't fools make such vain keeping?
Sin their conception, their birth weeping,
Their life a general mist of error,
Their death a hideous storm of terror.
Strew your hair with powders sweet,
Don clean linen, bathe your feet,
And (the foul fiend more to check)
A crucifix let bless your neck:
'Tis now full tide 'tween night and day;
End your groan, and come away.'

It's interesting, also in view of whatever weaknesses it has, to use this play as a 'back-drop reference' for what was apparently considered as 'acceptable' and 'fashionable' Elizabethan and Jacobean play-writing. For example, it seems that one had to show one's knowledge of Greek mythology, by regularly making metaphorically references. One also tended to make allusions to astrology and science. Although in Webster's case it sometimes creates laboured and pedantic results, the inclination indicates what must have been a considerable social, religious, political and scientific reaction that continued in the wake of Henry VIII's divorce from Roman Catholicism. It might also remind us of the similar tendency and fashions during the French Revolution when the French, then going to extremes by virtually outlawing religion altogether, also took to nature, science, astrology, Greek mythology, and even restyled Greek fashions for women (the Empire line) which lasted well into the Napoleonic era. The retracing of cultural roots has also been termed 'the age of enlightenment' and 'intellectual revival'. But in the case of the French Revolution, Bacon's final observation (Of Superstition) might spring to mind once more-
'There is a superstition in avoiding superstition, when men think to do best if they go furthest from the superstition formerly received; therefore care would be had that (as it fareth in ill purgings) the good be not taken away with the bad, which commonly is done when the people is the reformer.'

An interesting point to Webster's credit is that he seems to have shunned the strict rules of Elizabethan and Jacobean social class. He more defended than condemned the freedom of the Duchess as a positive woman, bestowing her with admirable courage and dignity to be able to assume not only her own free will and choice, but also to confront her own death which was the price she ultimately had to pay. Surely Queen Elizabeth herself must also have helped in influencing a change in the English establishment's social rules, certainly regarding women.

Needless to add, Roman Catholic Italy was still then a good target and an axe to grind for English playwrights, and one could give one's imagination free rein in painting a dire picture of luxurious corruption, hypocrisy and evil, which had relatively little or nothing to do with the reality of Italy. Shakespeare was more cosmopolitan and therefore aware of how things really were. Webster, in fact, had never gone to Italy. The Duchess of Malfi was based on an early 16th century scandal of which there were various accounts (apparently in French, English and Italian).
Not a great deal is known about John Webster himself. He seems as shadowy as his hellishly lit plays.
Text and image © Mirino. Source and Webster extract, The Norton Anthology English Literature.
With thanks, May, 2011

Francis Bacon


Francis Bacon (1561-1626) was the youngest son of an eminent, Elizabethan, civil servant.
He studied law at Cambridge and Gray's Inn before entering the legal profession under Queen Elizabeth, gaining in reputation and responsibility until he became Lord Chancellor of England under James. He was knighted in 1603 and was bestowed with the titles of Baron Verulam in 1618, and of Viscount St. Alban in 1621.
After only three years of office as Lord Chancellor however, he was accused of corruption, and he even confessed to this, as well as to neglect. His reputation naturally suffered and he fell from power. His retirement lasted only five years.
During his life time he practised as a scientist, philosopher, lawyer, statesman, jurist and author of the 'scientific method'. It has been said that he belonged to 'the rare group of scientists' who fell victim to their own experiments, which in his case was supposed to be from pneumonia. He may have contracted this by exposing himself to very cold conditions whilst studying the effects of freezing regarding the preservation of meat).
Francis Bacon is also considered to be the founder of empiricism.

The Elizabethan period was not only prolific in producing outstanding, if not the greatest English writers of all time in prose and poetry, it also heralded advanced philosophers and thinkers. Bacon was certainly an example of one capable of reasoning well ahead of his time. His essays also seem to support the idea of a greater, intellectual freedom in England, resulting perhaps more from the divorce from what was then a more dogmatic, Papal absolutist system, than from any adoption of Anglicanism. Yet Bacon was no atheist, as his Essays, such as Truth and Of Superstition also seem to convey.

Even as with Utopia of Thomas More, who died almost a century before Bacon, it's interesting to compare such 16th and 17th century reasoning with today's religious extremism. Again it seems to underline an enormous interrogation mark regarding the evolution- or regression- of reason in human nature, due to what appears to be an incoherent reversion to adopt radical and archaic religious values.  

Of Superstition (from Essays, 1612 - 1625). By 'supersition' Bacon is referring to irrational religious practices founded on fear or ignorance.

It were better to have no opinion of God at all than such an opinion as is unworthy of him. For the one is unbelief, the other is contumely:° and certainly superstition is the reproach of the diety. Plutarch saith well to that purpose: "Surely" (saith he) "I had rather a great deal men should say there was no such man at all as Plutarch, than that they should say that there was one Plutarch that would eat his children as soon as they were born"- as the poets speak of Saturn.¹ And as the contumely is greater towards God, so the danger is greater towards men. Atheism leaves a man to sense, to philosophy, to natural piety, to laws, to reputation, all of which may be guides to an outward moral virtue, though religion were not. But superstition dismounts all these, and erecteth an absolute monarchy in the minds of men. Therefore atheism did never perturb states, for it makes men wary of themselves as looking no further;² and we see the times inclined to atheism (as the time of Augustus Caesar) were civil times. But superstition hath been the confusion of many states, and bringeth in a new primum mobile, that ravisheth all the spheres of government.³ The master of superstition is the people, and in all superstition wise men follow fools, and arguments are fitted to practice in a reversed order. It was gravely said by some of the prelates in the council of Trent, where the doctrine of the schoolmen bare great sway, that the schoolmen were like astronomers, which did feign eccentrics and epicycles and such engines of orbs to save the phenomena, though they knew there were no such things;° and in like manner that the schoolmen had framed a number of subtle and intricate axioms and theorems to save the practice of the church.

The cause of superstition are: pleasing and sensual rites and ceremonies; excess of outward and pharisaical holiness;¹ over-great reverence of traditions, which cannot but load the church: the stratagems of prelates for their own ambition and lucre; the favoring too much of good intentions, which openeth the gate to to conceits² and novelties; the taking an aim at divine matters by human, which cannot but breed mixture of imaginations; and lastly barbarous times, especially joined with calamities and disasters. Superstition without a veil is a deformed thing, for as it addeth deformity to an ape to be so like a man, so the similitude of superstition to religion makes it the more deformed. And as wholesome meat corrupteth to little worms, so good forms and orders corrupt into a number of petty observances. There is a superstition in avoiding superstition, when men think to do best if they go furthest from the superstition formerly received; therefore care would be had that (as it fareth in ill purgings) the good be not taken away with the bad, which commonly is done when the people is the reformer.³

¹ Saturn the Roman equivalent of the Greek Chronos who devoured his children, as indeed time does.
² Not seeing further than their own life-span. The first years of the Christian era under Caesar were peaceful and civil, though not necessarily atheist, as Bacon seems to suggest.
³ The prime mover (primum mobile) was presumed to control the celestial spheres, whereas superstition would throw all into confusion.
° 'Saving the phenomena'- Explaining appearances with imagined concepts.
¹The Pharisees followed a strict observance to Mosaic law amongst the Jews during the time of Christ.
² Fancies.
³ This sentence refers to the Puritan reformers who dismissed ceremonies, traditions, icons and observations, treating them as 'superstitions'.


Intro text © Mirino. Sources- Wikipedia. Francis Bacon, Norton Anthology English Literature, with grateful thanks. Portrait of Bacon by an unknown artist, National portrait gallery, London (Wikimedia Commons, with many thanks). May, 2011


En France, on ne s'arrête pas de parler de cette triste affaire. On remarque aussi que le droit français pratique la discrétion, ce qui est tout à fait normal et correct. Il va de soi que l'on accorde à DSK donc la présomption d'innocence. Si la situation était l'inverse, on se demande si l'opposition montrerait la même indulgence, car la morale a toujours été le monopole privilégié des socialistes.

Même si DSK a été piégé, ce que l'on préférerait croire; en laissant ses affaires y compris son mobile, il s'est peut-être piégé lui-même. Car celui qui aspire aux présidentielles est forcément obligé, d'abord d'éviter de tels pièges, mais encore plus important, il est obligé de se comporter de manière tout à fait digne et responsable- même, et surtout- s'il se rend compte qu'il a été piégé. Mais sans doute il aura une explication aussi à l'égard de l'oubli de ses affaires personnelles.

Cest quand même bouleversant comme la vie d'un homme qui avait tant à gagner et dont le chemin devant lui était droit, radieux et dépourvu d'obstacles- au moins concernant son propre camp politique- peut être complètement détruite par quelques instants de folie, si tel a été le cas. Et d'autant plus lorsque une bonne partie de la France avait tant d'espérance à son égard et tant de confiance en lui.
Cette affaire a l'effet d'une secousse violente, et sans doute c'est aussi pour cela qu'elle nous préoccupe autant.
Chacun aurait son propre avis, mais il y a un temps pour tout.

Ce que l'on sait, c'est que les Américains ont une tolérance zéro pour ce genre d'affaire, et peut-être vont-ils se montrer encore plus sévère avec un français de haut rang et responsabilité, un français très bien connu, si jamais il est jugé coupable.
Bien évidemment un facteur déterminant parmi d'autres sera les résultats des analyses ADN.

Mais qu'il ait été piégé ou non, ne changera pas grand chose pour Dominique Strauss Kahn. Même blanchi il n'arrivera pas à en sortir indemne. C'est bien dommage pour lui, pour l'opposition, et bien entendu pour la France toute entière, mais c'est comme ça.
Text and drawing © Mirino. May, 2011

Scottish myths 2

  Martin's Stane

In very ancient Scottish history, it's said that there were dragons.
At one time then there was a farmer who had nine daughters. He had sent the eldest to the well at Pitempton to fetch water. When she didn't return he sent another daughter. When she didn't return he sent another, and then another, right up until all nine daughters were missing.
A dragon, whose name has long since been forgotten, had killed and gobbled up all of the nine young sisters, one after the other..

The father was so aggrieved and angry when he found the scattered remnants of his daughters, that soon all his neighbours knew, and they were fully resolved to help him be avenged of the terrible deed and loss. Finally, not only the neighbours, but most of the villagers went with him to the well, where not too far away from it, they found the bloated dragon sleeping quite unabashed.

Perhaps the dragon sensed the danger because he suddenly awoke to find himself surrounded by the angry villagers, and he tried to escape towards the north.
By this time the villagers were led by a young blacksmith whose name was Martin. Poor Martin had been very much in love with one of the young sisters. With brave, but heart-broken Martin in the lead, carrying a smithy's hammer, they all ran after the dragon towards Kirkton.

The dragon was hindered at Baldragon, which in those ancient times was marsh land. His scales were soaked, and unamphibious dragons tended to lose their firepower and force in such wet conditions. It was also probable that his disturbed siesta hadn't helped him digest the heavy meal of maidens. Even so, he managed to make some sort of dash again northwards, but was soon encircled once more by his relentless pursuers. It was then that Martin had the opportunity to clobber him with a first blow of the hammer.

Hurt, desperate and very angry, the dragon turned on Martin intent on tearing him to pieces with his enormous fangs and claws. As he was just about to do so, all the villagers together shouted 'Strike, Martin!' But Martin needed no such prompting, and struck the dragon as hard as he could.

The dragon, although badly wounded, still tried to escape. He even managed to drag himself a quarter of a league, whereupon Martin finally finished him off striking him a heavy blow to the head against a big stone.

At Kirkton, Strathmartine, Dundee (Tayside) there is the very stone that bears the image of a 'worm' or dragon. It's known as 'Martin's Stane', and it marks where the dragon was finally slain. There is also an ancient, local rhyme representing the dragon's dire fate.

'Tempted at Pitempton,
                        Draiglit° at Baldragon,             °wetted
                                 Stricken at Stathmartine°           ° Strike-Martin
  And kill'd at Martin's Stane'.
 Scottish myths 3
 Scottish myths
Retold and illustrated © Mirino, from various sources including 
Scotland Myths and Legends (Beryl Beare). May, 2011

Futile nostalgie

On a traité déjà un petit peu du sujet des sondages, mais avec la fièvre des campagnes politiques françaises pour les prochaines présidentielles, leur utilisation devient encore plus 'exploitée', et leurs résultats semblent toujours plus invraisemblables.
Il est difficile à croire, par exemple, que 75% des français soit 'déçu' du bilan politique du Président.
Il est, par contre, dans la nature française de vouloir un changement, mais non pas au point de revenir quand même en arrière.

Malgré son tonton charisme, son savoir faire médiatique, ressuscitant Mitterrand pour commémorer son élection il y a 30 ans, est sans doute correct historiquement, mais pas le meilleur calcul pour la gauche. Il ne représente guère un mythe. C'est plutôt son époque que l'on pourrait considérée 'mythique' dans le sens d'insouciant. Une époque bénie d'une mascarade de liberté, égalité et fraternité, mais surtout une époque de calme. Une époque sans engagements où ceux de son entourage, sinon lui-même, pouvaient faire des 'affaires', sans jamais craindre d'éveiller trop de soupçons, et être reçus royalement avec 'sa Cour' par des chefs d'Etats comme Hosni Moubarak.

Peut-être auparavant Giscard était moins dans les affaires, à part celle des diamants, mais il semble avoir instigué la démarche de compromis, le fameux 'ni ni' politique où on n'avance qu'à peine sans jamais trop se fatiguer. 'Le juste milieu', sinon l'immobilité, comme celle du pendule d'une horloge arrêtée. Mitterrand a donc pris ce petit flambeau du 'juste milieu' tout à fait naturellement.
Cette même démarche convenait aussi à Chirac, mais il a fait rebelote dans les affaires, de tous genres y compris affectifs.

Il est certain que Chirac savait que le ministre de la Défense Afghan, Ahmad Shah Massoud a visité le Parlement Européen à Bruxelles (avril, 2001). Le Président de l'UE à l'époque était Nicole Fontaine. Elle avait invité Massoud à s'adresser au parlement européen. Dans son discours Massoud demandait de l'aide humanitaire pour le peuple afghan. Il avertissait que ses agents avaient appris que les Etats Unis risquaient bientôt d'être la cible des terroristes et de subir des attaques sur une échelle très grande. Malgré cet appel et cet avertissement, rien n'a été fait. Nous ne connaissons que trop bien les conséquences, et aujourd'hui le monde paie toujours un prix très fort.

Mais depuis l'11/9 (et l'assassinat de Massoud deux jours avant) au lieu de faire valoir ces vérités on a préféré les substituer par des pensées incohérentes en vogue comme 'on ne peut pas exporter la démocratie' (comme si cette liberté n'a jamais été le rêve non-réalisé de Massoud lui-même). Et naturellement Chirac fut carrément contre l'idée de défaire le régime iraqien.

Tout ceci pour indiquer que la politique ou l'impolitique française qui a duré trente trois ans, (1974-2007) a fait plus de mal que de bien- et pas seulement à la France.
De vouloir donc régurgiter la mémoire de Mitterrand, comme s'il s'agissait d'un Saint homme, ne correspond pas beaucoup avec la réalité. Si jamais Mme. Royal, par exemple, compte incarner son héros, en s'identifiant avec lui, elle se met au même niveau quelconque, mais encore pire, à celui du passé. Mais une telle démarche populiste, comptant sur la nostalgie 'tonton', ne serait pas trop étonnante de sa part.

Par contre Nicolas Sarkozy, sincèrement déterminé à mener des réformes jugées nécessaires en France, n'a jamais cessé d'assumer ce qu'il estime être ses responsabilités. Même lorsque la France, avec le monde entier, est englouti par un tsunami financier le plus dévastateur de l'histoire.
Jamais il n'a cessé de contrer les critiques, ni de contrer les grèves injustifiées et irresponsables à une telle période, et dont le but était uniquement de revaloriser le pouvoir des syndicats.

Puis dernièrement, au lieu d'ignorer un autre appel à l'aide, au lieu de faire des trois singes, Sarkozy a été le premier chef d'Etat à ne pas seulement entendre l'appel des libyens, mais il a été le premier Président à reconnaître officiellement la Délégation Nationale de Transition libyenne.
Déjà à cette phase délicate de la rébellion, son engagement était courageux. Un ministre allemand l'a traité alors de 'capricieux'. On voit bien avec le temps qui sont vraiment les 'capricieux', les lâches, et ceux à qui manque la prévoyance.
Au même temps David Cameron a aussi soutenu l'opposition libyenne avec Sarkozy. Par contre Obama a trop traîné dans tous les égards. (Bien évidemment il s'est bien rattrapé- peut-être aussi un peu tardivement- avec l'élimination d'Oussama ben Laden, mais même là, sans vouloir miner cette réussite énorme, on a toujours l'impression que tout ce qu'il fait est plus pour augmenter son taux de popularité, que pour faire en sorte que la justice règne dans le monde).

Puis on entend toujours de Villepin qui a pris une occasion télévisée pour accuser Sarkozy de s'être engagé trop 'personnellement' en Libye, comme si s'engager dans un tel conflit peut être 'impersonnel', mais pour lui toute occasion est bonne pour essayer, sans jamais réussir, à discréditer le Président. Il est déjà très mal placé à cause de Clearstream, mais Sarkozy a toujours été sa cible. (Curieux cette liaison d'eau- 'Watergate', 'Whitewater', 'Clearstream'. Beaucoup d'eau, pas très propre, qui passe sous les ponts).

Le seul choix possible pour contrer Nicolas Sarkozy, assumant que la majorité des français juge qu'un 'changement' en soi est sage et vraiment nécessaire, serait Dominique Strauss-Kahn. DSK aime la bonne vie. Il a tout à fait raison (et l'affaire de la Porche est franchement aussi mesquine que ridicule). Mais ces dernières années bien comblées au sein du FMI (grâce aussi aux recommandations de Sarkozy) l'a peut-être ramolli un petit peu. On voit mal un Strauss-Kahn en train de s'engager pour aider des rebelles libyens, par exemple, certainement pas avec la même détermination et élan de Sarkozy. On voit très mal DSK contrer les syndicats français de manière aussi résolue que le Président. On a du mal à imaginer DSK exprimer son outrage à propos du comportement répressif et meurtrier d'un al-Assad ou d'un Ahmadinejad.
C'est vrai qu'il a peut-être la capacité de résoudre certains problèmes économiques, Mais comment résoudre la vieille l'équation, relancer le secteur privé, c'est à dire l'économie, sans réduire les dépenses dans le secteur public?

Actuellement il n'y a toujours pas de moyens pour mener la politique classique- genre Robin des bois- de gauche. Il faut les créer d'abord. C'est déjà un casse tête quand Monsieur Trichet de la BCE aime jouer avec les taux d'intérêts comme si l'euro est une espèce de yo-yo avec lequel on s'amuse pour combler des journées vides.
Et en tous cas comment comprendre ce tollé général que l'on entend lorsque un gouvernement prêt à accorder 840 euros mensuels au RSA, attend que ceux qui en bénéficient fassent cinq heures de travail communal par semaine? Est ce que c'est le monde qui est fou, ou seulement moi?

Text and top image © Mirino (PW). Frame of Thierry le Luron imitating Mitterrand 
from the video Radioscopi, with thanks. May, 2011

The neglected lover


Out upon it, I have loved
Three minutes together!
 It might have been three times more
Had she not been a blether.

Time will never favour love
In verbose company,
 And there's no one in the world
As loquacious as she.

But the poxy fault is mine,
Wayward and over-eager
           Love for me is not with words,          
    My parlance is quite meagre.   

 My parlance is quite meagre-
Fatal disparity,
 And the very reason why
   She has no time for me. 
         With apologies to John Suckling (1609 - 1642)          

Parody and illustration ©Mirino (PW) May, 2011

A Red, Red Rose

O, my luve is like a red, red rose
That's newly sprung in June.
O, my luve is like the melodie,
 That's sweetly play'd in tune.

As fair art thou, my bonie lass,
So deep in luve am I,
  And I will luve thee still, my dear,
Till a' the seas gang dry.

Till a' the seas gang dry, my dear,
And the rocks melt wi' the sun!
 And I will luve thee still, my dear,
 While the sands o' life shall run.

  And fare thee weel, my only luve,
And fare thee weel a while!
 And I will come again, my luve,
 Tho' it were ten thousand mile!

To M&D on a special day

Image © Mirino, May 6th, 2011

Of art and editors

As already mentioned, some readers might be interested in a brief account of personal experiences in the 'less innocent than would be expected' world of children's book publishing.

At the time of the Ambrosius project, quite a few years ago now, the first text and sketches of Ambrosius were showed to the merged HarperCollins in London. They liked the idea and asked the artist, already internationally known, to develop it, which he did. He refused to develop the illustrations however, as he had a feeling that the publishers might finally let him down, which they did.

Due to all the book publishing house mergers, book publishing overheads were already enormous, even then. This, in turn, led to their having to merger the actual printing and production of their books, mostly confided to China, and so many at a time that it was no longer possible to effectively control the printing quality of any individual book.

Originally for the USA, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, for another example, was auctioned off at the Bologna Book Fair between two American publishers- say 'D' and 'P'. 'P' were finally preferred, more out of sentiment than reason. Because the agreement stipulated that they had to take on more books than they could possibly handle, they really should have declined the offer, thus allowing the larger, more capable publisher- 'D', to take the book on. This sad and short-sighted situation led to 'P' being obliged to prematurely remainder (sell books at a reduced price) their stock in order to sell it off as soon as possible. Remaindering always means the end of a book's life wherever it's published.
Alice nevertheless continued for some years in the UK, but the book, of which the first edition was printed to a high standard (originally with the artist's assistance and approval) by Butler and Tanner in Somerset, England, and was to become a best-seller in the UK, ended up by also being printed, with God knows how many other books at the same time, in China. The initial quality was therefore sacrificed and the book, no longer defended, lost a great deal of its original quality, charm and magic.

One of the artist's most treasured and touching 'reviews' (with that of the Lewis Carroll Society) was a greetings card sent from an old lady. She had taken the time to write how much she appreciated Alice, which in her view was one of the best illustrated versions she had ever seen. She only wished that it had been available when she was a little girl..

The next book the artist willingly took on was virtually sabotaged, due to other discords, but mainly over his retelling of the text, which he believed in, defended (as a parody which apparently was never grasped) and refused to change. But it already seemed that such children's book publishers in the UK were suffering from the first throes of their own decline. In choosing not to defend their artists and what they believed in, and in continuing to prefer to write and illustrate down to children, finally bestowing them with mediocre produced results, the UK publishers then seemed willing to sell their souls. This instead of continuing, despite the circumstances, to try give their very best, (which is what the Edwardian artists and writers always insisted on in the golden age of children's books, with illustrators such as Rackham, Dulac and Robertson, Milne, etc., and writers such as Carroll, Grahame, Kipling, Lang, Tolkein, Potter, etc., and why these books are still alive today, and still so treasured and appreciated).

Even editors who had risen from nothing to lofty heights of power, (which they were sometimes prone to abuse) and had become too ungainly for their Cinderella shoes, were finally given the push, as the importance of Internet also increased.

What often seems to be ignored, is that natural, human sensitivity is not something that develops with education or time. It's either innate or not. From a certain age, a child, just as much as an adult, either has or hasn't the capacity to discern and appreciate the poetry of written and visual art. In the latter case it's not necessarily a fault, it's simply another example of the nature and reality of things. In the former case it's also why many children never forget certain books they were given when they were young, and why they keep them, and treasure them all their lives.
It's therefore inane and counter productive to try to please the majority with ephemeral mediocrity. If one is willing to create something, it goes without saying that in principle one should always try to give one's very best- whether the results are considered 'financially feasible', (with or without reason) and fully appreciated- or not.

All this might be considered as unimportant, naive idealism, but if artists try to please others, instead of trying to create to the very best of their ability, what they believe in, they would have no right to consider themselves artists.
By extension, if editors try to control, pigeonhole or restrict artists from giving their very best and from developing their own individual potential, they not only betray the artists, their betray themselves, their own profession and they abuse their position.

Text and image © Mirino. May, 2011

Karol Wojtyla

'L' amour est l'unique révolution qui ne trahit pas l'homme'- Jean-Paul II

Aujourd'hui Jean-Paul II, né Karol Józef Wojtyla le 18 mai, 1920 en Wadowice, non loin de Cracovie, en Pologne, a été béatifié. Plus d'un million et demi de pèlerins étaient venus à Rome pour cet événement, aussi sans doute pour témoigner de leur amour et de leur grande admiration pour cet homme Roi et Père décédé le 2 avril, 2005.

Je l'ai vu une fois à Rome de manière totalement imprévue, donc par hasard- si pour certains le hasard existe- car je suis toujours persuadé que ce n'est jamais le cas. C'était une expérience inoubliable dont j'ai fait allusion dans 'Italian souvenirs' (Wind Rose Hotel).

Il se peut que pour beaucoup de gens le Pape Jean-Paul II n'ait pas représenté uniquement la Tête de l'Eglise Catholique Romaine, il incarnait aussi le leader spirituel de l'humanité entière. C'était un Saint homme, une figure paternelle pour tous. Un homme dont la puissance de foi, de bonté et d'humanité rayonnaient de lui.

Est ce qu'il y aurait un autre homme sur terre non seulement capable de pardonner à celui qui avait presque réussi de l'assassiner, mais d'avoir aussi pris le temps de lui donner la foi, de lui apporter de l'aide et d'avoir même changé la vie pour le meilleur de ce pauvre individu ?
Si ceci n'est pas déjà un acte miraculeux, peut on affirmer qu'il existe un geste plus beau et plus généreux?

C'était un Saint homme dont les forces de foi et d'humanité lui ont permis d'aller au delà pour aider les uns et les autres, en pouvant effectuer parfois ce que l'on appelle des miracles. Et c'est aussi pour cela qu'il sera sanctifié.

Voilà la vraie puissance dont on a déjà fait allusion le 25 avril dernier. Il s'agit de la bonté, la vertu divine, la vérité. On peut l'appliquer aussi bien au prodigieux mécanisme merveilleux et miraculeux de l'univers entier, dont nous sommes aussi une partie intégrale infiniment modeste, qu'à un seul Saint Homme unique.

Ceci n'est qu'un petit hommage personnel, sans même chercher à m'informer davantage sur la vie de cet homme, car je sens que l'on n'en a point besoin. On le voit et on le sent, tout simplement.

Le Pape Jean-Paul II a été béatifié, et Oussama ben Laden est mort. Une connexion? Si, dans l'espace et le temps, car un Saint homme le plus admiré au monde est reconnu, célébré et apporté au Ciel, tandis qu'au même temps le malfaiteur le plus haineux au monde, celui responsable d'avoir perpétré tant de mal partout, a été tué. Sa mort est reconnue, et son âme, sans doute, est descendue ailleurs.

Il primo di maggio Giovanni Paolo II è stato beatificato. Più di un milione e mezzo di pellegrini erano venuti a Roma per quest'evento, anche certamente per mostrare il loro amore e loro grande ammirazione per quest'uomo Re e Padre.

L'ho visto una volta a Roma in modo completamente imprevisto, dunque per caso, se per alcuni questo esiste, poiché sono sempre persuaso che le cose non accadano mai 'per caso.' Era un'esperienza indimenticabile di cui ho fatto allusione in 'Italian souvenirs, Roma'
 su Wind Rose Hotel.


Può darsi che per molta gente Papa Giovanni-Paolo II non abbia rappresentato soltanto il Capo della Chiesa Cattolica romana, egli incarnava anche la guida spirituale dell'umanità intera. Fu un uomo Santo per tutti. Un uomo la cui potenza di fede, di bontà e d'umanità fu immensa.


C’è un altro uomo sulla terra non soltanto capace di perdonare a quello che era quasi riuscito ad assassinarlo, ma di avere anche trovato il tempo di confortarlo, aiutarlo e di avere anche cambiato in meglio la vita di questo povero individuo?
 Se questo non è già un atto miracoloso, è possibile affermare che esista un gesto più bello e più generoso di quello?


Era un uomo santo la cui fede e umanità gli hanno permesso di andare oltre per aiutare gli uni e gli altri, potendo effettuare a volte ciò che si chiamano miracoli. Ed è anche per questo che sarà santificato.


Ecco la vera potenza di cui si è già fatta allusione il 25 aprile scorso. Si tratta della bontà, la virtù divina, la verità. Si può applicarlo tanto al meccanismo prodigioso, meraviglioso e miracoloso dell'universo intero, di cui siamo anche una parte integrale infinitamente modesta, quanto a un solo Santo Uomo.


Questo non è che un piccolo omaggio personale, senza cercare di informarmi maggiormente sulla vita di quest'uomo, poiché credo che non sia necessario. E’ semplicemente ciò che vedo e sento.

  Text and watercolour © Mirino (PW). With thanks to Rob for checking out the Italian. 
May, 2011