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 15, 2014


How dependent many of us have become on high-speed internet connections!! Yesterday was the day Vodafone graciously gave me my new month’s 4 GB capacity with which to hit the internet. How good I felt at the ease with which I could suddenly access sites. But I have to resist Youtube’s temptations – and rely on Yahoo mail and my google website for up-and down-loading text and a few pics……
And then I realized both how lucky and pathetic I am – living as I do in a village whose techniques and skills haven’t changed in more than 100 years…..
But, then, I am a pathetic “symbolic analyst” or scribbler to whom a power saw (let alone my wood-burning central heating system) is a major engineering test – which, needless to say, I abysmally fail. And don’t even ask me to milk the cow which gives me its milk from my neighbour’s and (in summer my own) field!

It sent me back to Michael Foley – whose Age of Absurdity (2010) graces the shelves of my various living quarters…..
Drawing on philosophy, religion, history, psychology and neuroscience, his exploration of the things that modern culture is either rejecting or driving us away from cuts to the essence and I should probably post it above my desk!!·      Responsibility – we are entitled to succeed and be happy, so someone/thing else must be to blame when we are not
·      Difficulty – we believe we deserve an easy life, and worship the effortless and anything that avoids struggle (as Foley points out, this extends even to eating oranges: sales are falling as peeling them is now seen as too demanding and just so, you know, yesterday …)
·      Detachment – we benefit from concentration, autonomy and privacy, but life demands immersion, distraction, collaboration and company; by confusing self-esteem (essentially external and concerned with our image to others) with self-respect (essentially internal and concerned with our self-image), we further fuel our sense of entitlement – and our depression, frustration and rage when we don’t get what we ‘deserve’
·      Experience – captivated by the heightened colour, speed, and drama of an edited on-screen life, our attention span is falling and ‘attention’ (at least in the West) is something we pay passively rather than actively and mindfully.
It was significant, Foley says, that when Americans and Japanese were asked to study an underwater environment for twenty seconds and then describe what they had seen, the Americans said things like ‘big blue fish’, and the Japanese ‘flowing water, rocks, plants and fish’. The Eastern reality was wider, fuller and richer.”


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  2. I don't often receive comments - so I am sorry to have to delete a comment for the first time. Comments, however, which do not relate to the subject matter and simply invite readers to read other links (in this case about loan schemes) are not welcome