Tuesday, 12 February 2008

Truth Commissioner

For reasons too complex to explain here, I found myself alone at David Park's book launch tonight, in Belfast's Linen Hall Library. (I love that venue! The glassy strip of staircase rising four, five stories high between Victorian shops).

I haven't read The Truth Commissioner. It arrived on my bedside table just before I fell asleep last night. So I was not only alone; I was ignorant. I've never read any of David Park's books. Criminally negligent-ly Ignorant.

I came home with an armful. All written out of the Troubles, it seems. What else is there, if you come from here? Well... I guess to write from here and not find the Troubles on the sleeve is to have neglected one permeating factor in all our lives.

Odd then, that so much preaching, sermon-writing, modern praise music emanating from the Northern part of this Island seems to ignore that claustrophobic elephant. The one we hope will go away if we don't talk about it. What sort of Truth is this, that castigates only our enemies, condemns only Others, and fails to empower Protestants to stay in an area when Roman Catholics move in?

Truth has been substantially decommissioned; laid aside in a dark space, out of sight, while we quietly go out of our minds. Fill them with makeovers, holidays, new kitchens and plasma tellies - and despise anyone who chooses greener, more neighbourly tv-free lifestyles. While sneering and superficiality are in vogue, what philanthropist will commission new works?

Artists of the World Unite. You have nothing to lose but your audience.

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