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Showing posts from February, 2019

Wine or Beer?

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A lovely early spring day partially spent having lunch with Mike (who brews wines and meads - check out King of Cups, highly recommended) in a lovely Greek cafe (also highly recommended) in Bury St Edmunds have combined to inspire the recording of this somewhat gruesome account of what happens when Olympians get narked.

Anyway, advert breaks aside, this is a retelling of the myth of king Lycurgus of Thrace, who caused great offence to the god Dionysus (never a wise thing to do). There are multiple versions of this tale with writers such as Aeschylus. Servius, and Hyginus each giving their own spin on the details. This version is my mash-up with elements selected (with more of an eye to cheesy plot devices than any spiritual guidance from the Lord of the Vines) from different renditions to illustrate what may have started out as a possible dispute between brewers and vintners. My spin has a touch of the Hammer Horrors about it, which can be blamed on a misspent youth.



Topple my Enemies

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"Stories are how I topple my enemies" says the giant in 'A Monster Calls' (no need to ask what I am watching as half-term begins). It is not simply walking trees that weave dangerous tales that can shatter empires and plummet monarchs from their thrones. Newspaper magnates regularly produce all manner of confections, sometimes to bolster the empires of their chosen puppets and as often to eradicate those rivals, actual or potential, to their ambitions. Missionaries create confabulations to oust the resident Gods before sowing the tales of their own. Spurned lovers seek to destroy the characters of their rivals, either to recapture their lost paramours or simply for revenge. The disenfranchised recast the people they believe (rightly and sometimes wrongly) oppress them, hurled into a weak light, robbed of their power to dominate. Martyrs in search of a cross will find themselves a hammer-wielding villain, even if they have to embroider them out of whole cloth. Someti…

The Power of Death

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At last month's philosophy club we discussed some of the ideas of Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe (pictured left),  particularly with respect to necropower and necropolitics. These are ideas which are, I think, worth reflecting on and which may also be of interest to some of my students on the Ethics degree (the sociology students may also get some mileage out of it for essays and assignments). I'm uploading it here, as well as on the student site, because I thought it might inspire ideas and discussions amongst the half dozen people who read this blog. This waffle reflects more on descriptions and implications of his ideas rather than recommendations of how to improve  the kinds of social problems he outlines.

Mbembe's ideas are built upon earlier philosophising from the French thinker
Michel Foucault (cunningly disguised as Uncle Fester, pictured right) who proposed ideas about biopower and biopolitics, the ways in which governments and those in authority seek t…

Pigsy!

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To mark Chinese New Year (of the Pig) here is the story of how the Marshal Canopy (the translated name of Tiānpéng Yuánshuài) was cast out of the Celestial Realms to become Zhu Bajie - Pigsy as he is usually called in English translations of the renowned Chinese Buddhist novel Journey to the West. He is a comical figure whose gluttony and lustiness may seem at odds with Buddhist ideals, but the common interpretation is that he reflects that even the coarsest soul can eventually refine itself and attain to enlightenment - perhaps especially so if aided through friendship and a noble cause.
My pronunciations will probably make Chinese people wince, so apologies for that. I'm still getting my head round Pinyin, much less the confusion of regional dialects! Hopefully I will find the brain space to record some more snippets from the adventures of the ever-hungry Zhu further on in 2019. If any listeners are Chinese and can recommend a reliable pronunciation guide for names (book, website…

Goblin Market

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Not having recorded anything for a while (too busy marking, second marking, report writing, lecture prepping, and all the other end-of-term/beginning-of-new-term stuff that educators have to do), I decided to save what little creativity I have by reading someone else's far greater creative works ~ Christina Rossetti's long old poem "Goblin Market". It's a beautifully sensuous, allegorical work which probably set Freudians into a spin.

The book it is in is a wonderfully illustrated 1920s collection of children's poetry, all of which is about fairies, elves, goblins and the like - a Yule/birthday gift from a friend. I shall probably record some shorter poem from it at some point in the future. The picture inset is from the book. It is by an artist I've not previously heard of called Warwick Goble - who may well be famous, but I'm not familiar with many children's illustrators. I looked him up and he seems to have been really quite prolific.