Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Geoffrey Hill at the Serpentine

'Poetry is a strange angel and has very little to do with enjoyment actually. Great deal to do with joy, not with enjoyment. “Enjoyment” is patronizing and possessive like the old archaic euphemism of a man sexually enjoying a woman’s body. So when you “enjoy” a poem you say, “You are mine, and you please me in my current mood.” And the angel of poetry says, “Sod off. Sod off!”'

Sunday, 1 July 2018

Poor Saga Noren

Poor Saga Noren, the Swedish detective with Asperger's Syndrome, figures it out and declares her love thus:

"When you're in love the brain's reward system releases neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine. There's also an increase in the hormone oxytocin. Oxytocin can affect memory and serotonin can cause sleeplessness. But mostly they give you euphoria. I think I'm in love with you."  

She prioritises the scientific over the human giving an account (although perfectly true) which is incomplete and depersonalised. The whole truth lies elsewhere. In this way she perfectly represents the deficiencies and limitations of the purely scientific mind entirely dependent on 'research.'

Friday, 22 June 2018

Parameters of Being

We are all born subject to finite limitations in terms of biology, geography, culture, language, nationality, history, race and so on, and, indeed, it is in these things that we often rejoice, take pleasure and find identity. These are the parameters of our being within which we operate. In addition to this we are born with certain qualities installed in our nature as factory settings. It is these quanlities that distinguish us from other animals. They are a moral sense, an aesthetic sense, a sense of humour, self-awareness, awareness of our mortality,  and a thirst for meaning and explanation. When we first awake to reason and begin to think it is folly not to take these settings, which pre-exist our reason, into account or to recognise that they flavour our every thought. Their mere presence traced back to a supposed origin or source is a strong argument for the existence of God.

The Human Condition Requires.......

The human condition requires that every man and woman jack (and Jill) of us is born subject to finite limitations in terms of biology, geography, culture, language, nationhood, history, race and so on, and, indeed, it is in these things that we often rejoice, take pleasure and find identity. The modern mind is high-minded in a way that sees these limitations as beneath it and to be miraculously transcended in some way. Such supposed transcendence is seen as a form of sophistication when really it is a refusal to accept what we are, as if we really have the power to engineer ourselves as something different.

Sunday, 17 June 2018

Letter to Private Eye on Rees-Mogg 17/6/18


In connection with Slicker’s article in issue 1472 Jacob Rees-Mogg has insisted that the reason for the recent opening of a Dublin office of his Somerset Global Emerging Markets Investment Management Company is that current and prospective clients requested ‘domiciled access’ to Somerset’s products and that the warnings about Brexit turbulence in their prospectus are simply judicious legalese insisted on by Somerset’s lawyers. He also insists that it would be improper for Somerset to be run according to his politics. This is why he has sensibly ‘recused’ himself from that company’s day to day management and decisions while he is an MP.

In spite of this Slicker exhibits an urgent compulsion to discredit Rees-Mogg on a charge of rank hypocrisy. One feels Slicker is on a mission to discredit him at all costs even though we all, of course agree, don't we, that he 
is a derisory twerp stuck in the 18th century with little influence on political matters who can safely be ignored.

Let’s assume that Slicker’s implication that Somerset have, in fact, sneakily set up in Dublin to circumvent possible ‘passporting’ difficulties that may obtain in the new EU dispensation after we leave. That being the case, what Slicker requires of Rees-Mogg, if he is to escape condemnation on the charge of hypocrisy, is the following it seems. He (or anyone or any British business presumably) who wishes to leave the EU may not seek to trade with the EU (who may put obstacles in the way of that trade) on terms which give his business the best advantage in the new world post-Brexit. He may not judiciously plan ahead for the new dispensation as many UK businesses are saying they wish to. His global business may not take advantage of opportunities in the global range of jurisdictions that will be available. He may not diverge from the caricature of a dense and unimaginative Brexiteer Little Englander that Slicker subscribes to by showing flexibility and ingenuity. In fact he will only avoid the charge if he behaves in ways that will guarantee that Brexit is unsuccessful and thus prove Slicker’s, presumably Remainer, instincts right. Perhaps that’s what this is all about. Brexiteers have to be strapped inside a moral straitjacket by the pious Slicker in case they inadvertently commit the sin of proving their cause to be right.

Guy Walker

Letter to Private Eye on Rees-Mogg 6/11/7


Saturday, 2 June 2018

Wherein Lies the Interest in an Individual Person? - The Battle Lines are Drawn

You can believe a person consists solely of the accidents of birth that they inherited due to race, geography, gender, biology, sexuality etc and that that is their main and even only interest or you can believe that that interest resides in how the unique moral being inside these inheritances (and which has nothing to do with them) responds to them and to the world in general. This is the battle that is being fought - whether a human is a free moral agent who can rise above the determined and accidental contingencies that make him or her. Our culture used to believe we could and that this is where our dignity and potential nobility also reside. We are playing with throwing all of that away.