…Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thought-crime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. . . . The process will still be continuing long after you and I are dead. Every year fewer and fewer words, and the range of consciousness always a little smaller. Even now, of course, there’s no reason or excuse for commiting thought-crime. It’s merely a question of self-discipline, reality-control. But in the end there won’t be any need even for that…. . . .George Orwell.
Clive Staples Lewis: 29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963. C S Lewis began his academic career as an undergraduate student at Oxford University, earning a triple first.
Elected a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, where he worked from 1925 to 1954. Then In 1954, he was awarded the newly founded chair of Mediaeval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University
The Chronicles of Narnia, a series of seven novels that are considered a classic of children’s literature. Written between 1949 and 1954.
Like J.R.R Tolkien ‘The Hobbit’ and Arthur Ransome ‘Swallows and Amazons series’ which also maybe considered children’s books, they have become firm favourites for very many adults as well.
The connection between Great Malvern gas lamps and this series of books, was a story that C.S Lewis is said to have been inspired by them for his opening description of Narnia in The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Walking home from a Malvern pub one snowy night with his friends J.R.R Tolkien and George Sayer; while looking at the gas lamps, was said to have remarked how such imagery would be well suited in a future book, true? I’m not sure, but it’s a nice story.
All three authors spent many happy hours walking in the Malvern hills, so maybe there was inspiration for many of the books.
Also, did anyone realise why I titled the image posted before the gas lamp ‘I spy with my little eye’ it was because, on a pole middle right of the photograph is a surveillance camera.
Some of the books I am re-reading during this enforced period of isolation.
It’s an universal law – intolerance is the first sign of an inadequate education. An ill-educated person behaves with arrogant impatience, whereas truly profound education breeds humility.
The word ‘Lockdown’ reminds me of:-
The Principles of Newspeak, George Orwell explains that Newspeak follows most of the rules of English grammar, yet is a language characterised by a continually diminishing vocabulary; complete thoughts reduced to simple terms of simplistic meaning.
I’ve not been doing much photography in the last few weeks; probably just fedup with all the restrictions we seem to have had placed upon us.
Although one bonus is that I have been reading a lot and listening to music on my headphones.
Here is a book that was sent to me by my daughter, a completely unknown authour. ‘Amor Towles‘ who published a novel in 2016 with the title A Gentleman in Moscow .
Click cover for Amazon link.
The story of Count Alexander Rostov who is brought before a Bolshevik tribunal in Moscow: condemned for being an unrepentant aristocrat. Saved from the firing squad by a poem whose sentiments seem to coincide with the revolutionary desire for change. Instead of being shot, he is sentenced to house arrest in his current place of residence: the Metropol Hotel. He returns to the hotel after his trial, determined to make the most of his reduced circumstances. As the reader, we follow the Count in his day to day life within the confines of the hotel.
Two quotes from the book:-
“For as it turns out, one can revisit the past quite pleasantly, as long as one does so expecting nearly every aspect of it to have changed.”
A book that I thoroughly recommend,
The music was Max Richter:
In the introduction to her 1978 book A Distant Mirror, Barbara Wertheim Tuchman playfully identified a historical phenomenon which she termed:
Disaster is rarely as pervasive as it seems from recorded accounts. The fact of being on the record makes it appear continuous and ubiquitous whereas it is more likely to have been sporadic both in time and place. Besides, persistence of the normal is usually greater than the effect of the disturbance, as we know from our own times. After absorbing the news of today, one expects to face a world consisting entirely of strikes, crimes, power failures, broken water mains, stalled trains, school shutdowns, muggers, drug addicts, neo-Nazis, and rapists. The fact is that one can come home in the evening—on a lucky day—without having encountered more than one or two of these phenomena. This has led me to formulate Tuchman’s Law, as follows: “The fact of being reported multiplies the apparent extent of any deplorable development by five to tenfold” (or any figure the reader would care to supply).
A Distant Mirror: The Calamitous 14th Century: from the bubonic plague and the Papal Schism to the Hundred Years’ War.
I wonder who will write a similar book about our present troubles?
Reading Sir William Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England: and in book 1 “The rights of persons” I came across a quote that I thought rather pertinent for what’s going on here in UK at the moment:-
England can never be ruined except by a Parliament.
It was said by the lord treasurer William Cecil, 1ˢᵗ Baron Burghley (1520 – 1598), the chief advisor of Queen Elizabeth I for most of her reign, twice Secretary of State and Lord High Treasurer from 1572. (From The Encyclopædia Britannica).
For those wondering why I would read such a book, curiosity got the better of me after noticing it being refereed to rather a lot just recently.
I have a darkroom log book somewhere in all my stuff, just haven’t come across it yet, I know I packed it because it has a lot of information about film, paper, developers etc; so rather useful and should have this image info in it.
Another for the printer, although I will probably make a conventional darkroom print as well and then make a decision which gets on the wall.
I am still working my way through computer files, but have about 3500 negatives/E6 slides which need cataloguing and either scanning or printing in the darkroom – or both.
Also reading this book, it was one I should have got when it was available from the bookshops in 2010, a copy from Amazon would now cost me £118. new and £80. used: that will teach me !
Our library in Driffield (yes we still have one) has found a copy through the Bibliographic department, so have got it on extended loan for a small administrative fee. They are so helpful and nothing seems too much trouble for them.
Even though Oman had always been familiar to travellers sailing between Europe and India or Persia, it was its coast alone that was known. Greeks and Romans had charted it, medieval merchants traded on it, and in the early sixteenth century the Portuguese conquered its main towns, yet the interior of Oman was all but entirely unknown and would remain so until the early nineteenth century. Only after the ejection of the Portuguese in 1650 and an independent Oman had built an empire of its own, stretching round the Indian Ocean from India to Zanzibar, did Muscat, the capital, start to be visited by western powers eager to obtain commercial concessions and political influence. In the nineteenth century, for the first time, a very few, mainly English, explorers ventured inland and embarked on the true discovery of Oman. But even that was sporadic. As long as there was a powerful ruler, the travellers were protected, but by the late nineteenth century the rulers in Muscat had lost control over the interior and it was not until well into the twentieth century that explorers such as Wilfred Thesiger could investigate the south and that the oil companies could begin to chart the centre and the west. Oman was the last Arab country to be fully explored by western travellers and this book examines and discusses the ways in which the emergent knowledge of Oman was propagated in the West, from the earliest times to 1970, by explorers, missionaries, diplomats, artists, geologists and naturalists, and by those scholars who gradually uncovered the manuscripts and antiquities that allowed them to piece together the history of the area.
Things have changed. Some of us are still true Ents, and lively enough in our fashion, but many are growing sleepy, going tree-ish, as you might say. Most of the trees are just trees, of course; but many are half awake. Some are quite wide awake, and a few are, well, ah, well getting Entish. That is going on all the time. (Treebeard)
I think I was about 17 when I first read this book and have enjoyed reading it on many occasions since: liked the film series, not so much the several wireless versions that have been produced over the years. But the books remain the best way of enjoying the adventures of ‘Middle-earth’ and Hobbits.
Click book cover for link:
More information on books.
“The struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting”
“Children, Never look Back!” and this meant that we must never allow the future to be weighed down by memory. for children have no past, and that is the whole secret of the magical innocence of their smiles.”
George Orwell gave a similar warning in his novel ‘1984’ the only thing he got wrong was the date !
“And when memory failed and written records were falsified—when that happened, the claim of the Party to have improved the conditions of human life had got to be accepted, because there did not exist, and never again could exist, any standard against which it could be tested…….”
A bit of unabashed advertising: I must take this opportunity and introduce my wife’s E.Book.
If you have children who like reading or being read to and enjoy animal adventures, then I am sure they would enjoy this book. If interested then click on the book cover for an Amazon link.
Three young animals meet after a very bad storm, in an ancient oak tree. A Siamese, a crow and squirrel. They become friends, until one of them with a sibling is taken to a new home by people who have never had cats before. The crow hearing the confused cries of his friends follows the car, thinking to rescue the Siamese kittens. At the journey’s end there is a stray tomcat lurking in a nearby hedge and nearly captures the crow. The stray is adopted by the humans and named Scarecrow.
Prior to this an older squirrel Twigleaf, fell into the river and got swept away, not far from the oak, which is his home.
There is open warfare between the Siamese kittens – Aqua and Tangsun her brother and the ginger tom, who misses his real family, recently returned from abroad. He had gone out within a few days and got lost in the storm, unable to smell his way back. The kittens new owners, cannot cope with the animosity, secretly preferring the tom, punish the Siamese. They become ill with parasites Scarecrow had picked up while he was a stray. Eventually Scarecrow and the kittens call a truce, the tom finds his old family and the Siamese escape, having all sorts of adventures manage to return to their mothers place just before a spring snow storm.
A very moving memoir of a young Holocaust survivor:
“……….Surviving makes other people’s tears unbearable. You might drown in them “
P.s. I might add that this was one of those books I read from beginning to end over one day – after the first few pages, I just could not put it down.
“We cannot understand, but we can and must understand from where it springs, and we must be on our guard…because what happened can happen again…For this reason, it is everyone’s duty to reflect on what happened.”
My Nikon F4 with the AF-S Nikkor 35mm f/1.4G.
Made with the D800 and 55mm f2.8 micro Ai-s Nikkor, so opposite ends of the same reasoning.
Out of curiosity I wanted to see how well (if at all) my F4 worked with the 35mm Af-s f1.4G: I can confirm that the F4 lives up to its reputation of being able to take any lens Nikon has ever made.
The lens performs very well with one caveat; no f stop ring meant the only modes I can use are: Program high, program & shutter priority. So the down side was hyper-focal focusing was not an option (overcome by focusing about a 1/3 of the way in to the image) happy days. In shutter priority I could select for aperture by turning the speed control knob and as I quite often use the camera in manual it was not a problem.
The AF focusing was decisive and fast so no worries there, in actual fact it probably means that batteries will last a lot longer. Although in all the years I have had the camera, I have never needed to replace the AA or rechargeable type in the field.
This means that I might just talk myself into buying the AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.8G. The 50mm f1.8 AF that I am using at the moment, has become very imprecise when focusing (age and a lot of use!) also I have the 55mm Micro Ai-s for the manual cameras.
As a matter of interest; why the f1.8 & not the f1.4 – the answer is exactly the same as with the previous 50mm AF lens; price and diminishing returns….. Looking at both lenses, the f1.8 is sharper over most of the range I use and at less cost, so at the price I could afford to do exactly what I am now considering; if I wear it out – get a new one.
If anyone is interested in the two books the camera is sitting on; they are from the Folio Society, see below from their site.
The Icelandic Sagas
Magnus Magnusson (ed.)
Illustrated by Simon Noyes
Punctuated by a series of eerie illustrations by Simon Noyes, these great Nordic stories of mythology & exploration are chosen and prefaced by Magnus Magnusson.
The Deptford Trilogy – Robertson Davies
World of Wonders.
From the first page of the first book in the trilogy:
My lifelong involvement with Mrs. Dempster began at 8 o’clock p.m. on the 27th of December, 1908, at which time I was ten years and seven months old.
…………I had a boy’s sense of when a snowball was coming, and I knew Percy. I was sure that he would try to land one last, insulting snowball between my shoulders before I ducked into our house. I stepped briskly – not running, but not dawdling – in front of the Dempsters just as Percy threw, and the snowball hit Mrs. Dempster on the back of the head. She gave a cry and, clinging to her husband, slipped to the ground; he might have caught her if he had not turned at once to see who had thrown the snowball.
The consequences of this simple act of throwing a snowball, had a profound effect on the lives of several of the books characters. Culminating in the disclosure of a secret which has twisted its way through all three books; especially as the snowball had enclosed a hidden stone.
William Robertson Davies:
A playwright, critic, journalist, and professor who died on this day in 1995 aged 82; having received during his lifetime honorary degrees from 26 American, Canadian, and British universities.
“Be sure you choose what you believe and know why you believe it, because if you don’t choose your beliefs, you may be certain that some belief, and probably not a very credible one, will choose you.” ~ Robertson Davies.
“Money, it is often said, does not bring happiness; it must be added, however, that it makes it possible to support unhappiness with exemplary fortitude.” ~ Robertson Davies.
The moving story of two Cree Indians from Moose Factory Canada: who became snipers in the Great War.
An intense description of trench war interspersed with an account of what it was like being Indians, forcibly taken as children, from their families. Then ‘educated’ as Canadians with knowledge of their own ways and language forcefully eradicated.
“Taking the Three Day Road”, a traditional Cree reference to dying, is given a new meaning by the narrative of Niska, an aunt to one of the men. She escaped from the education system and carried on her life as an Oji-Cree medicine woman, but is now trying to bring one of the two home on his return from the front. He is physically and mentally wounded by his experiences; she is determined to save him.
In Remembrance of the Great War:
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
John McCrae, May 1915
I wish everyone seasons greetings and especially – A Happy New Year – thank you all for visiting.
I am now going to take my usual twice yearly departure from the world: avoid all contact with news, computers and work (never a complete success, but one can hope 🙂 ) see you in 2015 !
Remember ‘2001 A Space Odyssey’ ? (some of you must be old enough……) I remember watching it in the cinema and thinking how far in the future that date was.
It has now long gone and here we are approaching 2015, how the world has changed; I am not sure I can honestly say for the good. We have all this new technology, but that has given us such things as ‘rolling news’ when disaster became entertainment (don’t even think about the video game approach when reporting war) it has trivialised death.
So, once in a while I escape and reset my equilibrium; it helps me view the world with less pessimism (a pessimist is only an optimist with experience) so hope for me yet.
On a brighter note – with luck WordPress will have stopped all these changes that have bedevilled us and we will have a change free year (I see four-legged pink things flying by and it’s not the Guinness!) we can but hope.
I think I will take my copy of 2001 with me on the plane and wonder, what will happen when we eventually find a real TMA.1. that should put the cat among the pigeons……
Considerations on Representative Government. by John Stuart Mill .
P.S. this book can be got quite legally for free (the wonders of the internet ) see link below: if by chance you are interested.
Maybe this should be compulsory reading for certain members of society !!
On page 200 he says………
“Until mankind in general are of opinion with Plato that the proper person to be entrusted with power is the person most unwilling to accept it.”
Referring to this paragraph from Plato, Republic:
The good are not willing to rule either for the sake of money or of honour. They do not wish to collect pay openly for their service of rule and be styled hirelings nor to take it by stealth from their office and be called thieves, nor yet for the sake of honour, for they are not covetous of honour. So there must be imposed some compulsion and penalty to constrain them to rule if they are to consent to hold office. That is perhaps why to seek office oneself and not await compulsion is thought disgraceful. But the chief penalty is to be governed by someone worse if a man will not himself hold office and rule. It is from fear of this, as it appears to me, that the better sort hold office when they do, and then they go to it not in the expectation of enjoyment nor as to a good thing, but as to a necessary evil and because they are unable to turn it over to better men than themselves or to their like. For we may venture to say that, if there should be a city of good men only, immunity from office-holding would be as eagerly contended for as office is now.
No country has a monopoly on truth no matter how big they are.
All reality is a game. Physics at its most fundamental, the very fabric of our universe, results directly from the interaction of certain fairly simple rules, and chance; the same description may be applied to the best, most elegant and both intellectually and aesthetically satisfying games. By being unknowable, by resulting from events which, at the sub-atomic level, cannot be fully predicted, the future remains malleable, and retains the possibility of change, the hope of coming to prevail; victory, to use an unfashionable word.
In this, the future is a game; time is one of its rules.
The Player of Games: Iain M Banks 1954 – 2013.
Listening to some Philip Glass while reading Naguib Mahfouz’s trilogy of colonial Egypt – The Cairo Trilogy: Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, Sugar Street. The books take you through the history of Cairo at the start of the 20th century, using the trials and tribulations experienced by three generations of the same family.
One can see why he was given the 1988 Nobel Prize for literature.
“It is known that there are an infinite number of worlds, simply because there is an infinite amount of space for them to be in. However, not every one of them is inhabited. Therefore, there must be a finite number of inhabited worlds. Any finite number divided by infinity is as near to nothing as makes no odds, so the average population of all the planets in the Universe can be said to be zero. From this it follows that the population of the whole Universe is also zero, and that any people you may meet from time to time are merely the products of a deranged imagination.” Douglas Adams.
I have just been re-reading – Douglas Adams: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a “trilogy” of five books published between 1979 and 1992,
I first heard about this series in 1978 when the BBC announced the start of a new science fiction comedy on the wireless (radio for those of less advanced years 🙂 ) and was instantly hooked on the rather madcap humour tinged with some quite cutting edge science.
The story revolves around the adventures of our heroes after the earth has been destroyed by Prostetnic Vogon Jeltz, during the construction of an intergalactic highway. Along with the ‘Guide’ an electronic guidebook of the Milky Way galaxy that is being edited and updated by Ford Prefect.
Do not watch the film…..! Dreadful & the TV series was not much better: read the books and/or listen to the radio series. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
This is dedication – a very interesting interview with one of the great landscape photographers Michael Kenna.
Michael Kenna video
I have been lucky enough to obtain a couple of his books – Japan being one of them.
A selection of his images that are beautifully bound and presented in a slipcase – I say I am lucky as his books are in great demand because of their quality; so prices can very quickly reflect that.