Our problems remain epistemological.

Monday, August 01, 2022

Our Culture’s Muse

     It is also noteworthy that Enoch Powell was in life and continues to be—even long after his death in 1998—a muse or focal point for much art, drama, other fiction, pop music, and modern political and wider social commentary. One recalls: Jonathan Coe’s Middle England (2018) (fiction); Chris Hannan’s What Shadows (2016) (a play); Andrew Smith’s The Speech (2016) (fiction); Sunder Katwala, ‘Powell: “best understood as part of our history”,’ British Future (June 15, 2012), <https://tinyurl.com/24ffucxt> (“There are many debates about identity, immigration and integration that we still need to have. A centenary after his birth, Enoch Powell’s contribution to them are best understood as part of our history now.”) (commentary); C.J. Sansom’s Dominion (2012) (fiction); Christopher Caldwell’s Reflections on the Revolution in Europe (2009) (commentary); Brian Walden (Labour-MP, for Birmingham–All Saints, and Ladywood), Walden Reminisces, BBC Radio 4 (Oct. 3, 2004), <https://tinyurl.com/3786xawk> (“On the issues [Powell and I] were fiercely opposed and [we] couldn’t discuss immigration for five minutes without disagreeing. But unlike many people, including leading Tories, I never regarded Powell as a racist.”); ‘NCS: Manhunt,’ BBC One (Mar. 12, 2002), <https://tinyurl.com/yu6j75uy> (Marc Warren’s “I am an Englishman” speech was expressly influenced by Powell’s St. George’s Day speech (1961)) (television drama); Jonathan Coe’s The Rotters’ Club (2001) (fiction); Shivaji Sondhi, ‘Enoch Powell and the invention of Thatcherism’ (1999) IV(7/8) Biblio: A Review of Books 24 (reviewing Simon Heffer, Like The Roman: The Life of Enoch Powell (London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson 1998)) (“It has come as a delight then to come across Simon Heffer’s recent biography of the man who died last February 9th, and to discover that the cardboard Powell was fiction.”) (Biblio is an Indian literary journal), <https://tinyurl.com/249kz7ar>; Christopher Morgan, ‘[Westminster] Abbey vigil for Powell enrages bishops,’ The Sunday Times (Feb. 15, 1998) (“Unexpected backing [for the abbey vigil], however, came from the Association of Black Clergy. Charles Lawrence, its chairman, said: ‘Powell was not a single-subject person and served his country well. Each person stands before God and deserves the same level of love.’”); Ayub Khan Din’s East Is East (1996) (a play); Hanif Kureishi’s The Buddha of Suburbia (1990) (fiction); Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses (1988) (fiction); Paul Gilroy’s There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation (1987) (commentary); Samuel Selvon’s Moses Migrating (1983) (fiction); Howard Barker’s The Loud Boy’s Life (1980) (a play); David Edgar’s Destiny (1976) (a play) and Tedderella (1971) (a play); Millie Small’s Enoch Power (1970) (pop recording); Arthur Wise’s Who Killed Enoch Powell (1970) (fiction); The Beatles’ Get Back (1969) (pop recording); Cartoon Archetypical Slogan Theatre’s Muggins’ Awakening (1968) (a play); and any number of items within the collection of the United Kingdom National Portrait Gallery, <https://tinyurl.com/kc5dpnp2>. 

See also ‘Question Time,’ BBC One (Dec. 11, 2014), <https://tinyurl.com/2uk7jc44> (Russell Brand describing Nigel Farage, leader of the UK Independence Party and Member of the European Parliament (South East England), as a “pound shop Enoch Powell”) (at 1:45ff). One cannot help but notice that Brand thought “pound shop” was a legitimate criticism.

For an effort (which I think succeeds) at portraying Powell (the individual) and also the debate on Powell fairly, see: Denys Blakeway, Documentary, ‘Rivers of Blood,’ BBC Two (Mar. 8, 2008), <https://tinyurl.com/3ma6jmeb> (produced for the 40th anniversary of Powell’s 1968 Birmingham speech).

Seth Barrett Tillman, Our Cultures Muse, New Reform Club (Aug. 1, 2022, 2:36 AM), <https://reformclub.blogspot.com/2022/08/our-cultures-muse.html>;

I forgot one: Monty Python's Travel Agent Sketch: <http://montypython.net/scripts/travagent.php>; <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ewY8CnFae0> (at 3:08ff); 

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