On tyranny or terror?

The American historian of the holocaust in Eastern Europe, Timothy Snyder has delivered in On Tyranny: 20 lessons of the twentieth century a best-seller by combining seemingly wise apothogems - be ascourageous  as you can, be calm when the unthinkable arrives - with a wailing cry for help from the soul of liberal America in... Continue Reading →


Commuting fragment: Julia sets

When people speak to me about complexity, I often pause and consider the synonyms that they might have used, if they were to be precise. Complexity can register perplexity, while posing for control. It may blow mists of befuddlement, a common response to getting lost in  big data. It often stands in for obfuscation, or... Continue Reading →

Commuting fragments

My ride is half an hour Beside me, left and right, Private conversations Blown to the stale wind. Cognac on the menu tonight? I've got a few hours to kill Before the footy. The nagging phone call From the end of the day. Sounds like we're in. But we don't want you. We just want... Continue Reading →

Five Bells

A simple post of appreciation. What endures? What survives the oven flames? What is left behind after death, and has no use but a sign that one was living and now is dead? What survives our desperate last plunge into the cold blue sink? Five bells. Kenneth Slessor's Five bells, brilliantly performed with sonic art... Continue Reading →

Hannah Arendt and remembering thought

After listening to an episode of the On Being podcast, titled Thinking and Friendship in Dark Times, I took up the invitation to remember the impact on my own thought of Hannah Arendt. The podcast featured a literary critic who used the mantle of Arendt's thought to criticise approaches to refugees, global capitalism and the... Continue Reading →


There are fragments of songs from my youth stirring. Not lyrics, but angry frustrated declamations. No madness lasts forever. Time, the avenger. We are time. We are the last Life is short, after all and full of stuff. We are searching for a way to break you, time. To break you, mind. Some new kind... Continue Reading →

Why is alcohol policy difficult?

About 10 years ago I took a job running an alcohol and drug policy unit in the minor provincial government in which I serve as a lowly under-castellan. It turned out to be a very rewarding experience, at least if you count the intrinsic rewards of work as the most important. I met some remarkable... Continue Reading →

A new dark age

A reblogged post from early 2016.
Dark pessimism or seed of hope?

The Burning Archive

It is a dark age when learning is despised; when violence prowls our streets; when the cherished teachings of our wisest culture falls disused and forgotten. Apocalypses are not fashionable, though innovation and disruption are. We celebrate the piracy of wanton wealth and mock the traditionalists who sit in their cells and speak alone with their gods in the poems without which they could not love.

In the ruins of the crises of the tenth century, Western European culture was born and indeed so was the glory of Kievan Rus. Monasticism, a resurgent faith and a reform of the church, a flowering Renaissance, the emergence of order in modern government, law, conscience, mysticism and on it goes. Who will speak like Abelard and Heloise across the centuries in this new dark age?

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