Friday, September 04, 2009

Essay surfing: Inglourious false consciousness special relationship edition

A few passages from things I've read in the last day or so which I've found interesting.

From Michael Wood's review of Inglourious Basterds in the LRB, which actually makes me enthused about seeing the film, despite what sounds like a fair amount of deranged incoherence (otherwise possibly known as reinventing the grammar of film).

I mean, this sounds intriguing:
Next, the film is spoken in German and French for most of its duration, with large excursions into English and a brief comic scene in Italian. The language in each case is very elaborate, almost baroque, and an essential part of the fun. What are we to do if we have only the subtitles to go by? How shall we grasp, let alone enjoy the moment when a German actor playing an English soldier is caught out by another German because of the imperfections of his German accent?
This, of course, means that I'll have to wait to see the film in its original version, as watching it dubbed into German is going to be...defeating this point.

From Xan Brooks in the Guardian on cinematic nostalgia for the 80s:
My view is this: by and large, the 80s sucked. They made me feel awkward and out-of-joint, and I was not sad to see them go. Yet now I find I miss them. By the same token, I was never particularly enamoured of John Hughes, the bard of the 80s teen genre – until he died earlier this year, at which point I decided that I'd really liked him all along. This is how nostalgia works. It plays tricks on the memory and reorders the past. Nostalgia, wrote the Russian critic Mikhail Bakhtin, is a false consciousness, "a historical inversion". Those early years look warmer, safer and more seductive when viewed through the rear-view mirror of advancing age.
From Geoffrey Wheatcroft's review of two books on British Palestine and the creation of Israel, also in the LRB.

I can't judge Wheatcroft's larger points in the review, but I was struck by this bit:
After Truman's 'Yom Kippur speech' of October 1946, timed for the midterm elections, in which he demanded the admission of more Jews to Palestine, [British Prime Minister] Attlee lost patience. He bitterly rebuked Truman for not having consulted the prime minister 'of the country which has the actual responsibility for the government of Palestine in order that he might acquaint you with the actual situation and probable results of your action'. But then Attlee had early stumbled on the truth about the 'special relationship', which Gerhard Schroeder has said is so special that only the English know it exists.


mikeovswinton said...

Nice to see that someone told Wheatcroft that it was Gerhard and not Helmut Schroeder, as he had it in his book "Yo, Blair".

J. Carter Wood said...

Ouch. That's bad.

And I thought it was bad when I noted a few weeks ago that the author of a recent, high-profile and much praised book on the interwar decades referred to Edith Thompson -- one of the two women hanged for murder in England and Wales in the 1920s, whose conviction has since been highly controversial -- as Emma Thompson.

Helmut Schroeder is even better. By which I mean, of course, worse.