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Fortnightly Culture Thread July 18, 2021

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.
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gregtimo proposed in comments recently the idea of a Culture Thread.

It’s a great idea. Currently culture is a bit strange, but people read, listen to music, watch television and film and so on – spread the net wide, sports, activities, interests, all relevant – and any pointers are always welcome. And it’s not just those areas but many more. Suggestions as to new or old things, events that might have been missed, literally anything. gregtimo for example asks… 

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1. EWI - July 18, 2021

Watched 2010: The Year We Make Contact again recently, and how much superior a representation of Soviet Russians it was (and at the height of the Cold War) to recent Hollywood productions like For All Mankind (we won’t dwell on the execrable Black Widow movie). Shown as actual people who just have their own politics to deal with, same as the Americans.

I haven’t read the book at all, but understand that there’s an actual same sex relationship portrayed too, just hinted at in the movie.

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WorldbyStorm - July 18, 2021

One of my favourite films, flawed but really very very good at what it does. That’s true re the same sex relationship in the book.

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2. banjoagbeanjoe - July 18, 2021

I heard Joyce’s short story A Painful Case from his Dubliners collection on the radio this evening.
This quote struck me:
“He told her that for some time he had assisted at the meetings of an Irish Socialist Party where he had felt himself a unique figure amidst a score of sober workmen in a garret lit by an inefficient oil-lamp. When the party had divided into three sections, each under its own leader and in its own garret, he had discontinued his attendances. The workmen’s discussions, he said, were too timorous; the interest they took in the question of wages was inordinate. He felt that they were hard-featured realists and that they resented an exactitude which was the produce of a leisure not within their reach. No social revolution, he told her, would be likely to strike Dublin for some centuries.”

Plus ca change.

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3. Liberius - July 19, 2021

Watched a video of Dutch-Turkish singer/pianist Karsu at a Turkish Jazz fest recorded last August, quite nice, have to say I keep coming back to Karsu’s music regularly now having only discovered her back in December.

In addition to that I got round to watching this Jazz concert from last month that uses small groups of musicians in various places around the Philharmonie de Paris, also nice.

I do have a video of Amelie Lens’ set at the Exit Festival in Serbia to watch though the crowds and the lack of social distancing is making me unenthusiastic, though probably no different to the Euros. Aside from that the July Sumo tournament has just finished, went down to the day 15 with Hakuho and Terunofuji having 14-0 records into it, Hakuho won out, though I don’t think Terunofuji has done much harm to his prospect of eventually being promoted to Yokozuna.

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Liberius - July 19, 2021

Actually also watched an odd documentary on ARTE last night about elitist pseudo-Californian bungalows in Germany, I have to say I hadn’t realised the German’s refer to flat-roofed single-story villas (or indeed ones aspiring to be villas) as bungalows.

https://www.arte.tv/en/videos/093800-000-A/the-beauty-of-bungalows/

Additionally I picked up Tropico 5 in the steam sale, I’ve been managing a workers Paradise with a largely rum and cigars based economy since, the yanks keep trying to invade!

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WorldbyStorm - July 19, 2021

Ah it’s years since I played Tropico. That sounds like a worthy way to play it!

Cheers re the ARTE documentary.

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4. NFB - July 19, 2021

Something I re-watched for the first time in a while the other day was an episode of Stargate: SG-1. I was obsessed with that show and its spin-offs in secondary school/early college years, but I was struck on this viewing by how cheap it looks sets-wise/locations wise. One of those kinds of shows I suppose, making do with what they had. Still think it had one of the best mythologies of any sci-fi show in my lifetime.

Still slowly going through Assassin’s Creed, up to IV. A game that has some good ideas in examining 18th century piracy as a sort of libertarian ideal, which lines up perfectly with the larger mythos, but very shallow in execution.

Books recently: Operation Pedestal, which is an interesting bit of militaria for those into the lesser-known aspects of WW2, and currently on The Seven Deaths Of Evelyn Hardcastle, which is a really twisted fantasy whodunnit that I am very intrigued by 1 tenth or so in.

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WorldbyStorm - July 19, 2021

I’d not even heard of Pedastal. That seems very interesting. I hard of the Evelyn Hardcastle book and was very curious about it. Sounds like it might be a winner!

Re SG-1, I loved Atlantis. But also the crossover (not really) with Farscape. Yeah, it was cheap and silly but as you say it had a great backstory.

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5. infopanabloggmailcom - July 19, 2021

I would appreciate it if you circulated the flyer about the Casement Commemoration Thanks Roger Cole

PANA https://www.pana.ie

From: The Cedar Lounge Revolution To: Sent: 7/18/2021 11:37 AM Subject: [New post] Fortnightly Culture Thread

WorldbyStorm posted: ” gregtimo proposed in comments recently the idea of a Culture Thread. It’s a great idea. Currently culture is a bit strange, but people read, listen to music, watch television and film and so on – spread the net wide, sports, activities, interests, all”

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6. Bagatelle's Uncleared Ternions - July 19, 2021

Blindspotting – the film and current TV series are outstanding. The documentary on effects pedals “The Pedal Movie” was also great. Pig with Nicholas Cage was a welcome change of pace from the revenge fueled blood fests of late. I was blown away by it.

The Tomorrow War, Settlers, Tides and No Sudden Move ranged from terrible to awful to bad to banal.

The eldest youngster gave The Martian, Ready Player One, The Shining and Aliens two thumbs up. Still not a fan of Dr Zhivago.

Off to checkout 2010:TYWMCA which I’d never seen before. Thanks for the recs all.

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7. WorldbyStorm - July 19, 2021

The Tomorrow War seems grim grim grim. I still like Edge of Tomorrow. Think that was a pretty good, if not great, film that worked with its premise well.

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EWI - July 19, 2021

Think that was a pretty good, if not great, film that worked with its premise well.

*** Spoilers ***

The Edge of Tomorrow is a rare example of a mid-budget sci-fi movie that is better than it ought to be (TC dying messily and repeatedly adds to the appeal) but TW is awful, and for too many reasons. Fitting in with EoT’s premise, I did enjoy Boss Level, but Palm Springs was just about an unreformed creep.

There just hasn’t been a lot of good sci-fi movies recently (Tenet’s one gimmick wasn’t sufficient), but looking forward to Foundation and the next season of Lower Decks.

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Bagatelle's Undetermined Throngs - July 20, 2021

EoT sequel is in the works. Although it’s been in pre-production for a few years. I’ll always give Doug Liman and Christopher McQuarrie a lash no matter what the reviewers say. Because Go/Swingers/Bourne Identity & Usual Suspects/Way of the Gun respectively. EoT doesn’t reach those standards but it’s definitely got a few rewatches in it.

EWI – yer right about SF of late, Tenet & Blade Runner 2049 in the past 4 years is about all. I reckon the MCU/Superhero genre is sucking up all the oxygen there. Gotta disagree with you on Tenet, I’m firmly affixed within a Christopher-Nolan-Can-Do-No-Wrong-LA-LA-LA-LA phase of life :p Except Dunkirk, don’t ever shoot a movie without a script.

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WorldbyStorm - July 20, 2021

Good to hear re EoT. I liked Tenet too and didn’t like Dunkirk either. The latter was a mess and too depopulated, it didn’t feel like a fully realised world. The former was fun, idiotically intricate and perhaps one of the most interesting forms of time travel ever depicted.

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EWI - July 20, 2021

Except Dunkirk, don’t ever shoot a movie without a script.

In the wider context, ‘Dunkirk’ is just another example of a decade of pandering to English nationalist audiences by the Anglo-American film and TV industry (Nolan remarked at the time that he was taking care to cast all “British” actors, no doubt news to the Irish ones).

But the magical Spitfire flown by Hardy (carrying out aerobatics and dogfighting despite losing its propulsion) took the biscuit.

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Michael Carley - July 20, 2021

In fairness Bob Hoover’s party piece was aerobatics with the engine turned off

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EWI - July 20, 2021

Christ almighty.

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Michael Carley - July 20, 2021

His escape in a stolen FW190 is a cracker:

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Hoover

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8. alanmyler - July 19, 2021

I’m still reading De Beauvoir’s The Mandarins. Around half way through now. It really is well written. A FB comrade commented that the book inspired her to end her first marriage. Impressive. I think I can see where she’s coming from, halfway through, it really does probe the rationale for staying with someone when the relationship has expired. Or maybe I’m picking her up incorrectly or incompletely. Those french, eh.

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WorldbyStorm - July 20, 2021

Wow, that’s some effect. Very impressive.

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9. EWI - July 20, 2021

Some really odd choices of reviewers in this year’s Saothar. I had never expected to see a laudatory piece on the old Irish Party (and its southern destination within Fine Gael).

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10. alanmyler - July 27, 2021

We were away on holidays last week so I managed to complete The Mandarins, and very good it was too. Slow, like all De Beauvoirs writing, but gripping with it. I suppose it made her because the subject matter was her circle of intellectuals, thinly disguised. There are a number of themes running through it but the political one about the post war situation in western Europe on the brink of the Cold War is very interesting, how the CP and De Gaulle vied for popular leadership, how neutrals were pulled to one extreme or the other, and the arguments associated with all of that. For me the equally interesting theme was the one I mentioned above about romantic estrangement and how dead relationships carry on. SDB’s character in the book speaks fat more intimately about her relationship with her American lover than she does in her autobiography. Also the relationship of the Camus character with his long term partner is extremely uncomfortable, a study in neurosis, and a glaring example of how feminism has completely changed the world of romantic relationship for the better. A great book.

So following from that I had an urge to delve into the dark side and see what Ayn Rand’s books are like. Never read anything by her before. I’m about a fifth of the way through the Fountainhead. So far I fail to see why it has any sort of reputation. It’s ok as a work if fiction, it’s readable, although it’s very American in style, sort of faux Hemingway or something I can’t put my finger on. There are traces of stuff that must be the bits that innocent young men latch onto but which are laughable in their simplicity. I also have a vaguely sick feeling in my stomach reading it which is weird, not something I can remember having in recent decades although it does feel familiar from my youth, I’m not sure what’s going on with that. Very strange. I got Atlas Shrugged while I was at it too, but that looks a bit long so I’ll see how I get on with this one first. Anyone here rrad either book? I’d be curious to your impressions if so.

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sonofstan - July 27, 2021

“I’m about a fifth of the way through the Fountainhead. So far I fail to see why it has any sort of reputation. It’s ok as a work if fiction, it’s readable, although it’s very American in style, sort of faux Hemingway or something I can’t put my finger on”

I read the Fountainhead when I was a teenager and able to devour even quite long books in a sitting. Faux Hemingway is about the size if it. Because I was also reading better written and more sophisticated stuff, I wasn’t that impressed, even as an impressionable teen. There’s a kind of writing that appeals to those who don’t read much though, and misrecognise the being ‘swept along’ by a serviceable narrative as something life-changing.

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crocodileshoes - July 27, 2021

If the CLR had a book club, Andrew O’Hagan’s new novel ‘Mayflies’ would be a good pick. Middle-aged, music-fixated lefties learn how to deal with disappointment, the forty-year legacy of Thatcherism … and mortality. Scotland rather than Ireland.

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WorldbyStorm - July 28, 2021

It sounds great.

I always think with relation to mortality it’s like if you’re a kid you don’t even get that there’s a time limit to life, in your teens it’s irrelevant – might as well be something on the far side of the Moon. In your twenties you become aware that time is moving on a bit faster but it’s generally still pretty abstract. In your thirties you know that it’s real but you still don’t think it’ll happen to you. Forties. Well, you know it’ll happen but you don’t know know that it’ll happen. Fifties. You know it’s going to happen… Sixties, Seventies, Eighties and after (fingers crossed)… not got there yet.

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alanmyler - July 28, 2021

Just came across a reference in the book to a magazine called New Frontiers, which coincidentally is the name of Enterprise Ireland’s start-up incubation scheme. Maybe not a coincidence.

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WorldbyStorm - July 28, 2021

This is in the Fountainhead? I’ll bet! I remember picking it up and speed reading it while in New York years ago and just coming to the conclusion it wasn’t very readable and like you say Alan kind of unpleasant too.

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alanmyler - July 28, 2021

Yes that’s the book. It is sort of unpleasant alright. Probably just as unpleasant as reading a socialist realist novel to someone who’s an anti communist I suppose. The over riding impression now that I’m around halfway through it is that the main character Roark just reads like he has Asperger’s. Also the secondary character Keating really strikes me as the inspiration for the guy in Mad Men, Pete Campbell. I’ve put my finger on the unpleasant feeling, it’s the same one I used to get in church as a kid attending mass. Must explore that one a bit…

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WorldbyStorm - July 28, 2021

I don’t know though. I think a social realist novel is coming from a place of sincerity and well-meaning in a way that Rand’s stuff isn’t – it might irritate me reading such a novel but it won’t leave me feeling like Rand that it’s all juvenile superiority complexes being worked out across long tracts of fiction. Even the apostate Communist Whittaker Chambers found her too much. Re one of her other tomes Atlas Shrugged he wrote:

“In National Review, conservative author Whittaker Chambers called the book “sophomoric” and “remarkably silly”.[209] He described the tone of the book as “shrillness without reprieve” and accused Rand of supporting a godless system (which he related to that of the Soviets), claiming “From almost any page of Atlas Shrugged, a voice can be heard, from painful necessity, commanding: ‘To a gas chamber—go!'”

That last in a way, tastelessly, does sum up the incredible entitlement of Rand and her acolytes. They’re a self-appointed bunch of anti-democrats and elitists.

Weirdly one aspect of her that is underregarded is perhaps her atheism -and your point about how the book evokes something of church is fascinating. One major criticism of her is the ‘certainty’ with which she writes about her views – it’s very religious.

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Starkadder - July 28, 2021

“Weirdly one aspect of her that is underregarded is perhaps her atheism -and your point about how the book evokes something of church is fascinating. One major criticism of her is the ‘certainty’ with which she writes about her views – it’s very religious.”

I’ve often wondered if the initial impact of Ayn Rand’s fiction was due to much of its young audience being unfamiliar with philosophy.

Someone unfamiliar with ethics could be easily won over by the cod-Aristotelian,
cod-Nietzschean hyper-individualism advocated by her fiction, and its vision of a world of absolute good and absolute evil. Now we have children’s books teaching the young ‘uns philosophy, I think the lonely adolescent is less likely to be won over to her ideas.

Much as I disagree with his Cold Warrior nonsense, I think SIdney Hook got the flaws in Ayn Rand’s work right:

“Since his baptism in medieval times, Aristotle has served many strange purposes. None have been odder than this sacramental alliance, so to speak, of Aristotle with Adam Smith. The extraordinary virtues Miss Rand finds in the law that A is A suggests that she is unaware that logical principles by themselves can test only consistency. They cannot establish truth…. Swearing fidelity to Aristotle, Miss Rand claims to deduce not only matters of fact from logic but, with as little warrant, ethical rules and economic truths as well. As she understands them, the laws of logic license her in proclaiming that “existence exists,” which is very much like saying that the law of gravitation is heavy and the formula of sugar sweet.”

https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/garbage-and-gravitas/

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WorldbyStorm - July 28, 2021

+1 Starkadder, excellent point re the lack of exposure to philosophy.

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alanmyler - July 29, 2021

About the socialist realism “coming from a place of sincerity and well-meaning in a way that Rand’s stuff isn’t” I suppose I’ll play devil’s advocate here and say that it could be argued that a literature based in Stalinist oppression of individuals and genocide of millions is hardly coming from a place of sincerity and well-meaning. Of course I don’t buy that argument myself, it’s completely clear to me that the communist experiment in the 20th century does genuinely come from a place of sincerity and well-meaning, whatever about the awful mistakes that were made along the way and whatever about the historical and geopolitical circumstances that caused that to happen.

I’m wondering if the sick feeling in my stomach reading the book is a subconscious reaction to the absence of any resonance with my own value system, because it most definitely is subconscious, I’m not well read in philosophy so I simply don’t get the Aristotlean stuff at face value. The tone of the book is so harsh and deranged, there’s no warmth, no compassion, no love for humanity, except what is clearly enough being set up for a fall later in the book through the character of the architecture critic who has supposedly embraced socialism as his worldview and attempts to explain how individuality must be completely repressed in order to achieve happiness as part of the collective. The book is grim / soulless / depressing in the same way that the Handmaid’s Tale is, dark in the same way that Batman is. There’s nothing uplifting in it at all. I’d seriously pity anyone who gets any sort of inspiration from it.

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yourcousin - July 29, 2021

Alan,
“it’s completely clear to me that the communist experiment in the 20th century does genuinely come from a place of sincerity and well-meaning, whatever about the awful mistakes”

That logic justifies any action by any party based on your apriori belief system.

“it’s completely clear to me that US involvement in Latin America in the 20th century does genuinely come from a place of sincerity and well-meaning, whatever about the awful mistakes”

“it’s completely clear to me that the Irish Catholic Church in the 20th century does genuinely come from a place of sincerity and well-meaning, whatever about the awful mistakes”

There is a reason that the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

We may not agree on alot of things, but I respect our differences. This one has me scratching my head though.

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alanmyler - July 29, 2021

YC I thought that one might be contentious alright, although I was expecting ColmB rather than yourself to pick it up! You can take it up with WBS, it was he who wrote the phrase initially!

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WorldbyStorm - July 29, 2021

I think many of those who worked within social realism could come from a well-meaning place (even some of those who initiated likewise, though not all and fewer as time went on and it became a tool of the system), I’m not sure I’d extend that to the entirety of the Communist experiment! I think that’s a leap I certainly wasn’t making. I think that many of those who initiated revolutions were well meaning. But the ossification was pretty rapid.

Or to put it another way I think one can detach quite easily most of those working and living in the Stalinist period from Stalin and those around him who chivvied them along – the former could be idealists, well meaning, or whatever, but it’s very difficult for me reading about the decisions Stalin and his lieutenants took to believe that there was anything there but dyed in the wool cynicism from very early on. And those who came later were definitely cynical to a greater or lesser extent even if less murderous. Or to put it another way again there were very few starry idealists who got to the top of the heap in the Soviet system.

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alanmyler - July 29, 2021

I wouldn’t disagree with anything you said there WBS. I do wonder about the idealism though to some extent, in that reading Gorbachev’s memoir many years ago I really got the sense that he genuinely wanted the restructuring and openness projects to succeed. Naive perhaps, in retrospect, but not cynical.

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WorldbyStorm - July 29, 2021

Well definitely naive and not too cynical!

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11. Starkadder - July 28, 2021

Anyone else wanting the E4 “Adult Swim” block? They have some really good adult animation shows there.

They have SF madness in “Rick and Morty”, superhero antics in “Harley Quinn” and “Birdgirl”, and a domestic sitcom in “Duncanville”.

All of these shows are pretty great.

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12. roddy - July 29, 2021

Who’s displaying the “SF madness”? I presume “Morty” is Dublin 4 pronunciation for Marty (McGuinness) but who is Ricky.Is he some shadowy figure from the Felons club?

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WorldbyStorm - July 29, 2021

Well in Pickle Rick he is actually green.

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Starkadder - July 31, 2021

“Science Fiction” madness, not “Sinn Fein”. AFAIK R&M has never mentioned Irish politics. 😉

ITV4 are also reshowing “Cadfael”, that fine historical mystery series with a brilliant performance by Derek Jacobi as the titular character . I used to watch this as a teenager and I find “Cadfael” is still great.

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