July 19th, 2005

[B5] Regimes of the Future

I suspect that my Babylon 5 group viewing sessions--kindly hosted by acrabtree, featuring finfin, larkvi and schizmatic tonight--have generated a new LJ heading. We caught three episodes tonight, "Born to the Purple," "Infection," and "The Parliament of Dreams" (spoilers). "Infection" is a Very Special Message episode and eminently mockable; the other episodes, like the rest of Season One, are generally serviceable if not up to the standard of later episodes.

One thing that I like about the Babylon 5 universe, apart from the realistic political economy of interstellar colonization, is the diversity of interstellar regimes. The Narn Regime appears to be an authoritarian polity with some measure of politicking and public discussion that makes it vaguely akin to Yugoslavia; the Centauri Republic is your classic house- and class-ridden dynastic empire; the Earth Alliance, well, let's not give out spoilers. The Minbari don't correspond to any Earthly category than I know of, being rather more competent than pre-1959 Tibet, while the Vorlon Empire just is beyond us.

[NON BLOG] Aging

The other day I took a look at my sideburns. I found my first grey hair when I was 20, but to my surprise, when I glanced into the mirror, I found that my sideburns were starting to look salt-and-pepper. I pulled a white hair and looked at it in the light, like fine fishing twine.

"Shave them off," I told my regular hairstylist at House Of Lords this evening when I went to get my regular monthly haircut. Cut it to the quick.
  • Current Mood
    old, ridiculously

[BRIEF NOTE] What is it about writers and politics, anyway?

Even in translation, Yukio Mishima's short stories are esthetically pleasing models of economy and intelligence. When I first read them, I was left all the more astounded that their writer had died in 1970 by his own hand, committing seppuku after his attempt to rouse the Self-Defense Forces into staging a military coup had failed. There seems to be, in fact, a direct relationship between the greatness of a writer and the insanity of his or her politics. Céline, according to John Lukacs, wanted the Nazis to win the Second World in order to keep the Chinese from Brest, not Brest in Belarus on the Polish frontier but Brest in Brittany. Ezra Pound broadcast propaganda for Fascist Italy, drawing upon his ridiculous desire for a misunderstood Confucian China. Genet supported the Black Panthers, while Eliot was a creepy royalist and Solzhenitsyn's desires for a Holy Orthodox Russia encompassing most of the former Soviet territories and critical of Jewish and Western influence are, alas, well-known.

I would go so far as to say that great writers should not involve themselves in contemporary political affairs. Why is this? Günter Grass is the only writer of international renown I can think of whose political writings are respectable. Grass' oeuvre is dominated by a nostalgia for an irrevocably lost past: Danzig in the interwar period, the flourishing of Kashubia, in short, Mitteleuropa and the Baltic littoral before the Second World War wrecked things. It's important to note that Grass' vision doesn't stretch so far as to require the restoration of this reality, the reversal of the Oder-Neisse line and the recreation of a Kashubian peasant culture that is, by now, archaic. He memoralizes the past, and cares for the past, but he leaves it past. Grass certainly doesn't want to rebuild the world in line with his artistic visions. Too many other great writers, alas, are too caught up in their grand dreams to realize that reality must differ.
  • Current Music
    Eighth Wonder, "I'm Not Scared"