Oh yes, my blog! – I’d forgotten about that.
Here are some random thoughts, to fill in the gaps between postings:
- I found the Coen Brothers’ film, A Serious Man, perfectly dreadful. If you take Job’s faith out of the story, it doesn’t really leave you with much. It also seems to me a good example of overloading a work of art with profound symbolism (a sort of Tom McCarthy on camera), without bothering to make it in any way interesting. The Coen Brothers should go back to making perfectly-shot, wonderfully entertaining trash, as they’ve been going for years. (Is Burn After Reading any better – it’s the next one I was thinking of renting?) – A much better film I watched was Peter Greenaway’s The Draughtman’s Contract. Great stuff!
- The Guardian seems to have a couple of themes in its Books pages at the moment: a) Libraries – we should prevent them from closing. Now, the last thing I’m going to do is actually try to comment in the Guardian on a subject I know something about because it’s quite close to whatever it is I do for a living, because after all, that’s not the done thing – but… libraries are managed and financed through local authorities, funds in general coming from core budget (council tax) and not via central government through grant; – this means any cutbacks in libraries are being carried out by local authorities … but … on the other hand, as central government cuts back on the grants in general given to local authorities (which compromise usually about 4x the amount brought in by council tax), this affects other “more important” services, so the local authorities are inclined to divert money away from libraries to support these “more important” services. Libraries are not important, not because no one thinks they’re a good idea, but because local authorities have no statutory duty to provide library services, unlike say schools. – In a recent poll of LA chief executives, asked which services were most likely to be cut, libraries came top (81% of LAs), slightly ahead of Finance/IT/HR. – I was having a look through library stats for 10/11 (not available on the internet – extranet only), and one oft-spouted myth we can perhaps challenge is that libraries predominantly help the poor (and consequently cutting them is an act of oppression – a class thing). If we take Inner London (which after all we should, since none of the rest of the UK is of any consequence), the top three boroughs in terms of library borrowing per capita are: 1. Westminster (about 30% ahead of); 2. Kensington & Chelsea (about 30% ahead of); 3. Wandsworth (and then the others were quite close behind). (My own borough came top of total rented DVDs, which I felt strangely pleased about). – Actually, there was one Inner London borough which came miles even ahead of Westminster (with 700% more books loaned per capita – an astonishing 55 books per person per year), but was excluded from the results – that was, of course, the City of London.
- And the other thing the Guardian’s been going on about is, Is This the Death of the Critic? – “this”, being, no doubt, our recent innovations in communication and social networking; – which all seemed to start with this article. One argument about the death of the critic that’s beginning to annoy me is the: “we don’t need people anymore telling us what to think” argument; – have though critics ever done this? have you (and by you, I mean you – not the rest of humanity, who are of course easily led) – but have you ever read criticism in order to find out what you should believe about something? – I don’t recall ever doing so.