These are the best clothes I have ever seen! Just look at them!
Monthly Archive for February, 2005
I just bought two Moleskine notebooks (plain, unruled). Whether I’m following in the footsteps of Chatwin, Van Gogh, Picasso etc. is debateable, but I can’t deny that they are things of great beauty. Objects of lust.
A while ago, I downloaded Skype – an increasing number of my friends seem to be using it. Unfortunately, I never seemed to quite get it up and running with the microphone.
Well, now, prompted by Mark, I’ve bought myself a Cyberphone K, so I can pretend I’m using a real phone when actually I’m just talking through my computer (apparently I can use it to make calls to real phones as well – haven’t got to grips with that part yet). So, Skype me (my ID is my name, in lowercase and minus the space in the middle). But don’t be offended if I don’t reply – my computer’s usually online, but I’m not, and I’m terrible at remembering to sign in/out and change status on things like this.
In London last week, I popped to the pub with David, Pippa and Simon. At some point Pippa and I started talking about Bernice Warren’s drama group which we both used to attend when we were kids. We mentioned a few of the people we’d known there, and at some point Pippa said “Fritha Goodey”; before she got any further, I launched into praises, I’d read a review a few years previously in the Evening Standard, of her performance in Rememberance of Things Past at the National Theatre. It sounded like she had matured into an excellent actress, the review couldn’t sing her praises too highly. Pippa cut me short. Told me Fritha was dead, she had stabbed herself through the heart a few months ago. I was stunned (well, you would be, wouldn’t you). Fritha was a wonderful person (and I used to have a huge crush on her older sister Tabitha). And… I had a vague memory of somebody else killing themselves not very long ago (it took me a few minutes to remember that it had been Tom). I grew emotional with thoughts of the melodrama, but also the selfishness, of suicide.
And then, this morning, I wake up to the news that HST has done a Kurt Cobain.
I found a great poetry site last night (oops, I’m a poet and I didn’t even… nah, ferget it): The Clock’s Loneliness. A good collection of poems there, but also some very funny comments, mainly centred around the ones which presumably are on the English Literature GCSE syllabus.
Anyway, it being Valentine’s Day (happy Valentine’s, all you gorgous women!) which should probably be renamed National Doggerel Day, and since I haven’t posted any of my drivelling doggerel here for ages, and since I had such a wonderful early (-ish) morning stroll down with Gizmo, here is the rhyming version of today’s walk:
As far down Bole Hill as I dare go
Fly seven magpie encircling a crow;
Pied cawks and skrawks show crow’s fair game
He holds, then folds back whence he came.
Uphill, my lurcher at my feet,
Return to our habitual beat;
When, at the top, I turn and stare,
One thousand white gulls fill the air.
Jeezus, I just thought I’d take a quick peek into the lives of Satie and Debussy (following my last entry), and I end up diverting via (but not in this order) Altered Chords, Common Practice Period, Deutsch tritone paradox, Drone, Figured Bass, Interval Cycles, Inversion, Pedal Points, Polytonality, Shepard Tones, Tritones and Whole Tone Scales. It’s enough to make me want to study musical theory again. Thank you, Wikipedia!
I’m floating disembodied around the final room of la Maison Satie. Whitewashed wood panels. Skylights, windows revealing light. The pristine grand piano, white, centerpiece, plays on, playerless. But Gymnopédies usurped, the invisible maestro entertains himself with a gushing, flawless rendition of Debussy’s Clair de Lune. On the pen-penultimate chord, a Cheshire Cat’s wink twinkles somewhere in the air above the keyboard. And is gone.
Following my recent post about religious intolerance (i.e. intolerance by the religious), and Zaid’s comment “what does it mean to live in an age where it’s unacceptable to be offended by anything other than offence?”, we got into something of a very minor debate about religion. It’s a topic I’m slightly confused about.
Until the age of twenty, my thoughts on the subject were mainly inspired by my grandma. She was a carer for the wife of Eugene Halliday, the founder of Ishval, and her beliefs echoed his: strongly religious, with a basically Christian ethic that drew upon all of the world’s religions (and other beliefs such as astrology). At the time, I was too young to understand much of the language and rationalising behind Eugene’s beliefs (in fact, I still find most of it goes over my head), but it gave me a degree of understanding of, and an equal respect for, a whole spectrum of beliefs.
In my final year at Bristol University, I was lucky enough to be taught by Susan Blackmore. Not only were her lectures and tutorials the most engaging I’d ever attended, she also she also introduced me to some pretty wonderful reading matter. Reading Descartes, I discovered that I was able to form intellectual opinions of my own: some of his writing was flawless (the first chapter of his Discourses) while some was utter tripe (the rest of the book). My biggest revelation, however, came when I read Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel Escher Bach, an Eternal Golden Braid. It was probably the single thing that has changed my life more than any other. It provided me with a framework within which human consciousness (and beyond it life, the universe and, yes damn it, everything) could be grasped if not fully comprehended. Almost overnight my viewpoint shifted from one of wishy-washy mystycism to one of strong rationalism. (Subsequent readings of Richard Dawkins helped a little as well.)
Over the years my inability to explain my views to other people has often annoyed me. It all seems so obvious (though I’m aware, sometimes worried, that to the devout their views are every bit as obvious). At the same time, the inflexible nature of others’ religious views has annoyed me at least as much (probably more). You could accuse me of hypocrisy, though I like to think that I’m willing and able to change my opinion, just as I changed it once before: it’s just that the world-model I have inside my head at the moment has proven to be extremely flexible and reliable, and it manages to cope with all the mysteries I’ve thrown at it so far.
So… where is all this leading? I’m not quite sure, perhaps I shouldn’t have started writing then gone for lunch and come back to this. Thoughts… starting to… get… disjointed. Ah, yes, religion.
Like I said, religion annoys the hell out of me. But, being the keen-not-to-offend liberal that I am, I don’t like to say so in so many words. I make allowances. After all, most if not all religions proscribe many morals and principles which aren’t too dissimilar to my own. I’m certain that the world would become a better place overnight if everyone actually did love their neighbour.
No, what annoys me is the dogma, the inflexibility, the special place accorded to faith (which Richard Dawkins defined, fairly accurately in my opinion, as “belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.”) And the idea, usually lurking behind all of this dogma, of some metaphysical being or beings who have decreed that things just are this way. And, molycoddling all of this, the notion that religion is some sort of, if you’ll pardon the pun, sacred cow: that to question, challenge or (Dawkins forbid!) be rude about religion is just not on. It’s blasphemy and should be punished here on earth as it (surely) will be in heaven.
But, put that to one side for a moment and I can get on very well with the religious, with their notions of charity and love and togetherness. So I was kinda shocked to read in the Observer this weekend of Sam Harris’s book The End of Faith. Here is a rationalist like myself, by all accounts a nice guy, blaming faith for most of our modern ills. And blaming the religious moderates for creating a climate in which the religious extremists can get away with it. Way to go Sam! I see from the review that he even gets a little snidey about it at times: well, that’s a trap which I’m sure I would slip into were I to start giving vent to my anti-religious frustration.
So, I haven’t read the book, and I’m not at all certain that I agree with Harris’s wilder assertions, but I’m very glad that it exists. Oh, and the fact that Harris is studying the neural basis of belief, using FMRI, just rocks my boat! Now I’m off to practice some more devout atheism.
Typogenerator ought to be a great idea. Unfortunately, the only things I’ve managed to generate with it look like crap.