Ripeness is all

I’ve been reading Thomas Hardy’s Return of the Native for a walk I’m leading. The strange thing about Hardy is that you seem to feel the need to offer an excuse as to why you’re reading him, or maybe that’s just me. But anyway – Clym Yeobright (the ‘Native’) has recently returned to Egdon Heath, where he […]

Jack Kerouac’s essentials for prose

I just picked up Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down The Bones and was struck by the four essentials that she quotes from Jack Kerouac’s ‘Essentials for Prose,’: 1. Accept loss forever 2. Be submissive to everything, open, listening 3. No fear or shame in the dignity of your experience, language, and knowledge 4. Be in love with […]

Lunch and art: The fictional and real

I’m reading Edmund de Waal’s brilliant memoir ‘The Hare With Amber Eyes’. Very late, I know. But, better late than never. I’ve had the book for quite a while, a charity shop purchase, but every time I picked it up the picture of the netsuke on the cover put me off. I’m still not sure […]

Carpe Diem – Proust on fishing

There’s no irony (is there?) that a novel the length of ‘In Search of Lost Time’ is in fact about seizing the moment – or rather, trying to understand / appreciate / experience the full depth of every moment. In this it is closer to the more accurate rendition of the phrase ‘carpe diem’ as […]

Remembering the Holocaust

When one works, one suffers and there is no time to think: our homes are less than a memory. But here [in Ka Be, the infirmary] the time is ours: from bunk to bunk, despite the prohibition, we exchange visits and we talk and we talk. The wooden hut, crammed with suffering humanity, is full […]

Just Do It

Loved this from Matthew Kimberley’s Get A Grip: action is the difference between ‘screw it, let’s do it’ and ‘fuck it, let’s have a kebab.’ Also loved this from Jeanette Winterson’s latest, Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal: Manchester spun riches beyond anybody’s wildest dreams, and wove despair and degradation into the human […]

The fire from a little spark

‘Everyone knows that the fire from a little spark will increase and blaze ever higher as long as it finds wood to burn; yet without being quenched by water, but merely by finding no more fuel to feed on, it consumes itself, dies down, and is no longer a flame. Similarly, the more tyrants pillage, […]

New Directions

The new year is an invitation to assess what’s working, and what’s not. But for every new direction you commit to, there’s the road not taken – and the thorny problem of being happy with the choice you make. Robert Frost’s famous poem on this theme (‘The Road Not Taken‘) dramatises this moment of choice and, […]

The importance of peeling an orange

You may or may not dare to eat a peach, but this is why it’s important to peel an orange: Many people believe that they can remain unaffected by the beliefs and attitudes of the age. But no one can. As we live in the age, so the age lives in us. And one of […]

Hello darkness my old friend

Down here the first week of November has been suitably wild and stormy, with a sharp, bright, beautiful full moon occasionally visible, hanging low over the trees in the darkness, and casting its quiet, implacable glow against the scudding clouds blown across its face. A view like an old negative held up to the light, […]

Philosophy

A C Grayling is amusing and sharp, as a writer and philosopher. His ‘This much I know’ in the Observer last Sunday was witty and thought-provoking. Here are a couple of the best: A human lifespan is less than a thousand months long. You need to make some time to think how to live it. […]