Corrections to the blogosphere, the consensus, and the world

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

From Crooked Timber

The fundamental fallacy implicitly accepted by nearly all comments above is that external powers intervening in a nation’s affairs can design the outcomes they wish to see. The only choice interveners have is the side that they back from among the genuine contenders. After that, if you succeed you get the kind of state that your proxies want, and if you lose you get the kind of state that your proxies’ adversaries want. If you stay out, you can’t influence which side wins. But you can’t invent a side (incidentally, have you noticed that Chalabi’s back on the news?), and you can’t really modify a side, because the only sanction you have is to move to one of the other sides that you’ve already decided are even less desirable.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Lear cheer

Went to the Simon Russell Beale Nat Theatre Lear at the Nova.  The best Lear I've ever seen, in that it didn't try for pathos, made no bones about Lear being a horrible person at every point of the play, and had Lear kill the fool himself. Beale's invocation of clinical dementia was masterly - that hand crooked behind his back, the alternation between whining and shouting - and the battle/devastation scenes underlined how idiotic it was for Lear to split the kingdom.  When I have a chance I will write a short Lear from the point of view of the King of France, who really does seem to have a keen eye to the main chance.

Hogwarts chapel

That was another of the unlikely things about Hogwarts; there didn't seem to be any religious observance.  By which I don't mean that it should be denominational (Anglican, one might guess) but that wizardry seemed to be entirely secular - no higher unearthly power, no Hecate even as a personification.  This might be a way of taking, so to speak, the curse off the notion of pacts with the devil, but it's still hard to envisage a world that contains wizardry but not the supernatural.

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