Robin Carmody messaged me on FB to say he’d just been reading my le carré rereads on ilx, and enjoyed and agreed with them. Since one of my projects here is I guess to begin to centralise my boringly dispersed and rhizomatic self, I thought I’d link them here. This is the original, inset in a longer ilx thread: liveblogging Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. This is the same excerpted at FT (i.e. all the rest of the entertaining ilx chatter cut away). This was intended as a liveblog of a reread of Smiley’s People, except things ran away with themselves and I ended up just posting some thoughts (on an ilx thread no one else ever contributed to).
As my friend
I was brought up not to mock strange people — not to point at them in the street or to gang up tease them at school. The only two fights I ever got in I was defending the weird kid against the popular bully — even though I wasn’t really friends with the former (no one was) and on the whole got on fine with the latter. (I was also rubbish at fighting, so these interventions weren’t exactly of consequence…)
But in this instance I think this completely fritzed with my antennae. Continue reading
Entirely unsurprisingly, the word ‘troll’ now has a politicised range of meanings—all the way from anonymous internet bully to subtly provocative dialectician, with a fractally wriggly continuum linking these extremes—and the comment this is a response to (a) made it reasonably clear which meaning one s/he had in mind* and thus (b) deserved a better (or at least more self-aware) answer than “By using the word X you can only be saying Y about me and I know myself well enough to say this is false.” Of course dsquared was trolling here — and it’s not as if Farrell is historically that good at identifying the motivations of the people he deems trolls by his own over-simplified (which is to say self-exculpatory) definition. The revealed fact of the faultline is an indication that people on both sides are uneasily (=angrily) aware that they too exist within contradiction: “just a lot less so than those OTHER deluded clowns,” the more twerpish partisans on both sides are busy telling themselves.
*And yes, s/he later disappointingly backed away from a good strong usage…
All the talking heads in the Peter Green documentary were male heads, I believe; and — for all they’ve achieved a kind of artless wondering openness towards the discussion of what must have been very tricky passages of their long-ago past — none seemed especially wise heads. Green himself, hearteningly enough, has emerged as a cheerfully plump balding hobbit of a man, a long long way from the ethereal and curly-headed yearning elf-poet of yore: he has — for someone who’s been through the extended labyrinthine haze of mental breakdown, medication and ECT and long stays on wards — a strikingly exact memory of moments, artistic or chemical or inspirational, on the cusp of his breakdown. He’s vague enough about what he wanted, what drove him — a thing that wasn’t yet there, in his music and his playing — but he’s funny and practical about everything else. Continue reading
The guesses will be higher if you mention a big number beforehand
When the first film came out and I spotted you could collect little Lord of the Rings figurines at Burger King, I grinned: I imagined Tolkien’s vast rage at same, and the complex irony of his world-spanning success, in relation to his actual beliefs.
Then I started imagining the factories and warehouses full of these pale green and poorly fashioned figurines, and started feeling a bit ill myself: it’s not such a bad habit, when something mass cultural entertains you momentarily, to imagine how it would strike you en masse.
In my day-job I have to read — and deal with — the terms “appropriation” and “subversion”, maybe not exactly en masse, but far too bloody often. The people using these words (not just these words) mostly imagine they are observing stuff from a higher intellectual plane: on the whole they’re really really not.
I waited to go public with HT:DDD until I had an acceptable number of posts up. Acceptable basically means not divisible by 5, as I intensely disapprove of such quantities. There are other numbers I dislike but soon I’ll stop counting and it won’t matter to anyone.
“And the question to be asked is not: What is my opinion of all this? That question is easily answered, but those who ask only that have fallen into the trap, for it is precisely the greatest error of our intellectual life to assume that the most effective way of dealing with any phenomenon is to have an opinion about it. The real question is: What is my relation to all this?”
Not just “my” relation, surely? Josh quotes Warshow: who I should read, of course. Influence doesn’t exist, but the sky on my planet is still that shade of yellow some days (today, for example). Hi Josh.