1.THE ecology of the earth is the ecology of language. Understanding how language changes over time and how languages evolve into their appropriate forms in different parts of the world, in different landscapes, prevailing weather patterns and economies of geography, helps us understand the earth’s ecology. And in this understanding, translation is always a liability and always essential. The arts are languages. They are the only international diplomacy that really works.

2. We are all of us, always, between. Between all the inherited memory and whatever oblivion brings. Between a rock and the hardest of places. Between the immovable object and the most unstoppable force. Talk isn’t cheap, it costs lives, and most of what’s delivered on the airwaves is exactly that kind of talk, on every side of the weaponry.

And that’s the only reason for us to be talking and writing, drawing and painting, composing, creating, making things we hope worthwhile, things that help people to live. And for our commitment, whatever we can do with it – against that waste of words and the physical and mortal consequences of language which we’re witnessing for good and ill.

That’s what makes the bloodshed close and all of us complicit: words. Just words. We use them better than most, I hope, more carefully, and with a better sense of respect for what they are than those called leaders, so often named as such for the speed and visibility of the effects they bring to pass, which serve only themselves and then not for betterment at all. Enough. Stay steady. The immovable object will be moved. The unstoppable force will be stopped. Words are what move us. The languages. The arts. They will hold us still in our tracks.

3. Corporations are impersonal. They shrivel back from personal responsibility, but the results of their actions are always personal.

Read Mr & Mrs P&O. Corporate structures are government structures. Read Mr & Mrs BJ, AJ, MG, and so forth. The list goes on. The structures of party politics. They recoil from touching human beings. To them, life is nothing but hostile. Death is much better for business. Business models are machines to make money. Thus we are told we must wait until then, until all the “untils” are over. “There is no other way.” The old story,

the lie.

Scotland is not a corporation. The country is not its government. And Europe is not a corporation, nor a business, nor a bureaucracy, nor a government. It is languages, cultures, ecologies of understanding and expression. It is a portion of humanity, shared. Alive. This is free movement of people. This is what they want stopped. Image is absolute fact. But images are in exchange. And any exchange is narrative. And narrative is sympathy.

Name them, the dealers in arms, the government ministers making what profits they can, from Schneider-Creusot on, that multi-national arms manufacturer with a board of both French and Germans, whose machinery straddled the front in the 1914-18 war, weapons supplied to anyone able to pay. All these organised growths of malignancy. Banks don’t make things, they make debts. For usury, debts are the assets. For those of us alive, they are the liabilities. A stroke of a pen or a business card: profit. The sickness.

The children being killed, the children being carried over borders, say, to Poland from Ukraine, today, in the bitter month of March 2022, the mothers being killed, the fathers, sons and daughters: these are the products of this, slaying the child in the womb. This is the killing of nature. The is potential, cancelled.

This is ecology slain. How to live, then? The only last question worth asking, worth trying to find an answer for that’s true. Think for the whole social order. How to live in a world, responsible? Culture is always no more than ideas when they go into action. Naming is just the first step.

Culture is what’s left and what needs to be disclosed. It is whatever you do. And more. It is secret and secreted. Things go and this remains, but you always need to find it out, to discover, uncover and put it to use. Thus, the need for guides, the stalkers, the guards.

The best are there to help. Doing what we can, to help. Failure is always on the point of over-ruling us. Our enemies are always on the point of total victory. Artists are the tapsters of the world.

But nothing we can tap and draw, pour into jugs and beakers, nothing we can give you, can ever be forced to your lips. Horses drawn to water, and then it’s over to you. Indicate where the nourishment flows, but you need to choose to think. And the world is persuasion, repression and rule. Entrapment comes with enforcement.

Enforcement comes with ignorance, and that’s what they’re about. The technology of arms, the weaponry of mortal simplification, the uniformity of degradation, that’s the rollout. Keep the channels blocked with badness, see the rule of lethal law. It tears bodies apart. It closes minds down.

So, answers to questions, given. What’s history to France but Flaubert, what to Spain but Goya, what to Russia now but Yevtushenko? When Babi Yar is bombed, Chernobyl overtaken, when all the fine distinctions of the world are under the wheels of the tanks? When radio and TV masts are blown up and brought straight down, only the words are left. Remember them. Memorise that which keeps you alive and carry it elsewhere. When there is an elsewhere, unbarred. There are others for whom these words are nourishment, and life, scarce. Water in the desert.

And now the whole world seems completely in the grasp of those whose only motive is called greed. For them the world is purely a commodity, to be entirely consumed. Exhausting its potential is their purpose. Greed consumes but beauty must savour its moment and hold its duration in time. Mindlessness needs mindfulness. White noise needs music. Music is silence in motion, alive. It can be heard. It never ends. It only subsides, for a time. Injustice needs protest. These are the arts.

EVERYWHERE, not noisily, but persistently; not by violent gesture but by all the arts there are. Disagreement is tactics. When imposed as a strategy of control, it is a foreclosure of mental engagement and cultural exchange; when used as part of a strategy of communication, it is a portal to further understanding. Any diagnosis can be argued with. This is the argument.

As part of the foreclosure, it is the generator of Absolutism, the essence of the problem. But as communication, it is part of the cure. But even the cure must come at a price. We can’t make things easily happy or nice. But we can show a way out, the way forward. The security of our direction comes from our understanding of the past, and our application of it. The past is the cradle, the future is sky. The dead, the living, the unborn. We’re all in between, in the shadow lands, drawing all we can from what’s gone. It’s there as far as we live, and only so far. Which is the only reason for the work we can do. The cradle will rock, the cradle will fall. And down comes baby and cradle and all, and then what rises like Colossus?

Some facts are discoveries unlikely to be changed. The planets in our system travel around the sun. It wasn’t always thought so, now it’s known. There is a deep geology to earth. It wasn’t known of widely before the 18th century, but now you find someone who denies it, that person’s faith is dangerous. Slavery was a given, now it’s an abhorrence. We know a little more of what we know is right or wrong, in human ways of making things, this world. Reason has its value in opposing such untruth.

And faith stays blind by choice. Its horror is the proof of fact: progress has been made, things can be better understood, there is still worthwhile work to do. As always, always, pilgrims.

4. The artist Alexander Moffat told me once about something that happened in the spring of 1995, when he went to Berlin to attend a symposium held at the Hochschule der Kunste, entitled, May ’45 – Remembrance and the Future – On the Representation of the Non-Representable in the Arts.

These are Sandy’s words: “The terms of the symposium were set out as follows: ‘In a world plagued by social and ethnic conflict, by war and terrorism, schools of art and design and schools of music are confronted with the challenge to make a contribution toward peace among nations, not only through the work they each carry out in the fields of the arts and education, but also through international

co-operation’. All of the speakers – from Russia, France, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the United Kingdom, the United States, Israel, Poland, Latvia, Estonia – offered

outstanding papers.

“Some were moving, others gripping and some electrifying, especially one by the distinguished German musicologist Hans Heinrich Eggebrecht, On the Relationship of Music to Memory, which he started thinking about on May 8, 1945, as he lay wounded in a prisoner of war camp.

“He ended with these words: ‘Compose, play, teach and contemplate music as devotedly as ever, but in the knowledge that war and Auschwitz did and do exist; and in the knowledge that nothing is more vital than art for the deepening, the honing, the sensitising of our awareness; but also in the knowledge that music can be ambiguous, that it can – yes, even the music of Beethoven, Liszt, and Bruckner – be used in the service of totalitarianism, war, genocide. Therefore, for all your devotion to art, do not lose sight of that which is the basis of everything: experience, which carrying with it as it does the consciousness of war and Auschwitz can be the defining authority for the active rejection of standardisation, intolerance and totalitarianism’.”