All entries by this author

Nonsense at Hay Festival

May 30th, 2003 4:17 pm | By

Oh really, what crap. It’s only snobs and supercilious critics who think bad novels are bad novels. Excuse me, but sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes a bad novel is just a bad novel.

Trollope, whose restrained prose is as elegant as the lady herself, poured haughty scorn on the pretensions of the literary genre, and in particular the “grim lit” the critics seem to adore “that makes you want to slash your wrists”.

Well that’s wrong for a start. ‘Restrained’ prose? Well sure, I suppose. That’s one way to describe it. One might say the same of a train timetable, or a laundry list, or a tax code. That couldn’t be a nice evasive way of … Read the rest

Self-serving Argument #478 *

May 30th, 2003 | Filed by

If you think they write bad novels it is because you are jealous, gloomy and snobbish. Of course.… Read the rest

Watching Someone Dig With a Brush is Boring *

May 30th, 2003 | Filed by

TV prefers pseudoarchaeology to the real thing.… Read the rest

All Entertainment All the Time *

May 30th, 2003 | Filed by

Jonathan Yardley comments on perpetual entertainment as a form of leisure.… Read the rest

Debunking Edward Said

May 30th, 2003 | By Ibn Warraq

This is an edited version of the article, Debunking Edward Said – Edward
Said and Saidists: or Third World Intellectual Terrorism, which
is here
. For the purposes of ease of reading, references and bibliographical
information have been removed from this edited version of the article, but the
longer version is fully referenced. Interested readers should follow the link!

Consider the following observations on the state of affairs in the contemporary
Arab world :

The history of the modern Arab world – with all its political failures,
its human rights abuses, its stunning military incompetences, its decreasing
production, the fact that alone of all modern peoples, we have receded in democratic
and technological and scientific development – is disfigured by

Read the rest

No Kidding *

May 29th, 2003 | Filed by

Demanding schools place pressure on students, research shows. Really?!… Read the rest

Hitchens on Blumenthal *

May 29th, 2003 | Filed by

A Theodore off-White style and keeping two sets of ethical books.… Read the rest

Interview with E.O. Wilson *

May 28th, 2003 | Filed by

‘Ecology’ is about more than saving charismatic large mammals.… Read the rest

Hobsbawm and Hitchens *

May 28th, 2003 | Filed by

A deferential sparring match at Hay-on-Wye.… Read the rest

Dystopias and Mad Scientists *

May 27th, 2003 | Filed by

Why is science fiction so pessimistic?… Read the rest

‘Flooding the Zone’ a Mistake? *

May 26th, 2003 | Filed by

Speed instead of depth, frat boy instead of nerd, football metaphors instead of ethical probity.… Read the rest

MM Logic *

May 26th, 2003 | Filed by

Television studies are mocked now as Shakespeare was then, therefore television studies are no more time-wasting than Shakespeare.… Read the rest

Conflation of ‘Guerilla Theater’ With Politics *

May 26th, 2003 | Filed by

A politcs of dramatic gestures, style without substance.… Read the rest

Dyslexic, Perhaps?

May 26th, 2003 12:22 am | By

But then, the person who wrote that article concluded it with this bit of wisdom by way of her nomination for the 100 Worst Books list:

To kick off, mine is Wuthering Heights – it has all the emotional depth of sixth-form poetry and I feel an intense desire to give all the characters a good slap and tell them to stop being so self-indulgent. Mysteriously, it’s considered a landmark of English literature by many people whose judgment I usually admire.

So clearly I shouldn’t be surprised if she uses words in a silly way. In fact I should be surprised that she’s writing for a major newspaper, that’s what I should be surprised at.… Read the rest

What Overtones?

May 25th, 2003 11:46 pm | By

All right. Clearly one of these days I’m just going to have to drop everything and make a real effort to figure out what in hell people are talking about when they call someone or something ‘elitist.’ I’ve said it before but I’m afraid I’m just going to have to say it again, and no doubt I’ll have to say it many more times in the future, because it just keeps on happening – people use it for anything and everything! Snob, clever clogs, intellectual, nerd, bookish person, someone who thinks some things are better than other things, conceited person, anything and everything within a fifty mile radius of either Cambridge or Oxford, quiche-eater, in the UK. In the US … Read the rest

Mound of Feel-good Styrofoam Peanuts *

May 25th, 2003 | Filed by

Marketing sappy techno-utopian ‘revolution lite’ via PageRank™.… Read the rest

Now It Can Be Told! *

May 25th, 2003 | Filed by

Women talk, men sit and stare. Stone the crows.… Read the rest

Yes, Hip Cool Sexy People Are Phobic Too *

May 24th, 2003 | Filed by

They just hide it better, says Julie Burchill.… Read the rest

Orwell Could Be Such a Misery *

May 23rd, 2003 | Filed by

But he would have cut ‘today’s higher theoreticians’ to shreds.… Read the rest

Small World

May 22nd, 2003 8:20 pm | By

The Jayson Blair saga continues. There is a staggeringly bizarre interview with him in the New York Observer today. It’s interesting (to me anyway) that he chooses the same sentence from the long Times article on him that I remarked on the other day.

In The Times’ lengthy May 11 account of Mr. Blair’s long trail of deception, it reported that “the porch overlooks no such thing.” Mr. Blair found this funny. “The description was just so far off from reality,” he said. “The way they described it in The Times story—someone read a portion of it for me. I just couldn’t stop laughing.”

We must have noticed the same thing, or perhaps different angles on the same thing. The … Read the rest