Let me quote Marguerite Duras today: One does not find solitude, one creates it. Solitude creates itself. Alone, I created it here because I decided that I should be alone, that I would be in this house. I closed myself within it - I was afraid of course. And then I liked it, and the house became the place where I wrote...
It seems impossible that one of the stranger people in my life would take umbrage to being labeled weird by me. They would all wear the word as a title of nobility, knowing they are not run of the mill, not sheep. One used to call me everyday to tell his nightly conversations with god or the devil or his latest hallucination or fantasy. To me, he just tells me his life and what he told me was true to him. That is OK with me. The ones not certified crazy, certainly are no sheep believing what the president says, believing what the media print. Some are activists for change, impeachment of Cheney and the president, for peace, are quirky poets. A few have a very small carbon footprint and could be an example to all. They are all special and unique to me, because of their creativity, their open and questioning mind, their interest in culture and civilizations. I assume that none of them would think Bush made the right choice in his Middle East policy, being friends with strange regimes like in Pakistan and thinking they could be persuaded easily to become a democracy. The tragic events of the killing of the one opponent to the regime who could have won in a free and fair elections. sadly proves them right. I don't think my weird friends would ever trade their freedom for so called security guaranteed by a state, taking away our rights. That makes us all weird in the eyes of some. In the French revolution the word used was 'Canaille'. Yes, we are Canaille...
Christmas is a family affair. It entails good food, thoughtful presents, time together. My mother breaks my heart. She still knows who were are, is more loving, gives more hugs, but she can't understand why she is living in this house where she cannot find things... The house we all build together almost 30 years ago. My father, a stern man is redeeming himself by taking care of her and making it seem normal. She looks up to him now, because he knows were things are and how the world functions. He has become her anchor and her guide. The strange thing is that she can keep up a conversation, sometimes almost totally normal. Thanks to many weird friends who passed and pass through my life I have learned to enjoy the weird jumps of strange minds... Yet with my mother I fear her fate, and eventually mine. Quiet Rose lost her mother at 98 on Christmas day. She was deeply demented and is mourned as the lost and found mother and lost again mother... The person Rose has known all her life.
May the return of the light bring warmth and joy, an end to stupidity, an end to the occupation of Iraq. May it bring peace, the end of greed and consumerism, let's find real caring and justice. Think warm good thoughts: a merry Christmas to you all: Dr Scarpone, Vicky, J. , Branka, Chameleon, Spookie and Rockcastle, Mud, Dr Faust...
Nature has a way of turning something bad into something pretty. For days now we have had heavy mist, fog and frost. The dirt, the fine dust particles can't rise and the air is pretty bad to breathe. 90 Km is the maximum speed on the freeways in order not to aggravate the problem. Nature is cleaning the air for the weather gods who caused this inversion by putting a bit of moisture around each small dust particle and encapsulating it. By it's heaviness it falls as a fine powder snow, a dry drizzle snow, freezes on trees and on everything it can get to. The result is stunning. How pollution is turned into beauty and lightens the problem at the same time. Great job. If industry could come up with this kind of solutions to clean up their messes, the earth and the seas would be happier places. The last picture is what I saw this morning opening the curtains.
Before on this blog I have written about the human rights situation in China and how the Olympic games could be used to put some pressure on China to do better. Well, now I know that if I were Chinese I would be in real trouble. Let's use Guangxi-based dissident writer Wang Dejia who was arrested from his home in Guilin, in China’s southern Guangxi Province, on 13 December 2007 as an example. He was taken to the Quanzhou Chengbei police Station, where he was detained on suspicion of ‘inciting subversion of state power’. His family believes his detention is directly related to his articles published on-line on the Minzhu Luntan website, the link is for whom reads Chinese. He was also charged for ‘Illegal Possession of State Secrets' – an important Chinese Communist Party Invention that Persecutes Prisoners of Conscience. He wrote: ‘Handcuffed Olympics Will Bring Only Disasters to the People’, and ‘Yi Yuanlong Jailed for Two Years for Four articles; How Many Will I be Jailed For?’ His wife also reports that in October 2007 he met with U.S. Embassy officials to discuss human rights in China. I am concerned about the detention of writer Wang Dejia, and call for his immediate and unconditional release. China became a signatory in 1998 to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Imprisoning writers for their opinions is in breach with article 19 of this Covenant. Furthermore the Writers in Prison Committee of International PEN is alarmed about reports that the health of prominent writer Zhang Jianhong (aka Li Hong) who's health is failing and not receiving appropriate treatment. International PEN is calling for the immediate and unconditional release of writer Zhang Jianhong. We must speak out, because they can't. Take action, contact the Chinese embassy wherever you are. By the way the air quality is still so bad that running a maraton might not be possible. May China be green and free one day.
Casually looking out, left of my small desk, I recognize the art museum, with its bronze chariots on the roof. I recognize it because I know the building and start thinking about some of of the things I saw there. Besides Rubens and Flemish Primitive masters I saw a beautiful collection, well displayed of Japanese art and probably what touched me most was a few paintings in Klein's typical blue among a whole bunch of modern painters. That blue still resounds in me, it was my first contact with a truly monochrome canvas. I still can't explain the depth of that blue, the immateriality of it, the challenge of it having no function at all. I also saw later one of his blue sponges. By then he had used everything turning it into his trademarked blue... This are my blue thoughts tonight. Sweat multicolored dream to all of you.
Listening to an older poet and his sharp, crisp observations, the voice reading his latest published poetry, is a gift. The poetry breathes the melancholy of an older man in images like the dreg of wine, yet he confuses reality by letting reality end with a poem. Most neo-realist poets brought reality into their poems, be it an object or a person, but he closes reality in, ending with the poem so that we are free again to create, invent, live our own separate reality, so that we can live a poetic life. Imagination prevails and we ourselves reinvent who we are. Thanks to his words the anguish that befalls us is alleviated without renouncing to think. Unassuming, with his beautiful diction and gentle voice, oozing culture, he is a Noble price candidate with class who travels on a Sunday morning to read for about two hundred people. Cees Nooteboom has been translated into English. Run to the library, order one of his travel books and travel with him or get some of his poetry. If you want to read a novel Rituals has been translated and has been one of my favorites.
People had predicted I might be lonelier when living in town, thinking it might be snobbish where I live now. Well I have to admit I saw two mink coats but also lots of Eastern European Orthodox Hasidim Jews, Armenians, Muslim girls with flapping headscarfs in the winter storm on a bicycle... and lots of other dogs. The dog walkers tend to talk to each other, but also total strangers have asked whether they could pet my dogs. There are a few rather posh antique shops, for the pleasure of your eyes. A few nice bakeries, a grocery shop where you can walk in with your dogs and buy the international press and other essentials. It is half an hour's walk to the grandest station of Europe where you can take the Thallys (fast train) to Amsterdam and Paris. The church across the street chimes the hours during the day, and the market on Saturday and Sunday is famed in this part of the world. My place still needs painting, drapes to keep the winter out and shifting around of paintings and books, and probably also the kitchen utensils, but haven't got around to heavyduty cooking yet, just stews and pasta's. There is a study - guestroom with a view...
Christmas has become big in tourism industry, so cities compete with lavish Christmas markets and Christmas decorations. Being on the road I was charmed, so I share some of the views and if you drop in, also the big amounts of specialty cookies I bought. The good thing was no musac or jinglebells in the streets, just the voices of people, the music of buskers and the bells of the Salvation Army volunteers. The shopping carts of the homeless stand with their wheels in the water of the the last weeks incessant rains and getting over the granite and sandy banks rushing to their far away destiny in the North Sea.
I am closing the Rwanda chapter for now with joyful images of powerful dancers. Hutu and Tutsi dancing together: elongated and shorter elegance, birdlike movements, mighty hunters, the heartbeat of a continent comes closer in watching them. At the end they descended into the hall where we standing or gently shaking our booty. Standing as a wallflower with my camera I still got picked out and enjoyed a five step with one of the dancers. It helped I had done a few round dances with some Cherokee friends... I want to be optimistic that the people in Rwanda will have good and peaceful futures.
The judges are called inyangamugayo. They are 9 people elected by the village. the should be impartial and above reproach. The accusation is read out, then the accused speaks on his own behalf. Then the victim is called. This lady's husband was killed and dismembered. The townspeople who have to say something do so: elequently, to the point. if the defendant gives an illogical reply someone will point it out. Witnesses speak about the events, under the watchful eyes of the towns people. It seems to me that although the legal preconditions in our country are not fulfilled in this court that it is the way forward to find out what happened, and to come to a reinsertion in the community of the perpetrators of bad deeds. The great thing is that the country accepts this way of doing things and feels that justice will prevail this way. No lawyers, no tricks, but a hard confrontation. People go through their pain and loss and the defendant apologizes, asks for forgivenes. Most of the time it is granted. There was no judgment that day I witnessed this case. I thought the defendant was an overbearing, rude, not too intelligent man, a guy one has a hard time being impartial about. But one witness testified they were running away together in order not to be killed. Sad, hard powerful, and a nonviolent way of resolving festering conflicts. More power to the Gacaca system. The expectation is that all cases will be tried beginning next year. So people can move forward and live a better life.
This is pronounced: Ga like in garage, ca like cha cha cha, the dance. Notwithstanding the fun fun it is a serious subject. After the Rwanda genocide was over with over a million killed, 3.000.000 refugies more than a million people were accused of misdeed and crimes and incitement to hate. The judicial system had totally collapsed only 67 lawyers were left for the whole country. Five years later only about 7000 cases had been tried. It was obvious that in order to get back to a semblance of a cohesive and functioning community the process needed to be revved up. A consensus was found in going back to the traditional way of conflict resolution based on their oral tradition. The task of these courts is to bring out the truth, avoid impunity, and foster reconciliation. At the same time the Rwandans proved they could deal with their problems themselves. Here you see a Gacaca in session. More tomorrow.
Moving house. That's why the blog was silent. All went smooth: in a period of high winds and lashing rain we moved the stuff to the twelfth floor with an outside lift on a calm, clear day. Thank you universe. Also thanks to the helping hands and minds. Now I enjoy the view and the hear the wind howling. Looking out I am seeing 7 steeples of churches, clouds chasing each other in multi hued grays. The other side ( yes it is a corner flat) I see the rain hitting the window. Soon I'll go on with more Rwanda feelings and thoughts, since gweenix kind of asked for more Africa. Now there are the boxes of books to unpack, paintings leaning against the wall until they have found their spot and doors and shelves to be painted... Life is good.