Friday, December 27, 2013

Happy New Year 2014!

Happy New Year 2014 to all the readers of Books of Note - you are all family!

from Isabella and Rod

See original Belfast pic here


Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Five Dials - Camus

Camus Edition - Five Dials

I cannot recommend the article by Curtis Gillespie on Camus highly enough. Gillespie travels to Algiers to find out more about Camus.Despite all that is known about Camus he manages to find new insights from the places that he lived, meet people who knew him, discover new things. It is amazing to me the power of place to learn new things about someone and this article certainly proves it.

Camus spent a great deal of time at a headland in Tipaza, Algeria writing and thinking. His friends got together and erected this monument:

On it is written: 'Here I understand that which is called glory: the right to love without measure.'

PS If you go to the previous edition you will discover the mysteriously cool place where Richard Ford stores his journals.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

The case of Art Blakey

" ... the problem was volume because he was the loudest drummer at the time. So I divided this routine of looking like I was playing, but not playing and he had to play soft. He would play softer and softer, trying to find the piano in the mix. That was helpful because he did manage to play quiet enough so that we could play together. Problem solving has been my forte ever since then. That's pretty much what you have to do when you play, to look at the individuals personally and to find out what the worst case scenario is and go with that."

Paul Bley interviewed by Fred Jung

Problem solving - learning from jazz.

Tale for the Time Being

I picked up this book, thinking it might help me to learn more about Japan and I was a bit sceptical at first but I am absolutely loving it. Innovative, challenging, profound, fun, manages to tie in some environment knowledge too, and just the most charming and beautiful writing. Layers upon layers and twists. I am honestly say this is a 'book of note'. It has changed my opinions, changed even my way of life.

I have no problem in making this book a 'book of note'.


Thursday, October 10, 2013

Congratulations to Alice Munro

Alice Munro is the recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize for Literature and she certainly deserves it. I can't believe I haven't made reference to her before because I am quite certain I have read and enjoyed her stories. She is a master of the short story. I would have no problem in recommending her books as 'books of note'.

Pinterest

I have started to have a go with Pinterest, so for all of you who are into pictures and pinterest here is my page:

Igneos geos Pinterest

Friday, September 27, 2013

Online guide to Islam (Part 2)

Part 2


Interesting article on the growth of Islam in American prisons. Hip hop music has become a champion of Islam and the influence is leading to Islam becoming possibly one of the fastest growing religions.

Opinion piece from The Independent

Opinion piece from The Independent on the niqab. Trying to persuade the readership that we have become too sympathetic to cultural awareness and that it is not a right to wear a niqab in the public sphere such as in hospitals, schools or the court.

Useful introduction to veils worn by Muslim women.


Organisation that seeks to raise awareness of Islamic issues and promote Islam to the wider world.



Islamic academic organisation based in Birmingham

[Website is not ready but looks interesting]


Another organisation representing Islams in Britain. Looks to be of a slightly better standard. Updated and maintained better than the MAB. Seeks to emphasise the Muslim contribution to British life, the long history of Muslim involvement in Britain and appears to seek out a society where Muslims integrate and take part in British life.


One of the stories from the events in Nairobi was that a victim taught a group of people the Shahada to enable them to escape the terrorists. See above link.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Books of Note online guide to learning more about Islam

With the events in Nairobi over the past few days I know a lot of people will be reflecting on why and how this has happened. I don't have any easy answers but I will try to point out some online resources for learning more about Islam.

For a brief introduction see this cheat sheet from the 'dummies' organisation

Muhammad

The rumour is that the terrorists asked the question who is the mother of Muhammad to verify if the victim was muslim.

Q. Who was the mother of Muhammad?

A. According to wikipedia the early life and upbringing of Muhammad was quite complex. His biological father – Abdullah died six months before he was born. Muhammad's biological mother was called Amina but he did not live with her, he was sent to the desert to live with foster mother - Halimah bint Abi Dhuayb and her husband.

Needless to say I think if you were in the situation I wouldn't be trying to argue when you are at gunpoint – but it doesn't seem to be a straightforward answer.

There are many different aspects to Islam and I think it is important to remember that this is not necessarily a religious problem. As has been pointed out in various films, with muslims it is not those who attend the mosque who are the problem but those who don't. This is where we face the problem of the clash of cultures and cultural misunderstanding which is to blame on both sides. Law enforcement do no understand and treat Islamic people poorly and in turn the west is seen according to the stereotypes of the Hollywood, a lot of which are not as common as one would think. I remember the first time I went to New York being amazed at how different it was to the films. Also remember a lot of terrorists have had bad experiences coming to the west to study, purely because the people they met did not understand them.

The Koran

The Quran, romanised as Koran or Qur'an is believed to be the revealed word of God as dictated to Muhammad by the angel gabriel. It was written in arabic so english translations are not accepted and most of the Koran is taught in arabic. Needless to say there have been many translations into english. The Dawood translation is considered the most user-friendly. I have found a document but it seems to be 'verse' only so I would advise buying a copy. I also have a copy of a translation by M.A.S. AbdelHaleem. I must admit I haven't read the Koran.

This is going to be quite a random selection of resources, forgive me for the order, this is just as they come to me:

Egypt
The Yacoubian Building – an excellent novel on life in Egypt (BoN entry)


Response to Islam from Portugal in 'The Lusiads' (BoN entry)


Spycast – Author debriefing

Mastermind: The Many Faces of the 9/11 Architect, Khalid Shaikh Mohammed ***Bias alert*** spycast is biased towards the security services but still useful.




Krista Tippett – On Being

Krista Tippett has a knack of finding intriguing topics of all types in religion and finding obscure ideas and speakers. I admire her work, even though I have only listened to a few shows. Each of her shows is given a podcast and there is an almighty archive of shows on everything you could think of. I did a search for shows on Islam and found at least 20. Go explore, listen to a few.

History

Islam has a rich heritage. During the middle ages, when Christianity was in the doldrums it was Islam that was at the height of intellectual prowess. It was only in Arabic that many ideas in science and medicine were brought to the west. There is a rich store of poetry, literature and art to be found if you only want to go and find it.

Arabian nights. There is a new translation of Arabian nights by Malcolm Lyons (2010 in 3 volumes).  This translation is wonderful, full of life and vivid, fantastic adventures. This is the sort of thing that was told around the campfire in the desert and it has inspired probably the majority of fantasy writers up to now, only most of them did not have this fantastic translation. This will give you a sense of the mystery and intrigue of the arab world – an insight into a very different place to where we live now.

See the following previous Books of Note entries







The rise of Islam

Again I haven't read widely on this subject but I would recommend Karen Armstrong, her book Islam: A short history, looks to be as good as any. 

Why did Islam rise up and ignite the area of the middle east? This is indeed a fascinating question and I am sure there are books out there. As is normally case, much research is required.

What is Jihad?

See wikipedia:

Commonly thought to mean 'holy war' in a strict sense it means 'struggle'. The majority of muslims see this as in inner struggle for purity. It is a minority who quest for a violent struggle against the enemies of Islam. This is worthwhile investigating and researching.

See also this 'Books of Note' entry on Karen Armstrong - http://booksofnote.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/faith.html


Literature

A classic of poetry, translated many times, mysticism with a distinctly philosophical twist.


Popularised by Coleman Barks but Rumi has a rich heritage with many translations, fascinating and mystical. 

Sufi whirl dervish


Performance in Istabul of whirling dervish dance.

Ney flute
The ney (Persian: نی/نای; Turkish: ney; Azerbaijani: ney; Arabic: ناي; also nai, nye, nay, gagri tuiduk, or karghy tuiduk, Kurdish: Shimshal) is an Iranian A.K.A. Persian end-blown flute that figures prominently in Middle Eastern music. In some of these musical traditions, it is the only wind instrument used. The ney has been played continuously for 4,500–5,000 years, making it one of the oldest musical instruments still in use.
"The Persian ney consists of a hollow cylinder with finger-holes. Sometimes a brass or plastic mouthpiece is placed at the top to protect the wood from damage, but this plays no role in the sound production."[1] The ney consists of a piece of hollow cane or reed with five or six finger holes and one thumb hole. Modern neys may be made instead of metal or plastic tubing. The pitch of the ney varies depending on the region and the finger arrangement. A highly-skilled ney player can reach more than three octaves, though it is more common to have several "helper" neys to cover different pitch ranges or to facilitate playing technically difficult passages in other dastgahs or maqams.


What is halal?

Halal is the term used for food that is allowed to be eaten according to Islamic law. The following is expressly forbidden:

A variety of substances are considered as harmful (haraam) for humans to consume and, therefore, forbidden as per various Qurʼanic verses:
  • Animals slaughtered in the name of anyone but "Allah". All that has been dedicated or offered in sacrifice to an idolatrous altar or saint or a person considered to be "divine"[Quran 2:173] [Quran 5:3]
  • Carrion (carcasses of dead animals)[Quran 2:173]
  • An animal that has been strangled, beaten (to death), killed by a fall, gored (to death), savaged by a beast of prey (unless finished off by a human)[Quran 5:3]
  • Food over which Allah's name is not pronounced [Quran 6:121]
There is also a prescribed method of slaughtering animals. For full information see

The Islamic calendar


Note the months of the year and the days of the week.

Christianity

The following link is to a page full of resources on the response of Christianity to Islam. Useful – explore if you wish.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Avian morality tale

Mark Cocker in 'Crow Country' tells of a few tales of how rooks have acted to come to the aid of nature and man. Some are very interesting. In 1891-3 in south-west Scotland there was a plague of voles. A plague of biblical proportions. It was only stopped when a huge number of rooks attacked and killed thousands. A committee appointed to inquire into the origins of the plague concluded that over-zealous control of predatory birds like rooks may have been responsible in the first place.

Friday, September 13, 2013

You Westerners are Stupid!

by Vladimir Putin (Well, Edward Lucas really)

This opinion piece from 'The Times' is really hilarious and accurate. It is strange times when the times is sceptical and anti-war and 'The New Statesman' has a lead article that is vaguely supportive to a war. I don't really think anyone understands the gravity of the situation, chemical weapons are serious and yet no one really wants to go to war - but most of all, we should have learnt by now not to trust the Russians. [BTW you need to zoom in to 150% to read this atachment.]

Black Swan

I recently started to read 'The Black Swan' by Nassim Nicholas Taleb. It is very interesting.

There is a story that no one could accept the idea of a black swan until one was spotted in Australia. It seems to be built in to our human experience that we base our understanding of the future on our understanding of the past and this is good until something unexpected happens. Imagine the turkey before Christmas, every morning when the sun comes up he gets fed, until Christmas morning ...

There seems to be a clatter of examples of people who cannot accept the idea of failure until it happens to them, we seem to have a deep misunderstanding of risk, especially the following quote from a person familiar to all those from Belfast:

"But in all my experience, I have never been in any accident ...of any sort worth speaking about. I have seen but one vessel in distress in all my years at sea. I never saw a wreck and never have been wrecked nor was I ever in any predicament that threatened to end in disaster of any sort."

E. J. Smith, 1907, Captain, RMS Titanic

Saturday, August 31, 2013

For Seamus Heaney (1939 - 2013)

Digging
 
Between my finger and my thumb   
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound   
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:   
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds   
Bends low, comes up twenty years away   
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills   
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft   
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.   
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.


Seamus Heaney


 "Digging" from Death of a Naturalist. Copyright 1966 by Seamus Heaney. Reprinted with the permission of Farrar, Straus & Giroux, LLC.


Source: Death of a Naturalist (1966)

See The Poetry Foundation

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Notes from Spain

You get some random thoughts sitting on a beach. Here is an extract from my notebook:

The bar was called 'Saez' and it had the symbol of a mermaid in silhouette.

'No dignity, no real existence is possible for a man who works twelve hours a day and still has no notion of what his work means.' Malraux, 'Man's Estate', p.63

Email click@bbc to ask what they know about 'in silica' testing in pharma.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The Wall

My brother sent me a book called 'The Wall' by Marlen Haushofer. Haushofer was an Austrian writer born in 1920. She married in 1941, divorced in 1950 and then re-married her husband in 1958. I have started to read 'The Wall' and it is very interesting. The novel is post-apocalyptic with a woman trying to survive when as far as she can tell all life on earth has been removed apart from the small area around her hunting lodge and is separated with a wall. In the new environment she has to survive on her own means with only a few animals and sparse supplies.
'The Wall' was written between 1960-63 but only published in 1968. She writes about the unique aspect of female life - the anxiety of being able to love. She realises that the animals that she loves cannot always be under her protection, something bad could happen at any time because the cat for example will go out on her own into the forest at night:

"Sometimes long before the wall existed I wished I was dead, so that I could finally cast off my burden. I always kept quiet about this weary load; a man wouldn't have understood, and the women felt exactly the same way as I did. And so we preferred to chat about clothes, friends and the theatre, keeping our secret, consuming worry in our eyesEach of us knew about it, and that's why we never discussed it. That was the price we paid for our ability to love."

Interesting.

'The Wall' has been made into a film. Look out for it.


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Thought for the day

"The longer we dwell on our misfortunes, the greater is their power to harm us."

Voltaire

This is from Padraig O'Morain's mindfulness thoughts for the day.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

Learning to read

You would think that after ten years of writing this blog that I would have learnt how to read! In the preface written by Walter Kaufman he explains that Buber wants to teach us how to read. I think this is more relevant than ever for today where attention spans are so short and we have so much to read on a daily basis.

He explains that most people learn how to read and then struggle through an unprepared section of their life, searching out things to read. Most settle on an unsatisfying diet of newspapers and magazines that are written with only one purpose - the rubbish bin. They scan and read quickly and most of the content is ephemeral.

So what does it mean to read?

"We must learn to feel addressed by a book, by the human being behind it, as if a person spoke directly to us. A good book or essay or poem is not primarily an object to be put to use, or an object of experience: it is the voice of You speaking to me, requiring a response."
from Walter Kaufman - preface to 'I and You'

Delirium feriarum 7 and 8




Sunday, May 26, 2013

God cannot be spoken of, he can be spoken to

The above quote by Walter Kaufman is taken from his preface to 'I and Thou' by Martin Buber. I am trying to read it.

I thought for an experiment I would try a 'book cocktail'. I picked two books, 'I and Thou' and 'Independence Day' by Richard Ford and see what happened.

What Kaufman is saying is that we only percieve God in other people, in the moment of interaction.

By chance I had stopped reading 'Independence day' at the critical moment where a days worth of frustration had been building between father and son as they enter the baseball hall of fame. There is a confrontation and the sons runs into the practice field and lines himself up for a fastball. The last thing the father shouts is 'you are too close'. It is a moment of frustration, clashing personalities. The ball shoots out at colossal speed and hits the son in the eye. A crowd of spectators surrounds the two as the ambulance arrives. Family people enjoying a moment to bask in baseball fame are drawn over to watch a family in crisis. 

Ford creates characters, every person he writes about is unique, every person, no matter how fleeting is memorable. I would like to think that Ford read Buber in preparation for 'Independence day'. If he has he is doing better than me, because I am still struggling through the preface(!)

Five dials

I have just downloaded Five dials 28 edited by Craig Taylor and it looks very good.

The editorial mentions a piece called 'heroes'. Meditations on characters in films we all know but who were brutally cut out for the sake of the film. Such as the sword fighter that Indiana Jones watches casually for a few seconds then shoots him. It made me think of how the world is misunderstood by Hollywood. The whole of the western world is hated because of films such as Indiana Jones and yet the whole of the western world hates Indiana Jones (well, some of them, well, we feel misrepresented by him - even though we love the film [secretly!])

Events in recent days show just how shocking that misunderstanding has become. The headline on Friday showed an Islamic country with a banner saying - leave us alone, go home. If only it was that simple. If only 9/11 hadn't happened. If only the Russians hadn't invaded Afghanistan. If only Britain hadn't conquered half the world and left it in a mess.

Heroes? Maybe Indiana Jones will save the world!

Delirium feriarum 6


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Delirium feriarum

A study of a present day hysteria, with special regard to its common symptoms and advice for its prophylaxis and therapy, together with numerous pathological illustrations by Professor Chaval.

This is the start of a new series from this curiousity printed in 1960 by Geigy Pharmaceutical Company.

See also my scribd page for pdf and for an intro to the project.

Saturday, May 04, 2013

The Watcher

The Watcher by Robert Crais (2007)

This is is a sound, enjoyable book by Crais, based in Los Angeles, with his really innovative slant on hard boiled crime fiction. Continually getting new slants and twists combined with deep character insights. Just a real good read!


Analysis

 I found this in one of my notebooks. I can't remember if this was copied or if I made it up. Could be quite useful.

Analysis

The process of analysis can be thought of as the process of identifying a rock type. Imagine the following:

You are looking at a rock face.

The landscape / features can indicate general rock type. There are three types of rock:-

Igneous
Sedimentary
Metamorphic

see this video for a general introduction.


Then step toward the rock face. What do you see?

Colour
Reflection
Variations in colour
Features – eg caves

Consider the environment:

Sounds
Feelings
What are you stepping on?

Move closer to the rock face:

What is the grain size / rock elements?
What can you tell that nobody else can tell?
What can you gain from it?
What are the dangers?
How can you find out more?
How can you verify what you have identified?

Question:

Can you explain to me in your own words why you think you are here.


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Gentlemen get the thing straight ...

Gentlemen get the thing straight once and for all - the policeman isn't there to create disorder, the policeman is there to preserve disorder.

Richard J. Daley

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Unfortunates

This is really to say that 'The Unfortunates' by B. S. Johnson is a significant *Book of Note*. It has been a difficult read and at times a bit of a slog but in the end, probably one of my favourite reads in a long time. Reading it now about 40 years after it was written, it is still fresh and authentic. I would recommend it to anyone.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

Reading 'The Unfortunates' by B.S. Johnson

I am sure you are all familiar with Johnson's experimental book project of putting 27 sections unbound in a box. They are written as memories in an attempt to reconstruct the mind in the abitrary and random way that memories are dealt with. Johnson's friend Tony has recently died – struck down in the prime of life and this makes it all the more poignant. There are a lot of events, places and times that seem to be familiar and the 'event' of the book is a trip to report on a football match in Nottingham. In contrast to the solidity and straightforwardness of sport reporting, the writing of the novel is a stark and self revealing, almost brutally self revealing at times, all for the sake of literature.

I thought I would chart out my thoughts whilst reading a few sections to give you an example of what the novel is like.

The first section I pull out is a memory of a trip to Brighton. Johnson had been asked to lecture on his work to some foreign students and Tony and another friend joined in. The lecture was relatively simple, a re-telling of his methods and debates, much debated, going over old arguments. He is not sure if the students get anything but he certainly enjoys it. Afterwards they return to the house and have a makeshift game of cricket. They then go out for a few drinks and Johnson is mindful that Tony had just been diagnosed with cancer – even though he doesn't really look ill, he could tell something was wrong because he didn't seem able to concentrate:

“Yet I could see he was very - ill at ease, in his mind, he no longer concentrated on ideas, thought, arguments, with the same dedication.”

With this quote the page ends, as if trying to imitate the lack of concentration, trying to illustrate how all of life suffers when concentration suffers.

As I move on to the next section, I stop to question my method of reading. I purposefully put the sections I have read to one side because, otherwise I would never finish the book, but is this authentic? Is this the way the book is supposed to be read, surely memories are repetitive and they work by re-appearing and adding new meaning.
It is strange that I am so concerned about this because normally it doesn't even cause me a second of concern to read a book from start to finish. I now realise how imposing, how prescriptive a writer can be to dictate the order of the way the book is read.

New section:-

Just as things are going well for Tony, after seven years he has finished his Ph.D. and has received a university position. His wife is pregnant again in anticipation of prosperity and he receives the diagnosis of cancer. How can this be? When he visits Tony, they discuss if there could be a reason, but they don't come up with anything. Johnson is frustrated and annoyed because at the launch party for his new book, Tony is too ill to come down. This new book has been dedicated to Tony and instead of being concerned he writes with great self-honesty about how annoyed this makes him, perhaps Tony has really decided not to appear because he doesn't like the book.

When Johnson goes to visit Tony in hospital, it doesn't get any better. He doesn't know what to talk about and suggests he now has plenty of time to read. This does not go down well. Johnson does not understand why he does not want to read but the environment, the stress of the situation would make it appear that Tony does not see the 'need' to read. It is strikingly honest that he writes about this.

New section:-

Journalism is about meeting deadlines, word limits, about delivering but it is not about the content, or quality of writing. As proud as Johnson is of his ability to deliver, he know what happens to the content – it is changed beyond all recognition, normally not to the better. This section rambles on about associations, places.

Perhaps this is what Johnson is about – the content, rather than volume and discipline.

New section:-

The town hall in this city has dull architecture, it doesn't seem to reflect anything other than 'solidity'. Johnson describes these thought as old arguments. I quote:

“My mind passes over the familiar ground of my prejudices, so much of thought is repetition, is dullness, is sameness.”

I must admit when you look honestly at your life, your conversations, a lot is repetition. Then he goes on to be 'ultra- realist / honest'. He writes about wanting to go to the toilet. He can't think about doing anything else without finding a toilet and with that the section ends. I must admit as shocking as this is, when was the last time I read about a writer going to the toilet? I'm not sure, even Koestler in 'Darkness at Noon' about a prisoner in almost solitary confinement – I can't remember him writing about the toilet. Time to finish, section ends.


The wanderer above the sea of fog


Love this on the front page of Wikipedia today. -Planning on some new posts soon :)

 


Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Endgame - at Queen's Belfast

Endgame

Go to above link for further details on Endgame in Belfast.

B.S. Johnson - DVD

This looks interesting. Go to this link to find out further info:

BS Johnson DVD

Release date 15 April 2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013

To anonymous

I have received numerous comments from an anonymous reader, unfortunately I just can't seem to make any sense from them and I suspect they are computer generated. If you are really out there and want to communicate with me - send me an email. From now on only users with Google accounts can comment. But even if it is a computer, thankyou at least for reading a post on John Updike from 2004, you certainly have good taste(!)

igneos geos

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Captain Henry F. Williams, Troop A, New York State Police, 1971

A few weeks ago I started to read 'A time to die' on the Attica Prison Riots by Tom Wicker. Must admit I am finding it absolutely gripping. I have a particular liking for books that give insights into other times and other places, characters that were written in that time. This picture of the police captain is very well written, makes you feel the atmosphere. Whilst it is stereotypical I find it unique and insightful. (The writer Tom Wicker has just arrived at the prison and is about to be introduced to the police captain in charge of dealing with the riot and the hostage situation, the first speaker is a police officer arriving with the writer.):

"'I'm supposed to turn you over to Captain Williams,' he told Wicker, who had read in the Times about Captain Henry F. Williams of Troop A, New York State Police, Captain Williams who had been put in tactical command of all police forces at Attica, looked to Wicker like a man who would be quite willing to issue an order to attack - not that he was military in appearance. His short sleeved white shirt was stretched tight across a sizeable paunch, he was wearing dark glasses, and - unlike most of the men in the lobby - was carrying no visible weapons. But to Tom Wicker, Captain Williams looked like a tough man indeed - there was a lot of muscle in that paunch and under the jowls a bull neck that appeared unyielding. His hair was cropped into an unfashionable crew-cut and his narrow black knit tie had an air about it of woe to hippies."      from 'A Time To Die'  p. 53

"Greed, hatred and delusion are equal opportunity employers"

Jon Kabat-Zinn with Krista Tippett

I would happily encourage you all to listen to this radio programme on Kabat-Zinn and become more mindful. Kabat-Zinn believes we can change the world if we first change ourselves.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Florida Effect

In a classic psychology experiment by John Bargh of New York University students were shown a set of words associated with the elderly but not including the word 'elderly' - wrinkled, forgetful, blad grey, florida. These students were then asked to move to another room and they were timed in contrast to another set of students with randomly selected words. It was found that the suggestion of elderly caused the students to walk slower (!) This is known as the Florida Effect. Whilst most of the time we think that the toughts we are having are nobody else's but our own it is very easy for thoughts to cause behaviour because the mechanisms of our brain are automatic and they can be manipulated without our knowledge. In another experiment voters were measured according to votes to support increases in school funding depending on the location of the voting station. Those located in schools were found to have more votes for increased funding. 

This also works in reverse it was also found in an experment that when students were forced to walk slower they were 'primed' to think about the elderly.

Thoughts can be suggested, voting actions can be inflenced by images, locations, it is important that more people know and understand the way the brain works before more sinistergroups start to manipulate our thoughts. 

From 'Thinking fast and slow' by Daniel Kahneman.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Krista Tippett on Teilhard

Go to above link to listen to Tippett on Teilhard. It is very good. Includes my new favourite word - anthropophilia 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Hemingway's boat

Started to read above book by Paul Hendrickson. Very curious and different approach to biography. Will pick a photograph and then discuss in detail what was happening in life and the world in general. Has started to discuss the change in his style from incredibly sparse to slightly more loosely sparse. Hendrickson believes this was because of his new boat (called Pilar):

"I believe Pilar was a key part of the change, allowing him to go further out where you don't see shoreline."