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Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Arnold Bennett (and the new Blogger)

To quote Garth Algar "we fear change" I can't say that I spend a whole lot of time on Blogger but I don't really see a whole of point in change for changes sake. I guess that the worst thing for an internet entity like Google is stagnation. hey ho. The second plaque on the facade of Chiltern Court behind Baker Street tube is to Arnold Bennett (1867-1931) an author that im not over familiar with. He certainly doesnt chime with my conciousness in the same way that H.G.Wells does I guess because his tales of Edwardian life are by necessity dated in a way that Wells' nightmare tales of possible futures aren't. Its odd thinking of such recent literature being redundant - I guess its a reflection of the huge pace of change that has enveloped society over the last century in particular the post-war world. Maybe thats the definition of great literature - work that transcends the temporary circumstances of society and engages directly with the reader. I've said in the past that Dickens is my favourite author (debatable but still...) and I think that though his stories are obviously set in a victorian world they do transcend that chronology in a way that I'm not sure that many authors do. I guess for a slightly previous era Jane Austen also qualifies. Interestingly Bennett's tour of America in 1911 was greeted with the kind of acclaim not seen since Dickens' tours. Bennett's legacy is mixed having only recently being rescued from accusations of traditionalism and commercialism - again Dickens' chap book publishing were huge sellers utilising the cliffhanger device beloved of serial publishers to this day. Theres a kind of snobbery there that i dont really like - the idea that simply because something sells, because that its popular that its devalued. Art is meant to be devoured otherwise its masturbation - an act of self-absorbtion that I sometimes see in my bloggage - hmm the perils of over-thinking....

Sunday, 15 April 2012

H.G.Wells (1866-1946)

One of the first plaques spotted last week was just outside Baker Street tube - dedeicated to H.G.Wells who I guess is best remembered for The War of the Worlds (most lately desecrated in the Tom Cruise vehicle and Independence Day) I dont think that theres a more influential novel.
Wells along with Jules Verne pretty much came up with Science Fiction maybe as a logical progression from the scientific advances of the nineteenth century and and an extension of Darwins thinking of humanity as a superevolved ape and therefore admitting of the possibility that not only that were not the only inhabited planet but that there may be other worlds out there with more advanced inhabitants than us particularly given mans everpresent propensity for self-destruction.
Science Fiction has of course grown into a huge an ever expanding oeuvre over the last century but Wells stories and the ideas behind them are still up there with the best of them. His protagonists are jaundiced, flawed, human - The Time Machine, The Shape of Things to Come, War in the Air, The First Men in the Moon, The Invisible Man ideas expanded upon, build on but Wells prescient ideas nonetheless.
A lot of his ideas have (sometimes sadly) come true since he wrote of them - he posited the growth of air power, the atomic bomb, the growth of fascism.
He was a committed socialist advocating a single world state and promoted the idea of a world encyclopedia to be updated by the worlds prominent authorities - take that Wikipedia. He did write books of social commentary - Tono Bungay a satire about the advertising industry (1909)stands out.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Orbital Live@Cambridge 09-04-2012

Orbital - 9.4.2012

Well an action packed weekend means that Im still recovering, gone are the days when I could party all night and turn up for work in the morning. I'm going to forego the Saturday trip into London and its attendant blue plaque spotting in favour of the Monday night trip into town to see the magnificent Orbital at the Corn Exchange.
I cant and dont want to think about how many times Ive seen the brothers Hartnoll over the years - including "that" Saturday night set at Glastonbury 1994.
Plenty of new stuff - all electro tweaks and pops fit right in alongside old friends like Halcyon and Chime. Incredible visuals and a sound system to rattle your fillings completed the night.
It was Ms first Orbital experience and needless to say she wasnt impressed. While we share many things but musical taste isnt one of them - still she give it a try. I have to say that I wouldnt give most of what she enjoys the time of day.
Sadly I dont think that festivals will feature on this years itinarary. I'd like to give Latitude a go and I think M would maybe like the wide range of arts on show - as I say I have minimal faith on her musical taste but at Latitude theres a wider spread of stuff that your average music festival - comedy, poetry, art, theatre and its relatively local - its also £175. Hey ho. No Glasto this year and I have to say that i think that my Glasto years are gone. My last one was 2000 - time to leave it to the youngsters I think!!

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Same old same old

Hopefully we're off dahn ver smoke at the Easter weekend so should be able to shed some light on a blue plaque or two - failing that it'll be a wander around town and possibly photo a couple of the local plaques.
M is recovering from a carpal tunnel operation on her right hand - shes got a few weeks and then its in for her left hand. Fortunately the little RSI I had a couple of years ago has disappeared after work got me an ergonomic mouse (which cost a small fortune but when it comes to health....)Ms Uni has delayed and delayed doing a damn thing to alleviate her symptoms so to be honest Ive no problems with her extended absence from week - shes got a sick note for 4 weeks.
If we go into Cambridge i think that well try and stop by the Fitzwilliam Museum - were absurdly lucky to have such a great museum for such a small town (and Cambridge is really only a town)- the French impressionists have been rehoused and I want to see my most favourite painting in the whole world in its new home - Seurats The Rue St Vincent Paris in Spring. Mind you if we go to London we could check out the Turner room at the Tate (rather more to my taste than the heavily hyped Damian Hurst in the Tate Modern.) I think if I get my way we'll do an explore St John's Wood day - The next walk in the Andrew Duncan book id Tottenham Court Road to Trafalgar Square - a short one but filled with interest.