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JULY, 2003 → ← SEPTEMBER, 2003

30th of August, 2003 POST·MERIDIEM 02:29

The contents of my Muvo[1] at the moment;

Bono et al.  Children of the Revolution , from the Moulin Rouge soundtrack. It’s as rockin’ as a T-Rex number is going to get, and Bono doing his soul thing with it suits.

David Bowie, Queen Bitch . This is a Bowie song that an American should cover. But it sounds very well from him, all the same. Vide infra.

Buena Vista Social Club, De Camino a la Vereda . Not about the Mozilla-derived browser, thankfully. Great, and cheerful, traditionally an atypical combination.

Beck, Diamond Dogs . Bowie songs just seem to sound better from Americans. Perhaps I’ve a prejudice against whiny faux-cockney accents.

Suzanne Vega, Tom's Diner . I like the clarity of her voice, and the unpretentious repetition of the beat.

Bob Dylan, Shelter from the Storm . He sounds like someone from a coal-mining town, with a grating Germanic name. Which, of course, he is.

U2, Numb . From the people of Achtung Baby, a track worthy of David Holmes.

U2, The Wanderer . With Johnny Cash on vocals. Jayz, he could sing about the vagaries of how someone was named and I’d be happy.

Dire Straits, Walk of Life . Reminds me of when I was four, or five, and this was the coolest song in the world.

The Beatles, Michelle . The nice, subtle opposition of “en somme,” to “ensemble” cheers me up.

The Beatles, Run for your Life . I’m losing my equilibrium lately, which makes something written from the perspective of a psycho strike a chord. Now that I think of it, the more time I spend near computers, the less equilibrium I seem to have. Maybe I should consider another line of work.

I’m moving to the Amélie OST for the next few weeks. Whee.

[1] http://​www.​nomadworld.​com/​products/​MuVo/​

22nd of August, 2003 POST·MERIDIEM 04:55

I ended up watching the “Naked in Westminster” reruns on Sky One last night (I should have been ironing or cooking or doing anything other than finishing a bottle of Casa Roja—I’ve had better wine, btw—in front of bad TV. Nngh, must move somewhere with DSL and no widescreen TV) and Catman, the unpreprocessing bald beponytailed main man of the place ends up going to Paris, the “showgirl capital of Europe” because none of the women who responded to his ads will take off all their clothes. And, well, the showgirls they interviewed in this “showgirl capital of Europe” turned out to be for the most part English ballerinas.

Which reflects what seems to me to be a very British conception of France today; stuck in a continual rewind of the belle époque , the period when France had to pay war reparations to Prussia and life and flesh became as cheap as they were to do in Berlin forty years later. The cancan shows are among the most popular tourist sights to be seen in Paris. The writers of the time, Rimbaud, Verlaine and de Maupassant continue to be widely studied abroad, to the detriment of their modern successors. Even GQ, normally pretty together on this sort of thing, in an article on the mundanity of mistresses south of la Manche  describes the country as Catholic and thus prone to bouts of guilt. Now, modern France is less Catholic than modern England is Anglican or modern Sweden Lutheran, which makes it very non-Catholic indeed.

The truth is something like; the place is middle-class as fuсk, the health service is great, the trains are great, they’re even occasionally polite to the tourists, they spend several times more a year cleaning up their capital than do the British, their roads are great, and some of the only interesting things that are happening are happening among the first and second generation immigrant populations. France is currently about as culturally productive as Switzerland has been historically. The only interesting places in Europe today, culturally, were Communist fifteen years ago, and life and flesh are cheap there today. Can someone name a publication of the calibre of http://​www.​exile.​ru/​ founded since 1995 outside the former Communist bloc?

19th of August, 2003 ANTE·MERIDIEM 08:44

Two strange things happened this morning on the bus; first, the builder across the aisle rolls a spliff and lights it up, at 7AM on a Tuesday. Jayz. Second, just as we were leaving Blanchardstown village, the bus conked out. It took four or five minutes to restart, but five minutes later it conked out again. It did this for the entire journey into the city centre; I admit it did manage to restart each time. Anyway, just before Parnell street, we were transferred to another bus, which didn’t conk out for the 500m of the journey there were left.

Those Falun Gong people that are to be seen doing exercises on O’Connell Street painfully early in the morning; are they demonstrating to the Spike, does anyone know?

15th of August, 2003 POST·MERIDIEM 05:18

There has been a mad flurry of correspondence on the Irish Times letters page recently on the statue to the Duke of Wellington in Trim. Martin Mansergh weighed in with this;

Statue of Wellington in Trim Madam, -- The Duke of Wellington was one of the most famous European figures of his day, an elder statesman with a lapidary turn of phrase, a lucid reactionary and not particularly bigoted by the standards of his day. It is also of interest that Wellington is probably the only British prime minister to have been born in Ireland and married to an Irish-born woman, Kitty Pakenham about whom he was as ungallant as about his birthplace. The Trim monument is not the only one. There is a huge one in the Phoenix Park, and there are also streets and squares named after him in several parts of the country (my brother lives on one in Cork). While the United Irishmen certainly sought French help to achieve independence, Robert Emmet, for one, had no wish to be taken over by Napoleon. Of course, Daniel O'Connell deserves far more credit for extracting Catholic Emancipation from the government of which Wellington was head. Decisions about the future of monuments are primarily for the people of the locality and the heirtage authorities. In general, it is not a good idea at this stage of our development to be still uprooting the surviving aesthetic evidence of some of the many different strands and stages of our history, particularly if we still have the ambition to build by agreement and consent one day a united, independent country embracing all traditions, not rejecting some as foreign, and that will be friends with our neighbours in Britain, as indeed the Republic is today. That is why the State has purchased the battlefield of the Boyne. The Dún Laoghaire authorities have even recently restored a memorial to Queen Victoria's last visit in 1900. We should give no credence or credibility by our attitudes or actions to crude unionist propaganda, whether from Orange platforms or more politically sophisticated pamphlets, that the Republic (officially, at least) is monocultural in outlook, or anything other than pluralist, multicultural and inclusive, but with a very understandable preference, other things being equal, for the people and things most closely identified with Ireland. Most people, no matter what mix of traditions they come from, as well as visitors, like to see evidence here as elsewhere of a generous, tolerant and broad-minded people. If staunchly Republican France can treat Louis XIV's palace at Versailles as one of its greatest national monuments, we too in Ireland can manage positively and constructively the cultural legacy of the past, even where aspects of it, like Dublin Castle with its viceregal portraits or the monument at Trim were but are no longer oppressive. To paraphrase Emmet's poem on Arbour Hill (1802), where "no rising column marks this spot" (though there is now since 1998 a low-lying memorial on Croppies' Acre), magnanimity, not retribution, should be the hallmark of this Republic. Yours, etc. MARTIN MANSERGH Seanad Éireann Dublin 2 

which I thought was brilliant. He really should go do constituency work and tone down that Oxford accent a bit, because with him running the country we’d be sorted. At least on the National question. So there.

And with regard to http://​www.​calpundit.​com/​archives/​001894.​html ; decrying prescriptivism of language as “artificial” kind of misses the point a little, because language as a whole—especially written language—is one of the most man-made, artficial things there is. To preserve it by conscious effort among the lettered classes and to change it by much less conscious effort among the less lettered are equivalent in that sense.

8th of August, 2003 POST·MERIDIEM 03:18

I was talking to Anders, my Swedish housemate’s Norwegian beau about his perceptions of Ireland a few months ago, shortly after his arrival here. He commented that himself and a few of his friends had encountered some Irish girls in a resort in Southern Europe, and they were getting on famously until they (the Scandinavians) let slip to the cailíní that they has thought the cailíní were English. After that, conversation froze. He thought this was really unfair; why should they, born & raised in Norway, be able to recognise from their accents that these girls would dislike being thought of as English? I responded that we (the Irish) probably assume too much about $random_scandinavians that we meet; their effortless, almost accentless English and knowledge of both Euro-culture and Nordamericano culture implies (to us) they would have had enough exposure to at least UK media to pick up on this.

Now, I’m not as convinced that we’re unjustified in assuming this. Australians would pick up on that issue; so would New Zealanders and Anglo South Africans. A decent minority of Canadians would. A crushing majority of people from the US wouldn’t, but the preconception about them is that they have no knowledge of local issues on this side of the Atlantic, so we don’t expect them to. Illinformedness is not a preconception anyone has about the Scandinavians.

Reading Le Monde’s article on Oscar Wilde at [1], it’s striking what a terrible poster child he is for being gay. He marries a beautiful woman early, joins the bourgeoisie and has two kids in two years (this isn’t a sham marriage, folks.) He falls for an absolute ѕhіt who really doesn’t seem to realise that Oscar is one of the coolest people on the planet at the time, and his pining for this moppet seems to lead him to accept the hard labour in prison as if he were fated to end up there, not making any attempt to escape this fate. Which kills him, in the long term. Eh? Why would anyone, male or female, take from this that men are anything other than arrogant, obsessive idiots, worthy of being avoided more than anything else?

On the other hand, he’s certainly a decent poster child for being a foppish, brilliant aesthete, and I can see where Stephen Fry is coming from there, even if Fry is too wont to appear on book covers in corduroy trousers.

[1] http://​www.​lemonde.​fr/​article/​0,5987,3230--329305-,00.​html

5th of August, 2003 POST·MERIDIEM 01:02

“Harry, un ami qui vous veut du bien” is a brilliant film. Go watch it, or remake it in English.