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Modern Art Is Shit

January 20, 2011



I have tried to do what is true, not what is ideal. —Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec

In 1898, the Parisian gallery owner Maurice Joyant photographed his childhood friend Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec defecating on the beach at Le Crotoy in Picardie.

A year later, Toulouse-Lautrec was committed to an asylum, and three years after that, in 1901, he finally succumbed to complications caused by alcoholism and syphilis.

The general consensus is that the photographs were an exercise in ribald japery by a man who was frequently intoxicated and who liked to shock. But what if they’re not? What if they’re something much more significant?

I’m frankly astonished that these photographs have been so glibly and cavalierly dismissed. Perhaps I shouldn’t be–when people don’t like the message, they can usually be relied on to ignore it.

But Lautrec was no schoolboy prankster. He was a serious and original artist and he had spent years expressing himself symbolically; creating images was his natural medium of communication, his means of encapsulating, examining and re-iterating his profoundest ideas.

And that’s what we should be holding in the forefront of our minds: these are images, Lautrec’s favoured means of expression, created at his direction.

So, what was Lautrec saying? We can only speculate, but defecation and shit have a long and honourable history as symbols of contempt, of disorder, of misrule–from the Brown-Rumped Turd-dropper of Aristophanes to the toilet humour of Rabelais to John Dryden’s MacFlecknoe.

According to Mikhail Bakhtin in Rabelais and His World, it was appropriate to use shit to ridicule the king and clergy. This was not merely to mock and degrade, it was to unleash the people’s power, to renew and regenerate the entire social system. Shit represented a sort of healthy, proletarian honesty, a connection with the roots of the world; it was food, now it will fertilise.

To this day, the caganer (a peasant squatting and shitting) is a ubiquitous figure at Catalan Christmas nativity scenes and the old Catalan proverb tells us to: Menja bé, caga fort i no tinguis por a la mort (Eat well, shit strong and don’t be afraid of death)

From Aristophanes to Rabelais to modern Catalunya to Viz Comics, the turd as a great leveller is alive and well.

With this in mind, it’s unwise to dismiss Lautrec’s photos as nothing more than a vulgar joke. Obviously, I don’t know what Lautrec was saying but I believe he was saying something important. Feeling the end drawing near, he may well have been making his definitive statement, the culmination of all his work and thought.

Perhaps he was saying what Italian artist Piero Manzoni would say 60 years later when he canned his own shit. (Manzoni’s wonderfully acerbic commentary on the commodification of Art was to prove prescient when, on May 23, 2007, a can of his shit was sold for $124,000 at Sotheby’s).

Or perhaps he was saying something more straight-forward. The most recent exhibition of his work (put on by his friend Joyant) had been a critical disaster. As a message to critics and an unappreciative public, Lautrec’s defiant squat will strike a responsive chord with any artist.

Then again, maybe he was saying something more profound: that what you see is shit; that Art is the excreted waste-product of an altogether deeper and ineffable process; that what the artist really creates is something else entirely: a meme, a mood, a goad, an impetus for change, for evolution, for the re-ordering of consciousness.

Or maybe he just really needed to take a crap.

Get your minds into the toilet and let’s have scatalogical verse.

PS: I should point out that it was our friend Steven Augustine’s always cogent and entertaining blog that alerted me to the Lautrec photograph. Thanks, Steven.

  1. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    January 20, 2011 10:37 AM

    Le fait de crotter au Crotoy
    Sur plage déserte, en plein émoi,
    Rajoute un certain je-ne-sais-quoi
    Aux clichés de vacances, mais moi

    C’est pas mon style; j’irais plutôt
    Chier un coup au Chicago,
    D’abord W-C, puis lavabos
    Passer les mains souillées sous l’eau

    • mishari permalink*
      January 20, 2011 11:07 AM

      Formidable, mon vieux! ont un biscuit…

    • Reine permalink
      January 20, 2011 11:13 AM

      Oui, c’est super.

  2. January 20, 2011 10:49 AM

    • mishari permalink*
      January 20, 2011 11:42 AM

      Pasolini’s culinary masterwork.

  3. Reine permalink
    January 20, 2011 11:04 AM

    Down the Toilet

    A scatology analogy
    Is much depended on
    When feeling less than ideal
    Or critiquing cousin John

    But what is it to feel like shit?
    How can we really know
    What that steaming pile of matter
    Is feeling, does it show?

    It is a fraction easier
    To grasp “looking like shit”
    Given that a poo’s not pretty
    No matter how you look at it

    But then such variation
    Could give rise to confusion
    Do we mean we’re hard and bullet-like
    After difficult extrusion?

    Or are we pale and watery
    Splattered, all over the place?
    Really, can a bowel’s motion
    be reflected in the face?

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 23, 2011 11:06 PM

      I missed this one. Very good.

  4. January 20, 2011 11:15 AM

    Wim Wenders film “Kings of the Road”
    Where one of the characters dumps a load
    Of curlicues upon a sandy shore
    The audience has never seen this on film before
    Thinking “Has this been filmed in black and white
    To emphasise the shapes of shite?”
    In the shocked silence can be heard
    Someone wondering if it’s a stunt turd.

  5. mishari permalink*
    January 20, 2011 11:40 AM

    Great work, Reine, Ed. You think you’ve got it rough? Spare a thought for Jonathan Charles:

  6. mishari permalink*
    January 20, 2011 12:10 PM

    Announcing a £31m loss from the December freeze and union walkouts in France and Spain, easyJet said first-half losses in the six months to March would range from £140m to £160m, compared with £78.7m for the previous year.

    EasyJet’s chief executive, Carolyn McCall, formerly head of the Guardian group, said the airline’s trading performance was “solid”. —The Groan, today

    It never ceases to amaze me that executives of proven incompetence keep getting hired. Having steered the Guardian onto the financial rocks to the tune of annual losses of £40 million for the last 5 years, McCall is invited to work her, erm…magic…at EasyJet. What were they thinking? The whole board should be sacked for taking the wretched McCall on.

  7. January 20, 2011 1:35 PM

    what a shite thread (sorry… I’ll get Ed’s coat)

  8. January 20, 2011 1:51 PM

    Leave the wallet where it is Augustine.

  9. hic8ubique permalink
    January 20, 2011 2:19 PM

    Thanks for linking to ET’s images St. A. Your responses were enlightening as well.
    You must know of Bread and Puppet, ET? That’s my first association:

    TL looks a lot like Uncle Carl:

    • January 20, 2011 2:47 PM

      I also have a secret cache of EdTayloriana waiting in the collaborative projects queue…

    • January 20, 2011 2:50 PM

      I know Bread + Puppet very well but our work is not concerned with creating big symbolic figures like Peter Schumann does.

      It’s more intimate whereas B&P were/are carnivalesque and dealing with big historical events.

  10. hic8ubique permalink
    January 20, 2011 2:35 PM

    Everything alright in there Mowbray?
    the guests are all getting their coats.
    I noticed you’d gone at the savoury course
    was somebody getting your goat?

    Don’t weep alone in there Mowbray
    we don’t want any slitting of throats
    just give us a murmur, a life-sign
    for the sake of the ‘Maiden’ Who Dotes.

    We’re all of us fond of you, Mowbray;
    If you snuff it we’ll welter in sorrow.
    “The mussels were off” groaned Mowbray
    “I’ll be with you sometime tomorrow.”

  11. Reine permalink
    January 20, 2011 2:40 PM

    I thought my poem at bedtime might entice him back but yours is better put Hic.

  12. January 20, 2011 2:50 PM

    this is tangentially pertinent…

    • January 20, 2011 2:56 PM

      Is she looking at my drawings? Or is it a reaction to the louche barbarity that pervades TET in general?

    • January 20, 2011 2:59 PM

      oh, it’s far far worse, I’m afraid, ET. A legendary Internet vid that I’ve heard about but have been careful not to watch (in much the same way that I don’t make it a habit to stare at Gorgons)…

  13. mishari permalink*
    January 20, 2011 2:52 PM

    I don’t care what anyone thinks;
    I don’t mind taking the rap;
    I’ve sold Mowbray to the insatiable Chinks:
    They’ll buy any old crap.

  14. mishari permalink*
    January 20, 2011 3:06 PM

    God knows the original ‘2 Girls and A Cup’ video will give your gag reflex a workout. I’ve seen the ‘Frying Granny’s Cerebral Cortex’ vid, too. Ray Johnson (who does an entertaining weekly round-up of the web’s most bizarre, most baffling, most revolting and most amusing vids) featured it a few weeks ago.

  15. January 20, 2011 3:11 PM

    Have heard of it too but never been tempted. Anything like that might have Paris Hilton in it.

    However One Man and His Dog had the same effect on me as that granny.

  16. mishari permalink*
    January 20, 2011 3:33 PM

    Morgan Stanley have just announced bonuses of $16 BILLION. This follows Goldman Sachs $10 BILLION in bonuses and Royal Bank of Scotland’s £4 BILLION. I am truly bemused.

    What’s it going to take to get people off their backsides and into the streets? Not only are they being sodomised sans lubricant, they’re being told that they must pay for the privilege; tighten their belts; smile when they lose their job; and suck it up as the people who caused all this misery (the bankers), fill their pockets.

    Instead of marching on Parliament and the City and hanging these scumbags from lamp-posts, they sit at home and watch Strictly Come Dancing and Pop Idol. Maybe they deserve to get fucked. Maybe that’s what Lautrec was saying: I shit on you because you allow yourselves to be shat on.

  17. January 20, 2011 4:34 PM

    Here’s a first.

    Have been suffering from what I thought was an ingrowing toenail and being a diabetic ( where extremities count ) I was sent to the podiatrist this afternoon.

    I sat there as he got a shrink-wrapped tray out of a drawer which when uncovered revealed a trove of pliers, saws and scalpels. He scraped the rind off my toe, ummed and ahh-ed then said ” it’s a sock-related injury, quite common, nothing to worry about”.

    btw the CDR’s arrived this morning. Looks a good haul and something to watch whilst recuperating from this sock-related injury.

  18. Reine permalink
    January 20, 2011 4:45 PM

    A sock-related injury? What are your socks made from?

  19. January 20, 2011 4:55 PM

    I thought my socks were made from natural fabrics, cotton or wool but obviously these natural fabrics are dangerous.

  20. hic8ubique permalink
    January 20, 2011 6:16 PM

    News Flash:
    The artist Edward Taylor, who describes his work with sock-puppets as ‘intimate’, suffered a critical case of Impacted Toenail Lint allegedly as a result of professional sock-monkey-business.
    A surgical HAZMAT unit was despatched to ensure public safety. The forensic report is expected to bring to light any remaining threads of evidence.
    Two sock-monkeys involved in the incident declined to comment.

  21. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 20, 2011 8:33 PM

    Thanks for thinking of me, Reine,
    and my thanks to you, dear* Hic,
    I loved all those verses keenly:
    bloody Swords got on my wick.

    * non-romantic filler for scanning purposes

    • hic8ubique permalink
      January 20, 2011 9:17 PM

      It’s cool with me, Vicar, but I suggest you get out in front and toss our Reine a ‘dear’ as well, or we’ll all be hearing wailing across the water.

      You’re a bit sensitive in your own way too, aren’t you, you old darling.
      Just teasing. You actually come across as having an upstanding sense of decorum and social protocol, so your taking umbrage was consistent with that and understandable.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 20, 2011 11:42 PM

      That’s not what the magistrate said.

      I didn’t want or expect an apology from D Swords, especially one preceded by several hundred words of piss-taking. The talentless boor knows I despise him, so why pick on me? I don’t know.

  22. January 20, 2011 9:35 PM

    Is it Art or is it ‘Shit’? Man covers himself with poo, while his girlfriend strips to his mad ravings (Poetry) Crazy Fetish freaks get loose on stage, Old Street, London, Spoon Full of Poison Open Mic Night. Caught by FluCast

    • Reine permalink
      January 20, 2011 10:42 PM

      It’s shit; a bridge too far for me.

    • mishari permalink*
      January 20, 2011 11:35 PM

      That’s sissy stuff, Reine. If you’re going to transgress, Marina Abramovic shows the way:

      Marina Abramovic performed ‘Rhythm O’ in 1974. In the piece, the audience was given instructions to use on Abramovic’s body an array of 72 provided instruments of pain and pleasure, including knives, feathers, and a loaded pistol. Audience members cut her, pressed thorns into her belly, put lipstick on her, and removed her clothes. The performance ended after six hours when someone held the loaded gun up to Abramovic’s head and a scuffle broke out.

      In 1976, after moving to Amsterdam, Abramovic met the West German performance artist Uwe Laysiepen, who went by the single name Ulay. They devised a series of works in which their bodies created additional spaces for audience interaction.

      In “Relation in Space” (1976) they ran around the room – two bodies like two planets, mixing male and female energy into a third component called “that self.” “Relation in Movement” had the pair drive their car inside of a museum for 365 laps; a black liquid oozed from the car, forming a kind of sculpture, each lap representing a year. (After 365 laps they entered the New Millennium.)

      In discussing this phase of her performance history, Abramovic has said: “The main problem in this relationship was what to do with the two artists’ egos. I had to find out how to put my ego down, as did he, to create something like a hermaphroditic state of being that we called the death self.”

      To create this “Death self,” the two performers devised a piece in which they connected their mouths and took in each other’s exhaled breaths until they had used up all of the available oxygen.

      Seventeen minutes after the beginning of the performance they both fell to the floor unconscious, their lungs having filled with carbon dioxide. This personal piece explored the idea of an individual’s ability to absorb the life of another person, exchanging and destroying it.

      In Imponderabilia (1977, reenacted in 2010) two performers, both completely nude, stand in a doorway. The public must squeeze between them in order to pass.

      In 1988, after several years of tense relations, Abramovic and Ulay decided to make a spiritual journey which would end their relationship. Each of them walked the Great Wall of China, starting from the two opposite ends and meeting in the middle.

      As Abramovic described it: “That walk became a complete personal drama. Ulay started from the Gobi desert and I from the Yellow Sea. After each of us walked 2500 km, we met in the middle and said good-bye.”

      It makes a nice change from sitting down in a pub with your soon-to-be ex and saying ‘It’s not you; it’s me…’

    • Reine permalink
      January 20, 2011 11:51 PM

      I hold my hands up sissy-wise. I was warned on no account to look at the 2 cups etc. but did I heed the warning? I did not. I am still reeling. Shit as an art form is not working for me.

      Abramovic should have got out more. What a load of nonsense. Sorry, how very profound.

    • Reine permalink
      January 20, 2011 11:55 PM

      How much easier to snog the face of someone else… not that I ever have you understand.

    • Reine permalink
      January 21, 2011 12:01 AM

      of or off, whether or which…

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 21, 2011 12:21 AM

      Was the black liquid Oil of Ulay?

  23. Reine permalink
    January 20, 2011 10:15 PM

    I’ll let her have a “dear”
    I won’t begrudge her that
    She’s dear and sweet and clever
    And you, well you’re just phat

    Welcome back x

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 20, 2011 10:44 PM

      Dear Reine,

      Thank you.

    • Reine permalink
      January 20, 2011 11:40 PM

      No valentine,
      no billet doux
      no wax sealed lover’s letter
      could give me such a midnight boost
      or thrill me any better.

      “Goodnight to you Mrs. MM (I am only flirting harmlessly don’t ya know?)”

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 20, 2011 11:56 PM

      We watched the latest Taggart earlier, with some classic Burkeisms. Watch out for (to a copper sympathising with trade unionists):

      ‘Jist leave it at hame, Trotsky! All reet?’

    • Reine permalink
      January 20, 2011 11:59 PM

      It’s on the menu for tomorrow night. All reet?

  24. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 20, 2011 10:49 PM

    Faecal matters

    I’ve seen them in every colour and style,
    Curled and straight, brown, black, yellow, even white,
    Sometimes I think I could probably compile
    A good encyclopaedia of shite.

    I do my research almost daily,
    On fresh deposits of the residue,
    I get my samples accidentally,
    In general I find them on my shoe.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      January 21, 2011 12:05 AM

      Mowbray employs due diligence.

      He keeps a little book

      when pacing in his garden

      and strives to keep a look-

      out. In apprehending data,

      in documenting poo,

      he notes your beagle’s output

      and posts it back to you.

      He scrutinises seagulls

      he monitors each cat

      he double-bags his findings

      and post-haste sends Des the scat.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 21, 2011 12:16 AM

      There’s an idea.

      I’m in no sense trying to disrespect the numerous dog fans on this blog, btw. There does tend to be quite a bit of their detritus on our street. There are stacks of OAPs roaming about who probably can’t bend over far enough to pick the stuff up.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      January 21, 2011 1:30 AM

      Not at all, we’ve hashed that one out between us long ago. I wonder whether Paul McCartney is one of your infractionary dog-walking stiffs. Has he not heard of the pooper-scooper?

  25. mishari permalink*
    January 20, 2011 11:58 PM

    Old style poems are made of words
    The new free-verse is made of turds
    For what it’s worth, here’s what I think:
    Old poems smell, the new ones stink.

  26. mishari permalink*
    January 21, 2011 12:01 AM

    It’s almost worth watching just for that, MM. ‘Aye…see you, Trotsky, by the way…yer a bampot, so yez are…away ye go…’

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 21, 2011 12:12 AM

      You should try it. All reet, it’s not The Wire, but…

      I was mildly happy to see Alan Johnson go. Just Ed to get rid of now.

    • January 21, 2011 9:39 AM

      Not another poem where you kill me off MM.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 21, 2011 12:40 PM

      Just talking Balls.

  27. mishari permalink*
    January 21, 2011 12:16 AM

    Johnson was long overdue the boot. He’s a fool and a dishonest and cowardly one at that. Amusing comment on the Graun’s Joan Rivers thread:

    “Congresswoman Giffords is married to an alumni of my husband…”

    This is what happens when you alienate and drive away your core readership and make up the weight with paywall-dodging mouth-breathers from The Times and Torygraph.

  28. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 21, 2011 12:29 AM

    Yes, it’s amazing how right-wing a lot of the early responses on cif have become. They’re not even imaginative, just ‘What part of ‘there is no more money’ do you lefties blah blah’ with endless attacks on Labour, which, of course, most ‘lefties’ agree with anyway. It’s a waste of time usually.

  29. January 21, 2011 9:37 AM

    I never understand what the rabid-right CiF-ers are so aggrieved about – they’re on the winning side, the NHS IS going to pulled to bits, the public sector IS going to be shrunk beyond recognition, education IS going to favour the few.

    I saw Marina Abramovic many years ago – very good. She made a lovely pair of shoes roughly hewed out of marble for visiting the underworld with. The idea as I took it to be was that these shoes were too heavy to actually walk in so any visit to the underworld would have to take place in your imagination. Quite poetic I thought, it still hangs around in my memory 15 or so years later but that’s just me.

  30. January 21, 2011 9:59 AM

    I doubt if the early right-wing comments and the huge number of recommends they garner are incidental. Getting the ‘message’ out early on discussion threads like these is increasingly important as more people turn away from the MSM; it would not surprise me in the least to learn that responses/recommends are co-ordinated from Central Command in Millbank/Texas/Exxon boardroom.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      January 21, 2011 3:58 PM

      Recommend (1)

  31. January 21, 2011 10:10 AM

  32. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 21, 2011 12:53 PM

    Got the DVDs today. Thanks. Looking forward to seeing them.

  33. mishari permalink*
    January 21, 2011 1:02 PM

    You’ll enjoy Southland and True Grit (which is far truer to the Charles Fortis novella (or was it just a short novel? Not read it in 30 years) than the John Wayne film.

    Haven’t watched the others but The Fighter has had great reviews as has Bitter Feast. I wish True Grit were better quality (it’s a screener–what the studio distributes to reviewers pre-cinema release) but it’s perfectly watchable…just not HD.

  34. Reine permalink
    January 21, 2011 1:13 PM

    Alan’s “close protection officer” took his brief too much to heart did he?

  35. mishari permalink*
    January 21, 2011 1:28 PM

    I don’t really know what’s going on vis a vis Postman Pat Johnson but a friend told me earlier that it’s to do with The Postman (post-integrity, post-morality, post-decency: that fucker’s post everything that matters; he’s another one like Blind Lemon Blunkett–God, I loathe these fuckers) impregnating his paramour and the postie’s wife revenging herself with Action Man…or something.

    Who gives a fuck? I just want all these New Labour careerist scum to drop dead forthwith, if not sooner…

  36. January 21, 2011 7:09 PM

    Great quote from MP Tom Watson – ” Andy Coulsen is the only man who’s resigned from two jobs for reasons he knows nothing about.”

  37. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 21, 2011 9:48 PM

    This manuscript poem by Coleridge, apparently dealing with the chronic constipation brought on by his opium addiction, was discovered by a Mr F Reepoland behind a toilet cistern during a restoration of Dove Cottage. Dated to c.1798, it is thought that one or two of Wordsworth’s works may owe something to the poem.

    I wandered bunged up like a brook,
    Which hath been dammed by sportive boys,
    My head did ache, my fingers shook,
    From my gut came a curious noise:
    But I quelled those feelings of mine,
    I was amongst a host of kine.

    Bulls they were, magnificent brutes
    So touching in their majesty
    And violent in their attributes
    I decided that I would flee.
    Full forty metres did I run,
    Certes, I must have done a ton.

    Most fearful of the hornèd toss,
    I hurdled one of the ditches
    The beasts were unable to cross,
    And found I had soiled my breeches.
    Yet I contemn not those cattle,
    They have assisted my battle.

    For oft, when on my bog I sit
    Feeling as though I could die
    For the lack of a decent shit,
    They flash upon that inward eye,
    Those creatures with their fearsome scowls,
    And suddenly I move my bowels.

  38. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 21, 2011 9:50 PM

    Ouch. That last stanza shouldn’t be there. Can you remove it, Ed?

    • Reine permalink
      January 21, 2011 11:20 PM

      It was gratifying to see the poet at work.

  39. mishari permalink*
    January 21, 2011 10:23 PM

    Hot shit, MM.

    That’s a good line, Ed…Coulson looks like a weasel and doubtless has the morals of one…come to think of it, that’s grossly unfair to Mustelidae. No self-respecting stoat, ferret or weasel would ever edit the News of The World.

    Anything that helps to wipe that smug look off Cameron’s fat shiny, red face is welcome.

  40. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 21, 2011 10:39 PM

    Thanks, Ed.

    There’s just too much news at the moment. I can’t handle it.

  41. mishari permalink*
    January 21, 2011 10:54 PM

    This one’s for the Coalition of The Damned:

  42. Reine permalink
    January 21, 2011 11:18 PM

    Taurean Cac

    I have a degree in bullshit
    Graduated with aplomb
    The family all gathered round
    The girls and Dad and Mom

    I’ll take a line for a long walk
    And colour in the loops
    Make idle chat with anyone
    Politicians, princes, snoops

    It’s not as easy as it looks
    Talking shite all day
    It can be very constricting
    In a colon-clogging way

  43. hic8ubique permalink
    January 22, 2011 12:14 AM

    GO, TauReine!

    I seem to remember that John Locke extolled the ‘bliss of solitude’ on the throne as well, MM.

    With respect to Mishari’s opening musings, I can’t see Art as the excrement of the creative process. (With ya there, Re)
    Or, that is, perhaps only in the sense that a two-yr old is proud of what he’s produced in the potty. It’s possible of course for one to be infantile without being an infant, ergo; some artists’ works will be crap.

    I think it’s a mistake to equate procreative and excretory function, ie proximate but not equivalent. (I’m referring to the primal generative centre of the hara, not suggesting that what we see of Art is ‘sex’ anymore than it is ‘shit’.)

    Old Toulouse there on the beach, I imagine, could be making a statement about
    autonomy, artistic control, or the commodification of Art and resulting rebellion?
    All I know of him is my sense of his work, and now his bum.
    Or… maybe he was strapped to the potty when he was two?

    We’re just off to see The King’s Speech in an actual cinema…

  44. Reine permalink
    January 22, 2011 12:16 AM

    Enjoy it, Hic, I think you will.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      January 22, 2011 4:17 AM

      I did! Haven’t been to the mainstream cinema in some time. We all enjoyed it, including 14 yr old who began slumped and skeptical, but soon perked up.
      The client/therapist relationship draws me in without a struggle, and I loved how Beethoven’s 7th was used. Overall, the music didn’t irritate me, which is unusual in films.
      Probably wouldn’t have enjoyed the sight of the real Bertie for that length of time though. Queen Mary wasn’t quite horrible enough either.

  45. Reine permalink
    January 22, 2011 12:24 AM

    Reine plus rioja brings you –

    A JOB EPU….Robbie’s new car’s reg plate … a jobbie, pooh. Ta dah. Beautiful synchronicity.

  46. mishari permalink*
    January 22, 2011 12:35 AM

    Although I had my tongue firmly in cheek, hic (as you doubtless know) when I suggested that Art is the detritus of another, opaque process, it’s also true that that the excreted waste of consumer society is commonly transformed into Art–the careers of Andy Warhol and Jeff Koons are built on the shit of consumer society.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      January 22, 2011 4:03 AM

      Well, you covered the topic so thoroughly (by kicking your hind legs?) that I thought it worthy of some sort of effort, due consideration. Sometimes the creative process is more valuable than the product, but no, I didn’t take it you were wedded to that idea, just being provocative as usual.

    • hic8ubique permalink
      January 22, 2011 4:20 AM

      just ‘that you were’ being provocative…

  47. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 22, 2011 12:10 PM

    The Turde

    by John Dunge

    Golden turde, lyinge in this chamber potte,
    Some say your very element is base,
    The origin a fundamental place,
    Yette golde cometh from the earth, doth it not?

    In New Spain the yellow metall is gote
    By sad slaves toiling at the stony face,
    Now let us all respect their wretched case
    And not diminish their labours, God wot.

    They say ‘tis the tart malodorous reeke
    Of this human substance that makes it shitte,
    And that may welle bee so for them that seeke
    Subtler perfumes, but I care not one whit.

    Not an hour since thou wast in my lady,
    And so thou art precious as golde to mee.

    • Reine permalink
      January 22, 2011 12:32 PM

      I was going well until “Not an hour since thou wast in my lady,
      And so thou art precious as golde to mee.” and then choked laughing on my coffee. Killer close.

  48. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 22, 2011 12:23 PM

    I couldn’t make myself watch ‘The Queen’. I don’t know about ‘The King’s Speech’: George VI just says ‘dreary’ to me. I did watch ‘Mrs Brown’, despite the presence of the repulsive Billy Connolly. It was OK. My main interest was Osborne House, of course, which I don’t think featured much anyway.

  49. Reine permalink
    January 22, 2011 12:46 PM

    Sphincter spasm
    Through the chasm
    To lighten
    And frighten

  50. hic8ubique permalink
    January 22, 2011 2:15 PM

    Charming alchemye, though having been forewarned, I didn’t choke.

    Firth makes The King’s Speech worth it, MM, far better than either of those I’d say. Filmed at Hatfield… I stayed for the credits.

    The one I remember best was The Madness of King George.

  51. January 22, 2011 3:02 PM

    I think it’s fair to say
    That Mowbray’s on a roll:
    roars of flatulence display
    the turd that moves his soul

  52. Reine permalink
    January 22, 2011 5:25 PM

    I feel badly that in complimenting I let the cat(shit) out of the bag. Shouldn’t have quoted. Sorry MM.

  53. hic8ubique permalink
    January 22, 2011 6:36 PM

    No, Re. You just added another layer to my reading, didn’t spoil it one bit.

    Mishari, how are you faring? coming into the last stretch I believe?

    We had fantastic packed powder skiing yesterday from a replenishing storm, just a few days off due to slush, and now the trails are superb again.
    I’m forcing myself to do odious paperwork before I get out there … It makes me a bit crazed not wanting to waste one day of good conditions.

  54. Reine permalink
    January 22, 2011 6:56 PM

    Ok, I’m glad I didn’t.

    Another day of political turmoil here. Feel I have not left work at all. Glued to developments.

    Not long now Hicsterina… I hope someone is baking you a cake.

  55. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 22, 2011 11:40 PM

    Thanks to all for your appreciation. I thought of trying to resurrect my sigmoidoscope poem, but even my taste has limits.

    I don’t mind films about old-style kings and queens: I saw the Madness of KG years ago but don’t remember much about it. Visconti’s ‘Ludwig’ was a truly brilliant film. I’ve wanted to visit Neuschwannstein ever since.

    I hope you caught ‘The Killing’ on BBC4, Reine: it’s looking pretty good. I’ve never seen a Danish TV series before. Those bitchy remarks about Swedes were really uncalled for.

    Well, must go and flush myself down the toilet of unconsciousness.

  56. Reine permalink
    January 23, 2011 2:13 AM

    I will watch out for that MM; it has escaped me thus far. Now watching “This is Your Life” featuring Hattie Jacques on BBC4 having just come home from a 60th birthday properly. Q

  57. Reine permalink
    January 23, 2011 2:19 AM

    (my fastest finger out of the traps there)

    …uite the dark horse was Hattie apparently (her husband, John, in the attic and her lover in the main bedroom). Eamonn Andrews was a smooth operator; all the interviews are so quaint and yet so without guile, it’s refreshing.

  58. Reine permalink
    January 23, 2011 2:20 AM

    “a 60th birthday properly??”. Oh God, I’m going to bed. Someone must have spiked my drink.

  59. January 23, 2011 10:38 AM

    I wonder if John Le Mesurier ( Hattie Jacques’ hisband or indeed husband ) was the real dark horse. He was a very enthusiastic dope smoker, an Earth,Wind & Fire fan and showed beyond-the-call-of-duty tolerance when both his wives were having affairs not at all behind his back.

    I watched an eye-opening documentary about him a few year’s back and his second wife who was having a stop,start,stop,start affair with Tony Hancock treated him like utter shit, as did Tony Hancock. There must have been some level of sado-masochism in his personality to have allowed people to treat him like that. Or perhaps he was just permanently stoned.

    Great comic actor though. He said the secret to success was to play the same role no matter what the part was.

  60. Reine permalink
    January 23, 2011 12:35 PM

    Thanks E

  61. Reine permalink
    January 23, 2011 12:43 PM

    Oh God, it happened again! I was going to say thanks Ed for taking the bare look off my drunken rambling. Le Mesurier had an incredible face I think, a kind of expressive palette that seems to have gone out of fashion. He didn’t look like the kind of fella who would take shit either but you never know where sex or love is concerned, I suppose.

  62. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 23, 2011 2:19 PM

    Saved By The Ball

    Some years ago I was caught short
    and used a bog in Silvertown,
    it looked pretty nasty, I thought,
    but I disrobed and got sat down:

    I was just dying for a crap.
    I’d loosed a couple of crackers
    when a rat jumped up from the trap
    and seized my pendent knackers.

    I shrieked and yelled and shook my bum
    but there was no way that I could pry
    the vermin’s jaws from my scrotum:
    there was just one more thing to try.

    So I calmed myself and began,
    ‘I didn’t know rats went for balls.’
    ‘Too right,’ Ratty says, ‘We’re disco fans’
    and back in the water he falls.

    I was out of there like a shot,
    and now, when I feel my insides growl,
    whether I’m desperate or not,
    I always check the toilet bowl.

  63. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 23, 2011 2:28 PM

    The first 2 episodes are repeated on the 26th, I think they said. There’s 20 in all, so it’s a big commitment.

    I think that Mesurier/Hancock thing was on BBC4, ET. I seem to remember a ghastly drunken boat trip with all sorts of shenanigans going on. Maybe JLM just didn’t care very much. He certainly was a great comic actor: if I notice a Dad’s Army on I often drop in for a bit. I think I prefer Hancock on record.

  64. January 23, 2011 8:42 PM

    From the Dept of the Land of the Crazy People:

    This lady follows up her bizarre performance as a recent shooting victim, “grieving” the death of the little girl she was terribly close to ( ) with a blog post that will surely go down in history for its tone-deaf tastelessness (tag: “getting shot”)…

    sample paragraph:

    “Let me say that there has got to be a less painful way to push your numbers into the 5-figures. I’m not sure that there is an easier one, though. I’m sharing Sunday night’s Dateline episode with Michael Douglas. You know, the one married to Katherine Zeta-Jones, the one whose father played Vincent Van Gogh.”

    Now, I ask you…

  65. January 23, 2011 9:05 PM

    By the beard of Zeus! is it me or is that do-anything-for-a-bit-of-attention mentality only a hair’s trigger of difference away from the “loner” ( reg.TM ) who did the shootings

  66. January 23, 2011 9:17 PM

    (“poltiticized”… that’s either a typo or an adverbial variation on “poltergeist”)

  67. January 23, 2011 10:00 PM

    Sounds like a town on the shores of Lake Titicaca

    • January 23, 2011 10:07 PM

      Which brings us to 2012, I think. Or Thor Heyerdahl (sp)? Well *something* spooky…

  68. mishari permalink*
    January 23, 2011 10:03 PM

    I must say, you two are very cynical. Personally, I’m deeply touched by Ashleigh’s grief, which is very similar to the grief of Vincent Van Gogh that drove him to self-mutilation…geez…you don’t suppose she’s going to cut her ear off or anything? Well, if she does, I hope she remembers to film it and upload it to youtube (not that I’m prurient or anything: I just want to share her grief, like Vincent Van Gogh when he wrote to his brother Theo).

    • January 23, 2011 10:06 PM

      (chastened; also somewhat jealous I didn’t think of the ear thing first… of course, in a sharing-caring-evolved-american way, it would be a “chakra” she’d lop off)

  69. January 23, 2011 10:21 PM

    Speaking of genuine grief has Michael Jackson’s coffin been put in the ground yet or is it still touring various memorial concerts?

    • January 23, 2011 10:40 PM

      They’re working out a deal with Herr Doktor von Hagens as we write this…

  70. Captain Ned permalink
    January 23, 2011 10:30 PM

    Dad’s Army would be intolerable were it not for the relationship between Mainwaring and Wilson. The rest of the cast are all over-the-top, except for James Beck and John Laurie, but even they have to make do with stock characters. Le Mesurier and Lowe, however, make it worthwhile.

    Melton Mowbray seems to have found an ideal subject for his Muse. I particularly like the Coleridge one.

    Steven, I don’t know whether you’ve been made aware of this:

    My ‘favourite’ bit is where she writes ‘I can’t see how a car stopped here and a man struggled with a body without being beeped at and told to get out the way, as I was.’

  71. Captain Ned permalink
    January 23, 2011 10:47 PM

    The irate comments of Mail readers are priceless. I wonder if the Mail site attracts left-wingers in the same way the Graun is infested by poisonous right-wingers.

    • January 23, 2011 10:54 PM

      Funny thing is, read the comments on that even-more-tasteless Tucson-survivor blog I cite above and the commenters, being deranged-with-positivity Americans, are overwhelmingly supportive, thankful, “inspired” etc. Which must have to do with all the mood-altering chemicals in the doughnuts. It really must. The North Atlantic is a pretty good moat, btw. Don’t know why I thought of that just now. As the kids say: “Just sayin’.”

    • January 24, 2011 10:16 AM

      Ned to the right of that my-jaw-is-now-dragging-along-the-ground-picking-up-dust article is a classic Mail one about primary school children being taught homosexuality by stealth. The comments section there is a return to normal service.

      Proving definitely that a.) Liz Jones is a self-obsessed, opportunistic, tactless moron no matter what side of the political spectrum you’re on and proving a little less definitely b.) that most comment sections are infested with right-wing loons.

      Did you ever see a theatre show by Chris Goode called Hippo World Guest Book? It’s basically the comments section of a web-site called Hippo World. To start with it’s an idyll for Hippo enthusiasts free to enthuse about hippos. Then the haters get in, then the stalker obsessives, then the ads for Viagra, then hard-core porn and by the end the site is so beset with spam and abuse that it has to be closed down. He structures it so it’s like a sort of modern Paradise Lost. Worth seeing if he revives it.

    • mishari permalink*
      January 24, 2011 10:46 AM

      I would’ve enjoyed that, Ed. Pity he didn’t put it on video.

  72. mishari permalink*
    January 23, 2011 10:51 PM

    We all grieve in our own different ways. I, for example, might lock myself in my study with a case of vodka, 50 gms of heroin and the complete Satie; others may go on chat shows to shmooz with Michael Douglas (you know, the one whose father played Spartacus); still others may write cheap, tawdry exploitative shit for the halfwits who read the Daily Mail. Each to his or her own…

  73. Reine permalink
    January 24, 2011 12:31 AM

    Probing Question

    I hate to see a begloved hand
    Hovering near my rectum
    And hear a polite query
    About my movement spectrum

    It only happens in my dreams
    A flashback to days gone by
    When my fibre level lowered
    Though my moral one was high

    These days I strive for balance
    Wholemeal breads and fruits and nuts
    And even if my judgment vacillates
    I’ve got quite healthy guts

    I hate to see a begloved hand
    Hovering near my rectum
    So these days doc moves it up a bit
    And takes out “Mr. Speculum”

    • mishari permalink*
      January 24, 2011 12:40 PM

      Good poem…but Jesus…there is a difference between ‘scatalogical’ and ‘clinical’, Reine.

    • Reine permalink
      January 24, 2011 12:44 PM

      I’ll write anything in the hope of a laugh Mishari in the course of exorcising my demons. I did wish there was a recall or delete button the minute I had posted it…

    • mishari permalink*
      January 24, 2011 1:15 PM

      No, no…I like it; just made me squirm a bit, is all.

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 24, 2011 8:55 PM

      What’s the problem? Looks pretty mild to me. A doctor once persuaded me to serve as a specimen for budding consultants. I only had my trousers on for lunch.

      No sign of Hic. Must be preparing for the big day.

    • Reine permalink
      January 24, 2011 9:44 PM

      The twang of a rubber glove still makes me quiver MM.

      Yes, I miss Hic. She was planning on a day’s skiing I think but perhaps her lover whisked her away.

  74. January 24, 2011 1:48 AM

    I try not to watch the Fox trolls shite. Stay away from that syndrome of unhappier others, like us, acting out in Letters a part, pretending in a role for public consumption, that they are not who they are. Thick cunts.

    Debating with dimwitted dickheads agreeing laughably stupid shit is the opposite of what it is, is not summat I, as a PH poster, has volunteered for, yet. Ten minutes reading a list of moronic and unfunny comments, calling for the CIA to ‘say hello’, ‘neutralize’ and ‘kill’ the ‘problem’, of people finding out truths making the Lie – 9/11, kennedy, ww1 & 2 banks, nations, countries, collections of one Man lying since Gaia was usurped by the iron age dickwaving founders of 21C us – the US who lives only in a dream and the Propaganda put out by Official invisible J12, MK Ultra, project blu ray, yellow beams… …the greys and green sea, a god called Lir of brindle murk and mulch, seer in waves, singularly scatalogical Bard School BS bullshit, two fives and a one, opening with eleven against Jock in the Embassy at a final; failing often, failing better, falling into the music of who we are speaking song, in Letters.

    Conferences, adjournments, ultimatums,
    Flights in the air, castles in the air,
    The autopsy of treaties, dynamite under the bridges,
    The end of laissez faire.
    After the warm days the rain comes pimpling
    The paving stones with white
    And with the rain the national conscience, creeping,
    Seeping through the night.
    And in the sodden park on Sunday protest
    Meetings assemble not, as so often, now
    Merely to advertise some patent panacea
    But simply to avow
    The need to hold the ditch; a bare avowal
    That may perhaps imply
    Death at the doors in a week but perhaps in the long run
    Exposure of the lie.
    Think of a number, double it, treble it, square it,
    And sponge it out
    And repeat ad lib. and mark the slate with crosses;
    There is no time to doubt
    If the puzzle really has an answer. Hitler yells on the
    The night is damp and still..

  75. mishari permalink*
    January 24, 2011 1:52 PM

    RIP Jack LaLanne:

    At 60 he swam from Alcatraz Island to Fisherman’s Wharf handcuffed, shackled and towing a 1,000-pound boat. At 70, handcuffed and shackled again, he towed 70 boats, carrying a total of 70 people, a mile and a half through Long Beach Harbor.–NYT obit, today

    Jack LaLanne was always my inspiration and in his honour, this evening I propose to tow a fully-laden shopping trolley through Waitrose. I’m feeling fit. I’m feeling strong. I believe I can do it. Thanks, Jack.

    Oh, dear…the New York Times is suggesting that our beloved Prince Willie is rushing his engagement because he’s entering The Comb-Over Zone. I don’t buy it myself, but let Willie take note of these terrible Warnings From Tonsorial History.

    • January 24, 2011 7:35 PM

      Sorry to say but I’m slightly relieved: I was beginning to fear that Jack would outlive me. Seemed like a nice enough guy but I do remember thinking that he really *should* admit to being a fucking mutant so my mother could quit the futile chin-ups and change my diaper (to dovetail neatly with this thread’s theme…).

    • January 25, 2011 9:43 AM

      Willy shouldn’t worry: men with androgenic alopecia are more likely to have a higher baseline of free androgens, which means, ceteris paribus, he is likely to be able to keep Kate satisfied for longer.

    • Reine permalink
      January 25, 2011 10:58 AM

      Stop your boasting!

    • January 25, 2011 11:09 AM

      Boasting, moi? My lack of err prowess is legendary in the brothels of Guangzhou…

    • Reine permalink
      January 25, 2011 11:31 AM

      I’ve seen you without the hat remember…I was just extrapolating!

  76. mishari permalink*
    January 25, 2011 1:09 AM

    Luigi “Baby Shacks” Manocchio, an 83-year-old Italian gentleman with puppy-dog eyes has just pleaded not guilty to charges of extorting cash “protection” payments from New England’s strip clubs for the past two decades.

    Mr Manocchio, who owes his nickname to his taste in women (he likes them young and skinny) is the reputed head of the Patriarca family, an underworld organisation which controls much of Rhode Island. He was arrested on Thursday as part of an FBI “bust” that saw 119 alleged Mafia dons taken into custody.

    Also now speaking to lawyers are such figures as “Vinny Carwash”, “Jack the Whack”, “Junior Lollipops”, “Tony Bagels” and Benjamin Castellazzo, a rotund New Yorker charged with running illegal loan-sharking and gambling operations, who answers to the name of “The Claw”.–The Indy, today

    ‘Junior Lollipops’? ‘Tony Bagels’? ‘Vinny Carwash’? American gangsters…doncha love ’em?

    • January 25, 2011 1:18 PM

      “Jim Jodhpurs”, “Barry Bacon” and “Rupert Cornershop” would be the UK equivalents.

      Happy 50th hic

  77. hic8ubique permalink
    January 25, 2011 5:16 AM

    Lovely to be missed. I’m in Manhattan at the Warwick (for free), but just before leaving home, a packet arrived from freep! So I’ve brought it with me, and despite two episodes of great temptation, I’ve managed to save it for tomorrow. NYC is one of the last places on Earth I would choose, but such is the parent’s role.
    The other very happy thing is my anxious image of Mishari as the wraith-like Struwwelpeter (who didn’t want to eat his soup) is expunged by the suggestion that he’s partaking of nourishment.
    After the colonic carwash, it’s lollipops and bagels.

    • Reine permalink
      January 25, 2011 10:57 AM

      Happy birthday Hic! Have a wonderful day. You are a far more patient girl than I am. Resisting tempation is not my strong suit. xxxxxxxx

  78. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 25, 2011 11:00 AM

    To Hic

    Madam, I send you a felicitation
    on attaining the age of fifty years,
    and urge that you ignore the tosh one hears
    about the decade you’re embarking on.

    A fifties veteran, may I extol
    the virtues of conserving energy,
    of lying on one’s arse watching TV
    and the frequent abuse of alcohol.

    Avoid exertion, don’t try to be nice,
    disregard the telephone when it rings,
    evict the children and padlock the door,

    and perhaps, if you follow this advice,
    whatever it is that orders these things
    might quite possibly give you fifty more.

  79. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 25, 2011 11:08 AM

    Well, it’s the thought that counts.

    So, are the Palestinian papers genuine? If they are, then I’m equally astonished by two aspects of their contents. One, that the Palestinian negotiators thought they had any chance of getting the agreement of their people to their terms. Two, the boneheaded intransigence of the Israelis. You’d think they would have bitten the Palestinian arm off for those concessions. But no. Not good enough.

  80. mishari permalink*
    January 25, 2011 11:35 AM

    That’s what realists have been saying all along, MM: the Israelis have no intention of doing anything but stealing every acre of Palestinian land and ethnically-cleansing it of Arabs–that’s the end game.

    If anyone had any doubts about the essentially intransigent nature of the racist colonial Zionist project, they can dump them overboard now.

    Israel is the last gasp of Western colonialism and it is doomed–not next week, not next month and not next year–but doomed nonetheless. In 50 years, young Israelis will curse this generation of racist thugs, zealots, bigots, sociopaths and maniacs for not making a just settlement when they had the chance.

    Happy birthday, hic. I wish you every good thing. I’m still fasting. Tomorrow is day 20 and I’d like to extend it (I feel fantastic, as if I’m 50 lbs lighter, which isn’t anywhere near the case: I’ve actually lost about 15 lbs; I didn’t have much excess to lose). But despite the French reputation for rationality and despite having the science explained numerous times, Inez is convinced I’m at death’s door so I don’t know if I’ll be allowed to go for any longer.

    Meanwhile, More News From The Land of Crazy People:

    Authorities charged a US woman with felony animal cruelty, saying she hanged her nephew’s pit bull from a tree with an electrical cord and burned its body because the dog chewed on her Bible.

    Animal control officers said that 65-year-old Miriam Smith told them she killed a female dog named Diamond because it was a “devil dog”–Associated Press, today

    • MeltonMowbray permalink
      January 25, 2011 2:35 PM

      They missed a trick by not accepting the PLO offer. Then they could have posed as the reasonable party while the Palestinians tore themselves apart. I don’t suppose we’ll see a resolution in our lifetimes, unless it’s MAD.

    • January 25, 2011 3:30 PM

      (looking for footage on youtube)

  81. HenryLloydMoon permalink
    January 25, 2011 12:17 PM

    Bon anniversaire, hic! hic!!

    Mille excuses, c’est le champagne…

  82. January 25, 2011 12:25 PM

    Happy Birthday Hic!

  83. mishari permalink*
    January 25, 2011 4:14 PM

    MM, here’s a a comment posted by Jonathan West on CiF 2 years ago that sums up Israeli policy nicely:

    Just try a thought-experiment for a moment. Imagine what Israel’s policies and tactics would have been over the years had it not wanted to make a land-for-peace deal because in practice it wanted the land more than it wanted the peace, and that it wants the land but wants to ensure that the “demographic problem” is kept under control by not having to rule directly over a bunch of unruly non-Jewish Arabs who will insist on having human rights, which if granted would destroy the Jewish nature of Israel.

    What would successive governments do if they were operating according to such principles? It seems to me that they would use the following combination of tactics

    1. Loudly insist on all possible occasions that they have “no partner for peace”. If the Palestinian leadership is united, then claim that they are unfit to be negotiated with because they are evil terrorists, and if the Palestinian leadership is divided, then claim that no negotiations are possible because the other side doesn’t have the power to deliver its end of the bargain.

    2. When negotiations with the Palestinians are unavoidable, ensure that the negotiations are strung out for the longest possible time with endless bickering over minor issues, and ensure that the negotiations ultimately fail, or are arranged for a delayed or progressive implementation which Israel can then cancel at a whim citing “security concerns”.

    3. Keep building further settlements irrespective of any promises made to the Americans or others. Obfuscate the issue by describing new building as “natural growth”, or claiming that new settlements are “illegal” and will be removed in due course. Of course, they hardly ever are, except that occasionally a caravan will be removed from a hilltop with great fanfare.

    4. Whip up as much fury among the Palestinian people as possible so that they are so angry at Israel that Palestinian public opinion is made as anti-peace as can be achieved. Publicise all Palestinian anti-peace actions and claim that they show that the Palestinians will never be satisfied with anything less than driving the Jews into the Mediterranean. This can be achieved with routine killings of individual Palestinians by Israeli soldiers for which nobody is ever brought to trial, coupled with occasional larger-scale operations going after “terrorist infrastructure” which in practice end up demolishing key elements of Palestinian civil society. For maximum effect, such larger-scale operations should be timed to occur whenever the pressure to participate in negotiations is rising, such as the imminent inauguration of a more moderate American president.

    5. Ensure that the Palestinians remain as poor and helpless as possible, by restricting economic activity of all kind by means of checkpoints, blockades, barriers and other restrictions. In doing so, encourage the emigration of as many Palestinians as possible, and make it is difficult as possible for them ever to return once they have gone.

    6. Prevent as far as possible the building of new Palestinian homes or the expansion of Palestinian towns in order to claim that the surrounding land is unused and unwanted by the Palestinians and therefore can and should be built on by settlers.

    7. Whip up hatred among ordinary Israelis by making parallels with the Holocaust at every opportunity, and ensure that Israeli history textbooks include lies suggesting that the flight of the Palestinians during the 1948 war wasn’t an ethnic cleansing carried out under the guns of Israeli forces but was instead a voluntary movement to make way for the advancing Arab armies. Neglect to mention that the best way for a population to assist the advance of a friendly army is to stay put and do what it can to interdict enemy lines of supply and communication.

    Spot on in every particular. Nobody but an imbecile is surprised by these latest revelations.

  84. MeltonMowbray permalink
    January 25, 2011 6:14 PM

    I am an imbecile, but I’m still surprised at what the PLO was prepared to concede, considering the likely attitude of the Palestinian people. It’s occurred to me since reading about it that the Israelis thought the same thing, that the PLO had no chance of selling a deal like that anyway, so their attitude to it was irrelevant. But, as you say, the Israelis clearly aren’t interested in a deal.

    Neat plan of Condoleeza’s to shift ’em all to Argentina. Ay caramba!

  85. mishari permalink*
    January 25, 2011 6:28 PM

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply that you were an imbecile but I’ve been following this whole sordid and depressing saga closely for virtually my entire life and I meant that none of this comes as any to surprise to those who’ve been doing the same. I doubt that the Palestinian tragedy has been at the top of your news agenda since you were 13 but if it had and any of this surprised you…then you’d be an imbecile.

    As for the ‘concessions’, I’m sure they were merely a means of nailing the Israelis for the lying bastards that they are. The Palestinian negotiators knew perfectly well that they’d never have to sell any of it to their people because whatever they conceded, it would never be enough.

    They were making the point that it was like granting concessions to a shark while you’re floating in the sea and bleeding. The shark doesn’t give a shit: he wants it all; and you know you’re wasting your breath.

  86. January 25, 2011 7:06 PM

    The Israelis have certainly made it difficult for anyone to express anything but anodyne views.

    Loath as I am to credit Cherie Blair but years ago when she said she could understand why a young Palestinian might be driven to violence by frustration at the impasse she was leapt on by all and sundry. Of course she retracted the real meaning of what she said ( no credit to CB there ) and her husband did fuck all to help.

  87. mishari permalink*
    January 25, 2011 7:39 PM

    Of course, that’s part of the problem, Ed–anodyne is ‘safe’. The supporters of the Zionist project have wielded the anti-semite/holocaust tropes so effectively that anyone who condemns the killing of Palestinian civilians, anyone who condemns the theft of Palestinian land, anyone who condemns the murder of unarmed Turkish civilians on a ship in international waters, anyone who accuses the Israelis of negotiating in bad faith–in short, anyone who objects to the Zionist project is accused of being an ‘anti-semite’ or a ‘holocaust denier’ or lending comfort to ‘terrorists’.

    The problem is, the Zionist project (initially an agrarian, socialist, utopian movement) came under the control of terrorists and fascists in the 1940s, a fact recognized by Albert Einstein, Hannah Arendt and many other leading American Jews when they wrote to the New York Times to protest the visit of Menachem Begin to the US.

    The letter is worth reproducing in full because it was Begin and his allies (men like Yitzhak Shamir, a fellow terrorist and fascist and Avraham Stern, another fascist terrorist and murderer) who dictated the path Israel subsequently took (both Begin and Shamir, tellingly enough, went on to become Prime Minister of Israel. Stern was executed by the British).

    I don’t use the word ‘fascist’ lightly. These men are on record as deeply admiring Mussolini and his movement and wanting to emulate it. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck…


    Among the most disturbing political phenomena of our times is the emergence in the newly created state of Israel of the ‘Freedom Party’ (Tnuat Haherut), a political party closely akin in its organization, methods, political philosophy and social appeal to the Nazi and Fascist parties. It was formed out of the membership and following of the former Irgun Zvai Leumi, a terrorist, right-wing, chauvinist organization in Palestine.

    The current visit of Menachem Begin, leader of this party, to the United States is obviously calculated to give the impression of American support for his party in the coming Israeli elections, and to cement political ties with conservative Zionist elements in the United States. Several Americans of national repute have lent their names to welcome his visit. It is inconceivable that those who oppose fascism throughout the world, if correctly informed as to Mr. Begin’s political record and perspectives, could add their names and support to the movement he represents.

    Before irreparable damage is done by way of financial contributions, public manifestations in Begin’s behalf, and the creation in Palestine of the impression that a large segment of America supports Fascist elements in Israel, the American public must be informed as to the record and objectives of Mr. Begin and his movement.

    The public avowals of Begin’s party are no guide whatever to its actual character. Today they speak of freedom, democracy and anti-imperialism, whereas until recently they openly preached the doctrine of the Fascist state. It is in its actions that the terrorist party betrays its real character; from its past actions we can judge what it may be expected to do in the future.

    A shocking example was their behavior in the Arab village of Deir Yassin. This village, off the main roads and surrounded by Jewish lands, had taken no part in the war, and had even fought off Arab bands who wanted to use the village as their base. On April 9 (as reported in The New York times) terrorist bands attacked this peaceful village, which was not a military objective in the fighting, killed most of its inhabitants –240 men, women, and children — and kept a few of them alive to parade as captives through the streets of Jerusalem. Most of the Jewish community was horrified at the deed, and the Jewish Agency sent a telegram of apology to King Abdullah of Trans-Jordan. But the terrorists, far from being ashamed of their act, were proud of this massacre, publicized it widely, and invited all the foreign correspondents present in the country to view the heaped corpses and the general havoc at Deir Yassin.

    The Deir Yassin incident exemplifies the character and actions of the Freedom Party.

    Within the Jewish community they have preached an admixture of ultranationalism, religious mysticism, and racial superiority. Like other Fascist parties they have been used to break strikes, and have themselves pressed for the destruction of free trade unions. In their stead they have proposed corporate unions on the Italian Fascist model.

    During the last years of sporadic anti-British violence, the IZL and Stern groups inaugurated a reign of terror in the Palestine Jewish community. Teachers were beaten up for speaking against them, adults were shot for not letting their children join them. By gangster methods, beatings, window-smashing, and wide-spread robberies, the terrorists intimidated the population and exacted a heavy tribute.

    The people of the Freedom Party have had no part in the constructive achievements in Palestine. They have reclaimed no land, built no settlements, and only detracted from the Jewish defense activity. Their much-publicized immigration endeavors were minute, and devoted mainly to bringing in Fascist compatriots.

    The discrepancies between the bold claims now being made by Begin and his party, and their record of past performance in Palestine bear the imprint of no ordinary political party. This is the unmistakable stamp of a Fascist party for whom terrorism (against Jews, Arabs, and British alike), and misrepresentation are means, and a ‘Leader State’ is the goal.

    In the light of the foregoing considerations, it is imperative that the truth about Mr. Begin and his movement be made known in this country. It is all the more tragic that the top leadership of American Zionism has refused to campaign against Begin’s efforts, or even to expose to its own constituents the dangers to Israel from support to Begin.

    The undersigned therefore take this means of publicly presenting a few salient facts concerning Begin and his party; and of urging all concerned not to support this latest manifestation of fascism.


    Isidore Abramowitz, Hannah Arendt, Abraham Brick, Rabbi Jessurun Cardozo, Albert Einstein, Herman Eisen, M.D., Hayim Fineman, M. Gallen, M.D., H.H. Harris, Zelig S. Harris, Sidney Hook, Fred Karush, Bruria Kaufman, Irma L. Lindheim, Nachman Maisel, Symour Melman, Myer D. Mendelson, M.D., Harry M. Orlinsky, Samuel Pitlick, Fritz Rohrlich, Louis P. Rocker, Ruth Sager, Itzhak Sankowsky, I.J. Schoenberg, Samuel Shuman, M. Znger, Irma Wolpe, Stefan Wolpe

    New York, Dec. 2, 1948

    It’s also worth mentioning that Netanyahu is the son of Benzion Netanyahu, whose opinions were considered radical right wing, even by Menachem Begin. You can’t make peace with such people.

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