Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Elliptical circuits

Among the more interesting items in this morning's paper was the announcement of the 'transit of Mercury'. From what I understand, this is essentially an eclipse. From what I know of astrology, a transit of Mercury suggests change.

Then in my emails I found a message from my friend, Jean. She offered a reminder that today is the 90th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. I found some odd irony in that fact, especially in light of today’s announcement that Donald Rumsfeld, one of the primary architects of the war in Iraq, has resigned. It felt like maybe it would be a day for change.

Later today I wrote my annual birthday letter to Kurt Vonnegut, a tradition I’ve followed for probably close to twenty years. His b’day, if you can believe it, is Remembrance Day, although I think they call it something else in that country where he lives. Still, it is all about remembering – and commemorating the end of a war they once called the War to End All Wars. Right. If only.

Tonight, I went to a wonderful play at the Vancouver East Cultural Centre. A piece by Tim Carlson, called “Diplomacy”. Set in Ottawa (where else, with a title like that?), it reveals the disintegration of a man and his beliefs. Roy, the focal character, is a Vietnam draft dodger who came to Canada in the mid-’60s. Over the course of his career, he’s written a book about Lester Pearson, and distinguished himself as a tenured professor who believes in and teaches peace. Set in the present, it raises questions we need to be asking about what we’re doing in Afghanistan – as well as what’s going on in Iraq or Lebanon or pretty well anyplace else in the Middle East.

Central to the story is remembering. Whether that’s remembering another war that was based in lies (are they all?), or remembering the Buddhist monks who immolated themselves (or for that matter, Norman Morrison, a Quaker who did the same thing).

Carlson’s script leads us from one revelation to the next, and never hits us over the head, even though some of his characters do exactly that. I loved the fact that at the end of the show, people were asking each other, “So, was he a terrorist?” Unresolved was the only ending such a play could have had.

And then, during the long ride home, there was the calming voice of Eleanor Wachtel on the radio. She was talking with the just-announced winner of the Giller Prize, Vincent Lam. He spoke a bit about his background (his parents grew up in Saigon, came to Canada separately during the Vietnam War). He mentioned how as immigrants, his parents had worked at just about every kind of job – short order cook, you know the drill. Only now, how his father is a Canadian diplomat.

A diplomat, a play called “Diplomacy” – sometimes it all just seems to go in such a circle. Remembering the past and, hopefully, learning from it.

The play runs through Remembrance Day, so there's still time to see it. The planet Mercury eclipsed the sun today. Maybe there really is some kind of change on the wind.


Janet said...

Thanks for including some notes on Diplomacy - I wanted to go but didn't make it.

hg said...

Today's only the 9th, Janet. Believe me, it's worth the trip into the big scary city.

Although if that's really impossible, Talonbooks will be releasing the script in book form this coming spring. The music and acting won't be there, but I bet the words will stand up!