Thursday, 6 September 2012

Of time and space

The second half of August proved to be busier than expected, hence the hiatus in blogging.  Academics generally take one of two attitudes to the summer: do nothing so as to recover from last year's burn out, or work like mad because you'll never get anything done during term! The latter has been my approach this year, though I confess I'm looking forward to a week off next week before the rentrée.

So, it's been a period of wide-ranging reading. I have on my desk a variety of things. Georges Duhamel's Querelles de Famille, a reflection from the 1930s on the pollution of noise, waste, mechanisation and 'everything modern', has kept me entertained. Beside it lies Marshall McLuhan's The Medium is the Massage [sic], a rather amusing but challenging essay about the impact of electrification on the dissemination of information. McLuhan, who gave us the expression 'the global village', argues that electrification has tipped the balance away from visual to auditory culture. Now, there's a man who grew up with the radio! Surely we have tipped back in the other direction now, with our PlayStations, iPads, x-Boxes and 56" plasma screens. What still remains true from his analysis is that the instantaneousness - is that a word? - of communication changes the social matrix in which our actions unfold. Put in laymen's terms, this anticipates the age of social networking where we know more about our Facebook friends than about our next-door neighbours.

With these, I'm also ploughing through Philip Nord's France's New Deal, a recent study of how the modernisation which swept through France after World War Two - rationalisation, bureaucratisation, planning, technocracy - was by no means a post-war phenomenon but was thoroughly prepared during the pre-war years and even anticipated under the Vichy regime. Ooh, là, là!  This one of those touchy subjects which the French are still anxious about: God forbid we should do anything that the Vichy regime did! Yet, the Vichy regime was in some ways very modern. This is the grand irony of the counterrevolution: to be so opposed to the revolution that its hostility acquires a mimetic intensity. René Girard has written about this process at length. Perhaps I'll blog about it at some stage.

Otherwise, there is little to report from here, other than a rash of jam making, a visit from in-laws and a further crop, albeit small, of edibles from the garden.

For various reasons soon to be disclosed, Mrs Sudlow informs me I'm running the agriculture next year. Prepare, say I, for le plannisme!

1 comment:

  1. I think you should try Giant Bulgarian Leeks.