Saturday, March 17, 2012

Notes from a fairy tale of commerce

One of the things I'm reading at the moment is J. B. Priestley's English Journey. It's curiously out of print (curious, as it's quite a well-known book) but I managed to find a cheap used copy from 1937 which has held up remarkably well.

In any case, I wish I had read this one earlier, as the book is full of excellent writing and quite amusing anecdotes.

I liked, for instance, this, during the opening excursion to Southampton:

The town was making money. At first I felt like a man who had walked into a fairy tale of commerce. The people who jostled me did not looked as if they had just stepped out of an earthly paradise; there was no Utopian bloom upon them; but nevertheless they all seemed well-fed, decently clothed, cheerful, almost gay. The sun beamed upon them, and so did I. Their long street was very pleasant. I noticed that it shared the taste of Fleet Street and the Strand for wine bars. I went into one of these; and it had a surprising succession of Ye Olde panelled rooms, in one of which I drank a shilling glass of moderate sherry and listening  to four citizens talking earnestly about German nudist papers, their supply having recently been cut off by Hitler. Their interest in these papers was genuine but not of a kind to commend itself to the leaders of the nudist movement. (English Journey, London, 1937, p. 13)

One of the other things I'm reading is Norman Collins's London Belongs to Me, excerpts from which will also, I believe, be featuring here in the near future.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Reality beats epistemology

In trying to hone my academic cross-disciplinary smack-down powers, I think I might learn a lot from Jerry Coyne:

When Lynch asserts that “debates over epistemic principles sound abstract, but they have enormous practical repercussions,” he’s simply wrong, and merely defending his turf. These debates have no practical repercussions, because a) scientists ignore them, and rightly so, and b) the public won’t pay attention to them, either. They’re important only to philosophers.

One bite-sized chunk of a long but worthwhile post at Coyne's blog.

Sunday, March 04, 2012

Fighting them on the (cultural) beachheads

This is a very nice article about how cool German culture has become (even being 'embraced' in the UK...who'd have guessed?); however, did they really need to use the word 'invasion'?

And, to me, the combination of text and image suggests that Germany's 'big shift' has involved making half-naked people stand in very, very uncomfortable positions.

I'm struggling to find this complimentary.

Saturday, March 03, 2012

The British Bob Dylan and the Fountainhead of Genius

There's a lot of nice Robyn Hitchcock available online. Though Robyn Hitchcock playing Syd Barrett is something special.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

Well, at least it feels like a brush with fame

It's nice when my Facebook feed brings together things I love (for those not in the know, the voice of Anglophone Cultures Uni Mainz has a special relationship to yours truly):

We've now found the one context in which neither of us minds saying: 'I'm a believer.'

Glad to know that Billy is with us on this.