Weekly review 20 August 2017

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By Ronnie Smith 

Les Baux-de-Provence, a prophesy

It’s been a strange week in this strangest of years. The malign influence of Trump seems to permeate everything if the media, all media, is to be believed, like fine Scottish rain soaking its way into the bone on a barren hillside.

In an effort to break the spell I found myself in the beautiful hilltop village of Les Baux-de-Provence to visit the current exhibition at Carrières de Lumières, produced by ‘Culturespaces’. I’d never heard of either Les Baux-de-Provence or Carrières de Lumières until this week, the whole wonderful experience was my wife’s idea as usual. It has become apparent over the years that, without my fabulous wife, I wouldn’t go anywhere and would be found one day, utterly unkempt, stuck to a chair and weighing around 25 Kilos, by an estate agent showing potential clients around what was thought to be a vacant apartment. 

Anyway, Carrières de Lumières is a converted limestone quarry in which great works of fine art are enlarged and projected onto the walls, accompanied by an appropriate soundtrack. The impact of the performance is astounding and I could honestly have stayed there all day.

This summer the works of Hieronymus Bosch (born 1450), Pieter Bruegel (born 1525) and Giuseppe Arcimboldo (born 1593) are featured, and Bosch and Bruegel, in particular, impressed me deeply. I’ve never paid much attention to these artists until now, but their vision of the human race heading entirely in the wrong direction, having shunned God’s word in the medieval period,, seems particularly striking today. I find that to be extraordinary given that they are from the 15th and 16th centuries and here we are, in the 21st, still going down the same road.

Bruegel especially, in the detail of his complex scenes of ordinary town and village life, densely populated by the opportunistic, the venal and the vain who star most effectively in his masterpiece ‘The Tower of Babel’ which contains over 1,000 tiny characters. I left the exhibition profoundly affected by the paintings, regretting my ignorance of these artists and impressed by how their message remains important and relevant today. They really do speak to us from a distance of 600 years whereas Trump, if he doesn’t blow us all up, will be gone and forgotten in less than 10. 

Washington, meltdown

Because of the media scrutiny that Trump is under it seems that each day brings at least one new scandal. Of course the man loves the attention and he may actually be the most voracious publicity hound in the history of the world, via his overheated self-aggrandising twitter account. Nonetheless it is incredible to think that in a single week he came close to declaring war on North Korea, intensified the already fundamental divisions within the United States by justifying (not supporting) the activities of white supremacists, appointed a young woman of no political experience (who he is rumoured to ‘like’) to the position of White House Director of Communications and continued his war on the US media and pretty much everyone else of any political and economic importance in the country. 

All the while the numerous investigations into the relationships that Trump has with the Russian state and its oligarchs continue, speeding like a spread of torpedoes towards their rolling target.

One cannot call Trump’s presidency unstable, that is too mild a description. By all political criteria the United States is without an effective executive branch of government. Trump has absolutely no idea how to be President and cannot offer any kind of genuine leadership to the country. He trusts no-one outside a close circle of family and friends and so many government posts simply remain unfilled, he has a staggeringly poor relationship with the other branches of government, he is hilariously inarticulate which makes it easy for the media to misrepresent and exaggerate what he tries to say. If he was an apprentice on his famous reality TV show he would have fired himself long ago.

Trump’s administration is turning the United States into the most alarming painting by Pieter Bruegel and yet, because of Trump’s spectacularly unhinged hopelessness he bestrides the world like a colossus in the most ridiculous way. While at home, most of those who voted for him still support him, employment statistics have been heading firmly north since his election and Wall Street is booming.

Strange.

Catalunya, another mass murder

The murders in Barcelona and Cambrils on Thursday prove again that there is a deranged branch of Islam who believe that all one’s problems can be solved by murdering random innocent strangers and then being killed oneself by the police.

These fools are too stupid to realise that turning themselves into murderers has nothing to with anyone’s God. Their actions simply are an extension of their own ego. They worship nothing but their vanity and they destroy themselves and the lives of many other people, through their cowardice, for nothing. They are the personification of hell.

I say again that all of those who are suspected by the police and other security services of being involved in this obvious conspiracy to commit murder should be detained without limit of time. If Trump’s vanity has been imagined by Bruegel then these killers are the Godless monsters first seen by Hieronymus Bosch.