Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Meredith’s 26th Birthday: A Seasonal Ballet That We Know She Very Much Liked…

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Posted by Our Main Posters on 12/28/11 at 04:25 AM in

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It was unusual that Meredith was so far advanced both in classical ballet and martial arts. I know a lot of people in each of those worlds but I never met anyone who excelled in both of them. She made interesting choices. A strong minded girl.

These four ballet companies above are respectively in St Petersburg (Russian star Natasha Osipova’s own company); New York city (Balanchine’s NY City Ballet); Lausanne in Switzerland (avant garde company of Maurice Bejart); and SEATTLE!

Seattle has an impressively lively cultural scene which is close to and maybe equal to San Francisco’s, and the lively Pacific Northwest Ballet is one of the top half-dozen American companies. They have posted dozens of videos.

Tchaikovsky died thinking the Nutcracker had been a failure. But it went on to be the most performed ballet in the world. Variations on the dances and use of the music are considerable. Here’s the haunting Arabian Dance music promoting Dubai!

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Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/28/11 at 05:33 AM | #

A note yesterday from Meredith’s family to thank us and add this: “On her birthday tomorrow we shall be at the cemetry to deliver her birthday cards and flowers as usual. And we might toast her with a drink afterwards. She would have been 26 years old. Love her for always.”

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/28/11 at 06:00 PM | #

The big UK companies (Royal, English, and Royal Birmingham) all present Nutcrackers annually and we are told the sweeping Royal version is the one Meredith saw at Covent Garden.

In the United States several hundred versions are presented around this time of year. There are over a dozen within an hour of where I live. For years the leading classical company, the American Ballet Theatre, in New York, resisted the trend but it succumbed in 2010 for financial reasons with a “new” version by their Russian choreographer Ratmansky going back to the ballet’s roots. 

In Europe and Russia and other parts of the world the Nutcracker ballet is not nearly as popular and it is presented far less often. If the Nutcracker had been my own introduction to ballet my interest would probably have stopped right there.  The Waltz of the Snowflakes and the Arabian Dance are both really haunting, but the rest I can take only every several years.

Many first-time ballet goers react the same way to the Nutcracker, and this effect has tended to largely confine audiences for other ballets to moms and their ballerina daughters. (Most US girls and women have some dance experience in their lives.)  This has led to the deep concern that US ballet is Nutcrackered out - making lots of money annually from this one event, but attracting no new people to other ballets.

Two things had me bypassing this loop (almost universal for men in the US) around seven years ago. Getting to know almost by chance some of the top dancers via Facebook and encounters, and helping some of them when they fell on hard times. Gentle perfectionists and workaholics who make relatively little money and mostly get little personal recognition throughout their professional lives. 

And seeing first of all the large dramatic ballets with up to 100 dancers on stage and a full orchestra on the huge stages at Manhattan’s Lincoln Center. THEN you see what real ballet is about. See a major Swan Lake or Bayadere or Lady of the Camellias with a large company and orchestra and you risk becoming an addict for life.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/28/11 at 06:49 PM | #

12/28/11   Happy Birthday, Meredith, Sweet 26th

These lovely ballets are the perfect memorial to Meredith. Elegance becomes her and the highest things.

I met a man of Indian looks and accent today at the track. He asked me how many laps I was walking. We laughed and chatted. The place was deserted except for the two of us. He left a wonderful impression. We ended by saying Happy New Year and, “enjoy the sunshine.” “Yes,” he said, and departed on his bicycle. His last word to me was YES with such a merry sound. I took this as a living Message from Meredith, since I was thinking about her on her birthday, about what to do for a small memorial. His foreign accent was comforting.

Soon afterwards I made a donation in memory of Meredith to the W.F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research. I’d seen their ad in “Biblical Archaeology Review” magazine,  discovered it this very morning on her birthday (Jan/Feb 2012 issue of BAR) Ad says, Become a Friend of the Albright Today!

Albright Institute is the oldest American research center in the Middle East (Jerusalem, I believe) where students from around the world conduct research in ancient Near Eastern studies including Biblical archaeology, history, literature, and related fields. It sounded so international and so Meredith.

Albright Institute provides a training ground for the next generation of American archaelogists working in Israel, a logistical base for 30 American excavation projects, and a friendly environment for interaction of Israeli, Palestinian, American, and international researchers.

Meredith’s life is truly a gift that keeps on giving, inspiring so many great things, ringing true despite her absence, pointing us to music, dance, beauty, vitality, life, and joy. Happy 26th day marking your birth, Meredith Susanna Cara Kercher.

Posted by Hopeful on 12/28/11 at 09:15 PM | #

Peter, it was heartening to see your comment above that the Kercher family is aware of your efforts to keep her memory alive. Any word on the memorial fund (or fund to assist with legal expenses) mentioned in their news release last fall?

Posted by 2catsintheyard on 12/29/11 at 05:18 AM | #

Hi 2catsintheyard. PMF and TJMK have always been intentionally run as relatively safe places where family and friends can read as so much of the rest of the net is toxic to them. They use the translations and news updates and are always very appreciative (“invaluable”) but we have all avoided anything remotely like Curt Knox’s ugly PR effort.

Something about the fund and the book on Meredith should appear soon. Meredith’s is a case which slips back into the news very easily and many in Italy want a winning appeal and RS and AK again locked up. Grounds for a prosecution appeal should be out soon.

There is a serious new Italian journal out on crime and science in Italy and in the first edition there is an article about Knox the “dark angel” and the scientific tests which the writers say point clearly to guilt. Hellman is being made to look foolish in the places that matter. We’ll get that scientific article and translate it.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 12/29/11 at 03:11 PM | #

Imaginative posts.  I have much enjoyed the two ballet scenes watched so far (& honoring Meredith’s memory.) And we look forward to the promised “dark angel” article.

Much as anyone I desire a winning appeal because I have long been convinced of the just verdict of the first trial.

Yet I can’t think the Italians want Amanda back again—back in prison.  They are happy to be rid of her & the associated media clamor. And they might want to bring the Italian boy home, seeing him as a victim of Knox’s initiatives.

Should we wish to see her back in prison again, ourselves? (It would be interesting to know if, at this point, even the Kerchers desire that.)

What counts is the truth of the verdict. Amanda must be faced with the social recognition of her role in this senseless atrocity. That, if anything, might bring her to her senses.  It might even prompt a genuine—an honest book. If only she would resolve to be honest (under such a verdict) she would be able to write a worthy book, an important book.

Small chance of that as matters stand. Is it too much to ask for promptness from the Court of Cassation?

Posted by Ernest Werner on 12/29/11 at 07:43 PM | #

Fine to see that you´re still keeping the memory of Meredith alive and their family know that. I knew Meredtih was into martial arts ( karate ) but didn´t know she did the ballet , too.
I´m surprised by Ernest Werner´s post where he wonders whether the Kerchers would really want AK back in prison. Why shouldn´t they want their daughter´s murderer locked up ?
All this case has ever taught me is that we basically live in an immoral society where one can actually get away with anything as long as one is pretty , female and with armed with a huge , dishonest PR effort. Tribunals are not honourable but corrupt as that jugde Hellman probably was.Life is a huge injustice.

Posted by aethelred23 on 12/29/11 at 10:45 PM | #

Question is whether Amanda’s release is not, after all, a fait accompli. And the next question is whether this was not the larger Italian intention for quite some time, larger, I mean, than the Hellman court.

Hellman’s actions would have pleased the larger powers, whoever or whatever they might be. He has acted cooperatively. And the thing desired has been done.

My view assumes that the Kerchers, too—they seem to be quite an intelligent family & genuinely humane—must now very likely see Amanda’s release as I do: fait accompli.

What’s desirable is not incarceration as such but a just judgment, a social acknowledgement, the truth of the matter—Amanda obliged henceforth to wear her Scarlet Letter, as it were.

I would be much surprised if Cassation would attempt to place her in prison again, or Sollecito either.

Posted by Ernest Werner on 12/30/11 at 05:21 AM | #


I am, unfortunately, inclined to agree with you regarding your view that Amanda Knox will never be required to return to prison in Italy but I think that would be wrong.


Because, surrounded as she is by fans and others in denial who support her and proclaim her innocence, I cannot see Amanda Knox ever acknowledging her responsibility for this heinous crime - or even arriving at an understanding of its evil nature.

I see her as inured to that keen spiritual appreciation and horror of the extent of her crime that should lie deep within her conscience, within her very being. 

As long as she is not forced to face up to the fact that she is ultimately judged guilty, known to be guilty and that she is guilty of the terrible act of taking another person’s life in such a cruel, violent and brutal way, of the fact that she has never shown any remorse, of the fact that she seeks only to portray herself as a victim, then justice has not been served.

Remaining in Seattle, she will never experience any consequences for her actions.  Despite having a criminal record, she will, as Skeptical Bystander said over on PMF, find employment through connections and, unfortunately, any Italian judgment will be shrugged off and explained away in the same old same old way that AK’s supporters have been doing these last four years.  In this way, nothing will change. 

Yes, I do also believe that ultimately these things always will surface and that Amanda will one day be forced to face her inner demons but, given the cushioning cocoon constructed around her, I think this will be a long time in coming.

The Kerchers suffered a terrible loss.  Meredith suffered an unimaginable death.  Both she and they must be vindicated.  This is not for the sake of vengeance but for the sake of justice now and in the future. 

The rules of our society require accountability.  I believe that clear accountability can only come about once Amanda recognises, acknowledges and repents of her actions and this will not happen in Seattle.

Posted by thundering on 12/30/11 at 02:46 PM | #

Sorry, further to my previous post, I would like to add this.

Apart from the unlikely all-American, sweet college student-killer scenario that has caught the attention of so many, it is for me the implications of the behaviour of the perpetrator (AK in this case) and her entourage as well as the shocking outcome of the appeal that continue to hold my attention.

Society has its rules and standards for the good of its citizens.  In order to maintain a peaceful, ordered society it is necessary that these rules and standards are upheld consistently and that there be consequences – applied fairly and consistently – when the rules are broken.

The thing about this case is that an ordinary, non-descript family set out to blow smoke screens, misrepresent, cheat, lie, slander …… to avoid any consequences – and it WORKED! 

In today’s world, I am sadly used to the rich and powerful doing this and getting away with it but it suddenly strikes home when the ordinary citizen also can run rings round the justice system and large portions of society in the way that has happened here. 

This can only weaken society’s confidence in Justice and weaken the confidence derived from the belief that the rules are there for our good and that those who break them will be held to account.  It makes the world more uncertain.  It makes the world a scarier place.

Posted by thundering on 12/30/11 at 03:45 PM | #


Not to seem paradoxical, but I so much endorse what you say that I can only hope for these sentiments to reach Cassation.

True also that Amanda is far from acknowledgement & understanding & that any (possible) insight will be “a long time in coming.”

Do we seriously believe that Justice is a reality in our world, apart from the human sentiment in which, so to speak, it is bred?  My view is that such justice as is at work in the world (in & yet also apart from mankind) has nothing to do with our finer moral sentiments.

Ivan’s arguments for atheism in that one stunning chapter (he is talking to his brothers, Karamazov) touch on this question memorably. I was far more moved by that chapter than by the famous Grand Inquisitor.

GB Shaw, whom I regard as an important thinker, protests against overlong imprisonments (“Criminal Criminology”) while accepting the necessary extermination of those who aren’t fit to be released into society (if I remember after five decades.) It was his essay which freed me from Koestler’s Reflections on Hanging.

Richard Wilhelm interpreting the I Ching & working with an experienced Chinese scholar as well as ancient texts writes (hexagram 29: The Abysmal) that “For minor offenses, where repentance was shown, pardon was granted after a year, for more serious ones after two years, and for very grave ones after three years…”

Nietzsche has Zarathustra say: “For this is your truth” [ie, what we must recognize as our truth] “you are too pure for the filth of the words: revenge, punishment, reward, retribution…” 2nd part, On the Virtuous.

It’s why I think the Italians, with their own sort of realism—& long history—may be satisfied that a price as been paid for Meredith’s tragic, senseless rape & murder.

As for Amanda’s love of self-display, don’t we see some of that even in Edda?  But not in Curt who is rigid, even brittle, & so to speak, encased.  For the rest we leave it up to that God whom Nietzsche thought to be a fiction: there are depths upon depths of the Unconscious at work—for which read the sagacious CG Jung.
...And again, sorry for a long post but I feel impelled to say these things.

Posted by Ernest Werner on 12/30/11 at 05:52 PM | #

Happy 26th birthday Meredith. Unfortunately, we cannot wish you many happy returns but you live on in the memory of others…I hope you are happy wherever you are.

Posted by Sara on 12/30/11 at 08:20 PM | #

Happy New Year, Ernest! 

Thank you for your post and the very valid references to Nietzsche et al! 

You are right of course, very few people are able to surmount their own motivations to truly desire pure, consistent Justice and ‘real’ Justice is certainly, in some way, ‘at work in our world’.  This is so evident across the world and even in our ‘safer’ western societies where law and order supposedly prevail.

However, regarding the Italians and Meredith’s case, I am unconvinced by the idea that they really intended to let her go in line with the philosophers’ ideas you quote.  Who would actually decide and articulate that?  Does Italian criminal and legal history show this as standard practice in Italy?

Is or was Berlusconi capable of that level of reasoning?  I would think that if that level of interference happened, given his political actions over the years, it would be for other, less lofty reasons such as you posit at the beginning of your post.  I can accept the possibility that they wanted the problem to go away.

Apart from Bongiorno, AK’s lawyers came across to me as being also stunned by the unilateral acquittal and then there are all the other 20+ judges who had deemed her guilty. 

I like the use of the term ‘penitentiary’ when referring to prisons as it incorporates the idea that those incarcerated would reflect on their crimes and hopefully become penitent.  I think that in some countries the systems look at how the prisoners have moved on in accepting and acknowledging their criminal responsibilities when they are being considered for parole.  I believe this is the case at home in the UK.  In Amanda’s case there hasn’t been a hint of that as far as I can tell.  Even the prison chaplain states that he thinks she is not guilty.

So, releasing her along the I Ching lines doesn’t work either as her crime is more than a minor or even a ‘far more serious one’.  It is a grave and terrible one and I think from all accounts she would qualify for the death sentence in some states in the USA.  And in that case systems would need to release every criminal after only 3 or 4 years.  Hmm – with what support mechanisms?  In the UK there are complaints that the probation services are over-stretched and that is part of the explanation as to why released prisoners re-offend.

And what about all those Italians outside the court last 3 October shouting, ‘vergogna!’?  That seemed to summarize public Italian, average-Jo-Bloggs-man-on-the-street, opinion and frustrated expectations – as well as the media commentaries that followed. 

I do agree with your view that ultimate justice has ‘nothing to do with our own finer moral sentiments’ but I still think that society needs to have as common an understanding and agreement as is possible in matters such as this which affect society as a whole for society to work.

Well, it’s not yet over, there isn’t yet a definitive ruling and ‘Justice’ – whatever it is and in whatever form it comes – has not yet been seen to have been served – by any authority at all.

À bientôt!

Posted by thundering on 01/01/12 at 10:37 AM | #

Not yet Nutcrackered out?! Okay take a look at all of these videos, most of them behind the scenes, of Nutcrackers around the world.

That site is a part of the economic project I work on with a number of companies and dancers in Russia, Europe, Latin America and the US.  The optimum growth model for them (which they are far from being on) will be posted for them there soon. It should before too long amount to well over $1 billion (yes $1 billion) in any given year.

Evidence of how another small zero fund project can really do a lot.  Meredith’s future might well have been spectacular as she was headed for growth and development management, and women’s skills in running processes are widely considered superior to mens. Small essay on that soon.

Posted by Peter Quennell on 01/01/12 at 02:08 PM | #

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