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Friday, February 29, 2008

February Débâcle

It’s the quadrennial February débâcle. I know someone whose birthday it is today, which makes him around nine. Somewhere in Yeats’s letters, I remember, is a missive dated ‘31 February’. That’s classy.

The inventor of the Anno Domini calendar system was a monk called Dionysus Exiguus, which sounds a whole let better than saying ‘Dennis the Short’.

The early Irish church threatened to go into schism with Rome over the date of Easter, which they felt very strongly about, for some getting drunk-related reason, I assume.

Features on the calendar in the papers have mentioned the disgruntlement among the masses when these parts skipped from 4 to 15 October 1582 in switching over to the Gregorian calendar. People thought they were being robbed of their time. Foula in the Shetlands still uses the Julian calendar, as did or do the Blasket Islands, which came in handy when people on the mainland wanted to get married (or drunk) and couldn’t because Lent had arrived.

The recently deceased president of Turkmenistan was always monkeying around with the calendar, renaming months and days of the week after his mother, the catchily monikered Gurbansoltanedzhe.

I like the idea of days on the year going missing though, or popping up when you least expect it, in a kind of calendar version of Whack-a-Mole. But if February gets an extra day instead of us just doing 28 February all over again, why don’t we get a twenty-fifth hour once a year instead of putting the clocks back? I’ve always thought that little stunt lent itself enticingly to the plot of a thriller I’ve so far proved too lazy to write.

If I became dictator for life and announced it was now the year 2028, or 1974 again, or better still the year ‘Frappucino’, how annoyed would you be? If I was dictator, though, every second of every hour of the day would have its own name, and the second in which you are reading this now would be called Sidney. This one is called Alfred. This one is Bert. And that’s enough seconds for now.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Puthwuth the Memorious

My mind yesterday, tomorrow, and possibly even right now

Do you remember that thing I was trying but failed to say that time, on 23 March 2001? Or that joke I was interrupted before finishing on 14 September 1999? Of course you do. Well, the thing was that despite my protestations (lies) I’ve never liked omelettes, and the punch-line went something like ‘Actually, that was him in the food-mixer.’

There is a Borges short story called ‘Funes the Memorious’ about a man whose memory is so compendious that he conjugates nouns into past, present and future tenses like we do verbs. There is the dog he is looking at now, the same dog yesterday and the same dog tomorrow. Except it isn’t really the same dog, from a Heraclitean ‘all is flux’ perspective, and hence the need to change the word for it.

Well, I’m a bit like that. (I realize, by the way, that this somewhat puts the kibosh on my short-lived ‘generic word for everything’ phase, as described yesterday. Tough!) The only difference between Funes and me is the hole at the centre of my space-time continuum, which means I can’t remember (if that’s the word) things happening here and now, such as… what is your name again? But that thing on 23 March 2001 and that other thing on 14 September 1999, not to mention some pretty special things I have lined up for 24 July 2011 and 15 August 2023… as long as the here and now doesn’t come into it, it’s in the database, sorted.

I was describing this condition to a medical friend of mine on 22 January 2000 (he was wearing a bright blue shirt and, I couldn’t help thinking, a highly embarrasing pair of red jeans; the dregs of his pint of Carlsberg, I remember, had formed into a pattern resembling a pair of saggy breasts on the side of his glass, eliciting a knowing but mysteriously unexplained half-smile from me on the other side of the functional formica pub table), and he offered me a diagnosis I’ve never forgotten (obviously). ‘You realize I have never actually liked you,’ he began, ‘and if you ever stayed at my place for more than a day or two I would be obliged to beat your head in with a shovel, and what’s more any jury in the land would acquit me too. PS You smell.’

As in Hebrew, there is no present tense in Puthwuthian, my very own private language, which may go some way to explaining my condition. Mind you there is no past or future tense either, since I’ve yet to get around to actually inventing the damn thing.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Blog Post

I noticed a poster the other day for a missing dog, which ‘answers to the name Dog’. It set me thinking what a simpler world it would be if everything stuck to its generic name. My name would be ‘Man’, I would live on ‘Street’ in the pleasant town of ‘Town’, and write blog posts titled ‘Blog post’, dine on my favourite food, good old ‘Food’, and refresh myself with my favourite beer, which would be ‘Beer’. You get the idea. Ah, but there would be a problem, you tell me. What about all the other people called ‘Man’ who live in ‘House’ in ‘Street’ street in ‘Town town? Don’t embarrass yourself. I never said I wanted to move into some other random bloke’s house or start drinking his beer. He may wish to move into my house and steal my beer, or find himself powerless not to in his confusion, but that’s what the good Lord invented baseball bats for. As for missing ‘Dog’ (‘So I’m Dog, but that dog over there is not me but, no wait it is me…’) he was probably too dim-witted for my beautiful scheme, and frankly, I never said we wouldn’t shed a few simpletons, human or canine along the way. But such is the price of progress.


At around one in the morning the house here started to shake with a shuddering motion. The combination of some tea-time pints and a huge Thai curry had unleashed a veritable symphony of farts. They rocketed out me like billy-o. A few minutes after that there was a big bloody earthquake but I’d already gone back to sleep.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

My Friend Twenty Major

I was just passing the time of day in Ron’s bar the other afternoon with Jimmy the Bollix, enjoying a new drinking competition we’d just invented, where you pour Guinness into your ear to see if it makes you as drunk as pouring it into your mouth when –

What? What’s that? Would that be Twenty Major’s friend Jimmy the Bollix? It certainly would. You’ve never mentioned him before, have you? No? And why would that be? Well, it’s a bit sensitive, but let me explain.

As I said, I was passing the time of day with Jimmy the Bollix when I came out with how annoying it was, the way he ‘whittered’ on all the time. ‘“Whittered”?’ he asked. ‘Don’t you mean “wittered”?’

‘No’, I answered, ‘I mean “whittered.” And since I mention it now, do you remember me saying exactly the same thing to you a month ago?’

‘Now that you mention it, yes I do.’

‘And do you also remember me coming out with the rather cryptic-sounding pronouncement “incorrectly aligned quotation mark, page 96”, also a month ago?’

‘Again, yes’, answered Jimmy, the Guinness he was then pouring into his ear emerging from his nostrils and eye-sockets simultaneously.

‘There is a reason for that’, I announced. ‘And that reason is our friend Twenty Major. Or rather your friend, or so you must think. Have you noticed the way that when he comes in here I go and sit in the corner, resuming my long-standing attempt to finish Proust’s A la recherche du temps perdu?’

‘That I have noticed’, Jimmy answered.

‘Then let me you tell you a story. I had an ulterior motive for mentioning that “whittered” and reversed quotation mark a month ago, long before I could have otherwise have had any other reason for doing so. And that reason was to prove that the secret author of Twenty Major’s The Order of the Phoenix Park, which contains the aforementioned errors, is none other than me!’

‘Well ride me sideways!’ blurted Dirty Dave at the bar.

‘Twenty and I go back a long way’, I continued, ‘but we don’t like to talk about it now. It’s all very embarrassing. I didn’t mind writing his book for him in return for the blog-link [HINT HINT] he has promised me, as long as that dark chapter from both our lives is never, ever mentioned again.’

‘Tell me more’, asked Stinking Pete.

‘We were in Florida, Dade County Florida to be precise. We’d decided to adopt American aliases. He was Gene and I was Rocky. We had a scam going on, a printing scam. We’d ordered reams and reams of paper which we never paid for, and which we stood on street corners selling.’

‘You went all the way to Florida to do that?’ interrupted Lucky Luciano. ‘I have a friend in Inchicore who could – ’

‘Shut the fuck up Luciano. No one wants to hear about your stupid fucking friend in Inchicore. So anyway, Twenty, or “Gene” was busy with the paper while I pioneered yet another scam. My scam also involved the printing business, and was designed to help people who’d become helplessly addicted to the taste and smell of printer’s ink, to the point where they couldn’t come home from a day’s work without drinking a bottle of the stuff.’

‘Sounds serious’, interjected Ron.

‘It is indeed a terrible affliction,’ I said. ‘I called my homemade remedy “Inkwean”, to be taken at moments of particular stress and temptation such as “Homecome”.’

‘Homecome’, said Dave, ‘what’s that?’

‘That is the universally recognised word for the time when you come back from work.’

‘The what…?’ said Pete. ‘No it isn’t. What are you talking about?’

‘To be honest,’ I continued, studiously ignoring him, ‘I made the stuff out of cough mixture and breakfast cereal, but it too we used to stand on street corners and sell. We were doing a roaring trade.’

‘So what was the catch?’ asked Jimmy.

‘The catch? What do you mean?’

‘I just presumed if the scam was as great as you’re making it out to be you’d still be there living in a condo or something instead of back here downing pints with the likes of us.’

‘You have a point. What happened is we got greedy. Twenty, or “Gene”, started buying his supplies of paper from local mafia types, who didn’t take so kindly to the old defaulting on the bills. In fact, the stress of this situation got to him so badly that in no time at all he was wetting his bed.’

At this point Stinking Pete, Dirty Dave, Jimmy the Bollix, Lucky Luciano and even Ron himself all vomited with amusement into their pints.

‘Divil the word of a lie. By now though I knew this situation was getting out of hand. It was time to go home. But first I needed to reassure our friend, let him know everything would be all right. I remember it well, going into his room one night and looking down on his ugly face, holding my nose against the smell of piss and the vomit caked into his beard, and singing him a little lullaby. We’d leave all those unpaid invoices behind and return to this here bar and start all over again, I told him.’

‘A lullaby?’ asked Jimmy. ‘You sang Twenty a lullaby?’

‘Yes’, I answered. ‘“Cheer up sleep-pee Gene, oh what can it mean, to a Dade ream-bill leaver, and a Homecome Ink-Wean?

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad?

Not being able to hear what I’m saying is no great loss, much of the time, in my experience. What’s another excursus between friends, I tell myself, even when I’m talking to myself, on the most picturesque industrial estate in East Yorkshire, why Match of the Day always puts Liverpool games on last, or whether leper’s sore-licking makes Catherine of Siena a better saint than Joseph of Cupertino (levitation). But the sound of deafening chainsaws at work the other day, chainsaws at work at work, got so irritating I looked out the window to find a bunch of ne’er do wells chopping down every tree in sight. Other people had looked too and got sufficiently outraged to send some emails round asking what was going on. The oafs were preparing the way for a new ‘plaza’, it emerged. What interested me though was the list of reasons they gave for cutting down the trees, one of which was ‘Planting of new trees’. They were cutting down the trees in order to plant new ones. I can see how irritating the presence of the already-existing trees must have been to these eco-warriors. How anti-green of these trees to have got there first. What were they thinking? I went straight round to the nearest Waterstone to rip up a few books, as part of my ongoing commitment to writing new ones, before throwing away the lunch I bought in the cafeteria to a loud shout of ‘Time to get lunch!’, and deleting the draft I’d written of this blog post in order to write this blog post.

I am reminded of the Irish tradition of the amhrán na mbréag, the song of lies, a fine English-language example of which occurs in Pearse Hutchinson’s Climbing the Light:

In the middle of the wood I set sail
as the beet and the bat were at anchor just off shore
I found in the sea’s rough shallows a nest of bees
In a field’s ear I saw
a mackerel milking a cow

{Quotation ends}

&c. Eventually, I thought of that great lament for the forests of Ireland, Cad a dhéanfaimid feasta gan adhmad? There’s a good English version of it in Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s last book, I remember. I also remember an Irish rugby commentator asking the same question before a Six Nations game when Keith Wood was injured. At least it was only a hamstring or something, rather than one of those nasty chainsaw injuries. Because, whatever about university campuses, chainsaws on the rugby pitch is taking things that little bit too far, and frankly I can’t see efforts to replant Keith Wood afterwards coming to much, either, apologetic email or no apologetic email.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Atheist Elegy

am I wrong
is there more
to come after


no not wrong
not a word
you reply

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

(Liverpool 1 Barnsley 2) 2 Inter Milan 0 Three-Way Hyperspace Brainslap

But Stevie says, Were still a long way away from where we are.

Morning at a Window

Monday, February 18, 2008

Uncertain Clouds, Cloudy Tomorrows

Incisions, blastings, rock drills.

From David Kennedy’s ‘La Charraira Longea’, from The Devil’s Bookshop:

Where my steps inquire into
your quartzed tarmac tilt
and my eyes follow,
the world’s abating inconclusively

into a dried, pressed frog, a rusting hinge,
a bucket with a hole in it,
scythe blades, file blades, without hilts,
and an axe head propped against a wall,

things forgetting their own names,
returning to the mineral.

The title refers, in the Gascon dialect of Aranais, to a road cut into the side of a cliff. I am reminded of David Kennedy by Trevor Joyce, and of John Cage and Raymond Queneau by both.

The Devil’s Bookshop ends with a sequence of mesostical, hither-thither-and-yon poems which I won’t even attempt to reproduce in blogger.

There’s always a ‘go to guy’ for matters foreign in these parts: Stephen Romer for France, Michael Hofmann for Germany, Jamie McKendrick for Italy… but The Devil’s Bookshop is one of the most Francophile and Franco-saturated books I’ve read in a while. Would you rather bouquiner or boucaner? A French second-hand bookshop has a motto that sometimes reads ‘J’aime mieux bouquiner que boucaner’, sometimes ‘J’aime mieux boucaner que bouquiner’:

‘Bouquiner’ means ‘to browse old books’ but is also common parlance for ‘to read’ while ‘boucaner’ is common parlance for ‘to barbecue’ which is a modern variant of its original meaning ‘to smoke’ or ‘to cure’ meat. So the old devil’s motto could have meant simply either ‘I would rather cook on a fire than leaf through a quire’ or ‘I would rather have my nose in a book than hang meat on a hook.’

{Quotation ends}

And speaking of Queneau, Carcanet have just brought out his Elementary Morality in Philip Terry’s translation, 131 ‘quennets’ and prose poems generated by the hexagrams of the I Ching. The three columns he uses in those quennets also evades my best efforts to reproduce them here, but here too there is much talk of paths and pathways:

The erratic blocks
strews across the plain
are sighing sighing
severed from the chain
A scampering mouse
his troubles on his back
doesn’t know where he’s going

Uncertain clouds
Cloudy tomorrows

(Quotation ends}

I know DK quite well, I confess. He lives in Sheffield, and has always come in handy for explaining words in Arctic Monkeys songs and getting my coffee after lunch. Now he goes and writes a book like that. Does his usefulness know no end?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Trevor Joyce

Whats in Store is Trevor Joyce’s new book from New Writers Press and The Gig, but if there’s a question in that title the answer, in my experience, has almost never been ‘a poetry book by Trevor Joyce’. In fact the only place I’ve ever seen his work on sale is in the ever-estimable Books Upstairs on College Green in Dublin.

It has not one but two contents pages, a fact that doesn’t make initial ease of orientation twice as easy, believe me. Shorn of titles for poems and sequences, in the main text at least, it’s a difficult book to negotiate, initially. So why not just plunge in:

hard words

no jawb
reakers though

in itself

no insults
either no
or piece
of anybody’s

an oddly

with fore
of occasional

surely it
must mean

The poem is everything that is the case. Some of what’s on offer here includes versionings, or ‘workings’ from the Irish (middle and modern), material from the Hungarian and Chinese, and sequences in poetry and prose, one of which, ‘Stillsman, performs a resuscitation effort on Copperplate Gothic Bold as a typeface for serious litterchewer (don’t I just mean ‘suscitation’?). Find me another new book with such a range; I certainly haven’t read one any time lately. Joyce has cited James Clarence Mangan as an avatar. Among the many Irish bards of dubious provenance Englished by Mangan is one Charles Boy McQuillan, Boy for Buí (Yellow) presumably, but still, very Delta, I’ve always thought. As are Joyce’s ‘Love Songs from the Irish’:

I will not die for you
O woman like a swan, withdrawn,
You’ve wrecked your share of fools,
Remember they weren’t me.

Equally invigorating in ‘De Iron Trote’, whose ability to get three words into the ‘Iron’ of its title let us hereby applaud (it’s a reference to Cork’s Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital). Blake’s infernal print-works crossed with a workforce drawn from Malone Dies’ asylum inmates:

A dull but strong sound like that produced by a file on wood has something harsh in its sound. So, other boys start as heaters, then exercise as rivet-carriers, holders-up, anvil-hands, and lastly platers. Hear the whizzing sound of the left auricle.

Caution: Boys are often required to stand inside the chamber, as supporters, while the men pierce, and then hammer it outside, and deafness is apt to result. I found one who had abandoned his laborious occupation, and gained an easy place as a servant to a priest.

Work with letters may be done sitting without difficulty and is quite suitable for cripples. The trade is not a large one.

{Quotation ends}

One way of reading Trevor Joyce’s poetry would be to preface this account with an excursus on the hegemony of Irish identity politics and poetics today, the baleful effect of anthology culture, the near-invisibility of small press publishing, and so on, before bolting down the nearest rabbit hole all the way to Beckett’s ‘Recent Irish Poetry’. Another way, true though the above may be, and is, is summary and total immersion in this very fine book with nary a thought for the seminar-sustaining-pabulum. Oulipo-sur-Lee, Kurt Schwitters-by-Shandon, John Cage meets Céilidh House. The trade should be a much larger one. Get it while you can (buy it here).

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


In Jean Vigo’s L’Atalante, the gnarled old sea-dog Père Jules fiddles unsuccessfully with a gramophone before spinning the 78 he is trying to play on his finger. Music suddenly wheezes into life. He stops, restarts, and it happens again. The camera pans back to show the cabin boy playing the accordion in time to his 78-spinning, though Père Jules indignantly asks if the boy has never seen someone play a record with his finger before.

It reminded me of the scene in Godard’s Pierrot Le Fou where they visit a cinema and see a woman in the bath on-screen, her leg fetchingly hoisted above the rim. The cinema audience stand up for a better view, then rush the screen. In the fracas the screen is torn down, to reveal, behind it, a woman in the bath.

L’Atalante has also the merit of being one of the most cat-infested of films. If only one of the cats in that still could have been persuaded to sit on a slowly rotating 78, like the rabbit on the stereo in that episode of Father Ted. And how does Père Jules get those kittens to stay on his shoulder as he lurches around the péniche?

Vigo’s father was an anarchist who adopted the surname Almeyreda, an anagram of ‘y a la merde’, ‘there is shit’.

Beckett on the Grand Canal in ‘Enueg I’:

I trundle along rapidly now on my ruined feet
flush with the livid canal;
at Parnell Bridge a dying barge
carrying a cargo of nails and timber
rocks itself softly in the foaming cloister of the lock

{Quotation ends}

L’Atalante puts in at Le Havre, not too far from Tristan Corbière’s Roscoff. From ‘La Fin’:

Ecoutez, écoutez la tourmente qui beugle! …
C’est leur anniversaire – Il revient bien souvent –
Ô poète, gardez pour vous vos chants d’avuegle;
– Eux: le De profundis que leur corne le vent.

… Qu’ils roulent infinis dans les espaces vierges! …
Qu’ils roulent verts et nus,
Sans clous et sans sapin, sans couvercle, sans cierges …
– Laissez-les donc rouler, terriens pavenus!

And in Christopher Pilling’s English:

It’s their birthday again! – Listen; hear the blizzard
Raging, and you’ll feel the strength they go on pitting …
O poet, may your blind man’s songs stick in your gizzard;
– Theirs: the De profundis of the wind’s trumpeting.

… May they roll endlessly in their virgin expanses! …
May they roll raw in their blubber,
With no nails and no coffin, no lid, no candles …
– Let them go on rolling, you upstart landlubbers!

{Quotation ends}

Vigo and Corbière, both dead of TB at 29.

Monday, February 11, 2008

A Student Writes

In the 1930s Nazi Germany became increasingly anti-Semantic.

{Quotation ends}

Is this an even better ‘Kitler’ than the last one I used or what?

Bearded Buffoon

Someone else who heard this may already have mentioned it on Harry’s Place, but the best comment I’ve heard so far on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s misguided foray into sharia law came from a Radio Five Live caller who announced that ‘Jesus Christ would be turning in his grave today, if he was alive’.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Where Forgetfulness Weighs

Beckett fact (hors série).

A selection of Beckett’s French poems features in Philip Nikolayev’s English translation in the February issue of Poetry. Here for curious comparatists and in no particular order is the opening stanza of bon bon il est un pays in his and my translation, mine as extracted from the lower intestine of a long-ago PhD thesis:

good good it is a land
where forgetfulness weighs forgetulness
sweetly on the unnamed worlds
there the head is silenced the head is mute
and you know no you know nothing
the song of dead mouths dies
on the shore it has made its journey
no cause for any more tears

all right all right there’s a land
where forgetting where forgetting weighs
gently upon worlds unnamed
there the head we shush it the head is mute
and one knows no but one knows nothing
the song of dead mouths dies
on the shore it has made its voyage
there is nothing to mourn

I do like his versions, I must say.

A feature on Beckett’s poetry is promised in the next issue of Fulcrum, which also reprints ‘Beckett’s forgotten masterpiece “Ceiling”.

PN points out that the bon bon il est un pays was written at the prompting of Bram van Velde who wanted to use the text to accompany his images in an exhibition but never did, ‘perhaps because the poem itself is an explicit rejection of the invitation’.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Babel Babble

The things you find on Wikipedia. Did you know that the legendary Scythian king Fenius Farsa and a retinue of 72 scholars, no less, went to the site of the Tower of Babel to study its now dispersed languages and created Gaelic out of the best of all the different tongues he’d studied? He also discovered four new alphabets, the Hebrew, Greek, Latin and Ogham, with Ogham being the most perfect because the last to be discovered. Read more about it in Auraicept na n-Éces (‘the scholars’ primer’) in the Book of Ballymote.

Three Colours: Red

Here’s Kierkegaard on the unhappiest man (a grave somewhere in England, he tells us in Either/Or (Either, to be specific) is marked ‘the unhappiest man’):

There can be but one combination of [the unhappiness of hope and the unhappiness of disappointment], and this happens when it is memory which prevents the unhappy individual from finding himself in his hope, and hope which prevents him from finding himself in his memory. When this happens it is, on the one hand, due to the fact that he constantly hopes something that should be remembered; his hope constantly disappoints him, and in disappointing him, reveals to him that it is not because the realization of his hope is postponed, but because it is already past and gone, has already been experienced, or should have been experienced, and thus has passed over into memory. On the other hand, it is due to the fact that he always remembers that for which he ought to hope; for the future he has already anticipated in thought, in thought already experienced it, and this experience he now remembers, instead of hoping for it. Consequently, what he hopes for lies behind him, what he remembers lies before him.

Thought of this while watching Kieslowski’s Three Colours: Red again. The old judge’s hope is behind him: the end is in the beginning, and yet he goes on. He has been left in his youth by a woman he loved and has never got over it. And if he could begin again, knowing what he knows, the result would be the same, and all that. Or that’s how it looks. But a corollary, or observe, of the future being behind him is that in some ways the past hasn’t really happened yet, and remains unfinished business, as illustrated by the Auguste and Karin subplot. Does the judge have a dirty old man’s interest in the Irène Jacob’s character Valentine? Apparently not. That would be too simple. If his long-ago abandonment made him feel impotent, his snooping on his neighbours’ telephone conversations restores his sense of power but means he forfeits any moral high ground. Valentine is disgusted when she finds out, yet given the chance to inform a neighbour she refuses. Why? He taunts her that shattering the lives of a wronged wife and her young daughter is too much for her, but there is more to it than that. He makes her realize that her motivation reeks too much of self-righteousness: she would be doing the right thing but for the wrong reason. She has to grasp the element of sickly enjoyment at the heart of her sense of indignation, something the judge’s grotty little hobby has helped him to grasp all too well.

Once her initial indignation wears off, Valentine quickly becomes complicit in the judge’s games. The character of Auguste, who we realize towards the end of the film is re-enacting the story of the judge’s young life, is being cheated on by his girlfriend, who then abandons him when the judge outs himself as a spy to his neighbours. The news montage at the end of the film, after the ferry disaster, strongly hints that Auguste and Valentine have been brought together by this strange chain of events and will now go on to have a relationship. But what looks like a happy ending for the judge, the ending that should have been for his younger self, is not quite so simple. His voyeurism has been a large factor in ending Auguste’s relationship. Auguste does not win the woman back. The woman Auguste does win he owes, at least indirectly, to the judge’s spying, and to Valetine’s acquiescence to the judge’s belief that his acts of betrayal and perversion trump her righteous indignation. Valentine and Auguste’s relationship will be based not on innocent true love but on the acceptance of betrayal and knowing too much. This is why the Platonic love between Valentine and the judge begins, rather than ends with her discovery of his perversion. Love begins after, not before we lose these illusions. It’s like Blake’s ‘organised innocence’, that comes after experience, with the judge here assuming the stigma of experience and handing the pleasure to Valentine, as his gift. He wins nothing but the long-awaited pleasure of being able to tell his lost love, You think I was a fool? You think I was a romantic innocent? I too know that love is based on betrayal and loss, and I too have learned to enjoy it like that.

This may be a somewhat eccentric and improbable reading, but that’s how I see it at least. I find the film just devastating to watch, I must say.

Sunday, February 03, 2008

Friday, February 01, 2008

The Holy Family, Memorabilia Thereof

The humourist Miles Kington, who has ‘died suddenly at the age of 94 after apparently contracting a rare leg disease from a Madeira cake allegedly sent to him by extremist followers of the Philip Larkin’, according to his obituary in The Independent, made a documentary in 1996 titled In Search of the Holy Foreskin:

Despite there having been between eight and 18 such foreskins, he found unable to produce even one, the last having been allegedly lost after being kept in a shoebox in the wardrobe of a priest. Undaunted, Kington instead displayed to his readers such devotional relics as a feather from the wing of the Holy Ghost, some of Mary’s Holy Milk and the Breath of Joseph.