A different way of crying

A different way of crying

Mia Couto’s book is about a man who nearly destroys his family through his fury, both manifest and inarticulate; and about the resilience of his sons in surviving it. I found this simple statement surprising and wise – it takes a lot of strength and...
A new breed of cultural object

A new breed of cultural object

I loved the unashamed enthusiasm of this statement, Rebanks having dedicated his life to preserving both this rare, tough breed of sheep, and the way of life that goes with it.  Also the novel idea (to me), of a breed as a cultural object. The breed is Herdwick and...
A poet on poetry

A poet on poetry

A surprising combination of qualities to look for in fine poetry (and other writing). Hard to think of poetry which comes closer to embodying all three than the meticulous, mysterious and fresh-voiced verse of George Herbert. ‘The three qualities I admire in the...
Thoughts on modern life

Thoughts on modern life

I found this passage striking and moving, perhaps putting its finger on the pulse of much contemporary malaise. It feels a valid and thoughtful statement though you can take issue with certain elements; such as whether pre-modern life was any better for most people,...
Certain of everything

Certain of everything

This statement by Robert Rubin resonated with me and, I believe, with Susan Cain, author of Quiet (a reassuring read if you share such a sense of doubt and wonder from time to time if you might be ‘introverted’). It reminds me of a note I found on my desk...
Global folly, global range

Global folly, global range

One of the pitfalls of globalization is the greater range for damaging stupidity which might formerly have been more easily corralled at a local level.This blunt prognosis is from a thoughtful piece by one of the world’s preeminent astrophysicists, the...
The book of life

The book of life

‘A million species of animals and plants are threatened with extinction. Three-quarters of the world’s land and two-thirds of its marine environments have been “significantly altered” by human action.’  I read these lines in The...
Aim high, 17th century style

Aim high, 17th century style

George Herbert, one of England’s greatest poets, as well as being a priest and the Orator of Cambridge University (something like today’s corporate spokesperson or public affairs director).  He also made a collection of a good thousand proverbs. Here is...
My kind of company

My kind of company

John Donne describes an accomplished woman with a wide-ranging capacity to converse intelligently.  I like the spectrum he chose: predestination to slea-silk and, it seems, everything in between.’She knew well how to discourse of all things, from predestination...
A big headache

A big headache

In the age of supermodels, it was fun to read that the 17th century Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi complained to her patron of the difficulties of working with ‘expensive female models’.I wonder if one of the ‘good ones’ she mentions is...
Non-negotiable

Non-negotiable

The 17th century Italian painter Artemisia Gentileschi names her price and sticks to it, in a letter to her patron. Incidentally slipping in some slurs on her Neapolitan counterparts. Elsewhere she mentions having had her ideas stolen and questions whether the same...
Slaves to the sun?

Slaves to the sun?

While for the most part these twin sisters are nothing short of bonkers, I liked when one of them questioned the tyranny of time, speaking with splendid disregard for the sun of day and moon of night. For other examples of their more eccentric exchanges, see how they...
Beware rash judgement

Beware rash judgement

Dante is cautioned to beware those who pass speedy judgement – ‘Anyone and his wife’ who think in witnessing a deed they can securely make assumptions about its karmic consequences.   ‘So we should be strict towards All people when they...
Yours to win, not lose

Yours to win, not lose

These racing monosyllables have the pace and certainty of one who runs, and lives, as if he can only win. I have a certain admiration for such bounding assurance.’But this one ran as if the race were hisTo win, not lose.  As his life was, and is.”… e...

Pin It on Pinterest