April 18th, 2004

A Blind Spot

I don't get Bach. Maybe it's because he's so mathematical. There was a woman playing the Chaconne last night and it was like being faced with a page of sums.

Mozart, Vivaldi- no problem. Early music- wonderful. The same programme also featured a concert of viols playing Byrd and Taverner and stuff. I was grooving along to them quite happily. It's just Bach. I just don't seem to be able to find a way in. And what makes it so infuriating is that everyone last night was saying how Bach is the greatest and the Chaconne is a pinnacle of western music. There's a line (Matthew Arnold maybe) about how we needs must love the highest when we see it. Well, sorry fella, but it just ain't true.

Out of my depth- but aren't we all?

The War on Terror. I hate that phrase. It's a no-brainer. Terror isn't an entity that can be fought; it's a strategy. A War on Terror is like a war on cavalry charges.

But worse than that, the phrase simplifies the extremely complicated mess we're in. I don't pretend to understand the mess, but then I don't think our leaders do either. Bush, Cheyney, Rumsfeld, Blair, Sharon, Arafat, Bin Laden- they all live in these closed off little enclaves of wishful thinking. They have simple minds. They want the world to conform to their simplicity. Bush wants the whole world to be Texas and Bin Laden wants it to be Afghanistan under the Taliban and Blair wants it to be Islington. Well, dudes, it just ain't gonna happen that way. The quality of these men shocks me. They aren't fit to rule. But who in the history of human affairs has ever been fit to rule? Scum rises to the top. When I try to think of a great leader- anytime, anywhere- who was also a great human being I all but draw a blank. I've got one name for you- Abraham Lincoln. And a second- Pericles. And a possible third- Elizabeth I. Otherwise- bleeagh!

War on Terror. No. It's a lot of little wars. The issues are local. Iraq has NOTHING to do with El Quaeda. But I can't help noticing that on the one hand you have a bunch of white guys with enormous weapons and on the other a bunch of brown guys with much smaller weapons. Two words spring to mind: racist and colonial.

I hate religious fundamentalism. But killing and killing and killing is not the way to douse it. What the U.S. did in Fallujah was a massacre, a war crime. If the occupying forces in Iraq ever held the moral high ground (which I doubt) they have lost it now.

Blair and Bush stand shoulder to shoulder and talk that sub-Churchillian rhetoric about good and evil and courage and perseverance and all that dulce et decorum shite and I cannot express just how disgusting I find it.