Category Archives: culture

Glasgow finds me bowled over.

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Street Art – Vettriano

Sure, it rained, but it didn’t matter.  Glasgow gets my vote. Anyone who reads my blog knows I get inspired by being in nature.  What is not as apparent is how cityscapes find a button to press too.  I was excited by Glasgow. The vibrancy of the city juxtaposed with the melancholy of erstwhile beautiful buildings showing the ravages of neglect. The city planners deserve some credit – it hands Glasgow to you on a plate. And it is unusual for me to enter the fashionable world of food ( the fashionable world of anything come to that) but at the risk of showing naive overenthusiasm, there is included a shout out for a restaurant that gave me an eating experience that thrilled my jaded palette.

We were on a budget so we stayed at EH Hostel, about ten minutes walk from the train station at Queen Street.  It looked as though the immediate area was a bit run down, but the room was clean and modern with a shower room, a toilet and a handbasin. We were using the room as a place to safely off load luggage and just for sleeping, so the fact the beds were bunks was fine – not the romantic get away destination though!. An added bonus was a t.v on the wall. And the total bill for two people over two nights was £83!

Two days weren’t enough – but we have done a great pre visit visit and will be returning very shortly.  We spent the day in the Kelvingrove gallery and museum – it was a fabulous example of how to create a space that inspires. I didn’t want to stop exploring. But my body did, so I stopped.  I have learnt that much  – I ignore the signs at my peril.

For shopaholics Glasgow is a go to city.  It is a joy just to wander down the wide streets and take it all in. Eat a take out sandwich in George Square and watch the world go by – even the police seemed chilled out, on horseback too.  Beautiful horses.

Bridges and architecture keep eyes wide open – it’s a city that wants to show off. The Clyde cut the city in two and the view from my eighth floor room was a wonder.

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Modern meets classic – beautifully

Kelvingrove gallery

An amazing installation!

IMG_8048IMG_8040Untitled-3Untitled4I need to mention the restaurant as I cannot recommend it highly enough, Dakhin, Candleriggs prides itself on being gluten free, and offering an Indian experience that is different to most. The food in influenced by  Southern India, and after having started with poppadums and chutnies that were delightfully light and flavoured to perfection, I progressed to starters of spinach and onion bhajiis – again beautifully light but satisfyingly tasty. The main dish was a perfect balance of flavours with tender chicken, complemented with a fragrant rice and gluten free pancake/breads that were to die for. I hadn’t thought of ordering them, but the waiter suggested we shared a rice and a bread dish. We were glad we did. And I couldn’t finish!! So unusually for restaurants that serve food perfectly flavoured and at a temperature that pleased even my husband ( he cannot abide cold plates and food that does not stay hot)  the servings were generous.  The only thing to add was the atmosphere – it was contemporary and openspaced with service that were genuinely friendly, willing to help, happy to explain . I have only praise for Dahkin and cannot wait to go again.  Book now!(and I don’t get paid to tell you!) Dahkin Restaurant, Candleriggs

 

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Kopong

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This seems particularly pertinent and moving at a time when the world is watching the displacement of people from all over the globe.  Perhaps we need to ritualise a little more, eat together, work beside one another to feel we are all living the same history.

Among the Ku Waru people of New Guinea, for example, children become kin through an essential substance called kopong (grease) which originates in the soil. The Ku Waru call both father’s sperm and mother’s milk kopong, and it is through these two sources that conception of a child is said to occur. However, sweet potatoes and pork also contain kopong, and when people share these foods, the same fundamental connection emerges between them as does between parent and child: they become kin. The offspring of two Ku Waru brothers, Sahlins says, are ‘as much related because they were sustained by the same soil as because their fathers were born of the same parents’. The children of immigrants to the community become full kin with those who share no genes with them by carrying out socially inscribed practices around kopong.

Barbara J King is professor of anthropology at the College of William & Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia

Equanimity

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                   Equanimity  is a perfect, unshakable balance of mind, rooted in insight.

Says the Master:

For one who clings, motion exists; but for one who clings not, there is no motion. Where no motion is, there is stillness. Where stillness is, there is no craving. Where no craving is, there is neither coming nor going. Where no coming nor going is, there is neither arising nor passing away. Where neither arising nor passing away is, there is neither this world nor a world beyond, nor a state between. This, verily, is the end of suffering.

— Udana 8:3

From  “The Four Sublime States: Contemplations on Love, Compassion, Sympathetic Joy and Equanimity”, by Nyanaponika Thera. Access to Insight (Legacy Edition), 30 November

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RSA Animates with Manuel Lima

RSA Animates with Manuel Lima

This wonderfully drawn slide from one of the splendid animations by RSA  Animates demonstrates how wonderfully similar the patterns of very different life mechanisms can be – it reminded me how powerfully I felt the implications of that similarity when I compared the visuals from different ends of the telescope in the ‘Powers of Ten ‘video, which is well worth visiting here:  http://www.eamesoffice.com/education/powers-of-ten-2/

What I viewed as I turned the pages of the vintage book was the astonishing similarity between the patterns from the telescope when it was viewing the universe at the scale of 10  to the power of 10 positive, compared with the patterns of the view when under the microscope the make up of the atoms viewed at the scale of 10 the to power of 10 negative. Totally bizarre.

It seems implausible that the patterns from such vastly different scales of what we experience as life can almost replicate each other – there is poetry in it , a mystery of import which mankind has not yet fathomed. It excites me to find that sort of synchronicity which perplexes and offers the possibility of discovering more exciting knowledge, more depth of human understanding exists beyond current comprehension.  It suggests that the route of interconnectedness may be the one to follow, and even more so today after reading about the ‘wood wide web’. (many biologists have started using the term “wood wide web” to describe the communications services that fungi provide to plants and other organisms.)

Eastern philosophy, poets and Science seem to be united in their preoccupation with the interconnectedness of life’s machinery, and as D.H .Lawrence wrote

     ‘I am part of the sun as my eye is part of me.  That I am part of the earth my feet know perfectly, and my blood is part of the sea.’

Show me more examples of pattern synchronicity – those occurrences that make you shudder with possible delight and expectation. I am deeply interested in knowing more.!

The RSA animates video I referred to in the top image can be found here rsa animates and in this particular one Manuel Lima discusses the power on networks in a complex world.

We are the music while the music lasts with Alan Watts

Don’t forget to dance.

‘To understand music, you must listen to it. But so long as you are thinking, “I am listening to this music,” you are not listening.’

I was walking alongside the overgrown paddock this morning, which has developed into a sea of buttercups, grasses and purple clover.  It is a thing of beauty. Each buttercup is a miracle in itself – a dizzyingly shiny yellow miracle, and yet , when it is no longer shining brightly alone, but hid amongst a host of fellow buttercups, it still retains its wonder.  And when my eye wanders along that wave of brilliant primary and is distracted by the long grasses swaying sensuously in the wind, the host of buttercups is not diminished in its loveliness. It’s loveliness is enhanced with the collision from the purple of the clover, augmented by the movement of the grasses within. The whole is wholly  magnificent in its diversity and in the spectacle of the collusion from its individual parts.

Lucky us, to be here.

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What the Dickens, with Yuval Noah Harari.

tale of two cities

Just finished reading a best selling history book, ‘Sapiens’, which you can read about here ,h tp://www.randomhouse.co.uk/editions/sapiens-a-brief-history-of-humankind/9781846558238″

“The best thing about it was that it actually made me think.” – The only review you really need comes from a reader on Goodreads.

You don’t have to have enjoyed history in the past to find this a satisfying, entertaining method of whiling away a few of your hours on this earth.  You may be surprised, you may even be shocked by some of the perspectives the author brings to what you thought you knew.  It may even provoke you to change your mind about important issues.  So yes I can claim with some minor authority, ‘This book may just change your life.’

Like Dickens, this is an author who wants the reader to engage thoroughly in his description of what it means to be human, he wants us to consider the experience.

So in an attempt to encourage you to pick this volume up, I am thoroughly advising to do so.  Buy it for your sons and daughters, your nieces and nephews, and any reader you would spend the price of a hardcover on.

Additionally, there is an amazing resource available which is free!!! You can join an online course here  https://www.coursera.org/course/humankind?utm_source=blog or read about the course http://blog.coursera.org/page/2

‘What a piece of work is man’

wit Shakespeare

I can’t help it, but after trawling through piles of material on Shakespeare I am now feeling very melancholy; that isn’t a stretch for me as my natural inclination is one of profound disturbance around the meaning of being human.  Anyway, in learning more about the man, and I think I have despite all his attempts to evade any sort of factual capture ( he managed to live in London for seven years without signing on the dotted line, it was a legal requirement to observe Sunday service and sign a name against an address, but he didn’t).

The number of tributes to the man was enormous, and so effusive in the language – before we had Oscar speeches and BAFTA awards.  I am talking serious praise from serious people.

‘The morning star,the guide and the pioneer of true philosophy’      Coleridge

‘He is really, really the genius; he has gone to the bottom of everything, divined everything, said everything. He is always true to nature.’        Alexander Dumas

‘Shakespeare is a great psychologist and we learn from him the lessons of Nature’.    Goethe

‘The great master who knew everything.’   – Charles Dickens

So after reading a number of  poems penned by previous poets praising the Bard for his authorship, I came across this one from Matthew Arnold which touched me.  That’s what poets are meant to do – and it is what Shakespeare unfailingly achieved time after time, showing us the joys and tribulations of what it means to live life on earth.  The magic is in the alchemy of turning words into arrows of emotion, mixed with the unprecedented (at that time) unravelling of the human pysche in drama;  he wrote the truth . He wrote it well.

matthew Arnold

references;  worldly wisdom;  http://hdl.handle.net/2027/loc.ark:/13960/t5db8q05g?urlappend=%3Bseq=77

Tributes To Shakespeare;  http://hdl.handle.net/2027/uc2.ark:/13960/t3319w18c

Although reading the tributes has brought out some sadness in me, my greater emotion is one of wonder and awe that ever one human managed to walk the streets of London and know so much about human nature, then be able to communicate it by not one medium, but two. Writing plays is not the same as writing poetry, and I get the feeling Shakespeare had quite a lot of lightness of heart when he left for London to become part of the dramatic ensemble, so when the theatres got shut down for some time because of plague, he turned his attention to poetry and stormed it.

‘He peered thro’ nature with a prophet’s ken,
He pierced her secrets with a poet’s eye,-
With passion, power and high philosophy,
He set the spirit’s inner-gates apart;
He stripped the shackles from the souls of men,
And sacked the fortress of the human heart.

James Newton Matthers 1884

Last word has to got W.H .Auden simply because through all the research I am ploughing through I keep coming back to the idea that there is no actual mystery, the truth of the man is told in the things he wrote, and he wrote for a living. His own life he played close to  his chest, and why shouldn’t he? In a world that was on its head, civil liberties at peril after the horrendous turbulent times at the beginning of Elizabeth’s reign, spies everywhere, belonging to a family of the persecuted minority ( the Catholics), and new knowledge being disseminated changing the world view. Galileo was born in the same year as Shakespeare, he stood at the beginning of modern astronomy contemporary with Bruno, Tycho Brahe, Galileo, and Kepler.  How would a young man deal with such interesting times, one with a quick intelligence and ambition?

‘To be able to devote one’s life to art without forgetting that art is frivolous is a tremendous achievement of personal character. Shakespeare never takes himself too seriously. ‘

Lectures on Shakespeare – W.H. Auden