Friday, August 19, 2005

A Confession or Et in Arcadia ego

The recent, grand Henry James Project floundered today in such a through fashion that I retreated in disorganized haste to the British Collection at the Rikhardinkatu Library and got myself a copy of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia. What's a boy to do, to paraphrase Dorothy Parker (reading currently her magnificent, desperately funny reviews from the 20's and 30's): I just needed a very strong antidote to get over that endlessly significant street crossing in the previous chapter. Maybe this is a superficial thought but I would gladly exchange all the qualifications, meanderings and subtleties of James for five lines of hard, polished Stoppard dialogue: sparse, efficient, brilliantly economical, brilliantly funny. And not superficial at all. I will probably collect the remnants of once proud forces and hurl them again at the impregnable Henry James defence but not with much hope. Hmm, anyway, it's certainly a great play - also in Arcadia, I, Death...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Glory Days

Let us now proclaim the end of the American dominance. China and India are rising fast while the Late Empire is entangled in a throughly botched military effort in a region centrally important for the production of a rapidly fading energy source (this sorry and futile spectacle largely financed by foreign - Asian - credit). Internally the country is being torn apart by a vigorous religious fundamentalism and a throughly corrupt political system. The economy is being kept going by a rapid succession of bubbles which are likely to run out very shortly - and one of these days the markets will make one of their temporary returns to sanity resulting in a very painful end to credit financing the various imperial adventures.

But maybe there should be a qualification: perhaps it is only the end, the strange death, of liberal America that we are here proclaiming. In an era of scarcity an openly military Empire might be able to prolong its rule however disastrous the concequences would be. The last hope is probably the emerging progressive movement that is determined to return to politics of reason and co-operation but the hostile structures of the government by lobbyists and abundantly financed and morally corrupt conservative machinery might be able to stop this return to sanity. I guess we'll see but somehow I'm afraid that we really are reaching the end of the era of American leadership. And no, I don't think it's a good thing for the values of liberty and global justice that I hold dear.

Monday, August 08, 2005

An artist of his own life

I would not trust a writer further than I can throw a piano. Well, of course not really, mostly they seem to be charming people but today I was musing about the fact that so many writers seem to have been utter bastards in their private life (while browsing in that blessed place the "book storage" of the Student Library). Looked up Larkin and Waugh among others. Besides a compulsion to create, many artists have great personal ambition and also a certain insecurity of personality (this I idealistically associate with utter bastardhood). Above all, life is their material, friends and loved ones or bits and pieces of them may end up as text which can be a cold, offhand process for those concerned. It is such a curious profession - as a grateful member of the audience I don't protest but the price seems at times very high.

An interesting process: your life and your experience is your material and you create something out of it - what is the relation then of your art with your personal life as it is, and must be, something separate? I suppose the answer is infinitely individual, the degree of dissociation is not a constant but surely there has to be a degree of dissociation. So no perfect artists of their own lives - not if you are one... (Hmm, I wonder if the distinction is really a meaningful one - the point is polemic, a beginning of a discussion, rather than a statement of fact or reality.)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

The philosophy of the blog

Talk about pomposity... I seem to be losing my interest already: so just a summer fling, maybe. In a way that would be ideal: blogs are about broadcasting and I do disapprove myself - well, to a degree - for starting this one - or at least question myself and my motives for starting it: why should I broadcast? I suppose it would be ideal to really be scattered, to have accidental odds and ends stored here with no theme and no purpose. Not to broadcast. Would that make any sense? (As I could very easily refrain from any publicizing by stopping publicizing. Hmm. Though writing in English is great fun.) Anyway, to change the subject to something completely different, I have a strange urge to read Henry James - due no doubt to my current work trip company, the classic biography of him by Leon Edel. Strange in the sense that I have always stayed well clear of James being easily, too easily, bored, and those sentences do go on. But there seems to be a burning intensity in him, a burning purpose - based on Edel anyway, so maybe I should try: with the holiday coming there would finally be time for meaningful things instead of IT industry things. A very pleasant thought.