A collective spasm of high-level excuse-making

I am, like Art Goldhammer somewhat baffled by the French government treating the Roman Polanski as a matter of artistic freedom, rather than rape. There aren’t


situations in which I’m on the side of Law and Order, but this must be one of them.


Looks like there’s a new squat just outside Paris. Wouldn’t count on it lasting more than a few days, but you never know.

Meanwhile I’m sat at home, already in bed (it’s only 8:30), feeling uncertain and oddly morose. My life currently has a lot of moving parts, and I’m not entirely sure I have them all lined up. Alternatively, it could just be lack of sleep.

Do Anything

Warren Ellis has lately been writing a great series of articles, off in some dingy corner of the Net that I’d never otherwise have found. He seems to be working out some need to be the wise elder, reciting the tribal history of comics to a circle of youngsters. Mostly done in staccato, telegraphically-condensed fragments, with the disembodied head of Jack Kirby occasionally chipping in from beyond the grave.

Most lately on the long history of comics — or their marketers — trying to escape scorn by using just about any term other than comic. ‘Graphic novel’, obviously, but also its aborted kid sister ‘visual novel’. Then there’s Original English Manga, which has its own precursor in ‘UKBD’, a British attempt to assimilate the style of francophone Bandes Dessinées.

Momus in Paris

I seem to finally be running into a fair number of interesting places in Paris. So last night I finally saw Momus, the (currently Berlin-based) writer/singer, reading from the French edition of his new ‘Book of Jokes‘. The venue, La Société de Curiosités, is a comfortable looking one-room space. It’s run as a private club, which I think is basically a legal hack so you’re allowed to smoke there.


Am I just noticing films more at the moment, or are there a lot of good new films floating around? I’m thinking of the following — none of which I’ve seen, all of which I want to see.

  • District 9 — political commentary in the form of Science Fiction. i.e. what written SF has always been about, but with a budget.
  • Neuilly sa mère, a comedy about the class divide in Parisian suburbs
  • Inglorious basterds. The only WWII film I have any desire to watch


I feel a little sorry for the Porguese parliament. Elections are coming up on Sunday, and I’m struggling to find a single article about them in the French or British press. The German media, on the other hand, is giving them a fair bit of attention. Why the difference in interest? I have not hte faintest idea. German elections are happening on the same day — but if anything, I would have expected that to divert attention away from Portugal. Mysterious.

[I fully expect that some other European country is holding elections this week, and I haven’t heard anything about it]

Poetry slams in Paris

Tonight I finally made it to the weekly French-language poetry slam at Culture Rapide in Belleville. Impressed. Very impressed. Aware that my being impressed counts somewhat less given the difficulty I had in following some of the French poetry.

Of everything I’ve seen in my 2+ months in Paris, this was the first event that really impressed me, that made me want to stay in town just to remain in its orbit.

Why did it take me so long to end up there? The same place also hosts a regular English-language slam, which I visited soon after I arrived. It wasn’t actually bad — just somewhat insipid, more like a poetry reading than the slams I’d come to love in Berlin. So I wasn’t inspired to visit its French sister, at least not before August came and put everything interesting in Paris under wraps.

Accidental outing on facebook

Both important and unsurprising: your friendship network reveals your sexuality, with a pretty high accuracy.

Using data from the social network Facebook, they made a striking discovery: just by looking at a person’s online friends, they could predict whether the person was gay. They did this with a software program that looked at the gender and sexuality of a person’s friends and, using statistical analysis, made a prediction.

While George’s work (among others) goes much, much further in pulling down illusions of privacy in networks. But sometimes we need the simple stuff to hammer home the basic point that it’s more-or-less impossible to make your connections public, and still have any real form of anonymity.

[admittedly the first form, at least, is doing little more than mechanizing what happens socially in any case]


Troy Kennedy Martin died last week. Not a name I knew — but I had repeatedly heard tell of Edge of Darkness, an impressively well-regarded BBC series from the 80s, which he wrote. So I settled down to watch it. So far (2 episodes in), I’m pretty impressed. Some irritating artefacts of its era — the slow pace, the constant drinking — but the plot is fascinating. More later, maybe.