Thursday, 2 February 2017

Letters - take the time to write them

Letters are a joy. Why on earth would anyone send an email, a text of a social media message to say something really important to a fellow human being when a letter is the best way to express everything?   A letter is unambiguous, personal and completely private. It shows that you mean business, that you care enough to write, that you are grateful for a gift.

Can there be anything more pleasing than receiving a hand written thank you letter, anything more thrilling than a love letter or more consoling than a letter of sympathy for a loss? I find that letters of complaint receive better outcomes than telephone calls, that letters to MP's result is extensive replies on House of Commons notepaper and that letters to the editor of a newspaper, if printed, are better than ranting and raving into empty space.

This week must go down in history as one of the worst for scathing attacks on the diversity of Western humanity since the genocide in the former Yugoslavia in 1991. The Executive orders of US President Donald Trump beggar belief.  I may have to write to the pompous jackass to explain that many people in all the countries that are on his exclusion list are not Muslim but Christian. The Middle East is the cradle of Christianity. Present day Iraq occupies the land between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, formerly known as Mesopotamia. The church in Baghdad was one of the earliest ever established as was the church at Ephesus, established by Christ's mother and his disciple Thomas. over 2,000 years ago. And the church in Baghdad has a more recent history.

When President Bush sent US forces into Iraq in 2003, they soon captured Baghdad and established the Green Zone. Tragically the Anglican church was outside this safe area. Many Christians were murdered in reprisal for the invasion: They were decapitated and their heads displayed on stakes on the road leading to the church. The Canon of the church, suffering himself from MS, was offered safe passage but vowed to stay with the rest of his congregation. He led them into the mountains during the re-escalation of insurgent attacks during the past two years. I have heard no more of his plight. I hate to think that his flock, now exiled because of religious persecution, would be excluded from a new life in a safe country. I can only hope that Iraqi Anglicans might find a home in the UK.

As for 'The land of the free and the home of the brave', I hope that their God is tolerant of their lack of humanity. Today a female Euro MP spoke my mind.  We are all human beings and after all the atrocities in Europe in last century, we must learn to respect everyone. We cannot ever again be drawn into a world of hatred, religious or ethnic persecution and 'survival of the fittest' rhetoric. All people should be afforded respect and humanity.




In the UK this week, our gay communities are celebrating the issue of, sometimes posthumous pardons, to many who were punished for their love of a same sex partner, following the passing of Alan Turing's Law. Most of us are content to live in enlightened times: others are putting on their blinkers to narrow their perspective. Shame on them. Anyway back to letters.

I think you will find that my research has produced a letter that goes to the heart of our opposition to ideology of 'Trumpdom', so I will let it speak for me this week. I have letters to write.

In November of 1993, a week after the death of celebrated Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini, the New York Times published an article by Bruce Weber in which he made clear his impatience with the supposedly opaque, perplexing movies of directors like Fellini. One person who read the piece was Martin Scorsese--he responded by letter.

(Source: New York Times; Photo: Scorsese in 2006, via Peabody Awards on Flickr.)


The Letter

New York,
19 Nov 1993
To the Editor:

“Excuse Me; I Must Have Missed Part of the Movie” (The Week in Review, 7 November) cites Federico Fellini as an example of a filmmaker whose style gets in the way of his storytelling and whose films, as a result, are not easily accessible to audiences. Broadening that argument, it includes other artists: Ingmar Bergman, James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, Bernardo Bertolucci, John Cage, Alain Resnais and Andy Warhol.

It’s not the opinion I find distressing, but the underlying attitude toward artistic expression that is different, difficult or demanding. Was it necessary to publish this article only a few days after Fellini’s death? I feel it’s a dangerous attitude, limiting, intolerant. If this is the attitude toward Fellini, one of the old masters, and the most accessible at that, imagine what chance new foreign films and filmmakers have in this country.

It reminds me of a beer commercial that ran a while back. The commercial opened with a black and white parody of a foreign film—obviously a combination of Fellini and Bergman. Two young men are watching it, puzzled, in a video store, while a female companion seems more interested. A title comes up: “Why do foreign films have to be so foreign?” The solution is to ignore the foreign film and rent an action-adventure tape, filled with explosions, much to the chagrin of the woman.

It seems the commercial equates “negative” associations between women and foreign films: weakness, complexity, tedium. I like action-adventure films too. I also like movies that tell a story, but is the American way the only way of telling stories?

The issue here is not “film theory,” but cultural diversity and openness. Diversity guarantees our cultural survival. When the world is fragmenting into groups of intolerance, ignorance and hatred, film is a powerful tool to knowledge and understanding. To our shame, your article was cited at length by the European press.

The attitude that I’ve been describing celebrates ignorance. It also unfortunately confirms the worst fears of European filmmakers.

Is this closed-mindedness something we want to pass along to future generations?

If you accept the answer in the commercial, why not take it to its natural progression;

Why don’t they make movies like ours?
Why don’t they tell stories as we do?
Why don’t they dress as we do?
Why don’t they eat as we do?
Why don’t they talk as we do?
Why don’t they think as we do?
Why don’t they worship as we do?
Why don’t they look like us?

Ultimately, who will decide who “we” are?
—Martin Scorsese
 
Powerful stuff.  Thanks for reading.  Adele
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