Friday, October 13, 2006

Twenty Questions to a Fellow Blogger Part XII: Norman Geras

Norman Geras was born in 1943 and is Professor Emeritus of Government at Manchester University. He is an expert on Karl Marx, a founder of the Euston Manifesto and you can find his blog here.

What made you decide to start blogging?

I wanted to try it just out of curiosity, to see if it suited me. And I wanted to have my say in debates going on about the Iraq war and post-9/11 matters more generally.

What is your best blogging experience?

The many new friends I've made.

And your worst?

Nothing major. I don't much like it on days when I'm short of stuff to blog about.

What do you regard as your best blog entry?

Impossible to answer. Since I started blogging I've put up over 6,700 posts. Many of them I'll have forgotten. These are sort of representative: The War in Iraq which I posted on my second day of blogging; the series 'The argument over Iraq'; this from the second anniversary of 9/11; two posts on Israel; 'The Nermblague Prefab' (still relevant since the stupidity that is its target rolls on); and 'The Feuerbach XI'.

Favourite blogs?

Again, that's a tough call. These are three of the 25 to 30 blogs I try to visit at least once a day: Harry's Place, Shuggy's Blog and Tim Blair.

For the benefit of Mars Hill readers, what brought about the Euston Manifesto and your involvement?

A group of bloggers and others met in London on the Saturday after the last general election to talk over matters of common interest. We thought it would be worth exploring whether the 'presence' achieved within the blogosphere by our segment of the liberal-left could be extended beyond the internet. The meeting agreed that we should draw up a brief statement summarizing our common positions. There wasn't any more to it than that.

What do you regard as the best and worst of Karl Marx?

Best: the vision of a world in which 'the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all', in which no one is the unwilling instrument of the purposes of others; the focus on the material conditions and social relations that thwart this goal. Worst: the failure to give serious attention to the ethical premises of his own thinking; the lack of a realistic theory of the political institutions of a socialist democracy.

Is there anywhere abroad which you haven't been to, that you would like to visit?

Australia - soon to happen. Most of the US.

Is there anywhere abroad you have visited, that you would love to revisit?

New York City; Italy.

Is there any head of government or head of state you regard as a hero?

Hero? No.

Which public figure has been your greatest inspiration?

I don't know that I have anyone who fits into this category - I mean 'inspiration'. I admire things about Rosa Luxemburg, and I admire the wisdom of Primo Levi (if he counts as a public figure). I admire Helen Bamber.

Favourite Bond movie?

I saw some of the early Bond movies: Dr No, From Russia With Love, Goldfinger. Not my thing. I stopped bothering.

Do you have a favourite television programme?

If I have to pick one, The Sopranos. From the soundtrack on the opening credits to the performances of the central characters to the Shakespearean depths of it, it's just bloody brilliant.

Chocolate, vanilla, or mint?

Chocolate.

Which band, past or present, would you most like to see in concert?

There's no sensible answer here, but I'll go for this: I once saw Lyle Lovett playing in Manchester and I'd pay a lot to be able to see the same thing again.

In terms of visiting for the weekend, Oxford, Cambridge, or Barsby, Leics...?

Oxford. I spent five years there. The place means something to me in a way that Cambridge and Barsby don't, though I mean no disrespect to Barsby in saying that.

Favourite national newspaper?

A touchy point. I've twice given up taking The Guardian. There are things about it that I detest. But I haven't found an adequate substitute. So, with that qualification, The Guardian.

What would you say your hobbies were?

Following Test match cricket and collecting books about cricket. Collecting and listening to jazz. Blogging should be one, but I spend too much time on it for it to count as a hobby. But maybe it'll develop into a hobby.

Favourite Beatles song?

'Yesterday'.

And what would you say were your three favourite songs and three favourite books (Bar the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare)?

Another impossible question. So I'm going for three great country music songs: Emmylou Harris, 'Boulder To Birmingham'; Steve Earle, 'Ft. Worth Blues'; Merle Haggard, 'Wake Up'. And then how is one to compare and rank favourite novels against works of theory and scholarship? So I'm going for three books I use quite a bit: Cook and Morton, The Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings; Bill Frindall, The Wisden Book of Test Cricket in two volumes.

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