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Long Ago (and Not So Far Away) - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
cbertsch
cbertsch
Long Ago (and Not So Far Away)
Today I had a distinct vision of myself working in a provincial business office in the South of England, circa 1975. There was a lot of paper. The phones looked primitive. And the torpor in the smoky air was overwhelming. I often have geographically and historically specific fantasies, but this one stood out A) because it seemed so far removed from the realm of wish fulfillment; and B) because the precision of its details generated a powerful urge for flight. I suppose I could blame my vision on a youth in which I eagerly watched reruns of British sit-coms on PBS, with Good Neighbors and Butterflies being particular favorites. But then I realized how much the vision accords with my recent professional experiences, despite the temporal and spatial displacement. It's like I've been waiting for the Notting Hill riots to destabilize my conception of the world. My fear, naturally, is that the sweeping changes to come will turn out to have Margaret Thatcher's wiry grip on the broom handle.

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Current Location: 85704
Muse: the voice of Thurston Moore at its wispiest

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Comments
From: e4q Date: February 12th, 2008 08:50 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
you ABSOLUTELY HAVE to get a copy of the series 'life on mars'

and then when you have finished that, and either wait for the sequel ashes to ashes to come available or watch it now on bbci if you can http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/page/item/b008y6pr.shtml?filter=azgroup%3Aab&scope=iplayeratoz&start=3&version_pid=b008y6gv
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 12th, 2008 03:47 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
OK! The next time I place an Amazon UK order, I'll do just that. I have to save up for the shipping, but it works really nicely.
From: e4q Date: February 12th, 2008 05:56 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
you will UTTERLY LOVE it, i promise you.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 12th, 2008 07:27 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Great icon, BTW!

And, yes, if you recommend it, I probably will love it. . .

:-)
From: e4q Date: February 12th, 2008 07:58 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
it is the law that people who love it are our age group and are british or serious anglophiles.

toodles was my teddy. he got rather too loved, and a dog chewed his nose to ribbons.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 12th, 2008 08:28 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
A teddy is forever.
From: babyiwasshot Date: February 12th, 2008 01:05 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

foxes and hedgehogs

The British are cold, masculine, classist and hierarchical; they have no passion--"aficion," as Hemingway refers to it. I wish I was born in France so that literary studies would force me to read works I can actually connect with.

I think western culture divides diametrically, with the British and Italians on one pole (monarchs and fascists) and the french, spanish, irish and russians on the other ("fornicators" hahah). The breakdown corresponds roughly, in my estimation, to the difference between Aristotle's Lyceum and Plato's academy, respectively.

As for America; everything beautiful about it comes from it's connections to the French. The word "liberty" traces its origins to French. Interestingly, if our forefathers could look upon america now, they would be ashamed. Why? I think it may have soemthing to do with the fact that the french were our allies during the revolution, whilst the british were our enemies; now the converse is true....a way of characterizing the above dichotomy in terms of american history would be to say that the nation is 1/2 george washington (british) and 1/2 thomas jefferson (french).
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 12th, 2008 03:43 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: foxes and hedgehogs

Ha!

I don't think I've ever seen the Italians grouped together with the "bloodless" Brits like that before.

In my experience, most Italians definitely fall on the side of passionate madness.

Also, where are the Germans in your schema? As someone who lived in Germany, was a German major, and still reads the language, I demand an answer!
From: babyiwasshot Date: February 12th, 2008 05:08 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: foxes and hedgehogs

yeah, I think I erred in that one by equating classism with fascism (as the former always mimics the latter in the eyes of those in the lower strata).

I forgot the germans; after posting I remembered, but didn't want to crowd the responses with addendums.

Honestly, I think they occupy the liminal space; the greatest romantic literature in history (arguably) is german (goethe), yet you've also got the issue of their pugnacity and the reich.....I'd group 'em with the italians were it not for their pessimism.

Yeah, right in between: like Nietzsche, 1/2 passionate/romantic (arguably fascist) madman, the other collected, analytical and acerbic genius...."they" tend to be profoundly moral (in spite of their atheism), too--a PERVASIVE judeo-christian guilt (fatalism, perhaps?) plagues the overwhlemingly LUTHERAN regions (germany, sweden, denmark, etc.), which gives them reason to be categorized with other catholic regions (italy, spain, etc.), but their emphasis on the idea of the "will" belies this fatalsim...completely divided.

I, personally, identify with this nationality the most and I always feel split, so...who knows?
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 12th, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: foxes and hedgehogs

Lutherans and Catholics together? Hmmmm.

I don't think of "guilt" as being a Protestant hang-up, whether Calvinist or Lutheran. It's a cliché, but not wrong for being so, that Protestants are more worried about shame than guilt.

Lars von Trier's Breaking the Waves, a response to his conversion to Catholicism, is about what happens when a shaming Protestant culture is confronted by someone for whom shame is meaningless.
From: babyiwasshot Date: February 12th, 2008 05:25 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: foxes and hedgehogs

but not wrong for being so, that Protestants are more worried about shame than guilt.

Good distinction!! Yeah, that feels far more accurate.

OVerall, the task of categorization is difficult--perhaps impossible. The categories the nations belong to switch when considering different variables. IN gender terms, catholic "realms" will be more masculine/oppressive ("macho"), which we often want to associate with protestantism, but protestants oppress females in private; catholics oppress females openly in that they celebrate all that is masculine (scorsese, bullfighting, BOXING/mixed martial arts--which is HUGE in "hispanic" culture--, etc.).

Furthermore, my lyceum/academy division may not hold, given that catholics have a predilection for aristotle (aquinas), yet catholic regions (italy, namely) are incredibly fascist and hold firm to power/authority (giuliani is a nice example of how this manifests; he wants only yes-men around him, lashes out at opposition.....shit, maybe I'm "italian."

....see, this task is tough, futile even.
From: babyiwasshot Date: February 12th, 2008 05:43 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: foxes and hedgehogs

Though I'm not arriving at anything concrete, I've long though of all that is ITALIAN as fascist; those two are inextricably linked the more I think about it.

First you have roman emperors, then fascist dictators, people from the old countrry emigrate to america and you have mob bosses.....the power in that culture is always centralized.

Plus, you've got contemporary examples of the italy/right-wing connection in giuliani, scalia, etc. This is NOT aristotalean, though (Whgich belies aquinas and the link with catholicism); it's pure plato: philosopher kings....or just simply kings....EMPERORS.

catholicism and protestantism are both, in their own way, associated with the idea of the "community" over the individual, but the latter is more exclusive....screw it. ONe could spend a lifetime trying to compile this into a cogent theoretical framework and not succeed.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 12th, 2008 05:52 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: foxes and hedgehogs

The Mob. Right. I guess if you're including that kind of organization under the rubric of fascism, that changes things. Personally, though, I'd argue that fascism only happens when the state takes precedence over everything, including the family, whereas mafia culture turns the institution of the family into a pseudo-state pitted against legitimate authority.
From: babyiwasshot Date: February 12th, 2008 11:59 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: foxes and hedgehogs

I'd argue that fascism only happens when the state takes precedence over everything

Not merely the state, but the state RELIGION: the state of italy was, for quite a while, really just a papal theocracy (at least in/around FLORENECE), and if one looks at the organization of catholicism, the right-wing/authoritarian stuff re-emerges (giuliani's ideology was shaped by catholic schooling, etc.) Moreover, the italian family structure is linked strongly with the CATHOLIC family structure.

So, perhaps (though by no means certainly) it DOES break down along RELIGIOUS lines.

IN the end, perhaps weber was wrong and BOTH catholicism and protestantism are sources of tyranny, which bolsters my argument against religion in general. REligion and nationalism are the source of war; they're also intricately linked.

Keep in mind that I'm not a history buff; I'm working with patchy historical knowledge in these characterizations.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 12th, 2008 05:50 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: foxes and hedgehogs

True, it's almost impossible for a smart person not to outthink her or his own categories, as Ludwig Wittgenstein beautifully demonstrates.

I think some of your confusion where Italians are concerned has to do with the distinction between the North and the South, with Rome falling somewhere in between. The North, where fascism worked best and where neo-fascism -- in the form of the Northern League -- is strongest, is a place where the bloodlines are heavily laden with Germanic genes. Yes, Milan is a pretty fascist place in many ways. But that's because of the German influence.

(And, yes, I'm winking as I type this. . .)
From: babyiwasshot Date: February 13th, 2008 12:06 am (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)

Re: foxes and hedgehogs

haha I don't mind the culture/nation/"race" that I identify with being negatively categorized; my dedication is to the truth. I KNOW stuff like this has the potential to get me into trouble, but most of the time I really AM thinking about it in objective terms.

I do believe that certain nations/geographical locations and political structures can be sub-divided into distinct cultures. WHen you read Marquez, you can just FEEL that it's latin american; when you read jane austen, you can just feel that its British; you know?

Granted, this isn't a good argument, but that's always been my method; intuition creates hypothesis, and hypotheses can be either confirmed or denied by reading the "data" (be it a text, statistics, what-have-you).
hollsterhambone From: hollsterhambone Date: February 12th, 2008 03:25 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
This post is reminding me of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life when those gray-haired, corporate lackeys (accountants?) decide to go to war and miraculously their shiny office buildings can move like 17th century ships.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 12th, 2008 03:49 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Nice! I had the pleasure of watching that sequence last year in a frame of mind colored by consumption. Even though everything was running into browns and grays from overzealous application, I still managed to laugh hard.
hollsterhambone From: hollsterhambone Date: February 13th, 2008 08:13 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I think a couple of beers makes Monty Python funnier. There's so much physical humor that is directly connected with the intellectual humor that if you're not in the mood for the physical, you're not going to have a great time watching it.

Basically, beer is good.
flw From: flw Date: February 12th, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
I get that all the time. Torpor is inherently overwhelming. Have you ever been underwhelmed by torpor? Or merely whelmed by it? No.
cbertsch From: cbertsch Date: February 12th, 2008 05:46 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
Well, I think the torpor of a retreat in the Maldives might whelm me just right. But, no, within the realm that I inhabit, torpor is inevitably too much.
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