CLOSING STATEMENT IN THE COURT MARTIAL OF SERGENT KIST
If you from here must damn what I did there,
You too would’ve faltered on that tower,
Beneath the wreath of that thousand-yard stare.
Will you measure the sins of one hour
Against ten years of duty served with care?
A day’s courage to a second’s error
One minute foul against four fortnights fair
Then, my judges, when you pass your sentence,
If you would light the truth ‘neath this affair,
That you judge the crimes not their repentance.
Do you think fear drove me away from there?
Rendered still a loyalty whose currents
Carried my soul through ten years of warfare?
Then you condense my disobedience. Continue reading
J. R. R. and Christopher Tolkien
Mariner Books, August 2015
A thousand years on, the sharpness of Beowulf‘s images still strikes us. Longships cruise amid icy spray. A king stares with fear amid the riches of his hall. Then comes the fiend Grendel stalking across the moors. Tolkien’s translation weds to these visions the rhythm and grandeur of language that rumbles even as it exults, which rolls like the swells of the sea. Continue reading
WERNER HERZOG EATS HIS SHOE
Dir. Les Blank. Perf. Werner Herzog, Alice Waters, Tom Luddy, Michael Goodwin, Chris Strachwitz and Phil Harberts. Flower Films, 1980. Film.
After cooking and eating his shoe in Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe, Herzog explains that he ranks a lack of adequate images as one of the gravest threats to civilisation. He puts it on par with overpopulation and ecological devastation.
For the man who fixes his focus well into the future, it cuts to the marrow of his fear that human progress in his society may’ve ground to a standstill. Without adequate images to knit its dreams from, can his society dream dreams of significance? Or will it spend its time perfecting the Slurpee and finding Australia’s Next Top Model, as its citizens grow more and more isolated from each another? Continue reading
HEART OF DARKNESS, DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP
Joseph Conrad (Dover Publications, 1990, ISBN 978-0486264646), Philip K. Dick (Doubleday, 1968, ISBN (reprint) 0-345-40447-5)
By law, every commercial street in Australia must contain either a fish and chip shop, a laundromat or a milk bar with a sandwich board showing pictures of the ice creams. Streets, like mine, that have all three can apply for a government grant to construct a newsagents next door, which thereafter will support itself, in the main, by peddling lottery tickets. For lunch today, I ordered a vegetarian burger from a Chinese restaurant between the laundromat and the fish and chip shop. I believe the restaurateur must once have seen a hamburger at some distance and then deduced its contents. It had its points, but no person who’d seen a burger at close range could’ve classed it as one. In place of the bun, it had two chive pancakes with soy sauce. For the patty it substituted a loose shred of cabbage, slivered black mushrooms and bean shoots. Not one to skimp on the essentials, the restaurateur served it with chopsticks and a selection of dipping sauces.
I ate it with the chopsticks while watching Herzog’s Nosferatu: Phantom der Nacht. Even Herzog’s monster film somehow reminds me of Joseph Conrad; more human than human but unafraid of the truth about the world. I watched it on a television projector plugged into tiny, quiet speakers, but the source volume set to maximum. Every time the music swelled the speakers rattled and distorted like Hendrix wailing the seventh sharp nine in Heart of Darkness.