Wednesday, May 30, 2007

More Günter Grass, Alas

Günter Grass writing in the New Yorker to justify his Nazi past, puts part of the blame on his father for having audible sex with young Günter's mother:

The hatred of a mother’s boy for his father, the subliminal battleground that determined the course of Greek tragedies and has been so eloquently updated by Dr. Freud and his disciples, was thus, if not the primary cause, then at least one of the factors in my push to leave home, Grass writes with his customary restraint.

Later, he recalls how he rejoiced at the removal of an heroic pacifist, with whom he served, to the concentration camps, on grounds that the presence of the pacifist made life more difficult for him.

This early pattern - blaming the blameless for his inner disgust at himself - became the trademark feature of the wretched Grass' subsequent career, as he lost no opportunity to castigate capitalism, Chritianity and democracy. The fact that space continues to be given to Grass to justify his deplorable convictions - at ludicrous length- is disgusting.

How I Spent the War, by Günter Grass: The New Yorker

Hero von Esens: Former Waffen-SS Man Has Book To Sell

King Edward of Estonia: A Missed Opportunity

The most important news today is revealed in the Daily Telegraph where it is tucked away in a feature on historian Simon Sebag Montefiore.

It appears that when he was in Grozny just before the Russian invasion, royalists asked him to offer Prince Edward the Estonian throne.

"It was treated as a jokey news story," says Sebag Montefiore ("a cross between Woody Allen and Biggles"), "but I think it was a missed opportunity."l

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

RIP: No More Immendorff

News trickles through to Esens of the timely death of Professor Jörg Immendorff, left-wing polemicist, Professor and sometime painter, scourge of the bourgeoisie and so forth. He died yesterday, a few weeks before his 62nd birthday.

This can only be seen as the action of a merciful God. Immendorff had been suffering an incurable disease for some years now, the effects of which were distressing in the extreme.

The Professor, always a party animal, persisted in indulging in coke 'n tarts orgies - most unsuitable for a man of his age and distinction, and incompatible with the socialist principles he clung to all his life. No longer able to paint, he entrusted his assistants with the labour of executing his visions. It was no kind of life for a socialist firebrand. The good news is that his pretty young widow will enjoy a state-sponsored pension until the end of her days.
Here's the blog's entry for his 60th birthday.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Dutch PM Wants Less EU

Prime Minister Balkenende of Holland (which last year decisively rejected the EU's proposed constitution) wants to limit the role and expansion of the EU saying the supranational body has moved too fast for a lot of voters.

In advocating a stronger role for national governments (allowing them to veto EU Commission proposals) aiming to curb the "growth by stealth" of the EU's unelected bodies, Balkenende is suggesting some commonsensical measures.

These may inject some democratic principles back into an EU whose more enthusiastic proponents are now dangerously isolated and insulated from the real world. Then again, they may not, if the weird, nakedly anti-democratic pronouncements of the Luxembourg PM are anything to go by.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Why Modern Novels Are Boring and Worthy

Julian Gough, writing in this month's Prospect, argues that the modern literary novel is boring and worthy partly because it's been professionalised, partly because these days the tragic is valued more than the comic. He says modern novelists should look to the "new" media and to TV cartoons like the Simpsons for their inspiration.

Link to Gough's article:
Essays: 'Divine comedy' by Julian Gough | Prospect Magazine May 2007 issue 134

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Words of Wisdom (4): Jenny McCartney

Jenny McCartney on the apotheosis of Ian Paisley and Martin McGuinness as, respectively, First Minister and Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland:

"... Although I am certainly grateful that Mr Mc Guinness is no longer an active murderer and Mr Paisley no longer an active sectarian bigot, I cannot pretend that my heart soars to see them as joint leaders of the new Northern Ireland. They have abandoned their intransigence at the precise moment at which its shedding will deliver them the greatest political rewards."

(Jenny McCartney writing in today's Sunday Telegraph)

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

NATO vs Taliban in Afghanistan - One-Sided War

Mark Steyn, writing in the Western Standard, revisits the difference between NATO countries willing to do "peacekeeping duties" and those who are willing to fight.

The latter group, he notes, is a lot smaller than the first, and in Afghanistan is composed of the English-speaking countries plus Holland.

Fighting against the Taliban is being done by soldiers from US, UK, Oz, Canada and the Netherlands. (In noting this, Steyn remarks that Holland "isn't officially an English-speaking country but speaks better English than most of the ones that are.") The photocopiers up north, he mocks, are manned by two dozen other NATO countries.

Even so, the fighting soldiers are hampered by bizarrely over-sensitive rules of engagement - aimed at minimising civilian casualties - which, claims Steyn, allow them to target only specifically-named Taliban fighters. This results in a one-sided war which is near-impossible for the NATO soldiers to win.

Link to article: Western Standard