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Issue 40, Nov. 2012 - Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

Issue 40, Nov. 2012 - Johannes Gutenberg-Universität Mainz

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Dear Subscriber / Reader, 3 Editorial The SNP has now got another two years left to convince the Scots that independence would be better for them than what they have at the moment. This will not be easy. Human beings generally prefer to stay where they are and what they are, especially when they are not sure that a radical change will really bring improvements. And not only Ian Rankin thinks that Scots basically abhor change. Sociologists, economists, many people working in the social services, investigating social policy, and the social, economic, and political situation in Scotland, however, claim that there is an urgent need for radical changes. (Cf. the review of the book Social Justice below and the Rankin source there.) Many people in other countries felt this need in connection with the disastrous financial crisis in 2008. Politicians promised changes then, but they are nowhere visible. Visible, however, are people suffering from huge budget cuts and austerity measures that are applied with the intention of reducing the tremendous deficits piled up by both irresponsible politicians and greedy bankers. What has the Scottish referendum got to do with this? Very much, once the 2014 event is seen in these and other relevant contexts. This is precisely what the 2013 conference 'Scotland 2014: Coming of Age and Loss of Innocence?' wants to do. It will investigate the referendum in all of its momentous dimensions. For this purpose, speakers from all relevant areas of society have been invited, in order to address this topic from their point of view and in this way help to create a fairly comprehensive survey of ideas, opinions, and evaluations. A holistic understanding is not instantly created in this way, but it is ultimately intended. What can at least be achieved is an interdisciplinary view of the situation Scotland is now in. And that can only be constructive. One small but relevant indication of the broad view offered by the conference is the inclusion of at least two people from the arts in these discussions, from which they are too often excluded. The participants and the areas they speak from will soon be announced on the conference website, where further information is already available. What the referendum and the discussions about it really need to address from now on was wonderfully expressed by Ian Bell of the Herald, who not only declared that public statements and articles in the media must abandon narrow party perspectives, but also pointed out how much more is at the heart of the matter: "The point at issue, the real meaning of the 2014 question, whatever the words, is independence of mind. For or against? The rest is pernicious chatter." (http://www.heraldscotland.com/comment/columnists/at-last-its-time-to-get-downto-the-heart-of-the-matter.18778208) He could not have described both the core problem of 2014 and the intention of the 2013 conference in a better way. That is why we would very much like to have Ian Bell as a speaker at the conference. If you can help us get into contact with him and one or two other equally good journalists, we would be grateful. One or two politicians are also still wanted for this event. And, as it says at the conference website, we'd be grateful for any further suggestions. So, indeed, very much still needs to be done, and good results can be achieved only with the support of a community that is certain about its objectives. The objectives of Scottish Studies are an enhancement of knowledge and understanding of Scottish affairs. Your support in this endeavour has been excellent, and we are looking forward to hearing more from you. The Editors Professor Dr. Horst W. Drescher – Lothar Görke – Professor Dr. Klaus Peter Müller – Ron Walker November 2012 Scottish Studies Newsletter 40, November 2012

4 New Scottish Poetry The poem below is from Rug of a Thousand Colours, a bilingual collection of poetry in English and Arabic by Scottish poet and founder of the Scottish Poetry Library, Tessa Ransford, and Iyad Hayatleh, a Palestinian poet from Syria, who now lives in Scotland. The poems represent a conversation between the two poets, a dialogue between their languages and cultures, and take their inspiration from the Five Pillars of Islam. One of these pillars, pilgrimage, is the inspiration for this poem. Pilgrimage by Tessa Ransford I saw the Canterbury Pilgrims in procession, tongues wagging with their tales, a pellmell people‟s holiday excursion along with dogs and horses, all and sundry there, not sure they want to know each other well but forced to get along the road together, just that painted crowd, that April morning. And so with me. I have no other chance and need to make my journey from this place this crowd of witnesses around me this century and season these rules and these conditions for the trip. As pilgrims we sleep after each day‟s advance and shelter as best we may, no thought for the morrow except to keep in the right direction. We jest and talk. We have come far and must go forward each day not waiting for what befalls. The temple dream is granted to those who dare to wait and wait in the dark while, hardly discernible, an image lies ahead: the great winged shrine to which we‟re all enthralled. That shade of death is present in my childhood disease and dynamite on either hand. Progress does not describe my journey winding round and each ordeal repeated: Despond again, the Hill to climb, another and always another with racket of fireworks, Vanity Fair recurring. When Faithful dies, as I let him, and Hope scarcely abides without that friend; when Despair imprisons and Promise is no sure key of release, I creep back and find old tales – of love of love of love of love. Not once in a lifetime this pilgrimage Scottish Studies Newsletter 40, November 2012

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