I read yesterday that George Blake has died. I’m old enough to remember his escape from Wormwood Scrubs jail in 1966 but not old enough to recall his trial with much clarity. I walked past the jail in Hammersmith a few years ago and it was Blake’s name that came to mind. Notoriety is strangely long lived.[Read more…] about Loose Connections
How would you defeat the bias of language? I don’t mean a bias that demeans or excludes people. I mean the bias that results from the lack of comprehension. Communication of representational, figurative or abstract thoughts can be tricky, even with a common language. And harder still to convey as the overlap in the roots of language lessen. A Venetian might understand the gist of an Argentinian story but what’s clear when uttered in Japanese is almost certain to be opaque to someone who hears in Greek.
‘Rosebud’ was an enigma: the dying word of Citizen Kane, finally explained at the end of the film. Similarly, there was a Rosmeen question that came to be resolved shortly before our father died. As Orson Welles wrote in 1975, denying that his Kane character was modelled on media tycoon Randolph Hearst ‘There are parallels, but these can be just as misleading as comparisons.’
There’s a small collection I like to keep beside the bed, things to dip into when the news of the world depresses me. One of the items is My Life as a Foreign Country: A Memoir (2014); a depressing yet brave collection. These are stories about a soldier from a family of soldiering trying to hold onto his humanity. Brian Turner has written a lot about his PTSD without really addressing it directly. I’m very pleased that we have his signature on the copy beside me.