Would Bacon’s Hamlet be Hamlet?

In the course of an interesting piece by Richard Dorment in the NY Review of Books on the authenticity or otherwise of works by Andy Warhol, I came across a striking passage

The single most important thing you can say about a work of art is that it is real, that the artist to whom it is attributed made it. Until you are certain that a work of art is authentic, it is impossible to say much else that is meaningful about it.

Is this a reasonable claim about art in general? How important is authentic attribution in, say, literature or music?
Read More »

Monday Message Board

It’s time, once again for the Monday Message Board. Post comments on any topic. As usual, civilised discussion and no coarse language. In this context, could I ask commenters to avoid the term “bulls**t” which has sent a lot of recent comments to moderation, creating unnecessary work for me. In future, comments containing this term will be deleted.

Glass half-full department

The Copenhagen meeting has produced an agreement, though it’s more of an “agreement to agree” than a concrete deal. Most of the specifics have been left for later. That’s problematic of course, but not as bad as an agreement on specifics that are too weak to achieving anything. The deal (draft text here has several important elements

* A warming target of 2 degrees
* Commitment by the developed countries to spend $30 billion over 2010-12 and aim for $100 billion a year by 2020 in assistance to developing countries with a particular focus on preventing deforestation
* A technology transfer mechanism

Of these, the most significant is probably the deal on deforestation, which has actual money (or at least commitments) attached. Assuming this happens, it’s an outcome more significant than that of any international conference in the last decade at least. And technology transfer is important in a number of ways, particularly as a countervailing force against the pressure for ever-stronger intellectual property protections.

I’m a bit surprised, in that I thought the payments to developing countries would be one of the hardest issues of all, whereas the biggest single sticking point seems to have been China’s objections to transparent monitoring – the kind of silly national sovereignty stuff that is par for the course at these meetings but usually gets smoothed over and traded away by the end.

Read More »


This Lateline featuring Ian Plimer and George Monbiot has to be seen to be believed. More from Tim Lambert and from James Farrell at Troppo.

Update I must say the response of those on Plimer’s side of the debate has been thoroughly disappointing. Tribal loyalty might perhaps justify silence in the face of an embarrassing performance like this. On the other hand, no one appears to have the cheek to suggest that Plimer came out looking good, and few on the delusionist side are willing to admit that the most prominent scientist on their side came across as a total fraud.

So we get two lines (a) It was really mean of Jones and Monbiot to keep on demanding that he answer the questions (which had been supplied in writing long in advance) (b) It’s too hard to tell. This is truly pathetic.

And, as I’ve said before, this style of dishonesty, originating with the tobacco lobby’s attempts to obfuscate the health effects of smoking, now permeates right wing discussion of any issue you care to name, from the Iraq war to the Global Financail Crisis. It’s hard to see how any kind of political discussion can be sustained in the face of this kind of thing

An odd numbering scheme

Keith Windschuttle has been in the news again lately, making claims of inaccuracy against the film ‘Rabbit Proof Fence’ which were then roundly refuted by the filmmakers, pointing to documentary evidence apparently undiscovered by the ace historian. When even the Oz describes Windy as having been ‘dispatched to the fence’ he clearly has a problem. Having claimed that the girls in the film were removed from their families because they were having sex with white men, he now says his case is unaffected by the discovery that they were actually removed because they were promised as brides for black men. WIndschuttle describes this as “standing by” his statements, a locution I also heard recently from the Queensland government after the economists statement demolishing their case for asset sales. Apparently it means “while I have no credible response to make, I’m not going to retract, let alone change my mind”.

What’s really interesting to me is that all this publicity is in aid of the forthcoming Volume 3 of Windschuttle’s Fabrication of Australian History which caused such a stir when Volume 1 was released in 2002. Three volumes in nearly a decade looks like slow, but steady work, the kind of history Windschuttle supports.

That is, of course, except for the minor detail that there is no Volume 2. Originally Volume 2, due in 2003, was supposed to be the big one, which would refute Henry Reynolds claims about violence on the Queensland frontier, while volume 3, promised for 2004, was going to be about WA. Although promises kept being made, Vol 2 never came out, and in 2008, the “stolen generations” book was announce as Volume 2. It seemed that the Queensland and WA projects had been abandoned.

The new numbering scheme, eccentric as it is, at least implies a promise of a Volume 2 in which Windschuttle will finally put up or be morally obliged to shut up (not that he will of course).

Back on air

The blog has been patchy for some time, and down altogether for several days. I’ve installed the WP Supercache plug in on the advice of my hosting service. I’d appreciate any feedback (+ve or -ve) on whether people are still having problems getting to the page and any suggestions from WordPress experts on other possible measurs.