Wednesday, May 31, 2006

somewhere near Cumnor

maybe even Cumnor itself

Friday, May 26, 2006


Zen Buddhism. 'A sudden indescribable and uncommunicable inner experience of enlightenment.' (OED)


Thursday, May 25, 2006

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Richard Bentley (1662-1742)

"I wrote, before I was twenty-four years old, a sort of hexapla, a thick volume in quarto, in the first column of which I inserted every word of the Hebrew Bible alphabetically; and, in five other columns, all the various interpretations of those words in the Chaldee, Syriac, Vulgate Latin, Septuagint, and Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion, that occur in the whole Bible. This I made for my private use, to know the Hebrew, not from the late rabbins, but the ancient versions; when, bating Arabic, Persic, Ethiopic, I read over the whole Polyglot. And I made, too, another volume in quarto, of various lections and emendations of the Hebrew text, drawn out of these ancient versions, which, though done in those green years, would make a second part to the famous Capellus's Critica Sacra."

Monday, May 22, 2006


A clear winner in this month's website-of-the-month competition: Enjoy!

Sunday, May 21, 2006


I'm not his biggest fan, but I feel compelled to tip my hat to Dave Gorman. What to make of this other life of mine?



tarsiers are nocturnal creatures of the Indonesian rainforests - they mainly feed on insects, such as this cicada

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

nautilus (that supremely Joycean object?)

the good life (and no, I'm not being snide)

"Twice a week every week, the retired IT manager, accountant and teacher make their way down Colesbourne Drive, through Campbell Park, along the canal ("Milton Keynes has more waterfront than Venice you know") and into the centre of town for a couple of afternoon pints."
(It was in the paper back in January 2004. I remembered reading the article earlier this evening when someone was telling me about a trip to go dry-slope skiing in MK.)

Monday, May 15, 2006


Has there been a change of mood at unhemmed? Not necessarily a sea-change into something rich and strange, but just a barely perceptible relaxation of some kind? These would seem to be the questions on everybody's lips.

I'm all for a change. I hear it's as good as a rest.

I met a man from Winnipeg today. The place-name insistently reminded me of something, but I couldn't quite get hold of it. A few hours passed and it came to me: the Winnebago.

* * *

- Danke schon!
- Gern geschehen!

illustrated Quoof

As Paul Muldoon would have it, The Unicorn Defends Himself.

Also in Quoof: a poem about Edward Kienholz's The State Hospital.
You can have a much closer look using the Image Viewer here.

Friday, May 12, 2006

one thousand tyres on fire


xrefer - or maybe it's xreferplus - kindly send me a quiz every Friday, which usually makes me think, 'Cripes! Friday again! How did that happen?' I like the xrefer quizzes because they're pretty easy, but they usually have a couple of questions that I don't know. However, today's quiz proved to be enjoyable for a different reason (I knew them all in a flash because of my secret past as a mathematician).

1. What is the normal word for one half of a circle?

2. Which word is used to describe a triangle that has all its sides of equal length?

3. How many sides does a quadrilateral have?

4. A rectangle is the same as an oblong: true or false?

5. What is the word to describe a triangle that has two sides of the same length?

6. How many sides does a pentagon have?

7. What is the two-letter word for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter? Its value is about 3.14.

8. How many sides does a dodecagon have - six, eight or twelve?

9. What is a wet nurse?

10. How many sides does a rhombus have?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

time: explained

"The human mind has two main scales on which to measure time. The large one takes the length of a human life as its unit, so that there is nothing to be done about life, it is of an animal dignity and simplicity, and must be regarded from a peaceable and fatalistic point of view. The small one takes as its unit the conscious moment, and it is from this that you consider the neighbouring space, an activity of the will, delicacies of social tone, and your personality. The scales are so far apart as almost to give the effect of defining two dimensions; they do not come into contact because what is too large to be conceived by one is still too small to be conceived by the other. Thus, taking the units as a century and the quarter of a second, their ratio is ten to the tenth and their mean is the standard working day; or taking the smaller one as five minutes, their mean is the whole of summer. The repose and self-command given by the use of the first are contrasted with the speed at which it shows the years to be passing from you, and therefore with the fear of death; the fever and multiplicity of life, as known by the use of the second, are contrasted with the calm of the external space of which it gives consciousness, with the absolute or extra-temporal value attached to the brief moments of self-knowledge with which it is concerned, and with a sense of security in that it makes death so far off."

Empson, Seven Types of Ambiguity, 43-4

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Sunday, May 07, 2006


Friday, May 05, 2006

Literary Opinion

"There was a tremendous thing said by the poet A. E. Housman, in the preface to an edition of a Latin author: he said that the German professor A when he read the German professor B, must have felt like Sin when she brought forth Death. Now I am willing to confess I have sometimes felt like this when reading modern literary criticism, but not at all often. People aren't such fools as all that; the thing settles itself."

(big Bill Empson, 'Literary Opinion', a radio broadcast, 20 October 1954)

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

ayurvedic massage

Where can I get a decent ayurvedic massage these days?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006


"I think of my poems as my kiddo, and no doubt Tennyson felt that way too, 'Deep as first love and wild with all regret, Oh death in Life the days that are no more.'"

Stevie Smith, Novel on Yellow Paper (1926)

Monday, May 01, 2006