Towards Better Democracy

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

Our Address is Music

My home shall have music
Music shall come with the sun
And go down with the stars.
The angels of the heavens will loiter, unseen, to listen
The wind will blow softly
The rain will fall quiet so as not to disturb the sounds of
The violins coming from within.

People will flock happily to hear this music
They shall come from miles around
This will be a centre for it
Music shall fill the throats
And sound with the laughter of people.

For those who wish to play and want to listen
This is where they can always come.

The chairs shall play Mozart, the table Beethoven
Wagner will come constantly from the kitchen
Debussy and Saint-Saëns will issue from the bedrooms
Cage from the toilet, and Stockhausen
from the stores and cupboards
Vivaldi will come from the garage and Back from the garden.

The walls will be papered in C. The drawers
will be full of D major
The knives and forks will ring to Eb and the rolling pin
to G
The pillows and eiderdowns to A the the sheets to
a salubrious B.

Red will sound to all the majors
And blue to all the minors
The flats and sharps will sound to white
and, of course, anyone wearing black will immediately
hear F. Though they may be surprised on occasion to hear
its related harmonic minor.

The stairs will sound to crotchets and the doors
to semi-quavers
The windows to demi-semis and the fire-place
will positively bristle to hemi-demi-semis.
The gate at the end of the path will hum in minims
And the trees in the garden; well, they just adore

Don’t expect the tiles on the roof to play symphonies,
though they might.
The drainpipes make do with concertos, and brushes,
pots and pans, variously, with quartets, trios, and

Smells have been known to change key. And, well,
with so much music to look at, who needs ears?
Though Aunt Augusta is known to possess a pair,
Which she swears she never uses.

Of course, we don’t believe her, How else did she
know we were smoking behind the stairs?

My daddy is a double bass,
My mum, a cello, of course.
My sister is a violin, and my brothers
Flute and clarinet.
I, myself, am a piano, naturally. I wouldn’t be anything else.
Aunt, the one you’ve just hear about, is
A bassoon and her husband, a real horn (He’s French you know.)

Grandma’s a harp but she’s quite old, and granddad, a spinet.
We have some pets which comprise a cat, who is a piccolo
and a dog, an oboe.
The fish bear a remarkable resemblance to glockenspiel.

Ah, and the neighbours, I almost forgot them. Well, she’s
like a set of timpani, and he, I’m afraid, a xylophone.
We find the, yes, you’ve guessed it, pretty percussive on

The postman is kind enough to come by on odd days
To act as conductor and we all give a jolly good tune.
Which causes him to take our letters without postage
Stamps, which gets him into terrible trouble with the
Postmaster, Who comes round to see what the matter
is. And ends up staying entranced.
The village bobby has been known to drop in for a cuppa
And end up transcribing a Mass.

The organ is played only on Sundays.
Because that’s old Aunt Bertha, you know.
And, I’m afraid that she’s of such an age
That’s she’s totally confined to bed.
Which is a shame, don’t you think?

We daren’t ever spring clear because
The neighbours would complain of the rackets. They’re
not partial to Renaissance.
They only play post-war themselves.

The earwigs in the lettuce patch are good
At rendering arias.
The snails in the spinach prefer plainsong.
The rats excel in acepella
The mice do a nice barber’s shop.

A fox has been known to come by with a
And hens crow wonderful folk.
The bees buzz a bit of jazz. You should see
them do “Take Five.” But
you must hear our tame marmoset do

The guinea fowl whistle incessantly
The most wonderful ditties you’ve
Ever heard.
But, disappointingly, our pig grunts.
Which is a shame, because we were going
To invite him in for Christmas.

The carpets have been known to to go
On marches. The rugs, generally, prefer
A waltz.
The curtains are good at the rumba.
Which makes our mum cross.

For a jive, I’m afraid we’ll have
To direct you to Albert across
The road. He’s an electric guitar.
And we’re only natural here.

Some people may view us as old fashioned.
Which may be true in a sense.
But, if they have any knowledge, well
then, why, they’ll come round here and air it.
For it’s only ignorance that stays away.
And everyone knows he’s deaf.

If you’re thinking of coming round in the morning,
We’ll make you a good tea of staves.
Our biscuits, I’m afraid, are like allegros.
But taste just as good just the same.
Our jam dounuts have been known to crinkle like
Andantes. And, well, the buttered toast, will simply
Not do anything else but moderato.
And the sandwiches are definitely grave.

Be assured, though, you’ll enjoy it.
So give us a call
And we’ll tell you all
And nothing will ever be the same.

Sandown, South Africa, September 26, 1983

Filed under: Arts,

Two Australians

For some reason, maybe geography, an event took place yesterday that appears to have escaped the US media’s attention.

Julian Assange wrote in the Op-Ed page of the Australian, Don’t shoot the messenger for revealing uncomfortable truths, December 08, 2010 12:00 am.

He opens his Opinion piece by quoting, “In 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: ‘In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.’ ”

Rupert Murdoch, born in Melbourne, Australia, of a regional, media-empire owning father, has spent his life building one of the world’s largest media empires, reaching into most corners of the globe. He is best known in the US for his expansion of the Fox TV Network and the creation of Fox News Channel.

Murdoch established The Australian in 1964 as Australia’s first national newspaper. His political support has gone to the Australian Labor Party, the Labour Party in Britain, the British Conservatives and back, more recently, to the Labour Party. He became a US citizen in 1985.

Julian Assange’s background is rather different. Although now aspiring to be a journalist and editor, in his native Australia he was primarily a computer software writer and sometime hacker. He spent is childhood years caught in the middle of a parental custody battle, being moved from place to place, with frequent changes of schools.

Rupert Murdoch’s behaviour as a newspaper owner does not suggest overtly Labour sympathies.

Right Web, the online presence for the Institute for Policy Studies, which describes its mission as tracking “militarists’ efforts to influence U.S. foreign policy,” ran a profile of Rupert Murdoch, dated July 15, 2009,  in which Murdoch is described as being:

“Considered a close ally of neoconservative activists, Murdoch has helped bankroll neoconservatism’s more important media outlets, including the William Kristol-edited Weekly Standard, the Wall Street Journal’s editorial page, and Fox News. A sign of Murdoch’s commitment to this rightwing faction’s causes was his willingness to support the Standard in spite of yearly losses in the millions; the magazine is widely credited as a pivotal force in building support for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.”

The profile goes on to observe,

“Murdoch is frequently criticized for using his media empire to advance his political agenda. During the lead up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, for example, the editors of Murdoch’s media holdings vociferously supported President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair’s pro-war campaign. One British newspaper opined: ‘You have got to admit that Rupert Murdoch is one canny press tycoon because he has an unerring ability to choose editors across the world who think just like him. How else can we explain the extraordinary unity of thought in his newspaper empire about the need to make war on Iraq? After an exhaustive survey of the highest-selling and most influential papers across the world owned by Murdoch’s News Corporation, it is clear that all are singing from the same hymn sheet. Some are bellicose baritone soloists who relish the fight. Some prefer a less strident, if more subtle, role in the chorus. But none, whether fortissimo or pianissimo, has dared to croon the antiwar tune. Their master’s voice has never been questioned.’ ( “Their Master’s Voice,” Guardian, February 17, 2003) ”

Julian Assange’s political position is best viewed through the lens of the two papers he wrote in 2006, around the time of the founding of Wikileaks. These are: “State and Terrorist Conspiracies” (10 November 2006) and “Conspiracy as Governance” (3 December 2006).

However you care to characterize Julian Assange’s political position, it surely can be said that his differs from that of Rupert Murdoch’s.

It surely is the height of irony that we have two Australians brought together, as it were, in the same newspaper, forty years apart in age, each a scion of the world in which they play such a large role.

Rupert Murdoch has spent a lifetime creating his vast media empire. In four short years, Julian Assange has led an obscure whistle-blowing website to being the most power journalistic enterprise the world has known, though it could disappear almost without trace tomorrow.

It seems most unlikely, given how Rupert Murdoch’s guiding hand has never been far from his editors’ pens, that Murdoch did not personally approve the appearance of Julian Assange’s writings in The Australian‘s pages. One somehow senses the older man’s glee at the tumult being caused by the actions of the younger man, though there is no foundation whatsoever for saying such a thing.

The Australian political establishment, prior to the appearance of Julian Assange’s Op-Ed piece, has behaved deplorably towards one of its own citizens,  in particular its present Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. At least one politician has broken ranks: see Andrew Wilkie, a former whistleblower of all things,  Wilkie lashes PM over WikiLeaks, December 09, 2010 1:25 pm, his conscience awoken perhaps by Julian Assange’s plea.

Filed under: Culture, , ,

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