An early autumn evening

Stilness of an early autumn evening is predatory,

Disguised inside small pockets of dozy, warm air,

Waiting.

For the first frost at dawn,

As fine as the fresh gauze over a new wound.

Barely touching.

But covering.

Before the rains expose the earth anew.

And there were some rains this year already.

Opening river banks and washing small settlements away.

Peoples and dogs swimming for each other.

And before that there was a summer without warmth.

It never arrived.

When my daughter returned from her travels abroad.

Where ‘abroad’ names any place outside our floating islands.

Otherwise you could say that she went to visit home country outside of which lays ‘abroad’.

It all depends on the name you give to horizon you see while standing with both feet planted in the soil.

We can only ever see one.

Unless you are a character in Murakami’s novels. Two moons might be handy.

It would certainly explain a lot.

Anyway, it was a slow summer and I was teaching myself to write poetry.

What a mess!

Silences stretched across summer nights like the elaborate tablecloths my dead grandmother made from the thin white cotton she called ‘konac’. They were heavy.

She would lay them across our wooden table to fully show their opulence.

While all I learned is that poetry is like a fickle lover; it tempts, it seduces, it intoxicates,

Only to turn away without a warning,

Or a word of comfort,

Or a word of hope.

And still one waits.

And hopes.

And loves.

Poetry.

In our times, they are serious people (and seriously trained for number of years) whose job is to name such state of affairs. They come up with such names as ‘psychosis’ or ‘disorder’. It helps rest of the population cope.

But I did learn other things too.

For instance – a man to whom I wrote a poem some four or so years ago invited me out.

He still remembers it.

I do too.

The poem.

Not him.

The trouble with people in poems is they take it for real.

Poetry is not real! No more than our souls and our hearts!

Otherwise what would be the point – you can hug your knees – they are real enough!

Still, I listen while my daughter talks.

She carefully pronounces names of streets in Zagreb she visited, people she spoke with, dishes she tasted.

She watches me carefully waiting for recognition.

I have none to offer.

The trouble with exiles is that everyone wants them romantic.

They are not.

Your memory makes a fool of you.

There is no square you swear on your mother’s grave was there once complete with flower sellers and an old man playing accordion in all weathers.

Your words desert you.

You say not what you want but what you can.

No language would have you.

And that surely is a death of any poet;

True or Imposter alike. 

An Afternoon in a Pub

Short story

They agreed to meet in a pub near where she lived.

It is what he does from time to time – asks her out for a drink or a meal, depending how much money he can spare.

Only rarely he lets her pay and only if she insists and he judges that she can afford it.

She was late and reproached herself for it; the place is only few minutes from her flat, while he probably had to walk all the way from his downtown office. She really should have been more organized. The whole day she was aware of that engagement. And it was after four in the afternoon.

She tried to remember what was she doing all day; it took an awful long time to peel herself off the bed, the wind rattled the front door all night – she hardly slept. Sweating was terrible too. Must be withdrawals. Her doctor said something about that last time she saw him which was not long ago but she could not remember what. She remembered him (the doctor) standing very close to her and stroking her arm then brushing his hands over her breasts. Which, she briefly thought are still rather firm and responsive.

Only later it occurred to her that she should have probably said something. Like – what do you think you are doing – or something like that, like those English women say. Easy for them – their mothers probably taught them how to do it.

Then there was business of washing and dressing. It took even longer. She felt big and ugly and lazy. Every move was like wading through the thick undergrowth. Paddling through swamp. In the end she threw well-worn dress over and shoes she once thought boring. It does not matter she thought – he is just a friend.

The place was empty but for a few middle-age men loudly betting on horses under the giant TV screen. Interior arranged to match shabbiness of their living rooms. Working-class pride.

She spotted him immediately – caressing a pint of a pale-yellow beer at one of the tables close to veranda. So she can easily go outside for a smoke.

He had a fresh haircut and a new looking shirt.

His greeting was of a familiar, carefully rationed warmth. She once asked him about it and he explained that he must be careful not to encourage her feelings for him since he cannot possibly give her what she truly wants and deserves, which he pronounced to be; ‘all consuming passion’.  He is just not capable of it being of Anglo-Saxon stock and raised by a war-veteran father and an overly strict mother.

At the time she thought of asking him what does he really mean by it, but thought better of it. She learned that, every now and then he would say odd things like that.

By the time she sat down and managed the smile, beads of sweat were traveling down her spine soaking her back and making stripes of her bra cutting into flesh.

He walked to the bar to bring their drinks and hot chips. She watched him eat in a way he does; with an apologetic greediness. A little boy comforting himself – hands deep in his mother’s most precious jar before she catches him. Guilty.

They talked;

How’s going?

Yeah, not too bad. You?

Ok, I guess. Still on holiday.

Wow that’s long.

Yeah, coming to an end, dreading going back.

Work is good – pays rent.

I suppose.

You should do something with yourself.

Like what?

Here – it is your local I am introducing you to.

So?

Look around; see those men over there where TV is?

She laughed hysterically; high pitched, uncontrollable outburst. Covered her mouth with hand and rubbed tears (supposedly from laughter) from her face.

What are you laughing like that for? Don’t you know what happens in pubs? You look around, flirt a bit, they buy you a drink or two, have a chat, take them home and if you still like them in the morning – do it again.

Really? I think I rather stick to my hourly rate.

You still doing it then?

What? Whoring?

Nah, just kidding. Too tired.

Other things?

Nicking you mean? Nah, lost the touch. Too slow. Got scared of cops after the last time.

Good. Stay scared. Don’t get into any more trouble.

What’s to you?

Just saying.

They left the pub and he walked her into the nearby dairy where loud noise announced their arrival to an Indian man standing behind the counter over-stocked with sweets.

He insisted on buying her a bar of chocolate before walking her home.

Joy for the New Year!

I know … after not blogging for few months – here I come with a second post in three days!

Between you and me – consistency has never been my strong suit. I blame me it on restless and relentless mind! That in addition to a holiday season, meaning – some free time at last!

Now to the real reason for this post – in a word – sheer joy!

Yep – that’s right! As the popular song goes – ‘don’t believe me just watch!’ Or in our case – read, since, luckily, you can’t see me (luckily because I am typing this in my nighty and no it is not the one suitable for audiences!).

So why joy you may ask!

Shall I tell you? Oh, ok then here goes:

New Year has arrived to New Zealand’s shores already and with the spectacular fireworks over the Wellington harbour which I watched from my balcony with a glass of chilled Riesling in hand while trying to establish any kind of conversation with my daughter who was (judging by the noises over the phone) having hell of a good time with her mates in Queenstown (the suspicion has since been confirmed as true – good on her I say and can’t wait to see her tomorrow and hear all about it!).

Today (1 January 2016) was an absolutely amazing summer day! Living in Wellington you learn to appreciate and treasure such days like your family’s most precious heirlooms! So, just like everyone else, I trotted down to the beach and here is what I found there:

WP_20160101_003.jpg

Well half of Wellington at least!

We all (that is to say who ever was perched on the sand next to you/passing by, etc) wished each other happy New Year and thank God (Yahweh, Allah, Buddha, etc.) for the weather. In our hearts of hearts, we all knew it would not last – so offering sincere gratefulness to our respective gods was in hope to prolong it even if just for a few more days!

Everyone ventured or was coaxed to swim (yours truly included -:)! As soon as sea reaches your ankles – shivering starts! Never mind that minor annoyance; with assorted degrees of speed and variations of; ‘oh isn’t it lovely once you get in’ – we all made it! Yours truly even swam past floating pontoons and small boats which, I will have you know, almost qualifies as swimming in the open sea!

On the way back from this glorious escapade, I climbed on the tiny space still available on the pontoon and indulged in listening sounds. Yes, sounds – not words or snippets of conversations. No one person spoke in English! Amongst lively conversations and laughter, I could recognize German, Italian, Spanish, French and most likely Chinese.

I will take the risk of sounding rather cheese here – but I truly felt overwhelmed by joy and gratefulness in that moment … for so much;

For being alive and reasonably healthy,

For New Zealand … this tiny speck of dirt in the mighty Pacific ocean;

  • where total strangers will ask you to come ‘over for a drink’ for no other reason but because it is Christmas/New Year,
  • where you can leave your belongings safely on the beach for hours without a fear of losing them,
  • where people from all over the world come to stay and are made welcome regardless of their religion, race, sexual orientation,
  • where there are no drone strikes,
  • no crazed members of Islamic State threatening to cut my, or anyone’s else head off,
  • no famine (ocean is brimming with fish if all else fails),
  • no recession (not like seen elsewhere in any case),
  • no Donald Trump trying to take the country over and, rumour has it – Vladimir Putin may not even know we are on the planet (thank God),
  • where my daughter can go to University without fear of being taken hostage or killed.

I do love you New Zealand!

Have a Happy, Safe and Peaceful 2016 Everyone!

In a words of an old Greek: ‘Do not spoil what you have by desiring what you have not; remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for.’ (Epicurus)

Thank you everyone for reading the Lantern!

Tides of change

It has been a long time since I last wrote.

It was a winter of my fiftieth birthday.

It is summer now.

Outside my windows night cradles round-faced moon into a bed of stars.

No breath of wind to upset the delicate operation.

As in attendance – air stands still and warm.

And if I am now to think about all that has come to pass in those last few months – it seems every new season brought some changes to my life.

Perhaps it all started with that shy, early autumn when I wrote ‘Visitor

After,

Winter arrived and lingered for quite some time – bleak and colourless. There were days when wind was merciless. There were days when breathing was too.

In the midst of it all, and quite unexpectedly – I was offered a new job. One I never really thought about. Initially I was unsure what to do. Not that I was sure of much at the time.

And then, as often is the case – we are nudged towards the road we need to take, even if, or especially when we cannot see it ourselves.

From the distance of almost six months – I understand that it was the right, almost necessary step to take.

The new job brought new challenges and new responsibilities – all of which ensured that, by the end of each day, neither desire nor energy were left for another thought let alone reflection.

I sometimes wondered whether I would ever write for pleasure again.

Instead of quiet contemplation and writing – I was challenged to learn on the go and come up with solutions on demand. And through it all I realized that solving problems and caring for others is still what I love doing and, so they tell me – am good at it. Which is to say – I work hard and care genuinely, all of which comes naturally once we are engaged with purpose and meaning.

As winter neared its end and spring reluctantly knocked on the door – I moved the house too.

The ‘Writer’s Den’ which was nestled amongst trees and shrubs gave way to a ‘Room with a Balcony’ – no more than ten minutes’ walk to downtown and my office, or twenty minutes to the closest beach.

Once I moved in – I remembered the little piece I titled ‘A Wish List’ and wrote some three years ago, for one of the wishes was ‘to own the room with a balcony’ …  and this is what I now

WP_20151223_001.jpg see from my balcony.

Someday I watch boats sailing in and out of the harbour and hear

Cries of seagulls before the day-break.

As sun fills the ‘Room with a Balcony’ every morning and lingers over it in in evenings, I read Daniel Klain for he ponders such wisdom as: ‘Every Time I found the Meaning of Life They Change It’, Clive James as he wrote; ‘Cultural Amnesia’ and Anna Akhmatove for she wrote

I Taught Myself To Live Simply:

I taught myself to live simply and wisely,

to look at the sky and pray to God,

and to wander long before evening

to tire my superfluous worries.

When the burdocks rustle in the ravine

and the yellow-red rowanberry cluster droops

I compose happy verses about life’s decay, decay and beauty.

I come back. The fluffy cat licks my palm, purrs so sweetly

and the fire flares bright

on the saw-mill turret by the lake.

Only the cry of a stork landing on the roof

occasionally breaks the silence.

If you knock on my door

I may not even hear.

 

 

 

Summer

Summer is my favourite season.

I like all of it; brightness of summer mornings, big open skies, lazy afternoons, scented summer nights … and of course long days of holidays when each and every hour belongs to me to do (or not) with it as I please. For a limited number of days at least.

In New Zealand summer arrives in December and that means that most of us combine end of the year festivities with annual holidays, aka – BBB (Beach, Batch, Barbeque)!

While there is certainly no shortage of beautiful beaches in New Zealand either by the lakes, rivers, or sea, batches and barbeques have undergone some transformations over the years and are now somewhat fleshier with price-tags to match. Still, as most Kiwis know – no price tag should be allowed to stand in a way of proper Kiwiana summer and to that end camping grounds (either organized or freedom ones) remain popular and well-attended as I observed on my recent trip to South Island.

Even though I spent my early years and couple of more recent ones on the North Island, South Island remains very special to me. Not only because I lived there for more than ten years, but also because my daughter still lives there as  a student at Otago University in Dunedin.

Otago University
Otago University

And so it is no wonder I could hardly wait to finish work on Christmas Eve and board the plane to take me from Wellington to Dunedin. Seeing my daughter and my two dear friends waiting for me at the air port in Dunedin was truly wonderful! We had a lovely Christmas in Dunedin, city with strong Scottish heritage, breathtakingly beautiful peninsula and home to New Zealand’s oldest University. While once the centre of gold-rush economy, nowadays the city is dominated by its University and income its generate.

Dunedin
Dunedin’s Railway Station built in 1906
Christmas in Dunedin
Christmas in Dunedin
St. Paul's Cathedral
St. Paul’s Cathedral

After Christmas we travelled further South to visit picturesque little township of Roxburgh nestled in truly amazing region of  Central Otago, famous for its landscapes, bike-treks, stone fruit orchards and mighty Clutha River on which one of the earliest hydroelectric dens was built. Our friends who own and operate local hotel – Goldfields, extended to us their warm hospitality including trip to nearby rodeo in Millers Flat and ever popular Pinders Pond so named after the original owners of the land.

Goldfields
Goldfields
Pinders Pond
Pinders Pond

It was a hot and dusty day almost custom made for the local cowboys and cowgirls to show off their skills some of which were rather impressive! Not to mention unmistakably masculine odour; smell of horses, human sweat, dust, tobacco and leather. I can almost hear my grandfather next to me. And in some of those tall, green-blue eye boys with broad shoulders and large, working hands – I can almost see him.

Rodeo!
Rodeo!

After few more days basking in the company of my daughter (yes by that time she had rather enough of her mother constantly trying to hug her, like hugs and kisses can be bottled up and taken with me -:)) I left for Christchurch, city I once lived for a long time, including horrible times of earthquakes and where I have some of my dearest friends.

285
At Millers Flat

Before the earthquakes, city was known as a ‘Garden City’ for its beautiful gardens and overall very English atmosphere including punting on Avon River. Nowadays city is still very much under construction, but large and significant developments can be observed everywhere.

To say that I had a lovely time with my friends in Canterbury would not do the justice, perhaps ‘wild times’ would be better description!

The last leg of my journey took me from Christchurch to Picton via magnificent Coastal Pacific Scenic Route, courtesy of Kiwi Railway. The train journey took five hours and that means five hours of watching truly wonderful scenery of bushy hills and rugged Pacific coastline. The train’s open carriage provides opportunity to really enjoy the views as you travel very close to Pacific Ocean.

View from the train – quintessential NZ landscape!
View from the train – quintessential NZ landscape!
Another view from the train!
Another view from the train!
Train travel
Train travel

Once in Picton it is only a short walk to board the ferry across the Cook Strait. At the peril of sounding like a promotional tourist brochure, I must say that sailing across the Cook Strait is absolutely amazing. While I have crossed it before, every time is different; the beauty of Marlborough Sounds, wind that always blows across the Strait, (known as ‘Roaring Forties’) smell of sea and then approach to Wellington’s harbour after three hours journey.

Disembarking from the ferry, I thought how wonderful it all was and how fleeting.

Familiar streets of the city came into view and I knew that another year is now ahead of me … year, I decided is to be of solitude and writing. But of that – another time.

From the ferry
From the ferry
Crossing
Crossing
Sailing across the Cook Strait!
Sailing across the Cook Strait!

Map of the human heart

There are some nights at the beginning of summer when air is still fresh and crisp, like new footsteps in the first snow. Imprinted, but only for a moment. Until sun melts the snow. Or other footsteps cover them.

It was those images forming in my mind, while sitting quietly under the canopy of an early summer’s night sky that brought me to the last scene in ‘Map of the human heart’; Avik’s body splattered on an ice-sheet floating in the sea, watched from above by the young Avik and Albertine floating across the sky in a hot-air balloon, happy, in love, alive and free. The symbolism is as unmistakable as it is powerful. Map

Map of the human heart’ is New Zealand’s director Vincent Ward visually stunning motion picture produced in 1992.

It has been said that the movie is of race and romance. To me the movie is of signs. Symbols that, when deciphered, open before us a mystical map of human heart … of any race.

No map is the same, and some only tell us that we are lost. But they are always maps, as they are always hearts. Even the lost ones.

In the movie’s opening scene wild and beautiful Arctic landscape opens before us. An old Inuit Eskimo man tells a story about his life to a young, white mapmaker. In exchange for his whisky. And so we learn the story about Avik and Albertine.

In 1930s British cartographer Walter Russell visits the Arctic-Canadian settlement Nunataaq, where Avik lives his care-free childhood as the only grandson to his grandmother who wishes him to become a great hunter, an Eskimo’s man highest achievement. Avik is also half-white. Boy’s curiosity and intelligence prompts Walter to select him for his guide and when Avik insists on exclaiming ‘Holy Boy’ instead of ‘Holy Cow’ it became his trademark.

Avik

When Avik contract’s tuberculosis, Walter convinces his grandmother who reasons that they have their own cures, to let him take Avik to a clinic in Montreal for cure as the boy has ‘white man’s disease that must be cured by white man’s medicine’. While Walter undoubtedly likes the boy, it is the need to assuage his own guilt that prompts him take Avik to Montreal.

In Montreal’s clinic Avik meets Albertine, a mixed-blood French-Canadian Indian girl and two become inseparable friends brought together by their love for adventure and rebellion. Avik is as fascinated with various types of trees that grow in the clinic’s park, as is Albertine with the raw heart Avik stole from the kitchen for her as a precious delicacy.

Albertine dreams of her father who promised her a horse and had left her his hand-made map that shows his and his horse footprints. Albertine sings a beautiful song and tells Avik that one day she will be singing it on the radio. In the magical world they made of clinic’s bed sheets, Avik and Albertine exchange their deepest secrets and she shows him a scar on her chest where they ‘cut her open’.

They fell in love and try to flee the clinic together, all of which spurs Catholic nun who is in charge of the clinic to send Albertine away telling her that if she stops behaving like a half-cast everything would become possible for her. Everything.

Albertine leaves Avik her chest x-ray plate he once found in the clinic’s archives for her. In the years to come Avik will carry the plate with him wherever he went.

Avik spends such a long time in a clinic that when he eventually returns to Nunataaq and his grandmother, he is a young man who had to re-learn his own language and ways of his people. But game does not come to him as it does to other Eskimos and he is shunned by his people as being cursed. He started to believe himself being bearer of a bad luck.

Second World War is in progress and Walter returns to Nunataaq only this time not to make maps but to recover German U-boat that was wrecked off the coast of Nunataaq. Walter’s and Avik’s meeting is emotional for both of them but Avik soon finds out the true meaning of Walter’s mission who now works as a strategic planner for RAF Bomber Command.

When he hears the song transmitted by the field radio, Avik recognizes Albertine’s voice and asks Walter to help him find her again. He also gives Walter long treasured x-ray plate. The only thing he has of Albertine.

But Walter must return right away and Avik is thorn between his desire to go with Walter and his duty to his aging grandmother. When his people pack to leave their settlement where they can no longer find enough game, he is not welcome to come with them. Avik has no place to go.

In one of the movie’s more poignant scenes Avik is left alone watching a canoe taking his grandmother and his people away from him. Before he can lose sight of them his grandmother’s eyes show the decision she has made as he threw herself of the canoe and into the icy waters. Avik is now alone in the world of his youth. He is also free to cross to white-man’s world where Albertine is and where he can enlist in the war effort in Europe.

He manages to board the ship that takes him to Canada and eventually becomes a bombardier, flying Lancaster bombers over Germany. He became known as a ‘Holy Boy’ and his crew of daring young men is looking forward to their last mission.

Albertine works as an aerial reconnaissance analyst for the RAF and arranges their meeting as she understood who the pilot of the ‘Holy Boy’ is.

She invites Avik to dance-hall where he learns that she is married to Walter.

Despite her marriage, Avik and Albertine are drawn together with the same intensity they felt many years ago. Their consummate love for each other is beautifully illustrated by love-making scenes that unfold on top of an English military blimp and inside the hollow ceiling of the Royal Albert Hall where you ‘listen music with your feet.’

blip

It is in those moments that Avik speaks to Albertine of his love for her and his desire for them to remain together forever once his last mission is over.

But Albertine tells him of her childhood dream to become a white-man’s wife and finally has all those things she always wanted, above all place in white-man’s world. World where she can ‘pass for white’ and erase all traces of her half-cast heritage and life of an outcast. Albertine can no longer run barefoot. Still, she urges Avik to live as he alone knows who she really is.

While Avik and his crew celebrate successful end of their last mission, Walter finds out about Avik and Albertine’s affair and arranges for Avik and his crew a suicide mission – a firebombing of Dresden. It is revenge by a man whose underlying sociopathic tendencies are hidden behind his dashing exterior. When Avik asks Walter why he must firebomb Dresden; a city of no strategic value, Walter admits that the real reason for the raid is to strike back at a girl in Dresden who once spurned his romantic advances.

Dresden

Avik alone survives the raid by para-shooting from the burning plane. He lands in the midst of horrific human sufferings and for the first time becomes fully aware of the war’s horrors. Despondent with war, he flees to Canada where he works in Arctic’s oil-fields and eventually becomes an alcoholic.

While trying to tell yet another war story to an oil worker in a local pub, who dismisses him as a member of ‘lazy race’, Avik notices a beautiful young woman at the pool table and starts talking to her. Her name is Rainee and she explains that she has come to find her father and his native settlement in Nunataaq. She offers him money to take her there. When she hums the same song he remembers Albertine singing all those years ago, he knows that she is his daughter.

Still he discourages her to look for Nunataaq as there is no longer anything there. Eventually he takes her to place where Nunataaq of his childhood once stood and she understood  that he is her father.

Rainee tells Avik about the love her mother always had for him and about great stories she told her about him. She also tells him that she is getting married and wishes for him to come. But Avik is once again agonizing between his heart’s desire to go and his fear of bringing a bad luck to all who come near him.

Movie then takes us back to present as the young mapmaker Avik is telling the story to, asks him why he never searched for Albertine after the war. Because he was not sure he could live again amongst the white-people. And Albertine could no longer run barefoot. She is better off without him.

In the movie’s last scenes, Avik is killed in an accident on the way to his daughter’s wedding; his body washes up on the beach at Nunataaq, a wedding gift still clutched in his hands.

Avik and Albertine

Flapping of night-bird’s wings cutting the indigo coloured sky shook me from my reverie.

I noticed how stiff and cold my limbs are and how silence stretches all around me like a sea of pewter.

When there is no longer a living soul that remembers us for who we really are; the name of the village we grew up in, what colour was our hair, shape of our dimples when we laughed, smudges our tears left on our grubby faces, smells our bodies filled tents made of sheets with, stories we told and fantasies we made ourselves believe … it is then that our annihilation is complete.

Beautiful Fools

Lovely title isn’t it?

I borrowed it from R. Clifton Spargo who so titled his novel about Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald … so apt. Loved every line of it. Zelda would no doubt scoff at my remark as a cliché and one lacking imaginative grace at that.  I fancy the three of us would snuggle into each other’s insanities rather cosily. No longer trying to be useful anywhere in the world. Perhaps. Either that or my brain remains saturated in the lingering residue of the book I just finished. It always inhabits me for a while afterwards.

Beautiful-Fools

It is Saturday morning. Late winter, cold still hanging on but only just. I have seen daffodils and pink and white hyacinths swaying their delicate blooms somewhat drunkenly over the little patch of dirt by my door. Morning air still sharp and cough threatens to burst my lungs open once again. Is there anything more romantic than a slow decline from such a noble ailment as weak lungs, while writing one’s last (or first) lines confessing it all in a delicate prose … secluded in some forsaken sanatorium (or asylum), shrouded in cigarette smoke and alcohol fumes!  Only dashing Scott or Earnest (perhaps less refined but more manly) is missing from that picture of the pure indulgence … oh The Life of a Fantasist! For a second I even contemplate it as a fit title for the story I am thinking of writing … as always one day. It would have to be the same day on which fantasies about life became inapt to insulate from the life itself. Or the world at large.

For the moment, however, the world at large continues to spin on axis of slaughters and sorrows everywhere, only our focus changes according to whatever is heralded most loudly. And even than for a few moments only as there is always more to be seen or heard elsewhere. And as always there is never any shortage of choices; from atrocities in Gaza to Ebola in West Africa to horrific scenes of human remains rotting across the sun drenched fields of eastern Ukraine while Putin shrugs his shoulders knowing full well that neither Obama nor Europe can (or will) do much (if anything) to stop his revival of Russian’s legendary exceptionalism and power.

Still amongst all that carnage what truly stopped me cold was the news of Robin Williams’ death. I did not need to hear the details; I knew instinctively that he ended his own life. And sea of sadness washed over me. For the man who laughed and cried with his whole being … unguarded, exposed, human, real.  Open to life in all its glory and all its grime. It takes a true grit to do it. And true grit demands the highest price. It was a privilege to be in audience.  Thank you Captain.

LE CERCLE DES POETES DISPARUS

Meanwhile here, in good-old NZ investigative writer Nicky Hager wrote a book he titled; ‘Dirty politics’ and released it with razor-sharp instinct for successful marketing only weeks before the general election. Before any reader that might stumble upon this post from elsewhere gets too excited, let me clarify – elections here are rather subdued affairs. There are two major parties which swap places every few years or so. General populous is by far more pragmatic than excitable, and for the most part politicians are dull rather than colourful, larger-than-life characters.

There is a little wonder then that the book promising to reveal an ugly and destructive style of politics became breaking news within minutes of its appearance and sold virtually overnight! Large white-board placed by the door of my local book-shop announces almost the hour of the day when more copies are scheduled to arrive and a handsome young man reading a copy next to me on the bus smiled when he caught me glancing at it. He offered the book to me to have a look before his stop. He is studying law at the local University and pronounced the book to be ‘a bombshell, eh’!

I skimmed through it … leaked emails and other assorted on-line communications revealing cosy relationship between an attack-style right-wing political blogger and those in position to feed him privileged information as ammunition against their political opponents, abuse of powers, smear campaigns … in a word – a smorgasbord of well-known political tricks!

DP

So why is everyone so shocked or at least wishes to appear so?

Because, just like in Spargo’s novel when Scott is unable to witness death of the mortally injured gamecock because for him, just like for the rest of his countrymen – ‘it does not fit with their image of themselves’ – an image of NZ as an easy-going, relaxed, friendly place where there is neither appetite nor need for any of those negative, dirty campaigning that goes on elsewhere or for underhanded attack politics that is poisoning so many other political environments has been shattered. A familiar collective fantasy carefully nurtured to insulate from the world at large suddenly exposed for what it was – purpose designed collective blindfold. And as everyone knows when long worn blindfold is suddenly ripped off – too much light causes shock!

Oh no wonder I do so love you New Zealand … such beautiful fools.

 Nicky Hager Dirty Politics