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Index: Currente Calamo

Mr Dylan Cannot Be Found.

Michael Blackburn: ‘After Dylan there seems little point in writing a poem in any traditional manner. The expression of emotion, the exploration of human behaviour, the search for meaning in the world, the use of narrative, all are done as well in popular song, more memorably and reaching a greater number of people than they are in contemporary poetry. ‘

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The History of Art is now history.

Michael Blackburn: ‘If I had my way there would be more classical art and music on the curriculum than there is at the moment. What is truly lacking in modern education is a sense of culture.’

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Tea and visions for jihadis.

Michael Blackburn: ‘ The Church of England has enthusiastically thrown in its lot with the progressives who attack all of the traditional values of the nation. Conceding legal and religious ground to your opponent is a form of capitulation.’

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The Brexit Weimar Apocalypse.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Ashdown is right when he says “It’s not our country any more,” — but not for the reason he thinks. “Our country” for him is the country of the political and media establishment, not that of the majority of people in Britain. For the moment at least, the people have shaken that establishment by demanding their country back. And they have made this desire plain in the most peaceable way.’

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Hillary Clinton, Pepe and the Deplorables.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Both the 9/11 fall and the punking by Pepe show a political class in serious moral and physical decay. If Clinton gets elected all bets are off as to how long she will survive but one thing is certain: Pepe the green cartoon frog will taunt her all the way.’

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The Zappa rule for bankers.

Michael Blackburn: ‘A knowledge of the old adage, “never wear brown in town” would come in useful for coping with those opaques codes. For, as any well-bred fule kno, brown shoes are not to be worn except on one’s country estate. And certainly never with a dark suit.’

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The moral tyranny of books.

Michael Blackburn: ‘So here I sit with the double-parked shelves in front of me and volumes to right and left, wondering what is the point and feeling somewhat guilty. Articles and listicles frequently appear in papers and magazines, goading you with titles you ought (there’s that moral imperative again) to have read and testing your (dis)honesty. Nobody knows if you have read Ulysses or not, especially if they haven’t read it themselves. But when you have read a book and forgotten everything between its covers, it’s almost as if you were bluffing anyway.’

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From bikes to badgers.

Michael Blackburn: ‘A lot of green types would like the bicycle to be a solution, but having just spent four days in Amsterdam I can vouch for the fact that walking around a city where cyclists of all ages and sizes coming at you from every direction (and often at speed) is unnerving and downright dangerous. ‘

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Diversity unto death.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Yet the bigwigs are faffing about with this PC nonsense. How will we know if their efforts succeed? We won’t. There is no way of measuring the success or failure of such nonsense. ‘

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Unpopular populism.

Michael Blackburn: ‘The overwhelming fear emanating from these anti-populists is not just that of no longer being in control of the agenda but also of no longer being in control of the people. The power of the media to peddle their pacifying PC agenda has weakened. ‘

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The poet on holiday.

Michael Blackburn: ‘The poet’s holiday is supposed to be the same as a busman’s — that is, one in which despite putting on the appearance of an ordinary mortal he nevertheless practices his vocation by wandering along quayside, lakeside or seashore, or among the venerable stones of Venice, etc, gathering unusual metaphors for his poems. I’d supply a couple of strikingly ridiculous examples but my Muse has been on holiday…’

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An empire of scoffers.

Michael Blackburn: ‘Why do they regard any national success as a moral failure? Why are they so gullible that, despite their education, their degrees, their intellectual hauteur, they fall for media panics such as the surge in post-Brexit racist attacks or the nonsense about Brexiteers regretting their decision, or the patronising belief that people were too stupid to realise not everything they were being told by the campaigners was gospel truth? Why do they raise the ghost of the Empire when nobody even talks about it any more?’

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A series of misjudgements.

Michael Blackburn: ‘The unintended consequences of misjudgements can roll on for years years. In the case of Britain’s membership of the European Union, 43 years to be exact. That’s 43 years of deeper entanglement in the European project, increasing loss of control over whole areas of policy and a growing sense of alienation among the electorate. When Ted Heath took us in and signed away our sovereignty, knowing full well what he was doing, and prepared to lie to the British people as he did so, he couldn’t have foreseen that the electorate would eventually turn round and say we want out.’

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After the sky has fallen…

Michael Blackburn: ‘There’s no doubt that result has been a bigger shock to the political and media establishment than anyone else. Cameron obviously never expected to lose it. He’d pulled this referendum trick with Scotland and won it, so he no doubt thought he could win this one, too. The media, sure of their own invincible cleverness, laid the anti-leave propaganda on by the bucket load. The Remain campaign reached the lowest point when they took advantage of the murder of the Labour MP, Jo Cox, at the hands of a local man with mental problems. ‘

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The peasants’ revolt.

Michael Blackburn: ‘The passions aroused by the referendum, the divisions opened up by it, the fact that Cameron felt he had to give it the go-ahead as a means to lance the boil of discontent, are indicative of a sizable rejection of the political establishment. They are no longer trusted. They prove, day in, day out, that they deserve no trust.’

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