I'll have a lot more to say soon, but for now . . . .

In the wake of the deaths of Ingmar Bergman and Michelangelo Antonioni there has been an absolutely fascinating e-mail discussion among the extended family of Ira voters that began with some talk about the impact of the art-house films of the '50s and '60s and has gradually transmuted into a weighing of the pros and cons of the fragmentation of the audience and market, not only in film but in most forms of popular (and elite) culture. I'll replay some of the choicer tidbits in the next day or two, if my brothers-in-Ira-hood will permit.

In the meantime, I want to draw your attention to a non-film item, but one that must cause any reader to reflect on the tragedies that surround the repression of free expression. Once upon a time, the Zimbabwe International Book Fair was one of the largest in Africa. Founded in 1984 it began as a refreshingly energetic gathering of publishers, authors and book dealers and distributors. This year, it limped to a close Saturday with only 84 exhibitors, all but one of them local. The exception was the Iranian embassy, which had a display that consisted mainly of Islamic religous pamphlets apparently.

It is indicative of what has befallen Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe that the ZIBF has fallen so far. For a measured assessment of what has happened to the book fair, take a look at this story from the International Herald Tribune.

And many thanks to the wonderful blog The Literary Saloon, which had the link that led me to this article. If you care at all about literature, this blog is an absolute must, smart, funny and committed to good writing.

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Incidentally, this is the 78th post of 2007, equalling my entire output for the previous year. so I guess I can stop feeling guilty for not writing more often. Of course, if I stopped feeling guilty, I might never get anything done. (As the rabbinic sages said, if it were not for the yetzer hara (the evil impulse), no man would ever get married or build a house.)


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