Category: philosophy


new_skin_for_the_old_ceremony As a gift to a friend of mine who is retiring soon, a group of friends and colleagues have been asked to write articles about a poem or song.

These texts will be connected by the themes of one, or more, of the four elements – fire, earth, water and air.

I have chosen to write a piece on Leonard Cohen’s Who By Fire which, as you may know or recall, goes like this:

And who by fire, who by water,
 who in the sunshine, who in the night time,
 who by high ordeal, who by common trial,
 who in your merry merry month of may,
 who by very slow decay,
 and who shall I say is calling? Continue reading 

freedom-flagI read this passage today and, although it is from a book published in 1996, I was immediately struck by how topical it is. What do you think?:

“Always with you this freedom! For your walled-up country to shout ‘Freedom! Freedom!’ as if it were obvious to all people what it wants to mean, this word. But look: it’s not as simple as that. Your freedom is the freedom – from; no one tells your precious individual USA selves what they must do.[……..] What of freedom – to. How for the person to freely choose? How to choose any but a child’s greedy choices if there is no loving-filled father to guide, inform, teach the person how to choose? How is there freedom to choose if one does not know how to choose?”

pg 32o - Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace.

 

 

pathwayDuring an anti-clutter purge I came across a card that has been missing presumed lost for the best part of three decades. This ‘Picture Meditation’ is entitled ‘The Pathway and is No.8 in a series published by Mirfield Publications, House of the Resurrection, Mirfield, West Yorkshire.

The Mirfield Monastery  and its fund-raising publications are still going strong and a Google search reveals that this card is still available for purchase online at a modest price of £0.50. I can’t recall where I bought it but I probably found it in a cathedral bookshop.

As an atheist this is not something I would normally spend money on but I found the text attractive because it accurately describes the state of self-doubt I often feel when contemplating change in my life. Once you exclude the  entreaties to God (addressed as ‘Lord’) it is remarkably secular and plain-spoken. Here is the full text with [—-] in place of ‘Lord’ to exclude the Christian slant:

[—-], I seem to have somehow lost my way. I keep trying to follow the old familiar ways that I have known for so many years, and now they no longer lead me anywhere. Most of the time I find myself back where I started. I want to move out from where I am, and I just seem to be going round in circles. Continue reading

 IMAGINARY CITIES by Darran Anderson (Influx Press, 2015)

 imaginary_citiesThis eloquent, ambitious, challenging and, ultimately, fascinating book was conceived in part as “a diminished non-fiction mirror” of Italo Calvino’s Le Città Invisibili (Invisible Cities).

Darran Anderson‘s guiding principle is that cities should not be defined solely in terms of its built environments but ought to be seen as states of mind which can, and should, be read : “Architecture is not simply the construction of buildings; it is the construction of space, both inner and outer”.

He asserts that “a history of ever-changing cities, whether real or unreal, must also be a history of the imagination”, adding that “the boundary between ‘real life’ architectural settings and fiction has been an intriguingly porous one”.

Whatever can be imagined can be re-imagined and cities change and evolve according to fashions and fetishes of the people. Architecture is influenced by culture and vice versa; art and life are not separate things but are indelibly linked.
Continue reading

book circleFor the past three years I have signed up to the Goodreads challenge and set myself a target of reading 50 books a year.

By hook or by crook I have met my goal in the past two years helped by including a few novellas and children’s books as the end of year deadline approaches.

On the grand scale of things, my achievements are modest – other users set and meet much higher figures. Still, I like having a record of my reading habits and get a childlike satisfaction from meeting a goal. Continue reading

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