tag : bright yellow-green apples: February 2006

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

getting back into the swing

Wherein Joaquin curls his lip to an extraordinary degree

Last week's trip to the green hills of Northern Ireland, to join my Mary, was wonderful. She's already reviewed some of our goings-on, which I would mostly sign off - though with perhaps a slightly different perspective at times - such as how well Devlin handles the lady in Notorious! We were accompanied by Rach on a friendly tour of Belfast's avant-guard and rather crazily religious haunts. I got a vision of the substance-infused community that is Armagh college's studentdom, as I accompanied Mary to her ball in the role of arm candy. We bought insanely sweet Polish foods and rosary beads. Walked the fields, saw films aplenty, of which the most notable was...

After the Pride and Prejudice viewing last year, Walk the Line was definitely more of an anti-romantic movie. Johnny Cash may have been a rather brilliant musician and songwriter, but there were no allusions that he was a good man as well. He could have been a lot better to his wife and kids than leaving them behind for his singing and for June Carter, but he was fearsomely good on the stage - and this wasn't detracted by his personal background. We cannot demand that artists are good people, but that they make good art.

Monday, February 13, 2006

this is my body, given...

Click on the image for an alternative version.

I'm flying off to Northern Ireland in the wee small hours of Friday morning, to visit my Mary. (Which I've been looking forward to for ages, and it'll be a real joy to see her again!) In the meantime, I'll leave you these two images in celebration of the fact that in the past few weeks I've banished the one last unconquerable artistic subject. Yep, people are definitely on the visual menu at the moment. In this case I tried to imagine some hybrid of Nick Cave's music and the Daily Mail. Take care everyone, and I'll be back with summit more current affairsy or religious in a weeks time.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

the funny pages

I wasn’t quite sure whether to add to the mountains of comment about the recent furore over some cartoons published in various newspapers. But there are number of things which bother me, about the coverage, and the principles of the various protagonists, that I need to set down. Plus the comment here goaded me on.

(1) The headline image is not an attack on Muhammad, that much is plainly obvious – but an attempt to satirise those who use him as an inspiration to harming others, and go about destroying innocent lives through their zealous violence. (There is, thus, a lot of irony in the protesters who called for bombings and killings of those they feel have affronted them). But the majority of the protesters have thus got the wrong end of the stick...

(2)...as much as the media coverage, which has been fascicle enough to help people imagine that there hasn’t been a long tradition of portraying Muhammad in Islamic art. The mere presentation is not an affront to the sacredness of religion, despite what some Muslims may say. There has been a lot of sanctimonious rushing to understand, without actually get a grip on the sheer diversity of Muslims around.

(3) This isn't really a matter of defending free speech, apart from in the fantasies of a few ideologues that manage to presume it's best to show how valuable our social openness is by using that chance to whip up trouble. Most of us need offending, to keep us on our toes. But it's an abuse of our press to use it for attention-seeking self-indulgence. Most of the cartoons that were fussed-over tried to make up for how dull their satire was by just being deliberately bad taste. They were just piss-poor humour. Like the Pete Kay skit where he has some "alternative comedians" with an act that consists of swearing at pensioners.

(4) The genuinely subversive cartoonists out there, please sharpen your pens and set to work - we need better than this extreme stupidity. Indeed we deserve the best our cultures have to offer, at this time more than ever, when some seem to want to spark off the supposed clash of civilisations.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

stop the hate

the cutting edge of satire wades in

So the government was defeated for a second time. That should keep them on their toes. But what is much more gratifying is that the laws about incitement to religious hatred are going through, even as amended. From being decidedly ambivalent a while back, I've got to the stage, now, where I'm almost willing it on because of those against it. The arguments have, in the main, been ludicrous. They mostly seem to consist of lines like "we won't be able to critique religion any more" or “we won't be able to preach any more" or, most tiresome of all, "oh it'll stop us telling jokes".

This is a matter of covering loopholes, whereby unpleasant people get to whip up hatred against others by using religion as a proxy. If your humour or arguments involve creating hatred, then they’re pretty rubbish anyway. Alongside religious people with a persecution-fetish, a large chunk of those who're most opposed to the laws are those who just haven't come to terms with the fact that not everyone wants to be a secularist. Get over it; Atkinson, Toynbe, et al!