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Bags and Iron

Sylvia Lawson

15 August 1991
Patrick White: A Life 
by David Marr.
Cape, 715 pp., £20, July 1991, 0 224 02581 3
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... a pastoral trio in the Fifties. Towards an Australian Bloomsbury? There has to be more going on. It’s not enough to confirm the greatness of greatness; we want to know our business with the dead. DavidMarr unfolds it, steadily, over seven hundred pages. The first vindication of his huge and wonderful book is that it offers ways into all of White’s work, uncovering materials which were taken up ...

Mental Processes

Christopher Longuet-Higgins

4 August 1988
The Computer and the Mind: An Introduction to Cognitive Science 
by P.N. Johnson-Laird.
Harvard/Fontana, 444 pp., £23.50, May 1988, 0 674 15615 3
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... science has made more rapid progress in recent years than the study of vision – partly because of the military importance of mechanical contraptions that can see where they are going. The late DavidMarr, whose posthumous book Vision generated an upheaval in the subject, insisted that vision be regarded as an ongoing process of computation, which begins with the optical images formed at the back ...

Diary

Peter Craven: On the Demidenko Affair

16 November 1995
... at Treblinka and taking part in the massacre of Babi Yar. The Hand That Signed the Paper went on to win the Vogel Award, the most prominent prize for first novels in Australia; it was described by DavidMarr, Patrick White’s biographer, as ‘astonishingly talented’, and by Jill Kitson of the ABC as ‘a searingly truthful account of terrible wartime deeds that is also an imaginative work of ...
20 February 1997
Vietnam 1945: The Quest for Power 
by David Marr.
California, 602 pp., $50, October 1995, 0 520 07833 0
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... the whole country. The subsequent 30 years of war, in which several million Vietnamese died, marked a campaign to return to, to reestablish, the independent state that had briefly existed in 1945. Marr rescues this key date from the hands of those who have sought to appropriate it: from the opponents of the Vietnamese Communists who have tried to downplay their victory by representing it as a ...

Dennett’s Ark

P.N. Johnson-Laird

1 September 1988
The Intentional Stance 
by Daniel Dennett.
MIT, 388 pp., £22.50, January 1988, 9780262040938
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... theory they, um, espouse or champion has no room in its ontology for beliefs.’ On the other hand, the mentalists – philosophers such as Dretske and Fodor, and cognitive scientists from Craik to Marr – hold to the reality of representations and beliefs. They assume that there is a physical world in space and time, and that mental processes enable human beings to perceive that world, to have ...

Foreign Body

Tim Winton

22 June 1995
Patrick White: Letters 
edited by David Marr.
Cape, 678 pp., £35, January 1995, 0 224 03516 9
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... and now that ‘the monster of all time’ is safely dead, it would appear that his countrymen needn’t have taken it all so personally, since it’s difficult to find peers for White anywhere. DavidMarr’s excellent and sympathetic biography confirmed White’s singularity and perhaps even his greatness, but the recent Letters, astutely edited and accompanied by acerbic and timely ...

Mindblind

Ian Hacking: Religion’s evolutionary origins

21 October 2004
In Gods We Trust: The Evolutionary Landscape of Religion 
by Scott Atran.
Oxford, 348 pp., £20.99, November 2002, 0 19 514930 0
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... that the human mind is ‘modular’, with specific faculties that enable us to use our heads. That started with Chomsky and the idea of an inherited module for syntax. Then came perceptual modules (DavidMarr), modules for reasoning (Jerry Fodor) and finally modules for every mental ability great and small (Dan Sperber). Modularity gone mad, says Fodor. Atran is content with a modest menu of modules ...

Notes on the Election

David​ Runciman: Power v. Power

8 April 2015
... in the ‘Palliser’ novels. Instead we have deeply entitled TV and radio interviewers whose job is to put politicians on the spot and try to catch them out. They all have their own style. Andrew Marr’s Sunday show regularly ensnares the big beasts. Marr is courteous, intelligent and always sniffing out hypocrisy. How exactly are you any better, is the question behind most of his questions. Evan ...

Short Cuts

David​ Runciman: The Dirtiest Player Around

9 October 2013
... in the hands of a man like McBride. It is the unresolved mystery at the heart of the story. McBride claims it was because he was good at his job. He compares himself to Andy Coulson, whose time with David Cameron coincided with the most successful phase of Cameron’s leadership. This is bravado. McBride’s performance was too full of cock-ups and drunken mishaps to serve as a model of cut-throat ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: The biography of stuff

5 July 2001
... Announcing the winner of this year’s Samuel Johnson Prize, Andrew Marr was pleased to be able to say that none of the shortlisted books was the obvious result of a publisher’s ‘wheeze’, or the so-called biography of something which couldn’t in all honesty be ...

Cartwheels over Broken Glass

Andrew O’Hagan: Worshipping Morrissey

4 March 2004
Saint Morrissey 
by Mark Simpson.
SAF, 224 pp., £16.99, December 2003, 0 946719 65 9
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The Smiths: Songs that Saved Your Life 
by Simon Goddard.
Reynolds/Hearn, 272 pp., £14.99, December 2002, 1 903111 47 1
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... their genius they put into the diary, which was all about how much they wanted to kill their fathers, and, more violently, how much they loved the heavily lipglossed singer in a band called Japan. David Sylvian was his name. The girls called him David. So far as I remember, the diary was a pretty spectacular fantasia of adolescent lusts and local hatreds: Dear Katherine, David came and took me out ...
3 March 2016
... church that favoured diversity and loved a good debate, a few Blairites gave their vote to support a candidate from the minuscule parliamentary left. This strategy had worked before: last time round David Miliband nominated Diane Abbott as a candidate. In 2015 they hoped a left candidate would take away support from Andy Burnham, who was what passed for leftish, leaving the door open for Liz Kendall ...

Corbyn in the Media

Paul Myerscough

21 October 2015
... admitted to the Privy Council (see Martin Loughlin’s piece on p. 29)? On the day after he was elected, he spoke at a mental health trust fun day in his constituency instead of going on the Andrew Marr Show. Later that day he was filmed as he hurried along the pavement outside Westminster in silence, refusing to answer reporters’ questions: it ‘looked like a perp walk’, Jonathan Freedland ...
16 December 2010
... flyers on tables and in hands, the list of demands snaking up the wall, photos of the other occupations; marker-penned slogans, or doodles, or quotes from Goethe; a sinister ballpoint-pen portrait of David Cameron and cards written by solicitors Birnberg Peirce explaining that you don’t need to give your name if searched. The walls are a sort of slogan competition, in the manner of a JCR suggestion ...

Who’s the real cunt?

Andrew O’Hagan: Dacre’s Paper

21 June 2017
Mail Men: The Unauthorised Story of the ‘Daily Mail’, the Paper that Divided and Conquered Britain 
by Adrian Addison.
Atlantic, 407 pp., £20, March 2017, 978 1 78239 970 4
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... posing as news, of opinion dressed as fact, and contempt posing as contempt for that portion of the world’s population that doesn’t live in Cheam. This paper wasn’t invented by Dacre but by David English, variously described as the best editor on Fleet Street and the biggest liar since Herodotus. (English once invented a whole interview with Betty Ford and on another occasion pretended to ...

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