Skip to main content


I always found Simon Schama vaguely annoying - but no more.  His Story of the Jews is a masterwork of TV history.  This is hardly new territory.  Few stories are more familiar than that of the exodus during biblical times; and the Holocaust is a known tragedy.  However, Schama finds a series of through lines - tropes, images, concepts - chief among them the book, language, itself - to trace the journey of the Jews.  Never boring, often exceptionally moving, and invigorating in its intellectual muscle, Schama trembles, berates, mourns, laughs, observes, and finger-wags - he lives - the processes he explores.  Indeed, last night's episode (Episode 3) became like a the best kind of moral thriller - a terrible historical tragedy - as we saw Moses Mendelsohn, that great mensch - build bridges with German culture and society - a bridge snapped in two by Wagner in 1850, with the repellent publication of Judaism In Music - and from there, anti-semitism re-emerged in Dreyfus France and post-Bismark Prussia and Austria.

Schama scorns those who link the evils of banking with Jews (what about the Quaker bankers, he mocks), and he also, in his discussion of Herzel, the Zionist thinker, dares any thinking person to refuse to be a Zionist.  Starting into the camera he asks, was Herzel wrong, in saying that Jews in Europe would not be allowed to assimilate?  That they would be ultimately destroyed?  That they needed their own place to live, their own state?  Here, Schama is most brave, and controversial.  He doesn't note the paradox that German nationalism was the brute force that could not accept the Other, leading to the equal and opposite reaction of Jewish nationalism (Zionism).  Why is one nationalism better than another?  Well, at the end of the episode, we find ourselves among the severe rain-streaked stones of the Berlin Holocaust Memorial.  Stones speak louder than words.  This is a great show and should be seen by all, especially Guardian readers who tend to vilify Israel.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog


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…


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…


Announcing the Shortlist for the 2016 Sexton PrizeSeptember 13, 2016 / By Kelly Davio
Eyewear Publishing is pleased to announce the shortlist for the 2016 Sexton Prize. The finalists are, in no particular order, as follows:

HISTORY OF GONE, Lynn Schmeidler
SEVERE CLEAR, Maya Catherine Popa
SIT IN THE DARK WITH ME, Jesse Lee Kercheval

The shortlist was selected by Eyewear’s Director Todd Swift with Senior Editor Kelly Davio. Don Share of Poetry Magazine will select the winning manuscript, which will be released at the 2017 AWP conference in Washington, D.C. The winner will be announced in October. 
Congratulations to our finalists!