DAY 70 Hey, you!

January 15th, 2014 § 1 comment

I’m disturbed by the fact a) that the term ‘Day’ in the headings has shifted from caps to lower case. When did this happen? b) that due to all the messing around with decimals, day 70 got missed. This is an attempt to make up, although as usual with such attempts, it will probably leave things in a worse mess than they were before.


The ‘Bethlehem Unwrapped’ celebration at St James Piccadilly (see post 73) came to a rousing conclusion with music by, among others, Tallis, Bach and Nigel Kennedykennedy

Afterwards, there was dancing, and the temporary replica of the separation wall which had been quickly erected in front of the church was as quickly pulled down. If only.While elsewhere, at Nabi Saleh, where there are constant demonstrations against the occupation, things took a seasonal turn (see video).

A few days later, feeling that I’d spent too long around the posher areas of London I dropped in on the impressive vigil for Mark Duggan

_72221918_72221917Doves released at the vigil

outside Tottenham police station; I hadn’t realized how many black people have died at the hands of the police over the last twenty seanrigg

Sean Rigg, died under police restraint at the entrance of Brixton police station, August 2008

years – (Roger Sylvester 1999, Sean Rigg 2008, and so on) or how often the IPCC, or the courts, have been shown to have arrived at perverse conclusions based on falsified evidence.

I was discussing some of these questions in the pub later, and naturally conversation shifted to the classic passage in Althusser’s ‘Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses’ which brings in the police, ideology, the state, and much else. I’ll reproduce it:

“I shall then suggest that ideology ‘acts’ or ‘functions’ in such a way that it ‘recruits’ subjects among the individuals (it recruits them all), or ‘transforms’ the individuals into subjects (it transforms them all) by that very precise operation which I have called interpellation or hailing, and which can be imagined along the lines of the most commonplace everyday police (or other) hailing: ‘Hey, you there!’

Assuming that the theoretical scene I have imagined takes place in the street, the hailed individual will turn round. By this mere one-hundred-and-eighty-degree physical conversion, he becomes a subject. Why? Because he has recognized that the hail was ‘really’ addressed to him, and that ‘it was really him who was hailed’ (and not someone else).”dreyfus

Interpellation by Inspector Clouseau

What a genius that man (I mean Althusser, not the subject) was! Apart from the number of uses of scare quotes, in which he must have been something of a pioneer. (Although ‘Hey, you there!’ doesn’t count.) I was arguing with my friends about this text, it was about forty years since we’d read it and I lost a bet by claiming that it wasn’t about the police – which it clearly was. At which point the police turned up, as if to prove the point; interpellated us all as subjects,  turned us through one-hundred-and-eighty degrees, and accused us of various felonies and misdemeanours. We tried to point out that no one believes a word the police says any more, but the commander (a man called D.C.Pilate) simply replied ‘What is truth?’

Which makes you think. In the sleepless hours of the night, having given up on Althusser (too exciting). I started worrying about Popper and falsification, having seen in the LRB (did you?) that the late Norman Mailer mailerABclaimed he would never get a Nobel Prize because he’d stabbed his wife. How would you go about falsifying that? He didn’t get it, but post hoc ain’t necessarily propter hoc, Norman. It’s too late for the Swedes to do a one-hundred-and-eighty degree turn (another) and give him a prize,but they can still pick some genius – of either sex, or gender – who has stabbed his/her partner, and award them the appropriate one. Too late for Althusser, and there’s no Nobel Prize for philosophy anyway; while most winners of the economics prize are criminals on a far grander scale than mere murder. I’m thinking of scientists, since if a scientist has done something really cool, surely they should get the prize whatever they’ve done. (Gesualdo, ‘composer and murderer’, comes to mind, and indeed Caravaggio – see previous posts.) Let’s suppose, then, that Stephen Hawking –

Don’t go there.

Poetry Corner

I can’t think how I came to leave out the Rumanian poet Ovid, who spent his last four years in exile in exile in Constanța. There’s a statue to him there, but he would hardly have appreciated it, having spent much of his time in Rumania (exiled for writing rude books) complaining about everything – the weather, the people, the food. But poets are born whingers.

Hunc quoque de Getico, nostri studiose, libellum 
litore praemissis quattuor adde meis. 
hie quoque tails erit, qualis fortuna poetae : 
invenies toto carmine dulce nihil. 
flebilis ut noster status est, ita flebile carmen, 
materiae scripto conveniente suae. 
integer et laetus laeta et iuvenalia lusi : 
illa tamen nunc me composuisse piget. 
ut cecidi, subiti perago praeconia casus, 
sumque argumenti conditor ipse mei. 
utque iacens ripa deflere Caystrius ales 
dicitur ore suam deficiente necem, 
sic ego, Sarmaticas longe proiectus in oras, 
efficio tacitum ne mihi funus eat. 
delicias siquis lascivaque carmina quaerit, 
praemoneo, non est scripta quod ista legat. 
aptior huic Callus blandique Propertius oris, 
aptior, ingenium come, Tibullus erit. 
atque utinam numero non nos essemus in isto ! 
ei mihi, cur umquam Musa iocata mea est ?


Add this book also to the four I have already sent, 
my devoted friend, from the Getic shore. This too 
will be like the poet's fortunes : in the whole course 
of the song you will find no gladness. Mournful 
is my state, mournful therefore is my song, for the 
work is suited to its theme. Unhurt and happy 
with themes of happiness and youth I played (yet 
now I regret that I composed that verse) ; since I 
have fallen I act as herald of my sudden fall, and I 
myself provide the theme of which I write. As the 
bird of Cayster is said to lie upon the bank and 
bemoan its own death with weakening note, so I, 
cast far away upon the Sarmatian shores, take heed 
that my funeral rites pass not off in silence.
If any seeks the amusement of wanton verse, I 
forewarn him, there is no warrant for reading such 
verse as this. Gallus will be better suited for such 
a one, or Propertius of the alluring lips, better that 
winning genius Tibullus. And would I were not 
counted among them ! Alas ! why did my Muse
ever jest ?

Why indeed… And, if Ovid had escaped from Rumania and asked for
asylum in Britain, which was not yet part of the Roman Empire,
what would the Home Secretary’s response have been?

Music fragment
The St James’ concert I mentioned at the beginning was opened by the Tallis Scholars performing Tallis’ Lamentations, which I can’t find. So here they are singing Palestrina’s Nunc Dimittis. I expect to be inundated by complaints
about the substitution, but it’s better than Rumanian accordion music,
which is currently inundating my neighbourhood.

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