‘You may lift your lanterns … it will still be night!’

This is the house.  On one side there is darkness,
On one side there is light.
Into the darkness you may lift your lanterns—
O, any number—it will still be night.
And here are echoing stairs to lead you downward
To long sonorous halls.
And here is spring forever at these windows,
With roses on the walls.

Words from Conrad Aiken’s ‘House of Dust’. Thinking of Western politicians, even should they suddenly champion the light in 2023, it is, sadly, too late.

Music, a sudden glissando, sinister, troubled,
A drift of wind-torn petals, before him passes
Down jangled streets, and dies.
The bodies of old and young, of maimed and lovely,
Are slowly borne to earth, with a dirge of cries.

Down cobbled streets they come; down huddled stairways;
Through silent halls; through carven golden doorways;
From freezing rooms as bare as rock.
The curtains are closed across deserted windows.
Earth streams out of the shovel …

Conrad Aiken 1889-1973

“The stag has chosen me” – Alina Starkov (Shadow and Bone, Season II now on Netflix).

While the Shadow & Bone adaptation doesn’t spend too much time on the history of the Stag, the novels clearly outline its importance to the Ravka people. It is an ancient and white, glowing stag that only appears at twilight. The Stag can talk and even grant wishes to those who capture it. Because of its magical qualities, the Stag was believed to be a myth by the Ravka’. (Brynne Ramella 28.04.21) .

Jessie Mei Li born in Brighton 1995 to an English mother and a Hong Kong Chinese father. Li was diagnosed with ADHA in early adulthood.

Fortress of War (2010) on Amazon Prime. 1941, with similar dynamics in Europe 2023. Watch and …

True to life? Yes, sadly.

The Brest Fortress was the first military site in the Soviet Union to be hit by the German army on 22 June 22 1941. Completely cut off from the main forces, its 9,000-strong garrison put up fierce resistance for more than a week. Individual soldiers continued to fight almost until the end of July.

The movie was shot jointly by Russian and Belarusian filmmakers. During the shooting, which took place on the territory of the original fortress, the remains of Soviet soldiers, unexploded bombs and shells were discovered.

The film is told from the perspective of an old man telling his grandson about the battle that he had lived through whilst the same age as his grandson. The main character ( at the time of the battle) is an orphan who lives in the Fortress with his older brother, both are in the Red Army .

DIRECTOR: Aleksandr Kott was born on 22 February 1973 in Moscow, USSR [now Russia]. He is a director and producer, known for Test (2014), Fotograf (1998) and Insayt (2015). He is married to Anna Tsukanova-Kott. They have one child.

Aleksandr has a twin brother, Vladimir, who is also director and writer.

Four ‘War Films’ so far in 2023, though I prefer to call them ‘Human Courage Films’. All on Prime Video.

The Occupation (2020) tells the incredible true story of Sara Goralnik, a 13 year-old Polish Jew, whose entire family was killed by Nazis in September 1942. Michael K writes: A very well made film which shows what life was like in a peasant farming community in occupied Eastern Europe during WW2. The settings and characters provide strong authenticity and the story line illustrates the terrible collateral damage war extracts on innocent civilians.

PERSIAN LESSONS (20210 inspired by true events. This moving story about a Jewish prisoner in a prison of war camp in France is harrowing at times but the main characters are excellently portrayed and keep you enthralled. Well acted and filmed which give a feel for the conditions the prisoners were kept under. Nahuel P Biscayart plays the prisoner and a German favourite of ours, Lars Eidinger, plays the Officer (Watching him also in ‘Faking Hitler’ and Berlin Babylon 4 at the moment).

ESCAPE FROM SOBIBOR (2019) Horrendous in part, the film is based, on the Sobibor revolt which occurred in 1943 in German-occupied Poland. The main character of the movie is the Jewish-Soviet soldier Alexander Pechersky, who was a lieutenant in the Red Army. In October 1943, he was deported to the Sobibor death camp, where Jews were being exterminated in gas chambers. In just three weeks, Pechersky planned an uprising with prisoners from Poland and other locations around Western Europe. This uprising was partly successful, allowing roughly 300 prisoners to escape, of whom roughly 60 survived the war – Wikipedia. Only when reading up did I ‘place the face’ of the cruel commandant – Christopher Lambert, who is now 65. Tarzan! I thought those eyes looked familiar.

LOCAL SKIRMISH (2017) another film from Russia, directed by Aleksey Kozlov. World War II, 31 December 1943. A quartermaster squad of five Russian soldiers, trailing the front line by 20km or so, march into a tiny, mostly abandoned village on the road to Pskov. 

I’m going to quote madmonty12345 in full, as he encapsulates what we felt: ‘Now and again a little movie comes along which manages to convey more about a subject than any big blockbuster. I thoroughly recommend it, and I argue in its hour and a half, does a better job telling a soldiers story in war than many Hollywood war movies I’ve seen, no histrionics , none of the American style ‘a mans gotta do what a mans gotta do’ guff , no flag waving or chest beating here and its all the better for it. Its a small budget movie,so there are some scenes where the acting isn’t top notch, but in a way it makes the film feel all the more real, especially its small location of the farmstead.’


Europe 2023?

If I long for a shore in Europe,

It’s a small pond, dark, cold, remote,

The odor of evening, and a child full of sorrow

Who stoops to launch a crumbled paper boat.

(From Rimbaud’s ‘The Drunken Boat’)

Now I, a little lost boat, in swirling debris …

True, I’ve cried too much …

Bruno Amadio’s ‘Crying Boy’

Arthur Rimbaud 1854-1891

A comedian who speaks his role, Coerced, full of desperation – boredom!

Yes. Summed up in a few words by Georg Trakl, the sad soul that is V Zelenski. As a priest, I see them as his lament, beyond ‘A-cry-for-Help’, even.

The saddest of images? A comedian or clown beyond redemption, maybe? Or, at least, indifferent to salvation.

The front-man in a ‘bad play, staged on graves, corpses’.

The coloured pictures which life paints,
I see them gloomily only by twilights,
Like frizzy distorted shadows, cloudy and cold,
Hardly born, already defeated by death.
And since the mask fell from everything,
I see only fear, desperation, disgrace and plagues,
Mankind’s heroless tragedy,
A bad play, staged on graves, corpses …

A comedian who speaks his role,
Coerced, full of desperation – boredom!

(From Georg Trakl’s Confiteor ‘I Confess’)

Verdi at his most sublime – Sit still, close your eyes and enjoy!

UCLA Verdi La Forza Del Destino – La vergine degli Angeli https://youtu.be/GCFFbUBgbBQ via @YouTube

And maybe absorb Baudelaire’s ‘Hymn’ before listening a second time?

To the all dear, to the all beautiful,
who fills my heart with clarity,
to the angel, to the immortal idol,
All hail, in immortality!
She flows through my reality,
air, mixed with the salt sea-swell:
into my soul’s ecstasy,
pours the essence of the eternal;
Ever-fresh sachet, that scents
the dear corner’s atmospheric light,
hidden smoke, of the burning censer,
in the secret paths of night.
How, incorruptible love,
to express your endless verities?
Grain of musk, unseen, above,
in the depths of my infinities!
To the all dear, to the all beautiful,
who is my joy, my health, my sanity,
to the angel, to the immortal idol,
All hail in immortality!

Giuseppe Verdi d 1851
Charles Baudelaire d 1867

Armaments 1933 – 2023 and nothing changes. ‘The necessity in the technique of armament salesmanship is the use of Press influence. The heavy sale of armaments depends upon the state of tension in international relations. Therefore public psychology must be kept nervous … ‘


The purchasers of armaments are Governments. The success of the business, therefore, depends upon persuading Governments to buy.

No Government wishes to spend money. Taxation is unpopular. But every Government will spend money on armaments if convinced that the expenditure is necessary for national defence.

Therefore the first things an armament firm must do is to convince Governments that its articles are indispensable for this purpose.

An armament firm produces a new type of death-dealing instrument and submits it to a Government. The instrument is costly. The Government knows that no rival Power possesses it, and turns it down. 

The armament firm is not discouraged. It knows that it has only to get one Government to buy the new type of death-dealer and immediately all governments will buy. Any War Minister who neglected to order the latest weapons in use would betray the sacred cause of national defence.

So the armament firm seeks out some Government which is nervous about the arms of some rival nation. “Take this new invention,” says the firm, “and you need fear your rival no longer.”

Or the firm seeks out some small nation just launching out in armaments expenditure, with a Government or ruler who will take pride in possessing the first of a new type of armament.

It does not matter how insignificant the Government is: once get the new invention on the market and no Government will dare to be without it.

But sometimes there is a difficulty. The Governments of small nations cannot afford to buy. So comes the second principle of armament selling: Governments must be lent money if necessary. That involves a close relationship with the banks.

It will be convenient, therefore, if armament directors happen to be bank directors; perhaps the armament firm will run a bank itself to facilitate the loan. The loan will be made on conditions that orders are placed with the firm. 

The next necessity in the technique of armament salesmanship is the use of Press influence. The heavy sale of armaments depends upon the state of tension in international relations. Therefore public psychology must be kept nervous. This not only involves making the Press of your own country suspicious of other countries: the Press of other countries must be nervous of the intentions of your country. 

Armament salesmanship therefore requires close connection with the Press. Own newspapers if you can. Some of your directors should certainly also be directors of newspapers. Don’t be too squeamish about the truth of your stories. Publicity knows no morals. Good business depends upon war scares. Foment them!

Fenner Brockway. The Bloody Traffic. London: Victor Gollancz, 1933. 28-31.