Saturday, March 31, 2007

Men of Power

I wouldn't say I'm a particularly political person. I don't really ally myself with any political party, and have never really assessed my own political views further than that of a gentle leaning to the left. I do however feel that I should try and engage with politics more, and indeed feel that everyone should try and vote, simply as a vote for democracy if nothing else. But whilst watching the budget the other day, I was left rather confused. It wasn't that the politicians were lying - that would be simple enough, they appeared to be using facts to confront each other, but with such a strong conviction of their opponent being wrong, that it undermines the credibility of the facts. More than that, they would seem to take opposing views on any given statement.
"Look at this" one would say "isn't it a lot better than it used to be?!"
"No," the other one would cry, "It's much, much worse"

I'd hoped the media would help to explain all of this, but once again - no such luck. Newspapers emphatically condone or contest the new budget, taking completely opposing views on the same points. So I considered that this could be because the budget is such a big and complicated thing, that there would undoubtedly be some people who benefited and some who lost out, but the political parties direct their comments to the everyman - making it seem like everyone's winning or loosing under these proposals.

I recently received some propaganda through the post in preparation for the upcoming local elections, and it was the same again - so much manipulative rhetoric that you could barely find the points underneath it. And so I considered looking up policies, but we all know they can be changed and ignored. So I am left feeling confused and disfranchised.

A lot of this seems quite obvious, and I suppose I did know it all before, but I just feel that recently I've seen it more clearly, and understood the situation a little better, and it's quite disheartening really.

I knew that David Cameron was never going to applaud anything Gordon Brown had to say. But I'd never followed that to the logical conclusion that as they both had their positions pre-decided; it rendered the facts quite irrelevant to either of their arguments. I also know that there will be amendments, and opposing parties will at times come to agree, but only if they are sure it will not be at the expense of their public image.

In some ways I feel that essentially this is what modern democracy is, and given the alternatives, I'm cannot help but remain thankful to live here. But seeing anew how hollow and superficial politics can be has left me wondering what the point is. It makes me think of something I first discovered when reading 1984, but had never been able to apply to a real life situation- that of a war going on, and no one remembers why it's being fought, but you just know it is, and there's no possibility of stopping, and so you just have to pick a side, commit, and hope for the best.

Saturday, March 03, 2007

some films

This blog entry has unexpectedly ended up being about films (as opposed to just random things I've done recently).

I just watched a film called Adaptation, which was adapted from a book, and is about the adaptation of the book to the film itself. For example, the screenplay writer will have an idea for the opening of the film, and so writes it down, but of course we the viewer have already seen it, as it was (/is) at the beginning of the film. In the end it left me wanting to find out about the making of the film, and how honest it real is.

Also, I went to a concert the other day, at the Dome, of three Charlie Caplin films, with an new orchestral score performed live. I'd seen one of the films before (The Immigrant), and in these new surroundings found it reasonably funnier than I remembered. Maybe this was just because of the atmosphere of community that enhances comedy when performed live, but I still felt the music worked wonderfully. This isn't to say that the music was at times rather challenging. It could be very dissonant, and at one point the two solo singers stood up and begin conducting, enabling the orchestra to break into three sections and each play at different speeds. It also employed a variety of unusual instruments featuring bottles struck with sticks; kazoos; shouts, singing and whistling from the instrumentalists; electronic effects; and at one point, police-like statements recited by the soprano soloist through a megaphone.

And finally, a while back I saw The Science of Sleep, at the Cinema (Incidentally, the cinema in question is the Duke of York's Picture House, a cinema here in Brighton which was purpose built as a Picture House in 1910 and has been used solely for that purpose ever since). It's basically just another love story, but told very well, in a truly wonderful world. At the end of the film there were still some inconsistencies, and certain sections which left you unsure as to whether they were dream or reality. Even the love story - at the heart of the plot - is left unresolved at the end, and I felt a little cheated by that (as Hollywood has taught me). But I resolved that this is just part of the way this film works, part of it's aesthetic, and that it's such a wonderful aesthetic that I really can't complain.

So there you go, I wouldn't say I'm much of a film man, and I'm usually quite critical and not very easily impressed. But as all these experiences have been very enjoyable, I must conclude that I've finally began to work out what kind of things I like, which is good.