Friday 1 August 2003

Interview: Ramesh Meyyappan

Visual Storyteller

Ramesh Meyyappan brought a unique one-man show to the Edinburgh Fringe this year (2003)- A Visual Adaptation of Dario Fo’s ‘Mistero Buffo’. This mimed piece is a funny, warm and intelligent example of the potential of visual storytelling.

Mistero Buffo was written and originally performed by Dario Fo, who derived his story from the ‘Mystery Plays’ of the Middle Ages. These religious tales were performed to an audience of common people and contained instructive lessons on the good life, highlighting the dangers of vice and sin. The mysteries were intended to appeal to ‘everyman’, speaking to the universal needs, desires and anxieties that face all human beings.

Ramesh’s silent but highly expressive performance acts out the dilemmas of man in a way that is recognisable to all audiences. On first reading Fo’s text, he was struck by how visual the writing was, and saw the potential for a visual adaptation.

Ramesh explains that his own brand of mime is partly shaped in the mode of the Italian Commedia dell’Arte, a popular form of improvised genre in the 16th and 17th centuries, that used stock characters to embody particular aspects of human behaviour and drives. But Ramesh also goes beyond conventional forms and explores instinctively how things can be represented in visual form. The ability to view things in a visual way is to him ‘second nature’, derived very much from the fact that he is deaf. From an early age, he began to explore language, and his potential for expression, in an entirely physical way. The limitations on his enjoyment and experience of verbal theatre shaped his creative energy towards developing mime.

Ramesh’s first work on stage was with the Hi! Theatre - Singapore’s only deaf theatre. He also worked as a teacher in schools, teaching physical theatre and running workshops for both hearing and deaf children. On becoming artistic director of Hi! Theatre, he made a deliberate decision to produce more challenging, high art works. Up till then he felt that the theatre’s body of work did not raise expectations of the audience or challenge them with serious art. Most of the company’s plays were short skits or entertaining pieces that fitted convention. The result was that the Hi! Theatre depended on a very narrow audience of deaf people, and had little appeal for the wider public. Ramesh’s insight led him to direct Macbeth, bringing in new physical actors and winning critical acclaim from both the deaf theatre world and the mainstream.

The result of this success was an emerging tension within the company between Ramesh’s clear artistic vision and the framework with which the other performers had previously been comfortable. Feeling unsatisfied with the artistic climate in Singapore and wishing to develop his knowledge of theatre more broadly, Ramesh eventually decided to come to England and study at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts (LIPA).

On his arrival at LIPA, he was quickly directed towards the ‘disabled arts’ courses, but he insisted on enrolling on a mainstream course like everyone else. Ramesh was aware that ‘disabled arts’ education offered low expectations to disabled students and he knew that his talent was at least comparable to that of his hearing fellow students. LIPA eventually capitulated and he began his course.

This was not without conditions: he was told that he would need to hire an interpreter (it was felt that the teachers would be unable to communicate with him without one). It soon became clear, however, that someone so skilled in physical theatre and expression could communicate well enough with the people on his course without an interpreter. His colleagues either signed for him or he could relate his thoughts to them using his own resourcefulness. Ramesh completed his degree in July, top of his year, without an interpreter almost throughout.

The label of ‘disabled arts’ is a continuing problem for Ramesh. His audience in both the UK and Singapore remains limited, and he is aware that critics are reluctant to engage with his work. He sympathises with their lack of interest, because he admits that the majority of ‘deaf theatre’ is uninteresting and he suffers from being associated with it. Deaf audiences are not traditionally exposed to a strong theatre education, and there is little attempt to address this. Sign language is not the answer because it distracts from the visual happenings on the stage. Instead, he thinks the form of theatre itself can be developed in an innovative way.

In appealing to both deaf and mainstream audiences, Ramesh wishes to situate his work within a broader milieu but the current climate militates against this. It becomes a vicious circle, as hearing audiences stay away because he does ‘deaf art’; he relies increasingly on funding and attracting financial support on the basis of being deaf. In an ideal world, he says, he would like to be appreciated as a good artist, not a deaf artist. Such a situation would enable him to build an audience and following on the basis of whether people actually enjoy the work, rather than as a result of government policy-making.

Ramesh is not interested in developing a ‘deaf aesthetic’ for an existing market: he inspires instead to a universal aesthetic. Even sign language, he notes, is often country specific. The vocabulary of physical theatre, however, could be completely comprehensible to all people. It is this faith in the potential of human expression to transcend boundaries that pushes him, not only artistically but also practically. He is unafraid to work with a hearing cast, because he is confident he can find a way to communicate without sign language. Similarly, he sees no need to use sign on the stage itself. Ramesh has a resourceful approach to communicating, reflecting his feeling that we underestimate how easily we do relate to each other without constant assistance.

Ramesh has come to the end of his world tour and looks forward to working on a new piece, this time based on the writings of Edgar Allen Poe. If he continues to develop his innovative style and commitment to the unique aesthetic of physical theatre, he will without doubt transcend the label of ‘disabled artist’, and begin to attract the wider audience he deserves.


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Tuesday 20 May 2003

What is knowledge?

Universities, the 'knowledge economy', and the real thing

UK education secretary Charles Clarke declared recently that the state has no interest in supporting ‘the medieval concept of a community of scholars seeking truth’ (1). Such backwardness from a politician would be unremarkable, except that in the traditionally philistine worlds of government and business, ‘knowledge’ is all the rage. The British government has put libraries and educational institutions at the centre of its social inclusion strategy. And even after the collapse of the dotcom bubble in the 1990s, a consensus prevails that the future of business lies in the ‘knowledge economy’.

It is an unlikely victory for the Enlightenment ideal, following decades of both rampant and more insipid relativism in academia - which cast doubt on the very possibility of knowledge - and at a time when, far from valuing knowledge, it often seems that cultural institutions are ‘dumbing down’. The irony is that just as society seems to be embracing the notion that knowledge is all-important, the institutions that have traditionally fostered it - universities - have lost their sense of mission.

This uncertainty is expressed in the attempt to justify universities in terms that have little or nothing to do with knowledge, sometimes discussed as a ‘Third Mission’ (on top of teaching and research). This soul-searching is heartily encouraged by Charles Clarke and his political ilk. Sometimes it is argued that universities should make a direct contribution to the economy - for example, by turning scientific innovations to commercial ends. More generally it is suggested that universities ought to be of some use to society, whether by forging links with local businesses or by reaching out to excluded minorities and fostering social inclusion.

However the Third Mission is defined, what is striking is the idea that the first two ‘missions’ are not enough. In fact teaching and research really constitute a single mission, the pursuit of knowledge. This ideal of the university as an institution in which academics and students dedicate themselves to their disciplines was codified by the German academic and statesman Wilhelm von Humboldt at the beginning of the nineteenth century. The Humboltian ideal rests on the premise that knowledge is valuable in its own terms.

The ideal has not always been honoured in reality, but the stunning revelation that there was never a ‘Golden Age’ of the university is typically used to justify attacks on the very aspiration. It is the collapse of this aspiration that has led to the search for extraneous justifications for the university’s existence.

Worse still, perhaps, is the transformation of knowledge itself into something much more mundane. In this context, even teaching and research themselves are divorced from knowledge in the more profound sense. Along with such worthy-sounding goals as ‘quality’ and ‘inclusivity’, ‘teaching’ and ‘research’ can be justified externally, with reference to social function. The very idea that knowledge justifies itself, with reference only to the reality from which it derives, has all but disappeared.

Tellingly, this instrumental approach to knowledge casts teaching and research as conflicting claims on academics’ time. The idea that teaching and research are in conflict corresponds with a particularly impoverished model of knowledge, which is revealed in the phrase ‘knowledge creation’. This presents universities as factories of knowledge competing with think-tanks and other private institutions.

But knowledge cannot be understood as a commodity, as if it could be manufactured, bought and sold. Knowledge is a synthesis of particular insights and understandings achieved in particular disciplines, and developed and refined over time.

In everyday usage, ‘research’ means the gathering of information. But this is only part of what happens in universities. Indeed, some disciplines involve little or no information-gathering. But ‘research’ has the benefit of sounding like real work, a quality with strong appeal for institutions that are defensive about their claims on public money and their prestige.

This research-heavy, ‘knowledge creation’ model privileges innovation and utility over depth and subtlety. If the academic’s role is constantly to create new knowledge, then teaching will certainly seem like a burden. ‘Run along, pesky students, the professor has to make some new knowledge.’ But this is not a very good model of knowledge. Universities are not like widget factories, or even market research firms. Universities are places where people are paid to think, and it is in this context that the role of teaching should be understood.

The American academic John Agresto asks himself, ‘Why do I never feel I really know something until I’ve taught it?’ (2). This is not to endorse the hippiesque notion that teachers learn as much from their students as their students learn from them. The important point is that teaching means thinking about something in a qualitatively different way. Teachers have to help their students to understand, rather than simply dazzling them with innovative ideas. Teachers themselves have to understand their subjects in a way that pure researchers don’t.

Ironically, universities’ preoccupation with research as a source of authority and funding tends to diminish research itself as well as undervaluing teaching. Apart from the obsession with novelty and the insistence on measurability (judging academics on the numbers of journal articles they have published rather than their actual intellectual achievements), there is a tendency to bring in star academics who will bolster the university’s reputation, leaving their less glamorous colleagues to do the teaching.

Of course, those who only teach will have less to offer their students than those who are immersed in their disciplines. Access to the best minds is what makes a university education special. Academics doubtless get frustrated by demands on their time, but if dealing with students seems a drag, perhaps that in turn has to do with the increasingly rote and uninspiring nature of university teaching that goes along with the instrumentally driven expansion of higher education. If students are bored by pre-prepared handouts and banal study tips, it is not surprising that their teachers feel the same way.

In principle, however, both teaching and research are valuable components of the pursuit of knowledge in its proper sense, and as such they are entirely compatible. Of course, teaching is not the only way to deepen one’s understanding of a subject, and indeed universities are not the only places this can be done. The pursuit of knowledge is not necessarily incompatible with politics. Far from it.

The current one-sided and instrumental relationship between universities and government impoverishes both, but there have been times when political controversies have had philosophical weight, and philosophical and scientific disputes have had a political character. And the potential for such serious thought is always there.

What is at issue is not so much conflicting definitions of knowledge, as intellectual ambition itself. Before you can really value knowledge, you have to be able to imagine a world beyond the everyday, beyond degree courses, career structures, beyond political expediency and the economic bottom line. It is the aspiration to grasp this world, to understand and even to change it, that distinguishes genuine intellectual endeavour from the ephemeral bit-processing of the ‘knowledge economy’.


1) Clarke questions study as ‘adornment’, BBCi, 9 May
2) What is Classical Education and How is it Unique?, by John Agresto

This essay was originally published on spiked.


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Tuesday 25 March 2003

Why is life so unfair?

Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Philosophy, by Susan Neiman

In an effort to take political advantage of the public fear of crime, former British Prime Minister John Major notoriously declared in 1993 that, ‘We should condemn a little more and understand a little less’. Major’s crassness was widely condemned, but the idea that condemnation and understanding are opposites was and is generally accepted.

In fact, condemnation without understanding is meaningless. I condemn somebody’s behaviour not because I don’t understand it, but precisely because I do understand it - I can imagine myself in the same situation, I can see the appeal of their actions, and I know that they knew they were wrong. To understand a crime is not to insist that the criminal had no alternative.

But attributing bad decisions to evil does not solve the problem either. At best it renders it banal, because malice is a trivial thing. Few crimes are characterised by genuinely evil intent. Ridding the world of malice, then, would hardly leave us in paradise. Most crime arises instead from stupidity and laziness, and sometimes not even those. After all, most of the misery in the world doesn’t have anything to do with crime anyway. So what does evil have to do with it?

Neiman’s book goes beyond the consideration of evil as we understand it now, to look at the broader phenomenon that has been discussed for centuries as ‘the problem of evil’. Put in its original, religious terms, why does God allow bad things to happen? Why does He so often seem to punish the virtuous and reward the guilty? Put in more secular terms, why is life so unfair?

Essentially, Neiman divides modern philosophers into those who have looked for either a divine design or a rationally graspable system beyond the often anarchic and unjust appearance of the world, and those who have insisted that things are just as bad as they appear. It is an illuminating way to look at things, and it makes for some odd bedfellows. Leibniz, whose Theodicy was supposed to justify God, finds common ground with the staunch materialist Marx. Meanwhile the sensible-to-a-fault British empiricist David Hume is paired with Shopenhauer, the German miserablist who turned for comfort to eastern mysticism.

Neiman’s first historical case study is the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. This divided Enlightenment Europe, with Voltaire on one side and Rousseau on the other. Rousseau wanted to explain how earthquakes, like other natural events, serve a purpose in the grand scheme of things. For Voltaire, this was an obscene response to a human tragedy.

The idea at stake was not that of a benevolent God, but rather a general sense of Providence. (Unlike Christians, secular Enlightenment thinkers could not simply look forward to justice in the next world.) For most people, the earthquake was a stark indication that nature, at least, was not in on the plan. For the first time, people began to make a distinction between natural and moral evils, with the word evil being reserved for the latter.

This reassuring way of looking at the problem dominated the modern era. It has never been satisfactory, but it was thrown into crisis by the discussion that followed the Nazi holocaust, Neiman’s second historical case study. While Adolf Hitler can be dismissed as evil, the holocaust required the collaboration of thousands of ordinary and apparently decent people. Hannah Arendt’s insights about the ‘banality of evil’ were controversial. If most Nazis were no more guilty than the Jewish Councils that served them, then… Actually, there is no ‘then’. It is just that this thought was unacceptable.

The separation of natural from moral evil depends on the idea that we are responsible for our actions. But what does that mean? To some extent we can make a distinction between intention, for which we are responsible, and consequence, for which we might not be. The horror of the holocaust is that, while there were countless cases of individual vice and wickedness, their consequences were massively disproportionate to the intentions of those who committed them. Without doubt, Nazi officers and bureaucrats were as guilty as hell, but the truth is than in many cases, their intentions were disappointingly banal.

It is not that there is no relationship between motive and outcome. The holocaust was not simply a big mistake; it is rather that people deliberately blinded themselves to what they were doing. More generally, we are usually aware that there is more at stake than what is going on in our own heads. If I am driven to do something virtuous in order to impress a woman, I am nonetheless aware of its virtue. And when I tell myself I am doing something morally dubious in pursuit of a similarly personal goal, I cannot pretend I don’t know that at the very least, it will have broader repercussions.

But all actions have consequences beyond the one that inspires them, and we rarely take full moral possession of those. To hide behind intentions may in many cases be bad faith, but that falls some way short of evil. For this reason many thinkers have considered it immoral even to try to understand the holocaust. This is partly because of the fear of seeming to justify what happened. But the holocaust also added to a suspicion that the world is simply beyond comprehension.

The problem of evil is not simply that the world is not fair. Not only do we not get what we feel we deserve; often there seem to be no rules at all. The world was not designed for us. It was not designed at all. Neiman’s final chapter ‘Homeless’ takes its name from Adorno, who reflected that in the absence of divine design or any other kind of reasonable system, it is impossible for humans to be ‘at home’ in the world.

In a sense, Adorno’s refusal to accept the world is a reflection of Nietzsche’s refusal to accept anything else. Nietzsche went so far as to reject altogether the gap between ought and is, insisting that we should ‘will’ the world as it is, rather than fantasising about how it might be. But we cannot will the holocaust. Neiman cites Dostoyevsky’s Ivan Karamazov, who refuses to accept the torture of one child, even in return for a perfect world. How can the world be perfect if a child has been tortured?

Such posturing might be morally satisfying, but there is something to be said for Nietzsche’s fearless embrace of reality. Commentators of all political persuasions have looked for meaning in the 9/11 attacks. But this is an exercise in fantasy. Those who blame an evil and alien culture and those who invent spurious justifications for the killers are just as deluded as those who saw either a vengeful God or a somehow benevolent Providence at work in the Lisbon earthquake.

You don’t have to abandon the struggle for knowledge altogether to recognise that the world does not always work in the ways we imagine for it. In fact, any serious intellectual endeavour must begin with a commitment to engage with the world as it really is. And if we don’t like it, we must not blame knowledge, but instead look at the possibilities that exist within that reality. As one of Neiman’s less fashionable theodicians once put it, ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it’.


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Saturday 1 March 2003

Judaism and Enlightenment

Adam Sutcliffe

Adam Sutcliffe’s basic argument, that Enlightenment thinkers had a confused attitude to Judaism, is made abundantly (and repeatedly) clear over the course of this scholarly and highly readable book.

Enlightenment thinkers tended to represent Judaism as a uniquely backward and, most importantly, legalistic religion, characterised by petty rules and rituals, and inimical both to the radical Protestant belief in the supremacy of the individual conscience, and to the humanistic emphasis on freedom and reason.

Undoubtedly this is an unsubtle interpretation of Judaism, but Sutcliffe does not bother to refute it. His concern is to show a flaw in the Enlightenment project, and his treatment of Enlightenment attitudes to Judaism is simply a means to this end. The Enlightenment project famously insists on tolerance, but if Enlightenment thinkers saw Judaism as an intolerant religion, how could they tolerate that?

‘Toleration of Judaism thus falls prey to a suppressed paradox: if this religion is intrinsically inimical to any notion of individual intellectual freedom, then how can it be encompassed within the bounds of a toleration that is based on the absolute paramountcy of this ethical value?’

Well, that depends what Sutcliffe means by ‘encompassed within the bounds of a toleration’. Intellectual freedom certainly includes the right to oppose intellectual freedom. This is only a paradox if toleration is taken further to imply validation. It needn’t.

If toleration is to mean any more than ‘not being a rabid bigot’, it must mean a willingness to allow genuinely objectionable ideas and traditions, without actually endorsing them. In contrast to the vapid embrace of everything that characterises contemporary ‘multiculturalism’, it must mean argument in place of censorship, critical engagement rather than indifference. To tolerate something is to object to it in a civilised manner. As Sutcliffe shows, some Enlightenment thinkers failed to do even that, but he also confuses straightforward intellectual hostility with political intolerance.

A more profound paradox explored by Sutcliffe is that Enlightenment thinkers’ intellectual hostility to Judaism coexisted with, indeed was inextricable from, an enduring fascination with the Hebrew tradition, a tradition that of course contributed substantially to the European culture from which the Enlightenment emerged. Indeed, one question not dealt with explicitly in Sutcliffe’s book is whether the Enlightenment can really be said to have transcended its particular history, or whether the aspiration to universalism is inevitably frustrated by its own cultural roots.

This problem was experienced during the Enlightenment as a failure to secularise Judaism. Those aspects of the Hebrew tradition that were admired by Enlightment thinkers seemed inextricable from the superstition and ritual that they despised. They could not account for the persistence of Judaism as a unique tradition. For Sutcliffe, this demonstrates a fundamental flaw in the Enlightenment - it couldn’t assimilate complicated realities into its rationalistic template. But there is an alternative interpretation: what if Judaism really is unique, not in religious or intellectual terms, but in historical terms?

The Marxist historian Abram Leon accounted for the persistence of Judaism by analysing the unique role of the Jews in European society over the centuries. In this account, the mistake made by Enlightenment thinkers was not that they attempted to explain Judaism in secular terms, but simply that they went about it the wrong way, by limiting themselves to the intellectual dimension.

In an important sense, Leon cuts Sutcliffe’s Gordian Knot, but the matter is complicated by something beyond the scope of Sutcliffe’s book. Any contemporary discussion of Judaism and Enlightenment is overshadowed by the suggestion that the Enlightenment led to the Holocaust. It is often argued that the dogmatic rationalism eschewed by Sutliffe is not just mistaken but dangerous, that the hubristic humanism of the Enlightenment led inexorably to the high-tech inhumanity of the gas chambers (and the Gulag).

In his introduction, Sutcliffe cites Adorno and Horkheimer’s argument in Dialectic of Enlightenment:

‘Enlightenment rationalism, they argued, had become self-destructive: having crushed the remnants of myth, uncertainty and individuality that are essential to the human spirit, it had become an instrument of economic domination and cultural deception, from which the mass delusion of antisemitism served as a convenient decoy.’

It is this sentiment, rather than the ‘history of the tension between Judaism and Enlightenment, and the continued anomalousness of Jewish identity in today’s world’ that as Sutcliffe argues, ‘valuably disrupts hasty certainties and offers a potential guard against the seductions of rationalist absolutism.’ It is not the Enlightenment’s failure to assimilate Judaism that undermines its legacy, so much as its disavowal by intellectuals.

As a scholar Sutcliffe is of course entitled to raise doubts about the Enlightenment, but in such a profoundly conservative intellectual climate, his call for modesty resounds beyond the merits of his own argument.


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Therapy Culture: Cultivating Vulnerability in an Uncertain Age

Frank Furedi

Sociologist Frank Furedi’s book exposes the often-bizarre thinking behind the growing practice of counselling.

Following James Nolan’s Therapeutic State (1998), and the work of the late Christopher Lasch, Furedi questions assumptions like the ‘emotional determinism’ that reduces people to puppets of their inner drives, and the value of unearned ‘self-esteem’. On the other hand, Furedi argues, therapists tend to be hostile to strong emotions that imply commitment to others, such as love. The case for therapy, he shows, is dependent upon rendering all personal relations potentially dangerous, while the formal relation of counsellor to client takes precedence.

Furedi illustrates the way that therapeutic values have come to inform political debate, taking the example of Bill Clinton’s claim ‘I feel your pain’ as emblematic of the substitution of counselling for political representation. Like Nolan, Furedi argues that therapeutic language is not merely an idiom, more an invasion of the personal into the public realm. At the same time, he shows, the sanctity of personal life is shattered by the intrusion of professionals who assume privacy must be a cloak for abuse.

Rather than dealing with the intellectual discipline that gave rise to therapeutic ideas, Furedi’s criticism is focused on the effect of their popularisation through measures like Edinburgh Council’s aromatherapy course for the homeless or California’s ‘Self-esteem task-force’. The danger of this ubiquitous development, he shows, is the tendency for the state and the prevailing culture to reinforce dependency in individuals by encouraging claims-making behaviour.


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Experiment: Conversations in art and science

Edited by Bergit Arends and Davina Thackara

There has always been a relationship between art and science, but recently it has become fashionable to try combining the two in a single project. The Wellcome Trust has now published a volume reporting on several such collaborations carried out in the last few years.

The first problem confronting a reviewer is determining the criteria to use in assessing the work. It is a strange volume, neither fish nor fowl. The high production values are those of an art book, while at times it adopts the style and conventions of a scientific paper. Unfortunately the format is difficult for both art and science. Many of the artistic contributions need to be appreciated in performance, which exacerbates the problem. It is possible that both the art and the science are better than they come off in this presentation.

The problem of how to assess the contributions doesn’t end there. Can we apply the traditional standards of either art or of science? In an introductory contribution Jeni Walwin claims that in a transdisciplinary world we are ‘working outside boundaries’ and ‘unleashing moments that may be difficult to define or categorise’ by moving ‘freely outside traditional disciplines and into others, engaging with new experiences and improvising unorthodox combinations of knowledge’. So if we are moving past the boring old world of science and art, off into sciart, then what are the rules? How do we tell what’s worthwhile and what’s not?

The postmodern response might be to denounce my obsession with enforcing borders as a repressive police mentality. But we should distinguish between those boundaries that are worth enforcing and those that are not. I have no truck with immigration controls or the old fashioned deference shown to the rich man in his castle by the poor man at his gate. But intellectual disciplinary boundaries are another thing altogether. They allow us to approach new problems in light of previous experience. These boundaries embody knowledge of relations that exist in between the object of study and the rest of the world. They help us understand the most productive ways of grappling with novel experiences. New disciplines can grow over time, but just sweeping away boundaries isn’t a helpful way to proceed.

In his preface Ken Arnold complicates matters further. He writes that the Wellcome Trust has funded art in order ‘to raise awareness of the historical, ethical, social and cultural aspects of biomedical science’. This is a sad formulation. Where great art is waiting to be born it can usually make use of whatever ulterior agenda comes to hand. But it helps if it is asked to work on a worthwhile theme. ‘Awareness’ does not count.

Faced with the twin challenges of Protestantism and a rising scientific worldview in the 16th and 17th centuries, the Roman Catholic church went on the offensive. Despite fierce religious restrictions, the counter reformation produced some truly great art. There is not much ‘raising awareness’ in Pietro da Cortona’s Glorification of the Reign of Urban VII or Andrea Pozzo’s Triumph of St. Ignatius. The ceilings, and the buildings of which they are part, were designed to shock and awe the viewer, a task at which they still succeed. The humble task of ‘raising awareness’ is symptomatic of science on the defensive. In this respect science should take a leaf from the book of its most implacable foe. If today’s patrons raised their horizons they may find themselves receiving some more inspiring art.

The actual results reported in Experiment are mixed. The contributions show a variety of relationships between science and art. Most commonly in the past the relationship has been one-sided: art using science as a tool, for example to represent perspective. That tradition is represented in Experiment by juggler Sean Gandini’s collaboration with mathematician Norihide Tokushige. They were able to develop new patterns of throws and catches, but as Gandini writes ‘our juggling illustrated ideas and concepts; it did not solve or contribute to mathematical hypotheses or conjectures’.

In Navigating Memories the relationship is reversed, with scientists using art. Jennie Pedley, Laura Camfield and Nigel Foreman used art to help teach disabled young people about time and space. Pupils illustrated scenes from their lives that were then used to create a computer simulation showing the order of life events. The educational challenges here are profound, but the art is of little interest outside of its utilitarian function, differing little from the art of other young people.

In Medusae, a collaboration between siblings Dorothy and Tom Cross, the science and art run parallel rather than together. While Tom studied jellyfish his sister produced exhibits on the life of naturalist and jellyfish breeder Maude Delap (1949-1953). But the connection is sustained as much by Dorothy and Tom’s family relationship as a shared subject matter.

Other projects are more successful at integrating art and science. In Viewing the Instruments, Jane Wildgoose, Philip Parr and Peter Isaacs take as their inspiration a 1725 musical composition by Marin Marais which set to music a poem describing the operation of removing a bladder stone. It is unlikely that the project will fulfil Peter Isaacs’ hope of contributing to resolving the problem of stress in NHS staff. But it should help us reflect on the human relationship between doctor and patient through almost 200 years of medical progress.

Sarah Angliss, GéNIA, Ciaran O’Keeffe, Richard Wiseman and Richard Lord also produced a musical collaboration, Soundless Music. They made use of infrasound, low frequencies at the very edge, or just below, the range of human hearing. Such low frequencies are found in the giant pipes of the world’s largest organs, but are usually not regarded as of serious importance to musical effect. Infrasound is found in the natural world, too. Elephants use it communicate over long distances.

Soundless Music best created a genuine synthesis of science and art. On the one hand they made use of science to generate the sounds used in musical performance. On the other hand it attempted a scientific investigation of the effect on the audience. A wide range of effects have been popularly attributed to infrasound. It has been suggested that the power of ancient religious sites or modern ‘hauntings’ might be explained by infrasound resonances. It has also been speculated that governments are building infrasound beams as crowd control devices or lethal weapons. In fact the soundless music team is right that infrasound is not particularly harmful. Their work may yet contribute to an understanding of more its subtle psychological effects.

The most interesting project in Experiment is How To Live, a collaboration between performance artist Bobby Baker and psychotherapist Richard Hallam. How To Live seeks to compare the ‘scientific’ recommendations of therapy – specifically Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) – with more conventional etiquette training. Baker arranged an awkward social situation, a tea party at which half the guests were served their choice of dessert and the other half were served dry biscuits. The results for two groups were compared, one of which had been exposed to a video on manners while the other had viewed a video produced by Baker explaining a method of coping with emotions based on CBT.

Although not dismissive of therapy, Baker is keen to question its authority. She is right to question its authority in the matter of how to live, so it is understandable that she seeks to question science, asking why we should listen to the men in the white lab coat over anyone else. But then again, the scientific assessment of her experiment showed there was little to distinguish the technique of CBT from general advice on manners. Perhaps science really can take us closer to the truth.

It is telling that the best Experiment is the most critical of science. This reflects the defensive mood that has given rise to the fashion for sciart. Therapy certainly deserves cultural scrutiny. That is what gives How To Live its interest. But is it art, is it science, or something else altogether?


 


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Saturday 1 February 2003

A Distant Shore - (Man Booker Prize 2003)

Caryl Phillips

Thirty years ago Pink Floyd sang ’...hanging on in quiet desperation is the English way’. There is a literary genre that focuses on sadness, disappointment and unfulfilled lives, which is particularly English: I’m thinking of Anita Brookner, Philip Larkin, Morrissey and others. The French have a way of making social isolation sexy, but both approaches have their merits.

In A Distant Shore, Caryl Phillips takes as his starting point the embryonic relationship between Dorothy, a divorcee and recently retired school teacher, and Solomon, her curious African neighbour. Dorothy keeps herself busy by giving private music lessons, while Solomon seems oddly preoccupied with keeping his car clean.

The novel opens with the sentence ‘England has changed’. This is the first of many ambiguities. It suggests a state of the nation novel, but equally it is the familiar refrain of the old and middle aged. The structure of the novel is unusual and caught me by surprise. Parts are narrated by Dorothy and others by Solomon. There are flashbacks, dream sequences, and events told from different viewpoints. Indeed parts one and
two (of five parts), stand independently of each other as something like short stories.

Phillips is known for his big themes of race, displacement and what he has called rootlessness. A Distant Shore is genuinely moving and and affecting in parts, but Dorothy and Solomon do have a spectral quality. Solomon, it turns out, is seeking asylum in England having escaped from a brutal conflict in Africa. Dorothy has found herself cut adrift and living on a housing development in the middle of nowhere (somewhere in the North). More specificity of time and place would have helped to consolidate the characters.

As commentators on our times both Dorothy and Solomon are unreliable; Dorothy because of her fragile emotional state and Solomon because of the traumatic events that have led him to England. Nonetheless, Phillips touches on a diffuse array of ‘issues’: migration, asylum, exile, bereavement, betrayal, the decline of civility, abandonment, homelessness, class, racism and sexual abuse. Perhaps Phillips is saying that increasingly we are becoming atomised.

I think that Phillips conflates the private and the public spheres. It is not possible to legislate away bereavement, relationship breakdown or unhappiness. However we can campaign against immigration controls and the bogus distinction between asylum seekers who need our help and those who don’t. Possibly Phillips is encouraging us to be more compassionate, but the politics of compassion have lead from one humanitarian war to another, and the victim culture often serves the most able advocates rather than those most in need.

That said, I admire Phillips’ humanity and subtlety, he is an important writer who deserves a wide audience.


 


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Notes On A Scandal - (Man Booker Prize 2003)

Zoe Heller

Put the words ‘sex’ and ‘child’ in the same sentence, and you are likely to have even the most bleeding-hearted of liberals baying for blood. So when schoolteacher Sheba Hart embarks on an illicit affair with fifteen-year-old student Steven Connolly, it is only a matter of time before she is hauled before a frenzied media with an insatiable desire to be shocked.

Protecting Sheba from this tabloid hysteria is her friend and fellow teacher Barbara Covett. Unbeknownst to Sheba however, Barbara is recording all of these events in a journal, and it is through these notes that we learn of Sheba’s plight.

In fact, this is a story as much about Barbara as it is about Sheba. Both women are united by their loneliness. Barbara - a spinster in late middle age - has spent her life on the defensive. A jaded teacher, she has long since abandoned what she sees as a naïve and idealistic belief that a teacher can change children’s lives. Instead, school has become a daily battle against both the heaving, anarchic mass of adolescence that makes up the student body, and the petty politics of the staff room. She demonstrates a haughty disdain for those around her that borders on extreme arrogance. She can be very candid about her own failings, yet her character is a curious mix of acute self-awareness and extraordinary naivety when it comes to understanding how others perceive her.

By contrast Sheba appears to have it all. She is younger, more beautiful and of a higher social class than Barbara; and she has a husband and a family that provoke great jealousy in her friend. Yet Sheba can be staggeringly naïve. She has always infantilised herself: she married a much older man, and has never fully taken responsibility for her life. A stale marriage has left her aching desperately for the thrill of any male touch. With Connolly, she behaves like a love-struck teenager, as if she were no older than her boy lover. Her subsequent ostracism leaves her entirely dependent on Barbara.

Heller carefully explores the symbiotic relationship of the two women. Barbara provides the stabilising ‘motherly’ influence that Sheba craves, but also becomes fiercely protective of her own role in the relationship. She cultivates Sheba’s dependence on her, and while she is not being consciously manipulative, it is as if she is seeking to control her friend, to possess her and find in her a partner that is so painfully lacking in her own life.

Heller’s novel is highly readable, and provides for a compassionate but complex portrait of these two desperate women. She deals deftly with issues of class, desire, and social morality; and for this reason, she certainly deserves her place on the Booker shortlist.

 


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The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time - (Man Booker Prize 2003)

Mark Haddon

Mark Haddon, an established children’s author, has written a highly polished and engaging first novel for adults. The story is narrated by a fifteen year old boy with Asperger’s syndrome (similar to autism), who lives with his father in Swindon. On the face of it, we don’t seem to have the ingredients for an exciting story, but the adventure begins when the protagonist discovers his neighbour’s dog murdered and decides to find the killer.

Haddon’s skill is to balance our sympathy for the narrator with our alienation from him. He is a child, vulnerable and afraid and easily provoked, yet at the same time, he can be utterly self absorbed, ignorant of his parents’ frustrations and even cruel. There are no moral judgements because it is impossible to judge someone without any sense of guilt.

Haddon is an acute observer who shows us the perspective of someone who can only understand the most tangible experience - a kind of sensory empiricism. One particularly beautiful description of the sound of an approaching underground train: ‘like two swordsmen fighting’ is an example of how sensory experience is rendered material and real. The boy dislikes metaphor because it is a ‘lie’ to pretend something is actually what it is not. As a result, the his startling descriptions of inanimate objects, human behaviour and common custom show the world in an entirely new light. Clearly, Haddon’s training in clear, accessible language for children gives him an advantageous starting point.

Ultimately, the book regards a world where mathematical formulae seem safer than the irrationality of human behaviour (not something entirely exclusively felt by the mentally ill). The predictable laws of science are far easier to grasp than the passions of people, and hence less frightening. But at the same time, this book affirms for us the importance of such emotions and even if our narrator does not in the end appreciate this, the reader does.

 


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The Taxi Driver’s Daughter - (Man Booker Prize 2003)

Julia Darling

Caris ‘had never really thought about what she didn’t have, about the world outside her street and school’ until her mother was arrested.

The Taxi Driver’s Daughter is about a family who become strangers and resent each other. Each finds their respective retreat. Caris’ sister, Stella, with her books and ironed knickers. Caris wagging school with George and their tree of shoes like one of the installations in the New-Newcastle (‘from coal to art’) with which her father is so taken. Yet even as his wife awaits sentence, Mac admires how ‘the optimistic River Tyne glittered, and the new bridge arched itself in a yawn of delight’.

Darling’s novel is a moving portrayal of a family struggling to co-exist. Their dreams of a better life bump up against one another. Mother and daughter blame Mac. Caris despises everything and everyone. She’s fed up of hearing how the family needs to pull together, ‘to cope’. Her father doesn’t know what to say to her; and her teacher is at a loss, even struggling to convince himself that school will help. Nana Price sleeps in the windowless box room, with all the other abandoned memories and remnants of their dreams.

Darling sympathetically portrays the minutiae of her characters’ experience. If anything, the family as haven grates a little in its eventual surrender to the apparently inevitable. But this is a relatively minor gripe, in that it is also testament to the author’s belief that people are able to deal with the seemingly insurmountable by drawing on each other. Ultimately Darling evokes the aching sadness of mundane lives drifting apart as they tear at each other in their efforts to transcend the ordinary.

 


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Oryx and Crake - (Man Booker Prize 2003)

Margaret Atwood

Reading Margaret Atwood as an adult is like reading CS Lewis as a child. For me, there is something addictive in their style of writing, their command of narrative, and in the detail of the worlds they bring to life. When a Margaret Atwood novel comes into my hands I tend to gobble it up, in the way I would gobble up the Narnia novels when I was a child. But it would be a disservice to both writers to describe them simply as page turners.

Oryx and Crake had me reading past lights out. The split narrative between now and then, which is Atwood’s signature narrative technique, builds up expectation and tension. You know, from the first page that things are askew (aren’t they always in an Atwood novel?).

Snowman, the narrator-hero of the novel, is washed up at zero hour in a post-apocalyptic future, where bio-technology has been used to destroy humanity and Snowman is the last man. The narrative is a challenge of backwards induction: you read to find out how we ended up at the start. This takes skill to write, but also allows the skillful writer to answer the reader’s questions with imaginative labyrinths, narrative red herrings, distracting and informing tangents, emotional cul de sacs, sleight-of-hand clues.

Atwood’s ‘speculative fiction’ (she prefers the term to science fiction) is seductive. The combined force of a characterisation ripe with human idiosyncrasies and a narrative that locks the reader into its intricacies can make you forget what is being said here. Between gasping at momentary beauty in the description of a caterpillar - ‘a luscious, unreal green, like a gumdrop’- and choking at the inventive audacity of the Dungeons and Dragons type Blood and Roses game - one Mona Lisa for a Bergen Belsen - you can become blind to the bleak view of humanity presented.

The world is full of harmless nuts, psychotic geniuses, hopeless radicals, rampant capitalists and cynical dupes. No one has any sense of control (apart from one who is cooking up a hot-bioform with necrotising properties). We are all so far into ourselves and our materially altered, genetically modified world, that we can’t see where we are and what we are doing. Snowman’s jaded genius best pal, the eponymous Crake, decides that humanity is going nowhere fast and it would be better to scrap the blueprint altogether, and so brings about Armageddon. (Snowman continually and willfully misses the point until it is way too late.)

There is the real possibility of reading this novel as a hoorah for the anti-technnology, anti-progress, and anti-humanist lobby. It is too intelligent for that. But the intensity of apathetic, air-locked humanity crying in the wilderness at its own lack of agency is poignant and despicable in equal measure.

 


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Something Might Happen - (Man Booker Prize 2003)

Julie Myerson

Thoughts, like a loud noise that interrupts a silence, can be disturbing. They can shock in their reality and their honesty - and honesty is something we are very scared of. Perhaps this is why Julie Myerson’s book is so difficult to read; not because of the deliberate lack of ‘action’, but because of its sometimes uneasy frankness.

Though this candour does sometimes act to the detriment of the book, on the whole it creates a relationship between the reader and the book’s protagonist Tess, which makes every low and high that more heartfelt. We see what Tess sees, smell what she smells and later on, we feel her guilt. Reading Myerson’s work is almost masochistic; the reader will often experience anger, sadness or a mixture of both, but what makes them carry on is Myerson’s absolute command over language.

Something Might Happen is not a regular whodunnit murder story. Instead, Myerson concentrates on the effect of loss and shock on people in a small sea-side town. With sadness reduced to a melancholy undertone, stress and despair are the dominant emotions on the book’s central characters. This is why Myerson’s work is so special. Instead of a clichéd emotion, Myerson’s concentration on these two feelings create an impression that through loss, humans not only suffer sadness and empathy, but more than ever they need someone they can rely on to help them through grieving. In essence, Myerson appears to believe that in order to make it through difficult times, people need to be more than selfish than ever.

This certainly happens to Tess. When in comfort and happiness, she had the opportunity of caring for her four children, her husband, her osteopathic practice and her best friends. Though she had downs she could always rely on these rocks to stop her falling. But with the murder of Lennie, her best friend, her rocks quickly crumble and she no longer has the luxury of caring for anyone apart from herself.

The atmosphere in the book is used quite unlike many other books. It is not used as a metaphor to represent inward emotions, instead being used in a quite unsettling way. This is because it isn’t anything special. You would expect for example, that a book about death would have atmosphere that is chilling or dismal; but this doesn’t happen. Life around the immediate family and friends goes on, even after a death of a loved one, the sun still shines, the sea air is still crisp, and the British weather is still nothing to write home about. And it’s on this backdrop that their emotions are emphasised, and it’s this unextraordinary atmosphere that makes it so realistic.

Though of minor importance, there are a few points I would like to make. Firstly - and I’m not giving anything away here - the title is a little misleading. Yes, something does eventually happen, but because Myerson doesn’t build up to it, it gives little climactic impact, and adds to a feeling of frustration as so much more could have been done with that event. Though realism is one of the novel’s pros, the length of the book sometimes make it a little laborious to read (which is why it has to be read as quickly as possible). This slow pace is also quite evident because the first third of the book is very fast, making the last part contrasting in its uneventfulness (though this can also be seen as a good point: life is not always eventful, and sometimes people just have to struggle through what could be seen as a never ending low point). Lastly, some of the dialogue between the characters, especially dealing with arguments, can be a little clichéd, and the use of questioning and the ‘I don’t know what to think anymore’ syndrome hinder what are sometimes very powerful moments in the story.

But these are trivial points. Readers should not be put off by Myerson’s untainted openness and realism, but they should also take heed that her conclusion about human nature - especially when faced with extreme stress and bereavement - is by no means uplifting. On the contrary, her belief that we as individuals can rely on no-one to help us when times are really bad reflects the obvious omission of any real hero or heroine. Everyone is tainted by selfishness.


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The Good Doctor - (Man Booker Prize 2003)

Damon Galgut

Any writer hoping to communicate a bleak or sour understanding of post-apartheid South Africa should accept the likelihood of their work being compared to JM Coetzee. It has therefore become an unwritten rule that any review of The Good Doctor by Damon Galgut must contain such a reference. As a comparison it’s hackneyed, but understandable.

The Good Doctor is a more puzzling novel than the usual reference points would suggest. Enthusiastic reviews have labelled it as ‘haunting’, ‘unsettling’, ‘brave’ etc. From a brief glance at the synopsis and general subject matter of the novel this is exactly what you would expect. Who expects to read a novel about South Africa that isn’t unflinchingly honest? However, although there is uneasiness to the plot, it is too vague and almost ethereal to identify with the stark horror that the hype promotes. Whilst there are characters and themes that we can instantly recognise as similar to those in a novel like Disgrace, Galgut has a very different approach to realising his subject.

This is why The Good Doctor is puzzling. All the elements appear to be in place to make it ‘haunting’, complete with a satisfyingly nihilistic ending. Yet Galgut has used this formula and arrived at something that is odd rather than disturbing and has the reader worrying that they are not left feeling suitably shocked. If a comparison will help, imagine Galgut as an aspiring Kazuo Ishiguro at his most maddeningly elusive.

Not that The Good Doctor is uninteresting. As a thriller it is never boring, although this is largely due to the quirkiness of the plot. Galgut settles a cabin fever-like torpor onto his oddball selection of characters and their activities. Sometimes this is effective, but the novel is loaded with red herrings. Dialogue and behaviour that carry signposts reading ‘Ominously Significant’, result in mere isolated incidents. The biggest of these red herrings is the Good Doctor himself. Galgut allows his crazed optimism to build up to such unbearably sinister levels that it is as if the entire novel rests on a crisis that never happens.

Laurence Waters arrives at a rural hospital, full of fanatical enthusiasm to serve a hapless community in a forgotten homeland area. Armed with a youthful ability to believe wholeheartedly in post apartheid South Africa, his progress is observed by fellow doctor Frank Eloff. Frank is the familiar middle-aged, bruised loner who chooses to bury himself in rural exile suffering acutely from intertwining strands of guilt. With the obligatory wretched personal life, he is unable to embrace a new South Africa because he is painfully aware of the hypocrisy that permeates the ideal. Whereas Laurence is young enough to start with a clean slate, Frank remains bitterly apathetic.

The portrayal of Frank is a more skilful and appealing exercise than that of Laurence. His detached understanding of South African society is particularly sensitive when he observes how it affects women. Sometimes this emerges rather obviously, like when he has an affair with a poor woman in the village. Galgut is also capable of a more delicate approach. There is a short passage where Frank looks on impassively as his prosperous, city dwelling father instructs an elderly maid to collect fallen petals from his carpet.

Betty carried the brown, limp leaves from the mantelpiece to the door.
‘Betty!’
‘Master?’
‘You’re dropping petals Betty. All over the place. Please, please…’
And the old lady in the nice blue uniform set the dying flowers down and got to her knees. She started crawling across the floor, picking up bits of flowers as she went.
‘There, Betty,’ my father murmured, pointing patiently, ’…there…another one there…’
While I sipped the sour coffee, hearing the rim of the china cup clink against my teeth.

This short exchange is more affecting and insightful than many of the more blatantly theme-driven incidents in the book.

The Good Doctor is not exactly satisfying as a whole but it is worthy of serious attention. It has an experimental feel and Galgut likes to frustrate and taunt the reader. It is irritating to read endless favourable comparisons because Damon Galgut is far more ambitious than these gushing reviews suggest. It is entirely necessary that people write bravely about South Africa. It is limiting however when a writer like Galgut is judged solely by this criteria.

 

 


 


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The Romantic - (Man Booker Prize 2003)

Barbara Gowdy

Barbara Gowdy has written a fairly straightforward love story. The Romantic - shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize - has Louise Kirk tell the story of her love for and betrayal by both an alcoholic lover and a runaway mother. That conventionality is something, I hate to say it, of a disappointment after the brilliance of The White Bone, in which the central character was a herd of elephants.

The disappearing of that mother (‘Louise knows how to work the washing machine.’), the ravages of hiding coughed up blood in a red towel, and the trauma of abortion are all described in slightly muted tones. What ought - surely? - to sound gut-wrenchingly ripped from a soul coming to terms with its tortures, never quite catches in the throat.

Louise’s love for Abel seems always to be narrated rather than poignantly shown, and his feeble decision to drink himself to death for fear of making any other creature suffer is never questioned. Gowdy intentionally makes her heroine naïve, childish, and in doing so seems to deprive her of really potent feelings. But Abel’s regular betrayals (saying ‘No’ would cause suffering) are palpably felt: ‘on the mat in front of the kitchen sink, I collapse. The phone rings. The sun rises’. The Woolfian numbness is painful.

There is too a laudable attempt to catch everything fresh; the description of a toad’s eyes as ‘glamorous’ seems to me perfect. But too often it doesn’t work, or leads to awkward symbols - blossoms smell like ‘mystery’, All You Need Is Love is playing as Louise loses her virginity, the character replacing her voluble bitchy mother is practically mute because of a botched adenoid operation. How convenient.

I concentrate on these details because Gowdy’s prose is intoxicating, everything is described with just enough left incomplete for it to be whole in your mind, but for all that, the pain never leaps out of the page. We are always in Louise’s head, and not enough in the world to see why her thoughts mean so much to her. What works for describing the eternity of stars and their making love more beautiful does not work for bad sex.

That said, paralleling the blood of Louise’s abortion with that which Abel coughs up is effective, and almost profound. Which is the problem. Almost. The scenes of Louise recovering from Abel’s betrayal are warmly exhilarating, but she never felt like a broken woman, and it’s all just too gentle. There’s a sly nod to postmodernism when she’s paid to read Encyclopaedia Britannica, but that doesn’t sit comfortably in a book that is too much a beautifully told fiction, too little the educative life that is the literary novel it might wish to be. Popular, feelgood. At least the elephants wanted truly to understand.


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The Nick of Time - (Man Booker Prize 2003)

Francis King

Chick and lad novels have made us used to London appearing as the backdrop to the feisty feminist Getting Her Man or the carefree bloke Settling Down. In his latest book, The Nick of Time, Francis King gives us another view of the city. From Gloucester Road to Dalston, he shows a vision of the capital that - in the past few years - has tended to become the preserve of noir crime writers.


Mehmet is a Kosovan, an illegal immigrant living in London. He lives with Meg, an elderly woman and MS sufferer who befriends him in the street. He has an affair with a woman doctor, Marilyn - he comes to her surgery seeking emergency treatment - but he’s also in a relationship with Adrian, a middle-aged, self-made wealthy homosexual man who picks him up in a gay pub. The doom-laden triangle may be a hallowed cliché, but the progress of its dissolution here is horribly fascinating. The stage is set for betrayal - and worse.

King writes without any concessions to human sentimentality or political correctness. Mehmet is quick to bandy accusations of racism whenever he doesn’t get the handout or treat that he demands. He welcomes any chance for a quick dishonest buck, and the threat of violence lurks beneath his self-serving, self-righteous outbursts. Marilyn cannot admit to him that there are areas of her life that she can’t share with him as he is deeply unintellectual, but knows that she’ll always do what he wants. The elderly are not shown as repositories of wisdom but as weak vessels who seem to have learnt little from life. The capital’s homosexual scene is anything but gay - it’s populated by no-hopers lacking the consolations of high-minded Wildean saintly buggery or Ortonesque cheerful cottaging.

Little cruelties or deadenings of the human spirit pop up here and there: the girlfriend of one of Mehmet’s work colleagues is amused by Mehmet’s work stories: the same stories related by her boyfriend bore her; Adrian regards unsuccessful sex as a form of success, like an everlasting mountain-ascent: it would be boring if he reached the summit with nothing to look-up to. Motives are misunderstood, with dire results. The city itself is no tourist brochure, provides no sense of refuge. The misspelt insult, FUCKING CRIPLE, which someone has sprayed onto Meg’s motorised wheelchair, seems like a message of scorn from the capital itself to its own populace.

Francis King takes a splice from the layer-cake of contemporary London life, and shows ingredients that aren’t pleasant. Yet he displays them with clarity, and shows ingredients that aren’t pleasant. Yet he displays them with clarity, and serves up his meal with a light touch instead of preachy gloom that might so easily have been produced by a lesser hand. (A wife’s death is described with powerful spareness: ‘a little whimper, a hand stretched out as though in appeal, and then a clattering lunge across the dining-room table, so that a glass of wine went flying, its contents looking like arterial blood on the white damask.’). But the story doesn’t induce any sense of futility: we realise that King is simply showing aspects of human behaviour which we know have existed all along. The novel is necessary, enlightening and nourishing antidote to the steamy froth that has clogged-up recent literary perceptions of London.


 


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A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Marxists Online
Marx, Engels, Lenin and beyond

New Left Review, international Leftist journal

Mute Magazine, culture and politics after the net

Red Pepper, influenced by socialism, feminisim and environmental politics

Dissent Magazine, US Leftist journal for the clashing of strong opinions

And its counterpart, Commentary, general, yet Jewish

Granta, magazine for new writing

Wikipedia, ze internet encyclopedia

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, all things philosophical


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Contemporary Writers
New writers, new works, databased by the British Council

Pen Pusher
London-based free literary magazine

Story
Celebrate the short story!

Orange Prize
Only the fairer sex need apply

Man Booker Prize
Literary Prize of the Finest Quality

Granta
The up and coming speak

The Bookseller
Infused with news from the world of books

International Pen
Writers around the world campaign for freedom of expression

Serpent’s Tail
Independent publisher for experimental voices

Random House
Fiction from the biggest publisher around

Edinburgh Book Festival
Books books and discussing books galore

Jewish Book Week
Celebrating, discussing and critiquing Jewish Lit


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Marxists Online
Marx, Engels, Lenin and beyond

New Left Review, international Leftist journal

Mute Magazine, culture and politics after the net

Red Pepper, influenced by socialism, feminisim and environmental politics

Dissent Magazine, US Leftist journal for the clashing of strong opinions

And its counterpart, Commentary, general, yet Jewish

Granta, magazine for new writing

Wikipedia, ze internet encyclopedia

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, all things philosophical

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Music scholar Cara Bleiman takes a look at the political potential of music past and present in an essay, striking chords

Sarah Boyes asks What Does Music Mean? in a Battle in Print

Frank Furedi looks at the role of truth in music over recent years

Gramaphone Magazine
Established, incisive classical music magazine

BBC Music
Listen by genre and read all about it!

British Music Information Centre
All about 20th and 21st century music

Classic,net
Heady internet resource for exploring all things classical

Royal College of Music
Events, research, hire a musician

tradmusic.com
Scottish, Irish and World music resource

Music Manifesto
New Labour dumbing down music education

Busk Action
Small group with BIG aims to deregulate busking

Royal Albert Hall
Classical music and shows

English National Opera
Britain’s only full time repertory opera company!

Royal Opera House
Music, ballet, theatre and a very big building

No Music Day
Imagine a day with no music…


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Music scholar Cara Bleiman takes a look at the political potential of music past and present in an essay, striking chords

Sarah Boyes asks What Does Music Mean? in a Battle in Print

Frank Furedi looks at the role of truth in music over recent years

Gramaphone Magazine
Established, incisive classical music magazine

BBC Music
Listen by genre and read all about it!

British Music Information Centre
All about 20th and 21st century music

Classic,net
Heady internet resource for exploring all things classical

Royal College of Music
Events, research, hire a musician

tradmusic.com
Scottish, Irish and World music resource

Music Manifesto
New Labour dumbing down music education

Busk Action
Small group with BIG aims to deregulate busking

Royal Albert Hall
Classical music and shows

English National Opera
Britain’s only full time repertory opera company!

Royal Opera House
Music, ballet, theatre and a very big building

No Music Day
Imagine a day with no music…


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

BBC News
Economist.com
CNN
Guardian ‘comment is free’
Telegraph blogs
Times Online blogs
bookforum.com
Arts & Letters Daily



Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Music scholar Cara Bleiman takes a look at the political potential of music past and present in an essay, striking chords

Sarah Boyes asks What Does Music Mean? in a Battle in Print

Frank Furedi looks at the role of truth in music over recent years

Gramaphone Magazine
Established, incisive classical music magazine

BBC Music
Listen by genre and read all about it!

British Music Information Centre
All about 20th and 21st century music

Classic,net
Heady internet resource for exploring all things classical

Royal College of Music
Events, research, hire a musician

tradmusic.com
Scottish, Irish and World music resource

Music Manifesto
New Labour dumbing down music education

Busk Action
Small group with BIG aims to deregulate busking

Royal Albert Hall
Classical music and shows

English National Opera
Britain’s only full time repertory opera company!

Royal Opera House
Music, ballet, theatre and a very big building

No Music Day
Imagine a day with no music…


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

London and online galleries

National Gallery
Royal Academy of Arts
TATE ONLINE
Serpentine Gallery
V&A Museum
Saatchi Gallery
The world’s interactive art gallery
Eyestorm
The leading online retailer of limited edition contemporary art
Ascot Studios Art Gallery
One of the leading independent art galleries in the UK

Other resources

critical network
Forthcoming Events and Exhibitions
WRITING FROM LIVE ART
A Live Art UK initiative

Art Monthly, taking art apart since 1976

Artangel
pioneering a new way of collaborating with artists and engaging audiences


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Contemporary Writers
New writers, new works, databased by the British Council

Pen Pusher
London-based free literary magazine

Story
Celebrate the short story!

Orange Prize
Only the fairer sex need apply

Man Booker Prize
Literary Prize of the Finest Quality

Granta
The up and coming speak

The Bookseller
Infused with news from the world of books

International Pen
Writers around the world campaign for freedom of expression

Serpent’s Tail
Independent publisher for experimental voices

Random House
Fiction from the biggest publisher around

Edinburgh Book Festival
Books books and discussing books galore

Jewish Book Week
Celebrating, discussing and critiquing Jewish Lit


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

BBC News
Economist.com
CNN
Guardian ‘comment is free’
Telegraph blogs
Times Online blogs
bookforum.com
Arts & Letters Daily



Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Battle of Ideas

Institute of Contemporary Arts

Intelligence Squared

Gresham College

LSE Public Lectures

Fabian Society Events

Exhibitions and Talks at the British Library



Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for this year’s Battle of Ideas festival.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival

Internet Movie Database
IMDB - does exactly what it says on the tin

BFI
British Film Institute’s Finest

BFI’s Sight and Sound
World cinema eating its heart out

They shoot pictures, don’t they?
Dedicated to the art of directing

Barbican Film
Some of the most innovative films in town

ICA Film
Independent, political and art-house gorge-fest

National Media Museum
Not nearly as bad as it sounds

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Music scholar Cara Bleiman takes a look at the political potential of music past and present in an essay, striking chords

Sarah Boyes asks What Does Music Mean? in a Battle in Print

Frank Furedi looks at the role of truth in music over recent years

Gramaphone Magazine
Established, incisive classical music magazine

BBC Music
Listen by genre and read all about it!

British Music Information Centre
All about 20th and 21st century music

Classic,net
Heady internet resource for exploring all things classical

Royal College of Music
Events, research, hire a musician

tradmusic.com
Scottish, Irish and World music resource

Music Manifesto
New Labour dumbing down music education

Busk Action
Small group with BIG aims to deregulate busking

Royal Albert Hall
Classical music and shows

English National Opera
Britain’s only full time repertory opera company!

Royal Opera House
Music, ballet, theatre and a very big building

No Music Day
Imagine a day with no music…


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Music scholar Cara Bleiman takes a look at the political potential of music past and present in an essay, striking chords

Sarah Boyes asks What Does Music Mean? in a Battle in Print

Frank Furedi looks at the role of truth in music over recent years

Gramaphone Magazine
Established, incisive classical music magazine

BBC Music
Listen by genre and read all about it!

British Music Information Centre
All about 20th and 21st century music

Classic,net
Heady internet resource for exploring all things classical

Royal College of Music
Events, research, hire a musician

tradmusic.com
Scottish, Irish and World music resource

Music Manifesto
New Labour dumbing down music education

Busk Action
Small group with BIG aims to deregulate busking

Royal Albert Hall
Classical music and shows

English National Opera
Britain’s only full time repertory opera company!

Royal Opera House
Music, ballet, theatre and a very big building

No Music Day
Imagine a day with no music…


Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Marxists Online
Marx, Engels, Lenin and beyond

New Left Review, international Leftist journal

Mute Magazine, culture and politics after the net

Red Pepper, influenced by socialism, feminisim and environmental politics

Dissent Magazine, US Leftist journal for the clashing of strong opinions

And its counterpart, Commentary, general, yet Jewish

Granta, magazine for new writing

Wikipedia, ze internet encyclopedia

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy Online, all things philosophical

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

Culture Wars in association with the Battles in Print, specially commissioned essays for the Battle of Ideas festival, with 2010’s essays now online.

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

The Times BFI 53rd London Film Festival

Internet Movie Database
IMDB - does exactly what it says on the tin

BFI
British Film Institute’s Finest

BFI’s Sight and Sound
World cinema eating its heart out

They shoot pictures, don’t they?
Dedicated to the art of directing

Barbican Film
Some of the most innovative films in town

ICA Film
Independent, political and art-house gorge-fest

National Media Museum
Not nearly as bad as it sounds

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.

BBC News
Economist.com
CNN
Guardian ‘comment is free’
Telegraph blogs
Times Online blogs
bookforum.com
Arts & Letters Daily



Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

Like what you see? - keep it that way, support Culture Wars online review.


The Stage
Theatreland’s newspaper

Theatre Monkey
What theatregoers tell you that box-office staff do not

National Theatre
What’s on: plays, exhibitions, music

Royal Shakespeare Company
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet

 

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