Friday 6 February 2015


Warning: There will be disturbing images in this post.

And probably unwelcome viewpoints, which will offend your sensibilities.

But then you probably knew that already.


So, apparently, the world is incensed about the burning alive of a Jordanian fighter pilot by ISIS.

That’s all good. I totally don’t condone anyone’s being burned alive. This is something that should not happen.

Actually, I have watched the video of the Burning Alive, and I must say I strongly share the doubts of many online commentators about the episode. Before going on further, I’ll just summarise them for you:

The scene opens with a slick, professionally shot image of a ruined city. We see our protagonist, the pilot, walking alone and unescorted, dressed in an orange jumpsuit, towards the camera, and towards men dressed in desert camouflage pattern uniforms (hitherto unnoticed among the photos of ISIS I’ve seen, by the way) who are waiting in line.

 The production is, actually, very, very slick, and we then see him in a cage with the camera jump-cutting repeatedly to his face to catch his expression.

Then one of the uniformed men takes a torch and touches it to the ground some distance from the cage, whereupon it races towards him in a line of fire he stands watching. I don’t know about you, but if I were in that position, I’d have – I don’t know, run to the other side of the cage? Tried to climb to the top? Tried to run away before ever being even put in the cage? I mean, what the hell could they do, shoot me?

And then there’s a pool of fire around his feet, and the camera angle changes as he slowly and dramatically collapses into the exact centre of the pool of fire occupying the middle of the cage, and apparently only the middle of the cage. The last we see is a poignantly kneeling figure, enveloped in flames.

Damn, real or not, I’ve seen less competent production in major professionally edited movies.

By the way, I've heard it said that he didn't move because he couldn't - his feet were tied in place. That's obviously not true going by the photos above, which show clearly that not only were they not tied together, but they weren't tied to the cage floor...because there isn't a cage floor.

Anyway, the point isn’t whether the video was real or not, and even if it was faked, as I strongly suspect, the chances are extremely great that the pilot, Muath al-Kaseasbeh, is no longer with us; it would be most inconvenient if he turned up alive at a later stage in proceedings. The point is the tidal wave of condemnation that “poured in”, riding on a sea of hypocrisy.

Hypocrisy? Yes, hypocrisy.

Let’s assume that this young pilot was actually immolated alive as depicted in the video. Let’s also assume that it was actually ISIS which burned him, and on its own, not because it had been told to by someone with a vested interest. I’ll also ignore the ISIS justification for burning him alive – that he was treated as he treated those he bombed – as immaterial. 

Let's also take it as read that burning is somehow worse than, say, beheading someone, or droning schools, or bombing TV stations, or eating someone's heart on video. Let's call burning a unique crime. All right.

Well, and so what do we have?

We have Dresden, where tens of thousands, at least, were burned alive by a deliberately created firestorm - all of whom were innocent, in a city with no military value whatsoever, just so Churchill could make a point to Stalin.

And it is these people who are crying outrage.

We have the memory of Vietnamese villages napalmed by US planes, children, clothes burned off their bodies, running screaming at the camera. We have – in that same decade of the 1960s – black Americans burned to death by cheering lynch mobs in the deep south of the United States. We have the Highway of Death in 1991, when retreating Iraqi troops were firebombed for hours by American planes, even though the soldiers had stopped fighting, were withdrawing, and were not attempting to shoot back. We have these same Americans using white phosphorus incendiaries on Fallujah in 2004, incinerating people en masse.

These are the people now crying outrage.

We have the Zionists who as recently as 2009 used white phosphorus on Gaza, in full glare of the cameras, to burn children.

And they are the ones who are outraged.

We have the Japanese who in Nanjing raped women to death, or raped them half to death and burned what was left.

And they are the ones outraged.

We have the hundred or more unarmed protestors burned alive by a Nazi mob in Odessa in May 2014, while police watched, doing nothing; the same Nazis coddled and protected by Supreme Warmonger-in-Chief Barack Obama and the rest of the Western coalition allegedly “fighting” ISIS.

And it is the same West which is “outraged”.

We have the Hindunazis in India, who in January 1999 burned alive an Australian missionary, Graham Staines, and his two young children. These Hindunazis, only three years later, murdered perhaps two thousand Muslims in Gujarat, a huge number of them by burning alive. In one case a pregnant woman was raped, disembowelled by a sword, the foetus pulled out of her belly and impaled on a spike before being burned. And then she was thrown into the fire.

And it is these people who are “outraged”.

At this point in time I don’t know what to be more outraged by, their actions...or by their outrage.

Look, here’s a Japanese soldier who was incinerated on Guadalcanal, and his head stuck on his tank.

Tell him all about their outrage.

Sex and Sniper

Strange world
Where the act that brings us into it
Is called obscene;
And one who takes us out of it
Is called a hero.

Copyright B Purkayastha 2015

Image Source (Which I suggest you click on)

Thursday 5 February 2015

The Fall of Night

Once upon a time, long, long ago, there was a god and a goddess. The god was the god of stone; and he was as hard and strong as the material itself, as inflexible and uncompromising. The goddess was the god of water, and she was sparkling and clear as the fluid, and like it she found her own way. And, as happens, these two, the god and the goddess, detested each other.

This would not normally have been a problem, but one day the goddess was tripping down a slope, the water foaming from her feet, when she came across the god, who was headed across her way. And the two stopped and glared at each other.

“Stone,” said the god, “has the right of way over water, for stone is mightier and stronger.”

“No,” the goddess said. “It is water which is greater, and has the right of passage.”

They argued back and forth, and could not resolve their dispute.

“We must have a contest,” the god said at last. “We shall prove once and for all which is greater, stone or water; and that person shall have the right of way.”

The goddess of water agreed, and the two of them began the contest.

First the goddess sent water down into a gap between two hills, hoping to create a river so as to cut off one side from the other; but the god of stone dammed the pass with a wall of stone, so that the water flowed, baffled, back towards the goddess.

Then the goddess sent more water into the pass, so that it seemed that it would break the dam and wash it away; but the god made the stone stronger and thicker, so that the water was held back, turbulent in frustration at its confinement.

Then the goddess sent even more water, so that at last the flood grew so high that, try as the god of stone might, the water overflowed the dam and flowed down into the pass, cutting off one side from the other. But the god built a fresh dam, and then one more, so that the space between the hills was always closed.

Then the goddess sent the water through the earth, little by little washing and grinding away at the living stone, until she had undermined the rock and tunnelled through to flood the valley below. But the god made more hills of stone, so that the water was turned aside, and the goddess had to find another way again. Which she did.

So the aeons passed, and the god and the goddess continued their feud, the god always winning the battles, and losing the larger war; but neither would ever give up, for fear of acknowledging the other as the greater. But one day the god and goddess looked up, and saw that the sky was different, looking as it had never been before; dark as a bruise, in which a huge swollen sun hung, white and yellow, red and grey.

Then the god and goddess looked up at the sun, and they asked it, “Why are you this way?”

The sun laughed back at them. “While you were playing your little games,” it said, “I have grown to the point where I shall consume the earth, and your stone, and your water, and you as well. I cannot help myself, for what must be, must be.”

The god and goddess looked back at the sun. “And after you consume us,” they said, “what happens?”

Then the sky the colour of a bruise said nothing, but grew darker still; and the three of them all knew.

And water and stone were forgotten, and the god and goddess held each other and shivered, and the sun, too, as it grew and grew, huddled together with them, helpless against the fall of night.


1. This is obviously a photograph of the painting, not a scan. Yes, it's on stone. Yes, I am experimenting with more different materials.

2. The story was written for the painting, not the other way round.

Title: The Fall of Night
Material: Acrylic on Stone.
Copyright: B Purkayastha 2015