Archive for July, 2003

Contemporary Cinema

July 31st, 2003

After seeing several crap new films this year (Gangs of New York, Secretary, Frida, etc.) it was excellent to see Good Bye Lenin!, which really is as good as Philip French and Anthony Quinn say it is. Playing at Oxford’s Phoenix cinema until August 7.

Cardinal Ratzinger Speaks!

July 31st, 2003

It is always exciting when Cardinal Ratzinger speaks, but loyal Catholics around the world will be concerned to learn that his arguments against the legal recognition of gay marriage are somewhat weak. It’s always fun to read a spot of contemporary Thomism, though.

Dead Socialist Watch, #31

July 31st, 2003

It’s a while since we’ve had a Dead Socialist, owing to computer failures and whatnot, but here’s a good one: Jean Jaurès, French Socialist. Born 3 September 1859, shot dead 31 July 1914 after becoming a leader of the antiwar cause.

Book of the Week

July 25th, 2003

Katherine Mullin, James Joyce, Sexuality and Social Purity, Cambridge University Press, 2003. This marvellous book by my friend Katy Mullin arrived yesterday. I’ve only just glanced through it, but it’s obviously going to be a cracking read. Against the dreary old image of Joyce as an apolitical writer whose innovations were primarily stylistic, Mullin anatomises Joyce’s lifelong interest in the complexities of early twentieth-century smut and details the ways in which his long-running and thoroughly political battles with the censors and the “social purity” movements of his day are carefully and rather deeply inscribed in his books, from the enigmatic encounter with the “queer old josser” in Dubliners through to the Nighttown episode in Ulysses. Everything is here, from masturbation to the mutoscope, in a riveting scholarly volume which makes the reader like and admire James Joyce even more than before.


July 20th, 2003

A warm welcome on the newly-alphabetised blogroll to the silverdollarcircle, a new blog by my former student (and occasional VS-reader) Simon, which will educate us all about the contemporary music scene.

J-JR Postcards

July 20th, 2003

The life and works of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, in postcards


July 20th, 2003
Best wishes from the Virtual Stoa to old friends Mojo Billington and Ben Dalby — married yesterday afternoon here in Oxford, in a splendid ceremony with excellent clothes.(It was also Vladimir Mayakovsky’s 110th birthday and my dad’s 67th, so a good day to celebrate all round.)

Back on Track

July 19th, 2003

It’s the first day of the new month (Thermidor, since you asked — see the French calendar above), and it’s probably time to start writing in the Virtual Stoa again.

The two month gap began in early May, after I poured a glass of red wine into my laptop computer, which turned out not to like red wine quite as much as I do. And while things were only vastly inconvenient on the computer front for a week or so afterwards, I lost the habit of regular posting to the VS and was then Very Busy for most of the last ten weeks, making the final corrections to my dissertation MS, listening to an implausible amount of reggae, shuttling back and forth between Rome and Oxford, marking a lot of exam scripts and doing a fair amount of teaching, too.

From time to time I was tempted back to the blog — especially after the publication of Andrew Motion’s “rap” to celebrate the 21st birthday of Prince William. But I was able to resist.

With luck, then, the usual semi-regular posts will begin to appear in this space again from now on. Thanks for being patient.