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Fortnightly Culture Thread 14/5/2023 May 14, 2023

Posted by guestposter in Uncategorized.

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.


1. Sarah - May 14, 2023

Martin Harris’ Palo Alto, a fantastic read.

Liked by 1 person

2. WorldbyStorm - May 14, 2023

Started on Severence on Apple TV+. Kind of excellent – at least on the showing of one episode. Also enjoying Maisel’s final season probably too much. I did a speed watch of Apple TV+’s Foundation. I never made it in full past four episodes and it is frustrating. It veers so radically away from its source material in Asimov’s novels that it might as well be a new IP. And it’s not that the ideas aren’t good in many places, and the casting and so on, but it ends up falling between two stools, lacking the genuinely epic sweep of the novels but tied to them conceptually.

Finished MacLeod’s second novel in the Lightspeed trilogy which is his own unique blend of radical left politics, science fiction and whatever else. Enjoyable. Currently reading the last published book by Adrian McKinty in the Sean Duffy series about a Catholic RUC detective during the 80s – Police at the Station and they Don’t look friendly. Pretty excellent. And still working through the Steve Richards book on Gordon Brown as Chancellor and later PM. One comes away depressed because of the tentative nature of that New Labour government, the fear of the tabloids (in fairness a well founded fear but also the unwillingness to push back against them), the manner they concealed even mild social democratic approaches. Like, what was it all for?


3. alanmyler - May 15, 2023

I’ve bee reading The Tower by Uwe Tellkamp. It caught my eye as a novel about life in the DDR, which is an subject that interests me. It’s a long one, around 1000 pages, and pretty slow moving. I tested positive for COVID on Friday (third time!) and to be honest if I wasn’t self-isolating in the bedroom I doubt I’d have stuck with it long enough to get through it. I’m not finished yet mind you. Anyway It did win a major German book prize when it was published but it’s pretty clear early on that the winning of the prize is possibly related to the views it takes of the DDR. The author himself has come out with some strongly anti-migrant statements in recent times which wouldn’t exactly make me sympathetic to him either. Anyway the book itself is set in late 80s Dresden, amongst the bourgeois intellectual elite. There’s very little engagement with the workers and peasants of the Workers and Peasants State in the book, it’s very much about the life limitations and muddling through of those who aren’t part of the nomenklatura as such but who live in a middle class suburb in decaying pre-war villas which have been allocated as multi-family housing units. An extended family, surgeon, literary editor, author, student and so on. I’m wondering if the slowness of the story is intentional in the sense of a stagnation and timelessness that may have felt endless to this class in those times? A remembrance of better times pre-communism, sort of incredibly actually, there’s little to no negative commentary about the war and immediate pre-war years other than the regret and trauma of the Anglo-American firebombing of the city, without the prospect of better times in the future? There’s very little engagement with the grand historical narrative as such, it’s all very small world stuff, with almost homeopathic levels of influence seeping in from the bigger picture. So it’s an interesting book to have read, or almost read. I’m wondering will there be something redeeming in the final part, similar to the ending of The Lives Of Others (film, I haven’t read the book of that)? Part of me feels like I’ll need a good shower after finishing it, and maybe a decent socialist realist novel about the miners in the East German open-cast brown coal mining region.


WorldbyStorm - May 15, 2023

Sorry to hear you’re on dose three! That’s seems unfair. Don’t know about the subject matter of the book but his comments on immigration and a number of other matters would have me steer a good distance from him.


4. Michael Carley - May 24, 2023

I’ve started watching The Dragon Has Two Tongues. I remember seeing it when it came out forty odd years ago, a history of Wales made by two ideologically opposed (but clearly mutually respecting) historians, one of whom is an open Marxist (!).

It has never been broadcast or officially streamed since, but the radical Welsh republican movement have made it available.

The Dragon has Two Tongues

Liked by 1 person

Paul Culloty - May 25, 2023

Excellent stuff – the dialectical approach gives a more rounded and holistic perspective than generally appears on more modern historical series, and what’s more, both are keen to focus on the actual history, rather than to promote themselves as personalities. It says much about how the media landscape has in the intervening period that it would be impossible to imagine ITV or Channel 4 making such a production now, and moreover, even the BBC has severely cut its documentary budget, with BBC Four now largely an archive channel.

Liked by 1 person

Michael Carley - May 26, 2023

An interesting question would be who you would get to do an Irish one: two fluent historians of real substance who can argue while respecting each other’s intellectual position.

Liked by 1 person

Paul Culloty - May 26, 2023

Diarmuid Ferriter and Alvin Jackson, perhaps?

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