Saturday, March 23, 2013

Apologies for absence

The combination of the Melbourne heatwave, being very busy at work (having to get up a 5.30am in the morning to beat the traffic then doing a full day's presentation teaching takes it out of me) and an obsessive writing project have meant I have not been around much.  Apologies for that. When I have been, it has mainly to fill the spam bin.  In the war between spammers and spam-blockers, the spammers are clearly currently ahead. Apparently, praising one's format/choice of blogging platform/blogging content is part of the successful spammer's armoury.

I did manage to get to see Lincoln, which I enjoyed immensely. Intelligent films about politics, such as this Daniel Day Lewis vehicle, is a form of cinematic crafting that I particularly enjoy. At least one professor of American history has announced he is going to use it as a teaching aid, which seems entirely reasonable.

Lincoln manages to be at once uplifting about the possibilities of politics and wryly cynical about its processes. The Thirteenth Amendment is portrayed as being (narrowly) passed by a mixture of base political manouevring, blatant use of the patronage powers of the Presidency and simple persuasion. (I was also amused that Hollywood did a movie where the Republicans were the good guys and Democrats the bad guys.) Democracy as government by discussion is well on display.

But even the most blatant vote-buying displayed for our cinematic enjoyment is for the noblest of purposes--abolishing slavery, definitively and without evasion. That it was nearly de-railed by another worthy cause--ending the bloodiest war in American history--is also part of the stuff of politics, which is rarely a competition between good and evil but often one between rival goods. (And occasionally one between rival evils; that is the enormous tragedy of the Eastern Front during the Dictators' War.)

As Legal Eagle recently pointed out, serious blogging is a time-consuming activity. It also takes energy and cognitive effort. Lacking spare amounts of the former and having the latter very focused on a specific writing task has left me little time for blogging. I am hopeful that the onset of the school holidays will see a bit more time for the latter. But writing will (hopefully) being taking up more of my time than it has, so no strong promises are being entered into.

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