Tuesday, March 07, 2006

(26) Face to Face.... with an adequate symbol?

John Freeman
"Finally, Lord Russell, I should like you to imagine that this film has been preserved and that it is being viewed by an audience 1,000 years in the future, rather like a Dead Sea Scroll, ...
What would you like to say to that audience..?"

Bertrand Russell
"I should like to say two things; one intellectual the other moral.
The intellectual thing I should like to say is that when investigating the truth about any matter, always to let yourself be guided by the facts...
And the moral thing I should like to say is that love is right; hate is foolish..."

Face to Face,

BBC televison, March 4th 1959

On February 18th 1988 I was reading from Roger Zelazny´s novel The Guns of Avalon.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Guns_of_Avalon

I had reached the point where the central character, Prince Corwin, is returning to America to an old house of his that he has not visited for some years.
He is wondering if a beautiful oriental woodcut will still be in his study or whether looters will have made off with it.

It is called Face to Face, by Yoshitoshi Mori, and depicts two warriors in mortal combat. He would very much like for it to be there, but expects that it will have been taken.

But, to his great surprise, it is where it has always been, "... clean, stark, elegant, violent."
But it is too clean.
It is obvious that someone has removed it and only recently replaced it, as if his return had been anticipated. But he himself had not planned out his visit. It was impromptu.
Corwin is grateful for the woodcut having been looked after, but also troubled "as someone doubtless intended me to be."

As he has not been attacked he feels he must interpret the preservation and restoration as a message of some sort. A contingency arrangement. If he should drop by the old homestead it could only be for this piece of art, so it has been preserved and displayed.
But by whom?

He then notices an envelope with his name written on it in an elegant hand.
Inside he finds a letter from his somewhat estranged brother, who thanks him for the loan of the woodcut and writes of his own appreciation of it and how their tastes are somewhat akin. It has graced his chambers for some years now.
He has indeed thought that it might be the only possible reason for Corwin´s returning to so squalid a locale: "There is something to the subject that strikes a familiar chord. Its retention is to be taken as evidence of my good will and a bid for your attention."

Around 7:30 p.m. on February 22nd 1988 it occurred to me that Bob Geldof had become a modern symbol for compassion. Whether or not he was a truly adequate one was another question.

"His real breakthrough was to show himself, in many ways a flawed character, taking on a global responsibility."
(Today newspaper).

See Entry 175.

At 7:40 I was watching BBC 2. A programme from 1960 was rebroadcast.
It was one of a series of interviews conducted by John Freeman in the series Face to Face. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Face_to_Face_%28TV_series%29
This particular one was with Dr Martin Luther King.

Towards the end, Freeman asked him whether he felt he adequately fitted the role of a symbol for the struggle for civil rights and the rights of Negroes in America?
King said that he was unsure whether he did, twice repeating the phrase "adequate symbol".
... ... ...
The interview was followed by the science programme Horizon.
It addressed the problems of getting machines thinking.
The principal problem expressed in the opening stages of the programme was that of inadequate symbols for rendering human experience into a form that machines could recognise.

Again, the phrases "adequate symbolism" or "inadequate symbolism" were repeated.

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