• Upcoming trips



    13-23 January, 2018 Cruise out of New York around the Caribbean on the Norwegian Gem. Note : this trip has been cancelled altogether because of the damage caused by the hurricanes to the Caribbean islands.

    October 31st - 11 November. Caribbean cruise to break up the winter. Note: The itinerary has not yet been determined owing to the havoc wreaked by the hurricanes.
  • theatre and Concerrts

    October 8 Went to BAM, for the first time since Ethel died, to hear a wonderful modern opera composed and written by Matthew Aucoin called “Crossing”. It is based on Walt Whitman’s experience and the libretto is largely taken from his poetry.

    The story is multi-themed, as modern plays tend to be; the first is a harrowing anti war depiction of the suffering wounded seen through Whitman’s eyes when he volunteered as a nurse during the American civil war; the second is Slavery and its effect upon a run-away slave who fights on the Union side; the third is treachery portrayed by a guilt-laden deserter who spies for the South. And forth, inevitably these days, is the (entirely fictional) homosexual one.

    The powerful music fits the story perfectly and the voices of the lead singers and the chorus is magnificent; Rod Gilfry, bass-baritone, sings the part of Walt Whitman, Alexander Lewis plays John Wormley, the deserter, and Davone Tines, whose baritone reminded me, distinctly, of the sound of the legendary Paul Robeson.  Both Christine and I were extremely moved by the work. We newly discovered Walt Whitman’s poetry, too.

    October 20. Thanks to the invitation of our friend Francia, who is a member, we went to the Diller-Quaile School of Music to listen to a chamber concert given by the Diller-Quaile String Quartet. The program was comprised of Haydn and Debussy quartets; played magnificently by very experienced and talented musicians in an intimate. and perfectly designed, music space. Chatting with the musicians after the concert added to a first class evening.

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Introduction

The Memoirs of: bwthompson@lifeline/nr.end/hom.sap

(Full chapter index below right)

What manner of ego motivates an autobiographer, I wonder? Is there any justification for encumbering the minds of unsuspecting readers with memories of events which shaped one’s own life? Certainly, yesterday’s movers and shakers were confident that their successes improved the fate of mankind; that their failures were the fault of others; and thus owed posterity a duty to set down their version of history before the revisionists of the next generation got at it. My own view is that the passing decades, centuries and millennia will prove them wildly mistaken. Winston Churchill, for example, would he have waxed so eloquent if he had foreseen that the net result of his successes would be the impoverishment of Britain? That Germany and Japan, the very enemies the Brits expended so much of their wealth and blood to defeat, were soon to become the its economic masters, second only to the United States? And take Karl Marx and his monumental effort to devise a perfect social system which would function without the aid of human nature–would he have bothered if he had known that his most famous disciple, Joseph Stalin, would use it to murder a million of his own people and grind the rest into fearful poverty? Or would give rise to a Pol Pot or a ‘gang of four’?

But, what of the mass of ordinary people? Without them, the movers and shakers would not have much to move and their shaking would be fruitless. Tiny, as they may be, the contributions each of us makes, become the totality of the history of man’s existence, and the absence of even one alters the end result! Are the lives and tribulations of the common man of any interest though? They determine Homo sapiens’ path to glory or extinction, so the answer ought to be “yes”. But the common man has rarely been able to express his innermost thoughts in the past, let alone commit them to paper. He agonizes inwardly over his failures–“If only” starts many a long train of introspection. He is secretly proud of his successes; the little manoeuvres he performed in order to improve the lot of his family and himself; the backing he gave to friends and family in times of stress; his passing-on of his values and his pride of craftsmanship; his survival even; all give him a feeling of inner satisfaction. A feeling that he has, after all, changed the cutting-edge direction a little.

Why, then, should his flower be left to blush unseen now that technology has given him the chance to set down his thoughts with ease? The computer, chat rooms, web-pages and e-mail have released him from the bondage of silent acceptance–He may not command the attention of the masses but still, the satisfaction of engaging in the dialogue, even if it is only among his intimate circle of friends and family, is much the same as that of those power-wielders monopolizing the headlines. It may be a matter of degree, but, in the end, it is the individual’s own ego which senses achievement and failure.

In my case, my memories and perceptions are my very own. I have disdained all research—I like my memories and conclusions as they are. In putting them to paper, I have been guided somewhat by the adage: ‘Don’t confuse me with the facts–my memory is already made up!’

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