Wednesday 14 September, 2022


Venice, 2017. I love this photograph because of the expressions on the faces of the children.

Quote of the Day

”The story of an empire dying from the poisonous fermentation of the fruits of its initial success.”

  • Clive James on Gibbons’ Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

Hmmm… remind you of any other empires?

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Mark Knopfler & Emmylou Harris | Our Shangri-La


Long Read of the Day

’Things fall apart’: the apocalyptic appeal of ‘The Second Coming’

Very nice essay by Dorian Lynskey on the enduring fascination with Yeats’s poem The Second Coming.

Written in 1919 and published in 1920, “The Second Coming” has become perhaps the most plundered poem in the English language. At 164 words, it is short and memorable enough to be famous in toto but it has also been disassembled into its constituent parts by books, albums, movies, TV shows, comic books, computer games, political speeches and newspaper editorials. While many poems in Yeats’s corpus have contributed indelible lines to the storehouse of the cultural imagination (“no country for old men”; “the foul rag and bone shop of the heart”), “The Second Coming” consists of almost nothing but such lines. Someone reading it for the first time in 2020 might resemble the apocryphal theatregoer who complained that Hamlet was nothing but a bunch of quotations strung together. Whether or not it is Yeats’s greatest poem, it is by far his most useful. As Auden wrote in “In Memory of WB Yeats” (1939), “The words of a dead man / Are modified in the guts of the living.”

The poem provides, says Lynskey, an opportunity to confront chaos and dread, rather than to escape it, which is perhaps why Fintan O’Toole has proposed the “Yeats Test”: “The more quotable Yeats seems to commentators and politicians, the worse things are.”

Great read, IMO

My commonplace booklet

Morisson’s Law of Holiday Busyness

A nice exposition on Quentin’s blog of a universal law that explains why one is always especially busy in the run up to going on holiday — and immediately upon one’s return. It explains why, sometimes, I have half-dreaded the thought of going away!

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