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: 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

Six brilliant TV proposals

I have made one rather feeble and unuccessful attempt to "sell" these ideas for TV shows. I would like to present, write, mentor or research any of them. But I don't really mind. It would be nice to see them on-air, whoever and however it happens. Read more...

Published

29 December 2017

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
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