Friday, March 14, 2008

Watching again ...

Bronowski

Coming down from the cruel high plains of our beginnings
To stand in the mire of Auschwitz,
With his touchstone of effrontery
Persuades us still and again of ascent.
Through the burning glass of the screen
In the bone-ash cup of his intense integrity,
Assayed, parted, dross falls away.

They don't make them like that any more.

12 comments:

andy said...

Bronowski's "Ascent of Man"? On VHS? DVD? Live TV? I'm coming to France...

Rosie said...

Am I missing something on ARTE?

herhimnbryn said...

They don't do they?
This was the one programme we were allowed to stay up late and watch ( even on a schoolday). I was about 13 at the time and struggled with some of his concepts then, but was in awe of him. And 'that' scene, the one you describe made my heart sear, and my throat tighten, back then and still. Thankyou for reminding me L. And a thankyou to Avus ( who will probably read this) for just 'knowing' that his children had to watch that remarkable man.

Mike said...

They absolutely don't make them like that anymore, and that really is too bad.

Avus said...

Thank you Lucy and thank you HHnB, he was rather wonderful, wasn't he? I could have sat at his feet and listened to anything he wanted to say. The way he had of stopping in mid speech, looking up, and plucking the next words from the air, with that enigmatic, pursed smile.
I have the special edition DVD of his "Ascent" series and he talks therein about that magnificent and terrible moment when he waded into the water, scooped up the ashes and said "you have to reach out and touch people". Apparently it was spontaneous and something he felt he had to do.
He died relatively young, the series wore him out and he was often carried pick-a-back to awkward film spots, he was so weak.
There are not many individuals who make a deep impression and one saves in one's heart over a lifetime - but he was one.
Peace be on him

Lucy said...

We've got it on a 4 disc BBC DVD set, and this is the second time of watching in a couple of years. I get more from it with each watching. I still don't understand everything, but the beauty of it transcends my not understanding!
Hhb, a lovely tribute, to your dad as well. I remember it being on too, we watched as a family, and though I didn't take much in, there was something in the whole atmosphere of it that I knew was magical, solemn, an event.

Buy it now!

Lucy said...

Mike and Avus, you snuck in there!

Thanks both, I'm glad you got it over there too Mike.
Avus, that wasa fabulous, thank you.

Thomas said...

Dear Lu, I have long admired your writings on your blog. This latest piece left me deeply moved. It is a fitting, poetic tribute to a man I am proud to have called my boss, the great Prof. Bronowski. Tom.

Dick said...

Gravitas and accessibility - just about the first talking head to demonstrate TV's potential for changing hearts and minds. A fine tribute, Lucy.

Dave King said...

Wonderful. I have only recently found your blog, but this will definitely bring me back. Those six lines make rather a nonsense of the supposed gulf between the emotional and the cerebral, don't you think?

Lucy said...

Thanks Dave, and welcome.

I don't particularly see it as simply a cerebral science programme, but a very affective exploration of what it means to be human. As such, although I was always an 'artsy' sort of person with no head for science, I find it more moving and powerful even than its arts equivalent 'Civilisation'. Naturally, one must question the distinction between the two disciplines anyway; Bronowski referred to music, sculpture, pictorial art, architecture, as Clark did to architecture, philosophy, music...

Lucas said...

It was indeed a ground breaking programme and your poem clearly evokes that quality of seeing it unfold on the screen. I liked the programme enough to go out and buy the book.