May 27, 2007

Britishness

In the runup to the recent local elections in Britain, Neil Ascherson wrote a piece in the LRB about how "Britishness" as a self-description is falling out of favour with the British, and how more and more self-identify as "English", or "Scottish", or "Welsh", etc. — there's definitely an air of inevitability about the centre not holding….

Personally, I think the question for me boils down to: if Britain disolves and there's no longer any such thing as a British passport, what passport would I get? What would I want? Unlike most Britons, I really don't feel properly anything more specific than "British": it'd take a lot of chutzpah to claim I'm particularly Scottish (despite my name, ancestry, and the fact that I've actually lived there); I'm definitely not English (London's hardly "England", and un-London England's a place I disliked intensely for the most part); and nothing else really fits the bill either (and what to make of those who think I'm Australian?). It's tempting to riff on Arendt's riffing on Hillel (quoted in another recent LRB): "As Scots we want to fight for independence because 'If I am not for me — who is for me?' As Britons, we want to fight for Britain because 'If I am only for me — who am I?'" In London I often felt more European than British, and definitely more British than Scottish or English — and more Londoner than anything.

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May 20, 2007

Short Shameful Confession

I always thought (and still think) that Frank Zappa was a smug old bastard; his music always seemed too contrived, too hectoring, too knowing, too... 1970's Californian. Very much a music of its time and place, I think.

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May 14, 2007

Snugly Iconic

Botta's SFMOMA building, snugly familiar after all these years just off Mission, so often (as in the Wikipedia article) referred to as "iconic". But for me it's not the Botta that's iconic, it's the beautiful graceful old Pacific Telephone building behind it that's the icon — the museum would be diminished greatly without that pale tall backdrop setting it off in off-centred contrast, growing out of it organically as you get the canonical glimpse of it from Yerba Buena gardens. Iconic's not the word, then, but there's something nicely generous and self-effacing about the way the museum manages to draw attention to its background (or the way the space around Third and Mission works) rather than to itself.

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May 10, 2007

Three Years

Tight Sainthood has been plodding on earnestly now for three years, which seems a long time — I don't have a clue whether I'll keep on for another decade or just another week. I still know of only a handful of regular readers, all of whom I've met at one time or another in real life, but there's definitely a few lurkers Out There.

As with this time last year and the year before, googling for the word "pudenda" is still by far the most common way people get to this site, followed — still! — by "flying car", and now by "woy woy". As with the last time, I still don't really know quite what it all says about Tight Sainthood — not a lot, I'm guessing.

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May 05, 2007

Longer Days

Mars tells me now that Longer Days Mean Shorter Skirts, but all I see is bondage gear in their windows and the usual derros, ancient hippies, and ageing self-important boomers strewn along the begarbaged blocks of Telegraph. In Moe's I buy a cheap remaindered paperback of Adorno's collected essays on music, a rich collection of easy targets. Adorno's writings on music are one of those sprawling guilty pleasures for me: he's so certain of the details (and so often right about the details) that he seems to completely miss the bigger picture. He's a Man On A(n Aesthetic) Mission, and he never lets us forget it — and like reading any literate True Believer, reading him is like entering another universe, something as entertainingly off-kilter in its way as Ben Marcus (an author Our Theodor would Not Approve Of, I'm sure).

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