Today’s achievement: getting the decorations up. However, er, no christmas cards were sent from this address…
Today’s culinary success: cooking 1.3 kilos of wild boar in the microwave. Our ordinary oven is pretty unreliable, but I was able to improvise using a recipe for cooking gammon steak. After ten minutes on full power, and forty on half power, it was well cooked but swimming in gravy. Not crispy, of course, but very tasy indeed. So we have enough left over for tomorrow and Christmas day, and then once Catherine arrives on Christmas evening we can go vegetarian for a few days.
Today’s superb TV programme: Omnibus on BBC2, talking about Tolkien. I have to confess I was moved to tears by a) the archive film of the man himself talking about his writing; b) Terry Pratchett talking about his influence and c) Rayner Unwin, reminiscing about how as a ten-year-old he had reviewed “The Hobbit” for his father, and recommended publication. Also to an extent reflecting on Mordor and the places in the former Yugoslavia which are, or have been, close to it.
However I was not so convinced by the programme’s central premise, that Tolkien was trying to create a “mythology for England”. I think Gene Wolfe is much nearer to the mark in this month’s Interzone, where he reflects on Tolkien’s fascination with the purer, simpler times of the Middle Ages, and his revulsion againste the chaos of the twentieth century.
“We might have a society in which the laws were few and just… we would also have a society in which the lack of wealth was not reason for resentment but a spur to ambition, and in which wealth was not a cause for self-indulgence but a call to service. We had it once, and some time in this third millennium we shall have it again; and if we forget to thank John Ronald Reuel Tolkien for it when we get it, we will already have begun the slow and not always unpleasant return to Mordor.”
Wolfe almost portrays Tolkien as a conservative and almost makes it look as if he is one too; but he leaves enough wiggle room that I’m not inclined to disagree with him. I think it’s significant that Wolfe, like Tolkien, is a practising Catholic, the most prominent Catholic currently in the sf field.
Good to hear that the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction is heading for a third edition, and interesting that Dave Langford will join John Clute on the editorial team…
Today’s internet activism 1: Goading euro-sceptics on talk.politics.european-union.
Today’s internet activism 2: fine-tuning our anti-spam literature for MEPs in an email to George Mills.
Today’s real-life activism: Slavica Milacic called from Montenegro. I’d seen in B92 that she is part of the Montenegrin negotiating team for the EU-brokered talks with Belgrade. She invited me to come and do some work with the team over the first weekend in January; sounds like a fine idea to me, since I’ve never been to Montenegro.
Today at work: finishing Europa South-East Monitor, bits and pieces of website.
My first attempt at blogging lasted from late December 2001 to mid-March 2002. I’ve rescued the entries and put them on-line here.