2022: Not Such a Good Year (historical context)

Centenaries Noting that it was the centenary of Ulysses‘s publication as a book, I thought I would check my assumption that not much else really happened in 1922, except flappers and cocktails, as everyone congratulated themselves that the age of war had passed with the end of what was then known as The Great War.  Not so.  I got a bit side-tracked, and have decided to publish the results as a separate post before circling back to explore the events of 2022 in a future post.

Vegemite and the newspaper now known as the Herald Sun were invented, along with the BBC.  Tutankhamun’s tomb was discovered.

The Parisian bookshop Shakespeare and Company’s Sylvia Beach published James Joyce’s Ulysses as a book (Arte TV’s ‘100 Years of Ulysses’ is a great documentary.)  T.S. Elliot published The Waste Land.  Herman Hesse put out Siddhartha. ‘Nosferatu’premiered.  Stalin was appointed General Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in Russia.  Mussolini came to power.  A woman became a solicitor for the first time in the UK.  And the Ballet Russes’ Serge Diaghilev, Igor (‘Rite of Spring’) Stravinsky, Pablo (‘Weeping Woman’) Picasso, Marcel (‘A La Recherche …’) Proust (who died that year), Joyce and Erik (‘Gymonpedies’) Satie had the kind of dinner party that I wouldn’t mind a chair at.  Presumably they all spoke French to one another.

Diamond jubilee QE2

Golden jubilees Then I looked up what happened 50 years ago in 1972.  There was Bloody Sunday in Derry, Bloody Friday in Belfast, and the imposition of direct rule over Northern Ireland by the British.  The Aboriginal Tent Embassy was pitched, the subject matter of Philip Glass’s opera ‘Nixon in China’ unfolded, hosted by that evil maniac Mao Zedong.  That which inspired Netflix’s ‘The Queen’s Gambit’, the Boris Spassky v Bobby Fischer match also went down (Fischer won).  The insane Jean-Bedel Bokassa’s reign of terror over the Central African Republic commenced (he later crowned himself Emperor in a coronation that cost a third of the national budget for the year and which no foreign leaders attended, and beat a cannibalism charge), and half a million people died in a genocide in Burundi.

Ceylon became Sri Lanka, East Pakistan became Bangladesh, there were hijackings, moon landings, and another crazed dictator, Idi Amin, chucked Asians out of Uganda.  The Olympics were in Munich where Rhodesia was banned for being too racist.  Palestinian terrorists killed Israeli athletes and held nine others hostage before all the hostages and all the terrorists were killed in a bungled shoot out with police.  The Republican president Richard Nixon won re-election in a near-record landslide, Watergate not yet having played out.  Shostakovich wrote his 15th symphony.  Ezra Pound died.  ‘The Godfather’ and Bunuel’s ‘The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie’ premiered.

Yet another awful dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, placed the Philippines under martial law in response to a ‘communist rebellion’.  National Geographic published a story about the discovery of a peace-loving stone age cave-dwelling tribe of 27 members, the Tasaday, who knew neither rice nor the sea.  It is now thought to have been a money-making land-grabbing hoax perpetrated by a Marcos crony in which villagers were given costumes and made to live in caves when the anthropologists came.

Gough Whitlam was elected in December 1972, bringing the Labor Party to government for the first time since 1949, and he withdrew Australian troops from Vietnam after the iconic image of the naked post-napalm nine year old was snapped, and Whitlam also established diplomatic relations with Mao.  (The ABC podcast ‘The Eleventh’ published in 2022, is an excellent account of the Whitlam years.)

20 years ago was the Bali bombings.  It gave rise to the drama ‘Bali, 2002’.

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