Friday, 18 January 2019

Come Fly With Me

Some people may think that such an Accomplishment as this, can be of no use to the Owner or his Party, after it has been often Practis'd, and is become Notorious; but they are widely mistaken : Few Lies carry the Inventor's Mark; and the most prostitute Enemy to Truth may spread a thousand without being known for the Author. Besides, as the vilest Writer has his Readers, so the greatest Liar has his Believers; and it often happens, that if a Lie be believ'd for only an Hour, it has done its Work, and there is no further occasion for it. Falsehood flies, and Truth comes limping after it; so that when men come to be undeceiv'd, it is too late, the Jest is over, and the Tale has had its effect : Like a Man who has thought of a good Repartee, when the Discourse is chang'd, or the Company parted : Or, like a Physician who had found an infallible Medicine, after the Patient is dead.

Jonathan Swift, The EXAMINER. Numb. 15.
From Thursday November 2, to Thursday November 9, 1710
Or is it Number 14? Odd.

It is a strange sensation to be reading Plato's Republic during a hyperinflation of pother and mendaciousness: Polemarchus has not hidden behind a sidescreen to shout abuse at Socrates until he goes away; Thrasymachus, angry as he is, has not started bellowing his "the just is nothing other than the advantage of the stronger" incessantly, nor hired a chorus of harpies to accuse Socrates of Trumpy McHitlerFace RacoSexoPronounism, or a battalion of lawyers to keep on impeaching him until they find something to impeach him for.

There seems to be a sense that there is such a thing as reality, and that the truth of it is worth some measured and reasonable enquiry.

A relief, then, to note that Socrates was eventually put to death and that Swift was writing three hundred years ago: the "post-modern" is nothing new and civilisation has survived it until now.

Illustration: Bosch's "Ship of Fools" from five hundred years ago (phew). I cannot find an "Aeroplane of Fools" though the Falsehoods must be whizzing about somehow.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Oh Geneva

Off on a little trip to Geneva

where the famous Jet d'Eau jets (from here) when it's jetting

 for a conference at the UN: my part being bag-carrier, soother of nerves and Z-List delegate. Remarkably easy to get lost and no decent coffee.

The Musée Barbier-Mueller
is a serence and beautiful place

while the Centre d'Art Contemporain / MOMCA features... well, a view out of a window is an experience as engaging as any other.

Monday, 3 September 2018

Story of My Life

Life at the moment, anyway. From the excellent Oglaf.

Self-Improvement, meet Torpor and The Great Inane.

Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Positive Twitter Day

Friday 31st August.


Not sure what the problem is. The nasty woman is still complaining interminably about 'immigration' at Mr Patel in the corner shop; the troupes of suburban malcontents are still trooping to Trafalgar Square with their timed-out placards and some new ones; the grouchy old loser has not left off grouching in the snug: Ingrowing Stupidity is not a new condition.

Not an absolutely positive view but this is not Friday or Twitter.

Thursday, 23 August 2018

What Price a T-34?

₽433,000 to you, sir...

...all right guv, ₽170,000 to get it off the forecourt and I'm robbing m'self.

The production cost of the T-34 tank 1940-45 listed here.

The Russians continually cut cost out of production, assessing for instance the life expectancy of tanks in service to plan the durability of new units. An apocryphal story has German factory inspectors sending a new Tiger back to the workshop to get a blemish in the paint job fixed.

from the Tiger Manualexpensive, very.

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Art For The Sake Of... What

To ordinary workaday folk the average Guardian article may seem remote from their concerns; tosh even (picture: Evgeni Zubko)

Helen Gørrill in the Guardian, on women artists not getting snarfed up wholesale by the Tate:
Today, when men’s artwork is signed, it goes up in value; conversely when work by women is signed, it goes down in value, and the addition of a woman’s signature can devalue artwork to the extent that female artists are more likely to leave their work unsigned.
Does anyone buy unsigned work, at all? And how would a suitably artsy signature give away the artist's sex? Intriguing.
Hysteria, the female-specific Victorian malady, has returned to the UK, with women accused of being mad and out of control if they don’t conform to gallerists’ often unreasonable demands.
Will she go on to give examples of the alleged "often unreasonable demands"? Nope, just have to take that as given.
We cringe at the voices of famous male artists and critics declaring their disdain for artists who happen to have been born female: women can’t paint! There’s no such thing as a great woman artist!
In the relentlessly PC world of the Arts, such a declaration would surely be instant professional death. Who then is doing the disdainful chorusing?
And Tate appears to align with these views by collecting only a token proportion of work by women, who form the 74% majority of our fine art graduates... its allocation of annual budget is even worse, with as little as 13% spent on works by female artists.
Oh my! How can that be?
Tate fails to mention gender or equality in its collection policy, seeking only to collect works of art of outstanding quality as well as works of distinctive aesthetic character or importance.
Aha. So what should an art gallery be about?
Tate should make urgent efforts to reflect the diversity of the population in its collections and allow female graduates the same life chances as men.
Never mind the quality, feel the quotas, o Welfare Galleries!
Tate’s support of the activist art collective Guerrilla Girls is a clever tactic that gives the illusion of equality, yet politically correct press releases from the likes of Tate championing female artists could actually be doing more harm than good.
b b b b but
It could be argued that museums raise the question of whether female artists are worthy of collection at all, because no similar promotional material or articles discuss the worthiness of male artists.
Can't live with 'em, can't live without 'em. Can't win any ways no how no sir.

74% of fine art graduates are women?

Tuesday, 7 August 2018

End of Empire

Yuri Maltsev, at the Soviet Bank for Foreign Trade in the mid 80s:
I had a secretary, Lena, a very nice young woman, an ex-student at Moscow University, and I saw her picking up paperclips putting into her purse. And I said, "Lena, why do you steal State property in such a strange form, paperclips?" And she went ballistic on me, she said, "Yuri! What else can I take from this" - she used a very bad word - "office? Well, show me, I'll take that. Nothing, nothing! Paperclips, nails picture, nothing!" And I was walking back home thinking, if the youngest and the brightest are going to work only to steal something there, that's the end of this economy and this experiment [30:32].
Maltsev is very funny and very scathing about the Soviet 'experiment' and on the world since and now.

Alas, watching his lectures has triggered me to buy three books so far from Amazon clicketty click click. I am arsing around on sabbatical studying at the mo, and the faster the money flows out the sooner I will have to go back to seeking an honest day's work for an honest crust, paperclips not included.