Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Post#174 Vandalia Dianella - Land of the Wreckers

At the Dianella Plaza bus stop on Alexander Drive there has been an epic struggle fought between the diligent destroyers of public amenities and the agents and servants of the Stirling City Council and SignAds. It may be concluded that the vandals have won a partial victory. The Council have replaced the multiply-smashed glass panels along the length of the bus shelter with a metal grill with small apertures. This can be understood as a process of natural selection whereby the stimulating entities (vandals) have persuaded the authorities to evolve their amenity in the direction of higher durability. The glass-encased illuminated advertising at one end of the shelter and the plain glass panel at the opposite end remain. The advertising panel currently bears the display shown in the photographs below:

I took them from various angles to get a good view of the whole image. I reckon the chance of this sign making any difference to the behaviour of the wreckers is nil. It does have some merit as an artistic concept. It now only remains to see whether the vandals will smash the glass covering it to make a piece of  the combination performance/installation type.

Monday, 2 May 2011

Post#173 The Death of bin Laden

Osama bin Laden

In his World War II alternate history series, The Axis of Time, John Birmingham refers to  a fictional work of art hanging on the bulkhead wall in a naval vessel of the future which has travelled in time to the 1940's. It is called 'The Death of bin Laden'. Now that work is capable of being realised. Life has imitated art in a manner most pleasing to those of us in what, inexplicably is called 'The West'.

George Bush and John Howard have been dusted off and invited to crow over the carcass and, such was my good humour, I couldn't cavil at a word that either of them said.

Here is the (revised) list:

1. bin Laden

2. Zawahiri

3. Mullah Omar

We're getting there. May he lick his left hand in hell forever.

Post#172 Wolf Hall - The Time-Travelling Imagination

Today I read the last page of Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel and thought, "It certainly improved as it proceeded" and "That finale only works if it's used in a case where one has to think about it." In the last sentence of the book, Thomas Cromwell schedules a visit for Henry VIII to the seat of the Seymour family, Wolf Hall, which will be the beginning of his own undoing. First will come the King's love affair with Jane Seymour, then the execution of Anne Boleyn and, following the death of Jane, the failed marriage to Anne of Cleves and Cromwell's death. It's a crafty conceit in the context of the somewhat unfamiliar, but it would be pretty lame if you tried it with a story ending: "All is proceeding well; our troubles seem behind us now. Tomorrow we shall sail for New York. We have been fortunate enough to secure berths on the new vessel, RMS Titanic."

Apart from that quibble, Wolf Hall is a very engaging yarn. The best type of historical fiction is that in which one begins to lose track of the fact that it is told in a voice which, although it may be buttressed by diligent research, is a figment. Critics have said that Mantel has provided a more sympathetic view of Cromwell than the familiar histories. I think this is because the part of his life which is treated of is not as difficult to come to terms with as that which follows. The persecutions and executions ramp up after the Boleyn marriage.

There is a scope in the further reaches of the past to mould the personality of the imagined historical figure into a form pleasing to the author. Is there a harm in this? Yes, if evildoers are presented as virtuous and the virtuous as evil. But we'll never know will we?