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Showing posts from May, 2012

A little learning is a dangerous thing...

[Edited to add (02/06/12): I keep taking this down and putting it back up again, because it was written in a moment of high emotion and it all seems a little bit too much about 'me', and 'feelings' and all that -- which, believe it or not, was not at all my intention when I started writing stuff. I hope I will find some more interesting things to write about in the future, but for now I will add this to the mix lest anyone think I am setting myself up as some sort of example of how to go about all this learning-and-thinking business. I am but come to it lately myself and have many mistakes yet to make...]

In the words of Jeff Buckley (albeit the song's a cover), "I think more than I want to think; do things I never should do". But I will stop there, because, mercifully, the drug references do not apply. "Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh." (Ecclesiastes 12:12b)

Over-zealous introspection, naive and…

Frankenstein's (and other) monsters

I have been reading Frankenstein. As a novel, there is too much about it which irks me to not have a little rant. But I consign and constrain it to a short footnote.[1]

There. Moving on…

Hmm. It is rather devastating to come face-to-face with yourself in a fictional work. Particularly when that mirror throws back a hideously deformed, emotionally dysfunctional, morally destitute and violently destructive monster.

At first, I thought I was the scientist -- nodding sagely at Shelley's knowing observations on the dangers of falling victim to the obsessive thirst for knowledge and learning (and ready, moreover, to pass on such advice to my academic and would-be academic friends):
"A human being in perfection ought always to preserve a calm and peaceful mind, and never to allow passion or a transitory desire to disturb his tranquility. I do not think that the pursuit of knowledge is an exception to this rule. If the study to which you apply yourself has a tendency to weaken your …

Search me...

Online privacy (or rather, the lack of it) has been making lots of people cross recently, with Facebook and Google the objects of particular wrath. Most of us who do the whole 'social network' thing have a lingering sense that we have probably given too much away already and are conveniently resigned to the fact that it's too late to do anything about it now. Contact details, relationships, evidence of wild nights out (which canny employers may correlate with lapsed productivity), preferences and consumption readily monetised into advertising and endorsement ("if you're not paying for it, you're the product").

All of which amount to an amplified, more broadly dispersed, and more succinctly codified representation of the public-facing 'you'. It becomes increasingly difficult to manage 'who sees what', particularly when you factor in the potential for other people's online activity to misrepresent or distort your 'image'. But the…

Rhyme and/or Reason

Here's a poem I love, by Ted Hughes:
Hawk Roosting I sit in the top of the wood, my eyes closed.
Inaction, no falsifying dream
Between my hooked head and hooked feet:
Or in sleep rehearse perfect kills and eat.

The convenience of the high trees!
The air's buoyancy and the sun's ray
Are of advantage to me;
And the earth's face upward for my inspection.

My feet are locked upon the rough bark.
It took the whole of Creation
To produce my foot, my each feather:
Now I hold Creation in my foot

Or fly up, and revolve it all slowly -
I kill where I please because it is all mine.
There is no sophistry in my body:
My manners are tearing off heads -

The allotment of death.
For the one path of my flight is direct
Through the bones of the living.
No arguments assert my right:

The sun is behind me.
Nothing has changed since I began.
My eye has permitted no change.
I am going to keep things like this.
There are days -- or perhaps, moments every day -- where I yearn for such simplicity.…

Avengers: Great! But is great good enough?

One could write a whole thesis on 'Avengers Assemble', if only one did not have whole other theses to write. It was so rich in wit and thoughtful content that halfway through found me rummaging in my handbag for a scrap of paper on which to scribble some hasty notes (my unique chirographic style being such that legibility was barely impacted by the dark).

Part of the success was down to great casting. Ruffalo was superb as the fragile, ever-conflicted Banner, Downey Jr. swaggered his way through with perfectly-pitched comic arrogance, Johansson pouted and kicked butt and looked amazing in a catsuit [1]. They even managed to persuade a young Richard E. Grant [2] to travel forward in time especially to play the wonderfully sinister but deluded Loki.

Consumed with lust for power, the disgraced Loki has left his home of Asgard -- a dimension whose inhabitants appear as demi-gods by comparison with humans -- and embarked on a quest for Earth-domination. His strategy is simple: elic…