Monday, September 5, 2016


Strange tales of moral instruction. See if you can make sense of this cartoon.

The fallen tree of your sin – lying seemingly on purpose across the road – causes your friends to have a terrible spiritual accident. The cartoon is glossed by Romans 14:13: ‘Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”

Or there is this one, about the braggart whose bragging won’t help him become popular.

Although it’s not clear to me why he should aspire to be popular in the first place. For this one the author enlists Proverbs, 27:2: “Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips.”

The cartoons come from a trilogy of books by one Tom Williams, part of this year’s second-hand haul that is the traditional subject of my blog anniversary posts.

It can be difficult to date these sort of books, as their aesthetic is stuck into a generic 1950s American everywhere, but I can tell you they are late additions to the genre. 1973.

Then as a sort of acerbic counterpoint there is this lovely, 1943 large-format edition of Thurber’s Fables for Our Time,

Hand-stamped by the US censor (#12,406) and bearing the markings of the Geneva Branch of the War Prisoners Aid World’s Committee of the YMCA, over which in 1946 this sticker was affixed, in three languages.

This book, a gift of the American people originally intended for prisoners-of-war, is presented to you by the World’s Alliance of the Young Men’s Christian Association.
Which rather leaves me wondering: you who? Nobody wrote their name into the book, prisoner or otherwise. All I know is that it ended up in New Zealand and was later donated to the Downtown Community Ministry. This year – for the second time running – I was out of town during big book fair weekend so it was Justine who attended. This highly technical 1940 government report on the welfare of dairy farmers proves that she knows the way to my heart.

As does this beautifully illustrated wool monograph.

Or this peculiar collection of sketches form the Soviet Union by another cartoonist, Vicky, first published in the year of Stalin’s death.

Here’s a drawing from a school, in keeping with the theme of the past few weeks.

Or this book on work in New Zealand, fatefully published in 1984, which naturally made me think of Richard Scarry, and in whose company I expect I will spend some absorbing hours.

Speaking of 1984, during my time in New Zealand I have heard various people claim that when the fourth Labour government came in nobody was to know what they would get up to, which has always struck me as highly improbable, even though god knows they didn’t campaign on half of what they did do. But Roger Douglas had made no secret of his more radical ideas and now I can wave this promotional pamphlet at people. It dates as early as 1980.

Seriously folks it’s all there – his approach to unions, investment, business regulation, reducing government, introducing a sales tax, abolishing the estate tax. He spoke like a right winger and, big surprise, ended up acting like one. Who could have known?

On a more cheerful note, while in Paris I got this (I love old magazines)

Oui, je suis 'un touriste'

And also the evening edition of l’Humanité of 30 April 1945, bearing a few days’ old news of the death of Mussolini and extremely fresh news of Hitler’s suicide.

Also, the war in Europe was over. Not what you would call a slow news day.

Another thing I do at this time of the year is inaugurate a new banner artwork. Faithful readers will know that Marian Maguire is one of my favourite artists, and I hesitated for a long time to ask her but she said yes and so I’m delighted to show off the picture at the top of this page. We farewell therefore Sarah Laing’s second banner.

Which came after her first.

Which followed on from Tim Denee’s.

Who replaced Dylan Horrocks.

Before whom Shirley Carran ruled the page for three years.

And it was Bert Warter’s original 1940 illustration to Bruno Furst’s book Stop Forgetting which started the whole thing off.

Today marks eight years of this blog. I’m still happy to be doing this, I still see a point in it. And look, we just put out a book which has a little bit to do with something I wrote here nearly two years ago. It helps to feel that it’s not just a diary. (Not that there's anything wrong with diaries.)

Finally: the last year of posts in mosaic forms. Thank you for reading, as always.

Reimagining Journalism - The book launch The school as utopia The world's school
Let's close down the schools Writing is a foreign language 24 tips for buying your first home
Against boredom Of cosmic truths and related content Towards a free and united Europe
Someone should be going to jail National values Poor Peter
What to do in case of death The birth place of the artist Rome vs Paris
The theory of eternal return A special day The strange case of the Venus in a box
The masochist's coffee pot The Book of Presidential Trivia and Meat Facts Saint Anthony's Fire
Existence (a poem) What colour is your nationalism? Tweet-length tragedies
In the name of invisible monsters The weight of the sky Mediterranea
I don't protest, I love My fucking food bag: pizza marinara The consequences of speech
Old words for the new poor The world's biggest teddy A year of Wellington
Our day at Parliament This modenist house, this feminist house The raid
Like Uber, but for usury My fucking food bag: fresh gnocchi with a sauce of... Gogol Earth
The Berhampore book This page intentionally filled with words On measuring our future
'In Vietnam they killed the Child Jesus' Our toxic selfie culture A message from Joseph Goebbels
The game of capitalist propaganda Seven.

1 comment:

Philip said...

Here's to eight more.