Friday 24 April 2009

A Terrible Power

“There are fits of forgetfulness or deceit which terrify: you open your ears, you rub your eyes, not knowing whether you are awake or asleep. When the imperturbable individual to whom you owe such assertions descends from the rostrum and takes his seat impassively, you follow him with your gaze, suspended as you are between a kind of astonishment and a sort of admiration; you are unsure whether the man has not received some authority from nature giving him the power to recreate or annihilate the truth.”

François-René de Chateaubriand, Mémoires d’Outre-tombe, tr. A.S. Kline, Bk.XLII:8:1, published online by A.S. Kline.

A Fitting Symbol

“A better St George’s day message would have been to emphasise that George was either Turkish or Palestinian and that, like Christianity itself, his legend was an immigrant to these shores.” [1]

The expression of the need to emphasise non-Englishness on England’s national day is hardly a notable occurrence, having now become quite a tradition, but here Mr Giles Fraser adds to the festivities a strained and clumsy equivocation on the word “immigrant” which does at least deserve note. It seems that, since we have admitted some legends, ideas, and beliefs as “immigrants” from foreign lands, and we do not object too much to their presence, we ought not to refuse other immigrants of a more bodily kind. In this, Saint George is a fitting symbol: a foreigner who replaced a native — Saint Edmund.

[1] Giles Fraser, “St George the immigrant”, Comment is Free (The Guardian’s weblog), 23rd April 2009.

Saturday 11 April 2009

Uxorial Matter

“The materialist who is convinced that all phenomena arise from electrons and quanta and the like controlled by mathematical formulae, must presumably hold that his wife is a rather elaborate differential equation; but he is probably tactful enough not to obtrude this opinion in domestic life.”

Sir Arthur Eddington, The Nature of the Physical World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1928), p.341.

Wednesday 8 April 2009

Sympathy for Little Sadists

“The news that two children aged 10 and 11 have been charged with the attempted murder of two other boys is deeply depressing, . . . but I dread the possibility that children of that age will be forced to undergo a full-blooded public trial as if they were adults”, says Marcel Berlins of The Guardian. [1] “At that age, their brains are not yet fully developed, and one of the elements missing is mature judgment.” Yet it is to be dreaded that, if they remain as they are, if their brains stay as tender as mush, they may well end up becoming judges or journalists.

[1] Marcel Berlins, “I am dreading the possibility that two young children will be forced to undergo a public trial”, Comment is Free (The Guardian’s weblog), 8th April 2009.

Wednesday 1 April 2009

Street-Comedy in the UK

“Police intercepted a blue armoured car containing 10 anarchists — known as the Space Hijackers — who had come to the protests to make their feelings felt through the medium of street theatre.”

Sam Jones and Paul Lewis, “G20 protesters gather in City of London for series of demos”,, 1st April 2009.