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Showing posts from February, 2020

THE LONDON BOOK FAIR SHOULD BE CANCELLED BECAUSE OF COVID-19

As a small publisher with a table booked at the 2020 LBF - the major gathering for the publishing industry in the UK - I stand to lose a lot of money if this event is cancelled - but if I went, or sent my team, I'd risk losing much more - including their lives or my own. Readers should not be compelled to become super-spreaders.

Today Facebook has cancelled its May annual conference, major firms are cancelling all business plane travel, and 30 minutes ago the Swiss government - not known for its wild and irrational behaviour, cancelled ALL public events and gatherings of over 1,000 persons, until at least march 15. In Iran, the most holy Friday prayers have been today cancelled, and Mecca is closed to foreign pilgrims, as Saudi Arabia plans to control its borders from more contagion. Meanwhile, the stock markets globally have fallen to Crisis 2008 levels, and farther.

If the organisers of the LBF really think their event - held in a giant exhibition hall with more than 15,000 people…

CONTAINMENT

It may seem ironic that the editor of Drawbridge Britain, a book which advocated for humane open borders, would now suggest we (briefly) close them for health reasons, but I do think the time is here to act boldly, and intelligently. Clearly, this is a threshold moment, when action is still possible, to avert unimaginable chaos and sorrow. To stop a disaster of biblical size.

Covid-19 is now a pandemic, in all but name. It is in 40 countries, has no cure, spreads easily, and kills 2-3% of everyone it infects; there are expert suggestions the death rate by year's end would equal or surpass that of the 1918 influenza epidemic.

It is estimated by government studies that up to 1,086,176 or more UK citizens would die from the virus within a year (based on estimates of 80% infection rates, and 2% death rates), if it begins to spread unchallenged here, as it is now doing in Iran, and Italy. Major events are being cancelled, Chevron has closed its London offices, and the Olympics may even b…

THE POWER OF FORGIVENESS

I have come to think that, of all the moral, ethical, religious, spiritual, and philosophical precepts, none is more extraordinary, radical, or powerful, than forgiveness. Forget love - love comes, at least sometimes, naturally. To forgive is the most difficult thing we can ever do. I don't mean to forgive someone for stepping on our big toe (though that hurts) - but to forgive the unforgivable. To forgive murder, rape, incest, hate, racism, war, slaughter, torture, evil.

In the past, only kings and mighty rulers could pardon the guilty - what would otherwise be called the unpardonable. Pardoning the innocent makes no sense. The true power is to unshackle and accept the criminal, the guilty. It's an almost impossible task. It disgusts every fibre of our being, the being that calls for punishment, to destroy our enemies.

It is, of course, the central idea of Christ's vision for humanity, and the promise he claims he can make on behalf of his Father. But even if one is an athe…

COLD SWEAT AT 50

Cold Sweat turns 50 this year, and is a movie hardly anyone knows or loves. B-movie fetishists are a perverse lot, and I am one of them. I can genuinely revel in a well-made, odd, quirky, forgotten second-rate flick, with few if any pretensions, seeing it with great affection and respect for what it is; whereas many a pretentious, 'bigger picture' can leave me cold.Cold Sweat is actually, in its way, a great film, but because the director Terence Young has almost no auteurist-following, it's been neglected; the reviews it does get are perfunctory and mainly indifferent - it's seen, if at all now, as a toss-offed Charles Bronson actioner, one of the cheap Euro-trash movies he made as his violent vigilante career went supernova.

It's out on DVD, and easy to find online. I'd recommend it to any fans of the crime/thriller genre, and, for the reasons I mention below, it is separately fascinating for being an example of how a film can gather incredible talent across c…

THE DEATH OF THE ARTS?

It has long been debated, in and out of aesthetic philosophy circles, whether art and the arts should also have a moral, or political, or even religious, function - and of course, throughout human history (and art appears to be a primarily human object, in the many sense of that word), art has been many things to many people and societies.

It is only really, however, in our own recent time, of 'cancel culture', that the art object, and the artist, have become so conflated, as to become one, indissoluble and undivided.

Even when Oscar Wilde was dismounted from his seat as the great playwright of his age, and wrecked in a brutish prison, his plays, books, stories, and poems, were not banned; and, conversely, even when Lady Chatterley's Lover was causing a great deal of legal and moral consternation, its author was not a total pariah. Even, albeit controversially, Wagner, the arch Jew-hater, is performed in Israel. We know the author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland to …