Archive for August 18th, 2005

Runaway Post

If I could disentangle myself for long enough from the headphone wires, mouse cables, telephone headsets and MSN Messenger, I might be more detached about how my extra half hour in bed this morning and not having coffee for breakfast seems to have left me with an unusually heightened sense of interconnectedness of things.

As an indolent student, I would leave Radio 5 live on all night. A side effect of this would be that during my waking hours, half-heard news would give me strange ideas. One day watching Neighbours I became convinced that darts player Jocky Wilson had died. Later I found out via the evening news that jockey Willie Carson had been seriously injured.

A similar thing affected me this morning when I pursued the internet trail of a thought I had yesterday afternoon, when I was prompted by a thread on United Irelander to think about the intentional fallacy. Was it this that led me to click on the link last night on the rather hard-right Spanish site Libertad Digital’s report of remarks made in the Wall Street Journal on Oriana Fallaci?

(If you must know, she doesn’t feel so alone when she reads the works of Joseph Ratzinger. Oh and Europe isn’t Europe anymore, but Eurabia, a colony of Islam where the Islamic invasion doesn’t just arrive in a physical sense, but in a mental, cultural one too. Well that’s my translation anyway. I can’t be bothered looking for the English original)

Perhaps not. Anyway, I moseyed downstairs and plonked myself in front of Runaway Bride on RTE1, featuring Julia Roberts and Richard Gere, just long enough to digest the bit where Gere’s raffish columnist (not exactly a rich playboy) pens a hasty and inaccurate column about Roberts’s down-at-home handywoman (not exactly a tomboy prostitute) being a man-eater. Roberts pens a riposte worthy of Samuel Richardson to USA Today, Gere’s paper, in which she makes it clear that she is most certainly not a man-eater, and that the film no mere rehash of Pretty Woman. Her response gets Gere the sack, partly because USA Today is a paper of integrity and will not tolerate fabrication from its columnists. I went upstairs to bed after Gere and Roberts meet for the first time.

On my bedside table is a copy of From Oslo To Iraq and The Roadmap, by Edward Said, which I got through last weekend, and before turning out the light I briefly scanned through his account of events surrounding the photo taken of him throwing stones. Although the book itself contains no pictures, I had seen the photo before, and I drifted off to sleep and dreamt of Edward Said in a wedding dress throwing stones from a horse, in a splicing of my mental image of the photo (although returning to the photo today it bears no resemblance to my mental image) and the opening scene from Runaway Bride.

Nothing strange yet, you may think. This morning, however, I decided to satisfy my curiosity regarding Oriana Fallaci, by locating the original article in the Wall Street Journal. So I stuck “Oriana Fallaci” into Google’s news search, and found this piece on the first search page returned.

It begins:

A few years ago and mere months before he died, the world-renowned, Lebanese-born Columbia linguistics professor Edward Said was photographed throwing a symbolic rock at an equally empty and symbolic structure in Israel.

Well! I am sure if Edward Said were still alive, and was anything at all like Julia Roberts’ character in the Runaway Bride, he’d be throwing down his monkey wrench and penning a rather peeved response to the assertion that he was (a) born in Lebanon (he was born in Jerusalem) and (b) a professor of linguistics.

Perhaps the guest columnist for the Fort Wayne News Sentinel is confusing his Saids with his Chomksys, or he sees comparative literature as a branch of linguistics. But this is a minor quibble, as such things can happen to the best of us. In my youth, I once erroneously referred to the aforementioned Noam Chomsky as Normski, and I once witnessed a rather impassioned Zionist weblog commentator refer to Bat Ye’Or (who may provide Ms Fallaci with the whole ‘Eurabia’ schtick) as Bat D’Or (as in ‘The French adore…’)

The rest of the article is about how terrorism subverts cool, or maybe how cool subverts terrorism, and the columnist (who, somewhat unfortunately for the purposes of this post, bears no resemblance to Richard Gere.) goes on to redeem in our eyes his ability to identify public figures by pointing out to us that ‘Bruce Springsteen is not George Kennan.’

If only all matters of identity were so clear cut.

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August 2005