Intelligent Design

I’m sure there must be various ways to introduce the elements of science in schools, some good and some bad. Let the reader judge.

Aged 9, I was excited by the prospect of Science lessons. We started by proving the existence of air, a project which seemed disappointingly trivial and uninteresting. We thought we knew about air. But we discovered through experiment that it weighs something, exerts pressure, gets partially used up by a candle flame, and so on. We saw these things for ourselves. We became scientists. It was a beginning, a process of discovery where everything was interesting. Experiment could reveal more than meets the casual eye. At some point later we had a brief foray into Biology, learning about the Amoeba, its shapelessness—easy to draw!—its boring method of asexual reproduction, just splitting itself in two. I can’t remember anything more. I think the lessons stopped soon after. Improvising where memory fails, I guess that respect for living creatures held everyone back from dissecting worms or frogs, or whatever children do in biology. So we did no more on that subject, till one day in the Grammar School, which I attended from the age of 12, a visiting lecturer talked to the full assembly of boys about Sex. How it was done was not explained: it was supposed that we knew already. The talk was to warn us of the dangers of disease and casual intercourse resulting in pregnancy. And when in 1966 I formed the romantic idea of studying medicine at Edinburgh (like Conan Doyle & Robert Louis Stevenson) I discovered you needed no prior qualification in biology, so it didn’t appear to be an important subject for schoolchildren.

Science, therefore, when I resumed it at the Grammar school in preparation for GCE (General Certificate of Education), consisted of Physics and Chemistry. Much but not all of chemistry took place in the lab, with bunsen burners, test-tubes, pipettes and other items of equipment, along with various jars of chemicals. It consisted of experiments, observations and inferences, all of which we had to write down coherently. In classroom sessions we were taught some theory, with reference to historical discoveries, some of which refuted long-held prior assumptions. Physics took place more in in the classroom than the lab. We learned about heat (conduction, convection); light (reflection, refraction); electricity (volts, amperes, watts and ohms); gravity, mass, weight, inertia, Newton’s Laws of Motion.

So that was science. As these were an English private schools and not American publicly-funded ones, we were taught Scripture in the prep school and Religious Education at the Grammar school. Same subject, different name. The method was straightforward: to study prescribed parts of the Bible, not to make us into Christians, but to ensure we received a Christian education. It was never indoctrination and indeed we were often told about scholarly research which questioned the literal truth of the text. For example various miracles presented as divine were shown to have been possibly natural occurrences (manna, the plagues in Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea, the Gadarene swine, and many more). We also learned that the Gospels were compilations of anecdotes edited many years later by authors not alive at the time, then further edited for doctrinal reasons. And when we were (occasionally) told things like this, it was never to undermine the religion, or any sect thereof, but to let us know different angles. Outside lessons, we were expected to participate in Christian worship, because this was the Forties and Fifties and these were private schools where a Christian education was expected and delivered.

We all knew about Evolution, it was a fun idea, but it wasn’t taught, merely discussed informally. Everyone knew it was a controversial theory. I’m not sure how it could have been taught, except as history. Darwin went round the world on the Beagle, wrote up his notes, added further weight to an argument already prevalent in certain quarters. The theory was hotly debated in the later part of the nineteenth century, it was a theory like Freud’s: provocative, obviously challenging to religion, but unproven. We could hardly do experiments on Evolution, as we could with physics and chemistry in the lab. It was a theory, like Einstein’s. Darwin’s theory was an historical event, like Harvey’s discovery that the heart pumps blood around the body. From the popular newspapers we learned that scientists were looking for a Missing Link, which would demonstrate a clear connection through the fossil record between homo sapiens and the primate apes. A colleague in the Sixth Form used to draw cartoons of me resembling a Neanderthal or gorilla, with the caption “Darwin was right!”

So when I heard (recently) about a theory called Intelligent Design, which questions the purely mechanical notions of evolution based on random mutation and natural selection, it struck me as intuitively plausible, and in no sense deserving of derision or contempt. Try entering “intelligent design” into Google Images. You’ll get hundreds of unfunny cartoons mostly against, a few in favour. Few if any reach the level of satire. They are too far off the mark, mere mud-slinging.

I somehow think the American Constitution is implicated here, in its First Amendment. In the UK, religious education is compulsory in publicly-funded schools. In the US, it is forbidden, despite the US being far more religious in terms of church attendance. Intelligent Design is a convenient football kicked around in the endless match between aggressive Christians and aggressive atheists.

Americans, I note, love this kind of fight: National Rifle Association vs. gun control; pro-life vs. pro-choice. . . . The British instinct is to minimize confrontation, reach a quiet compromise; unless we are talking real politics, i.e. votes and seats in Parliament, where no punch is too low or too vicious.

In one sense I don’t feel it’s for me to interfere in someone else’s brawl, and I nearly let pass a remark by Arash (who lives in Canada) in his recent review of a book called Galileo’s Dialogue :

It may come as a surprise that certain people would insist [that the earth is flat] despite evidence to the contrary, but we do not need to look too far today, i.e. intelligent design to find similar strains of foolishness floating around.

It was that word “foolishness” that got to me. Whatever Intelligent Design represents in someone else’s football match, it sounds very like a speculative idea of my own, that everything is alive, everything has intelligence, everything desires. I have respect for Arash and most of the views he expresses in his blog. His throwaway remark about Intelligent Design shocked me, as a gratuitous slur on a viewpoint or speculative theory worthy to be expressed and investigated. He said I had missed the point, his post wasn’t really about that, but repeated his view with the same vehemence:

To return to our starting point, intelligent design or creationism is claiming that their ideas are rooted in facts and are scientific in nature. They are as scientific as phrenology.


I have just started reading this book.
See this previous post on a Nagel book.

Again, I don’t blame Arash. He is merely repeating the fashionable view, that Intelligent Design is pseudo-science, not rooted in facts, and a form of creationism in disguise. I can’t refute that fashionable view for I haven’t studied enough science to weigh up the evidence. But my understanding is that Evolution (by random mutation & natural selection alone) is another theory which lacks enough facts to clinch the deal. There are still missing links, unexplained phenomena. The existence of those gaps is a fact. So when the evolutionist says, “Trust me, we are right, you’ll see, we are working on it,” he is asking us to have faith, just like the priest, whose role he has usurped.

And what we have is a war of insults between those who want to make religion extinct—partly because it is such a damned nuisance to the new would-be orthodoxy; versus certain Christians who are pretty mad that religion can’t be taught in schools (because of the First Amendment), while Evolution, a Trojan horse concealing an anti-religious agenda, is compulsory. A simple answer would be, don’t teach evolution in schools at all. It is merely hubris, merely triumphalism of the usurpers, with low (arguably negative) educational value.

Sadly, Britain has followed in America’s footsteps, at least in part:

In each of the countries of the United Kingdom, there is an agreed syllabus for religious education with the right of parents to withdraw their children from these lessons. The religious education syllabus does not involve teaching creationism, but rather teaching the central tenets of major world faiths. At the same time, the teaching of evolution is compulsory in publicly funded schools. For instance, the National Curriculum for England requires that students at Key Stage 4 (14–16) be taught:

—that the fossil record is evidence for evolution
—how variation and selection may lead to evolution or extinction

Similar requirements exist in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. [

If there is foolishness, it is not in Intelligent Design, whose only fault is to offend against a dominant ideology, to the point of arousing irrational outrage. I think the foolishness is to teach evolution in schools, at the expense of physics and chemistry, which more humbly offer the student a chance to be a scientist, and make one’s own discoveries in the laboratory. And if, because of the First Amendment, religion cannot be taught, then the new orthodoxy, the rival creation-science should also not be taught. This scenario would not be passed off in classrooms as the truth:

First there was nothing. This gave rise to the Big Bang, which gave rise to time and space, which gave rise to matter, as in Chemistry, and a set of physical laws, as in Physics, and then together they gave rise to the stuff of Biology, which gave rise to the flora and fauna and all the creeping things upon the earth, which finally gave rise to Mankind, which gave rise to mind, which gave rise to consciousness, which gave rise to science. And if this all sounds most unlikely, remember it took billions of years of randomness. In that time, literally anything could happen. Furthermore there may be billions of alternative universes. All the missing links will be revealed to you by scientists in due course. Amen.

———–
I hope in a forthcoming post to offer some more personal musings on the topic, as they continue to evolve; and a review of Thomas Nagel’s book, Mind and Cosmos, as illustrated above. See also a previous post, “Creation Myth”.

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24 thoughts on “Intelligent Design

  1. To pre-empt a likely misunderstanding, let me start the comments thread with one of my own.

    The paragraph above in purple attempts to summarize the orthodox scientific view as to how we got here, as an alternative to (say) the Creation stories in Genesis. This is not to suggest that the various steps themselves are false. I don't deny the Big Bang, the origin of time and space, the formation of the stars and planets, the origins of life and evolution all the way to homo sapiens.

    My point is that the process is very far from being fully understood. There are gaps. In the meantime, it should not be the task of any education system, prior to university, to confuse students with advanced controversy, when there is plenty of instructive science to teach, about which there is no argument.

    Richard Dawkins derides those who attack his views for falsely inserting a “God of the gaps” as a necessary ingredient of a coherent view of the universe. In fact, neither religion nor science has an adequate explanation, and few if any schoolteachers would be able to give a fair explanation of where we stand. Few if any pupils would be able to evaluate it.

    To most of us, the controversy is mud-throwing politics to no useful purpose.

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  2. Your school days sound so much like mine. But briefly to other matters.

    In my, what would be called a “stream” in comprehensive schools, I was not taught any science other than physics and chemistry when I became a 'third former', my time being devoted to other subjects. Occasionally we had discussions with our form master on various subjects, but never on biological evolution. I learned about that from private reading. Evolution never quite seemed to fit the bill for me, unless some other factors were included to allow for step changes. Such factors bother me greatly, being reminiscent of the introduction of epicycles to account for the fact that the planet Mars appears to reverse direction in its orbit, as viewed from Earth. On the other hand, some of the statements made about Intelligent Design (not an hypothesis I accept) can be accounted for other than by some Universal Intelligence. So for me the jury is still out, even if instinctively I favour a modified evolutionary idea. (Incidentally, I don't accept the Big Bang so-called theory either, for reasons given above vis-a-vis epicycles.)

    The problem that I see is that instead of making honest assessments of an hypothesis, and stop calling ideas theories when they do not warrant it, there is a strong predisposition towards debate, but no dialogue. In other words we discuss science and other subjects from an adversarial point of view which does not lead to truth, but to winning. That is a very poor and judgemental approach. It is truth that matters, and only truth: egos can be dispensed with.

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  3. We are in harmony on this, then; and I especially value your input since your spectrum extends from practising mystic to practising physicist (retired). Today I looked again at your latest post “Spiritual Awakening” & again wanted to append a comment but could not find anything relevant to say, or anything that could be as harmonious as yours on mine here.

    So I take the liberty of commenting here instead, by way of a question. In your spiritual investigations, do you see any connection, or notable disconnect, between these two realms of physics & mysticism? Till now I had taken a view resembling that of the late Stephen Jay Gould, labelled “Non-overlapping Magisteria” or NOMA, which contrasts notably with the prevalent sense that there must be eventually a single theory of everything; which sense adds apparent urgency to those adversarial debates aimed at winning (Christopher Hitchen versus bishops & Muslim scholars; Richard Dawkins vs all comers).

    To put it more vividly, do you envisage vast landscapes of mental and spiritual activity that will forever elude the grasp of science as a repository of knowledge of truth? Does it make sense to have these separate dimensions that don't even touch?

    For it would seem that in the human body, which evidently responds to medical science, lies also the source of spiritual well-being or dis-ease. The two realms coalesce in us. And Cartesian dualism is definitely out of fashion, perhaps forever.

    I'm sorry it's such a big question. It may not lead to any immediate or simple answer. Don't feel obliged!

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  4. Glad to have inspired your excellent post, one way or another, dear Vincent!

    Reading your post I was transported to my own school days. I think back affectionately on my religion classes. I remember particularly an instance where we had just finished reading Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose and our teacher told us that it is a strange book to discuss in our class, no? God and religion for that matter do not come off too well in that one!

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  5. Thanks, Arash.

    I did try to read The Name of the Rose once. It is certainly a strange book, one which I would not wish to discuss anywhere, certainly not in class. And I once bought a book of essays by Eco at an airport. Again, nothing worth discussing, in my view.

    I'm glad you look back affectionately to your religion classes. In an ideal world no one would look at religion other than with affection, because nothing can be understood if sympathy is not present. That which we cannot understand is best ignored.

    Of course it isn't an ideal world, and many hate religion because it was forced upon them, or associated with evil actions, or in some way or other surrounded with fear.

    For me there is only one way to treat religion: to ignore that which I cannot understand, but treat with respect that which I know is precious to someone else. Here it gets difficult, for that one way is fraught with contradictions, illustrated perfectly in Charlie Hebdo.

    The BBC has been interviewing people about it. One who gave his name, and whom I might have met, went as far as to say he loves the Prophet more than his close family, and whilst condemning the murders felt that the cartoonists had it coming.

    I do not believe his asserted devotion, but see in it evidence of a shocking emptiness, where there is neither religious experience nor true human love. Religion has been reduced to tribal identity, spurious honour and desire for revenge. This is the underlying sickness, which must be more widespread than the actual murders and acts of terrorism. Murky! I shall ignore that which I cannot understand.

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  6. Oh Woodsy! I read your comment anyhow. It came to me automatically by email, as all comments do. I respect your decision to delete it; but admire your ability to find positives, and so I’d like to mention some of the things you said.

    You referred to Science Matters by Robert Hazen & James Trefil. Its subtitle is “achieving scentific literacy”: something I probably should read, but probably won’t. and I beg permission to quote this from you:

    “So it seems even brilliant scientists who ‘fight to protect science from one of the greatest threats to the science education of America’s children,’ do believe the universe is intellectually designed. They just object to our tax dollars being used for religious indoctrination.

    And I like the way you argued against my conclusion, with this: “I think evolution should be taught. It’s a beautiful thing. Full of holes, yeah. . . .”

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  7. Ah! “Don't feel obliged!” the man says, having pushed the right buttons. :)

    If your questions could be reduced to one Grand Unified Question, I think it would be impossible to answer. As a retired applied physicist, I sometimes look askance at the direction and claims made by theoretical scientists. It is not that I would curtail (or unfund) their activities, but that I would seek to make their activities more catholic(?), rather than having funding dependent upon adherence to the latest orthodoxy.

    My instincts tell me that high up in the nether regions of “knowingness” rather than knowledge, physics – and I must include chemistry as well – and mysticism and and science become at one. Having said that, I am well aware that science deals with the perceived 'out there' world in a way which mysticism does not. Yet I sense these two great enterprises are two faces of the same coin. The paradox lies at the point or plane of contact. Beyond that comment I feel disinclined to answer, except to suggest the following:-

    I once pointed out something said by Huxley, ” ……In studying the Perennial Philosophy we can begin either at the bottom. with practice and morality; or at the top, with a consideration of metaphysical truths; or, finally, in the middle, at the focal point where mind and matter, action and thought have their meeting place in human psychology…….” I see a similar approach to the study of science. Somewhere, already out there, the knowledge and knowingness is existent. There are many ways – or at least more than one way – of moving forward towards that ultimate goal of discovery. But science and psycho-spirituality often moves forward with lurches, stumbles, and accidental discoveries. With the former we call it inspired luck; with the latter we call it grace. When we are ready to know, we will know. We just need never to close any doors, but just persevere.

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  8. Thanks, Tom. This conversation can continue, but it's pushing me towards a follow-up post, in which I may set out a position quite radically at odds with much of what you have expressed here and elsewhere; at least superficially. So indeed, doors are and will be left open, with all the space needed to persevere indefinitely.

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  9. Enjoyed this post hugely and very well written. I'm inclined to agree with your expressed sentiments about evolution and religion in schools. I never appreciated science classes at school due to a bad, sarcastic teacher who didn't present the material well at all. I now regret my lack of scientific knowledge, specifically physics and chemistry but there are plenty of better minds to fill the gap left by me. As so often, it is only later, when one has lived a bit, that one would truly appreciate knowledge taught in schools such as the rudiments of modern science, which as an adult one would better grasp and intuit on an intellectual level. There's a great book by Stephen Harold Buhmar, The Lost Language of Plants, who deplores the lack of natural science taught in schools and he says that what is meant by 'education' these days is really merely 'schooling' in preparation for future jobholding. True education is actually quite rare despite the Education industry. I have learnt more on my own as an adult than at any time at school or university. School is really a conformist exercise in preparation for a conformist adulthood which some will succeed in and others not so much.

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  10. Creationism has a dubious ring to it which, is why the believers have come up with new spin on it and called it something else. If it quacks it is likely to be what quacks. I have seen the child of a creationist family – an educated pair of parents – who home-educated this child to be forever disadvantaged in the world we live in today. It was too risky to send the child to a state or private school, where, probably, the impressionable mind could be corrupted with other ideas. The siblings had just missed the same infliction by virtue of timing. They have become confidently independent and done rather well.

    There is enough evidence from space (easily ignored or undermined by fixated believers), so, whatever is taught in the classroom could be taught alongside the knowledge obtained about the sun and the moon, etc, in exactly the same way that the lie of lands can be pictorially taught, for example, with maps and revolving globes. If we are not to be hurtled back into the 16th Century, teaching at all levels has to be imaginative, evidenced based and accessible to many ability levels.

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  11. What happened to that poor home-educated child then, who became forever disadvantaged? I'm hoping you might share your evidence, especially as I have two grandchildren home-educated and the third having attended a Waldorf school up to the age of 12. The evidence that I've seen to date is they are not disadvantaged, even though their parents cling to beliefs I long abandoned myself. (Let us not go into that!)

    You and I, ZACL, have different views, we both know that. I'm not seriously challenging you. And of course I know what you mean about creationism. It does seem stifling to the intelligence that anyone should believe the stories in Genesis literally. I didn't really think it possible, not in Britain anyhow, till a charming person offered me a Watchtower in the street the other day. I've enjoyed their mags in the past but its title was “How did Life Begin” and I didn't get beyond the back cover, never opened it to see what was inside. Sad, but they live in their own little world, in which God will bless them for witnessing. At least their latest policy seems to be against knocking on people's doors.

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  12. While I was working in the yard yesterday my left brain shut down enough to let my right brain get to work. These musings came to mind. Science flows from the two laws of conservation – of matter and of energy. It follows from these two premises that what science is studying is relationships and transformations of the basic ingredients. I loved geometry because it started off by stating assumptions and definitions and pursuing the implications of the relationships of a few elements. Perhaps if children's science education was begun with ecology they would see from the beginning that the parts are meant to fit together. One point of view doesn't exclude another. We keep exploring because the process is the product.

    When any understanding becomes a doctrine or a law it sets itself up to be confronted by contrary evidence. Perhaps this is why formulating a theory of everything is futile. As workable as the laws of conservation are, e=mc squared demonstrates that they are partial answers to the question of how to describe the 'big picture.'

    The important point of education is whether it produces minds which are open to evolving, or minds which are static receptacles for whatever formulation some authority may distribute.

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  13. Glad you enjoyed it Bubo, & thank you. Indeed there is danger that school is a conformist exercise, but in some ways we need that, because we are condemned to it these days, as the price of civilization. But education should also leave space for the hunter-gatherer, shaman and mystic within us, for these are aspects of our evolutionary heritage. The more civilization becomes artificial, the more we need space to go back to nature, ours and the world's.

    & thanks for the mention of “The Lost Language of Plants”. I can't afford the book but found an article here to download to Kindle & read when I have a moment.

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  14. You surprise me Vincent, in many respects I thought we were violently agreeing on this post. I also agree with you that there are pros and cons with both State and private education.

    The individual was home educated to keep the child out of the state or private system where other knowledge could contaminate the specific science beliefs the parents had. Basic literacy and applied arithmetic have enabled the young adult to obtain part time hours, when required,in a retail store. In the store, I have seen an initially rather nervous individual develop social skills.

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  15. I can never remember which is which in that left-brain right-brain figure of speech (or metaphor), always have to look it up. And then my source tells me that the actual grey matter in our head doesn't work in the figurative sense that people intend.

    All the same Ellie I'm fascinated with what your right brain told you about science, because I don't understand it at all; but agree with the first sentence of your second paragraph, and your third paragraph.

    At what age would children start science lessons with ecology? Could you give an example of the first lesson?

    But you've just helped me to a flash of illumination. I see a class of children, I don't know their ages but none is over ten. Perhaps it is an old-fashioned village school, where the ages are mixed, there not being enough children to have classes for every year.

    I don't know how the teacher might tackle ecology, or indeed evolution. One needs to grasp all sorts of ideas. Perhaps the teacher might bring in some wildflowers for the children to see their parts: the pollen and the part which receives the pollen. The bee goes from plant to plant, distributing pollen. There's a thing called symbiosis, where the bee depends on the flower and the flower depends on the bee. So which came first? what does it mean to say that “the parts are meant to fit together”? What does it mean to say “which came first”? It implies a succession of different creatures appearing on the earth for the first time.

    It would be easier to tell the story of creation as narrated in Genesis, up to the point where God rested on the seventh day. And then to tell one or two other creation stories too; perhaps from Native Americans, or the Bushmen of southern Africa, or the Aborigines in Australia. And then to say that these were taught to children for thousands of years, in different parts of the world, where the various tribes didn't have contact with the other tribes.

    And if the School Boards in the US objected that teaching of religion was against the First Amendment, my retort would be that this lesson had nothing to do with religion. Such myths predated Judaism & Christianity.

    What I'm suggesting is not dissimilar to the methods used in Waldorf schools (mentioned in an earlier comment) and developed by Rudolf Steiner.

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  16. Brilliant, brilliant Vincent! This is the most intelligent analysis of this controversial subject that I have ever read. It should be required reading for all, regardless of their position in the debate and it should be adopted as part of every school's curriculum. Everywhere. Find some way to publish it!

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  17. Dear Somebodie Ennywear, I was convinced that you were a spammer with something to sell so I clicked & found your Google profile and recognized your picture, I think, as that of . . . I shall protect your carefully-constructed anonymity and merely say that I have recently bought a book called The God Interviews and admired it so much I wanted to thank its author personally in some way for producing something so witty, delicious and un-earnest. I have on my shelves a book called Conversations with God for Teens which I borrowed from one of my teenage children & never gave back – you'll know who it's by – and the one made of cartoons is in a different league altogether, a transcendent one, teasing like a set of Zen koans, a generous gift to the reader, as any good book should be whatever the price.

    But I prefer to argue with commenters, no matter how gracious they are. What do you mean, “Find some way to publish it!” This is a blog, I click a button that says “publish” (as indeed with this comment). The piece, good or bad is launched, out there, a gift to the world.

    I note that The God Interviews, which you may or may not have written, was published on a blog first. But its rightful format is a paper book, that can be possessed, taken off the shelf, put back, shared etc.

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  18. Vincent, I'm not hiding under that silly alias and don't know why Google has suddenly labelled me with it. I am indeed Natalie d'Arbeloff and yes I wrote and drew “The God Interviews” and I'm absolutely delighted that you like it. My blog is Blaugustine and I'd be honoured if you came to visit me over there sometimes. What I meant by 'Find some way of publishing…” (sorry for the bossy tone) was that, besides posting your excellent, relevant and necessary article on your blog, it should also be available to a wide audience, including those who influence education. Perhaps in printed form, in a newspaper, magazine etc. Many thanks for your response and best wishes. http://www.nataliedarbeloff.com

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  19. I confess I know more than I let on in my last, and have occasionally visited your blog and just now I was looking at your astounding autobiography. Please excuse the single adjective, it's all I can manage for now, and comes with a warmth of feeling.

    On the publishing business, I was prevaricating of course. It seems that authors these days must be their own agents, editors, publicists & even publishers. Not that I'd call myself an author. These scribbles are the accompaniment to a process of exploration, and never seem topical enough for a newspaper or complete enough for an anthology.

    Fernando Pessoa (my literary hero) put the drafts for his Book of Disquiet into a trunk, leaving them to be posthumously edited and published, to be acclaimed decades after his death. Ludwig Wittgenstein (my philosopher-hero) published one short book in his life (his Tractatus, with an encouraging introduction from his mentor Bertrand Russell. His other books were posthumously edited and published from drafts. By comparison, these Notes are positively attention-seeking.

    It is true that the blog medium, for all its immediacy and convenience, is not entirely adequate for the content I put out.

    However, I continue to hope that one day somebody somewhere (or somebodie somewear) might advise me on where to go from here, perhaps to recommend me to an agent ready to adopt my portfolio on a commission-only basis, leaving me to carry on doing what I do, in the same way, which is difficult enough already!

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  20. Vincent, I don't have an agent – if I had, things would be a lot easier. I've done self-publishing and also been published but all of it is difficult, more so of course if taking the self-publishing path. Technically it's a lot better now with the internet and print-on-demand, and the 'vanity publishing' stigma is gone since so many serious writers are self-publishing.The main problem with this path is the promotion, distribution and selling of one's own work. It takes a huge amount of time, expense, and hassle. Some people have a knack for this and even enjoy it – I don't. But I do have some tips and suggestions I'd be glad to share if you want to email me. Address is on the main Blaugustine blog or on my website.

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  21. Natalie, the “silly alias” thrust upon you by Google (and now kyboshed) is a clear indication that you have been caught up in an angelic plan to answer a prayer of mine that goes way back, long before I wrote this post. I was expecting somebody somewhere to help me find a way to go from here to somewhere else, in a literary sense. Thanks to you and guiding angel – I shall email you asap. But in the meantime, you have provided impetus to get my next post started . . .

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