Back to the Future

by John Q on December 23, 2005

Offering the converse of a point made here not long ago, the Economist observes that

France quarrels with America not because the pair are so different but because they are so alike

What struck me most about the article was a reference to the appeal in France of US culture, epitomised by “Harry’s American Sandwich Shop”.

Thinking about this, it struck me that this kind of reference to American culture always, for me, brings the the 1950s to mind – Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley, diners, Corvettes, the Mickey Mouse Club (OK, mainly Annette Funicello). And the same is true for France. I think of Sartre and existentialism, Bonjour Tristesse, Truffaut and so on.

By contrast, the 1950s in Australia are pretty much a blank for me – there was plenty happening before and after, but nothing then that made an impact. Culture at that time, and for most of the 60s, was something that came from overseas (this was true of both ‘high’ and ‘popular’ culture). Is all this something generational, a personal idiosyncrasy on my part, or do particular cultures have defining decades?

A Great Miracle Happened There

by Kieran Healy on December 23, 2005

It’s that time of the year again: the “King William College General Knowledge Paper”: has arrived. It’s the kind of quiz that exists at a point just (or far) beyond the production possibility frontier of a space defined by your fondness for crossword-puzzles and your stock of cultural capital. If previous years are anything to go by it’s designed to be google-proof, but you’re in with a shot if you can guess the theme that unites all the questions in each section. Have at it. (The Great Miracle, incidentally, is scoring more than, say, 20 points.)

Intelligent Design and Faith Schools

by Harry on December 23, 2005

The Christmas issue of the Times Higher Education Supplement carries a piece by Steve Fuller defending Intelligent Design, though in a very roundabout way, and a piece by me which is very unkind about Intelligent Design but not about faith schools. (Both free content, accessible without registration). If anyone gets the paper edition, by the way, I’m curious how the photos turned out — I went through 2 45-minute photoshoots, which convinced me not to make a career change to become a model.