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Life imitating Art

Updated: Dec 16, 2023

poster for the Warner Brothers film: Death in Venice 1971.

I have to admit to a guilty pleasure; that of enjoying Melvin Braggs discussions on ‘In Our Time’ broadcast on Radio 4.

Listening to today’s discussion of Death in Venice by Thomas Mann, published in 1912, I was struck by the parallel between the ennobled writer Gustav von Achenbach’s fall from grace due to an obsession with a 14-year boy and that of TV personality Phillip Schofield and felt that the timing of the broadcast could not have been accidental, given recent allegations that executives at ITV covered his affair with a younger memebr of staff.

Thomas Mann has commented that the book was an allusion based on "passion as confusion and degradation” rather than autobiographical, as in pre-war Europe the merest hint of homosexuality was enough to cause societal outrage, however, while Von Aschenbachs’ obsession remained passive, Schofield failed to realise that while ones sexuality is no longer an issue, the active grooming of a child certainly is.Bizarrely, in this post truth era, lying and deceit by those party to the cult of personality is considered worse than the act.

We’ve all felt the pangs of unrequited love and the pleasure of fantasy, they are part of growing and help to define our personal moral compass but celebrity status, whether on TV or in Politics, seems to allow certain people to drop moral norms and convince themselves, no doubt enabled by the company they keep, that what they are doing is acceptable. and when called out, they deny it, and when found out, they lie and hope that in lying long enough, another matter arises that distracts.

I feel certain that politics will provide enough fuel to keep that supply line running for many years.

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