Advice for anxious times: a compilation

Advice for anxious times from the FT’s management columnist, a French children’s newspaper, and a former commander of the Israeli Defense Force. On a practical level, they all boil down to the same thing: carry on as normal. I must remember to do this.

After Britain’s EU referendum, Lucy Kellaway didn’t do any work either, but when she did get back to it her sanest conversation was about shoes (and not Theresa May’s). The former IDF commander, Amos Guiora, says we must “live life as if there is no terrorism while recognizing the reality of terrorism.” If you need help doing this, you could follow the advice given in Le Petit Quotidien  and put fear outside yourself by writing.


Forms of Meditation That Are Not Mediation: Lessons from New York

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The High Line. Not recommended for walking practice.
A character in Jonathan Letham’s Motherless Brooklyn describes mediation as sitting and thinking about nothing without falling asleep. Awake is a higher form of consciousness than asleep, but thinking about nothing is a challenge. I have attempted it on the metro and each time ended in failure; like an infant in a car or an elevator, I soon fall asleep. Beyond public transit,  boredom, self-consciousness, and my cat assail me. I did for a period succeed by viewing unwanted thoughts as alien craft in a video game, but, like thoughts themselves, good video games lead to obsessiveness and the bad ones are merely tedious.

Better then to approach mediation obliquely and, as I discovered in New York, eliminate either the sitting or the thinking about nothing. Eliminating both will end in failure for the novice. Only for the advanced practitioner will it bring total enlightenment.

Here then is the start of the practice.Continue reading “Forms of Meditation That Are Not Mediation: Lessons from New York”

How To Make a Mountain Disappear, or Montreal Spring Watch Continued

In my last post I said I was keeping a deliberate eye on spring, it being so crazy here that it can induce that feeling that one may have blacked-out for the duration. Then the view was rather grim: no snow and no leaves. At the time, I suspected that the tree outside my window was dead. A month later, I am proved wrong. It’s just a late starter, and soon I shall lose my view of the mountain. Spring has definitely arrived. I’ve also included the some earlier pictures so you can see just how fast it got here.

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“A Hobbling Wight” and Details from the Rijksmuseum

Following a frisbee related injury, I have received intimations of my own fragility and, at least for today, am unable to walk. Appropriate then that I am reading Moby Dick, and while my condition renders the mad, one-legged captain Ahab unusually sympathetic, the narrator, Ishmael reminds me that this fragility is a more usual condition than I normally admit.Continue reading ““A Hobbling Wight” and Details from the Rijksmuseum”

All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace: a review

Just watched Adam Curtis’s documentary, All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace, which, elegant graphics and poetic title aside, seems to be selling the audience short. (The title really is poetry and is from Richard Brautigan’s fifth collection.)Continue reading “All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace: a review”

“Red Chardonnay”

RedRoo - the confused source of a bad joke

A good day’s work done, marking and preparing lessons. After lunch, I found time for a walk, but it’s my day off so after dinner a glass of wine is in order. To the piano bar at the Glenmoriston, taking in the islands and the birch trees with another short walk.

It’s quiet when I arrive, the only other customers are two Polish girls dressed up for … for what? This is Inverness. For the hell of it, I guess.

An older couple arrive and book a table for dinner. They talk about children; it sounds like they’re on a date. Pre-dinner drinks are considered. He is actually stroking his chin as he contemplates the wine list. A decision is made and he asks the barman, who is French, “Do you serve red chardonnay?”

The world, such as it is, comprising two over-dressed Polish girls, a French barman, and the older man’s companion, stops. Everyone becomes conscious that the Wallpaper* music continues to play the cover of a New Order song but there is no escaping that everyone wishes it was playing just a little louder. I think of birch trees, not so much those on the islands as those at Yekatrinburg.

The barman prevents the deluge and reboots the world, but even he is unable to suggest if it should continue on red or white lines.

“We do not serve red chardonnay”. Just a statement, no apology. Perfect.

Red chardonnay does actually exist; the creation of a marketing man, it must exist only in his mind, not his hand – marketing people only drink white. Link to hilarious interrogation of the concept.

Parisian Elegance, or How To Sell With Rats

Rats, caught in 1920s, and displayed in Chatelet in April 2010.

On a recent trip to Paris, my phone was stolen, depriving me not only of my photographs but also my pruneaux en armangac at Louis-Phillipe. They were exchanged for a trip to the Commissariat de la Police in the cinquiéme. As consolation my old phone yielded up this delightful proof of the enduring French art of window dressing, here alerting the passerby to the services of the local rat-catcher.Continue reading “Parisian Elegance, or How To Sell With Rats”

The Rememberance of Things Fast (July to December 2009)

14th July 2009: On this day, of all days, I burn my boats and storm the Bastille. When there’s nothing left to burn you have to set yourself on fire so, sans appartement, sans emploi, I am moving to Paris.

14th August 2009: I am dispossessed. My worldly goods are variously at my mother’s, with friends, and with strangers, courtesy of Oxfam. I think of Marcus Aurelius, Erasmus and Vladimir Nabokov. I have two suitcases and a wedding in Ireland to attend.

18th August 2009: I am in Paris. Just. I have slept for two hours and have dragged myself and two suitcases to Dublin airport. On the plane I try to die. I succeed. It is 35 degrees and I am sweating champagne. I am in a youth hostel. I am not in Paris. I am in hell.

Continue reading “The Rememberance of Things Fast (July to December 2009)”