B.S. Johnson triumph

Guardian Unlimited Books | Special Reports | Top prize for biography of writer who won no glory

This is good to see. The Samuel Johnson Prize has been awarded to the obscenely talented Jonathan Coe for his biography of the almost forgotten – but not now – experimental novelist of the sixties, BS Johnson. His work is uncategorisable, really, and he was writing at a time when Kingsley Amis was considered daring. I hope the recognition that this biography has been given will see a revival in Johnson’s fortunes. Maybe his books will stay in print long enough for me to set them as class reading for my postmodernism module…

Meaningless slogans once more

On the way to work today, I overtook a lorry with the legend: “Rawlings Transport – keeping it real”. I don’t know where to begin on this – “keeping it real” was what hippies in Haight Ashbury did in 1967. Why a transport company – sorry, logistics solutions provider – should feel the urge to keep it real is beyond me, and, I suspect, them. I imagine the MD has a tragic pony tail.
Arriving in the bustling heartland of West Lancs, I was confronted with a sign for the upcoming Ormskirk street festival, which is being sold under the tag “Ormskirk Comes Alive”. Hmmm – does this confirm, as many people think, that it’s usually dead? Uncomfortably close to the Royston Vasey slogan, methinks.

More Meaningless Slogans…

The OU’s new expensive advertising campaign campaign hit the TV screens last night. The slogan they’ve gone with is “Powering People”, which makes it sound like they’ll be plugging students into the National Grid. This might not be such a bad thing, on reflection…
Even so, there’s an ever-rising number of these mindless taglines, and I suspect I’ll be returning to them in the future.

The Internet and Associations

The Observer | Business | John Naughton: Log into the confessional, my son
Interesting article from John Naughton, whose Observer column is always worth a read. I hadn’t heard of this peculiarly named Vannavar Bush before, but he seems to have had some far-sighted ideas. The idea of association was, of course, very much part of the modernists’ armoury in novels such as Joyce’s Ulysses. In fact, Molly Bloom’s soliloquy at the end of the novel is nothing more than an extended exercise in associative thinking. Yes and yes…

This guy’s hot…

Guy Fawkes’ blog of parliamentary plots, rumours and conspiracy
Came across this blog by accident. I’m obviously not keeping up very well, since it’s clearly a pretty famous blog. Entertaining, intelligent and, as the Grauniad says, incendiary in places.
Unsurprisingly, Guido doesn’t have a full profile, so I wonder who he is. Obviously London-based, and clearly someone with insider knowledge. Maybe a media hack? My left-wing sensibilities were a little disturbed to see that it was named blog of the year by the Adam Smith insitute, and a line in the Guardian calls Guido a “Tory boy”- but from what I can see he’s equally withering about politicos of all persuasions. Good stuff.

What’s a degree worth?

Guardian Unlimited | Guardian daily comment | Degree devaluation, from Lucky Jim to Average Joe
Much food for thought in this article. What Jackie Ashley doesn’t go into is the “university as lifestyle choice” brigade. These students are interested in the parties and the fun, but not the work. Two anecdotes to underline this: I confronted a very elusive student recently, who is currently enrolled again as a first year having failed his first year last year. I said that, since he hardly ever attended classes, hadn’t submitted any coursework, and had made precisely zero contribution to the course, that he could hardly be classed as a student. He was extremely annoyed, and told me that he most definitely was a student, “because I’ve paid my fees.” So that’s all right, then. Another student, who has managed to spend four years completing(full time) two years’ worth of study, told me she wouldn’t be choosing my third year module next year. I asked why, and she told me that she couldn’t because it was on a Thursday. When I looked blank, she explained, as if to a mental defective, that Wednesday night was traditionally the night for getting completely wasted in the student bar, so Thursdays were simply not possible. I’m not holding my breadth for her graduation…

Hello World

You have to imagine it’s Alan Whicker saying that…
This is my first attempt at blogging. The title, Topsyturvydom, is intended to suggest a few characteristics: quirky, wide-ranging, sceptical – what newspapers always used to call ” a sideways look at…” I’m interested in lots of topics, and hope to post on anything and everything, but mainly cultural stuff – literature, music, art.
Right now, I’m intrigued by what the blogging phenomenon means, and where it’s going. The cliche about the web is that a) it’s great, because anyone can publish on it and b) it’s awful, because anyone can publish on it. In other words, its great strength is also its great weakness. It seems to me though, that the greater access that people have to an exchange of ideas and opinions, the better. The web is a great leveller in that respect.
I’m off now to look at some other blogs I’ve found of interest. Maybe they’ll inspire me to write something more interesting than the above.

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