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john davies
notes from a small vicar
from a parish
in Liverpool, UK

    Friday, February 15, 2008
    We Are the People

    One of our favourite postcards in Tom Phillips' We Are the People collection [see yesterday's blog] was this shot titled Studio Aeronauts. c. 1911. Two blokes sticking their torsos through holes in a canvas to playfully cast themselves alongside Wilbur and Orville and other high-fly pioneers of their day. No wonder Phillips is selling prints of this online: it's a delight.

    The most disconcerting postcard in the exhibition had a similar theme: people in a plane. But this plane was a British bomber over Dresden and the people in it were gleefully strafing German civilians. There's no sight of that card on Tom's site or anywhere else I've looked; it's perhaps rather too painful to recall how We, the People delighted in a gruesomely vengeful carnage which in terms of casualties and damage far exceeded what had been done by the enemy over here (as if numbers matter though).

    Where to go with this sobering thought on the 63rd anniversary of the Dresden bombings? Perhaps to another anniversary: this weekend also marks the 50th anniversary of CND. Sad to reflect that We, the People have from time to time either delighted in or at least taken to coldly justifying the savage nuclear bombing actions at the end of the Second World War. And to consider that, though influential in two periods, the Fifties and the Eighties, CND has remained an outsider organisation. Time to celebrate, though, that at least CND has remained - thankfully proving that some of the People, some of the time, pointedly resist the high-tech ariel destruction of others.

    Top pic: Tom Phillips' We Are the People collection