Along with The Shooting Star, my diversion in St George’s netted The Secret of the Unicorn. More Tintin, less racism! In the space between two volumes, Hergé manages to avoid all the embarrassing stuff that caused me to ask the question, “Is Tintin acceptable to read these days?” The Secret of the Unicorn is more-or-less completely safe to read. An epic detective story with pirates, the high seas, mystery and adventure, Captain Haddock, the twins Thomson and Thompson, Red Rackham, whisky! more whisky! It’s in my top-10 favourite. I’m slightly worried I’ve tricked myself into committing to buying all 24 of them (25 along with Tintin and the Lake of Sharks).
Listening to Wagner and Burzum, and reading Tintin is probably the trifecta of Euro-racism, or at least it can’t be done without knowing clearly what I’m engaging in. I was in St George’s (as usual) picking up some books (again as usual), talking with Jamie, then took a wander and found a stack of Tintin comics. Tintin was long my lunch accompaniment when I was a child (or at least that is my memory), with peanut butter and jam on toast. After reading Tintin again, today I went out and bought said items plus some Neuköllner Spross bread and … well, anyway, Tintin.
“Is Tintin acceptable to read these days?” I asked Jamie. In-between childhood and now I was well-aware of ‘over-reaction and hyper political correctness’ in regard to Hergé’s earlier, more overtly colonial works (if you change the term ‘political correctness’ to ‘being nice to people’ it’s actually what they’re saying), and have distinct memories of Tintin in America, the portrayals of Native Americans and Africans, and it isn’t pretty.
The Shooting Star from 1942 gets off to a pretty good start in this respect. It was one of my more favourites, having astronomy, meteorites, giant mushrooms and an oppressive, slightly hallucinogenic quality. Then we meet the principal antagonist, the spider at the centre of the web, a fat, be-speckled crooked businessman with a giant proboscis of a nose, who despite the not-so-Jewish name of Bohlwinkel is unmistakably the meanest caricature. Bohlwinkel was originally known as Blumenstein. Sure, Hergé caricatures everyone, from the drunken Captain Haddock to the prima donna Bianca Castafiora; there are different positions from which one may caricature, and Europe 1941 for Jews isn’t one of them. But as Hergé says, “That was the style then.”
I really liked Tintin when I was young, and still do. The art, the line-work, colour, stories, humour, all appealed to me then as they do now; it’s both light and entertaining, and serious and political. And definitely in places racist, colonialist, crypto-fascist, and the answer to my question, “Is Tintin acceptable to read these days?” is probably something like, “Weell… it’s not The Birth of a Nation …”
What is it about Sundays that seem to cause a blog upwelling of a more cerebral nature than during the week? My drinking of coffee for the first time in several days? A general Sunday laziness facilitating interestingness? Or was it the dream I had last night in which several bloggers (most of whom I’ve never met, some I don’t even know what they look like) starred along with Monica Bellucci (she can be explained by the superb Agents Secrets I watched last night, with utterly glorious use of wide-screen cinematography, mesmerising editing, and a plot equal to the best of any in the genre) as a fire fighter, thus impelling said bloggers to write the kind of post I go, “ooooh, makes you think, doesn’t it?”, and promptly reblog it.
Firstly from the Tranny Bloggers Social Club from last night’s dream comes Miss K, who is having coke and vodka fuelled weirdness of her own, populated with Pakistani taxi drivers and slobbery blue hungry ghosts, “a strange collection of jointed sticks covered roughly in a misshapen piece of tarpaulin … a small mouth, with blue, cherubic lips fringed by slightly longer fur that rippled slowly in the direction of the mouth, like the fronds of an anemone. The lips had a pronounced underbite, so that a set of pointy, conical white teeth jutted out in front.”
Other tranny bloggers who I recall with certainty made an appearance last night, but neglected to amuse me with writing anything today include Becky and Becca, possible appearances from Helen Boyd, and Siobhan Curran.
Completely departing the trannysphere, but staying by implication with gender (or sex, fuck, I dunno, whichever one is currently ‘nature’ and not ‘culture’) and Data supports a non-invasive prenatal genetic testing. While I can appreciate the immense benefit in being able to diagnose severe genetically caused defects, and yay for that, I also think this: Imagine a technology that among other things allowed early detection of a bunch of chromosomal abnormalities that directly affected what’s between your legs, and consequently – because what is implicit in such testing is the ability to act on the results – the abortion of any bearers of such defects. Inasmuch as there is a genetic diversity that is currently described as ‘abnormal’ so too is there a cultural response that is equally abnormal, and perhaps accompanying such research with some kickarse medical ethics aimed squarely at educating the population that abnormal does not necessarily equal bad would be pertinent right about now.
Barista was not at my somnolent shindig last night but thinks the Tang Dynasty poem Ballad of Mulan is pretty special. Barista also got all emotional about Tintin’s cars, and as someone who grew up with the boy reporter and Captain Haddock, I’m suddenly feeling like spending the afternoon with Hergé and a kilo of Belgian chocolate would be quite pleasant.
花崗齋雜記 Jottings from the Granite Studio was definitely present last night too, but nothing links this blog to those uncouth British crossdressers, so I have absolutely no idea what (singular) they were doing, The Useless Tree also, so I suspect something Taoist in all this. Taoist fire fighters maybe? Anyway, public manners and spitting in Modern China and the anti-spitting campaign of 1950-something (along with the Great Leap Forward, this social experiment also was not so successful).
Finally, Gender identity disorder cases on rise in Bihar. In my academic/research/dangerously curious moments, I wonder whether such a title can be taken literally, and so represents on a broader scale a measurable increase in all types of gender weirdness. Certainly plenty of fish and frogs are getting in on the fun. Of course it could all be a coming out of the shadows caused by the complementary influence of better medical treatment, drugs and surgery, the monumental effect of the internet in distributing information and building communities, and a broader societal shift which Becky (and I’m closing the loop here) summarises as TG Sells.