Thursday, December 11, 2008

Cohesive teams

"Cohesive teams are needed for day-to-day issues. Spontaneous learning networks that have open conflict and dialogue are vital to handling strategic issues."Ralph Stacey

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Postcard from Cees Nooteboom

Not that I would name drop or anything but after my trip before last to Peru I sent a letter to Cees Nooteboom and I got this reply. I mentioned to him about the time I was milking a cow in the Peruvian forest when a calf came forward. He had a vampire bite on his neck and he was an orphan. When I tried to give him milk he shook his head and refused. I also mentioned that it was quite strange that he should talk about the importance of being 'orange'. As people from Northern Ireland will know being an orangeman means something very different to Holland. In Holland you are a member of the royal family in Belfast you are a member of the Orange Order.


Amsterdam - Voetboogsteeg bar
"The Voetboogsteed bar was long and dark, designed for customers of the Exchange and provincials, low characters too craven to go to the whores and too stingy to keep a mistress. Instead, they came to the divine twilight in this scotch-checkered bar to peer into Lyda's vast white bosom, a pleasure that had to be paid for with an unending stream of creme-de-menthe sodas. That had been the reason he fell in love, that slow river of green liquid disappearing into her wide mouth. That and the silver-gray sprayed, ludicrously tall hairdo, and those large white breasts of which so much and yet too little was visible, and the fact that she was more than a head taller than Inni. "I am all green inside," she used to say periodically, and that, too, excited him."

From p.7-8 'Rituals' by Cees Nooteboom

5 Assumptions of modern organisational thinking

I started reading an interesting book last week - 'Strategic management and Organisational dynamics: The challenge of complexity' by Ralph D Stacey.

Modern organisation thinking the sort of thing that all organisations use to manage and control workers are based on 5 assumptions that are not necessarily true and if we were to think about them and the history of modern philosophy it might just make things work slightly better than they normally do because as everyone is aware - new strategies and programmes of change are necessary but rarely work.

I. That organisations are systems
II. That the system is external to the individual
III. Individuals are primary and autonomous
IV. Individual actions construct the system
V. Individuals can plan and design the movement of a system.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

What does it profit a man?

I managed to pick up a copy of 'The True Wilderness' by H. A. Williams. This is a book of sermons from a deep and intelligent thinker. He was influenced strongly by Tillich and Bonhoeffer.

The essay of the above title looks at how easy it is to use religion to escape from reality. Our true quest is to live in the world to discover our real selves. Jesus did not seek to escape from reality his glory was reached not by coming down from the cross but through his death.

"No, it can be no easy journey, this voyage of discovery in which we set out to find ourselves. The road to the celestial city is a long road. In places it must needs be stony and steep. And as we travel we shall not always be certain of our destination. Yet from time to time we shall ascend the Delectable Mountains, and from there we shall behold the city from afar, perceiving something of the breadth and length and depth of what it is to be fully ourselves. In such fleeting moments of vision we reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared to the glory which even now is revealed in us. And this it is which gives us hope, and makes us count them happy which endure." (p. 29)

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Psalm 102

Carrying on the theme of praise, I just happened to come across this book of Psalms with the title 'A new translation: translated from the Hebrew and arranged for singing to the psalmody of Joseph Gelineau'.

I have always found these translations beautiful. The number of the psalm does not correspond because we are following Hebrew numbering and I am uncertain which psalm this is but it is very inspiring. (Can I recommend that you click on the image to read the text rather than try to read it as it is.)

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Islands in the Stream

This is a memorable passage from Hemingway and with the events of Ike and Hanna this is still relevant for today:

"Thomas Hudson had studied tropical storms for many years and he could tell from the sky when there was a tropical disturbance long before his barometer showed its presence. He knew how to plot storms and the precautions that should be taken against them. He knew too what it was to live through a hurricane with the other people of the island and the bond that the hurricane made between all people who had been through it. He also knew that hurricanes could be so bad that nothing could live through them. He always thought, though, that if there was ever on that bad he would like to be there for it and go with the house if she went."

Here is another reference to a hurricane that I found this week.

I Praise

As many of you know I am a huge fan of the 1950s blue and white Pelican books. So how could I resist 'Why Evil?' by John James - a Pelican published 1960? Whilst browsing in Bookends in Bangor I found this book and it looks like it could be a remarkable read.

Not least because on page 15 there is the following poem by Rilke:

Oh speak, poet, what do you do?

---I praise

But the monstrosities and the murderous days,

How do you endure them, how do you take them?

---I praise

But the anonymous, the nameless grays,

How poet, do you still invoke them?

---I praise

What right have you, in all displays,

in very mask, to be genuine?

---I praise

And that the stillness and the turbulent sprays

know you like star and storm?

---since I praise

- Translated by John J. L. Mood

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Newman on Truth

"When a system is consistent, at least it does not condemn itself. Consistency is not truth but truth is consistency."


'Loss and Gain' p.156 by John Henry Newman

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Cimarron Rose

'Cimarron Rose' by James Lee Burke is a book I just picked up tonight and even though I stopped reading it about a month ago the characters came back almost immediately. I am half-way through and I am glad I re-discovered it. As a crime novel it is everything you would expect - dark, thought provoking, nasty, narrator with a suspicious past and some things you don't expect - a ghost.

This is the first novel in a new series for James Lee Burke:

  • Heartwood (1999).
  • Bitterroot (2001)..
  • In the Moon of Red Ponies (2004).
There are plenty of twists and scrapes but the best thing is I feel like I never stopped reading it. The characters and the storyline came back to me in an instant.



Scribd is a great new website I discovered, you can find articles on all sorts of topics - v.interesting

Back again!

Hi all,

Facebook is good but a real blog needs blogger!

I have been so busy lately I can barely remember what I have been reading.

Kenneth Koch
Elizabeth Bishop

Varied as usual!

Hope I can get back to the good stuff, look forward to hearing from y'all!

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Happy New Year 2008!!!

Please check out my page on facebook:

I must admit this blog has become quite neglected in the last few months. Facebook is not really my cup of tea but it does have a 'books I'm reading' app. It seems to suit the faster cooler web environment that we have but as you all now I am an old-fashioned guy and will still update this page every so often.