Tuesday, January 01, 2008

That was the year that was

It has often struck me as odd that so many 'year-end' retrospectives take place before the year has actually ended, thus excluding the possibility that something truly exciting (or terrible) might occur or be written about up to the midnight hour on the last day.

In the case of this blog, as it turned out, that was not to be, and we spent the holiday season at a healthy distance from all things bloggy.

Which, all-in-all, has been refreshing.

Still, before flinging ourselves with full enthusiasm into the new year it is worth pausing to consider some of the high points (or at least higher points) of the Obscene Desserts Blogging Year 2007. It was, after all, the first full calendar year of our humble existence. And that is, perhaps, worth celebrating.

So what did we get up to over the past 12 months?

There were, as ever, opportunities to have a go at some of the more mush-brained witterings emerging from internet journalism and commentary. We tried to set Madeleine Bunting straight, for instance, on one of the top god-bothering memes last year, i.e., the one that claims atheism is 'just another faith'. We took on Rod Liddle's strange attack on J. G. Ballard's novel Kingdom Come, and we demonstrated a lack of sympathy with Oprah Winfrey (though not with her unfortunate pet).

We also did our best to contribute to what Bing (via Dale) has referred to as 'skeptical humanities', whether that meant considering genes, prize-winning literature or the dreaded 'biological body'. In this context, we had fun with captioning propaganda posters with postmodern texts, a party game that generated a gratifyingly enthusiastic reaction.

Wordiness, as ever, was in vogue. In three consecutive doses we engaged with the 'multiculturalism debate' sparked off at Sign and Sight by Pascal Bruckner's unjustified and thoroughly over-the-top maligning of, among other things, Ian Buruma's book Murder in Amsterdam. (Parts one, two, three.) Later in the year, we took issue -- at some length and with no shortage of verve -- with some of the arguments Gregory Clark has made about genetics and capitalism in A Farewell to Alms and elsewhere. (Part one, part two.)

We announced various real-world publications to which we wrote individually (or jointly) or to which we contributed chapters.

We had a great time in Norwich.

We were outraged at right-wing nastiness and issued a ringing defence of...clotheslines.

We fretted a bit more about the end of the world, and a bit less about zombies. We sought to combine apparently contrasting political flavours in a way that is hopefully both tasty and nutritious. And we thought, as ever, about the importance of contingency.

There were also a few curiosities. One of us waxed all nostalgic about some old time rock'n'roll.
Sports matters played an unusually important role in our writing in 2007, even if we sometimes managed to wrench them into more familiar contexts. (E.g., using the Superbowl as an excuse to quote some memorable passages from the good doctor on Nixon and football.)

And we considered a political sex scandal in Germany that struck a little too close to home.

Seeing the way 2007 ended, we're sure that the year just begun (that of the rat, recall) will offer no shortage of opportunities for more of the same. Out like a lion...in like a lion.

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