Saturday, July 30, 2005

Another Elephant


In John Le Carré's novel 'Absolute Friends', there is a character who is the CIA liason or handler of the hero, Ted Mundy. One day he is gone from his office at British Intelligence, leaving nothing but 'a burning joss-stick in a milk bottle'. 

The question is asked 'Then why the joss ?' (P224). Why indeed? Could it be that there is an anti-Americanism so deep-seated it can only be expressed by the sense of smell? The elephant in the room, again.
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I don't need to highlight certain passages in Ian McEwan's 'Saturday': this has been done by Harry and  Norm. Nick Cohen in a New Statesman essay - 'We have a softened Thatcherism in public life... says 'McEwan is a rarity: a writer who knows what was done in Abu Ghraib before the Americans invaded' and quotes the passage:

Placards not yet on duty are held at a slope, at rakish angles over shoulders. "Not in My Name" goes past a dozen times. Its cloying self-regard suggests a bright new world of protest, with the fussy consumers of shampoos and soft drinks demanding to feel good, or nice. Henry prefers the languid "Down With this Sort of Thing". A placard of one of the organising groups goes by - the British Association of Muslims. Henry remembers that outfit well. It explained recently in its newspaper that apostasy from Islam was an offence punishable by death.

The BBC, in its radio serialisation a few months ago, didn't mention any of this. It does however find room for this:  'Whenever he talks to Jay, Henry finds himself tending towards the anti-war camp.' [Jay is Henry's American anaesthetist.]

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