PORTSMOUTH POINT INSPIRATION ISSUE
What Defines Art? Dodo Charles The Art of Ai Weiwei Hattie Hammans Chanel: The Enduring Legacy Charlotte Povey Manet & The Representation of Women Tanya Thekkekkara Why Feminism is for Everyone Charlotte Phillips Finding Fairness Lizzy Greenfield
4 6 10
12 14 16
A Grax’s Tracks: In the Humane Spirit of Dr Seuss Caleb Barron & Frederike Rademacher
How Education Changes the World Gabriella Watson
The Beauty of Euler’s Identity Henry Ling
General Relativity: 100 Years On Elliot Ebert The Role of Mistakes in Innovation and Experimentation Nicholas Graham
Kipling in Southsea James Priory
Living the Good Life Sophie Locke-Cooper
Machiavelli: The Pragmatic Genius Ethan Creamer
Corbyn: The Sugary Suicide Pill William Dry
The Pantomime of American Politics Luke Farmer
To Walk Without Thought Florence Willcocks
Our Fragile Mortality Michaela Clancy
How Religion Created a Monster Charlotte Randall
Challenging Religious Attitudes to Sexuality Hermione Barrick
The Evolution of Censorship Sian Latham
Dreams and Delusions: Springsteen’s America Mark Richardson
Do We Have The Right To Not Be Offended? Alex McKirgan
How Fight Club Changed My Life Oliver Clark
The Dream of the Rood Tom McCarthy
Understanding the Autism Spectrum Jack Rockett
The Creation of Elvish
Editorial Team (Magazine and Blog) Hermione Barrick * Sienna Bentley - Ilana Berney - Jadon Buckeridge * Georgina Buckle - Dodo Charles - Reetobrata Chatterjee * Michaela Clancy - Oliver Clark * Ethan Creamer * Merlin Cross * Loren Dean - Jack Dry - William Dry * Zita Edwards - Catriona Ellis * Rebecca Emerton - Luke Farmer - Filippa Furniss * Oliver Gent * Monideep Ghosh - Rory Gillies - Nicholas Graham - Katie Green * Lizzy Greenfield - Ayesha Gyening - Hattie Hammans - Hope Hopkinson * Helen Jackson * Rhiannon Jenkins - Fenella Johnson - Ellen Latham - Sian Latham * Holly Lawrence - Henry Ling * Layla Link - Sophie LockeCooper - Alexander McKirgan - Robert Merriam * Naeve Molho * Tasmin Nandu-Swatton - Ananthi Parekh - Sophie Parekh - Eloise Peabody-Rolf - Will Pearson - Charlotte Perry-Evans *Alfred Perry-Ward * Charlotte Phillips - Cicely Podmore - Charlotte Povey - Frederike Rademacher * Charlotte Randall * Lauren Robson-Skeete - Jack Rockett - Jack Ross - Kelvin Shiu * George Silver - Alexander Sligo-Young * James Stuart-James - Anna Sykes - Tanya Thekkekkara - Olivia Watkins * Gabriella Watson * Gemma Webb - Isabelle Welch - Sophie Whitehead * Oliver Wright Photography Editor: Will Hall Illustrations Editor: Sian Latham Video Editor: Caleb Barron Magazine Designer: Clara Feltham (The Graphic Design House) Editor: James Burkinshaw
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I N T RO D U C T I O N
his Christmas, each magazine contributor has selected something that has inspired them – whether quotation, equation, occasion, illustration or innovation – which has then acted as a springboard for deeper reflection. The result has been one of our most eclectic issues to date: from the art of Ai Weiwei to the science of bionic limbs; from the controversy of Life of Brian to the legacy of Coco Chanel; from leprosy to Donald Trump. An exciting new feature is the inclusion of specially commissioned illustrations by Portsmouth Point editors, including a humane, Dr Seuss-inspired perspective on the refugee crisis, a satirical view of Volkswagen’s current woes and a deconstruction of conventional responses to feminism and neurotypical attitudes to autism. Thank you to our illustrators Zita Edwards, Sian Latham, Sophie Parekh and Frederike Rademacher for their trailblazing contributions and to our photography editor, Will Hall, for his dazzling cover image. On this page, Will explains how he achieved this extraordinary photographic effect. The editors are grateful to all those who have contributed articles to this “Inspiration” issue of Portsmouth Point, to our Head of Photography, Mr Stone, and, not least, to our inspired magazine designer Clara Feltham. We also bid farewell and thank you to Mr Thomas, Head of Physics, who has been a longstanding Friend of Portsmouth Point (FOPP) and has contributed and commissioned many articles for magazine and blog over the years (including Elliot Ebert’s excellent celebration of the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity in this issue). This is the seventh year since Portsmouth Point magazine was launched and the fourth since the birth of the blog. Each new cohort of editors has been inspired by the work of their predecessors and it has been wonderful to welcome a record number of new editors over the past four terms in particular, with the result that our blog www.portsmouthpoint.blogspot. co.uk now features over 1,800 articles on music, film, science, sport, politics, literature, food, art, philosophy, photography, drama, history, religion, economics, psychology and travel (with nearly half a million page views to date). We invite you to browse through the blog and muse over the magazine this Christmas, mulled wine and mince pie to hand.
Cover design by Will Hall
The magazine’s theme was built on the idea of inspiration. When it came to choosing what would be on the cover, I asked myself “What’s out there that is inspirational?” I’ve always thought the stars were inspirational, so I decided I would incorporate them into the photograph. The practical side to this image was always going to be complicated, as it involved merging around 120 photos into one. I sat outside in the dark, under a clear sky with a new moon, and took 120 30-second-long exposures. The photograph appears to show all of the stars rotating about one star in the lower right-hand corner. That star is Polaris, otherwise known as the North Star. The result is one photograph showing the movement of the stars over two hours; it enables you to see just how many stars are visible in the sky. It took around six hours to produce the finished result: including planning the most suitable nights, taking the individual photographs and completing the entire editing process. Will Hall
YE AR 12
The Editors December 2015
A NOTE TO MY TOK CLASS Dodo Charles YE AR 13
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W H AT D E F I N E S A RT ?
YOU DON’T TAKE A PHOTOGRAPH, YOU MAKE IT. ANSEL ADAMS
Images of the same scene taken at the same time by two different photographers
art1 a:t/ noun noun: art; plural noun: arts; plural noun: the arts 1. the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power." the art of the Renaissance" 2. the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance. "the visual arts"
heory of Knowledge is often considered the most confusing subject for an IB Student because no one really knows what it is. Whilst I, too, struggle to describe the subject beyond its acronyms, the topics that arise from WOKs (Ways of Knowing) can inspire heated debates. Recently, we were told to bring in a picture, something that symbolised art, and explain why we considered it artwork. I brought in this Lee Jeffries photo of a homeless man (left). Why? Simply because he is one of my favourite photographers, and to me that photo is art. However, being TOK, it was then questioned whether this truly constituted art. Was any skill required that is specific to that photographer at all? Is there any skill in it at all? And finally, the one that pains me the most: couldn’t anyone do that? This is something I want to address, as I did not have the chance to fully expand upon it during the short debate. Taking the first question: was any skill required that is specific to the photographer at all? The simple answer is: yes. The factors that are required to assemble a picture of that quality are endless: Are you shooting in the right format? Is the ISO grading correct? Are you focussing manually? Different photographers have different methods of photographing things; you can’t assume that all photographers take pictures in the same way. Lee Jeffries specialises in portraiture, in particular close-up portraiture; others specialise in landscapes. You wouldn’t turn around to Miro and expect him to be able to create a realistic picture to the same standard as Courbet. To generalise photographers and their skills would be the same as saying that Van Gogh and Damien
Hirst use the same techniques. Therefore, in my opinion, the whole argument falls void. Just because it is using a different format does not mean that it is not an artwork. Next: Is there any skill in it at all? Yes, yes there is. I’ll give a scenario to illustrate this. Imagine you gave cameras to a selection of photographers with the objective to take a portrait of the same person. Every single image would be different. This is because, if you take a photo, it is not just a consideration of focusing the shot; you consider the angle, the emotion of the person in front of you and use your own ARTISTIC judgement to decide how best to take that photograph. Lee Jeffries’ images rely on his ability to judge the situation surrounding him, consider the emotions of his subject and then use a variety of factors to create the photo before us. Photography, just like art, is about narrating an untold story, revealing an understanding of what surrounds us that can be personal to us all. When I look at that photo, a story is told that I have, in some way, related to myself and to what I know, whether it be through first-hand experience or other means. To blindly assume that there has been no skill involved is naïve. Which leads to the final question: Couldn’t anyone do that? To answer this I decided we needed some visuals. Above are two photographs taken at the same time, of the same thing, but by different people. Whilst similar, they are also completely different. You can teach anyone the different skills that are required to take a photo, but put them in the same scenario and you will clearly see the difference. You will not have the same photo for the simple reason that each photographer would be feeling different emotions and experiencing different motives at the time of the shot. Photography is not simply the photograph that appears at the end. It is the emotion attached to it by both the subject of the photographer and the photographer themselves. Therefore, photography is art. If Damien Hirst can chop a cow in half, and if people can throw paint at walls with it still being called artwork, photography is art. I’m not decrying these examples as not being art; they are both forms of expression. I’m merely demonstrating that, if the aim of artwork is to express opinions and views, to deny photography as an art form is to deny a form of expression, a form of beauty. As Ansel Adams said: “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
F RO M DEAD TREES TO B I C YC L E WHEELS
THE ART OF AI WEIWEI Hattie Hammans YE AR 12
IN TODAY’S CONDITION, I DO NOT THINK THAT ANYBODY CAN STOP THE EXCHANGE OF IDEAS.” AI WEIWEI
i Weiwei’s mother was a writer, his father a prolific contemporary poet, and their family was exiled by Mao Zedong during the Cultural Revolution. Sent to a labour camp, when one year old, with his mother, he (along with his family) was only allowed to return to Bejing in 1976, after Mao’s death. These experiences and memories of his childhood and teenage years can only have affected his opinions of the state; throughout his career, he has refused to abstain from provocative and scathing works that target the Chinese government. Ai has campaigned for human rights since his teenage years, following in the footsteps of his father the activist. Seemingly unafraid to post his criticism of governmental policy on his blog, Weiwei famously came to the attention of the Chinese Government over the Sinchuan Earthquake in 2008. His daring and emotive Royal Academy exhibition (19th September to 13th December, 2015) is momentous for Weiwei; this is his first major exhibition in Britain. Hitherto, Ai has been best- known here for his Sunflower Seeds at the Tate Modern (2011-12) and for being Artistic Consultant for Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron during the building of the Birds Nest stadium in Bejing. In order to appreciate Weiwei’s work, context is key – as we might expect from contemporary art. We are reminded of Dadaism, a movement from the early 20th century that provoked
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Marcel Duchamp’s (1887-1968) invention of readymade art. Like Duchamp’s famous 1917 piece Fountain (simply a signed urinal), we can only make sense of Weiwei’s art through an understanding of context. As a student, Weiwei lived for a short time in New York, where he discovered concept artists such as Duchamp and Andy Warhol. Many of Weiwei’s sculptures are created from ‘found’ objects (for example, Table and Pillar, 2002). Without explanation, many of the pieces appear lifeless and absurd. Weiwei uses objects that would be art in their own right. Most famously his triptych Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn creates art from dropping a historic, valuable urn and smashing it. Similarly, by painting historic vases, he explores the possibility of decreasing their value or increasing their value by recreating them in a new fashion. And to push the concept even further, we are left unsure whether to trust Weiwei’s claims. Are the pots and furniture real antiques? Does this affect their value now? Weiwei poses the question: as any fake requires the same amount of skill as the original, is it of the same value? There is certainly a sense of loss involved in these reinventions. Things once revered, of high importance, can seem brushed aside in modern Chinese culture. For example, returning to Table and Pillar (2002), Weiwei used antique, beautiful objects from Imperial China. Whereas that might have been a very treasured
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IN TODAY’S CONDITION, I DO NOT THINK THAT ANYBODY CAN STOP THE EXCHANGE OF IDEAS. AI WEIWEI
Above: Straight, 2008-12 Below: Tree, 2009-10, 2015
part of someone’s home in the past, people are now replacing such pieces with modern, mass-produced things,” explains Adrian Locke, the curator of the RA exhibition. Weiwei’s work pins as much importance on how things are made as on what is being made. Recycling is clearly an element within his work; take, for example, the bare trees standing, enormous, in the RA courtyard. Constructed from dead timber found in the south of China, these mismatched giants hold a Frankenstein’s Monster-like beauty, and are typical of Weiwei’s work in that they have had a previous life - have been remade and now stand as a new piece. No corners have been cut; no one could claim that Weiwei, as a contemporary artist, lacks skill or imagination. Every piece he creates, with the help of his team in his studio, is packed with meaning, whether ironic or sincere. Yet, even without their meaning, each piece is beautiful; one thing Weiwei seems to be acutely aware of is the aesthetic appearance of his work. On old bicycle wheel frames, dripping glass droplets are hung in wry splendour to create a glittering chandelier. Standing alone, with no writing or background understanding, Weiwei’s artwork is elegant yet never selfevident. Ambiguity is a possibility within his work. Even after leaving the Royal Academy, I still had space to contemplate and consider. Without doubt, the work of Ai Weiwei has a ‘point’; he is an artistic activist, a man unafraid to antagonise the Chinese Government through his work. If anything, following his incarceration for 81 days in 2011 resulting from false accusations, Weiwei’s work has more fire and poignancy than ever before. Weiwei is a keen user of social media, often using his blog or instagram (@aiww) as a medium for his art. This is evident in the show as Weiwei allows smartphones to be used and photographs to be taken throughout; from a more traditional perspective, I felt the constant clicking and snapping to be irritating; the hordes of people trying to get an unconventional angle on the art were distracting. However, through social media connection, despite being held in China under surveillance and unable to come to London, Weiwei can keep in touch with the viewers of his work. In Room Three, at the Royal Academy exhibition, we encounter Straight, a striking 90-tonne sculpture formed of steel rods. Despite being only a section of the entire piece from Weiwei's studio (in total, 150 tonnes), it is the heaviest sculpture ever to be displayed in the London gallery. Breathtaking in size, the rebars are laid flat, piled over each other to form an
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undulating landscape that ripples down the hall. Despite being huge, the sculpture is not tall (ranging from a few inches to a foot high), allowing us to see a shallow but wide rupture running down the centre of the piece. Contextually, we know this piece is inherently a protest; on the walls of this room are the names of schoolchildren who died in the 2008 Sinchuan Earthquake. After the tragic natural disaster, which caused the deaths and disappearances of nearly 90,000 people (mostly schoolchildren, as the earthquake was during school hours), the Chinese government refused to publish the names of perished students or undertake public surveys of the quality of quality of school buildings. In protest, Weiwei led a citizens’ investigation to survey the quality of the collapsed school buildings and asked, on his blog, for the names of children who were victims. Called ‘tofudreg’ buildings in China, the school buildings were found to be subpar, built with little regard to the children’s safety. Taking 200 tonnes of bent, fractured rebar from the rubble, Ai Weiwei and his team spent almost two years straightening out the rods. The work is astounding, yet simple. The fault line running through the centre of the piece is a lucid depiction of tectonic plates, but it doesn't take much more consideration to imagine the potential meanings Weiwei could be asking us to reflect upon. These rusted steel rods were inadequate to contain the forces of nature and the work is a cry of help to the government. It is also unquestionably an accusation: Why did you create these substandard buildings that took the lives of our children? And why do you ignore your incompetence, putting more people’s future at risk? The piece is also in memorial to those who died, and its magnitude commands a stillness within a busy exhibition. Fragments (2005): What was so significantly impressive about this work as you entered the room was its size. Constructed from salvaged pillars and beams of ‘Tieli’ (Chinese ironwood), all salvaged from Qing dynasty temples, this work arches over the viewer and you are able to walk through it freely. The realisation that from above this work is revealed an outline of China makes our ability to stroll through the various regions slyly ironic. The piece is a comment on the difficulty that Chinese people find when trying to travel through their own country, juxtaposed with the foreign visitor's liberty to travel where they like. Weiwei himself has been barred by the government from travelling out of his own country many times; he was unable to fly to London during the planning of the exhibition.
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Cao (2 0 14): A new work for the RA exhibition. Ai explains, “During the Qing Dynasty [1644-1912], this grass field (in the village of Caochangdi, where Ai’s studio is based) was used to feed the emperor’s horses. In Chinese poetry and literature, cao (or grass) is a frequently-used reference to the common people, the masses. Grass is a force of nature, wild and everlasting. I thought it would be interesting, and a bit ironic, to create a monument of this common thing.” The most crucial aspect of this work is its material, a white marble from the same quarry as the marble used for the Forbidden City in the Ming period and for Mao’s mausoleum in Tiananmen Square. Hexagonal pieces (6cm by 5cm), each with three sprouts of marble grass, stretch out to form a hand-chiselled lawn. The presence in this room of Weiwei’s other work in this same marble offer further association with the imperial past of China and Mao’s immortal presence. A surveillance camera, identical to the 20 placed around Ai’s home by the Chinese Government, and a Marble baby stroller, surrounded by the shoots of stone grass, refer to an incident regarding surveillance of his child. This piece, in itself, is a marvel of masonry skill, marble being a brittle medium and difficult to chisel; but, more importantly, Weiwei’s work with marble is another instance of his interest in material and its inherent connotation. ‘I told the police: “Without you, I would never have become so noticeable as an artist”’ In an interview with the Guardian, Weiwei unashamedly explained that his political struggle has contributed to his increasing celebrity; however, many of his greatest works have been realised as a protest against that same state. The show is provocative, witty and accessible. Confronting changing Chinese values, the morality of surveillance and the significance (and increasing frequency) of natural disaster, Weiwei never lets up. His newfound prominence is justly deserved. The RA is holding this show until the 13th of December. Due to demand for tickets, the exhibition is opened until midnight on selected Saturdays. A 5-star show.
Above: Marble Stroller, 2014 Below: Cao, 2014
CHANEL T H E E NDUR I NG L EGACY Charlotte Povey YE AR 13
A GIRL SHOULD BE TWO THINGS: CLASSY AND FABULOUS. COCO CHANEL
here is no doubt that Chanel is one of the most iconic fashion houses ever to have existed. Chanel stands out from the likes of Dior and Yves Saint Laurent for one simple reason: Chanel is classic. But why has she left such a legacy and how does Chanel remain one of the most exclusive brands of all time? It all started when Gabrielle Bonheur Chanel started making hats as a hobby in the early 1900s. She was given her nickname ‘Coco’ during her childhood and it stuck. Her impeccable eye for style gave Chanel an automatic advantage in the social rankings of Paris, where she began to raise recognition of her hats; the famous actress, Gabrielle Doriciat, flaunted them on film sets and displayed Chanel’s work in front of the public. This then led to a huge popularity boost and to Coco Chanel opening her own boutiques. Furthermore, she was able to continue to expand by creating a new line of luxury casual wear which was instantly beloved by all
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modern women wanting to move away from their tight corsets and to lead a more active life. However, it was not only Coco’s brilliant business methods that led to her legacy. There were three key inventions of Chanel which ultimately created the prestige of the company: the perfume, the bag and, finally, the Little Black Dress. Each of these prestigious items is still sought after today by the most stylish women around the world. CHANEL NO.5 “A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.” This was the perfume that revolutionised the way women smell. Coco Chanel had been searching for a perfume that would make women stop in their tracks; and there was no doubt this scent had met Coco’s desires. It was important for Chanel that the perfume felt fresh as she was fixated with cleanliness. Another priority for Chanel was what the perfume represented: herself. She knew people wanted to be her; she ensured that the scent would represent the elegant and modern life she lived.
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She was not wrong there. The perfume was created in Cote D’Azur, whilst Chanel was on holiday one year; she had been searching for a perfumer to take up her challenge of creating a brand new, fresh scent for some time and finally encountered the opportunity there. The perfumer gave Chanel five samples to smell and Chanel chose sample No.5; hence the classic name. It was at this stage that things began to take off; the bottle itself was designed to replicate a whisky decanter. The first time the perfume was experienced was amongst Coco and her friends at dinner, along the French Riviera, where it was celebrated and sprayed around the table blissfully. The perfume continues to be sprayed throughout the world even in the twenty-first century, decades after its creation; one bottle of Chanel No.5 is currently sold every 55 seconds, all over the world. THE 2.55 BAG “In order to be irreplaceable, once must always be different” This is the bag everyone knows. Conceived in the 1920s, when Coco grew tired of having to carry her bag in her hands, she yet again revolutionised what people wore. Chanel thought up the design for and then developed a new shoulder bag. It was not until twenty-six years later, in 1955, after much re-working of the bag, that the 2.55 bag was born. Why has this leatherquilted, golden-chained bag left such a legacy? It is true that,
in fact, every aspect of the bag was designed by Chanel with a memory in mind. The burgundy lining of the bag was the same colour as the uniforms worn in the orphanage where Chanel grew up. This bag was special to Chanel and the hard work that Coco put into the creation has paid off over the decades. THE LITTLE BLACK DRESS “Fashion changes, but style endures” In 1926, the simple, short black dress was first published in Vogue magazine. This was a turning point of style. Prior to the 1920s, black was strictly perceived as suitable for mourning. Chanel turned it into an any-time classic. The dress was accessible for all women of all social classes and was perfect for almost every event. Vogue had described the birth of the LBD as ‘The frock that all the world will wear.’ It has been no doubt an iconic garment that will remain to stand the test of time. It is the singular dress that transcends age, size, occasion – and time itself (the versatile and flattering fit of the dress means it will remain timeless). This is how Chanel earnt her legacy with the black dress and changed the rules of fashion forever. Coco Chanel died on 10th January, 1971, but the house of Chanel remains as popular and classic as in its founder’s heyday. Designer Karl Lagerfeld continues her legacy and stands by her clean lines, classic colours and casual elegance.
the REPRESENTATION of WOMEN Tanya Thekkekkara YE AR 12
he representation of women has varied in the history of art; with assumed constraints, social expectations and political manipulations, it has often resulted in a radical reaction. This was manifested in the production of one of the most notorious representations of women: Edouard Manet’s Olympia. The painting was first exhibited in the Paris Salon in 1865 and displays a nude woman (considered to be Olympia) casually lying on a bed, being presented with a bouquet of flowers by a black servant. One would immediately assume that what caused the major uproar at the exhibition was the nude woman. However, during this period, the French art-going public
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was accustomed to the presentation of nudes in paintings (Louis Lamothe’s L’Origine du Dessin and Louis-Frédéric Schutzenberger’s Europe Enlevée par Jupiter being two examples). Rather, it was the conceptual idea of the model Victorine Meurent’s confrontational gaze towards the viewer which caused consternation and shock. The nude woman, with her pale skin, almost becomes one with the bed. The fact that this woman, a courtesan, was given a face, further increased the angst of critics and viewers alike because it humanizes prostitution – at a time when few wished to be reminded of this hidden side of life. In order to fully grasp Olympia, it is important to discern the context within that Manet was
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Left: Olympia by Edouard Manet Right: Venus of Urbino by Titian
painting. During this period of time, the rapid industrialisation of France under the ambitious Napoleon III, with the new railways, new inventions and overseas expansion, particularly into Indochina created an exciting and vibrant atmosphere in the capital, Paris. However, this was also an era of tensions: on the one hand, an emergent feminism, socialism and even communism, and on the other a bourgeoisie that was still sexually subdued. It was the latter who felt that Manet’s Olympia went against all social boundaries; not only is the artist representing a woman in a sexualised profession but he is also exploring the subversive role of prostitution in the 1860s bourgeois society (and what it suggested about the hypocrisy of middle class values) as well as concern about the growth of the urban working class. Additionally, bourgeois Paris felt threatened and undermined by the way in which prostitutes were increasingly seen as trend-setters with regard to fashion and emulating respectable ladies and the way in which prostitution was being seen as a profession, commodifying sexuality and creating an extensive clientele among the bourgeoisie itself. In Manet’s Olympia: Figuration of a Scandal, Charles Bernheimer states that the business of prostitution seemed to “have infiltrated business affairs to such an extent that the French economy could not function without the funds in circulation through sexual commerce”. One can thus infer the sheer significance of the sex-worker sector at that time Manet was painting Olympia, reinforcing the conflict between middle and working class. Prostitutes’ clients, and prostitutes themselves, were represented at all levels of society and, at the highest level of all, the courtesan was seen to be subversive because of her power and influence. Thus, prostitution was presented as giving women a new power, the commodification of sexuality, its transactional nature a metaphor for the corrupting nature of capitalism itself. It is this sense of female empowerment that successfully resonates within Olympia. The model’s stance and her sexuality are depicted as unapologetic, her powerfully confident pose and confrontational gaze suggest someone almost bored by the prospect of flowers from an admirer, implying that this is not the first time she has been someone’s object of infatuation. Moreover, within Olympia, Manet uses other symbolism very effectively to convey female empowerment. The black cat (reflecting the slang equivalent of female genitalia), the tropical exoticism of the flowers, the Orientalist, harem-like evocation of the black servant, the hand of Olympia self-consciously covering her pubic area and her overall nakedness present a cumulative sense of empowerment reflective of the female population of Paris at the time in which Manet is painting. Furthermore, Manet effectively puts the male viewer in a state of restlessness, unsettling the relationship between viewer and viewed. Much has been made of the psychological impact of a naked woman looking straight out of the picture at the viewer. Typically, a viewer is able to examine a picture at leisure and therefore exerts a form of control and power over the picture and its subject matter. When the subject matter looks like a real
woman rather than an abstract nude, and she looks out of the picture straight at the viewer, it consequently removes a degree of power from the viewer, with the subject herself taking a position of greater domination. The power balance between viewer and subject is, therefore, changed. Manet was one of the first Realist artists to achieve this and thus the results were clearly disturbing to the voyeurism of the contemporary audience (in particular, the male audience). He was questioning the traditional private sphere of society. The immediate model for Manet was Titian’s Venus of Urbino. However, in Olympia Manet strips away not only the academic technique of representation but also the veil of mythology. Unlike Venus, whose posture lures us into her sexual domain, Olympia’s woman is not perfected. For example, the face of the model is asymmetrical and her lips are depicted as too thin. This suggests Manet’s attempt to convey to the viewer how this is a real modern woman. Additionally, the left hand of Titian's Venus is curled and appears to attract attention, whilst Olympia's left hand appears to block, which has been interpreted as symbolic of her sexual independence from men and her role as a prostitute, granting or restricting access to her body in return for payment. Manet replaced the little dog (symbol of fidelity) in Titian's painting with a black cat, which traditionally symbolized prostitution; these changes showcased Manet as a truly idiosyncratic realist. He portrayed the unconventional habits of daily life, not brushed up and shaken out for company or for a work of art, but as they persistently and prosaically existed. Therefore, despite the fact that this is a nineteenth century painting, a modern viewer can still pursue the message that Manet was trying to convey 150 years ago and relate it to our own twenty-first century: to constantly challenge what is deemed to be society’s norms, especially in regard to the modern representation of women, and to be more tolerant towards members of different classes and professions.
Bibliography: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympia_(Manet) https://www.mtholyoke.edu/courses/rschwart/hist255-s01/courtesans/ Manet-olympia.htm http://www.musee-orsay.fr/en/collections/works-in-focus/search/ commentaire_id/olympia-7087.html http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/art/art-news/9802721/Manetsforgotten-muse-Victorine-Meurent.html
why FEMINISM is for EVERYONE Charlotte Phillips YE AR 12
IF YOU STAND FOR EQUALITY, THEN YOU'RE A FEMINIST EMMA WATSON
ould you label yourself a feminist? This is no rhetorical question; please do take a moment to consider the enquiry. Now, let me ask you another question: do you support the social, political and economic rights of all genders? If you answered no to the first question, but yes to the second, please read on. If you answered no to both questions, you should most certainly read on. And if you answered yes to both questions: feel free to skip to the end... Unfortunately, the proportion of people who would publicly call themselves a feminist is still low. This is because the general modern-day perception of the feminist is stuck in the 1970s (see image, right); to identify as a feminist nowadays is to be considered a man-hating, bra-burning, body-hair-growing fanatic. Although the feminist movement is being properly understood by an increasing number of people around the world - largely helped by the rise of social media and highprofile feminist icons – the stigma still remains in earnest among the majority of people. It is, therefore, so important that awareness of what feminism really means becomes more common knowledge and that, as a result, the current hostility towards the feminist movement is eradicated. One of the most influential and high-profile feminists striving to achieve this aim is Emma Watson. Although best known for her acting career (particularly as Hermione Granger, in the Harry Potter films), she has undertaken the role of Goodwill Ambassador for Women at the United Nations (UN). As her inaugural act in this position, she gave an inspiring speech about what feminism really means and why it is a movement open to everyone, to the UN and indeed the world – her speech spread
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like wildfire on the internet, with over seven million views. As one of those seven million viewers, I can confidently say that Emma Watson's message that feminism is for everyone has inspired me to take a more active interest in the feminist movement, consider my own ideals and beliefs and, most importantly, encourage others to do the same. I take every opportunity I can to show people what it really means to identify as a feminist, and to set the record straight in order to destroy the stigma that continues to surround feminism. One of the most common assumptions regarding feminists is that they are 'man-haters' - a group of oestrogen-fuelled females hell-bent on eliminating all males and forming an all-girl society. The idea that feminists have anything against men is completely misguided. In fact, feminism campaigns for, and stands for, a wide range of men's rights (too many to list in one article). A perfect example is the issue of child custody. Traditionally, custody of children was almost automatically awarded to mothers during a divorce proceeding, based on the assumption that women are naturally better caregivers; this is one of the patriarchal presuppositions that can lead to huge family problems and which feminists aim to dismantle. Therefore, the feminist movement is currently campaigning for a fairer system to ensure that fathers are considered equally along with mothers when it comes to child custody. Furthermore, feminism stands for the deconstruction of gender stereotypes that dictate that men must be “masculine” and “strong” and never show their emotions. Suicide is the second biggest killer (after heart disease) of males in the UK. Depression and mental illness as a whole continue to be seen by too many as “effeminate”, leading to men denying the problem
W H Y F E M I N I S M I S F O R E V E RYO N E
Illustration by Sian Latham
and not getting treatment. This whole chain of events is one that, by identifying as a feminist, you can help to decrease. So, yes, feminism is focused on women's rights - as it should be- but please remember that these often interlink with the rights of men, leading to a healthier, fairer and more progressive society for everyone. Clearly, any 'feminist' who does hate men is not a true feminist at all. 'I would be a feminist if it wasn't called feminism - maybe if it was called equalism instead'. This is the most ubiquitous statement I hear from those who do not want to be considered feminists. In fact, I hear this more from women than from men. The ironic thing is that this is the exact reason we need feminismpeople don't want to be associated with a â€œfemâ€? movement: the immediate connotations are negative. However, as a society, we need to recognise that it is women who have been oppressed and at a disadvantage almost since the rise of civilisation. Having a movement that fails to acknowledge this fact in its
name - its face to the world - would be a fundamental flaw in the message that feminism is trying to spread and the change it is working to achieve. Quite simply, feminism is already equalism; the definition of feminism is equality for all. By calling yourself an 'equalist', you are by default a feminist - like it or not. There are still too many delusions and fallacies about what the feminist movement stands for. We are not 'man-haters'. We are not trying to kick out every male in a position of power. We are trying to achieve a level playing field for all. Of course, each and every feminist will have multiple, personal reasons for identifying with the movement â€“ their own experiences, beliefs and ways of showing them. But all feminists have one thing in common: belief in true equality between not just all genders, but all sexualities, races and ages. They believe in basic human rights for all, respect for all, and equal opportunity for all. As Emma Watson stated in her powerful speech, feminism is all about equality, and it really is for everyone.
Refugees from Syria
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F I N D I N G FA I R N E S S
Lizzy Greenfield YE AR 12
s children, we were all taught isn't fair”. How can this be the case? to love one another, to be kind Surely if the values we are taught are correct and to be fair. We were told to - and we live by them - then the world must be share our toys. We were told to a fair and just one. Unfortunately, as anyone let all the children play with us who watches the news, or just leaves their and never leave anyone out. We were told to house and looks around, will know, we do not stand in the other person's shoes and see things live in that world. As we grow up, the system from their perspective. We were that we live in and the beliefs told “Don't judge a book by its that we adopt through elements LIFE ISN'T FAIR cover”, “There are two sides of that system (the government, UNKNOWN to every story”, I could go on. school, the media and our “role And, if not at home then at models”) shape us and cause us school we were taught about to substitute those childhood the dangers of judging others, the importance values for new ones: greed, self-interest, of caring, of not discriminating, of treating prejudice etc. For many of us, what we believe everyone equally. We learned about the great is important in the world changes radically ambassadors of justice (such as Martin Luther with age. This is true for me, and no doubt King, Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln) and how true for you. essential are the values that they preached. Greed and materialism are two concepts that And yet we are all told, at the same time, “Life become more and more a part of our lives as
we grow up in the Western world. Many of us take the lives of relative comfort and luxury that we have for granted and separate ourselves from the state of the rest of the world. It is a fact that we have enough resources to provide for everyone in this world. We have enough food, in fact we produce more than 1½ times the amount we need to feed everyone on the planet, enough for 10 billion people1. Are you aware that the cost of eradicating world poverty is estimated at 1 percent of global income2? Moreover, almost half of the world's wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population. The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion. That is 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world's population3. Does that not say something about the world we live in - how greedy some people really are? “When wealth captures government policymaking, the rules bend to favor the rich, often to the detriment of everyone else.”4. People are suffering and struggling to eat because government policies around the world are favouring the desires and beliefs of the most wealthy and greedy. Almost half the world — over 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day. The poorest 40 percent of the world's population accounts for 5 percent of global income5. If these statistics don't shock you I don't know what will. Here, one of the values from our youth brings itself forward: sharing. Just as we shared our toys with the kids who didn't have any, we should share our wealth and resources with the people that don't have any. This is a message that we must make clear and stand for all across the world to stop poverty and suffering on a global level. We don't have to look far to discover social injustice. We know racism is wrong, sexism is wrong, and we wouldn't dream of supporting a system which did not try its damnedest to eradicate these evils from the world. Yet, many stand by as new government policies discriminate against people of low income and support the wealthiest to the moon and back. How is this any different? You might say, “Excuse me, these people should have worked harder at school, so they could get a better job, so that they don't need income support.” However, you would be going directly against another of the aforementioned values from our childhood: you are judging a book by its cover. Minority students, to an overwhelming degree, disproportionately attend underfunded and under-resourced schools.6 The result is that students whose families already face hardship are placed at an even greater disadvantage. For
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example, according to the U.S. Department of Education (DOE), in schools where more than three-quarters of the students were classified as low-income, "there were three times as many uncertified or out-of-field teachers in both English and science”7. These statistics speak for themselves; we like to think that developed countries provide equal opportunities for all, but they don't. It is frankly mad and completely misguided to think that a child who grows up in a nurturing, high-income family, with all the encouragement in the world and an education at private school with some of the best teachers in the country, has the same chance of success as a child who receives no encouragement, is left to their own devices and attends a school where few are inspirational and few are inspired. These are very stereotypical examples, and this is certainly not the case for all students or schools; however, it does make the point that we are misled by the media and government to believe that people who don't achieve success are, and always have been, just lazy, that people who commit crimes are, and always have been, disgusting, that children who have difficulties at school are, and always have been, incompetent. We take this propaganda and we swallow it whole without a question. In many cases, we can hardly begin to empathise with the hardship that people face; we need to put ourselves in their shoes and think ‘If that was me, would I be where I am today?’ Because, although I believe that there are ‘bad’ people in this world, I also firmly believe that people become ‘bad’ for a reason. It is far easier to say that these children are bad, these adults are bad, these people are bad, than to examine and confront the system and say - there's something wrong here. Last, but not least, comes kindness. Kindness and compassion are viewed by many as being at the epicentre of humanity. As I am sure you would agree, without an understanding and empathy for others, we can barely be considered human. An incredibly prominent and emotive issue at the moment is the refugee crisis. I'm sure you have all seen the horrific images of the three-year-old Syrian boy whose body was washed up on a beach in Turkey. Those images are enough to pull at anyone's heartstrings. However, when you compare the headlines of the same newspapers before and after these images were released worldwide, it really does say a lot about the hypocrisy of the media and of the British public. One Daily Mail headline (31st July, 2015) read “The ‘Swarm On Our Streets”; this headline carries with it not an ounce of compassion and neither does
F I N D I N G FA I R N E S S
the rest of the story. Compare that to this headline after these images were released: “Tiny Victim of Human Catastrophe” and the hypocrisy of the media becomes evident. Is that what it takes for them to show some compassion: the death of a little boy? Shouldn't we be acting before such tragedies occur? There are millions of refugees around the world suffering every day. Does it take their death for people to take notice? “Refugees who are alive, and especially refugees who live or want to live in the UK, are to be feared...But refugees who are dead, and are dead in a way that is photogenic enough to get the feelings of British readers going, should be cared about.7” This quote is incredibly hard hitting and shouts the message loud and clear: we must act before the situation gets any worse. Last year, 51% of refugees were under 18 years old. This is the highest figure for child refugees in more than a decade8. Imagine yourself or your children in this situation: fleeing a country for fear of death; leaving your life and possibly family behind in search of safety; and then, after such a horrific ordeal, being turned away because there's not enough room or not enough money. This weighing up of human lives against economic factors goes directly against the compassion and kindness that were emphasised to us as kids. We need to take a stand against these views perpetuated by the media that refugees are somehow to be feared, that they are monsters, fleeing to this country to steal our jobs or claim benefits. It's ridiculous. They are people just like you and me and, just like we would be, they are scared and desperate and they need the help that we, as a country, can provide them with. We need to stand against the media, the government and the fear-mongering stories that they persist in fabricating. We must tackle this issue with all the kindness we can muster. I am not saying that you and I are horrible people - that we have no compassion, no empathy, no tolerance. In fact, I believe the people of this country to be, on the whole, extremely loving and caring. But this love and care is getting lost within a society which holds self-interest and greed to be of higher importance, a system which allows economic viability to be an obstacle to saving hundreds of thousands of human lives. Can we really support this? I have only presented a tiny sliver of the possible examples of how unjust our world is. I could provide you with hundreds more statistics to support my views; I could provide you with thousands more personal stories to demonstrate the pervasiveness of this injustice - but that's besides the point. It
doesn't matter how many statistics and examples I provide, it won't change the situation. We need to accept that this injustice exists and confront it head on. We can make a difference. As a collective we can stand against the system and for humanity. You may say I'm naïve, but, if that's the case, then I think we need more naivety in this world. This shouldn't be an issue of politics. It shouldn't be a case of economics. It is about those childhood values. It is about caring for one another and loving one another, sharing, learning with, understanding and helping one another as we did in the playground aged 6, and as we should continue doing for the entirety of our lives.
Eric Holt Gimenez (Executive Director, Food First/Institute for Food and Development Policy) “We Already Grow Enough Food For 10 Billion People -- and Still Can't End Hunger” 2 Sources Cited on “http://www.compassion.com/poverty/poverty.htm” 3 “Working for the Few” Oxfam International Report 4 “Today, around 21,000 children died around the world” Anup Shah (Note that the statistic cited uses children as those under the age of five. If it was say 6, or 7, the numbers would be even higher.) 5 Orfield, supra note 12, at 73; see also Elizabeth Lamura, Our Children, Ourselves: Ensuring the Education of America’s At-Risk Youth, 31 Buff. Pub. Interest L.J. 117, 127 (2012) 6 J. Wirt et al., The condition of education 2004 (NCES 2004-077); see also Heather G. Peske and Kati Haycock, Educ. Trust, Teaching Inequality: How Poor and Minority Students Are Shortchanged on Teacher Quality 2 (2006), available at http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED494820.pdf. 7 Max Fisher “Nothing captures Western hypocrisy on refugees like these British tabloid front pages” VOX World 8 UNHCR: Facts and Figures on refugees, 2014 Global Trends Report 1
A GRAX’S TRACKS in the humane spirit of Dr Seuss WRIT TEN BY Caleb Barron ILLUSTRATED BY Frederike Rademacher YE AR 12
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A G R A X ' S T R AC K S
The Graxes travelled all tired and sore, Their home broken and torn by war. They got on their boats and their rafts and their barges And headed over sea towards greener pastures. “The journey was dangerous”, had urged others But what choice was there for children and mothers. If home wasn’t safe for the vulnerable masses, With kids with no classes and towns turned to ashes, Then what choice was there for children and mothers If, when the call for help is made, nobody bothers? And so they must journey this perilous way To find somewhere safe where they can stay. Not everyone made it when they reached the next land; Even if they did, no new home was yet found. The Maxes allowed some a place to stay, But with no jobs there on offer many broke away; The Lormors accepted as many as possible But this wasn’t ideal as their situation was volatile; The Mormors managed to give thousands a chance, But soon they too had to change plans. So soon the Graxes' fate was up to the Slumpies, But these were a people that were ever so grumpy. They argued about the jobs, the money and homes As if they were simply talking about stones. But no these were people that needed their help, And all the Slumpies seemed to do was yelp, “What can we do?” “We’re too full up!” “We can’t refuse.” “This has to stop.” As the Slumpies argued and discussed The Graxes found a way to adjust, To be robust against the dust and the rust, Until finally someone had sussed A way for the Graxes to be free and happy. A place for them - and I don’t mean to be sappy To live their full lives in beautiful harmony, With the Maxes and Mormors and Lormors and Slumpies. Therefore, no more do we need to bother, Instead we give that choice to children and mothers.
HOW EDUCATION CHANGES THE
Gabriella Watson YE AR 11
elson Mandela was the first black president of South Africa to lead the fight against the apartheid regime. Apartheid was a system of racial segregation which took place from 1948-1994, used by the white minority to control and oppress the black majority. Mandela was of the Xhosa tribe born to the Thembu royal family and became the first member of his family to attend school. He gained a full education studying at the University College of Fort Hare and qualified with a law degree in 1942. During his time at university, Nelson Mandela became increasingly aware of the racial inequality and injustice faced by non-white people. Mandelaâ€™s education, in effect, allowed him to prevent the prospect of a civil war breaking out in South Africa, following the end of white minority rule. His education ultimately saved hundreds of thousands of lives and unified South Africa through reconciliation between blacks and whites. In this instance, there appeared to be a distinct link between education and the ability to change lives for the better. Unfortunately, an ill- educated and ill-informed population is the only way for some governments to control or manipulate their people. Too many countries do not invest in schools or teachers so individuals will never see what is outside their own country or even know what it is like to live beyond the boundaries
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H O W E D U C AT I O N C H A N G E S T H E W O R L D
EDUCATION IS THE MOST POWERFUL WEAPON WHICH YOU CAN USE TO CHANGE THE WORLD. NELSON MANDELA
of ignorance. In todayâ€™s society, having access to an education is vital. Not only will this help individuals to succeed in life or gain a place in society, but it can contribute towards eliminating poverty, it can prevent needless deaths and illnesses though the use of established medical research and the hope is that it will help eradicate gender inequality. One in five adults in the developing world are not able to read or write. Without a doubt, education makes a difference in the lives of men and women, boys and girls. It makes them better people who can handle the challenges that a changing world faces. For this reason, many parents and guardians will work hard to ensure that their children receive a beneficial education and become responsible citizens. However, according to a United Nations report, more than 100 million children worldwide do not attend school and a number of studies that relate crime participation to the education of children suggest that less educated individuals are more likely to engage in crime. Convictions that had been made following the
2011 August riots in London revealed that the offenders were poorer, younger and of lower educational achievement than the national average. The government figures reveal that two-thirds of the young people in court were classed as having some form of special educational need, compared to 21% who represented the national average in regard to educational attainment. Figures also show that more than one in ten of the young people appearing before courts had been permanently excluded. In many other instances, evil manifestations stem from ignorancedangerous factors which can be eliminated through education.
THE BEAUTY OF
Henry Ling YE AR 13
nspiration can come from many things: poems, music, pictures or the scenery around you. The essence of these things draws out the best in people, it makes them believe and feel happy, and sometimes people grow to love these things, use them, and enjoy them. What it is that makes me feel that way is something beautiful, abstract and visible. It is a mathematical equation. Yes, one may take that as odd and atypical… but Euler’s Identity is my favourite equation, for it has an aura of beauty and perfection about it. I am not the only one that takes a particular liking to this equation; within the mathematical community, it definitely stands out and has a very high profile, despite the fact that, in itself, it has no real applications. However, does it need applications? eiπ+ 1=0 Why is it so perfect and beautiful? Well, it combines the most important numbers, letters and symbols of the mathematical world. First, the symbols: we see an addition sign, +, which represents how numbers can be added together, one of the first things we are taught from our earliest stage of education and fundamental to so many things. Even though it is not included physically, we have a multiplication of i and π, which represents the laws of multiplication within the universe, something again which is fundamental to the whole field of study. We also see the use of exponents, as e is raised to the power of iπ, which links yet another mathematical concept, which has its own laws and rules. Finally, we are given the equals sign, =, giving us
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the idea of equality, one thing being the same as another. This is something mathematicians, physicists, chemists, biologists, accountants, business managers and many more people across the world use every day in describing the world around us; without it we would be lost in a world much less advanced and sophisticated than the one we are in now. It is also useful to represent the way in which everyone is equal; looking beyond maths, it suggests the rights of different races, religions and sexualities to be equal. The numbers and letters also have such strong importance and significance. 0 represents the lack of number, and for many years the world lived with it as only a mere placeholder or without it altogether. It was only in the seventh century that the Indian mathematician Brahmagupta used 0 as a number in its own right, a unique number which you cannot divide by without running into complications, and which yields itself when multiplied by any other number. 1 represents the first number in our counting spectrum and is the simplest number to understand. Then we move on to the three more complex and mathematically significant numbers. (1) Euler’s number, e, which is the base of the natural logarithm and has recurring roles across the whole of mathematics, from modelling population sizes to predicting the stock market. It is an irrational number, so it goes on forever with no end, 2.71828… It is also transcendental, so it is not the root of any non-zero polynomial with rational coefficients. (2) We also see another of the most well-known and credited numbers in the mathematical world,
THE BEAUTY OF EULER'S IDENTITY
Leonhard Euler (1707-1783)
π. It is another irrational and transcendental number, which equates to approximately 3.14159… this also crops up across the whole of mathematics, known by most students for its uses in trigonometry; however it has be very useful in statistics, number theory and complex analysis. (3) Now, the final one, I, is a very special number, for it represents the imaginary number or the square root of -1. If you put √(-1 ) into a calculator, it will immediately come up with an error, because it doesn’t exist. If you square any negative number, it becomes positive, so if you are finding the square root of the number itself, it must be positive, surely? Well, this is not the case and is the reason for it being special; despite (or because of) this, it has been one of the most useful pieces of mathematics out there. Complex numbers and i have been used for many things, especially engineering, looking at electrostatics, fluid dynamics and heat flows. So the beauty behind it is that it is riddled with so many mathematical constants and concepts, linking them all into one beautiful and emphatic equation. It becomes a symbol of the whole of mathematics and what it has accomplished, farreaching and perfect. Does it have a use? Well, actually, no. It is something which has no real applications. However, this is what makes it so amazing; it emphasises why mathematics is beautiful and can even be considered an art form. Does the Mona Lisa have an application in the real world? No! Mathematics should not be defined by its mere applications, just as we don’t define art, music and dance by their applications. Yes, the applications of mathematics are amazing and the source behind pretty much
everything in this world, but mathematics is also a form of beauty and Euler’s Identity proves that very fact. What’s more amazing than a mathematically sound equation which uses five of the most important numbers in the world? There are many ways of proving it, it is true, but I will not divulge these now. I started off by talking about inspiration; therefore, I will go full circle and return to where I began. I would argue that this equation is inspirational. It shows the intimate links which lie between everything; we must stay true to ourselves and find those links with the world around us. It reminds me that perfection, like beauty, is what one makes of it. I find that equation perfect, yet most people would see it and dismiss it for being just maths. As I say, perfection is what you make of it and you should be the orchestrator and arbiter of what you do and do not like. It also reminds me to seek truth and that so many things have been shown to be true. Truth is a hard word to pin down, but what I mean by this is seek personal truth and truth about your life, how you wish to live it and how you wish to stay true to your dreams. It also gives me a sense of rigour: don’t stop when stuck with a problem or situation; so many things have been solved, even things which may at first have seemed impossible. And, finally, life is beautiful. Do not give up on it and do not waste it.
YEARS ON Elliot Ebert YE AR 13
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he current best theory we have for explaining the force of gravity had its 100th birthday recently, on 25th of November. This theory, known as Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, conceived by Albert Einstein in 1915, describes, with the use of ten field equations, how mass and energy exert an attractive force on all matter. Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity was preceded by his Theory of Special Relativity which was published in 1905. The Special Theory of Relativity describes the implications of a finite, uniform speed of light (proved by Mickelson and Morley in 1887) for all observers, irrespective of their motion, on the laws of physics. Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity leaves us with some implications which are rather counterintuitive. These include the following: the faster you move, compared to a stationary friend, your watch will run slower than theirs and to them, you will appear contracted in the direction of your motion. Just to illustrate this, if we imagine a 4-metre-long, rocket-powered F1 car moving past you at 90% of the speed of light, you will perceive it to be just 1.74m long. Just by moving fast, its length has decreased by over two metres. Of course, these effects are only noticeable at large proportions of the speed of light (so fast that with the naked eye you would have no chance of actually measuring
G E N E R A L R E L AT I V I T Y
the effect). However, this is no optical illusion as the F1 car is actually shrinking from your point of view. This effect has been tried and tested repeatedly and it has yet to fail any of the challenges it faces. Furthermore, now that two observers of one event could have different measures of time depending on the speed they are travelling, there cannot be one universal ‘clock’. Every observer must have their own clock and so this leads to the creation of a four-dimensional space-time, consisting of the normal three spatial dimensions plus one time dimension. Anyway, enough about Special Relativity. Its centenary has already been and gone. General Relativity is, so far, science’s best attempt at explaining the large-scale structure of the Universe and how gravity shapes it to be the way we observe it. Newton’s Theory of Gravitation was the first attempt at explaining the gravitational force and, in most cases, it serves perfectly well and can provide us with incredibly accurate models of orbits and gravity. However, in certain cases, Newton’s theory does not work, namely in particularly strong gravitational fields. This can be observed in the orbit of Mercury, which hardly varies from Newton’s theory’s predictions. However, if a scientific theory disagrees with observations even slightly, it must either be amended or abandoned. This is where Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity steps in. The General Theory of Relativity is Einstein’s attempt at incorporating acceleration into the Special Theory of Relativity (since Special Relativity only describes the effects of uniform motion). Einstein devised some thought experiments, including one with an astronaut in a spaceship free from the gravitational pull of any other celestial objects. Einstein said that, if the ship were stationary or moving at a constant velocity, the astronaut would feel weightless. However, if the spaceship were to accelerate, the astronaut would feel a force like that of gravity and be pushed against a wall/ floor (depending on the direction of the acceleration). If the spaceship were to accelerate at the acceleration due to gravity that we feel here on Earth, the astronaut would be unable to distinguish whether or not he was still on the surface of the Earth (assuming the spaceship is windowless), as he would feel the same force acting upon him as he would if he were in the Earth’s gravitational field. Einstein called this the Principle of Equivalence. This showed there was a deep relationship
between systems that are accelerating and systems that are in gravitational fields. Einstein then used some geometry he was introduced to by Carl Friedrich Gauss and Bernhard Riemann to calculate how his space-time would be affected by the energy (and mass, although they are interchangeable through Einstein’s E=mc2) it contains. He found that the presence of energy curves space time and that other objects feel a gravitational pull because they pass through these curved regions. It is much like placing a bowling ball in the centre of a trampoline and rolling a golf ball in a straight line through the deformed part of the fabric. The golf ball will roll towards the bowling ball. All objects try to follow a straight line through space-time. However, when passing through curved space time, they trace out lines called geodesics. This is what we perceive to be the force of gravity. Light can also be affected by this gravity, as it too follows a geodesic path through space-time, so Einstein’s theory was proved during the eclipse of 1919, when a star that would normally be hidden behind the sun was sighted due to its light being bent around the sun by the sun’s gravitational field. These observations agreed with Einstein’s predictions, so strengthening the support of his theory. The General Theory of Relativity succeeds where Newton’s theory failed and correctly predicts Mercury’s orbit. It also says that time flows slower in a stronger gravitational field. It is thanks to Einstein that we have such accurate GPS systems today: the time-slowing effect caused by the satellite’s fast orbit and the time-quickening effect caused by the weaker gravitational field in which the satellite orbits do not cancel each other out. In fact, the clocks on the satellites run faster than the earth-bound clocks by 38 microseconds per day. If this were not adjusted, this would cause the GPS system to become less accurate by 10km per day. Although Einstein’s theory is much more complex than Newton’s, in the vast majority of cases they predict the same thing. For that reason, Newton’s theory is used more regularly than Einstein’s theory. However, Einstein’s theory gives us a better understanding of the true nature of the gravitational force, a force that has had such an instrumental part to play in the shape and structure of the Universe we observe today. For that reason, I believe it should be placed among the most important discoveries mankind has ever made.
THE ROLE OF
MISTAKES IN INNOVATION AND EXPERIMENTATION Nicholas Graham YE AR 13
xperimentation and innovation are all about the new, be it totally new or just an improvement or alternative to the old. As such, there are bound to be mistakes. In fact, according to Einstein, if you are not making mistakes then you will not be making progress. Correspondingly, many scientists agree that “Creative experimentation propels our culture forward. That our stories of innovation tend to glorify the breakthroughs and edit out all the experimental mistakes doesn't mean that mistakes play a trivial role.” These are the words of Evgeny Morozov, a researcher and widely-read writer on the topic of technology and its social and political implications. Many stories of experimentation do have the mistakes or setbacks cut out or downplayed. However, as (often untold) history can reveal again and again, mistakes have been the crucial factor in innovation and in the invention of new products and substances. One of the reasons that the discovery of penicillin is so famous is because of the serendipitous nature of its revelation. In 1928, after two weeks away from his laboratory, Alexander Fleming came back to discover that several of his Petri dish samples and experiments had been contaminated. In one of these dishes, Fleming discovered a piece of mould. The strange thing was that it was not covered in the pre-existing bacteria, and that there was no bacteria in the area of nutrient jelly adjacent to the mould. He realised that the mould was somehow preventing the bacteria from growing, and so he isolated the mould and
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examined it. He then classified it as penicillin, a name whose importance we are all aware of today. Microwave ovens are one example of an accidental innovation that has since become a household item. Percy Spencer was an American scientist working on combat radar systems during World War II. While standing in front of the equipment, he realised that the chocolate in his pocket had melted. He and his colleagues investigated using other types of food. They discovered that the radar set heated all the different foods, as well as being able to pop popcorn. They had discovered the microwave oven. It wasn’t a mistake in the experimentation, but this innovation occurred purely by chance and was never the intention of the company working on the technology (it would seem that neither Spencer nor any of his colleagues wondered what was happening to their bodies given that the food in their pockets was being cooked). Superglue was another product accidentally invented during the Second World War. The scientists who did so were working for Kodak, trying to find a material for clear plastic gun sights for the American military. Harry Coover accidentally created the original cyanoacrylates (chemical name for high-strength glue). The substance stuck to everything it touched. It was ignored at the time because it was useless for gun sights. It was rediscovered in 1951 by Harry Coover and Fred Joyner when they were trying to find materials for aircraft canopies. While it was again unsuitable for that task, they realised its potential use
T H E RO L E O F M I STA K E S I N I N N O VAT I O N
ANYONE WHO HAS NEVER MADE A MISTAKE HAS NEVER TRIED ANYTHING NEW ALBERT EINSTEIN
Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin
as an adhesive because, unlike most other adhesives at the time, it required no heat or pressure to bond with other materials. It was first sold commercially seven years later in 1958, under the name Eastman 910. Dynamite was created as a result of a couple of mistakes and accidents in Alfred Nobel’s experiments to find a way of stabilizing nitroglycerine. The first mistake caused an explosion which killed his younger brother and several other colleagues. It is thought that this made him more determined to find a way of stabilising the substance. The second accident happened when there was a spillage of nitroglycerine when a container broke while he was transporting it. The containers were packed in a rock mixture called kieselguhr. Nobel realised that the mixture had absorbed all of the nitroglycerine. It turned out that kieselguhr could be used to transport the explosive liquid safely. Nitroglycerine and kieselguhr became the main elements of the explosive substance called dynamite. The common Post-it note was also the result of a mistake in experimentation. Spencer Silver was a scientist working for the company 3M. He was meant to be creating a super-glue, but instead ended up creating a reusable adhesive substance. It was remarkable in that it was strong enough to hold pieces of paper together but still allow them to be pulled apart without ripping or tearing either piece. However, no-one at the company could think of a good use for it as a marketable product. For five years, the reusable adhesive went unused. Then Arthur Fry, a
product developer at the same company, had a problem with the bookmarks in his choir hymnbook continually falling out. Remembering the reusable adhesive, he realised that it could be used to coat pieces of paper which could then be attached to documents or other objects. Five years later, the Post-it notes appeared in the shops. They remain one of 3M’s best-selling products. Strikeable matches were another accidental innovation resulting in a common household item. They were invented in 1826 by British pharmacist, John Walker. After stirring chemicals with a wooden stick he realised that the stick had a hard lump of chemicals on the end of it. He tried to scrape off this solid substance and it suddenly ignited. Walker then made more of them and sold them at a local shop. It wasn’t the first time matches had been seen: a Chinese text dating to 950AD describes items similar to matches that used sulphur as a fuel, but these were definitely not strikeable. Self-igniting matches had also been invented just before John Walker’s discovery, but these were highly dangerous due to the chemicals used and they were not strikeable either. Over time the exact chemicals used for matches have changed, but the concept is still the same as the original. Teflon was another substance created entirely by accident. Roy J. Plunkett was a scientist tasked with making a new refrigerant to replace the hazardous options of sulphur dioxide and ammonia. He was meant to be making chlorofluorocarbons
Arthur Fry, co-inventor of the Post-it
to be advanced refrigerants. He intended to do this by mixing tetrafluoroethylene gas with hydrochloric acid. He didn’t want to carry out the experiment straight away, so he cooled and compressed the gas for storage in canisters. When he came back to use them another day, there was no gas, despite the canisters’ weight having remained constant, indicating that there wasn’t a leak. When he cut open the canisters he found a layer of solid slippery substance coating the inside of the canister. When experimented on, he found it to be highly resistant to any form of corrosion, to have very little friction and to be almost fully inert to other chemicals. It was produced by the company (DuPont) for which he was working, and was trademarked as Teflon near the end of the Second World War in 1945. It has had various uses over time, including in military artillery, cooking vessels and implements, and space suits and heatproof plating on spacecraft. The huge amount of Teflon used by Nasa on everything from space shuttles to spacesuits led to the urban myth that Nasa actually created
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the substance for that purpose. However, I would suggest that its actual discovery is much more impressive. Stainless steel also owes its creation to chance. For hundreds of years people had tried mixing iron and steel with other substances to prevent rust from forming on them. Some of these efforts were fairly successful, but never efficient enough to be done on the large scale necessary for industrial use - until an English metallurgist named Harry Brearly began experimenting on steel to make it more resistant to erosion. He was doing this in order to improve guns. To stabilise the flight of the bullet or shell, the barrels of most guns are rifled - they have spiral-shaped grooves along the inside of the barrel to make the bullet spin. This increases the accuracy and the accurate range of guns. However, when the ridges are worn down by use, the barrel is too wide for the bullet, meaning it can no longer be used. Brearly wanted to create a type of steel which would take longer to wear down, improving the usable life of the gun. All of the alloys he created failed, but he kept most of the old samples. After several months he realised that most of the pieces of steel had lost their shine and begun to rust, but that one had somehow stayed bright, showing no signs of rust. Investigation revealed that the small amount (approximately 10%) of chromium in the metal had reacted with oxygen in the air to form a thin layer, which prevented the steel from rusting. The layer was also quick to reform after being damaged. After testing it at a nearby steelworks, ‘chromium steel’ was proven to be stain resistant and was dubbed ‘stainless steel’. As you can see from these examples, Evgeny Morozov was right when he said that mistakes don’t always “play a trivial role”. Mistakes have been a key factor in the creation of many items or substances that are now commonplace, either in our homes or in society as a whole. Einstein states that mistakes are an integral part of trying “anything new”. I think that this is good, because without the mistakes that have occurred as a result of investigations into the new and the unknown, the world today would be totally different. So errors, U-turns, accidents and serendipity have led science to where it is today. Long may they do so.
T H E V O L K S WAG E N E M I S S I O N S S C A N DA L
"Nuclear power? No, thanks." ILLUSTRATION AND CAPTION BY
TO WALK thought 32
was inspired by a new milestone in biomedical engineering that was reached this summer, involving the development of bionic limbs. The first-ever bionic prosthetic leg controlled purely by subconscious thought was announced by the Icelandic biomedical company Ă–ssur, a feat never successfully achieved before now. People who suffer horrific accidents, permanent birth deformities or incurable diseases often believe that they will never walk normally again when their only option is amputation. However, it might soon be possible for many amputees to have access to new technology so advanced that they will be able to live a normal life again, to work in everyday jobs, to support families and to physically achieve what was previously thought unattainable in their condition. If you need further convincing that this scientific breakthrough is one of the most impressive and exciting developments in biomedical engineering of this decade,
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Florence Willcocks YE AR 12
just picture yourself in this role. You're a top-level Engineer and you're using the latest technology and design equipment to study the human leg - a system so old and basic, it has been used without fault since 6 million years ago, since men first stood on two feet. Your task: to build a replacement. Surely not an impossible one in the modern world of technology? They've managed it with prosthetic arms (and even hands) to an unbelievably advanced level... Asimo, the most advanced humanoid built by Honda, is able to run upstairs, play football and even dance to disco music. What is the huge difference between the robotic and the prosthetic? The problem is that upper limbs use more conscious control than the lower ones. We use arms and hands for actually doing things like picking up a cup or working a screwdriver, so we do a lot of the heavy work of coordination. By contrast, we use legs for getting around and our control is much less conscious.
TO WA L K W I T H O U T T H O U G H T
Essentially, the legs need to control themselves by means of reflexes triggered by the spinal cord rather than direct commands from the brain. For example, we can put on a pair of socks without being aware of what a complex series of movements we execute with the foot and ankle. The leg and foot just do what theyâ€™re supposed to do. But without this automatic adjustment by our neuromuscular system, clearing a doorstep without stumbling becomes a major accomplishment. So this is why upper limb bionics has always been one step ahead. The actual movements of the leg are no more complicated than those of our arms and hands, but it's recreating the way we tell our muscles to move them that was the huge breakthrough from the Icelandic engineering firm this summer. The control system works by means of Implanted MyoElectric Sensors (IMES), the size of matchsticks, implanted into specific remnant muscles in the limb stump. Meanwhile, a coiledwire receiver inside the prosthesis picks up the impulses and transmits them wirelessly to the robotic limb's inner computer. Together, the IMES and robotic limb act as a sort cybernetic spinal cord. Instead of the wearer consciously controlling the limb's movements, the wearer sends an unconscious command to the prosthesis, which controls the movement. On a side note, if this subject matter interests you (even if
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TO WA L K W I T H O U T T H O U G H T
it doesn't, it will do the more you know about it!) I encourage you to have a look online at what engineers have achieved with creating bionic hands. Our hands have 29 separate bones and joints requiring 34 different muscles to move them, and at least 123 named ligaments. This is unlucky for those hoping to study medicine! - but even more unlucky for those who have had accidents, birth deformities or diseases which have negated the use of one of the most important parts of our body. With modern technology, there are hand prosthetics which can not only be controlled by the brain, but even send impulses back to it, allowing the patient to feel and touch again. This ingenuity amazes me. I'm allowing myself to get sidetracked here, but there is one last vital point that I really want to express... As I've researched this topic, there has been one thing that has really bugged me about this brilliant development in science. It is the thought of whom it is being developed for, who will benefit from generations of research and design, who will wear the world's most impressive, most expensive, most ingenious pair of legs. I'd like to say that it will be those who have earned the right to walk again. Everyone can agree that those who have suffered trauma to their lower limbs due to accidental, lifechanging incidents should have that right to live normally again. Nerve-damaging cancers create disruption to a patient's life on a whole new level when a limb must be entirely removed as part of the already gruelling treatment. How about those who have been born with leg-deformities? Those who have never even had the chance to walk at all? Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of lower limb amputees have had to have the procedure due to diseases such as Diabetes Mellitus and Atherosclerosis. These two diseases alone combine to cause almost 90% of all leg amputations in the UK, and they develop in the body primarily as a result of excessive drinking and smoking. 135 amputations each week
due to diabetes are currently carried out in England alone! When the Red Cross reports that worldwide 800 people die every month from damage to limbs caused by uncleared explosives (10% of these being children), it becomes clear that in such countries the amputations themselves are not even safe and this much-needed bionic technology is a long, long way away. When the average age for lower limb amputation in England is over 70 and 1.2 billion people worldwide live on just 82 pence a day, you don't have to be a scientist to guess where the majority of these ingenious and expensive bionic legs will end up when they become more widely available in the future. This is turning from science to ethics now, and the latter is certainly far out of my usual comfort zone when it comes to discussion, so I'll end on this: This ever-developing area of research and design never ceases to fascinate and impress me. Engineering has grown to the point where people who have lost the ability to use a vital part of their body can now drive, run, cycle, cook, clean, work, live like any able-bodied person, and that is an incredible achievement. There are nerves all over the human body and when a person's arm or leg is severed or paralysed, thousands of connections are permanently broken. The human race, in the space of just a few generations, has built devices that can connect to a human brain and function almost as efficiently as a limb made of flesh and muscle and blood. And it's not over yet. What will be next?
FRAGILE MORTALITY our
Michaela Clancy YE AR 12
A SMALL FACT: YOU ARE GOING TO DIE… DOES THIS WORRY YOU?’ THE BOOK THIEF
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O U R F R A G I L E M O RTA L I T Y
ne of my favourite books is The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. It tells the story of a young girl, Liesel, who lives with a foster family and with a Jewish man in hiding. The most prominent feature of the book is that it is narrated by Death, which is an unusual perspective for the reader; the narrative presents a poignant message about the fragility of our lives. It made me realise that humans are unconsciously trying to avoid the inevitable, by using anti-ageing creams, makeup and trying trends that supposedly make us feel and look younger. Why do we have this desire to remain young? And why are an increasing number of people in their 20s and 30s using products like anti-ageing creams? There are many different perceptions of what ageing or growing old is. Some people say it doesn’t matter what you look like as long as you feel good inside. However, an increasing number of people only care about their appearance, listing age spots, dry skin and wrinkles as only a handful of the signs of ageing. The anti-ageing market is predicted to be worth $191.7 billion by 2019, which is an exorbitant amount when you consider that people are spending all that money in a quest to remain youthful. These figures aren’t the most shocking fact about the public’s obsession with remaining young. There is an increase in people who suffer phobias, such as geroscophobia (a fear of growing old) and rhytiphobia (a fear of getting wrinkles). Although they may sound amusing, they really are debilitating problems, with one anonymous man saying ‘I don’t go outside because I’m scared that UV rays will cause wrinkles.’ The point is, we cannot escape the inevitable fact that one day all of us will grow old and, as a consequence, we will all show signs of ageing. It not just ourselves who are feeling the ever-increasing pressure to appear younger. The media also has to make alterations in order to appeal to a larger niche market. It has been frequently reported in the newspapers that airbrushing is been used to make models appear ‘flawless’ and very often only younger or ‘wrinkle-free’ models are being used. Even in adverts aimed towards older people, these rules are been applied using much younger models to present a product aimed towards a 60+ audience. Is the advert trying to flatter older people into thinking that the product will make them appear younger? If so, it would only confirm my point that people are trying to make themselves younger in both mind and body. Possibly one of the most disturbing discoveries that I made was that women in their 20s and 30s are now using anti-wrinkle creams, with the incentive that the earlier you use them, the less chance of developing wrinkles you will have. It concerned me that people only a few years older than me are worrying about their appearance in the far future, when they should be enjoying the prime years of their lives. I would agree that there is an increasing pressure to look good in the society that we have built, but the thought that a wrinkle is a terrifying prospect for some people scares me.
There is also an increase in anti-ageing care products for men, who are beginning to worry more about their appearance. I still find it an odd prospect that men are dyeing their hair to disguise a bit of grey and, even stranger still, contouring their abs with makeup to make them seem more impressive! The conventional view was that men were seen not to care about their appearance, which I also don’t think was ever entirely true; however, now men are completely breaking that mould with skin-care regimes that even challenge women’s traditionally ‘unnecessary’ use of time caring for looks. I believe that this new obsession for men to look younger or more appealing to the female eye is born out of our society’s need for immortal youth and belief that only youthfulness is attractive. One of the most noticeable new trends in advertising involves ‘miracle’ foods that can apparently make you drop pounds in days or make wrinkles disappear. There are some, like the green vegetable smoothies, which scientific evidence suggests do increase nutrient absorption by breaking down the cell walls; however, others include consuming foreign substances that don’t even look like food. I’m keen to try things that will improve my health, but what happened to eating your five-a-day and taking a little exercise? The global market has seen a boom in the sales of so called ‘diet’ foods, including goji berries (I think they taste horrendous) which I hadn’t even heard of until a few years ago. This shows that not only are we trying to improve our appearance from the outside but also from the inside. However, I’m not entirely convinced about the healthiness of only drinking pureed foods to increase digestion. Another extreme way of pursuing a youthful appearance is plastic surgery, which is usually permanent and always costly. People pay thousands to alter their bodies - and for what? To achieve the so-called ‘perfect’ body? If so, you’re on an eternal road to disappointment, as the ‘ideal’ body changes constantly. One of the most common kinds of alterations involves botox, which is supposed to smooth out your wrinkles and seems to work. However, if I went to my Grandma’s house and saw her without wrinkles I would think I was in the wrong house. I’m not saying that to be unpleasant, I just find aging a comforting and accepting aspect of our species. The point that I am trying to make is that we can never escape the inevitable, and if trying to stay youthful is what makes you happy I’m not criticising that. What I’m protesting is the fact that it has become part of our culture to pursue the impossible and to disguise the inevitable. Our society has become too obsessed with appearance, from ‘she’s too fat’ or ‘too skinny’ to ‘I have a wrinkle’ panic when you’re in your fifties (it’s natural). For me, The Book Thief points out that death is around the corner for all of us and, although it is often viewed as a taboo subject, I see it as another part of our existence. I have observed that, as a species, we are in denial that we are only a beating heart and that at any moment it can stop. People try to conceal this fact by confusing looking healthy with being healthy, when, in reality, we are all aboard a train heading to one destination: Death.
MONSTER HOW RELIGION CREATED A
Charlotte Randall YE AR 13
n the modern world, we fear diseases such as Ebola, MRSA is the law of leprosy.” and, “he shall be defiled; he is unclean: and Avian Flu to name but a few. However, it is unlikely he shall dwell alone; without the camp shall his habitation be.” that these diseases will ever be so feared as Hansen’s (Leviticus 14:44-46) This suggests that the disease was caused Disease, also known as leprosy. From around 600 B.C., the by Man’s own fault and sin and should be removed from disease has been exaggerated in literature and generated society to protect their own God-fearing lives, suggesting that terror across the world. Its effects on the body are universally the disease is morally as well as physically contagious. This was recognisable, including leonine (lion-like) effects on the face, described by the theologian Jerome Neyrey: “Sin is understood where skin is loosened and sores and scales both as a pollution threatening the pure group develop. Reactions to the disease in the past and a violation of specific rules.” Indeed, many have included the creation of colonies, genocide Jewish interpretations of the text within the HE SHALL BE and torture. Yet it is not the most aesthetically Torah have made this link including Rabbi DEFILED, HE IS displeasing or the most contagious disease. So Samson Raphael Hirsh, who pointed out that, UNCLEAN why is it so feared and hated? due to the description of priests treating the LEVITICUS The answer lies within the influence of disease rather than doctors, the disease wasn’t religious texts, such as the Bible, Torah and a medical but rather a spiritual ailment. The Qur’an, which link the disease to immorality desire to remove people with leprosy from and punishments from God. While today most of these theories society has been adopted at many points throughout history are ignored, the legacy of their influence, especially in the Middle such as the “Lazzer houses” across Europe in the Middle Ages Ages, resulted in the persecution of those who contracted the and the colonies and care centres that last to this day, such disease for centuries, turning them into social outcasts hated by as the Molokai colony in Hawaii and the Miyako Nanseien all. Christianity and the Bible, particularly the writings of the Sanatorium in Japan. This attitude to leprosy also created the Old Testament, stigmatised the disease, particularly through fear. idea of unclean living and immorality as causes of the disease; This aided in the development of a tradition of not just treating indeed, a common assumption in the past was that leprosy was leprosy as a disease caused by sin but also one of casting out linked to syphilis (Edmond, 2006). This was derived from the victims of the disease from society. Much of the teaching within Talmud, especially Arakhin 16a, which lists the seven reasons the Bible about leprosy can be found in the Book of Leviticus, why someone could be infected with leprosy. These included chapter 14 of which suggests that the disease is transmitted due gossip, murder, perjury, forbidden sexual relations, arrogance, to a life of sin and ‘the sinful man’ should be punished for this theft and envy. The Hindu faith also links leprosy with misdeeds crime: “To teach when it is unclean, and when it is clean; this committed in a previous life.
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H O W R E L I G I O N C R E AT E D A M O N ST E R
However, other religious texts take different approaches to leprosy. It can be argued that some religious texts, in particular the Bible, offer an attitude of pity to people with leprosy. This is described in Mathew 8:1-3: “When Jesus came down from the mountainside, large crowds followed him. A man with leprosy[a] came and knelt before him and said, “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” Immediately he was cleansed of his leprosy.” A similar account was described in the Qur’an, “I also heal the blind and the leper." (Quran 3:49) While this suggests that kindness should be displayed to those with leprosy, it still indicates that there is something wrong with the sufferers, which is ultimately down to the sufferer himself or herself; the description that Jesus could remove their leprosy suggests again that the disease is spiritual rather than medical. This attitude to leprosy encouraged some to aid those with leprosy, with examples being missionaries aiding and running the Molokai colony in Hawaii and the Marie Adeline Leprosy Centre run by Roman Catholics in Pakistan. However, this did not always equate to justice and equality for the people with leprosy. In the case of the missionaries in Molokai, some treated the ones with leprosy in a manner that was patronizing, treating them as savages and continuing to insist upon segregation between those with leprosy and their healthy families. This aided in the continuation of the idea that people with leprosy were social outcasts and not really part of a community outside the one of people with leprosy. However, it is possible to argue that religion had little place in the stigmatization of leprosy and in fact it was based on social prejudices and the need for a social hierarchy. A key example
of this is the Molokai colony in Hawaii, which was set up through the heavy influence of colonial Western powers in the late nineteenth century, including the USA and Britain. They argued that, from a Western perspective, it could be perceived that it is rational to fear leprosy due to the disfigurement and the fear of contagiousness. However, native Hawaiians had a different response to the disease in accordance with the cultural tradition of Ohana, which stated that the community would look after anyone sick. This led to the idea at the time that, because Hawaiians didn’t fear the disease, they were inferior to Westerners. This was significant, as America wanted to eventually introduce Hawaii as a state and thus wanted to minimise the power of the Hawaiian people. By showing that Hawaiians did not fear the disease and by stigmatizing the ever-growing number of native Hawaiians contracting leprosy, the USA began to create “justification” for the argument that Hawaiian people were incapable of ruling themselves. In Nepal, leprosy generates social stigma for a whole family and, if a relative is diagnosed with leprosy, there is no possibility of marriage prospects for any member. Also, as a result of the symptoms, which can lead to physical paralysis, many people with leprosy are not able to work and are considered to be burdens. There is also an element of the age-old concept of the fear and opposition to someone appearing largely physically different to someone else that adds to social stigmatization of leprosy. This has been emphasised within literature, for example the short story, ‘Ko’olau the Leper’ written by Jack London, who visited the Molokai colony. The story grossly exaggerates the symptoms of the disease and describes the victims as “monsters” and “a mass of human wreckage.” This further dehumanises the people with leprosy, making them a symbol of disgust. The story also describes animatedly sexual encounters amongst the diseased, which interplays with religious inference of immorality amongst those with leprosy, again suggesting that they are inferior to those who are morally righteous. While many attitudes about the appearance of leprosy derive from social stigma, most of this stigma can be derived from religion. While many now believe that the leprosy written about in religious texts is not in fact the leprosy we describe today, the descriptions of the disease and the tone of the narratives influenced many to treat those with the disease as inhuman throughout history; as a result, still to this day there is stigma about the disease. This shows the divine power of the written word, which, although it may not be based on truth, has the power to influence and even destroy countless lives.
Above: Leper with a bell, 14th century manuscript
C H A L L E N G I N G RE LIG IOU S ATTITU DE S TO S EXUALITY Hermione Barrick YE AR 12
BEAUTIFUL EYES, LOOK FOR THE GOOD IN OTHERS; FOR BEAUTIFUL LIPS, SPEAK ONLY WORDS OF KINDNESS; AND FOR POISE, WALK WITH THE KNOWLEDGE THAT YOU ARE NEVER ALONE. AUDREY HEPBURN
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R E L I G I O U S AT T I T U D E S
he unfortunate situation of the ongoing battle for the acceptance of homosexuality within the world in which we live today results, in my belief, from the dictates of religion. These have helped, over the centuries, to create the belief of the majority of people that sexual orientation, and therefore all relationships should be heterosexual; unfortunately many people still live with the intention of upholding the ideals of yesterday’s world – whether or not with religion as their justification. Studies have shown that, in the majority of what are deemed to be secular countries, there is a relationship between someone’s age and their views on homosexuality, with younger respondents consistently more likely than older ones to say homosexuality should be accepted by society. In Japan, 83% of people younger than 30 say that homosexuality should be accepted; this compares with 71% of 30-49 year-olds and just 39% of those who are 50 and older. However, there are solid majorities across age groups in Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and the Czech Republic who express positive views of homosexuality. In the United States, 70% of those aged 18-29 and 64% of those ages 30-49 are accepting of homosexuality, compared with 52% of Americans aged 50 and older. In Russia, those younger than 30 are more tolerant of homosexuality than those aged 50 and older. These statistics show that the younger generation are already becoming more accepting in many countries. However, this acceptance is not as high in all countries. In Bolivia, a country dominated by the Roman Catholic Church, just 53% of 18-29 year-olds and 43% of 30-49 year-olds say homosexuality should be accepted, while just 27% of those in the older group share this view. In many predominantly Muslim countries, surveys show that solid majorities across age groups share the view that homosexuality should be rejected by society. In my opinion, the next step in the journey for acceptance of
homosexuality is to fight for a change in the view of sexuality taught by religions throughout the world; religious teachings have always been, and continue to be, one of the greatest instigators of homophobia. The two most widespread and influential religions in the world right now are Christianity and Islam. In the Bible, it is specifically mentioned that sexual intercourse between members of the same sex is among the acts forbidden. Within Islamic, law based on Qur'anic verses, homosexual acts are a sin and a punishable crime; today, in most of the Islamic world and in a number of Christian countries, homosexuality is not socially or legally accepted. In some of these countries (Afghanistan, Iran, Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen), homosexual activity carries the death penalty. Statistics show that by 2070 Islam could be the most widespread religion in the world; it therefore seems that this issue will only become more urgent. Being part of a religion that states that something is sinful or against the law doesn't mean that you have to uphold that law or teaching. I myself am a Christian. I was raised Protestant and have chosen to remain an active part of my church and faith; however, just because the Holy Book of my religion (the Bible) includes individual verses that state that homosexual acts are sinful does not mean that I have to propagate homophobia or choose to be homophobic myself. Unless we bring about change and allow people to understand that they can choose not to instigate homophobia just because homosexuality has traditionally been considered a sin within their faith, unless people open their hearts to all who have a right to express themselves freely, unless people break free from traditions of the past and create omnibenevolent traditions for the future, tomorrow's world will just be a repeat of yesterday's, in which those who have a right to express their love and sexuality just as much as those of heterosexual orientation have to hide their true emotion and live in fear of persecution.
From blasphemy to game ratings:
OF CENSORSHIP Sian Latham YE AR 13
ensorship is, has been and will be a factor in the Jump forward 1,679 years. On 8th November, 1979, Monty lives of a civilised community. That is not to say Python released their new film: The Life of Brian, a comedic that censorship will always take the same form. interpretation on who the Messiah was and what he actually did Today we see it in age ratings, language use and to earn centuries of human worship. The result brings satirical protection of governmental secrets. During the humour to the screen and tears of humour to the eyes. This development of fascism and communism we saw film was quickly deemed blasphemous , widely it in the form of propaganda and purges. Yet, censored and was, as a result, hard to find in one form or another, censorship has existed and thus difficult to see for the wider public. HE’S NOT for centuries. The question is not concerning its In particular, The Life of Brian was condemned THE MESSIAH! existence, but rather what level of censorship as ‘blasphemous libel’. The concept of HE’S A VERY can be deemed reasonable. blasphemous libel had long been a factor in NAUGHTY BOY! In 443 B.C.E., censorship was a governmental English censorship. It concerned anything that THE LIFE OF BRIAN duty. The office of censor in the Roman Empire was deemed to expose the “Christian religion was designed to shape the character of citizens. to scurrility, vilification, ridicule and contempt, In 300 C.E., China introduces its own censorship law, the first and the material [also had] the tendency to shock and outrage in order to determine and guide the population’s sense of moral the feelings of Christians.” This was a criminal act; however, and value. Both of these approaches were developed on the by the 1970s, rarely was any such material actively prosecuted. basis of bettering and furthering the moral values of the people This law was only abolished in England and Wales on 8th of (as understood in early Rome and China, that is – whether or July, 2008 – as a result of a continuous campaign asking: why not they reflect our own idea of what constitutes moral values is should one person's religion limit another’s freedom of speech? a separate question). The existence of the “blasphemous libel”, and the conflict
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THE EVOLUTION OF CENSORSHIP
with rights that resulted in its being overturned, highlight the modern-day issue of censorship. Contemporary citizens have a much stronger voice than our predecessors did. We, as a people, have the power to question the government, to make demands upon it. With a global community, particularly in the secularised West, where there is no longer a consensus regarding religious belief and even cultural values, there can be no black and white lines to be drawn. Speaking personally, I was shocked that the abolition of a censorship based upon Christianity only took place seven years ago. For those of strong Christian faith, this abolition itself might seem inconceivable. Yet, if we have a law against the mockery of Christianity, in a nation as tolerant and diverse as the UK, surely it raises a question of how can we condemn the satirising of one religion by another? Then again, some may ask: how can we justify censorship at all? In terms of the blasphemous libel, it does seem an archaic and narrow way of approaching the world, yet other forms of censorship are deemed to be too lax. Electronic game ratings, for example, are often queried and questioned. Multiple times in recent years I have read articles concerning young children playing war games, age ratings completely ignored by parents (or parents completely unaware that the game had been purchased).
How can this one form of censorship be deemed necessary, and even too weak, and another be deemed ‘backwards’ and prejudiced? The answer, it would seem, on the basis of both evidence and justification, relates to time. During the era of the Roman Empire, the government was expected by the people to guide them through their lives. Religion used to be the guideline for people’s everyday lives; to question it was blasphemous, to question God was to sin. Time is crucial because it is what allows the society in which censorship exists, to shift and change. Film ratings weren’t a topic for debate in the 1400s because the media didn’t exist. Protestant belief over Catholic dogma was not conceived until Martin Luther took issue with the greed of the Church. Time has allowed our perspectives, situations and understandings to change. In its early stages, governmental censorship was not a debatable issue. Today, we see governments argue over what is necessary and what is too restrictive, even before the public cries out in favour or opposition. The answer, in modern day society, is never simple. The only thing that is definite is that censorship is always changing.
Do we have the right to not be
OFFENDED? Alex McKirgan YE AR 13
Sometimes one comes across a contemporary social or political sexual activity, gender identity, trans status, socio- economic status, or issue that illuminates the problems of a society trying to find culture, or any other form of distinction. a path through competing rights and values. I came across an 3. The Students’ Union believe strongly in the right to free issue recently that took me on a fascinating trip through this speech however acknowledge that this should not be to the detriment landscape. of the rights of other individuals and groups. Freedom of speech is On many university campuses today, the big hot topic is important, yet intention to incite hatred is never acceptable. the battle between advocates of free speech and those trying This reads like the right to free speech on campus is secondary to create 'safe spaces' free from discrimination and hostile to the right of other students not to be offended or upset and, speech. I actually first came across this issue close to home. as a progressive and a committed atheist, I had a problem with Before PGS hosted a hustings meeting for the candidates in this. Shouldn't universities, of all places, be somewhere you can the Portsmouth South constituency for the 2015 General be exposed to all sorts of competing views? Even if they are Election, I searched on YouTube and found a video of a similar offensive? event at Portsmouth University. Before the meeting started, Next, I was watching one of my favourite TV shows Real the President of the Student Union stood up and reminded Time with Bill Maher, and he was talking about how he had everyone that Portsmouth University has a 'Safe Space' policy, been dis-invited from giving the Commencement Address at so no hostile or discriminating speech would be allowed during the UC Berkeley Graduation Ceremony. This was just after the meeting. The expression of puzzlement on the face of the his infamous argument with Ben Affleck on attitudes to Islam UKIP candidate was priceless but this was the first time I'd and the justification for withdrawing his invitation was that his come across this kind of policy. I searched the Internet and robust views on Islamism might cause offence and create hatred found the policy published by the University of towards Muslims on campus. Bill thought this Manchester which is typical (my emphasis): this was ironic given the history of the Berkeley POLICY STATEMENT Free Speech movement in the 1960s. WE NEED MORE 1. The University of Manchester Students’ As a progressive and a committed atheist, I PEOPLE SPEAKING Union believes in liberation for all and everything OUT. THIS COUNTRY was instinctively on the side of Bill Maher and that we do has equality and liberation at its heart. By the free speech advocates. Surely free speech IS NOT OVERRUN enabling all of students to participate in the work only has meaning if it robustly challenges WITH REBELS AND that we do, we are helping to progress towards a conventional thinking. I rejected the idea that FREE THINKERS. IT'S fairer and more equal society. young minds should be coddled and wrapped OVERRUN WITH Students are expected to respect the right of in cotton wool. SHEEP AND all members and staff to enjoy the Students’ Union as a I was feeling pretty settled in my opinions CONFORMISTS safe space environment, defined as a space which is when another story caught my eye. I read BILL MAHER welcoming and safe and includes the prohibition of a story in The Atlantic about an issue at Yale discriminatory language and actions. University. Before Halloween, the university 2. The Students’ Union is committed to sent out an email reminding students that some providing an inclusive and supportive space for all students. This traditional Halloween costumes could cause offence to other policy is applicable to the whole student community, whether students (Pocahontas, black-face, Mariachi etc). In response, a an individual or a member within a group, including but not lecturer with a background in child psychology sent an email limited to: Students’ Union societies, volunteering projects to students suggesting that an important part of growing up is and assemblies and public social media. The Students’ Union occasionally breaking boundaries and taboos, arguing that the believes all students should be free from intimidation or harassment, and university email was petty and restrictive. Cue outrage, protest from prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of age, disability, marital and an attempt to get the lecturer fired. This came a week after or maternity/paternity status, race, religious beliefs, sexual orientation or the President of the University of Missouri had been forced
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T H E R I G H T TO N OT B E O F F E N D E D ?
to resign over not being sympathetic enough to the concerns of minority students. To contain the protest, Yale announced: - a doubling of the budgets for the African-American, Native-American, Hispanic-American and AsianAmerican cultural centres on campus. - an expansion of the financial aid program for low-income applicants. The creation of a multidisciplinary centre studying the issue of race, gender and social identity. What appeared like an overreaction seemed to confirm my earlier view. Weren't the students who were protesting being a bit immature when they suggested that the email from the lecturer had caused them so much distress, they were unable to attend class? Just when this all seemed to fit my idea of Regressive Liberals pushing Political Correctness too far, I listened to the weekly Political Gabfest podcast from Slate. On the podcast I heard Jamelle Bouie, an AfricanAmerican journalist who attended a university not unlike Yale. He explained what it is like being a minority student in a white, privileged environment. He also pointed out that some AfricanAmerican students at Yale are living in a house named after John Calhoun, the intellectual brain behind the Confederacy and an advocate of slavery. Listening to Jamelle, I stated to understand what it might feel like to be a minority in an environment that appears not to accept or welcome you. There may be many things that either make you feel uncomfortable or reinforce the feeling of being 'other' or different, like you don't belong. Finally, I was struck by his closing comment: 'It's not really on for white, privileged males to tell minorities or women what they should and shouldn't be upset or offended by'. This helped me to see that, while some efforts to impose Political Correctness seem to go too far, the motivation is noble. We should be aspiring to create a society where some groups of people don't feel discriminated against or marginalised. The desire to create an environment in
universities, which were historically white and male-dominated, that is more welcoming to people that don't fit that description is a good one. Back to Real Time with Bill Maher. After the events at Yale, they revisited the topic about whether some Halloween costumes were offensive or inappropriate. Surprisingly, the wisest words were said by former talk show host Jay Leno. He explained that societies don't progress in a straight line. The pendulum usually swings too far, then comes back the other way. Over time, we make progress. He talked about the 1970s when sexist attitudes towards women in the workplace were commonplace. Wolf-whistling and inappropriate comments about women's bodies were a daily occurrence. That kind of behaviour is now viewed as totally unacceptable and, while not completely absent, is becoming less of a problem. We have made progress. So when there is a petition to get Germaine Greer dis-invited from giving a talk at Cardiff University because she said that she doesn't think that men who have sex re-assignment surgery are really 'women', let's bear a couple of things in mind. Firstly, the fact that the issue-de-jour is now transgender rights shows that we have made progress combatting gender, race and sexual orientation discrimination on campuses. Secondly, let's not dismiss those still striving to make our public spaces more welcoming to those who feel marginalised; they are trying to do a good thing. Finally, let's not confuse these noble aims with limitations on people's ability to express unpopular views, particularly when it comes to religion. At heart, I'm still a robust defender of free speech but I now have a more complete picture of the issue. Both sides of the argument have good intentions. As long as both sides try and recognise that, I'm sure we, as a society, can continue to make progress.
the dream of the
ROOD Tom McCarthy
KRIST WAES ON RODI
( RUTHWELL CROSS, CIRCA 650 AD)
CRIST WAES ON RODE (THE DREAM OF THE ROOD’, CIRCA 950 AD)
The Ruthwell Cross
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T H E D R E A M O F T H E RO O D
he Ruthwell Cross, one of the most glorious relics of Anglo-Saxon culture, exhibits an extensive programme of sculpture, the longest extant series of Anglo-Latin inscriptions, the longest Old English runic inscription, and the most beautiful poem in the Old Northumbrian dialect.” (The Ruthwell Cross, page 71). This cross, nearly eighteen feet high, was carved and inscribed in about 650 AD and placed in the church at Ruthwell, some miles from Dumfries. The north and south panels contain scenes from the New Testament, from the Nativity to the Crucifixion; the side panels are carved with the Tree of Life and around the carvings there is a poem describing the death of Christ, a mere fifteen lines in all, in the Northumbrian dialect of Old English but in runic form. ‘The Dream of the Rood' (circa 950 AD) is 156 lines long. At its centre it contains those fifteen lines from The Ruthwell Cross, the runes translated into Old English, the language of Beowulf and of The Anglo Saxon Chronicle. The subsequent history of the cross and of the poem is a fascinating one, each in different ways missing or unknown for a thousand years. The cross stood in Ruthwell church, known only to the village people until nearly a millennium later in 1642 when the Church of Scotland issued an edict “anent the report of idolatrous monuments in the Kirk of Ruthwell, the Assemblie finds that the monument therein mentioned is idolatrous” and ordered it to be broken up. The Minister of the church, the Rev. Gavin Young, seemed reluctant at first, but had to obey his superiors. Pieces of the cross were used as paving in the nave of the church or as seating. Other pieces were buried in the churchyard. In 1802, the then-Minister, Dr. Henry Duncan, found the pieces in the churchyard and assembled them. Later ministers found the other fragments and in 1887 the Ruthwell Cross was re-assembled and placed in the apse of the church for which it was lovingly carved 1,200 years earlier. The language of the runic poem on the cross remained a mystery until 1840. In that year John Mitchell Kemble, an early editor of Beowulf , cracked the code and published a translation of the lines that describe the death of Christ. A few years later Kemble linked the runes to ‘The Dream of the Rood’ . The history of the full version of ‘The Dream of the Rood’
is even more surprising than that of the Ruthwell Cross. For over 900 years after it was written it was unknown in England. However in 1822 the full poem was found in the Library of the Cathedral in Vercelli, a small town in Piedmont in northern Italy. It was in a manuscript with some Old English sermons and a few poems. How it came to be there, a thousand miles or more from England, is a mystery. One credible theory is as follows: Vercelli is on the pilgrim route to Rome from England, from the great English cathedral cities of Durham, York and Canterbury; indeed, by the 12th century Vercelli had an “hospitalis Scottorum” for pilgrims on their way to Rome. So it is likely that the manuscript had been taken to Vercelli on the way to Rome by a devout Anglo-Saxon pilgrim as spiritual reading, as lectio divina, (it is not an illuminated medieval text, so desired at the time in Europe) and left there by mistake, perhaps. The entire manuscript is now known as The Vercelli Book. In 1836 in England the Record Commission asked Benjamin Thorpe to make a transcript of The Vercelli Book and parts of it were published in 1840. In 1844, John Kemble, who had already translated the runes on the Ruthwell Cross, got a copy of Thorpe’s work and immediately recognised the intimate link between the carved cross and the Vercelli poem. He noticed that lines 39-64 of the poem were similar to his translation of the runes from the cross. His work was published by the Aelfric Society in London in 1856. At long last the two texts (from the Ruthwell Cross and from The Vercelli Book) were connected. But how? Does the long poem of about 950 AD contain a quotation from the words on the Ruthwell Cross three hundred years earlier, a quotation that had been added to and incorporated into a poetic vision? Michael Swanton, the modern authority on the poem, and Emeritus Professor of English Medieval Studies at Exeter University, says: “The essential literary identity of the two texts cannot be questioned: the verbal parallel is too close to be accounted for simply by the use of common material. ... It may be that the original inscription on the cross, partly poetic in form, inspired the composition of the much fuller poem. Or the sculptor may have chosen and modified appropriate extracts from an already extant poetic text. This in turn may either have been in a form approximating to the Vercelli text as we have it, or an earlier version of it” (The Dream of the Rood, page 39).
The Dream of the Rood Listen! I’ll sing for you the sweetness of a dream I dreamed in the deepest night When the silent world was weary and at rest. I saw it seemed so rare a tree Lifting in air, all light around: The sacred cross. This radiant sign was Flooded with gold. Gems burned Bright at its foot; five such jewels Gleamed on the cross-beam. God’s angels, Ever fair, gazed there. No felon’s cross this--As humankind bowed, bright spirits sang: All God’s gloriously created world. This victory’s sign I saw, I sinWounded, saw the wondrous cross, Its banners streaming of cloth of gold, Gems shimmering on God’s holy tree. Yet I could see through all that gold Human woes of former times when On its right side it seemed to bleed. I was suffused with every sorrow, Afraid at this clear sight changing In garb and colour: now white with sweat; Now deeply red; now garnered gold. Yet lying there a long while, Musing in sorrow on the Saviour’s tree, It seemed to me to speak, This sacred rood began to speak. “O it was years ago, yet I remember I was hewn down, at the green holt’s edge Uprooted. They, they struck me there, Shouldering me up a steep incline. Fastening me there, they charged me To raise up evil-doers for passers-by To mock, to scoff at. Yet then I saw Our sweet Saviour, swift, undaunted, Hurry here with arms to hold me. With God’s strength I dared not break Or bend when I felt the earth to shake. I could have felled his every foe, Yet I was steadfast. I stood firm. I saw him, our calm champion, stripped For contest, he, who was God Almighty, Strong and stout of heart. High-spirited, He rose above them, those standing by, To set us free, to ransom humankind. I shook when our Saviour enfolded me, Though I dared not falter, dared not fall.
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Raised as a rood, I lifted up Our Lord Immortal, Heaven’s Lord. They drove through me with blackened nails Dints so deep, so clear to see, open Wounds of hate. Yet none of them, My tormentors, did I harm or hurt As they mocked us, my God and me. With his blood I was bedewed, Blood flowing from his side When he had given up his spirit. I suffered on that hill much wretchedness: I saw the Lord of Hosts stretched cruelly As darkness enclouded God’s holy body, The world’s light, and shadows moved Deeply below the clouds. Lamenting death, Creation wept. Christ was on the cross. Now two came hurrying to our high-born chief. I saw them as with sorrow struck I bowed And sank humbly to their hands. Sadly, down From that torment they took their Lord. I was left darkened with his blood, The nail-marks clear and manifest. They laid him down, weary-limbed there, Standing at his head in sadness gazing At the Son of God in death’s bleak silence, Lying lifeless after deep and bitter strife. Sadly, too, his kind friends began to cut A sepulchre from the whitest stone To lay therein the Lord of Victories. Then as darkness deepened those friends began To sing their sorrow and, grieving, left The Lord of Life. In death there now. Alone. Stark emblems of agony on a low Sky we kept our ground while Voices faded, while his friends departed, On the cold earth his bright body colder still. Then we were cut down, a cruel fate, Flung into the deepest pit, just as found. But listen, after due time, other friends And faithful followers found me and With gold and silver girded me. Now you know, most surely know, beloved, The baleful deeds I bore, the deepest pains. The time has come, Before all creation I’ll be revered from far away and wide As a blessed sign. On me the Son of God Suffered. Now I rise into the clear air And comfort all who deeply honour me.
T H E D R E A M O F T H E RO O D
In former times I was loathed, was feared, A thing abhorred, to all a bitter bane. Now to humankind I unclose the way to life. Once Heaven’s high glorious Lord exalted me Above every tree in the green wood, As he lifted up Mary, his dear Mother, Above all women, blessed among them all. Now I beg you, beloved, unfold this dream, In graceful words reveal the tree of glory On which the Lord Almighty atoned for sin And for Adam’s primal, deadly fall. Here he tasted death but he rose again With all his power to ransom humankind. He rose to Heaven. He will return In doomsday’s dawn to greet us all. The Lord of Power with his bright angels will Requite each deed done in this fleeting life. Nor may there be many among you unafraid At the word of the Lord. Before us all He will ask for those who for his sake Suffered as he did on this bitter cross. Then might you be full of fear and little think What answer give to Christ. Listen now: No one who wears the cross, this sacred sign Need fear. Through this emblem every soul Who seeks the Kingdom that is above The world’s ways shall reach a lasting home”. Alone, at once, when the vision faded And light of heart I bowed and prayed. Now I long to go, have lived through longing Times; to find the cross is my lasting hope And pay it homage before all humankind: My mind is fixed, my fealty to the cross. Good friends on earth I now have few, But they have gone from this world of woe And abide in bliss with our Father God. Each day I hope the cross I saw on earth Will free me from this fretful world, Take me where Heaven’s joy endures, Where God’s own people in lasting peace Sit at the banquet. There may he set me And in sweet glory dwell with all the saints.
He was our ransom for our heavenly rest; And hope rose high again with wild acclaim For those led forward through the harrowing fires. With saints surrounded God’s Son returned Victory-crowned to God’s own kingdom. Angels greeted him. Saints in glory All-hailed their Lord Immortal When he came back to his own hearth, his home.
Bibliography: The Ruthwell Cross, edited by Brendan Cassidy. Anglo-Saxon Poetry, R.K.Gordon. Old English Poems and Riddles, Chris McCullen. The Dream of the Rood, Michael Swanton.
May the Lord who suffered for all our sake On the gallows-tree be my soul’s true friend.
THE CREATION OF
MANY CHILDREN MAKE UP, OR BEGIN TO MAKE UP, IMAGINARY LANGUAGES. I HAVE BEEN AT IT SINCE I COULD WRITE J.R.R. TOLKIEN
Lottie Perry-Evans YE AR 13
have always been fascinated by language, by how it has developed over thousands of years and so, when I read The Lord of the Rings and discovered Tolkien’s own made-up language, I was intrigued how this incredible author went about creating it. Making up a language is no easy feat; Tolkien started creating his Elvin Tongue in c. 1910-1911 while he was at King Edward’s School, Birmingham. He later called this language Quenya (c. 1915) and continued perfecting it until his death in 1973. Tolkien was a professional philologist (someone who studies the history of language) of ancient Germanic languages, specialising in Old English. During his career he reconstructed a number of languages; one of his first projects was the reconstruction of an unrecorded early Germanic language which might have been spoken by the people in Beowulf during the Germanic heroic age. Whilst studying this ancient language, he discovered a particular love for the Finnish language. He described the finding of a Finnish grammar book as “entering a complete wine-cellar filled with bottles of an amazing wine of a kind and flavour never tasted before”. Shortly after the age of thirteen he developed a true invented language called Naffarin which contained elements that would survive into his later languages. Although Tolkien had an interest in the creation of multiple languages, his most developed project was that of his Elvish languages. Tolkien believed that in order for the creation of an artistic language to be convincing and pleasing, it must not only include the language’s historical development, but also the history of its speakers, and especially the mythology associated with the language and the speakers. Thus, the mythology which Tolkien
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developed and the language he invented were always tightly connected with one another, as he found that a language could not be complete without the history of the people who spoke it. While the Elvish languages remained at the centre of Tolkien’s attention, the narratives associated with Middle-Earth also necessitated the development of the languages of other races, especially Dwarves and Men, but also the Black Speech of Mordor as designed by Sauron, the main antagonist in The Lord of the Rings. The script in which Tolkien’s Elvish is written is known as Tengwar. Within the fictional context of Tolkien’s legendarium, Tengwar was invented by the Elf Fëanor, and used first to write the angelic tongue Valarin and the Elven tongues Quenya and Telerin. The Tengwar script can be seen written on the One Ring in the Peter Jackson movie adaptation of the books. The inscription says: “One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them.” The Tengwar variation of this text is in the Black Speech of Mordor which, when spoken, shows a harsh contrast to that of the Elven tongue of Quenya, even though both are written in the same script. Tolkien’s creation of the Elvish language for The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion has presented itself as a topic of interest for historians and philologists for many years. Since Peter Jackson created the movie adaptations of the books, the language has had an increasing influence over pop culture. Tolkien is not only an incredible author but also an inventor of language and will continue to be a source of inspiration for me and no doubt many other language fanatics for years to come.
KIPLING IN SOUTHSEA
SOUTHSEA Mr James Priory HE ADMASTER
I SHOULD LIKE TO BURN IT DOWN AND PLOUGH THE PLACE WITH SALT RUDYARD KIPLING
hink of Portsmouth and literary childhoods and it is hard not to think first of Dickens, creator of Oliver Twist and David Copperfield, born in 1 Mile End Terrace on 7 February 1812. Less well known but no less significant is the story of Rudyard Kipling, creator of Mowgli and Kim, who spent a large part of his childhood living in Southsea from 1871 to 1877. These six years would haunt Kipling for the rest of his life and draw him back in later years to revisit the house in which he had suffered: the house still known today, as if Dickens himself had named it, as Lorne Lodge. But as we approach the 150th anniversary of Kipling’s birth in Bombay on 30 December 1865, it is also fascinating to reflect on whether it was Kipling’s Southsea childhood which made him the great writer he was to become. Kipling’s parents had travelled to India shortly after their marriage in March 1865 to enable his father, the scholar and artist John Lockwood Kipling, to take up a new post as
Professor of Architectural Sculpture at Bombay’s College of Art. Within a few weeks of their honeymoon near Lake Rudyard in Staffordshire, Alice realised that she was expecting her first child. Newly established in the exotic world of Bombay, their first child’s name would be a reminder to his parents of the romantic associations of England. We know from Kipling’s later autobiographical writing that his first childhood in India - as Professor Norman Page once styled it in a lecture delivered as part of the inaugural Portsmouth Festivities in 2000 - was an idyllic time: “My first impression is of daybreak, light and colour, and golden and purple fruits at the level of my shoulder. This would be the memory of early morning walks to the Bombay fruit market with my ayah…” A photograph of the two year old Kipling on a pony depicts him as an imperial figure, closely attended by servants, who would have included a Roman Catholic ayah or nurse from Portugese Goa and a Meeta or Hindu bearer. But young
Rudyard Kipling in India
Ruddy was also encouraged to enjoy a free and uninhibited life in the markets, gardens and streets of Bombay. He had to be reminded to use English when addressing “Papa and Mamma” in the dining room, such was his absorption into the linguistic and imaginative worlds criss-crossing nineteenth century India. It was a rich and stimulating time for Kipling and his younger sister, Alice, otherwise known as Trix. The idyll was not to last forever. In April 1871, the family returned to England ostensibly to visit family. Kipling’s mother was related to the Pre-Raphaelite artist Edward Burne-Jones, who lived in The Grange, a fine London villa with a garden containing a grotto decorated with shells and fossils, a mulberry tree and briar roses. Kipling had visited before and would later call it his ‘paradise’ compared with other places in England, though even here he must have missed the open verandas, exotic birds and heat of Bombay. John and Alice Kipling had lost a third child shortly after he was born in 1870, when Kipling was just four. No doubt they were anxious that their two surviving children should prosper in a safe climate. It was also established practice for Anglo-Indian families to educate their children in England. Nothing, however, was said about their intentions to the children until October when the time came for their parents to depart for India. They had found a family called Holloway in Southsea, with whom three-year-old Trix and five-year-old Rudyard would board. Captain Holloway, a retired officer from the merchant navy, lived with his wife Sarah and their son in Lorne Lodge, at 4 Campbell Road. For Kipling, this was to be a house of torment and horror. It would be five years until the children saw their parents again. Captain Holloway, known to the children as Uncle Harry, appears to have been a genial man. His wife, referred to as Auntie Rosa, was a severe woman who had little patience for the wilfulness of the young sahib. After Uncle Harry’s death in 1874, the situation seems to have worsened. Rudyard- noted by members of his wider family as a child prone to tantrums- was harshly treated by Auntie Rosa. Reflecting on their experience many years later, Trix recalled “Aunty’s bad temper and unkindness to my brother”, but she also recognised the sense of desertion by their parents: “We had no preparation or explanation; it was like a double death, or rather like an avalanche that had swept away everything happy and familiar.” Whilst Trix enjoyed more caring attention from Auntie Rosa, Kipling became anxious and fearful. Banished to bed and struggling to read without light, he developed acute short-
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sightedness. The freedom of Bombay had been replaced by a prison-like existence in Southsea. Kipling was eventually released from his torment, but only in the spring of 1877, his sister continuing to live with the Holloway family in the town where she would continue to be educated. The emotional scars for Kipling, however, would last a lifetime, such that he revisited Southsea in 1920, by now a successful and famous man, to confront his memories of Lorne Lodge. And he would explore the psychological wounds of his experience multiple times in his fiction, most notably in short stories such as 'Baa Baa Black Sheep' and his autobiographical fragment, 'Something of Myself', but also in some of his most famous works, The Jungle Books and Kim. Kipling’s creation of Mowgli, the Indian boy reared by wolves in the jungle, owes much to the ambiguous childhood of its author. Mowgli is rejected by the villagers who throw stones at the boy, convinced that he is the ghost of a child eaten by a tiger. Struggling to understand whether he is human or animal, Mowgli dances on the skin of Shere Khan and sings a wild Psalm: “I dance on the hide of Shere Khan, but my heart is very heavy. My mouth is cut and wounded with the stones from the village, but my heat is very light because I have come back to the jungle. Why? These two things fight together in me as the snakes fight in the spring. The water comes out of my eyes, yet I laugh while it falls. Why?
KIPLING IN SOUTHSEA
‘Curiouser and curiouser!’
I am two Mowglis, but the hide of Shere Khan is under my feet... ..Ahae! My heart is heavy with the things that I do not understand.” That sense of rejection is a powerful motivator for Mowgli, hardening him to life in the jungle and inspiring revenge when he calls on nature’s forces to help him destroy the village in a scene not surprisingly excluded from Walt Disney’s animated film in 1967. It will be interesting to see if either of the two new cinematic versions due to be released in 2016, one directed by Andy Serkis, are more faithful to the psychological drama of the original story. Asked by his sister Trix when he was nearly seventy whether Lorne Lodge was still standing, Kipling is said to have replied, almost as if speaking through Mowgli, “I don’t know, but if so I should like to burn it down and plough the place with salt.” In many ways, Kipling’s brilliantly exuberant novel Kim is a fictional imagining of what it would have been like if young Ruddy had returned to Bombay and resumed his childhood in India. It is tempting to consider that the novel might have found its genesis in Kipling’s Southsea longing for a return to India. As Norman Page writes, “It was perhaps of such stuff that his dreams during the Southsea years had been made.” If so, then there was at least some positive artistic legacy from Kipling’s unhappy second childhood. Kipling himself wryly noted that his creativity and instinct for story-telling had been sharply developed in Lorne Lodge: “If you cross-examine a child of seven or eight on his day’s doings (especially when he wants to go to sleep) he will contradict himself very satisfactorily... I have known a certain amount of bullying, but... it made me give attention to the lies I soon found it necessary to tell, and this I presume is the foundation of literary effort.” Like Wordsworth stealing a shepherd’s boat and then imaging the mountains stalking him as a child at night, it is interesting to consider the relationship between guilt and the imagination in nurturing some of our greatest creative writers and thinkers. The doubleness which enriches Kipling’s work was in part based on the compulsion to be duplicitous in the house ruled by Auntie Rosa, and in part on the childhood exile he experienced from his native India. Portsmouth and Southsea occupy a dark place, therefore, in Kipling’s imagination, but also inspired the storyteller to free himself through fiction. I hope that we can look forward therefore to celebrating the 150 anniversary of Kipling’s birth on 30 December, a date which is itself richly ambiguous in being poised at the end and beginning of the year.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll was first published 150 years ago. He originally told the story to entertain seven-year-old Alice Liddell and her two older sisters, Lorina and Edith, during a river picnic near Oxford, after she had begged him for a story “with plenty of nonsense in it”. Lewis Carroll’s real name was Charles Dodgson, a Mathematics don at Christ Church, Oxford, who, in Alice, presents nonsense as indistinguishable from logic. Puns and puzzles subvert any attempts to make sense of the world that Alice encounters, a feeling of anxiety underlying the sense of wonder: ‘Alice felt dreadfully puzzled. The Hatter’s remark seemed to have no sort of meaning in it, and yet it was certainly English. “I don’t quite understand you,” she said, as politely as she could.’ This sense of ontological uncertainty is suggested from the very opening of the book, with Alice’s dizzying descent into the rabbit hole: ‘Down, down, down. Would the fall never come to an end!’ With its vertiginous holes, time-obsessed White Rabbit, random growing and shrinking, counterintuitive logic and dreamlike setting (in which time and space seem arbitrary and unpredictable), it is particularly appropriate that Alice’s 150th anniversary should coincide with the 100th anniversary of Einstein’s formulation of the Theory of General Relativity (see p. 26). Zita Edward’s evocative image (below) captures the spirit of a children’s classic that, although written in the mid-nineteenth century, seems in many ways more at home in the modernist, twentieth century universe of Einstein, Freud and even Kafka. James Burkinshaw
Illustration by Zita Edwards, Year 12
LIFE Sophie Locke-Cooper YE AR 13
hilosopher Immanuel Kant is best known for formulating moral laws; however, subjectively speaking, his prime criteria may seem somewhat nonsensical to the modern reader. Kant’s main focus is duty on which most of your decisions and emotions should be predicated; however, each is also dependent on the situation you are put in. His philosophy could be quite bleak: pleasure or happiness, for Kant, could result in the most evil of acts, and he did not believe in such good character traits as ingenuity, intelligence and courage, as these could also be used for evil in the wrong circumstances. For Kant, the term ‘good’ was used to describe ‘goodwill’, the highest form of good, not concerned with consequence or self-interest. What he meant was that one must act purely out of duty. Kant put great emphasis on reason, believing that it is constituent part of a human being’s intrinsic dignity. Kant’s moral philosophy operates on two premises: that there is one correct answer to any moral problem and the answer will be found through reason. Kant strongly believed that moral laws
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must be universal; for this to be possible, moral laws must contain something that is unconditionally and universally good, which Kant called the highest good. Kant can only accept something is moral when it is intrinsically good (something which is good without qualification). He writes, ‘It is impossible to conceive of anything in all the world, or even out of it, which can be taken as good without qualification except the goodwill.’ Goodwill is when you do your duty for the sake of duty alone. A person does his or her duty because it is right and for no other reason. However, the result you obtain from the goodwill is not what makes it good; it is good because the action is intrinsically good. Acting for the sake of duty involves being free from all personal motives, which allows one to act in accordance with reason so that the noumenal self is in control. The reason for doing the right thing is simply the awareness that it is the right thing to do; even a failed attempt to do something can be considered a good and right act. Subsequently, Kant introduces the concept of the imperative (a command telling us what we ought to do) and outlines two types. There is the hypothetical imperative, a conditional command
LIVING THE GOOD LIFE
TWO THINGS AWE ME MOST, THE STARRY SKY ABOVE ME AND THE MORAL LAW WITHIN ME. IMMANUEL KANT
Left: Immnual Kant
willed as a means to an end ‘do x if you want to achieve y’; this is considered as an instrumental good. Personal preference leads to hypothetical imperatives that have a reason behind them: ‘the ends justify the means’. Kant argued that personal preferences could not be trusted as a reliable guide to what is morally right. The second imperative is the categorical imperative, an unconditional command: ‘do x for the sake of x’; moral commands do not tell us how to achieve an end but are ends in themselves. The command is universal and good for all and, irrespective of interests, it does depend on situations, circumstances or consequences. It is only good by reason of its virtue and is the only form acceptable to Kant. Kant considered categorical imperatives of extreme importance. Kant argued that what is good to do is what we ought to do: ’ought implies can’. For example, it is good to be kind to children; therefore, we ought to be kind to children. What is inherently good is intrinsically right; this is the way we ought to behave for the mutual good of all, irrespective of consequences. In Kant’s ethics, he assumed that the force of the moral ‘ought’ implied
that we ‘can’ achieve our moral goals and complete our duty perfectly. Perfect duty ought to be rewarded by perfect happiness, Kant labelled this ‘the summum bonum’ i.e. the highest good, a state in which virtue and happiness are united. Nonetheless, it is hardly possible to achieve this during one’s lifetime; therefore, Kant posited that there must be life after death in which we are to achieve this happiness. This collectively presupposes the existence of God as the only being capable of providing immortality and being able to judge whether one has reached the summum bonum. However, it must be noted that Kant asserted these assumptions and their basis in God were a ‘postulate of practical reason’, i.e. probabilities rather than facts. Therefore, he rejects the theological arguments for the existence of God; he believed purely that morality led to God. People are always ends in themselves and cannot be used as means for something, argues Kant, no matter how worthy that aim might be. Therefore, everyone has certain essential rights that cannot be ignored. Kant argued that human beings are rational and the highest point of creation and so demand unique treatment. They have dignity and value which sets them apart from all other things which simply have a price. Kant argued that we have a duty to develop our own moral perfection, developing our moral, intellectual and physical capabilities. We also have a duty to seek the happiness of others; it must always be within the law and allow the freedom of others. But this maxim also refers to the moral agent. To Kant, you cannot undervalue yourself when seeking a moral end. It may be admirable to help others, but not at the expense of self-destruction or self-harm which is simply narcissistic. Every action should be undertaken as if the individual is a ‘law-making member of a kingdom of ends’ (Kant’s term for the ethical community as a whole). Kant formulated moral statements to be such that you act as if you and everyone else were treating each other as ends. You had to imagine that you were living in an ideal society, even if that were not the case. You cannot act on the basis that assumes that others do not treat people as ends. You cannot create a maxim ‘I may steal, as all others steal’. If such rules were pursued, society would become intolerable. Finally, argues Kant, moral behaviour must be in the direction towards the ideal society, the kingdom of ends, and not away from it. This maxim is achieved with a community that draws up principles that establish a good moral society. In the process of discussion, you develop laws for you society/community. Kant developed his own distinctive rational theory of knowledge based on the mind’s innate capacity and experience. He argued that fundamental concepts of the human mind structure human experience: that reason is the source of morality, that aesthetics arises from a faculty of disinterested judgement, that space and time are forms of our understanding and that the world as it is “in-itself”, is unknowable.
THE PRAGMATIC GENIUS Ethan Creamer YE AR 13
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M A C H I AV E L L I : T H E P R AG M AT I C G E N I U S
he name Machiavelli is synonymous with political and customs which the ambitious need to cling to. ambition, deceit, and brutality. The Renaissance In regards to Renaissance Italy, religion was a key part of Florentine writer is widely recognised for his political stability. Religious uniformity was a necessity for a political treatise Il Principe1, authored mostly secular ruler’s grip on power – this is Machiavelli’s fundamental in 1513 after the Medici had recovered power understanding. It is commonly suggested that his thought in Florence during which he lost political office and was was in direct conflict with the widespread Catholic ethical imprisoned and tortured for three weeks on suspicion teachings of the time: it found itself on the Roman Inquisition’s of conspiracy against them. It has supposedly provided Index Librorum Prohibitorum2 in 1559. However, this is perhaps inspiration for a great many statesmen, from the Founding misguided: Machiavelli must be contextualised. His is a Fathers to Napoleon, Mussolini and Stalin. Mafia Boss John philosophy of purpose: the pursuit of power - not that of a more Gotti described it as the ‘Mafia Bible’. Evidently Machiavelli’s theological persuasion (i.e. Luther and Protestant Reformers). publications aided in significant temporal ‘accomplishments’ The dedication in The Prince reads: ‘al Magnifico Lorenzo de' throughout history. He was an individual of noted experience. Medici’3; he is writing with a clear purpose to win favour with Due to the varied career of Machiavelli, he is to be considered the Medici and they would value his practical advice – view his as one of the greatest political philosophers and theorists, writings as a CV of sorts. and it is perhaps logical given the nature Sixteenth century Italy was a devoutly of politics which does lead to those with Roman Catholic country – from his political experience crafting the most worldly perspective, ‘decay’ defined in terms of the THERE IS NO and viable works. Above all, he is a scholar established power system, could be interpreted SURER SIGN OF who is concerned with the nature, scope and as the lack of correct and functional institutions; DECAY IN A philosophy of power. He could be in no more when the Church was fragile, so too was the COUNTRY THAN TO an advantageous position to comment, being secular political atmosphere. Indeed, affairs in SEE THE RITES OF engrossed in a world of bitter rivalry with Italy Italy were dominated by the Papacy, and so RELIGION HELD IN divided into numerous states and factions, at a ruler who kept in line with the church can CONTEMPT times feuding and at war. expect patronage from it, exemplified by Pope NICCOLO MACHIAVELLI Alexander VI’s patronage to his son Cesare To take Machiavelli’s quotation at face value Borgia in asserting control of the Papal States could make for an inspirational article on the beauty of religion; and central Italy. Machiavelli was a first-hand witness of the and it is true that this country, as well as Europe more widely, state-building skill and ruthless ambition of Rodrigo Borgia has been defined by its strong Judaeo-Christian foundations and his son Cesare, despite the younger Borgia’s final failure – and is (with the ringing of Blake’s Jerusalem) something we with the election of his Father’s rival Giuliano Della Rovere in should respect, heed and champion with renewed vigour. In 1503 to the Papacy. Machiavelli promotes realism: first Cesare light of my opening remarks, however, to write a polemic in succeeds with the good grace of the Papacy, but he evidently favour of religion in nations, (in Western Christian countries) is naïve in presuming the good will of Julius II and thus falls - something that I would be all too inclined undertake – would from power, the lesson being that the rites of religion, that is indeed warrant the accusation of being impolitic and foolish, papal supremacy and an orthodox Roman Catholicism, should not least because of the lamentable lack of endorsement. be upheld and one should be on good terms with spiritual Instead, we must analyse both Machiavelli’s understanding authorities, who most importantly manifested themselves and the implications of our interpretations in a modern context. as potent temporal forces. The troublesome and outspoken Religious affiliation has been declining: roughly 64.5% of the monk, Savonarola, was executed in 1498, after refusing to UK population in 1964 regarded themselves as Anglican, it is join Alexander VI’s Holy League against the French and now less than half of that figure, with 31.1% declaring affiliation denouncing corruption and nepotism in the Church under with the State Church, but there remain many political norms Borgia’s Papacy. As Machiavelli writes:
"If Moses, Cyrus, Theseus, and Romulus had been unarmed, they could not have enforced their constitutions for long — as happened in our time to Fra Girolamo Savonarola, who was ruined with his new order of things immediately the multitude believed in him no longer, and he had no means of keeping steadfast those who believed or of making the unbelievers to believe." Machiavelli respects the church and the established rites of the Christian religion because he is fully aware of its political potency. The theme is that political success relies on support for certain convention and institutions, to which there can be some modern comparison. It appears an underlying base of all political atmospheres throughout history to the present day to have certain institutions and political conventions to which those wishing to be successful must conform. Modern Britain is no exception: those who criticise the NHS can be demonized, or those who oppose the Trident nuclear deterrent labelled as threats to national security. Leaders no longer count their strength in men-at-arms but in skill, in ticking boxes, in being seen to do X or Y. Whilst I believe that both the NHS and our nuclear deterrent are necessary for the prosperity of this country, active debate must not be silenced. It appears to be an extremely clever political game, irrespective of the political position: trivialising and vilifying that which is a core value of the opponent. For example, miring the immigration debate with ignorant accusations of ‘racism’ or with deplorable farright ideology on the other end of the spectrum ruins genuine concerns, but even when clearly ‘wrong’, how can they be said to be illegitimate in a pluralist democracy? What gives any more superiority or credence to one side or the other? Nothing other than common support. This is simple conflict-resolution; it is no way to base a virtuous society, because people are not complicit. There appears to be an analogous ‘tug of war’; the two opposite sides of a debate increasingly attempt to pull the other to themselves to win, leaving us in the middle (willed by few) with any extremities being marginalised. This is democratic pluralism (so much for Plato’s ‘Philosopher-Kings’). Rightly, the population is fearful of radicalism, but that is no excuse for suppression of radical ideas. Indeed, it interestingly often appears
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that opposition to particular stances has always manifested itself as opposition to ‘radicalism’, and from a philosophical viewpoint, not a Machiavellian realistic perspective, radicalism in itself cannot be said to be an inherent wrong, when there can only be absolute rights or wrongs in themselves, and so there can be no moral outcry through which to silence anyone in a democratic system such as we (in theory) perpetuate, given we seek to extend civil liberties to all. What is existent is blatant hypocrisy. Whilst effective, to do this is inherently tyrannical as accusations of radicalism and/or character flaws appear to be a convenient way to destroy those who disagree. Conversely of course, it does appear that, as highlighted by my previous and particularly ironic normative assertion of support for the NHS and Trident, quite often the result is popular and sensible. However, because a course of action is supported by a majority of people, it is not by definition right or wrong, leading onto a philosophical assertion of intrinsic goods. Democracy results in tyranny of the majority, but politics is imperfect, as we live in an imperfect world; but what is pivotal is understanding that which can be considered perfect – the transcendent. No political system is good, but what I hope is clear is the fact that, whether it be a dictatorship or a democracy, the methods and machinations are remarkably similar. Hence the genius of Machiavelli, timeless in its applicability to many varied regimes. Why? Because there are absolutes, absolute forms of all things; whether it be a Platonic or Kantian theory, Pope Alexander VI or the perfection of a Christian God, they exist and all things earthly can be said to remain either imitations or imperfect, with reason taking us only so far in conceptualizing a ding an sich4. In this way, there are real, objective forms of being successful (as identified by Machiavelli) which manifest themselves practically and realistically albeit imperfectly. Machiavelli’s wisdom is therefore an identification of how to be successful by conforming to the contemporary standards (thus holding popularity); it is firmly not a recognition of why they may (or may not) be justified. Of course the democratic wish may very well be also right according to absolutes, but let’s not be naïve. Indeed it is agreeable and right that ‘radicalism’ is avoided, but there remains a fundamental logical contradiction in terms. In the context of Machiavelli, we see a large explosion in what
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may be understood as ‘radicalism’ with threats to the established Holy Apostolic Church in Rome. Freedom to speak without getting burnt at the stake or executed in some other fashion is, I hope, largely seen to be a positive. The established powersthat-be did not see it that way…….. but the fact is there are the same concepts at play today. I mean to say that because an established authority or common opinion dictates at one point that something is to be considered ‘right’ and labels those who oppose this as ‘radicals’ does not ipso facto make anything authoritatively just, instead it rather resolves conflict, it keeps subdued those who would fight for their perceived idea of justice. To this end, Kant’s ‘Kingdom of Ends’ laid down in Grundlegung zur Metaphysik der Sitten5(1785) can be considered as optimal, even if unobtainable, because it seeks to be not contradictory in bringing all to rationally acknowledge the natural law and come to a "systematic union of different rational beings under common laws" as dictated by the deontological Categorical Imperative. Machiavelli, with the aforementioned flaws in conforming for worldly gain, is not wrong, but rather is exactly how he has been described: a realist not an idealist. He identifies the need for living according to societal and national idiosyncrasies for the sake of self-gain, not for that of being right. I will duly acknowledge the logical flaw in my argument: positing that Machiavelli is a skilled politician, then saying he argues political success hinges on respecting established rites; acknowledging that he outrages the church with elements of his writings is a non sequitur. I will reiterate: he simply does not comment in doctrine directly concerning church theology such as Luther, so that he will not greatly lose favour, and his wish is still to appeal to the Medici. Whilst Machiavelli does present himself as a clear contrarian to the established scholarly thought of his time, he is not so problematically opposed. For his was a philosophy of real action, and though the theist must place themselves above worldly pursuits, it is difficult to not recognize the clear genius and practicality of Machiavelli. Whilst his writings do appear to provide guidance for the tyrant, Machiavelli seemed to favour a republic; having served in the Florentine republic, he had ideals, even if they were also imperfect resolutions. He saw what was necessary, and, indeed, whilst many have since denounced his supposed immorality, it appears the church at the time was no less a political institution perhaps, although not acknowledging it, actively pursuing its goals in as style not dissimilar to how he had proposed, the evidence lying with the machinations of the families: Borgia, Medici (Florence), Farnese, to name a few, all of whom at one time had members who were Popes. Their machinations, arguably not always exactly sacred, worked (at times) in
advancing the Church in terms of wealth and dominance. Machiavelli is certainly a realist, and does not conform to any abstract philosophical idealism; it appears he still supports a natural teleology, and, indeed, from this two more questions do arise, the glory of the secular power cannot in itself be the end for Machiavelli, as he does himself suggest the transience of power, and how fickle and easily lost it is. The man of great faith is also a man of great pragmatism. God does not exist to concern yourself with now, with the physical; it is to concern yourself with what lies beyond – the metaphysical – and thus what is practised in this life, in anticipation, to glorify that which is sought through faith and right reason, is justified by any such means, including that suggested by Machiavelli because man is not perfect. Kant may be correct; man still requires grace and Machiavelli overlooks all concerns to pursuing that which works in re as opposed to in intellectu. Machiavelli sees, as a visionary, what is necessary for success, not what is absolutely right: such concepts were explored by theologians, not political maneuverers. In light of this, we can say that Machiavelli’s quote exemplifies an interesting idiosyncrasy of politics, because it, unlike philosophy, is concerned with polites6 and is derived from experience as opposed to reason, it remains imperfect and contradictory. We can translate his quote as: ‘if it’s popular and everyone believes it, accept it if you want to stay in power’. The parable of this article can be that a distinction between utility and goodness can be made, that success requires utility as opposed to abstract notions of justice, but that pragmatism with the end of absolute goodness is also crucial, that is by the very nature of the world we need to be as pragmatic as Machiavelli suggests, for politics needs to resolve conflict, and people will suffer injustice, but we must not silence those with differing opinions because, regardless of their potential vitriolic opinions, it would be illogical to claim to live in a democracy when we all conform to abstract principles set by a society which cannot itself be abstracted from the constituent individuals. It takes someone both foolish and valiant in equal measure to stand for real definitions of justice in which they have sincere conviction.
The Prince, published 1532 Index of Prohibited Books 3 ‘To the Great Lorenzo De’Medici’ 4 Thing in itself 5 Groundwork of the metaphysics of morals, Immanuel Kant 6 People 1 2
CORBYN : the Sugary Suicide Pill
William Dry YE AR 13
y favourite Jeremy Corbyn story – genuinely true of course – is that he divorced his wife after she insisted their son, Ben, went to a grammar school. Jeremy had other ideas. He wanted Ben to attend Harroway – a school on the Department of Education’s ‘failing list’, and run by the statistically third worst local authority at the time: Islington – a council so bad that the leader of its education committee actually sent his son to a school outside the borough. Corbyn’s commitment to the far left’s ideological purity to comprehensive education, even failing comprehensive education, was strong enough to end his marital vows that had lasted twelve years. Both sides say the marriage ended peacefully – a notable theme throughout Corbyn’s unassuming
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yet magnificent political life. So peacefully in fact, that the pair, in order to give the children access to both parents, continued to live in the same house for three years. The Labour establishment is now being forced to house-share with Corbyn after the Labour party membership smashed the locked door down, and flung Corbyn into the position of master of the house. There is no love, merely a mutual understanding - one cannot eliminate the other. The party elites, by ousting Corbyn, would be an affront to the party’s internal democracy. Similarly, Corbyn would risk tearing the party in two – as happened in the 1980s - if he posed too large a threat to the Westminster class. Yet, like the prophecy of Harry Potter and Lord Voldemort, neither can live while the other survives. If Corbyn completes his mission, and lasts till 2020,
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there will be no Labour to be an establishment-approved leader Headmistress. Corbyn, however, looked like a scruffy History of. There will only be the starved remains of a party of whom teacher (who perhaps specialises in 1920s Russia). The content only future students of politics will be aware: like the Whigs, of their messages mirrored their image. Burnham, rather everyone kind of knows they existed but no-one really knows admirably, told the audience how he is a “real Labour man” – a what they stood for. bold move from a man wearing a £5,000 suit who has spent The tale of how this vest-wearing, beard-growing, garden-plot his whole life working in Westminster research offices. Cooper fanatic transformed into a usurper matched by only the likes of spoke like a Year 11 French student impressively regurgitating Spartacus would make Harry Potter look positively dull. If you their 60-second oral presentation. Kendall, perhaps worst of all, had placed a bet of £1 on Corbyn at the start of the Labour sounded like a Lib Dem - so much so, her campaign nicked the leadership contest, you would have won back £100: a return Lib Dem 2015 election campaign slogan, “Stronger economy even Donald Trump would be proud of. and fairer society.” Corbyn was different. At the start of the contest, he remarked He was not hypocritical, he was not it was “unfortunately his turn” to throw rehearsed, and he was certainly not a Lib JEREMY CORBYN his socialist Breton hat in the ring. He Dem. I genuinely think part of the appeal WINNING THE LABOUR viewed himself as the “sacrificial leftLEADERSHIP IS LIKE ABERDEEN of Corbyn is that he is not particularly wing fall guy”; his hopes were to put smart. This might seem a tad harsh, but BEATING REAL MADRID IN A the issues that his hard-left faction were by smart, I particularly mean working EUROPEAN FINAL. IT REALLY concerned about on the agenda. To enter memory. He cannot deliver a notes-free HAPPENED, BUT YOU HAVE the Labour leadership race, an MP must speech like Cameron, Blair, Clinton, TO PINCH YOURSELF TO gain the signatures of a certain number Obama, and Miliband (oh wait..) could so BELIEVE IT'S TRUE. of colleagues. Corbyn, representing a effortlessly. This forced him throughout ANDREW MCFADYEN shrivelled faction of the party, got the the campaign to speak off the top of his signatures with just two minutes to spare. head. His answers were incoherent; he This was only due to Andy Burnham, the frontrunner at the ranted, and would often manage to grumble about a plethora of time, telling his supporters to support Jeremy to ‘broaden the topics completely unrelated to the question. Yet this was the great debate.’ Talk about digging your own political grave. The MPs illusion: people thought, because he was not repeating learnt who supported him have been latterly branded ‘morons’, by lines, that he would ‘answer questions.’ While on occasions, it is senior Labour party members. It is almost tragic that they did true he was direct, this ability has been blown out of proportion not know they were signing the death warrant of the moderate greatly. The first question of the first debate he was asked about package of progressive Third Way policies to which many had how to “move away from the legacy of Tony Blair”; instead, he dedicated their entire political lives. chose to speak about Iraq. He was repeatedly asked throughout Once in the race, subtle tremors reverberated around the campaign if he actually wanted to be Prime Minister, and Stevenage – the location of the first nationally broadcast Labour would take minutes to ramble through a non-answer. In fact, leadership hustings. Corbyn sat next to his opponents – Cooper, rather memorably, the ‘voice of authenticity’ himself, so focused Burnham, and Kendall. The contrast in the presentation of the on delivery rather than content, actually read out the stage candidates was stark. Burnham donned an Armani suit, Kendall instruction “strong message here” off the autocue! looked like an Apprentice candidate, and Cooper looked like a The other force that drove Corbyn’s campaign was the joyous
relaxation of forgoing responsibility. The moment after exams have ended, and you just lie back in your bed – fully intent on doing nothing, and only just muster the focus to catch up on all the TV you’ve missed – that’s the joyous relaxation I am referring to. However, this is the Labour Party, the second most electable party in the country. It cannot afford to have the luxury of a Netflix marathon. Yet this is what the membership has done. They saw a man who would allow them to sit back, and put their feet up for a few years. Who could blame them? The other candidates were likely to be Miliband V2 - a man who had presented an electable, pragmatic agenda and had put the activists through national humiliation and unrivalled pain. If the country would choose an out-of-touch Etonian PR over Miliband, what chance did Burnham, Cooper, and Kendall have? They chose to indulge in their values – Corbyn offered an appetiser of what it felt like to think the only thing more immoral than Blair was America’s foreign policy, and that austerity is a secret Tory plot to crush the poor. The compelling attraction of authenticity and offering a hallucinatory escape from the painful cycle of electoral defeat was undeniably successful. Thousands flocked to see the messiah; 1,500 in Liverpool, 2,000 in Newcastle, 2,000 in Leeds – in Manchester, the holy one had to climb on top of a fire truck to be seen by the people who could not get inside the event. The events were like no other. Most started with Owen Jones (a more serious and educated Russell Brand) firing up the unlikely band of revolutionaries. This was followed by a socialist singer-songwriter whose lyrics defamed
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Gove and the upper classes. Then, perhaps most bizarrely, a socialist magician apparently took to the stage, rearranging a torn up newspaper to say ‘Vote Corbyn.’ This was followed by a communist heavy metal band (of which Ross Watkins is a big fan, I hear) who performed one song entitled ‘Bastards’ – dedicated to the Tories. Remarkably, these misfits did not just carry Corbyn across the finish line in first place, they gave him the largest mandate of any party leader. To even draw level with the Conservatives in 2015, Corbyn has to enlarge his 250,000 misfits to a legion of 11 million. And this is where the Corbyn project really breaks down: electability. Corbyn has always rejected the mainstream; at school, he was one of two people to vote Labour in a mock election. He rejected the syllabus, and, despite being well-informed, achieved only 2 Es at A Level. He then travelled the world, helping out in South Africa as part of the anti-apartheid struggle – not exactly a mainstream gap year activity. He then enlisted in Trade Union Studies at a North London polytechnic, lasting a limited period of time before being kicked off the course due to disagreements with his lecturers. This rejection of the norm is where I find the most genuine reason to support Corbyn: he has often found himself on the right side of history. He fought against apartheid, LGBT discrimination, and Iraq long before it was the popular thing to do. Yet I feel he, recognising the success his principles have led to, is now trapped on the wrong side of history. To call Hamas and Hezbollah – known terrorist organisations “friends” at a Parliamentary meeting is a step too far. To say that we “should not make value judgements” about those who join
CO R BY N T H E S U G A RY S U I C I D E P I L L
THE BEST THING SINCE CLEMENT ATTLEE DAMIAN MCBRIDE
ISIS is a step too far. To describe Bin Laden’s assassination as a “tragedy” is an insult to all the Americans who suffered from plans he devised. It is not just Corbyn, it is the whole ideology he represents. His shadow Chancellor remarked that it was the “bravery bombs and bullets” of the IRA that brought “Britain to the negotiating table” and also joked about assassinating Thatcher. His media advisor, Seamus Milne, would make Stalin look Blairite; the tone of Milne’s articles could genuinely be mistaken for that of a Soviet-run newspaper at the peak of the USSR’s media control. Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Milne wrote “Putin’s absorption of Crimea and support for the rebellion in eastern Ukraine is clearly defensive.” He despaired when the Berlin Wall came down. Two days after 9/11, he wrote “Most Americans simply don’t get it” followed by “they themselves sowed” the seeds of the terrorist attack. This is the man who will be releasing Corbyn’s press releases. This is the man who is trying to keep Labour on message. If Milne keeps Labour on his message, Labour might just collapse like his beloved USSR did. Jeremy Bernard Corbyn is a borderline train-spotter. According to his second wife, his idea of a fun night used to be photocopying at Labour HQ. He named his cat after Harold Wilson. He is on the All-Parliamentary Group for Cheese. He has won Parliamentary Beard of the Year competition a record five times. It is almost odd to think such a man represents an existential threat to Labour. Yet he does. For the last time the Labour membership indulged in this ideological experiment it was out of power for eighteen years. Margaret Thatcher had a free hand in terms of policy. The real irony of the Corbyn insurgency is that those whom it rhetorically champions it betrays. For Corbyn will result in a longterm Conservative government that will either veer to the Right, exploiting the lack of scrutiny, or adopt the centre
ground and attempt to kill off Labour once and for all. When the Conservatives had a Cabinet meeting and discussed the chances of Corbyn, one minister raised the size of the membership and activists he had inspired. Then another mentioned how he could result in a rejuvenation of Labour in Scotland… and then the whole Cabinet burst out laughing. The Tories truly cannot believe their luck that Labour has elected someone so electorally repellent. They believe destroying Corbyn is not enough; they want to use Corbyn to tarnish the Labour brand beyond repair. By 2020, the Tories believe, they can convince Britain that the whole Labour party is an ideological throwback to a history remembered for economic and national insecurity and incompetent governance. If they are successful, there will be nothing short of a political crisis: there will be no official opposition, only an official laughing stock. The Labour membership may have just swallowed a sugary suicide pill, and they – and the country – will face the damning consequences.
THE PANTOMIME of
Luke Farmer YE AR 12
WHY CAN’T I JUST EAT MY WAFFLE? BARACK OBAMA
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olitics can be confusing sometimes. And this was a prime example: Obama remarking about his desire to eat his waffle instead of answering reporters’ questions. For a presidential candidate in 2008 this may have seemed an odd answer from a candidate. Yet here we are, seven years on and seven years that Barack Obama has been president. So is the proclamation by Obama about waffles bad? It can be argued that, in order to engage with the American public he has to utilise these lines for them to find something likeable in him. For, fundamentally, I believe it is part of the political process for voters to base who they vote in on how much they like them and who they think will represent their country well. This quote was part of a campaign which brought Obama victory, but has he actually been a successful president- rather more so than Nixon I hope! He was brought to power on his agenda of change, yet he has unable to fulfil his promise to close down Guantanamo Bay in the seven years he has been in office. Many people see him as a weak president: he set a “red line” which President Assad in Syria must not cross with regard to the use of chemical weapons, yet did nothing when Assad in due course crossed this line. Yet Obama’s progress with the American economy in his first term was creditworthy - he intervened in the auto industry and public sector saving millions of jobs from being lost by the financial crisis in 2008. He conducted a successful assassination of bin Laden, which arguably played a great part
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in his re-election in 2012, yet his rapid retreat from Iraq and lack of action over Syria contributed to the rise of ISIS- which he now has to deal with. His major achievement was a historic deal with Iran, bringing it back into the world and lifting unbearable sanctions on its people in return for guarantees of no further enrichment of uranium or nuclear weapon development. No president is perfect and Obama has served during challenging times. He is an able, dedicated individual who was the right choice as president- but he is not Franklin D Roosevelt. This waffle quote isn’t famous by any measure; it didn’t change the world by any means. But it’s symbolic of American Politics as a whole and its utterer went on to mould the world as it is today. Quotes in politics are extremely important in that their publicising by the media can highlight parts of a politician’s character and policies and impact on whether the public like them or not. In Year 2015- to become known as the year of the rise of Trump- we are once again treated to the pomp, the pantomime and the politicians. From a neurosurgeon to a billionaire who claims to have bribed politicians, the field of candidates is really diverse this year. To an international observer, it does seem like the Republicans have gone potty. True, there are a number of decent candidates, e.g. Marco Rubio, but the Republican debates have turned out to be more comedy than politics. Donald Trump is an eccentric and audacious character, arguing that the key to the economy recovering is building a wall along
the US southern border with Mexico, as Mexicans are “stealing our jobs”. He also describes Mexicans as “rapists” but claims to have no problem with them as a whole. These quotes reflect Donald Trump’s deeper beliefs and could potentially come back to haunt him and result in his defeat. American politics and what politicians say within this arena can sometimes be bizarre. But, it is part of American society as a whole and candidates can use controversial or wacky comments to gain media attention. If Barack Obama’s wacky waffle comment did indeed help him wrangle his way into the White House then I think it is worthwhile. Although Donald Trump has been able to use the drama of the media to his advantage within his campaign I believe that it will help defeat him in the end. For to become president he needs to gain the support of much of the electorate; his vague comments about creating jobs (“I will just do it”) will undermine his standing. Ultimately, the progressive policies of the Democrats seem increasingly appealing- as the alternative is so bleak. Bernie Saunders - a lifelong Socialist representing a hippie state - and Hillary Clinton - reputedly a hard-working Secretary of State, having travelled to more than a hundred countries during her service - both seem to be capable hands in comparison to the Republican frontrunners. Therefore, I believe this drama within US politics and media focus is actually a positive as (in my mind at least) the Democratic frontrunners present a better future for America.
Dreams and Delusions:
SPRINGSTEEN’S M E R I C
Mr Mark Richardson ENGLISH DEPARTMENT
y the time he arrived at Heathrow in November 1975, a great deal had happened very quickly and very publicly to Bruce Springsteen. Since being in the studio in late 1974 and early 1975 working on what he hoped would be his breakout album, Born To Run, he and his band had just completed a gruelling US tour of 63 performances in 77 days. With two earlier albums already under his belt, this third one meant a great deal, both to him and to his record company, Columbia Records, who had fallen gratefully on critic Jon Landau’s review of Springsteen from 1974 when he had said, “I saw my rock ‘n’ roll past flash before my eyes. And I saw something else: I saw rock and roll future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.” As you can imagine, that last comment was advertising gold, and Columbia went for it big time, with huge ads in the press and on billboards appearing everywhere. The lengthy US tour over, the European tour was now on, and the first show would be at the Hammersmith Odeon. As a result of that advertising campaign and reviews of the album, which
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itself had only been out for a couple of months, everyone in London wanted to see Bruce. The campaign was a success: the show was almost immediately sold out, necessitating a second show before the tour could move on to Germany. This one was born to run. Except that Bruce wasn’t so comfortable: look at that picture (below) from the cover of the album. Does he look like a company man, one who is focused on percentages and finances, one who is on the side of The Man, one who really admires advertising hype? No: he is relaxed, with post-hippy vibe, enveloped by the music, at ease with black musicians, non-confrontational and happy. So, it was hardly surprising that, on entering the foyer of the Odeon he ripped down all of the promotional posters that Columbia Records had pasted up using Landau’s quotation: he wasn’t about to give in quite so readily to commerce. And, truth be told, commerce wasn't fully winning either. Despite the campaign, the UK audience hadn’t bought the album in huge numbers and there was no single to help promote it on the radio or (can you imagine?) on Top of the Pops. Indeed, even after his departure, sales weren't exactly stellar: Born To Run never appeared in the UK Top 20, or 30, or even Top 100 best-selling albums for 1975 or even 1976 (thus defeated by, amongst others, Englebert Humperdink, The Bay City Rollers and Perry Como - and no, I'm not going to write about them, ever). His two-hour set showed what the audience had gratefully witnessed, though. Released on a 2006 CD and, most recently, on an unedited YouTube download, it was powerful, moving, intense, and showed how much he had moved on since the recording of the album. His immense US tour had clearly enabled him and the E Street Band to enhance, rework and revisit the material, so much so that the opening track on the album, 'Thunder Road', which is a powerful and
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driving ensemble piece, full of horns, guitar, roaring down the highway with determination and energy, had become by November an intimate weaving together of voice and piano, begun in total darkness until the lights bloomed a little to reveal a singer whose head was dominated by an incongruous woollen cap. This was the sort of reinvention of material that lovers of Bob Dylan's music had already found themselves having to come to terms with, and indeed the comparison with Dylan doesn't end there. His huge shifts in material over the subsequent years has a very Dylanic feel, with dark journeys of the soul, stripped back songs, love songs, anthems and, always, expectations. Born to Run is a suitable place to begin, even if it was his third. If you don't like American music, if you resist the tug of history and listen to the future instead, you might not immediately connect with it. If you want to dip into music, then an album designed to take you through time and space might be daunting. But do try. Unlike the intimacy and plangency of the Hammersmith version, the album’s opener ‘Thunder Road’ is full of drive, full of optimism. ‘Sit tight / Take Hold,’ the singer urges to his girl. ‘Climb in,’ he continues. ‘It’s a town full of losers / We’re pulling out of here to win.’ This is the world of cars, young love, moving out, moving forward. He not busy being born to run is busy dying with the losers, as a weird combination of Dylan and Springsteen nearly said. ‘Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out’ sees our unnamed hero in New York, alone now but defiant: ‘I’m gonna sit back right easy and laugh’. ‘Night’ sees the singer faced with the drudgery of ‘the boss man’ giving him ‘hell’ but at least he can get into his car and drive: this is the run you are born to, even if there is a more melancholy element of running in your car ‘until all you can see is the night’: a hint that the American Dream has a price you have to pay. ‘Backstreets’ concludes the first side, the darkness beginning to gather around the edges, the edges where it is better to hide from a threatening world, a loss of love where friends swear for eternity but they are left hiding out on those backstreets, hiding from something not even fully clear to themselves, but in the end turning out to be their own fears. Side Two opens with the earlier optimism front and centre: powerful and swelling chords, racing in the streets, with an American combination of sex and the car: ‘Just wrap your legs round these velvet rims / And strap your hands across my engines.’ It ends with a vision of the future, being independent, fighting against the inevitable heat death of the universe but still, despite it all, ‘we were born to run’. But the fierce determination is becoming more desperate. In ‘She’s the One’, like many of Springsteen’s songs, the hooks sound positive and bright: ‘Oh
she’s the one’ is the repeated refrain at the end, as we all sing along and glory in that powerful statement of love. But the girl is harder now, and so is he: ‘if she wants to break you / She’s gonna find out that ain’t so easy to do.’ Just before that final exclamation of her being ‘the one’, and the long, enthusiastic run-out of the track, though, he is remembering the time when they were younger and ‘her love could save you from the bitterness’, the bitterness of the present that she can no longer save him from. That final refrain is deceptive, just as his later anthem ‘Born in the USA’, chanted by patriotic Americans ever since, is actually a deeply ironic line, dealing with the misery felt by Vietnam veterans returning to an America that preferred to reject or ignore them. It wasn't a celebration, but an indictment. The album concludes with the magnificent ‘Jungleland’: violence and despair dominate by now, the jungle of streets destroying hopes and identity, its inhabitants ‘wind up wounded, not even dead.’ Condemned to live on, without the romantic glamour of death, people live on dreams and listen to the ‘real death waltz’ of the terrifying streets outside their paper-thin homes. It’s a wonderful piece, with a combination of story and restless music, of crescendos and diminuendos, concluding with a wordless howl, only partially resolved by a simple keyboard motif. But if all of that is too much, then try the jewel of ‘Meeting Across the River’, the penultimate track of the album and the only song from the album not to feature at Hammersmith. It is the quiet one, the delicate one, almost a ballad, the central character being a small-time criminal who is talking to Eddie as they both get ready to go across the Hudson River in New York and make a deal that he hopes will make it big. It’s dangerous: ’this guy don’t dance’, he tells Eddie. But by now we are not in a world of endless highways and of hot-rod cars: he has no car at all, and he is desperate to hold on to his dignity, trying to prove to his girlfriend that he is the real deal: ‘She’ll see I wan’t just talking.’ Even the lyrics make it clear these two will never make that dream come true, and the music behind it, particularly the mournful trumpet of Randy Brecker, leaves us in no doubt that this is doomed: there will be no ‘two grand’ for them, and, with nothing to protect them but some rag stuffed into a pocket to suggest they are armed, they will be going to a meeting; it will be their final one. The song is moving: Springsteen’s ability to speak as well as sing his lines seems deceptively simple, but is impossible to match, and instead of the powerful, the driving, the entry of the car still running, this is what it all adds up to: no car, running on empty, still running, still moving forward, forever going to that meeting, but never getting there, never dead but only because the running is all that there is. The darkness and the light, romance and faded promise. Listen. Just listen.
THE FIRST RULE
THE SECOND RULE
OF FIGHT CLUB IS, YOU DO NOT TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB...
OF FIGHT CLUB IS, YOU TALK ABOUT FIGHT CLUB...
Oliver Clark YE AR 12
ell Mr Palahniuk, so as to not break the record for the shortest Portsmouth Point magazine article in history, I must unfortunately break a quarter of the rules of your fictional club. However, as you can tell by the title of this article, the 1996 novel and the subsequent 1999 film directed by David Fincher has had an effect on me like no other piece, whether fact nor fiction, has ever done before. For those of you who have not acquainted yourself with either the movie or book (the two have small differences, but for writing purposes I will refer to events portrayed in the film) it details the life of an anonymous American worker played by Edward Norton (whom I shall refer to as The Narrator) who suffers from insomnia due to a high pressure job where he has no value to his superiors. He is quite simply a pay check, or a replaceable job with no purpose other than that job. After failing to cope with his mental illness, firstly through excessive spending on inanimate objects such as IKEA furniture, and then through support groups for the terminally ill, he encounters the charismatic soap salesman Tyler Durden, portrayed by Brad Pitt. Tyler is 'free' in every way that the Narrator has never been, not allowing himself to become a slave to the modern world, whether it be the incessant advertisement of Calvin Klein or Starbucks, the frustrations of being stuck in a repetitive and perk-less job or letting 'that which does not matter, truly slide'. After the Narrator’s apartment is mysteriously blown up, he moves into Tyler's run-down house, and subsequently creates Fight Club, where other men can release their anxiety and rage at society and life through bare knuckle boxing. Back in the realms of reality, Tyler seems like a pretty cool guy. He is sticking the proverbial middle finger up at society, at the inordinately rich corporations with their flashy advertising, at the grumpy and cold-hearted men at the top of them. And what better way to do this than through half-naked men fighting in a dark and damp basement surrounded by more half-naked men shouting and cheering at the violence commencing before
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them? The masculinity is oozing out of the TV screen at this point. However, is the message of the film really advocating this kind of mindset? In the film, director Fincher seems to capture the mindset of Tyler and runs with it for three quarters of the film, truly making you feel guilty for every designer T-shirt you own and for every time you sucked up to an authority figure for personal gain. Pitt's character even goes as far as making you feel guilty for never having been in a fight, questioning how much we really know about ourselves, and the lengths to which we would go if our immediate safety was at risk. It is at this point, when Project Mayhem, a cult-like organisation comprised of members of Fight Club, following the precepts of Tyler's philosophy, is tearing down monuments and setting buildings on fire, that the glamour and allure of this mindset begins to disappear. Is Tyler really saying to us that we should be attacking our bosses, quitting our jobs, and that only through these actions, coupled with hundreds of bruises and scars, will we begin to feel alive? Luckily, there is still another thirty-odd minutes left of the story. It is at this point that the big revelation is made - and the wool is removed from over the viewer’s eyes. Tyler is not real. Tyler is no more than a figment of the Narrator’s imagination. How can this be? When the Narrator suffered from insomnia, he stated that 'you are never really asleep, and you are never really awake'. It was at this point that he created Tyler, the idea of Tyler: a best friend who was everything that the Narrator desired and aspired to be. When the Narrator thought he was asleep, Tyler was awake, co-ordinating the attacks and pranks of Project Mayhem. When the Narrator was awake, due to his initial fear of Tyler and his radical philosophy, he simply created the image of Tyler doing the acts that he was committing, not wanting to fully embrace what he had become. It is also revealed that it was the Narrator who blew up his own apartment so that he could move in with Tyler in the first place. As powerfully read by Pitt in a hotel room to Norton, 'Little by little, you are letting yourself become Tyler Durden'.
The Narrator, upon discovering Tyler's plan to blow up the headquarters of ten major credit card companies, decides that enough is enough. After a fight between the pair in the underground car park of one of these buildings is won by Tyler, the Narrator finds himself tied to a chair with a spectacular view of the nine other buildings set to explode. At this point, the Narrator cries to Tyler, saying that this is not what he wants and that, although he is thankful for being helped out of the abyss that was his past mindset, the actions that Tyler is taking are not necessary any more. Realising that his projection of Tyler holding a gun means that the gun is in his own hand, The Narrator stands up from the chair, looks into Tyler and says 'my eyes are open', before shooting himself (Tyler), simultaneously freeing himself from the grasp of his new mentality and drawing the movie to a satisfying yet initially confusing close. So what did it all mean, and why should it be seen as anything more than a work of fiction? At the start of the film, the Narrator is trapped in a state of boredom, desperation and depression. Towards the end of the film, the Narrator is once again trapped, this time in a mindset of destruction, anger and hatred towards society. It is in the period between these two points that the Narrator is truly free. When his mindset is in transition and open to change, his life is free of the worldâ€™s problems and he begins to thrive. It is this middle ground between the two extremes that I believe people need to be aware of and capitalise
on. Palahniuk, through his tale, explores both extremes of the male psyche, and this I believe demonstrates the ideal mindset to succeed in life. The fact of the matter is: life is not always easy. Things do not always go the way you wish, and there are times when it seems like nothing you can do is right or will change the situation. However, if you begin to adopt the existentialist mindset of Tyler, where you 'let the chips fall where they may', where you accept that there are things that can be controlled, and things that cannot, this, in my mind, is a big step towards recovery. Another prominent message emanating from Fight Club is the emphasis on self-acceptance. Lines from the film such as, 'This is your life, and it is ending one minute at a time' and 'the things you own end up owning you... it is only after you lose everything that you are truly free to do anything', alongside the Narrator blowing up his own apartment to rid himself of the addiction that was his excessive consumerism, confirm that it is only when we tackle our own demons and vices that we can truly defeat them. Now, I must once again emphasise that I am not suggesting you start setting fire to every pair of boxer shorts that have Hugo Boss's name printed on them! The fact that the Narrator eventually battles and conquers his Tyler alter ego demonstrates that Pahlaniuk does not believe that this is the right solution either. He is simply trying to install in our brains that it is the mindset of being trapped by anything, ranging from low selfesteem to corporate advertisement, peer pressure to a boring job that we must avoid, not the things themselves. It is only that when we become trapped in this mindset, like the Narrator is at the beginning of the story, that it becomes dangerous to us and our progression as human beings. Despite Fight Club being a fictional piece, it has opened my eyes to a wider outlook on life and how to cope when things do not go to plan. When I saw it for the first time, I was stuck. Stuck in a bad place. There are still moments in this ever-changing world when I once again feel stuck, trapped by uncertainty and doubt. This film gave me the harsh backhand of reality that I needed, to stop feeling sorry for myself and to start changing things for the better, and learn to let the things that do not matter just slide. Whenever I feel like I am at breaking point, I put aside approximately 133 minutes of time to give it a rewatch (a very difficult task, bearing in mind I do IB!), reminding me of the values and principles I need to start the next day with. It is no doubt one of the most philosophically controversial tales of the last century, and my interpretation could be very different to that of you, the readers. However, I implore you all to watch the film if you have not yet seen it (Palahnuik is quoted as saying that the film represents the story in a better way that his book ever could) and make your own personal judgement. Fight Club changed my life at a very difficult time; therefore, it will always be a special piece of work to me. If just one of you comes away with a different perspective after viewing it, then this article will have more purpose than just filling the piece of paper that it is written on!
AUTISM SPECTRUM Jack Rockett YE AR 13
Illustrated by Sophie Parekh, Year 13
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U N D E R STA N D I N G T H E A U T I S M S P E C T R U M
I DON’T REALLY UNDERSTAND WHY IT IS CONSIDERED NORMAL TO STARE AT SOMEONE’S EYEBALLS JOHN ELDER ROBISON
have never been able to look people in the eye when talking to them as it makes me feel extremely uncomfortable; sometimes, it can actually make me feel physically sick. Like most people on the autism spectrum, I prefer to look at someone’s mouth or anywhere else in the room when talking to them; I don’t understand the importance of looking into someone’s eyes, as it does not seem to add anything to the conversation itself. However, conventional society has made a neurotypical assumption that if you are not looking at someone directly in the eye when they talk to you, you are just being rude. As a result, children are told that if someone is talking to them, they need to look at that person’s eyes. This can be very upsetting and unsettling to a child on the autism spectrum. After all, they are not making a conscious choice not to look someone in the eye; they find it painful to look directly at someone. This is why I believe that it is wrong that this is still expected as so much more is known about the autism spectrum. Therefore, there is less excuse than there has ever been for parents to be ignorant of this condition; to continue to militantly enforce eye contact as being representative of good behaviour means that children on the autism spectrum get labelled as “disrespectful”. There are many common social constructs that I have had to be taught so I will never understand them in the same way that neurotypical people do, as I don’t have the capability to figure out how to. An example is sarcasm, something that either I have not understood until someone has explained it to me or that has taken me a few seconds to interpret the hidden meaning. This is because I always communicate in a very direct manner, so sarcasm doesn’t seem like a logical way to interact. Another incorrect assumption that is made about people on the autism spectrum is that we cannot feel empathy or emotion. On the contrary, people on the autism spectrum constantly feel emotion - if anything, more intensely than neurotypical people to the extent that we find it too difficult to explain; as a result, people erroneously assume we don’t feel them. Lying is something people on the autism spectrum cannot do easily but I would argue that this makes us morally superior to many neurotypical people because I believe that people deserve to know the truth. The only time I lie is when my mum asks me if I have homework; I always say “No” so that I don’t have to explain what it is, as it becomes too difficult and annoying. In any other circumstance, I will almost never lie because I automatically tell the truth about almost anything.
I find it very difficult to programme a lie as it means thinking of a situation in a way that it didn’t happen, which I find too hard. My imagination is far too realistic to construct a fake conception on command. Small talk is something else that I can’t cope with it. I have no idea how to reply to trivial questions that simply serve to make me feel uncomfortable when I’m in conversation as they seem far too formulaic. I therefore end up giving formulaic answers in response which makes me feel more uncomfortable as I do not really mean them. In fact, having to come up with such responses makes me feel that I am being programmed like a robot. I would argue that the fact that people on the autism spectrum prefer to have intellectually substantive conversations, rather than indulge in small talk, is something to be proud of. I like to talk about technical subjects, even though at times I can get so into the topic that I make other people feel uncomfortable. My favourite subject to talk about is the British railway network, which I can get far too into but I love talking about it and I am one of probably very few people in the world that can map out the railways in Britain from memory or remember almost every capital city in the world. Neurotypical people need to understand that, although people on the autism spectrum are able to learn social rules, we will never be able to socialise in the arbitrary way manufactured by conventional society. Even though we may upset or anger you with certain ways in which we communicate, we are not being rude; we just don’t always understand how what we said or did is wrong. On occasion, I have written an email that I have seen as fine but which has been labelled rude by the recipient who has responded in a way that I, in turn, have seen as rude. I feel that it would have been better if the respondent had calmly explained to me how to phrase what I meant to say in a nicer manner and respected the difficulty I face in understanding this form of communication. The worst comment I have received about me being on the autism spectrum was “When people first see you, they are not going to know that you are autistic, so it’s best to not let it appear.” Firstly, autism is not something that physically appears and, secondly, I do not choose whether to act in an autistic way or not. The neurotypical world needs to understand this and, most importantly, accept that not all people are the same. I like being on the autism spectrum and to change the way I communicate and see the world would be to change who I am as an individual.
THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING WE CAN EXPERIENCE IS THE MYSTERIOUS. IT IS THE SOURCE OF ALL TRUE ART AND ALL SCIENCE. HE TO WHOM THIS EMOTION IS A STRANGER, WHO CAN NO LONGER PAUSE TO WONDER AND STAND RAPT IN AWE, IS AS GOOD AS DEAD: HIS EYES ARE CLOSED. ALBERT EINSTEIN
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