The Divinely Human Prison: Chapter Thirty-Two: Simon Schama
By Michael Moriarty
"GREAT ART HAS TERRIBLE MANNERS."
All written in capital letters no less.
However, no one knows every exquisite detail of subtly seductive writing with more calmly assured certainty than Simon Schama.
I am now immersed simultaneously in two books by Simon Schama: Citizens plus Landscape and Memory.
Having completed a thoroughly enjoyable pilgrimage through Mr. Schama's The Power of Art, I am looking forward to the adventures he shares about the French Revolution and his extraordinarily moving vision of what seeing and examining Nature for longer than ten seconds really leads us into.
For one alternative, an all-too frequently neglected subject: the chronically painful history of Poland.
The miracle of Poland's mere survival.
Simon Schama, in his penetrating way, has researched the subject of his first chapter, Poland, concentrating upon his family's original homeland with particular emphasis upon the 17th and 18th centuries.
Few are aware of how free from the Ottoman Empire Poland had been at one time.
What has happened subsequently to Poland is all too indelibly written in the more depressing corners of History.
"Poor Poland", particularly its imprisonment under Napoleonic France, Nazi Germany and both Czarist and Stalinist Russia's (not to mention the Ottoman Empire), all is now sealed in my mind forever.
Painfully irresistible reading. A history the agonies of which are only made magnetic by the beauty and wit of Simon Schama's writing.
And that is only the first portion of this profound reminder of how our souls and human conscience are eternally and inseparably tied to our own, personal identities, welded together by "Landscape and Memory".
The opening portion on Poland is not a photograph but a personal portrait of not only its history but its human importance.
The opening quote from Uncle Vanya leads one to the most exact replica of Simon Schama's vocational role models: both Anton Chekov and the prophetic characters out of not only Uncle Vanya but The Cherry Orchard as well.
Thank God for Schama's inner optimism about life. He leads us through some fairly fearsome landscapes and memories.
His intellect is enviably and entirely "renaissance".
Undaunted by any corner of human endeavor, Schama leaps into his subject matters with passionate intensity and the obligatory thoroughness demanded by such feelings.
My first encounter with this author's work, The Power of Art, his portraits of eight legendary painters, from Caravaggio to Rothko, reopened for me all of the visual arts as seen from a uniquely penetrating perspective.
This all-too-brief entry is being cut short because I want to make the deadline for its appearance tomorrow night.
Read and acquaint yourself and become addicted to the infinitely fascinating world of Simon Schama.
You won't regret it!!
Michael Moriarty is a Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning actor who starred in the landmark television series Law and Order from 1990 to 1994. His recent film and TV credits include The Yellow Wallpaper, 12 Hours to Live, Santa Baby and Deadly Skies. Contact Michael at email@example.com. He can be found on Twitter at https://twitter.com/@MGMoriarty.