Lorenzo & his humble friends

The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool

Tag: scottish independence

Down the wire

There is a famous scene from the Italian movie Fantozzi when the main character shuts himself in a dark room on the weeks leading to election day to follow all the TV debates and read every newspaper, in the opinion that his vote will make a crucial difference in the final outcome. Though I won’t vote in the Scottish referendum on independence, this was pretty much how I spent my morning in Edinburgh today.


I cannot possibly link all the good articles I have read. But there are two that deserve a special mention for reasons you will easily understand: Dear Scotland: here are 76 things we’d like to apologise for, love England and Ten handy phrases for bluffing your way through the Constitutional Crisis.

Now. The polls will close in a few hours. Tonight after 10PM I will be at the referendum night event organized by the Future of the UK and Scotland, bringing together academics and international journalists. The first results will come from the islands at around 2AM, but the most important polling stations – those from Edinburgh and Glasgow – will only report at 5AM. Stay tuned for a long night.

On the fraught relationship between the arts and politics

Last December saw the publication of a collection of essays on independence by a number of well-known Scottish writers. The writer and artist Alasdair Gray was the subject of a great controversy, as he was accused of promoting nationalism alongside hostility and anti-English sentiment.

A recent article on openDemocracy argues that much of this was hostile, premature and gave the impression not only of certain critics’ ignorance of Scottish culture, but of the actual content of Gray’s essay. The most brilliant point of the article, however, is about the fraught and false relationship between the arts and politics. The authors makes the argument that political and cultural feeling may be important to the impetus driving artistic production, but they are arguably subservient to more aesthetic imperatives. In their discussions of literature and art, inevitably predicated on the ultimate political results of such discourse, politicians tend to forget this. One of the functions of art would seem to be the broadening of meaning, or the multiplication of potential narratives, to add cultural or emotional significance to material arguments. Deployed politically, much of this is lost.