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Ian Chippett
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #100: 23.05.07 at 22:37 »
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I can't remember if this has appeared here: it turned up on the Anthony Powell Forum.
 
http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/books/clive_ja mes/article1808638.ece
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #101: 24.05.07 at 10:44 »
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In “Too Big for the Bathroom Shelf”, an essay published in the current issue of the Australian magazine, The Monthly, the normally generous and accommodating Australian academic Peter Conrad seems to have got a bee in his bonnet about Cultural Amnesia, about which, or, to be more precise, about the author of which, he has some uncharacteristically harsh things to say.  
 
 “Halfway through, Clive James worries that the book might be ‘a folly’, like one of those overgrown, impractical architectural projects designed by eighteenth-century dilettanti who built pagodas or zigurrats onto their Georgian houses. James’s twinge of panic is justified: Cultural Amnesia, I am sorry to say, is incoherent, garbled and ultimately pointless, meandering through a series of endless circuits inside his crowded, voluminous head.”............ .....
 
“James is a brilliant columnist, unbeatable if confined to a couple of thousand zippy words. But a few hundred columns do not add up to a cathedral. Digressiveness is a license permitted to an essayist, who cannot stray beyond the space allotted to him. In Cultural Amnesia, this spirit of rambling free-association ignores all limits, and goads James to crass self-indulgence.”
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #102: 26.05.07 at 21:32 »
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on 07.04.07 at 11:38, Kevin Cryan wrote:
In today’s edition of The New York Times, the columnist Liesl Schillinger her review of Cultural Amnesia - a  capacious and capricious encyclopedia of essays, she calls it at one point -  by asking whether it wisdom or folly for Clive to have undertaken a feat such as this.
 
Kevin Cryan

 
Although Liesl Schillinger (pictured) has rewritten The New York Times review of Cultural Amnesia for the Book section of today’s edition of The Scotsman, her final verdict remains wholly unaltered:
 
"Why split hairs? Perhaps it’s enough that he has completed it. Stéphane Mallarmé, who believed that “everything in the world exists in order to end up in a book,” labored for three decades to create a “grand oeuvre” that would capture “all existing relations between everything,” and produced nothing.
.
James attempted the same thing over four decades, and produced almost 900 pages. It is irresistible to hijack one of his favorite aphorisms (said by Cocteau of Victor Hugo) and conclude: Clive James was a madman who thought he was Clive James. Still, unlike Hugo, James probably never intended for readers to consume his massive tome front to back; and tucking into the entries on a need-to-know"

 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #103: 27.05.07 at 14:37 »
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One of The Observer's literary editors, Robert McCrum, has written a rather maladroit,  and rather inelegantly composed, review of Cultural Amnesia for the paper’s  Review pages.
 
It begins:
 
"To describe Clive James as a distinguished former TV critic of The Observer is rather like saying Jefferson was a Virginian landowner or Socrates a clever bloke with a penchant for chatting with bright young men. Behind the chortling, sardonic demeanour of a veteran journalist is a riotous hinterland of underexplored cultural foliage. His fans have always known it was there but now, at the age of 67, and after 40 years of good husbandry, James has decided to open his exotic garden to the public. Cultural Amnesia is the result. Never was there a more dramatic case study of 'le style, c'est l'homme'".
 
Maybe it's me, but I cannot follow the logic that gets McCrum through that paragraph. nd of that paragraph. Later on, he writes:
 
"James, a literary critical Bourbon of the English-speaking world, seems to have learned nothing and forgotten nothing".
 
Leaving aside the fact that I cannot for the life of me figure out how Clive the literary critic might resemble a Bourbon, I have some considerable difficulty in working out how anyone, let alone Clive, could “have learned nothing and forgotten nothing”
 
Later on, in a paragraph in which, returning to the agricultural metaphor of the fist paragraph,  he says that he suspects that Clive of “frugally recycling some ancient intellectual compost”, he in the same breath tells us that the "disproportion of gravy to beef makes Cultural Amnesia a wonderful book for a long afternoon in a left-bank cafe, or a transatlantic plane ride, but perverse and sometimes baffling to fans who might have been hoping for a Jamesian summation”.  
 
I suppose  that what he’s saying is that the book on the whole is enjoyable, but that it may not appeal to who expect Clive to be pithy. I imagine that’s what his saying, but the move from the "intellectual compost" metaphor to the "gravy and beef" one is so clumsy and hard to take that this reader is tempted not to care overly much with what’s being said. Life. as they say, is too short; and anyway it would be better spent actually reading the book itself rather than pondering reviews of this kind.
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #104: 27.05.07 at 15:33 »
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“I believe it is impossible to understand the 20th century without reading George Orwell, and this very big book, which James implies is his life's major work, would make an admirable Orwell companion” is how  Gordon McLauchlan concludes his very favourable review of Cultural Amnesia for yesterday’s edition The New Zealand Herald.
 
McLaughlan's is a review, I believe, that doesn't waste reader's time. Having got about halfway through the 900 or so ages - in no particular order I should say-  I think I'm coming to much the same conclusion as McLaughlan has,  and I'm coming to it for pretty much the same reasons as the he gives.
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #105: 27.05.07 at 18:34 »
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ArcaMax Publishing, one of the bigger and more popular website-based news and ezine publishers, which operates out of Newport News, Virginia, has just published John Simon’s Washington Post review of Cultural Amnesia.  
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #106: 14.06.07 at 14:03 »
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OK, so it is Father's Day this weekend (in the States) and daughter was home, but only so she could move out to her new apartment 1500 miles away  Sad
 
But guess what I have available to read now?  Cheesy
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Synchronicity
« Reply #107: 16.06.07 at 15:13 »
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Si I had to go get my tires totated and oil changed today, and I took my virgin copy of Clive's book with me.  While they were working on the car, I went to a coffee shop and sat down at a table to start.  With the Introduction.
 
For those of you who have read the Introduction, you will understand my thread title.  For those of you who have not - Why not?  Smiley
 
And for those of you interested, I read Sophie Scholl first, as I had recently seen the movie, followed by Tacitus.  What did you read first?
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #108: 17.06.07 at 18:36 »
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The novelist , journalist and critic Philip Hensher reviewing Cultural Amnesia for the July14th edition of  The Daily Telegraph, says that “when a critic so blatantly uses his subjects in order to address the topic he was going to talk about anyway, the result may be a narrowing of focus rather than the open vistas the contents page suggests” and makes a pretty good fist of showing how the book can be read in that way,  
 
Clive’s greatest fault, as he sees it, is “a willingness to condemn writers who said the wrong thing, like Brecht, or wrote about something else”  

"I don't see what would have been gained by an anti-Nazi statement by Ernst Curtius, or why the lack of that might diminish his great book European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages. Curtius was interested in a medieval subject, and we're all enriched by that masterpiece.
 
James writes well about the object of study and its meanings, when it is in front of him. But these speculations about what isn't, and was never meant to be, in certain books, break critical decorum. No one will be interested, for instance, in the reflection that "if Schubert had lived even four more years - the difference between his lifetime and Mozart's - he would have written not just a few more works of the same complexity, but dozens, perhaps hundreds. It is like thinking of the Bellini operas we lost because of a simple sickness."
 
Well, yes. But as the Spanish so vulgarly say, if my auntie had a penis, she'd be my uncle. There's not a lot of point in thinking of something we can't imagine, not being Schubert or Bellini. It is a bit like wondering about how you are going to spend your non-existent lottery millions, the most vulgar form of imaginative speculation”
.
 
The fact that I personally don’t agree with point being made doesn’t mean that it, or something like it, didn’t occur to me, or that I did not bear it in mind, while reading those essays Hensher mentions. I happen to think that while the speculations about Schubert and Bellini, which occur in the Alfred Einstein essay (p186), really don’t count for much – and that the reader could well have done without them – I do feel strongly that it is perfectly permissible to speculate what an anti-Nazi statement from Curtius might have actually have meant, had it come. It certainly would not have made any difference to how Curtius's Europäische Literatur und Lateinisches Mittelalter (European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages) is read or valued, and Clive is very careful to avoid suggesting that it would. Hensher, in failing to grasp that, has either missed the point or is wilfully misreading the essay,  
 
“It is comprehensible and forgivable that Curtius said nothing about Nazi atrocities during the war. Incomprehensible and unforgivable is that he said nothing about them after it (my emphasis KC).  At the height of his prestige, with the whole international scholarly world for a worshipping audience, he never alluded to the extermination camps. George Steiner was right to point out that Eliot’s post-war Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, by neglecting to mention what had just happened to Europe, disqualified itself from being a definition of culture. The same objection can be made to Curtius thunderous silence.” (Cultural Amnesia p. 159)
 
As far as Clive is concerned, Curtius, in thinking that “the true Germany could survive within the Nazi State” was fooling himself in that peculiar way that some intellectuals frequently do. He points out that Christine Jacquemard-de Gémeaux (spelt Gemeux in CA, by the way) in her 1998 monograph, Ernst-Robert Curtius (1886-1956): Origines et cheminements d'un esprit européen,  “generously making a point he never made for himself, would have us believe that there was such a thing as an interior intellectual life to which Hitler was exterior” and suggests that “she might well have argued that the worm in the apple’s core was exterior to the apple”.  You don’t have to agree with either Clive or, indeed, with Mme. Jacquemard-de Gémeaux to recognize that what is at stake is the big question of whether there could be, or can be, an interior intellectual life separate from any power hell-bent on snuffing it out.  
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #109: 21.06.07 at 08:39 »
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In his KyleSmithOnline.com blog, the American journalist, novelist and critic Kyle Smith writes well about the buzz he's got from reading Clive's Cultural Amnesia.  
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #110: 21.06.07 at 11:04 »
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The Kyle Smith review of Clive's Cultural Amnesia, to which Kevin has drawn our attention, really is a very good read.  In fact, there are some nice echoes of Clive's style
in the construction.  Definitely worth navigating there.
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #111: 23.06.07 at 15:29 »
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The LA based blogger Alexander Levari, writing in his The Night Book blogspot, finds Clive’s Cultural Amnesia inspiring and wants everyone to read it.  
 

6/22/07

Summer Reading[/color  
Latest Reading (voraciously over the last coupledays)......................................................
 
Cultural Amnesia by Clive James - Not that I would wish this fate on anyone, but I almost wish an Imam or two would declare a Fatwa on Clive James for writing this book. Then, at least, everyone would know about this and at least take a good look through it. This might be the most important book published this year. I've set up a link to 12 excerpts of the book through slate.com on the side bar. It's riveting. A bomb of humanism that reminds us not only of who we are, but who we can be. A monumental achievment of culture, criticism and creativity. You'll never forget the name Sophie Scholl, among others, after reading this book. And no one should. Thank you, Mr. James. This book hasn't changed my life, but it's illuminated and inspired it.

 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #112: 25.06.07 at 09:11 »
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on 19.05.07 at 18:27, Kevin Cryan wrote:
I’m beholden to a member of this parish for tipping me off (in an instant message) that the author and journalist Johann Hari has now posted the  “(rather good) review” of Cultural Amnesia he wrote for the 15th of May edition of the  Evening Standard to his online journal, JohnnHari.com.
 
Actually I think this is something more than the “(rather good) review” it's described as; it is, to my mind, a piece written by rising star in appreciation of someone he considers a master. You can see that there is admiration shining through practically every paragraph. .......................
 
................................................................................ ......................
Hari, I feel, very often just stops short of saying outright that Clive is the kind of writer he would like to be. Has Clive, then, found his ideal reader? I believe he has. And I fancy that it'll please him no end to know that what he says in his book is working it's it's way into the mind of someone who has not yet reached thirty.  
 
Kevin Cryan
 

 
Clive's own reactions to Hari's review and to reading again a 2001 interview he gave to Hari were to be heard on his A Point of View broadcast by BBC Radio 4 on Friday the 22nd of June.
 
EXTRACTS FROM A POINT OF VIEW TRANSCRIPT.
 
"...some of the reviews were gratifyingly thoughtful and one of the most thoughtful was by that sparkling young British journalist Johann Hari, whose work you may have seen, and if you haven't you should.  
 
Although he holds certain political opinions that I don't share - he was careful to point these out in case I had forgotten them - I thought his reaction to my book was a good part of the reward for having written it.  
 
To inspire such keen interest in a bright young person is surely part of my mission when dusk falls on the glittering city and I don the tightly fitting costume of the caped cultural critic to go swinging high above the teeming streets on the lookout for fallacious arguments to counter and damsel-like humanist values to rescue from durance vile. So I took advantage of the marvellous new technology and added Johann Hari's review of my book to my website, whose name I can mention because it's not a business that makes money...............................
 
....at the bottom of Johann Hari's review there is another link, provided by himself, which leads you to a piece he wrote when he was even younger, as if that were possible. Most people younger than him can't write at all except with crayons, but apparently he once interviewed me. No doubt dragging his school satchel, he turned up at my place expecting to meet the sun-soaked spirit behind the merry columns, programmes and articles that he claimed to have been enjoying ever since he was a child, several minutes previously.  
 
I read on past the second paragraph of this interview and I was suddenly appalled. The encounter had taken place about five years ago and obviously it had depressed him deeply, perhaps permanently. The picture he painted of me was of a desperately unhappy and self-questioning paranoid sad-sack. After that it got less funny. It seemed that I not only had to fight back tears as I choked out my defensive answers, but that I started to bleed spontaneously from the scalp.  
 
Across the years I think I can dimly remember that when he rang my doorbell upon arrival I brained myself as usual against the sloping roof of my study but it could well have been the result of one of those occasions when I open the refrigerator door to get out the butter that I'm not supposed to have, drop it on the floor, and then stand up suddenly without having remembered that the door is open. Well-adjusted people don't do that sort of thing even once.
 
No wonder I had forgotten ever reading the interview, let alone giving it. It was a wonder that I hadn't gone somewhere shortly afterwards to lie down in a bus-lane. Unfortunately for me, reading the piece now, I can see that my disappointed young admirer quoted me accurately and that every impression he reported was soundly based. I'd like to think that he caught me on a bad day but I'm afraid that he caught me on a typical one. If that's the way you come over, that's the way you are, and as I speak to you now I am consumed with this latest reinforcement of a recurring notion, the suspicion that I don't spend even a tenth enough time recording the fact that I actually do enjoy those features of existence that don't drive me to mumbling pessimism."

 
Kevin Cryan
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #113: 25.06.07 at 09:42 »
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With Clive's return to R4's A Point Of View (thanks Kevin) I've reinstated the hot links from Smash Flops to the appropriate BBC Magazine page and the Listen Again function.
 
You'll find them just below the BBC News syndiction window in the left-hand side-bar of the SF front page.
 
Steve
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #114: 27.06.07 at 07:27 »
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on 23.06.07 at 15:29, Kevin Cryan wrote:
The LA based blogger Alexander Levari, writing in his The Night Book blogspot, finds Clive’s Cultural Amnesia inspiring and wants everyone to read it.  
 

6/22/07

Summer Reading[/color  
Latest Reading (voraciously over the last coupledays)......................................................
 
Cultural Amnesia by Clive James - Not that I would wish this fate on anyone, but I almost wish an Imam or two would declare a Fatwa on Clive James for writing this book. Then, at least, everyone would know about this and at least take a good look through it. This might be the most important book published this year. I've set up a link to 12 excerpts of the book through slate.com on the side bar. It's riveting. A bomb of humanism that reminds us not only of who we are, but who we can be. A monumental achievment of culture, criticism and creativity. You'll never forget the name Sophie Scholl, among others, after reading this book. And no one should. Thank you, Mr. James. This book hasn't changed my life, but it's illuminated and inspired it.

 
Kevin Cryan

 
" 6/25/07
Cultural Amnesia redux...
 
Pete Atkin's "Midnight Voices" blog has an interesting thread with reviews and thoughts on "Cultural Amnesia" from both the pundits and the peanut gallery. Kevin Cryan, a member of the board, was kind enough to include me in the discussion, with my review of the book on 6/22 quoted. I was listed under Alexander Levari, and so there is no mix up, the name is simply "Levari."  
 
To me Levari is like Pete Mitchell's call sign of "Maverick" in Top Gun, only they beat me to Maverick so I had to settle for this one...
 
Thanks for the link.
 
You can read the board here:  
 
http://www.peteatkin.com/cgi-bin/mv/YaBB.cgi?board=Words;action=display;num=1172 831592;start=113
 
Sorry about the cut and paste, I haven't quite figured out the whole hyper-text link thing yet.
 
Posted by Levari at 3:37 PM
"
 
I wonder whether I should feel like I'm a member of a rat pack, with Pete sitting in as my Francis Albert (the chairman), or just a figure in the peanut gallery?  
 
Ah well, it's too early in the day to go through an identity crisis!!!!
 
Kevin Cryan
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #115: 30.06.07 at 19:27 »
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Clive is participating in the Way with Words Literary Festival which takes place between the 6th and 16th of July at Dartington Hall in Devon.*  
 
Here you find a pdf of the full festival programme.  
 
This programme, as you will quickly realise,  is a little out  of date – or should I say the pdf of it is - in that it has Clive appearing in the at the Great Hall talking about a book called Alone in the Café. Those of you have been keeping up with Steve's steady stream of useful information will be well aware that Cultural Amnesia's original title was Alone in the Café and that the festival piece must have been written before the change of title was decided upon.  
 
(Then again, I'm beginning to wonder whether the person how compiled the notes bothered to check any facts.  I don’t think, for instance,  Clive ever considered publishing the fourth volume of Unreliable Memoirs under the title My Name is Light  as the same programme -or pdf?- has it. My Name in Lights was a title he did consider and reject in favour of North Face of Soho. The programme writer persumably scribbled down My Name is Light and never for a second thought that it was a title that needed some explanation.)
 
Kevin Cryan
 
PS. I’m very pleased to see to see that the Irish poet Seamus Heaney now feels fit enough to return to the public arena. He is opening the festival on Friday the 6th at 2.30 with Suffering and Decision – The Ted Hughes Memorial Lecture, and later in the day he will be reading from his latest collection of poems District and Circle.  
 
*Some useful links to the festival begin here.
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #116: 02.07.07 at 20:56 »
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“........
 
I traded in the Toyota Camry for the Yaris, which has the best fuel efficiency of any car on the market. And I began Clive James’s Cultural Amnesia: Notes in the Margin of My Time, a collection of essays on the great thinkers and artists of the past century. James has always liked women; he even includes some of them in his list.”

 
Wow!!!. Only mention of the purchase of a fuel-efficient car tips the reader off to the fact that this priceless piece of writing is not  by a none too imaginative 14 or 15 year old, but by someone who is at least old enough to have a driving liscence.
 
It is in fact a the work –part of a much longer piece -  of the well-respected Canadian journalist and critic Heather Mallick, and it appears, in all its unadorned glory,  the Analasys and News colum of today's edition of Canada's  CBC News online.  
 
Ms. Mallick's aside - and I'll grant that it is only a carlessly thrown off aside, probably written to make up the word count - proves that people writing for the web and writing online need to be subjected to as much editorial control as their print counterparts. If they are not good editors themselves, or they don't allow themselves to be edited by others, they run the risk or putting into print immature tosh of the kind that would not pass muster in a secondary school essay and making themselves look as foolish as Ms Mallick does here.
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #117: 03.07.07 at 08:31 »
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The American poet,  academic and critic, and now member of the increasingly influential National Book Critics Circle board of directors, Maureen McLane, posted this piece of fulsome praise for Clive's Cultural Amnesia to the Circle's blog on Saturday the 30th of June.
 
"Dipping in to Clive James’s Cultural Amnesia: necessary memories from history and the arts (Norton) – a book that begs dipping into, organized as it is alphabetically, from Anna Akhmatova to Josef Goebbels to Edward Said to Stefan Zweig.  Excerpts have run on Slate.com – I recall reading James’s essay on Borges there.  Note: the generally three-to-five-page essays are often defiantly digressive, an essay on Sir Thomas Browne (the 17th C. essayist) modulating into riffs on Raymond Chandler, the piece on Louis Armstrong devoted in large part to Bix Beiderbecke.  This kind of riffing and shifting is his mode but also his implicit argument: culture as a vast network of associations.  Reading more extensively in the book what strikes me is the strong and often appealing didacticism: Read this!  Every young person should have this on his shelf!  Every aspiring artist should have that!  James is a button-holer almost as forceful as his oft-quoted Ezra Pound.  James’s style of high-low switchbacking, his careering from pop song to TV to German philosophy to balletomanes, seems very late 20th C., and very British-cum-Australian.  One thinks of the art critic and fellow Australian-born personage Robert Hughes (and James must be tired of the comparison): an equally pugnacious, vivid writer full of contempt for the mandarins of theory....."
 
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #118: 07.07.07 at 20:57 »
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In the online edition of today’s Die Welt (the world) the political commentator, journalist and author Hannes Stein recommends five books in English, one of which is Clive’s Cultural Amnesia.
 
"Lesetipps von Hannes Stein:
Clive James: Cultural Amnesia. W. W. Norton, New York. 768 S., ca. 29,50 Euro.  

Through portraits that range from John Coltrane to Trotsky and beyond, James has written an engrossing history of the twentieth century. By the way, the best thing about this book are the digressions.
"
 
Stein is a highly regarded journalist in Europe,  and it has to be admittted that his opinions and recommendations will have some clout with his European readers.
 
However, over here and in America, where his reputation is not quite so secure, he unlikely have any great effect. He has over the years blotted his copybook being openly, and many would say uncritically, pro-Reagan and pro-Bush, in a word, pro-conservative America.  
 
A couple of years, (writing again for Die Welt), he claimed that Ronald Reagan’s gung-ho treatment of the Soviet Union was just what was needed to bring the whole edifice tumbling down. It was, according to this his view, Reagan’s   ”Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall” in 1988, that finally broke the Soviet Union. He’s added, in the same breath, that “George W. Bush is a continuation of Reagan” in following his instincts in Iraq.
  
At the time, there were still canny observers in the west who believed the Soviet Union was a power that commendably kept a lid on many minor ethnic conflicts around the globe. It was believed that openly confronting this Power would lead to catastrophe. The reputed historian Arthur J. Schlesinger wrote thus: “Those in the United States who think the Soviet Union is on the verge of economic and social collapse; ready with one small push to go over the brink are wishful thinkers whoa are only kidding themselves.” Ronald Reagan alone, the despised and loathed Cowboy president, the B-movie actor, the reactionary, the anti-communist offspring of the Cold War declared in a visit to Berlin in 1988: “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!”…………………”
 
That the Soviet Union fell is in no doubt; that it fell on Reagan’s “watch” is again not in doubt; that it fell because of what Reagan, or because of what of anything anybody in the US had done, is debatable. One is unlikely to trust the opinions of a man who seems to think otherwise.
 
Kevin Cryan
 
PS.
 
There are people who thin that Stein's contention that Bush (George W that is) had actually read The Case for Democracy: The power of Freedom to Overcome Tyranny and Terrorand has understood it well enough to use the lessons taken from it as a guide to his actions in the Middle East[/url]was sufficient reason to doubt his sanity when it came to commenting on US affairs. But then they are probably the kind of people who like to believe that Bush reading is not especially extensive. It probably isn't, but that is another matter.
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Re: Clive's Cultural Amnesia.
« Reply #119: 09.07.07 at 13:08 »
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on 02.07.07 at 20:56, Kevin Cryan wrote:
“........
 
I traded in the Toyota Camry for the Yaris, which has the best fuel efficiency of any car on the market. And I began Clive James’s Cultural Amnesia: Notes in the Margin of My Time, a collection of essays on the great thinkers and artists of the past century. James has always liked women; he even includes some of them in his list.”

 
Wow!!!. Only mention of the purchase of a fuel-efficient car tips the reader off to the fact that this priceless piece of writing is not  by a none too imaginative 14 or 15 year old, but by someone who is at least old enough to have a driving liscence.
 
It is in fact a the work –part of a much longer piece -  of the well-respected Canadian journalist and critic Heather Mallick, and it appears, in all its unadorned glory,  the Analasys and News colum of today's edition of Canada's  CBC News online.  
 
Ms. Mallick's aside - and I'll grant that it is only a carlessly thrown off aside, probably written to make up the word count - proves that people writing for the web and writing online need to be subjected to as much editorial control as their print counterparts. If they are not good editors themselves, or they don't allow themselves to be edited by others, they run the risk or putting into print immature tosh of the kind that would not pass muster in a secondary school essay and making themselves look as foolish as Ms Mallick does here.
 
Kevin Cryan

 
Ms. Mallick has another go.
 
This Week
 
I apologize to readers of last week's column in which I praised Clive James's Cultural Amnesia, a collection of alphabetically ordered essays that his publisher, Picador, claims are studies of the great "thinkers, humanists, musicians, artists and philosophers" of the 20th century. This is fine, until you reach Dick Cavett, Tony Curtis, Adolf Hitler and Josef Goebbels. In fact, James's book should have been titled People (Mostly Dead) Who Interest Me. It's a brilliant book, a literary acid trip from which I'm still recovering, but be warned that it's a heartbreaker. Only reviewers who haven't read it would call it a romp.  
 
Imagine our shrunken world if George Orwell had not survived the Spanish Civil War, James writes. He then tells us about the destruction of Vienna's café society, about the great Jewish minds sometimes literally kicked to pieces by Hitler's minions. Maybe there's a reason we're in such bad shape today. Our best humans were murdered.
 
 
I'll leave readers to decide whether of not this is an improvement on the original.  
 
Kevin Cyan
 
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