Saturday, March 16, 2013

What I’m reading #95

As always, David Thompson’s Friday Ephemera. In the comments on Nutella:
There’s the German verb “Fremdschämen”, which essentially means feeling shame and embarrassment for other people as if being in their place by oneself, but merely by watching them. It fits very well here.
How good – and how German – to have a word for that.

Alexander Chancellor is one of my journalism heroes. He was editor of the Spectator when I started reading it; he writes wonderfully; he is my friend Clara’s uncle; he indirectly offered me a job once; he was a good friend of another journalism hero, Auberon Waugh; and he is back at the Spectator as a columnist. All admirable – but OMG he is unsound on eggs:
I did not know, until my sister told me recently, that you could throw a raw egg as high as you wanted into the air, and provided it fell on grass, it would not break. I have since found that I have been far from alone in this particular bit of ignorance, and I advise anyone who still shares it to give it a try, for you can hardly believe that the egg isn’t going to break, yet it never does. It will also make a great impression on children, as well as on the more childish of adults.
So I tried it. Tossed an egg – free-range, locally sourced from the donkey farm at the end of our road – up in the air. It landed on the grass. And it splattered. Never believe what you read in the press, not even the Spectator.

The New Republic interviews Clive James. Quote unquote:
Well, my role as a critic is coming to an end. But the older I get, I become more convinced the thing a critic should do is point toward the things he or she admires, for the benefit of the next generation. I’d like to be able to go back and add things where I thought I was insufficiently attentive to the qualities of a work of art. I’d be less interested now in attacking. Only be hostile in defence of a value.
Kevin Jackson in the Literary Review reviews – well, obviously – Extreme Metaphors: interviews with JG Ballard. Quote unquote:
That’s what my fiction is all about: people following their obsessions and their private mythologies to the end, whatever the cost. That way they find fulfilment. I’ve a hunch that’s how the mind works. It’s as close as people can come to happiness. Try it.
How to buy a New Zealand bookshop. There are a few for sale right now.

Cactus Kate does product placement. Quote unquote:
I do not know much about the science of any of the product, do not care about whether it is tested on animals, vegetables or the French.
Which brings us to the best headline in the world ever:
Australian Man Fights Cactus, Cactus Wins
I’d put money on her against anyone. But as Vincent O’Sullivan’s 2011 poetry collection hints, the movie may be slightly different. This one of the incident in question shows an Australian idiot. But I repeat myself.


Mark Hubbard said...

"But the older I get, I become more convinced the thing a critic should do is point toward the things he or she admires, for the benefit of the next generation."

Which is exactly what Clive James does on his superb blog (albeit content is slowing up markedly):

Every one of his links contains treasure.

Rob Hosking said...

ON the egg the UK this might be true.

On drought-parched Waikato turf, though, it was always tempting fate.

Stephen Stratford said...

OK Rob, when we've had a bit more rain I'll try again. As any scientist will tell you, if you don't get the result you wanted, run the experiment again.

Food That Tastes Great said...

On eggs, I think that you would have to procure something that represents "England's green and pleasant land". I'm thinking late summer fields of grasses and wildflowers, bordered by hedgerows and brambles. Not your nicely manicured lawn.

Try one of those nicely irrigated dairy farm paddocks, the day before the cows arrive to munch on the grass.

For more entertainment, next time we see you, suggest to your girls that they ask the MOTH to juggle eggs.

Blake said...

Speaking of modern day idiot's Check out this modern reenactment of The Odyssey.