Friday, 29 November 2013

Welcome to the Cruise

I can't say that I'm a fan of Judie Tzuke. Until a few weeks ago, I had only ever heard one of her songs - Stay With Me Till Dawn which I think is excellent for the feelings and atmosphere it evokes. However, I had previously seen this album cover many years ago and when I saw it again recently I was struck by it once again. I can't explain what it is about this image that appeals to me or why it should. It just does.

Saturday, 23 November 2013

The Day JFK Died - Thoughts the day after the 50th Anniversary

It is often said that people can remember where they were when President Kennedy was assassinated. That is not, of course, true in the strictest sense. Rather, they can remember where they were when they heard that President Kennedy had been assassinated. Be that as it may, nobody ever seems to take into account false memories or recollections that are misconstrued in some way.

A friend of mine - who is much the same age as me - tells me that he remembers hearing about the assassination at lunchtime the day it happened from the nuns at his Catholic school. The nuns asked everybody to pause and say a prayer before being allowed to continue with their lunch. My recollection is very different. It was a Friday evening when I heard. Friday night was bath night and so I was sitting in the zinc bath in the living room (there was no bathroom in the house in which we lived). The coal fire was burning to my right and I was watching the television on the sideboard in front of me. Programmes were interrupted to announce Kennedy's assassination, whereupon advertised programming was suspended. Broadcast instead was a man playing sombre music at a grand piano.

So whose recollections are more accurate? Unless my friend had gone to boarding school (which he did not) and was dinning (rather than lunching) quite late in the evening, I would have to go with my version. I recently heard that it was announced that President Kennedy was dead at 1pm Dallas time. Dallas is six hours behind London time. That puts the announcement at 7pm London time (on Friday 22nd November 1963). Then, allowing time for the news to be transmitted over the wires - these being the days before fast internet and satellite communication - a time more in keeping with my usual weekly bath time of around 8pm fits.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

A Philosopher In Meditation

I can across this painting on the web. The title given is A Philosopher In Meditation, although that may not be the subject matter as originally painted. It is purported to be by Rembrandt (1606-1669). I particularly like the twisting staircase which seems to represent the philosopher's convoluted chain of thought. He is concerned with higher things - or at least things that lead to a higher plane - unlike the woman in the corner who busies herself with more mundane matters like keeping warm.

I have subsequently also found on the web the following, very similar painting entitled Philosopher with an Open Book by Salomon Koninck (1609-1656) who was a contemporary and countryman of Rembrandt's and who apparently moved in the same circles. I suspect that copying was done not so much as an act of plagiarism but as a mark of respect.

Monday, 11 November 2013

What are universities for?

In the light of the recent newspaper headlines entitled 'Towering Stupidity' - detailing the indiscretions of a couple of students studying(?) not a million miles paces from here: a story that 'went global' within hours - I have subsequently come across this quote in some notes I made a year ago.

'Universities are for two things: Thinking and Learning.' (David Osler)

I'm not sure which David Osler that is; I can't find the quote attributed anywhere - I am, instead, relying very much on the trustworthiness of a colleague who gave me the quote. However, whoever said it, it provides serious food for thought. How the learning takes place is something open to debate but the requirement for thinking - and by implication deep thinking - is paramount (as events have demonstrated).

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

A Liberal Education

This summer, A.C. Grayling visited Gladstone's Library and delivered the Founder's Day address entitled 'The Necessity of a Liberal Education'.

For a taste of academia as it should be, watch the following video (at YouTube):

Follow this link: Gladstone's Library Founder's Day July 2013
NB The video is unlisted and can be linked to but not embedded.