Being human with what we’ve got

Dear Vincent A long gap between communications tends to blur thoughts that were sharp when originally conceived - ie: when I first read your excellent last post. Maybe that’s a salutary reminder of how ephemeral our thoughts are anyway! Now that there’s a quiet moment I want to try to sum up what I wanted… Continue reading Being human with what we’ve got

Where We Stand

Politics has never been more rotten, more destructive of the people’s wellbeing. From an impartial distance, this is surely unarguable. But who keeps this distance? From where I stand, democracy (reflecting the people’s choice), and freedom (of the powerful to enrich themselves and do what they like), have become especially poisonous. To the biosphere as… Continue reading Where We Stand

Aylesbury Walkabout

I’m on a section of the “Round Aylesbury Walk”. If you go clockwise, the town is on your right and level countryside is on your left. I talk to myself as I go, into this digital recorder (edited below). ‘Suppose everything is just as it should be, already? Suppose everything goes on being just right,… Continue reading Aylesbury Walkabout

The Free Soul

I've written several times about spiritual writings from the thirteenth century: Meister Eckhart, Julian of Norwich, Margery Kempe. Each risked being fingered by the Inquisition as a heretic, and took steps to demonstrate orthodox obedience to the powerful Catholic Church. Marguerite Porete stands out from the others and is the most interesting by far. Almost… Continue reading The Free Soul


From Bryan White From time to time, I come across these women online complaining that "Men are intimidated by smart women", and I can only presume that they're talking primarily about themselves, prompted by some personal experience that they found exasperating. The thing is, I'm not sure if this is something that's actually happening, or… Continue reading Smarts

An open letter to the person complaining . . .

Dear sir (or madame, or however you're supposed to formally address the fragile star children from the planet Zir who have recently come to walk among us), I saw a comment you left somewhere the other day, saying that you "can't stand" when people start sentences (or maybe it was paragraphs) with the word "and."… Continue reading An open letter to the person complaining . . .

The Book of Margery Kempe

Margery Kempe was a bloody-minded woman, living in a time when England was still Catholic. Bishops, priests and friars held worldly and spiritual power. bloody-minded: Chiefly Brit. Perverse, contrary; cantankerous; stubbornly intransigent or obstructive. Cf. bloody adj. OED She came from the provinces, had no education and bore 14 children to a husband socially beneath… Continue reading The Book of Margery Kempe

The Coffee House: a brief history . . .

. . . from De Quincey to Starbucks Coleridge had published Kubla Khan in 1816. The first English translations of the Arabian Nights in the early 18th century had provided an aura of magic and violent intrigue. And The Travels of Marco Polo had been widely available since the Middle Ages. As a result, the… Continue reading The Coffee House: a brief history . . .

Angels, Chaos, Truth

The last two pieces posted here have left important questions unanswered: What can we really know? What kind of consequences may follow inaccurate assumptions? Do we have any chance of explaining the unexplained, and should we even bother? Is there a wisdom we can call upon, or allow to reach us, which we can use… Continue reading Angels, Chaos, Truth

Jordan Peterson & Susan Blackmore

following on and in response to Bryan's piece "Something Meaningful". Here are some notes I wrote while watching this debate. “Peterson is a hard man to categorize” – he frowns at the very idea! “The new atheists have a problem with establishing an ethic” “Measuring well-being” – right Harris & meditation (Blackmore does it… Continue reading Jordan Peterson & Susan Blackmore

Something Meaningful

From Bryan White On YouTube, I've been watching a number of different debates (more conversations, really) between Dr. Jordan Peterson and various prominent atheists and secular scholars. I'm not sure at this point who does or doesn't know who Jordan Peterson is. I've followed his ascent with interest though a few different waves of noteriety,… Continue reading Something Meaningful

What makes you happy

This post refers to a blog called "Soviet Men"  by "Nikolai Vladivostok". It's been defunct for several years. I've been following for a while is currently working in an African country. He's done contract work for years and hopes that his current assignment will be the last. For reasons of security I guess, he only… Continue reading What makes you happy

Life-story, part 1

I want to tell the story of my entire life up to the present: the bare-bones series of events, with no fanciful embroidery. Let it be like a series of chess moves without the expert commentary. Let it be like a dispassionate ship's log. Let the facts tell their own story. As far as possible,… Continue reading Life-story, part 1

BWV 140, a Church Cantata of J.S. Bach

Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme (Awake, calls the voice to us) Ton Koopman’s version, with lovely trills and such expressive faces on the video. Koopman is a Dutch conductor, organist and harpsichordist. Like John Eliot Gardner, he completed a project to perform all the sacred cantatas, I can't remember how many there are. I… Continue reading BWV 140, a Church Cantata of J.S. Bach

English literature’s first terrorist

From the Introduction to John Carey's new book: Honour and empire, with revenge enlarged, By conquering this new world, compels me now To do what else though damned I should abhor. (Paradise Lost, Book 4:  390-92) “This is a terrorist’s logic, and the Satan of Paradise Lost is English literature’s first terrorist. Terrorism—the destruction of… Continue reading English literature’s first terrorist