Friday, July 29, 2022

About job applications

Dr Dickon Edwards, chanteur with 90s Romo outfit Orlando turned bohemian academic, identifies the problem with pretty much everything everywhere:

Wednesday, July 27, 2022

About pronouns

I must admit, I do have issues with the current vogue for preferred pronouns, not least because the singular “they” has always grated (give me a neopronoun any day), even before it was adopted by non-binary people. But if it makes people happy with themselves, and makes everyday discourse easier, that trumps my instinctive pedantry. I’ve never gone so far as wanting to eradicate a whole part of speech, which would appear to be the crusade of one Lavern Spicer, Congressional Candidate for the 24th District of Florida. Here are some of her recent pronouncements. 

(Although the very first word is a pronoun.) 

(John 14:6)

(Exodus 3:4

The really amusing bit is that these comments sit alongside Lavern’s tirades about the failings of the American public education system. The less amusing bit is that, as the clown juggernaut of the Tory leadership contest proceeds up its own fundament, we Brits can’t really point and laugh at the silly colonials, can we?

Sunday, July 24, 2022

About Radio 4

Two more nuggets that would have fitted neatly into my dissertation but will have to hover here for the time being. Both popped up as I did my usual Sunday morning potter to the strains of Radio 4. First, on Broadcasting House (from about 37.40) both interviewer and interviewee explicitly assume that listeners to the station will be familiar with a particular poem by Philip Larkin, not to mention an Oscar-winning movie from more than four decades ago. Are such assumptions justified? Should they be? Or is such cosy familiarity with the canon off-putting to too many people, specifically the people who aren’t listening to Radio 4, however much the BBC wants them to?

And then on Kate Moss’s Desert Island Discs (1.15) Lauren Laverne mentions cultural capital but I’m not entirely sure it means what she thinks it does. Which is another cultural reference that you, the imaginary average reader, may or may not get, and so it goes on...

PS: And on the Today programme on Monday morning, Hadley Freeman compares Ms Moss to Thomas Pynchon...

PPS: Discussing the broadening of the canon, with particular reference to Brain of Britain.

Monday, July 18, 2022

About Penny Mordaunt

Of course I haven’t read Greater, the book by the woman who might be Prime Minister in a matter of weeks, so I’ve had to rely on artful filleting by lefty journalists (in this case John Harris of the Guardian) to acquire this gem: “The British prefer a future that looks very much like the past, only a lot better.” Which seems to hint at both a Baudrillardian simulacrum and a Radiohead lyric, while meaning precisely nothing. Which is a pretty good fit for this blog, and for 2022 as a whole.

And if Mordaunt does bellyflop into Number 10, she’ll have to decide whether to carry on her party’s deranged feud with the BBC. If she does, she should ask herself how a commercially-driven broadcaster might have made this rather wonderful production of The Waste Land. Except that that might expose a fatal cognitive dissonance in modern Conservatism, which seeks to exalt the best culture of the past, while simultaneously deriding intelligent examination or experience of that culture as elitist.

Sunday, July 03, 2022

About deeping

It comes to something when I have to rely on the Telegraph, of all organs, to keep me up to speed on fashion and language trends, but there we are. In this article, for example I learn of the Y2K phenomenon, in which today’s younglings adopt the vest tops and cargo pants that were prevalent two decades ago, and muse (not for the first time) that you really feel your age when something for which you were too old the first time round becomes the object of nostalgia.

Then further down the page and even more relevant to what I tend to do on this blog, I find:

Their mothers might seek to politicise their lingerie choices, but Gen Z views this as yet another example of “deeping” – a word they use to describe their parents’ proclivity for attributing hidden meaning and subtext to behaviours that, in their eyes, have none.

Which may well signal the death of criticism, although I suppose we can’t discuss that without being accused of deeping even harder and, er, deeper.