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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The Empathy Delusion

This piece argues that we do not have much empathy, and that even if we had more it would still be a very imperfect engine of moral or ethical behaviour. Read more...

Published

27 December 2017

RDN on BBC Scotland on ads’ gender stereotyping

I had a lively outing on BBC Radio Scotland's morning phone-in on the ASA/CAP's crackdown on gender stereotyping. Without much thinking about the Quangos' specific motives and proposals (I will maybe devote time to that exercise) I said quite boldly that whatever stereotypes advertisers promoted, I had never seen any that were more harmful than the culture-crimping, the dreary campaignitis - and, yes the PC Gone Mad element - of the Bossy Liberals who want to censor them. Read more...

Published

14 December 2017

Jews and design in post-war Britain

The Jewish Museum in Camden Town, London, has put on a revelatory exhibit: Designs on Britain. It’s about the works of Jewish émigré designers who escaped Hitler’s Reich to settle here. Their images and inventions contributed to the upbeat, the witty, the bright - and also sometimes the edgy -  in the day-to-day experience of British people. By the way, the show does not feature the most famous Jewish designer of the period: Abram Games was born in the UK (and has had his own one-man show at the Museum). Hardly anyone, I think, realised or realise just how many Jewish people produced the designs which populated our lives back then. Because I can find no one-stop online bringing-together of this story, here's my rather casuual and amateur attempt... Read more...

Published

14 December 2017

Jack Reacher: Mythic hero who travels by bus

This has been been the sunny season when I lay on a lounger and read something like three-quarters of the 20-some Jack Reacher thrillers produced by the Englishman in New York, Lee Child. I think Reacher is a rare - possibly unique - type in the detective thriller, though it is quite common in Marvel comics and movies. In written form it is a story from over 3,000 years ago. It deploys the epic manner in telling stories about a mythic, and partly divine, figure. Read more...

Published

17 September 2017

BBC pay for Talent, and fairness

I was called, but not chosen, as a potential contributor to a BBC Radio 4 current affairs show about the BBC pay disclosures. Here, put simply, is what I would have said (with a bit of explanation below the fold): The BBC ought to organise itself so that its senior current affairs presenters are better and cost less. Its entertainment presenters should matter less to it, and also should increasingly be more cheaply home-grown. Also: is absurd for quite over-paid women presenters to complain that they are not paid as much as grossly over-paid males. No fairness principle worth the name is at stake in the women's claims for parity. Read more...

Published

24 July 2017

Polite Modernism: Eric Parry & the Other Tradition

What Colin St John Wilson called "The Architecture of Invitation" or "The Other Tradition", I call "Polite Modernism". Its finest living exponent is Eric Parry, who is firmly in the CSJW tradition, both academic and creative. And now he has delivered what looks like an excellent successor to CSJW's British Library, and Denys Lasdun's Royal College of Physicians. Actually, his headquarters for the Worshipful Company of Leathersellers has a decent claim to be the ultimate in the genre so far. After the fold, there's an account of what Polite Modernism is, and how it fits into Brutalism and Modernism, and even post-modernism. Read more...

Published

28 June 2017

Bossy Liberals and Fascism: 100 years war

This 13,000 word PDF download  BLF Essay 110617 is a four-part study in the history, ideas and current picture of the opposition between Fascism, authoritarianism and their clearest opponents, the Bossy Liberals. It is a beefier and wider account of the issues which lie behind the phenomenon of the Auto-liberal who is so important to modern politics. Read more...

Published

11 June 2017

Hunston Convent and Chichester Free School

Chichester Free School is taking 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 is a Victorian classic, and its community had roots which go centuries deep, and all over the world. The convent's fabric is being reborn in spectacular fashion - and I hope something of its spirit, too. Read more...

Published

22 April 2017

Thérèse of Lisieux: A child of Christ, her time and ours

I have been mildly interested in Thérèse of Lisieux for years. Recent encounters with the Carmelite tradition and some Carmelite nuns seemed to make it urgent that I address the rather sneering attitude I fear I had adopted towad "the little white flower". Here is my best attempt at a reading of interesting work on the saint, some of it old, some very new. (Longform alert: this is a 5,000 word essay.) Read more...

Published

08 December 2016
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