what you get here

This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Cultural Amnesia; and Common Endeavour

For the past ten years I’ve been lucky enough to have a foot in both Bulgaria and Romania, spending most summers in my Carpathian mountain redoubt and winters in Sofia; with occasional forays to Bucharest. One of the delights of my semi-nomadic existence has been the rediscovery each year of my libraries in these places – particularly the extensive one in my village home near Bran in Translyvania where I have been since Monday. At 1,400 metres, the barometer registers only 10 degrees - despite the sun!

I have, for example, just opened the Introduction to Clive James’ 876 page Cultural Amnesia– notes in the Margin of My Time (2007) – copies of which I keep in both the Bucharest and the mountain house and which must be considered one of the most original tributes to cultural figures ever published (including entries on Coco Channel, Charlie Chaplin, Louis Armstrong and 4 Manns!). You can get a sense of the book in this Slate journal review and it is further discussed on his amazing website
He has been a voracious reader (of far more novels than I) and, indeed, annotator of books – reading many of the European books (including Russian) in their original language, His book is a tribute to the spirit of liberty which so many of the writers celebrated in the book kept alive.

And his introduction made me realize that my blog is at least partly a tribute to those writers who have kept me company at one time or another on my journey of the past half century or more. A couple of years ago I listed the 50 or so books which have made an impact on me here – and here. In what I call the “restless search for the new”, we would do well to pause every now and then and cast our minds back to such books and try to identify the “perennial wisdom” embodied therein…. 

The one frustrating thing about a blog is that it gives a reverse image of reality – with the most recent post coming first and the reader then required to scroll down several times to see older posts……Noone these days has that sort of patience…..whereas a book format allows you to begin at…….…the beginning.

I’ve therefore begun to upload the 2017 posts in book form – with the tentative title Common Endeavour. This includes an updated version of my Sceptic’s Glossary as an annex – being my provocative definition of some 100 plus terms used in the questionable discourse of our elites. I’ve set this in the context of texts (and images) which I’ve found useful in the puncturing of their pretensions…..

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