I do not have one. But if I did, visiting Mfuwe Lodge would be on it. I love how the elephants are all like, hey, don’t mind us, we’re just here for the mangoes. Glorious.
Update on my New Year’s Resolutions — yes, I am reading Finnegans Wake. And it ain’t no piece o’cake. Ulysses was rather easy to read, and not only by comparison. It was actually a linear story. Finnegans Wake is not and there is an awful lot of made-up language (puns, portmanteaux and the like) in it. Still, one can follow. Book One was easy. Book Two a good deal more opaque. Book Three I am finding readable and quite funny.
In fact, I would suggest the key to reading Finnegans Wake and not letting it intimidate or frustrate you is to simply realize it is comedy — dark, at times, slapstick, vulgar and, on occasion, deeply literary. It reads as if someone had written out their dreams upon waking.
It also helps to be half-Norwegian, or know something of Norway and its culture. References to Ibsen and Norwegian words are strewn throughout the book and the story features Norwegian characters, as well.
Finally, it helps to know the song (especially for Book One).
There is much I could say about this case but I will only say two things. 1) It makes me think of a favourite phrase of my sister-in-law Louise – “yet another example of the never-ending stupidity of women.” The never-ending stupidity of women. 2) It is important for Canadians to not learn about law stuff from American law shows. Case in point — I keep wondering why these terrible witnesses don’t take the Fifth.
One of many memorable scenes from Wolf Hall. What a great insult. Why are you such a person? It’s not as if you can afford to be. Still not bored with this series, no matter how often I have watched it (which is oftener than thou).
So everyone is parsing the importance of the new “curvy” Barbie and her other “normal” friends. But way back in 1997, I wrote an article about just such a possibility. It appeared in its original form in the Women’s Quarterly, a magazine out of D.C., and was reprinted in a large number of newspapers. I found a link to the piece here. (I am not the type who keeps copies of her articles. There are simply too many of them and I am big believer in constant de-cluttering.) I also found a link to a write-up of the piece here, from the Chicago Tribune’s James Warren.
This was nearly twenty f***ing years ago, peeps. God, I have been doing this job a loooooong time. It’s funny — not funny “ha ha” — because I had a visit in the fall from a family member who routinely takes cheap shots at me about everything — my career, my looks, my intelligence, my private life — and this person asked me if I was “between jobs.” Um, no, I have doing the same job for twenty bleeping years.
The article in question is much harsher than one I would write today, I think. In a sense, I think we soften on some matters as we gain more experience. So in a way I cringe when I read it and yet, it must be taken in the context of the era and in the spirit of satire. (Or not, if you so choose.)
Many moons ago, shortly after the fall of the Berlin Wall, I went to Poland to visit a friend of mine. Her name was Eva (Ewa) and she had been a classmate of mine at the Sorbonne. We always got along well at school. But that all changed in Warsaw, when she asked me what I hoped to see in Poland. Well, I told her, Auschwitz, of course, and also the Warsaw Ghetto.
Her face fell. She informed me that the former Ghetto was now nothing more than a small plaque. Not interesting. Not worth it. She then said I should not go to Auschwitz. Why not, I asked. Because, she said, Poles died there too. By “Poles” she meant Catholics. She did not consider Polish Jews to be Poles. I was stunned. She went on to say that it was wrong to think it was mostly Jews who died in Auschwitz and that it was really all about the suffering of “real Poles” and so on. I was quite young and had never been exposed to this kind of revisionism and trivializing of the suffering of Jews. Now, sadly, it is old hat to me. But back then it was new and I was shocked.
I insisted, though, and I went to Auschwitz without Eva. She was mad. She was beyond mad. After I left Poland and went back to Paris our friendship was pretty much over. Once — when I had returned to Canada — she sent a Christmas card, but that was because she was trying to get information on how to immigrate to Canada. She had married a Lebanese man (another piece of the puzzle!), she wrote, and he spoke French so Canada would be perfect.
I could not help her and that was that. That trip to Poland was a disturbing experience for me. I was so naïve (now that I am less so, I hope I will be able to visit Auschwitz again). I regret that I did not call her out more. All I did was say, “Well, mostly Jews died there” and “I am going to visit, even if you don’t want to go with me.”
All of this has never left my memory (which is freakish) but it came back in even more vivid colours when I recently read these two books. The first is about a particularly odious Polish hate crime against Jews, the second is about the intense envy that feeds so much anti-Semitism.
Today we say “never forget” and “never again.” The problem is that so many who want it to happen again don’t care or will not admit that it happened in the first place.
Update: It occurs to me I should link here to one of my favourite novels, Peter Matthiessen’s In Paradise. It takes place in Auschwitz, though in the 1990s, and among its themes is Polish anti-Semitism.
A poem that says it all.
To a Mouse
On Turning up in Her Nest with the Plough, November, 1785Wee, sleeket, cowran, tim’rous beastie,O, what a panic’s in thy breastie!Thou need na start awa sae hasty,Wi’ bickerin brattle!I wad be laith to rin an’ chase theeWi’ murd’ring pattle!
I’m truly sorry Man’s dominionHas broken Nature’s social union,An’ justifies that ill opinion,Which makes thee startle,At me, thy poor, earth-born companion,An’ fellow-mortal!
I doubt na, whyles, but thou may thieve;What then? poor beastie, thou maun live!A daimen-icker in a thrave’S a sma’ request:I’ll get a blessin wi’ the lave,An’ never miss ’t!
Thy wee-bit housie, too, in ruin!It’s silly wa’s the win’s are strewin!An’ naething, now, to big a new ane,O’ foggage green!An’ bleak December’s winds ensuin,Baith snell an’ keen!
Thou saw the fields laid bare an’ waste,An’ weary Winter comin fast,An’ cozie here, beneath the blast,Thou thought to dwell,Till crash! the cruel coulter pastOut thro’ thy cell.
That wee-bit heap o’ leaves an’ stibbleHas cost thee monie a weary nibble!Now thou’s turn’d out, for a’ thy trouble,But house or hald,To thole the Winter’s sleety dribble,An’ cranreuch cauld!
But Mousie, thou art no thy-lane,In proving foresight may be vain:The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ MenGang aft agley,An’ lea’e us nought but grief an’ pain,For promis’d joy!
Still, thou art blest, compar’d wi’ me!The present only toucheth thee:But Och! I backward cast my e’e,On prospects drear!An’ forward tho’ I canna see,I guess an’ fear!
I think Bernie Sanders is an awfully nice man who is wrong about many (though not all) things. That said, this ad is almost Morning-in-America-esque perfect. It very nearly made me cry.
And here is David Bowie, performing the same song at the Concert for New York City, shortly after 9-11. (I cannot find a way to embed, so click on the link.)
From nearly two weeks ago — oops! I am a bit behind on stuff. Here is the article, and here is a podcast which features my radio interview with Andrew Lawton concerning the article.