Thursday, December 16, 2004

Why don't you go and visit my new experimental web page:

http://homepage.ntlworld.com/rod.white2/

This page is being developed as part of an assignment for my HNC. After 3 months of 'learning' HTML in class, I feel I am only really starting to learn now that I have started my own site. Anyway, it's not real, but it is my ideal business.

The last few days I have been reading little bits of 'The Conquerors' by Andre Malraux. Here is a wonderful bit from it:

"You know, during the Paris Commune they arrested a fat man. So he shouts, 'But gentlemen, I was never political!' A smart guy answers 'Exactly!' and bashes him."

I also started to read 'A rumor of war' by Philip Caputo. This is another Vietnam book and I must admit, I find Vietnam fascinating. This book doesn't really capture you the same way as 'Chickenhawk', it is only a novel but is based on reality. In a way it is completely different. The main character is a graduate in literature, he's a marine and he likes to quote poetry. At times it doesn't really seem to be realistic but it is certainly shocking and quite detailed.

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Here is an extract from part of an address (speech) given by Teilhard at the wedding of Mme Jean Teilhard d'Eyry in around 1927/28:

"Believe, next, in the spirit which lies beyond you. Creation never stops. Life strives to prolong itself through the two of you. Let your union, then, be not a closed embrace, but an activity - a thousand times more unifying than any repose - of common effort towards a common end, ever more grandly conceived, and passionately sought."

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Since I started my HNC in Business Information Technology I have had very little time to read, even to think! I have continued reading about Teilhard. I borrowed Cuenot's biography from the library and every lunchtime I am loving getting the chance to read it. It runs very closely with the letters of Teilhard and I have already read them. It also gives fascinating background detail. For example the reason he left Paris for China was a local dispute, it was not due to a command from Rome and it does not appear to be any more serious than an in-house feud. The book goes on to say that he flourished in China. He joined the Chinese geological survey and for a few years he studied fossil mammals.

I was quite interested to read this because last year I read 'Time Traveller' by Mike Novacek. The study of mammals in the fossil record is fascinating, it is the poor cousin of dinosaurs but it is very valuable.

I also managed to purchase books by Kierkegaard, Hesse and a book called 'The Divine Challenge' - a book published by the ultra-conservative group 'Banner of Truth'. It claims to be a strong refutation of modern world views and it is good to see a strong rigorous critique of the modern world that seems to be helped by the fact that the author is a professor in mathematics.

Cuenot is wonderful, at lunch I can move from the trenches of WWI to 1920s Paris to China and the bandit country of Mongolia. He has the talent to be able to pick extracts from Teilhard that are beautiful and perfect for the passage.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Sorry that I haven't written anything for a while, my reading habits have been rather crazy and I haven't really had that much time. One thing I would love to do some afternoon is to sit down with a pint of guiness and a good book. I have to drive everywhere so that effectively puts a stop to that.

Let me list some of the things I have been trying to read the past few weeks - Updike, Teilhard de Chardin, Tillich, Mirella Ricciardi, Neruda and of course Daniel Brown.

In reading an article about Pablo Neruda the author mentioned a poem by W. H. Auden - 'September 1st 1939'. I managed to find this poem and read it. I was startled by how this poem could have been written easily in 2001 or even 2004. Imagine this as being spoken to George Bush or Tony Blair ( and then remember it was written in 1939):

"All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street
And the lie of authority
Whose buildings grope the sky:
There is no such thing as the state
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die."

Auden disowned it, and it is mentioned as an example of bad political poetry but I think it is very powerful, especially the mention of skyscrapers groping the sky.

Tuesday, October 05, 2004

Sometimes when you read Updike you laugh outloud, other times you are going 'wow'. Like yesterday in 'Couples' when they described the local fire chief as the most neurotic man in town, he had a phobia of fire, water and dogs!

From what I can make out Updike is always struggling, always experimenting with the idea of 'the good life' or 'the best life'. Only this struggle does not begin when we are 15 and end when we are 18. No, for Updike it begins the day you are born and it ends the day you die, or maybe you are lucky if you even find an answer by the day you die.

Sunday, October 03, 2004

Updike, Coupling and Dan Brown

Work was getting me down so I was tempted and couldn't resist 'Angels and Demons' by Dan Brown. While it is a great read, I don't know if I am that impressed by the actual book, it is predictable at times, some of the ideas are perhaps a little way out. But when you need to escape from a dreadful office - read it!
Also I was very pleased to receive 'Couples' by John Updike this week through a friend in Bookcrossing. I am enjoying it very much. I'm still trying to figure Updike out. Just as he seems to be modern and cool and hip then he quotes Tillich. I am convinced there is some religious turmoil somewhere in his life. Perhaps his books answer some essential dilemma, I'm not sure. In 'Couples' the main character attends a congregationalist church, he admires the joinery in the pews. There is something about the struggle this character is going through, middle age, bored, looking for meaning. There is some connection with Tillich. Unfortunately I haven't read Tillich in a very long time.
In the Early Stories of Updike I read 'Flight', a wonderful story it begins with a young boy climbing up a hill with his mother. At the top she grabs his hair and says 'this is where we will always be, but not you, you will fly ...". The story could have stopped there but it went on and typically Updike the plot gets a little lost but it is still beautiful.

Monday, September 20, 2004

It is quite incredible how the books I have found on Africa concern revolution and the struggle for independence. A theme that I am very interested in. Yesterday in the Famine Relief bookshop in Portstewart I found a book on Rwanda and Burundi published in 1970 but it promises to be a very interesting read.
Rwanda and Burundi had both reached independence and being close together and very similar the question was - why did Rwanda see scenes of incredible violence whilst Burundi remained relatively stable. Of course, we know now that Burundi saw levels of violence similar to Rwanda after the book was published but the ideas that the author suggests are interesting.
One insight that I have gained already is that the Tutsis were the minor dominant group while the Hutus were the majority group but felt themselves to be not as superior to the Hutus. The author suggests that although not rigidly certain, tribes can be seen as similar to classes or castes. Once you see the Tutsis as the Upper class then I think the tribal system becomes understandable. I myself have difficulty with the concept of tribes, I've just never understood them before but this book helps a great deal.

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Found this very curious secondhand book - In a Word by Margaret Ernst and James Thurber. Opened it up and found it was explaining the etymology of word with cartoons! How amazing, a dictionary with cartoons.Some of the cartoons have a very dry sense of humour, some are quite surreal. Candidate originated in Rome and means white robed. Apparently politicians had to dress in white togas and parade along the street and people voted for the whitest. Imagine Ian Paisley in a toga! You can see some cartoons from this book on my photo page:

http://uk.photos.yahoo.com/igneosgeos/

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Tommy's Book Shelf is a wonderful shop! They sent me the Updike book and today I have been enjoying it. If you live anywhere near Greensburg, PA I would recommend you go there and buy lots!

Seriously I did get the opportunity to read a slightly unusual story by Updike called Believers. I thought it might be similar to Baxters novella of the same title but it is quite different. Baxter wrote a very serious story about a German couple living in America during world war II. Whilst Updike takes a more abstract swipe at the concept of belief. The story is unusual because you are never sure who is writing it, the narrator appears to be writing about himself then writing in the first person. I think it is all designed to confuse and intrigue.

I am also quite pleased when American writers feel free to talk about religion. The main character quotes St Augustine, some quite beautiful passages, slightly tongue in cheek but he seems to take the whole religion idea seriously. Whilst in the UK religion is never even taken seriously. Most people try deliberately not to mention it. The history of America is vastly different to Europe because I think the Puritans went to America with the idea of creating a spiritual paradise. In Europe we were 'happy to get rid of them'. Religion is something of importance to Hawthorne and even if he appears to dislike it, he is still dealing with it.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Auster, Hawthorne, Borges all these books have this focus on the inner workings of the mind, the philosophical side of life. These authors have come to be some of my favourites over the last few years.

I read a very intriguing short story by Hawthorne yesterday about a minister who wore a veil over his face. The man becomes a brilliant pastor but is shunned in terms of intimacy and personal contact. It is quite incredible that Hawthorne was writing about this over a hundred years ago and now we have Muslim women who pledge to do exactly the same. It is quite strange in that I know what the story was about but I'm still questioning what it was actually saying. What does it mean? What is the author saying? I can't help feeling that there is something very important to learn from the story and it is a good thing because I've already read it twice I will probably read it again.

Last week I bought Bulgakovs 'The Fatal Eggs' and whilst it is maybe not the best story I have read it is fascinating in the way that he has pictured 'the scientist'. The scientist has almost become 'the innocent'. His work was taken by a technologist and awful consequences resulted. Normally in science fiction it is the mad scientist, the tortured eccentric but here we get something quite different maybe I would suggest more realistic.

This afternoon I received my copy of Updikes 'The Early Stories' and I am very proud of it. There is a saga attached to this book. I wanted it last Easter but I decided I would wait until my birthday. When my birthday arrived all the bookshops told me it was out of print. I was devastated but they told me that in September the paperback edition would be out. I waited until September and this time a certain bookshop told me the paperback edition would not be printed until next March but I could still buy the hardback. I went home and did a search on Amazon.com and found I could buy an American edition for $17 plus postage. About half the price of a hardback from the UK! I got it today, 2 weeks earlier than expected and American writers are always better read from American edition books.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

If you are able to listen to the BBC radio programmes via realplayer I was able to find a very interesting 'Book Club' featuring Paul Auster. In his interview Auster mentions that Nathaniel Hawthorne was the 'father' of Borges. Simply follow this link:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/arts/bookclub/

Apologies for the last post, it is supposed to get me listed on Yahoo but we'll see ...

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

There are by some estimates more than a million weblogs. But most of them get no visibility in search engines. Only a few “A-List” blogs get into the top search engine results for a given topic, while the majority of blogs just don’t get noticed. The reason is that the smaller blogs don’t have enough links pointing to them. But this posting could solve that. Let’s help the smaller blogs get more visibility!

This posting is GoMeme 4.0. It is part of an experiment to see if we can create a blog posting that helps 1000’s of blogs get higher rankings in Google. So far we have tried 3 earlier variations. Our first test, GoMeme 1.0, spread to nearly 740 blogs in 2.5 days. This new version 4.0 is shorter, simpler, and fits more easily into your blog.

Why are we doing this? We want to help thousands of blogs get more visibility in Google and other search engines. How does it work? Just follow the instructions below to re-post this meme in your blog and add your URL to the end of the Path List below. As the meme spreads onwards from your blog, so will your URL. Later, when your blog is indexed by search engines, they will see the links pointing to your blog from all the downstream blogs that got this via you, which will cause them to rank your blog higher in search results. Everyone in the Path List below benefits in a similar way as this meme spreads. Try it!

Instructions: Just copy this entire post and paste it into your blog. Then add your URL to the end of the path list below, and pass it on! (Make sure you add your URLs as live links or HTML code to the Path List below.)

Path List
Minding the Planet
Luke Hutteman’s public virtual MemoryStream
Mohammad.Abdulfatah, Chronicles Of
Anand M, DotNet From India
Teucer’s Quiver
Bharath Ganesh, Making Technologies Interoperate
Richard Callaby’s Blog
Peter’s Blog
A Programmer In Training
Matt’s Googly Blog
(your URL goes here! But first, please copy this line and move it down to the next line for the next person).
Books of note Books of note

Thursday, September 02, 2004

"if you [don't] understand what I have written, read what I have not written and perhaps then you will understand. But this this only puzzled them further."

from 'City of God' by E. L. Doctorow.
Over the last few days I have been in Berlin and a little place called Prenzlau to see my brother getting married. I took a long time trying to decide which books to bring and eventually decided on ‘City of God’ by E.L. Doctorow and ‘The origin of hate and love’ by Ian D. Suttie.

City of God is a New York mystery and I thought it would be fairly trivial. I had an amazing read. City of God is based in New York but rather unusually also features the story of the holocaust. There I was in Berlin under the Brandenburg Gate reading and thinking about the story of a young Jew in a ghetto trying to survive. It was quite moving, we also went to the Berlin Wall exhibition- the so-called topography of terror. The story is about the father of one of the main characters, he was an orphan and forced to be a ‘runner’ in the ghetto. He had to send messages when the SS were coming and send information between leaders of the ghetto.

It may not be considered sensitive to be reading about the holocaust in Berlin. I hadn’t intended it! The Brandenburg gate and the gardens around ‘the angel of victory’ in Berlin are quite impressive. I found myself alone, walking slowly around Berlin, a city I didn’t know trying to think seriously about history and all the events that could have happened where I was standing. I was reading about the cruelty of the Germans towards the Jews, something that is frankly discussed in the Jewish museum and other places and for me it wasn’t offensive or insulting, I just started asking myself why, and how. When you stand under the Brandenburg Gate thinking these things it is quite powerful, one of the most interesting afternoon walks I have had in a long time.

‘The origin of hate and love’ by Ian D. Suttie was another inspired choice of reading material. Described as a critique of Freud - Suttie is trying to argue that instead of sex, it is really companionship, (not being lonely), that is the major driving force in human relations. He describes how if you think about nature, the mother is essential because without her you wouldn’t survive. It is this relationship rather than the ‘desire’ for sex that creates the desire to love or the desire to hate. In other words we will do anything to avoid being lonely. The instinct for companionship is inbuilt since the times when a cub would face certain death without the protection of the mother.


Saturday, August 21, 2004

A few weeks ago I started to read 'The Aesthetic Adventure' by William Gaunt. Another Pelican book from the 1950s and it is excellently written, you could compare it to 'God's Funeral' by A.N. Wilson in that the chapters are well written, they are page turners. Each chapter is about one of the individuals in the aesthetic movement. That group of artists in the 19th Century who stated 'art for arts sake'. Although incredibly elitist and now a much degraded ideal these people just got on enjoyed their work, worked hard and did some marvelous things.

The impressionists came out of the aesthetics, 'impressionist' was just a nickname. To me they were really started a new trend, they started to look away from nature, from realist art and really started to say 'we can do better than nature' and with this radical thought they started to create pictures that were hated but have now become masterpieces. It is quite admirable that they could be so individualistic and yet still work as a group.

One of the problems, as seen from today is that when you practice 'art for arts sake' it becomes your experiment and open to the criticism of none but you. I think the aesthetics have shown that theirs was a valid approach and they just ignored the criticism and moved on. The book goes behind the pictures, looks at the characters, the social scene. Whistler and the original group of bohemians were the original hippies in the 1860s. When Whistler was living in Paris, he lived in a bare room and painted his furniture on the wall, once he was asked 'have you eaten?' he replied 'I have just eaten my wash stand!'

Friday, August 20, 2004

"I mean by a picture, a beautiful romantic dream of something that never was, never will be - in a better light than any light that ever shone - in a land that no-one can define or remember, only desire - and the forms divinely beautiful" - Edward Coley Burne-Jones

Sunday, August 08, 2004

"You don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind blows."

That's the anarchist in me. I realised I was getting a little bit too right wing. I don't like being too political, my basic position is that whatever happens it always help if it is properly thought out and not merely done because it is thought to be the best or what somebody else has told you to do.

Monday, August 02, 2004

Perhaps I was a bit harsh when I criticised large organisations today. I can see that not everything was perfect in NASA in the 1960s. What I was trying to say was that we have gone too far in trying to make the decision making process objective. We need to be able to make personal decisions, use intuition, use personal persuasive powers. We need to take risks. Facts are very deceptive, very few 'facts' are actually objective. They are usually controlled by the person who made them

It does happen sometimes but it is more difficult when you work in a large organisation and there are lots of rules for everything.

Equality of course is a good thing but I would suspect it has lost some if its meaning because it has been overused.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

Last week I started to read a commentary on Genesis by Deitrich Bonhoeffer. It was quite unusual and difficult but it got me thinking that I had always intended to study the Old Testament. I immediately thought of Chris Wright because his books on the Old Testament were brilliant. No matter how routine or mundane you might think the old testament is - such as the laws, he manages to make it sparkle and become fascinating. He has now written two new books - a commentary on Deuteronomy (I haven't read) and a commentary on Exekiel.

Ezekiel is a book mostly ignored. I had a read at it, it was full of bizarre visions and angry rants. I became intrigued and bought the commentary on Ezekiel. I feel sure that it is going to be a fascinating read. If you remember Pulp Fiction, Ezekiel 25:17 is the verse used by Jules, before he kills people:

"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon you."

Friday, July 30, 2004

This week I have been reading 'Two sides of the moon' written by both David Scott and Alexei Leonid. You get the perspectives of both sides of the so-called space race.

What I find especially fascinating is the human side of science. The fact that the Russian space programme was launched by a highly ambitious 'chief designer' and because of him it proceeded. It didn't matter to him that Lenin had imprisoned him for being a scientist, he got what he wanted and had an iron will. It wasn't really the policy that got the Russians in front it was because of the chief designer.

Meanwhile the Americans for all their high ideals, they got their ideas from German rocket scientists. I couldn't believe that they actually took the brains from Germany - Hitler. In both Russia and USA policy wasn't enough. They needed inspired individuals. It just goes to show that in a big organisation you need to have characters, you need sometimes conflict, favouritism, individualism all the things that are being pushed out of big organisations today. Because it is people who achieve things, basic instincts, emotions and no matter what policy statements or 'mission statements' try to achieve this is what motivates people.

We try too much these days to be objective, to allow for everybody. Perhaps we have gone too far. There are very few people who are determined to go the extra mile. They take the idea of what they are expected to do and they toe the line. I have been thinking about this for some time and I call it the Lowest Common Denominator theory. People find the minimum they can possibly do and they stick to that. There is nothing that would make them do anything extra and they see that anyone who tries to do extra getting intimidated and marginalised. How can you be expected to fight off other companies, to work say in government and do amazing work for the community if these people lack motivation, if they simply do exactly what they are told and probably do less that they are told if they can get away with it. There are very few people who are willing to take the risk of doing more than what they are told to do. This means that if you are a customer, or say a patient and you ask for help all you get is a dull blank stare and 'I will do exactly what I am told to do and nothing else'.

The problem is where does this attitude stop, the boss does what he is told by his boss, what about the top boss - he does nothing, just sits and watches everybody else.

Anyway the cosmonauts and astronauts were heroes and all the people involved in the space programmes, there are very few people like them left.

It is like somebody decided to enforce equality, they made everyone equal and they pushed and pushed until the whole system stopped and they realised 'we're not equal' lets just go back to what we were doing.

Friday, July 23, 2004

http://us.f1.yahoofs.com/users/f4892b0e/bc/Yahoo!+Photo+Album/__sr_/a525.jpg?phSfaABBc.H0jMvB

follow this link (hopefully) to see my budgie Olive. Isn't she a supermodel?
I have just finished reading a very interesting article in last weeks 'New Yorker' entitled - 'The Price of Valor'. It was very interesting, it was about battle stress, trauma and how to cope with it.

One of the arguments is that soldiers are taight to kill instinctively, without thinking and this is wrong. You may blank it out that moment but it comes back, basically because the act of killing goes against the natural will of a person. If soldiers were taught to accept the idea that killing in war was morally justifiable then perhaps they could deal with the experience better.

I find it very interesting that soldiers could be studying philosophy, even religion. The author seems to feel the best approach is to introduce more religion. This is certainly a possibility. The USA does seem to have quite a large problem because they have veterans coming home from Iraq where the fighting was in close range and these people are having all sorts of mental health problems. It is probably the same in the UK. In some wars the action may all be at long range but in others such as Vietnam or Iraq, the action is a close range, and apparently the hardest, most traumatic thing is to look someone in the eyes and kill them. It is this moment that haunts veterans and causes trauma. One veteran from Vietnam said he still saw the faces of the people he killed 'almost every ten minutes'.

I find this quite shocking.

Thursday, July 22, 2004

I was reading that Henry James advised Logan Pearsall Smith

"There is one word - let me impress upon you - which you must inscribe upon your banner, abd that word is Loneliness."

about writing novels.

Also fits me this week because I am alone in the office!

Friday, July 16, 2004

Here is a quote from a letter by Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams. I was reading the biography of Adams and I found this. It reminds me strikingly of the dilemma proposed by Updike -  "The tricky thing about peace," Bech suggested, "is that it doesn't always come from being peaceable."
 
“ I am more and more convinced that man is a dangerous creature, and that power whether vested in many or few is ever grasping …
That great fish swallow up the small and he who is most strenuous for the rights of the people, when vested with power, is as eager after the prerogatives of government. You tell me of degrees of perfection to which human nature is capable of arriving, and I believe it, but at the same time lament that our admiration should arise from the scarcity of the instances.”
 
from a letter by Abigail Adams


Wednesday, July 14, 2004

I managed to finish 'House of Sand and Fog' while I was away in Donegal over the past few days. It is a brilliant read and at some points it was more like a thriller. The last 70 pages maybe aren't as good as the rest of the book but it certainly does raise some interesting questions. There is a good contrast between the characters, on the one hand the honest ex-colonel of the corrupt shah regime and on the other the corrupt US police officer from the supposed honest police force.

As I said before the Iranian viewpoint is intriguing, the author learnt persian and read about Iranian culture and it is quite perceptive the way the emigrant is always looking back to the old country, trying to figure out if he was right to have been doing the things he was doing.

Essentially the story is about the struggle to do the right thing, what is best, to fight for your family, or to help other people. I must admit I found myself supporting the main character and feeling that it was greatly unfair to force him out of the rewards that he had fairly achieved.

Another issue raised in the story is the idea of individual responsibility. Can an individual stay good in what is a thoroughly bad / corrupt institution. Is it not better to look around and accept that you cannot remain unblemished by surviving inside an organisation that has gone essentially wrong. Or is something like a government so large that there will always be corrupt sectors and good sectors. All this gets complicated when it is not only the individual but the family he / she is supporting. Also you might argue that the best way to change something is from inside rather than staying separate and trying to change it from outside. The impression from the story is that the main character felt he was a 'good' man working in a corrupt institution. Although he may have had suspicions that something was not right he was happy to accept a large salary and support his family. When the revolution came his best friend and all his family were shot and now as he looks back he has to wonder whether he was doing the right thing.

Aside from that I don't really want to tell the whole story here, it has to read and I must admit the writing is good but for me it was the story that made it - un-put-down-able!

Thursday, July 08, 2004

More crazy weeks, last Saturday it was my

Birthday!!!



I got some great books, including a surprise book from my brother which is really good - 'House of Sand and Fog' by Andre Dubus III. I also managed to get the book on the space race by the US and Russian astronaut. It is fascinating. I have found out that Yuri Gegarov's favourite book was 'The Old Man and the Sea' by Hemingway.

I also got a book by Henning Mankell and 'The Iliad'. And a copy of the complete works of Shakespeare and a DIY guide. Rather a lot of books in fact and we'll have to see which ones get read.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

These past two weeks have been rather crazy but I have managed to do some interesting reading. The new Teilhard de Chardin is working out well. I have reached Part 2 and I have just finished reading about 'pre-life'. It is rather fascinating to read about the existence of particles with the psychic potential for life that covered the earth like a blanket before life began. I am not sure what evidence Teilhard has to suggest this but I think he might be referring to the time on earth before the start of photosynthesis when there was no oxygen. The new translation helps to illuminate the mind processes of Teilhard. Whereas before his writings were simply a procession of paragraphs, this leads on to this ... to this ... now you get a sense of the whole situation.

On Friday I went to a reading by Ian McDonald. He has just released a science fiction / crime novel about India in 2047. I normally have a problem with science fiction the jargon bores me and I find the science ridiculous but this book seems different. The situation isn't too far in the future so you can take a lot of what India is like today and just add the facts that robots are taking over mundane jobs, that robots are turning bad and starting to attack humans because they have cut costs and been treated very badly. I will try with this one, we'll see ...

I just happened to be skipping through my Portable Sixties anthology and I found some poetry by Michael McLure. He invented his own kind of crazy 'beast language' a bit like sound poetry where he roars and make noises like animals. It must have sounded fantastic. Apparently his first reading was at the zoo in front of the lions. McLure mentions that he was influenced by Anacreon - a Greek poet I haven't heard of.

I was fascinated to read that Anacreon was a Greek poet known as the 'poet of joy'. He wrote poems about love, joy and alcohol. In the 1800s there was a famous drinking son 'To Anacreon in heaven' it had a rather catchy tune and when Francis Scott Key was writing 'The Start Spangled Banner' soon to become the American anthem he used the tune - from an English drinking song!

Sunday, May 30, 2004

I was very pleased to receive a copy last week of 'The Human Phenomenon' The new translation of Teilhard de Chardin's classic by Sarah Appleton-Weber.

This really is a wonderful book. I had tried to read 'The Phenomenon of Man' many times but I hadn't reached past the prologue. The translation makes the text flow very smoothly and even though you are reading complex ideas they seem to glide through your head.

This is a quote from the author's note:

"Just as meridians as they reach the pole, so science, philosophy, and religion necessarily converge in the vicinity of the whole. The converge, I repeat, but without merging, and never ceasing to attack the real from different angles and levels right to the end."

I love the image of science and religion being meridians that converge as we travel forward.

Saturday, May 08, 2004

Bush has been caught out abusing human rights. Guantanamo bay and the prisons in Iraq reveal that you can't afford to have 'blackholes'. I think it was Robert Mason in 'Chickenhawk' who wrote that one rumour was that the CIA were taking prisoners up in helicopters and threatening to throw them out if they don't talk.
This is a good part from Davidsons book on Guine. He asked the leader about using magic:

"Yes at the beginning amulets and charms, much of that. But now they've learned that it's better to take good cover and shoot straight."

Davidson is a good writer but I suspect he has sanitised the revolt. He likes to emphasise that the military were not given too much importance and that the soldiers were being continually involved in political education. The perspective I have of African armies are that they tend to surge ahead and take things under their control. Davidson stresses that writings from Cuba stress the military too much and that the leaders in Guine disagreed with this and limited the power of the military.

Tuesday, May 04, 2004

I read Bech in 'The Holy Land' yesterday and one comment really struck me:

"The tricky thing about peace," Bech suggested, "is that it doesn't always come from being peaceable."

That is the sort of comment that would be perfect for Belfast, and even though Updike maybe visited Jerusalem 20 years ago and based his story on that visit, it is perfectly true for that situation too. It is perhaps something that is very difficult to learn.

I haven't really had much of a chance to do any serious reading lately. I bought another book today. 'The Liberation of Guine' by Basil Davidson. It seems almost an adventure novel about a journalist who made friends and supported the revolutionaries in Guine in their struggle against the Portugese. So far, it is quite exciting. I had no idea that the Portuguese were so brutal. One of the reasons that Africa is so poor is that the colonial powers degraded and demoralised the indigenous peoples and then stepped away. Angola is another one of Portugals colonies and it is probably in a worse state. Portugal had enabled the education of 0.5% of the population of Guine. And then out of that 0.5% they were expected to be the leaders. I can only admire people who come in and try to build their country with so little resources. Most of the 0.5% had traveled to Portugal to be educated and were culturally persuaded to forget their African heritage and become Europeans.

Anyway it is quite a good book.

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I am continuing my quest to find the most obscure Pelican book. I found 'Inventing the future' last week by Dennis Gabor. He was writing in the 50s about the future of the world and it is quite interesting reading. He realised that the cold war was not a struggle between ideologies but really about a power struggle between USSR and USA. He comes up with other quite interesting things including this paragraph about industrialisation: ( whilst commenting on whether the whole world will someday look like California)

In the last quarter of the nineteenth century the great industrialist Werner von Siemens sent one of his brothers to the Caucasus to mine the
rich copper deposits. But the people in that valley were happy,
they did not want to go underground, until one of the engineers
had an idea. He opened a shop in which beautiful dresses,
fabrics, and trinkets were displayed - but they could only be
had for money! It did not take long before the women nagged
their men into the mines.
There are some good reasons why the whole world will never
look like a Californian suburb. There is even hope that some
time it will again be diversified. A few little paradises may
survive unharmed until then, if they were artificially protected,
like big-game reservations. But for the overwhelming majority
of the world's population, once industrialization has started
there is no stopping and no return.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

I started to read 'cut that fence' again and I came across a wonderful poem by Semezdin Mehmedinovec called 'This door is not an exit'. It appears to be a meditation based on the idea that perhaps at one time he was held captive and he looked at the door and had these images of his past life. It appears relatively simple but I keep going back to it because I get the feeling something much deeper is going on. For example these few lines:

I don't bear the sorrow of a people within me
but I know it

And I can't change anything in the world
since I'm scared

of even sounds I can't recognise ...

******

Sometimes I feel maybe his English is awkward or maybe it is a translation and it just takes me offguard. Also he uses this phrase 'blind as the encyclodaedia of crime'.

Anyway it is quite intriguing and it one of the few things I have re-read frequently for quite a while.

Sunday, March 28, 2004

Poor humanity, to saddle the gos with such responsibilities and
throw in a vindictive temper! What griefs they hatched then for
themselves, what festering sores for us, what tears for our posterity!
This is not piety, this oft-repeated show of bowing a veiled head before
a graven image; this bustling to every altar; this kow-towing and
prostration on the ground with palms outspread before the shrines of
the gods; this deluging of altars with the blood of beasts; this heaping
of vow on vow. True piety lies rather in the power to contemplate
the universe with a quiet mind.

This is from Lucretius - 'The beginnings of civilisation'. I couldn't help but find this quote interesting. I went to see 'Passion of Christ' last night. I don't really want to get into it but I wasn't that impressed.

Friday, March 26, 2004

Creative Sentencing

Writers are supposed to be creative in their use of sentences. But "creative
sentencing" has nothing to do with fiction. Rather, with the US legal
system. Or, well, now that I give it a second thought, if it is about the
American legal system, then it has a lot to do about fiction, doesn't it?
Taste for yourself a few examples of how they're trying to crack down crime
and misdemeanours:

1) A woman killed a guy while driving drunk. The sentence? She was required
to carry with her a picture of his corpse in the coffin at all times for the
following five years.
2) A man walked in an off-license and stole some cans of beer. The sentence?
To wear a T-shirt proclaiming he had committed the crime.
3) A woman had heavily beaten two of her four daughters with a belt. The
sentence? To get a contraceptive device implanted... "in order to protect
her unconceived children" (It's damn true)
4) A young guy vandalised a wall with graffiti. The sentence? To keep guard
of that same wall for six months. If anyone painted anything, he would have
to clean it.
5) A chap in Ohio was driving through the heart of the city centre with the
windows down and the speakers about to explode. The sentence? Believe it or
not, to listen to polkas turned up at max volume for four hours.
6) A man in his forties, father of a teenage girl, was found guilty of
disorderly conduct, including branding police officers as "pigs". The
sentence? To stand for two hours in a busy street in the city centre, next
to a 350-pound pig, especially brought as part of the ruling, with a sign
reading "This is not a police officer."
Now, how many novels and short stories can match this level of creativity?

Jose

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

After finishing the first Updike story 'The Wait' I started to ask myself what was it about Updike that I liked so much. Part of it is the humour, the humour draws you in and then you get moments when he is explaining about human nature. Part of it that the characters are so real. I almost feel like talking to them sometimes. Also the writing is very smooth and sophisticated. It flows very well and he draws the picture very well. The environment seems to come back again and you feel you are in DC airport at the end of the sixties. Part of the appeal of the last story was that I knew what Washington was like and I had a fair idea what DC airport was like.

The next story 'Bech in Romania' is about an American writer who travels through Romania. It is quite fascinating to read about Romania in the 60s. It is a bit like a communist back-water. I don't feel as drawn to it as the last story. There aren't as many moments when you get a real insight into the characters. Perhaps I just haven't read enough of it yet. There is one quite humorous part about the taxi ride to Brasov which reminds me strongly of the taxi ride to Oxapampa in the forests of Peru.

"Bech realized that Petrescu himself did not drive. He
reposed in the oblivious trust of an airplane passenger, legs
crossed, sunglasses in place, issuing smoother and smoother
phrases, while Bech leaned forward desperately, braking
on the empty floor, twitching a wheel that was not there,
trying to wrench the car's control away from this atrociously
unrhythmic and brutal driver. When they went through
a village, the driver would speed up and intensify the mutter
of his honking; clusters of peasants and geese exploded
in disbelief, and Bech felt as if gears, the gears that space
and engage the mind, were clashing. As they ascended into
the mountains, the driver demonstrated his technique with
curves: he approached each like an enemy, accelerating,
and at the last moment stepped on the brake as if crushing
something underfoot. In the jerking and swaying, Petrescu
grew pale. His blue jaw acquired a moist sheen and issued
phrases less smoothly. Bech said to him, 'This driver should
be locked up. He is sick and dangerous.'
'No, no, he is a good man. These roads, they are difficult.'
'At least please ask him to stop twiddling the horn. It's
torture.'
Petrescu's eyebrows arched, but he leaned forward and
spoke in Romanian.
The driver answered; the language clattered in his
mouth, though his voice was soft.
Petrescu told Bech, 'He says it is a safety precaution.'"

from John Updike 'Bech in Romania' in Penguin Modern Stories 2

Friday, March 19, 2004

Picture a Week Just found this very good photography site.
Went into Waterstones briefly this lunchtime. I'm afraid I have to break my unofficial boycott sometimes. I think I was followed by the store detective - cool! I must look shifty!

I read a new word in Updike -- Finagle. It means to try to fiddle or get something finincially that you shouldn't. It can also be spelt phenagle. Good word!
'Magical and mundane' I read this description of Updike and it sounds perfect!

Thursday, March 18, 2004

We are still planning to move house on 1 April so the next few weeks will be chaotic and I don't know when the next entry will be!
It has been such a long time since I have had time to write anything. I must apologise for not updating my blog because I have been reading. I have been cramming the off spare moment into reading some fascinating books.

Two weeks ago I found 'Democracy in a revolutionary era' by Harvey Wheeler. I am still reading the introduction but it is quite fascinating. Especially with all the debate over constructing a democracy for Iraq and with my interest in Latin America and Africa. Democracy is not something that helps a country to grow. Democracy is an end-product. If you look at some of the great democracies in history such as England in the industrial revolution, early history of the USA. Democracy didn't really exist. It was more of a dictatorship, the rights we have today were non-existent. Democracy is a luxury, and therefore is not something desirable for aiding development. This is hopefully stuff for the devils advocate, nevertheless it is interesting because I haven't heard it before. It is assumed that democracy is the best and only way to govern. It is the 'best of a bad lot'. Even though problems in areas such as Northern Ireland, Argentina, many parts of Africa flourish in a democratic society.

Another book I picked up is a collection of short stories with one by John Updike. I am absolutely loving Updike. I never thought I would, I read it purely because I found it at random in a secondhand bookshop. It is difficult o say what is so wonderful about it. The central character is a woman who is having an affair. You seem to be able to get inside her head and sometimes it feels like you don't know what is going to happen next. Also I like the fact that it was written in 60s America. There are references to the benefits of modern living - catching flights so easily then you get 'go by air and swear'. She travels down to see her lover and now it seems they get delayed and they are in a line of people trying to pretend they are married. Here is a quote:

"She wished Harry would stop touching her; it damaged the illusion that they were married."

Also I found a new word - 'Kennedyana' or rather an old word that I hadn't heard. Something you would only find in a book published in the 60s.

Next another book and then I will explain some cool links that I found.

Pretext 7. A magazine edited by Aleksander Hemon. I was attracted to this book because I have heard a lot about Hemon and I have always intended to read his book and try to read more eastern European authors. The magazine has a wide selection of authors. I was reading a story by Clare Messud that was quite wonderful. The idea of the magazine is to find the story of people you have never met and her story does that and more. I posted part of the introduction on 'Silencespeaks' a arts forum that I have joined and I would strongly recommend that you follow the link to my (other) blog and read it. (I'm Blackdog.)

Silence Speaks


Here is a link to 'The Crimson Room'. Something that we all should at least try to do.(I will give you a hint -click everywhere!)

The Crimson Room

This is a cam in New York where, apparently, people like to meet on Blind Dates because their friends can log in and watch them. I find this whole situation quite fascinating and I have been watching this cam for a while trying to catch sight of a blind dater.

The Dating Cam

Wednesday, March 10, 2004

I've come across an excerpt from Solzhenitsyn's "The Gulag Archipielago"
(1978, Collins, vol. 1, pp. 69-70) as quoted in "Identities, Groups and
Social Issues" by Margaret Wetherell (ed) -1996, Sage, p. 157.

This brillant piece reminds me of the "chicken game" as explained in Game
Theory. It is presented in Wetherell's book, though, as an (extreme) example
of Discursive Psychology.

Cheers,

Jose



Here is one vignette from those years as it actually occurred. A district
Party conference was under way in Moscow Province. It was presided over by a
new secretary of the District Party Committee, replacing one recently
arrested. At the conclusion of the conference, a tribute to Comrade Stalin
was called for: of course, everyone stood up (just as everyone had leaped to
his feet during the conference at every mention of his name). The small hall
echoed with stormy applause, rising to an ovation ,three minutes, four
minutes, five minutes, the stormy applause, rising to an ovation
continued. But palms were getting sore and raised arms were already aching.
And the older people were panting from exhaustion. It was becoming
insufferably silly even to those who really adored Stalin. However, who
would dare be the first to stop? The secretary of the District Party
Committee could have done it. He was standing on the platform, and it was he
who had just called for the ovation. But he was a newcomer. He had taken the
place of a man who'd been arrested. He was afraid! After all, NKVD men were
standing in the hall applauding and watching to see who quit first! And in
that obscure, small hall, unknown to the Leader, the applause went on six,
seven, eight minutes! They were done for! Their goose was cooked! They
couldn't stop now till they collapsed with heart attacks! At the rear of the
hall, which was crowded, they could of course cheat a bit; clap less
frequently, less vigorously, not so eagerly but up there with the presidium
where everyone could see them? The director of the local paper factory, an
independent and strong-minded man, stood with the presidium. Aware of all
the falsity and all the impossibility of the situation, he still kept on
applauding! Nine minutes! Ten! In anguish he watched the secretary of the
District Party Committee, but the latter dared not stop. Insanity! To the
last man! With make-believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other
with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on
applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried out of
the hall on stretchers! And even then those who were left would not falter.
Then, after eleven minutes, the director of the paper factory assumed a
businesslike expression and sat down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took
place! Where had the universal, uninhibited, indescribable enthusiasm gone?
To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved! The
squirrel had been smart enough to jump off his revolving wheel.
That, however, was how they discovered who the independent people were. And
that was how they went about eliminating them. That same night the factory
director was arrested. They easily pasted ten years on him on the pretext of
something quite different. But after he had signed Form 206, the final
document of the interrogation, his interrogator reminded him: Don't ever be
the first to stop applauding!



Saturday, February 28, 2004

New pic update

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Yesterday I read 'The root of all evil' another short story by Graham Greene. This story is based on a dream that Greene had and it is quite remarkable. I have never laughed so much! He said in the preface that he woke up chuckling to himself and had to write it down exactly as it was. This is a wonderful image and to me I think you really have to decide is your dream your work?

It is also quite relevant to today. Greene manages to get the boot in with a political / social aspect to it. It also features several transvestites!

It is a wonderful comic story.

Sunday, February 15, 2004

I must admit that on Friday I was given three books as a Valentines present! I am quite happy! One was a Spanish dictionary, one a grammar workbook and the other was a novel.

'The Dante Club' by Matthew Pearl. This book has some rave reviews. It is based in Boston 1865 where a small group of elite minds have gathered to make the first American translation of Dante. Then they discover a serial murderer has got there first and they find they are turned into detectives. I am fascinated and I've only read 3 pages!

Friday, February 13, 2004

I have just finished 'Cheap in August' - another short story by Graham Greene. Much more the traditional Greene this time. Serious and slightly disturbing. Somewhere inbetween light reading and somewhat serious. Yet it is quite intriguing and the sort of story that sticks with you for quite a while. The basic storyline is about a middle aged English lecturer and an old man who meet while on holiday in Jamaica. Both are lonely and both are searching for some sort of answer. Not my usual sort of bedtime read but still something that I found quite stimulating.

I had a frustrating day in the library today. The books I was looking for were not there and when eventually I found a book, it was in Central Lending. This meant I had to go downstairs to the traditional library and the philosophy book I wanted wasn't there. I was shocked to find they had 4 books on philosophy and three shelves on the occult and the paranormal. It says something about people today that whilst people are fascinated by books on aliens they find ethics or philosophy totally boring.

Friday, February 06, 2004

Last night I read 'The Over-Night Bag' by Graham Greene. This is Greene at his most bizarre and unusual. A very strange story that reminds me of some sort of Candid Camera set-up show. Very interesting.

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

I finished 'Time traveler' today by Michael Novacek. Overall I think it had all the elements of an exciting exploration book but it needed more. I think the problem is that the Flaming Cliffs research in Mongolia has already been written about and was only skipped over in the book. Also it is autobiography and he doesn't want to make the events sound dangerous for reasons of personal pride. Let's face it, he was arrested and held captive by the military police in the Yemen, bitten by a scorpion, thrown off his horse in Chile, various different escapades in Mongolia. It is reasonably exciting. It is unfortunate he never got to write about the Antarctic as that would have been good.

The science was very good. A history of the study of ancient mammals is a surprisingly intriguing story. They have been slightly neglected in favour of dinosaurs and yet they hold the key to the major extinction episodes.

It is also slightly disappointing that there is a picture on the front of a Velociraptor (dinosaur) when the book is really about mammals and he ridicules dinosaur hunters as glamour seekers - but I'm beginning to nag now.

On Monday I managed to find the complete short stories of Graham Greene. He describes them as 'escapes' from novels and indeed they seem to be more autobiographical. Apparently he sat in a cafe in the south of France and write stories about the conversations he overheard. What a great life! They are a little bit funny, quite sharp and well written.

Sunday, February 01, 2004

I have now finished 'God's Funeral'. Perhaps I was a bit harsh in me previous post. The last chapter on the Catholic Modernists is quite interesting. He also finishes on quite a positive note and I am impressed with someone who can say 'I am fascinated by religion although personally I don't agree with it'. He concludes that a certain type of Christianity died in the 19th century, the church has moved on and is different. He even includes as the final quote something religious 'I was dead and now see I am alive for evermore' quite apt considering the title - 'God's funeral'.

#5

Saturday, January 31, 2004

Whilst reading Wilson I have discovered a new word - Vastation. To my surprise I also found that it is not in my medium sized Penguin dictionary. I allow myself to write in new words.

Vastation in general terms means to destroy, to clear away. It can also mean 'purified by fire'. Henry James Senior was diagnosed with having what Swedenborg would call a vastation. This is when in the mind the current self-identity is destroyed, cleared out in preparation for a new selfhood.
It is a cold wet Saturday morning in Belfast. I picked up 'God's Funeral' by A.N. Wilson and started to read about William James. Wilson must be brilliant as a biographer. He has a lively style of writing, when he was writing about Carlyle I felt I had to buy 'The French Revolution'. I may not agree with the cynical view of John Henry Newman but his writings about William James are first rate.

With Newman, as I think I have already said I do not think he is being completely unfair. If you were to read about Newman from the viewpoint of other Victorian figures, perhaps read the 'Apologia' and nothing else you may have a negative view of Newman. I have been interested in Newman for a long time and I do not think he was a cynical person. Wilson describes him as a 'defender of orthodoxy' the kind of person who is portrayed as stuck in one mind-set and stubbornly refuses to budge. For myself I have always had the impression that Newman was a strong and confident person but not one to ignore the truth of an argument. (As you can see if you read 'Lead, kindly light').

Friday, January 30, 2004

Fortnight Magazine have given a very reasonable 2-page spread to remember Mairtin Crawford who died of a brain hemorrhage. This is one of the most reasonable and sensitive articles I have read for some time. Actually there are four accounts of different people's memories of Mairtin. I remember Mairtin too, it is quite fair and accurate. He was indeed only beginning to receive the attention that he deserved.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

I was reading another one of Greene's short stories today 'The end of the party'. It is quite a fascinating and deceptively simple plot about a fear of the dark. The Greene takes it and adds two central characters - twins, who share a mental telepathy. One twin is trying to help the other not to feel afraid, partly I suspect because he can feel the pain too. Add to that you never know what the fear is until the very end. All you know is that they don't want to go to a party organised by Mrs Henne-Falcon(!). Seems to be a lot more innovative than your ordinary psychological horror story. It also has quite an eerie twist in the tail.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Water has been discovered on Mars! This is truly one of the biggest breakthroughs in a long time. It is interesting to note that yahoo aren't reporting this and I heard it on the local radio.

Many thanks to my friends at Southern Cross for adding my link to their web page!

I started reading another different book - Time Traveller by Michael Novacek. It is a very interesting story about his life as a paleontologist. When he was in university he wanted to be a musician and he had a few scrapes growing his hair long and doing crazy gigs. Then he started going to the desert to look for fossil bones and got tied into that.

Contrary to what most people might think, he is not interested in dinosaurs, he is more interested in ancient mammals and their evolutionary process. A lot of quite unusual mammals appeared and then went extinct. For example the land whale. It had a whales body with legs and was probable amphibious. It is interesting to read the way biology / zoology is linked with geology. Bones are excessively used and at one point he spent 2 days writing about a tooth! In my time studying geology it was mostly chemistry I had to deal with, three way analysis and chemical evolution. He also explores the history of paleontology and some of the interesting characters from the past. It is humorous to note that one of his favourite places to collect fossils is a hill called 'Lomas Las Tetas de Cabra' - aka Hill of the Goats Teats! Imagine this in the scientific literature.

I don't think he finds dinosaurs boring it is just that dinosaur hunters are seen as being glamour seekers. I went to see a very interesting exhibition about Novacek in the Natural History Museum. I haven't reached the bit about dinosaurs yet. I think he has discovered some dinosaurs. He is about to go to Chile. Apologies for this more scientific blog, that's just the mood I'm in. Novacek's book is possible better than David Attenborough's.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Yesterday I finished reading 'Door wide open' an account of a love affair between Jack Kerouac and Joyce Johnson. They say that the wife of a politician can humanise the person. Getting to know Joyce has helped me to figure out the sort of person that Kerouac was. The book is a fascinating insight into how the man lived. It is not perfect, coming to the end you know what is happening and you have to remember that Joyce was about 21 and Jack was about 36. In one of the sparkling moments of the book, Jack writes Joyce this poem: (see the link)

image of Jack Kerouac poem

Kerouac is a complex character - on the one hand quite wild, outrageous, a genius writer - on the other hand quite concerned with caring for his mother and buying a house for her. Joyce feels that his mother ruined her relationship.

Kerouac isn't always 'on the road'. He hates publicity, he gets drunk quite a lot, he is very unreliable. The reality of this book is that there are real letters from Kerouac, in some parts I found myself preferring to read the letters by Joyce rather than Kerouac. This is quite a strong testimony that Joyce has good beatnik credentials and is a cool girl. Certainly someone I would like to know.

Sunday, January 18, 2004

I discovered with dismay last month that the short stories of Graham Greene are difficult to find. After I watched Donnie Darko which featured his story 'The Destructors' I wanted to read it. At Jose's house tonight I was looking through some books and I found the short story collection. I have now read 'The destructors'.

It is difficult to say if there is a connection apart from the fact that the story is used as an example of the anti-intellectualism of the small town community. The film is quite mysterious whilst the story is actually quite clear and direct.

The story is interesting in that it deals with the idea that destoying something is fun. The central character Trevor is quite a dark individual. He suggests to his gang that they destroy the house of an old man. It is just after the war and in one area that house is the only one left standing. This conversation occurs when they are burning the money of the old man:

"You hate him a lot?" Blackie asked.
"Of course I don't hate him," T. said. "There'd be no fun if I hated him." The last burning note illuminated his brooding face. "All this hate and love," he said, "it's soft, it's hooey. There's only things Blackie," and he looked around the room crowded with unfamiliar shadows of half things, broken things, former things. "I'll race you home Blackie," he said.

Saturday, January 17, 2004

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

So here I am wondering what to write again. I have modified the template again and i want to see the changes. Still reading 'Door Wide Open' and quite enjoying it, I expect I will finish it quite soon.

Monday, January 12, 2004

Another change to my template
Unfortunately I haven't had time to read today. I have been solving problems, rushing around, banging my head against a computer screen most of the day. But I can tell you what I would love to be reading and what I am going to read now - 'Door wide open' correspondence between Joyce Johnson and Jack Kerouac. Getting another view of one of the best writers of modern times is fascinating and Joyce Johnson is a surprisingly good writer herself with quite a few 'beat' medals of honour herself.

Sunday, January 11, 2004

I thought instead of trying to place pictures onto the blog I could merely add links to my yahoo photo album.


Lake Malawi postcard

You are also free to view the rest of the album, some of the pictures of light houses, for example would make good book marks

Saturday, January 10, 2004

Can water boil under ordinary conditions before it has reached
a temperature of 100 degrees? Before passing into the
Beyond, the World and its elements must attain what
may be called their 'point of annihilation'. And it is
precisely to this critical point that we must ultimately
be brought by the effort consciously to further, within
and around ourselves, the movement of universal convergence !
One of the most exciting things that happened in the last few months was that I found another copy of 'The future of man' by Teilhard de Chardin. I finally found out the cliff-hanger of what the human race has to do.

If you imagine the human race as a boat, around the next corner of the river there is a whirlpool. What are we going to do. Ignore it, turn back or go through it. Teilhard says we have to go through it! This is not something that one individual can do, we have to study the whirlpool and prepare to go through it together. The transformation is what could be termed - human evolution. It is similar to the way that when water boils it turns to team. Fascinating. I'll post a quote soon.
In the beginning was Imagination:
in the beginning was the Seed.
And the Seed was in God:
And the Seed is God.
All things are the flowering of That.
In the Seed was that Light
which lighteth every man
that cometh into the world.
The Light shineth in darkness,
And the darkness overpowers it not.

This paraphrase of the first few verses of John was found in Happold. Apparently it is by Gerald Bullett. It is quite interesting. One thing I have been confused over before is the idea of the 'word' or logos.

Friday, January 09, 2004

One of the things that is guaranteed to hotwire your brain is reading Plato. Between this and a wide range of other miscellaneous events I haven't been able to update this site for quite a while but hopefully that will change from now on.

I kept on reading Happold on mysticism and it gets better and better. He goes through most of the religious traditions and gives a report card on how they answer the human condition. His most interesting comments are on the mystical path and how far each tradition is able to go. I never knew about the mysticism of action.

I have started to read 'Islands in the stream' again by Hemingway. Because it is a posthumous book you get the idea that it is not as polished as other books and that some parts are autobiographical jottings that he may never have intended to publish. There is one incident where he is living on a small Caribbean island and his children start to play a game with a group of tourists. The children start asking for gin and this enrages one of the girl tourists so much that she has a tantrum then runs out and possibly starts a romance with one of the kids.

Thursday, January 08, 2004

I'm back! The reason I haven't written anything the past few months is that I was frustrated with Blogger and I wanted to have a break to see if I could change the format of this blog. I've got some links to add and some changes to make to the template but hopefully I can get back to the old me fairly soon!