Monday, March 17, 2014

What I’m reading #115

Tyler Cowen on a Dutch idea to do an iTunes for journalism. Good luck with that. Quote unquote from the comments:
The whole iTunes analogy sounds great, but it doesn’t really hold up. We replay music. We don’t reread most articles.

Composer Alma Kelliher has created a soundscape for riverrun, a stage adaptation of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. Quote unquote:
If you get too bogged down in the academic side of it, you forget that half the time Joyce was having a laugh or being filthy.

Owen Marshall on his poetry. Quote unquote:
In the end you write as you can rather than as you wish. 

Obituary of the month: the Daily Telegraph on Sir Thomas Chitty, who published novels as Thomas Hinde. His first literary success was in a New Statesman competition to write the first 150 words of an imaginary Graham Greene novel. Chitty won, ahead of Greene who came 2nd, 3rd and 4th. He sounds fun. Quote unquote on his marriage to Antonia White’s daughter Susan Hopkinson:
He had proposed on the Big Dipper at Battersea Park funfair – where he was working as brakeman on one of the cars and Susan was tending the park’s llamas.

Neil Hannon of the poptastic Divine Comedy has moved on from his successful musical based on Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons (fun fact: Ransome married Trotsky’s secretary and played chess with Lenin) to composing a piece for the Royal Festival Hall’s restored organ. His inspiration was his father, an Anglican cleric in Ireland who now has Alzheimer’s. The piece has turned into an oratorio called To Our Fathers in Distress and will premiere on 22 March. Quote unquote:
Going to church, for me, was a bittersweet experience. I was suspicious from an early age about the necessity of religion, and thoroughly bored by the "having to go" aspect. Yet there is so much about going to church that I remember fondly. My father's sermons were full of warmth and common sense, and never over-long; his stage technique was flawless, and a valuable early lesson in how to put an audience at their ease. And the music! Well, anyone who knows my stuff and has a passing knowledge of Anglican hymns and anthems can see the overlap.

Oilman Tim Newman, who has lived in Russia, has a view on how to sort out the Russians over Ukraine. Quote unquote:
The EU is going about this in the entirely wrong way.  Rather than announce publicly and in advance that certain people from Russia are not welcome in the EU, they should just do what the Russians do and demand ridiculous piles of obscure documents, translated, notarised, apostled, and attested in original plus three certified copies to be submitted along with a visa application and a hefty fee before dismissing half of it as unnecessary, demanding a whole pile more, and then refusing the visa without explanation and directing all inquiries to a visa processing centre with an automated telephone system.Not only would this be infinitely more frustrating for the people concerned (who would never be sure if they were on the blacklist or just being subjected to the normal process), but the EU would not have to go to any additional expense or effort to implement such a system: they could just hand it all over to the French, who are masters at this sort of thing, and tell them to carry on as normal.

So here is Pierre Boulez, the greatest living French composer (he turns 89 later this month), talking about contemporary music.  The interviewer asks, “How would you respond to those who say that contemporary music is a minority taste, reserved for an elite?” Quote unquote from Boulez’s reply:
Well, of course there is an elite. But the elite should be as large as possible.

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