Cantos

Any good I’ve done has been spoiled by —

Cantos


I have tried to write Paradise
 
Do not move
      Let the wind speak.
         that is paradise.
Let the Gods forgive what I
         have made
Let those I love try to forgive
         what I have made.


— Canto 120, E. P.

— (& diggers can dig, & judgers will judge, it is
      all but just a handful of dust after all.)
a fateful mistake; a tragedy of titanic proportions.
      Of my own making? Certainly, yes.
      Tea /
            Bee //
                  Sea ///

📙 Sophie’s World

— by Jostein Gaarder (1991).

Do please allow me to introduce to you, Sophie’s World, by Jostein Gaarder (by the by, it was published in Norwegian in 1991 and then in English in 1994). It is a novel of sorts that seems to align with Bertrand Russell’s 1945, History of Western Philosophy. I say “of sorts” because essentially I see it as a way — one of many, see e.g.: “Put simply” — of making the key philosophers and their main ideas more accessible to the likes of me.

📙 Sophie’s World
inspired by Bertrand Russell’s:
📙 History of Western Philosophy


REFERENCE

Gaarder, J. (1994). Sophie’s World. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux.


The novel centres on Sophie Amundsen, who is introduced to the history of philosophy by one Alberto Knox, a lecturer in philosophy by way of a number of letters and various other, often somewhat cryptic, mediums.

يا صوفيا 🍉 هلا و غلا


Every day, a letter comes to Sophie’s mailbox that contains a few questions and then later in the day a package comes with some typed pages describing the ideas of a philosopher who dealt with the issues raised by that morning’s questions. The philosopher, Alberto Knox, sends her these packages via his aptly named dog, ‘Hermes.’

Sophie’s World, by Jostein Gaarder (1st ed. 1991)
Lets delve, together you and I, into the rabbit hole.

Alberto first tells Sophie that philosophy is extremely relevant to life and that if we do not question and ponder our very existence we are not really living. Then he proceeds to go through the history of Western philosophy. Sophie (and us readers) gets a reasonably coherent extended review from the Pre-Socratics to Jean-Paul Sartre. We get by way of Alberto, key points regarding the Renaissance, Romanticism, and Existentialism, as well as Darwinism and the ideas of Karl Marx. I thought it might be interesting to consider his categorisation, it is stated as being focused on ‘Western’ philosophy so the omission of the other canons is an acknowledged one.

Ancient Philosophy

— The Pre-Socratics
Including: Thales, Pythagoras, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Empedocles & Democritus
Socrates, Plato & Aristotle
— Ancient Philosophy after Aristotle
Including: the Cynics, the Epicureans, the Stoics & Plotinus

Catholic Philosophy

— The Fathers
Including: St Augustine & Pope Gregory
— The Schoolmen
Including: St Thomas Aquinas

Modern Philosophy

— From the Renaissance to Hume
Including: Machiavelli, Erasmus, More, Bacon, Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Locke & Hume
— From Rousseau to the Present Day
Including: Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Byron, Nietzsche, the Utilitarians, Marx & William James.

I don’t like to paraphrase the following remarks but life ain’t always gunna b nice to you so, here goes, a reviewer at Publishers Weekly (familiarly known in the book world as PW and, they say, “the bible of the book business” has been printing out literary reviews since 1872 and somewhere along the timeline decided to drop the apostrophe) did write something along the lines of this: Regardless of age many readers will be tempted to skip over the somewhat “dryly written” philosophical lessons — which are not particularly integrated with the “more engaging” meta-fictional story line. This reminds me of something Li Yu is said to have said in his Carnal Prayer Mat.


How low contemporary morals have sunk! But if you write a moral tract exhorting people to virtue, [you] will you get no one to buy it.

Which is akin to the marketing adage/joke:


SEX
— Ah! Now that I have your attention, let me tell you about something completely different. . .

Providing a polar opposite perspective is Steven Gambardella. He writes that Sophie’s World has changed the lives of millions of people and is the “red pill of literature.” It is “the best place to start reading about philosophy” and “eloquently captures the wonder of philosophy, the giddiness you feel when you realise you are floating in space.” The rabbit is sketched to be representative of the universe. In the book, we humans are compared to tiny insects in the rabbit’s fur. Some of us burrow down into the warmth of the fur, while the philosophers among us climb to the tops of the hairs “to stare right into the magician’s eyes.” As Gambardella states, it was written by a high school teacher with a passion for the subject, became a bestseller and has now “sold over 40 million copies.”

The red pill and blue pill is a meme representing a choice between taking either a “red pill” that reveals an unpleasant truth, or taking a “blue pill” to remain in blissful ignorance. The terms and concept are taken verbatim from a scene in the 1999 film The Matrix.
rabbit-hole
Run rabbit run, take me into the abyss — the deep and bottomless midnight zone of eye & ur innermost consciousnesses.
Going [reaching || falling] down the rabbit hole
Falling / Going / Reaching down the rabbit hole, is a metaphor for something that transports someone into a ‘troublingly’ (or possibly too ‘wonderfully’) surreal state or situation.
The Persistence of Memory
“The Persistence of Memory”
By Salvador Dalí (1931). One of the most recognisable works of Surrealism [Spanish title: La persistencia de la memoria].
By hook or by crook, let them — these contemporaries of Sappho and idols of Catullus — reach down into your rabbit hole; let Freud & co. sweet-talk you there, bent over, cowering under or splayed out on the psychologist’s faux-leather, mock-Chesterfield couch.
On a tangent of his own Gambardella says that philosophy is the pursuit of wisdom — knowledge is merely instrumental and is applied to get us by — it is thought about thought. Knowledge of philosophy, he argues, allows us to enhance our pleasures and diminish our pains of our own accord. He quotes Seneca as saying:


Without [Philosophical pondering] no one can lead a life free of fear or worry. Every hour of the day countless situations arise that call for advice, and for that advice we have to look to [it].

Me, well I’m a dipper (skinny I wish) and this applies to all that I read and my writings and musings too. The chalice or urn is neither overflowing or bone dry. It is, I submit to you, bang in the middle. The purpose of this book in my view is to encourage us to think for ourselves, question things that are taken as given and doubt dogmas, as Gaarder writes, “my concern [, dear Sophie,] is that you do not grow up to be one of those people who take the world for granted.” I’d take the red over the blue, politically and metaphorically speaking and in relation to the pleasures and pains of love too.

I’ll end with a nod to who I’m guessing was an influence on Gaarder: Bertrand Russell. Russell was an English philosopher and campaigner for freedom (of expression and from authoritarian control). Reassuringly — to me anyway — he said do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once seen as being eccentric.

The History of Western Philosophy


Of all forms of caution, caution in love is perhaps the most fatal to true happiness.

Bertrand Russell


The fundamental cause of trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell


p.s.
Consider visiting Bidoonism’s page on Philosophy and/or reading her recent reviews of the following works:

Eldridge, R. T. (Ed.). (2009). The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gottlieb, A. (2000). The Dream of Reason: a History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.

Gottlieb, A. (2016). The Dream of Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Philosophy. London: Penguin.

Grayling, A. C. (2019). The History of Philosophy. London: Penguin.

Kenny, A. (1998). An Illustrated Brief History of Western Philosophy. New York: John Wiley & Sons

Russell, B. (1945). A History of Western Philosophy. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

Put simply

&|| succinctly

There is a book which says a fair bit about me — I went a bit ‘Radio Rentals’ (you know what I mean, a stint of, or a stretch at, ‘doolally’) and frenetically purchased the whole series. Of the set, there was this particular one that, for a bit, I totally cherished — it became my bible & my constant companion, my succour & my sanctum sanatorium (sic.[k]) — but after a time and in a cathartic act of getting-the-fuck-over-him, I dispensed with it (alongside its fellow brethren to the large green municipality garbage (no: ‘rubbish’; no “GARBAGE”) skip (bin or tin) beside the house in which I’m obligated to reside in). However, it found its way back to me and I, once more (“for better or for worse”), took it in again. You see, he’d ‘magically’ found high resolution electronic versions of it and all the other titles and sent them to me, as is his way, with artfully articulated apologies and long letters of regret and remorse for, amongst many other things, his self-destructive ways in which I all too often bare the brunt. He too, by the way, is a flipping expert in throwing everything away and beginning anew — he takes so-called “cleansing baths,” the idea being that baptism-like, he’ll rise from the waters shorn of sin and shed of snake oil (he being phoenix-like; the ashes, the lives of those he messes around with). But the things he throws out (with the bath water, so to speak) soon get reintroduced: for escape, he says — and I concur — is a fallacy because, one cannot escape one’s self (he and I both give short shrift to things like near death experiences being anything other than wholly imagined phenomena).

Thomas De Quincey on Opium
“Thou only givest these gifts to man, and thou hast the keys of Paradise, O just, subtle, and mighty opium!” — he’d quote such things to me. . . O Blackest Spot! Are you musing? Yours, your muse.

This is the book:

(DK) The Philosophy Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained
DK. (2011) The Philosophy Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited.
As I seek context for its cover quotes, by way of organic light-emitting diodes, it stares luridly back at me, unblinkingly and unrelentingly. It, in my sore eyes, acts as a testament to the truism that knowledge rarely begets bliss. n.b., I’ll be heading out into the dunes real soon.


Mind has no gender.

Mary Wollstonecraft
An English writer and philosopher (1759–1797) who, inter alia, advocated for gender neutrality in all domains of society. “She” alas (not a lass) is almost unique in this anthology. Yet, maybe this whole endeavour is both infantile and futile; and thus a forte of man. But no! The millennia old quest to definitively discover, determine and frame consciousness is too important to be left to mankind alone. That we evidently aren’t represented in this field doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t seek and strive to become so: per ardua ad astra & all a dat.


I think therefore I am.

René Descartes
A French thinker (1596–1650) who is considered one of the instigators of modern (Western) philosophy (and a key member of La Ville Lumière), his most noted line: “Cogito, ergo sum,” penned in Latin, is quoted above. I can confirm to you here and now that I am very much alive and mulling over my abject melancholy tonight. Whether or, whether not, you too are thinking thoughts now in the dead of night, one can only speculate.


We only think when we are confronted with problems.

John Dewey
An American philosopher and psychologist (1859–1952) who believed profoundly in democracy, be it in e.g., politics, education or media communication; he once said that is was synonymous with the “ultimate, ethical ideal of humanity.”


Humans are born free, yet everywhere they are in chains.

Jean-Jacques Rousseau
A French/Swiss philosopher (1712–1778) who had great influence on the progress of the Enlightenment throughout Europe by way of e.g., his works: “Discourse on Inequality” and “The Social Contract” — cornerstones still of contemporary political and socioeconomic thinking (Rousseau was a member of La Ville Lumière). I am chained to memories of u; i am chained too by patriarchy and an increasingly bellicose and jingoistic society.


Imaginations decide everything.

Blaise Pascal
A French mathematician, physicist, inventor and philosopher (1623–1662). Pascal made important contributions to the study of fluids, concepts of pressure and vacuum as well as writing in support of the scientific method.


To be is to be perceived.

George Berkeley
An Irish philosopher (&c.) (1685–1753) who put forth a a theory which he called “immaterialism” which denies the existence of material substance, instead contending that things like books and pens are only ideas in our minds and exist only because we perceived them to be.


The universe has not always existed.

Thomas Aquinas
An Italian philosopher (1225–1274) who is considered to be the most famous of all medieval Christian philosophers. English philosopher Anthony Kenny contends that Aquinas is amongst the dozen “greatest philosophers of the western world.”


Humans are animals that make bargains.

Adam Smith
A Scottish philosopher and pioneer of political economy (1723–1790). known by some as “The Father of Economics” he is perhaps most famous for his work, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations (1776), and the concept of ‘the invisible hand.’


Humans are machines.

Thomas Hobbes
An English philosopher (1588–1679) who’s considered to be one of the founders of modern political philosophy in large part because of his 1651 book Leviathan. This work was seminal in terms of setting out social contract theory.


Humans are the measure if all things.

Protagoras
An Ancient Greek philosopher (c. 490–420 BCE) who is said also to have said, “many things prevent knowledge, including the obscurity of the subject and the brevity of human life.”


Happy is the one who has overcome their ego.

Siddhartha Gautama
An Indian philosopher (c. 563–483 BCE) who was later lionised as the Buddha, he’s said to have said the following string of words: The mind is everything. What you think, you become.


The human is an invention of a recent date.

Michel Foucault
A French social theorist and philosopher (1926-1984) Foucault saw himself as a critic of modernity (see: la-ville-lumiere). Interestingly he was convinced that the study of philosophy must begin through a close and ongoing study of history.


The ends justifies the means.

Niccolò Machiavelli
An Italian thinker (1469–1527) who famously submitted the following: while it would be best to be both loved and feared, the two rarely coincide, and thus, greater security is found in the latter.


There is nothing outside of the text.

Jacques Derrida
A French philosopher (1930–2004), who is considered by some to be rather controversial in relation to his concept of “deconstruction” — a complex and nuanced approach to how we read and understand the nature of written texts. In an egalitarian kind of way he believed that we are all, “mediators and translators.” He said too that he never gave in to, “the temptation to be difficult just for the sake of being difficult.”


Act as if what you do makes a difference.

William James
An American philosopher and psychologist (1842–1910) who is said now to be the “Father of American psychology.” In a seminal work for the field of psychology — Pragmatism (1907, p. 45) — he wrote, “there can be no difference that doesn’t make a difference.”


Life will be lived all the better if it has no meaning.

Albert Camus
A French philosopher (1913–1960) who said, “fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.” Even more interestingly, in my humble view, he argued that (hu)man(kind) is the only creature who refuses to be what they are. I dunno m8 but i fink he means we are but animals (dressed in garments) but we seek to act and pretend we are more higher than our baser instincts and our animistic (sum times cannibalistic) tendencies.


Over one’s own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.

John Stuart Mill
An English philosopher (1806–1873) who said the following: “Under whatever conditions, and within whatever limits, men are admitted to the suffrage, there is not a shadow of justification for not admitting women under the same.” He’s pretty bloody amazing actually. Not only was he for equality between the genders but he was also an advocate of free speech and the limiting of the powers of authority over the citizenry. . .


(DK) The Philosophy Book: Big Ideas Simply Explained
— only a fool’d neglect the b’ side.


The life which is unexamined is not worth living.

Socrates
An Ancient Greek philosopher (469–399 BCE) who is considered to be one of the founders of Western philosophy. Interestingly so because he himself wrote nothing. What he did do, however, was persistently ask challenging questions.


Humans are something to be surpassed.

Friedrich Nietzsche
A German philosopher (1844–1900), who amongst other things, believed that so-called religious morality, with its emphasis on kindness, meekness, subservience to a greater good, and a focus on the afterlife rather than the present condition, did not reflect how the world actually works.


The soul is distinct from the body.

Plato
An Ancient Greek philosopher (c.428 – c.348 BCE) and was one of Socrates’ muses. In terms of, “the soul is distinct from the body”. . . I ask: is it though? I mean, like I said about them near death-experiences, you kind of know what to imagine, floating up off of the bed, your life flashing by condensed to a dozen at most vivid events splatters in stark relief. I mean who’s managed to can a soul? Who has actually continued bereft of their blinking body?


Reason lives in language.

— Emmanuel Levinas
A French philosopher (1906–1995) known for his inquiries into existentialism, ethics and ontology.


Truth resides in the world around us.

Aristotle
An Ancient Greek philosopher (384–322 BCE) who said too: “Happiness is the meaning and the purpose of life, the whole aim and end of human existence. We should know tat it is from Aristotle’s writings and teachings that the West inherited its intellectual lexicon, as well as the key problems to ponder and moreover, methods of inquiry. As the polymath did make clear: “The roots of education are bitter, but the fruit is sweet.”


Knowledge is power.

Francis Bacon
An English philosopher (1561–1626) whose work is credited with developing the scientific method hence sometimes being called “the father of empiricism.” For me it is the following words of his that I feel most affinity too: “In order for the light to shine so brightly, the darkness must be present.”


Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.

Voltaire
A French Enlightenment era philosopher (1694–1778) famous for his wit as well as his criticism of religion and his advocacy of freedom of speech. He was a founding member of La Ville Lumière. Tellingly he was fond of saying the following: Those who can make you believe absurdities (e.g., the supernatural) can make you commit atrocities (e.g., coercive indoctrination). This was especially the case, I’ve somewhere read, as an encore to peach soufflé.


The fundamental cause of trouble is that in the modern world the stupid are cocksure while the intelligent are full of doubt.

Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell

RELATED READINGS

Eldridge, R. T. (Ed.). (2009). The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Literature. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Gottlieb, A. (2000). The Dream of Reason: a History of Philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance. New York: W. W. Norton & Co.

Gottlieb, A. (2016). The Dream of Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Philosophy. London: Penguin.

Grayling, A. C. (2019). The History of Philosophy. London: Penguin.

Kenny, A. (1998). An Illustrated Brief History of Western Philosophy. New York: John Wiley & Sons

Russell, B. (1945). A History of Western Philosophy. London: George Allen & Unwin Ltd.


End (is nigh) notes
This post ^ is a consequence of summer recess and purdah.

“A Language”

— a poem

A literary analysis of Susan Stewart’s “A Language.”

“A Language”


I had heard the story before
about the two prisoners, alone
in the same cell, and one
gives the other lessons in a language.
Day after day, the pupil studies hard—
what else does he have to do?—and year
after year they practice,
waiting for the hour of release.
They tackle the nouns, the cases, and genders,
the rules for imperatives and conjugations,
but near the end of his sentence, the teacher
suddenly dies and only the pupil
goes back through the gate and into the open
world. He travels to the country of his new
language, fluent, and full of hope.
Yet when he arrives he finds
that the language he speaks is not
the language that is spoken. He has learned
a language one other person knew—its inventor,
his cell-mate and teacher.
 
            And then the other
evening, I heard the story again.
This time the teacher was Gombrowicz, the pupil
was his wife. She had dreamed of learning
Polish and, hour after hour, for years
on end, Gombrowicz had been willing to teach
her a Polish that does not and never
did exist. The man who told
the story would like to marry his girlfriend.
They love to read in bed and between
them speak three languages.
They laughed—at the wife, at Gombrowicz, it wasn’t
clear, and I wasn’t sure that they
themselves knew what was funny.
I wondered why the man had told
the story, and thought of the tricks
enclosure can play. A nod, or silence,
another nod, consent—or not, as a cloud
drifts beyond the scene and the two
stand pointing in different directions
at the very same empty sky.
 
            Even so, there was something
else about the story, like teaching
a stunt to an animal—a four-legged
creature might prance on two legs
or a two-legged creature might
fall onto four.
 
            I remembered,
then, the miscarriage, and before that
the months of waiting: like baskets filled
with bright shapes, the imagination
run wild. And then what arrived:
the event that was nothing, a mistaken idea,
a scrap of charred cloth, the enormous
present folding over the future,
like a wave overtaking
a grain of sand.
 
            There was a myth
I once knew about twins who spoke
a private language, though one
spoke only the truth and the other
only lies. The savior gets mixed
up with the traitor, but the traitor
stays as true to himself as a god.

 
All night the rain falls here, falls there,
and the creatures dream, or drown, in the lair.

Susan Stewart

Before I consider the above poem, which I do deeply like, I just must point to the following words by Stewart — they were penned for an academic text, 📙 The Handbook of Philosophy, demonstrating her versatility as a wordsmith (oh how I wanna b 1 2)… :

Philosophy, the love of wisdom, and lyric, words meant to be sung to the musical accompaniment of a lyre, seem, at least etymologically, to have little to do with each other. Philosophers may even say we make a category mistake in comparing them, since the first term refers to the pursuit of knowledge of truth and the second term refers to an expressive art form. Yet both philosophers and lyric poets are solo speakers, and their common material is language—indeed, they share the same language, for it is not that there are separate tongues for each. Philosophers and poets are alike in certain actions, as well: they convey intelligible statements; employ formal structures with beginnings, middles, and ends; and hope to convince or move their audiences, and so incorporate a social view from the outset.
. . .
Nevertheless, … the language of philosophy strives for clarity and singularity of reference. Lyric, in contrast, is always over-determined; its images, symbols, sounds, the very grain of the voices it suggests, all compete for our attention and throw us back, whether we are listening or reading, to repeated consideration of the whole. Philosophy should be paraphrasable and translatable if its truth claims are universal, but poetry has finality of form, and to paraphrase it is a heresy; to translate it, a betrayal.

By the way, it was while reading her chapter in 📙 The Handbook of Philosophy on the lyric genre that I wondered who exactly Susan Stewart was. I investigated (one thing led to another) and found the poem cited above and considered below (and my plans for reviewing the text that my schedule say I should have gone absent without a leg to stand on).

As he’d say to me, “dig deeper, keep on digging”


Oh for Ireland / Joyous for Heaney.

The poem

I’ll comment on the six parts of “A Language” here (six as I see them). But, in short, the poem seems to be about dream vs. reality, about deceit (intentional or otherwise, by one’s self to one’s self or by one to another) about contradiction, and about love (lost, misplaced and blind). It was amusing me until the miscarriage — it read too much like being real, i.e., drawn from the author’s very own life experience. The last two lines ain’t italic and that’s the author’s switch of emphasis, not mine. Witold Gombrowicz — a Polish writer (1904–1969) with an interesting bio (as anti-establishment, anti-religious bisexual kind of guy, his books were banned in communist Poland) — said with regard to literary criticism, and I do quoteth the man: “Literary criticism is not the judging of one [soul] by another therefore, do not judge. Simply describe your reactions. Never write about the author or the work, only about yourself in confrontation with the work or the author. You are allowed to write about yourself.” *

Part one

To begin at the beginning I felt it would link to the prisoner’s dilemma but it didn’t.**  It was about trickery, but the language may well have been code for the language of love. The intimacy built with one other cannot – ctrl C, ctrl V – be just transferred from the one to an(y )other one. Maybe the deceit lay in the older more learned one not teaching adequately the singularity of true love, it, like Halley’s comet, is a once in a lifetime thing.

I had heard the story before / ...
I had heard the story before.

I didn’t read in between the lines that the student felt annoyance for his/her post-prison discovery.

Part two

Underscoring Part 1, but here making reference to a real world relationship, that of the writer Gombrowicz and his (much younger) muse.

And then the other evening, I heard the story again / ...
the tricks enclosure can play / ...
at the very same empty sky.

We might be together, but we may be worlds apart too. Tricks reads a little comparatively, is this the poem’s narrator recalling the honeymoon period of a former or a current relationship. undergraduates bedding down with books and the positivity bestowed from having a lifetime of dreams and plans to look forward to.

Part three

Even so, / ...
... fall onto four.

We can learn to do various things, things that have no real utility, point or purpose whatsoever.

Part four

Very powerful and the mood of the poem abruptly changes (for me anyway).

I remembered, then, the miscarriage / ...
the enormous present folding over the future, /
like a wave overtaking a grain of sand.

I feel this to be all too real.

Part five

Such stories of twin as co-collaborators are commonplace. The word “myth” speaks volumes here. Did the miscarriage herald the end of the narrator’s once perfect relationship? The myth of forever love… And then in comes a god and ‘his’ arch-nemesis the dastardly devil.

There was a myth I once knew / ...
the traitor stays as true to himself as a god.

Good and Evil, this is great! Stewart here becomes a philosopher and made me realise something that should have been obvious. (Oh Life / Woman Alive / Wax Lyrical.) The devil doesn’t falter and stays true to his typecast pigeon hole. Yet the given god transcends from savior to traitor.


I’m choosing my confessions /
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool.

Part six

The ending (two lines, a different mode of typed-text emphasis) is short and is sans-sanguinity. We are creatures just the same as the birds and the bees; the sacrificial lambs, the holy cows and the bunnies busily beavering away.

All night the rain falls here, falls there, /
 and the creatures dream, or drown, in the lair.

The rain falls on us all, rich or poor, happy or sad, female or male. We either live the dream in our dream or we sleepwalk into the labyrinthine maze that is our torment of torrential thoughts on what might have been, what could’ve been for: what once was, no longer is.

All in all, there’s sadness here isn’t there — the empty sky, the dark rainy night — where, if you don’t fantasise and delude yourself, you’ll drown in black-mood depression. Everything you’d planned for — taken as faith, taken at face-value, taken for granted; taken as a given — is abruptly and inexplicably taken away from you. Be it faith in fellow man, faith in your muse, faith in what you’d believed to have been your partner for life; the prospect of a soon to be born insatiably innocent (genes aside) version of yourself.

— § § § —


— § § § —

Foot fetish notes
* The prisoner’s dilemma is a paradox in decision analysis (a.k.a., ‘game theory) in which two individuals acting in their own self-interests do not produce the optimal outcome. In other words, if both were to be altruistic toward the other they’d both do well. My sophisticated ethics teacher told sought to explain this to us by way of the medium of money. She said: you could both take 50 Riyal now or if you both forfeit the Riyal now (the honey tomorrow thesis) you’ll both get 100 Riyal tomorrow, but if any one of you takes the 50 now and the other doesn’t the one who takes the money gets to have their small amount of honey today whereas the other will get nothing. So, (1) knowing that most humans are considered to be selfish and also (2) not being able to communicate with the other prisoner, she said that (3) most would grab the 50 because few would risk foregoing it for the possibility of 100. The natural assumption is that the other prisoner would be short-termist in character and go for the guarantee of a few Riyals today as opposed to the prospect of far more Riyals tomorrow.

** As a critic in The New Yorker said in 2012, his “grotesque, erotic, and often hilarious stories” soon established Gombrowicz as a widely read author. His fiction’s been deemed as creepy as Poe’s and as abusurdist as Kafka’s. ((A man encounters another man by chance at the opera and shadows him for weeks—sending him flowers, writing letters to his mistress—unaware of the torment his attentions are causing.)) ((A countess famous for her meatless dinners may, it turns out, be serving human flesh.)) Gombrowicz himself said of his writing that he was, “never more satisfied than when my pen gave birth to some scene that was truly crazy, removed from the (healthy) expectations of mediocre logic and yet firmly rooted in its own separate logic.”

Rita and Witold Gombrowicz, 1969.
“Why then does this pharmaceutical extract called “pure poetry” bore and weary me, especially when it appears in rhymed form?”
Witold Gombrowicz
The title… don’t be fooled, it’s the equivalent of today’s click-bait. If you are wanting erotica, click here: Nin, Anaïs or here Lawrence, D. H.. No, the content of this novel is more about (hu)man’s thirst and quest for youth when they become aware that they’re well past their prime and that to relive it necessitates the pursuing of someone in their prime, to leach of of their lustfulness; to free-ride upon their yet to be curtailed free-will… … …

Beached

On McEwan’s ‘On Chesil Beach’


REFERENCE

McEwan, I. (2007). On Chesil Beach. London: Jonathan Cape.


I’ll say this: don’t watch it, read it. It will not take you too long, the book is very readable — there are no long detours and, the succinct character background building and scene setting (especially of the coastline from the vantage of the bridal suite’s balcony) add volumes to the pent up (and long repressed) desires that constitute the heart and soul of Chesil Beach. You kind of know something bloody bad’ll happen from the blurb and from the opening lines and yeah, there’s a ‘tragedy’ of sorts…


I use single quotation marks around the word tragedy because I’m not saying it is one; strictly speaking it wasn’t one at all. Typically, single quotation marks are used to mark a quote within a quote or a direct quote in a newspaper story’s headline. However, single ( ‘.’ ) or double ( “.” ) ((علامات تنصيص‎)) can be used to imply consternation, disagreement or emphasis… it’s all in the context: ‘all’ in the bloody ducking context m8.


…but it’s not that that moved me, it’s the frank realisation and the matter of fact way in which it – the frankly acknowledged ‘realisation’ — is put in the page or two, within a single sentence, after the novella’s climax that truly moved me and’s stuck with me since. True love, you see, is infinite, you’ll only ever know if you know and I guess until you die or ‘lose’ your mind (your faculties ‘loosen’) you’ll not be able to prove the premise. Cum the fuck on though, you sometimes just do flipping well know.

On Chesil Beach
“True love is usually the most inconvenient kind.”
– Kiera Cass

Reviewer of books, Jonathan Yardley — who won a Pulitzer Prize for his art — placed On Chesil Beach on his top ten for 2007; the year Ian McEwan published this book. He (Yardley) said that even when he (McEwan) is in “minor mode … he is nothing short of amazing.” Minor mode because of the novel’s length. It is, according to the author, more of a novella than a novel. I felt that the paragraphs given to Edward’s mother’s erratic behavior and unstated mental illness were very telling, he’d endured a lot and suppressed a lot; there was little he wouldn’t have done for Florence who’s prudishness most surely have had a deeper, darker — unwritten about — founding stroy.

On Chisel Beach
“True love lasts forever.”
– Joseph B. Wirthlin


The course of true love never did run smooth.
William Shakespeare

Daniel Zalewski (The New Yorker) states that, “all novelists are scholars of human behavior, but Ian McEwan pursues the matter with more scientific rigor than the job strictly requires.” He went on to point out that after discussing his many duplicitous characters — such as Briony Tallis, the precocious adolescent of his 2001 novel, Atonement, who one reviewer claims: “ruins two lives when she makes a false accusation of rape” — McEwan pointed to a “study in cognitive psychology” suggesting that “the best way to deceive someone is first to deceive yourself.” After all one is more convincing when they are being sincere (irrespective of whether they are delusional or not). The accidental slip — the penned words, ‘I want to kiss your see you en tea’ were not supposed to be read — elementally underscores the potential portent of the flap of the butterfly’s wing analogy to chaos theory.

I’ll point you now to this post for a reason I’ll leave unstated:


“✍🏻 100’s (#01)”
Written in red and underlined twice for emphasis.

& this one too because I just somehow don’t rest easy with the false claim of rape ^ because yeah, it happens, but, so too — and far more frequently I submit to you — do falsely dismissed cases of actual rape:


“Lust and Lambast”
A hand left poignantly unshaken; a republican party, quite unstirred.

Death reincarnate

Lord, have mercy, fire & brimstone
I’ve been dancing with Master D

Nefarious
NefariousKnavish
a wicked activity | dishonest & unscrupulous
I read today an article by Yuval Noah Harari“Attitudes to Death” — that used corona as a flag to muse over humankind’s attitudes to death: in the past life after death was considered a dead certainty (for peasants in pestilence, paradise was presumably a positive prospect), nowadays science reigns supreme, it is faith in cutting-edge technology as an enabler of ever greater stays of execution that had arisen to become our confession of choice.

The modern world has been shaped by the belief that humans can outsmart and defeat death. That was a revolutionary new attitude. For most of history, humans meekly submitted to death. Up to the late modern age, most religions and ideologies saw death not only as our inevitable fate, but as the main source of meaning in life. The most important events of human existence happened after you exhaled your last breath. Only then did you come to learn the true secrets of life. Only then did you gain eternal salvation, or suffer everlasting damnation. In a world without death – and therefore without heaven, hell or reincarnation – religions such as Christianity, Islam and Hinduism would have made no sense. For most of history the best human minds were busy giving meaning to death, not trying to defeat it.

The Epic of Gilgamesh, the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, the Bible, the Qur’an, the Vedas, and countless other sacred books and tales patiently explained to distressed humans that we die because God decreed it, or the Cosmos, or Mother Nature, and we had better accept that destiny with humility and grace. Perhaps someday God would abolish death through a grand metaphysical gesture such as Christ’s second coming. But orchestrating such cataclysms was clearly above the pay grade of flesh-and-blood humans. . . .


God causes you to live, then causes you to die; then He will assemble you for the Day of Resurrection, about which there is no doubt,’ but most of the people do not know.

— Quran, 45:26


Do not be amazed at this, for a time is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and come out—those who have done what is good will rise to live, and those who have done what is evil will rise to be condemned.

— John, 5:28-29

. . . Then came the scientific revolution. For scientists, death isn’t a divine decree – it is merely a technical problem. Humans die not because God said so, but because of some technical glitch. The heart stops pumping blood. Cancer has destroyed the liver. Viruses multiply in the lungs. And what is responsible for all these technical problems? Other technical problems. The heart stops pumping blood because not enough oxygen reaches the heart muscle. Cancerous cells spread in the liver because of some chance genetic mutation. Viruses settled in my lungs because somebody sneezed on the bus. Nothing metaphysical about it.

And science believes that every technical problem has a technical solution. We don’t need to wait for Christ’s second coming in order to overcome death. A couple of scientists in a lab can do it. Whereas traditionally death was the speciality of priests and theologians in black cassocks, now it’s the folks in white lab coats. If the heart flutters, we can stimulate it with a pacemaker or even transplant a new heart. If cancer rampages, we can kill it with radiation. If viruses proliferate in the lungs, we can subdue them with some new medicine.

True, at present we cannot solve all technical problems. But we are working on them. The best human minds no longer spend their time trying to give meaning to death. Instead, they are busy extending life. They are investigating the microbiological, physiological and genetic systems responsible for disease and old age, and developing new medicines and revolutionary treatments.

In their struggle to extend life, humans have been remarkably successful. Over the last two centuries, average life expectancy has jumped from under 40 years to 72 in the entire world, and to more than 80 in some developed countries. Children in particular have succeeded in escaping death’s clutches. Until the 20th century, at least a third of children never reached adulthood. Youngsters routinely succumbed to childhood diseases such as dysentery, measles and smallpox. In 17th-century England, about 150 out of every 1,000 newborns died during their first year, and only about 700 made it to age 15. Today, only five out of 1,000 English babies die during their first year, and 993 get to celebrate their 15th birthday. In the world as a whole, child mortality is down to less than 5 per cent.

Humans have been so successful in our attempt to safeguard and prolong life that our worldview has changed in a profound way. While traditional religions considered the afterlife as the main source of meaning, from the 18th century ideologies such as liberalism, socialism and feminism lost all interest in the afterlife. What, exactly, happens to a communist after he or she dies? What happens to a capitalist? What happens to a feminist? It is pointless to look for the answer in the writings of Karl Marx, Adam Smith or Simone de Beauvoir.

The only modern ideology that still awards death a central role is nationalism. In its more poetic and desperate moments, nationalism promises that whoever dies for the nation will live forever in its collective memory. Yet this promise is so fuzzy that even most nationalists do not really know what to make of it. How do you actually “live” in memory? If you are dead, how do you know whether people remember you or not? Woody Allen was once asked if he hoped to live for ever in the memory of moviegoers. Allen answered: “I’d rather live on in my apartment.” Even many traditional religions have switched focus. Instead of promising some heaven in the afterlife, they have begun to put far more emphasis on what they can do for you in this life.

The only modern ideology that still awards death a central role is nationalism

Will the current pandemic change human attitudes to death? Probably not. Just the opposite. Covid-19 will probably cause us to only double our efforts to protect human lives. For the dominant cultural reaction to Covid-19 isn’t resignation – it is a mixture of outrage and hope.

When an epidemic erupted in a pre-modern society such as medieval Europe, people of course feared for their lives and were devastated by the death of loved ones, but the main cultural reaction was one of resignation. Psychologists might call it “learned helplessness”. People told themselves it was God’s will – or perhaps divine retribution for the sins of humankind. “God knows best. We wicked humans deserve it. And you will see, it will all turn out for the best in the end. Don’t worry, good people will get their reward in heaven. And don’t waste time looking for a medicine. This disease was sent by God to punish us. Those who think humans can overcome this epidemic by their own ingenuity are merely adding the sin of vanity to their other crimes. Who are we to thwart God’s plans?”

Attitudes today are the polar opposite. Whenever some disaster kills many people – a train accident, a high-rise fire, even a hurricane – we tend to view it as a preventable human failure rather than as divine punishment or an inevitable natural calamity. If the train company didn’t stint on its safety budget, if the municipality had adopted better fire regulations, and if the government had sent help quicker – these people could have been saved. In the 21st century, mass death has become an automatic reason for lawsuits and investigations.

This is our attitude towards plagues, too. While some religious preachers were quick to describe Aids as God’s punishment for gay people, modern society mercifully relegated such views to its lunatic fringes, and these days we generally view the spread of Aids, Ebola and other recent epidemics as organisational failures. We assume that humankind has the knowledge and tools necessary to curb such plagues, and if an infectious disease nevertheless gets out of control, it is due to human incompetence rather than divine anger. Covid-19 is no exception to this rule. The crisis is far from over, yet the blame game has already begun. Different countries accuse one another. Rival politicians throw responsibility from one to the other like a hand-grenade without a pin.

Alongside outrage, there is also a tremendous amount of hope. Our heroes aren’t the priests who bury the dead and excuse the calamity – our heroes are the medics who save lives. And our super-heroes are those scientists in the laboratories. Just as moviegoers know that Spiderman and Wonder Woman will eventually defeat the bad guys and save the world, so we are quite sure that within a few months, perhaps a year, the folks in the labs will come up with effective treatments for Covid-19 and even a vaccination. Then we’ll show this nasty coronavirus who is the alpha organism on this planet! The question on the lips of everybody from the White House, through Wall Street all the way to the balconies of Italy is: “When will the vaccine be ready?” When. Not if.

When the vaccine is indeed ready and the pandemic is over, what will be humanity’s main takeaway? In all likelihood, it will be that we need to invest even more efforts in protecting human lives. We need to have more hospitals, more doctors, more nurses. We need to stockpile more respiratory machines, more protective gear, more testing kits. We need to invest more money in researching unknown pathogens and developing novel treatments. We should not be caught off guard again.

Some might well argue that this is the wrong lesson, and that the crisis should teach us humility. We shouldn’t be so sure of our ability to subdue the forces of nature. Many of these naysayers are medieval holdouts, who preach humility while being 100% certain that they know all the right answers. Some bigots cannot help themselves – a pastor who leads weekly Bible study for Donald Trump’s cabinet has argued that this epidemic too is divine punishment for homosexuality. But even most paragons of tradition nowadays put their trust in science rather than in scripture.

The Catholic church instructs the faithful to stay away from the churches. Israel has closed down its synagogues. The Islamic Republic of Iran is discouraging people from visiting mosques. Temples and sects of all kinds have suspended public ceremonies. And all because scientists have made calculations, and recommended closing down these holy places.

Of course, not everyone who warns us about human hubris dreams of getting medieval. Even scientists would agree that we should be realistic in our expectations, and that we shouldn’t develop blind faith in the power of doctors to shield us from all of life’s calamities. While humanity as a whole becomes ever more powerful, individual people still need to face their fragility. Perhaps in a century or two science will extend human lives indefinitely, but not yet. With the possible exception of a handful of billionaire babies, all of us today are going to die one day, and all of us will lose loved ones. We have to own up to our transience.

For centuries, people used religion as a defence mechanism, believing that they would exist for ever in the afterlife. Now people sometimes switch to using science as an alternative defence mechanism, believing that doctors will always save them, and that they will live for ever in their apartment. We need a balanced approach here. We should trust science to deal with epidemics, but we should still shoulder the burden of dealing with our individual mortality and transience. . . .

“Last Judgement”
A triptych by one Hans Memling (1466–1473)

. . . The present crisis might indeed make many individuals more aware of the impermanent nature of human life and human achievements. Nevertheless, our modern civilisation as a whole will most probably go in the opposite direction. Reminded of its fragility, it will react by building stronger defences. When the present crisis is over, I don’t expect we will see a significant increase in the budgets of philosophy departments. But I bet we will see a massive increase in the budgets of medical schools and healthcare systems.

And maybe that is the best we can humanly expect. Governments anyhow aren’t very good at philosophy. It isn’t their domain. Governments really should focus on building better healthcare systems. It is up to individuals to do better philosophy. Doctors cannot solve the riddle of existence for us. But they can buy us some more time to grapple with it. What we do with that time is up to us.



Sleep, those little slices of death — how I loathe them.

Allen Edgar Poe 📙 “The Tell-Tale Heart”

“A Fit Medicine for Melancholy”

Prank-Star
Robin Goodfellow: His Mad Pranks and Merry Jests


Footnote

* Resurrection or anastasis is the concept of coming back to life after death. It is mentioned in the scripts of various ancient Near Eastern religions. Sir James Frazer in his book The Golden Bough brings to light several references to Egyptian and Babylonian resurrection happenings (i.e., Osiris and Baal). In Greek mythology too: Asclepius was killed by Zeus, only to be resurrected and transformed into a major deity. Achilles, after being killed, was snatched from his funeral pyre by his divine mother Thetis and resurrected. In the King Jame bible, the character Jesus is said to have raised several dead people such as the daughter of Jairus shortly after death, a young man in the midst of his own funeral procession, and Lazarus of Bethany, who had been six feet under for almost a week. Christians regard the resurrection of Jesus as the central doctrine in Christianity.

Just saying…

Life is short /
chill the duck out.

Keeping_it_real..[Banksy]
See no evil, hear no evil, say whatever “The F” you want so long as it ain’t
argumentum ad hominem
Life_is_short_...[Banksy]
Let’s remind ourselves just how very much the Brits love the F word.!.


I
I will be queen
And you
You will be king

We can beat them
Just for one day

We can be heroes
Just for one day


David Bowie


{ A Correction }
We may wanna say: “courses for horses” as opposed to, “horses for courses.”

All that glitters

Pyrite / an iron sulfide / FeS2

Please allow me to introduce to you, The Golden Bough: A Study in Magic and Religion, by James Frazer (1st ed. 1890; 2nd ed. 1913). (📙 The Golden Bough.)

You know, when we English Lit. students dream of being writers, we somehow think we’ve something to add to the canon, in some ways, we all have, but the more I dig, the more I scan Project Gutenberg (e t c .),* the more I realise that countless thousands who’ve lived (read, thought, written) and died before I was pushed out into this world, have probably (no ‘definitely’) thought what I think (far more deeply), have set out to articulate what I abstractedly and dreamily plan to one day articulate (& they’ve actually done so in concrete codex form). I feel I’m in the dead calm at the very centre of a tropical vortex –((( it’s wondered off course, North, for I reside in The Pearl; a multi-story complex built beside an artificial lagoon on a peninsula that juts out into the tepid seawater of the Arabian Gulf. Languid in largesse the panoramic view is beset by an unrelenting, near blinding, shimmer — the sun bleaches and becalms vigour. Maritime scenes are confused by midday mirages, mercury in colour — oil money stymies gainful endevour. )))– for I’ve scedules and to-do-lists, ambitions and passions, but I’m laying here listless. And while all is swirling tumultuously around me I’m strapped down by paralysis, I want to write, I want to let it bleed, I so dearly want “writing to be my therapy” as we’d say to each other it would be. We’d say such things in abstract ways mulling over a potential future parting of ways that neither you or I, back then, could seriously contemplate as a possible eventuality. // The whirlpool’s walls tower up indeterminately, they seem to be leaning in, this could be an optical illusion, but more likely it is nature’s way via the force of gravity; you sea, once I had it all; now I’ve nothing at all. \\ They’d say things like “he’s a man of letters” — I’ve read it said — and I’ll update that to be s/he, but yes, in the days before swiping right and switching swiftly between screens, writers on their typewriters (or with paper and gravity aloof pencils), would certainly have been better readers and thus better writers. I was born less than half a dozen years before the millennium, iPads were out before I was into my teenage years. I can’t compare the past to now from knowledge of both, but I’m confident that reading (in say the Victorian/Edwardian way/day) is increasingly a rarity today. On my bloody fucking university campus most key text books are only supplied to us as eBooks (I ain’t even lying . . . I will walk and I will talk).

Here’s an extract — the Preface to a follow-on work The Aftermath (1936) the language, I think, is sublime:

When I first put pen to paper to write The Golden Rough I had no conception of the magnitude of the voyage on which I was embarking ; I thought only to explain a single rule of an ancient Italian priesthood. But insensibly I was led on, step by step, into surveying, as from some specular height, some Pisgah of the mind, a great part of the human race ; I was beguiled, as by some subtle enchanter, into inditing what I cannot but regard as a dark, a tragic chronicle of human error and folly, of fruitless endeavour, wasted time, and blighted hopes. At the best the chronicle may serve as a warning, as a sort of Ariadne’s thread, to help the forlorn wayfarer to shun some of the snares and pitfalls into which his fellows have fallen before him in the labyrinth of life. Such as it is, with all its shortcomings, I now submit The Golden Bough in its completed form to the judgment of my contemporaries, and perhaps of posterity.

Here is another one:

The advance of knowledge is an infinite progression towards a goal that for ever recedes. We need not murmur at the endless pursuit:
 
Fatti non foste a viver come bruti
Ma per seguir virtute e conoscenza.
**
 
Great things will come of that pursuit, though we may not enjoy them. Brighter stars will rise on some voyager of the future—some great Ulysses of the realms of thought—than shine on us. The dreams of magic may one day be the waking realities of science. But a dark shadow lies athwart the far end of this fair prospect. For however vast the increase of knowledge and of power which the future may have in store for man, he can scarcely hope to stay the sweep of those great forces which seem to be making silently but relentlessly for the destruction of all this starry universe in which our earth swims as a speck or mote. In the ages to come man may be able to predict, perhaps even to control, the wayward courses of the winds and clouds, but hardly will his puny hands have strength to speed afresh our slackening planet in its orbit or rekindle the dying fire of the sun. Yet the philosopher who trembles at the idea of such distant catastrophes may console himself by reflecting that these gloomy apprehensions, like the earth and the sun themselves, are only parts of that unsubstantial world which thought has conjured up out of the void, and that the phantoms which the subtle enchantress has evoked to-day she may ban to-morrow. They too, like so much that to common eyes seems solid, may melt into air, into thin air.


Foot notes

* Project Gutenberg is the world’s oldest digital library. It places books into the public domain — most are older works that are thus out of copyright. This altruistic endevour began with the efforts of American writer Michael S. Hart in 1971. See for example: 📙 The Golden Bough. A similar project is called The Internet Archive. It provides free access to researchers and the general public. It’s mission is none other than to provide universal access to all knowledge thus far accumulated by human kind. See for example: 📙 Aftermath, a Supplement to the Golden Bough

** “You were not made to live as brutes / But to follow virtue and knowledge.”
— From Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri

Roses for my grave

=== forget-me-nots ===

Let’s be frank, it’s as easy as A, B, C . . .

A.
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
.
B.
If I had a flower for every time I thought of you, I could walk in my garden forever.
.
C.
I hold it true, whate’er befall; I feel it, when I sorrow most; ‘Tis better to have loved and lost Than never to have loved at all.
Alfred Tennyson

. . . Love is love and there ain’t nothing greater. There is no emotion capable of so fundamentally altering and perturbing the human brain than can and does the one we call “love.” It clouds all reason and it’s the root cause of much of humankind’s best art: literature. Here are some noteworthy Tennyson poems:

01. — Milton
02. — Ulysses
03. — Claribel
04. — Mariana
05. — Timbuctoo
06. — The Charge of the Light Brigade
07. — Recollections of the Arabian Nights

Mars and Venus United by Love
“Mars and Venus United by Love”
by Paolo Veronese (c. 1575)

In this visually opulent and sensual painting, Cupid binds Mars (the god of war) to Venus with a love knot. It celebrates the civilizing and nurturing effects of love, as milk flows from Venus’s breast and Mars’s warhorse is restrained.

“Sap away”

· · · a poem · · ·


Sap my sap away
Switch A to a U
See now, it’s “Sup!”
.
Anyhow I’m drained
All’s so very strained
As in: “Depleted”
.
Paradise was there
Purgatory’s here:-
Penitence afire.


It’s all encapsulated, enveloped in a vividly coloured circular shape; it is not without ornithological appeal. I modelled it god-like out of willing and kneed full clay (sometimes viscus and earthy blue-gray brown, sometimes rocklike ochre, traced with terracotta). But the clay I am here referring to was actually a handful of timeless hourglass-grade sand; sometimes molten hot and sometimes, congealed, dull and cold, but either way, mine to sculpt. We can think of Madagascan spices and gemstones, we can think of what Ernest Shackleton[1] and Robert Falcon Scott[2] would have heard and observed. “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” — it’s carved into a trunk of oak down there, below the Southern Ocean. The astute will note it is lifted from Tennyson’s “Ulysses.” it was chiselled out in 1913 and, 107 years on, faces out, steadfast and stoic, to the Roaring 40s. From that powerful poem I retype the following lines (Oh how divine, with hindsight, were those heady times):


It may be that the gulfs will wash us down
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles


Alfred Tennyson

Harland Miller
Harland Miller is an English artist born in Yorkshire in 1964. He studied at London’s Chelsea School of Art, graduating in 1988.
Harland Miller
Notable artworks by Harland Miller include his giant canvases of Penguin Book covers. The paintings include sardonic statements, e.g., “Whitby – The Self Catering Years,” “Rags to Polyester – My Story” and, “Incurable Romantic Seeks Dirty Filthy Whore.”
Aldridge & Miller
Miles Aldridge (born 1964, London) is a fashion photographer and artist.
Photograph by Miles Aldridge
Photo by Miles Aldridge, book in hand by Harland Miller.


Post Script

[1]   Ernest Shackleton
I paraphrase in a wholly unworthy parallel: I had seen God in his splendors, heard the text that Nature renders. I’d reached the naked soul of [my] man.

[2]   Robert Falcon Scott
I paraphrase in a wholly unworthy parallel: I took risks, I knew I took them; things finally came out against me, and therefore I have no cause for complaint, but bow to the will of happenstance [& one too many rolls of life’s Damoclesian dice], despite this truly frightful plight, determined still am I, to do my best to make amends for the the past …

[3]   Sword of Damocles
If you say that someone has the Sword of Damocles hanging over them, you mean that they are in a situation in which something very bad could happen at any moment (an imminent and ever-present peril). It can also be used to denote the sense of foreboding; you feel it in your bones that something bad’s about to happen but you can’t be sure what (or more probably ‘how’). William Shakespeare used it in a fashion: “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer refers to it too: “Above, where seated in his tower, /I saw Conquest depicted in his power/ There was a sharpened sword above his head / That hung there by the thinnest simple thread.” Roman poet Horace also alluded to it by waxing lyrical about the virtues of living a simple, rustic life; favouring this in preference to the myriad threats and anxieties that accompany holding a position of power.

Sword of Damocles
“Sword of Damocles”
by Richard Westall (1812)

[4]   Gouge away / You can gouge away / Stay all day / If you want to //