Two new blogs

Once upon a time there was an excellent blog called Volsunga. But its author got busy, or bored, and the blog vanished into the ether. It’s now no longer even in the wayback machine, so far as I can see. But – the author has returned!.

Meanwhile, here is another new blog from another excellent person. I like this trend; the more blogs the better.


Just started reading A.S. Byatt’s


, and am massively enjoying it. Somehow able to be excited by it even though all the characters are, so far, noticeably wet. Little understanding of


I like it, though — or at least none I’ll put in public on the web.

What is culture?

From Art Goldhammer’s lecture on French culture:

A Jew, Sartre said, is one who is a Jew for the anti-Semite. So let us say that Culture is that which is Culture

for the Other. And let us stipulate further that the Other of Culture is Power, with which it is

locked in mutual embrace


This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Talking to a Stranger

Has anybody heard of, or even seen, ‘Talking to a stranger’, a BBC drama from 1966? Somebody put several long clips up on youtube, and they’re incredible. Seriously; watch them, then rewatch for all the nuances you missed first time round. I can’t remember ever seeing a psychological drama half as good on television, or even on film or in the theatre.

It centres on ‘Terri’, played by Judi Dency with a rushing stream-of-consciousness performance that gives the complete tour of her mind within a few minutes. There’s something of Sally Bowles in her (Dench performed in Cabaret a couple of years later). Both have the same vulnerable extraversion, fuelled by terror that everything will fall apart if they stop moving. For Terri that’s intertwined with anger, despair, religion, paranoia and guilt. All this rushes out in perfectly-drawn conversations with her brother and flatmate. Terri selfishly oblivious to them, condescending of their quiet lives, almost unable to believe in them as real people — but with envy constantly creeping in just below the surface.

Again, I can’t quite believe how good it is. Watch it! And this is just from a few clips. I’d love to see the entire thing, but it only seems to be available as part of a massive, expensive box-set of the complete works of Judi Dench. Here is one review.

Art squats and political novels

1) The Oubliette, a very impressive group of art-squatters. Currently occupying a building in Leicester Square, ffs. Previous squats: the former Mexican Embassy on Mayfair, and a language school on Oxford Street. And they’re

Doing Things

™ in the buildings.

2) Crooked Timber searching in vain for political novels. Even CT’s collective erudition doesn’t turn up much, at least in the Anglophone world. This is odd; surely politics


be the perfect backdrop for fiction? Constant conflict of duty, ideology, loyalty, and self-interest. Articulate, self-aware characters continually mythologizing their own lives for public consumption. A prefab Greek chorus of pundits and journalists. Day-to-day politics may be dull, cynical and idea-free, but that doesn’t stop it twisting people in fascinating ways. So, what excellent political novels should I be reading?

Decline and fall

Paris-bashing is seeping gradually further into the mainstream:

“It is now well-known that Paris has lost all kind of European leadership to the benefit of towns such as London, Barcelona, Prague and Berlin, to which more and more French professional artists are going into exile,”

MultiKulti fail

Also in Der Spiegel, polling of Turkish Germans:

Turks are the largest ethnic minority in Germany and make up almost 4 percent of the country’s population. Yet only 21 percent of those polled feel happy to call Germany home.