Posts Tagged ‘New York
Tags: agnostic, Capitalism, choice, choose, Christianity, commercialism, copyright, Dancers At The End Of Time, debt, easter, Easter Monday, globalisation, hat parade, indoctrination, Lord, Madison Avenue, material world, Materialism, Michael Moorcock, myths, New York, prayer, religion, terms & conditions, The power and the glory
It seems that, these days, Easter in New York means a hat parade. People walk around in fancy hats admiring each other. This reminds me of a Science Fiction Trilogy by Michael Moorcock entitled The Dancers At The End Of Time (1974).
The trilogy tells of a bunch of people who live at the “end of time”. They inhabit a world in which they have gained complete material power and they manipulate the world using little rings on their fingers. The technology behind this had long been forgotten having been invented millennia in the past. The people have become decadent and spend their days seeking novelty. One day they spend all their time creating flags as this was the “in thing” for the season and one flag was the size of a continent.
Is this a comment on New Yorkers? Well partly I guess but, by extension, the rest of us too. BBC Radio 4 ran a story in the last few days where they were saying that most kids don’t know what Easter is about. Outrage that they know nothing about Christianity and all the rest of it.
I am usually an agnostic and haven’t seen any reason to know about religion but I am now starting to wonder. Given that, as a species, we seem to like to follow rules and do what everyone else does then maybe indoctrinating the population with a lot of myths on which to base the system and, specifically all the punishments, is a good idea. I suspect that the indoctrination would need to include some thing a bit more spiritual than hat parades though.
It has been suggested that shopping malls are modern day cathedrals. Perhaps it’s possible to create a religion based on capitalism, commercialism and materialism (CCM?) Perhaps we have already done this? If so then it may be a good plan to accept that CCM is the new religion and dress it up in a lot of archaic English to give it a more religious feel?
The Lord’s Terms & Conditions
Lord, thine world is full of marvels and wonders,
And I am free to choose,
Thanks be to choice for choice is the root of all good,
Glory be to Madison Avenue for it exalts thy wonders,
Which I may own through my own labour,
Though I am responsible for my situation just as others are responsible for theirs,
I vow to research my purchases thoroughly on comparison web sites prior to purchase,
And repay my debts,
As others debts are repaid to me with interest,
Thanks be to copyright and patent,
For they enable innovation,
And innovation creates yet more products,
Which I must strive to buy,
Blessed are the payment companies for they enable e-comerse,
Blessed is globalisation as it empowers comparative advantage,
Forgive us our debts,
After due bankruptcy procedures,
And sell us this day our daily bread,
Deliver our goods next day,
For our is the kingdom,
The power and the glory
For ever and ever
Happy Easter everyone.
A mosque should not be built on ground zero in New York. I agree with Americans I have heard who say that Muslims have the right to build but that they should not.
Why? Because to do so would be grossly insensitive!
Over centuries Western democracies have managed to throw off oppressive religions and now take pride in freedom of speech. So much so that it is enshrined in the United States constitution. I recall seeing the great and the good protest about the film The Life of Brian by Monty Python and I recall the storm over a ludicrous piece of art named Piss Christ. But the uproar did not sop these things it merely drew attention to them.
Wikipedia informs me that it was Evelyn Beatrice Hall summarising the beliefs of Voltaire who wrote “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” and this is oft quoted when defending freedom of speech.
Along with other peoples, Muslims now take advantage of secular society in Western countries. However, it cannot have escaped many people’s notice that they have an uneasy relationship with the concept of free speech. Recall the fatwah on Salman Rushdie and the uproar over a cartoon depiction of the profit Mohamed.
Though Western media take great pride in their lack of censorship I note that they refrained from the obvious course of action which was to reprint the offending cartoon. I imagine that they did this because of a mixture of sensitivity to Muslims beliefs and fear of being killed by Muslims.
As we all know, in 2001, a bunch of bastards, claiming to be Muslims killed around three thousand people by destroying The World Trade centre in New York and since then Al Qaeda have been shooting their mouths off claiming to be killing Americans in the name of Islam. Now someone wants to build an Islamic Mosque on the site of the deaths of these people.
Since Muslims are very keen that respect and sensitivity be shown to their religion and beliefs one has to ask why they show so little sensitivity to the feelings of the friends, relatives and countrymen of those killed in 2001?
To my mind this stinks of hypocrisy.
If a madman dressed up as Ronald McDonald, took a machine gun and murdered a lot of people in a parking lot would McDonalds have the right to build a restaurant on the site? Absolutely! Should they? Hell NO! I would expect that McDonalds would not try to build because they would not want to offend people and because they realise that their relationship with people would suffer.
The guy behind the plan for the mosque is apparently Feisal Abdul Rauf and he must know that his plans will offend people and that Islam’s relationship with non-Muslims will suffer. Yet he presses ahead! Obviously he does not care about either factor. If he goes ahead with this mosque then I hope that this defender of liberty, champion of free speech and protector of the American Way will be out there defending the rights of all Americans to act without sensitivity. I hope that we never hear this man whingeing and taking offence in the name of Islam.
However, I am not holding my breath as I suspect that Feisal Abdul Rauf is an insensitive boor and an offensive hypocrite.
The building of this mosque will do nothing to help repair the rift that is opening up between Islam and Western countries and should be condemned.
I heard that, in India today, a high court has announced that the site of the Ayodhya mosque which is claimed as sacred by both Hindus and Muslims is to be divided between the two religions. What may have been more sensible would have been to build a joint religious building to be shared by both faiths. Similarly in new York, if Muslims had wanted a mosque in the area, it would have been more in keeping with their penchant for respect if they had offered to build some kind of religious centre to be shared by all religions.
..oh…and atheists too as I don’t want to leave myself out.
Tags: ancient rome, Art, Athena, carving, Egypt, Female Mask, Forehead Mask, Gabanda, Getty Centre, Haida, Los Angeles, Marble Head, masks, Metropolitan Museum of Art, miraculous, New York, Pende People, Remojadas, Rome, sandstone, sculpture, Sea Bear Head, Smiling Figure, statues, Torso of a High General
I wrote a blog article recently knocking the content at the Getty Centre in Los Angeles but praising the building. I failed to mention that I had earlier visited The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Blimey Mrs. It’s a corker!
The Metropolitan has art from all over the world. I’d seen some of the types before but what I found completely stunning was the quality of the pieces. It seemed that if there was only one perfect example still in existence of a type of art from somewhere in the world then the Metropolitan would have it and all beautifully displayed and perfectly lit.
I was stuck by one piece in particular. This was a damaged statue with the title Torso of a High General from 4th Century Egypt. The piece is of a young man but the torso has sheered away revealing the raw sandstone. It occurred to me that, for people who had not seen carving of this quality before, it must have seemed miraculous. Sandstone in it’s raw state is uneven and quite obviously inanimate. Yet in the hands of a craftsman it takes on the appearance of a man. Even the damaged example had all the strength and vibrancy of a living body even after 2000 years!
If there is one museum you visit in New York then it should be the Metro.
Thursday morning I took the A train from Tribeca out to JFK airport. The usual ghastliness ensued as I was forced to remove boots and deposit practically everything in a plastic tray to be X-rayed. If al qaeda have achieved anything then it is to make travel an unpleasant experience. One can only hope that if Osama Bin Laden ever sneaks into the U.S. then he will be forced to remove his sandals, beard and turban which will be duly lost along with his false passport and he will have to enter some lengthy and pointless process for recovery of lost luggage. The git.
However, once through the anti-al Qaeda barrier JFK is comparatively pleasant compared to British airports. One is not deposited in a shopping Mall as one is in the UK. On does not have to wait until 2 minutes before departure to discover one’s gate and once one gets to the gate the seating is pleasantly spacious and overlooks the aircraft which contrasts dramatically with the tomb like ambiance of the departure gates at Heathrow.
Since leaving home I have developed severe neck pain which eased off as I reached New York City to be replaced by a painful sore throat and cough. As I prepare for California I speculate on what new ailment awaits me and, if the chaffing caused by extensive walking in the heat and humidity of NYC is anything to go by, I think I know what it will be.
Today I wandered around the financial district of Manhattan. The place is very up beat and alive (he said as if revealing some hidden truth that had previously gone unnoticed). I think what I like about New York is the street life or “Leben auf der Straße” as they say in Germany. New Yorkers sem keen on uniforms; the businessman has a crisp clean shirt and tie the delivery guy a white apron, the postman a blue hat and a trolley, the construction worker a vest, hat and a plethora of contraptions dangling from his body. Consequently it is easy to identify what’s going on.
At the World Trade Centre a new building is finally going up and the Americans are taking to the task with zeal. One thing that impressed me was that I photographed all the WTC in front of the police and nobody bothered me. This stands in stark contrast to Great Britain’s paranoid policy on public photography where they harass amateur photographers with bollocks about it being illegal.
There appears to be a lot of yellow about in NYC these days. The taxis of course but also the trucks. I noticed an “organic dry cleaners” down near Battery Park, something I have not come across before.
Also near battery park hoards of immaculate dressed businessmen and women ate their lunch, many of them queuing for bar-b-que. This is another thing that almost dumfounds me. How can New York business people remain so sharply dressed in the heat and humidity while eating bar-b-que.
To be honest I was told to stop taking photographs by a security guard when shooting directly into the vast good entrance. I approached the guy and told him that I didn’t think he had the authority to tell me to stop taking pictures and he said, OK, and that his supervisor had told him to tell me to stop.
I should investigate what the rules are in the U.S.
Arrived in Tribeca, Manhattan yesterday from Hoboken. Hot and humid like they always say that New York should be. The area was surprisingly uncrowded as it was Memorial Day and New Yorkers like to get out of town when they can. Surprising to me as I thought that a bank holiday would be an ideal time to enjoy New York. Had a drink in Ward 3 on Reade Street where they had some interesting art work.
Then moving on near the Petrarca restaraunt we passed a building on Church Street owned by a local artist named Steven Rand. The windows constantly changed colour and effect was reminiscent of stained glass in a church.
The New Yorkers yearning to escape was my ticket into the Macao Trading Company restaurant on Church Street where it is usually difficult to get a table. The Macau is a theme restaurant based on the Portuguese colony of Macau. Great décor and the food was good though the choice of beer was slightly odd to a British eye. OK, a couple of Chinese beers but then Sam Smiths bitter? The tables on the upper floor appeared like cages intended to reflect the Chinese brothels in Macau and downstairs there were erotic paintings.The menu presented in the style of an old ledger was a nice touch.
Walking back I noticed that the Americans have started stacking their cars on top of each other on strange metal contraptions and that the vents to the subway had been raised a few inches so that when the streets flood with water it does not all slosh down onto the trains creating an aquatic theme experience in the subway.
Tags: 9/11, aerial bombing, afghanistan, airborne laser, armies, attacks on civilians, “Shock and Awe”, casualties, civilian casualties, Collateral Damage, definition of terror, Donald Rumsfeld, going nowhere, Great Britain, inevitable slaughter of innocents, iraq, israel, James Jones, justice, laser weapon, massacres, missile, New York, palestine, Radio 4, September 11, Slaughter Of The Innocents, smart bombs, status quo, target individuals, targeted attacks, Terrorism is a tactic, terrorists, The Bishop of Liverpool, The Right Reverend James Jones, The West, Thought For The Day, unfortunate but inevitable, United States, vengeance, war, wedding parties, what are we achieving
On Wednesday morning The Bishop of Liverpool, the Right Reverend James Jones, spoke on Radio 4’s Thought For The Day. He talked of war and referred to “the inevitable slaughter of innocents”.
It’s true that, these days, we expect that war will involve the slaughter of innocents but I wonder if it’s always been that way.
Certainly armies throughout history have committed massacres after defeating opposing forces but is this the same as today’s collateral damage?
Israel often asserts a distinction between the deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians by Palestinian groups and the targeted attacks on Palestinian individuals which result in civilian casualties. When Great Britain or The United States launch missile attacks against individuals in Afghanistan and kill scores this is generally thought of as unfortunate but inevitable.
Conventional armies can claim to target specific individuals as they have the technology and the ability to assert absolute power over an area even if only temporarily. The forces which we term “terrorists” are usually the weaker side, they are the people who are reacting against a status quo. They have no standing armies and only limited technology and they often resort to isolated surprise attacks on civilians.
We brand these people “terrorists” as they aim to cause terror by but can a random explosion be more terrifying than a F16 fighter bomber screaming overhead firing missiles into the ground? Donald Rumsfeld called it “Shock and Awe” and this sounds like a pretty good definition of terror to me.
Terrorism is a tactic, it is not an enemy. You can no more declare war on terrorism than you can declare war on a siegewarefare or attrition warfare.
I wonder if this acceptance of civilian casualties might have developed during the second world war with the use of mass aerial bombing. Even though it was known that dropping bombs from thousands of feet in the air must mean a high degree of inaccuracy and consequent civilian casualties the bombing was accepted. Perhaps it was accepted because of the enormity of the struggle and the sense that this was a life or death struggle for each nation.
The military have developed more accurate missiles since then and we have been shown videos of “smart bombs” being guided directly to their target yet still we hear of attacks on wedding parties in Afghanistan.
We have become so inured to civilian casualties during conflict that now a Christian Bishop tells us that the slaughter of innocents is inevitable. Perhaps it is not? Perhaps we should be a little more careful in our choice of targets and our choice of weapons?
The fact that our opponents kill innocents is no reason for us to do so. The mass slaughter of civilians in New York nearly eight years ago can be seen as the reason for much of the current military activity by The West but surely the fact that civilians were targeted should emphasise that the reason our troops are fighting is to prevent attacks on civilians be they Americans or Afghans.
It is easier to just get angry. It is easier to fight anyone or anything. It’s easier to lob missiles and hope you get the right guy.
I met an American soon after 9/11 and we discussed the attack on the twin towers and the war in Iraq and I said that the Iraqis were not involved in the 9/11 attacks and I recall his response. He said “I don’t care”.
He didn’t care who the U.S. military attacked. He thought that the 9/11 attacks were so atrocious that the U.S. was justified in hitting out at anyone.
But killing random strangers only serves to enflame hatred.
The United States are reported to have mounted a large laser weapon inside a Boeing aircraft.
I have read speculation regarding effectiveness of this laser when destroying tanks but we already have very effective anti-tank weapons which can be mounted on smaller aircraft so what is the point of the laser?
I wonder of the United States hasn’t realised that it needs a weapon which can target individuals from a great distance.
Sadam Hussein goes for a walk in the garden of his palace, a telephone call is made by someone inside the palace, a military jet stops circling and moves into position. Pfzzzzzzz!! Sadam boils away into thin air and a large sum of money is deposited in the Swiss bank account of an Iraqi official.
Yet another British soldier was killed in Afghanistan on Thursday and in Britain there is a sense that this conflict is going nowhere. Of course it is possible for NATO to maintain control of Afghanistan and to tolerate the trickle of military casualties but are we achieving anything?
In the wake of 9/11 The United States may have two immediate goals: To bring to justice those behind the attacks on New York and, arguably, to avenge the deaths of thousands of innocents. Two overlapping and some might say contradictory goals.
In the days of the British Empire this may have resulted in punitive attacks but since the Second World War, followed by The Cold War, The United States sees itself as a moral power bringing liberty to the world and punitive strikes are not now considered an acceptable response.
The United States is trying to replay the experience of the Second World War. It’s game plan is the total occupation of it’s opponents country followed by the rebuilding of that country as a industrialised capitalist democracy.
This worked very well with Germany and Japan but this is not an appropriate response for a tribal, mostly illiterate people with a weak sense of nationhood.
More importantly America has no responsibility to bring democracy to Afghanistan. This is not to say that liberty and democracy are not excellent in themselves but only that, in defending itself, The United States need not take on the burden of nation building or democratisation.
Liberal democracy in The United States and Western Europe did not come about through outside intervention. It came about through a long struggle by the people themselves. The people struggled for liberty and they now value liberty.
It was reported in the British press recently that in one area of Helmand province as few as 150 Afghans may have voted while 10 British soldiers died to allow that election. One has to ask the question:
If the Afghans are not prepared to put their lives on the line for democracy then why should foreign soldiers?
The United States has suffered a tragic attack on it’s civilians and in response has taken on the probably impossible task of converting Afghanistan to a Western style democracy. It need not do so.
The United States was attacked and it required justice. The war in Iraq and Afghanistan must have cost numerous lives and billions of dollars. If all that blood and gold had been spent on relentless tracking down the individuals implicated in the attacks on the United States then America could have justice and in addition take pride that it had resisted the impetus to simply lash out.