Monday, February 14, 2005

Ian McEwan

Neurosurgeon as literary hero...
Last weekend enabled me to quickly read "Saturday", Ian McEwan's latest novel. In this association game that a blog often is, what bells has the book rung? The main characher is a brain surgeon and when he's performing an intervention to deal with a sub-dural hematoma I could not fail to remember my own experience, fresh from graduating Medical School, helping a neurosurgeon who happened to have been an assistant to the Professor. Maybe because of that family link, he told me to sign the logbook of the operating room as an internee, because "This way, if you ever decide to specialise in Neurosurgery your role in this intervention will be included in your curriculum". But, as I allways say, Medicine is a "previous life", not my current one.. The novel, set in the day of the million people anti-Irak demonstration which culminated in Hyde Park, took me also (kanieshno!) to my own Irak story. (I could have been in Bagdhah by now, happy to do non-boring stuff, if only the European Council would have decided to choose someone else to lead the Commission). Quite interesting to follow the argument about the war in Irak, through the father(grey pro-) and daughter (black and white anti-) discussion. What do I think myself of the war? Who's opinion, the blogger's or the one from a professional of foreign stuff? The latter cannot be called an opinion. We are a depositary of a "line" to argue and defend to the best of our abilities. Our Government's line. That's what we have been paid for for centuries. The professional cannot indulge in a private blogger's opinion on something about what there's an approved line. About Irak then, I would only say that Bagdhad, as a mytical capital, (like Damascus or Cordova) has a resonance for the Arab world that can only be compared to Paris or Rome for western ears.We tend to forget that a bit too easyly.

And what about Mr McEwan himself, what associations are quick-started by reading him again? Top of it all must surely be that after-lunch lecture on writing and cinema, under - for Wales - exceptional 30º C in a white tent in the Hay on Wye Festival. McEwan's speech was getting more and more sluggish (dehydration foretelling sign) and the whole auditorium was gently diving into near-sleep. He told us about "The Moment" that every supporting character in a Holywood film must have, and how restless, anxious actresses kept asking him, the script-writer, about when and how their respective "Moments" would finaly arrive.

I'll return to Uncle Ian one of these days, no good discussion about evilness is completed without a short revisiting of the "The Black Dogs". In the mean time, do read "Saturday", please.

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