Sunday, 20 May 2012

Nice Guy...

What are we supposed to think of Elliot?  That he is weak?  Emotionally incompetent?  That he is a man who is attracted to his wife’s sister because she is lovely and because she lives close to him: family relationships allowing a friendship to develop, which he, feeble as he is, would not be strong enough to create for himself...  

A pathetic specimen?  Is that what we think when we think of Elliot?  Mickey certainly believes so: he is awkward and socially nervous, like me, he says to Hannah when he visits his ex-wife and their adopted kids. 

Should we pity Elliot?  Feel sorry for someone who stumbles through life; too weak to control his emotions, and who lusts after a woman he knows is forbidden – there is, we are sure, the spice of taboo, of transgression, in his desire; another sign of his emotional poverty.

Are we meant to feel sorry for him?  At most pitying his gaucheries and the pain his sexual dilemmas cause.  Understanding his fall into irritation and anger; accepting that, innocent in the ways of a Don Juan, he cannot cope with the situation which he has created.  A poor specimen indeed; more victim than moral crook.  Is that what we are supposed to think?

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Saturday, 12 May 2012

One Long Trip (In a Space Shuttle)

I can’t stop thinking about the red deans! There is a curious symmetry to their lives.  To the lives of Hewlett Johnson and Tony Blair, I mean – not all of you will have read that last post.  There is the preacher who dived into politics.  And the politician who drowned himself in religion… who knows how long Blair could have survived without Iraq, though I think we can speculate on his future reputation had he not.  Similar to that of a distant relative who, if he’d never started a major war, may have been eulogised as the greatest of chancellors - for a long boom throughout the course of his reign; and a history of successful interventions that enhanced the power of the state; and which had the support of most of the political class; though they were uneasy about his thuggish cohorts and his anti-Semitism.[i]  Who knows, history could have made him Number One; although he would have struggled with Churchill (Pitt the Elder, it seems, is on the way down).[ii]   Of course he'd have to have left office by 2007, but I guess his talent smelling something in the air would have warned him in time.

Monday, 7 May 2012

He Orated, He Didn’t Argue…

We have been here before.  In the last post, in fact, where I had a look at Tony Blair, a man forever spreading the message of the free market, a new kind of hope by a new kind of evangelist; who offers redemption from a jet plane; by shattering the cities below.

Like many charismatics, he lived in an eternal present, a land of gestures without consequences, never looking back, always on the look-out for the next big thing.  (Ferdinand Mount, To the End of the Line)

But here is something we didn’t know about our Prime Minister:

[That] his admiration for Communism was inseparable from his worship of power. Not for nothing was The Socialist Sixth retitled The Soviet Power for the American market. Nettled by squabbles in the cathedral chapter, he put down the archdeacon by announcing that he was off to Russia because ‘I felt that I ought to use all my spare time for something bigger.’ During the war he consoled Nowell that, if there were an invasion and the Germans were brutal to him, it would be because ‘we stand for something big and Eternal; and it is upon that which is Eternal and upon the Source of all that is big that we can confidently rely.’ Stalin, God and the Dean – that appeared to be the command structure of the Big Battalions, but not necessarily in that order.

He was a communist?

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Aguirre: The Wrath of God

We watch fascinated as rocks tumble into the sea; when analysis falls into ideology:

Partly because the EU has slammed the door in Turkey’s face, Erdogan’s government has been looking elsewhere for friends.  This has helped draw Turkey away from half a century of subservience to Western foreign policy.  Its first act of defiance came in 2003, when Parliament voted against allowing American troops to invade Iraq from Turkish soil.  Since then Turkey has broken ranks with the West on two important issues.  It favors negotiation with Iran and stronger pressure on Israel to change its policies in Gaza and the West Bank.

This newfound independence was reflected in last year’s effort by the Turkish freighter Mavi Marmara to break the Gaza blockade, which led Israel to send commandos to attack the ship: nine Turkish civilians were killed.  In 2010 Turkey made a failed effort, along with Brazil, to broker a nuclear deal with Iran.  These steps made Erdogan immensely popular in the Muslim Middle East.  They also set off a burst of anger in Washington – not from the Obama administration, which still considers Turkey a valuable partner, but from anti-Obama and pro-Israel politicians and groups who believe that Turkey is abandoning its secular heritage and Western-oriented foreign policy.

Some scholars share this fear.  Banu Eligur… believes that Erdogan’s government has “mobilized against the secular-democratic state” by naming pious Muslims to be “high-ranking civil servants in public administration” and by bullying the press, judiciary, and universities. (Stephen Kinzer in the NYRB, 18/08/2011)

Did you catch it?