Schrader is brilliant and helped to direct Vor der Morgenrot abou the last months of the fascinating Stefan Zweig. It will help to refresh your German too- very useful!!
Stylish Cold War spy drama Deutschland ’83, a co-production between Germany and the USA, aired in the UK in 2016, and became a runaway hit. We’ve recently been watching the follow-up series, set in 1986, and imaginatively called Deutschland ’86. Deutschland ’89, set in the year of the fall of the Berlin Wall, has just come out, and I dare say we’ll get to it at some point.
In the five years since we watched Deutschland ’83 I’d unfortunately forgotten everything about the plot, as well as all the names, motivations and back stories of every single character. This happens a lot. I can reread a book from a few years ago, and it might as well be new to me. I can watch films and only towards the end remember that, yes, I’ve seen it already. Indeed, one of the reasons for writing this blog…
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I think that it was Gavin Ewart who said that well informed persons “Take their clues from the Weekly Reviews”. In the past few weeks I have been interested in the latest viewpoints on China in the World today. I grew up knowing very well a Methodist Minister who had been part of the Chinese Inland Mission and well remember seeing a journal amongst the sermons and stamp albums on his desk entitled China Reconstructs. Even at that time China was able to grant 4.7 million dollars to Egypt at a time when Britain, France and Israel were attacking during the Suez Crisis.
The TLS has recently been looking at how the climate emergency and it’s relation to superpower rivalry. In an interesting review of two books, China goes Green and The New Map, Kate Brown looks at what might be termed green colonialism. The first book, by Li and Shapiro she finds reminiscent of Cold War reportage. Kate Brown mentions how China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) mimics the Marshall plan and costs some 60 Billion dollars. She also mentions that in the past 40 years some 400 million Chinese people have planted some 70.5 Billion trees. “Many of these trees were planted on grass savannahs. Drinking up scarce water, they have caused erosion, and the majority of the poplars and evergreens have died” she writes. In reviewing the second book by Yergin she concludes….”….the big winners in the first decades of the twenty first century have been the oil and gas interests. In 2020, just as 30 years ago, 80 per cent of the world’s energy derives from these two resources.” This TLS article from No 6152 February 26 th 2021 is well worth study.
The TLS article mentions that the Pripyat Marshes situated in Poland, Ukraine and Belarus appears to be in the BRI plan – sustainainability? Or the search for global markets?
Oliver Wainwright in the Guardian in the Guardian 24th March has written a fascinating article on China’s rural revolution. He quotes the architectural acupuncture strategy of Xu Tiantian of DnA in Songyang in Zhejang province:-
“We have tried to make something to restore the villagers’ pride in their local identity, as well as bringing visitors and creating a local economic network” Wainwright writes that new facilities will include; a brown sugar factory, a camellia oil workshop, a rice wine distillery and a pottery. This well illustrated article goes on to mention community centres and museums all to be discovered in The Songyang Story published by Park Books.
The Spectator has endeavoured to engage in a thoroughgoing and persistent manner with Chineese issues. The tone is often right wing but nevertheless well written and informative. Overall I find it more engaging to read than the New Statesman, which otherwise accords with my sympathises. On 16th Jan Chris Patten writes about “Lessons from Hong Kong” He speaks out strongly and sensibly about the genocidal policies against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang and concludes saying “It is also absurd to think China will implement international labour standards, as French and German governments claim. Our European leaders might also notice how many heads of the Jewish community have drawn attention to the similarities between the Holocaust and ethnic genocide against the Uyghurs”.
In the Spectator on the 24th January 2021 Harald Maass raised the question as to who profits from Uyghur labour camps. He quotes one source as mentioning that some half a million Uyghurs are being forced under very harsh conditions to pick cotton in Xinjiang province mostly by hand. He mentions too, the fashion industry:-
“Brands including Hugo Boss, Adidas, Muji, Uniqlo, Costco, Caterpillar, Lacoste, Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger have been named in reports tying them to Xinjiang factories or materials. One in five cotton products world wide is made with Xinjiang cotton, though Marks &Spencer last week signed a call to action regarding Xinjiang and pledged to stop using any cotton from the region” According to the BBC just today images of clothes and trainers are being deliberately obscured for domestic viewing. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-56658455
Frnces Pike https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francis_Pike again in The Spectator 20th February raises the question of how the China’s containment of India-it sees it as a long-term geopolitical rival- should be countered by Biden, Blinken and the D10. Besides the Chinese influence in Burma and Bangladesh, Pike mentions the lease of 99 years for the port of Hambantota in Sri Lanka.
So the coverage of by The Spectator of China has been intensive and is perhaps summarised by James Forsyth in last week’s copy (3rd April}. Forsyth is, one assumes, fairly close to Downing Street. He mentions that in the previous week, “..the U.S., the E.U., the U.K. and Canada imposed sanctions on China over human rights abuses in Xinjiang” China’s response which included sanctioning five M.E.Ps may lead to the European Parliament failing to ratify the E.U.-China investment Agreement. Forsyth mentions the need for solidarity and refers to this:-
” When Bejing turned on Australia for suggesting there should be an independent inquiry into the origins of coronavirus, there was a shocking lack of solidarity from New Zealand.”
Forsyth appears to support the proposal being made to the American China Research Group to develop a kind of Nato for trade. He concludes by advocating that such collective economic defence be on the agenda for the G7 in Carbis Bay.
To conclude with two interesting items –
I knew nothing about bitcoins or their importance. This link not only gives an indication of their production but it also explains their considerable contribution in China of producing Carbon Dioxide-
Secondly, a useful book on this topic has been written by Jonathan E Hillman published by Yale The Emperor’s New Road:China and the Project of the Century. There is an excellent review and tour d’horizon by Laleh Khali in The London Review of Books 18th March 2021
- Author: Jay Bernard (1988)
- Title: Surge (31 short poems)
- Published: 2019
- List of Challenges 2021
- Monthly plan
- #PoetryMonth (April 2021)
- For those readers of Jay Bernard’s debut Surge who are
- not familiar with the historical event to which it responds,
- there is a carefully detailed author’s foreword.
- On 18 January 1981, 13 black teenagers were killed in a
- house fire that engulfed a birthday party at in south-east London.
- Although the New Cross Fire is still in living memory,
- Jay Bernard is seeking to introduce it to a new generation
- …to make history live and remind readers these are both statistics and people.
- I haven’t even opened the book but I feel this will be an emotional journey.
- This time I’m reading the book while listening to the audio book.
- I will just let Bernard’s words wash over me.
- Each poem has a different voice…a gathering…
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Must look up the original French!!
One winter, we’ll take a train, a little rose-colored car
We’ll be so comfortable. A nest
Of wild kisses awaits in every cushioned corner.
You’ll close your eyes to shadows
Grimacing through windows
This belligerent nocturnal realm, inhabited
By black demons and black wolves.
Then you’ll feel a tickle on your cheek…
A little kiss like a crazed spider
Fleeing down your neck…
Bending your head backwards, you’ll say: “Get it!”
―And we’ll take our time finding the beast
―While it roams…
(Translation by Wyatt Mason)
The footnote to this poem states: Written on a train, 7 October 1870. With that in mind, I interpret this poem as an expression of a sexual fantasy experienced while riding alone on a train. I picture a young Rimbaud, gazing out the window as landscape streams by, imagining himself lost in a loving embrace.
What strikes me as most interesting…
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From Catullus 64
Peliaco quondam prognatae uertice pinus
dicuntur liquidas Neptuni nasse per undas
Phasidos ad fluctus et fines Aeetaeos,
cum lecti iuuenes, Argiuae robora pubis,
auratam optantes Colchis auertere pellem
ausi sunt uada salsa cita decurrere puppi,
caerula uerrentes abiegnis aequora palmis.
diua quibus retinens in summis urbibus arces,
ipsa leui fecit uolitantem flamine currum,
pinea coniungens inflexae texta carinae.
illa rudem cursu prima imbuit Amphitriten.
quae simul ac rostro uentosum proscidit aequor,
tortaque remigio spumis incanuit unda,
emersere feri candenti e gurgite uultus
aequoreae monstrum Nereides admirantes.
illa, atque haud alia, uiderunt luce marinas
mortales oculi nudato corpore Nymphas
It is said that formerly pines sprung from Pelion’s peak
swam the liquid waves of Neptune
To the waves of Phasis and the lands of Aeetes,
When the chosen youths, the strength of Argive manhood
Choosing to run away with the Golden Fleece from the Colchians,
They dared to traverse with swift ship through the salty waters,
Sweeping the azure sea with fir oars,
For whom the goddess herself occupying the citadels in the highest cities
Made the flying chariot with a light wind,
Fitting the pine timbers to the curved keel.
She first stained inexperienced Amphitrite with sailing;
But which likewise plowed the fickle wave with curved ship’s beak
And the water, twisted by the rowing grew warm with foam,
Aquatic Nereids emerged their faces from the white eddies
Admiring the apparition
On that day, and hardly any other, mortals saw with their own eyes
Marine nymphs, with naked body,
I had just been reading the Stoppard play about Houseman in which this passage is referenced called “The Invention of Love”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Invention_of_Love
In a recent discussion at Jewish Book Week 2021, Hermione Lee mentioned that this was Stoppard’s favourite play. It was first published in 1997 and given it’s themes I wondered if it’s writing had any connection with Stoppard’s feelings about Section 28 of the Local Government Act 1988. This very interesting play can be viewed on You Tube but sadly the quality of the sound is not very good.
I think it is interesting that Stoppard who appears not to have had a University Education appears so interested in the minutaie of recondite and eclectic matters such as logical positivism (Jumpers) or textual analysis as in this play.
Isn’t it interesting how the road not taken, so to speak, may become so interesting one’s later in life. This was seemingly the case about higher education with Tom Stoppard who has become so formidably well read and erudite. I was thinking too of James Callaghan a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1976 to 1979. He became so very interested in Education and seems to have engendered the changes that resulted in the National Curriculum.
The other major figure that springs to mind is George Orwell. However, my most recent encounter with Orwell portrays him rather more as the man of action and not perhaps very interested in University Education as that of describing authoritarian atmosphere of the minor Prep school. I was reading fairly recently an account by Rayner Heppenstall in his engaging account Four Absentees which mentions the time the author spent with Orwell in their Camden flat-https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rayner_Heppenstall
It is difficult to imagine what Orwell might have chosen to read had he gone to University and then again he was young at a time well before the expansion of University Education. Perhaps, he is now studied under the area of Media Studies. There appears to be considerable debate about his writing. Personally I found his diaries which I think appeared in Penguin around 1988 absorbingly interesting.
Orwell and Stoppard are both concerned with language and truth. When looking at this play, there is a debate about the relative merits of poetry and academic scholarship as well as the human relationships. Houseman the classicist obsessed by the scientific and heterosexual Jackson. Obsessed too with such close textual analysis that he seems to missed his first in Greats. How might he be diagnosed or labelled nowadays one wonders.
After recently reading Three Rings by Daniel Mendelsohn (A tale of Exile, Narrative and Fate) I have been tempted to explore diversions and must now return to the text above.
The first two lines above do not appear to make a great deal of sense in English. My Heinemann edition translated by F.W.Cornish (Erstwhile Vice-Provost of Eton) 2nd Edition 1914 gives-
Pine-trees of old, born on top of the Pelion, are said to have swam through the clear waters of Neptune to the waves of Phasis and the realms of Aeetes, when the chosen youths, the flowers of Argive strength, desiring to bear away from the Colchians the golden fleece...
Now the obvious difficulty in getting the poetry here is the number of allusions with which the text is crammed. The sort of associations that in Keats time many were familiar. Looking them up…..
Pelion is simply there as a mountain today and looks gorgeous too.
Phasis appears to be beautiful -The Rioni river, as it is called in classical sources. Ancient Greek Φᾶσις as it says in Wikitionary! Aeetes may be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ae%C3%ABtes, an ancient King of Colchis who has been represented thus:-
“The flowers of Argive strength” is rather lovely and associated with gladiolus flowers which suggest not only strength but honour and moral integrity. Gladius being Latin for sword. Argive refers to the ancient city of Argos and obviously not the on-line delivery store! Argos (Ancient Argos, located in the Peloponnese in Greece, was a major Mycenaean settlement in the Late Bronze Age (1700-1100 BCE) and remained important throughout the Greek, Hellenistic, and Roman periods until its destruction by the Visigoths in 395 CE)
The full import of Catullus 64 may be found at https://www.ancient-literature.com/catullus-64-translation-2.html
Finally, there is a little possible alternative at line 14 where freti might replace feri above and seems to mean narrow-anyway freti candenti sounds rather nice though I cannot quite make sense of it. It seemsto refer to a white narrow watery space I am told. See https://nodictionaries.com/text-word-note/1731849-remigio-spumis-incanuit-unda-emersere-freti-candenti-e-gurgite-uultus-aequoreae and according to Cornish might instead mean “wild visages” of the emerging Neriads in the spume of the churning oars. Houseman and probably Stoppard would doubtless be intrigued by these codd. (Codices) Referring to the different manuscripts. Cornish in my book -1st Edition 1912 refers to 7 different manuscripts- one of which is in the Bodleian and one of which is no longer extant but 6 of the others are derived from it. Codex Veronensis.
Really like Carrington’s work and was deeply moved reading her relationship with Lytton Strachey in Holroyd’s magnificent biography.
Dora de Houghton Carrington (March 29, 1893-March 11, 1932), known generally as Carrington, was an English painter and decorative artist.
Biography on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dora_Carrington
Spanish Boy, the Accordion Player by Dora Carrington
c.1924 / Oil on canvas / 25″x20″ / The Higgins Bedford, Bedford, UK
Dora Carrington on Artnet: http://www.artnet.com/artists/dora-carrington/
those straits would not be guilty of your death.
Since the dolphins can’t hurl themselves into the air,
harsh winter holds them back if they try:
and though Boreas roars and thrashes his wings,
there’s no wave on the besieged waters.
The ships stand locked in frozen marble,
and no oar can cut the solid wave.
I’ve seen fish stuck fast held by the ice,
and some of them were alive even then.
Whether the savage power of wild Boreas
freezes the sea-water or the flowing river,
as soon as the Danube’s levelled by dry winds,
the barbarian host attack on swift horses:
strong in horses and strong in far-flung arrows
laying waste the neighbouring lands far and wide.
Some men flee: and, with their fields unguarded,
their undefended wealth is plundered,
the scant wealth of the country, herds
and creaking carts, whatever a poor farmer has.
Some, hands tied, are driven off as captives,
looking back in vain at their farms and homes.
some die wretchedly pierced by barbed arrows,
since there’s a touch of venom on the flying steel.