Friday, December 12, 2008

Through the keyhole

My response to Ian Carter's fine tome British Railway Enthusiasm has been published at the Scoop Review of Books this week. Before you ask me why I'm so warmly recommending a four hundred page study of train spotting, model railway building, and similar phenomena, let me repeat a point I made in my review:

Is a mind as supple as Carter’s wasted on a subject as modest as railway-related hobbyism? Should this senior scholar not be devoting himself to an analysis of the crises of capitalism, or a study of the social implications of global warming, or an examination of the state of Western democracy? Questions like these have been muttered by sociologists who mistake grand research subjects for important research results. Such people misunderstand the method at work in British Railway Enthusiasm, and in many of Carter’s other books. Like his heroes, the American sociologist C Wright Mills and the Welsh cultural historian Raymond Williams, Carter likes to select a single, relatively limited subject as a sort of ‘keyhole’ through which he can view a whole society and era.

You can take a peek at the rest of my review here.


Blogger Richard Taylor said...

Maps are you preparing a great missive, sage announcement, on Comrade Gilchrist?!

The sad thing is the pathetic money the cops paid him - if your out there - I'll do it for NZ$1200 - $3000 a week: a car, the best hotels, free books, a supply of the best chocolate, a new computer and a lot of chess books and chess CDs, hookers (classy), a new house and a library ... no less!!

For that I'll burn things down - urge illegal actions, identify bicyclists, give rousing speeches, give advice on how to make bombs etc....

But I would advocate going OVER the fences! I was very upset to read that Gilchrist didn't like grappling hooks - I have a great penchant for grappling hooks... but hire me and I'll make 9/11 and Mumbai etc look like a Sunday picnics!!

But let me have grappling hooks!!

((But $600 !! Phiff!! Get away!!

2:05 am  

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