Yale course reverie: 1

A very informal and non-academic ramble on Lectures 1-4.

Douglas Rae opines that Sam Huntington got it about 60% correct; Edward Said (as that link shows) would not have agreed. Douglas Rae admits the “conflict of civilisations” theory as presented by Huntington is absurdly over-ambitious. The point is there is not as much determinism in this process as Huntington seemed to suggest. We can choose how we negotiate with it. That is itself a globalising process. We are in a shrinking world, like it or not, and we damned well have to learn how to get along. Tony Blair opines that religion matters simply because to the majority of people in the world religion actually matters. Again we can choose to work from the values the major religions share or we can allow bigotry, dogmatism and downright nostalgia to bring out the worst in our differences. Now Tony of course has much to answer for, but he is not a dill.

And if globalisation is not an IT but a SERIES OF INTERLOCKING PROCESSES driven by a technological revolution we are still getting used to, among other factors such as demographics, then so quite clearly multiculturalism is best thought of as concrete processes rather than as an IT.

Multiculturalism is the state of the world anyway. At the national level it is the interplay of homesickness and belonging, the accommodation of values and the marking out of identity, all that chemistry of the individual life that is not really new, just under greater pressure in Australia today. We can choose to be enriched by it or we can choose to defy it and become inward and stunted.

We can turn our backs on immigration and like Japan enter a post-Malthusian stage where death rates surpass birth rates and all our social security and infrastructure needs come under threat. We can be as pure as Robert Mugabe seems to want to be in Zimbabwe and experience, like him, the Zimbabwe spiral.

Zimbabwe spiral

To understand the above go to Gapminder World.

Meanwhile on TV…

Last night ABC showed Richard E Grant’s (writer-director, not acting) Wah-Wah (2005). One reviewer there says:

Truly fantastic movie. I went to the world premiere last night at Edinburgh Film Festival and was blown away. As much as I like Richard E. Grant, I must confess that I was expecting a rather indulgent art-house auto-biopic. Instead, what we got was a brilliant, superbly paced, wonderfully entertaining feature film that held the audience to the last scene. The first 10 minutes are a little slow, but from then on Grant never puts a foot wrong.

“Wah-Wah” has the right blend of comic situations, gritty family conflict, stunning African scenery and caricatures of latter-day British imperial pretensions to entertain, engage and amaze.

Nicholas Hoult shows that the intensity and charisma evidenced in “About A Boy” were no childhood fluke, while Gabriel Byrne brings a perfect mix of menace and charm to encapsulate the contradictions of Grant’s father figure. Special kudos goes to Emily Watson, whose on-screen presence is radiant and lively, rather akin to Rachel Griffiths in “Six Feet Under”.

I enjoyed it.

Nicholas Hoult (Ralph Compton at 14 years) went on to becoming a bit of an icon for some in Skins, shown here on SBS.

Next Wednesday ABC is showing the final episode of Beautiful People, a daring and extremely funny British comedy about the boyhood reminiscences of a New York window dresser. It’s a real classic at all sorts of levels, and the two kids are just brilliant.

Meanwhile, at the Cricket…

Well, good for Pakistan! They deserve something good happening for a change. Let’s hope that their second national religion, Cricket, swings the balance away from their recent troubles.

Sydney Morning Herald photo

See Peter Roebuck in today’s Sydney Morning Herald.

Australia was all out for 127!