Category Archives: writing

Yesterday the Tate, today the V&A

Does this say anything?


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On memories and cameras

I’ve written two more CultureLab posts. The first one troubled me a bit because, although I didn’t much like the artwork, the people were really nice. Ah, but your duty to your public, I began to tell myself, but that voice was quickly told to shut up and stop being a pompous arse. What public? What careful selection process permitted me to post my opinions on a site of a respectable magazine? What careful editorial oversight ensured that this was a fair and reasonable thing to write?

And who’s got their stuff in Gimpel Fils, and who’s hoping for the basement of a bookshop on the Lower Clapton Road?

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Tree of Souls, Avatar, New Scientist

Another post by me on the CultureLab blog.

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Will Self and David Eagleman: Uses for an afterlife

This way to the beyond.

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So much for my big idea

Abbas Kiarostami Rain

“It’s said that in the beginning was the word, but for me the beginning is always an image.”

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Filed under Abbas Kiarostami, art, film, Iranian films, writing

Addicted to images

cover of La goutte d'or by Michel Tournier
Idriss, a teenage goatherd in the Sahara, encounters two French people in a Land Rover. One, a young woman with blond hair and bare legs, takes his picture. She is taken aback to find that Idriss knows enough French to ask for the photo. She promises to send it once she gets back to Paris and has it developed. No photo arrives. But at a wedding party, he has a revelation: Continue reading

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Heart of Darkness

I love Joseph Conrad’s writing. So I’ve always been disturbed to hear that people think Heart of Darkness is racist. I first read it years ago, and I remembered that black people don’t get a very flattering portrayal in the book, but I thought that if you gave Conrad the benefit of the doubt it wasn’t that unflattering either; and anyway, the book was about Europeans; and although anyone would of course at first assume that the heart of darkness was something to be found in Africa, it was really, as I remembered it, in those Europeans – in particular, the European city like a white sepulchre in which the narrative ends.

Then someone whose opinions on most things I trust read it for herself and said its racist reputation was horribly justified. Continue reading


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