I can speak and read only one language, English, a very long time ago I was taught, French, Latin and Greek, only a few scattered crumbs remain in my mind, mainly French. On the positive side English as a lingua franca is spoken on every continent in the world which makes me an extremely lucky person. Some state that it is the dominance of the mighty cultural influence of the United States of America, this influence cannot be denied but the words are ENGLISH; the grammar, phrases, spelling and meaning vary from the language spoken and written in the Old Country. Nevertheless the words which derive from many languages, all those strange, wonderful, varied and beautiful words are English. There are some writers whose skill with these words is an inspiration and a compendium of delights, is Clive James. I have listened to him on the radio, watched him on TV and am now reading his books.
The book I picked up in the last few days is “Cultural Amnesia- Notes In The Margin Of My Time.” I say picked up but levered might be a more apt title, it contains 876 pages. It has been in the house for some time my concentration level has been somewhat fluctuating. Clive James’ time is my time. All the other factors are in Clive’s favour, intelligence, education a varied and well travelled life, huge ability to make complicated ideas easy to understand and elegant prose that makes me want to go on reading the next page, the next and the next until my eyelids droop and I realise that I haven’t understood the last paragraph and I’m are almost asleep.
This is James writing about his mind:” —– a trail of clarities illuminating a dark sea of unrelenting turbulence, like the phosphorescent wake of a phantom ship. far from a single argument, there would be scores of arguments. I wanted to write about philosophy, history, politics and the arts all at once, and what happened to those things during the course of the multiple catastrophes whose second principal outburst ( World War 1 was the first) I had been born in 1939, which continued to shake the world as I grew to adulthood.”
I too have lived through that same period, although in England not Australia. I was born in 1938, the same year that Austria agreed to become part of the Greater German Empire. His prose is almost poetry, every word in exactly the place it should be, his illustrations and connections are illuminated by his wide reading and understanding of the time in which we live. I must return to the book now.
I have been a teacher and a lecturer for a number of years. I am married with two sons. I'm interested drama, films, TV, books, society in general, poverty and riches and political systems.
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