Friday, May 31, 2024

About Kindles

When Kindles and other e-readers first appeared, with the promise for travellers in particular that a whole library would occupy less space and weight in your luggage than a slim paperback, I did wonder whether the new form might have missed a significant consideration when it comes to reading in public: specifically, the act of letting other people see what you’re reading. Like the music you listen to, or the clothes you wear, or the flavour of crisps you eat, it’s part of the persona you present to the world. The latest Murakami, or a Richard Osman rip-off? Unfair as it is, people will make assumptions.

And then I saw this:

Saturday, May 18, 2024

About missing the point

Two examples of people who appear to be in the wrong job. A pub landlord who offers discounts to customers who order by app from their tables, thus discouraging the horrific prospect of bar staff actually having to engage with punters:

I’ve found that not having to be constantly serving people is way better for my mental health. Bar work can be really mentally tiring. This takes the stress away rather than having to constantly interact with different people for eight hours straight. 

And Adrian Chiles who, last time I looked, was still purporting to be someone who writes for a living, complaining about apostrophes and then

But, oh Lord, the agonising, circuitous routes around words you’d have to find to construct a bloody sentence.

Which sounds to me like a pretty good definition of Chiles’s chosen, and in his case, well-remunerated trade.

I don’t want to disturb anyone with an image of Chiles, so I’ll just leave this here, wondering whether in a year’s time we’ll have the faintest idea to what it refers:

Monday, May 13, 2024

About Roger Corman

Roger Corman, who died a few days ago, batting back accusations that his work was mere exploitation: “Show me a film which isn’t an exploitation film.”

Possibly a little trite, but when you give it even a moment’s thought, it applies to pretty much all art, doesn’t it?

Saturday, May 11, 2024

About nostalgia(s)

In an otherwise tedious and banal article about, of all things, Virgin’s cruise line, the CEO comes up with this inadvertently fascinating nugget: “People like to be reminded of nostalgia.”

It sounds daft, of course it does; surely it’s nostalgia that does the reminding. But then I realise that when watching the old episodes of Top of the Pops that BBC Four is running on Friday nights, some of my favourite moments come from Darts, a band that achieved success in the late 1970s by providing kooky versions of songs that were even then already 15 or 20 years old. And then when I was at university, when mainstream pop was wallowing in post-Live Aid earnestness, my friends and I constructed a world that resounded to soul and funk from past decades (and an aesthetic that merged 40s zoot suits and 50s Soho and 60s Left Bank blankness). So, sorry Mr Saverimuttu, I guess I do like to be reminded of nostalgia. Just not the crappy nostalgia you’re peddling.

And now I find out that Britpop, another trend that had more than one eye on an imagined past, has apparently been revived (although it appears that translates as “wears a Fred Perry and has a St George’s flag in the back of the video” but maybe that’s enough).

PS: And then there are conflicting nostalgias. I was annoyed when stories covering the death of the actor Bernard Hill led with his appearances in Titanic and The Lord of the Rings, with (to me at least) his most important role, as Yosser Hughes in The Boys from the Blackstuff relegated to a later paragraph (even on the BBC, where Blackstuff was first broadcast). Of course Blackstuff was over 40 years ago; but Titanic was nearly 30...

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

About Courbet (yet again)

And so we come back to Courbet’s 1866 picture The Origin of the World (see here) and more specifically the passions it arouses in Luxembourg’s finest provocateuse Deborah de Robertis (see here) who has adorned the painting (or more specifically the glass protecting it) with a #MeToo tag “because women are the origin of the world”. Which is a bit like complaining about Van Gogh’s Sunflowers because it’s called Sunflowers but, hey, it all adds to the sum of human joy, doesn’t it?

Except that then the French culture minister Rachida Dati weighs in with an intriguing contribution: “An artwork is not a poster to colour in with the day’s message.” Which may or may not be true but at least it suggests that Ms Dati has thought about the subject. And I remember that not so long ago my own country’s government gave the equivalent role to the ludicrous Nadine Dorries and not for the first time a bit of me wishes I were French.

Friday, May 03, 2024

About teaching and crying

Zadie Smith on teaching creative writing in New York (spotted by Padraig Reidy):

They said workshop, so I took a story of mine that I’d written when I was young and was bad, and marked it up in front of the class. And I took a story of theirs and did it on a lightbox. And the student started crying. NYU explained to me that that is not what they meant. So I went down several gears.