A Sobering Dream

15 July 2014

Periwinkle,

        Ever the commuter, while cycling up Hillview today l watched a rather large Peregrine Falcon fly across the road, directly overhead. I watched the bird soar above the public access field below the road and noted a small songbird, most likely a Sparrow, darting into the falcon, pecking angrily at the larger bird’s feathers. Stately and poised, the predator shirked off the annoyance of the smaller bird. This is a common sight in Montana, Periwinkle. Though, I often associate it with the behavior of the Ravens and Magpies. As I continued cycling along I wondered how many of the Sparrow’s family the Peregrine had killed not too long prior? Commuting (cycling or walking) is often quite interesting as one takes in much more from the surrounding environment. Occasionally I see foxes not too far above where the birds were today. “I saw one recently scamper off with a house cat in its mouth,” a neighbor recently mentioned to me nonchalantly. Nature. Why is it that man so often attempts to circumvent nature? Nature determines outcomes. Nature’s course and its existence are inescapable, as so deemed by her creator.pappillon
        I recently purchased two classic movies. Papillon, a film based upon Henri Charriere’s book and experience while a prisoner in French Guiana and a second Russian film, Repentance. A plebe brother during high school, who is deceased, put me onto Papillon during our freshman year. I read the book in the barracks in the eighties during spare time. Perhaps, Periwinkle, you’ve read the book or seen the movie. The conditions at the prison of Saint Laurent-du-Maroni were quite abhorrent and Charriere seemed to never give up upon escape, enduring immense hardship following many foiled attempts. Finally, atop a sack of coconuts, Charriere (played by Mcqueen) eventually escaped from Devil’s Island to the coast of Venezuela. The character and persona of Louis Dega (a convicted French war bond counterfeiter played by Hoffman), however, seemed to resonate a bit stronger as Dega eventually accepted his captive fate. Dega turns to gardening and raising animals on a small plot of land on the island. For more on Devil’s Island you can research Alfred Dreyfus as well, a political prisoner who was sentenced to Saint Laurent. Charriere’s work is unique, but it reminds me of Bonivard’s experiences as well as chronicled in Byron’s The Prisoner of Chillon. I enjoyed reacquainting with the Papillon, watching it one evening with one of the kids.IMG_6311
        I watched for the first time Repentance last night. I had told my daughter earlier in the day while taking her to a friends about an odd dream I had had the night prior, Perikinkle. I had drempt of our family driving and then walking through an old wooded forest. Near the end of the dream, we crossed through a single strand of barbed wire and entered a large logging plant’s grounds. There were large cedar logs laying in piles among chips and other still standing trees. An odd scene. The foreman arrived and he had a still vivid conversation with us indicating that we were not trespassing and that the grounds were public, almost as though it were a park. We peacefully left the area as a group and that was the last of the recollection. Repentance, directed by Tengiz Abuladze, portrays life during the Stalin purges. Varlam, a town mayor in the film who symbolically represents Stalin, sentences (purges) many in the town to labor camps, including an artist, Sandro, who he accuses of acting and thinking independently. Sandro’s works are deemed to somehow reflect such philosophical leanings. He was “sentenced to 10 years of exile without right of correspondence.” Later Sandro’s wife and daughter rush to the trains coming into a local lumber yard where they wade through piles of wet puddles and mud with others to read the the base of the logs where prisoners have carved their status. A sad scene occurs of weeping spouses lying against logs despondent, realizing the tragic fate of their husbands while a forklift driver obliviously works in the mire. This had a chilling effect on me given my comments to my daughter earlier in the day. The film was bizarre as it employed psychological techniques. A baker goes on trial for digging up Varlam three times following his funeral, saying to bury him is to bury his past actions. She set the corpse in view of Varlam’s son who throughout the movie denies to Tornike, his son, the past wrongdoings of his father. During the baker’s capture, Torndike shoots, but does not kill her during another attempt to dig up his grandfather’s corpse. A lengthy trial ensues. Eventually, Torndike realizes that his father has lied to him all along regarding the horrid actions of his grandfather, Varlam. Torndike kills himself following a dispute about the suppression of the past with his father. The film had me thinking a bit of Dostoevsky’s short story Environment in his A Writer’s Diary where Dostoevsky outlines how Russian juries often behaved softheartedly based on the societal environment, often exonerating the “unfortunates.” This would certainly not apply to the baker, however, who in the film is the protagonist. The trial itself brought Dostoevsky to mind though. The prosecutors’ sought to purse mental illness as a case against the baker, wishing to send her to a facility to be reevaluated though she had been already medically cleared of such fallacious accusations. Requiem, a poem by Anna Akhmatova also covers the Russian era of purging.

        Hoping you are quite well, I am

Very Truly Yours,

Tetraneuris

Post Script: I see today during her presentation, the Fed’s Chairwoman has taken to educating investors about the lofty levels of certain sectors of the market, namely social media, biotechnology and high yield bond prices. This brought back thoughts of Mr. G’s “irrational exuberance” discussion during the technology bubble of the late 1990s. Low rates for prolonged periods cause such things. Is it the role of the Fed to point out such matters? The Fed should be principally concerned with inflation. Periwinkle, you already know my view on this matter. Politics dictates that employment remain part of its mandate and “slack” was cited today as an on going concern. There has also been talk of a greater Fed focus on regulatory oversight. As mentioned above, nature eventually dictates matters. A transfer of obligations has occurred. The legislative bodies have not acted to remedy what ails the economy, namely encouraging more innovation and entrepreneurial drive through competitive corporate tax regimens, attracting investment. Debt levels have not been reduced and deficit spending continues unabated. Perhaps this is out of fear of potential unrest. Or, perhaps this is due to a desire to not curtail spending which the Keynesian types erroneously prescribe during such difficult periods. Large levels of debt generally mandate lower rates (hurting pensioners) in order that it may be serviced. The fact is that this is a global scenario, of course. Which banker will raise rates first? is the question and what will be the ripples? This is a gray area. One thing was certainly accurate, the comment that the economy is still in recovery mode, dealing with the slow deleveraging process and the lingering effects of a significant financial bubble having burst.

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