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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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...

Published

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...

Published

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...

Published

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...

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
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