My Blog Week: September 26 to October 2
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I’m not a hugely followed person on Twitter, but I enjoy a tiny give-and-take on current events, and like others in the funny game, I use Twitter to see jokes and develop jokes of my own. My biggest draw this week was one about Rupert Murdoch with Colosseum implications, in response to a poster’s question of why Fox puts Donald Trump Jr. on TV when he seems pathetically “under the weather”.
I commented on the perennial question of what’s wrong with Republicans, which I venture is data addiction, the attachment to consultants, the surrendering of control over their receipt of information. It’s too easy to feel yourself busy all day doing something about something, when you’re getting constant bright feedback, being told the experts know all that you don’t, and all you have to do is trust them. An article I read on Kim Philby suggested his methodology was similar: he made certain of controlling information, and used a public-school condescension to quell inquiry.
A thread discussed whether T. S. Eliot should be cancelled, for having been a problematic person—fascist admiring and anti-Semitic. We have to come to grips with the worthiness of work, versus the worthiness of individuals. We know we haven’t got a true guiding principle when “not having to do with” applies to a familiar person, while for persons unfamiliar, the judgment seat issues a free pass. We’ve seen the example of enthusiasms once shown for…an R. Kelly song, let’s say (and truthfully, I still like the Christmas one he did with Celine Dion, “I’m Your Angel”) becoming an embarrassment to whoever expressed them, making that person squirm over what can’t be taken back. It’s a bit much to extend the fault of Bad Humanbeinghood to bystanders.
Below, a couple of telling statements from a Commentary magazine piece of 1996, by John Gross, worth reading in whole (and note that political-correctness itself was discussed twenty-five years ago):
There are many instances of anti-Semitism in literature that seem to me best forgotten, and many others that do not warrant more than a footnote. If, in Eliot’s case, a guilty verdict still seems called for, it is largely on account of his failure to make amends.
Reactions of this kind [essentially cancellation] are to be expected in 1996, and there is almost certainly more to come: the lesser brigades of political correctness are lying in wait. It is hard not to feel exasperated by them, especially when one knows how one-sided the rules are: it must be a long time since anyone on the Guardian recommended a real duffing-up of Bertolt Brecht. Still, two wrongs do not make a right, and the Eliot problem remains.
Eliot had many other preoccupations, and displayed many other forms of imagination. After prolonged exposure to the worst side of him, it is worth standing back for a moment to remind ourselves that “Prufrock” initiated a revolution in sensibility as great as any in English poetry since the era of the Romantics, and that The Waste Land and Four Quartets come as close to being undisputed classics as the 20th century can show.
The long debate on Eliot alone proves how much can be delved into, and how shallowly these questions of extracting the art, or parts of the art, from the creator are treated when the verdict is “Dismiss”, based on a Tweet-length education.
On Monday, a new Totem-Maker, the character seeking a philosophical constant by which to understand the zhatabe. Tuesday, The Sword Decides!, Maria waking to what will be a life-changing day. Wednesday, Hammersmith, the deliverance of Hogben, into fresh conspiratorial hands. Thursday, the belated Blog Week from the previous Sunday. Friday, “Drownings”, with McAlley and Faia finding another of the victims. Saturday, “The Big Pants”, Luisa’s reality; Jackie not quite clicking with Tom.
Images on my posts often have a link to related information (click first image), sometimes serious, sometimes whimsical, sometimes in answer to a direct reference. Since people can be leery about links, I include them here: what they are, what sites they point to.
My Blog Week: September 26 to October 2
The Totem-Maker: The Citadel (part eight)
Marjorie Bowen: The Sword Decides! (part thirty-eight)
Hammersmith: Fleeing and Eluding (chapter twenty-eight)
Drownings (part two)
The Big Pants (part five)