Nothing Can Stop It!
…..Well at least his ancestors did. Along with yours and probably mine. (Actually the likelihood of my forefathers being on the slavery boat (pardon the abominable pun) is slim, half of them coming as Russian and Eastern European refugees to England, they just wouldn’t have had the funds. Although I’m sure, if they could have done, they’d have loved to have had a couple of slaves here and there too! A tragedy of economic inequality, eh?)
Unfortunately for Dawkins, this unpleasant fact coming to light is yet another way in which the once great biologist-cum-pop-theologian has experienced the once very distant pendulum swinging straight at his avuncular face.
The angle that Lusher places on this marginally interesting story is just utterly bizarre. As Dawkins points out in his reply, whilst tragic and unpleasant, it is entirely unremarkable that his ancestors committed these acts. They were men of a certain socio-economic status, living at a certain time, amongst a certain set of accepted moral principles. Uninteresting.
What is interesting is that The Telegraph find this story, ‘Man is descended from people who did bad things,’ of note, so interesting in fact, that they even went and published it! If you wish to criticise Dawkins, there are many more relevant and more effective methods of doing so. It’s not particularly big or clever to work out the flaws in Dawkin’s writing, they are self-evident. However it is far less big or clever, to attempt to undermine him on the grounds of something quite so incidental.
Adam Lusher writes that Dawkins is now “facing calls to apologise and make reparations for his family’s past.” I sincerely hope that Lusher will track down every single descendant of a perpetrator of slavery and attempt to extract apologies from them too. Furthermore why not find the descendants of war criminals, maybe even those who sat in courts which condemned people to their deaths, he should certainly pester the progeny of key players in the Salem witch trials. Hell, maybe Lusher should trace this historical blame back to the crucifixion of Dawkin’s most important adversary itself.
Grow up Lusher. Grow up The Telegraph.
This post was part of a series of blogs to advertise ‘Into The Woods’ a musical by Steven Sondheim and James Lapine which I co-directed in February 2012. This was published on www.theyorker.co.uk on the 18th January 2012.
Entry three: Have we gone insane?
It’s my eighth term at university. Time to move into the Harry Fairhurst building permanently, batten down the hatches, and do everything I can to try and scrape my average up. Right? Right. Except that I’m also entering the final weeks of rehearsal for the Central Hall Musical, ‘Into The Woods’. My schedule, which doesn’t currently include my course, production meetings or the inevitable emergency extra rehearsals, is currently totalling around 30 hours a week. My name is Freyja Winterson and I’m a full time idiot.
2am, Saturday, Week 2, Autumn Term. It was Emily (my co-director), Lucy (choreographer), Nick, Tom (Musical Directors) and myself. We’d been in L/036 for approximately sixteen hours, watching recall auditions of 53 people. We’d lost our marbles, any semblance of decorum and our sobriety. We had also cast the show. It was, on balance, a good place to be.
So there it was, cast and ready to go. We started off with a brief meeting in the music department where we were lucky enough to be visited by some poor fresher who had had the misfortune to be in the wrong room, causing much confusion. Nothing bonds a roomful of strangers like somebody else’s awkward embarrassment, not to mention, a few hours later, being the first in the Willow, always an achievement… Fast-forward a few days to the day of the first rehearsal. I was a really nervous and had butterflies in my stomach as I arrived clutching my notebook in which the plans for the next three hours were meticulously laid out. First some ice-breaker games, something to learn everyone’s’ names, all designed to appear very casual and fun - but organised with the precision of laser eye surgery. Why? Because we knew we had to prove ourselves, convince our cast that we would create a show that they would want to be in, trust us to extract the best performance they could physically give. In many ways, directing is like convincing a group of Premiership footballers that you should play Subbuteo using them instead of plastic figurines. I like to think that my directorial skills are at least marginally better than my Subbuteo skills (I am godawful at Subbuteo).
So as the nights drew in, rehearsals came thicker and faster. There were points where it was a little overwhelming. One porter was lucky enough to witness this effect when, on his late night rounds through the Physics building, discovered ‘the Core 5’ (directors, musical-directors and choreographer) as we had taken to calling ourselves, lying in the dark, on the floor, each with our head on the next person’s stomach. I like to think that it was the team having a moment of togetherness, a spiritual gathering, a melding of minds: certainly the porter muttered something about ‘HippySoc’ before continuing on his rounds. In truth we were just languishing in the warmth before braving the chilling cycle home across Walmgate Stray, each of us half hoping that Estates wouldn’t notice if we just kipped on the floor.
The holidays approached, the bags under our eyes darkening, the possibility of spending time with anyone other than the production team, the cast, or a mixture of the two, dwindling. But things were starting, just about starting, to assemble. There was some money in the pot (the result of the previously described slavish regime of selling glow-sticks); the set had been approved by the University’s “Uber-Tsar” of Health and Safety and most importantly, from my perspective, the play was starting to take form. Characters were developing, scenes were coming to life, and the dances were looking great. Time for a three-week break; time enough for everyone to forget everything. Or so I feared.
But as it turns out, my fears were largely misplaced. Rather than forget everything, our wonderful cast had clearly worked incredibly hard over the holidays. Lines were learnt; dances were, mostly, remembered. I couldn’t even let on that I was astonished and proud. After all, we had made it clear that we never expected anything less. I couldn’t let on that I had underestimated them, I’ll only be sharing that with you, the Internet, very private forum I understand….
Anyway, with a cast raring to go, a production team fit to battle dragons behind them, I couldn’t be more psyched to get to week 5. I intend to, as many a wise man has said, ‘SMACK IT!’.
Long long day of meetings for Into The Woods, all incredibly productive and time-consuming but very very exciting. Must finish off my essay for Monday but I just can’t pull myself together…….. The internet is a welcome distraction, unfortunately.
Hey, tumblr’s fun isn’t it!?!?
This is a distress signal
I fear I may have lost all of my marbles
Over and out.