How to write violently and live peacefully

September 1, 2013 at 9:31 am | Posted in art, politics | Leave a comment
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‘Be regular and orderly in your life so you can be violent and original in your work.’ Gustav Flaubert said that. So I make my house clean and tidy and lay the fire and fill two blue vases with bunches of my yellow jonquils, and I write my commissioned Churchill book.

Not that the Churchill Trust necessarily wants a ‘violent and original’ book! It will be original but perhaps I will leave the violence to my novel writing.

I brush the white cat who is so pretty he looks like a girl and I do my tai chi in the sunshine. And to relax, between writing and domestic things, I clean out two rooms and build a whole new decor around a glorious doona cover I fell in love with and so bought a single and a double and built everything around them. Doona covers are a good way to bring art and colour into your life. Often on special too. Some of them really are works of art, the same as rugs from Afghanistan or Iran or Pakistan are. If you can afford to buy ‘Persian’ rugs you can walk on art.

I need to do things like this because writing and art are what make me happy – those and people. And with an election coming up in Australia very soon that everyone predicts will be a huge win for a party who do not on the whole share my values, I need to cultivate my garden as Voltaire said.

And in a world in which: ‘For every dollar spent on U.N. peacekeeping, $2,000 is expended for war-making by member nations’, we need to find ways to feel at peace sometimes. Or we’d go crazy. That quotation and the next is by Paul Hawken in his book, Blessed Unrest: How the largest social movement in history is restoring grace, justice, and beauty to the world. (New York, Penguin, 2007) both on p. 18.

‘Four of the five members of the U.N. Security Council, which has veto power over all U.N. resolutions are the top weapons dealers in the world: the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Russia.’ So the latter quotation very depressing but the title of his book so hopeful! It is a good book, and good to read books like that at times like these.

And because I must get back to my Churchill book I’m taking the easy way out and ending with an extensive block quote from Hawken’s book.

‘Unlike indigenous cultures, whose worlds are local, intimate, familiar, we live in the age of giants. In one day alone we pump 85 million barrels of petroleum out of the ground, and then burn it up. And on the same day we spew the waste of 27 billion pounds of coal into the atmosphere. One hundred million displaced people now wander the earth without a home. One company, Wal-Mart, employs 1.8 million people. ExxonMobil made nearly $40 billion in profits in 2006, enough money to permanently supply pure clean drinking water to the 1 billion people who lack it. We have consumed 90 percent of all the big fish in the oceans. Bill Gates’s home covers one and a half acres and cost nearly $100 million.
Not surprisingly, people don’t know that they count in such a mal-ordered, destabilized world, don’t know that they are of value. A healthy global civilization cannot be constructed without the building blocks of meaning, which are hewn of rights and respect. What constitutes meaning for human beings are events, memories, and small dignities—gifts that rarely emerge from institutions, and never from theory. As the smaller parts of the world are knitted into one globalized unit, the one thing we can no longer afford is bigness. This means dismantling the big bombs, dams, ideologies, contradictions, wars and mistakes.
In the midst of such giants a worldwide gathering of ordinary and extraordinary people are reconstituting the notion of what it means to be a human being. While they are organizing themselves into the largest movement in the history of the world, the movement only happens one person at a time.’ (p. 23)

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