The tragedy of the modern university

Jordan Peterson has proposed the creation of an alternative to the modern university that offers free or low-cost education rooted in the true traditions of the liberal humanities, stripped of their post-modern "indoctrination cults." I support this venture. I agree with Peterson's criticisms of the ideological possession of  the shouty professors, who are read by... Continue Reading →

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Able Archer 83 and the virtue of human decision making

Over the weekend I read Taylor Downing, 1983: the world at the brink. It gave me new perspectives on the dimly sensed fear of apocalypse that I remember from my youth. In the early 1980s the Cold War rose to a late crescendo as Ronald Reagan poked the Russian bear into vengeful fury. It is... Continue Reading →

Bureaucratic utopianism

Bureaucracy is not meant to be Utopian. After all, is not bureaucracy the home of the conformist, the cynical realists, the domesticator of conflict, the administrator of dreams, the banality of evil? Karl Mannheim wrote in Ideology and Utopia: "The fundamental tendency of all bureaucratic thought is to turn all problems of politics into administration....... Continue Reading →

Borderlands of madness

Demi-fous. Mazeland. Dazeland. Driftland. Incipient lunatics. Hysterics. Neurotics. Carriers of latent brain disease. Neurasthenia. Sufferers of high prevalence disorders. People with shattered nerves. Stressed out kittens. The traumatised. The burnt ones. Melancholics. The worried well. There are so many names designating those who prowl in the borderlands between madness and reason. Some of these names are... Continue Reading →

Renovating the Burning Archive

I have spent the morning renovating the Burning Archive. A new theme changes the look and will feature more posts on the landing page so that you can sample more of my writing. I have also added several pages that gather together the main categories of my writing. My poetry collections features links to the... Continue Reading →

On the history and meaning of the eight hour day

The story I told in this article still has resonance for me. It was a story about how, even in the apparently material conditions that defined work and industrial conflict, the meaning of events were inseparable from the striving for recognition and the webs of significance that we, culture-making beings, weave through the time of our lives.

Cultural collapse: Delhi 1857

"This whole city has become a desert." Ghalib 1861 William Dalrymple's The Last Mughal: the Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi 1857 is a great tragedy, and its fallen hero is the culture of the Mughal court. Under Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar II (1775-1862), the Mughal court and Delhi society experienced a cultural renaissance of sorts.... Continue Reading →

The reenchantment of the world

This morning I feel stuck for words. A heat wave has exhausted me, and the end of my holidays looms. To regather my strength I have been reading over old posts, old poems, and contemplating what keeps me going on. From the movie The Darkest Hour a quote from Churchill (although its provenance is challenged)... Continue Reading →

Return of a King

Image credit: Elizabeth Butler, Remnants of an Army  (1879) Tate Gallery I have finished reading William Dalrymple's mesmerising and tragical history of the first Anglo-Afghan War (1839-42), Return of a King: the battle for Afghanistan. It tells the story of the British invasion of Afghanistan, or, as it was known by its local rulers then,... Continue Reading →

Sailing to Byzantium

Since I am on holidays from work, and not consumed with duties and obligations, I have returned to an old habit of virtue, and spent time memorising poetry. The poem I am committing to memory today is Yeats' Sailing to Byzantium. The choice of this poem itself was prompted by reading Richard Fidler's Ghost Empire,... Continue Reading →

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