Posts from December 2006
Actual book review: an enjoyable, untidy compendium of a book – the author’s fake smugness, modesty and self deprecation pulls off the trick of hauling you enthusiastically through musings, memoir, memory tricks, mesmerism and magic.
I’ve included Brown in this atheist’s progress because (apart from referencing the Dawkins book) it provides an additional important perspective, that of being an ex-Christian,
My brilliant memory of all events occurring prior to my discovery of the world of alcohol aged 15 is doubted by some and mocked by others. One such memory was of watching an episode of Sooty & Co after school, a programme clearly aimed at a slightly younger demographic but entertaining none the less.
Hmm, not really a secret message this one. But sometimes evil hides in plain sight. Look at Rolling Stones gigs.
Okay, have you noticed it yet?
Well done Charlie Brooker for turning a little internet website into proper actual career. Well done for being quite good at it. And well done for doing all of this while looking a bit like Steve Davis (SEE!) . But he has done it too in a good way, paying his dues. Because let it not be said that TV reviewer turned presenter who pokes fun at TV has never been done before. Charlie Brooker’s Screen Wipe is a plenty of fun TV show which breaks absolutely no ground and is all the better for it*. He plays to his own strengths with is a generous snarkiness, and while the show may just be TV Burp for adults (though isn’t that just TV Burp?) it passes the time well. The Christmas Special was more of the same. Except a segment in the middle about secret out-take tapes which TV companies had made for Christmas parties. Hold on, I thought, I’ve seen that before.
As a change from other reviews, I’m not going to touch much on the intellectual content of this book. This book is selling incredibly well. It has garnered a LOT of publicity in the US (I gather) and is a bit of “surprise” christmas hit in the UK – currently 5 in Amazon UK’s chart (when pre-orders for the new Harry Potter are 1 and 2). That it has become a big seller, that it is widely read and discussed, is its principal success. Could it be that the much-commented on “Darwin’s rottweiler” invidiousness of his writing has been to this deliberate effect? Either way congratulations of a sort are in order.
My objection to Dawkins recent crusade has been that he is no longer deserving of both his earlier self (thoroughly readable and often entertaining) and his current professorial endowment set up “to contribute to the understanding of science by the public”. He really isn’t doing that any more is he?
I never really liked Gwen Stefani. I though No Doubt were a bunch of ska chancers who lucked out on a hideous power ballad and stuck around through force of a singer who dressed up like Madonna. I was, of course, right on all counts with No Doubt. But I shouldn’t have let it colour my appreciate for Gwen’s solo stuff. But despite loving “What You Waiting For?” and “Hollerback Girl” I tended to think that these were aberrations in the mix rather than anything to do with Gwen herself. Clearly with “Wind It Up” this is not the case. There isn’t much else on the track except Gwen, a beat, a Sound Of Music sample and someone playing the coconuts.
It was a dark time for the empire. The great, powerful and benevolent knights had taken heir eye off the ball and in one foul sweep their peaceful nation was subjugated by one of their own. Twenty years passed, until a farm boy found hope sent to him by a beautiful princess, captured by the empire. His family destroyed he sets out with his new mentor, a man with a hidden past, to rescue the princess and destroy the empire. Risking all to rescue her, his mentor dies saving his life. And then a battle for the very survival of the rebel forces…
Okay the Advert Calendar of Advent, like many a FT feature, was only partially successful. BUT it did make one very clear point. Adverts are seasonal. And while Christmas may underline this with its faux snow, twinkly jingle bells and mad attempts at rewriting Christmas traditions*, it is by no means the only example. Indeed possibly the most pointed advertising juxtaposition comes on Christmas Day itself. We have bought our presents, we have followed the orders of Boots the Chemist to be glamorous. And what is our reward?
Hectoring adverts telling us to : BUY A NEW FUCKING KITCHEN.
This book is not for you – it said to me in the preface. Me in this case being a non-US reader – however I was already disqualified being a fully paid up member of the choir already, having read pretty much everything by Dennett that has reached print. But this is an unusual book, sitting off-centre from the rest of his work in style and tone. It is a much more accessible book in that it is aimed at a general reader and there is consequently much less of the casual jargon of the philosopher. (Sadly, reviews of the book repeatedly underestimate Dennett’s philosophical credentials because of this.) More marked though for me, was the occasional tone of apparent disingenuosness. For someone whose writing is normally so ingenuous with a clear, distinctive and generous style respectful of the reader, this perhaps says something of the subject in hand. Or perhaps it survived the editing process on purpose, and I was feeling hyper crictical.
Either way, despite being on his side, I felt a little bit sorry for his imagined “believer” reader
1. who first decided that IN THE VERY FAR FUTURE we would all refer to the earth as TERRA OF SOL?
2. who do you know has won the following literary awards:
a. the PHOENIX?
b. the BALROG??
c. the INVISIBLE LITTLE MAN???
d. a “plaque from the Netherlands government for her past work”????