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”
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.
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)”
Chretien De Troyes and the first Story of the Grail
Just posted on this site under ‘Literature’ a major essay on the mythos of the Grail legend, as found in the original medieval text.
“I want to open this piece with an image rather than ideas about the Grail. Picture this scene: a young knight, in full armour, is riding through a wild and remote area of forest somewhere in the British Isles. But this is not really the Britain of history – the scene is set in that mythical version of the British Isles known as Logres, the realm of King Arthur. Now this knight’s story is to be found in a long poem written in medieval French by Chrétien De Troyes, The Romance of Perceval or The Story of the Grail (Le Roman De Perceval ou le Conte du Graal)1, which is in fact the first full-length work from the Arthurian cycles to deal with the subject of the Grail quest. ” ( For continuation of essay see ‘Literature’ pages.)
We are already hard at work on issue 30, which is going to be a celebratory issue, Urthona is 21 years old! We will allow ourselves the indulgence of a little reminiscence about the early days of the magazine, and how its vision was originally forged. We plan also to have some material on William Blake, our guardian mentor, as well as two big features on great movies.
Issue 26 is out and about in the shops, and we are looking into a distributor on the East Coast of the USA. We are starting to think about issue 27, which will be on the theme of Buddhism, culture and ecology. Views of nature, and the natural, are as many and various as there are human beings. In my article for the upcoming issue I will attempt to interrogate the notion that nature is the only valid category of reality, which is a reaction to the previous notion that all values must come from the human. Buddhism has an amelioritive stance, which is that man is a particular node of being within the much vaster natural cosmos, which includes the imaginal as well as the physical. I will be looking at how the romantic stance of Blake has definite affinities with this view.Continue reading “Editor’s Journal 8th September 2009”
Urthona printed version issue no. 26: ‘Landscapes of the Mind’ is now out in UK bookshops and Buddhist centres around the world. If you have a local book store or Buddhist temple / meditation centre you think would like to stock it please let us know!Continue reading “NEWS: Issue 26 – Landscapes of the Mind”
Last night I went to a very interesting talk here in Cambridge on the theme of Wabi Sabi as a buddhist practice. Wabi Sabi is a Japanese idea which is very hard to sum up in a few words. The speaker Vajradarshini brought together Wabi Sabi as an aesthetic quality of imperfection and transience with Wabi Sabi as an attitude to life. When you ask Japanese people what Wabi Sabi is, they may point to a tea house, or a cracked pot, or touch their chest and say ‘Japanese Heart’.Continue reading “Editor’s Journal: 26th June 2009”