In praise of the stiff upper lip

Stoicism is the ethics of fortitude. No human life can escape vicissitude and so, given its inevitability, why not develop an attitude that enables trouble to be borne with equanimity? When fate drags us into misfortune a stoic attitude enables the cultivation of a sentiment of tranquility. The over-wrought, muddle-headed reactions of most people to tribulation often just increases the suffering.
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Miscellaneous, Rhetoric

A first year in blogging; a retrospective

This blog was created by me twelve months ago. Re-reading the posts now, they cover some diverse oddities: boxing, nail polish and Dada, the First World War, excrement, post-war Paris bebop, burnt manuscripts and the severed head of a regicide, a urinal, Hitler’s bath and Leica cameras. What possessed me in my mid 40s to start writing for the first time? Why am I despatching these absurd contemplations out into the world? Continue reading

Film, Miscellaneous

The Great Dictators

In 1940 Charlie Chaplin released his film The Great Dictator, a satire about Hitler (a man with whom he shared a particular style of moustache). Chaplin’s tramp in the film is a Jewish barber who has lost his memory in the First World War and after years in hospital is released into a militarised Germany under a dictatorship he does not recognise. He looks identical to the country’s dictator, Adenoid Hynkel (also played by Chaplin), and the plot tumbles into a burlesque of mistaken identities. Hynkel is sent to a concentration camp and the barber, now removed from the ghetto and resident at the autocrat’s palace, makes a rabid and hysterical speech in favour of peace whilst lambasting the evils of racism. Chaplin watched Hitler speaking in Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will many times in order to mimic the rhetoric. Continue reading


The head of the Head of the Commonwealth

Next week at Sotheby’s an engraved bronze relic from 1658, taken from the coffin of Oliver Cromwell, is for sale. It is to be sold in London on 9th December 2014 in the English Literature and History Auction and can be yours for about £12,000. Cromwell was buried as a King but exhumed as a criminal. The bronze plaque, engraved with the coat of arms of the Commonwealth, was buried with him in his coffin at Westminster Abbey in 1658 and purloined by the Serjeant of the House of Commons, James Norfolk, when Cromwell was dug up on the orders of the Restoration Parliament in 1661.

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Books, Miscellaneous

The point of no return

It is possible to provide security against other ills, but as far as death is concerned we live in a city without walls

Death happens to everybody.
We are all equal before death.
Death is natural.
After the body dies, it rots.
We are all mortal.
There is no life after death.
Extinction of the self is inevitable.
Nothing of the ego survives death.
After death there is nothing.
Death cannot be defeated.

These are comforting words to me.

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