A mirage of minds in verse

There are penetrating, erudite discussions of poetry in other places on this net – but there will only ever be scruffy, dog-eared and raffish disquisitions on the subject here. That’s a guarantee.

Especially for anyone groping for aspirin in the early hours of 1 January 2009 with screaming eyeballs and a thunderous head, this site offers, with a heartfelt . . .

====== H A P P Y – N E W – Y E A R ======

. . . a most unusual artefact. It’s a collaborative poem – complete with incisive critical feedback – that some of us wrote last year, as January blurred into February. However bad you feel when you start reading it, let me assure you that you will feel far worse when you get to the end.

This post is also a tribute to the capering, Carrollian, quicksilver wit and spirit of cynicalsteve, one of the collaborators, whom many of us dearly loved – and lost last August. More than anything, he wanted to bring us surprises, delight and mirth. He was revolted by any hint of the maudlin. So that’s all I’m going to say about him, as I leave you to –-

The Mirage of Minds

Let us to the mirage of two minds admit no clarifier;
To the massage of two miners, admit no peppermint.
It’s no skin off my nose if you admit mirrors to Claridges,
Or stuff yourself silly with part-chouli-scented porridges.

For many’s the tome writ, mind moving on drunk paralitic,
By folks pulling off an ‘artist of the floating world’ shtick . . .

dropinbucket
[a.k.a. @3p4 in late December, 2008]
04 Feb 08, 7:17am

Guardian Feb 3rd,the drunken thread,,you people* gonna have a bad hungover,,

No, dropin, I was only caffeinated, really. . . . You can see how that miracle in verse was put together here. Future scholars of the blogosphere, please note: one or two bloggers tried to write long conclusions by themselves – but something not quite definable was lost in the transition from collective to individual genius. . . . All new attempts at completion are welcome.

* [ ‘you people’: line 1 – @MeltonMowbray + @wordnerd7; 2 – @misharialadwani; 3 – @cynicalsteve; 4 – @wordnerd7; 5 – @PracticingArtist (DesmondSwords); 6 – @wordnerd7 ]

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66 Comments

Filed under Housekeeping, Poetry, The Guardian

66 responses to “A mirage of minds in verse

  1. aft

    hi nerd(owell)!
    they told me all the intelligent guys were over here. congrats to sa on on book.

    how is desmond? it’s been like a graveyard on gu without des… he’s the only one that ever wrote a readable word in all the time i’ve been there.

    had a click at cs’s site and see his beloved is keeping it going. how nice.

    I’ve just finished reading The Heat of the Day. It’s nothing like The Last September; it seemed a bit scrambled at the outset but it came together very well towards the ending. Won’t give anything away but the heroine has an affair with a seemingly wealthy Englishman who turns out to be under surveillance by national security intelligence so this woman has two men in her life. The security man’s story is at first quirky and incredible – that her lover is spying for the Germans; it turns out to be true. I don’t really like this sort of Graham Greenish story but she’s a good writer and I enjoyed it; i’d just finished her The House in Paris and that was good. I was reading about the Curzon’s of the local Kedleston Hall just outside Derby and that gave some credibility to the novel as one of them was married to Mosley, so the fascist element in the novel was authentic rendering of history in its general sense.

    I’m reading kate O’Brien at the moment and have always found her a bit difficult, not in the intellectually challenging sort of way but in an ‘is there anything at all in this; it looks so fluffy’ sort of way but am getting into it. I find myself having to go back over parts as it’s easy to just lose interest and let your eyes roll over the page. It’s very much Ireland as a Catholic nation so it has the attraction of being and Ireland that is disappearing.

    I could recommend Virgin Soil to anyone who hasn’t read it and likes the Russian Novel. It’s unusual for a Russian novel in the way it deals with the romance theme, very ‘moderish’ and moving and appealing. Mainly it’s a reversal of the heroic revolutionary but I won’t spoil it for anyone who might want to read it.

  2. Co-incidently enough, I wrote of CS, for the first time since he left us, on a thread about Adrian Mitchell’s death, at the UK Poetry Forum. I said:

    “..what he wrote was better than I (and he) judged it to be when he was alive.

    I thought i was reading him completely detached. Just a bloke online who wrote, (what he always claimed was) – doggerel. But death removed a personal dynamic which – until his sudden departure – had affected how i viewed his writing, and which i had not been aware of until the final and wholly unexpected full stop.”

    ~

    Hi atf.

    thanks very much.

    I stopped posting there a few weeks back. A natural ending. I have said all i wanted.

    The reason I went there in March 2007, was because Jane Holland had slung me off her gaffe for reasons of professional jealousy, at the exact same time Shirl Dent was bleating about a do i was involved with, and from this everything else stemmed.

    I only used the gaffe to formulate ideas, or rather, process my reading programme on Irish myth, which feels about done now.

    At the mo I am 80 pages in on

    George’s Ghosts: A New Life of Yeats, by American author Brenda Maddox.

    I had read all the sombre, serious and weighty intellectual stuff by the men, (Ellman, Foster, Yeats and the rest) but this casts a refreshingly normal light upon our hitherto holy hocus pocus poet-priest.

    Yeats isn’t much of the mage in this book that the bum-boys lickin his ass usually paint him as, because Ms Maddox takes the automatic script produced by his wife George Hyde Lees, as the launch pad into gabbing on Silly Willy, and very rewarding it is.

    She read the entire 36,000 pages this woman 30 years his junior created, from the second day of their honeymoon on and her slant paints Billy in a more humanly persuasive hue than the previous lads.

    She articulates with greater regard and focus, how the various female entanglements form the domestic background of our magician’s life as he hit the first frisson of the OAP lane, and which the clever fellas — interested only in proving how complicated and intelligent Willy was to be top sage (and therefore they too by association) — miss; or rather downgrade as silly women stuff.

    Her thesis is that with Yeats, on his honeymoon, moping after Isuelt Gonne, wondering if he had done the right thing marrying the 24 year old instead of the 21 year old, George pulled a masterstroke by getting the script on the go, as it became a buffer through which she could engineer and negotiate the old goat into doing what she wanted, whilst all the while the silly git thought it was the ghosts talking. Which sounds about right.

    Yeats had what all great artists need, the capacity to believe what is not so. Indeed the craftiness and cunning which keeps the top imaginations as fresh and daft as a childs throughout their adult life.

    This is a man who thought Maude and he were on some higher spiritual marriage jag, when all along she was the mistress of another bloke, and became a laughing stock defending her in verse against charges which turned out to be true; so a brilliant self-deciever when the need arose and shaping up a great read.

  3. aft

    hi des,
    thanks for the links. a relative of Nuala O’Faolain? interesting. she was the only journalist I’ve ever enjoyed reading though I think only a few times. delightful writer. I’d heard on the radio about her. it was quite a shock because she was so lively. she was loved by everyone, in ireland anyway.

    i missed you on GU; it was fun slagging off those pompous types…i’d had a load of flak there recently and am ‘moderated’, who isn’t who had anything to say! think i’m nearly finished there cause they’re treating me the way they used to treat you, merciless deletions. they allow others to call me a ‘troll’ but i only throw rotten tomatoes at those who used the lit blogs to idolise rockers!

    I miss susan too. she was delightful. she brought a ‘touch of class’ to a bunch of rowdy gits. you’re lucky to have her here. let’s hope we can all improve our manners to make her feel in good company.

    the book looks interesting. i’ve read only tiny bits about her as she didn’t get much space in what i’ve read. my sis is on the phone so I’ll sign off for now.

  4. I’m here atf.
    And Des has missed you.
    When you went off the GU for awhile recently, I thought he was going to die of a broken heart.
    I will return to the books blog now and then. Just that I was busy of late.
    Happy New Year, atf. 🙂

  5. Well not a relative really. My three nieces’ grandmother is Gráinne, Nuala’s eldest sister of the nine children of Terry O’Sullivan (real name O’Faolain) who was the first social diarist in Dublin 60’s and 70’s.

    I had Christmas dinner at my sisters and Gráinne was telling me that they couldn’t move for stuff blocking the house at Christmas, which well wishers wanting a mention in her dad’s colum, would send. My sister’s husband, used to get free tickets to the panto in the Gaeity every year. Every kids dream.

    He was on the front page in the papers, the day after the funeral, leading the cortege, and this is what got me thinking that writers are the first to step in and claim their own, whilst the family get relegated to secondary positions. A small mention at the end of the eulogies and outpourings in the rags.

    ~

    I think the initial free for all at the books blog is over and the freer spirits will not be tolerated. It’s just a power game, and I noticed with that drip Lea in one of his posts today, that the staff writers there make up a second tier of self-important bores, whose feeling good about themselves comes from believing they are the next rung down from the stars. The cheerleaders.

    Your best bet is to stick to the art and minimise the noise complaints. You had a really profitable roll for a good few months when you stuck purely to the critical. Your posts where the most rewarding to read, of anyone writing there, I think it is fair to say. Well, it’s only opinion, but I certainly thought you have proved that you are untoppable, and you’re wasting yourself by engaging with the books blog mob who bond over slagging off anyone who is original and different, people who are basically, a bit thick.

    I dunno, but i sense, it is over there now. The works been done, the legends who came in the first run of the place, have secured their spot.

    gra agus siochain

    happy new year

  6. wordnerd7

    _Welcome_, @atf. . . I’m indebted to @Eremon (clever — a human equivalent of Erewhon) at GU for sending you here. . . I read a dazzling paragraph in a letter by a writer we both like last week and thought, how am I going to tell her about it? I’ll put it up some time soon — am tempted to make it a small thread-starter (yeast for a good brown loaf.)

    @Des, what a wonderful post about the doggerelist. You are always exceptionally generous in acknowledging misperceptions, which is part of what makes you so endearing. I know that his wife Michele will treasure what you said . . . I don’t know that everyone realises that we owe her as much as him all the pleasure he gave us. She had no help from anyone, nursing him through two years of his illness — and is still recovering from waking all through the night to look after him. She said on his blog that we got the best of him, and I feel certain that he’d agree.

    I’m now getting out of the way of the conversation the rest of you are having — because enjoying it inordinately. : )

  7. aft

    hi
    my sister was on the phone there. she’s just come back from vietnam a bit before christmas. the second time she’s been there in about a year or so. reading about the war against the US aroused her admiration for them and she visited the caves the cong used to hide up in during air strikes. her son’s just spent two years in australia and met her there and they flew back together.

    thanks for the information Susan 🙂 if he missed me what must the absence of shirley be doing to him? anyway happy NY to all and i look forward to reading your book sometime this year.

  8. wordnerd7

    @atf, I’ll return to tell you about my curious Heat of the Day experience . . . I was surprised to find that you like EB so much.

    . . . and @Suzan, I owe you many answers about your Mideast posts — and will . . . I’ve restored your formatting, btw, but the section headers I’ve inserted aren’t quite right. Tell me what you’d like them to say, please.. . . In general, I need a better way to deal with long posts. Any suggestions, anyone?

    @Des, that’s an absolutely wonderful review of the Yeats biography. Don’t ask me how or when, but I’m going to have to read it.

  9. Wordy,

    Michelle will not treasure anything Des says. When I wrote her heartfelt condolence notes on her blog, she never answered me. She only chose to answer Billy. It took a lot for me to write to her.

    I think the highly-strung Parisa who I believe to be quite mad, was convinced that Des had a thing for her and was stalking her on the threads. She accused Des repeatedly of this, which didn’t help his position with the moderators. Of course, she had no idea Des and I were already together. She thought he was making a beeline for her and hinted that she enjoyed it. I believe she wrote of this delusion to cs, who removed Des from his link. Soon after, he passed away.

    When Des wrote to Michelle to pay his respects to the late cs, Michelle ran everyone’s comments on the few days immediately after cs’s death but she did not publish Des’s words. Amazing, how we make judgements from hearsay considering that she has never known Des or me, except from third party sources.

    So no, Wordy, she will not treasure anything Des says.

  10. wordnerd7

    @Suzan, . . . just think of what Michele has been through. People can have trouble putting on their shoes for months after that particular trauma . . . And then please think of what Des says about his history with Steve — he knows that there were some terribly sad misunderstandings. I don’t think Michele ever had enough time to read the blogs in any detail while her doggerelist was alive, so she probably has only a sketchy idea that there was trouble of some kind — and has reacted accordingly. . . I only know that she’s been spectacularly overloaded with responsibilities since August.

  11. Wordy,
    The words,
    Thank you
    2 words
    3 secs.
    She wrote her posts. She answered Bily but snubbed me. That’s all.

  12. wordnerd7

    @Suzan, this puts us back on-topic, strangely enough: Grief is another country. You can’t judge anyone unfortunate enough to be there by the same standards.

    Michele doesn’t always answer my posts on doggytrollocks — people can’t always think of the right reply, and I never mind. . . Anyway, I can’t say any more about this without feeling like a trespasser — and hope you’ll understand.

  13. wordnerd7

    @Suzan is, as she’s said elsewhere, in a serious mood . . . whereas there’s nothing I’d like more than a glass of strong, neat doggerel.

    To put us back the right spirit for a New Year, (it’s okay, @Suzan, we understand) . . . I wonder what the doggerelist might have done with this — LPH is the novelist LP Hartley (The Go-Between):

    === I did succeed in getting invited to LPH’s childhood home, unchanged since 1900, with the old brass electric light fittings and baths & c, and by talking to his sister I got the psychological key to his novels, every novelist has one, I suppose, the situation his mind goes back to when he’s alone — and I also discovered that his manservant was trying to poison him with veronal and that was why his bank-manager locked him up and forced him to make a will, not in the manservant’s favour — I was surprised when [X] commented on this, that surely anyone would prefer to be murdered by someone they loved, rather than have them leave you and blackmail you — these seemed to him the only alternatives, but I can think of so many duller ones. ===

    Does anyone know where that’s from? . . . If no one does, I’ll be back with the answer in a while. Hint: it’s in a letter from a 20th-century novelist to a publisher.

  14. BaronCharlus

    Let us to the mirage of two minds admit no clarifier;
    To the massage of two miners, admit no peppermint.
    It’s no skin off my nose if you admit mirrors to Claridges,
    Or stuff yourself silly with partchouli-scented porridges.

    For many’s the tome writ, mind moving on drunk paralitic,
    By folks pulling off an ‘artist of the floating world’ shtick
    Headlocked by the muse, heel-clicking Rioja-splashed shoes

  15. aft

    “I’ll return to tell you about my curious Heat of the Day experience . . . I was surprised to find that you like EB so much.”

    i’d be interested to read about this. yes, i enjoyed the LS last year and my sis tells me I gave her a present of a book of short stories yrs & yrs ago i’d forgotten but recently read V. Glendenning’s biography and that fired my interest in other work of which the biography of her family home Bowen’s Court was a terrific achievement. I’m looking out for Eva Trout but it seems to be a bit on the rare side and more expensive than the others.

    there’s an interesting blog on GU about the competition faced by second hand booksellers from online sellers. cheapness isn’t always best nor perhaps is reading loads as the experience of browsing the second hands and treasuring finds adds much to the experience of being a reader, which the online traders will be taking away. i’ve bought some things online recently which i wouldn’t have bothered with had i the chance to see and handle them. on ebay if they don’t tell how many pages there are it’s likely there aren’t that many and if it looks big it might be small. one can feel meanly treated…

  16. wordnerd7

    Bravo, @BaronC ! . . . you’ve won your dingbat spurs for both halves of your line. ‘Headlocked’ — would never have occurred to me, but it’s bizarrely right. . . I’m imagining Yeats and Maude (upthread, thanks to Des) arranged like that, now. . . And how did you guess how much I love a good Rioja. . . _clicking_ shoes ………………………………!!!

    Dear @atf, my 1.24pm post was really for you. It’s part of a letter from Penelope Fitzgerald to her publisher. . . I was amazed to note that @deadgod appears to be a great fan, too. . . Can’ tackle EB yet. Too much going on, . . . but soon . . .

  17. wordnerd7

    === this puts us back on-topic, strangely enough ===

    Well no, it doesn’t. I thought I was on the Does ‘World Literature Tour’ have to mean boring . . . thread. [sigh] Serious mental confusion taking over. . .

  18. This is the US Amazon link for Yeats’s Ghosts: The Secret Life of W.B. Yeats, and there are new copies going for $16 and second hand ones for $5.

    I really can’t reccomend it enough. I read all the huge tomes first, whereas this one is like a four hundred page precis, less the mist of reverential respect for the old goat’s one man religion. Maddox gets a few bullseye digs in at the man, and with Yeats the intellectual bar to reach for any writer, it is a must read, as it just dispenses with the clap trap.

    This UK Amazon link to Yeats’s Ghosts: The Secret Life of W.B. Yeats, has used copies for 65p atf.

    As for Maud and Bill, it is clear now that the wife is really the woman who has been overlooked by the blokey intellectuals, as I have found it is giving me a purchase on the boss, which allows me to contextualise him in a far more human light, and escape the shadow cast by the hocus pocus propigated by the man brigade.

  19. I got my copy from the book stall in Temple Bar Square, which is there every weekend. I get most of my books there, picking them at random and because they are second hand, I have come across stuff impossible to find new. Pamphlets by Eleanor Knott and Gerard Murphy, on bardic stuff printed in the forties and fifties, and in the magic that is Dublin, it is like the outfitters in the childrens cartoon series, Mister Benn, as the perfect next read for the autodidactic route always seems to appear.

  20. aft

    i ordered one of those this morning. i saw your old flames’s book on the 10p shelf at the local library des. ‘kissing the pink’. it’s the only one that’s stays on the shelf. i think it’s been there about a year now as i remember being tempted by it about the time she came on GU. some rough language in it; too rough for me. it gets me a titter every time i see it, holding the record for a 10p lucky bag, it’s big and brash and got pink on the cover. not into snooker though. i got the Kate O’Brien there for 10p. i wonder how she’s getting along as editor of salt’s magazine? havn’t been there for a while i think i’ve lost the bookmark but i read bits of the first issue. i thought a bit TLSish. i read a biography of maria edgeworth recently. can’t remember who it was by but it was so interesting. i hadn’t realised what an influence her father had on her, virtually standing over her shoulder as she wrote and she wrote very little after he died, nor the amount of money she made from her writing, quite a fortune. she had a relative who was imprisoned in Vienna during/around the time of the Fr revolution and came home in good spirits to run the house. I think edgeworthstown hse is still standing. Bowen’s Court was demolished by the farmer who bought the land not all that long ago, pitiable isn’t it?

  21. wordnerd7

    @Des, I’ve just placed my order for Maude and Bill — haven’t reacted so fast, for ages, to any professional reviewer’s steering as I have to yours and @BaronC’s, of Blind Willie Johnson (still en route, apparently, nearly one month later — sigh). It makes all the difference in the world to have the fine insight into each other’s taste that we’ve all been acquiring on these sites and to know that we aren’t being treated as puppets manipulated by a great mercantilist machine.
    https://acacciatura.wordpress.com/2008/11/21/since-when-was-a-newspaper-a-mercantilist-tool/

  22. [Des, I’ve just found this in the spam queue . . . how on earth did it get here, I wonder, when you’ve been getting through without a hitch for weeks . . . wordnerd7]

    It’s not Maude and Bill wordy, but George and Bill.

    I’ll be down the book stall tommorow and Chapters on Parnell Street, which has a humungous first floor full of second hand treasures.

    I’m 3/4 of the way through the Yeats book now and six years after first stumbling into Yeats at college, have cracked his game campers. Another thing Maddox does, is tie in what was going on in the domestics, at the time he wrote his poems, giving a much more plausable account for the subtext than the neophyte holy men.

    But I feel I have run out of intellectual avenues now, as the stuff I have been drawn to, is all the conspiracy theories surrounding contemporary life. The David Icke route, but trying to keep in the mid region of the spectrum.

    There are lots of people out there, and I feel as Yeats must have done investigating the paranormal. They all seem plausable and prmising at first, and slowly get more detached from reason, but the one thing they all display, is that their version of reality, all the UFO, 2012, 9/11 conspiracies etc, is far beyond the imagination.

    The ufo stuff in particular. There are all sorts of high level bods popping out the woodwork who claim Roswell was real, the most interesting of whom is Lt.Col. Philip Corso, who held very high level posts in the military and wrote a book The Day After Roswell, which makes fantastic claims.

    I found this whole area of supernatural conspiracies inhabited by the types, if Yeats where alive today, he would be looking into, in the summer after my research into myth led to the earliest recorded one, Sumerian myth in present day Iraq and Iran.

    This led to all sorts of stuff which I stopped looking at after my brain got too frazzled by the seeming doo lalliness of it all. It seems about 95% nutters and 5% serious researchers, and I came across this site on crop circles the other day.

    The link leads to a report of a 2008 circle in Biritsh columbia. Look at the pictures and read the reports. Last year some fantastic designs which all seem to feed into the 2012 Mayan Calender stuff. Far more entertaining than listening to the PC poetry brigade seeking out heretics to feel appalled at.

  23. wordnerd7

    @atf, it’s really a shaggy Bowen story I have for you. . . The Heat of the Day was a rare purchase for me, a book bought mainly for its 1949 Knopf cover – no illustration, just hand-lettering and a modest flower motif in black-and-white. The ground for these is a brown rectangle with a wide border in dark turquoise. No blurbs on the back or anywhere else, and the author what’s known as a ‘handsome’ woman – a striking b+w portrait mostly in shadow in which her five strings of pearls emphasise a perfectly oval face (or the illusion of one).

    . . . All woefully misleading. I’m sure I’ve never got past the first ten pages. Here’s just half the description of a man on p9:

    Their look at each other, across the chair between them, took a second or two. She, during it, faced a man of around thirty-eight-or-nine, in a grey suit, striped shirt, dark blue tie and soft brown hat. His unconsciousness, which had been what had mainly drawn her, was now, like the frown with which he had sat through the music, gone; it was succeeded by a sort of narrow, somewhat routine alertness she did not like. His ‘interesting-ness’ – had that been a lie of his profile’s? No, not quite: now that she had him full-face a quite other curious trait appeared – one of his eyes either was or behaved as being just perceptibly higher than the other. This lag or inequality in his vision gave her the feeling of being looked at twice – being viewed then checked over again in the same moment.

    The Heat of the Day Elizabeth Bowen.

    That’s the kind of intricate description with which I have no patience. It’s laborious, flat and mindlessly encyclopaedic, all at once. In the second sentence, ‘during it’ isn’t merely clumsy, it’s cloddish. The man’s odd gaze might be interesting if it wasn’t buried in so much lard . . . It’s too boring to make myself type out the rest of the para for anyone who doesn’t have a copy of the book – and about EB, I’ve always wondered, how _do_ some reputations get made?

    But since you like her so much, I must be missing something important.

    Here’s a novel that @Suzan, rubber-stamping and expanding on a NYT review, persuaded me to look for. I’d call the descriptive detail here the opposite of EB’s – far more than the sum of its parts, . .. and it’s perfect for its subject:

    There is, stretching delicate as a bird’s head from the thin neck of the Kra Isthmus, a land that makes up half of the country called Malaysia. Where it dips its beak into the South China Sea, Singapore hovers like a bubble escaped from its throat. The bird’s head is a springless summerless autumnless winterless land. One day might be a drop wetter or a mite drier than the last, but almost all are hot, damp, bright, bursting with lazy tropical life, conducive to endless tea breaks and mad, jostling, honking rushes through town to get home before the afternoon downpour. These are the most familiar rains, the violent silver ropes that flood the playing fields and force office workers to wade to bus stops in shoes that fill like buckets. Blustering and melodramatic, the afternoon rains cause traffic jams at once terrible – choked with the black smoke of lorries and the screeching brakes of schoolbuses – and beautiful: aglow with wading lines of watery yellow headlights that go on forever, with blue streetlamps reflected in burgeoning puddles, with the fluorescent melancholy of empty roadside stalls. Every day appears to begin with a blaze and end with this deluge, so the past and present and future run together in an infinite, steaming river.

    opening paragraph of Evening is the Whole Day Preeta Samarasan

  24. wordnerd7

    Des, the way the posts are listed, you might not see that I’ve just rescued a comment of yours last night from the spam queue — please look upthread, above my last two.

    When I rescued @Suzan’s from the same place when the KL server didn’t do the right thing, no one could see that I had. Recovered posts are displayed in the order of their time stamps —

    . . . My brain is very sleepy. Why George and Bill? . . Bill is WBY, yes . . . and then?

  25. Des I met a crop circle maker a few years ago. The physics of how they design them and carry those designs out is far more exciting than the conspiracies and speculation that attaches itself to what they do – although they do encourage such views by the necessity of having to keep schtum about the whole process.

    Where I grew up in Somerset/edge of Wiltshire was a 60’s hot spot for UFO sightings. The recent arrival of LSD into the area accounted for most of the “appearances” but that area ( and further down south towards Salisbury Plain ) does have a weird atmosphere to it even for hard-boiled sceptics like myself. Long before UFO sighting became a concept the artists Paul Nash and Eric Ravilious were painting hallucinatory landscapes of that whoe region.

  26. aft

    I think Des is referring to Yeat’s wife and not his famous love for Maude Gonne, so it’s george and willy.

    The Heat of the Day isn’t probably I think the best of hers. Sorry if this sounds repetitive as I’ve put something on GU about her but there was a bit of strange in her family and I think her father, who was a solicitor, wasn’t all that well and there’s a hint of something in the family, which there is in most of those aristo types of family, but wouldn’t that sort of thing be discovered if any family came under the sort of scrutiny that these do. Her mother wouldn’t allow her to read until she was nine years of age, saying that the Bowens overworked their brains and she didn’t want her daughter spoiled. but she was an acclaimed short story writer at 22 years of age. Also, as with most writers, she wrote a very strong popular novel The Last Semptember and I think that probably made her a literary personage and so readers are easily able to forgive faults in other works after being hooked by one they like.

    She seemed to have lived a very peaceful and secluded life during her younger years and that comes across in the LS but during the war she served as an air raid warden in London which suffered some terrific bombing attacks so she might have been close to some of the action and that would i’d think affect her mood and therefore her style, certainly she would be describing her setting in the terms of your extract, which I admit is very flowery but could you read a few hundred pages of such flowery writing? I agree though and noticed how fragmented and awkward the novel was in the earlier parts and wondered if i’d be able to get through it but it picks up when she creates the suspense angle and has one male admirer telling her that her male lover is passing secrets to the germans and he seems to want to do a deal with her to save her lover from what spies get during wartime. I’m not one for this sort of story but when it comes from her pen I thought it amusing.

    There was one paragraph which pulled me up as it was scattered with ‘had’ and even doubled up ‘had had’ and that sort of disruption to the smooth flow gave it a sort of junkyard impression but maybe I thought the style helps to recreate the general disruption to life at the time.

    Here’s a bit towards the end where the writing seems to come right and might give a better idea of what it’s doing:

    ‘What was Robert doing on the roof?’

    Once more she touched her lips with her handkerchief — a timid widowed habit which had come out in her only that after-noon: the white cambric bore a series of little pink-red smudges, each fainter; now there was almost no more lipstick left to come off. She then put her arm through Roderick’s, as a sign of agree-ment that, yes, it would be better to leave the bridge. They turned, by the same kind of unspoken agreement, back, retracing the first few of their steps in silence, hearing Sunday afternoon wireless coming across the wasteland from a bungalow. It would have been easy to recline, to become suffused by indifference, to be thankful that all was over — but it was not, yet; the rest was not yet ready to be silence. By delaying her answer she would be giving her answer too much weight. ‘That seemed his best way out of my flat,’ she said. ‘He was expecting to be arrested at any minute.’

    ‘Oh. Why was he; Could he have been arrested?’

    ‘Yes, he could have been arrested as a traitor.’

    ‘What was Robert doing on the roof?’
    Once more she touched her lips with her handkerchief — a timid widowed habit which had come out in her only that after-noon: the white cambric bore a series of little pink-red smudges, each fainter; now there was almost no more lipstick left to come off. She then put her arm through Roderick’s, as a sign of agree-ment that, yes, it would be better to leave the bridge. They turned, by the same kind of unspoken agreement, back, retracing the first few of their steps in silence, hearing Sunday afternoon wireless coming across the wasteland from a bungalow. It would have been easy to recline, to become suffused by indifference, to be thankful that all was over — but it was not, yet; the rest was not yet ready to be silence. By delaying her answer she would be giving her answer too much weight. ‘That seemed his best way out of my flat,’ she said. ‘He was expecting to be arrested at any minute.’
    ‘Oh. Why was he; Could he have been arrested?’
    ‘Yes, he could have been arrested as a traitor.’

  27. aft

    This piece is taken from LS and shows a very different writer, one who can convey in simple language the consciousness of a growing mind curious about the great world outside the family setting. I think SA would really like this because it shows a wistful character just beginning to speculate about the adult life. Not any of the things you found in the first 9 pages of HotD…what a reader you must be wordy…page 9 and you give up?

    …she said, to see backgrounds without bits taken out of them by Holy Families: small black trees running up and down white hills. She thought the little things would be important: trees with electric lights growing out of them, she had heard of; coloured syphons. She wanted to go wherever the War hadn’t. She wanted to go somewhere nonchalant where politics bored them, where bands played outdoors on hot nights and nobody wished to sleep. She wanted to go into cathedrals un-admonished and look up unprepared into the watery deep strangeness. There must be perfect towns where shadows were strong like buildings, towns secret without coldness, unaware without indifference. She liked mountains, but she did not care for views. She did not want adventures, but she would like just once to be nearly killed. She wanted to see something that only she would remember. Could one really float a stone in a glacier stream? She liked unmarried sorts of places. She did not want to see the Taj Mahal or the Eiffel Tower (could one avoid it ?) or to go to Switzerland or Berlin or any of the Colonies. She would like to know people and go to dinner parties on terraces, and she thought it would be a pity to miss love. Could one travel alone ? She did not mind being noticed because she was a female, she was tired of being not noticed because she was a lady. She could not imagine ever not wanting someone to talk to about tea-time. If she went to Cook’s, could they look out all the trains for her, in Spain and everywhere ? She had never been to Cook’s. Was there any law about selling tickets to people under age ?

    Marda, smoothing the last wrinkle out of a stocking and fastening up a suspender, said she did not believe this was so.

    ‘ Of course anybody could do all that. But it would not be me.’

    ‘But be interested in what happens to you for its own sake; don’t expect to be touched or changed – or to be in anything that you do. One just watches. Pain is one’s misunderstanding.’

    The advice, fruit of her own relation to experience, unwisdom, lacking the sublimer banality, was – as she suspected while still speaking – to her young friend meaningless and without value. The infinite variance of that relation breaks the span of com­prehension between being and being and makes an attempt at sympathy the merest fumbling for outlet along the boundaries of the self. Lois looked vaguely out at the sky, and thought how she could not possibly travel in Europe with a green canvas trunk with her school initials. She longed for three leather suitcases. She said sadly:

    ‘The thought of places without one is so lonely.’
    ‘Pull yourself together, my dear child.’
    ‘Don’t you think honeymoons are a waste of travelling.?’

  28. wordnerd7

    @alarming,

    === The physics of how they design them and carry those designs out is far more exciting than the conspiracies and speculation that attaches itself to what they do – although they do encourage such views by the necessity of having to keep schtum about the whole process. ===

    I didn’t know that all this had been uncovered. In a film? Tv documentary? . . . What is it about the physics that you like? I’m all eyes.

    @atf, what a stunning contrast . . . thank you, most interesting . . . wonderful sentence, as mysterious as poetry: ‘She liked unmarried sorts of places.’ . . . yes I do agree that the extract on ‘place’ from The Last September is very good indeed. But then as soon as people enter the narrative, oh dear. No more sharp observation – her line goes from sure and deft to fuzzy.

    Btw, I also don’t like Preeta S’s story quite as much once it gets thickly peopled and bustle-y. Not sure about that, yet. It might not be fair to her.

    Have a bit more to say about Anglo-Irishness and Anglo-Irish dilemmas, about which Des has put up a most interesting post on his site this week (see Dec 31 http://irishpoetry.blogspot.com/. ) If he doesn’t write about it at book length some day, I hope that someone else does.

    A look-up book I have calls Elizabeth Bowen ‘one of the great writers of the blitz.’ . . . I know next to nothing about her, but am beginning to wonder if she’d have done as well as she did if she hadn’t been exceptionally well-connected.

    @ISA, I hope the house-hunting is going well – a good time for that??? — and that you saw that there was another post, not just Eliade. . . Hope you’ll say more about Helen Suzman on Xuitlacoche. Was she a Pronghorn too? : )

  29. wordnerd – the designs have to be scaled up and carried out clandestinely – I think a few farmers have let their crops be trampled for advertising money but mostly it’s done at night – which involve the use of grids, much as a painter would grid up a pencil drawing in order to transfer it onto a larger canvas ( as an example if you’ve seen Stanley Spencer’s drawings you’ll know what I mean ).

    Only the transference is on a huge scale and the transferers don’t have access to planes which would enable them to see the whole design from a
    distance so it requires quite a bit of organising and planning both beforehand and during the corn-flattening.

    I gleaned this from talking to a crop circler – who I can confirm was not an alien, he was a lying bull-shitter pulling the wool over my eyes perhaps but definitely a human.

    Which is why that M Night Shylamamamamadingdong film “Signs” was such a non-starter ( and inded non-go-and-see-er ) because doesn’t everyone know that crop circles are done by rave-generation ecstasy-chewin’ misfits with a yen for fractals and not little green men from Mars?

  30. wordnerd7

    @alarming,

    === I gleaned this from talking to a crop circler – who I can confirm was not an alien, he was a lying bull-shitter pulling the wool over my eyes perhaps but definitely a human. ===

    Ah, oui. How very ‘Ceci n’est pas une pipe.’ !

    === because doesn’t everyone know that crop circles are done by rave-generation ecstasy-chewin’ misfits with a yen for fractals and not little green men from Mars? ==

    Well, not one nerd. Didn’t think the artists were druggies; don’t believe in little green ‘uns. . . just didn’t know.

    Shall investigate further or maybe @Des will come back and say more on this subject.

    . . . Must now go off and leave you all holding le bébé – since I have to travel back the long way I came. If things get _too_ quiet for too many hours, would someone charitably inclined please start a blog fight with short snappy posts so that I can see that the site still has a pulse, when I return? . . . . 😉

  31. Wordnerd I do apologise I thought corn-circles ( unlike the truth ) were no longer out there and how they were done was fairly well known even if no-one will admit in public to being the creators.

  32. No disrespect Alarming, but incrontravertable proof drawn from evidence gleaned from a bullshitter trying to pull the wool over your eyes (in a Wiltshire pub perchance?) is hardly case closed in favour of the prosecution.

    If you study the photographs in this 2008 Canada crop circle dossier (same link as above), shows the visual evidence of the elongated apical nodes, which are a feature in crop circles.

    There are many scientists with an interest in this phenomena, and this elongation feature is one of the most interesting features. This is from a
    Biophysics report:

    “…around the nodes’ bract tissue- the thin membrane supporting the seed head that enables nutrients to be supplied to the developing embryo. What Levengood found here was an abnormal enlargement of the tissues’ cell wall pits- the minuscule holes that allow the movement of nutrients. Here, a series of expulsion cavities, or ‘blow holes’, were discovered, as if internal liquid had been forced out from inside the plants. Again, this is not found in normal crop under any circumstances.

    In a dramatic comparison to the control samples, the elongated scars clearly show how a rapid expansion has taken place inside crop circle plants, a result of the water in the cell walls being suddenly heated. With nowhere to escape, the water forces its way out by exploiting the weaker sections of the tissue thereby creating the scars.

    Levengood concluded that “the energy mechanism producing quantitative alterations in the plant stem nodes falls within the framework of a straight-forward and widely applied principal of physics [Beer’s Law] dealing with the absorption of electromagnetic energy by matter,” strongly suggesting that an energy source “originating in the microwave region” had boiled the water inside the plants’ nodes, effectively transforming it into steam.”

    ~

    If you have a look at the scale, intracacy and patterning techniques in these circles, the fact that they are created in total darkness in a matter of hours, I dunno, and possibly as Yeats used to say when getting names and chronoliges wrong – does it matter?

    I suppose I am using this gear to find some magical thinking, even if it is all hooey. What I find worthwhile creatively, is immersing myself in the alternative sites, and trying to bring some mystery to my intellectual pursuits. Aetheism now is all the rage, to opt into NOT believing in God Creation, whatever force is behind our existence, rather than wallowing in the wonder and mystery of existence.

    I am not a beliver or agnostic, just a journeyman through the fabulous and fantastic in the search for ideas with which to further the goal of expanding consciousness and trying to make sense of a vision I had myself about ten years ago, which I will not recount here for reasons of holding back the ace card. The fact is – before I started writing – I had a vision of something which will only bring ridicuale upon my head if I were to explicitly state it, and i realise now that my whole life in writing probably links back to this as the primary cause. And the striking thing was that the vision came at a time when I was completely sober, in perfect health and no obvious reason for it.

    I had never experienced anything like it before, or since, and it was something which had no effect, in the sense of turning me doo lally overnight or into a raver about what I had saw, but it is there, the one otherworldly moment in my life thus far.

    And it is only now my initial studies are over, I can
    graps that – in the world of poetry – having a vision is what most poets would sell their grannies ghost for, as at a stroke it connects us to the realm of poetic consciousness only the spacers like Yeats were privy to viewing.

    I am quite prepared to believe all this caper is men with planks, but there is a part of me wanting to belive there is more to life than the nailed on certainty we the products of the latter half of the 20 C have as our guiding principle. And the world now, well it is at the most genuinely interesting, potentially for good or bad, than it has been for generations.

    There is a part of me that hopes Obama will be the breath of change we hope for. Up till him, the presidents, in retrospect, have all had damaging parts to their make up, and it is clear now, allowances were made for their failings. Failings which, if not there could have changed the destiny of a planet. JFK and Clinton, womansiers, so we were treated to the spectacle of a private transgression feeding into global politics as Bill tried to lie his way out of things, which really were none of the publics business.

    And then the republicans and Bush axis, who the crazier conspiricists, and going by their actions, it is not hard to accept they may be hiding huge lies that go beyond the personal. What with the CIA druf running murder outfit, and whole new world order mob. Lets hope when Bush goes, normal feel OK vibes are released.

  33. aft

    I saw a ‘ufo’ once while camping in Wicklow. It was a hushed light of purple and orange and it was moving quite slowly. It was a tree-hugging week for me and I was camped by a lovely clear stream beside a pine forest and there was an Ogham stone closeby which my friends had told me about and I hadn’t believed but found it there. on the other side of the stream was a wire fence and the pine trees and this lovely coloured thing moved along just about, it seemed, a few metres above the trees which were quite tall. The thing it most resembled was a flare but I knew it wasn’t because it was travelling parallel to the earth and slowly but I went to the pub anyway and told the man behind the bar as I thought to myself that if I hadn’t reported it and it turned out to have been someone on the nearby mountain which had a very steep side i’d never have been able to live with myself. the barman told me to sit down and he’d bring me my drink and I had two pints and went back to the tent with a clearer conscience but I’m sure it was something else. I’ve since heard people describing very something similar one in the west of the US and one in Scotland which were very convincing explanations. I didn’t think it was ‘manned’ or anything but it certainly wasn’t anything normal, like a helicopter or airplane as it was quiet/silent and flew low. I’d seen sputniks and falling stars and what have you but they are ‘way up there’ this was close.

  34. No disrespect Des either but photos of the crop circle being created shown by someone not expecting to meet me – a friend of a friend of a friend as it were – would be a lot of effort expended for the minor pleasure of fooling someone they don’t know.

    But perhaps you are right – for myself and I’ve said this before – things are made more remarkable when they are shown to be less remarkable. I’ve been involved in making a large drawing in fire on the Lancashire hills ( a horse galloping for the Horse Fair in Whitworth near Rochdale ) and it isn’t easy – so the precision of the crop circles is all the more fantastic for their accuracy, complexity and the fact that it’s all done illegally. It took 5 of us a week to map out the shape of a 200 yard long, 200 yard high horse.

    The fact, I think, that I had done such a thing helped loosen the tongue of the crop circler.

  35. I’m facinated Alarming. What did the pictures show?

    As i say, I have an open mind and am prepred to believe it is men with planks or the phenomena atf describes, and all points in between.

    But I do think there is a lot more below the surface than we generally agree. All this modern technology, 150 years ago, would have been what the stuff out of a sci-fi comic of today is like for us now.

    We get so jaded and cynical about a higher power, but it is put so crudely, the ancient myths in the purest forms, misunderstood and used by opposing camps in wars on rhetoric and for the purpose of division. I don’t know what the truth is, but after my otherworldly experience, I looked at what I had appeared before my eyes logically, and 3 possibilities sprung to mind.

    1 – The vision i had was based in reality and what i saw existed in the existential realm we all share.

    2 – what i saw did not exist and it was a trick of the mind.

    3 – a third explanation which is hidden from me for whatever reason. Like when an illusionist or magician shows you how they do the trick and you think..arhh, that’s how it’s done, i would never have sussed it out unless s/he told me.

    But one of the side effects of having had a visionary experience, is that the mind is never the same again. Is never as fixed and dogmatic, we can not claim that a certain thing or position is 100% so ever again, as how can we when our opwn eyes have been privvy to designs hidden from the majority of humanity?

    Reality becomes more fantastically than the imagination, and we come to think, anything is possible. And with the world as it currently is, all the old certainties dispensed with in the course of a few months, vis a vis, what and who to believe due to the banking situation, it will be a time when the Yeatsean coathanger may take centre stage as a supernatural shift occurs. Who knows, who cares, as long as it looks good on the page, right?

  36. aft

    ANOTHER KICK IN THE COBBLERS FROM IRISH CAPITALISM.

    at last the inevitable news has come that investors in the finest industry of ireland are to get the proverbial boot in the balls from the government and ireland’s capitalists. for years now the taxman has been grabbing ~24% of the dividends of shareholders of this company used by O’Reilly for his own personal purposes of cuddling up the the Duchess of York who cleared her huge debts from her playgirl lifestyle, and of course, being honoured by the queen for his generosity to her deviant d in l with a knighthood – he boasts of being a dual passport citizen. O’Reilly has clawed milions, maybe hundreds or thousands of them, from shareholders offering shares at a ‘discount’ to the market and pleading that it only needed the latest and best equipment to give a return to shareholders for their faith and support. I remember being persuaded that shares at 14p were a huge act of generosity to shareholders by O’Reilly and went for the bait. meanwhile taking the option of shares in liu of dividends so that i might have something to keep body and soul together in years to come. But I might have known what O’Reilly was up to as he did the same thing with his holding company a few years earlier, buying up a chain of supermarkets in Northern Ireland and whining to shareholders that it needed new equipment so that it would be competitive and depriving shareholders of their due entitlement to dividends for the profitable companies held in Fitzwilton’s portfolio of companies. After years of waiting and believing in the soothe saying of the slick O’Reilly the man compulsorily bought up all the shares and took the group into the family’s private pocket. In spite of all the promises made by O’Reilly the share price continued to dwindle after the promises given with the 14p rights issue and went down and down until the price couldn’t even been seen on the index and was represented as ‘00.00’p when further research would show the price to be ‘oo.oo1’. Of course if you’ve got a huge packet of dosh taken from shareholders and are eyeing a company greedily then a falling share price is not a bad thing because sooner or later you can afford it and f the shareholders and turn it over to your greek millionaire friends and family. While the Irish government pour scorn on any attempt to rescue the company they’re quite will to mawl off ~25% of shareholders income, even when those are not living in the country, have to live on less than £8 a day and have been refused the right to work by the government and refused the medication one needs to be kept alive. Now that the recievers are called in and there’s no more possibility of the government having to put something in and the shareholders support for a great irish company is no longer worth arsepaper the sychophants are starting to go on again about their support for Waterford glass, how great a brand it is, how it represents the best of irish, and how well it’s doing and what a big gift it will be to a forign purchaser what with its state of the art equipment supplied by shareholders who believed in O’Reilly’s promises of returns when the equipment is bought. How good of Irish politicians to sing out to foreign investors when they wipe their arses with the savings of indigenous irish investors.

  37. The ground is set into a giant square with a grid on it which replicates in a larger scale the grid drawn on top of the initial design on paper. The design I saw was a bunch of circles of different sizes making up what looks like a splash in water. Quite simple compared to some you see.

    The centre of the circle is fixed with a stake, rope is attached to it so it can circle the stake without twisting on it and progressively shortening the diameter and someone reels out the rope to the required length ( or whatever it’s called ) and walks around. It’s like a giant protractor in execution. The corn inside the drawn circle is then flattened.

    I can understand how that’s done quite easily ( having done a crude equivalent myself ) but how they achieve the more complex shapes I don’t know but as with drawing ellipses on paper there is a simple way of doing it. But I’m full of admiration not only for the designs but also the planning.

    Being a diabetic and thus having experiences where you are close to fainting and speaking gibberish due to very low blood sugar I know there is always a rational voice in your head as well aware that something is wrong, telling you the same yet you can do nothing about it. I wonder if visual experiences like you say are the result of the conscious and subconscious fighting for attention.

    I say this not to belittle what you say BTW. My own work is very much about trying to create poetic connections between things but I find them more expressive if they are as plain as possible without being banal ( not always achieved ).

  38. wordnerd7

    Not in order – very jumbly … in the spirit of this post and thread – I’m sure there are people saying that acciaccature has run off with the pixies ; ) little do they know . . ..hmm:

    @alarming

    things are made more remarkable when they are shown to be less remarkable.

    Yes, and I’m inclined the same way, . . . The Loch Ness monster turns out to be Gordon B, taking a swim — ?. . . But then what about mice and men being virtually identical, genetically.

    @aft

    It was a hushed light of purple and orange and it was moving quite slowly. It was a tree-hugging week for me and I was camped by a lovely clear stream beside a pine forest and there was an Ogham stone closeby which my friends had told me about and I hadn’t believed but found it there. on the other side of the stream was a wire fence and the pine trees and this lovely coloured thing moved along just about, it seemed, a few metres above the trees which were quite tall.

    [shakes head despairingly] That tree-hugging! . . . does it to me every time . . .. : . . .Lovely just to be able to share the experience imaginatively – since you aren’t pushing an interpretation one way or the other.

    @alarming

    the precision of the crop circles is all the more fantastic for their accuracy, complexity and the fact that it’s all done illegally. It took 5 of us a week to map out the shape of a 200 yard long, 200 yard high horse.

    The fact, I think, that I had done such a thing helped loosen the tongue of the crop circler.

    Have never read anything as remotely as ‘hands-on’ as this on the subject – so you and @Des have made it five times more interesting than usual (since I suspect it’s something usually thrown in by lazy editors as a cheap ooo-er!)

    @Des

    with the world as it currently is, all the old certainties dispensed with in the course of a few months, vis a vis, what and who to believe due to the banking situation,

    Who indeed. It certainly puts paid to the idea that Rationality is in charge. Yet people are awed by the men and women in Armani power suits and genuflect as reflexively as they once did to the pontiff’s robes.

    @alarming

    My own work is very much about trying to create poetic connections between things but I find them more expressive if they are as plain as possible without being banal

    Thank goodness for the Whalley Range All Stars – which lets people reading here see exactly what you mean. . .

    @Des: complete agreement here:

    But I do think there is a lot more below the surface than we generally agree. All this modern technology, 150 years ago, would have been what the stuff out of a sci-fi comic of today is like for us now.

    . . . so why are people so closed-minded? All genuinely new ideas originate in what first seems fantastic, except to our subconscious minds, to which it only seems like home . . . The problem, I suppose, is exploitation of the not precisely definable by con-people . . . snake oil specialists . . .

    I am quite prepared to believe all this caper is men with planks, but there is a part of me wanting to belive there is more to life than the nailed on certainty we the products of the latter half of the 20 C have as our guiding principle.

    Aetheism now is all the rage, to opt into NOT believing in God Creation, whatever force is behind our existence, rather than wallowing in the wonder and mystery of existence.

    . . . And a GIANT thank-you to all three of you for keeping the thread going beautifully. The post click count stayed so high without me that I know I don’t have to be here quite so much to keep the tamaguchi alive.

  39. I’m not always sure that the current fad for aetheism is quite as life/imagination-denying as is made out. Mr. Dawkins the main apostle can be a very obnoxious individual for sure but whenever I’ve seen his programmes ( particularly the recent one on Darwin ) I’m left with no doubt about his delight in the more abstract, indefinable qualities of the natural world. It’s something that is often over-looked in the rush to take sides. A shame that it comes down to personality in the end.

  40. wordnerd7

    === I’m not always sure that the current fad for aetheism is quite as life/imagination-denying as is made out. ===

    I’d say,. . . only because it tends to go with making science of the most dry and reductionist kind the new religion, @alarming — . . .

    ===Mr. Dawkins the main apostle can be a very obnoxious individual for sure ‘… A shame that it comes down to personality in the end. ===

    Not for me. I’ve never seen him on tv. What I resent is the way the charisma I’ve guessed he has seems to have turned so many otherwise intelligent people into mealy-mouthed followers . . . Viewed from the perspective of someone neither formally religious nor an atheist, the sanctimonious ‘God be with you’ of beady-eyed, rigidly conformist Puritans seems to have been replaced by the unstated requirement that anyone who wishes to be seen as intelligent intone fervently, ‘Of course _I_ am an atheist.’ Which never fails to make me think: conformist wimp! : )

  41. BaronCharlus

    Dawkins depresses me. Finally, a popular and vocal advocate of atheism and he – in debate if not interview – is harranguing and humourless. I recall his tv show. I switched off after he bellowed nose-to-nose with a rabbi.

    I am a regretful atheist and feel a strong defence should be presented against the increased Monotheising of our schools, I’m not against the concept of a deity but the accrued anti-women, anti-gay, anti-sex archaisms and hate that have collected around the mighty faiths over the centuries like disfiguring diseases on an itenerant mystic. But education, not harrassment, should always be the method. Humour and gentle – if insistent – persuasion (especially on the extraordinary and dubious provenance of religious texts) should be the approach. Not more evangelising.

  42. But surely in the end, when all’s said and done etc. etc. you either agree or disagree with Dawkins, repellent though he be. There’s no halfway house with whether God exists or not is there? I too wish he wouldn’t be so cold at times but as I don’t believe I’m in the same boat like it or not.

  43. There’s no halfway house with whether God exists or not is there?

    Of course there is, @alarming 🙂 !!! . . . What amazes me is atheists arguing against religion saying, ‘So you believe in a resurrection, then, [you idiot]?’ or ‘So you believe in virgin birth [you simple-minded fool]?’ . . . All of which reveals that they, in their way, are prisoners of one conception of a deity — Christianity’s. . . Otherwise, they might pose the question in an open-ended and more universal way. . . What I’m waiting for — okay, it may never happen and I’ll end up with a horrifically eggy face — is for neuroscience to tell us that the sections of the brain that light up for creativity overlap heavily with those that do for spirituality (a word utterly debased by New Age morons) and religion. . . I am sorry I can’t express myself more mildly, but I am fed up with atheist fanatics. . . And to think Cif had a whole blog about a huge Dawkins donation to a bus painted with atheist slogans. . . How is this different from Christian missionaries or anyone else determined to annexe other people’s brains? . . . What about ‘live-and-let-live’? ‘You-do-your-thing-and-I’ll-do-mine’?

  44. BaronCharlus

    I think there are halfway houses, quarter-way houses, angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin-way houses, as soon as you disentangle the concept of the divine from a church’s dogma and social/historical vestments.

    It’s possible to call something God without assigning to it restrictive and outmoded social practices. It always confuses me in the science/religion debate (and reveals the true interests of the creationists, I feel) that no one on the religious side seems to have argued that God could also have created evolution, the Big Bang and all science. It’s the laws and texts that are being protected, not the concept of divinity, which could sit harmlessly alongside science if it weren’t for literalist interpretations of the Bible (and other texts). Many individual believers happily make these concessions in their private religious lives, I’ve found.

    My personal concept of the divine doesn’t require a supernatural creator but I’m still tempted to call it God(ess). 🙂

    Oh, and Alarming, I haven’t read that Borges (haven’t read him at all for years) but will pick it up. Thanks for the tip.

  45. BaronCharlus

    @acacciatura

    Think we crossed over there. With you all the way, especially connecting the divine to the creative impulse (my personal suspicion).

  46. wordnerd7

    === I think there are halfway houses, quarter-way houses, angels-on-the-head-of-a-pin-way houses, as soon as you disentangle the concept of the divine from a church’s dogma and social/historical vestments. ===

    The identical point, @BaronC . . . see my post as acacciatura a few minutes ago . . . in different clothing

  47. wordnerd7

    Oh, this is _funny_! . . . : )

  48. BaronCharlus

    Almost makes you believe in a collective conciousness…

    almost 🙂

  49. Wordnerd but calling me an aetheist fanatic isn’t helping either is it 🙂 I don’t shout at Rabbis or use the examples you mention to demean Christians and can’t see the point of doing so. I’m all for the live and let live approach and generally live life like that. But religion doesn’t allow that does it? Africa has been riven with disease because of the Pope’s ridiculous edicts about condoms. There are a few tolerant religions – buddhism, candomble etc. but even they are starting to get fundamentalist streaks. I’m not sure aetheism has such a track record of violence – although Russian communism is probably an example that refutes that.

    I think the problem is that aetheism was a bit like the Liberals for a long while – patronised but not taken seriously or within an increasingly secular society over-dominated by Christian beliefs. A scientist like Dawkins has obviously decided to up the ante rather than sit back and take the inequalities on the chin. I don’t like the way he goes about it but….

    Too lighten this up (!!!!!) Ken Campbell did a great show where he demonstrated with particle physics how heaven and hell could exist. The most stimulating thing I’ve seen about this whole issue.

  50. BaronCharlus

    @Alarming,

    Quite. I agree but would add that most damage done by religions is through promotion of non-textual (social) traditions, such as anti-abortion, rather than a belief in the divine. Even those beliefs that have some unfortunate textual authority (anti-gay preaching) are picked from such a vast array of bizarre and violent ancient rulings that they seem virtually chosen at random. Have you read Leviticus? To quote the Simpsons, ‘technically, we’re not allowed to go to the bathroom’. Stoning to death is a great catch-all remedy yet no modern Christian, even those claiming divine autorship of the _entire_ Bible takes those bits seriously, at least in public. For me, you may as well cite the June 12th 1867 Happisburgh parish council meeting minutes on the problem of coastal erosion for moral guidance as any book of the Bible.

    If I was in Dawkins’s position I would study theology and attack the textually unsupportable nature of most of modern monotheism’s social declarations. It worked for Scopes, as I understand it.

    Would love to see that Ken Campbell show and would add the aftermath of the French Revolution to atheism’s hall of shame.

  51. Baron but aren’t the punishments to be dealt out through failure to observe the rules directly connected to the concepts of blissful after-life or damnation in hell?

  52. BaronCharlus

    I don’t think so, although that is what they became, of course. I seem to remember that the earlier books of the Old Testament, in which most of the laws are laid out are _very_sketchy on an afterlife (if it’s mentioned at all). But I may have a look today, if i get a chance.

    The afterlife, as we know it, was a mostly medieval invention, especially its fiscally-adjudstable gradations. Stephen Greenblatt’s Hamlet in Purgatory beautifully presents the pure medieval invention that was purgatory, for example, that engine of the medieval church (and still of the Catholic church, in terms of income – masses for the dead etc).

    Obviously, I’m far from being an expert and the Bible is (like Hamlet) an abyss into which we can gaze and find whatever we want.

  53. Baron I ask because it seems fairly clear in a book like Portrait of the Artist that what keeps people on the straight and narrow is a fear of what will happen once you are dead. The poor inmates of the Magdalene Laundries ( finally closed in the 90’s ) were also selected because of moral failings weren’t they?

    Isn’t it always the problem with things that are attractive as ideas? As soon as they go wrong or are abused they can be smoothed over with the excuse that the people who did wrong didn’t carry out the idea “properly” and the idea carries on, to be taken up again and misused again. The idea is pure but has no practical application in life.

    But for me I find no credence in believing there is a divine being even if I love much of the work that was inspired by it.

  54. BaronCharlus

    ‘it seems fairly clear in a book like Portrait of the Artist that what keeps people on the straight and narrow is a fear of what will happen once you are dead’

    I agree. My suspicion is, however, that for those around when the Old Testament was being written the threat of a more immedeate stoning was probably sufficient, or at least all that was threatened. Hell, I think, came later. I’m certainly not suggesting earlier is better, just different.

    And to

    ‘I find no credence in believing there is a divine being even if I love much of the work that was inspired by it’

    I can only say Amen.

  55. aft

    “Africa has been riven with disease because of the Pope’s ridiculous edicts about condoms.”

    this is a little extreme? i’ve heard an argument that all the AIDs was the fault of the pope but I can’t see why anyone can’t go to a chemist and buy condoms anytime they want…or, if it’s too embarrassing for them they can be bought from a machine. why blame the pope?

  56. atf very extreme possibly but my cousin’s daughter who worked in East and Southern Africa in sexual health matters always said that the Catholic church was a huge impediment to progress.

  57. atf

    i think what they teach about sex is very conservative and restrictive – within marriage only. not sure that this would be a cause of the spread of aids. people who want a more liberal sex life wouldn’t be keen to keep within the permitted limits set by the church, so it’s difficult to believe they would have a religious principle about using condoms. the church would seem to have the perfect answer for an aids free society – stick to one partner! i’m not sure that aids is more prevalent amongst catholics than others. permissiveness, needle-sharing and the spread of gay liberation has to answer for much of it. not to say I’m not in favour of the use of condoms for catholics; i think it would make things easier but it’s in the nature of religion that it makes demands on believers. i’d imagine the incidence of aids is least on arabs on account of the prohibition on alcohol and the penalties for adultery. sex, alcohol and drugs are probably the hardest things in the lives of humans to control as all can lead to social disruption and disease if too free a use of made of them. we live in times of indulgence of the appetites and there are very few who believe in the sorts of discipline religions invariably impose; capitalism leads to a very free hand given to the media and advertising and the manipulation of the consumer. it’s taken years for the government/s to get round to putting those prohibitions on cigaretters and obligations re warnings but media promotes all sorts of things in the interest of profit which leads to higher takings in taxes and so pressure on governments to be as liberal as they can. there are, imho, many reasons for the large casualties of aids and narrowing down the cause to one individual, the pope, or one institution, the church, is narrow.

  58. I think it’s to do with Catholic organisations being one of the major agents of charity in these areas. Laudable on one hand but their charity comes with strings attached – one of which is that condoms are not to be included in the medical supplies. We are not talking about areas which have a regularly stocked johnnie machine in the local public toilet.

    There are of course many reasons for AIDS unconnected to the Pope (!!!) but to deny people protection and to actively preach against it is surely not sensible or pragmatic. People have sex, condoms prevent STD’s to a large degree. It would make more sense to encourage the use.

  59. atf

    yes, but is it right to make church doctrine conform to the opinions and behaviour of people who’ve got AIDs? I’ve seen some charity people saying what’s needed is education.

    “but to deny people protection and to actively preach against it is surely not sensible or pragmatic”

    …not sure who it is that is not being ‘sensible’ or ‘pragmatic’ I’m not sure the church is ‘denying’ protection in merely not supplying it. They don’t supply condoms because they disapprove of ‘free love’ and adultery – it’s a ‘sin’. so why would anyone expect them to promote sin when they merely want to supply medical services? they are willing to tend the sick, but not promote ‘sin’.

    rightly or wrongly they see AIDs as a consequence of sin, so they are unwilling to facilitate the behaviour that leads to AIDs. They want to see an end to AIDs as much, more probably, as anyone else but just see moral behaviour as the way. read moral behaviour for the absence of the condoms. it’s their way, not mine, but i do see them as being right. all religions worthy of the name are difficult to live up to, not invented in the brothel.

  60. wordnerd7

    @atf.

    Condoms in the 3rd world are a complicated subject because the people most in need of them have pre-scientific ideas about how humans make other humans.

    Eg.,

    === Family planning workers in India complained a few years ago that some villagers they had given free condoms had taken them for baby-banishing totems and were hanging them, unused, on sticks in front of their huts. ===

  61. well you’ve kind of answered your first question as to why there is such a problem with AIDS in Africa. Isn’t trying to be moral about all this a bit like shutting the door after the horse has bolted? It’s gone way beyond all that.

    The problem being that the pieces have to be picked up no matter what the morals are. Sorry for the use of all these metaphors BTW.

  62. atf

    @ wordy. yes, that’s more like the real africa.

    @ alarming. if they had followed the teaching of the church it’s very unlikely they’d had such an AIDs problem. now that they havn’t is it reasonable to ask the church to change its teaching to accomodate them? in other words, they’ve done something ‘immoral’ so should the church now teach ‘immorality’?

    the church teaches what it sees as god’s law. medical conditions like AIDs are the remit of the many biochemical industries around the world. there’s such a lot in it they are working, and have been for years, around the clock to get to market first and reap the rewards. I doubt if the pope would object to a medical cure for victims of AIDs and think that this would be part of the medical supplies in the charity supplies. but facilitating the sort of behaviour that causes the problem would be, well, adding to the problem by implying that libertinous sexual behaviour is acceptable.

  63. atf if you imagine AIDS is only spread by libertinous behaviour ( and I’m not suggesting you do ) then abstention makes sense. But is it only spread by that way of behaving?

    I see your point re: the codes of the church but do you see mine? My cousin’s daughter said the problem is that when you try and teach sex education to people that work is almost immediately undone by Catholic preachers and schemes which don’t/ won’t support such education. So the problem gets worse not better.

  64. atf

    i see your point alarming but think it’s wrong to blame the pope/church. if by ‘sex education’ you mean telling others they should use condoms when having sex then I don’t see that the clash is with the pope/church. they say no sex outside marriage and no other sexual partners inside marriage ie no adultery. the surest way to prevent AIDs spreading is sex within narrowly prescribed limits, failing this, sex with condoms. I just don’t see the church as being to blame. if those at risk don’t accept the church’s restrictions they should use the condoms. it’s not the church’s fault if their rejection of its teaching leads to AIDs. if they reject the church’s teaching on sexual behaviour they can easily reject its teaching on the use of condoms. they should use them. my point is that it’s unreasonable to expect the church to change its teaching on the basis that conditions which result from going against its teaching demand further permissive sanction.

    all i’m saying is that the huge problem of AIDs is due to going against church teaching in the first place so it can’t be blamed for those consequences. abstinence from sexual behaviour sourced in pleasure is their teaching. abstinence works. they can’t be blamed for the consequence of going against their teaching.

    the AIDs epidemic has to be tackled on different grounds. to my mind more cautious behaviour and research on biomedical remedies. media, films etc that promote licencious behaviour are never mentioned as causation but to lay all the blame for such a crisis at the feet of the pope looks like a bit of witch hunting. they’re position has been for decades lust=sin. I can’t see that they’ll ever assist those who seek pleasure for its own sake.

    the normal everyday belief is that ‘love is good’ religions tend to the belief that ‘abstinence is good’

    people who give to charity are willing to prevent people starving and willing to buy medical suplies but aren’t it seems willing to support them in getting nookie.

  65. atf As this isn’t the GU bear-pit I won’t pursue this any further. We’ll just, as ever, have to regard each other’s views with mutual scepticism I suppose.

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