Welcome to the monthly editorial and welcome to Ars Notoria. Strangely enough, the editorial for June 2020 will be published before the editorial for May 2020, but that is the arsy-varsy, topsy-turvy world of online publishing these days. We are up and running at a minimal cost and it has been barely seven weeks since we launched our little collective on May 5th. This is a cause for celebration. We need to keep it up.
We began June with a serious academic article by Dr. Peter Stanfield describing how the wealth of Great Britain continues to concentrate into the hands of a few. Peter points out the establishment of the NHS was the only serious attempt in British history to redistribute some of that surplus and shows that even the funding of NHS is being squeezed. Peter points out that the estimated costs of COVID furlough scheme at 15 billion pounds could easily be paid off by the super-rich in Britain who have benefited massively from government policies in the past.
Peter’s article was followed immediately by an impressive overview from Emil Blake where he takes a look at British politics since the rise and fall of Jeremy Corbyn. Emil puts Jeremy Corbyn’s failure down to: Corbyn’s failure to convince the British people to vote for him and his own party to support him, right wing demagoguery and press power, and the British character. Emil quotes George Orwell to make his point:
‘As Europeans go, the English are not intellectual. They have a horror of abstract thought, they feel no need for any philosophy or systematic ‘world-view’. Nor is this because they are ‘practical’, as they are so fond of claiming for themselves. One only has to look at their methods of town planning and water supply, their obstinate clinging to everything that is out of date and a nuisance, a spelling system that defies analysis, and a system, of weights and measures that is intelligible only to the compilers of arithmetic books, to see how little they care about mere efficiency.’
Paul Halas wrote three well-argued articles berating Keir Starmer and the centrist and right wing of the Labour Party both for their back-stabbing and ignoring important issues like global warming. Paul explained how Jeremy Corbyn reinvigorated the left and inspired him. Paul also included two fascinating biographical / autobiographical pieces on comics and animation. He discussed the debt he owes to Donald Duck. Vivien Halas wrote an important piece on the cultural impact of the work in animation of Halas and Batchelor.
Going through the spine of Ars Notoria is the uncompleted graphic novel by Dan Pearce called Depression. The novel is funny and salutary and partly autobiographical. I think anyone who has suffered from severe depression will appreciate this comic, even those of us who just occasionally just feel awfully down in the mouth. There is catharsis in seeing something you can recognise, that you see in life, that hasn’t appeared before in print. I am eking out the publication of Depression in the hope that Dan will finish it before we run out of episodes to publish.
Andy Hall generously pitched in with the star article. He gave us the story of his meeting with Muhammed Ali, the greatest of all time, and the pictures that got taken at that meeting, not all by Andy. The Observer sports writer Kevin Mitchell is in the story, Don King too, and at one point Will Smith, playing Ali makes an appearance.
Yogesh Patel, our deeply valued resident poet, brought us two other very important poets in the last couple of weeks, equal to his own stature: Steve O’ Brien and George Szirtes. At a time when Black Lives Matter Yogesh published his own poem ‘Binary’ which I strongly recommend you read.
A few of the articles were about Black Lives Matter and Des Willie, perhaps the country’s top stills photographer, described the ordinary attrition he faces as a black Briton. I think the universal response to his article was to identify with him and to either recognise the situation he faced or understand how grindingly disheartening it must be to have to regularly deal with such low level racism.
Phil Hall looked at the question of how traditional socialist ideas may or may not be part of the solution to racial inequality. He also wrote a proactive piece focusing on Bob Dylan’s politics where he concludes that despite Dylan’s suspect politics he is still the greatest songwriter who ever lived.
James Tweedie educated us about the situation in Gauyana concluding:
‘The PPP/C, the movement that led Gauyana to independence in the 1950s and 60s, won the election fair and square. The Washington-based Organisation of American States said yesterday GECOM already has “a result based on the valid votes cast” and “this election has gone on long enough.” Yet both hesitate to act decisively and end this crisis that threatens to return their country to the bad old days.’
In another article James also pointed out the hypocrisy of the Democrats in attacking Trump on the question of Black Lives Matter.
Richard House brought a lot of teachers to Ars Notoria with his article criticising OFSTED, an organisation that is a blunt instrument that has harmed many schools. The article soon found an echo and was picked up and promoted by other educational websites.
In June the irrepressible Imran Khimji joined us with a joyful article about how premier league players like Rahim Sterling, how football and sport in general, seem to be coming out as a force for good in the context of Black Lives Matter. Imran’s previous article was on the impact of COVID-19 on the football transfer market.
Finally, we had a beautiful, dense, musical poem by Anandi Sharan which Yogesh said that even he would publish, called Giving and Receiving. It was a romantically, ecological poem full of love and resignation. Ols Halas, the Circus Chef, shared one of his wild and free recipes with us: Breakfast Toad in the Hole. Peter Field wrote a convincingly desperate article on the problem of climate change. Both capitalists and socialists are to blame while the poor suffer and it is almost to late to do anything about it.
Ars Notoria has a new drop down menu at the side with the names of all its contributors. When you click their names you get their articles. So far we have 6 editors, 20 contributors and 73 articles. We have built this up since May 5th. Occasionally articles are getting picked up by the search engines right away. Paul Halas’s article on Keir Starmer was immediately ranked high on Google.