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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“Hannah Arendt”: a fine movie

This is tricky. I have spent  no  more than half an hour, ever, reading Hannah Arendt and none at all reading about the contemporary reaction to her "banality of evil" pieces in the New Yorker. Nothing daunted, I will risk riffing on the similarities between Hannah Arendt and Ayn Rand, partly because they were contemporaries; partly because both are the subject of bio-pics; but mostly because they seem to touch on the same verities. Read more...

Published

23 October 2013

Crossing France: fly-drive or ferry-drive?

Should a Brit access a holiday on the French Riviera by ferry-drive or fly-drive? One has to decide whether to turn the time and expense of making the driving option into a tourism experience versus making a driving dash for it versus the dubious pleasure of flying and – quite separately to be computed – the pleasure of car rental. Follows, my attempt to chart some of the options, after a recent trip south. Sorry – it’s a combination of fact and anecdote… Read more...

Published

16 October 2013

BBC Radio 2 and being human

I have been wondering what I would say if asked to contribute to the Radio 2 Jeremy Vine Show mini-series on what it is to be human. I suppose I would begin by assuming that one is trying to see the difference between humans and animals. One angle, then, would be to say that we are moral: a large can of worms, that. But what else? Read more...

Published

16 October 2013

RDN and the FT: on BP

On 11 May 2010, the FT printed a letter of mine (reprinted below) on the 20 April 2010 BP Gulf of Mexico spill. Arguably, it was far too early for intelligent opinion to have formed. But - contrariwise - I precisely wanted to suggest that it was too early to come to judgement: that historically oil spills had seldom turned out as journalism had predicted in the excitement immediately following the event. But was I right? Read more...

Published

12 October 2013

RDN and the FT: Schama and the Mail

Mine is hardly a timely intervention (as we call contributions to debate now), but I thought I'd post here a letter offered by me to the FT for publication but not used by them. It follows a piece by Simon Schama in the FT (5/6 October 2013) strongly deprecating the Daily Mail's accusation that Ralph Miliband wasn't a patriot. By the way, though in all sorts of ways I am a cosmopolitan liberal, I am strongly in support of the sort of line taken by the Mail's Paul Dacre in his Guardian piece on how his paper stands for the suburbanite mind. I agree that this mindset is the backbone of Britain, and I share many of its prejudices. Read more...

Published

12 October 2013

Elmgreen & Dragset’s “Tomorrow”, at the V&A

I was oddly touched by Tomorrow.  Its conceit was believable in both character and staging, and precisely because they are preposterous. Its central figure Norman Swann, was posited as probably queer and possibly a non-practising pederast; as glamorous, sad, modernist and - yes - socialist. Read more...

Published

10 October 2013

Nina Conti: a great show

Nina Conti is on the road this autumn and the sell-out show is really marvellous. It is clever, sharp and charming - rather as the on-stage presence of its star. Read more...

Published

04 October 2013

The “lesser” Riviera: the Camargue to Le Lavandou

This is a longish-form piece (3,500 words) of old-style travel writing (personal and information stuff intermingled) about a fortnight's tour and stay on the French Riviera from the Camargue to Le Lavandou (via Arles, Marseilles, Cassis, and Aix-en-Provence, etc). Read more...

Published

03 October 2013

Bob Marley enigmas & two new movies

Kevin MacDonald's  Marley (2012) and Esther Anderson & Gian Godoy's Bob Marley: The making of a legend (2011) don't really add a lot of new material to the Marley story, I imagine (speaking as an observant fan rather than an informed Marley-sleuth). But the passage of time and advances in two debates - about race and about globalisation - make it easier to discuss the sorts of things which have always lain a little beneath the surface in discussing the man. They would also have forced or encouraged change in Bob Marley himself. Read more...

Published

27 August 2013

Conrad Shawcross, The Roundhouse, Greenwich, time, The Warp…

I admire all things Shawcross (William, his works, wives and offspring) and I went to see his son Conrad Shawcross's new time piece at the Roundhouse full of hope. With 24 iron pillars in a circular brick masterpiece, what could go wrong when a talented sculptor applied himself to making a clock in that splendid gloom? Read more...

Published

11 August 2013
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