Thursday 30 August 2012

About Last Night

Well, compared to the Danny Boyle extravaganza that launched the Olympics, last night's Paralympic opening ceremony was positively restrained, even austere. And it was remarkably coherent. Titled Enlightenment (a bit of a clue there), it was nothing less than a full-on celebration of the Enlightenment Project (at this late stage!), offering a vision of Scientific Inquiry and Human Rights marching in lockstep towards an ever brighter future.
  A curious pairing - Science and Rights. Some might say that the advancement of human rights had rather little to do with scientific inquiry, and rather a lot to do with Judaeo-Christian theology and the vision of all humanity being made in the image of God. No room for that kind of thing, of course, in a vibrant, inclusive, multicultural, secular, go-ahead spectacular like last night's. There was, though, room for Shakespeare again - indeed The Tempest again. While the Boyle extravaganza featured Caliban and his isle full of noises, last night's do foregrounded Prospero, that well known scientist and proponent of universal human rights (played by Ian McKellen in a Harry Potterish robe).
  Ah well, it is part of Shakespeare's greatness that all manner of horrors can be perpetrated in his name and he remains what he is, undiminished and undiminishable. As Matthew Arnold put it, 'Others abide our question. Thou are free.'

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