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

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.... Read more...


24 April 2014

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

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, for instance, Tutankhamun, Seti I and and Piranesi fairly make the mind explode with potential. I explore some of this below the fold: Read more...


24 April 2014

RDN and Richard Mabey

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.... Read more...


19 April 2014

Rory Stewart’s middling account of the Middleland

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.....? Read more...


16 April 2014

On Strathcarron on Twain on the Levant

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. Read more...


04 April 2014

“Scrap the BBC!” Mk II

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.... Read more...


24 March 2014

Jamini Roy: BBC stuck in anti-colonialism

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... Read more...


06 March 2014

Brutalism: Big it up for Meades

Jonathan Meades is a vital figure, a sort of a Christopher Hitchens for architecture, with a dash of Ian Nairn, but considerable wallops of Suggsy, and a undertone of some late 18th Century person (wonderful to think it might be JM's admired Burke himself). I very much approve his appreciation of Brutalism, though I would go further and wider.... Read more...


26 February 2014
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