in the arsehole of diogenes

NEO-HERACLITUS_____________Qweir Notions in the arsehole of Diogenes: weBlog of a septuagenarian Binge-thinker since February 2008.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

Hope is a trap

because it so often leads to
and frustration can lead destructively to

Friday, 27 March 2020


To emphasise how pointless are
the totalitarian attempts to prevent the spread of The Virus,
I woke up this morning with a runny nose.
For the past five days I have been isolated and alone
except for a visit to the almost empty grocer's
and two visits to the almost-empty bakery.

Somewhere, somehow I was infected with the common cold,
which is only slightly more infectious than Covid-19.

The story so far.

Governments have opted for the risk of psycho-social disintegration
in the ludicrous hope that they can prevent the spread of the virus
and hence economic collapse.
No life-skills are taught in schools,let alone the basics of epidemiology;
civilisations have progressively abandoned them,
and all sorts of independence and intelligence have been deliberately discouraged.
Social breakdown will automatically lead to economic 'crash'...

But perhaps I'm being over-optimistic.

Thursday, 26 March 2020


My mind
is my most intimate,
perhaps my most dangerous

Monday, 23 March 2020

"There will be no return to 'normality'

Projection by Matías Segura – Santiago (Chile)

because Normality was the problem."

Rejoice in The Virus !

Hallelujah !
Covid-19 may Save The Planet (from us, for a time)
– but only if a few hundred million succumb.
Where do I volunteer ?

Sunday, 22 March 2020

The chief beneficiaries

of the present panicdemic
(apart from the predatory police)
will be the 'drug cartels'
supplying the 'needs' of rich
and poor alike,
who will continue
almost unhindered
to rake in the trillions
- much of which will be
suitably laundered
through Liechtenstein, Jersey, Grand Cayman, Curaçao...
for lending to
bankrupt governments.

PS  Current beneficiaries (at least in France)
include wild animals, which will not be hunted down
by the usual licensed gangs.

PPS  Online gambling will do quite well, too...

Saturday, 21 March 2020

In times of Crisis

governments treat the governed
(except for the very rich)
like naughty children.

At election times
governments treat the governed
like stupid teenagers.

At all times
governments are composed of stupid teenagers
and the governed actually are
recalcitrant children.

Frankly, most of us
are unqualified to vote,
much less to govern.

Friday, 20 March 2020

The police in France

are in Seventh Heaven
because they again
(after a gap of 75 years)
can stop, question and arrest
anyone who leaves their house
without a silly bit of paper
or a Permitted Reason.

France is always just one Presidential Decree from being a totalitarian state.

Christianity is a scant

and defective morality
without a philosophy
- let alone a basis in fact;
Buddhism a philosophy
upon which religion
and superstition
are often crudely tacked.

Thursday, 19 March 2020

Yet another little irony.

an anti-malarial favoured
in French Guiana -
and my drug-of-choice
to end my long life
of mild cultural neurosis
is claimed to reduce the symptoms
and severity of Covid-19
- in 500-milligram doses.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

As I get older

I don't too much regret the diminution of my faculties.
But when my taste-buds start to falter
and I cannot enjoy my cooking any more
will be the time to die (if not before).

Tuesday, 17 March 2020


The god Pan was the god of extreme behaviour,
and is celebrated in the word panic.
But the pan in pandemic
as in pandemonium
comes from the Greek word for all.

Heraclitus is famous for his dictum
πάντα ῥεῖ (panta rhei): All is flow.
Life is tide and undertow.

A misanthrope like me,
Heraclitus reportedly did not like Pythagoras.
Some of his declarations
are cryptic or vague.

My village of Caylus,
during the continuing emergencies
of the Hundred Years War
and another hundred years
of religious, town-burning hostilities,
was visited five times by Plague.

Monday, 16 March 2020


create unhappiness
- which is probably
why they are so popular
and (apparently)
so successful.

Sunday, 15 March 2020

Saturday, 14 March 2020

Three Cheers for Direct Democracy in France.

Local elections are coming soon in France. 
Remote Rochefourchat in the far south of the country has 6 stone dwellings, a non-functional phone-box, an old church - and just one permanent inhabitant, who was mayor until he resigned a couple of years ago.  His replacement is a Paris lawyer who has a holiday home in the hamlet which continues to be designated a commune, and thus must have a mayor and local council.  The seven councillors represent the total of seven families who are also holiday-homers.

Any public works (on laneways and the only street) are carried out (or financed) by the second-homers.  The requisite 4 council meetings a year take place over a meal around a private table.  There are few decisions to be taken 

"We have direct democracy, as in ancient Athens," declared the mayor.

Friday, 13 March 2020

The miasma

of money
inflates every ego
until it becomes
yet another airship
dropping shit (if not bombs) on the wretched* and the poor.

* Irrelevant aside : why was the title of Victor Hugo's book  Les Misérables not translated into English 
(as The Wretched [of the Earth]) ?

Thursday, 12 March 2020

On religious toleration.

Because almost all religions are insults to intelligence
rather than philosophies
we should be minimally tolerant of them all equally, doggedly.

Wednesday, 11 March 2020

Against the tide.

After the withering of heroic verse
poetry should be allied to prophecy
not to the banality of anecdote.

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

In celebration of self-isolation.

(Today, for the first time, I looked in Twitter
after reading about this guy.
This is not a recommendation.)

Brian Bilston

March 6th 2020

Coronavirus for me
holds few fears:
I’ve been self-isolating now
for twenty-five years.

The Income-tax Principle*

People who can well pay
don't pay.
People who can barely pay
are made to pay
in more than one way.

*as observed by one who has never paid tax on revenue because of a (purely relative) lack of income.

Monday, 9 March 2020

The shock

that I had when I first kissed a man
at the age of 39
was that I liked it.
He had a beard
and moustache,
for which (I heard
unreliably on the radio)
there are 17 words in Albanian.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Bongs and dongs in England

Great Peter
Little John
and Big Ben
are all bells,
not fond nicknames for men's dongs.

Friday, 6 March 2020

When you don't have a father, a grandmother can be just as effective.

She didn't 'cripple me for life'
except according to the retrospective
evaluation of her kind.
I think that she empowered me at an early age
to be a happy, solitary drifter
by whacking my left hand when I used it
'inappropriately', and by sending me
to a nursery school where a co-conspirator
did the same - but with a ruler's edge.

And so I stammered, was farouche, had tantrums,
and tended to resist 'authority'
(which is usually just authoritarianism).
In my slow dissociation from social norms and expectations
these grim women were the thin end of the wedge.

I wear a watch on my right wrist
but cannot write with my right hand.

Thursday, 5 March 2020


is a big mistake
that can lead to doing
which is an even bigger one.

- The Aimless Drift Society of Shirkers, Drop-outs,Starers into the Middle Distance,
   and Writers who Cannot Write.

Wednesday, 4 March 2020

from "The Tanners" (1907) by Robert Walser.

“How revolting it is when those grossed out on high-end goods and services
keep on blaming the poor for their poverty!"

Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Monday, 2 March 2020

Francisco Goya meets Otto Dix:

Two of my favourite drawings by the great
Foma Jaremtschuk:

Foma Jaremtschuk (1907-1986)was born in a remote Siberian village in 1907. In 1936 he was arrested and sent to a Siberian labour camp - where he spent most of his life before being moved to "psychiatric facilities", where he died in 1986.

Some time in the 1950s and early 1960s, while under the care of Dr. Mikhail Kutanin, head of the Saratov Psychiatric Clinic, Jaremtschuk produced a remarkable body of drawings. Though completely untrained and using only the simplest of materials, he created a pictorial universe that is utterly compelling yet terrifying.

His drawings, between raw fantasy and realism, speak eloquently of the appalling experience of the extremely harsh life in the Soviet Gulags.

More pictures here

They should be reproduced on walls as 'Street Art'.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

Phrase of the Week :

Bottleneck of Genetic Drift.
I think that's us, the species which boils worms alive
to make silk, kills elephants to make silly ornaments
and has already caused the extinction
of hundreds of species.

The populations and genetic drift of mammals
'exploded' after minotaurs dinosaurs became extinct.

I wonder which species will benefit after we wipe ourselves out ?
(It certainly won't be ear-worms !)

Saturday, 29 February 2020

In 1948 (also a leap-year)

a year before the pseudo-Marxists
came to power in mainland China,
George Orwell published 1984,
a hugely-influential book
recently translated into Uyghur
and published far to the west in Turkey.

Many of the horrible predictions
that Orwell made have come to pass,
not in Russia nor elsewhere (apart from North Korea)
but in Xinjiang,
so as to wipe out the 'dangerous'
Muslim and Turkic culture of the Uyghurs. 
Children are taken away to be 'educated',
women are 'encouraged' to marry
Han-Chinese men,
and all are instructed to sing
happy songs of love for China, the Party
and Big Brother, Xi Jinping.

Xinjiang's capital, Kashgarh is an oasis
between a sand-desert to the east
and the mountains to the west
shown on this satellite view.
The Uyghurs have enough to contend with
besides forced education and suppression of their language.

If copies of 1984 in Uyghur are smuggled into Xinjiang,
will it do anything to help the huge province's
small number of Turkic inhabitants ?

Friday, 28 February 2020

A possible cure for constipation

- if the sufferer could actually think
of besmirching such an exuberant object.

Thursday, 27 February 2020

Man attacks left-handed waitress.

Nantes, France, February 26th.

A customer in a coffee-shop threw his cup of coffee in the waitress' face
and slapped her because she served him with her left hand.

The left hand is tabooed by Islam because (in right-handed people)
it is designated to be used for arse-wiping.
Of course, we left-handed people use our right hands for this purpose,
and our watches are on our right wrists,
so you can tell a left-handed person, a 'southpaw' in American parlance,
from yards or metres away.

I wonder which hand he slapped her with...


concerns itself with our failure
to connect with each other.
Science concerns itself with such things
as tinkering with DNA
and sending computers to the sun.

(In other words, we are brilliant
at breaking down and measuring,
but utter rubbish at simple mutual harmony.)

Wednesday, 26 February 2020

Time and its quality.

Least-mentioned and most-enduring
of colonial evils
was the introduction of necessary employment.
Its absence is now seen as
(and has often become) personal
or cultural failure, catastrophe
rather than an opportunity
to celebrate Free Time.

The freedoms that nation-states bestow
do not include free time or nourishment,
because capitalism's cult of numbers,
growth and 'going forward'
turns people into mere economic
units, groups and classes,
a to-be-closely-regulated spate
of consumers and providers.

Money is holy. The world is not.
Time and its quality are defined
and doled out by the State.


Tuesday, 25 February 2020

When I listen to music

I hear three things at once:
my ever-present tinnitus,
my almost ever-present ear-worms
(which vary enormously from Machaut
to Mahler, Marley and Methodist hymn-tune),
and the music I have voluntarily chosen.
There might be background noise as well.

If someone talks above all that
I am involved in tiring, cerebral acrobatics.

And if I turned on speech-radio
rather than music it is all too much, too much.

Monday, 24 February 2020

While reading John le Carré's "Mission Song".

John le Carré is certainly, like me,
ashamed to be a Western European
pinkish grey-skinned person.  I suspect that,
like me, born British, he might be ashamed to be human.

I hope he is about to write about the latest White Man's Shame
of childish panic about an alleged pandemic
(2% mortality rate, less than 50% infection rate)
while slow and bloody, ultimately efficient
genocide is quite cynically permitted to occur in Syria
by almost every politician outside Syria.

Who is worrying about the effect the latest influenza virus
might have in the ignored-by-all
(except the Turks and Kurds and Syrians)
crammed refugee camps of south-eastern Turkey ?
Almost no-one.

Sic progressit - And so it goes...on and on...and on...

Can language-abuse get any worse

which I came across the other day.

Just one more little thing to make me lose the will to remain on the planet.

An unrelated language-note:

The English word journey
comes from French journée
meaning the (sunlit) length of a day.
So a journey was a day's travel.
by horse or on foot.

The French for journey or trip
is voyage, (from voie: way or path)
whose meaning
has in English been confined
to a sea-crossing.

There are hundreds more examples
of how meanings slip - and sometimes reverse -
from French to English, and even
(as with etiquette and ticket) back to French again.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Technology breeds

and technology to counter
It can only end in tears
and fire, not ice.

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Zoö-pornography - food for disgust.

More than one and a half million
pornographic films of animal sexual abuse
are freely available
and watched
every year in France and the UK... 
Many more in North America.

More than 10,000 human beings
visit online ads for sexual experiences with animals.

from (France)

Friday, 21 February 2020

Shakespeare was wrong.

The world is part-stage,
part-holding camp,
and for most it's
just a place wherein to perish.

Thursday, 20 February 2020

Wonderfully-wacky Word of the Week

Go figure!

Most intellectuals

have little understanding.
Those with understanding
tend not to be intellectual.
On the radio the other day
I heard that hairy men
tend to be intellectuals
(and/or the other way round ?).
My aunt had a sweet little moustache
but was not an intellectual,
and was always forgiving
but rarely understanding.

I did not care for princes or princesses,
but fancied hairy ogres when I was very young.

Wednesday, 19 February 2020

The problem with people

(I find)
is not so much that they are so limited,
but that they are so self-limiting.

Tuesday, 18 February 2020


doesn't just happen.
It has to be permitted.
In The Real World
(which I luxuriously keep at bay
though Consumer Choice)
thought is a complication.

Monday, 17 February 2020


the French word for career
also means quarry.
The English word quarry
also means intended victim.
I have done what Yevtushenko
(whom I have not much read)
recommended in his poem about Galileo*,
and pursued a career (not a quarry)
of not pursuing one.

Kарьера (Career)

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Cool swells.

North Americans (but never British)
used to say that things (or people) were
A male person could be A swell.
Swell swells have gone.
Now they (and some British) say
that people (or things) are funky
or are cool.
But now there seems to be a semantic rule
that neither male nor female is ever called
A funky or A cool.

Saturday, 15 February 2020

" have invented God -

[as] a being capable of understanding."
- Graham Greene, The Quiet American.
...of understanding the cosmic joke
of bird in the hand and pig in a poke.

Friday, 14 February 2020

And lo! The first intelligible

(if not very intelligent) message
to reach Earth from Outer Space was:
We are going to make Wolf 359

*Wolf 359, a Red Dwarf, is not at all bright.
'Two planetary companions are suspected, but as yet no debris discs have been unmasked...'

Thursday, 13 February 2020


Even if we had the faintest idea what they might involve,
Enlightenment, Redemption, Salvation...
Saving the sad Planet from flood and fire
would still be merely
infantile desires for abstractions of desire.

Wednesday, 12 February 2020

The cosmic joke

is a pig in a poke
a bird in the hand
a bridge too far...
and not a nasty existential yoke.

Tuesday, 11 February 2020


I got off the conveyor belt
after refusing to worship
the god of getting on.

Monday, 10 February 2020

Heard on the radio today:

"From the point of view of a photon
the entire universe is perfectly still."

Which means that such a particle of light can get off
and away if it wants to without risking injury.

'You can bet your bottom dollar'

that capitalism will thrive
on strategies
for manufacturing and marketing
value-added, bogus remedies
for climate change.

(Incidentally: as long ago as 1967 Isaac Asimov wrote that we were trashing the planet irreversibly.
 That was just before the oil companies started a big drive to increase the consumption of oil.)

Sunday, 9 February 2020

"Too young to die."

no-one is...

any more than
anyone is
too old to die.

From your pedantic uncle.

With reference to my post of 28th December last
(Homage or insult to Miss S.)
Gertrude Stein's alleged poem, Pigeons on the grass, alas!
has almost-imperceptibly more meaning
if you imagine that the aforementioned birds were close to a notice:

or, since she spent so much time in Paris:

I might be wrong about this,
but she certainly published a recipe for Hashish Fudge in 1954.

Peduncle Wofl

Saturday, 8 February 2020

Truth is a little boy.

And what are little boys made of ?
"Slugs and snails and puppy-dogs tails."
That is what Truth is made of.

Friday, 7 February 2020

Thursday, 6 February 2020

Slick Simile.

I slip into bed
like a frozen chicken
into a microwave.
I have never slipped
a frozen chicken into a microwave.
I have never had a microwave
and for thirty years or more I haven't eaten chicken.

But I slip into my
electro-blanketed bed gratefully
and with abandon.

I snuggle into bed
like I used to snuggle whole chickens
into an earthenware pot
of golden cardamomed, tarragoned
and saffroned onions with segments of three lemons,
before slipping it into the oven
to be served (with fluffy rice) an hour or two later.

Wednesday, 5 February 2020

The Defeat of France

by Prussia in 1870,
and the subsequent decline of French power in Europe,
led directly to "The Race for Africa",
the brutal scrum of colonialism
which has destroyed the world.

Tuesday, 4 February 2020

A Kind of Poem.

Unlike kindness,
love comes in different kinds
like the kinds of water:
stagnant, spring, tap, sea,
puddle, polluted river,
pond, salt-marsh,
weedy canal, cascading,
soft, hard...
Unlike water,
love can be manic,
but no love is oceanic.

Monday, 3 February 2020

Sunday, 2 February 2020

The late John Baldessari,

notorious "conceptual artist" 
(who famously burned his terrible paintings)
declared that he would never make "boring art".
Unfortunately, almost all "conceptual art" is boring,
mind-numbingly, eye-frustratingly boring
at least after the first five seconds.

Saturday, 1 February 2020

Friday, 31 January 2020


(from the Latin corona and the Greek κορώνη meaning crown or halo)

is a word describing:
1.  the projecting part of a classic cornice;
2. the upper portion of a bodily part (such as a tooth, the skull or the penis);
3.  an appendage or series of united appendages on the inner side of the corolla in some flowers (such as the daffodil);
4.  a faint glow adjacent to the surface of an electrical conductor at high voltage;
5.  the gaseous 'atmosphere' of the sun which is even hotter than its surface, typically visible during an eclipse, and which emanates a  'solar wind' to afflict its planets;
6.  a circle of light made by the apparent convergence of the streamers of the aurora borealis;
7.  in medieval Latin, a unit of currency vulgarly known as a crown, krone, krona, koruna, etc.

Now we are hearing a lot about a particular corona-virus  in the subfamily Orthocoronavirinae...
which probably comes from the sun, lives in the aurora borealis, hangs about on cornices & daffodils, and is propagated (upon payment) via faintly-glowing penises of pigs and humans.

Thursday, 30 January 2020

Secrets and Lies

Science tells us continually
how rational and successful we are.

Literature worries continually
at and about our tragic (often ludicrous)

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Tuesday, 28 January 2020

The ibex,

a very large kind of goat,
is, with the snow leopard, the most revered
of the Asian mountain animals, and used to live
in mountain ranges from Mongolia to Afghanistan.
Like snow leopards, they are almost extinct.

Pickled ibex blood, thick and hard to swallow,
is considered a powerful tonic by the Mongols.

The customs of humans are like footholds
carved into the marble cliffs of inhumanity.

Monday, 27 January 2020

Sunday, 26 January 2020

A walker

was originally a man who trod wool or felt underfoot -
a kind of dancer.
The modern meaning of to walk came later.
Walkers are now just minor curses of the countryside.

Saturday, 25 January 2020

Friday, 24 January 2020

Today's YogArt®

'Fresh' (still wet) in the first photo under artificial light.
'Set' (morning after) in the second, in natural light and with different background.

Retrospective misery

is all the rage.

Thursday, 23 January 2020

Most cooking

is done by women,
and in many Asian countries
they eat separately,
because a woman is considered
to be a service rather than a person.
As for Western cultures -
I wonder how many cooks
(even male ones) consider that the best part
of feasts and dinner-parties
is the cooking ?

Tuesday, 21 January 2020

Today's YogArt

photographed when fresh (yesterday evening)...

and this morning in natural light.

A neglected poet.


There is a natty kind of mind
That slicks its thoughts,
Culls its oughts,
Trims its views,
Prunes its trues,
And never suspects it is a rind.


To those fixed on white,
White is white,
To those fixed on black,
It is the same,
And red is red,
Yellow, yellow-
Surely there are such sights
In the many colored world,
Or in the mind.
The strange thing is that
These people never see themselves
Or you, or me.

Are they not in their minds?
Are we not in the world?
This is a curious blindness
For those that are color blind.
What queer beliefs
That men who believe in sights
Disbelieve in seers.

O people, if you but used
Your other eyes
You would see beings.


African Guardian of Souls,
Drunk with rum,
Feasting on strange cassava,
Yielding to new words and a weak palabra
Of a white-faced sardonic god--
Grins, cries
Shouts hosanna.


Spatial depths of being survive
The birth to death recurrences
Of feet dancing on earth of sand;
Vibrations of the dance survive
The sand; the sand, elect, survives
The dancer. He can find no source
Of magic adequate to bind
The sand upon his feet, his feet
Upon his dance, his dance upon
The diamond body of his being.


A certain man wishes to be a prince
Of this earth; he also wants to be
A saint and master of the being-world.
Conscience cannot exist in the first:
The second cannot exist without conscience.
Therefore he, who has enough conscience
To be disturbed but not enough to be
Compelled, can neither reject the one
Nor follow the other...


Black reapers with the sound of steel on stones
Are sharpening scythes. I see them place the hones
In their hip-pockets as a thing that's done,
And start their silent swinging, one by one.
Black horses drive a mower through the weeds,
And there, a field rat, startled, squealing bleeds,
His belly close to ground. I see the blade,
Blood-stained, continue cutting weeds and shade.


Thunder blossoms gorgeously above our heads,
Great, hollow, bell-like flowers,
Rumbling in the wind,
Stretching clappers to strike our ears . . .
Full-lipped flowers
Bitten by the sun
Bleeding rain
Dripping rain like golden honey—
And the sweet earth flying from the thunder.

Jean (as in Gene) Toomer, 1894-1967

Monday, 20 January 2020

Sunday, 19 January 2020

Thursday, 16 January 2020


Ship in a Storm,
yogurt on black, shallow, glazed stoneware coupelle (by Michel Perfetti, 2008).

Not for Sale © Dingo/Wofl MMXX

Dogs in Winter.

The first photo is taken in Istanbul, where shop-owners are kind.

Wednesday, 15 January 2020

My dim view

of fellow Irish Protestant Samuel Beckett
is that his characters were figures of fun, the poor,
deadbeats and tramps instead of the future politicians
he taught at the Ecole Normale Supérieure.

Tuesday, 14 January 2020

If Cloud-cuckoolanders

think that climate change is actually reversible
they should be ready to live as Cubans lived
for fifty years, re-using, re-cycling,
manufacturing nothing from foreign
raw materials.  (The Russians brought
little more than weapons.)
No new cars, or trucks or buses;
no new refrigerators or household gadgets,
no imported food, no textiles and no electronics
made by near-slave-labour; no trashed forests,
no holidays abroad, no state-of-the-art surgery,
cancer-treatment, geriatric mindless
reproduction, obsessive over-consumption...
almost all that we associate with Consumer Choice.

Obviously, none of this is going to happen.
So, ye comfortably-off, rejoice in climate change,

Monday, 13 January 2020

When I was in my twenties

I ate shark's fin soup in Amsterdam
without a thought for sharks,
or whether the other parts of sharks
were eaten. They are not.
Now, 'educated' people are a little more aware,
ask more questions,
but unfortunately, despite the dire meteorological signs
in wind and fire and water,
the human population keeps on
increasing rapidly while almost every other animal population

Sunday, 12 January 2020

Saturday, 11 January 2020

There is some confusion

about the Prophet M'hamed's literacy.
Some claim that the Angel Gabriel,
hearing three times that he was illiterate,
miraculously enabled the humble Prophet
to read and write as he revealed the
divine teaching of the Holy Qu'ran.

The question is irrelevant.
The figureheads of the other two World Religions
were certainly illiterate.
Literate men should not attempt
to found another World Religion.

Thursday, 9 January 2020

For nearly a hundred years

the brains and behaviour of battered boxers
have been subjects of keen research,
but until recently the brains and minds
of battered women have, by sociologists
and neuro-scientists, been left in the lurch.

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

The outrageous repetitions of history.

In Europe, the Celts occupied high places to lord over the pre-Celts
whom they pushed into the low (often marshy or densely-forested) places.
Then came the Romans.
The anti-Catholics were sent from or pushed out of Britain to the wildest part of Ireland,
occupying the well-drained high places
(and giving them names such as Richhill),
 pushing the Catholics into the badly-drained low places.
The Israelis are taking the high places in the West Bank
(and wreaking desolation on the landscape)
so that they can ignore and maltreat the Palestinians,
who, it might be said, were there before the Israeli exodus from Egypt.

Tuesday, 7 January 2020

The most difficult thing in my life

has been the decades-slow realisation
that very few people are as they appear or claim to be.
Those who are not are total mystery to me.

And so I am (almost) a solitary.

Monday, 6 January 2020

from The Daily Telegraph, London

by Boris Johnson, MP 
It is a tragic measure of how far the world has changed — and the infinite capacity of modern man for taking offence — that there are no two subjects that can get you more swiftly into political trouble than motherhood and apple pie.
The last time I tentatively suggested that there was something to be said in favour of apple pie, I caused a frenzy of hatred in the healthy-eating lobby. It reached such a pitch that journalists were actually pelting me with pies, and demanding a retraction, and an apology, and a formal denunciation of the role of apple pie in causing obesity.
As for motherhood — the fertility of the human race — we are getting to the point where you simply can't discuss it, and we are thereby refusing to say anything sensible about the biggest single challenge facing the Earth; and no, whatever it may now be conventional to say, that single biggest challenge is not global warming. That is a secondary challenge. The primary challenge facing our species is the reproduction of our species itself.
Depending on how fast you read, the population of the planet is growing with every word that skitters beneath your eyeball. There are more than 211,000 people being added every day, and a population the size of Germany every year.
As someone who has now been travelling around the world for decades, I see this change, and I feel it. You can smell it in the traffic jams of the Middle East. You can see it as you fly over Africa at night, and you see mile after mile of fires burning red in the dark, as the scrub is removed to make way for human beings.
You can see it in the satellite pictures of nocturnal Europe, with the whole place lit up like a fairground. You can see it in the crazy dentition of the Shanghai skyline, where new skyscrapers are going up round the clock.
You can see it as you fly over Mexico City, a vast checkerboard of smog-bound, low-rise dwellings stretching from one horizon to the other; and when you look down on what we are doing to the planet, you have a horrifying vision of habitations multiplying and replicating like bacilli in a Petri dish.
The world's population is now 6.7 billion, roughly double what it was when I was born. If I live to be in my mid-eighties, then it will have trebled in my lifetime.
The UN last year revised its forecasts upwards, predicting that there will be 9.2 billion people by 2050, and I simply cannot understand why no one discusses this impending calamity, and why no world statesmen have the guts to treat the issue with the seriousness it deserves.
How the hell can we witter on about tackling global warming, and reducing consumption, when we are continuing to add so relentlessly to the number of consumers? The answer is politics, and political cowardice.
There was a time, in the 1960s and 1970s, when people such as my father, Stanley, were becoming interested in demography, and the UN would hold giant conferences on the subject, and it was perfectly respectable to talk about saving the planet by reducing the growth in the number of human beings.
But over the years, the argument changed, and certain words became taboo, and certain concepts became forbidden, and we have reached the stage where the very discussion of overall human fertility — global motherhood — has become more or less banned.
We seem to have given up on population control, and all sorts of explanations are offered for the surrender. Some say Indira Gandhi gave it all a bad name, by her demented plan to sterilise Indian men with the lure of a transistor radio.
Some attribute our complacency to the Green Revolution, which seemed to prove Malthus wrong. It became the received wisdom that the world's population could rise to umpteen billions, as mankind learnt to make several ears of corn grow where one had grown before.
And then, in recent years, the idea of global population control has been more or less stifled by a pincer movement from the Right and the Left. American Right-wingers disapprove of anything that sounds like birth control, and so George W. Bush withholds the tiny contribution America makes to the UN Fund for Population Activities, regardless of the impact on the health of women in developing countries.
As for the Left, they dislike suggestions of population control because they seem to smack of colonialism and imperialism and telling the Third World what to do; and so we have reached the absurd position in which humanity bleats about the destruction of the environment, and yet there is not a peep in any communiqué from any summit of the EU, G8 or UN about the population growth that is causing that destruction.
The debate is surely now unavoidable. Look at food prices, driven ever higher by population growth in India and China. Look at the insatiable Chinese desire for meat, which has pushed the cost of feed so high that Vladimir Putin has been obliged to institute price controls in the doomed fashion of Diocletian or Edward Heath.
Even in Britain, chicken farmers are finding that the cost of chickenfeed is no longer exactly chickenfeed, and, though the food crisis may once again be solved by the wit of man, the damage to the environment may be irreversible.
It is time we had a grown-up discussion about the optimum quantity of human beings in this country and on this planet. Do we want the south-east of Britain, already the most densely populated major country in Europe, to resemble a giant suburbia?
This is not, repeat not, an argument about immigration per se, since in a sense it does not matter where people come from, and with their skill and their industry, immigrants add hugely to the economy.
This is a straightforward question of population, and the eventual size of the human race.
All the evidence shows that we can help reduce population growth, and world poverty, by promoting literacy and female emancipation and access to birth control. Isn't it time politicians stopped being so timid, and started talking about the real number one issue?
~ Mr Johnson has fathered several children.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Cyprus Avenue, Belfast,

apparently now celebrated in song,
was where I played canasta with school-friends
in a nicely-decaying many-bay-windowed house in the nineteen-fifties.
Nearby was Orangefield, a sectarian neighbourhood.

Who would ever want to know this ?

Saturday, 4 January 2020

"We are a starved society living in the midst of plenty.

Our possessions are many.
Our serenities few."
                                 - Laurie Lee

But serenity is achieved despite circumstances,
even those of over-consumption.

Friday, 3 January 2020

Thursday, 2 January 2020

Wednesday, 1 January 2020