Monday, 25 November 2013

Iran against Arabia

Shah of Iran on the Arabic Occupation of the Tunb Islands from Survive the Jive on Vimeo.

It's not just Israel that hate Iran. Sunni nations have been on hostile terms with Iran and other Shia countries for a very long time. This video from 30th November 1971 reveals pre-revolution Arab/Persian tensions which persist to this day. Iran is regarded as an enemy to surrounding Arabic nations. In this broadast an Arab Sheikh on the other side of the Gulf says the Tumbs belong to him.
Ras Al Khaimah is one of the Arab countries which border the Gulf. This was broadcast a couple of days before it was announced that six of the states were to form a union, which then signed a treaty of friendship with Britain. The union was the work of Sir William Luce.

The Shah's imperial army was the third largest in the Middle East He wanted to discourage British influence in the region and use his military to achieve this.  Below is a transcription of the interview with the Shah of Iran:

Reporter: "Why is three small island so important to Iran?"

His Imperial Highness, The Shah of Persia: "Because first of all they belong to us, and anyway our life depends on the security of navigation there because for sometime to come our main source of revenue will be the outflow of oil".

Reporter: "If the question isn't settled by the end of the year are you prepared to take the Islands by force?"

His Imperial Highness, The Shah of Persia: "It is not a question of being prepared, it is not even discussable."

Monday, 18 November 2013

The People vs. Modernism

The Cosy Mood of Brave England

Cosy is an inadequate word. It reeks of childish nostalgia and brings to mind snivelling estate agents trying to fob off inconveniently small living spaces. The word is often used to translate the Swedish mys and German gemütlich, yet these words hold a place in the hearts of Swedes and Krauts incomparable to the lowly position where cosy is regarded by the English. Cosy is quite nauseating and sentimental because of the way it has been co-opted by shrewd advertising executives seeking to manipulate consumers’ emotions in order to screw them out of a few quid come Christmas time.

It is this disdain for the concept of cosiness, seeing it as nothing but a vague feeling of comfort with no clearly defined value, utilised by shysters and idiots for insignificant purposes, that prevents us from sympathising with the way in which our Germanic cousins perceive the equivalent terms.

Gemütlich is ruthlessly dismissed by the Irish Francophile, Samuel Beckett in Mercier and Camier where it is used in the dishonest way in which cosy is so frequently employed.

“It’s snug…said the man, there is no other word. Patrick! He cried. But there was another word, for he added, in a tone of tentative complicity, whatever that sounds like, It’s … gemütlich.”
The drunken Mercier later chides the manager of the inn for using such language, “You have a curious way of managing, for a manager. What have you done with your teeth? Is this what you call gemütlich?”

Though far from an Englishman, Beckett was guilty of the English speaker’s prejudice against cosiness. My Swedish ex-girlfriend stressed to me the importance of mys on many an occasion but it took time for me to realise that this was not a universally understood concept and indeed the German regards gemütlich differently from how the Swede thinks of myset. In an effort to understand, I volunteered the cosy image of a log fire and learned that this was indeed considered mys. Yet other concepts of English cosiness were excluded from the Swedish definition, including for example houses with carpets, for these are alien to the pine wood floors of a Scandinavian home. Thus it seems mys is necessarily Swedish as much as gemütlich must be German in character. The people of these nations perceive these concepts in terms of the consolation they enjoy when experiencing the familiar and homely comforts that are proper to their respective peoples. Thus cosiness is inherently un-cosmopolitan. It is national. It is not universal or properly translatable, which is why cosy can never express what is truly meant by our continental cousins. The words mys and gemütlich are each used more frequently and less self-consciously than English words like snug or cosy. I suspect the true English equivalent is a satisfied exhalation prior to a leisurely gulp of ale.

There is a common link in language and feeling between us all though. Although the word mys is sometimes meant as snuggle and can even have sexual connotations (you know how Swedes are these days), the Swedish for brave is modig which is etymologically related to gemütlich which comes from gemüet “mind, mentality”, equivalent to gemüt “mind, soul.” Swedish modig can also mean “valiant, high spirited, courageous”, which is precisely what the Old English word módig (pronounced moody) used to mean. We still have a remnant of this word with the modern English mood. So how did brave become moody in England and cosy in Germany? Well, the Old English noun mód could mean mood in general, but was also related to what we now call the ego or the will. It was associated with arrogance, pride, violence and power but was also used in other words with very different associations. The adjective ánmód means steadfast, fierce, resolute” while módcearig means sorrowful of heart.” Thus mood was used to describe emotion, mind, heart and will. 

Swedish, English and German are all descended from a common language known as Proto-Germanic, which in turn comes from Indo-European. The reconstructed proto-Germanic equivalent of mood is  mōdą, mōdaz “sense, courage, zeal, anger” and the Proto-Indo-European is -, - “endeavour, will, temper.” The brave meaning of mood is retained in other Germanic languages such as Dutch moed and Scots mude, muid, but the Icelandic móður, meaning “grief, moodiness”, is more similar to the English word moody.

We still understand mood to designate distinct atmospheric emotions, yet to be moody is now exclusively negative. This might have something to do with the Old English word ofermod which means “pride” and has therefore been regarded as a sin for centuries.But it's interesting to consider when one is in a “good mood” that these two words are etymologically related to words meaning God and soul. Little wonder that gemütlich is so important to the Germans; for mood and atmosphere which put us in touch with our national past and the associated aesthetics, remind us of our position in space and time. The familiar and consoling effect of architecture, interior design, art and old fashioned activities remind us of who we are, speaking to our “heart, mind, soul” and easing the módcearig of the modern age.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Documentary: Beauty & Consolation: Roger Scruton

A Dutch documentary in which Roger Scruton discusses the importance of beauty, religion, hunting and consolation, that is seeking to be consoled by certain philosophical approaches and through certain activities.