Python’s Last Supper a Guide to British Society and Class

The Python’s “Why Michelangelo did not paint the last supper” is one their most brilliantly funny pieces.

An almost explosive Pope John Cleese is giving a hard time to Michelangelo for the way the last supper is to be depicted.  If you have not seen it, I will not spoil it for you, just watch it.

But Michelangelo is an aggrieved and truculent painter “it took me hours.”

Initially it is clear that this is about the resentment of the British  working class and the entitlement of the rulers.

However, as time goes on, with re-watching, you realize that Michelangelo is actually having the time of his life needling the pope, and deliberately failing to understand his objections (“Are the disciples too Jewish.  I made Judas the most Jewish”) and the Pope is also enjoying the verbal combat, even though he seems about to explode.  You know that Michelangelo got together with his mates at the Painters’ Arms pub that evening and regaled them with story.  The Pope may have let off steam to his mistress.

Finally, you realize that both of them actually know that both are enjoying themselves.  This says more about British class conflict than almost anything.  Try thinking about Brexit in terms of the pleasure of self-righteousness, and you can see why no one in the UK can accept the obvious.  They are having too much fun — or perhaps too locked in it see any other pattern of interaction.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

‘Europeans Can’t Think of Building a Future Without the Americans’ — You Won’t Have To, But We Do All Have to Think Differently

Politico has a great article, with the self-explanatory title, itself a quote from the French Ambassador to the US – ‘Europeans Can’t Think of Building a Future Without the Americans’

Nor can I imagine a US without Europe deeply engaged with us.  (I am coming to be able to understand a Europe without the UK, or rather parts of it, but that is a much simpler matter, more related to Britain’s 150 year decline.)

What North Americans and Europeans have to do is understand that together we are one political  system, although not one nation.  Politics in one of these two mega nations (lumping Canada in with the US for now) are already deeply intertwined, and will get more so.  That is much more the case than any other large countries dyad.

As recent elections have shown, political events in one of the mega-nations trigger and influence those in the other — and not always in fully predictable ways.  Skilled demagogues, well actually all demagogues, will try to use events in one as a source of fear or reactionary possibility in the other, and building a positive “liberal system” vision will always require more nuance and time.

In short, in order to leverage each other, ideas have to flow between the two groupings as easily as capital already does.  We in the US have so much to learn about managing technology to limit the forces of inequality, and our friends in Europe have so much to ,learn about building greater flexibility into their economic system.

In the end, however, we have to learn to think about the impact on the European system of all that we do, and they have to do the same about us.  Think about how Trump’s failure to understand the nuances of this have enhanced European integration, and perhaps even saved Europe from disintegration.  The more Trump embraces Putin, the more the rest of Europe fears him, or rather both of them. I personally will not get tired of these kinds of winning.