Print Story Civilisation and its Discount Tents
Diary
By nebbish (Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 06:06:31 AM EST) (all tags)
Cycling, cooking, films, Freud


Had a quiet bank holiday weekend. Usual pub stuff on Friday, then helped Alison with a bit of gardening on Saturday. While digging we found a used syringe, which was nice. If she'd pricked her hand on it you would have seen me transform from gentle, liberal nebbish into a hang 'em all Daily Mail reading psychopath in seconds.

Went for a bike ride on Sunday to Richmond Park and back, 17 miles, which is pretty pathetic really. Nice ride though - after Wandsworth, which isn't that far from Brixton really, you can get off the roads completely by cycling across Putney Heath and Wimbledon Common to Richmond Park. A circuit of Richmond Park would be a nice thing to do in future, the road layout is made for it.

Map of route. I'm getting quite into Gmaps Pedometer.

Made a Sunday roast on Monday. I usually do lamb but I've been doing a chicken the last few weeks. I get a decent sized schmorganic one from Tescos, costs about a tenner, and stuff it with a big bunch of tarragon, a chopped up lemon and a few cloves of garlic. Then cook on high for twenty minutes and low for another forty or fifty. The lemon and wet tarragon seem to steam it from the inside so the meat stays really moist. I may have found the answer to the great dry Christmas turkey conundrum that has puzzled the best minds for generations.

I have balked at spending a tenner on a chicken in the past but the bloody thing feeds me all week. This makes me very smug about environments and credit crunches and stuff. On Monday and Tuesday I have a chicken curry (should be noted here that these haven't been very successful so far, I think I need to take more care with which meat I use, the darker meat is too strong tasting).

I make a stock with the carcass by leaving it on a very low heat in a pan with peeled carrots, celery and onions for a few hours, and use as a base for a soup made with the leftover veg from the Sunday roast. This tastes amazing and it's all down to using proper stock. It's a big enough soup to have as a main meal, so that lasts me Wednesday and Thursday.

Friday I usually get drunk and have a kebab.

Film

Saw "There Will Be Blood", which is just fucking fantastic. If you remember, this came out at about the same time as "No Country For Old Men" earlier this  year and they sort of got lumped together as the two big worthy Oscar films of our time. Personally I think "There Will Be Blood" is in a different league.

I'll try not to give too much away, but it looks at American frontierism and the clash between frontierist capitalism in the guise of an oil prospector, and frontierist religion in the guise of a fire-and-brimstone preacher. At least that's how I saw it.

It's a very sparse film. While always present, the dialogue is quite low-key, made up for by outrageous, over-the-top but still believable performances, especially from Daniel Day Lewis. It is beautifully shot throughout with a real sense of space and and a feel for the harshness of the environment. Best of all for me though was the music, which was apparently composed by him out of Raidohead. It's strange without being too distracting, very powerful, and has been showcased by being put so high in the sound mix.

Anyway, film of the year so far. I actually can't wait to see it again.

Reading

Decided to try a bit of Freud and read "Civilisation and its Discontents", a 100 page tract on humanity and society Freud wrote in later life, which tries to explain almost everything and gets very close to succeeding.

The first thing to say about this is how beautifully it is written. Freud's writing style has him start with a simple premise and build on it with relentless waves of logic into this tottering, elaborate pile of genius, which he will then demolish before starting again from a different angle. It makes him a real joy to read, and approaching his sometimes very difficult ideas from multiple angles makes them a lot easier to get your head round.

"Civilisation and its Discontents" concerns itself with the way the individual has internalised society. Our natural drives towards sex and destruction (whose origins Freud also explains in this book) are tempered by a realisation that in the long term, fulfilling these desires can be personally damaging, due to the problems it causes with our place in society. Freud sees the tempering agent, the super-ego, as a sort of garrison of society's soldiers that has occupied our minds and keeps our base drives in check. But this in turn leads to a dissatisfaction with society, as it denies us our base drives, and furthermore is the only source of one of our worst enemies, guilt.

The picture Freud paints of a constant state of battle between our sex and death drives and the super-ego, representatives of ourselves and society, is fascinating and does a great job of dampening down any latent utopianist ideals. He also posits one of the best arguments for atheism I've come across yet, tackling the possibility of moral absolutes and the existence of objective good and objective bad head-on, rather than skirting around them and just shouting RELIGION IS BAD even louder.

I definitely want to read more Freud now, but in general I want to read more about the mind and mental illness, and have ordered "The Divided Self" by RD Laing (not to be confused with KD Lang) for a more contemporary perspective - though to be honest Laing's 60s LSD-and-shagging methods have probably dated a lot worse than Freud's.

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Civilisation and its Discount Tents | 31 comments (31 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback
Drool by Merekat (4.00 / 1) #1 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 06:11:52 AM EST
Good roast chicken is one of the most underrated foods ever.

(And this new edit box scares me a little).


I've turned it off by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #2 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 06:17:29 AM EST
It's a bit funny about cut-and-paste.

I'm not a massive fan of chicken usually cos it's a bit bland, but stuff it with loads of strong tasting things, or slather it with extra hot sauce in Nando's, and you're onto a winner.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
Did you cycle around Richmond Park? by jump the ladder (4.00 / 1) #3 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 06:36:24 AM EST
Got a couple of quite nasty hills. I cycvle around there a lot as I only live a couple of miles away.

Just did Roehampton/Kingston Gate corner by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #4 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 06:40:12 AM EST
No hills, I do remember a big hill though from ages ago, I went down it then so weeee.

Part of this cycling business is about getting fit so hills aren't necessarily a bad thing. Depends just how big they are though.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

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You could always come with me and Welsh Bloke by Herring (2.00 / 0) #7 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 09:40:51 AM EST
and ride the www.chocolatefoot.co.uk/journal/wa/archives/2003/02/000060-4_lumps_classic.html

You will need a moutain bike with mud tyres though.

Also, with this fancy editor how the fuck does one achieve the equivalent of [My Holiday Snaps http://www.hick.org/goat] ?


You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
That's a problem by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #9 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 10:08:29 AM EST
No mountain bike. In fact my bike is a fairly fragile 20 year-old racer. If you fancy a road bike ride sometime though...

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It's political correctness gone mad!

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I need to get the road bike out again by Herring (2.00 / 0) #10 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 10:11:51 AM EST
I miss going fast.


You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Yeah, I love that by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #11 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 10:15:01 AM EST
To be honest though when I was cycling over Wimbledon Common I wished I had a mountain bike so I could cane it through the woods.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

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The last but of that 4 lumps ride by Herring (2.00 / 0) #12 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 10:38:31 AM EST
After you've made it to the top of Leith Hill, have drunk the last water and necked the last energy bar, there'e a mad dash downhill through the woods, in the mud and rocks, over a few bumps that makes the whole ordeal seem worth it. I reckon there will be bargain mountain bikes to be had in the shops at the end of the year.


You can't inspire people with facts
- Small Gods

[ Parent ]
Books- by moonvine (4.00 / 2) #5 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 06:50:21 AM EST
Civilization and Its Discontents is Freud's singular masterpiece. His other books, IMHO, quiet frankly fail it. Don't waste your time. Have you read Twilight of the Idols by  Nietzsche? Freud's ideas are strongly influenced by Nietzsche in any case, however controversial. Lang's Divided Self was a book that struck home with me, I got so much from his insights. It was an amazing read. I feel that you are going to enjoy it. There Will Be Blood was a sheer tour de force in every aspect of cinema. I loved it. In fact, I agree and love everything you have written about here in this diary with the exception of the aspects of roasting, which I know nothing about and is not very interesting to me. But don't take that personally for I'm one of those vegetarian types and don't care too much to roast animals. Thanks and cheers!


Heh by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #6 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 07:03:50 AM EST
Best comment evah!

I read "Civilisation and its Discontents" on the recommendation of a friend, who has gone on to read "Beyond the Pleasure Principle" which she doesn't like at all. She says he just starts making stuff up in it when his theories don't quite fit together.

I'm quite interested in reading some of his case studies (The Wolfman was recommended to me), and also one whose name I forget, Madness and Melancholia maybe? which another friend recommended as a great way of preparing for the inevitable. I've also had a Freud reader recommended to me. But I'm going to give him a break for a while.

I'm glad you liked Laing, I've been told he's quite difficult to read, is that the case? I can't believe I've never read Nietzsche to be honest. I've read about him and around him if you see what I mean, but I'm a firm believer nowadays in going to the source and then reading around later if you feel the need.

BTW I'd be a vegetarian if I wasn't so weak.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

[ Parent ]
I'm not sure- by moonvine (4.00 / 1) #22 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 04:23:16 PM EST
He is a bit dense, and definitely not as easy as Freud's Civilization and its Discontents, but I am not so sure about the difficulty. I read him years ago in school when I was a budding student of philosophy and do not recall the level of intensity I had to have to dig through his work. Marcuse is another author you should check out- One Dimensional Man. And anyways, anything after having to read Hegel is a walk in the park ;) Happy reading my friend!


[ Parent ]
I haven't read... by Metatone (2.00 / 0) #8 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 09:59:08 AM EST
Civilisation and its Discontents in years.
I seem to recall it was a course called Modernism and its Discontents with Frau Totten.
It was largely centred around the "Weimar Years" and of course Germany. It began with "All Quiet on the Western Front" and "Storm of Steel" to go along with the Freud, but also some Brecht (I highly recommend the black and white Pabst film of Threepenny Opera) along with some Bauhaus and Moholy-Nagy and of course various expressionists and Dada etc.

I'd definitely recommend soaking up some of that stuff now you've read CaiD, because it gives you a greater sense of the mindset that it was written in. It is of course, as noted, one of the better expressions of Freud's overarching sense of the human psyche (although there are really powerful critiques of Freud worth reading) but it also comes out of the horror of WW1 and the directionless years that followed. I found that All Quiet really gave a different perspective on CaiD.

Chicken curry. Odds are it's the tarragon that's breaking it, you need to adjust your spicing, normal spicing mixture doesn't play well with tarragon. What are you putting in with it at the moment?


German history by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #17 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 03:38:03 PM EST
Pre-WWII is dead interesting. I studied Dada at art college and have an interest in modern architecture (see my flickr stream) and love Bauhaus, utter perfection in my mind. I'm interested in joining up the dots now. I've had a book on German history recommended to me, the name of which escapes me for now; but I've also ordered a book on Yiddish history, the other side of the coin: most of this German art and thought is Jewish.

Brecht is another one I should read. There's just so fucking much stuff to read though...

Tell me more about the course you did. Was it a history course?

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Well... by Metatone (2.00 / 0) #25 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 11:03:23 PM EST
The prof was actually a literature/language professor (as well as rather a cougar) but it was part of a set of courses "Modern Art and Mass Culture." So while we went through a quick timeline of historical events, it focused more on how various intellectual artists and artistic movements interpreted and reacted to and portrayed events.

Dredging through my memory:

Books:

CaiD
All Quiet on the Western Front
Storm of Steel
Weimar Republic Sourcebook (fascinating collection of magazine pieces and manifestos etc. from the time)

Films:
All Quiet on the Western Front
The Threepenny Opera (Pabst version)
Cabaret

Architecture:
Bauhaus - various articles and library textbooks, along with a trip to the Gropius House because it was close by.
(We all took turns to sit on various Marcel Breuer chairs.)

Art:
Bauhaus-connected (Kandinsky, etc.)
Expressionist
Constructivist
Dada

Of course, it relied on having already taken the foundation Modern Art and Mass Culture courses and was as much about weaving connections between various things together.

Rather than read Brecht (where's the time?) you should definitely get hold of the movie. It's fantastically grotesque if you can get into the spirit of it. (Warning: B&W, subtitles)

Your flickr stream is great. I love the Centrepoint, Guy's, Alton Estate, Thurrock.

So the list for pintage conversation grows: Leeds Utd accounting, Bauhaus....
I should lend you the Weimar Republic Sourcebook, I think you'd love it.


[ Parent ]
Glad you like the photostream by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #31 Tue Sep 02, 2008 at 12:27:19 AM EST
It's good to know I'm not the only modernist architecture geek out there...

Will hopefully be up in Sheffield more often soon. My parents are definitely going to move there, but are having a bit of trouble selling the house. I'm actually up there this weekend, but that's to meet my new nephew so I shouldn't really slope off to the pub :)

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Curry by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #18 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 03:39:19 PM EST
You're probably right about the tarragon. Please give me some recipes, I'm a bit stuck!

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Tarragon's a tricky one for curries... by Metatone (2.00 / 0) #26 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 11:52:45 PM EST
I must admit I haven't cooked with it in a while.

Offhand, since this is lemon and tarragon chicken, and tarragon has anise overtones to it, then the logical direction is to go Thai/Indonesian. Omit the star anise (just chuck in a bit of cinnamon to complement the tarragon) and away you go.

I don't have my recipes with me, but these should give you some ideas:

http://thaifood.about.com/od/thaicurrydishes/r/redcurrychicken.htm
http://thaifood.about.com/od/thaicurrydishes/r/rendangcurry.htm

Or

You can construct an Indian curry, but it'll take some trial and error, the trick is
to play on the sour components, so chilli, turmeric and (less) coriander and cumin.
Not too much turmeric or you'll be ill.
Then onions + potato or alternatively bell pepper + sweet potato.
Only a very small bit of garam masala, or maybe none and just a bit of cinnamon.
Don't forget the salt.

Start simple and then you can experiment by adding what you think is missing the next time.




[ Parent ]
I'm going to try a Thai curry tonight by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #30 Tue Sep 02, 2008 at 12:20:00 AM EST
It's going to have to be a budget version but I'm hoping I can make it work. Recipe will be posted if it does.

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[ Parent ]
No Blood For Oil by MohammedNiyalSayeed (2.00 / 0) #13 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 11:04:51 AM EST

Er, No Country for Old Misanthropes, er, There Will Be Blood, I felt, while awesome, was ultimately a judgmental anti-Misanthrope propaganda piece by that uppity Upton Sinclair. I was feeling it until they did their best to make Daniel Day-Lewis's character an unsympathetic asshole. He was just a dude who hated other dudes, and hated them for perfectly good reasons; why they gotta go and make him to be an anti-hero?


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You can build the most elegant fountain in the world, but eventually a winged rat will be using it as a drinking bowl.
Did they really make him look that bad though? by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #15 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 03:11:26 PM EST
I know where you're coming from, but he was alpha male, clever as a fox, daring as a stoat, and he fucking won.

Of course he's a bit of an anti-hero, bur he's also a personification of American chutzpah (and you know that wonderful Yiddish word is all-American in the great spirit of American immigration), pushing shit forward through sheer personality, fuck the consequences, creating the basis of modern society.

I loved him, murdering, dysfunctional alcoholic that he was; he's the fucked-up American dream. He saved us all.

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He seemed awesome to me by MohammedNiyalSayeed (2.00 / 0) #19 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 03:39:57 PM EST
But it definitely felt like I was supposed to walk away thinking "what an asshole", and I did, but in reference to whoever wrote the script. 
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You can build the most elegant fountain in the world, but eventually a winged rat will be using it as a drinking bowl.
[ Parent ]
Dunno mate by nebbish (4.00 / 1) #23 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 04:25:37 PM EST
I disagree. It was about how the west was won, and it wasn't won by being nice.

American capitalism is vicious and unpleasant, but it works. It was all about that. It's like being a complete shit for the greater good. I think that came across. Day Lewis's character wasn't aware of all that but I'm sure you know what I mean.

It's not that unusual a piece of work if you think about previous American literature - Moby Dick in particular, Hemmingway, and maybe some Mark Twain. It's an update of all that. "There Will Be Blood" is in the American tradition.

Maybe as an Englishman I see it a bit differently though. I'm removed from it all, looking in from the outside.

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Good Lord. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #14 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 01:25:38 PM EST
You spent $18 on *one* roasted chicken?

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

So you're in the US then? by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #16 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 03:27:02 PM EST
Your food is very cheap. An economy as succesful as yours isn't just about higher wages, it's about cheaper stuff too.

For some reason I can't remember I recently read an American restaurant menu and was shocked - shocked! - at the cheap price of lobster over there. It's an unaffordable preserve of the wealthy here.

But hey, good for you! Have one on me! You'll never experience the joy of Yorkshire fish and chips, so I suppose we're even.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

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Depends where you are, by wumpus (2.00 / 0) #20 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 03:44:37 PM EST
lobster is dirt cheap in Maine (actual yankees can fill in the details), and it is pretty easy to find amazing food at church fund raising.  Most of the cost in lobster is in the shipping.  I can only imagine the difference in the prices of beef (especially when "the chocolate producing countries" turn there noses up at beef produced under the careful watch of W. (we only have food panics every other month, really)).

Wumpus



[ Parent ]
Churches by nebbish (2.00 / 0) #21 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 04:01:17 PM EST
I was walking in the Yorkshire Dales a few months back when we came across a church sale selling proper home-made cakes for an absolute pittance. I was tempted to hire a lorry and ship the whole lot down to London to make £££s. Metropolitan types love that shit.

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It's political correctness gone mad!

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I can have four at that price. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #24 Thu Aug 28, 2008 at 09:27:20 PM EST
Can't do fish, but I do miss a good scouser fry-up. English gastronomy is mostly lost on me.

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Pie by hulver (4.00 / 1) #27 Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 01:03:42 AM EST
 And Chips.

With lashings of Gravy.

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Cheese is not a hat. - clock
[ Parent ]
That's not the cheapest chicken by R Mutt (4.00 / 1) #28 Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 02:13:24 AM EST
Tesco do a Value Whole Chicken for £2.79 at the moment... but it's not necessarily very nice.

[ Parent ]
That's more like it. by ammoniacal (2.00 / 0) #29 Fri Aug 29, 2008 at 09:37:11 AM EST
Is that an English bird?

"To this day that was the most bullshit caesar salad I have every experienced..." - triggerfinger

[ Parent ]
Civilisation and its Discount Tents | 31 comments (31 topical, 0 hidden) | Trackback