Posted in February 2012

Steinbeck on Writing

Steinbeck on Writing

John Steinbeck is to me the greatest writer ever. The opening paragraph to ‘Cannery Row’ not only sets the scene as compactly as can be, it also has the rhythm of the Cannery, so you can hear it as you read it. He is largley famous for his bleak portrayals of Depression poverty, but he … Continue reading

Words and Understanding

Words and Understanding

Many years ago, when I was still pretending to be a medical student, I dropped in on an Italian friend, in the midst of a barbecue with her extended family. I was introduced to her non-English speaking grandmother as ‘il dottore’  and she insited on sitting opposite me at the dinner table and telling me … Continue reading

Father and Daughter

Father and Daughter

The wonderful ‘Mr Lessmore’s Flying Books’  won the Oscar for best animation, but here’s one from 2000, ‘Father and Daughter’ by Michael Dudok de Wit. It is described as a story of love between father and daughter, but I saw it as part of an exhibition at ;sHertogdenbosch Art Gallery on the subject of time. … Continue reading

In Your Face, Dawkins

In Your Face, Dawkins

Sorry about that heading. It was suggested by a friend who is now being dealt with by the proper people. But it seems to have got your attention. Welcome. My last post led me to think that cave art suggests art preceded religion. There is a language of artspeak that we have all seen in … Continue reading

Animals: Friends Who Became Strangers

Animals: Friends Who Became Strangers

“Things have changed, so I’ve found: You can pat a tractor all day, but it won’t look round” Animals look at us, possibly the same way they look at all other animals. But only men recognise it. We are aware of ourselves returning that look. Our modern world is different to the past in so … Continue reading

Frozen Time Frozen

Frozen Time Frozen

Cave art. I’m still working on it. Chauvet is the oldest, most famous and recent discovery, but there are lots of things that are blowing my brain cells on the topic. The caves are across Europe – there’s even one in England. But none in the middle – South Belgium, Germany, Romania, and the amazing … Continue reading

Entrepreneurs, Monks and Magic

Entrepreneurs, Monks and Magic

One of my favourite authors is the Cuban-Italian Italo Calvino. His ‘If On a Winter’s Night A Traveller’ is now counted as one of the first multimedia novels, in that instead of the usual straight line narrative, it is capable of being read in several different ways, and on several different levels. He was also … Continue reading

Extincting Dinosaurs

Extincting Dinosaurs

One of my favourite painters is Michael Sowa, who does incredibly detailed and surreal pictures, mostly of animals. They are intriguing and I really love the one titled ‘Why the Dinosaurs really died out’. It shows Noah’s Ark being tossed on stormy seas, with many animals – including a meercat on watch –  on deck. … Continue reading

Cultural Benefits of Insults

Cultural Benefits of Insults

When French naturalist Louis de Buffon described the inhabitants of the New World as : “feeble, hairless, mentally challenged and characterised by small organs of generation” his words triggered a surprising response in the colonials, especially Thomas Jefferson. The count’s thinking was that the New World was harsher than the old, so everything there must … Continue reading

Bartered Brides

Bartered Brides

As a sort of coda to my previous, this is about a practice that seemed to appear in the wake of the English Civil War, when churches were vandalised and some used as stables and markets,  and continued well into the 18th century. The idea of a wife standing in the public market place so … Continue reading