Presque vu LII
Dick Jones offers us a poem and talks about the poet, David Harsent author of the collection, Legion.
I think of Akhmatova’s famous encounter with the starved woman in the queue outside a Russian jail during the terror. The woman recognised Akhmatova and said: “Can you describe this?” When Akhmatova said, “I can”, a ghost of a smile passed over the woman’s face; in some small way she was consoled.
Lots of talk about bookshops in churches, lately. So how about this one: The bookstore to end all bookstores, at least in South America, is the majestic and stunning El Ateneo on Avenida Santa Fe in Barrio Norte, Buenos Aires. Where else can you sit in a theatre box and leisurely read a volume of Neruda, or sip a cortado where Carlos Gardel once performed.
Thanks to Sam Mills for this one.
In Why Think? Evolution and the Rational Mind, Ronald de Sousa—a long-time member of the University of Toronto Philosophy Department, now cast out into the knackers’ yard of retirement—discusses two cases of people instructed by God to kill their children.
First there was the wretched Texas housewife Andrea Yates, killer of her five kids, who was found guilty of deliberate murder on the grounds that, having got her divine instructions, she planned carefully how she could drown her babies. Second, there was Abraham, no less of a planner and whose son Isaac was saved only at the last moment thanks to another message from above, not to mention a handy ram ensnared in a thicket. The one was condemned for a vile crime; the other is venerated as a founder of no fewer than three different religions. De Sousa remarks: “When enough people share a delusion, it loses its status as a psychosis and gets a religious tax exemption instead.”