Sunday, February 09, 2020

An Evening With George Steiner (1929–2020)

Chaos havoc in Rainy Sydney ...

For a man widely regarded as a cross between Machiavelli and Rasputin, Dominic Cummings has lost a lot of battles lately. The prime minister’s special adviser opposed both Huawei’s involvement in Britain’s 5g networks and the hs2 rail network (which he labelled “a disaster zone”). Boris Johnson has given the green light to the first and is shortly expected to approve the second. Mr Cummings’s plan to cut the size of the cabinet and create a super-department of business has been ditched. So have his schemes to turn Downing Street into a nasa-style mission-control centre and to ship Conservative Party headquarters to the north of the country
Dominic Cummings v the blob

ENEMY ACTION:  The Literary Assassination of Ian Fleming

Disney’s “Hamilton” Movie Strategy: A Lucrative New Franchise

The modern retelling of founding father Alexander Hamilton’s life is a full-blown cultural phenomenon, one that has rolled out like a well-planned military campaign. The target? The hearts and minds of America, and the world, as part of that thing every studio executive wants: hilariously lucrative branded IP. –IndieWire

Extreme weather hits as 90,000 without power, car crushed in CBD

A librarian shares the secrets of book-culling - Spinoff: “It’s no surprise then that weeding announcements evoke a flurry of sad and angry face reacts. In response to the disposal of books and newspapers by his local public library, novelist Nicholson Baker became so riled up that he wrote the book Double Fold: Libraries and the Assault on Paper. Weeding projects can encourage the rise of passionate library vigilantes: individuals on a ‘save libraries from the librarians’ mission which usually includes scanning dumpsters and rescuing discarded books. Collective public anger can quickly get out of control; in Berkeley, two years ago, weeding of unused books – and the library director’s poor communication about same – caused patrons to petition and stage protests until the director was forced to resign…”

Public Books and the Sydney Review of Books have partnered to exchange a series of articles with international concerns. Today’s article, “Raise Your Needles: In Defence of Public Knitting,” by Aleesha Paz, was originally published by the SRB on June 7, 2019. 

It was a triumph bagging the last table on the busy rooftop bar, especially so late in the summer when half of Sydney was out making the most of the remaining warm nights. I guarded the table while my friend lined up at the bar. I could see from the length of the queue that she wouldn’t be served for a few minutes, so I pulled a half-finished beanie from my bag and was quickly consumed by the familiar motions my hands made, creating then slipping loops of wool from one needle to the other. When my friend returned, holding two gin and tonics, her eyes zeroed in on what I was holding. “Put that away,” she demanded. “You’re in public!”

The line between public and private is a curious thing. Most of us cross this divide multiple times a day, moving between home and work or from one private space to another, passing through public areas to get there. By definition, the public and private are opposed—each space has its own distinct purposes and designated sets of behavior. Performing what is considered a private act in a public place can have consequences—just look at how divisive the concept of breastfeeding in public is today.

Philosophers should strangle their wives,” and other dubious thoughts — an evening with the charming, monstrously narcissistic George Steiner...
George Steiner is a charming but monstrous narcissist. In November 2001, I spent an amazing evening with him and the Celebrated Poet at the Professor of Poetry’s house. Things got started when another Professor, the Poet, and an Artist (the Poet’s spouse), complained laughingly about the xerox machine in the University English Department. This led to an interesting and moving story of Steiner’s about his Czech students copying outMiddlemarch by hand since access to copying was extremely difficult in Prague: the Czech xerox machines were controlled by the state, lest any samizdat activities got going.
An Evening With George Steiner (1929–2020)

Again and again—and in countries all over the world—declines in trust of government correlate strongly with calls for more government regulation in more parts of our lives. “Individuals in low-trust countries want more government intervention even though they know the government is corrupt,” explain the authors of a 2010 Quarterly Journal of Economics paper. That’s certainly the case in the United States, where the size, scope, and spending of government has vastly increased over exactly the same period in which trust and confidence in the government has cratered. In 2018, I talked with one of the paper’s authors, Andrei Shleifer, a Harvard economist who grew up in the Soviet Union before coming to America. Why do citizens ask a government they don’t believe in to bring order? “They want regulation,” he said. “They want a dictator who will bring back order.”
Counterintuitively, the relative size and spending of government in the United States actually flattened or dipped during periods when trust and confidence in government picked up…

What we can learn from the Neverending Story? — Helen De Cruz (SLU) on the novel’s philosophical lessons
The solution to this is not only to be properly grounded in reality, but also a true and proper love of oneself, love not of some image of oneself as powerful and beautiful, but the way one really and truly is. The Neverending Story then, is also a story about and finding one’s true self, which is not being remote from friendship and connection, and one’s history but rooted within it, and finding peace and accepting who one is. Lack of proper self-love, Ende warns, is the road to megalomaniac leadership where one wants to best everyone and it’s never enough (see picture below, undoubtedly, other pictures come to mind). In sum, Neverending Story is hugely relevant today. 

Image result for putin on horseback