The Moorish Wanderer

Wandering Thoughts Vol.1

Posted in Flash News, Read & Heard, The Wanderer by Zouhair ABH on October 3, 2010

There’s a piece of advice I am resolute in following. After a couple of drinks, a friend advised me to write some lighter pieces because the others, while of high standards (and I am very thankful of them to think so) attract very few readers. Although I agree wholeheartedly, I feel it is very underrated (in terms of number of readers I mean) so there we are: I’ll be posting some short mood pieces as it were. But then again, one does not write pieces just for the vanity of being read by large numbers, does one?

What is to discuss a Sunday night? A dreadful time indeed, second only to Monday morning. What’s to discuss indeed? the current news in Morocco? I don’t want to. Not that there is nothing to discuss, but because I don’t want to be depressed again by a picture that is actually as bleak as one makes out. Presumably a violent death in a police station is dramatic, but even with strident protests and cyber-demonstration, it won’t change much things. The present regime (to which some deny the name of Makhzen) knows perfectly that the Blogosphere (the well-known Blogoma), the human rights activists and their supporters are but a little lot, or rather, a disorganized and ill-coordinated set of groups. For many years, I have been an admirer of the Gramscian concept of Organic Intellectual, and I did my best to fit in, but then again one feels let down, depressed and with a growing sense of  disaffection from front-line politics, and ultimately to an Ivory-tower kind of meditation. An intellectual weakness I must confess. but very cozy if I might add.

Oh, it is getting boring again, so let us discuss something I promised a couple of lines above. I am currently (re)watching “House Of Cards” with great delight. I obviously got a thing for British political drama (and comedy too) because of a number of factors: back in prep school, it was a good way to entertain oneself while enjoying the benefit of capturing valuable knowledge: to learn some advanced vocabulary as well as some rudiments of British (and American) political history.


Francis Urquhart, a modern version of Richard III


For the benefit of those who did not watch the 4-parts TV drama produced in 1990, I shall briefly discuss a TV drama “House Of Cards”. So what is so specific about this particular TV drama? I still am waiting for the opportunity to read the novel, but I have to say, the late Ian Richardson‘s performance had certainly something to do with it. The story is about the Conservative Chief Whip Francis Urquhart, who, by means of intrigue, conspiracy and murder, makes his way to the top, and once Prime Minister, disperses mercilessly any attempt of resistance to his schemes. A ruthless character indeed that negates everything that is noble about politics (if there was anything about it) yet is quite attractive in a unique fashion. He is indeed some modern-age version of Richard III (save for the hump and the royal kinship) and he plays with it. In facts, the whole thing is presented as a play, a Brechtian play if I may say so, as the central character allows himself to associate the viewers to his mischiefs, as he maliciously puts it. The viewer sometimes swings to voyeurism when they are witnesses to the plotting schemes, making no doubt on how dirty politics is. Perhaps that is a source of fascination. His sophisticated quotes are a killer too. ironically, Urquhart has a superb grasp of Shakespearian repertoire, and some of his lines fit entirely the moment they are spoken. When he strikes the final blow to do away with his predecessor -while making him, his cabinet and the whole media in the process, believe that he is his staunchest supporter-, he epitomizes so: “After life’s fitful fever he sleeps well. Treason has done his worst. Nor steel nor poison, malice domestic, foreign levy, nothing can touch him further“. He bears a very Olympian stand that actually contrasts with his tactics, though it remains within the boundaries of conservative tradition of open ruthlessness when it comes to leadership (It abated a bit in the present times, but just think of Edward Heath or Margaret Thatcher). An Edwardian figure surely, but he can be quite manipulative when it comes to extra-marital (though with his wife’s consent and later on, reciprocate behaviour) affairs that usually end up with the death of the ripe young moth, burnt by his implacable fire. A very complex figure indeed, that does not inspire sympathy but rather repulsion. Who could one approve of him? But at the same time such character eventually forces one admiration. Does it have to do with the fact that everyone of us was thought that good always triumphs?

There is, in my opinion, an unhealthy attractiveness to the dark side of things, and politics is no exception, especially when it is dramatized (in TV or in books). Perhaps in politics, that would be a way to reassure oneself that politicians are no better than the common people, in the sense that they are subject to the same passions (ambition or lust for one) and are tempted to bypass the rules too, just like anyone determined enough to achieve whatever they are looking after, regardless of conventional constraints.