We Are Such Stuff As Dreams Are Made Of...
Well, how wonderful was that?!
Of course the map ain’t the territory and every version of the past, present and future is just a story and always a biased and distorted one too. Maybe even more so when it’s our national myth and we’re going through such a huge sea change?
Lots left out, much bad not said… but hey, the isle was certainly full of noises.
And what an amazing celebration of our creativity, innovation, community, political activism, multiculturalism, joy in living..music, dance and generally having a good time it was.
Really a vision of the very best of us, wry and witty and cheeky too… as Dizzy says ‘Some people think I’m bonkers but I just think I’m free!”
Loved the opening sequence – the run up the river with the laughing children in the water and the “God Save the Queen!” from the Sex Pistols to which many Brits will instantly add, under their breath, “The Fascist Re-gime!” and snort at the humour of including it at the start of our international showcase.
I especially loved the way all the set-piece anthems of national pomp and circumstance, usually with their big rolling drums, were simply drained down of power.
The children in their pastel jim-jams singing unaccompanied and deaf-signing ‘God Save Our Gracious…” transformed it into a sweet nursery rhyme.
All the tropes of empire and colonialism were utterly neutralised and the Queen herself parachuting to us out of a helicopter really captured this new British tone… and we were amused!
‘Abide With Me’ sung so sparingly by beautiful, composed Emeli Sande was a real revelation.. and so touching and true, no roaring triumphal certainties but a quiet, inner grace.
Bateson was fascinated by messages and meta-messages. ”Is this play?” he asked of two young mammals chasing each other and rolling about. How do they signal to each other that the fighting is only ‘pretend’?
He wrote about art too and the meta-messages of certain art forms and structures and how they created the ‘hard’ culture of a national and ethnic identity and world view.
What would it be like if the giant lions in Trafalgar Square were made of wood for example? How would that completely revolutionise their meaning as symbols of a world-dominating empire?
So seeing, hearing and feeling the re-inflected and re-contextualised symbols, songs and tunes of our culture in transition created something new, something rich and strange even.
There go our brave Suffragettes, our determined Jarrow hunger marchers, our groovy Beatles, our jiving doctors, our silly Mr Bean, our gorgeous Mr Beckham, our sweet teenagers and the sad, dear, joyous, funny, mix of history and achievements and sorrows and delights.
I know, I know there’s lots of bad things to say about the past and in the present our unelected government is actually dismantling the NHS and selling it off to their friends just as we were all globally celebrating it , and yes, don’t mention the war and yes, we don’t really seem to care about our young people or we would provide better for them… I know, I know.
And I know we’re in a completely avoidable double-dip recession and we can’t afford to partay on this scale.. and Voldemort did turn up too.
But just for one night Danny Boyle, and his amateur cast of thousands of our dear friends and families, created some new possibilities for our world.. and not the cloud-capped towers or the gorgeous palaces as per usual but as an inclusive, many-petalled fire of connection, as that stupendous torch, so rightly cheered, balletically moved into it’s final, radiant form.
Generous, exuberant, quirky, eccentric … artistic, hopeful..heartfelt.
Bateson writes “Art is a part of man’s quest for grace” and I think we got some of that.
Robert Dilts says his favourite definition of NLP is “Tools for Dreamers”.
“And when I woke, I cried to dream again.”