Posts

Enforceable laws?

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I don't know whether this podcast will be of the remotest interest to the people who attend to this blog (all three of you), but I created it as a supplemental guide for students on the Legal Ethics module for the Ethics degree at the University I teach in. It's a consideration of what the function of law is - part of the module explores functionalist issues in this regards, and I appreciate this podcast might be a bit disjointed for anyone who doesn't have that background context. However, the lightning quick gloss is that - in most legal systems both modern and ancient - the law is punitive. An act is outlawed by the legislature (Parliament in our case) and a punishment dreamed up for it to discourage people from engaging in the criminalised activity. That's not the only function of law, but most theorists would argue it is the central one.
I've been following some of the arguments made by people around banning parents smacking their children (laws are already in…

Being Green

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Some time ago I posted about the early Catholic thinking on the sin of invidia (these days called envy) and its background in earlier Roman philosophy. To briefly recap, the sin of invidia from a Catholic stance is to place our resentment that others have something which we do not above and beyond a somewhat Panglossian faith in God to make the absence of the desired-for thing worth enduring. The earlier view emphasised that this was not simply a matter of brooding self-pityingly on what the lucky swine next door has, but the active wish to deprive them of it ~ the caustic view that if I cannot have a thing then nobody else should have it either.
Nietzsche's take on envy was sightly different, in that he saw it as a more noble form of honesty although one with numerous pitfalls. Nobody has everything they want and we should aspire to be honest when we see someone with a possession, a relationship, a skill or personal quality that we would dearly like but cannot (yet) have. For hi…

Ripe apples

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This is the promised tale of Vertumnus and Pomona, the Roman deities of autumn and apple trees respectively, and featuring the tale-within-the-tale of the gentle Iphis and the haughty Anaxarete. As the story suggests, it is never wise to annoy Venus - as Hippolytus learned with Aphrodite, there are some goddesses who refuse to take no for an answer.


Medusa's Gaze

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Following a short holiday in Sicily (beautiful place, though I felt like I was holidaying in an oven and must have sweated several pounds off - especially when we went to see the amazing amphitheatres at Siracusa),
I thought I'd record a reflection on the Medusa and her deadly gaze. Her severed head appears in the centre of the trinacria, a popular symbol of the island formed from three conjoined legs (just like the symbol of the Isle of Man). Oddly there are no surviving myths linking Medusa to Sicily, though presumably such must have existed at some point to result in the iconography.
The waffle I have recorded below explores some ideas philosophical and some psychological in connection with this mysterious power to turn other people into solid stone and different ways to understand the imagery of the mythology.


Fudge or death

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This is a waffle around why some pagans make offerings, considering both theological and practical aspects, made whilst making fudge (though, to be honest, the consistency is closer to toffee - which is what comes of not being able to find my sugar thermometer).


Dance of Kali

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A storyteller who is based in Bangalore, Simmy, suggested I record this story. This is my version of the battle that takes place between the goddess Kali and the demon Raktabija - I may redo this at some future point to add in the bits I left out (not having a great deal of time this evening).
There are some amazing Hindu myths, but I've always had a place in what's left of my heart for Kali since seeing an impressive wooden carving of her in a number of British films (who must all have used the same props store) when I was a child. perhaps that's a testimony to the power of some images to imprint themselves on consciousness! I wanted to include a picture of it on this page, but cannot find it anywhere online - so went for the lovely blue-skinned image instead.
There are a raft of ways to interpret this story, some of which I might add later. What is also interesting is the similarity between this tale and that of the Chinese deity Yu Huang, the Jade Emperor, who also fac…

Great Healer

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This is my short contribution to the celebrations of the NHS in its 70th year. If it were not for the NHS half my family would probably be dead (or bankrupted and left homeless, if we had the kind of private healthcare they have in America and which Jeremy Rhyming-Slang seems so desperate to impose on Britain). Here's to another 70 years - may you outlive all the snapping hyenas that would sell you off for private profit, and may those who misuse you gain greater respect for you and take greater care of their own health.

This short myth is about the death of Asclepios, the divine physician from Greek mythology who eventually gained his place in Olympus. Possibly a tale about te death of a physician isn't the ideal way of celebrating the NHS, but it's hot and my brain can barely function. I once painted a picture of Asclepios in the manner of Klimt. It wasn't very good, but I may have another crack at painting over the summer holiday (I'm very out of practice).