Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Oddments No. 6

Weekly bric a brac from Padraig O'Morain

Photo property of
Ellen Kent Productions

The opera: a celebration of frailty?
Two trips to the opera this weekend left me wondering if part of the appeal of the opera is its celebration of human frailty?

The operas, in National Concert Hall in Dublin were the Ukrainian National Opera of Odessa's presentation of Madama Butterfly and La Traviata in an Ellen Kent touring production.

In both operas there is a wealth of human frailty on display: lust, gullibility, prejudice, general foolishness, greed and so on. Frailty of one kind or another is displayed by most of the main characters and the consequences are catastrophic. In the end, characters redeem themselves through remorse - not something we often see happening in modern dramas.

But there is something healing, I think, about this display of frailty: it normalises what is, yes, normal human experience but which we often fail to acknowledge as such. It also undermines the notion of perfectionism which causes more trouble than it is worth.

Opera does all this sumptuously and beautifully - and these lovely productions from the Odessa opera company were no exception.

Indian texters hiding behind the burka
Young Indian guys and gals are using texting to get around strict social conventions on dating, says this fascinating story by Anand Giridharadas in the New York Times. "Young Indians, girls especially, are taught not to show any interest in the opposite sex," says the story. "The prohibition extends to such behaviors as giggling at a man’s jokes....Most young, middle-class Indians live with their parents, leaving few opportunities for trips back to 'my place.' They often share rooms with siblings into their late 20s, making it hard even to speak privately by telephone. And should they canoodle in public, they risk being found out by ubiquitous uncles and aunts and family friends, who are likely to snitch on them."

Texting helps the young to communicate without being scrutinised by family. For this reason, it has caught on, big time. In Jamshedpur, a steel company town, "the desire to text became so fervent at one all-women’s college that students began renting burqas from Muslim shopkeepers, according to a local news report," the story says. "From under the folds, the women typed amorously to boyfriends and arranged secret trysts off campus."

Imagine that - the burqa as a facilitator of illicit meetings!

False teeth - a memory from the 1960s
The messenger boy got new false teeth, too big, too white, big gawky gob on him, always hanging around, grinning to make sure everybody saw the new teeth. Then one of the guys said, "Hey, those teeth, yah know?" The messenger boy grinned a big, toothy grin. "They make yah look like shite, yah know?"

That wiped the grin off his face alright. That's all I remember.

It's my world, really, and you're all just living in it. Patton Dodd's description of an attitude of mind in Shambala Sun, January 2008.

(This is the complete post. Ignore "Continue reading" link below.)
And here is the rest of it.

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