Sunday, 26 March 2017


My boy's latest (it's all in the genes you know...)

Arnold, Thomas

Phänomenologie als Platonismus

Zu den Platonischen Wesensmomenten der Philosophie Edmund Husserls

[Phenomenology as Platonism: On Platonic Moments in the Philosophy of Edmund Husserl]

Saturday, 25 March 2017

A DEAD STATESMAN by Rudyard Kipling


I could not dig: I dared not rob:
Therefore I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale shall serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?

Rudyard Kipling


"...the convulsed sea to Peter Cook's controlling moon."

Howard Jacobson, Death of Dudley

Saturday, 18 March 2017


To write anything satisfactory you need an undistributed mind and a supply of special first-class energy, a strong sense of self-value which it is delightful to express, the stomach of a lucky general, ‘the subtle experience of his medium which conserves the strength of the quarryman’, the wiliness of the fly-catcher, the grasp of the octopus, the patience of the sheep-dog, the acumen of the microscope-gazer, the taste for high adventure of the Amazon explorer, a head for heights and the nerve of the tight-rope walker, the intuition of the water-diviner, the submissiveness of the nun, a tolerance for claustrophobia and discomfort as of a large square peg in a small round hole, a voice ready to contradict every sentence written, the endurance and piety of a true believer wrestling with doubt, the impatience of Job but of no other kind, and a realisation (which becomes an old familiar) that the pain of the process in which all these qualities are at work, more or less competently, requires the composure of wisdom.  Any question arising, therefore, as to the identity and the value of the writer-yourself to the scheme of things – the World at large – and that question will be felt on the general’s stomach, the explorer’s heart, the high-wire nerve, the intuition, the grasp, and finally will penetrate the finger-bones where it inhibits completely the action of the aching pencil.  In this circumstance, writing does not take place, wisdom goes out of the window and desperate acts occur such as over-eating, over-drinking, foul temper, physical violence offered to inanimate objects; an occasional tendency to feel like dying is offset by the disobliging interest in the thing that never completely fails owing to the work of the ego, the will, virtue and appetite.

Jacqueline Wheldon
from The Leopard on Kamak San

Friday, 17 March 2017

from 'Braveheart' by Mick Imlah

THE SPRING: - and as her ice draws off the glen
Scotland gets up, and is herself again

Opening lines of Braveheart, by Mick Imlah

Wednesday, 15 March 2017


A thing that drives me nuts is the misattribution of quotations. There is, for example, a piece, sententious and a little sentimental, called 'Success', that the entire world seems to think was written by Ralph Waldo Emerson. The fact that it cannot be found in any of his works you would have thought enough to dissuade people from so attributing it. Quite apart from that, it simply doesn't read like Emerson. In fact it was written by a woman called Bessie Anderson Stanley, in 1904. It was submitted as an entry into a competition, the theme of which was 'What is Success?' She won. The prize money was $250 dollars, with which she paid off the mortgage on her house. So why the misattribution? I think because Emerson has intellectual heft, and therefore lends the piece a certain gravity that it doesn't really have. The other reason is that Ann Landers - the pen name of a Chicago newspaper advice columnist, whose column was syndicated all over America - said that it was by Emerson. Eventually she admitted her error. There are several versions of the piece (it was not written as a poem). Who does the alterations? Who knows? Maybe Ann Landers, maybe Chinese whispers.

Another frequent misattribution is to William Golding on the subject of women. People who don't care for accuracy glue his sentence (taken entirely out of context) "I think women are foolish to pretend they are equal to men, they are far superior and always have been" to the words of a New York 'urban novelist' called Erick S. Gray. Again the intention presumably is to use Nobel prize winner Golding's name to give the quote some kind of weight.
Of course all other quotations, it is well known (excepting Shakespeare), are by Oscar Wilde, Winston Churchill, Mark Twain or Bernard Shaw.

Friday, 10 March 2017


This is the Index to 'Russia for Beginners' by Alex Atkinson and Ronald Searle.  A masterpiece of the genre, I think you'll agree.