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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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...

Published

26 February 2014

Darwin vs Spencer: Chicken, egg or German Romantics?

BBC R4 had a great In Our Time episode last week. It discussed Social Darwinism and taught me (I fear for the first time) to wonder which came first: the sociology, as in social, or the biology, as in Darwinism? Put it another way: who was the precursor of whom? Who got to evolution - and got to its messages - first? Was it our obvious hero Charles Darwin, or the famous old villain, Herbert Spencer? Naturally, I was rooting for Spencer.... Read more...

Published

25 February 2014

“The Railway Man”: Oddly unconvincing

Most middle-aged people with any sense of history have had plenty of opportunities to try to get to grips with the horrors of the Japanese exploitation of their prisoners of war. On the face of it, the extraordinary real-life story of Eric Lomax's journey from victim to forgiveness would have made a wonderful film. But it hasn't, I think.... Read more...

Published

17 January 2014

“Fill The Void” (2012): 4*+ movie, but questions….

As many reviewers have said, and I think Frank Kermode in the Guardian is about right, this is a richly-involving movie with a decent narrative in which paint-dryer and something close to a domestic thriller are combined. Comparisons with Jane Austen are justified. But there is a question as to political correctness, too... Read more...

Published

15 January 2014

“Saving Mr Banks”: Disney cubed

As Victoria Coren noted in her TV documentary, Saving Mr Banks is a moving film, and is so even if one supposes that it Disneyfies the creation of Mary Poppins the film, and probably its real creator Walt Disney and possibly the books on which it is based, and maybe even the books' author. Layer upon layer indeed. Read more...

Published

03 January 2014

London: the new Levant?

I have been reading Robert Byron's lovely, weird, The Byzantine Achievement (1929). I am drawn to the way the English mind admires the Hellenic as part of its being drawn to the Levantine. This Hellenophilia is a question of seeing Greece as something more, and more continuous, than merely having in its heyday been the birthplace of the Western mind. Besides, I like the way creative people like John Craxton (and the Durrell's of course) and others were so keen on Greece. Read more...

Published

03 January 2014

John Craxton, Stanley Spencer and the Levant

The John Craxton show at the Fitzwilliam Museum in Cambridge is very lovely, and much more so than I dared expect. This is Ne0-romanticism, or the English Romantic, at its giddy, evocative best. (It is very decently reviewed by Robin Blake in the FT.) It jived surprisingly with the London visit of Stanley Spencer paintings from the Sandham Memorial Chapel. (These are well-reviewed by Adrian Hamilton in the Independent.) Read more...

Published

03 January 2014

Chinese and Japanese art: masters for the West

It was off to the V&A Masterpieces of Chinese Painting 700 - 1900 (ends 19 January 2014)  and to the Fitzwilliam, Cambridge for The night of longing: Love and desire in Japanese prints (12 January, 2014). Yes, I was stupid enough to miss the Japanese Shunga show in the British Museum's Rooms 90/91, the very place which set me off on this quest... Read more...

Published

03 January 2014

RDN on sceptics & AGW at the RAC

I have been asked to debate the proposition that sceptics are winning the climate change argument (at the RAC in Pall Mall, 28 November 2013). The answer, I think, is a nice sceptical, "yes", and "no". Read more...

Published

27 November 2013
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