Play All: A Binge-Watcher’s Notebook by Clive James

CJ

Play All is James’ reflection on binge-watching box sets (yes, he says ‘box sets’.  Perhaps he eats ‘fry rice’ while watching).  He differentiates between a television drama in the “old sense” of a network weekly serial which just happens to have been boxed-up (box up?) such as The Good Wife, and a box set drama in the “new sense”, such as Game of Thrones. He adores both and watches 3, 4, 5 episodes of either in one sitting with his daughter. He sees “the main advantage that a long-form tv show has over a movie” as affording “room to search souls”, and explains the addiction : –“very soon…

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The Hitler Club

HitlerClubTree

(by Gary Gumpl and Richard Kleinig) (2007) It’s not easy being a Kraut. Hitler saw to that. He took more than two thousand years of German contributions to the world – legacies from sources such as Beethoven, Bonhoeffer, Brahms, Charlemagne, Marlene Dietrich, Dürer, Einstein, Friedrich, Goethe, Hesse, Hoffmann, Kant, Kleist, Liebniz, Luther, Mann, Mozart, Schiller, Schubert, and yes, Wagner (especially Wagner) – and sullied them, perhaps for ever.  The ‘don’t mention the war’ running joke in that Fawlty Towers episode is closer to the truth than we care to admit. In modern Germany especially, the shadow cast by Nazism is long. Grotesque irony abounded in the Nazis’ world.  For example, Himmler rattled around in a special train…

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How Much I Lied

(Image by Jo Kuehn)

(Image by Jo Kuehn)

THE LIEDER TRADITION Schubert’s Winter Journey – Anatomy of an Obsession by Ian Bostridge (2015) Deborah Humble sings Wagner & Brahms (Adelaide, 11 February 2017) The German lieder tradition sets romantic poetry to music and performs it with raw emotion, usually to a very simple musical accompaniment such as piano or guitar.  It is a broader part of a long line of love songs, from the French troubadours like Villon to the German lieder composers up to and in the nineteenth century, all the way to Tin Pan Alley and the torch songs floating out the windows of the Brill Building.  And beyond – modern pop songs have often…

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Ruskin’s Rocks

February 8, 2017 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | ART, HISTORY, Non-Fiction, WRITING & LITERATURE |
RuskinIn_the_Pass_of_Killiecrankie

John Ruskin (8 February 1819 to 20 January 1900) was one of the last great aesthetes. He was a hugely influential critic and the first Slade Professor of Fine Art.  His best pronouncements come from the near invincible confidence he had in his own taste – later events, such as a barren marriage and a nasty libel suit, destroyed that early assurance.  But he retained the sensible aesthetic view that “Taste is not only a part and an index of morality – it is the ONLY morality.”*                       He took advantage of his…

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1917: The Year That Shook the World

Lenin

Reflections on the Bolshevik Adventure After the reverberations of 1905, the Empire of the Czar was listing and ready to fall uno ictu by 1917. As Carlyle observed in The French Revolution, it is singular how long the rotten will last without rougher than usual handling. When in March a rickety parliamentary democracy was formed and Nicholas II abdicated in favour of brother Michael (length of presumed reign: two days), the most pressing business was not domestic, but foreign, i.e., getting out of the not-so Great War. This order of business left the peasants to stew, the soldiers to simmer and…

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