Monday, January 19, 2009

Conflicts of Interest

I went to see Baader Meinhof Complex last night, and very good it was too. However, I had earlier been surprised to read a favourable notice of the film by Oliver Kamm. Kamm, some may recall, writing under the title "Conflicts of Interest", recently made a big fuss about Owen Hatherley having reviewed a book by Richard Seymour for the New Statesman: journalistic ethics, non-disclosure etc. Kamm went so far as to write,

he is a contributor to the newspaper of a Leninist organisation, which is not a normal democratic party even of the radical Left, and in which he urges "a foundation for genuine class politics". This is a material point in evaluating his review, and as such I consider he ought to have disclosed it both in his piece and in his comment on this blog.

When I got home last night I got online and ordered from Amazon Stefan Aust's The Baader-Meinhof Complex, the reissue of his Baader-Meinhof: The Inside Story of the RAF on which the film is based. How surprised I was by the translator's name: Anthea Bell. Anthea Bell is, of course, Oliver Kamm's mother.

22 Comments:

OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

The Aust book is rather good, tho' as I read it in German I can't comment on the translation.

But enough of that. What's Ollie's take on this whole furore about plans to continue Asterix after Uderzo's death?

1/19/2009 12:20:00 PM  
Anonymous Preachy Preach said...

It's not a very good translation. Certain bits of technical jargon appear to have been literally translated from the German which leads to some rather nonsensical sentences. I can't for the life of me remember what the exact wording is (book is at home), but she appears to have literally translated the rather cumbersome German legal name for company as if it were a description of what it did, as opposed to the particular legal form it took. (The rough English equivalent is along the lines of calling someone 'the director of a company limited by issued ordinary share capital' - true, but bloody useless.)

1/19/2009 12:47:00 PM  
Blogger Matthew said...

I think it's quite easy to defend Oliver here. He is not known to be shy about noting family links to things.

1/19/2009 03:01:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Funny that Kamm should choose to pursue a point which the foundation of a characteristically disastrous HP thread (and still the last time I've actually accessed that site). It's plainly an attempt to insist on a completely different standard for members of the radical left than the one that exists for everybody else - and to throw an enormous strop when it does not.

I'm reminded, by the way, that after the 1997 General Election, Martin Kettle wrote a Guardian piece saying that he was a big friend of Tony Blair and that he had been for some time - including, obviously, the period when he had written a series of laudatory articles about him. This struck me, at the time and since, as something that ought to have been disclosed to readers, but then again the whole point of post-Clause Four politics is to have one rule for the people within the mainstream and one rule for people without.

Basically it's a smeary approach - "you're associated with these other people, you didn't say so, you have something to hide" when in fact there's nothing to disclose, nothing being hidden and no association that Ollie or Toube can actually demonstrate. It's the politics of the Berufsverbot.

Re: Asterix, it's going to go the way of the Simpsons, isn't it? Knock it on the head with a menhir, for Toutatis' sake.

1/19/2009 03:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Dave Weeden said...

Kamm was on Newsnight review on Friday - he was credited as 'Times columnist' though he's a leader-writer, which is quite different isn't it? He was on Radio 4's You and Yours last week too.

I hope Ms Bell translated all the gang member names with better puns than were in the original.

BTW, has Nick C had a falling out with Oliver? His last Observer piece blamed the bankers. Now, Oliver is not a banker, despite George Galloway's claims to the contrary. But he's surely in the path of Nick's machine-gunning of the stockbroking classes.

1/19/2009 07:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

Dave - yes, I think she did all the name translations. She does deserve a lot of credit for her work on Asterix - in a lot of cases she and Derek Hockridge had to come up with entirely new jokes within the constraints of the existing artwork, as a lot of the French jokes relied on puns or Francophone references which would not work in English.

I don't think Asterix has been much good in any language since Goscinny's death, though.

1/19/2009 08:05:00 PM  
Anonymous little keithy said...

The problem with Asterix puns, wasn't that the same with Magic Roundabout? The stories and dialogue just didn't translate very well so they had to make up new scripts to fit the scenes and lip synching (however much that involved with the puppets). strange old world.

1/20/2009 04:35:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

Eric Thompson actually didn't speak French (well or at all, I forget which) and wrote his scripts from scratch. Asterix is funnier in French, but the translations are translations - it's just that a weak or forced play on words sometimes does duty for a good pun.

It should perhaps be noted that Kamm was pretty awful on Newsnight Review - he was in sleek heresy-hunting isn't-it-funny-they-don't-mention-their-Communist-friends mode from the word go.

1/20/2009 04:49:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Newsnight Review has a bit of a taste for decency dont it - Aaro, Gove, Hari and now Kamm. I guess Nasty Nicks extreme philistinism - plus the late hour - keep him out the studio. Its a shame really, but the show is a bit lifeless anyway - I think they are getting caned by the Culture Show

1/20/2009 05:00:00 PM  
Blogger Chardonnay Chap said...

Oh, indeed Anon. Kamm and sometime Harry's Place fave Oona King. (But she's not a Decent; I stick to my thesis that Decency is fantasy politics. Real politicians -- even David Miliband -- can't work inside the Decent framework.) I thought it was funny that when they showed a clip of John Mortimer's last appearance on the show, Johann Hari was on the couch. Decent sympathiser Clive James carries a torch for Kirsty Wark (ooh ugly unintentional sort of rhyme), but I only know that because so do I.

And let's not forget Michael Ignatieff's role in NR's forerunner The Late Show.

When I saw the paper reviewers on the Fiona Bruce/Andrew Marr show this week, I thought 'Ooh Nick Cohen.' But it was Tony Parsons. Separated at birth? I wouldn't read Nick's novels either.

1/20/2009 05:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

Yes, whenever I've heard Kamm do cultural criticism he has been keen to ventilate his highly suspicious obsession with anti-semitism. So the salient fact about Barack Obama's memoirs is that he is too soft on the anti-semitism of Malcolm X and the Nation of Islam, and The Baader Meinhof Complex is all very good apart from its insufficient stressing of the antisemitic character of the Red Army Fraction.

1/20/2009 05:30:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Tony fucking Parsons. Did I mention....when I was in Norway a couple of years ago I thought I'd follow my usual practice when on holiday abroad of trying to buy a book I like in its original language, and so off I went, looking for Sophie's World in Norwegian. Scoured Oslo, I did, but found no trace of the thing. But you know what was all over the bookshops? Man og fucking Boy.

(If I have the title right. I just tried to check by looking up Tony Parsons' Wikipedia page and then clicking on Norsk, but something odd happens. See for yourselves.)

1/20/2009 05:38:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think mistaking Parsons for Nasty Nick is very flattering to the latter.

1/20/2009 05:46:00 PM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

That reminds me, when I was in Munich some years ago I had a whole list of German books I wanted in the original. And whose oeuvre was filling the bookshops? Julie fucking Burchill.

1/21/2009 08:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Biz said...

Just been on holiday to Oz - can anybody shed any light on Aussie decent David Burchell in The Australian...?

http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,24898762-5015664,00.html

The article reads like a particularly evil Nick (the left demonstrates to assuage 'Western' guilt/hearts Yasser Arafat etc...)

1/21/2009 08:28:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

BTW is yesterday's Aaro in the times worth watching? His pieces on Obama are in general rubbish, but still...

1/21/2009 09:05:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

And whose oeuvre was filling the bookshops? Julie fucking Burchill.

Particularly ironic given that she wouldn't want to read them....

The Brighton Blight, you'll be unsurprised to hear, comes into the category of People Whose Views I Do Not Consider Worth Discussing. This is because as far as I can see her opinions are much determined using a mechanism like this.

1/21/2009 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I think you're right there ejh. I've lived in fairly blissful ignorance of her until fairly recently but it seems that she goes beyond even the 'contrarian who often seems at odds with her previously professed beliefs' to the 'often contradicts herself in the space of one sentence while bertaing others who she thinks have done the same'.

I do think it's interesting that she and her fanboy think that their 'hypocrisy' idea has legs, mind you. Most other writers, when faced with a clear lack of public interest in an idea they've had, and some very nasty but clear-headed reviews, will sensibly move on from that idea. She and Nukey-Burden seem to think that the fact nobody has taken the 'hypocrisy' idea seriously means that it is in fact very serious indeed...

1/21/2009 09:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Janosch said...

This is because as far as I can see her opinions are much determined using a mechanism like this.

That was an early prototype. This is the updated version.

1/21/2009 09:58:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

Yes, but the original version demonstrates the instant-money-winning function rather more clearly.

1/21/2009 10:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Janosch. said...

So it does. You're quite right.

1/21/2009 10:08:00 AM  
Blogger frunobulax said...

Sadly, it's not a patch on the pomo generator:

http://www.elsewhere.org/pomo/

Click and submit to the journal of you choice.

1/24/2009 11:00:00 AM  

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