Godot16 July 2016
As-intended I just watched the second act of the 2001 film adaptation of the Samuel Beckett classic absurdist play ‘Waiting For Godot’.
Now the first act, watched on my phone via YouTube on Friday evening, impressed me immensely. Nothing really happens in the play it’s true, but it’s the WAY it happens that makes the play so compelling to watch.
Unfortunately, much as it has been for most of 2016 thus far, world events took over my evening as the news of Turkey’s ill-fated coup attempt filtered through.
No-one seemed to have predicted the military actions, just-as no-one predicted the Nice terrorist’s appalling act. Nice inspires us to say that ‘something must be done’; Turkey though, Turkey is a puzzler.
First it’s a good idea to examine Turkey’s recent but gradual swing of power away from democracy to executive order. The country is in a unique position, strategic in terms of regional defence and in terms of being crucial to European expansion.
Over time Turkey’s importance has only grown; there’s too much at stake for too many partners for the inevitable crackdowns, reprisals, there to elicit more than an odd ‘tut’ from other governments.
Right away, before the implications had time to settle in the minds of foreign governments (all of whom had condemned the coup) the Turkish President dismissed just shy of 2,750 judges and placed the blame for the coup squarely on the shoulders of an exiled religious leader.
To be fair this exile has been deeply critical of the current government. However he’s stated his lack of involvement in the coup and condemned its use of violence. The Turkish President still wants his return though.
US interest in the region requires the use of an air base and Turkish airspace. The Turks, to put pressure on the US to extradite the exiled critic have restricted access to this base. The USA has responded ‘of course you can have him, but show us some evidence of his involvement.’
Not a pleasant time for anyone concerned.
A surprising thing occurred on Friday. Not the numbers of citizen journalists broadcasting via Twitter, not the clumsy takeover of national broadcast networks by the military, nor was it the swift shutting down of most Internet services for ordinary people, nor even the President’s and local leader calls for the citizens to go out into the streets and stare down the army, no. The most surprising turn of events was the President turning to the Internet to appeal for assistance from the people.
Taking into account his distaste of it and his recent desire to restrict it at home, does it perhaps seem a bit two-faced to use it to achieve his own ends?
Everyone has a right to change their position over time. For a government to shift ideologies when it suits them simply seems unjust.
To be honest pretty much everything surprises me these days. Not the coup attempt, that at least followed a pattern established during the twentieth century.
Unsurprisingly, Turkey’s inherent volatility, placed as it is at the meshing point of physical, ideological and religious boundaries, makes it an interesting choice for inclusion in Europe.
Repression of the Kurdish minority, of freedom of expression at home, of the secular in favour of the religious, making laws banning foreign subjects from criticism of the President (laws apparently enforceable by dint of treaty obligation outside of Turkey!), his own security detail assaulting protesters in a recent US visit - all these things are antithetical to the ideals of EU membership, the ideal of democracy.
Nevertheless Turkey remains a necessary bridge between The West and the Middle East and The East.
Oh how I wish it was a bridge a Troll didn’t live beneath. The price to cross is almost too great. But at least there’s some good news: Russia sided with the incumbent government. Yeah, good news…
For much of the year thus far, the news has not been ‘good’, not been kind to us ordinary people.
Every celebrity, musician, playwright, actor, novelist, politician, every one will eventually pass away. It seems that the first half of this year brought us an almost-unbearable number of ‘em actually doing just that.
Viewing this and the changes on the US and UK political maps one could assume that someone discovered the secret of life, the universe and everything, and that consequently our universe has been replaced by something for even more improbable.
Everyone should read Douglas Adams’ Hitchikers Guide to the Galaxy - a trilogy in five parts, just as everyone should watch Waiting For Godot.
Now I have a theory. These things can only make sense at either a specific time in one’s life or after a required number of life experiences have passed. Has to be said: I’m really looking forward to getting the remaining 97% of experience points, or however these things are measured!
Two men, waiting by the side of a road, waiting for a man to come, the purpose of his visit unclear. Two men with opinions on and an understanding of everything and, at the same time, nothing. No, right now I can’t think of a direct link from the play to what’s going on in the world right now. In general terms though; their attempts to make sense of even the limited stimuli present in the almost barren, desolate landscape around them parallel my clumsy attempts to understand politics, the strife we see all around. And life. Mixing a couple of metaphors here, maybe the drip feed prior to the advent of the late twentieth century news firehose would have suited me better; the genie’s out of the bottle though, and our wishes are almost spent.
Stage plays, where were we? My last 3, with the most recent first: Waiting For Godot (YouTube), ‘The Scottish Play’, and a farce during which a man got his knob out on stage. Well yeah, at least my exposure to CULTURE is going the right way!