Gaga, Rilke, what?

Ah Gaga: artist, philosopher, self-confessed icon of the modern age

A rare trip to Celebrity Land with news of Lady Gaga's new tattoo on the Huffington Post (how can we resist something so earth-shattering?).

First up, the tattoo is penned by Rilke (not literally). It reads:

In the deepest hour of the night, confess to yourself that you would die if you were forbidden to write. And look deep into your heart where it spreads its roots, the answer, and ask yourself, must I write?

"Yes you must, Gaga!" we cry. The world would be lost without your musings. Whatever you do, keep writing. It is our literary oxygen.

But back to the tattoo: too long perchance? (I imagine it stretching up her arm, across her face, down the other arm and then having to go really small to fit the rest on her hand.) Aren't tattoos supposed to be four words long (I love you Mum; Come on you Spurs; Oh god I'm drunk), not an essay? And Rilke? (Her favourite philosopher, of course.) Why not just have the complete works of Heidegger etched into your skin while you're at it? Or a helpful little glossary of philosophical terms. Or some of your own lyrics, for God's sake - the philosophy of "Just Dance" would trounce Rilke any day of the week:

I've had a little bit too much, much
All of the people start to rush, start to rush by
How does he twist the dance? Can't find a drink, oh man
Where are my keys? I lost my phone, phone

But Gaga's cultural references are many and various, her comparisons so modest. An early contender for quote of the week goes to this:

I believe in the power of iconography, which was something that Andy Warhol did, and it's repeating an image over and over again. So I rarely change the shape of my hair.

Oh sweet Lord.

 

 

 

Sophie Elmhirst is features editor of the New Statesman

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Theresa May knows she's talking nonsense - here's why she's doing it

The Prime Minister's argument increases the sense that this is a time to "lend" - in her words - the Tories your vote.

Good morning.  Angela Merkel and Theresa May are more similar politicians than people think, and that holds true for Brexit too. The German Chancellor gave a speech yesterday, and the message: Brexit means Brexit.

Of course, the emphasis is slightly different. When May says it, it's about reassuring the Brexit elite in SW1 that she isn't going to backslide, and anxious Remainers and soft Brexiteers in the country that it will work out okay in the end.

When Merkel says it, she's setting out what the EU wants and the reality of third country status outside the European Union.  She's also, as with May, tilting to her own party and public opinion in Germany, which thinks that the UK was an awkward partner in the EU and is being even more awkward in the manner of its leaving.

It's a measure of how poor the debate both during the referendum and its aftermath is that Merkel's bland statement of reality - "A third-party state - and that's what Britain will be - can't and won't be able to have the same rights, let alone a better position than a member of the European Union" - feels newsworthy.

In the short term, all this helps Theresa May. Her response - delivered to a carefully-selected audience of Leeds factory workers, the better to avoid awkward questions - that the EU is "ganging up" on Britain is ludicrous if you think about it. A bloc of nations acting in their own interest against their smaller partners - colour me surprised!

But in terms of what May wants out of this election - a massive majority that gives her carte blanche to implement her agenda and puts Labour out of contention for at least a decade - it's a great message. It increases the sense that this is a time to "lend" - in May's words - the Tories your vote. You may be unhappy about the referendum result, you may usually vote Labour - but on this occasion, what's needed is a one-off Tory vote to make Brexit a success.

May's message is silly if you pay any attention to how the EU works or indeed to the internal politics of the EU27. That doesn't mean it won't be effective.

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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