Tuesday, September 28, 2021

About Jens Haaning

I’m quietly impressed by the Danish artist Jens Haaning, who was commissioned to reproduce one of his old works, but delivered a pair of empty frames, claiming that his failure to deliver on the contract was the art. Were I in charge of the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in Aalborg, which spent half a million kroner on said work, I might not be so enamoured.

Thursday, September 23, 2021

About iconoclasts

“Iconic” is on my list of words to avoid, because it’s been abused to the point of meaninglessness, but it might still be usefully applied in a few select cases. And in that spirit, following on from a chat elsewhere about Julie Burchill (although it might equally apply to John Lydon, Guy Debord, Oscar Wilde, or anyone else who appears in the index to Lipstick Traces), what happens to iconic iconoclasts? Do they inevitably self-destruct?

Thursday, September 16, 2021

About Nadine Dorries

There’s so much to unpack regarding the new Culture Secretary and I know it’s very lazy just to post endless tweets but I’m quite busy at the moment and this sums up the neo-liberal attitude to everything that matters better than anything I could write. Something more considered at the weekend, maybe.

Wednesday, September 08, 2021

About The Exorcist

Wednesday, September 01, 2021

About good books

I’m intrigued by the story of the judge who spared a young man from jail on terrorism offences, provided he committed himself to reading a prescribed list of works by Jane Austen, Dickens and the like. What’s not clear is whether he intended the mere effort of reading – and submitting to the judge’s test of said reading after Christmas – to be a sufficient distraction from plotting neo-Nazi unpleasantness; or whether those books in particular might reset his befuddled brain, because of some inherent moral qualities. Pride and Prejudice, most would agree, is a good book in an aesthetic, literary sense, which is what fixes its place in the canon; but does that make it good in the same way we’d describe a good person, someone who is essentially righteous? And even if it were, might something more overtly didactic (To Kill A Mockingbird, say) do a better job in changing hearts and minds?

Of course, if Judge Timothy Spencer QC had just told the accused to go away and read a few books, he might have curled up with a copy of Mein Kampf. Or even The Picture of Dorian Gray, wherein he would have found this snippet of subversion:

There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. That is all.