Monday, 20 December 2010


The Abode of Testimony: Be a witness and never impose anything on your fellow man.

Tariq Ramadan – BBC Radio 4 – Start the Week (23rd November 2009)

Saturday, 18 December 2010



It's just that I seem to like right-angles – in squares, cubes, rectangles etc. Increasingly, they fascinate me.
(Of course, there are no right-angles as such in this picture. Perhaps, that's what makes them even more fascinating.)

Thursday, 16 December 2010


Whoever saves one life, saves the world entire.

"The Talmud teaches us that saving one life is equal to saving the whole world."

BBC Radio 4 - Thought for the Day (19th November 2009)

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Academic Management

Management is what academics descend into when their ideas (if ever they really had any) start to dry up, thereby concluding their useful lives.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Found - 3


Found while going through some old notes. Something I did using an Apple Mac over a decade ago.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

It's a Funny Old World

The 'phone rang on Friday. This is a genuine record of the initial exchange.

'Phone: Ring. Ring.
Me: Hello.
Caller: Hello. Can I speak to Alan, please.
Me: I'm afraid you've got the wrong number. There's no Alan here.
Caller: Oh. Well, can you know what his number is, then?

They were not joking!
By the way, Alan. If you are reading this, someone called on Friday. Sorry, they didn't leave a message – just me bemused.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

An observation about the 'work' place

The world would be a far better place if there were not so many able people too busy doing their jobs to have the opportunity of being creative or innovative.

Consider this talk by Jason Fried entitled 'Why work doesn't happen at work'.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

In A Man's Mind's Eye - 3

Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicholas T. (Ludmil Siskov - 1980)
Anatomy Lesson of Dr Nicholas T. (Ludmil Siskov - 1980).
A witty pastiche of The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp (1632) by Rembrandt.
From my folder of miscellaneous images, the third of those in a similar vein.

Saturday, 6 November 2010

As Seen On TV


This screen capture was taken from this week's BBC2 Horizon programme called 'Asteroids - The Good, the Bad and the Ugly'.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Another Quote About Nothing – Perhaps

'The most important thing in music is what is not the notes.'

Pablo Casals

Sunday, 31 October 2010

In A Man's Mind's Eye - 2


From my folder of miscellaneous images, the second of those in a similar vein.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Antiquaries and (Academic) Historians

At the risk of labouring a point too much within a short space of time, I just came across a note I made earlier this year which is relevant to some of the comments that I have made on this blog recently.

On the radio, back in June, I heard an eminent British historian draw a contrast between antiquaries and academic historians. The former, he said, were largely without strictures – they did not find themselves straitjacketed – whereas, the latter were confined by the very fact of being academics. Being subject to the pressures and requirements that are increasingly being made of them, academic historians are less free to conduct the work they think interesting and worthwhile than antiquaries.

Kierkegaard's dislike of academia and of professors was one thing. Had he been alive now, his detestation, I'm sure, would also have been directed at those who run academia in the way that it has come to be run and who are putting these pressures on their staff. He might even have had some sympathy for the average academic. Although, perhaps, not too much.

(There is one other comment about academia that I remember hearing on the radio earlier this year. I have a note of it somewhere. If I find it, I shall blog it – but not yet. On this topic, I shall leave a pause for the time being.)

Friday, 15 October 2010

What are you paid to do?

Having referred recently to Kierkegaard’s attitude to academia – and professors in particular – I was taken aback recently when watching the BBC’s Horizon programme. A professor (that is, somebody who happens to have been given that title) was asked what he thought might be the case with regard something in his field of expertise. His reply was "I'm not paid to think. I'm paid to observe." Clearly, that is very much the case; he doesn’t think. Certainly, not very deeply or else he would see the weakness of such a response.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

The Answer … ?

I was only half-aware of the fact until this morning but numerically today's date is, of course, 10-10-10. It appears that there are people who see some sort of significance in this. Exactly what, I don't know. However, what struck me this morning was the interesting coincidence that the binary number 101010 is 42 in the decimal system. As those who know anything about The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy will be aware, the number 42 is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything.

Do I see any significance in any of this? I see as much significance as I – being red-green colour-blind - can see the number 42 below i.e. I cannot. (NB I had to get my wife to check that I had downloaded the right image!)


Saturday, 9 October 2010

Non-Professor Kierkegaard

I had a somewhat timely reminder today of Kierkegaard's attitude to academia – or, at least, his attitude to some of those in it. He is reported to have said that 'even if you offered me a place in the great edifice of the system, I would rather be the kind of thinker who just sits on a branch'. Kierkegaard famously loathed professional philosophy; he hated professors. 'What's the difference between a thinker and a professor?' he said. 'Take away the paradox and you have a professor!' Increasingly, I see his point.

See also: this at one of my other sites.

Monday, 4 October 2010

In A Man's Mind's Eye - 1


Looking through my folder of miscellaneous images, I find that I have a few images in a similar vein. Here is the first.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Not forlorn perhaps but still disappointing

Back in January I described how sad it was to have seen the old Borders bookshop in Charing Cross Road, empty. Today, I've been in Oxford and seen what has become of the Borders that used to be there. It's now a Tesco supermarket – and virtually next door to Sainbury's. I am of the opinion that a town can have too many supermarkets but it can never have too many bookshops.

A funny thing happened on the way back. As my train approached its next stop, it was announced that 'We will shortly be arriving into Leamington S-P-A'. (Amusing but I do wish they would say arriving 'at' though.)

Monday, 20 September 2010



This is inspired by the iPod app 'Tessellator' by Yuji Katsuma. (See: I did it with pre-prepared 1x1, 3x3 nd 5x5 squares in the spreadsheet OpenOffice Calc.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

A Quote About Nothing

'It takes a long time to understand nothing'

Edward Dahlberg

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

The eyes – and maybe the lips – have it.

I was taken aback by the picture on the cover of last week's Radio Times. There was something not quite right about Christina Hendricks's face. (Not that I've studied it – or any other part of her – in any detail.) I just looked at it as a face and quickly came to the conclusion that it wasn't so much a face as an exaggeration of a face.
On the cover of the Radio Times, her eyes seemed just too big. So I've searched for a picture with which to make a comparison. Below is a copy of the cover picture and a clipping I made from a video capture at a website called 'Admiring Christina Hendricks'. I think my conclusion is justified. She has, in the vernacular, been 'photoshopped' - and not only her eyes. I think that her lips may have been enlarged, too. Not to mention how the corners of her mouth seem to have been turned up.

See what you think.

RadioTimes(4-10Sept2010)   Hendricks2

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

The Old Grey What?

I was a fan of 'The Old Grey Whistle Test' when it was on television years ago. So when I saw a couple of DVDs of the show going cheap in a shop in the Helsinki Metro in 2006, I snapped them up. I also kept the receipt because of the amusing misprint.

Old Grey Whistling Test

Fans of the show will remember presenter Bob Harris affectionately as 'Whispering Bob'. Perhaps, the guys at the Free Record Shop in Helsinki think of him as 'Whistling Bob'?

Monday, 30 August 2010

To Ponder

I have been reading 'Friends, Lovers, Chocolate' – the second in Alexander McCall Smith's 'Sunday Philosophy Club' series of (mildly philosophical) novels. I say 'mildly philosophical' because the stories in these novels tend to move quite slowly and frequently digress to ponder – rather than thoroughly interrogate – various moral questions for a paragraph or two as they go along. The protagonist Isabel Dalhousie is the editor of an academic journal 'The Review of Applied Ethics' and is the vehicle via which McCall Smith can make his various philosophical musings.
On p52, Isabel is running her niece Cat's delicatessen while she is away at a wedding in Italy when we read what I thought was an interesting and concisely made observation:

'So the morning drifted by, and not once, she reflected, had she had the opportunity to think about moral philosophy. This was cause for thought: most people led their lives this way - doing rather than thinking; they acted rather than thought about acting. This made philosophy a luxury - the privilege of those who did not have to spend their time cutting cheese and wrapping bread. From the perspective of the cheese counter, Schopenhauer seemed far away.'

Even in retirement, when one might expect there to be plenty of time for thought, there may be little of note. I remember a retired man talking on a television programme once saying how he got up at 8.30am, had breakfast at 9.00am; read the newspaper and did the crossword, then did the washing up and pottered around the garden before having a cup of coffee at 11.00am. He then complained that the morning passed very quickly and that he didn't know where the time went. Had he stopped to think, he might have realised that he had just told us: 'doing rather than thinking'. Thinking about the crossword is a form of 'doing' – a thinking about a circumscribed task rather than a broader musing. Even when pottering around the garden – if all one is doing is checking on how one's plants and cuttings are doing – can be time when one fails to see much about which to ponder.

Monday, 23 August 2010

Line Walk - 2


(The lines have taken a walk here at sjlewisprojects.)

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Imagination vs Knowledge … vs Ignorance

I was watching the PhraseExpress online video (here) and saw this quote.


'Imagination is more important that knowledge'


Albert Einstein


While I agree, perhaps one might add '… but it shouldn't be used as an excuse for wilful ignorance'!

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The Metamorphosis of Dreams

At some point - at some moment in time - we pass from dreaming to waking and, as we do, we somehow know which is which.

And then, of course, there is also the reverse.

Friday, 13 August 2010

On being wise

'A fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees.'
William Blake

(It is not merely in the act of looking but in the process of perceiving that we begin to understand.)

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Time Capsules – An Irony

Look carefully at the screenshot below. It was taken from my iPod as I was about to listen to a Radio 4 programme on time capsules via the BBC iPlayer. Is it just me, or is there a certain irony in the fact that the programme expires after a week?


Tuesday, 3 August 2010



Although sometimes people are said to have caused offence, offence cannot be 'caused' only 'taken'. One cannot guarantee that by one's words or actions somebody else will be offended; there is no strict causal link between the two. Instead, people take offence and blame others for causing it. Surely this, in itself, is something that is potentially offensive!

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Father and Son


I saw this sculpture in Tartu, Estonia in August 2008. Even though I have been well acquainted with scientific diagrams which scale infants and adults to the same height (in order to demonstrate how body proportions change with age) for many years, I still found this representation rather striking.
Others to whom I spoke had an even stronger reaction. They reported that they found this sculpture to be rather eerie and unsettling – even frightening.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Geekie Humour

Here are some geek jokes I've had knocking around in a file for some time. It's time to set them free.

  • There's no place like
  • There are 10 types of people in the world: those who understand binary and those who don't. Whereas, there are three types of mathematician in this world: those who can count and those who can't.
  • The glass is neither half-full nor half-empty: it's just twice as big as it needs to be.
  • Roses are #FF0000, Violets are #0000FF …
  • Without geometry, life is pointless.

… and if you didn't like the above, just give me a <br/>.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Bus Man

Who is the man on the Clapham Omnibus?
Who is the man on any bus?
Is he a poet?
Or, is he a hermit among men,
Travelling alone?

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Monday, 12 July 2010

Appropriate Sentiments

Last week, I wrote a few brief words at the passing of a friend. Still sad about this, I thought the following words appropriate.


No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;
if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

John Donne  (1572-1631)

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

In Memoriam

Today, I wept bitter tears at the loss of a friend and for those left behind.

In the midst of life, we are in death.

Wednesday, 30 June 2010



Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Harmonograph - 2


(My harmonograph images are now kept at: sjlewisprojects.)

Monday, 28 June 2010


When asked why he wrote music, a composer once answered that it was because there was music inside his head that didn't yet exist. Writing it gave it existence.

It has been said of the French existentialist thinker, Jean-Paul Satre, that he was, arguably, at his freest while under German occupation. His subversive action was to write.

The composer Gustav Holst once commented that he wrote now so that later he would write better.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Dreamlines - 2


Visit the Dreamlines website.

(My Dreamline images are now kept at: sjlewisprojects.)

Friday, 21 May 2010

The Strange Case of the Dual Perspective Google Map

This morning, while looking through Google Maps at some parts of Cardiff in which I used to live, I found the following odd mix of perspectives. The top image is what appears on Google Maps (reduced in size). The lower part of the image appears to have been taken from below (from the south looking north), whereas the upper part of the image appears to have been taken from above (from the north looking south). The two have then been stitched together seamlessly. Interesting how the invisible seam seems to be down the middle of a street in which I used to live.


This is even more evident when the image is rotated through 180 degrees, as can be seen in the image below:


To see the top image as it appears on Google Maps, click here.

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Simplicity, Complexity and Creativity

'Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, that’s creativity.'

Charles Mingus

(Shades of Confucius?)

Friday, 14 May 2010



Monday, 10 May 2010

Learning to write with my right hand …

Each month, since 10th February, I have been putting on this blog, a scan of my attempts to write with my right hand – me being naturally left-handed. Such a scan would have been due today, except that I have decided instead to limit my daily right-handed handwriting practice to a total of 100 days. Although my right hand handwriting isn’t perfect, I now feel confident enough to think of myself as being (at least semi-) ambidextrous. The 100th day occurs on 20th May i.e. in just 10 days time. So, I have resolved to leave the next scan, due today, until then.

To see how things have been progressing click: Handwriting.

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Found - 2


Found while going through some old notes. Something I did using an Apple Mac over a decade ago.

Tuesday, 27 April 2010


'To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive.'

RL Stevenson

In everything, speed implies the need for immediacy. Immediacy implies an absence of the need to think.

Thursday, 22 April 2010

The heavens are telling

For nearly a week the sky was clear. Barely a cloud; plain blue. Not a sound except the wind. And then one white line; another and then another. The planes are flying again. The sky is scared with the traces of passing planes. And now, back to normal, more than birdsong fills the air.

Friday, 16 April 2010

A Left-handed Quote

'The trait grants those who possess it a tendency toward more flexible thinking, the psychological freedom to question orthodoxies, and the cognitive facility to update beliefs.'

Melissa Roth - The Left Stuff

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

The world is to be seen

'A common man marvels at uncommon things. A wise man marvels at the commonplace.'


(Shades of Mingus?)

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Friday, 2 April 2010

For Good Friday

Jesus Was A Crossmaker

Judee Sill (1944-1979)

Sweet silver angels over the sea,
Please, come down flying low for me.

One time I trusted a stranger
'cause I heard his sweet song.
And it was gently enticing me,
Though there was something wrong.
But, when I turned he was gone.

Blinding me, his song remains reminding me
He's a bandit and a heart breaker.
Oh, but Jesus was a cross maker.

Sweet silver angels over the sea,
Please, come down flying low for me.

He wages war with the devil,
A pistol by his side.
And though he chases him out windows
And won't give him a place to hide,
He keeps his door open wide.

Fighting him he lights a lamp inviting him.
He's a bandit and a heart breaker.
Oh, but Jesus was a cross maker.

Sweet silver angels over the sea,
Please, come down flying low for me.

I hear the thunder come rumbling.
The light never looked so dim.
I see the junction get nearer,
And danger is in the wind.
And either road's looking grim.

Hiding me, I flee, desire dividing me,
He's a bandit and a heart breaker.
Oh, but Jesus was a cross maker
Yes, Jesus was a cross maker.

Sweet silver angels over the sea,
Please, come down flying low for me.

One time I trusted a stranger,
'cause I heard his sweet song.
And it was gently enticing me
Though there was something wrong.
But, when I turned he was gone.
Blinding me, his song remains reminding me,
He's a bandit and a heart breaker,
Oh, but Jesus was a cross maker.
Yes, Jesus was a cross maker.
Oh, but Jesus was a cross maker.

Sweet silver angels over the sea,
Please, come down flying low for me.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Web Find

I found this image while surfing the web this evening. I thought that it just looked interesting.

(Click the image to go to it's source.)CrossRefs

Friday, 26 March 2010

Giving birth

'Man's main task in life is to give birth to himself.'

Erich Fromm

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Poem For Sophie


Inspired by 'Poem For Rosemary' by Charles Cameron.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Found - 1


Found while going through some old notes. Something I did using an Apple Mac over a decade ago.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

Where do you work?

'I do my intellectual work within myself and once with other people, it's more or less irrelevant to me that they're intelligent, as long as they are kind, sincere, etc.'

Marcel Proust

Sunday, 21 February 2010

Hegel's Bike


I saw this interesting juxtaposition of commemorative plaque and bicycle in Heidelberg in January 2006 and couldn't resist taking a photograph. Exactly why I find it so interesting and exactly what this juxtaposition really means to me is a mystery even to myself. It is perhaps something to do with the visual association of the profound (philosopher) and the mundane (bicycle). What is more, something about the clearly modern staircase to the side of the building makes me think of Hegel as living in an upstairs flat – a suggestion as fanciful as thinking of him riding a (yet to be invented) bicycle.

Saturday, 20 February 2010

To a Daughter Never Seen

A poem by J.M. Collard

If I should never see you in this world.
If war's inconsequence should claim me, too.
God grant me this.
That I may come to you when you're asleep,
With tiny fingers curled around your pillow,
With the moon's white rays making a halo 'round your golden hair.
Give me an hour to let me watch you there.
Midway between this life and death's dark waste.
And then perhaps when many years have passed,
You will recall a long forgotten dream,
Of how a stranger came when you were fast asleep,
And stooped and kissed your curly head.
And as you think of me there'll be a gleam of light,
Upon the valley of the dead.


I first heard this poem, some years ago on Radio 4's 'Poetry Please'. I found it so moving that I transcribed it from a recording I made of the repeat broadcast. Thus, the layout may not be exactly as originally intended.
Apparently, this poem is taken from 'War Poems of the Middle East (1940-1946)', although I'm not sure if that is the correct title; I have been unable to trace the book. Neither have I been able to find out anything about J.M. Collard. The feeling one gets from the poem is that he perished, claimed by 'war's inconsequence'; there is such a sense of prophetic foreboding. (I do very much hope that I am wrong though and that he and his daughter finally met and lived long and happy lives after the war.)

Friday, 19 February 2010

Friday, 12 February 2010

To ponder …

'Few things are as unique as a new idea.'


Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Tuesday, 9 February 2010


Although it will do them no good, many people want to be remembered long after they are dead; they want, it seems, to leave some sort of legacy. For some, nothing short of a monument will do. However, monuments collapse and memories fade and even if one's name is not forgotten, what is remembered is not the person that once bore that name but merely some distant impression of who they might have been.

Better, perhaps, is to have had a good idea and leave that as one's legacy. Leave that in the minds of one's fellow human beings so that it might enrich their lives for generations to come. Better that than try to make the future look back at some character from the past; a character that they will never really know for sure.

Sunday, 7 February 2010


'We work to become, not to acquire.'

Elbert Hubbard

Friday, 5 February 2010

The world as if mirrored

Even though there are things I do with my right hand, I consider myself to be naturally left-handed. Certainly, I write with my left hand. A couple of years ago, I made a serious attempt to learn to write with my right hand. This was for no other reason than for the fun of it. Everything went OK but after a while I stopped trying; I just got out of the habit.
Recently, I had another go at writing with my right hand. My writing is still rather spidery but legible. I certainly have not miraculously become a right-hander in the interim. What is particularly interesting though is the feeling inside my head when I am writing with my right (or should that be 'wrong') hand.
I have a feeling of disconnection from the world; a feeling of being 'mirrored' or of 'mirrored-ness' – if that makes any sense. It's an odd feeling and not one that I can, perhaps, fully describe. However, I shall persevere with learning to write with my right hand. I now have two reasons to do so: just for the fun of it and now, the need to explore this strange feeling I get when I am writing with my wrong hand.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Saturday, 30 January 2010

A most forlorn sight

One of the most miserable things I have ever seen is the empty bookshop that used to be Borders of Charing Cross Road. I walked past it last week. I used to pop in, whenever I was in London, just to wander about on the off-chance that something would catch my eye. Invariably something would. That is the deceptive danger of bookshops; I almost always find something I need – where no need existed before I entered.
Soon the shop will be turned into something else – says a sign taped to the window – but for now it is a hollow, unlit shell containing empty shelves; there was not a book in sight. There is something particularly empty about empty bookshelves. Especially those that you have never known to be anything other than full of books. So far as I could see, there was not even one torn or damaged book left lying on the floor. All had vanished.
It is not that the shelves were merely empty. It was much more than that: they were missing all the words and ideas that used to be contained inside the books they used to carry. All those words and ideas that used to be laid out in such a way as to make them readily accessible and sometimes quite irresistible.
Now, no words or ideas remain. As such, the shop has become a vacuum.

Saturday, 23 January 2010



Visit the Dreamlines website.

(My Dreamline images are now kept at: sjlewisprojects.)

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

The Frankfurt School

One of the intentions of the Frankfurt school of social thinkers was to write philosophy in short, poetic aphorisms rather than as long elaborate treatises. This is an interesting idea to explore. Given the breadth of philosophical enquiry, it does not necessarily follow that one writing style fits all objects of investigation. However, at the moment only the traditional forms of extended prose seem to be used. What might the short, poetic style – aphoristic or otherwise – have to offer?

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Harmonograph - 1


(My harmonograph images are now kept at: sjlewisprojects.)

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Seeing and looking

'One can travel this world and see nothing. To achieve understanding it is necessary not to see many things, but to look hard at what you do see.'

Giorgio Morandi

Friday, 8 January 2010

Line Walk


(The lines have taken a walk here at sjlewisprojects.)

Friday, 1 January 2010

The Basic Idea

I am an inveterate note maker and scribbler - on bits of paper, in computer files, in the cloud etc. Similarly, I am a collector of things - tangible things, objet d'internet, things that I just find interesting. Every so often these get sifted, filed away or discarded. Sometimes, as I do this, I think that it is a pity that nobody else gets to share in what I have found appealing.

So, rather than simply collect a plethora of notes and images in various forms that would go largely unseen by anybody else but me - and eventually be lost to all - I thought that I would blog some of them instead. That way my loose thoughts and ideas - and anything else that I think worth keeping - can be collected into one convenient place; both convenient for me to access
- because, importantly, blogs are 'taggable' - and convenient for me to share.

This, then, is something of an open repository of stuff that simply appeals to me or concerns me in one way or another. Please, don't be put off by any apparent lack of organization or structure. Embrace it instead. (Alternatively, you can always use the tags.)