Tuesday, January 10, 2012

A brief note on literary violence and shady politics

We're just recently back from a week in snowy, snowy Davos (long story, largely very enjoyable*) and have been making the jarring transition from the holidays back to the workaday world.

But, two things made me very happy today.

First, my contributor copy of J. G. Ballard: Visions and Revisions was there waiting for me when I arrived at my office. It looks fabulous and is full of interesting essays on a wonderful and much-missed author. My own contribution (the only effort, as far as I know, that anyone has ever made to analyse Ballard's work from the perspective of Norbert Elias's 'civilising process') can be perused in draft form here. Some comments on the conference that spawned it are here and here.

Second, I learned a new and useful German word, halbseiden, which means 'dubious' or 'shady' (and, apparently, in older usage, 'homosexual'). I ran across it in the context of a story about the German president, Christian Wulff, who has gotten into a spot of bother about some (allegedly) questionable loans from friends and a couple of (allegedly) threatening phone calls to the press which has been eagerly reporting on them. (Any possible homosexuality has, so far as I know, remained unrevealed.)

Quite a profitable day, if I do say so myself.


* We can, for example, very much recommend the sauna at this place. And if you feel up to it, a jog around the Davosersee can be very invigorating. And the Ernst Ludwig Kirchner Museum has a small but very worthwhile collection. Skiing, you might have noted, is not really our thing....

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