Merseyside

Sun Oct 7, 2007

I spent the last week in Liverpool, working in the Olaf Stapledon archive. I found, as you do, many serendipitously interesting things (letters from the young Frank Kermode to Stapledon, for instance) and have nearly gone blind trying to read his micrographic journals and notebooks, made even more amusing by Greek-letter substitution at odd intervals and syllable-reduction. But, a worthwhile experience, all in all. I encountered Marseilles soccer enthusiasts chanting in the streets and ate several varieties of the heavily spiced local cuisine. (I was met with a gaze blank and pitiless as the sun when I asked for tzatziki at a kebab joint, which I had judged to be of Greco-Turkish extraction, for example.)

The LFC seems to have a large Scandinavian following, judging from the goings-on in my hotel. I also listened to an installment of the BBC adaptation of Dirk Gently. Less amusing were the increasingly baroque fictions told by Delta to explain why various flights to and from the Atlanta airport were being delayed. There’s probably a blog devoted to these, which I should look for and contribute to. I do have to commend the choice of Howling Wolf as one of the in-flight cds, however, and I also got a chance to watch an episode of House and the American The Office for the first time. The latter was much better than I was expecting, and I look forward to inhaling the rest of them.

House, however, suffers mightily, at least for me, from unsuspendable disbelief. The episode I watched had D’Angelo Barksdale having his MEMORY ERASED by carefully calibrated electroshock. (He was also self-inducing heart attacks, but I’ll leave that one be for the time being.) I also noticed in a short piece in The Guardian by Steven Poole describing the professionalization of anti-Chomskyanism. (Poole, however, is not immune from an iron law of journalism: you must not praise or even agree with any of Chomsky’s political writings without noting that he’s wrong, usually in some obvious way, about something [the Balkans, for Poole]. The growth of that trope would be interesting to chart.)