English Google translation: "It would be an understatement to say the Prime Minister John Key was challenged today as he attended the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Ōrākau. Hundreds of Maori and Pakeha turned up to support the call to commemorate NZ Land Wars. Therein lies the strength of the challenge to the PM. The time has come for all of NZ, Maori and non–Maori alike, to be counted in honouring our nation's history. For a long time we have commemorated battles fought overseas. We need to start officially commemorating the ones fought in NZ. The PM appears indifferent. Mataatua descendants returned to the site of battle where their ancestors fought.
I'm excited to see so many people here today. Their ancestors came to this site to support the cause and their descendants have now come back today. Today, ancestors who fell in battle on this very site at Orakau 150 years ago were remembered. Ngati Raukawa, Ngati Maniapoto, Waikato, and all of Tainui are grateful to all iwi who have come to Orakau to share in this experience to commemorate all ancestors who died during the Battle of Orakau. The coming together of iwi.
They've been dubbed the 'Orakau 300'. and today it's Orakau 3000 who have arrived to remember their ancestors who died 150 years ago.
Secondary students from a local school have started a petition to make today an official day of remembrance. If the message hasn't sunk in for the PM, Mataatua and Tauranga iwi will remind him at Gate Pa at the end of this month. Potaka Maipi, Te Karere."
"This week the minaret of one of Syria's most beautiful mosques was destroyed in the northern city of Aleppo. The Ummayad mosque established in 715 was rebuilt in 1159 after being damaged by a fire and then built again a century later after the Mongol invasion. The oldest surviving part was the minaret and both the State forces and the rebels accuse each other of its destruction. Lying in the Old City, the mosque is a Unesco world heritage site but has become part of the wider devastation of Syria's rich cultural heritage; a Crusader castle and Roman ruins in the ancient city of Palmyra have also been damaged.
However sad this physical destruction of history and art is, it should matter less to us than the recent reports that some 70,000 lives have been lost in this terrible civil war with hundreds of thousands more displaced. This is a war which is gradually ripping the country apart but about which the rest of the world doesn't seem to know what to do. Yet there is a different poignancy to the loss of a country's artistic and cultural past. It is these visual artifacts, building and ruins which speak to us of a country's history, its collective memory, the love and passion of the people who make a piece of land into a nation state. That so many Syrians are now killing each other and destroying ruins and religious sites poses the disturbing question, what exactly is still held sacred in so many part of the Muslim world?
A couple of weeks ago I returned from a short break to Istanbul. The area surrounding the majestic Hagia Sophia and the Blue mosque is also a Unesco world heritage site, tourists wander freely, the buildings stand sublime, the contested past of the place breathing its religious spirit into a refashioned, modern and vibrant city. But I wonder whether the preservation of history is only meaningful in countries where there is the preservation of peace, where people can enjoy the ordinariness of life, where there is order and purpose and we have the luxury of self reflection.
Earlier this week the former Met commissioner sir Ian Blair said societies choose what kind of violence they will tolerate. Looking across to so many part of the Islamic world where there is civil war, state violence and individual acts of terror, I wonder how and when Muslim societies will move away from seeing violence as a resolution to human conflict. When God is great is uttered as people and buildings are blown up what kind of God have so many created in their hearts and minds? The destruction of the minaret is not just a physical destruction but a tragic metaphor for a nation's soul."
(Mona Siddiqui, 26 April 2013, BBC Radio 4: Thought for the Day)
Fig.1 At left, the damaged Umayyad mosque in the northern city of Aleppo, Syria, on Wednesday 24 April 2013; at right, the view of the mosque with the minaret intact on 6 March 2013. (AP) [http://www.wbur.org/npr/178906558/minaret–of–iconic–syrian–mosque–destroyed–in–fighting].
"George Crofutt, publisher of a fashionable western travel guide series, commissioned the creation of 'American Progress' by the Brooklyn resident, painter, and lithographer, John Gast. Crofutt reproduced the petite painting, done in 1872, as a color lithograph poster and also engraved the image in the guidebooks he published widely circulating the image. The painting depicts a sense of technological development's advancement upon the untamed land like the coming of an impenetrable, inevitable militia with one uncharacteristic exception––the company is led by a feminine figure.
In the wake of four years of Civil War, the creation of the promotional material of 'American Progress' portrays a spiritualized feminine that provides nurturing, protective guidance and fortitude for the extension of civilization over wilderness and the 'uncivilized,' the enigmatic, and the primal. Disembodied, the idealized feminine portrays the evolution of the split of spirit from daily life as well as the sanctified superiority of the immigrants above human beings who lived in harmony with the spirit of the land.
The dominating and centralized angelic being's paradoxical innocence and sensually alluring presence has the effect of distracting and softening the reality and the violence of this movement to 'win the west' where Native Americans depart the frame as non– natives stake claims in the form of prospectors, as settlers: farmers, homesteaders, and travelers. One of the popular artists of the times, Maynard Dixon speaks of the untruth of the romanticized representation of facts as he complained he was being paid to lie in his artwork and portrayals of life on the wild prairie (Dixon).
Fueled by an underlying desire to be free from tyrannical government and the prospect of a new life and livelihood in a world new to them, Euro–Americans manifested suffering and persecution similar to the very situation they sought to escape."
(Archive for Research in Archetypal Symbolism)
Fig.1 John Gast (1872). "American Progress", painting: oil
"In 1890, author Ambrose Bierce penned a short story entitled 'An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge', about Peyton Farquhar, a Civil War Confederate sympathizer who's condemned to be hanged by the neck off the Owl Creek Bridge. As he is pushed off the bridge, the rope breaks and Peyton falls into the river below. He unties his bonds and makes his way to dry land. He travels day and night for thirty miles to reach his home, all the while experiencing a heightened, almost superhuman awareness of his surroundings. Just as he's about to run into his lovely wife's arms, he feels a stunning blow on the back of his neck, and all goes dark. Peyton Farquhar's escape turns out to be a dream experienced in the brief moments between being pushed off the bridge and having the noose snap his neck.
Bierce's story, with its twist it–was–all–a–dream ending has influenced and inspired many films in its wake."
(Cineleet, 23 March 2008)