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This report is taken from PN Review 118, Volume 24 Number 2, November - December 1997.

Bees, Flowers, A Spider-Web and an Arch Lawrence Sail

Pablo Neruda, in his inspiring Memoirs1, makes it sound so simple, so simply and obviously desirable: 'Christmas is approaching. Each Christmas takes us closer to the year 2000. We poets of today have been struggling and singing for happiness in the future, for the peace of tomorrow, for universal justice, for the bells of the year 2000.' Yet look how complicated our approach-work to the millennium has become. Partly, no doubt, this is a matter of the Zeitgeist that, weighing hope against experience, produces readings as doubtfully optimistic as Hardy's 'The Darkling Thrush' - a poem which, with its date of 31 December 1900, also reminds us of another difficulty. When should we be celebrating the millennium - in 2000 or 2001? And does either date relate in any significant way to the event supposedly to be commemorated, the birth of Christ? These questions confront a world, or at any rate the English-speaking parts of it, already divided into those who remember to put two 'n's in 'millennium', and those who forget. And all this before we get to the understandable debate about how to celebrate, and whether there might not be better emblems than the neo-medieval one of a Ferris wheel on the South Bank. Now, to add to our troubles, comes The Millennium Experience, or more correctly the New Millennium Experience Company. This linguistic tatterdemalion is of a piece with such other delights as Heritage Schemes, Virtual Reality, Theme Parks, and museums where discovery involves mostly the ...

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