topic: culture

consuming individuality

It occurs to me that, rather than individualism leading to consumer culture, it is the other way round. Perhaps this is obvious, but it is only recently that I have become aware how – with each choice I make; for the clothing I wear, the furniture I have in my home, the kind of soap I use, the kind of food I choose to eat – I distance myself from my fellow man. I see […]

a New Renaissance II…

I am returning to flesh out my contention that we are living through a new Renaissance, because I feel it helps me make sense of what I see happening around me, and I hope it may be of use to others out there… For most of human history, the number of ‘artists’ working at any given time were necessarily few – thus perhaps the excitement with which we unearth any artefact, however basic – and […]

on the Trans-Asia Express…

Blue Mosque & Hagia Sophia interiors with exquisite Islamic calligraphy...

It was colder in Istanbul than in Scotland when I arrived, blustery and lashing rain. I spent the next day, my only day in the city, incredibly cold, but unable to return for an extra layer – I had not thought to bring warm clothes at all – because my rucksack was locked away in a cupboard in the hotel I had had to check out of. The Blue Mosque was closed for prayers – […]

arrival in Istanbul

I hate flying. I hate flying for several reasons. For one being transported like sheep in a truck. For another the being processed like a parcel – moved around on conveyor belts, weighed and stamped, shunted from one tedious wait to another. The apparently glamorous ultra-modernism of grand airport terminals is hardly a compensation, saturated as they are by advertising and all the vulgar excesses of rampant consumerism. Worse of all is that, like the […]

a new renaissance?

Sunday past I went to a performance of Philip Glass’ 1000 Airplanes on the Roof in a hangar, at East Fortune in Scotland, that has been built around a decommissioned Concorde. It was a promenade concert – allowing us to walk around as the piece – a “melodrama in one act” – was acted out, and the music played. I found the conductor Jessica Cottis to be more worth watching than the actor. She conducted […]

naked books

the old and the new...

Once upon a time books wore nothing more than a leather jacket. This could be decorated, it’s true, and be inscribed with the title and author’s name; brands burned into an animal’s hide. More recently, books began wearing paper covers sporting bold designs, but also an ever increasing baggage of quotes and comments and general blurb. Though this clothing can serve to make a book into a seductive and glamorous object, it seems to me […]

buying it

Americanisms have been entering Britain for quite some time. It is natural for oldtimers like me to bemoan the language being pulled out from under us. However, I am well aware that it is inevitable that language should change constantly – and I am certainly not interested in being any kind of linguistic (proverbial) Canute. Further, I am also aware that it is an error to see American English as diverging from British English: the […]

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 […]

yoga bear…

bear demonstrating yoga posture "dancing bear"

This picture is one of several taken by Meta Penca, a 29 year old web programmer from Slovenia, of Santra the bear doing her exercises at the Ahtari Zoo in Finland. Strangely, or not so strangely, this is exactly the same as the yoga posture Merudasana, Balancing Bear Posture (rather more prosaically also known as Upavishta Konasana, Seated Angle Posture.) Taking this name into account and comparing the two photographs, it seems obvious to me […]

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 […]