Sunday, January 31, 2010

tying some thoughts together

This past week I read both Stephen Fry and Tony Judt on their university days (well, a fictionalized version of Stephen's days).

Lin Yutang, the essayist and inventor of the Chinese typewriter, famously asked: what is patriotism but the love of the good things one ate in childhood? (from Alexander McCall Smith in The Guardian). That's a form 0f patriotism I can support. I made millionaire shortbread this week - every bite is like a wee time machine. A bit of an understatement to say that I have a very sweet tooth.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

'no community is best-served when only the elite have control'

Here's the JJ Abrams TED talk from which I stole the quotation. I am not feeling very inspired at the moment and JJ's mystery box was a big boost. Keri Smith, who seems to carry a portable mine of inspiration and creativity, blogs here. Her quote was very funny, I thought. And shows true respect for ideas.

And this is from the same page in my notebook.

You can explore Radio 4's History of the World in 100 Objects here. A delight.

Thursday, January 21, 2010


This is a bit of a random post, though there must be some thread of connection between the different ideas.

The drawings are both from my reading of the current NYRB, which seems to be where I get a lot of my ideas at the moment. It has the good balance between academic and popular appeal for me. Often, I am stunned by how moved I am by the reviews and essays. And by how much sense they make.

The 'embodiment' at the top of that page is something I have found myself animatedly chattering about with increasing frequency. I think it started last year when David Dark quoted Dylan on Johnny Cash and the 10,000 years of history that fell from him. Johnny Cash came to embody something that ran through his story and the songs but also goes beyond both. This reminds me of John Coletrane who, after giving his all in a performance was overheard saying, 'Nunc Dimittis', as he was coming off the stage. I am not really up to expanding on my thoughts on the page at the moment but will happily bend the ear of anyone who cares to listen. Particularly on why the time is right for Jeff Bridges to play the John Wayne part in the Coen's 'True Grit'.

And I think this quote best sums up how I feel about the muddying of religion and nationalism. I found it at Inhabito Dei, here.

I believe God made the St. Lawrence River, and the Rio Grande River, and the China Sea and the English Channel, but I don’t believe God made America, or Canada, or Mexico, or England, or China. Man did that. . . . It is doubtful that there has ever been a nation established for bad reasons. Nations are always established to escape tyranny, to combat evil, to find freedom, to reach heaven. Man has always been able to desire to build a heaven. But it seems he has never been able to admit that he didn’t pull it off. So he keeps insisting that he did pull it off. And that is really what patriotism is all about. It is the insistence that what we have done is sacred. It is that transference of allegiance from what God did in creating the whole wide world to what we have done with (or to) a little sliver of it. Patriotism is immoral. Flying a national flag—any national flag—in a church house is a symbol of idolatry. Singing ‘God Bless America’ in a Christian service is blasphemy. Patriotism is immoral because it is a violation of the First Commandment.

Will D. Campbell, “I Love My Country: Christ Have Mercy,” Motive (December, 1969)

happy birthday richard

It was my friend Richard's birthday a couple of week's ago (he received this on time).

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Monday, January 11, 2010

on the beach

Bright spot of the morning, in terms of a pick me up, anyway, was coming across this site - the excitement comes to me whenever I find people finding ways to do the thing that they love. The frugal filmmaking ethos is intriguing and energizing. Same for music, comics, bakeries, virtual city builders, and a whole host of others in far-flung places. I have been feeling a lot of small country envy and homesickness recently (being from a small country), so it struck a chord that Tom and Barb are doing all this within New Zealand (Tom is the DP on 'The Insatiable Moon', which I wrote on a few posts ago). And taking in the Berlin Film Festival on the way!

I have a friend here (from Ireland), who is moving to Berlin. He said that he and his German wife, new parents both, decided that they need to move to a socially democratic country to raise their child. This rings very true, particularly on the health care issue, which I think about at least once a day. So the frugal creativity and social safety net are driving at least some of my small country envy (although small countries and universal health care don't always go together). I have not really had a complete thought on this but that was where I was at today.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

singing in the kitchen

Snow from hoovesontheturf on Vimeo.

Mainly I like this video ( because of the setting. Spending time with someone in their kitchen surely has to be one of the best ways to get to know a person. I came across this at the Tea Appreciation Society blog.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010


During the Christmas season I read Beginnings and Endings [and What Happens in Between], Maggi Dawn's book of advent to epiphany reflections. She writes (for January 4th) on the borrowed rooms at the beginning and end of Jesus' life. Luke uses the same word (kataluma) for the inn where Mary gave birth and for the upper room, where Jesus celebrated Passover with the disciples. January 4th was the first day in which I really faced the new year, cleaning my resume again, looking for work, and applying for jobs. It was an overwhelming day and I reached the end stressed about my lack of direction, lack of security and feelings of inadequacy. It was good to be reminded that Jesus came into the world with nothing, and left it thirty some years later with nothing.

I don't take this to mean that I will have to go through life with nothing but reflecting on Maggi Dawn's words I had some sense of a smile from God, of a trusting way to be in the world. This was something.

And, in a way that is a bit of a mystery to me, the quote from the Tempest reinforced this. Of all actors, I think I associate John Gielgud most strongly with Shakespeare.

Sunday, January 3, 2010


'Jamesian' is the name of the poem in the bubble, by Thom Gunn, who also said:
'I do believe in poetry as an activity reflective of one's life at its fullest - not only reflective but it actually can be one's life at its fullest'
That's a pretty tall claim. From this article.

on living parables

Hat tip to Jim Gordon.