The Malta Independent 22 July 2019, Monday

Hollow tunes

Charles Flores Sunday, 16 June 2019, 10:46 Last update: about 2 months ago

Even for the neutral observer, if he or she really exists within the confines of this 316-square kilometres of land, the current PN situation must be causing suppressed amusement and some consternation as the struggle to avoid a final rapture rupture hots up. The now brazen turmoil has become daily no, sorry, hourly news, with updates, retorts, counter retorts and confrontational social media posts easing themselves into the headlines. The last indications before I signed off this piece were of a dethroning.

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But put yourself in the shoes of a true-blue, traditional Nationalist supporter, one who has been through thick and thin and has always been there for the party at both village and national level, and how do you think you would you react to the current diabolical scenario? Where would you go? Towards which side would you incline the middle-of-the-night poster-sticking apart?

These are not simple questions to answer because, on one side you have a strong group of have-beens with Nationalist roots and a Nationalist DNA but who don’t seem too willing to move aside for the new generation of politicians who may have their own ideas on how to turn an electoral armageddon into some kind of future to take over.

On the other side of the burning bridge lies what was, after all, first perceived as the new home-coming for the party, a group of pretenders for the throne who were hooked in by the promise of a new way – certainly much-needed, given the results of the past three general elections:  2008, 2013 and 2017.

In the midst of all this there was, of course, the notorious blogger who, after each and every one of these electoral defeats, published and unpublished reports had manifestly blamed for the collapse.

As downbeat PN followers go, however, for them probably nothing sounds more hollow than the heartfelt appeals from so-called neutrals and rival-party exponents for the PN to get its act back together for the country to have a proper, better-functioning Opposition. It all sounds so noble, albeit hackneyed enough, but the truth is that colossal political conundrums have nothing sentimental or even remotely nostalgic about them; one just has to plod on and hope for the best his or her talent can offer. It really does boil down to that one special person who can plunge into the surging waters, stop the flood and start pumping out the liquid surplus.

The do-gooders in politics, the media and the community cannot do anything more than, well, offer good, unsolicited advice. Nor can inter-party mediators produce positive results if they have had a tainted past in connection with one faction or the other. When I read things like:It’s high time they (PN) get their act together for the sake of the country”, I tend to smile wryly. We all enjoy – yes, yours truly not excluded – giving that bit of gooey counsel, but in the end decisions – hopefully the right ones – are the only way out of the political labyrinth in which the PN has, blindly or not, found itself.

However, back to the traditional Nationalist supporter. He or she is free to tell every do-gooder to stick his advice up somewhere pretty uncomfortable, but there is no alternative to deciding which way to go – give in to multi-times-defeated family brand names, or sway towards the new bricklayers, inheritors of a dislocated estate and, come what may, to the lifting tune of ‘the only way is up’?

The country may be in abject need of a strong Opposition, but it is only that same traditional Nationalist voter who can decide what is to happen to his or her party. Such sorry stories have occurred everywhere in the world. In Europe alone, we have witnessed the demise of practically all Communist and Socialist parties, most of which safely transitioned to centre-left labels on the ideological fertility album. The Christian Democrats, on what used to be the mild right, have not fared any better, with most of them metamorphosing into other, more politically comforting, conceptions.

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Millennial soul-searching

As I fidget with the last details of my new poetry book after a somewhat long absence from the domain of the bards, I was thrilled to read recently that millennials are turning to poetry to help them understand the world around them. At least this is what the new, young poets are saying in the UK.

Recently appointed, the new Poet Laureate, Simon Armitage, came out saying he wants to help poetry “explore its potential” in a multi-media age. He was immediately supported by Mica Montana, a published poet who insists that millennials want to know their souls deeper in order to manage their mental health. Good to know if you’re just about to publish a poetry book.

Montana also said that the questions of meaning and identity for the new generation are “no longer answerable by occupation, what we can achieve or what degrees we hold, because we have seen how these things have failed to hold the minds of those in the generations before us.” How many “ouches” can I hear from those of us who, on getting a belated degree or two, thought the job seemed done and properly dealt with?

The young poet drove it in: “Before we work, we want to know who we are. We want to know who we can be. What it means to feel.” Erm, but aren’t we going to have robots toiling away for us, for you, Mica? She continued: “We want to know what it means to exist as a human being and the answers to these questions come from the poets, the explorers of soul. The revealers of heart. Those who represent life and remind us that there is a beauty within it. Those who re-introduce the wonder of being alive that has been drowned out by the obligations of society.”

Fair enough. OK, I kinda agree with that. This millennial generation must be bursting with hope, life and enthusiasm for the future… if we care to listen to it, which is why I have dedicated one of my poems in the new book to Greta Thunberg. Yeah, that Greta.

Eloquently echoing the thoughts of her generation in the UK – and here in Malta? – Montana says that, for her, reading poetry, listening to poetry and writing poetry is a reminder of what it is to be human in one’s fullness.

How can I dispute that? Must tell David, my publisher, about it – even if, come to think of it, I am not exactly a millennial….

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