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I was watcing NEWS 24 yesterday, specifically about the Pope "visiting", as they say, Turkey (as if it were the most natural thing in the world, like popping into Waitrose for some cat litter), where all these Muslims "turned out to protest" his "visit" (ditto, altho of course they NEVER seem to raise a squeak when some bunch of fellow Muslims sits down and plans and then enacts the decapitation of fifty other Muslims inside a holy Mosque in Basra or some equally pious act, car bombing the limbs off Iraqi women and children being rated somewhere down the scale as against a few really bad sub-New Yorker cartoons) (I mean, I don't want to sound like a Daily Mail editorial, but it does rather lessen the impact of protesting about some footnote in theological debate from the 15th century), but anyway, blah blah, just as if to prove that this isn't some angrily reflexive "grass roots" movement (i.e., that most Muslims if they give a hoot what dessicated authors the Pope is quoting this month it's not that much of a hoot, and that this whole thing is the media-savvy middle class Muslim wing), the "demo" that the BBC filmed the "spokesman" from the Turkish "Muslim community" at (altho you only ever see the first couple of rows, don't you, you never seem to get an overhead establishing shot, say, which might actually give some genuine idea of how big - or rather, small - the demo actually is), the first thing you saw was this beautifully written and constructed placard (it looked as if it had been bloody PROOF READ, you know what I'm saying, as opposed to most genuine protest placards, which have that bit at the end where the writing goes a bit scrunched up as you run out of space) which featured the following:

(S. Kierkegaard)

Now, there was much to ponder here.
Of course, the immediate thought was, wow, previous placards I've seen they couldnt spell DICK CHENEY, or SATAN, never mind KIERKEGAARD, what are the odds on that, I don't know these days that I could spell his name right with a gun, so to speak, against my head (I couldnt remember my own telephone number last week when I had to fill out an offical form), that must be the most literate protestor in the world. But I also like the disjunction between the top and bottom lines, somewhat as if someone had sworn, 'Oh, BOLLOCKS!', and some prissy smart aleck friend had added, parenthetically, "You know, 'bollocks' is an old Anglo Saxon word, meaning ..." I mean, did Kierkegaard really say that? It is a long time since I read him, but that REALLY doesnt seem his style somehow, or what I remember of it. Or is it, rather, a hasty summation of a position he once took?

Most of all, tho, you've GOT to like those brackets; although I think it's a shame there wasn't space to get "Soren" on there - it's such a lovely, seldom heard any more, euphonious name. It would have been so easy just to go with YOU SPIT ON JESUS TOMB. (But that quote's niggling at me now. That really doesn't look like Kierkegaard's style. In fact, all round, it makes less and less sense. Does Jesus have a tomb? Is it a figurative tomb then? Is this some point anent Catholicism and its beginnings? (I know Rastas, too, really arent keen, are they, re the Vatican.) Is Kierkegaard big among Muslim theology students in general or just in Turkey?

There was actually another placard, something about Jesus not being the main dude "we" "Christians" big him up as, but merely one more prophet of what's his name, uh, Mohammed, is that it? (My theology, like my algebra, is pretty rusty, and tends to the literalist stumble; you know, I just have such trouble picturing things that don't exist as such, I'm a bit Homer Simpson about it all; it's like, if you want to explain Poincare to me, you'd better line up some different sized chunks of cheeesecake, you know? Altho I would say that two thirds of the unnecessary trouble and bloodshed and hatred in the world seems to stem fromn folks who can't tell - or refuse to concede - the difference between religious text as allegory and religious text as supposed literal truth...)

I do rather like the idea of theology conducted as a street rumble, tho', I have to say; even if it does seem rather hypocritical and alarming and not strictly necessary, all this media huff and puff, satellite links, feeds, digital uploads and so forth, whole camera crews from every nation on earth being picked up in people carriers and sped to airports and then flying around the globe, and then back, in a rush, uploads, downfeeds, all in all increasing their carbon footprints to the size of King Kong, just to "report on" an event that wouldn't take place if they weren't there, in which two lots of stubborn theological throwbacks quote centuries old subtle distinctions about imminence and embodiment at one another. Yeah?

"His soul is rotten," the protestor added, thoughtfully, to Brian Hanrahan.
Geez, now that's personal.
(Although I have to say, this new Pope, something about his face, and its apparently permanent expression of vague distaste, any time I see it I do think of an airless room, somehow, a room that hasnt been opened up to people and laughter and debate for ages now, and has this over scrubbed, slightly mildewy smell...*)

(What if the media just ignored the whole damn for-their-benefit-anyway business of staged protests?

(Although there is actually a real story somewhere here, which is probably that the Church is genuinely worried that the despairing Third World poor which is still its main consumer base, might go over to Islam, in the same way they were tempted by Marxism/Liberation Theology in the 70s... now, that's a story I'd be interested in hearing about; just as the main question any decent BBC reporter ought to have asked here was, who exactly organised this fancy shmancy "protest"... and the two obviously arent unrelated, as every faked-up Muslim street "protest" is actually in the nature of a branding exercise, you know, look, WE CARE, WE REALLY DO... even if what they care about is humorless theological nicety over actual flesh and blood life, especially if that flesh and blood is female, but still, I quibble, we all know that it's only a "minority" that constitutes a humorlessly efficient machine for producing a great big sky high pile of the corpses of martyrs... and that the "Muslim community" is in reality, well, pretty Terry and June when it comes down to it, you know, you couldn't tell most Muslims from a fat Cabinet Minister, yeah, theyre JUST LIKE US... they scratch and fart, and miss Church, and spend Sunday shopping at Argos instead, in fact I dont know what they believe, or why theyre making such a fuss about it, in fact, isnt Tony Blair himself one, him and his black robe wearing wife, they baptise their children with fresh espresso and think muggers should have their ears cut off on the spot don't they? (I'm confused. What's a Lutheran, again?)

Yes, Lisa, they're just like us.
Except that they still read Soren Kierkegaard.
And can quote him**.

Still, whoever put that placard together, you brightened up my day.


*{Talking of humorless Catholics, the other big WHAT THE FUCK moment of the TV week, channel flipping I came across Madonna Live in Concert the other night, and she seemed to be being crucified on a big green neon cross, with great Biblical messages being flashed up behind her. "You're - fucking - kidding - me," I murmured to myself. I used to like Madonna; I really did. What the hell happened? Is she the most humorless non-bearded person in the world now, or what?

The way it looks at the moment, what with the Jesus complex and the grim matter of her obeisance to those Kabbalah Lite rip-off artists (and listen, I know a little bit about the fer-real Kabbalah, and you only have to take a look at these grifters with their £5 bottles of "holy water" and red strings - and where the fuck did that come from anyway? I've been reading about Kabbalah for 15 years and I've yet to come across any reference to sporting red string around your wrist, yea, verily, so that the other celebrities, they know you are trendy too - like I say, one look at them and that scene from The Jerk comes to mind, "This is shit, OK? And THIS is shinola..." "Shit. [PAUSE.] Shinola.")

I cannot but feel that if she persists in this Saint Madonna delusion, obsessing about "spirituality" and hanging out with dodgy redemption franchisers, lying up ahead is some awful Donna Summer type Moment in which Madonna makes some dodgy comment about homosexuality - some 'It's OK as long as you don't actually do the deed, which is an abomination' type comment, you know - and thereby loses 98.9% of her remaining audience.



The other main "news" story of the past 10 days, of course, was the serious matter of giving acres of free - and criticism free - publicity to the new James Bond. It's now become such an accepted practice that it needs an all-channels onslaught like this for you to realise just how much certain sections of most news broadcasts are little more than "advertorials".

My favourite part was the determinedly lo-brow Channel 5 interviewer, who kept wanting to talk to Daniel Craig about - well, about his COCK essentialy (e.g., a scene in which he emerges from the water in some tight lo-cut Speedos), and he has this exasperated look on his face like, 'I thought I was asked on Question Time to talk about Kierkegaard GOD DAMN IT'. Daniel, mate: lighten up. It's not Visconti.

I havent seen the new Bond yet, so I won't comment. But one thing did occur to me. How bad do things have to get before they sack the people responsible for the Bond theme songs? I mean - when the MOST memorable (and that, not very) Bond song in recent memory is Duran Duran, in the 80s, with - uh, "View To A Kill" was it? - things are pretty bad.
(And I only remember that because the video had clips of a then 83 year old Roger Moore doing battle with Grace Jones - doing her one default "acting" expression of Stroppy Amazon Glare - up and down the Eiffel Tower.)

The current Bond theme song, uh... I think it's Joe Cocker or somebody isn't it?
Or the bloke from The Commitments. Or that fat Italian bloke who used to duet with Paul Young in the 80s. Anyhoo, what's in a name, or the fact that you havent had a hit for 14 years. It's someone hairy and sweaty, in a vest, and with a soulful Vietnamese tattoo, with a voice like a football supporter snorting coke through a mouthful of meat pie. This = Authentic Masculine Emotion. Apparently.



BBC3's Pulling.
The first two episodes were fantastic.
I remebered what it was to actually LAUGH - out loud, consistently, over and over again (as per Phoenix Nights, or Father Ted) - at a comedy, as opposed to sitting there with a tight little grin on your face, thinking 'O gosh, this is clever, gosh, this is SO clever...' but not actually laughing, ever, not even once, at most a dry chuckle only one vocal register up from clearing one's throat. (As per Tittybangbang, Lead Balloon, That Mitchell & Webb Look, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Nighty Night, Catherine Tate, and other programmes I can't even call to mind only a few days after I saw them.)

posted by Ian 11/29/2006 05:35:00 AM

The new Bond theme is croaked by Chris Cornell, ex-of Soundgarden, whose big hit, fittingly enough, was entitled "Jesus Christ Pose."
re: mildew

based on face alone (rank unfairness alert) ratzinger really really puts me in mind of an m.r.james priest-of-yore like abbott thomas, who is VERY EVIL EGG and (un)lives on purely to see his bad deeds visited on over-curious victorian antiquarians
i have probably quoted it several times here as well as elsewhere, but casino royale is the ONLY bond book i like, and here is just ONE of the reasons

quote from p.13: "... Bond undressed and took a cold shower. Then he lit his seventieth cigarette of the day..."

the v.cynical arc of the book is thus: bond is an incompetent idiot who is having doubts about this spying game; as a result of the superior capabilities and honour of two SMERSH agents, his commitment to being an unfeeling killer for her majesty is by the end firmed up once more
Was quite a good documentary on BBC4 last week, Andrew Graham Dixon on CASINO ROYALE [the book], and all that went into it - the only half decent link-in to the new movie. Unearthed great bit of historical trivia about how Fleming - working for British secret service during WW2, in some vaguely Graham Greene like capacity - tried to persaude his superiors to enlist Aleister Crowley, no less, to interrogate/debrief the defeated Nazi top line; he figured that because some of the Nazis were Occult-sympatico, they might blab things to the esteemed Crowley that might otherwise go un-blabbed. And then a not-too-disguised Crowley crops up later as one of the Bond villains, with bald head and piercing stare...
meanwhile d.caruso for next bond plz -- with nubondtheme = anyway anyhow anywhere obv

(i realise this places me squarely in the "wits gigglin while world ends" category -- I PLEAD GUILTY)
I have seen it, my younger sister wanted to see it for her birthday. I felt it was mostly about how masculinity is seen by a certain kind of well heeled North Londoner - card games, fast cars, guns etc. Generally speaking this type of man will be an estate agent. There were numerous staring contests during the film - I think this is how men communicate with eachother, they look into eachothers eyes to show them that they could easily have them in a fight. You can see this sort of thing going on in pubs, they never read, they just look at the other men. The compression to make the explosions louder rendered the dialogue unintelligible so you had no idea what was going on throughout the film.
Oh, what a shame! I was actually going to take a flyer and go see it some matinee afternoon ... now I don't know. I liked the idea of this less glibly 'attractive' or assured Bond... but I share your distaste for what a friend, cheesed off by the cheesey sub-zero machismo of Mann's mann's mann's HEAT (& esp. the much-trumpeted De Niro-Pacino face-off), called "dick acting" ...

I tell you what I was surprised by, the other night on BBC3: CATCH ME IF YOU CAN. I was *so* put off by the fizzy clips and Leo-centric publicity that attended its over hyped release... but it's a far darker film than that, especially as regards the broken-link father-son stuff between De Caprio and (yea!) Christopher Walken.
yes, with the Leo film, it's like the sort of film we might have seen as kids on a Sunday - actually a really well acted, involving film. With Bond, it's just too much hard work to watch it in a cinema, just awful pacing - we all expected it to be fun, but it was work really. If you do go, take a torch so you can read - I mean there's stuff in it that you might find interesting certainly, so cheap ticket, slow afternoon, sure.
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