Archive | June, 2008

15. The Big Parade with Mary Beard

“I’m interested in saying, look, how can you challenge the Asterix-and-the-Romans kind of image that we tend to have of Rome? We are determined to turn a blind eye to Roman subtlety, humour and sophistication because the Romans do a very good job for us of being bridge-builders and thugs. The Greeks are sophisticated guys […]

Continue Reading · 20 June 2008 · history and politics, podcasts

The bomb-hunters of Laos

“It’s a very surreal place… children have grown up with bomb scrap around them. So when they see bomb scrap, they don’t perceive any danger. It’s all around you.The houses are made of bombs. It’s piled up by the side of the roads. It’s part of the fabric of life.” I’ve just completed a first […]

Continue Reading · 12 June 2008 · history and politics, podcasts

‘Places can’t stand open’

“In politics there’s a constant endeavour to expose hypocrisy. Because people don’t like hypocrisy, it’s a very useful weapon to attack an opponent. But the exposure of hypocrisy – the anti-hypocritical movement – doesn’t drive hypocrisy out of politics. It doesn’t even diminish the amount of hypocrisy that there is. If anything it just increases […]

Continue Reading · 9 June 2008 · history and politics, podcasts, science and philosophy

14. The Mighty Handful and more

“In Russian music you have a very different portrayal of Russia [from the one you find in literature], which has very strong rhythms, very festive images. It’s very bright, very colourful, very, very different from the melancholy Russian soul.” Writing of Glinka’s opera A Life for the Tsar after its premiere in 1836, one Russian […]

Continue Reading · 6 June 2008 · art and music, history and politics

Landing the big three

There was an entertaining piece by Joe Queenan in last Sunday’s NYT about the pleasures of long books (and in particular the three volumes of Austrian novelist Robert Musil’s Man Without Qualities), and the havoc they can wreak on the normal functioning of life (plus their value as a diversionary tactic): (more…)

Continue Reading · 4 June 2008 · literature