raises so many contemporary ecological and philosophical questions about this planet on which we are all one ( earthlings)
Well, it’s been on since the 21st of October this year , a couple of our friends have seen it and finally, last night, my better half and I eventually betook ourselves to the theatre (Stockholms Stadsteater) to see the Harry Martinson spacecraft Earth Odyssey, Aniara
I don’t know to what extent and how the text Aniara has been adapted for this theatre production – being more familiar with the English translation when I last saw another theatre production, many many years ago. (I was introduced to Swedish poetry through translations into English and that was before I arrived in Sweden on holidays with my Swedish wife some 40 years ago. Today, I still prefer W.H. Auden’s Penguin translations of Gunnar Ekelöf to all others now that I prefer Ekelöf in the original Swedish.)
I intend to write something of a review of this production of Aniara later but here and now, let me still warmly recommend the Stockholm’s Stadsteater production of Aniara – far away from the mundane, soulless inanities and uninitiated pedestrian & philistine amateur babble about “style” in the world after Roland Barthes, where such PROFUNDITY is presented on a platter in an epic poem or in the theatre ! Where else could this piece be produced with such a star-studded cast and such scenography, such MUSIC? Where else? Berlin? Paris? London? Barcelona? Moscow? Cairo? Tehran? Beijing?
Cheers and thumbs up for Andreas Kleerup and musical team – well, the cast and musical team got a standing ovation…….
Once upon a time (around the time I was being brought up in the 50s Merry England it was mostly about “manners maketh man” – and so I was taught to not say “sweat” but “perspire”. To not say “lie”, but “fib”. To always have a white handkerchief in my pocket to have my shoe laces tied and my socks pulled up, to say “yes please” and “no thank you” – to be modest, to have a tie on to school and a blazer, to have garters for my hose. On all occasions to be exceedingly polite. – my guardian – my Aunt Nelly – a Dutch woman after all became personal secretary to Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa, Nigeria’s first Prime Minister. She taught me how to behave. There’s nobody – anywhere – can teach me about manners. I may not always do, but I know how to.
Since then I’ve leaned how to use the barnyard epithet in communicating with the uncouth, who one of my aristocratic British friends refers to as “street”. Sometimes the only recourse is to use their street language, the kind of language they best understand – yeah, Caliban too can curse. You don’t need an Honours degree in English Language and Literature from the University of Durham to be able to do that.
Or a degree in philosophy to exceed the limit or to talk to your friends who went to Harvard.
I will never be able to tell my “third world” friends enough about
– and among my third world friends I include my West, East and Southern African brothers and sisters for many of whom university degrees are of such unimaginable importance – and of course my Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani friends for whom MAs and PhDs are premium stuff, the very stuff of matrimonial adverts in the Times of India, The Hindu etc. where those degrees along with caste and Green Card Holder status plus six to seven figure dollar salaries are the sort of things that make a prospective bride or groom attractive. Plus relevant/ compatible caste and colour. “Wheat coloured” also features prominently. I still don’t know what “wheat coloured” looks like – perhaps, like peroxide blond? Neti neti? I don’t know, haven’t yet met or trucked with “wheat-coloured” – or have I?
But here is Harry Martinson, I tell all a them, a man – a Swede, who merely had six years of schooling, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature. That’s greatness – like Malcolm X – from nothing, to something. His autobiography
was one of the chosen texts when I studied Swedish and it sort of introduced us to the man and his childhood. Reading childhood’s autobiographies such as Soyinka’s “ Ake” leaves one still reeling with this thought once penned by Sylvester Ekundayo Rowe – my senior by more than a decade ( but we once took part in an essay competition which he won – must have been around 1962 or so, and I remember the concluding line of his essay, here it is:
“The tragedy is that whereas a child’s dream to become a man is realised, the man’s dream to escape from the wonderful realities of manhood, into the exciting innocence of childhood, remains a nightmare.”…
Yesterday evening, as my better half and I trudged through the Stockholm snow to the theatre entrance, I found myself thinking about Aniara and these few lines in Bishop Krister Stendahl’s New York Times obituary, that
“In an interview with The New York Times in 1974, Dr. Stendahl rejected Christians’ emphasis on life after death as “selfish” and as absent from Judaism and early Christianity. But life on other planets was another story.”
Perhaps even as you read this Krister Stendahl and Harry Martisson may still be travelling faster than light towards some planet in some galaxy beyond the beyond - and there they shall meet and commingle?
You deserve the name ” sage”?