Friday, April 27, 2007

The Cult of the Individual

The Cult of the Individual

This morning I read an edited version of the above speech by Khrushchev. I found it astounding. It must have been one of the many moments when history changed. It was said that 30 people fainted as he gave this speech. The speech is a condemnation of Stalin, perhaps that is too strong but it is a stern cautionary note against people who are unwilling to work with other people and how they become paranoid and corrupted and how they corrupt all those around them.

I would highly recommend that you read or re-read it. I think that everyone applying for promotion should be given a copy of it ;)

Saturday, April 14, 2007

The Sun


Czesław Miłosz

in Collected Poems 1931 - 1987

Thursday, April 12, 2007


From 'The City of Dreaming Books' by Walter Moers. The Detroit News describes Moers as J. K. Rowling on ecstacy - more like Rowling on LSD!

Buy one of his books and join in the fun. Here is a toast for the Bookhunter!

[notice the jellyfish lantern!]

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Teleology and progress

Despite the fact that teleology has been vehemently removed from most of science since about 1830 and according to a very interesting essy by Bernard Towers, it is still tempting modern scientists who merely refer to it under a different name:

"It has been said that all scientists have a secret passion for teleology but that, like a mistress she has to be kept out of sight of polite company. For myself, I would be happy to take her into public as a respectable married woman and call myself openly a teleologist, provided that I am allowed to specify in what senses I am using the term."

Towers goes on in the next essay to quote Dobzhansky who was a strong supporter of Teilhard and gives Dobzhansky's translation of the following passage from Teilhard:

"Man is not the centre of the univers as was naively believed in the past, but something much more beautiful - Man the ascending arrow of the great biological synthesis. Man is the last-born, the keenest, the most complex, the most subtle of the successive layers of life. This is nothing less than a fundamental vision. And I shall leave it at that."

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Letters to a young poet

Also in the same vein as yesterday is Rilke's advice to a young poet. I like this piece of advice about answering life's questions:

"You are so young, so before all beginning, and I want to beg you, as much as I can, dear sir, to be patient towards all that is unsolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a foreign tongue. Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them."

and when it comes to difficult things:

"But they are difficult things with which we have been charged; almost everything serious is difficult, and everything is serious."

Friday, April 06, 2007

A new beginning

I don't know how it happened but I picked up the biography of John Adams tonight and I started to read about the events of July 2nd 1776. John Adams was one of the main figures arguing for the process of American Independence. This is strikingly reminiscent of today in Belfast because here we have Ian Paisley arguing strongly for devolution and our own government whilst all around him people are criticising him and trying to move backwards when here we are, with one crucial chance to create our own future for once. I can't believe it that anyone would consider direct rule to give us a future especially considering the mess, the lazy and arrogant direct rule ministers have left us in.

John Adams faced almost the same thing. The British government were sending a fleet of 400 ships and they had to decide if they were ready to fight for their own independence. John Dickinson, the main opponent, said they were about to 'brave the storm in a skiff made of paper'. We are not ready - that is what people are saying, the deal is not good enough, the conditions are not right. I hope we are brave enough to weather this storm.

Adams wrote in his journal:

"Some people must have time to look around them, before behind, on the right hand, and on the left, and then to think, and after all this to resolve. Others see at one intuitive glance into the past and the future, and judge with precision at once. But remember you can't make thirteen clocks strike precisely alike at the same second."

How true!

And when we look at the health system, education, corporation charges, and all the millions of things that need to be changed the following lines from John Adams also ring true:

"Objects of the most stupendous magnitude, measures in which the lives and liberties of millions, born and unborn are most essentially interested are now before us. We are in the very midst of revolution, the most complete, unexpected, and remarkable of any in the history of the world."