Sunday, 26 April 2009

Pinter on War

Here's a little something by Harold Pinter you may not have seen before... His comments ring as true now as they did then.

Harold Pinter’s comments on his National Service Application to Register Conscientious Objectors. Received December 14th, 1948.

I consider that a world war at this time would be disastrous to mankind and would wreck civilization. It is useless speaking of policies or sentiments of defense against aggression, for all these words will mean nothing in a final and eternal extinction. Beside the atomic horror, the world’s food situation, already disintegrating considerably, would fall and lessen to a terrifying degree, and finally, as Sir John Boyd Orr has pointed out, result in world famine. Far-seeing statesmen like Sir John, however, remain unheeded, and the people are misled by valueless, uncomprehending and completely immature pronouncements which will but hasten the end. Even without war the food situation is extremely precarious, but in such an event, aided by the great expense and energy wasted on armaments and industry, and devastated by the atom bomb, a weakened and ruined world would come to a certain chaotic calamity. As these are plain material facts of the situation today, besides the fact that war can never be justified, I cannot conceive of my helping on this disaster.

My main objection, however, is a moral one. My great emotion regarding the armies of the world is a sadness. Man since the beginning of time has continuously allowed his animal nature to conquer him where it should have been mastered – in the respect of war. The history of mankind is marked by an eternal conflict between brainless, bestial savages fiercely grappling with each other, and men who comprehend and see the world’s truth and goodness. Certainly war in some ages can be understood as consistent with the temperament and humour of the time, but never justified, for killing is the one primal sin, and man’s life is sacred. After so many years of civilization we still contemplate casually disinterestedly wiping out millions of fellow humans for selfish, petty political reasons. Man’s moral sense has been left high and dry somewhere in the Industrial Revolution. In the past, because of the immediacy of life and death, there was a moral consciousness, but now, the mass of the world, including leading statesmen, having retarded in vision and realization of the true values, death is so wholesale that world’s moral recognition has almost disappeared and material gain is all. We live in an immoral civilization which we must realize, not surrender to.

To join an organization whose main purpose is mass murder, whose conception of true human values is absolutely nil, speeding on the utter degradation of a prematurely fatigued man, and whose result and indeed ambition is to destroy the world’s very, very precious life, is completely beyond my human understanding and moral conception. And finally, to take one human life is completely alien to my moral code.

The mind that contemplates warfare is stupid, debased and deformed by fear. As human beings we are bound to bring forth and foster that inherent wisdom and goodness which is endowed in us and replenish and illumine our fellows with this spiritual realization. Each person is compelled by this moral responsibility to hold sacred human life, to cast out fear and to fulfil this existence as a creation out of the immense order of things. The dismissal of these principles, the betrayal of all Jesus Christ, the great Mystics and Dostoyevsky have said, has led to the perversion and ignorance of man today. The position in our society for one who believes in his responsibility as a Man is simple. He shall with great sorrow and love defend the innocent with physical sacrifice and moral enlightenment. But on no account shall he be the arbiter of another “humans” existence by taking arms. Nor shall he tarnish his soul by joining such an evil, stupid, sorrowful organization as the army. With these beliefs, it is therefore quite impossible for me to even contemplate such an act.

Statement continued:

Having just received the findings of the local Tribunal I regret that through a misunderstanding there has been a distortion of some of my statements. The findings say that I declared I would never defend innocent people. This is an unhappy mistake. My opinion on this subject which I stated at the time, is that I would defend the innocent with my life without hesitation, but that to kill others, to attack as the best defence is something I cannot conjecture. It seems to me that to attempt to eliminate aggression by further aggression is merely to out-wrong the wrong-doer. And these means it is essential to stop.

Monday, 20 April 2009

Randomly obsessed with...

Saturday, 11 April 2009

And what of the Mix CD?

I may have made a terribly self centered discovery.

So my very cool flatmate made me a mix cd with the words "Play it Loud" written on it. If you are a long time reader of the blog, you know what a proponent I am of the dying art of mix cds. I turned the volume all the way up on my laptop, which probably wasn't as loud as the instructions demanded, and let that baby roar. I listened to it twice, highly enjoyable. The tracks I did know I liked, the tracks I didn't know were the kind of thing I liked, and from having heard the wide range of music that my flatmate plays in his room, it seemed like he'd made this mix with an eye on music that he specifically thought I would like. I was so happy about the whole thing that I felt inspired to make my own mix cd for one of my best friends in Canada.

Breaking all my rules, I ignored transitions, and just tried to put as many tracks that I liked on the same cd. The cd has been made, sent off in the mail, but the playlist remains on my itunes. Tantalizingly. Because while I listened to my flatmate's perfectly awesome mix twice, I've listened to my own - um - at least five times? What happens is, I'll start using the computer, think to myself that I'd like to listen to some music, and whereas the gift mix cd has to be found, then physically inserted into the driver, the playlist is already there. And I know I like all the music, I made it. This has put me in a strangely self reflexive audio world - especially since many of the tracks on this have been rediscovered through my "Music's Been Ruined by Dating" performance last week. (This is a show where, with an audience, I session music that was ruined for me by a relationship.)

You know, in a way I'd be perfectly happy with this fact - that everyone likes their own mixes best - except that I've started to worry that my friend in Canada will listen to my mix twice then go back to his own convenient playlists. It's so comfortable, so little work, but breaks all the golden rules of the mix! And it would all add up to living in a world where people are best off making mix cds for themselves. I already check my facebook page at least ten times more often than I check the news. Make me stop recycling my playlists! In a terrible hall of mirrors, I am actually listening to the mix right now, as I chastise myself for it on the blog. And while one part of my brain is trying to pay attention to what I'm writing, another part of my brain is thinking, "Bob Dylan is soooo good. I want to listen to this mix til the end of time."

Playlist for the tantalizing, once altruistic and now self absorbed mix cd:

1. Goldberg Variations - Glenn Gould
2. Georgia Stomp - Andrew and Jim Baxter
3. The Name was Johnny - Dmitri Martin
4. Couples - Dylan Moran
5. Get Away - Georgie Fame
6. Ballade de Melody Nelson - Serge Gainsbourg
7. Complainte pour Ste. Catherine - Kate and Anna McGarrigle
8. Horses - Tori Amos
9. Save Me from The City - The Very
10. Ballantines - Aimee Mann
11. Boum! - Charles Trenet
12. It Seems Like Old Times - Diane Keaton (Annie Hall)
13. Prelude 110 (Women of the world) - Jim O'rourke
14. Un homme et une femme - Theme
15. Astronaut - Amanda Palmer
16. Rehab - Amy Winehouse
17. Oh No - Andrew Bird
18. The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll - Bob Dylan and the Rolling Thunder Review (1975)
19. I'm on Fire - The Chromatics
20. Anything Goes - Cole Porter
21. Silver and Gold - Dolly Parton
22. Woods - Bon Iver

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Standing by

Over drinks last night an opportunity came up. The music playing in the pub was awful - so awful that the Counting Crows were a highlight - when somebody mentioned Ben Folds. Amidst the groans of my terribly worldly and well dressed drinking companions, I figuratively stepped forward and took a stand.

"I think Ben Folds is the Paul Simon of our generation."

This is the second time in young, relatively musically savvy company that I have had to defend the man - and there is something exhilirating about it. I love the moment of hesitation, the fleeting fear of reproach, the bravado with which I have to announce it, and the ensuing seconds of shock, silence, and then relief as my companions launch into their own guilty admissions...

"I love Blind Melon."

Oh Captain my Captain- I should probably start reading the news more so that I can take a stand about something that actually matters.

Saturday, 4 April 2009