Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Two for the biathlon, please

Not being the sort to turn one's back on demand, for a civil morning satire on any seasonal festival of sport, I found myself shut out at the Zermatt ticket window, the Swiss having decided that it's all very well to fleece the world for a priceless glimpse of glossy slopes, but never too many of us for very long. Hence to the Finland station and its well-traveled path to a Winter just as incontestable, and just as meticulously exclusive. A well run Winter is no accident; but then, a distinct sentimentality invades the responses of us all to the sparkling season; and I have to confess how my own take a turn to marksmanship. 

I caught this bug at the movies, 
through the masterful process 
photography of one of Mr Hitch-
cock's benchmark British flicks, 
in an opening scene of very nif-
ty shooting at some soigné Swiss 
establishment which, along with 
celluloid itself, has doubtless 
gone the way of all good things 
in hands that never knew, it was 
not about the money. Like you, I
am only sorry that the inventor
of the Kalashnikov expired this
past year, on the eve of mother
Russia's gaudiest exhibition, un-
der a regime so steeped in its
virtues as to make its knowing
too much as chilling as the sea-
son. But we are all men of the
world (if you'll excuse the 
phrase), as we turn to sport.

I keep repeating the mantra, Security is Good for Me, but I must admit, I've always traveled to get away from it. This, too, inspires a jaunt to Russia, where even an undesirable stands an even chance of being ignored. If I wanted the joys of soccer mommying, I could have stayed at home on the telephone, and let our morbid little police state keep its beady nasty pinpoint on my person. Can you imagine, what elation and relief there must be, in the sophisticated, indifferent presumption of guilt? The load off one's shoulders, the curiosity lifted from one's purchase of a coffee? But I stray. 

I don't admire the enrich-ment a hypocrisy toward our presumption of inno-cence brings, to a new totality in the state's invasion of our existence. With the reversal of that presumption we see an inordinate obsession for evidence of every kind, magnifying the enormity of intrusion with de Sade's zealotry for trivia. I am not interested in the excuses our ostensible Conservatives have for this seduction of the republic. With them, it has always been about the money, and fear is a dandy diversion. But now we know, this is beyond the Putinesque, this sodden puttanesca.

Alfred Hitchcock
Charles Bennett,
  Ivor Montagu and
  Emlyn Williams
Curt Courant
The Man Who Knew 
  Too Much
Gaumont, 1934©

John Russell Taylor
  The Life and Times of
  Alfred Hitchcock
Pantheon, 1978©

  Marquis de Sade
Philosophy in the Boudoir
  or, The Immoral Mentors
Joachim Neugroschel
Francine du Plessix Gray
Penguin, 2006©

v  Photo Hedi Slimane

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