Regular readers here at PCaL may have noticed (from the sidebar) that I’ve been reading a fair bit of stuff lately from the Orkney writer George Mackay Brown. Indeed, Brown’s work was the focus of my recent sabbatical project (to be continued) wherein I have been particularly interested in Brown’s presentation of the notion of time. But more on that later.
Brown’s third novel, Time in a Red Coat, is an extraordinary tale of a somewhat Melchizedekian heroine who travels through time in order to bring healing to a history and race marked by tragedy, mistrust and violence, and by the sheer absence of an imagination of a world unmarked by such.
Along the way, I was struck by these words, and was again reminded of the great pagan charade that Antipodeans know as ‘Anzac Day‘ (celebrated each year on 25 April, a day marked to remember the dishonesty of worldly politics, the brutality of empire, and by the fact that many ministers serving in the Antipodes are seduced every April by a temptation to place their salvation on the line):
‘If a knight was brought into the courtyard mortally wounded, words like “heroism” and “glory” and “fame” were invoked to cover the ugliness – and beautiful words were carved on his tomb stone’. (pp. 36–37)