17 October 2012
Having quoted him on Twitter I found myself in a debate about Ezra Pound’s fascism, my opponent seemed to be of the view that his political beliefs, in some way, negated his poetry. Thinking about this, I realised my distaste for Pound’s politics was as nothing next to my loathing of the mind of the historian Eric Hobsbawm, who, never, renounced his support for Stalin in the face of overwhelming evidence that he turned the Soviet Union into an abbatoir. … More
12 October 2012
“I hope it will excite the locals,” Damien Hirst tells the North Devon Gazette, “although I know everybody won’t love it, but I hope it will bring more tourists to the area and increase business for the local people.”
He talking about Verity,his 20 metre high statue of a naked pregnant woman, bearing aloft a trumphant sword, which he has loaned to North Devon Council for a period of 20 years.
“I wanted to take this existing sculpture and change … More
11 October 2012
In July 1885 the Pall Mall Gazette ran a series of article entitled The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon. These were written by the Gazette’s editor W.T.Stead, the man who invented the newspaper interview, took it to new heights when he started interviewing the dead, with whom he, a spiritualist, routinely communicated and, finally, took himself to new depths when he bought a ticket for the Titanic.
Stead’s article was about child prostitution in London. This caused some consternation among the … More
09 October 2012
I’ve always felt that I would approve of any kind of hunting as long as it was 50-50 between man and beast. Tricky to organise, I know, but it must be obvious that a bloke in a red coat on a horse going mano-a-mano with a small pride of lions would be more fun than the rigged charade of fox ‘hunting’.
It is risk that grips us, or perhaps I mean uncertainty. Risk is calculable up to the point it runs … More
08 October 2012
Another discussion on Twitter inspires another post, this time based on Hannah Betts’s article which, for me, raises the question: why did the left abandon high culture? In the immediate postwar period the Atlee government promoted opera and the like on the basis that “nothing was too good for the working man”. This top-down view was then abandoned by Labour in favour of the bottom-up conviction that art and creativity in general came from the people and that … More
06 October 2012
Some things will just not reduce to a tweet and, after several attempts, I have found this is one of them.
There are two kind of scientific rhetoric:
The first is inward. This is to boast of what we know and concludes that, precisely because we know so much, we must one day know everything. This is Dawkins and all the other ‘hard’ scientistic thinkers. You can buy their books everywhere because certainty sells.
The second is outward. This is to gaze in … More
02 October 2012
Since leaving behind school and a great A level teacher, I have never been able to get on with history. I can’t fully explain why though it may be something to do with historians’ need to have opinions, ideologies or, as Catherine Merridale puts it in the Guardian today, “a moral compass.” I can’t see how any of those might help one to understand the chaos of the world. I do see that we all have a perspective which might, … More
27 September 2012
I was struck by a line towards the end of an article by Phillip Blond in the FT . Blond had been wondering – as, I find, many people have – why Andrew Mitchell had used the word ‘plebs’ when abusing the police outside 10 Downing Street, and had asked an ex-officer if it came from the MPs time in the army. The officer said this was inconceivable.
“If the remark came from Mr Mitchell’s background, he opined, it was that … More
05 September 2012
I fear I called the Labour MP Stella Creasy stupid on Twitter after her appearance in Newsnight. I apologise for that because I don’t think she is, rather I suspect she is not using her mind, perhaps a necessary omission if you happen to be a Labour MP. She was taking part in a debate about welfare. A rather languid Tory had just done a perfectly fair rundown of the problem – which, as he implied, was insoluble, … More
28 June 2012
I was in the middle of reading, mouth once again agape, yet another account of the crash when the Barclays news broke. This account, like most of the others, was about the technical incompetence of the banks. They were sailing into the markets, emboldened by the laughable concept of ‘value at risk’ calculated on the basis of equations which any decent mathematician not actually paid by banks could have told them were inadequate to the task. Indeed, any … More