Monday, 29 August 2016

Prose as poetry

I once watched a BBC television series by the historian Simon Schama. I don't remember its title but there was a scene that I do remember vividly. It was when Schama wandered through the dilapidated remains of an old synagogue. He ponders on what it used to be like. I found the prose so poignant and poetic that I transcribed his words. (The line divisions and punctuation are mine.)

At first it seemed like a place of utter desolation.
But then I saw the stylised angels' wings,
Hovering over the ceiling.
Out of the dust burst the colours.
The blues of heaven;
The reds of the kings of Judea;
The rainbows coming through the glass.
And then, amidst all this absence,
I began to sense the presence:
The cantor's chant;
The murmuring banter.
And there in the gallery the women;
And below the men in silk hats.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

A favourite part of the London Underground

Perhaps you've got to be a bit of a London Underground enthusiast (or perhaps just a railway enthusiast in general) to appreciate this but my favourite part of the London Underground system is the Piccadilly Circus Bakerloo Crossover (at the northern end of the Bakerloo Line platforms). I can still remember the first time I saw it from the carriage of a Bakerloo Line train when I was about 13 years old. It's as fascinating now as it was then. Here are a couple of pictures from different angles and quite different dates.

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Epictetus - 17

From: The Golden Sayings of Epictetus (translated by Hastings Crossley) - from Project Gutenberg.

I am free, I am a friend of God, ready to render Him willing obedience. Of all else I may set store by nothing—neither by mine own body, nor possessions, nor office, nor good report, nor, in a word, aught else beside. For it is not His Will, that I should so set store by these things. Had it been His pleasure, He would have placed my Good therein. But now He hath not done so: therefore I cannot transgress one jot of His commands. In everything hold fast to that which is thy Good—but to all else (as far as is given thee) within the measure of Reason only, contented with this alone. Else thou wilt meet with failure, ill success, let and hindrance. These are the Laws ordained of God—these are His Edicts; these a man should expound and interpret; to these submit himself, not to the laws of Masurius and Cassius.

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Two thoughts together

I found, in my collections, two quotations that I think belong together.

'Logic will get you from A to Z; imagination will get you everywhere.' – Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

In her 'Science as Salvation' (p62), Mary Midgley wrote that G.E. Moore (1873-1958) suggested (in his Principia Ethica) that the highest human good was the 'admiring contemplation' of beautiful objects or beautiful people, to which she added 'I think he did suggest the detached museum-attitude'.

Exactly why I think these two ideas belong together is another matter. I'm not sure that I know, I just feel that they do.

Friday, 5 August 2016

So many clocks. Why, so many clocks?

Why are there so many clocks on so many things? Ovens have clocks when all they really need is a timer. After all, my bread-maker and my washing machine both have timers (and start delay options) without the need for a clock; so I have no complaint there. However, every personal electronic device has a prominent clock declaring the time whether I want to know it or not. No manufacturer of these things - so far as I can tell - has provided us with the option of turning these clocks off. Telling us the time is the first time these things do. It is not the first thing I want to know when activating these things.

On my laptop and tablet - and on my office PC - I have either removed or hidden the clock. If I want to know the time, I choose to look; to find out. After all, I have a watch (kept in my pocket; I never wear one). If I need to know the time, I can check (or set an alarm). I do not need to be told the time all the time.