Sunday, December 28, 2008

He Won't Be Laughing Now

I CAN'T REMEMBER where Saddam Hussein was when the USA invaded Grenada in 1983 and Panama in 1989 but he probably made a note of both escapades in his diary and kept them up his sleeve for a rainy day. The International Court of Justice in The Hague, however, was quite explicit in its judgement in 1986 on America military and paramilitary activities in Nicaragua. It stated that the USA had breached its obligations under international law not to intervene in the affairs of another state, demanded that it refrained from all such acts and make reparation for all injury caused. The USA laughingly dismissed this judgement, declaring, in so many words, that its actions were none of the business of any damn International Court of Justice, and that anyway they were inspired by a determination to kept the world clean for democracy. The death toll in Nicaragua went on to reach 30,000. President Bush's "outrage" at the Iraqi breach of this very same international law is good for a pretty short laugh. (The only people who won't be laughing, of course are the dead.) What the US is doing is perfectly simple. It's asserting what it conceives to be its spiritual destiny: "I am God: get out of my fucking way." This stink is with us forever.

Harold Pinter letter to the Observer 3/2/91.

I was going to write a quick post on Pinter when I heard he had kicked the bucket, perhaps reproducing American Football, but I thought it was a bit too off-topic. However, former watchee Nick Cohen has added his tuppeny worth, David T fed the trolls, and Oliver Kamm sounded off in the Times. The last of those links is by far the best, although I think Kamm is wrong about 'the unrelentingly scatological language of the lavatory wall.' Pinter didn't offer sexual services, did he?

What Pinter is clearly doing in American Football is satirising, through language that is deliberately violent, obscene, sexual and celebratory, the military triumphalism that followed the Gulf War and, at the same time, counteracting the stage-managed euphemisms through which it was projected on television. General Schwarzkopf talked of 'surgical bombing' and 'collateral damage'.

Michael Billington on American Football.

Flying Rodent/Malky Muscular is fighting a brave but hopeless battle with various trolls and Marko Hoare on Harry's Place. Best not to read any of it.

I hope with his dying breath he blamed the Jews. You know he wanted to. Sizzle in Hell, Harold.

Comment by Hot Dog carts on the Moon 25 December 2008, 9:54 pm. Er, see Clive Davis on The Spectator.

H.P. sat silent throughout. My only experience of his losing his famous cool was when I asked him about the Arab-Israeli war. He grew excited and said that the Arabs had asked for a bloody good thrashing and had got one.

From Frederic Raphael, "Personal Terms".

Pinter related comments here, please.


Blogger ejh said...

Harry's Place. Best not to read any of it.

Well quite.

Curiously I've been known to use "unrelentingly scatological language" about Ollie Kamm. I had no idea, though, that the master prose stylist had an issue in tis area.

12/28/2008 06:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Since this is the place for Pinter comments I'll move my response which I'd intended for the other thread. My problem with Nick's piece - a lot more balanced than the David T troll-feeding - is located here:

Perhaps it was for this that the Swedes gave him the Nobel Prize for Literature.

It was often claimed when Pinter won the nobel that he was awarded it for his politics as opposed to his plays, but the claim almost exclusively came from people who didn't seem to know much about theatre but 'knew' an awful lot about his politics.

My problem with both Nick and David Toube's response - and i think flying rodent shares this - is that they seem incapable of mentioning any of his plays which aren't about the Kurds. I've not seen the play in question, I'm sure it's good, but neither Nick nor David Toube mention any of the plays which actually made him famous and which will secure his lasting legacy - which rather undermines Nick's recourse to Auden. David Toube, several leagues below Nick as a thinker, actually admits in the comments that he really likes other plays by Pinter which makes his initial post all the more baffling.

This is Decent Philistinism in its purest form. And to come back to the question of ideological responses to art, there's nothing wrong with these per se. What there is a problem with is wilfully ignoring everything else - even one's own, genuine response to a work of art - in order to cheaply score political points.

oh and HP watching - kercing - odd how the stalwarts of that place, who are so opposed to Britain's evil libal laws, also thin kthat Decentpedia should be shut down because it's, um, libellous...

12/30/2008 09:56:00 AM  

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