Saturday, 29 March 2014

Letters to a Young Poet

I recently read Rilke's Letters to a Young Poet. These consisted of 10 letters that the Bohemian-Austrian poet, Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926) wrote between 1902 and 1908 offering advice to the aspiring poet Franz Xaver Kappus (1883–1966). They were collected by Kappus and published in 1929.

As somebody who likes solitude and quiet, I was particularly struck by the following passages taken from Letter 6.

...What is necessary, after all, is only this: solitude, vast inner solitude. To walk inside yourself and meet no one for hours - that is what you must be able to attain. To be solitary as you were when you were a child, when the grownups walked around involved with matters that seemed large and important because they looked so busy and because you didn't understand a thing about what they were doing.

     And when you realize that their activities are shabby, that their vocations are petrified and no longer connected with life, why not then continue to look upon it all as a child would, as if you were looking at something unfamiliar, out of the depths of your own world, from the vastness of your own solitude, which is itself work and status and vocation? Why should you want to give up a child's wise not-understanding in exchange for defensiveness and scorn, since not understanding is, after all, a way of being alone, whereas defensiveness and scorn are a participation in precisely what, by these means, you want to separate yourself from.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Barcode - Extra

Just to show that barcodes can be more interesting than they appear, here are two videos from Computerphile:

The Penguin Barcode

EXTRA BITS: More on Barcodes

Monday, 17 March 2014

Happy Saint Patrick's Day

I bind unto myself today
the strong name of the Trinity,
by invocation of the same,
the Three in One, and One in Three,
of whom all nature hath creation;
eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
praise to the Lord of my salvation,
salvation is of Christ the Lord.

(From the culmination of St Patrick's Breastplate - Fifth century trans. C. F. Alexander, 1889.)

(Visit the above, to hear the hymn and for a full transcript of the words)

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

On being remembered

In my previous blog, I mentioned being remembered by God as the basis for existence - perhaps persisting even into eternity. I should also note, in a similar vein, that the moto of the Worshipful Company of Scriveners is Littera Scripta Manet. This translates as The Written Word Remains. There is a certain immortality of sorts in this notion.

It is sometimes said that once something goes on the web it cannot be removed; it is there - somewhere - forever. I don't know how true that is but if it really is the case, one must be very careful - not least with spelling and grammar!

Another unattributed expression (or perhaps it is a quote, I don't know for sure) also springs to mind: Better dead than unread. A moto that seems to derive from a writer. This obviously plays upon what some Americans used to state during the cold war: Better dead than red (i.e. under communist rule). (NB This is a phrase whose provenance is not entirely clear. Click the phrase to read more. It will, in fact, take you to the inverse: 'Better red than dead'.)

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Remembered by God

One of my first jobs was working for a publisher called Falcon Books. When I started, they had just published a modern rendition of a number of psalms in a book called Psalm Praise. We were all given a free copy to celebrate.
I remember a few quite vividly. Pasted below is one of them. It raises an interesting theological point. Do we just exist or do we exist because we exist in God's mind? Perhaps in terms of the ideas propsed by Bishop George Berkeley (1685-1753).

Forgotten for eternity
is that to be my destiny?
Your face no more to smile on me,
oppressed by every enemy,
my soul enduring agony?
Oh answer me my God;
oh answer me, my God!

Restore to me serenity
and, in your gracious charity,
lest I should die, give light to me;
frustrate my gloating adversary,
uplift my soul in ecstasy,
and I'll rejoice, my God;
and I'll rejoice, my God!

Paraphrase of Psalm 13
Michael Saward

Saturday, 1 March 2014

29th Feb.

As I blog on 'sexy prime' days (5, 11, 17, 23, 29), today would have been a blog day as it immediately follows the 28th February. For those born of 29th February (during a leap year, of course), today you celebrate your birthday. So 'Happy Birthday'.

(For other interesting things about 29th February, see Leap year: 10 things about 29 February.)