I was deliberately provocative in Sunday Essay – John Roskam and the value of an Arts degree. At the end of the post, I asked
Mr Roskam’s problem, as I see it, lies in the need of the political theorist to simplify, to ensure that things fit within his model. Marxism had similar problems, As I said, I thought that it was a remarkably silly piece. I stand to be corrected in debate. Am I wrong?
Winton Bates came in with the shortest comment on record: yes!
The following photo comes from kvd. Triggered by an exchange in comments, it shows black and white lambs. I like lambs. They are funny affectionate creatures. Then they grow up to become sheep, arguably the most stupid of animals!
I really like my commenters. They keep me honest and make me extend my thinking. You a get a feel for that from just how often I end up adding postscripts to posts triggered by comments. This next photo comes from kvd as well. It is a very Australian scene. How many of us are waiting for the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?
I am fortunate with my commenters in that they span views. That’s very important and something I consciously try to encourage. If discussion is dominated by one view, you may refine that view but you don’t get new views.
This week I am putting economics, politics and public policy aside. This is a New England and history week. I am behind in my major projects.
By the way, Scrawny (Stray cats, cruelty, civil aviation and my Hunter Valley trip) is doing quite well. He/she, I’m still not sure which, has put on weight. Scrawny remains resolutely independent. I think Scrawny is being fed by other people now as well, for visits to me have become less regular. Days will pass without sightings and then there is a miaow at the gate when I go out. We chat, I provide food, and then go on my way.
This is kvd’s comment. I bring it into the main post without comment, although my thoughts are with him on this day.
“Since you have done me the honour of publishing two of my favourite photos, and since today is my 42nd wedding anniversary (although my wife unfortunately died some years ago) I want to treat this as an 'open post' - one in which you might find thoughts of all things; interesting and personal.
The following is from the writings of one of my lovely clients, recording her trip back 'home' to an Africa now long gone. I must say, it moved me to tears...
I tell Brian I wish to scatter my parents ashes in the Zambezi River, will he help me find a special spot, and ask if he would be willing to sing a song of farewell in Nyanja. I’m surprised at how readily he agrees. Africans honour death. Then he asks me, what are their names? Tom and Vera, I say. He rolls their names around his African tongue, till he gets it right. Ah, Tom and Vera, he says.
Back at the tent, I unpack their ashes, and spoon from two bags marked ‘Mom’ and ‘Dad’ into two smaller ones. I still have Victoria Falls, Table Mountain, the Atlantic Ocean, and Kimberley to go, but there is plenty here.
Then I lick the spoon.
A few hours later, with my bag packed with two small zip lock bags of my parents ashes, and their rosaries, we head out for a sundowner cruise, gliding through rocks and water, the sun is setting, we walk amongst white sand and trees and bushes, we listen to Brian speak of the land and the animals and soak up the bush. We are looking for a special spot for the Ceremony of the Ashes, and Brian points out a couple he thinks would be suitable. No, not right for me. He points out the oldest tree on the Zambezi river ‘eighty years and more’, a gnarled grey tree of wide girth, which splits into two, at waist height standing joined, yet apart, and I think of Kahil Gibran’s poem. There, I say. He cuts the motor, we drift, and he says with some theatre, ‘This is the bridge between the rising sun in the east and the sun setting in the west, both can be seen from this spot. Over there is a beach, watching this fine tree, and beneath this fine tree is another beach for resting upon. This is a good place.’ If you think this is made up, I want to assure you that this is exactly how precisely he spoke, how many Africans speak. Where did this amazingly moving dialogue come from? Another cynical soul may miss this altogether.
Suddenly, he starts to sing a song in Nyanja. A song he described to me later, and writes out the words, which means something like ‘You have left me in darkness, I am lost, and I remember you’. I film him. The melody is sweet and he sings softly, he stops suddenly, and buries his face in his hands. I wait respectfully. He lifts his tear stained face in embarrassment and implores Gerald, ‘Please forgive me for crying Sir’. Gerald mumbles ineffectually. I scramble over the wooden seating and grab his hands, offering tissues, he holds on tight, tells me this is the same song he sang at both of his parents funerals, and the memory pains him. Then he lifts his head, and sings it again, verse by verse, unwavering, his voice strong and proud. I am crying, but he is not. I wish I knew the words.
And also, today of all days, I'd like to acknowledge my young brother-in-law's life:
- of whom his family past, and present, is quietly proud.
Thanks Jim - I am unconcernedly off-topic, as always :)