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Friday, 1 February 2013

Separating the Men from the Boys. Francis Ledwidge.

Feeling bemused and cross both today, after last nights trip to Django Unchained with my husband. He is impressed at my new  tough mindedness in not, as is my habit,  burying my head in his shoulder at the visual onslaught of, surely, buckets of blood. "Oh it just became old hat after the first five exploding bodies " I assure him. " a side issue".  And it did.  I was engaged, intrigued  by  the movie until three quarters of the way through.  The last twenty minutes rendered  me incredulous. Firstly, I watched the heroine squeal,  squawk , cower and simper for the entire time, despite showing promise of being quite something, in earlier descriptions.  The  other  female on offer  was (monstrously) of the simpering kind also, mostly  at her brother Leo DiCaprio's character in some dodgy  incestuous/ oedipal melange..  The Older Back Man  was shown to be equally monstrous  and in cahoots with  the dark side. And I know,  I know,  its  a fantastical visitation from present day African American MAN  to the deep south  to exact a fantastical  revenge, but why oh why so clownishly one dimensional? . Its 2pac Unleashed.   Real   women,  older men,  are redundant in this fine  scenario.  Its laughable,  adolescent,  mysogenistic,  self indulgent  male fantasy..... unbound.

 Basically,  Django splattered. He splattered  everyone; figuratively  father and  mother,  literally all the  bad white folk,  watched admiringly by the enslaved, being  themselves incapable. You might say the movie is an insult to the suffering of those people. It may even have managed, unwittingly, to be an indictment on a kind of gun toting  macho black male culture, current in America . But I don't want to give it too much credit.  Not for the grown ups then. Not for the men  One  for the boys.

On Monday,  my husband asks the boy if he would like to learn how to shoot., in a proper shooting range. The boy is stunned to silence and then offers that he WOULD  in  breathless tones. He had been talking at length and most  knowledgeably about tanks, weaponry,  panzer divisions?  in the Second World  War  with my quite as interested spouse. The spouse  did  a  stint in the army when he was a young man,  and is  pretty positive about it. The outdoors,  the courses, the discipline and sense of control it gave him. And he  discovered that he was a crack shot.

The boy has  recently joined Facebook  and finds,  I think, that  his horizons expand on a daily basis.   Well,  you know, GIRLS, who I am not going to mention.  But also  touching  base with new people,  like ,  for instance a  German youth, who told him about his older  brothers having  served in the  Army when  national service was obligatory, and how he may himself do likewise. "Oh and you know they (the Germans) have an army in reserve if they ever need one". Hmm   My husband  is interested in the  idea of training, of  learning to  handle  oneself , the acquisition of  basic self  control as a  man. A sort of  rite of passage, if you like. Me,  I  think of hours on the  X Box,  obesity,  eternal boys who never  leave home and  assume a man's estate. The twin horrors of  young male suicide and homicide. And  I wonder.

Later the boy, six foot one in his stocking feet,  roars into his sisters face as he snatches the Laptop from her. I ponder, as I gird my loins to squash him good, whether the Army visits schools on career/ future planning /day, these days? Now that would be a cunning plan, a brilliant wheeze. Yep, that  might work. I'm guessing not.

OH I know that solders have a function, go to war. I know that. I am calculating enough to think this an unlikely outcome in Ireland just now, and  see a limited learning curve only.  But still  I think of Francis Ledwidge the poet and nationalist, who fought and lost his life   in the First World War,  twenty nine years old,  because, he said, he would not stay to enjoy freedoms that other men had fought  and died for. Son of a labourer, he became a poet, and before he was blown  to pieces and put in the ground at Passchendaele, wrote this;

Broom out the floor now, lay the fender by,
                  and plant this bee-sucked bough of woodbine there,
And let the window down. The butterfly
                  floats in upon the sunbeam, and the fair,
 Tanned face of June, the nomad gypsy.
above her widespread wares, the while she
the farmers fortunes in the fields,
                       and quaffs
the water from the spider peopled wells.

The hedges are all drowned in green grass
and bobbing poppies flare like elmo's light
       while siren like the pollen-stained bees
drone in the clover depths. And up the
The cockoo's voice is hoarse and broke with
And on the lowland crops the crows make
Nor fear the clappers of the farmer's boy,
Who sleeps, like drunken Noah in the
And loop this red rose in that hazel ring
         that snares your little ear, for June is short.
And we must joy in it and dance and sing
        And from her bounty draw her rosy worth.
Ay, soon the swallows will be flying south
     The wind wheel north to gather in the snow,
Even the roses split on youth's red mouth
      will soon blow down the road all roses go.