Wednesday 7 June, 2023

This is not a building…

… it’s a facade with an exo-skeleton.

Seen in Piccadilly yesterday.

Quote of the Day

”Chevy Chase couldn’t ad-lib a fart after a baked-bean dinner.”

  • Johnny Carson

Now why does this remind me of a certain scene in Blazing Saddles?

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Norah Jones | Come Away With Me


Long Read of the Day

The liberal complacency of Martin Amis

Terry Eagleton takes a more disenchanted view of the recently-departed enfant terrible, whose “exquisite style”, he thinks, “hid a squalid sense of morality”.

Part of Amis knew this frenetically consumerist culture from the inside, while an alter ego submitted it to savagely entertaining satire in the name of a moral norm which is present only by its absence. His fiction thus refutes the old cliché that satire requires a stable standard by which to judge. If anything goes, however, nothing has value — not even shock-value, which is why calling a book Dead Babies smacked of clamouring for attention in an offence-proof world. The great modernist writers had the good fortune to confront a readership that was still eminently shockable. Indeed, the title Dead Babies would have been unthinkable in the Sixties, only a decade before the book appeared. In a postmodern world where the monstrous and psychopathic are routine, Amis didn’t have the modernists’ advantage. This was a civilisation in which nothing could be said, which was both the object of his satire and a source of his endless verbal fertility…

Note the reference to “a moral norm that is present only by its absence”. A typical Eagleton gibe, I guess. Entertaining nonetheless. What I liked about the piece was the contrast it provides to the prevailing reverential tone of the obsequies.

Books, etc.

Freedom to Read

From a post by Richard Ovenden on the LRB blog:

On 10 May 1933, a bonfire was held on Unter den Linden in Berlin. Watched by a cheering crowd of almost forty thousand, a group of students marched up to the fire carrying a bust of Magnus Hirschfeld, the Jewish founder of the Institute of Sexual Sciences. Chanting the ‘Feuersprüche’, a series of fire incantations, they threw the bust on top of thousands of volumes from the institute’s library, which had joined books by Jewish and other ‘un-German’ writers (gays and communists prominent among them) that had been seized from bookshops and libraries. Rows of young men in Nazi uniforms stood around the fire saluting. Goebbels gave a speech:

No to decadence and moral corruption! Yes to decency and morality in family and state! … The future German man will not just be a man of books, but a man of character. It is to this end that we want to educate you … You do well to commit to the flames the evil spirit of the past. This is a strong, great and symbolic deed.

Ninety years later, the excuses of ‘decency’ and ‘morality’ are being used by those who seek to control the books that people can access in public libraries across many US states.

PEN America has tracked more than four thousand instances of books being challenged or removed from American libraries since July 2021, with more than 1400 between July and December 2022 alone…

As the American republic continues its long slide into authoritarianism, the echoes of 20th-century fascism are increasingly striking. Wonder when the book-burning will start.

My commonplace booklet

 A baby hears Pavarotti sing “Nessun Dorma” for the first time

Entrancing video.


Oscar Wilde’s quote about Wagner’s music in yesterday’s edition was incorrect. It should have read ”I like Wagner’s music more than any other music….” Many thanks to the eagle-eyed reader who pointed this out.

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