DAY 51 – Dog Days

July 18th, 2013 § 0 comments

Or midsummer madness, or ‘la canicule’, as we say in France. Hundreds of bathers are overcome by the heat and hospital staff have naturally taken July off. The weather situation in these parts is, as the mercury climbs, inducing a kind of collective mania; at the wrong time since Bad Pharma has slapped huge hikes on the price of psychotropic drugs. It may be also, I’m informed, that the freak heat is inducing rapid growth in the crop of marijuana

backyardwhich Londoners grow in their backyards and driving down the price of skunk – you can smell it in the air, outside the overheated pubs of Camden Town, under the Ramadan moon, and it induces a sense of unease. My own symptoms include constantly starting off for the library, but ending up in the park with about 10,000 other people; or in Friends House planning to stop the September arms fair in Docklands (at the Excel);

staf-320x276Be there on September 8th!

or celebrating the first British male Wimbledon victory since Agincourt, when the French made the mistake of derisively sending us tennis balls. (Surely Scotland competed separately at that time?). Scientifically minded friends have drawn my attention to the fact that Andy’s victory place on the anniversary of the Roswell incident – thinking perhaps that our homegrown champion could never have defeated the world No. 1 in straight sets without alien intervention.

Random passers-by seem to be repeating ‘Golf Lima Foxtrot’ to themselves as they walk down the hill. The word ‘meltdown’ comes to mind. Quote of the week (copied from the LRB‘s article on banking) comes from the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards – who said of HBOS, in their report ‘An Accident Waiting to Happen’:

‘Judging by the comments of some former Board members, membership of the Board of HBOS appears to have been a positive experience for many participants. We are shocked and surprised that, even after the ship has run aground, so many of those who were on the bridge still seem so keen to congratulate themselves on their collective navigational skills.’

May I have such positive experiences, such skills.

Even when I finally reach the library, an insane coincidence drives me to a seat where I catch sight of a text called ‘Anime and Philosophy’. Who can resist that?

5animephilYou can imagine the kind of thing – intoxicating pictures of girl warriors interspersed with endless references to Lacan, Zizek, Heidegger and of course Donna Haraway. Who I feel (but that may just reflect my reading) must be the most cited author ever, even if half her citations are inserted by robots. But you have to read the book to justify your high-minded disdain, and there’s another afternoon wasted.

Talking of robots, I had occasion to call Sky TV about a technical problem (don’t get all puritanical about dealing with the Murdoch clan, I have family reasons). After a tetchy conversation with a lady in Sheffield, they texted me to ask if I would report on my experience. This led to an exchange of texts in which Sky’s contribution was limited to ‘Thankyou for responding to our survey…’. Pointless to say (as I did) that I hadn’t responded, that they hadn’t asked questions, that if they had I’d have said their service was non-existent. I just got the same reply. Finally I texted ‘Are you a robot?’ Sky, naturally, answered ‘Thankyou for responding to our survey…’. They didn’t realize that they had comprehensively failed the Turing test, and you can’t tell them that.

The good news is that the European Union has announced that starting in 2014 it’s going to ban funding and cooperation with Israeli institutions based in the occupied territories. The move is being described as a political earthquake in Israel, and officials have said it threatens future peace talks. (For details, and commentary see here.)

The bad news is that dozens of settlers from Kiryat Arba invaded the land and gardens of the Jaber family – Atta, Rudina and their three children – in al-Baqaa, near Hebron. Accompanied by the Israeli police and led by Malachi Levinger, the son of the violent settlement pioneer Moshe Levinger who himself has been implicated in many attacks on families in the al-Baqaa area, they uprooted his plants and replaced them with their own.

I could forward any number of analyses of the coup, or ‘coup’, in Egypt, many of which contradict each other – but you’d only end up as confused as I am, and it wouldn’t be kind. This blog aims to induce in its readers a spirit of certainty, commitment, desperation at the barricades, pessimism of the intellect and optimism of the will, not dithering and questioning. Anyway, the most recent news is a mathematical proof that you can’t get more than 632,000 protesters into Tahrir square, so figures in the millions – if you’ve seen them – are illusory. This by itself doesn’t settle anything, well, not for me.

It might be better to focus on the concept of illusion, or maya; on which we have the following words by Tagore. (Sorry to include him again, but this one appeals.)

‘On the Doctrine of Maya’

Joyless country, in tattered decrepitude dressed,

burdened by your own sagacity, you think

that God’s deception has been caught red-handed

by your too-clever discriminating gaze.

With a wit as sharp as a needle of kush-grass,

unemployed, you sit at home night and day,

convinced that this earth, this universe,

planets and stars in the firmament are fakes.

Birds and beasts, creatures of many species,

bereft of fear, have breathed here for ages.

To them this created world is a mother’s lap

but you, old dotard, have faith in nothing! And  this

cosmic concourse, fairground of millions, billions

of living things is to you child’s play.


Also in some way suited to the weather – the Flower Duet from Lakmé. (I don’t know how 50 shades of grey brought someone to the site; can someone help me?)

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