English parties
May 27, 2014, 4:36 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: ,

I’ve been to one English party, in New York. I suggested it and it seemed like it was thrown together by the host who much preferred to have gone to a pub. No one seemed comfortable sitting in the small living room and eating funny vegetables and what not. Why are we here ? was the general feeling.

In this cynical description of English parties below, paragraph one describes the English as an isolated lot. Paragraph two then describes how the English have been ransacked by roving businessmen. These are related ideas, or why put them back to back like this? Isolation is sort of like selfishness and will end in susceptibility to looting.

Here is Canetti:

One could write a book about English parties. I never got used to them. They strike me as senseless and heartless, every bit in keeping with such cold people. The idea, after all, is not to get too close. As soon as a conversation was developing (which wasn’t an easy thing to bring about), it was time to push off and turn to somebody else. It was not done to spend too long with one person, that was accounted selfish. People were there to make rapid contact, and, still more, rapid withdrawals. Sometimes you wouldn’t even know who you had been talking to. Those were the ideal cases in these ritualised celebrations of non-contact.

During the War, more than fifty years ago now, it was England’s salvation that it was an island. It was still an island, and that asset, a colossal advantage, has been frittered away. Today, it is what’s left over from a government whose one and only prescription for everything was selfishness. People felt proud of this fact, as though it were some kind of revelation, a horde of men (and women) in pinstripes swarmed over the land, calling themselves businessmen or executives, and sought to plunder the country, just as once the country had sought to plunder the rest of the world. England decided it would loot itself, and engaged an army of yuppies for that end.

Canetti, Party in the Blitz

from Spurious by Lars Iyer

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