Monday, 23 July 2007

le craftwerque

I'm sure that if Kraftwerk had been French and Jean-Michel Jarre German, it's the latter who would be better appreciated today, with his more, better tunes.

perceval premonitions

I'm familiar with poor old Spencer Perceval, our only murdered prime minister, assassinated on 3 May 1812, but Jeremy Beadle's Today's the Day cites premonitions in accurately-detailed dreams in the days before by John Williams, a Cornish mine manager, dissuaded from passing on a warning by his friends, and by Perceval himself the night before.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

cs lewis on an airbase

Two quotations from an old (1974, glued spine cracking) Hodder paperback, CS Lewis - Speaker and Teacher, a set of essays on different such aspects, edited by Carolyn Keefe. These quotations from an essay by Stuart Barton Babbage, who encountered CS Lewis while doing chaplaincy work during wartime service.

1. I wanted him to have some idea about the character and composition of the evening congregation. Those present, I reassured him, would be there by their own will and volition. There would be no conscripts. The majority would be officers rather than airmen. It was not an easy thing for an airman to separate himself from the close communal life of the barracks for the purpose of going to church. John Stuart Mill once observed that there is a social tyranny which can be a more subtle and ubiquitous enemy to liberty than any political despotism. Many an airman, during the days of World War II, was made acutely aware of a subtle and ubiquitous social tyranny that was inimical to the overt expression of any idiosyncratic belief or practice. Only a select few had the moral strength and stamina to withstand the suffocating tyranny of barracks life and the deadly pressure to conform.
The situation in the Officers' Mess was very different. Church-going among members of the middle class - the class to which most of the officers belonged - is still a badge of conventional respectability (although increasingly more honoured in the breach than in the observance). There are, of course, a number off sociological reasons for this. The church, it has been rightly said, has not lost the working class: the working class was never in it.

- p98. the two most interesting things here are the peer pressure reference in the first para and the inaccurate analysis in the second para (I can only think that, through ignorance or thoughtlessness, he is equating 'the church' with 'the Church of England').

2. Lewis told us what it had cost him, as an Oxford don, to be a Christian. One might have expected to find within a university environment, and particularly at Oxford University, that home of lost causes, some measure of tolerance and liberality, some recognition and acceptance of the sanctity of honest belief and sincere conviction. Lewis discovered, as others have discovered before and since, that in this world there are few persons so illiberal as those who claim to be liberal and few persons so irrational as those who claim to be rational. His liberal and rational friends, he explained, did not object to his intellectual interest in Christianity; it was, they agreed, a proper subject for academic argument and debate; but to insist on seriously practising it - that was going too far. He did not mind being accused of religious mania, that familiar gibe of the natural man; what he was unprepared for was the intense hostility and animosity of his professional colleagues. Within the academic community, he unexpectedly found himself an object of ostracism and abuse. ... He had not been prepared for such virulent hostility: he could understand impatience but not indignation, criticism but not ostracism.

- p100.

pottered

I'm wondering how long it will be before, without making any effort to do so, I learn what happens at the end of the new, final Harry Potter book. Book endings usually survive longer than film endings.

I remember the first time someone talked to me about Harry Potter books, I thought that was the author's name.

Friday, 20 July 2007

final batch of shampoo planet quotes

The kids aren’t high, though. They’re bestial, alternating between being mean as a sack of cats, or as dull as a sack full of sacks.
- p197

After lunch Neil shepherds me into a tepee sweat lodge in an alder grove behind the house. Stephanie, daggers in her eyes, has been delegated by Neil to stay behind in the kitchen to help clean up. ‘We have male energies and lore to exchange.’
As Neil and I walk out back, naked except for yellowed, frayed guest towels wrapped round our waists - towels stolen two decades back from the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco - I see Stephanie’s face through an oval kitchen window, her hands washing dishes in the sink. She’s angry as a buzzing hornet at having been abandoned in the 13th century.
- p199

I have had joy in helping Stephanie share in the exuberance and abandon of the New World, but in the process, I have witnessed a flaw emerge, like a silent genetic disease knitted into her DNA, which has now inevitably unraveled at this later date. The flaw is simple: because Stephanie was not born here, she can never *understand* here.
‘People in California meet people they have not seen for two years,’ she says while driving home from Venice, ‘and they say to each other, “So who are you *now*? What is your new *ray*-ligion? What new style of clothes are you wearing these days? What kind of diet are you eating? Who is your wife? What sort of house are you in now? What different city? What new ideas do you believe?” If you are not a completely new person, your friends will be disappointed.’
‘So?’ I ask.
‘Do you not see anything wrong with this constant change?’
‘Should there be? I think it’s great I’m allowed to reinvent myself each week.’
- p222

Tyler, I’d like to think ‘my trip around the block’ these past few years has not been entirely for naught. So at this point, I think I will offer you a perception of my own which might save *you* some time.
What I will tell you, son of sons, is this: shortly, if not already, you will begin noticing the blackness inside us all. You will develop black secrets and commit black actions. You will be shocked at the insensitivities and transgressions you are capable of, yet you will be unable to stop them. And by the time you are thirty, your friends will all have black secrets, too, but it will be years before you learn exactly *what* their black secrets are. Life at that point will become like throwing a Frisbee in a graveyard; much of the pleasure of your dealings with your friends will stem from the contrast between your sparkling youth and the ink you now know lies at your feet.
Later, as you get to be my age, you will see your friends begin to die, to lose their memories, to see their skins turn wrinkled and sick. You will see the effects of dark secrets making themslves know - via their minds and bodies and via the stories your friends - yes, Harmony, Gaia, Mei-lin, Davidson, and the rest - will begin telling you at three-thirty in the morning as you put iodine on their bruises, arrange for tetanus shots, dial 911, and listen to them cry. The only payback for all of this - for the conversion of their once-young hearts into tar - will be that you will love your friends more, even though they have made you see the universe as an emptier and scarier place - and they will love you more, too. Zero balance (a get-cracking term from the KittyWhip manual).
Our achievements may make us interesting, Tyler, but our darkness makes us lovable. You will have dark secrets, Tyler, and I will still love you. Dan has his dark secrets (well, they’re not really secret with him, are they?) and I still love him in my own way. And yes, Tyler, I have my own dark secrets. And I hope you’ll love *me* still. Beauty and sadness are woven together; even Frankenstein gets lonely. So Tyler, you’ll just have to forgive Dan. If you do, you’ll beat me to it, but forgiveness is what we have no choice but to work toward, or else we are just animals. Dark animals. And *that* is too much to bear. God likes you less for staying home and doing nothing than he does for you going out and maybe getting into a little trouble. Risk the trouble of forgiving Dan. Then forget about him.
- p246

- Douglas Coupland, Shampoo Planet

history

Started watching tonight the repeat of Andrew Marr's History of Modern Britain, which we missed the first time round. I also finished watching Niall Ferguson's War of the World documentary series from last year, the interesting thesis of which was that the 20th century was one long world war, driven by ethnic conflict rather than national, political or religious factors.

thursday night is comedy night

... and when I'm not leading the Bible study group, there's a triple bill of Mock The Week, Hyperdrive and Still Game. Brrm tsh.

Hyperdrive's not exactly been critically acclaimed, but we like it. I remember a line from last series, the commander pretending that all was well on board despite background noises: 'I've got to go now and judge the ship's screaming competition'.

Mock The Week has a good set of regulars - I'm not sure why Andy Parsons hasn't done more on telly, he's so good on radio, and I don't think I'd ever heard of Frankie Boyle before (very good, knuckle-nearness notwithstanding). Line from last series; Dara O'Briain saying he's free to make jokes about Islam 'but I'm happy to say I'm not contractually obliged to'.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

extraordinary rendition

Latest Private Eye's highlight - Muslim man on stage singing Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?, in the company of a blacksuited sunglassed goon, and one audience member saying to another, 'What an extraordinary rendition.'

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

grendon

Interesting article from Saturday's Guardian on Grendon prison and its therapy techniques.

blame yourself; deadpan

I'm liking Lucy Mangan's columns in the Saturday Guardian magazine. This is 'a very British column' in response to the idea that 'Britishness' should be taught in schools:

I spent most of this week on various end-of-term trips in London with a class of Year Sevens and so, as I lie here recovering, I feel qualified to announce that Britishness seems to be thriving in our schools already, sans banker intervention, as the following vignettes show.

Scene 1: Greenwich Ecology Park
Three girls are lying companionably next to each other, fishing with nets off the jetty for tiny forms of marine life. The girl in the middle transfers her latest catch into the display tank.
GITM: "Oh no, it's so little - I fink I've killed it. I 'ope I 'aven't killed it!"
Girl On Her Right (comfortingly): "Don't blame yourself."
Girl On Her Left (mutters darkly): "Blame yourself."

Scene 4
The girls are still fishing off the damned jetty. I am lying next to Aisha. We have never met before.
Aisha: "So, do you work here then, Miss?"
Me: "No, I'm just helping out. I work for a newspaper called the Guardian."
Aisha: "Oh. [An expression that redefines the word deadpan.] I wondered why there was so many spelling mistakes."

tragic life stories

I noticed a few weeks ago that there is now a whole section in WHSmith's bookshelves with that title. I really don't get why there's such a big market for those awful tales; they hold no appeal for me at all.

Sunday, 15 July 2007

the indigo saxophone quartet

I heard my second saxophone quartet of the year on Thursday 5th at a free lunchtime concert in Southwark Cathedral Square. Despite the breeziness, The Indigo Saxophone Quartet managed to hold onto their scores and did good arrangements of classical and jazz material.

dornford yates; pink-floyd-triggered memories

Yesterday we went to Hiller Gardens. I say we. The others went round the gardens. I sat and read most of The Brother of Daphne by Dornford Yates while listening to four albums on my iPod: Ummagumma live CD, Wish You Were Here, Tubular Bells and Five Miles Out (the iPod which, coincidentally, I have left today in my jacket at Daphne's house).

I first came across Dornford Yates in a quotation from his work on a short-lived TV book quiz programme when I was in school or uni (coincidentally another such programme starts this week on BBC4), a quotation I found sufficiently amusing to think I must read something of his, and I picked up a couple of old paperbacks in due course: Berry and Co (1921 - which I still have, unread, although I've a feeling either I dipped into it or I read another one of his, which is less likely since it would have been a later volume - Berry and Co's the third - and that's not like me) and Blind Corner, a 1927 story of adventure on the continent which I did read and didn't think much of (but then I'm not much one for adventure stories).

When we were down visiting Naomi previously we went to Keyhaven and Lymington, and in one of the charity shops in the latter was a pretty comprehensive set of Dornford Yates hardbacks, so I limited myself to getting the first two - The Brother of Daphne (1914) and The Courts of Idleness (1920 - can't think what caused that delay).

Brother of Daphne is peculiar in that every chapter follows the same format - our idly wealthy narrator is with his sister, brother-in-law and two cousins somewhere, and while apart from them encounters a beautiful woman in odd circumstances in which they largely maintain their anonymity, flirt wittily, usually undertake some odd wheeze, kiss and part, sometimes to be reunited when the woman turns out to be someone they were all going to meet. Everyone banters wittily, and it did have some clever and witty lines (I guess you'd have thought more so in 1914), but it would pale in comparison with someone like PG Wodehouse. Dated, then, but like a lot of the old English novels I read, a fascinating insight into English social history. An impressive amount of KJV allusions.

Listening to Ummagumma often makes me think of going to see a musical double bill at the Seaforth cinema (in the room which doubled up as a disco, so quite odd seating arrangements) with Malcolm, Catherine and Ann: Thank God It's Friday, which was barely okay, followed by Pink Floyd: Live at Pompeii. We left before the end, because the other three were bored, but I really wanted to stay. Ah well.

And in Sixth Year English, Louise had the words of Wish You Were Here written on her bag or jotter cover.

Funny the things you remember.

philosophy of delusion

A brief article in The Briefing quotes a bit from an article/essay by Alvin Plantinga on The God Delusion. I skimmed through the hefty philosophical essay, which may be one of those that disappears behind a moneywall in due course, so I'm pretty sure I'll never do it proper justice.

The quoted bit was from these paras: 'Dawkins is perhaps the world's most popular science writer; he is also an extremely gifted science writer. (For example, his account of bats and their ways in his earlier book The Blind Watchmaker is a brilliant and fascinating tour de force.) The God Delusion, however, contains little science; it is mainly philosophy and theology (perhaps "atheology" would be a better term) and evolutionary psychology, along with a substantial dash of social commentary decrying religion and its allegedly baneful effects. As the above quotation suggests, one shouldn't look to this book for evenhanded and thoughtful commentary. In fact the proportion of insult, ridicule, mockery, spleen, and vitriol is astounding. (Could it be that his mother, while carrying him, was frightened by an Anglican clergyman on the rampage?) If Dawkins ever gets tired of his day job, a promising future awaits him as a writer of political attack ads.

'Now despite the fact that this book is mainly philosophy, Dawkins is not a philosopher (he's a biologist). Even taking this into account, however, much of the philosophy he purveys is at best jejune. You might say that some of his forays into philosophy are at best sophomoric, but that would be unfair to sophomores; the fact is (grade inflation aside), many of his arguments would receive a failing grade in a sophomore philosophy class. This, combined with the arrogant, smarter-than-thou tone of the book, can be annoying. I shall put irritation aside, however and do my best to take Dawkins' main argument seriously.'

Most of the rest of the essay then goes on to tackle this main argument ('Why there almost certainly is no God'), in a 'philosophical' rather than 'theological' way, Alvin being a philosopher. The issue of it being philosophy rather than science is interesting.


Later: Alex picked up on this, and wrote this post:
thursday, july 19, 2007

The Dawkins Confusion?
Iain points the way to a review of "The God Delusion" entitled "The Dawkins Confusion" written by Alvin Plantinga. I've just read through it and whilst it got off to a fair start I began to feel that Plantinga's view of Dawkins is as laden with "insult, ridicule, mockery, spleen, and vitriol" (Plantinga's words) as he states that "The God Delusion" is. It would appear that Plantinga, whilst offering some praise for the science of "The Blind Watchmaker", does not care for Dawkins' viewpoint. Indeed he is very scathing in his appraisal of Dawkins as a biologist who is trying to tackle philosophical issues.

I started to wonder why Plantinga (who I confess I hadn't heard of before) was being so vociferous in his critique of Dawkins and also about Plantinga's grasp of matters relating to biology, evolution and probability. Well, it would seem that Plantinga is specifically a Christian philosopher and, according to Wikipedia at least, a "tentative support[er] of intelligent design" - the titles of some of his papers (I hope to return and read some of his papers when I have more time) would appear to confirm this. I can respect taking a Christian stance in this debate but arguing against the established science of biology and the theory of evolution from the evidentially and scientifically lacking standpoint of ID is unwise, and to me this is exactly what Plantinga does in parts of his review.

Anyway, I feel now that what I thought began as a balanced review is really just another diatribe. A diatribe released by someone who's views are not only contrary to those of Dawkins but are the same views that Dawkins seeks to question/attack/belittle/condemn/destroy/ridicule/????? - insert your own choice based on how polarised you are by Dawkins' views and style. So much for the objectivity of the reviewer - though in this case I guess he's done his job by getting to me in the same way that Dawkins obviously gets to him!

Richard Dawkins does use confrontational language at times and he is scathing of various views and ideas but, sadly, it seems these are the types of method needed to raise our sluggish consciousness these days. That said, I would rather someone used these methods to make me aware of their case instead of by running web sites with offensive URLs, waving banners that incite death and destruction, or by trying to blow people to bits.

posted by alex at 10:05 2 comments links to this post


Then I posted this comment on Alex's post:

Hi Alex,

It just goes to show that one man’s reasoned argument is another man’s rant! Plantinga’s name was familiar, but all I know about him is what I learnt when - as you also did - I looked him up on Wikipedia. I took it that although he was a Christian - the website on which his article appeared suggested that - he was writing primarily out of his academic discipline, and that he wouldn’t jeopardise his reputation with an argument that was biased nonsense. (Again, I presume his university is a reputable one, although I think the only context in which I’ve heard of any university called Notre Dame is American football... - ah, I see from splendid Wikipedia that it’s an RC institution, which isn’t going to impress you much, but it does also seem to have a good academic reputation, and it does seem to be the football place.)

I think we have to accept that people who hold the views being dealt with by Richard Dawkins are going to be among those responding to the book; it wouldn’t make for much of a discussion if those people were ruled out of bounds.

I read someone, possibly David Robertson, saying something along the lines that Christians in debate can be criticised whether they respond with equivalent robustness or with undue meekness, and that it does a disservice to the argument when you respond placidly to a strongly-expressed argument. I’m not entirely sure what I think of that. But again, I’m presuming that Mr Plantinga’s responding in a similar way here as he would in any other argument/discussion he was involved in in his academic field.

I have got David Robertson’s book now, The Dawkins Letters (each chapter in the form of an open letter responding to a chapter in Richard Dawkins’ book - not a format I warm to, but we’ll see), but I’ll need to read The God Delusion first. I’m not looking forward to that, really; not for fear of any of the issues and ideas he might raise - I honestly can’t imagine he’ll come up with something that I haven’t considered myself over the years - but because he really doesn’t like me, and he will treat me like an idiot because he thinks that’s what I am, so I don’t think it’ll be a very nice read. I understand he says that he hopes the book will persuade theists that they’re wrong, but if the book is anything like what I’ve read about it (mostly in secular places) then I’m not sure he’s going the right way about it (but maybe it’s not like I’ve read). A Christian book which set out to show how stupid atheists were, in order to persuade them they were wrong, might be read with approval by some self-satisfied and inward-looking Christians, but wouldn’t be showing much care or love for its target audience, and wouldn’t be likely to get a very fruitful response.

Which, rather oddly, makes me think of the Morecambe and Wise line, when Eric looks out of the window on hearing a police car nee-nawing past and says, ‘He’s not going to sell much ice cream going at that speed.’

And just to make a one-line response to your reference in an earlier post to Richard Dawkins’ view of the respect unduly accorded to religion, I’d have to say that if he thinks that Christianity is particularly respected then I’m not sure that he and I are living on the same planet. It doesn’t bode well for a meeting of minds when I get started on his book.

Best wishes,
Iain

PS - nice header photo, reminds me of home. I can picture where you are now (or where I think you might be).

11:03 PM


To which Alex responded:
Hi Iain,

I suspect you're right in that you may not enjoy reading The God Delusion. Dawkins is pretty hard on religion and on some of its proponents and he pulls few punches. I'm a little more than half way through it (slow going cause most of my time is spent decorating just now - impending house sale!) and there have been a couple of places where I've thought "steady on now, that's a bit harsh". But so far, it has been an interesting and fairly well informed read.

I suspect that because Dawkins is tackling such a sensitive topic both the secular and non-secular tendency may be to over-react to what he says. And I suspect that too many on both sides have jumped on the simplistic religion-is-stupid-therefore-it's-wrong" bandwagon. Dawkins does assert that some religious beliefs (and their followers) are stupid but does so in the context of some quite detailed arguments which do expose some aspects of religious thought as making little sense.

To close, I'll be looking for stuff that seeks to counter Dawkins soon. Don't like that sort of format either but David Robertson's book could be worth considering.

As always, thanks for your comment.

All the best,
Alex

11:23 AM

Sunday, 8 July 2007

technology overtaking

Charlie Brooker's Guardian column from Friday 30 June 2006 (yes, 6; got a problem with that? I pulled a little section of newspaper scraps from the bottom of my pile of newspaper scraps): 'Supposing ... I'm too old for MySpace: It had to happen, and it has. Age has crept up on me. I'm becoming resistant to technological change.'

Of course, Facebook's supplanted Myspace in terms of networking, but Charlie and I are definitely too old for Facebook. Myspace still has the music angle for oldies for whom the networking is not valuable.

Saturday, 7 July 2007

alistair darling

Brian Wilson's column in the WHFP this week refers to Alistair Darling's Hebridean connection, which I'd heard of before but didn't know what it was. Brian says Alistair 'is very much a half-Lewisman with his mother's roots deeply implanted in Bernera which Alistair and his family visit as often as possible. Indeed, there has not been a year in his life when he has not spent time on Lewis.'

kraftwerk would have been proud

A vast raft of entertainments, free and paying, were on offer today in London. What we did was watch some of the Tour de France prologue - started in Victoria Street area watching them practice and then the first few sprinters, then went along to the start in Whitehall, then along to the finish in The Mall.

the heavy metal citadels of the midlands

I liked this image from an item by Stuart Maconie in the March 2007 Word, plugging his new book on the north/south divide. 'Is there a North-South divide here [in music]? I think so. And it's not just about simple geographic origin. Whatever Liverpool thinks, The Beatles belong to the world. But in pop we are a divided nation, staring uncomprehendingly at each other across the heavy metal citadels of the Midlands.'

And yes, if you're counting, I'm about five months behind in reading my Words (even further behind on my Uncuts).

And of course I still give a hollow laugh mentally when people talk about 'The Midlands' and 'The North' and I think about where on a map of the UK those areas actually lie.

baggy trousers intro

I also learned from the March 2007 issue of Word that the 'school bell' sound at the start of Madness's Baggy Trousers was actually played on a CO2 fire extinguisher.

future boy

What I don't buy is this American anti-corporate 'campus' culture. I once met the Executive Vice President of Strategy, Imagineering & Futurology, aged 45, at Orange. The door of his office simply said 'Future Boy'. It had a Space Hopper in it.
- from the end of an Andrew Collins article in March 2007's Word on people like Innocent smoothies, with their cute messages and image, entitled 'Hey, hippie food packagers - stop treating us like kids!'

Friday, 6 July 2007

othello

We went to see Othello at Shakespeare's Globe on Tuesday 23 May, a late birthday outing. We had £15 restricted view seats, but they were actually very good - they were a pair of seats at the top of the stairs in the lowest level, with no seats in front of them; there was a pillar, but it didn't take much head-wiggling to be on top of what was going on. We'd get those again (being in the back row also means you have the back support of being up against a wall). It wasn't always easy to hear - partly distance, partly audience (many pupils/students), possibly partly actors) so if I was going on my own I'd still prefer standing.

We enjoyed it, although I did flag near the end of the first half, I thought. It was my first time seeing Othello - apart from the Orson Welles film, which we saw in the cinema once, possibly part of a double bill at the Riverside - and I don't feel a pressing need to see it again. Everyone was fine; Tim Mcinnerny as Iago was best. But couldn't overcome the fact that it's one of those stories based on false assumptions and miscommunication and misunderstanding that I'm not really keen on; I'm always thinking, if these people just spoke to each other, and didn't behave so stupidly, none of this would be happening. At bottom, it's just another tick off the Shakespeare list. I've just got a couple of minor history plays and disputed works to go.

The first, main batch of reviews. The Guardian. The Independent. Another from The Independent. Daily Telegraph article on Eamonn Walker.

I couldn't find reviews in the Times and Telegraph, surprisingly, so decided to take everything else that came up on the first page of a targeted Google search ('about 94' results): London Theatre Guide. Albemarle of London. Evening Standard. The Stage. OMH. London SE1. Extra Extra. Variety.

Adding 'blog' to my search terms narrowed it down to 'about 13' - they were mostly the reviews above, but also gave me the elusive review from The Times.

The only genuine blog the latter search threw up was Definitely, Maybe, Biscuit Anybody? - by Chloe Gallagher, who was acting as a steward at Shakespeare's Globe and who in real life is a live subtitler on Sky News and Sport and writes quite a nice blog. She saw bits of it on two different occasions, here then here. And she also reveals the whereabouts of The Observer review.

You can get massive amounts of reviews for some plays now; I used to struggle to get four or five. And with newspapers backloading their back issues online, I could probably go backwards through all the productions I've seen and find reviews for them, which would be interesting. To me, that is, which is the main thing. Had I but world enough, and time.

Any additional insights from this plethora of reviews? Well, quality is certainly in the eye of the beholder, given the range of reviews. Desdemona's pretty consistently highly rated, while I thought she was fine, which perhaps means it's a role it's usually hard to make something of. Iago well thought of, Othello mixed. And I might read Chloe's blog again.

Wednesday, 4 July 2007

paul mccartney ticket competition winner!

Sadly I didn't win the tickets in the Evening Standard for Paul McCartney's appearance on Thursday at the ICA as part of the iTunes Festival. But I was one of a thousand runners-up who won three free downloads from iTunes. That's the first thing I've won for ages, and I've never bought anything off iTunes before, so that'll be interesting. I can't imagine that, say, a side-long track costs the same as a 10-second track, but I'll find out before too long.

I've entered the draw direct at iTunes Festival for several of the concerts, so there's another batch of competitions I won't be winning.

Monday, 2 July 2007

unbeaten at wembley; played in every position

Two good sets of facts in this issue of The Guardian's Knowledge, the football-related trivia info sheet. Teams who have won every match they've ever played at Wembley, and players who have played in every position on the field. More of both than you might think

Sunday, 1 July 2007

on the ignorance of the learned

This is an excellent essay by William Hazlitt, 'On the ignorance of the learned', which I read in my Penguin Book of English Essays. Like a lot of valuable out of copyright material, it's available in several places on the internet, which saves a great deal of retyping. The essay is a salutary warning to those who read and write instead of living life, like myself.

Here is a further account of the unpleasant Baxter reference, preserved in Boswell's Life of Johnson, also reproduced online.