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for forgetting the real business of today: I will attempt to make up for it by reccing first world war literature. Also I will point out that Last Kind Words Blues (in the music zip in my last post) is really about the Great War.

First up: The Storm of Steel, the war memoirs of Ernst Junger's experiences as a German officer in the war. It's based on the diaries he kept during the war and was first published in 1920, i.e. barely any time after it was over. And Junger went on to become one of the intellectuals of his day, though difficult to pin down in many ways. But the real interest is in the book's total eagerness for war - the young Junger views soldiering as the rightful and honourable and best possible occupation for young men. He views it as an opportunity. He views it as a great experience. He does not shy away from the horrors and stresses of the situation, and it can get graphic, but he is not concerned with who is in the right, only with what happens. We're particularly used to reading the memoirs and poetry of the British - Sassoon, Owen, Robert Graves - which are sceptical of war, and this is just so totally different. It's a window onto what must have been the attitude of many thousands at the time, even if they couldn't articulate it as well as Junger does, and because of this I think it's really worthwhile reading. amazon, abebooks.

Then! Observe the Sons Of Ulster Marching Towards the Somme, a play by Frank McGuinness. It follows eight men who volunteer for the Ulster division at the beginning of the war. It was the kind of thing you read and afterward must sit dully for a while because it has sapped all emotion. Or rather it has placed such thoughts in you that the very idea of paying attention to something else seems wrong. The play asks: why are these men fighting? and the answer is painful, because they are not fighting against the Germans so much as for a united Ireland, and the effectiveness of this is not great. (ALSO TWO OF THEM FALL IN LOVE (WITH EACH OTHER) (AND HAVE IMPLIED SEX). It is a sad and wonderful thing and even now makes me a little choked up.) I mean, you want utterly pointless? This is all about utterly pointless. And yet the men we follow really mean it. Their beliefs just get picked apart and the play climaxes with a reenactment of the Battle of the Boyne - which by coincidence had its anniversary on the first day of the Somme. amazonabebooks. (There was actually a production on in London in the summer which I totally missed out on because I hadn't read it. DARN IT. reviews here and here. Best line: "... stealthily crossing the line between sanctioned brotherhood and forbidden male love." um. hot.)

My favourite though (aside from Regeneration, which I will assume you know a bit about) is probably Sassoon's fictionalised memoirs. I'm partway through Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, and again it's really worth reading if you want to understand what the mindset of the time was like. But he is as always a sceptic. His narrator, George Sherston, is somewhat more reluctant and more reticent than Sassoon but it's subtly done. It has that irony you get in his poetry. Oh Sassoon, you so great.

linky time

Feb. 3rd, 2008 11:57 pm
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filed under "the RPF writes itself": Zachary Levi, Sendhil Ramamurthy and Zachary Quinto at a Maxim party. All are a leeeeetle bit drunk. ZQ clearly does not read Maxim. ZL and SR clearly do.

filed under "really should not be this fun": Captain Jack Sparrow interactive dress-up doll! (The most disturbing thing is how you can remove his dreadlocks.)

filed under "awesome people saying awesome things": Neil Gaiman thinks that the people in Torchwood are all too stupid to live. You know he is right.

filed under "found this in my bookmarks and remembered how when I first found it, I spent ten blissful minutes convinced that Joe Flanigan and David Hewlett had actually in real life made a movie where they play a pilot and a scientist who fall in love during WWII": Missed the Saturday Dance (created by zoetrope). I suggest watching the trailer first. Then listen to the audio, spend a wistful few minutes trying to wish this film into existence, and then meander through the story. (I am a sucker for wartime romances in any case, so I was a lost cause from the first crackle of the wireless.)

filed under "AWESOME": Michel Gondry has made a film called Be Kind Rewind. This, I am sure, you are aware of. In this film people try to recreate with no budget well-known films and then stock a video store with them. Michel Gondry has therefore (of course) done a no-budget remake of the aforelinked official trailer in which he plays all the parts. My "do I want to see this movie?" sensors are pinging off the charts, I tell you.

filed under "lol what? okay yay!": Fred Astaire tries to pick up Gene Kelly on a park bench (that is the only way I can rationalise their behaviour); they call each other girls' names, segue awkwardly into song-and-dance routine, use strange dated slang terms?/ colloquialisms?, ballroom dance with each other. Ziegfeld Follies, 1945.

filed under " no really, old movies are gayer than you remember": Bing Crosby and Bob Hope kiss in Road to Morocco, 1942. (I recently watched Road to Bali, and was looking for their kiss from that - I was weirdly gleeful when I realised that apparently they did this routinely. (Also! Ignoring the characterisation of Bing & Bob, there is a definite sort of Booshiness to Road to Bali - gorillas (who are very obviously people in gorilla suits) falling in love with people, mad homoeroticism, celebrity cameos, breaking the fourth wall, crazy exotic locales, one of the duo never getting the girl, giant squid, etc.))


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