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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Distractions and Choices


Writing – let alone blogging – is a solitary activity. The thought which (hopefully!) precedes writing is more of a social process – requiring the stimulus of discussion or at least reading. But putting words together requires some protection from the pressures of everyday living – and the last week has seen many of these, with various technical challenges from the central heating system and my faithful 14 year-old Daewoo Cielo car.
A great dump of Amazon books and Truffaut films hasn’t helped the writing – nor the glorious weather. The books have been a mix of le Carre novels, Chinese and Scandinavian detective stories, Mackintosh-Smith travelogues, art books (Infinite Jest – caricature and satire from Leonardo to Levine and Simon Schama’s The Power of Art - whose (video) treatment of Turner you can see here) and a few serious treatises such as David Graeber’s Debt - the first 5,000 years and Why we disagree about climate change.

Anyway, back to cars. I am one of these people for whom a car is a facility for getting me from city a to cottage b with minimum fuss and cost and who, having bought it, doesn’t want to think about a car again for many years. I was almost 50 before I bought my first new car – having been well-served initially with an old French Simca; then had a series of second-hand Volvos before succumbing to my first new car in 1989 – a modest Fiat Tipo which faithfully took me around Central Europe in the early 1990s from my Copenhagen base. I've also been lucky with my Daewoo – it’s recognised that the early models assembled here in the Romanian plant were the best. I also ran a 10-year old Audi Estate in Kyrgyzstan for a couple of years and was delighted with the experience. 
Noting the high level of satisfaction from buyers of Skoda cars (and the fuel consumption of their diesels) I settled on this brand – but have been a bit put off both by three things - their prices; the complication of the choice of engine size, fuel and names; and feedback I have been getting from mechanics about the inferior nature of some of the materials in the newer models.
I cannot be bothered with all the apparent choices I am presented with. And I am downright cynical about the claims made - not least about reliability. How come the marketing international companies do doesn't throw up this basic profile?? I';m sure I'm not unique...After all Volkswagen (Skoda's parent company) gave us the Beetle. Where is today's version??? Coincidentally I came across this interesting article on the issue of consumer power.
Our economic system is based on planned obsolescence. And the four-year guarantees in this part of the world are apparently not worth the paper they are written on – an interesting test of European integration.
So I am back to thinking of a 10 year old Audi – except that four-wheel is a better bet in this part of the world! Choices, choices…… 

The superb weather continues - although I look forward now to Sofia - a great  exhibition in the Sofia City Gallery celebrating its 60th anniverary; a reopened National Gallery (which I know about thanks to a private blog - not the official site!; a Toni Todorov exhibition at Vihra's Astry Gallery from 1 November; and a Victoria Gallery auction on 15 November
And, in the meantime, I discovered today this interesting website about the Bulgarian painter Georgi Zhelezarov (1897-1982) - which gives a nice sense of the national art of the period. 

Toni Todorov is a contemporary - and the above is taken from a calendar of his work which Vihra kindly gave me. That's another feature of Bulgaria - the number of (Bulgarian) art calendars you can find - and the frequency with which hotels everywhere display original Bulgarian paintings.

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