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.

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Cribsheet: Relativism vs Expertise

This is a longish (1,700 word) cribsheet on how one can judge gardens – and fashion, art and much else - almost objectively. It aims to counter the relativism and populism of the argument which suggests that all opinions are subjective and thus purely a matter of personal taste. Read more...

Published

26 May 2019

500 years of businesswomen

Royal and aristocratic women often wielded considerable power as mothers and widows. It is curious how other women, formally unable to own or control assets in their own right, did often inherit their late husband’s stake in the wider world, and run it. They had other routes to control as well. Read more...

Published

19 May 2019

Anne Lister & “Shirley” in business

There is a long tradition of women being successfull in farming, landowning and business. Here I look at Anne Lister (Gentleman Jack) and Charlotte Brontë's Shirley in that light.
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Published

19 May 2019

“Palais de Justice” (2017)

I very much enjoyed Carey Young's video installation at the Towner Gallery, Eastbourne. (It closes 2 June 2019 but I imagine it will be screened elsewhere.) I know that I wanted to see the thing as soon as I saw the publicity still of a fair-haired, I would say careworn, woman, a judge I presume, returning the camera's stare. I am a little foxed and therefore intrigued as to what, in the event, it achieved for me. Read more...

Published

19 May 2019

“Styx” (2019)

I was lucky to have forgotten everything I knew about this film before I went to see it. Its 94 minutes of study of the moral, technical and emotional problems which suddenly confront Rike, a lone yachtswoman, as she cruises southwards down the Atlantic from Gibraltar toward Ascension Island, were a startling blend of the meditative and the thrilling. I was engrossed by the film throughout and only bothered to be properly sceptical about it when I got home. Read more...

Published

19 May 2019

Cribsheet: tipping points and margins, etc

This note is intended as a handy guide or cribsheet or starting point for people unfamiliar with tipping points, margins, critical mass, paradigm shifts. (It is a little in the manner of my Right-wing Guide To Nearly Everything - RWG2NE - which I fear never did really reach a critical mass, or a…. etc, etc)
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Published

11 May 2019

Collaborative theatre, self-writing and showing-off

What kind of public performance should I try to deliver? I used to do quite big presentations for industry, schools, universities and NGOs. I appeared once at the Hay Literary Festival and once at Glastonbury (until I was run out of the latter by grunge eco-freaks). These events were highly argumentative, and entertaining for at least some in the audience, which I very seldom appeased.

Now, I want to face different challenges in a quite different spirit. Read more...

Published

10 March 2019

Edith Stein: A tentative look & some leads

This is an account of my attempts to discover and understand the 20th Century Jewish philosopher of empathy,  Edith Stein (Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross). It includes (listed below) what I hope are fruitful leads. I came across her as part of my work on the Carmelite order, in which she became a professed nun until the Nazis found and killed her. I have at last read the philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre's short intellectual biography of Stein. It's invaluable, not least because his journey to and within Catholicism parallels hers but especially because he understands that her pgilosophical writings are alien in all sorts of way to an untutored English reader. I have also at last read her doctoral thesis, The Problem of Empathy, and much of her extraordinary memoir, Life In a Jewish Family. I don't yet know her theological writing and am looking forward to it. I hope you will remember that I am a failed Cambridge University philosophy undergraduate of the very early 1970s. I couldn't get my brain round analytic philosophy but came away as rather a snob about Continental Philosophy. My love of Wittgenstein, but not my understanding of him, deepened by the Cam. Edith could have handled the former and was a minor star of the latter. My love of Wittgenstein, but not my foggy understanding of him, deepened by the Cam. Read more...

Published

01 March 2018

Valencia: Top Five

A recent, wet, windy winter day in the city of Valencia confirmed and more the wonderful experience we had one September day a few years back. Here are my Top Five attractions, in the order I would prioritise for a fleeting visitor who wanted the very special nature of the city. Read more...

Published

01 March 2018

“Darkest Hour” is quite bad

The latest Darkest Hour movie is enjoyable and has high production values. It is, as lots of people say, rather a good flipside to the blockbuster Dunkirk. But whilst Dunkirk had merely a few absurdities amongst its conceits, Darkest Hour is, I declare, positively unethical in important parts of its story-telling. Read more...

Published

26 January 2018
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