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Friday, May 13, 2005

Thon meme thingy...

Zadok Romanus passes on the 'five things all your chums love but you don't get' 'meme' to us. Yay, we must be real bloggers now... (Blogging intertextuality... just waiting for the AHRB, sorry, AHRC (and how much money do you suppose the new logo cost?) to fund several fat studentships for writing theses about this (cf Blogimus Maximus:the "Meta-inter-textual-narrativity-gimmemyPhD" aspect of blogging).) In considering this task, I find that my friends are a pretty heterogenous bunch, not prone to crazes; and that there isn't much I heartily dislike that everyone else adores. But that apart - and bearing in mind that this has become more a 'things lots of people get but I don't' business -

1. Protesting against the war in Iraq. I suspect I am actually in the wrong here. I'm indeed greatly perturbed by the complete failure to assess intelligence correctly on our and America's governments' parts; there seems little doubt that the war was technically illegal; the way the attacks were carried out, and the way that poor country is being handled now, were and are very far from perfect; the late Pope opposed the war, and he is much more likely to be right than I am, so I am ready to give assent to opposition to the war. But... my gut feeling is still that deposing a wicked tyrant is the right thing to do.

2. Beethoven. Now it's not that I dislike Beethoven, because I don't; I just don't see why so many people think he's so great. This probably arises from ignorance as much as anything else - I haven't read anything explaining why the late string quartets are so revolutionary, and some day I should. But unlike Bach, say, or practically any Renaissance vocal music, Beethoven coming on on Radio 3 is not a reason to drop everything and listen. I should say that playing Beethoven is much, much more interesting, and I've been at concerts where the astonishingness becomes clear (the RSNO playing Eroica - gosh). But it doesn't seem to work over a recording; and as composers-who-are-more-surprising-from-inside-the-orchestra go, I prefer Haydn.

3. Charles Dickens. So Great Expectations was a mad gothicky page-turner, and A Christmas Carol is a fine morality tale, and Oliver Twist was a mad quasi-gothicky page-turner with morals... But other than these, I've yet to finish a Dickens novel, and I can't agree that he's the best creator of character or atmosphere in the nineteenth century. Trollope has more delicacy, George Eliot more beauty, and Thackeray packs a bigger satirical punch.

4. Ian Rankin/ Inspector Rebus. Er... you really want to read about hideous murders and incompetent policemen in the city you live in? If you must; but please don't tell me about it. In fact, make that gory crime genres in general, in books or on television (CSI, ugh). Sherlock Holmes, Peter Wimsey, Father Brown, Brother Cadfael, Campion, hurrah - none of your forensic officers/maverick policemen/pathologists, thank you very much. Ooh except for Dalziel and Pascoe - murder mysteries that have to be read with a dictionary to hand must have something going for them.

5. The clarinet. Lots of people seem to think this is the best woodwind instrument, but I don't get it. There's something sort of oily about it... It's good for jazz, but otherwise I think that double-reeded things, flutes and properly-played recorders meet all requirements. And the slow movement of Mozart's clarinet concerto is definitely over-rated. Bach two fiddles, if you want the most glorious slow movement in the world.

Runners up: beer, modern Romance languages, apples, Star Wars (yes I like it, I just can't read it as a meta-narrative for everything), Harry Potter (diverting, but I'm still in the dark as to why it's such a craze), loud music in pubs, vodka, painting after c.1480, non-black-tie dinners (a bash without frocks? unnatural), the title 'Ms', flying to London rather than taking the train, milk in (most) tea, Newman's Apologia (I do think it's a very fine book; it's just that I, never having done the whole Anglican thing, can't personally empathise with the angst-ridden course of Tractarianism).

Oh yes, and to whom to pass the blogical baton? Anselmus and Mr McMorrin, if they'd be so kind.