Skip to main content

The Slightly Deceived?

I've just received my copy of Faber's Philip Larkin "lost recordings", The Sunday Sessions. It was a necessary purchase - after all, Larkin, for better and worse - is the face of non-modernist British poetry post-1945 - and is also one of the English language's greatest coiner of phrases. He's not a poet you just ignore, even if (as I do) you disagree with some or all of what he thinks about poetry. Still, I disagree with Pound often - but enjoy some of his poetry.

Larkin's also something of a closet modernist himself (if one notes how much he drew on Yeats, Auden, Eliot and others). Anyway, imagine my surprise when I played the CD, and found that it was less than 46 minutes long (45 minutes, 20 seconds to be exact).

The back of the attractive CD promises "Running time approx. 1 hour". Maybe in a Bangkok massage parlour, - but for this listener, "approx. 1 hour" should be approximately 60 minutes, give or take one or three. The back cover gets other things wrong, not even mentioning the fact some poems are from The Less Deceived - though many are. So many of Larkin's great poems are here, I am glad to have 45 minutes of him: "An Arundel Tomb", "Days", "Mr. Bleaney", "The Whitsun Weddings", "Church Going" and "Toads".

Few other poets have so many fun poems. Of course, for those who want poems to always resist commodification, he's crap - but more and more I cannot really imagine a world beyond reification that is based on this planet (as much as I would like) - and I am not sure poems, and poets, need to always strap-on their spaceage helmets to blast off above the planetary; sometimes, the empirical world is enough. The danger is in claiming that one's chosen limits are the limits of the world - a mistake Larkin may have made.

As for the recording itself, Larkin sounds a little distracted, or tired - hardly upbeat, anyway. It sounds precisely like someone reading on Sundays, after lunch, in Hull - liquid lunches? Still, he does try to enact the poems, a tad. He does inflect, and offer nuances of tone - he offers ways in to interpretation, or appreciation. Better these, than none at all.

Popular posts from this blog


According to the latest CBS, ABC, etc, polls, Clinton is still likely to beat Trump - by percentile odds of 66% to 33% and change. But the current popular vote is much closer, probably tied with the error of margin, around 44% each. Trump has to win more key battleground states to win, and may not - but he is ahead in Florida...

We will all know, in a week, whether we live in a world gone madder, or just relatively mad.

While it seems likely calmer heads will prevail, the recent Brexit win shows that polls can mislead, especially when one of the options is considered a bit embarrassing, rude or even racist - and Trump qualifies for these, at least.

If 42-45% of Americans admit they would vote for Trump, what does that say about the ones not so vocal? For surely, they must be there, as well. Some of the undecided will slide, and more likely they will slide to the wilder and more exciting fringe candidate. As may the libertarians.

Eyewear predicts that Trump will just about manage to win th…


Like a crazed killer clown, whether we are thrilled, horrified, shocked, or angered (or all of these) by Donald Trump, we cannot claim to be rid of him just yet. He bestrides the world stage like a silverback gorilla (according to one British thug), or a bad analogy, but he is there, a figure, no longer of fun, but grave concern.

There has long been a history of misogynistic behaviour in American gangster culture - one thinks of the grapefruit in the face in The Public Enemy, or Sinatra throwing a woman out of his hotel room and later commenting he didn't realise there was a pool below to break her fall, or the polluted womb in Pacino'sScarface... and of course, some gangsta rap is also sexist.  American culture has a difficult way with handling the combined aspects of male power, and male privilege, that, especially in heteronormative capitalist enclaves, where money/pussy both become grabbable, reified objects and objectives (The Wolf of Wall Street for instance), an ugly fus…


The Oscars - Academy Awards officially - were once huge cultural events - in 1975, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr, Shirley MacLaineandBob Hope co-hosted, for example - and Best Picture noms included The Conversation and Chinatown. Godfather Part 2 won. Last two years, movies titled Birdman and Spotlight won, and the hosts and those films are retrospectively minor, trifling. This year, some important, resonant films are up for consideration - including Hidden Figures and Moonlight, two favourites of this blog. Viola Davis and Denzel Washington will hopefully win for their sterling performances in Fences. However, La La Land - the most superficial and empty Best Picture contender since Gigi in 1959 (which beat Vertigo) - could smite all comers, and render this year's awards historically trivial, even idiotic.

The Oscars often opt for safe, optimistic films, or safe, pessimistic films, that are usually about white men (less often, white women) finding their path to doing the right thin…