Monday, December 12, 2022

Hilton Head Island: celebrity and Pitcairn Island; two poems

The recent Senate race in neighboring Georgia caused me to consider the all-powerful place of celebrity in our society.  A video about Pitcairn Island suggested to me by James, for which I thank him, has too,

Mark Twain said that there is not native criminal class in the United States--except Congress, so it is difficult to say with certainty that one of the candidates in the Georgia race was the least qualified person ever to run for Senate election, but surely he is a contender.  A member of his own party said they would have done better to have run a child.  He had nothing going for him except that he was once an exceptional football player, and still he got almost half the votes.

Pitcairn Island is also noteworthy only because it is a celebrity, made famous by the mutiny on the BOUNTY and subsequent books and movies about it.  There is nothing intrinsically significant about the island.

James asked if I had ever been there.  I have not.  As you can see in the video there is no harbor and no anchorage.  Ships hover offshore and the locals go out in longboats and bring supplies and people in.  Sailing alone I could not go ashore.  This is also true of Easter Island which does have a very marginal tiny harbor into which I would not try to enter even with a boat as small and as maneuverable as GANNET.

I enjoyed the video, although it is an incomplete portrayal of life on the island.  Among other things it does not mention that all but one of the mutineers died within a few years of arriving on the island or the conviction in recent years of several of their male descendants for sexual offenses against underage girls.

Polynesians reached the island as seemingly they did every speck of land in the Pacific Ocean more than a thousand years before the BOUNTY mutineers.  The video shows rock art dating back then.  Wisely the Polynesians decided Pitcairn was not viable.

After I wrote of Han Shan writing his poems on rocks and trees, Pat in Australia emailed about the Aboriginal rock art on that continent dating back millennia.  Such art is found many places in the world and may be the earliest and longest surviving art of all.

There are now about fifty permanent residents on Pitcairn.  Their administrative headquarters are in Auckland, New Zealand.  I don't think they should be forced to leave, but I also think they should receive no subsidies.  I am not impressed by celebrity. 

Here is a link to the video:  watch

I had enough Walt Whitman and switched to Thomas Hardy, whose collected works, including all his novels and poems cost me many years ago all of $2.99 in a Kindle edition.  Hardy was as far as I know the only writer in the English language to have been both a great novelist and a great poet.  I am reading the last book of poetry he published, WINTER WORDS IN VARIOUS MOODS AND METERS.  Here are two, one ironic, one saddening.

The photo was taken at sea during the GANNET voyage, bur I don't remember in what ocean.


Kenneth Sherwood said...

You're passing observation about poet novelists caused me to pause and reflection for a bit. There are very few, and candidates of who I think are often prize for their writing in one genre or the other. Still, if we set aside established judgments there might be one or two. James Weldon Johnson published a fair amount of poetry, perhaps equally famous for his edited anthologies, but his volume of mock oral sermons _Gods Trombones_ it's brilliant and moving, while his confusingly titled novel, _Autobiography of an ex-colored Man_ is a profound exploration of identity, and incidentally has marvelous descriptions of the relationship of jazz (ragtime he called it) and classical music. I suppose you wouldn't favor Kerouac's poetry, so I won't propose him. Maybe Stephen Crane?

Webb said...

I do not know James Weldon Johnson and will seek his writing, Kenneth. Thank you for bringing him to my attention. I had overlooked Stephen Crane and I do like some of his poetry as well as his fiction, but I personally would not put him in the same category as Thomas Hardy.