Welcome to the written world of RDN, aka "the stand-up philosopher". I am a complicated conservative, and a bit hippy and arty round the edges. I am currently working on poems, a memoir and a one-man show. Over all that is an increasing interest in the idea of spirituality. More »

Latest posts

Loving the fake (#2 of 2): Human zoos

Posted by RDN under Mind and body / On art / On theatre / Politics and campaigns on 24 April 2014. No comments.

I love the “problem” of tourism and – most sharply – the problem of the “human zoo”. Almost all our travel, at least where it involves looking at people rather than landscape or animals, has a dimension of anthropological voyeurism. Much of it is a matter of play-acting amongst imagined peasantries or primitives. This has now reached new heights of self-consciousness, and is blissfully funny as well as serious…. More »

Loving the fake (#1 of 2): Digital rip-offs

Posted by RDN under Mind and body / On art on 24 April 2014. No comments.

I love the idea of fake art in the age of digital rip-offs. To put it in grander terms, I love the ”issue” of conservation – facsimile, and reproduction, actually – in an age of mass culture and digitalisation. (In my next blog, I want to riff in rather the same way about the modern issue of tourism and anthropology, flowing from Human Zoo tourism.) We have entered a wonderful time in which re-envisioning Tutankhamun and Piranesi fairly make the mind explode with potential… More »

RDN and Richard Mabey

Posted by RDN under Mind and body on 19 April 2014. No comments.

Richard Mabey writes in the Slightly Foxed Quarterly (Issue 41, Spring 2014) about Vole, the pioneering environmental magazine which Richard Boston started and edited in the 1970s (the latter, I also did, much less well, for its last few issues). I get a bit of a mention…. More »

Rory Stewart’s middling account of the Middleland

Posted by RDN under Mind and body / On TV and Radio / Politics and campaigns on 16 April 2014. No comments.

Rory Stewart, Tory MP for Penrith and the Border and previously a diplomat in some chronic “borderlands” (ex-Yugoslavia and Afghanistan) has given us a TV (and, I gather, a book) account of his love of what he calls the Middleland, between England and Scotland, which he now represents. It’s exhilarating stuff, but is it tosh…..? More »

On Strathcarron on Twain on the Levant

Posted by RDN under Mind and body / On books on 4 April 2014. No comments.

As part of my serendipitous reading saga, I am actively pursuing what might be called Levant studies, not least with the goal of a visit to Israel. I am hoovering up useful travel and history commentaries on the region, and am hugely glad to have come across the remarkable Ian Strathcarron’s valuable account of a journey he made in 2011 to recreate a journey made to The Holy Land by Mark Twain in 1867. More »

RDN on Voice of Russia on “the Left”

Posted by RDN under Politics and campaigns / RDN's media outings on 2 April 2014. No comments.

In my second (and equally) enjoyable outing on Voice of Russia, from its Chancery Lane studio, we discussed the role of the modern Left in UK politics…. More »

“Scrap the BBC!” Mk II

Posted by RDN under Economics: its ups and downs / Mind and body / Politics and campaigns / Uncategorized on 24 March 2014. No comments.

The BBC is likely to become very small, or even disappear, if not paying the TV Licence fee becomes a civil offence (is decriminalised, in the jargon). What an extraordinary turn-up for those of us who thought the BBC an absurdity but also thought that its dismemberment would probably have to wait a generation. That is roughly where I was when I wrote “Scrap the BBC!” in 2006. Here is how things might turn out…. More »

Intensive care exercise bike

Posted by RDN under Mind and body on 7 March 2014. No comments.

For all sorts of reasons, some of which I’ll probably work out later, I am moved by the idea of an exercise bike for intensive care patients. It has to do with the revelation that for some conditions (congested lung, or some such) it seems to be important medically. But there’s also the prospect of its lifting the spirits of the patient. When she was alive, I often wondered how I might keep my bed-bound mother active. I sometimes ruminate on my own future in that line. But actually, I am also touched by the idea of all sorts finding relief with such a machine.

“Out of the Furnace”: *****

Posted by RDN under On movies on 7 March 2014. No comments.

Yes, I am sure Out of the Furnace is that good. I think most of the comment from its creators is very interesting, and reassuring in the sense that what they aspire to seems to be what one warms to and feels to have been delivered. The one big reservation one might have is also overcome… More »

Jamini Roy: BBC stuck in anti-colonialism

Posted by RDN under On art on 6 March 2014. No comments.

I have been listening to an interesting show, From Bengal to Baker Street, about the Indian painter Jamini Roy. Poor old Radio 4 couldn’t get beyond its anti-colonial meta-narrative… More »

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