Mind & body.

I am interested in the idea and practice of spirituality: but it may all be nonsense, and I may be venially corporeal. This category is a bit of a catch-all for posts on subjects ranging from the intellectual (I should be so lucky), to the spiritual (likewise) via the psychological and the creative.

WW1: still relevant as the right war, well-fought

I always resisted the Oh! What a Lovely War (1969), Blackadder account of WW1. I took it to be a product of the 1960s generation who thought everything inherited from their parents and grandparents (except their money) should be rejected.

At least one of my great-grandparents fought (and at least one of my grandparents avoided) fighting in WW1. My father served in WW2, and his two half-brothers were killed on active service during it.

The essay which follows below is largely an account of various books, most of which I have read recently, which have, I am relieved to say, reinforced my long-standing belief that this country (and, most of the time, most of its allies) fought honourably and rather intelligently during the 20th Century. Read more...

Published

21 July 2020

Nature Writing Interrogated

You will find here a free download of a PDF, entitled Nature Writing Interrogated: 5000 years of nostalgia.

It's a longish essay (about 40,000 words) and explores the long history of writing about nature, beginning very roughly with the Gilgamesh epic and romping through to pieces in last month's Guardian. I have undertaken this task because for half a longish lifetime I have been growing in unease about the way nature has always been used as a repository for civilised mankind's regrets and yearnings. My feeling has been that it was ever thus and that in recent decades the result has worked against, rather than toward, a proper appreciation of nature. Read more...

Published

12 January 2020

Hunston Convent and Chichester Free School

Chichester Free School has taken over Hunston Convent, a 19th Century Carmelite monastery to the south of the city, on the threshold of the Manhood Peninsula. It's a brilliant and exciting adventure, since the school is a mint-fresh sort of institution and the convent building was a Victorian classic. The Chichester Carmel, as the Hunston community were known, had roots which go centuries deep, and all over the world. An offshoot of the Chichester Carmel is now to be found amongst the Carmelites of Terre Haute, Indiana. Vestiges of the old convent's fabric have been reborn, and its footprint largely preserved, in spectacular fashion. I hope something of the community's spirit lives on, too. Read more...

Published

14 October 2019

Stained glass tourism in Brighton & Hove

I have become a stained glass nut and hunt it down wherever I may. It is a crucial add-on focus for any trips. It is an addition to the spiritual tourism I am prone to as some sort of secular pilgrim. It is worth saying that this can be virtual… Read more...

Published

07 October 2019

Liminality: An interrogation

Liminal is a lovely word for what I find a very moving and rewarding set of ideas. Much as I like it, though, I find its use, including even my own use of it, may have got out of hand. This piece explores some of all that. I want to… Read more...

Published

26 September 2019

Coastal edginess, a brief history

The coast is an edge, obviously. It's a fringe. The coast is the hem of the land's garment. Being swept or battered by the ebb and flow of tides, it invites thoughts of marginality. These ideas lead rather quickly to the liminal. If you bear with me, we'll get to some of all that. Now that there is a growing tendency for geographers and nature writers to become interested in mindscapes as well as landforms and land use, I fear I am being almost trendy in looking at the coast as a cultural phenomenon. Read more...

Published

11 September 2019

The Liminal Zone: a loose account

If you are reading this, something has made you curious about what liminality might be or mean. This piece discusses what I will call the Liminal Zone. It’s a wide imaginary territory where Loose Liminality roams free. I call it a zone because in 1988 I wrote an essay in… Read more...

Published

10 September 2019

Poem: A Wedding Poem

I wrote this because I wanted to express a central mystery in the wonderful business of a wedding. It aims to address the way marriage is a way of enshrining people's sense of compatability, which is such a necessary but brave part of a committed couple's life. Read more...

Published

09 September 2019

RDN’s environmental backstory, 1965-2019

This long PDF is a slightly cleaned-up transcript of an interview with RDN by the academic researcher, Richard Douglas of the Centre for the Understanding of Sustainable Prosperity. Richard is especially focussing on "the meanings and moral framings of the good life."

The interview was exciting for me because it was the first time anyone had asked me to explain the background for my environmental - and later my revisionist - thinking. What's more, and even better, it was the first time anyone had inquired as to the spiritual background to my thinking. Read more...

Published

09 September 2019

Hunston Convent’s French back-story

In 1871 an expatriate English community of Carmelite nuns returned to England to their new Chichester Carmel, at Hunston just outside the Sussex city. The origins of the community were in 17th Century England, but they had escaped anti-Catholic measures by migrating abroad to the Low Countries and thence, eventually, in the 19th Century to Valognes, in Normandy, France. Here's a snippet about the Normandy part of that story. Read more...

Published

14 August 2019
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