Archive for May 12th, 2005

Now See This

Saw this on BBC2 a few months ago. Pisses on Farenheit 9/11 from a great height.

From the article:

”Curtis argues that politicians such as Bush and Blair have stumbled on a new force that can restore their power and authority – the fear of a hidden and organised web of evil from which they can protect their people. In a still-traumatised US, those with the darkest nightmares have become the most powerful and Curtis’s film castigates the media, security forces and the Bush administration for extending their power in this way. “It has really touched a nerve with people who realise something is not quite right with the way terrorism has been reported.“”

Bullshit, Curtis. You just want us to ignore the really important issues, like how buying fake designer gear perpetuates the war on terror. You’d have me licking the anthrax off my envelopes in no time.

Seriously though, watch the anti-Power Of Nightmares machinery crank into gear over the next few months as the film gains in popularity.

Benn to SF: Fingers Crossed

Get in there, says he:

“So many people in Britain still think of the situation in Northern Ireland as a foreign situation whereas really it’s the biggest domestic issue in British politics and has got to be resolved by dialogue.”

Some Of My Best Friends are Anti-Semites

Anti-Semitism is rising inexorably across Europe, according to David Vance. Picking up on the swastikas daubed on Jewish properties in Dublin (a story also commented on at Balrog).

Apparently it’s spilling into universities in Britain, in events at the School of Oriental and African Stuudies that from an outsider’s point of view appear strikingly similar to events further afield at Columbia University, monitored at sites such as this one. (How the hell a site such as Campus Watch constitutes ‘news’ in Google is beyond me, but that is not the point of this post. See here for an alternative viewpoint)

Columbia is the former employer of Edward Said (archive, obit) whose seminal Orientalism had a few things to say about anti-Semitism. Columbia University teacher Joseph Massad (read some nice things about him here. And you thought Rate My Teachers was bad), in this article here, gives a breezy retread of Said’s ideas:

On the origins of modern anti-Semitism:

“The term “Semite” was invented by European philologists in the 18th century to distinguish languages from one another by grouping them into “families” descended from one “mother” tongue to which they are all related. In this context, languages came to be organised into “Indo-European” and “Semitic”, etc. The philologists claimed that Arabic, Hebrew, Aramaic, Amharic, etc., were “Semitic” languages, even though philologists could never find a parent Semitic language from which they all derived.’’

So the idea that Catholic Kings Ferdinand and Isabella, for instance, were ‘anti-Semitic’, as certain popular sources would have you believe, because they weren’t too fond of Jews (or Arabs for that matter) is a bit off the mark. As the author himself says:

“While oppression of, discrimination against, and hatred of communities of Jews qua Jews are found in many periods of European history, the basis for this hatred is different from modern anti-Semitism, as its inspirational sources are not rational science and biology or Enlightenment philology, but religious and other political and economic considerations that scapegoated Jews. This may not be important for those who want only to produce a lachrymose history of European Jews, but it is crucial to the understanding of how the identities produced since the European Enlightenment are different from preceding periods, and that they function as new bases for nationalism, racism, oppression, discrimination, and liberation, and for the modern mechanisms put in place to institutionalise such identities and categories of humans.’’

Well worth a butchers.

While My Blog Gently Weeps

This blog could be going the way of the guitar I bought myself when I was 15. It was a cheap and cheerful acoustic guitar with strings like cheesewire. When I first held the guitar I was seized with a sense of possibility and freedom. A few months’ practice and it would be searing sonic pyrotechnics all the way, cataclysmic riffs, depth and daring.

My dreams of playing the gittaw like J Mascis (especially him, although why I bought an acoustic for that I’m still not too sure), Kurt Cobain or Stephen Stills were ill-matched to my inclination or ambition to do so. Six months of half-hearted practice and a couple of broken strings later, my guitar virtuosity was limited to a couple of punk rock riffs, some arpeggiated finger picking to accompany dreadful Irish ballads, and a few basic and rather bland chord progressions, C-Am-G-C, or D, Dsus4, A, D. Stuff like that. And that was it. Thirteen years later I can probably still pluck along deferentially to someone singing Four Green Fields, but no-one is likely to ask, and I’m not likely to oblige either.

Similarly, I imagined my output here would have a bit of range, depth and quality, but the reality hitherto has been a bit more sobering. Practice makes perfect of course, but work and life away from computers means it’ll take quite a long time before I ever get the time to advance beyond a half-hearted major chord strum or an inconsequential noodle.

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May 2005
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