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The Right Stuff

Alan Ryan, 24 November 1994

The Principle of Duty 
by David Selbourne.
Sinclair-Stevenson, 288 pp., £17.99, June 1994, 1 85619 474 4
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... and an enemy of the Enlightenment, though he has changed his positive allegiances a good deal; Michael Sandel, like Charles Taylor and Pope John Paul II, makes a great thing of ‘identity’. They stress the difference between the way we are ‘constituted’ by our membership in a variety of communities and the ‘abstract’ individuals that thinkers ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘The Ides of March’, 1 December 2011

The Ides of March 
directed by George Clooney.
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... only reporter in the world. But the film’s heroes are a campaign manager’s chief assistant (Ryan Gosling, who manages every improbable shift in his character with such aplomb, is so convincing in every contradictory aspect, that you keep forgetting what’s wrong with the writing) and a busy young intern (Evan Rachel Wood) who gets herself into all ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Only God Forgives’, 29 August 2013

Only God Forgives 
directed by Nicolas Winding Refn.
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... and smashed human bodies than several years’ worth of newsreels. You can see why Refn wanted Ryan Gosling to play the main character in both movies. He’s not innocent and he often looks appropriately tough and scary, especially when he decides not to change out of his bloodstained clothes, a fashion move that I hope is not going to catch on. But he ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘La La Land’, 19 January 2017

La La Land 
directed by Damien Chazelle.
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... She hasn’t noticed that the traffic is moving again and is rudely hooted at by Sebastian (Ryan Gosling), who himself is playing and replaying a jazz piano sequence on a tape in his car. It’s the beginning of a beautiful friendship, though Mia and Sebastian don’t know that yet. In fact they don’t even know it when they sing and dance one of their ...

Alphabetophile

Michael Hofmann: Eley Williams, 7 September 2017

Attrib. and Other Stories 
by Eley Williams.
Influx, 169 pp., £9.99, March 2017, 978 1 910312 16 2
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Frit 
by Eley Williams.
Sad, 35 pp., £6, April 2017
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... as possible down the side of his cheek, while still managing to sing the school song; another boy, Ryan, managed 14. No one dies, though I’m not quite sure why. In its harmless way, the thing seems perfectly scandalous. The two bs in the story ‘Bs’ are an early bird in the tree outside a lover’s window, ‘shouting at your house’, and a bee kept ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: ‘Blade Runner 2049’, 2 November 2017

Blade Runner 2049 
directed by Denis Villeneuve.
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... deprived because they are made, not born, as a character says in this film. In Blade Runner 2049 Ryan Gosling, chaser of replicants by profession, is himself a replicant. He doesn’t have a name, only a serial number, shortened to K, and when he expatiates, in front of his LAPD boss, on the thought of having a soul, she (Robin Wright, fierce and firm as ...

Untheory

Alexander Nehamas, 22 May 1986

Contest of Faculties: Philosophy and Theory after Deconstruction 
by Christopher Norris.
Methuen, 247 pp., £16, November 1985, 0 416 39939 8
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Philosophical Profiles 
by Richard Bernstein.
Polity, 313 pp., £25, January 1986, 0 7456 0226 6
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Against Theory: Literary Studies and the New Pragmatism 
edited by W.J.T. Mitchell.
Chicago, 146 pp., £12.75, November 1985, 0 226 53226 7
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... conditions of its production.’ In support of this claim, Norris paraphrases an argument of Michael Ryan from his Marxism and Deconstruction, makes numerous, if cryptic allusions to the writings of Derrida, and relies on his interpretation of the ‘hard’ deconstruction of Paul de Man. This reliance makes for very heavy going. His discussion of ...

Semiotics Right and Left

Christopher Norris, 4 September 1986

On Signs: A Semiotics Reader 
edited by Marshall Blonsky.
Blackwell, 536 pp., £27.50, September 1985, 0 631 10261 2
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... the politics of deconstruction are notoriously open to dispute, claimants on the left (like Michael Ryan) asserting its indispensability to Marxist critique, while others – among them Terry Eagleton – see it as merely a last-ditch retreat from pressing social and political realities. But it is certainly a central part of Derrida’s project to ...

Cubist Slugs

Patrick Wright: The Art of Camouflage, 23 June 2005

DPM: Disruptive Pattern Material; An Encyclopedia of Camouflage: Nature – Military – Culture 
DPM, 2 vols, 944 pp., £100, September 2004, 9780954340407Show More
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... stomach in Savernake Forest to line up a young mother in his gunsights (as the Hungerford killer Michael Ryan did in 1987). He is an ecologically minded clothing designer, who speaks of reclaiming camouflage rather as the community activists of 1968 (the year Blechman was born) used to talk about repossessing the town hall. As the founder and ...

The Health Transformation Army

James Meek: What can the WHO do?, 2 July 2020

... start work on tests more than a week earlier, but China sat on it.At a press conference in April, Michael Ryan, the WHO’s emergencies chief, revealed that the WHO had first learned of the outbreak not from the Chinese authorities but from ProMED, a non-profit network of observers who scan the internet for disease reports. One of ProMED’s spotters ...

Modernity

George Steiner, 5 May 1988

Visions and Blueprints: Avant-Garde Culture and Radical Politics in Early 20th-century Europe 
edited by Edward Timms and Peter Collier.
Manchester, 328 pp., £29.50, February 1988, 0 7190 2260 6
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... in Duchamp’s jests out of the abyss. Limitations on length must have inhibited Helga Geyer-Ryan. Her contribution on Walter Benjamin’s philosophy of history is characteristically intelligent and dense (she thinks in German, which, in this context, is altogether an advantage). But her sketch makes use neither of the polemic correspondence between ...

Astride a White Horse

Declan Kiberd: Bridget Clearly, 6 January 2000

The Burning of Bridget Cleary: A True Story 
by Angela Bourke.
Pimlico, 240 pp., £10, August 1999, 0 7126 6590 0
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... an early suffragist. She knew how to earn good money as a dressmaker and hen-keeper. Her husband Michael Cleary was an educated and literate cooper, whose services were much in demand by local businesses. He had served his apprenticeship in the progressive town of Clonmel and had good prospects. As a couple, they seemed the very image of a modernising ...

At the Movies

Michael Wood: The films of Carol Reed, 19 October 2006

Odd Man Out 
directed by Carol Reed.
September 2006
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... by the police. This is actually a sort of assisted suicide, since Kathleen, played by Kathleen Ryan, has fired two shots at the snowy ground, merely to provoke the police response. ‘Is it far?’ the depleted gunman says before they die. ‘It’s a long way, Johnny,’ Kathleen says. ‘But I’m coming with you.’ This is not half-baked, it’s a ...

Institutions

Alan Ryan, 26 November 1987

Ruling Performance: British Governments from Attlee to Thatcher 
edited by Peter Hennessy and Anthony Seldon.
Blackwell, 344 pp., £25, October 1987, 0 631 15645 3
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The Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Institutions 
edited by Vernon Bogdanor.
Blackwell, 667 pp., £45, September 1987, 0 631 13841 2
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Judges 
by David Pannick.
Oxford, 255 pp., £12.95, October 1987, 0 19 215956 9
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... detached reflections on Mrs Thatcher from the pen of John Vincent. As a final savoury, Tony Benn, Michael Fraser, David Marquand and David Butler sum up the entire era. The argument starts with the first and by some way the best piece in the collection, Paul Addison’s essay on ‘The Road from 1945’. Addison takes issue with Corelli Barnett’s Audit of ...

Letting them live

Alan Ryan, 4 August 1988

A History of the Jews 
by Paul Johnson.
Weidenfeld, 643 pp., £8.95, April 1988, 0 297 79366 7
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The Burning Bush: Anti-Semitism and World History 
by Barnet Litvinoff.
Collins, 493 pp., £17.50, April 1988, 0 00 217433 2
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Living with Anti-Semitism: Modern Jewish Responses 
edited by Jehuda Reinharz.
Brandeis/University Press of New England, 498 pp., £32.75, August 1987, 9780874513882
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... with their own positions – or lives – nor unconcerned for the fate of those they led. Michael Maurrus’s account of the Union Générale des Israélites Français in France is harder on the bureaucratic obtuseness that led the UGIF to provide the Gestapo with the names and addresses of Jewish children placed in homes and orphanages; he also ...

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