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1844: A revolution

March 18, 2011

I like this…

Nudist Dinner

March 10, 2011

So following up on my previous post finished The Naked Lunch by William Burroughs. I thought this book was absolutely brilliant: It’s a bizarre, twisted and disturbing journey through the psyche of a “junky”, whilst somehow managing to be a very (admittedly explicit) humorous parody of the American dream and white-picket-fence culture. Since reading the book I’ve read a couple of reviews and some people seem keen to write it off as druggie (I wouldn’t consider myself one of these, although I’m far from anti substance-abuse) paraphernalia. However I found the brutally illicit nature of the book completely in keeping with what is to some extent an allegorical representative of the disillusioned, hedonistic, anarchistic movement Burroughs was a part of.

On a slightly random note I was hugely impressed by the extent and accuracy of the medical descriptions and metaphors in the book, including a reference to Ainhum Disease, which I only know about because I came across it on a trip to Rwanda last year.

At times I found this a difficult text to read – difficult, but absorbing , in the same way that Joyce’s Ullyses is difficult but utterly enveloping at the same time. I really do think this  book pushed forward the boundaries of literature in the style of its surreal, hard to follow, dream-like narrative, as well as its obvious (and famous) influence on censorship legislation in the US. In my opinion Burroughs possessed that extremely rare genius of completely involving his audience whether they had any idea what was going on at all. Finishing The Naked Lunch is a bit like waking from a sex dream: reluctant, breathless, aroused and occasionally a little messy.

Incidentally I also found this picture of Mr Burroughs himself who sadly died in 1997 from a heart attack. It’s a shame and he will be very missed, but if you can track down a video of him on Youtube it’s well worth a look for his cutting, dry voice if nothing else.

Libya…

March 8, 2011

OK, so the situation in Libya seems to get graver and increasingly bizarre every day. Currently it sounds like something out of a Bond/Bourne script; so far we’ve had a mad dictator, a populist uprising, hired mercenaries, a botched rescue operation, more hired mercenaries, air attacks on civilian protests, battles fought for control of oil fields, even more hired mercenaries, defectors, refugees, dubious friendships with British Universities and (probably) off-shore bank accounts. Over the past few weeks the escalating situation in Libya has dominated headlines across the world. Incredibly (I suspect not entirely unconnected to Libya’s oil supplies), the conflict seems to genuinely have a mobilised and united international outcry and action in the form of a trade embargo. Although we have yet to see any more

Today things took yet one more step towards the conspiratory-theorists wet-dreams when six members of the British Special Forces and two British “diplomats” were taken captive by anti-Gaddafi forces. According to current reports the members of the Special Forces and one diplomat were dropped from a helicopter in open country (for those of you who can count that means yes, one “diplomat” was already there), and were detained whilst trying to make contact with the leaders of the opposition forces. They were carrying weapons and a number of different passports. Quite reasonably the Libyans questioned who they were and their motive in the country. Reports quoted one opposition leader sensibly commenting that they could not be sure who they were since the Israeli secret service (Mossad) famously used fake British identities in the assaination of Moroccan and Arab activists.

This development makes the murky, murky waters surrounding this evolving humanitarian crisis and the role of foreign governments in the situation even more dirty. Not long ago British Prime Minister David Cameron suggested sending weapons to arm the Libyan protesters, and I think recent events seriously call into question the role of the UK in the conflict. Fortunately the British government aren’t the only ones making a mess of things and in fact a Dutch Special Forces Unit are still being held captive by forces loyal to Gaddafi – we hope for their safe return soon.

I fully understand the criticism that too often foreign, and in particular powerful and developed nations have failed to intervene in humanitarian crises when relatively straightforward action would undoubtedly have saved thousands of lives. However, I think the autonomous action of any foreign state in this conflict, especially when it includes armed military operations, should be part of an agreed and coordinated international response. If the UN cannot be stirred to action then I agree that nations should consider it their moral responsibility to intervene in cases where human rights are grossly abused  (which they should have done, for example, in Rwanda). But by working alone, countries automatically appoint themselves as sole moral adjudicator to ascribe guilt to one side of the discussion. I just finished reading William Hague getting his ass-kicked by opposition and party members on the topic in Prime Ministers Question Time. Perhaps this would have been acceptable fifty years ago, but in the modern world, it undermines the very spirit of partnership and democracy that they claim to represent.

The Guardian has a rolling feed on the conflict, which is very good, but many of the earliest reports seem to be coming from Reuters so its worth checking both if you want to follow what’s going on.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/

http://uk.reuters.com/

Also, I support the idea of a no-fly zone but I think it would be very difficult to implement because so much of Libya is practically uninhabited desert.

 

 

The Italian Job.

March 3, 2011

Generally got annoyed that there was a photo NEW version of The Italian Job, which is so much worse than the original it’s a shame to even mention them in the same sentence. So I came up with a solution, and by posting the trailer of the original it not only gets the attention it deserves, but also conveniently knocks the post about the new one off the bottom of the page. Job done.

The REAL Nobel Prize Winner: Dr Denis Mukwege

March 3, 2011

I thought I hadn’t really given enough time in my last post to speak about the work of Dr Denis Mukwege, the gynaecologist working treating rape victims at Panzi Hospital in Bukavu, a town south of Lake Kivu on the border of Rwanda and the Congo. For many years he was the only gynaecologist working treating rape victims in the Congo and in his time their has treated more than 20,000 rape victims. In 2009 he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, which was instead awarded to President Barack Obama. Truly an awe-inspiring man and a real hero of times.

To learn more about him and his work, both of these articles serve as a reasonably good introduction

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/14/doctor-mukwege-congo-war-rapes

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/politics/and-the-other-nobel-peace-prize-nominees-were-1801350.html

Rape in the Congo: Ross Kemp Reports

March 3, 2011

Really great to see Ross Kemp drawing mainstream attention to the truly horrendous situation in the East Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of Congo at the moment. I visited Goma last year and whilst the causes of the situation are undoubtedly complicated, understanding the awful plight of the thousands of women who are raped in the Congo every year is not. In a continent that is so used to tragedy and inhumanity, the barbaric practice of gang rape and mutilation as a weapon by armed soldiers and militia in the DRC still shocks. Kemp’s documentary was actually better than I expected, if a little brief and simplistic (and occasionally inaccurate), and managed to convey the horror of the situation and the helplessness of people caught up in it. A particular high-light for me were the interviews with Gynaecologist Dr Denis Mukwege, who should have won the Nobel Peace Prize in the year that it was awarded to Barack Obama. I was also very pleased to see that they included, albeit in very diplomatic language, the role of multi-national corporations in preventing stabilisation of the area. The trailer for the series is below and you can watch the full episode here.


Mr Prufrock, A Love Letter

March 2, 2011

Feeling bored, I googled the address of this blog, myangryfix. Unsurprisingly this blog wasn’t the first link that came up, but I can’t be too angry with my name-sake at myangryfix.tumblr.com because it did lead me to this quote from the poem The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock by T. S. Eliot

“I have measured out my life with coffee spoons”

and the poem itself, which I really liked. You can read the full poem here.