Monday, 11 December 2017

The Moral Life

Does this amount to avoiding being a moral Shrödinger's cat as in being dead and alive at the same time? Jeremy Corbyn gets my goat (as you may have noticed) because he does this, entertaining two mutually exclusive ideas simultaneously. Death and life are mutually exclusive so a choice always has to be made. I'm generally with (admittedly, the late) George Michael - Choose Life.


Sometimes I feel like a metro ticket that has not been validated.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

An Experiencing Machine

A human being is, essentially, an experiencing machine that rationalises those experiences post hoc or after the event. Experience comes through the senses and the emotions as well as the mind. We apprehend in ways other than the purely rational. If you accept this it diminishes slightly the status of reason (and science). This interesting contrast in belief highlighted by the blogger, Nige, recently in his comparison of the British character with the French or European thus: "(In the British character) A preference for pragmatic empiricism and inductive reasoning, and a deep distrust of Big Ideas." Art, in all forms, of course, is apprehended by the whole person (including reason) and that is why it is so much more satisfying than Science.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Unchanging Landmarks

There are three unchanging landmarks from which we take our bearings.

1) Sexual desire which engenders human love and life.
2) The knowledge that the only true scapegoat in need of a pardon from a deserved death sentence is oneself.
3) The inevitability of our natural death.

Sunday, 3 December 2017

Mental Health

Mental health is now spoken about as a mysterious commodity a ration of which we are all entitled to.There is no longer a sense in which the health of the human mind is in the slightest way connected with how we exert our agency, take responsibility and act morally. The pressure's off us entirely (and, inevitably, is placed elsewhere). The repudiation of our agency, responsibility and morality is a repudiation of precisely that which defines our human dignity. Why would we wish to give this to someone else when it constitutes our identity?

Saturday, 2 December 2017

Human Discourse

Behind plate windows, and beneath large skylights,
Thick woollen scarves and coats and autumn twilight.
“Technologies in art are superseded,
Egg tempera gave way to oils. What’s needed
Now‘s modern media.” And the crowd of French
Girls laugh and murmur; fidget on the bench.
“The lemon chia seed cake’s lovely, will
You have another latte?” Seeing light spill
Across the Common, passers-by steal glances,
“You can’t dispute that my device enhances.”
Professor Croce cleans his glasses, blinks,
Begins another peroration, thinks
Conception matters more than tools. A dog
Skitters on wooden laminate. “You’ll jog
The waitress, fooling ‘round!” - “….used orpiment,
Lead white and cinnabar.” A hatstand meant
For fewer coats slews drunkenly, till caught,
And ‘busboys’ stack up plastic racks now brought
To steaming scullery door. The street-doors yawn,
Black revenant wind intrudes with dry leaves drawn
From gardens. Later on, and side by side,
The Prof and Eugene cough, their legs astride
And rocking back, sequestered maleness grasped;
They study walls and ceiling tiles while fast
Around white streaming bowls, they let careen
Their urine’s curtain, slewed on porcelain’s sheen. 

Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Empire = Evil - a pious equation?

Throughout human history whenever a tribe, a race, a culture or a nation has been filled with a certain vigour, initiative or inventiveness it has been almost irresistible that it expand and overflow. This has been an almost evolutionary imperative. The means may be hard power, soft power, cultural, military or commercial but it happens as it did with the Mongol, Aztec, Inca, Greek, Roman, Spanish, British (In 1883, the British historian J.R. Seeley wrote that “We seem to have conquered and peopled half the world in a fit of absence of mind.”) Russian and American Empires. There is always a jostling for position as nature abhors a vacuum. There cannot NOT be a biggest cat in the jungle. Of course evil is done under empires but so is good and evil and good would have been done in human societies had everyone remained within polite and notionally perfect boundaries. This is just to say that humans do evil and good under whatever dispensation they find themselves. It is too easy to hate the British Empire (especially when it represents one's own culture, identity and parenthood) because to do so provides one with a facile way of setting one's moral compass to simplistic black and white and an outlet for adolescent pique. As usual it's more complicated than that. To demand an empire-free history is tantamount to demanding a human-free history unless you believe humans are fastidiously 'perfect' creatures whose main concern is not to hurt anyone's feelings and to play by a schoolmarmy rule book of correct behaviour. Nothing is correct - in this world at least.