Thursday, June 12, 2014

Books, my rock!

The Month-Long Horror of the World Cup has begun.  Although I have to admit that the own goal by Brazil (and a Real Madrid player at that) has added a certain piquancy to the opening game which until this point has never been lost by the host nation.

            There are two Barça players in the Brazil side.  And we might pause here and wonder at the fact that I know things like this.  And pause again because Neymar has scored to equalize for the home side.  Croatia will now collapse and the game will become part of boring World Cup history.

            It is a nasty thing to say, but I rather think that I want Brazil to lose and play badly so that the fully justified opposition to the rampant corruption of FIFA and the Brazilian government can be held up to the scrutiny that it deserves.  There were disturbances in Sao Paulo but they have been overshadowed by the frankly embarrassing opening ceremony and the excitement of the opening game.  A lot can happen in a month, but I fear that the vested interests that sucked the country dry with their extortion will be able to enjoy the fruits of their illicit machinations without too many explicit condemnations.

            The odious Blatter has sashayed his way through a congress of FIFA with a sick political finesse which comes with complacency, corruption and money, lots of money.  He has promised each member nation a total of 750,000 dollars of extra funding after the world cup.  For the smaller non-EUFA nations this is a lot of money and Blatter must be like a Father Christmas to them liberally distributing other peoples’ money.  Blatter’s extraordinary organization (which modelled their conference room on the War Room in Doctor Strangelove) has so-called ‘reserves’ of over a billion dollars!  They pay no tax in Brazil during the World Cup; they have forced the Brazilians to enact a special Budweiser Law to overturn the ban on beer in Brazilian stadia because that company is a sponsor – they are, to all intents and purposes an amoral organization which is not, and hasn’t been for some time, fit for purpose.

            Which brings me on to the tax people in Spain – who have demanded an extraordinary amount of money from me for not working.  A situation which defies logical thought and conventional computation.  But this is Spain where only the relatively poor pay taxes and the corruption of the good and the great makes even FIFA look like some sort of easy touch charity.

            Whatever my tax situation the real scandal in the country at present is the forthcoming acclimation of the new parasite to take over the discredited throne of Spain.  The present holder of the office has made the brand so toxic that he is not even going to the proclamation of his tall son.

            One survey suggests that over sixty per cent of the population would welcome a referendum about the continuation of the so-called royal family.  Our government of worthless, time serving yes-men, corrupt from top to bottom have rushed through legislation (easy given that the demented population was deluded enough to give them an absolute majority in parliament) and we will see the worthless Bourbon dynasty given a continued mandate emphasising the anti-meritocratic approach that characterises every innovation of the PP governing junta.

            To set against this unending picture of corruption and self-seeking arrogance in the face of justifiable condemnation there are books.

            My box of delights from the student suggested book list for the next course on Modern Art arrived in a large and heavy brown cardboard Amazon box.  My delight was such that I immediately improvised a song:
                        Libros, libros, libros, libros,
                        Libros para me,
                        Libros, libros, libros, libros,
                        He, he, he, he, he!
Now say that two and a half grand for a course on Creative Writing was wasted!  More disturbingly we have been singing this for the past couple of days and Toni has gone so far as to create a series of gestures to accompany these deathless lyrics.  One suspects that Eurovision cannot be far away!

            Although I wanted to read all of the books at once and at the same time, I managed to rationalize my desires into a more sequential form and started with ‘Philosophy, the basics’ by Nigel Warburton, published by Routledge.  I have not read that many philosophy books – at least not all the way through – but this one is easily the best that I have attempted.  It is lucidly written in chunk size passages and the whole thing is organized around Big Questions.  It is an engaging read and is going to be a philosophy book I read the whole way through.  And that surely is a recommendation in itself!

            Another book that I have already read is more directly related to the Modern Art course and is ‘What are you looking at?  150 years of Modern Art in the blink of an eye’ by Will Gompertz, published by Penguin.  This book is a delight and it has pictures.  Poor black and white ones and a selection of full colour plates.  As I was reading it I tried to imagine how it would read if you were coming to Modern Art for the first time.  There are lots of names, but Gompertz weaves them into a compelling narrative of art which is written in a chatty and unintimidating style which keeps you in because Gompertz wears his scholarship lightly.  I learned a lot from this book, especially about those little, seemingly unimportant facts that other books do not give you.  I recommend it wholeheartedly.

            The one thing I would suggest about it though, is to have an iPad next to you when reading it so that you can look up illustrations of those paintings which Gompertz does not illustrate.

            As someone who thought he knew something about the history of Modern Art, I was disconcerted by the number of ‘key’ artefacts cited by Gompertz about which I knew little or nothing.  That, I suppose is what education is all about, roll on next October and finding out even more!

            In the same series as the philosophy book, I have ‘Art History, the basics’ by Grant Pooke and Diana Newall.  This looks a little more intimidating and is altogether chunkier – but it does have pictures!  This book is closer to my course than the Gompertz as it is concerned with the ideas of Art History rather than with a description of paintings – this is one that I need to get to terms with as a clear start to the theoretical work that is necessary in the course next October.

            And when I am reading and learning I am not thinking about the rampant corruption which washes over everything
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