Saturday, October 14, 2006

Provoking Peace - a concept

A brief episode in Bulgaria’s history is told in a recently-published book which translates as ‘Bulgarian Chronicles’.

A relatively unknown event took place in the year 866 AD. This was the night when the Bulgarian ruler Boris I secretly accepted the Christian faith and was renamed Mikhail.
Nevertheless, that very same night, when the Tsar’s courtiers learned of his outrageous actions, they all gathered around the royal castle at the capital city of Pliska.
Armed with swords and worse still, unimaginable, untamed fury coupled with the sole aim to kill the Tsar; a sudden, unexpected rebellion which should have been easily destroyed with a small, competent army.
Instead, however, the gates of the castle opened and in front of the frozen crowd, an image appeared. That of the Tsar Boris I, walking towards them, wearing a rugged, peasant-like clothes, bare-footed and head-shaven; a candle in his hand instead of a sword. He was followed by 48 of his closest men dressed like him with candles in their hands. All of them unarmed, completely in the hands of the amazed crowd. ‘Monks’ in the hands of ‘animals’.
Some people collapsed, others were absolutely guttered by their inability to act.
They were motionless, completely stupefied by the unfolding scene in front of them.
Boris was effectively at gun-point at this very moment yet he emerged unhurt and victorious. His life was at stakes but his glory had multiplied.

Personally, I am not struggling to imagine this scene in the literal sense.
What presents a true challenge, however, is to find other similar acts of mindless but ‘successful’ sacrifice which could be considered as momentous as this one.

So, Mussolini, over a thousand years later, said that war brings out the highest form of tension for any country; its totality and brutal effort is the ultimate of human energies and courage. Well, he didn’t say exactly that but he was on a similar track.

The concept of war & peace should be re-written. Mussolini was missing an essential point in his argument. That of the provoking peace.
What Tsar Boris I did was not plunge into battle just as would a simplistic predator do but began to think with his head; his human head.
It is the act of standing up to violence with a candle in your hand that should be considered as the ultimate of human valour.
Whereas, war elicits the mightiest of social efforts and energies, the concept of provoking peace brings out the immense will and effort of a single person.
War itself is a misinterpreted basis for assessing courage. It merely portrays warriors as heroes while on the other hand, peace gives birth to heroes as humans.

That’s why Jesus is such a great figure. It’s the fact that he was a human being that sets him apart from all other Gods. He made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of humanity and felt and suffered pain just like any other human individual.
In the end, he was even human enough to shout out the words, while nailed on the cross: ‘My God, My God, why have you abandoned me?’

I passionately wish for Jesus to have existed just for these words of his.

In Henry V, Shakespeare (The Chorus) says to the audience:
‘Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts’.
This is meant to encourage people to imagine the setting and the action so as to overcome the physical limitations of the stage.
I would say:‘Peace out your imperfections (violence) with your thoughts and will’ so as to overcome the limitations of human nature itself.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Just thought you might like to get a visual idea of what the Winter House actually looks like...........

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Some short fiction


For the second time this week, I pour water into the enormous glass bowl sitting at my bare feet. The well outside the house is nearing its last supplies and I, exhausted by today’s hard labour, sit alone in my tiny house, made of mud-bricks, and drink the water as if it was my last day on this planet.

From the piercing rain outside, I would be able to collect some more water at least to wash my dry, incised feet.

Being a young artist, it seems I’ve been damned from the day I was born, however much God has blessed me with a virtuosic brush. Being as poor as a church rat, I dig and dig all day on the golden fields under the baking sun, with barely enough money to even buy a piece of bread. I scour the scattered bread crumbs on the dusty floor, aware of the rats listening intently for the weak movements of my frail hands.

Like the breadcrumbs on the floor, all my artworks are dispersed like broken glass, but on the bed. They mean everything to me, far more even than my life. Why should I call it life, though, when it is not even brink more than a wretched, miserable existence.

The next day, I went by the hospital. A small building, but sufficient accommodation for the village. I entered through the front door and the blistering smell of medical equipment and pools of doses ricocheted along my nostrils at an instant. I learned of the outbreak of an unknown illness that was spreading among the villagers and a sudden sense of concern swept over me.

The doctor, a friend of mine, told me that the sick needed blood transfusion but the shortage of volunteers meant a certain death for them.

So, the doctor; he was a man of such a visible coldness that his indifference to any kind of ghastliness in front of his eyes would set a classic example for budding medical students.

He was aware of me being a struggling painter and the look in his eyes immediately gave in the fact that he noticed me being in spite of all, a healthy person. Almost as if he had been planning his next words all night, he went on:

“Listen, you would make a good blood donor and to convince you of the quality of my proposition, I am going to ask you for your help here for which you will be rewarded.”

The tonality of his words reminded me of the songs we used to sing at church when we were kids. He told me that he had an easy access to all kinds of paint because he had a distant relative who is an artist.

My kind-heartiness and credulousness which was a direct consequence of my miserable and simple life was well enough to make me accept his offer.

And there I was, bartering blood for paint.

With the newly-acquired paint, I was able to enrich my paintings with colour of better quality, improving my overall work. Every week, I was donating blood and it felt as though I was giving tons of it but ‘Never mind, never mind’, I kept telling myself. In this way, I had a rich supply of paint and I had not time to waste. Day and night, I worked, painted with absolutely no time to spare.

This was my chance to complete my works of art and escape from this hell I’ve been since Day 1 of my life.

This gruelling existence, however, did take its toll on me and after a couple of weeks, I collapsed on the golden fields, while hard at work. These seemingly endless golden fields stretched beyond the horizon and were turning grey and suddenly, it all went as black as I’ve never seen it before.

And there I was. Lying among the wheat roots, dirty and disillusioned, nearly dead. And as I am writing this, I feel the sense of death burning on my face, as though I was going to any minute crash into the sun.

With my every breath, emanating the sharp smell of illness, I lay in hospital. With the last possible strength of my hand, I am writing this, and out of all, sorrow casts the most powerful shadow over my soul.

I was going to die young and green. Death or perhaps God himself seemed to think my life is complete. What would happen to my paintings? Never saw them again since the day of the blackness.

I was a dying artist. Never I was to pick up a brush again. I was exchanging my blood in order to get paint for my work. I was giving up on my purely biological life so I could fuel the spark of my ghostly self.

Some people (lucky, are they?) become rich and successful and it costs them nothing. And me? I was born into the simplicity and lowest class of life and talented I was, yes. But on my deathbed, I am hopeless and unknown of.

Surrendered my soul and life for my art. It’s the end now and Death is approaching slowly and painfully.

As a true artist, I was going to die (lucky, am I?)

Monday, October 09, 2006

On Blogs

Still holding onto the breeze of the religious theme, just how can one not ask the question of the essence of internet blogs?
Yes, ‘ordinary’ individuals are able to express themselves in a virtually uncensored environment and gain the world computer-using population as an audience. It’s great and by no means futile because if man’s existence is pointless, then everything that comes out of the hands of an individual is ultimately embraced with at least some substantial meaning and endorsed by the future generations.
So, if John Lennon said that God is a concept by which we measure our pain, then I am glad, no, fairly content, to say that faith or religion, are meant to be the units of pain and I’ve got the world’s greatest songwriter to back me up here.
And now, onto the idea of blogs for which I think meaning here is most prized, most valued and stretched-out but also, the sense of pain, a bio-rhythmic wave of human hurt in a way prevails over the meaning itself. The more a blogger writes and posts, the more evidence there is of his/her nuisance and sorrow directed to and fro the world in general.
Or maybe he/she is simply clever enough to realise the potential of the Internet and blogs and so these individuals create a virtual meaning for themselves and share it with the others in order to enlighten them.
However, despite the monstrous admiration I have for Internet blogs, I just can’t ‘unthink’ what I have thought before.
So, John, if you are reading this, I hope you forgive me just as Newton forgave Einstein. I am gonna have to correct you by simply changing or rather modernising that lyric that you wrote: ‘God and Internet blogs are concepts by which we measure our pain.’