Muse of the many-twinkling feet whose charms
Are now extended up from legs to arms;
Terpischore – too long misdeem’d a maid…

Byron, The Waltz


Before writing this, I interrupted watching Mendes’ genuine masterpiece Road to Perdition, seen tonight for the eleventh time. In it appears an unspecified beauty of only four years old, this for exactly one and a half seconds.

She is dancing to Irish music, the genre which the composer of this film’s music followed true to character. Of a both sad an joyous beauty, which I never heard in such an intensity in other kinds of folk music, or it must be the sounds from Karpathos, Greece. It really drives me crazy in that ‘high’ meaning of the word – as well as down, because it sounds so heartrending.

The girl’s dancing is of a perfection that one only sees in Brazilian men or women. Not instinct, but education from cradle to grave. Her red hair curled – a peach, you would have liked to see her dancing a little bit longer. Mendes has other, more vile things to show. [see: YouTube, Road to Perdition, Dance Scene]

Shortly before, and deliberately so, as hors d’oeuvre, I played another DVD with English Folk Rock, featuring among others a few very good songs by Fairport Convention. I, however, zapped straight to the bit with music from the band Steeleye Span, especially their version of the old English song Cam Ye O’er Frae France. Here in La Roche I have played this DVD ‘gray’, as one once said about a vinyl record – especially in sleepless, deep night hours.

Already the first time I watched and listened to it, I thought immediately of that redheaded girl in Road to Perdition. Thus, once again, I look at it before the main course of this film night. Appears the grown up Maddy Prior, singer of Steeleye Span.

A horse of a woman she is. Face, mouth, teeth, greyish hair – everything that meets the eye fits this depressing description. Except for those magnificent eyes! They are of a sublime, Kirghizian gray, as beautiful as are the eyes of so many other horses. One is reminded of Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain, in which the wicked woman of the story is said to have such eyes…

Context for me always had primacy over mere content. At least in this case I am proven right. Once again listening to Maddy Prior’s Frae France and observing her move, I fell in love – my Stella Maris of Celtic music, my Consolatrix Afflictorum. With each verse of her song she becomes prettier and prettier – a beauty, like the little lass in Mendes’ movie.



Then all of sudden her voice is silent, the instruments take over, a gorgeous violin supreme. For one moment, she seems to falter. Then my Maddy begins to dance, just for me, there on a stage in a place I know not where. Exactly the same steps she makes, as the swinging little redhead.

Lost in love with a horse’s gray eyes, her hair a curling red. My context and my self evaporate. Those two images define who I am – now.

A definition of happiness.

Sierksma, 12/11/2010 Haarlem/La Roche


Author: rjsiersk

Sierksma was born in Friesland, a 'county' in the northern part of the Netherlands with its own language which he does not speak and with an obstinate population to which he both belongs and does not belong. A retired Professor of Social Philosophy and Aesthetics, as a Harkness fellow he taught at Rutgers and Berkeley Universities in the USA, and at GUAmsterdam and TUDelft in the Netherlands. In 1991 he was awarded his PhD from Leiden University on the subject of 'Surveillance and Task: Labour Discipline between Utilitarianism and Pragmatism'. His books include Minima Memoria (1993), Lost View (2002 with Jan van Geest), and Litter Scent (2013). He has published poems and articles in Te Elfder Ure, Nynade, Oasis and the Architectural Annual. Half the year he lives in Haarlem, the other half he spends in la France Profonde, living ‘in his own words’ as the house out there was bought with the winnings from his essay Eternal Sin, written for the ECI Essay Prize (1993). In this blog, Sierksma's Sequences, written in English, he is peeping round his own and other people’s perspectives. Not easily satisfied with answers nor with questions, he turns his wry wit to a number of philosophical and historical issues. His aim in writing: to make parts of the world light up in his perspective - not my will, thine! Not being a thief, he has no cook, one wife, some children, one lover and three cats. The reader, interested in my writings on aesthetics, literature, and sociology, may want to open Academia.edu, where various pieces are published.

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