“I want to stand as close to the edge as I can without going over. Out on the edge you see all the kinds of things you can't see from the center.” Kurt Vonnegut Jr.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Palestine, the comic book

I bought a “comic book” titled Palestine by Joe Sacco because I’ve heard good things about it, and I’ve enjoyed similar books: Maus by Art Spiegelman and Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi. Based on his research, interviews, and personal experiences in Palastinian Occupied Territories in 1991 and 92, the artist's comic takes you there and gives you a first-hand account of the atrocities and suffering in the conflict with Israel. He gives you a close up visual rendering of the physical and emotional conditions of the people, who struggle daily for survival. One of the old women in his story said to him, “How is talking to you going to help me? We don’t want money. We want our land, our humanity.” Sacco has rendered the terrible conditions of life into a compelling and sympathetic artistic documentary. It is sad, but most good stories are sad. The author acknowledged his giddy voyeurism: “Scars? I’ve seen scars! And scabs! What’s next? The Egyptian frontier? The family whose home’s been demolished?” and “…another authentic refugee camp experience… good for the comic, maybe a splash page…” I totally respect him though for showing and telling the story of the Palestinians to people like me who would never think, much less dare to go there. What’s better, his drawing is detailed and realistic, very approachable and interesting.

I had a special birthday recently, so I had a special dinner at one of the best restaurants in New Zealand: The French Cafe. We had the 11 course tasting menu with matching wines, and it was absolutely amazing. It took 3 and a half hours. I was impressed by the service as well as the food. The people I could see working in the kitchen did their jobs with virtually no talking and no noise. I didn't like all the wines, but I liked all the food. I was just tired by the end of the dinner, so would do the 7 course instead next time I've got a special occasion.