Editor’s Blog – notes from an English village

A summer evening in Granchester


There have been times when I well might have passed and the ending have come–

Points in my path when the dark might have stolen on me, artless, unrueing…

Thomas Hardy, ‘In Tenebris’

Granchester Meadows - a grey and cheerless dusk which Hardy would have appreciated.
Granchester Meadows – a grey and cheerless dusk which Hardy would have appreciated.

It is cooler now and the meadows have lost the smouldering Tuscan gleam they had last week. As if to reinforce the changed mood the farmers have been around and mowed flat the long grasses and the dry thistles that baffled even the tough lips of the Redpoll herd. No doubt this will lead to fresher and sweeter leaves to eat for the cattle as the summer days shorten to Autumn. For the moment however, it is a somewhat dreary sight. Last night at dusk there was a grey wash over the sky as I walked out into the meadows. It was one of those summer evenings which are nonchalantly non-descript – the air was warm and thick with the sweet peppery smell of newly mowed hay, and a few a slightly darker rags of cloud banded the uniform grey above. Continue reading “Editor’s Blog – notes from an English village”

William Blake and the technology of publishing

A page from Blake's Book of Urizen
A page from Blake’s Book of Urizen

Blake is virtually unique in European art for the way in which image and poetry are married in his visionary prophetic books. Early in his professional life Blake hit upon a novel method for printing his own books from etched copper plates, where hand written text and images could be combined. Continue reading “William Blake and the technology of publishing”

Zen and Ice

Without water no Buddhas! 


Zen Master Hakuin says: ‘All beings from the very beginning are Buddhas, it is like water and ice, without water no ice, without living beings no Buddhas’. This suggests that metaphorically living beings are water and the Buddha ice. In one way this is appropriate because liquid water is the general case, the form we normally find, and ice is a special case under particular conditions. A Buddha is a special case of a sentient being, a sentient being who is awake and knows who they really are. However, there is much to be gained from reversing the metaphor. Continue reading “Zen and Ice”

Editor’s Blog – notes from an English village

Bela Tarr in reflective mood
Bela Tarr in reflective mood

Bela Tarr – the ultimate director of European existential film-noir?

Are you a fan of long, slow European art movies with strong symbolic overtones, shot in black and white or at the very least shades of murky sepia, in which the main character walks down deserted white roads in the mountains at dusk, or through deserted city streets at night, where the occasional candle at an upstairs window seems to signify both their utter and final loneliness and the distant possibility of some kind of redemption mediated but not bounded by the outworn rituals of a discarded faith? Continue reading “Editor’s Blog – notes from an English village”

Chomsky, Seldon and authority

Anthony Seldon
Anthony Seldon
Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky

Last Tuesday night’s Night Waves, Radio Three’s intellectual discussion program was unusually good. Philip Dodd spoke separately to the philosopher Noam Chomsky then the biographer of Blair and Thatcher and Public School Headmaster, Anthony Sheldon. The theme in both cases was authority. What is it? Can it be a force for good? How can its abuse be prevented? The stance of the two interviewees made a very nice contrast and this made up for Dodd’s occasionally irritating interviewing style. Continue reading “Chomsky, Seldon and authority”

Editor’s blog – Notes from an English Village

A misty moisty morning today, as we used to say on misty days when I was growing up. I think we got this from Maddy Prior – we often listened to Steelye Span on Saturday mornings, and I recall what was then Maddy’s crystal clear, high, pure voice, with a hint of danger, like a fast rushing mountain stream, singing something like ‘One misty moisty morning when cloudy was the weather, I met a ragged old man all dressed up in leather’. Quite what the ragged old man was up to I don’t remember, but I expect he was up to no good and that Maddy was more than a match for him.

Continue reading “Editor’s blog – Notes from an English Village”

Editor’s blog (notes from an English village)

Filed mist

Mist rising off the damp dark fields at the front of our cottage this morning. Not river mist, but fine wraithlike tendrils of mist rising from the strength of the sun on the damp earth. Not easy to photograph, but a fine sight, telling of the increasing power of the sun, and the waning of winter. The monochrome drama of the drifting white mist over the raw, inert black earth  holds my attention for some time. Then my eye is drawn to a lonely farmstead on the horizon, with its guardian oak. The day is widening, and hazy blue skies are promised. Continue reading “Editor’s blog (notes from an English village)”