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With my wife Fay in Palawan, Philippines.

How To Hide From Humans

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Tuesday, 17 May 2022, 17:38

I was singing a song this morning as my wife was getting ready for work. She is from the Philippines. She asked, 'where did you get that song?' 

'It's an old Glasgow street song,' I replied. 

Perhaps you sung it as a child? I would  be interested to know if some of our students from abroad sung it. When I did a bit of research on it, it seems it originated from Tonga in the 13th century. I guess Glasgow being a maritime city, it travelled with sailors from the area. We will never find out who the mystery wordsmith was who taught us how to hide from humans, and brought joy to countless millions of kids. Here is the melody at the end, if you wish to karaoke with it.


Nobody loves me, everybody hates me

I think I’ll go eat worms.

Big fat juicy ones

Emsie weensy squeensy ones

See how they wiggle and squirm

 

Down goes the first one, down goes the second one

Oh, how they wiggle and squirm!

Up comes the first one, up comes the second one

Oh, how they wiggle and squirm!

 

I bite off the heads, and suck out the juice

And throw the skins away

Nobody knows how fat I grow

On worms three times a day.


https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=Nobody+loves+me%2c+everybody+hates+me++I+think+I%e2%80%99ll+go+eat+worms.++Big+fat+juicy+ones++Emsie+weensy+squeensy+ones++See+how+they+wiggle+and+squirm&docid=608011328972718364&mid=A85359A2D62B7D68963DA85359A2D62B7D68963D&view=detail&FORM=VIRE 



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klexos: reviving old memories

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Monday, 16 May 2022, 09:19

We don't always have a word to describe deep and specific emotions in the English language. Therefore, we invent them. In his his book, The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows, John Koenig discusses the word klexos, a neologism coined by himself to describe the idea of resurrecting old memories and re-evaluating them in the light of the shape-shifting effects of time and personal revelations. Perhaps in the same way an artist returns to a painting, gets his pallet out and adds touches as he looks at the painting in a new light or with gained skill.




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Scrooge: I think we get the picture

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No one could fault Dickens for his characterisations. So good, we feel we have met them:


“Oh! But he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait; made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice.” Dickens on Scrooge.

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Polysyndeton: A New One on Me

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Sunday, 24 Apr 2022, 20:50

I know what polysyndeton is when I see it, but never knew the name for it. Reedsy defines it this way:

'Instead of using a single conjunction in a lengthy statements, polysyndeton uses several in succession for a dramatic effect. This one is definitely for authors looking to add a bit of artistic flair to their writing, or who are hoping to portray a particular sort of voice.'

I'm none the wiser. Best to see two example. First, a simple one

'For I am convinced that neither death nor life nor angels nor governments nor things now here nor things to come nor powers nor height nor depth nor any other creation will be able to separate us from God’s love that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.' Romans 8

Now, a more complex one:

'Luster came away from the flower tree and we went along the fence and they stopped and we stopped and I looked through the fence while Luster was hunting in the grass.' — The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

Simples!






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"If you walk north past two telephone poles you’ll find me in the dustbin."

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Thursday, 21 Apr 2022, 21:01

Want to be a good writer? Write a hook like this:

“I’m in Suzhou, Zhou Lingtong said, angling his head so he could wipe away his tears and see the road sign clearly. I’m in Changrui Lane, Suzhou. If you walk north past two telephone poles you’ll find me in the dustbin." "Two Lives", in Pathlight: New Chinese Writing (Summer 2013)”― A Yi


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“In the middle of life, death comes to take your measurements"

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“In the middle of life, death comes

to take your measurements. The visit

is forgotten and life goes on. But the suit

is being sewn on the sly.”

― Tomas Tranströmer, The Deleted World



 

There are many factors that affect our striving for longevity. What we eat, drink. The environment we live in. Our disposable income and our genes. Somewhere along these lines the day or year of our death becomes determined in the sly so to speak. Without our knowledge, the suit is measured and sewn, waiting for a fitting.

A few years ago, I was visiting Cracow in Poland. I went to visit the Jewish cemetery in the Old Town one evening. The gates were closed, and the Rabbi came out and said with a dry wit, “They are sleeping for the time being, but they will wake soon.”

“Ah, Ecclesiastes nine and five,” I replied, then continued, “For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not anything.”

“If an able-bodied man dies, will he live again?” an ancient oriental once asked. He continued, “I will wait all the days of my trouble until a change comes.  You will call and I will answer You.” The Book of Job

 


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"Some publishing gems worth savouring surface and must be shared with no one."

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Thursday, 21 Apr 2022, 17:57

"Our Earth is degenerate in these later days; there are signs that the world is speedily coming to an end; bribery and corruption are common; children no longer obey their parents; every man wants to write a book and the end of the world is evidently approaching." From an Assyrian clay tablet, circa 2800 BC.


"Some publishing gems worth savouring surface and must be shared with no one."


 “Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body” King Solomon wrote.”

Never has there been a time when so many people have embarked on writing courses and self-publishing to my chagrin. What was true in Solomon’s day and 2800 BC vibrates in volcanic proportions in our day.

Reviews are my problem. Sometimes, often, I rely on reviews, only to be disappointed a few pages in. The secret: If the first page does not grip you, forget it. Life is to short and good writers are sparse. However, sometimes, some publishing gems worth savouring surface and must be shared with no one.


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" A man asking why his days are short and full of suffering is not disposed to turn to algebraic quantum field theory for the answer."

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Thursday, 21 Apr 2022, 17:57

What is the mind? Why is there something rather than nothing? Where did the universe come from? Why does objective morality exist? Questions New Atheism  attempts to answer, but never produces adequate answers.


I was reading David Berlinski's The Devil's Delusion. He made the following statement:

“No scientific theory touches on the mysteries that the religious tradition addresses. A man asking why his days are short and full of suffering is not disposed to turn to algebraic quantum field theory for the answer. The answers that prominent scientific figures have offered are remarkable in their shallowness.”


― David Berlinski, The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions

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"I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness"

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Monday, 11 Apr 2022, 09:56

"I felt once more how simple and frugal a thing is happiness: a glass of wine, a roast chestnut, a wretched little brazier, the sound of the sea. Nothing else."      Nikos Kazantzakis


I was with a friend out walking last weekend. He was telling me a relative spent £1000 on a hoodie that he took out in hire purchase. Now everywhere he goes, he must guard his hoodie less someone steal it for its designer value.

Conspicuous consumerism is as old as the Silk Road itself. The idea of purchasing of goods or services for the sole purpose of displaying one's wealth is losing ground as minimalism gains power in the West. Happiness is not achieved through materialism. We only need to look at the West to see that depression and other emotional and mental illnesses are robbing society of happiness. Happiness comes from the simple things in life.


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“The lamp once out/ Cool stars enter/Window frame.”

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Monday, 11 Apr 2022, 09:09


                                                       “The lamp once out

                                                          Cool stars enter

                                                            Window frame.”

                                                         Natsume Soseki


As a child and youth, I spent my summers on the beautiful island of Bute on Scotland's west coast. We had no electricity, so we lit the evening with paraffin lamps. I recall the lamp being turned off and as the unnatural light bedded for the evening, the sky opened, and stars powered into my bedroom window. Just like Natsume Soseki wrote.

My thoughts in those days echoed the Psalmist, David who no doubt observed the blanket of stars as he sat tending his sheep. He said,

When I look at the night sky and see the work of your fingers—

the moon and the stars you set in place—

what are mere mortals that you should think about them,

human beings that you should care for them?

Psalm 8


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“Pass us by and forgive us our happiness.”

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Monday, 11 Apr 2022, 09:10








A friend asked me, “Who is your favourite character in literature?”

          Oh, that’s a difficult one; it’s like deciding who your favourite child is,” I replied. “But, let me think… there’s Lucy Pevensie in Narnia, Boo Radley in Mockingbird, Hans Huberman in Book Thief and then I read Striped Pyjamas last year and was taken up by Bruno.”

          “Your favourite, Jim, not your top ten?” my friend pressed.

          “Okay, Prince Myshkin.”

          “Prince who?”

          “Prince Myshkin in Dostoevsky’s, The Idiot.”

          “Why him?”

          “Well, he was too good for this world.”

          “Come again?”

          “The story centres on Myshkin, who returns to St Petersburg after years convalescing in Switzerland with severe epilepsy. Although he’s a native of the city, he feels like an alien on his return; compassion was absent throughout the self-indulging society, and under his breath he uttered the sardonic smite, “Pass us by and forgive us our happiness.”  I’m inclined to believe, as many scholars do, that Dostoevsky focalised his own feelings through Myshkin.”

I realised there was a shared quality in all my characters; it was empathy.



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Charted Memoir

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Friday, 8 Apr 2022, 22:12


                                            Simon and Garfunkel Chart Entry April 1966

There are many things in life that are impossible to pinpoint. The moment you fall in love, the minute a cell rogues on you and develops into cancer. The age you will pass from this world.

          However, if I was to source the moment I fell in love with language, it was that day I heard the following stanza on the radio:

                                                Hello darkness, my old friend
                                                I've come to talk with you again
                                                Because a vision softly creeping
                                                Left its seeds while I was sleeping

          It was Sounds of Silence by Paul Simon. I say stanza because it is rich in its poetic construction. There’s anthropomorphism, there’s a narrator, there’s rhyme and there’s mystery in the subject. I was twelve and never understood all the poetic nomenclature. All I knew was, I wanted more of that language. I would sit for hours writing lyrics down in my notebook, memorizing and singing the complete song.  It came as no surprise to me many years later that Paul Simon majored in English at university. When I hear the lyrics and melody of African Skies. Shivers dance up my neck like the Northern Lights:

                                               Joseph's face was as black as the night

                                               The pale-yellow moon shone in his eyes

                                               His path was marked by the stars of the

                                                Southern Hemisphere

                                               And he walked his days under African skies

          Poetry in motion.

 





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‘The mosque is too far from home, so let’s do this, let’s make a weeping child laugh.’

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Monday, 4 Apr 2022, 09:29

‘The mosque is too far from home, so let’s do this, let’s make a weeping child laugh.’ Nada Fazli-poet



It was 2019 that my wife and I was having a break in Croatia. One morning after breakfast we decided we would go for a walk. ‘Go past Spar, yes? Through narrow lane. You see different world.”  the waitress recommended. She was right, it was like entering Thomas Hardy’s England, old ploughshares that one only sees in agricultural museums, scythes leaning on walls, waiting eagerly for harvesting, rows and rows of beehives and breath-taking landscape unspoiled by the human footprint.

As we were walking for a couple of hours, I was struck by the countless shrines dedicated to the Virgin Mary throughout the countryside as we walked from village to village. Small wooden constructions with the statue of Mary with fresh flowers at her feet. They must be spiritual people, I thought to myself.

This thought was on my mind when a short time later we caught up with a couple who had been walking far ahead of us. They were from UK and whilst we engaged in conversation with the woman who was a kind soul, the man walked a few yards in front making it clear he was in no mood for socialising, other than making cynical and sarcastic remarks and mutters about our conversation on spirituality. His wife was clearly embarrassed. Pompous, yes pompous is the word that would describe him. Full of self-importance to be bothered with us who unbeknown to him were looking for a pillow to rest our heads after a traumatic experience with religion. So why was I not shocked to later find out that he was a clergyman? I guess we are kind of used to unchristian behaviour from those who claim to be Christians. Don’t get me wrong, I am not expecting Christians to come and humbly wash my feet, but I am expecting them to be sitting in the top of the class when it comes to human kindness. Am I just naïve in my expectations?

‘What is your favourite quote?’ I have been often asked. It does not take me long to answer; it is the poet, Nida Fali’s couplet ‘The mosque is too far from home, so let’s do this/let’s make a weeping child laugh.’ Embedded in the words are my fundamental expectations of religion; to encourage, love, and support their fellow man.

 

 


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“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars and see yourself running with them.”

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Friday, 1 Apr 2022, 09:47

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars and see yourself running with them.”

Marcus Aurelius Book of Meditations.


 Photo courtesy of Rafael Baraquero 

There’s a story told about a pastor who was playing golf with his friend. It was a bad day for the pastor. He was losing every hole. “Your hole again,” he would say to his friend.

“Never mind,” his friend said, “you will do my funeral.”

“Yes,” the pastor replied, “and it will still be your hole.”

 

It’s easy to be negative, many around us are. However, the great thinker Marcus Aurelius encouraged us to develop a positive attitude toward life. Meditate on what we have. Develop gratitude. Look at a starry sky, a pebbled beach, a vast forest. We live in a beautiful planet we call home. Stop and meditate and notice the positive.

One of my favourite songs is the uplifting Pocket Full of Lead by Paolo Nutini. One line goes as follows:

                                    “I got a shelf full of books and most of my teeth
                                     A few pairs of socks and a door with a lock
                                     I got food in my belly and a license for my telly
                                     And nothing’s gonna bring me down .”

 


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“There is no friendship that cares about an overheard secret.”

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Tuesday, 29 Mar 2022, 09:26


“There is no friendship that cares about an overheard secret.”
― Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers

 

I recall little about my mother’s mother. As a child I remember a strange ornament that dominated the centre place on the mantlepiece. It was bronze with three monkeys sitting on a wall: a relic from British colonialism. One monkey had his hands on his ears, another with his hands on his eyes and the latter with his hands on his mouth. They were commonly called The Three Wise Monkeys; wise in that they saw no evil, hear no evil, and spoke no evil. It was only as I got older that I realised that this ornament was not only in people's homes as a decorative object, the wise proverb, ‘Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil,’ spoke of a wise philosophy of life. Intellects, philosophers, and religious thinkers from time immemorial have cautioned against gossip.

We live in a world where gossip dominates every fabric of society. People appear to thrive on gossip, but gossip is packed with negative energy that has a subliminal influence on our emotions. Psychologists tell us that gossip is good. However, the same psychologists will tell you that doing kind things for others is the key to happiness; it’s paradoxical.

The Italians call a piece of gossip pettegolezzo. However, there is nothing petty about it; ‘Life and death is in the power of the tongue.’ Proverbs 18: 21 says, that ‘those who choose one will eat its fruit.’ So, there are two roads the proverb says. One that is death-dealing and one that is life-giving. If you are one that has been prone to gossiping, how about taking the road less travelled the one that is life-giving. Help others enjoy life by making them feel good about themselves. Make someone feel good about themselves every day, and you, if you are a gossiper or slanderer, will notice how therapeutic it is to your own emotional health. You will feel good about yourself.

If your so-called friends or family or workmates make you anxious with their toxic tongues, then find new friends, a new family, a new job. Life is too short to be with these people.

So why do people gossip? Research demonstrates that individuals who gossip have high levels of low self-esteem and anxiety and by depreciating other’s value, they attempt to raise their own value. Such individuals cannot be trusted. If they are gossiping to you, they are gossiping about you. Spreading private information or negative judgments is painful to others and reflects poorly on the gossiper.

Gossip's a nasty thing, but it's sickly, and if people of good intentions will let it entirely alone, it will die, ninety-nine times out of a hundred.”
― Booth Tarkington, The Magnificent Ambersons

 


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""I sometimes wonder if all other animals, all plants, maybe even stars and rivers and rocks, dwell in steady awareness of God..."

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Tuesday, 29 Mar 2022, 09:27




 

As a well-established essayist, Sanders marries man’s responsibility to nature at times in poetic clarity and poignancy. In Scott Russell Sander’s, A Private History of Awe, he writes,

 "I sometimes wonder if all other animals, all plants, maybe even stars and rivers and rocks, dwell in steady awareness of God, while humans alone, afflicted with self-consciousness, imagine ourselves apart."

It is humans, who through their plastic into oceans; t is humans who throw their McDonalds cartons by the roadside; it is humans who tear down rainforests to put a burger on our plate; it is humans who live now with no consideration for the planet’s future.

Mirrored on https://wiseprose.com/


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"We embrace a shadow and love a dream.”

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Tuesday, 29 Mar 2022, 09:27

“Nothing so reduces and drags down a human being as the consciousness of not being loved.”

― Hjalmar Söderberg.





The above quote was taken from the Swedish classic, Doctor Glas.  The protagonist, a doctor who concludes that love has passed him by and despite his academic and career accomplishments, he finds no comfort in a society that is selfish to the core.

The loneliness and the feeling of being unloved are themes that permeate literature. Huck Finn said, “I feel so lonesome I most wished I was dead” He controlled his loneliness by falling asleep.

In many respects, literature mirrors society. Loneliness and the feelings of being unloved are universal. Are we as humans, not under Divine obligation to enter this arena and assist? Loneliness is all around: In our parks, alone at home, wandering round shops but, “We know so little about one another. We embrace a shadow and love a dream.” Wrote Söderberg. Yes, we seek things and not humans.

 

 


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"...but their wings sang to us."

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Tuesday, 29 Mar 2022, 09:28

The say that in days gone by, migratory geese would pass over and darken the sky like an eclipse, blocking all light,  due to the magnitude of the flock.

Reading Henning Mankall's book, Quicksand today, I was moved by the following piece of nature writing:

     "There was a clear sky, no wind at all, frost was coming closer by the day and the last of migratory birds left for southern climes, usually at night. All one could hear was a swishing sound from their wings ; they left Sweden without being seen, but their wings sang to us."



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The Joy Of Sleep

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Wednesday, 16 Feb 2022, 11:26
I broke my femur the week leading up to Christmas. One of the greatest challenges was pain management post op. Causing me to sleep 3,4,5 hours a night and spending the day like a patient from One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest. Last night, for the first time in six weeks, I slept the whole night. Something that we take for granted like sleep, is only appreciated when we lose it. The words of Miguel De Cervantes made considerable impact when I read it today.



“All I know is that while I’m asleep, I’m never afraid, and I have no hopes, no struggles, no glories — and bless the man who invented sleep, a cloak over all human thought, food that drives away hunger, water that banishes thirst, fire that heats up cold, chill that moderates passion, and, finally, universal currency with which all things can be bought, weight and balance that brings the shepherd and the king, the fool and the wise, to the same level. There’s only one bad thing about sleep, as far as I’ve ever heard, and that is that it resembles death, since there's very little difference between a sleeping man and a corpse.”- 




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A surgeon with a gifted skill with the pen

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“I stand by the bed where a young woman lies, her face postoperative, her mouth twisted in palsy, clownish. A tiny twig of the facial nerve, the one to the muscles of her mouth has been severed. She will be thus from now on. The surgeon had followed with religious fervor the curve of her flesh; I promise you that. Nevertheless, to remove the tumor in her cheek, I had to cut the little nerve. Her young husband is in the room. He stand on the opposite side of the bed and together they seem to dwell in the evening lamplight, isolated from me, private. Who are they, I ask myself, he and this wry mouth I have made, who gaze at and touch each other so generously, greedily? The young woman speaks, "Will my mouth always be like this?" she asks. "Yes," I say, "it will. It is because the nerve was cut." She nods and is silent. But the young man smiles. "I like it," he says, "It is kind of cute." "All at once I know who he is. I understand and I lower my gaze. One is not bold in an encounter with a god. Unmindful, he bends to kiss her crooked mouth and I am so close I can see how he twists his own lips to accommodate to hers, to show her that their kiss still works.” ― Richard Selzer, Mortal Lessons: Notes on the Art of Surgery
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On love, on grief, on every human thing...

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021, 11:24

On love, on grief, on every human thing,
Time sprinkles Lethe's water with his wing.

                                      —Walter Savage Landor



This two-line poem by Walter Savage Landor reminds us of the particular pleasure in how a very few words can slow us down, and meditate on the moment.

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Why write poetry?

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“We don't read and write poetry because it's cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for."

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Dead Poet's Society

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The Madness of the Adult World.

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Sunday, 12 Dec 2021, 18:45

Just before COVID, my wife and I were visting St Andrews Museum. In the upper room there was a table set out like The Mad Hatter's Tea Party and all the walls had great quotes from children's literature.

When Lewis Carrol published Alice in Wonderland, it was a watershed moment in the history of children’s literature. Up until that time, children’s books were didactic, designed to keep children in their place. However, Alice in Wonderland characterised a wise child with liberty of thought in a world where adults are irrational, contradictory and like lunatics who had taken over the asylum.

Near the beginning of the book, Alice finds a bottle that reads ‘DRINK ME’

‘but the wise little Alice was not going to do that in a hurry. `No, I'll look first,' she said, `and see whether it's marked "poison" or not'; for she had read several nice little histories about children who had got burnt, and eaten up by wild beasts and other unpleasant things, all because they would not remember the simple rules their friends had taught them: such as, that a red-hot poker will burn you if you hold it too long; and that if you cut your finger very deeply with a knife, it usually bleeds; and she had never forgotten that, if you drink much from a bottle marked `poison,' it is almost certain to disagree with you, sooner or later.’

With one sharp cut with the writer’s scalpel, Carrol, crushes centuries of didactic children’s literature where adults were the wise gatekeepers of morality, order and social mores. Now the child had a voice and was wiser than her ‘betters’.

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See Peter Hunt’s essay, The Same but Different: Conservatism and Revolution in Children’s Literature


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Torschlusspanik

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The Germans have a word for the most interesting life scenarios. Torschlusspanik, literally, gate or door closing panic. A word from bygone days when towns were walled and there were curfew times to enter the city.

In days when lions, tigers and hyenas roamed the countryside outside the city, there was a pressing need to get indoors before the gates closed.

The days, the metaphor applies to various situations in life. The young girl who panics because she is 22 and has not found a lover to make her nest with and the sixty-year-old who feels the diminishing years closing in and there are few items ticked off on the bucket list.

A great word for the notebook.


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"How shall we comfort ourselves?”

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Edited by Jim McCrory, Monday, 6 Dec 2021, 11:02

I put this quote into my notebook today:

“Change. It’s needed, but maybe not in the way that we think it’s needed. It seems that we need to be thoughtful about the values that we’ve embraced because of the ethics that we’ve discarded. We need to challenge the apathy that we’ve fallen into because of the convictions that we’ve fallen out of. Make no mistake about it, the collapse of the world around us began with the darkening of the souls within us. Therefore, it’s not about changing a nation that’s in turmoil out there. It’s about changing a soul that’s gone dark in here.” ― Craig D. Lounsbrough

The quote linked to a quote I recorded some time ago regarding Nietzsche's Madman, who said “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves?”


We are on the cusp of change. The old standards based on a Biblical morality that is deeply imbedded in our legal system have given way to secular morality, impinged on the thought that society will prosper in secularism.

Hmm! We are only a few years into a secular nation. Too early to say, but we ain’t seen nothing yet.



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