Towards Better Democracy

Good words, well written, better the world. Good literature betters the world immeasurably.

On the art work Closely Observed Trains


On the art work Closely Observed Trains

Seldom do artists wish to write about their work, or about a particular work. Even less do they have anything intelligent to say about the work or their work. By far and away the majority of art works do not need words. Artists work visually. If works needed words, they would be writers not visual artists in whatever form. To the greatest extent possible, words are redundant. That is why the vast majority of art books which are devoted to the analysis and discussion of what art works are about, are junk. They don’t make sense. Very few art critics, very few, can write about art. The fingers on one hand are too may to list the number of writers who could and can write about art. And this comment applies from the time of antiquity, meaning the Greeks, who started all this stuff up to the present.

In the case of Closely Observed Trains, what is said above is contradicted because, in disussing the work, there is no risk of spoiling the integrity of the work. There is no danger of devaluing its merit.

And here’s why.

Two aspects: the phrase itself “Closely Observed Trains”and the words “observed” and “watched.” Notice I said, phrase.

The phrase, “Closely Observed Trains” has a resonance for me that is apart. or. in addition to. the genious of Jiri Menzel’s film or the wonders of Hbabral’s original text. The writer is one whose work I deeply admire and “Closely Watched Trains,” its title in English, is only one of a whole set of beautiful writings, each inimicable in its own way. There is little wonder that the author is so admired within Check culture, a culture which is not short of good, and great, writers.

Few English readers will know this for the obvious reason that few bother to read translated fiction. ‘Nough said on that.

The phrase in question has a resonance with me, for me, that is truly hard to convey, even to myself. Why should the title of the film, not necessarily accurately translated into English, stick in my mind? The simple answer is the word “observed.” As with the companion work, “The Look,” there is a preoccupation within this artist of the act of looking. And, finally, the power of the eyes. And the peculiar strength that emanates from them. Let no physics spoil the fun.

The use of the word “observed” versus the word “watched” can lead to endless discussion. depending on your taste. Though, mercifully, not here you will be relefved to know.

The connotations of the verb “to watch” are lost in English over the power and weight of the word in Check or indeed in any country where dictators have held sway. In English “to watch” is benigm} there is little or no menace.

Now there will be those among you who disagree, maybe even vehmently, with me over what I have to say, but within a limited space, we cannot cover the earth.

The word “observed” has a sublity in English that “watch” does not have. “Watch, at the end of the day, in English, is passive and is not direct, confrontational act that Continentals know in the languages of the ex-Nazi conquered territorities. “Observed” in English, is quite different. “Observed” suggests being watched unseen. This is arguably more menacing than being “watched.” Now, notice, I did not say, life threatening.

And here is the core of the argument. The English do not have the experience of Nazis or Junta members, of whatever flavour, standing on railway platforms. But, more even than that, this act, this behaviour is not the English way. Not to say that the English cannot be menacing. Anyone who knows a smidgeon of English Colonial history. Anyone who had the joy and pleasure of serving under which ever queen ruled at the time, knows how the English can be. And it can be pretty frightening. The English specialise by chilling those in their presense.

With “watched” you are aware. With “observed,” you may not be.

malcolmdbmunro
Monday 13 August, 2018
SaatchiArt.com/malcolmdbmunro

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Filed under: Current Events, Arts, Media, poetry, songs, stories, Music, art

Gentling a Wild Cat; Douglas Livingston


Gentling a Wild Cat, Douglas Livingston

Not much wild life, roared Mine leonine Host
from the fringe of a forest of crackles
round an old dome-headed steam radio,
between hotel and river 0a mile of bush –
except for the wildcats and jackals.

And he, of these parts for years, was right.

That evening I ventured with little apprehension
and a torch, towed by the faculty
I cannot understand, that has got me
into too many situations.

Under a tree, in filtered moonlight,
a ragged heap of dusty leaves stopped moving.
A cat lay there, open from chin to loins;
lower viscera missing; truncated tubes
and bitten-off things protruding.

Little blood there was, but a mess of
damaged lungs; straining to hold its breath
for quiet; claws fixed, curved and jutting,
jammed open in a stench of jackal meat;
it tried to raise its head hating the mystery, death.

The big spade-skull with its lynx-fat cheeks
aggressive still, raging eyes hooked in me, game;
nostrils pulling at a tight mask of anger
and fear; then I remembered hearing
they are quite impossible to tame.

Closely, in a bowl of unmoving roots,
an untouched carcass, unlicked, swaddled and wrapped
in trappings of birth, the first of a litter stretched.
Rooted out in mid-confinement: a time
when jackals have courage enough for a wildcat.

In some things too, I am a coward,
and could not here punch down with braced thumb,
lift the nullifying stone or stiff-edged hand
to axe with mercy the nape of her spine.

Besides, I convinced myself, she was numb.

And oppressively, something felt wrong:
not her approaching melting with earth,
but in lifetimes of claws, kaleidoscopes:
moon-claws, sun-claws, teeth after death,
certainly both at mating and birth.

So I sat and gentled her with my hand,
not moving much but saying things, using my voice;
and she became gentle, affording herself
the influent luxury of breathing –
untrammelled, bubbly, safe in its noise.

Later, calmed, despite her tides of pain,
she let me ease her claws, the ends of the battle,
pulling off the trapped and rancid flesh.
Her miniature limbs of iron relaxed.
She died with hardly a rattle.

I placed her peaceful ungrinning corpse
and that of her firstborn in the topgallants
of a young tree, out of ground reach, to grow: restart
a cycle of maybe something more pastoral,
commencing with beetles, then maggots, then ants.

Dyad (Δρυάδες) Press  © Copyright 2016

Malcolm D B Munro
Thursday 16 August, 2018

The poem has been lightly edited without intent to infringe the copyright.

Filed under: Current Events, Media, poetry, songs, stories, Music, art

Joseph Haydn – Sonata No.38 in F major, Kasparas Uinskas


Joseph Haydn – Sonata No.38 in F major, Kasparas Uinskas

Allegro
Andante
Presto

Malcolm D B Munro
Sunday 29 July, 2018

Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

Joseph Haydn – Piano Sonata Hob XVI:52 E Flat major Evgeny Kissin


Joseph Haydn – Piano Sonata Hob XVI:52 E Flat major Evgeny Kissin

Allegro
Adagio
Presto

Malcolm D B Munro
Sunday 29 July. 2018

Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

Joseph Haydn – Piano Sonata nº 59 in E flat, Hob. XVI:49, Alfred Brendel


Joseph Haydn – Piano Sonata nº 59 in E flat, Hob. XVI:49, Alfred Brendel

Malcolm D B Munro
Sunday 29 July, 2018

Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

صّـقُر آلَبًقُآعٌ آکْرمً عٌسِـآفُـ … +دبكة) بسك تيجي حارتنا ولعت


صّـقُر آلَبًقُآعٌ آکْرمً عٌسِـآفُـ … +دبكة) بسك تيجي حارتنا ولعت

Malcolm D B Munro
Sunday 29 July, 2018

Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

ملك العتابا اللبناني روجيه دفوني – تهيا يا بيا تهيا


ملك العتابا اللبناني روجيه دفوني – تهيا يا بيا تهيا

Malcolm D B Munro
Sunday 29 July, 2018

Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

Satan’s Pilgrims – Haunted House Of Rock


Satan’s Pilgrims – Haunted House Of Rock

Malcolm D B Munro
Sunday 29 July, 2018

Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

The Bonecollectors – Swamp Farming


The Bonecollectors – Swamp Farming

Malcolm D B Munro
Sunday 29 July, 2018

Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

The Devil’s Daughters – Pass That Bottle


The Devil’s Daughters – Pass That Bottle

Malcolm D B Munro
Sunday 29 July, 2018

Filed under: Arts, Media, Music, poetry, songs, stories

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