1960. A Duke in Costume for Krewe of Terpsichore.
And so it goes.
Nomenclature can get tricky when you think outside the box. What are we to call A Man From the Future, the Pet Shop Boys' tribute to mathematician Alan Turing, elegantly premiered last Wednesday at the Proms? A pop oratorio? A classical audiobiography?
It is narrated by Juliet Stevenson, unkindly housed in a shonky-looking plywood box behind the orchestra. Her steely, authoritative tones remain purposely impassive, a judge passing harsh sentence on an era, even when they describe the death of the Bletchley Park code-breaker's first love from tuberculosis. A lonely bell clangs for this boy called Chris. Later, it clangs for Turing himself, as the piece in eight movements draws to an intense close. We pop heathens do know not to clap in between them.
Turing died young of cyanide poisoning, an assumed suicide, after the innovative mathematician suffered chemical castration and lost his security clearance in the wake of a conviction for gross indecency. (Some do wonder whether his death was in fact suicide .)
His tale works as an operatic tragedy and this piece is extensively sung: by the BBC Singers, augmented by Neil Tennant, who frequently refers to a score housed in a large red folder. They function like a Greek chorus, repeating Stevenson's words theatrically, picking out phrases to drum home. "Can you feel what I think? Do you feel what I feel?" they demand, teasing out the elements of Turing's outer and inner lives. The Enigma code-breaker imagined a "universal machine" that could compute, as far back as the war; boxes, now called computers, that could think outside the box. Turing's innermost feelings, of course, ran painfully counter to the law of the day, and the discussion of his gay leanings gets a breezy, almost swinging treatment, full of longing.
Mainly, though, this tribute is lavishly orchestrated. The BBC Concert Orchestra, conducted by Dominic Wheeler, is doing the heavy lifting tonight. As the piece is often stirring or sad, the strings out-rank the brass and woodwind; I would have liked to hear more from the less strident corners of the ensemble. PSB synth jockey Chris Lowe is hidden at the very back beside some sound guys, identifiable only by a pair of fat red headphones and a baseball cap. Magnificently diffident, clad in shades and jeans, he comes down at the end and doesn't bow.
Turing's story is deeply affecting, and the telling of it by an establishment organisation (the BBC, which runs the Proms) in an establishment venue (the Royal Albert Hall) in an establishment idiom (classical) is cause for celebration. We have come far since sodomy and treachery were felt to be synonymous by the state. (Or have we? Gay men who weren't Enigma code-breakers remain unpardoned.)
But we really could have done with more from Lowe, and modernity more widely. Turing was, after all, a man from The Future. Even given the operatic nature of his tale and the rarefied Proms setting, wrapping this man up in strings seems a contradictory impulse. The very best passages here recall Giorgio by Moroder, a terrific electronic narrative from last year's Daft Punk album, such as when Lowe's vintage analogue sounds, laptop emissions and some unexpected beats (from a man hitting his cello, an excellent touch) penetrate the swell of the classical players.
|Homes facing the ocean seen from the boardwalk.|
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice, who is defending the six Bush Administration officials, responded to the lawsuit by requesting that the case be dismissed. The Bush tribe is claiming that the planning of the war occurred within the scope of their employment and therefore they have immunity.
Rather than dismissing the case, the Judge asked for additional information. So Mr. Comar filed a 2nd amended complaint back in June. The amended complaint provides more details about the planning of the Iraq war and when it started.
Comar essentially made two points to the court.
The first argument he made was something called judicial estoppel. It prevents a party from taking a position in a case which is contrary to a position they have taken in earlier legal proceedings. In this case, Comar used the Nuremburg Trials as an example.
The Nuremburg Trials, which the United States views as legitimate, held Nazi leaders accountable for their acts of aggression. Comar held that judicial estoppel dictates the Bush Administration and DOJ can’t argue that leaders aren’t accountable for acts of aggression because it runs contrary to the US’s position at Nuremburg.
The second point that was made referred to the Augusto Pinochet trial. In 1999, British Lawyers determined that Pinochet did not have immunity for certain acts he committed while in office such as torture and other violations of international law. These Brits held that Pinochet was not immune because Chile had signed the convention against torture.
Comar’s evidence, shows the Bush/Cheney team started planning the invasion of Iraq as far back as 1997. The amended complaint also explains that the war was motivated by personal enrichment and the war was a “crime of aggression.” and - In light of the treaties and charters that the United States has signed, Comar stated that the defence can’t now claim that acts of aggression are above a leader’s authority. In this case, the Bush Administration.