It’s a quiet, rainy Good Friday. Currently contemplating whether I should go out and try to get some pictures of the procession. Wanted to comment a bit on Notre Dame and the fire. First, read this great piece by historian Tom Holland. Second, I’m a bit tired of hearing all of this silly sort of “instead of millionaires donating money to rebuild a church, shouldn’t these same millionaires be building houses for the poor” comment repeated over and over. Lovely ideal, but one needn’t have spent years studying economics to understand why this is not how things function. If it were that simple such decisions would be so much easier and clearer.
Third, here’s a bad photo I took of Notre Dame, four years ago. I have taken good photos of the cathedral, but I have a fondness for this picture above the others. Significant Other and I were in Paris and I convinced him to take a boat ride along the Seine. I had seen Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant do the same in Charade and imagined us in elegant splendour, drinking champagne. Instead, ’twas a nightmare: crowded with loud, aggressive tourists; cold; rushed. I am a seasoned traveler, and should have known this was how it would be, but…I did get this photo and we had a great laugh about the whole experience.
There is so much bad press about the Catholic Church these days (much of it deserved), but I found this to be tremendously lovely and important.
Such a gift Michel Legrand had – hard to choose a favourite from his repertoire, but this song never fails to make me cry (although I do remember it being mocked on The Carol Burnett Show!). Haunting in French or English. It was used recently in The Trip to Spain.
Those awful murders, at Charlie Hebdo and at the Hyper Cacher, happened four years ago yesterday. I repost this piece of mine, which I think if one of my better efforts, and this very important analysis from Spiked Online (a website you should be checking on a regular basis).
From the Spiked article:
Free speech is the right to express one’s ideas without fear of retribution, even if others disagree with you – even if they are repulsed. This right leaves people free to dissent and free to persuade others of their ideas. No political, religious or ideological viewpoint should be allowed a special exception from challenge, criticism or ridicule.
But once the moment of ‘Je Suis Charlie’ faded, prominent voices effectively began to blame Charlie Hebdo for the attack.
When PEN America, a writers’ organisation, decided to give its Free Expression Courage Award to Charlie Hebdo, more than 200 well-known writers protested.
I mentioned yesterday how much I miss my brother (scroll down) – well, all the more so when it comes to these issues. Not a chance in heck he would have been blaming the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists and editorialists for their own slaughter.
Or, barrel o’ links. (Beryl O’Links is an Irish lass, she is!)
As we wind down 2018, a few links of interest: the death of Georges Loinger, may his memory be a blessing; trove of Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poems found; kitties domesticated themselves; and, Hijab in the House, by the brilliant Bruce Bawer. In regards this last story, I mentioned to one of my sisters this summer that I was concerned about the anti-Semitism of some of the rising young “stars” of the Democratic Party, and she insisted that anyone openly espousing contempt for Jews would never be elected. I was like, yeah, we’ll see. Cough.
Giant, giant talent. If you read French click here for a tribute at Le Figaro. They called him France’s Sinatra, and what is interesting is that he introduced Sinatra when the latter sang at the Olympia in Paris in 1962. The recording is here. (It is a fantastic recording, in spite of what some of the dopey reviewers assert.) It would be impossible for me to choose one favourite Aznavour song, but this one is always in my top five.
If you haven’t seen “Shoah,” you really must. May Lanzmann rest in peace. He was harsh – he had to be.
One of the most harrowing interviews Lanzmann did was also among the briefest in Shoah — Yitzhak Zuckerman, a leader of the Jewish resistance in Warsaw, who survived Treblinka and saw untold numbers of friends and comrades die. He told Lanzmann bitterly, “if you could lick my heart, it would poison you.”
At the film’s premier, the French journalist Jean Daniel told Lanzmann: “This justifies a life.”
The emphasis is mine, and I utterly agree with Jean Daniel’s comment.
Update: please read Paul Berman’s tribute and also BHL’s.
Was away on a trip, hence the lack of blogging. Will post about our trip (a couple of weeks away in Europe) later, but to begin with, a birdie in the Luxembourg Gardens. I think he looks very French.
It was three years ago, yesterday.
BHL, as annoying as he can be, sums it up well with this tweet:
Parce que l’islamisme radical est un nouveau fascisme, parce que la liberté de s’exprimer ne va pas sans liberté de blasphémer, parce que la laïcité n’est jamais une nouvelle religion mais la condition de toute religion et de toute pensée, je suis .
And here is a link to my column about those frightening days – I still think it is one of my better ones.