TOO MUCH AUBREY AND MATURIN IS NEVER ENOUGH
My never-ending quest for quality literature has inevitably brought me to blogorrhoea's archives. Would it not be interesting, I'd thought, to see what we were saying as the inevitable slaughter in Iraq drew close.
Well, as it happens, those against were saying pretty well what we're saying now
The worst thing about being a dismalist is that one's predictions are so often right ...
Anyway, I did find this little flight of fancy on how Peter Weir's *Master and Commander*, then but freshly embarked upon, might (and should) turn out. Ideally, American Blogorrhoeaics who have seen the film (and at least one Australian currently domiciled in The Belly Of The Beast), will offer detailed commentary as to the width of that inevitable gap between the fancifully ideal and the brutally real ...
Monday, October 14, 2002
PATRICK O'BRIAN - good physic indeed for blogorrheaic dismarrhoea
I am uncommon gratified to find the ever discerning Tim Dunlop blogging a hymn to He Who Must Be Read Forever By Everybody. HWMBRFBE (as I like to call him) was surely Jane Austen, Joseph Conrad, and Charles Dickens come back to earth in more compact form. His mighty Aubreiad traverses the Napoleonic age to the strains of Locatelli, the bubble and hiss of unfathomed waters rushing by the taff-rail, and the insistent thunder of perfidious Albion's eighteen-pounders. Delighting at every sensuous shudder and sway of His Majesty's (purloined) Frigate Surprise, voluptuates the vessel's slave and master, Jack Aubrey (who is surely Horatio Nelson, Lord Wellington, Matthew Flinders, Marco Polo and Peter Pan come to earth in expansive form). Negotiating his return, with customary clumsiness, from a precarious perch at the futtock shrouds, whence had closely been studied a passing nondescript booby, stumbles Ship's Surgeon, natural philosopher, particular friend to the captain - and spy - Stephen Maturin, whose preoccupation with a binomial nomenclature that might do the bird justice will send him head-first down the companion-way. Maturin - clearly Joseph Banks, Watkin Tench, George Byron, GK Chesterton, Tom Paine, Ian Fleming and Thomas Bell brought to earth in uncommon scrawny form - will doubtless recover in time to afford his particular friend's artless spontaneity the countervailing measure of reflection and finesse it requires successfully to execute the Admiralty's will.
As for the film, I should not hesitate but send it back was it not to feature the Plum Duff and the Drowned Baby.
I should be uncommon sore tried, too, should they serve up a creation devoid of:
(a) Stephen clumsily making his way through some beast-infested jungle;
(b) Stephen banging his head or falling overboard;
(c) Stephen putting a waister's brain to rights [I must see a trepanner before I die];
(d) Jack discoursing on women or promotion;
(e) Jack going at it, toe to toe, with a froward froggie;
(f) a duet from the Great Cabin;
(g) a crewman caught in the 18-pounder's recoil;
(h) Diana deploying the decolletage with malice aforethought; and
(i) the Reading of the Articles of War.
These seem relatively inexpensive must-haves to me.
Beyond that, I shall be most happy with many a wide shot of Surprise
sailing large and the odd rippling broadside. I should like to have
Spartacus as the theme (not merely because I'm a Godless Owenite, nor just
because it listens uncommon well, but rather because The Onedin Line proved
that Nothing Else Will Do).
IT IS A TRUTH UNIVERSALLY ACKNOWLEDGED ...
... that a blogger in his cups should not his Power Mac broach.
Aye, Mistress Jane. And if he desist, he is a blogger not ...
PANTS OFF ...
... to Rampaging Roy Slaven
and his latest tour de force, Marking Time
. The maestro got the dialogue just right, and whoever did the casting nailed it with a jackhammer. Every one a bloody gem. And the Forsythe kiddie a fair dinkum revelation. Yours Dismally will not soon forget them.
He probably won't forget messrs Howard, Ruddock, Hill and Reith, either.
But he'll be trying real hard.
SPOT ON ...
... is Galal Amin, who wrote in the 3 September issue of Al-Ahram:
"To what extent were these developments a sign of the triumph of capitalism -- in the Marxist sense -- over socialism? Has free market ended the state monopoly over the means of production and terminated the state monopoly over the decisions of production and investment, or has private monopoly replaced state monopoly? Have consumers won back from the state the right to determine the type and quantity of products, or have they forfeited their rights to private business? Has state-run central planning disappeared, or only been replaced by conglomerate vision? Has the role of the state diminished, or does the state still intervene in the economy to promote the interests of big business, such as arms manufacturers, even to the point of waging wars?
It is misleading to speak of the triumph of one system over another. The capitalism that invaded the Eastern bloc bears only a passing resemblance to the capitalism advocated by classical economists. Likewise, the socialist system that fell apart had little to recommend it to the socialism embraced by Marx and Engels."
IF "THE FUNDAMENTALS" ARE AS GOOD AS THE PLAUSIBLE DENIER
AND THE CYCLE AGGRAVATOR
ARE ALWAYS TELLING US ...
... I guess unprecedented national debt, current account deficits and consumer debt must not be fundamentals. They'd better not be too fundamental in the US right now, either, else what's going on there would be the grand-mother of all sucker rallies ...
A RHEUMY SQUINT AT IRAQ
If I were a Shi-ite, a Kurd, a democrat or from a tribe traditionally opposed to Saddam's, I'm guessing I'd've wanted Saddam out. That's most of Iraq, I guess. But it's nowhere near that simple, of course. In totalitarian political cultures, many come to define the province of their lives differently from, say, bloggers. They want education and health for their kiddies and electricity and water for their homes, and conceive of politics and such as of another realm. Such people are passive allies if they're getting what they need, and resentful foes if they don't.
Then there are those who strongly opposed Saddam, but did so on grounds no less antithetical to US occupation and US-sponsored puppet governments. I still can't see how a democratically constituted Iraqi government could be at all to Washington's tastes.
Come to that, I still can't see how or why Iraq wouldn't split bloodily at the seams the minute the splitters think it time to go for their cut.
And I still can't see how any of this has advanced the cause of western-style democracy in the Middle East one iota. Anyone serious on that account would have recognised the priority of the Palestine Question long ago. But then, it's hard to find a plethora of peaceniks among the ranks of the neocons in Washington, the Likudniks in Tel Aviv and the likes of Tanzim, Islamic Jihad and Hamas (in the formation of which, incidentally, Tel Aviv had a firm hand
) in Ramalah.
I guess institutions - constructs of mind and convention all - can benefit profoundly from war and rumours of war in exactly the way most people - corporeal sentient beings all - can't.
I persist in thinking the invasion of Iraq a murderously ludicrous adventure on both the exporting-democracy criterion and the control-the-non-renewable-resources-the-rest-of-the-world's-gonna-need-for-the-foreseeable-future criterion. The costs - human, political, economic and strategic - still look to me as unsustainable as they are unavoidable.
Madness from the off ...