Saturday, July 11, 2009

You may be choosing your own tunes, but you're still playing piano in a whorehouse

As longtime readers know, the officially endorsed media organisation of Aaronovitch Watch is Resonance FM, home to Decent science show "Little Atoms" (interesting interview with Kathryn Olmsted about conspiracy theories here). We also like the BBC and the Guardian.

The officially unendorsed media organisation of AW, however, is "Press TV", the Iranian government's world service. A surprising number of Decent and soft-right types (Oliver Kamm, Iain Dale, Andrew Gilligan etc) are currently patting themselves on the back for resigning from this one (Kamm did back in March and so gains a few points for at least having done so out of principle rather than embarrassment), declaring that they will never again etc etc, but the question arises: why the fuck were you on there in the first place? They can hardly argue that they didn't know what the government of Iran was like (or rather, they certainly could claim general ignorance, but not in a way that would help their case).

In Kamm's case, the motivation appears to be his quest to rid the world of its most pressing problem - the insufficient prominence of the opinions of Oliver Kamm. I don't read Iain Dale on principle, or Andrew Gilligan because he appears in the Standard, but I suspect that they also go for the same basic defence: "I have seen no evidence of any censorship of my contributions to those programmes".

To which one has to answer, so what? In many ways, if you're providing honest opinions and genuine news to what is basically a propaganda organisation, then bully for you in that your precious pearls of wisdom aren't being censored, but actually what you're thereby doing is providing a favourable context for all the other crap they're putting out. One really can't allow oneself to be used as window-dressing in this way, and pretend that it's OK because you were never compromised yourself; Saint George of Orwell had a few choice phrases for the kind of lestish intellectual who thought you could.

54 Comments:

Blogger Mr Kitty said...

Sadly I can't find anything to disagree with here which doesn't make for any debate. I lost it with Kamm on Iran around about this time. The Pirates of Penzance episode. He then generally backtracked and found himself in a hopeless position which lead him to ditch his work with Press TV.

But that entire story consistently plagues me from a propaganda POV. Every conciliation made by Ahmadinejad (and it was obviously a diplomatic semaphor) was treated with suspicion by News International.

"Were you tortured? Er no."

"Did they make the women dress in the hijab? Er, well sort of."

"Did they treat you with traditional Iranian hospitality? Er.. well they did actually."

I don't want to get into the specifics of the incident. But how would we have reacted if Iranian ships had strayed into "our" waters?

Straying hopelessly OT, probably.

7/11/2009 07:32:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew Bartlett said...

Given that a ragtag bunch of poorly armed bad guys thousands of miles away causes us to strip ourselves of our principles of liberty and justice in the name of security, I do fear imagining what sort of state we would build if we found ourselves in Iran's position. Two of our neighbours occupied by the armies of vastly greater powers, powers whose politicians opening agitate for war against us, powers who have a history of ruthlessly interfering in our politics*.

*There might not be any US/Brit involvement in the protests in Iran. But if you are Iranian, no matter which side you fall, if you didn't believe that it likely there was, you'd be a fool. History would tell you to expect as much. The same goes for Honduras. It is very easy being a secure American/European dismissing claims that the US is involved in the coup (even as the US right openly celebrates it), citing a lack of any hard evidence. But when the US has a history of directing and supporting anti-democratic regimes in Latin America, turning large parts into torture houses, the same principles of logic that allow us to get out of bed and expect the floor to hold our weight just as it did yesterday also demand that we believe the hand of the US secrect state is at work.

7/11/2009 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

If it's not too indecent to say so, I can imagine a country (especially, perhaps, one located in the cradle of civilisation) being run by a fairly authoritarian elite, and yet still maintaining a state broadcaster with some journalistic integrity - or at least no less than media in the US, UK or (ahem) Italy.

So may I just confirm for my records - Press TV definitely is a propaganda organisation, is it, in a way that, say, the BBC isn't?

I'm quite happy to accept that it is. It's just that none of the news stories about it that I've come across provides an example of misinfo peddled by the station - so the obvious conclusion is that this is just more war propaganda of the kind that we're all agreed was so very prevalent in the bad old days of just-before-I-read-this-latest-article-in-the-Times.

There is of course one possible exception to the lack of documented disinfo, which is however rather unique and unavoidably leads slightly off-topic.*

But there's so much total shit talked about Iran that I'm not willing to take on trust any ungrounded assertions about it or its state broadcaster - not even accusations of anti-semitic falsehoods. Actually, especially not those given that they are another topic on which an unbelievable quantity of shit is routinely spouted - including the implication that a historical thesis can be intrinsically anti-semitic.

And as for the question 'why the fuck were you on there?' - it's a good one, esp. to fully fledged Neo-con chickenhawk Kamm. Not sure what the answer is, but self-aggrandisement seems more like a standard incident than a compete explanation. It's a bit like the ubiquitous 'possession of a controlled substance' (a sixteenth of soap bar) tacked onto the end of a long charge sheet.

BTW Aaro was on This Week last Thursday, taking his impressive corporation for a walk in some imaginary rain, and name-dropping Mandelson.

7/12/2009 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

*That possible exception of course being certain taboo hypotheses - outlawed in much of Europe - concerning whether Jews (and all the other victims of course - as we would never forget) were gassed to death in the concentration camps.

Gassed, that is, rather than just subjected to predictably/intentionally lethal starvation, overwork, shooting, beating, infection, 'medical' experimentation and other such trivial causes of death.

I have no reason (nor, I suppose I must tiresomely add, any desire) to conclude that there wasn't a planned genocidal gassing campaign ordered by Hitler. But I'm not indissolubly wedded by ideology or sentiment to the notion that exactly that happened rather than something even slightly different.

I happen also to be old-fashioned enough to think that the evidence should be consulted and never disregarded.

I would prefer that there be the possibility of open-ended inquiry tending to converge on the exact truth about what happened to a large chunk of my family, rather than only some eternally fixed official account guarded by criminal sanctions.

Indeed the latter seems far more dangerous to me as the facts dissapear from living memory and future generations see only an officially mandated account. 'End of Historiography' anyone?

7/12/2009 09:43:00 AM  
Blogger Tim Wilkinson said...

Andrew Bartlett - agree re the protests - though the idea is apparently unthinkable to respectable purveyors of news and opinion.

There is a relevant piece by the excellent Andrew Cockburn, and a mildly interesting report from a somewhat (I suspect not entirely deservedly) disreputable source: Israel Shamir’s comments on Twitter.
Also some discussion here.

7/12/2009 10:06:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

HAs Gilligan resigned from Press TV ? I thought he was just "thinking about his position"

7/12/2009 02:42:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Gilligan still works there (on his hols atm), and is all over their publicity material.

Cohen's column today, aside from deciding why a poor bloke killed himself with no real evidence and praising Thatcher's handling of unemployment, also loudly bangs the drum for something pretty vague which is called 'New deal of the mind'. Chairman of this organisation? a certain M. Bright... this love-in gets worse and worse, doesn't it?

though inbetween all that he makes a few pretty good points, especially about the weird decision to stop universities expanding student numbers.

7/12/2009 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Saint George of Orwell had a few choice phrases for the kind of leftish intellectual who thought you could.

He did, though he also pretty much absolved PG Wodehouse for doing very much the same thing, on the grounds of naivety.

7/12/2009 06:06:00 PM  
Anonymous gastro george said...

... the Federation of Small Businesses are screaming at ministers to revive the best idea of the Thatcher years and encourage the enterprising to set out on their own.

WTF.

... the organisers of the Rooseveltian New Deal of the Mind, who want to create work for graduates ...

Create work for some cronies, more like. It reminds me of a student in a neighbouring flat who was tapping up all of his father's political and business contacts to fund a trip to Nepal to "study the impact of tourism".

7/12/2009 08:01:00 PM  
OpenID splinteredsunrise said...

Huh? Is Nick's latest big idea seriously to revive the Enterprise Allowance Scheme? Is that what happens to your analytical faculties when you spend too much time hanging out with Policy Exchange?

7/12/2009 09:53:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

a few pretty good points, especially about the weird decision to stop universities expanding student numbers

Not sure about this. Quote:

it is self-evident to anyone who thinks about unemployment that the class of 2009 needs to be sheltered from the storm in schools or colleges if they are 16, universities if they are 18 or offered the hope of work if they are 21

In other words, the whole of "the class of 2009" should go to university, regardless of achievement, aptitude and motivation. All shall have prizes, or rather degrees. Not sure what definition of 'university' he's got in mind here, but it doesn't sound like what we've got now.

7/12/2009 10:52:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Ah yeah, sorry, I should have made that clearer - I think it's wrongheaded to literally stop universities from recruiting more in the current climate.

But Cohen has a very weird idea about the way to solve this' lost generation' thing (I'm not really sure it's as much of a problem as he thinks, either) - by forcing students to stay at school til they're 18, and then by forcing more to go to uni - and as you say, it looks like forcing all of them to go to uni as well.

Quite how that tallies with the newly-risen tuition fees, as well as, well, anything else, is anyone's guess. Nick's finally coming to his senses and seeing the genius of thatcher eh.

The piece is just waffle though. And am I the only one who finds all his analysis of the reasons behind the suicide really weird? especially the 'swine in human resources' bit...

7/13/2009 07:19:00 AM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Yes, I think Nick's view on universities is that the university population is much too large and should be expanded (remember from all the "grammar schools" stuff that he only actually gives a fuck about the Oxbridge-calibre working class; the rest of the long term unemployed can presumably fuck themselves).

FWIW, btw background - poor guy.

7/13/2009 09:09:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So in the same column Nick is going on about Mrs Thatcher's great ideas while saying "The public-sector trade unions are worse still, and prefer to protect pay rises than oppose job cuts." - I think the PCS, whose members have done a lot more to fight to protect jobs, and earn a lot less than Nick, might have something to say about that.

7/13/2009 09:25:00 AM  
Blogger John B said...

OT: Megan McArdle, who's perhaps more neocon than Decent but certainly shares some territory, has the finest example I've seen in some time of Nick Cohen's middle class fallacy. Apparently Obama's tax hikes are penalising those poor middle class workers who only take home $200,000 a year...

7/13/2009 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Phil said...

"Something - but not a huge something - over $200,000". That's £125,000 (with a strong pound). And he's going to have to pay a bit more tax on earnings over $200,000.

Well, obviously this is creeping socialism - it's just that it's creeping very, very slowly.

7/13/2009 12:00:00 PM  
Anonymous John Fallhammer said...

Obscure Kamm spot. He pops up to set the record straight in the comments of Seth Freedman in CIF on Press TV, with some fairly tortuous sentence structure. About the 30th comment.

7/13/2009 01:39:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

Her friend also apparently calculates per cents of per cents and doesn't know the correct usage of the phrase "basis point".

7/13/2009 01:40:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

Off-topic for the thread but on-topic generally: have people seen the review of Péan's Le Monde Selon K ("The World According to Kouchner") in the London Review of Books?

7/13/2009 02:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read the review in LRB of Pean's book. Very interesting.

Guano

7/13/2009 03:42:00 PM  
OpenID hardindr said...

Actually, I was kind of surprised by this. I had heard from someone I trust, that PressTV was fairly reliable and not under the thumb of Iran's current President or the ayatollahs http://mailman.lbo-talk.org/pipermail/lbo-talk/Week-of-Mon-20090622/009107.html . Very disappointing...

7/14/2009 02:26:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

yeahbut - "fairly reliable" is actually the worst case for a propaganda operation. A station that's obviously biased all the time will usually be generally disregarded, but one which is for the most part reliable with only bits of propaganda, is likely to find that quite a lot of people use it as their main news source (and thus get reliably fed the few bits of very important crap that the owners want to push). In which case, I'd say that all the honest people working on it are culpable, because although their little bit of the broadcasting output is honest, it's being used in the service of a basically dishonest enterprise (and PressTV's coverage of the Iranian elections has been a shitehouse, as Doug would be the first to say). It's like being a "token liberal" on Fox News - possibly naive rather than culpable, but in any case something which invites the "what the fuck did you think you were up to?" critique.

7/14/2009 02:53:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

e other essay about politics and philosophy in the latest LRB is pretty much on topic for here, as well. they've picked it up - it had got a bit stale for a while.

I like Kamm's comment in that CiF piece - 'i said i was wrong to do it, and i stand by those comments, but at the time i was right', seems to be the gist.

HP Sauce have wavered on the China riots but seem to have decided, now that they were 'race riots' and that as such they're on the side of the Chinese govt - but anyone who doesn't post on HP Sauce and says they are on China's side is an idiot (or something). Increasingly I'm finding it hard to see any logic at all at work on that place, maybe I gave it the benefit of the doubt for too long.

7/15/2009 02:55:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew Bartlett said...

I thought that the logic of that site had been clear for some time: Muslims = bad.

7/15/2009 05:56:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

"I thought that the logic of that site had been clear for some time: Muslims = bad."

I'm not sure that's the logic, but it is the conclusion to their argument.

I think the logic at HP is to win at all costs.

7/15/2009 06:33:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

OT but maybe of some interest to AWatchers. http://www.shovrimshtika.org/news_item_e.asp?id=30


They have released a 80 page document of Israeli soldiers' experiences during Operation Cast Lead.

From here http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/8149464.stm

Surely even Geras can't argue with this!

7/15/2009 09:10:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

Never underestimate the capacity Decents have for ignoring inconvenient truths.

And, indeed, for parroting the IDF line on this stuff.

7/16/2009 07:28:00 AM  
Anonymous andrew adams said...

I think the logic at HP is to win at all costs.

Exactly - the whole point of Decency is that it defines itself against the rest of the ("indecent") left. The first reaction to any event is to use it to bash the rest of the left and thus prove their own moral superiority.

7/16/2009 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Gregor said...

'Surely even Geras can't argue with this!'

It's been many years since I've been on his blog, but from my experience on web discussions, the usual argument at this stage is 'what about China or Darfur? Suspicious that you want to focus on Israel'.

7/16/2009 08:16:00 AM  
Anonymous World of Decency said...

OT, but of interest to Watchers of Decency - there's a fantastic condemnathon-in-absentia going on at HP Sauce (http://www.hurryupharry.org/2009/07/15/peter-tatchel-wants-you-to-vote-green-in-norwich/) where they are demanding that Tatchell denounce Rupert Read, (Green Party candidate for Norwich North) for his (what else?) anti-Semitism. The original post is an endorsement by Tatchell of Read.

There's a long list of his supposed heresies (criticism of Israel), some potentially libellous "hearsay evidence" from a student at UEA, with David T offering his usual, nuanced views - "Either he’s a hypocrite or he is fucking scum."

But best of all is the idiot bleating of the commenters demanding Tatchell disassociate, repudiate, denounce, and distance himself from Read, who then ignore Read when he actually turns up to deny the slurs made against him.

Comedy gems from the HP jokers include - "He doesn’t sound like a man who has ever left his ivory tower and actually bothered to acquaint himself with Middle Eastern values" - which is obviously unforgivable for a PPC in Norfolk.

7/16/2009 08:22:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

That thread has pretty much everything, and it's a gift which keeps on giving. Chas Newkey-Burden (currently writing an ambulance-chasing book on Michael Jackson - wonder what Nick Cohen, his mate, would think) describing Oliver Kamm as 'a bit odd'? check. vicious denunciations - not just from commenters but from the people who run the site - of someone who doesn't really seem to have done anything wrong at all? check. A bunch of dodgy extrapolations, based by and large on misreadings and 'what was left out', used as 'evidence'? check. unverifiable accusations of fullblown antisemitism, from anonymous commenters whose identities can't actually be traced, endorsed by the people who run the site? check. Demands that Tatchell denounce the man in public, at Green Party meetings? check. really weird ideas of what constitues true green politics (disregard for animal rights and support for nuclear power and GM crops)? check... it just goes on and on!

Incidentally this reminds me of when I posted the first comment on a thread about Ben White about a week ago. I suggested that the frenzied denunciations of the author weren't really matched by White's actual statements, and were based in the main on deeply questionable assumptions - and i asked what the point was. the person who wrote the post said that the point was that 'White is a cunt and so are you'. Admittedly that was 'Lucy Lips' who seems to be David T's ranting alter ego and is probably the most hysterical poster on there - but still.

Quite why Tatchell though it'd be good idea to put that piece - supporting a person who is unhappy with the IDF, advocates dialogue with Iran, and who is an environmentalist to boot - up on there I don't know. Possibly as a case study to demonstrate the nutcasery of the site? It works on that basis...

7/16/2009 09:18:00 AM  
Anonymous World Of Decency said...

Quite why Tatchell though it'd be good idea to put that piece - supporting a person who is unhappy with the IDF, advocates dialogue with Iran, and who is an environmentalist to boot - up on there I don't know. Possibly as a case study to demonstrate the nutcasery of the site? It works on that basis...

I think Tatchell is a political naïf, who believes in the good intentions of Toube and HP Sauce. He takes them at their word; Decent left-of-centre types committed to social democracy and individual liberty. And Toube has courted him; David T has an obsequious reverence towards public figures that he admires - its a flip-side to his grotesque contempt for those he doesn't. Tatchell represents the acceptable face of activism for HP Sauce.

However, I don't believe Tatchell would respond well to the type of bullying posted by David T just 23 mins after Tatchell's initial post.

What an utterly disgusting man. This (sic) are disgusting and disgraceful views. I hope that Peter Tatchell will give us his reaction to them, and then disassociate himself from them. Peter - when you speak on the platform tonight, will you challenge these reprehensible views?

Neither did Toube apparently, as just eight minutes later at 6pm, his tone shifts back a few degrees towards fawning (with delicious overtones of grandiosity) :

I only wish that I had known that this man was running earlier. I would have done everything I could to see that his vote was as low as possible.
Peter: you very wisely spoke about the party and not the candidate. Did you KNOW that this was the sort of thing he believes?!

7/16/2009 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger ejh said...

I think Tatchell is a political naïf

Probably not

7/16/2009 10:32:00 AM  
Anonymous World Of Decency said...

Well he's either naive or very stupid to trust HP.

I quite like Tatchell so I plumped for the former.

7/16/2009 10:37:00 AM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

The 'disgusting views' aren't actually all that bad, either, really. The things picked out by HP Sauce are: saying that realising Gerry Adams is permanently injured as a result of sectarian violence makes it easier to understand how people might still be committed to it. Then saying that Europe 'had 7/7 coming', or words to that effect, as 'violence begets violence'.

not sure I'd fully agree with the latter, but it's not too wide of the mark; and the only way you can take issue with the former is if you're utterly boneheaded. the other thing is, according to Toube, an 'obsession with Israel' which is entirely in the eye of the beholder.

What does this actually mean as well:

I would have done everything I could to see that his vote was as low as possible

presumably 'everything I could', from someone who's 'too busy to organise an anti-BNP movement' and who just advertised the postponement of his family holdiay because of work, involves, er, writing a bunch of slanderous crap on a blog.

re: Tatchell and P sauce - he's one of those people, like sunny hundal, who David Toube seems to both disagree with on almost everything and also patronise near-constantly, but considers an 'ally' all the same in some sort of unspecified cause (TGISOOT?).

this with-us-or-against-us thing is why people with fairly dubious political views, such as Newkey-Burden and Edmund Standing, are given writing slots on there. Essentially it's now a blog for david toube and people he's decided he likes; there is no real guiding political principle behind it other than a hatred of teh British left.

off topic, but Nick Cohen, on his blog, has managed to drum up support for his latest obs piece from none other than - er - Martin Bright - one of the sources for the original piece.

7/16/2009 11:17:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tatchell loves being the rights favourite "he's a national treasure" leftie. I guess this might be the moment he realises, like J HAri before him, exactly how nastily right wing some of the company he keeps really is. Meanwhile, Presumably both Nasty Nick and Martin (not very) Bright will be keen to join in on the current atttack on the staggers new politics editor, being as how they both got booted off the Statesman for their tedious right wing drivel

7/16/2009 01:01:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

I really don't understand the New Statesman stuff on there. Brett Lock's response seems totally pointless, nitpicky, and really quite boneheaded. i've never been keen on the 'montage-gif as evidence' thing. If someone other than a NS hack had written the same thing, HP Sauce would hve lapped it up, and their problems with it don't seem all that major.

I find the whole 'printing personal correspondence in full, seemingly without permission' stuff pretty distasteful too.

7/16/2009 01:30:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brett specialises in the boneheaded. This is Brett defending the use of the word "nigger" (remember he grew up in South Africa)

Brett says - " ‘Nigger’ is simply Latin for black. Unless it is meant as an insult to a black person, it is no more intrinsically racist than ‘blackboard’. There used to be a type of confectionary called ‘nigger balls’. This reference was simply to the fact that they were black, and I’m sure no slight to black people was ever contemplated, much less intended. Sometimes these words are unfortunate, as gay people know well - cigarettes and certain pork dishes, for instance."

http://www.hurryupharry.org/2008/05/16/the-heros-still-with-us/comment-page-4/

7/16/2009 01:58:00 PM  
Blogger ejh said...

I find the whole 'printing personal correspondence in full, seemingly without permission' stuff pretty distasteful too.

It's absolutely something you should not do without a really powerful public interest justification - I mean along the lines of it revealing serious criminal conduct or intent to cover up same. However, the sort of people who do this stuff tend to set the bar for that rather lower, more or less at the level "I feel like it". (See, or rather don't, the unpleasant Socialist Unity blog for any number of transgressions along these lines.)

Brett Lock

7/16/2009 03:21:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Brett is HP's resident David Brent. An individual with no self knowledge and a seemingly endless desire to embarrass himself in public. Nowhere is this more evident than in his forays into media criticism. The methodology he employs to construct the argument that the ‘tennis ball bomb’ trial was underreported is absurd and demonstrates that he has not grasp of how the media operates.

Still it’s marginally better than his truly preposterous thesis that Israeli war crimes received more news coverage than Sri Lankan ones because the media is dominated by anti-Semitism.

AW readers, being generous souls, could perhaps organise a whip-round and pay for this poor unfortunate soul to take a journalism course. Cardiff has an excellent undergraduate programme and it would surely be a small price to pay to relieve such acute human suffering.

7/16/2009 04:17:00 PM  
Anonymous bubby said...

Apologies should be * not underreported*

7/16/2009 04:19:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

sadly in these economically straitened times, I doubt the budget would run to a journalism course; I suspect we could manage a swift kick up the arse though.

7/16/2009 04:56:00 PM  
Blogger FlyingRodent said...

Attention, BB - Recall my prediction that Professor Norm would find Some Guy With a Website who would raise Serious Concerns over the independence and neutrality of Human Rights Watch, thus tainting anything they had to say about a certain small, middle eastern state?

You can send my tenner to my email account, or something...

http://normblog.typepad.com/normblog/2009/07/a-sorry-development.html

7/16/2009 05:31:00 PM  
Anonymous BenSix said...

Shorter Mehdi Hasan threads: "who are ya callin' a cunt, cunt?"

7/16/2009 06:07:00 PM  
Blogger Bruschettaboy said...

good God, Normblog continues to raise the bar every year in terms of terrible blogging.

7/16/2009 07:26:00 PM  
Blogger Andrew Bartlett said...

"Cardiff has an excellent undergraduate programme"

It does, but please don't send him here.

7/16/2009 08:11:00 PM  
Anonymous darkhorse steak tartare said...

Also off topic, but I hear that Russell Brand has been invited to host the MTV Video awards again this year:

http://tinyurl.com/lwcqvf

That's another Nick prediction out of the window.

http://tinyurl.com/lgo89r

Iraq War, R. Brand's career prospects - whatever will be next for our bumbling nostradamus?

7/16/2009 09:27:00 PM  
Anonymous Phil said...

That Goldberg column is so dreadful - "In other words, yes" indeed. "Based on what he's assembled" (Norm's words), Goldberg deserves some sort of award for persistent misreading.

7/16/2009 10:31:00 PM  
Anonymous organic cheeseboard said...

you think that's bad? Try amis on iran in tehgraun today... For repackaging wingnut claptrap as deep and sustained meditations there's noone better and yes, we get all the bollocks about the imam who will only return with nuclear war, which is, amazingly, what amis ends the bloody piece with...

7/17/2009 06:24:00 AM  
Blogger andrew said...

"Brett is HP's resident David Brent. An individual with no self knowledge and a seemingly endless desire to embarrass himself in public."

That's one way of putting it. I just think he's thick.

Wasn't he the person who called David T from a Stop the War March distraught about the presence of communists and islamists?

7/17/2009 10:44:00 AM  
Blogger Gregor said...

I read the Amis piece in The Guardian. When I read the 'denizens of the storm-lit plain' line, it struck me that Amis seems to be turning into Carlos Argentino from the Borges story 'The Aleph'.

I read an excellent article once about Hitchens and Amis pointing out that an 18th Century nostalgia seems to seep into their language.

I'm currently annotating a travel book from the early 1820s and all the author's absurd generalisations on Scotland (Celts/ Highlanders/ Sassenachs/ Druids/ Ossian/ Fingal/ savages/ Lowlanders/ second sight/ in the blood) etc seem absurdly dated. Until I read the latest 'literary' articles by authors with little first-hand experience or academic qualifications writing about the Middle East.

7/17/2009 02:43:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think Gregor is probably thinking of this one...

http://www.alternet.org/media/86358?page=entire

"What makes this passage so typical of Amis, and so godawful, is that it's written in ponderous, 18th century prose, as if Doctor Johnson had decided to write in favor of ecstasy-soaked raves. Adding to the comedy, Amis then sprinkles his leaden prose with neologisms that would have had the good Doctor howling on the floor."

I'm not sure I'd go so far as 'great.' Dolan has written much, much better stuff. But it is good for a giggle or two.

Von Pseud

7/17/2009 03:03:00 PM  
Blogger Mr Kitty said...

"I'm currently annotating a travel book from the early 1820s and all the author's absurd generalisations on Scotland (Celts/ Highlanders/ Sassenachs/ Druids/ Ossian/ Fingal/ savages/ Lowlanders/ second sight/ in the blood) etc seem absurdly dated. Until I read the latest 'literary' articles by authors with little first-hand experience or academic qualifications writing about the Middle East."

Agreed.

The late Edward Said was pretty good on this overall debate

7/17/2009 03:48:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tim Wilkinson - how do you stand on the issue of 'Is Tim Wilkinson a criminal?' Room for an honest and forthright _no-holds-barred_ debate there, perhaps? Perhaps we should open one, in the name of open-mindedness?

Chris Williams

PS - no, I'm not in favour of laws mandating one correct version of history either.

7/20/2009 12:33:00 AM  

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