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Report Back: 122nd Durham Miners' Gala

The numbered captions point to the numbered paragraphs in the article below. Or view this photo essay on my gallery site where the fits text below each picture and it is featured along with Berlin 9-11 and photo essays from the streets of Portland:

 http://rivertext.smugmug.com/
1. band and banner in medieval streets
1. band and banner in medieval streets
2. Come Dungeons Dark or Gallows Grim
2. Come Dungeons Dark or Gallows Grim
3. Marxist-Leninist banner
3. Marxist-Leninist banner
4. The reviewing stand
4. The reviewing stand
5. While the miners sing
5. While the miners sing
6. Close-up of miners
6. Close-up of miners
My first 4th of July in someone else's country passed without my noticing. Then on July 8th at the UK Miners' Gala...

1. band and banner in medieval streets
As America's revolution is almost 1/4 of a millennia old, few come to its celebrations expecting anything but fireworks. Durham's 900 year old Romanesque cathedral (seen in the banner) is now famous as a backdrop in the Harry Potter films. History rolls on long after the sense of connection is gone.

2. Come Dungeons Dark or Gallows Grim
The 122nd Miners' Gala, however, is taking place just 22 years after the last great miners' strike and 10 years after the Conservative government flooded the mines to make sure that there would never be another massive strike.

3. Marxist-Leninist banner
The flooding of the mines and closing of the shipyards of NE England diminished union-based resistance to an ownership society much more advanced than its U.S. counterpart. In the UK 1% of the society owns 70% of the land. This may be the only place in the world where, in a mainstream procession, pictures of Marx and Lenin are still proudly carried through the streets.

4. The reviewing stand
Nonetheless, Britain still seems, to the outsider, a profoundly deferential society. Each band stops and plays for the Lord Mayor and the leaders of the now relatively powerless miners' union.

5. While the miners sing
While there are still former Durham miners to sing traditional songs I'll conclude with the first few phrases of John Berger's remembrance: "When the just cause is defeated, when the courageous are humiliated, when men proven at pit-bottom and pit-head are treated like trash...

6. Close-up of miners
"... when you gradually realize that, whatever words there may be in the dictionary, whatever the Queen says or parliamentary correspondents report, whatever the system calls itself to mask its shamelessness and egoism, when gradually you realize that They are out to break you, out to break your inheritance, your skills, your community, your poetry, your clubs, your home and, wherever possible, your bones too..."

-- Berger quote from "Miners" the opening essay in _Keeping a Rendezvous_ -- Vintage International -- I honestly felt that including more of the quote wouldn't work, would overwhelm the images. It would also be dangerous.

homepage: homepage: http://rivertext.smugmug.com/


interesting post 11.Jul.2006 07:10

thank you

John Berger is great- everyone should read his books.

Just curious, though, about your comment about the quote being "dangerous". Could you elaborate?

the quote 11.Jul.2006 13:58

bt

as the passage continues it talks about a time of "justified vengeance". Although it uses those two words it also uses another word which is more politically loaded --

"when finally people realize this, they may also hear, striking in their head, the hour of assassinations, of justified vengeance."

I didn't want to use it -- not so much because I have no doubt that there are federal computers combing this site in search of that word and because its use can be construed as a federal crime, but because it would, as I said, overwhelm the photo essay.

Then the passage goes on to discuss how, alternatively, art can sometimes "achieve what you are setting out to do in another way, a way less likely to fall out on your comrades and less open to confusion."

And then...

"I can't tell you what art does and how it does it, but I know that often art had judged the judges, pleaded revenge to the innocent and shown to the future what the past suffered, so that it has never been forgotten. I know too that the poweful fear art, whatever its form, when it does this, and that amongst the people such art sometimes runs like a rumor and a legend because it makes sense of what life's brutalities cannot, a sense that unites us, for it is inseparable from a justice at last. Art, when it functions like this, becomes a meeting-place of the invisible, the enduring, guts, and honor."

-- John Berger

thanks! 11.Jul.2006 15:00

Wendy

I appreciate the fuller explantion.

It's terrible that things have come to this- where we feel a measure of intimidation in expressing ourselves- call it self-censorship?- because of what it may mean- for ourselves, for others.

As to censorship of books- there was a time when even Berger's writings were difficult to find in the US. Maybe they still are?


And thanks for providing the great continuation of his words, too.

Time 11.Jul.2006 17:17

Zero

It's been way to long , so very over do fOR a REVOLUTION , Some type of revolution any thing , someting .
The horse can't be dead can it ? sometimes it only takes one person , one movment a bit of wind perhaps .. someting .



I'll start , to day I burn my S.U.V. What will you do ?

finding Berger's books 12.Jul.2006 01:39

bt

John Berger's books are not hard to find now, except that, they are kept in two different places in the stores. Novels and short stories in literature and art commentary in the art section. And then films (For Jonah who will 25 in the Year 2000) at the video rental shop.