Notes From the Margins…
Christian Petzold’s Transit: Fascism in the Present

Christian Petzold’s Transit: Fascism in the Present

  • August 23, 2019
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Last night I went to see Christian Petzold’s Transit.  It’s a beguiling, enigmatic and haunting film, which cleverly inserts the history of the German occupation of France into present-day France, in a tale of one man’s attempt to flee safety through Marseilles by adopting a false identity as a writer.  Based on the 1942 novel...

No Deal:  All the Demons are Here

No Deal: All the Demons are Here

  • August 19, 2019
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There was a time when Halloween or All Hallows Eve was not much celebrated in the UK.   Now children up and down the country merrily celebrate the liminal point where the boundaries between the living and the dead dissolve, where witches, ghosts and spirits briefly walk the earth,  when ‘Halloween wraps fear in innocence’ in...

John Bolton: American Psycho

John Bolton: American Psycho

  • August 14, 2019
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Over here in the 51st state we’ve been hearing  and seeing a lot from US National Security advisor John Bolton in the last few weeks.  First there was a photo-op with our stupefyingly dense and utterly out of her depth Trade Secretary Liz Truss in Washington:

 

 

Then there was Dominic Raab’s visit to Washington, where the...

From Brexit to Trump: The Incredible Shrinking Countries

From Brexit to Trump: The Incredible Shrinking Countries

  • August 11, 2019
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I’m not much of a fan of the concept of ‘national greatness’.  It’s not I don’t think that nations can have qualities and achievements worthy of pride and admiration.  But the concept of national greatness is almost always steeped in a collective narcissism and national chauvinism that I find unedifying and inherently repellent.

Its proponents often...

Writing and Terror: Peter Herman’s Unspeakable

Writing and Terror: Peter Herman’s Unspeakable

  • August 08, 2019
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From the so-called ‘anarchist terror’ of the late 19th century to al Qaeda and Islamic State, the history of terrorism is filled with episodes in which governments have overreacted to  terrorist violence.  Emergency antiterrorist legislation, military tribunals, wars and quasi-militarisation, extra-legal procedures, torture, administrative detention, national security hysteria – all these responses have been repeated...

Ahmet Altan’s Freedom Song

Ahmet Altan’s Freedom Song

  • August 04, 2019
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There have been many times in my life, particularly during these last few years, when I have doubted my vocation as a writer.  Faced with the rise of populism, ‘post-truth’ politics, churnalism, nationalist demagoguery, and the shallowness and hysteria that so often underpins 21st century politics, it’s tempting in one’s more despondent moments to conclude...

About Me

I’m a writer, campaigner and journalist.  My latest book is The Savage Frontier: The Pyrenees in History and the Imagination (New Press/Hurst, 2018).  The Infernal Machine is where I write on politics, history, cinema and other things that interest me.

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