Wednesday, July 27, 2005

This Instructoral Thug Thanks You!

Well: please accept my thanks to you faithful attendees of "Among the Thugs." 9:30 is very early in the day for me, but I loved coming every time. The seminar portions of our course always seemed to go particularly well -- I often sat back and smiled at your independent engagement with the themes.
We ended on a wonderful note for yours truly -- the palpable disquiet in the class as the echoes of 1984 grew to a crescendo in the conclusion to Nick Hornby's High Fidelity as Rob "submits to" (or, "accepts!") Big Sister is recognition that the "thugs" are getting the boot ... again: but this time from size 4 DMs and sensible pumps and Aldos. My credit to you and your sympathy for the British Thug and his treatment in fiction.

N.b. Once the course grades are submitted, please come back here & add your comments to this post, free of marking issues ...

Saturday, July 16, 2005

Final Paper

The three-thousand-word Final Paper is due in my Department mailbox at midnight Monday August 1st. Because of the generous deadline (I can't help it; excessive niceness is a character flaw of mine) I will be enforcing the three-per-cent-per-day penalty with rigour (even relish.)
The topic of the paper is open to you within the limit that it has to (a) include treatment of at least two assigned course texts, and (b) argue within the context of British masuclinity after 1945. Secondary sources are advisable and should conform to the standard in the English Department Style Guide.
I am available at anytime by e-mail, in my Office Hours as usual, or by appointment to discuss your topic, review your thesis paragraph, or suggest ideas and raise dialectical objections.

Friday, July 15, 2005

The Thugs and 7/7

Perhaps our course might have provided some framework for understanding, or even predicting the outcome of, significant and troubling post 7/7 events like this.
Football hooligans communicating over the internet have spoken of the need to put aside partisan support for teams and unite against Muslims. Hooligans from West Ham, Millwall, Crystal Palace and Arsenal are among those seeking to establish common cause.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Christopher Hitchens & Stalky-ism

I included Christopher Hitchens in today's lecture on Martin Amis as one of the Oxbridge set who affect a clotted prose, a cult of dipsomania and a sneering anti-conservatism that is well-reflected in their posed photographs.
No-one -- very truly, no one -- is seemingly at greater remove from Kipling and Stalky-ism than Hitchens. Indeed, Hitchens is a formal
advocatus diaboli for the Roman Catholic Church - he has argued with customary fetid relish (and, a pert paradox, equally customary lack of taste) that Mother Theresa was a monstress.
Yet in
this article published in today's UK Daily Mail, Hitchens responds to 7/7 -- like an aging and decrepit war-horse catching the sound of a bugle -- with an identifiably Stalky-esque patriotism; unwitting testimony to that model's durability.

We shall track down those responsible. States that shelter them will know no peace. Communities that shelter them do not take forever to discover their mistake. And their sordid love of death is as nothing compared to our love of London, which we will defend as always, and which will survive this with ease.
"This we learned from famous men,
Knowing not we learned it.
Only, as the years went by—
Lonely, as the years went by—
Far from help as years went by,
Plainer we discerned it."

[Rudyard Kipling: "Dedication"]

"The Quiet Power of the Stoic"

Andrew Sullivan has this article in the current Time magazine, which he calls on his blog "The Uses of Stoicism."
Victory in this war will be elusive and never complete. As long as
some maniac wants to kill himself and others in a subway or supermarket, we will not be able to stop him. And so stoicism matters. Getting on with our lives matters. Spelling bees, college football, celebrity gossip, high school proms: the simple continuance of these things is integral to the meaning of freedom.

Or so the British have long proved. Their small-c conservatism can lead to errors of complacency--like appeasing Hitler in the 1930s. But it is also a deep strength, as self-effacing as it is unmovable. When mass murder comes to America again, and it will, we could do worse than remember their stoicism. And how modestly powerful it is.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Blair praises Londoners "stoicism"

From today's online Guardian:
"I would also pay tribute to the stoicism and resilience of the people of London who have responded in a way typical of them."

British Stoicism

The following is from (Sullivan being an expat) and insists on stoicism as essentially an English - not an American - national characteristic.

THE BRITS AND STOICISM: Here's one cultural difference between Brits and Americans. Brits regard the best response to outrage to carry on as if nothing has happened. Yes, they will fight back. But first, they will just carry on as normal. Right now, a million kettles are boiling. "Is that the best you can do?" will be a typical response. Stoicism is not an American virtue. Apart from a sense of humor, it is the ultimate British one. Neveratoss captures this perfectly today:
Went to the pub at lunchtime to see the latest new on events in London. Three young guys were sitting directly in front of the TV as details of a major terrorist attack on London were emerging – all three avidly reading the Sun's account of the Steven Gerard/Liverpool fiasco.

That's a reference to a soccer story. Do not mistake this attitude for indifference. It's a very English form of determination.

WHY CRICKET MATTERS TODAY: An emailer reminds me of another Englishman's commentary on seeking pleasure and diversion even in wartime, perhaps especially in wartime: "I think it important to try to see the present calamity in a true perspective. The war creates no absolutely new situation: it simply aggravates the permanent human situation so that we can no longer ignore it. Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself. If men had postponed the search for knowledge and beauty until they were secure, the search would never have begun... The insects have chosen a different line: they have sought first the material welfare and security of the hive, and presumably they have their reward. Men are different. They propound
mathematical theorems in beleaguered cities, conduct metaphysical arguments in condemned cells, make jokes on scaffolds, discuss the latest new poem while advancing to the walls of Quebec, and comb their hair at Thermopylae. This is not panache: it is our nature."C.S.
Lewis, of course, in a 1939 sermon at St Mary the Virgin in Oxford. Yes, England beat Australia today - by
nine wickets.

Monday, July 04, 2005

British -vs- French: From the Top

The British-French antagonism expressed in much thug literature is evident at the top. At the G8 summit, French President Chiraq insulted British cooking:
The only thing [the British] have ever given European farming is mad cow ... You can't trust people who cook as badly as that," he said. "After Finland, it's the country with the worst food.

What I wonder is what "Le Ver" has against the Finns!
No 10 reacted with disbelief, saying it would not respond to such undiplomatic comments. British officials were particularly angered by the mad cow remark, saying that France had exacerbated the BSE crisis by refusing to accept British beef after it had been declared safe.
So, it's "steak 'n kidley" for us in class on Wednesday!

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Government Yobs

The government in England is, it seems, as anti-social as the yobs. ("Teenagers" below is newspeak for "thugs."
If, as Tony Blair has demanded, teenagers are to show greater respect and behave with civility, let us hope they do not take their cue from the bickering members of his own Government. The secret Number 10 minutes of a meeting between the Prime Minister and Charles Clarke, the Home Secretary, disclosed by our Political Editor today, are a pitiful insight into an administration at odds with itself, presiding over a shambolic law and order policy.