topic: west

a new covenant with nature

God gives the spark of life to Adam

It is no surprise that human rights as a formal system, as legislation, should have arisen from the two cataclysms of ‘civil war’ that the Europeans brought upon themselves, and into which they drew so much of the rest of the world. As a way of trying to avoid descent into the horrors of the Rape of Nanking, of the Eastern Front, and of the Holocaust, it is essential, that at the heart of our […]

competition versus brotherhood

A mania for competition so possesses our societies that it is hard to imagine any other way of being, and yet I think it is critical that we free ourselves from its grip. In the West, the Christian churches, from long habit, had an explanation for everything. Alas, with the rise of science, these churches chose to cling to Old Testament ‘certainties’, with the result that, when the cosmology of ‘Creation’ was overturned, the New […]

a bite of the cherry

policeman in front of a picture of Mao...

It seems that those of us who live in the West may need to get used to the fact that our economies are not going to return to constant growth. The belief that things are going to always continue to get better – at least in the sense of a constantly growing GDP – has always been a fantasy: constant growth of the kind we’ve experienced, that consists of consuming the Earth’s resources, presupposes that […]

the divided brain…

The Master and the Emissary...

The Master and His Emissary: The Divided Brain and the Making of the Western World is not a self-help book, nor is it one of those books of cod-philosophy that promise amazing (though ultimately ill-founded) insights into the modern condition. It is instead a carefully argued thesis meticulously supported by references to research, as well as by appeals to personal experience. Its core premise is that we possess a single consciousness, but two wills: one […]

50 in New York

ricardo in Time Square...

Something I’ve rabbited on about before is how the world is homogenising – the more I travel, the more it seems to me that everywhere is becoming the same. If this is even true for Sri Lanka, then how much more so is it for travelling between the UK and New York? But before I go into that (I think this is going to become quite a ramble, but hopefully you will forgive me, now […]

Ming vases…

Wen Zhengming painting

Even in childhood I was baffled as to why oil paintings sold in auction houses for countless millions, while equally exquisite works of art from other cultures seemed lucky if they fetched thousands. One exception is the ubiquitous ‘Ming vase’… examples of which appear in everything from Tin Tin to baroque palaces across Europe. Another are ancient artefacts, though these again seem to be valued less for their aesthetic qualities than for how close they […]

manners

Moctezuma meets Cortez

When Cortez first met Moctezuma, the emperor of the Aztecs advanced towards him half-carried by a couple of his relatives, as if he were some fragile invalid. This affectation was one that Moctezuma could allow himself, lord as he was of the conquerors of Central America that, to its inhabitants, was the navel of the Earth and the greater and best part of the world. No doubt this kind of posturing was copied by lesser […]