On Hiatus

This blog will remain as it is for the foreseeable future.
I’m working on my next book, and not feeling given to dreaming up short snippets of thought to publish right this second.

The reader is directed to any of these posts of interest:

This blog was also to promote my first two novels, hopefully one day to be published. You read a little about them here:

And I can be contacted at fightthelandlord at gmail dot com

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Mo Yan wins the Nobel Prize

I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of page views in the last week, mostly looking at my two pages mentioning Mo Yan:

A review of Garlic Ballads

With reference to the London Book Fair

Some reading by better-informed commentators can be found at the following places:

Packaging Mo Yan for the Masses

Is Mo Yan a Stooge for the Chinese Government?

as well as: Jokes/ Online Comment

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And to smooth it all out

“The UK Border Agency has disclosed that it is working on plans for fast-track passport lanes for rich travellers at Heathrow and other British airports so it can avoid a repeat of the two-hour queues witnessed this year. Brian Moore, the departing head of the UK Border Force, told MPs that “high-value” people who were considered valuable passengers by the airlines or valuable to the British economy would be given priority treatment at immigration control under the plans.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2012/sep/18/high-value-fasttrack-passport-checks

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Although… Jump it! Fly!

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More on School and Travel

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Dublinesque

Dublinesca, by Enrique Vila-Matas

This book was recently published in English as Dublinesque.

I didn’t think much of this book, and the only reason I’m going to write about it a little is that certain comments about the role of the English language in the main character’s imagination (and in Spanish intellectual circles more generally, maybe) caught my attention.

The main character is obsessed with making ‘el salto inglés’, an “English leap” or perhaps leap into the English language. He cannot speak a word of English, we are reminded about a dozen times. And yet, he begins to see a translation of himself into a new place and tongue as his chance for redemption, now that his career as a literary editor has juddered to a halt.

There is no mention of Catalan or Irish, surprisingly for a book that takes place in Barcelona and Dublin only. The assembled editors and writers at one point take offence at a Spanish waiter in Ireland who speaks English with too natural an accent.

Later on in the book, Riba (the main character) dreams an encounter with a ghost:

— If you’re there, knock three times.

Enter Ghost. Maybe this obsession only began as a way for him to feel closer to the first person, to this initial good man who stayed hidden behind his own backlist.

Of course we are all aware that ghosts belong only to our memories, they almost never arrive from far-off lands or outer space. They are our lodgers.

— The red suitcase?

— Me, I don’t travel, says the ghost. — I’m just trying to get born. And to learn English, that’s the thing I need.

I won’t give too much explanation for the other parts, but this tongue-in-cheek staging of a lack of a language occurs repeatedly in the course of the novel.

On the other hand, the author clearly likes to show that he is adept in English, quoting Ulysses and other books whenever necessary (e.g. when nothing interesting is happening in the actual story). I wondered a bit about the morality of this, what impression it gives of the narrative voice, which is at other times using the fact that Riba is so much less able with English as a stick to beat him with, or at least gently prod.

To me at least, it made a bad impression, but also it made me consider to what extent I’ve been responsible for similar mocking or patronising code-switches in my own writing.

This book, then, is a solid testament (for all that it tries not to take itself too seriously) to the Barcelona love affair with France coming round to London and New York and fluency in English, something that has certainly fuelled my employment history recently.

Below the line I’m going to criticise the book some more, but it won’t be about the role of the English language, just general grumblings.          Continue reading

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Reasons to hate the Olympics, 5: An orgy of advertising

Much more has been written about this elsewhere (I’m going to link to some relevant articles), but some points are worth reiterating and compiling:

The Olympic Games are an advertiser’s wet dream, because:

1. The Olympic Act makes provision for the so-called ‘right of forced entry’ – that police and private security companies will be allowed to enter into houses or other buildings without warrants – not only on the grounds of security but to remove anything that could be seen as ambush marketing or unauthorised protest, such as banners, images, posters.

I’m sure we can rely on private security companies to exercise due restraint.

2. There is a Brand Exclusion Zone around all Olympic areas, which in effect means that non-affiliated companies will be banned from selling and advertising in certain areas, for example disallowing payment with any other card than a Visa. It goes as far as logos on hairdryers and urinals.

More seriously, this will also place restrictions on what can be worn by visitors.

3. Sponsors get there images plastered over television coverage and newspaper photography (because, as remarked upon before, the media couldn’t possibly turn a blind eye). Everything has been whipped up into such an “event” that apparently running stories analysing companies’ slogans and reproducing their billboard campaigns is a useful service.

This is despite the fact that some of the sponsors are pretty awful companies, such as Dow Chemical, BP, and Cisco, which already has form marketing I.T. infrastructure to China with the explicit intention that it should be used for censorship.

4. New media – Twitter accounts such as spacehijackers have already been threatened for appropriating branding and parodying official announcements. Both Twitter and Facebook seem happy to comply with regulations banning user-posted photos from around the Games – because they want to control the images that come out, as mentioned in the video here regarding the visuals at the development sites.

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