Archive for the ‘Cultural’ Category

Buried Giant.jpgKazuo Ishiguro’s “The Buried Giant”.  Does it stir?  Will the earth quake as it breaks surface?  If you are looking for a literary Godzilla, go elsewhere. Ishiguro’s tales is set in England, after the Romans have left and the first Saxons have arrived.  It also is a canvas for memory, loss and forgiveness to be explored.  Easy to read – it is not a light read.  And like the travellers in the book, the allegories can readily lead you into forests with little light.

(This seeks to be a spoiler free review.)  The tale starts with an older couple, Axl and Beatrice, becoming unsettled in their village life, and setting off to find their son who had left home years earlier.  It is very early on that the land feels under a mist that smothers memory.  Recollections of the past are in fragment only, if existing at all.  As time passes and encounters on the road occur, are shards of the past snatched back.  (more…)


Many exiles because of him

Aliens or Exiles?  As Christians, we readily have a sense alienation from the world around us.  The moral fog, the social and political loss of direction, the cultural confusion.  And in sense – we do not belong here.  But we confuse being an alien with being an exile?  We criticise the way of the world about us, and that bolsters our own perspective? Yet at the cost of stealthily boosts self-righteousness.  We gripe.  Yet, don’t we have a hope, elsewhere?

The Bible talks of Aliens, and of Exiles.  Alienation?  Marx used the term to talk about the worker having no ownership and personal sense of value in his/her work.  Alas, still with us in the 21st century as was in the 19th.  Cultural alienation – Durkheim’s “Anomie”, the loss of connection with each other and the breakdown of common understanding norms, values, etc.  Easily a greater plague in the 21st century then when he wrote in the 19th.


Balloon Dog.jpgMcMafia loves the art world.  And so do the other super rich (see my The Face that haunts us still).  Billions (of people) still tremble, but a few splash billions. Jeff Koons Balloon Dog (Orange), a giant steel replica of a dog in the shape of a stretched balloon, was bought for $58 million by a New York collector.  He didn’t even get it for the art.  He shunted the piece into his New Jersey warehouse – “anticipating future resale at a profit”[1].


Ferry.jpgHotel staff knock on the door, but we are changing.  No this is not a convenient moment.  Ah, this will only take a moment.  Comeback later. But I just want  …. And so on.  That there was an awkward exchange of words in this hotel was not uncommon.  Trip Adviser reported several people commenting that the staff were rude.  But that is so easy to say and there’s no context.  And damaging to what I thought was a good hotel and good staff.


Salvator_Mundi.jpgShock 1: $450 million for a painting.  World record shocks many.
Shock 2: Portrait of Jesus as Saviour of The World, bought by Saudi Arabia, stalwarts of Muslim conservatism.

On 15 November 2017, this modest but enigmatic portrait by Leonardo da Vinci was auctioned for a massive $450.3 million setting a new world record.  The painting will be loaned to The Louvre in Abu Dhabi.  The painting is titled “Salvator Mundi”, or in English “Saviour of the World”.  A mysterious Jesus is blessing the viewer with his right hand and in his left, is a transparent globe, representing the cosmos.  Just the thing you’d expect a Saudi Arabian prince to buy?


the ministry of utmost happiness.jpg

Arundhati Roy’s “The Ministry of Utmost Happiness”. A Good Read?  Like beauty being in the eye of the beholder – the simple answers are usually misleading.

I finished it and had mixed feelings. It had very good reviews and I really don’t know why. It is in effect a critique of India’s political classes, dangerous nationalisms, its cruelties to Muslims, Dalits, the Hijra, and Kashmir in particular. A story well worth telling, and I’m quite interested in that. It has been a tale told by others many times.  Indeed, there is a long tradition of English medium Indian writers dishing the dirt on Indian society (Rohinton Mistry, Arvind Ardiga, etc)


Pencil.jpgAn ordinary pencil, at my feet.  Newish and lonely.  Not what I expected to see as I walked to the vehicle parked in the Haitian Hospital grounds.  Picked it up.  Had a decent pencil already in my laptop back.  So I casually offered it to a Haitian colleague walking with me.

This friend, familiar with Christian faith, speaks excellent English.  But seemed lost for words. (more…)