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Author Archive: Eamonn Fitzgerald

Ex-pat Irishman keeping an eye on the world from the Bavarian side of the Alps.

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Wheezles and Sneezles

Wednesday, 30 January, 2019

“Christopher Robin had wheezles and sneezles,
they bundled him into his bed.
They gave him what goes with a cold in the nose,
and some more for a cold in the head.”

A.A.Milne

Christopher Robin


AN Wilson on the nauseating Eric Hobsbawm

Tuesday, 29 January, 2019

“It was apt that as the most beguiling of communist intellectuals, he was born in 1917, the year of the Russian Revolution.” So wrote AN Wilson as he warmed up to his task in The Times on Sunday. The job at hand was a review of Eric Hobsbawm: A Life in History by Richard J Evans.

Who was Hobsbawm? He was a popular British historian and an academic who taught for many years at Birbeck, University of London. “His best book was Captain Swing, a study of mob violence, which he wrote in collaboration with the French intellectual George Rudé in 1969,” says Wilson before turning the screw. “Evans says that ‘most of the detailed research [was] carried out by Rudé.’ The sentence would probably be truer if the word ‘most’ were changed to ‘all'”.

Getting into his stride now, Wilson charges: “His books sold in enormous quantities in translation, especially in South America. Many of the sloppy half-thoughts of the Left, in this country and abroad, owe more than is sometimes realised to a perusal in student days of Hobsbawmn’s eminently readable left-wing hogwash, in which the Americans always come out as the villains of history and the Soviet and Maoist mass murders are glossed over, or even condoned.”

Hobsbawmn, the admirer of monsters, was admired in his day, not least because of the “legendary” dinner parties his wife, Marlene, hosted for the chattering classes in their bourgeois residence in Hampstead in London. However, “If Hobsbawm had meant what he wrote and said, and if a Stalinist revolution in Britain had occurred, then nearly all the guests eating Marlene’s delicious dinners in Nassington Road, would have been sent to the gulag, and Social Democrats such as Evans would probably have been shot.”

AN Wilson’s parting shot is an appeal to readers to “think of the population of Eastern Europe condemned to 50 years of enslavement after 1945; they will remember the millions who died in the gulag, in Ukraine, in China, countless more than were killed by Hitler. For them, the preparedness of a comfortably placed British don to sit in a warm drawing room in north London justifying such horrors can create only feelings of nausea.”

That same feeling of nausea is created by those who justify the actions of socialist thugs such as Maduro in Venezuela and his enablers in Cuba, another thuggery.

Stalin


Blue Monday

Monday, 28 January, 2019

Jan Erik Waider devotes himself to “Atmospheric landscape photography of the North; Norway, Iceland, Greenland and beyond.” He titles his collected works Northlandscapes and he captures their cold and damp, chillingly, beautifully.

Blue Monday


Holocaust Remembrance Day

Sunday, 27 January, 2019

On 27 January each year, the world commemorates the genocide that resulted in the death of an estimated six million Jews, five million Slavs, three million ethnic Poles, 200,000 Romani, 250,000 mentally and physically disabled people and 9,000 homosexuals by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime and its collaborators.

“When Hitler started out, he took the Jews from their homes
Hitler started out, he took the Jews from their homes
That’s one thing Mr. Hitler you know you done wrong.

We’re gonna tear Hitler down
We’re gonna tear Hitler down
We’re gonna tear Hitler down someday.
We’re gonna bring him to the ground
We’re gonna bring him to the ground
We’re gonna bring him to the ground someday.

You ain’t no iron, you ain’t no solid rock
You ain’t no iron, you ain’t no solid rock
But we American people say ‘Mr. Hitler you is got to stop!'”

Huddie William Ledbetter (Leadbelly) was born on 20 January in 1888, in Louisiana. He was in and out of jail starting in his teens, for owning a gun, for killing a relative. John and Alan Lomax discovered him in prison in the early 1930s and they put some of his songs on tape. Freedom and fame followed. Born on a plantation, Leadbelly ended up touring the world and bringing blues music to a new generation.


Bird’s-eye Shanghai

Sunday, 27 January, 2019

Created by Chinese company Bigpixel Technology, this ultra-high-resolution image of Shanghai offers a 360-degree panorama that allows users to pan across and zoom into, so that even people at ground level appear identifiable. The image’s extraordinary clarity results from its 195 gigapixels (195 billion pixels, or 195,000 megapixels). Note: the latest iPhone XS camera takes photos at 12 megapixels.

Shanghai

Shot from 230 metres up on Shanghai’s Oriental Pearl Tower, the image is put together from thousands of smaller photos taken by a range of cameras with 600 millimetre telephoto lenses. The project’s 8,700 photos added up to a massive 2.6 terabytes storage, by the way.


Harold Brodkey: endless kvetch

Saturday, 26 January, 2019

On this day in 1996, the short-story writer and novelist Harold Brodkey died. His greatest claim to fame was the 32 years he took to write his first novel, during which time a legend grew about the much-awaited book. When it was finally published in 1991 as The Runaway Soul, it was not well received and caused bewilderment as to whether it was really the same masterpiece he had been promising for decades.

Harold Brodkey’s career began auspiciously with the short-story collection First Love and Other Sorrows, which received widespread critical praise at the time of its 1958 publication. Six years later he signed a book contract with Random House for his first novel, provisionally titled “A Party of Animals” and sometimes referred to as “The Animal Corner”. The unfinished novel was subsequently resold to Farrar, Straus & Giroux in 1970, then to Knopf in 1979. As the Paris Review interview linked to above noted, “The work became something of an object of desire for editors; it was moved among publishing houses for what were rumored to be ever-increasing advances, advertised as a forthcoming title (Party of Animals) in book catalogs, expanded and ceaselessly revised, until its publication seemed an event longer awaited than anything without theological implications.” In 1983, The Saturday Review referred to “A Party of Animals” as “now reportedly comprising 4,000 pages and announced as forthcoming ‘next year’ every year since 1973.”

In 1993, Brodkey announced that he was suffering from AIDS, and this prompted the Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Richard Howard to write in The New Republic that the disclosure was “a matter of manipulative hucksterism, of mendacious self-propaganda and cruel assertion of artistic privilege, whereby death is made a matter of public relations.” In posthumously reviewing Brodkey’s essay collection Sea Battles on Dry Land for The New York Observer, Susie Linfield wrote, “When Brodkey is bad, he is very, very bad, and he is very, very bad quite often. Sea Battles is filled with whoppers: misstatements, overstatements, nonstatements and statements that are silly, false or incomprehensible.” This is classic Brodkey:

“I distrust summaries, any kind of gliding through time, any too great a claim that one is in control of what one recounts; I think someone who claims to understand but who is obviously calm, someone who claims to write with emotion recollected in tranquility, is a fool and a liar. To understand is to tremble. To recollect is to reenter and be riven. An acrobat after spinning through the air in a mockery of flight stands erect on his perch and mockingly takes his bow as if what he is being applauded for was easy for him and cost him nothing, although meanwhile he is covered with sweat and his smile is edged with a relief chilling to think about; he is indulging in a show-business style; he is pretending to be superhuman. I am bored with that and with where it has brought us. I admire the authority of being on one’s knees in front of the event.” — Harold Brodkey (1930 – 1996)


Assiettes & Broderies

Friday, 25 January, 2019

“Marie-Claude Marquis is an artist whose practice is rather multidisciplinary. Touching both graphic design and visual arts, she is inspired by souvenirs, nostalgia, pop culture, Québec identity and her own emotions which she expresses with a feminine touch and a colorful sensitivity.” Check out MC MARQUIS. Very stimulating.

Assiettes & Broderies


The Bolivarian nightmare

Thursday, 24 January, 2019

Venezuela is one of the richest countries in South America, but thanks to the criminal regimes of Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro it is now in economic, social and political ruin. The basics — food, water, healthcare — are either unaffordable because of hyperinflation or controlled by the thugs disguised as the nation’s security forces. Chavez and Maduro declared that their goal was to redistribute the nation’s oil wealth to help the poorest Venezuelans but their senseless and wicked policies have resulted in the impoverishment of millions. Shop shelves are bare, children are suffering from malnutrition and people are fleeing the country in droves. This tableaux of horrors does not represent an aberration of socialism, however. Rather, is the inevitable result of socialism.

The only hope now for Venezuela is Juan Guaidó, the opposition leader recognized by Washington as the nation’s interim president. He can end the Bolivarian nightmare and help his land recover from the trauma it has endured since 1998.

Juan Guaidó


Take down the love letters

Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

The poet and playwright Derek Walcott was born on this day in 1930 in Saint Lucia, an island country in the eastern Caribbean. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1992 “for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment”. How does Walcott’s verse rate? The poetry critic William Logan summed it up with faint praise: “No living poet has written verse more delicately rendered or distinguished than Walcott, though few individual poems seem destined to be remembered.” This one is, we feel.

Love After Love

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you

all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Derek Walcott (1930 – 2017)

Letters home


Google search for “P&G” on 19 January

Tuesday, 22 January, 2019

P&G

The controversy over Gillette’s recent “toxic masculinity” ad campaign has got people talking and thinking. If Proctor & Gamble, which owns Gillette, wishes to use some of the enormous profits it makes on every razor and blade to re-educate un-woke men on how to behave, that’s its business, but not everyone has to fund the venture.


Maggie Rogers: Light On

Monday, 21 January, 2019

In the depths of deep midwinter, light is needed more than ever. Step forward young Maggie Rogers, who grew up along the banks of the Miles River in Easton, Maryland, and began playing harp at age seven, focusing on the music of Holst and Vivaldi. The single “Light On” was released on 10 October last year and it can be found on her major-label debut album, Heard It In a Past Life, which hit the streams last Friday. Lights on!