“Ich habe genung” (I have enough)

A change of scene: music. If I have an aim in life, it is to leave behind something of beauty, and this search for transcendence does not take a religious form. I have known it in music, literature, thought, certain psychological states. If I attain it I imagine myself singing Bach's Cantata "Ich habe genung" BWV 82.... Continue Reading →


Immortal diamond

Gerard Manley Hopkins was a poet I encountered on my parents' shelves as a child. A small paperback of his poems in a Penguin edition, perhaps from the 1960s, was one of the poetry books met early in life. Unlike many of the poems, which now I remember reading with my father, this book belonged... Continue Reading →

Going sane writing

Adam Phillips says somewhere, perhaps in one of his intriguing essays, perhaps in an interview with the Paris Review, that writing is for him "an experiment in what your life might be like if you were to speak freely." It is also a description he gives, in another way, to the process that goes on in the... Continue Reading →

Quotes to write by, 2.

From The Journals of Kierkegaard, 1834-54: And this is the simple truth: that to live is to feel oneself lost. He who accepts it has already begun to find himself, to be on firm ground. Instinctively, as do the shipwrecked, he will look around for something to which to cling; and that tragic, ruthless glance,... Continue Reading →

From Seamus Heaney

From Seamus Heaney "Here is the great paradox of poetry and of the imaginative arts in general. Faced with the brutality of the historical onslaught, they are practically useless. Yet they verify our singularity. they strike and stake out the ore of self which lies at the base of every individuated life. In one sense... Continue Reading →

Gathering flowers for the mind

This morning I pulled down from my bookshelf a cardboard box that contains a hundred or more index cards on which I had written in the 1980s and 1990s when I was a student, and before computers, quotations, drawn from my reading. This old habit is like gathering flowers for the mind, and the sewing... Continue Reading →

“Citizenship is a spiritual experience”

The most insightful and curious article I have read in the weekend papers is by Paul Kelly of The Australian. Kelly has written a piece that appears to be part of a journey of discovery. His recent castigations of the political class and the Australian people for spurning sensible economic reform, and acting like a... Continue Reading →

Donald Trump and America’s wounded pride

Today I watched live the speech made by Donald Trump to accept the Republican nomination for the presidency of the United States of America. I watched as a detached and curious observer since this was the first and only time I have observed a full Trump performance, rather than edited excerpts in the news. His... Continue Reading →

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