Log in

Eroticdreambattle [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
Tony Grist

[ userinfo | livejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

Skirret [Oct. 10th, 2015|05:05 pm]
Tony Grist
I do the Telegraph cryptic crossword most days- and sometimes I learn something.

Today, for instance, I had to solve the clue, "Plant starts to ruin everything in border"- and the answer had to be "skirret". Only what's skirret?

I looked it up and found two meanings.

1. Skirret is a root vegetable, rather like parsnip only more peppery. It comes from China, was a favourite of the Emperor Tiberius and popular with the Tudors- but then fell out of favour because it's hard to grow commercially.  They're currently cultivating  it in the kitchen gardens at Hampton Court.

2. Skirret is the proper name for the peg and string tool used by builders to make sure their foundations and courses are running true. Freemasons use it as a symbol of straight dealing.
linkpost comment

Another Cobham Tomb [Oct. 10th, 2015|02:15 pm]
Tony Grist
The Cobhams were mighty tomb builders. The tomb of Reginald the third baron (featured yesterday) is high art. That of his grandfather- the first baron- who was one of Edward III's commanders and fought with distinction at Crecy and Poitiers - is cruder, but still very fine. He powns two Saracens- one (bodiless) on his helmet and the second reclining at his feet, looking cheesed-off  but with his body still attached to his head.

link4 comments|post comment

Off The Visible Spectrum [Oct. 9th, 2015|01:16 pm]
Tony Grist
Male and female blue tits look just the same to us but not to one another. That's because they can see colours we can't- and male blue tits carry brighter patches of ultra-violet.

(I got this info from Chris Packham's excellent TV show World's Weirdest Events.)

Ultra Violet is a real colour- or range of colours.  The same goes for Infra Red. But I can't see them. I can't even imagine them. I find that very hard to get my head around.
link4 comments|post comment

A Saracen's Head [Oct. 9th, 2015|10:25 am]
Tony Grist
Our iconoclasts- who came in two waves- one might (very inaccurately) call them Cromwell 1 and Cromwell 2 for ease of reference- were religious extremists not class warriors- so they smashed roods and stained glass windows but spared tombs. In France- where the iconoclasts were class warriors- it was the other way round. So the French have more medieval stained glass than us, but we have more medieval tombs.

Lingfield has a very fine, early 15th century tomb of the Cobham family. Ailz doesn't always come into the churches with me but I insisted she see this because it's a considerable piece of sculpture and she loves sculpture. "Look,"she said. "You can see all his buckles," And so you can.

But the tour de resistance is round the back. The Cobhams had as their crest a Saracen's head- symbolising their crusading zeal. And here, on top of  the knight's helmet (which he is using as a pillow) is the grimmest, goriest Saracen's head you could hope to be repelled by. The word that comes to mind is Donatello. One wonders what else this sculptor did. What were his John the Baptists like? His Mary Magdalens? Just suppose Donatello's votive statues had fallen to the hammers of Cromwells 1 and 2.

link8 comments|post comment

Lingfield, Surrey [Oct. 8th, 2015|04:19 pm]
Tony Grist

link4 comments|post comment

Developing An Idea From Two Posts Back [Oct. 7th, 2015|01:00 pm]
Tony Grist
What follows is based on the charitable assumption that there is some truth contained in accounts of the Afterlife derived from channelled writings, mediumistic visions, NDEs and the like. If you think the whole thing is a load of malarcky you needn't read on.

Revelation has to be thinkable.

Or as Sweeney says, "I gotta use words when I'm talking to you."

If you're giving people information that's new to them you need to use language they're familiar with. For example there's no point in talking realtivity to a pre-Einsteinian audience. You can only tell people as much as they're ready to receive.

I've noted that early 20th century Afterlife narratives have almost nothing to say about reincarnation. That bothered me to begin with. After all, more recent revelations talk about little else. Why is that?  Are the early 20th century communicators uninformed? Are they just spinning us a line? Not necessarily. Perhaps they're tempering the wind to the shorn lamb. Reincarnation was a new-fangled, foreign, unChristian idea to the late-Victorian, middle-class people who mainly made up the audience for these books; it didn't fit with their world view.  And so the communicators made allowances- and substituted the liberal Christian concept of a hell from which the damned soul is free to work its deliverance by good works and pure thoughts. Different symbology but much the same basic idea.

Of course reincarnation may not be the complete truth either- but simply a slightly subtler way of talking about a reality that is currently beyond the comprehension of us everyday 21st century folk.

When Monsignor Benson is exploring the Summerlands in 1914 he visits a laboratory where spirits are working on inventions that will eventually be passed down the line to scientists on earth (because all our best ideas originate in Eternity.)  So what are these inventions? Are we talking hoverboards? Cures for cancer? The internet? He doesn't say- or drop hints- even though such disclosures would immeasurably have increased the creditworthiness of his story.

He passes up the chance to prophesy.

Is that because he's spinning a yarn- and doesn't want to make it too easy to falsify?

Or because (as he argues himself) we're just not ready to know about these things?
linkpost comment

Medical Choices [Oct. 7th, 2015|11:34 am]
Tony Grist
We take my mother to the anti-veg clinic every two months. They give her an eye test and a scan and then the doctor reviews the case. The first two or three times they gave her injections to stop a bleed in the left eye- but that's a long time ago now.

Yesterday the doctor- an Eastern European whose abruptness was probably just an Eastern European thing and not intentional rudeness- offered surgery for one eye and laser treatment in the other. My mother hasn't a clue so the response was mine to make.

Personally I think a 94 year old should be kept away from the knife, but that's just my opinion. It would be nice if my mother had opinions of her own but she doesn't any more. What would she choose for herself if she still could choose? I've no idea. She's had laser treatment in the past but then was in her late seventies or early eighties- and still leading an active life.

It's not as if her eyesight were her chief problem. Her chief problem is understanding what she sees.
link9 comments|post comment

Gone West: Three Narratives Of After Death Experiences: J.S.M. Ward [Oct. 6th, 2015|07:06 pm]
Tony Grist
Here's another early 20th century book about the afterlife. (There were many- and quite a few of them can be found as pdfs here.) Its author, J.S,M Ward, was one of the wide boys of spirituality- archaeologist, freemason, spiritualist, gnostic bishop and good friend of that other wideboy, Gerald Gardner. He liked the paraphenalia of high church religion (most of his portraits show him in cassock and biretta) was fond of gathering disciples around him and may have grown overfond of some of the younger female ones (there were scandals.) He was eccentric, contrarian and full of energy

His spiritualist writings come early in his career- before the dodgy ordinations. He says he's channelling his father-in-law- a minor Victorian architect- and two of his father's otherworldly mates- one of them a businessman and the other a swindler and murderer known as The Officer. Father-in-law gives us information about the lower realms of what I suppose we must call purgatory, where he is carrying on his studies in Renaissance architecture in a heavenly recreation of Queens College Oxford as it was before it was rebuilt (because good buildings also go to heaven when they die.) The businessman- too good for hell, too materialist for heaven- mostly pootles about on the astral- where dinosaurs chase him through the carboniferous forest which once existed on what is now the Thames embankment. And the Officer- as bad a man as you could hope to avoid- goes down to the depths of hell and then clambers back (because this is the 20th century and we're all liberals here and hell is no longer eternal.) His adventures- taking in the City of Hatred- which is ancient Rome gone all rotten and slimy- and the City of Lust which is ancient Corinth- are never a step away from allegory and suggest nothing so much as a mash-up of the Pilgrim's Progress and a fever dream. He defeats and tortures an inquisitor, leagues himself with the Emperor of Rome and leads a rag-tag army of pirates and mercenaries against Danton's sans-cullottes. No-one dies in the battle because everyone is already dead- but being carved up with a cutlass still hurts. Only don't for a moment suppose that a spirit body which feels pain can also feel pleasure- because it can't- as you'll find out if you go to the City of Lust expecting to have fun.

How much of any of this do I believe?


These days accounts of the afterlife (as found in The Michael teachings or Michael Newton's Life Between Lives) have dropped the circles of Hell and replaced them with reincarnation- for all the world as if God has changed his mind. I like reincarnation better but perhaps it's only a more sophisticated formulation of the idea that enlightenment has to be sweated at. You expiate your sins in hell, you pay off your karma through successive incarnations: the words are different but suffering is suffering wherever you undergo it- and the supposed outcome is the same. One can only use the symbolic language one's audience will understand- and in the early 20th century reincarnation was just a weird, Blavatskian shimmer on the horizon. Revelation has to be thinkable, otherwise it's nothing but gobbledy-gook.

In other words, don't expect books like this to tell you anything you don't already know.
linkpost comment

Life In The World Unseen And More About Life In The World Unseen: Anthony Borgia [Oct. 5th, 2015|10:40 am]
Tony Grist
It's the 1950s but Monsignor Ronald Benson (brother of the novelist E.F. Benson) is still living in a sunny Edwardian middlie England- without movies or radio or TV or any of that nasty modern art or discordant modern music. There's a good reason for this; Monsignor Ronald Benson has been dead since October 1914.

Only not really dead. Actually more alive than ever. He has a house in the spirit realms, with a beautiful garden (everyone in his world has a beautiful garden) and a charming live-in companion called Ruth. Among his neighbours are a native American chief called Radiant Feather who wears a war bonnet (in the making of which no actual living bird was harmed) and the musicians Tchaikovsky and Haydn who go around together and are both still busily composing. Since making the transition Monsignor has learned a thing or two and is now highly critical of the church to which he devoted his life on earth.

One can smile, but if the spiritual world is a world of the imagination- called into existence by the power of thought- then this unchallenging, well-ordered, middlebrow environment is exactly the kind of eternal habitation a cultured but conservative and  intellectually incurious old Etonian might conjure for himself.  He remains comfortable and middle-class (just as he was in life); below him is an underworld of selfish and vicious souls who (like the Edwardian poor) need to be educated and assisted- and above him is a spiritual aristocracy of graciously condescending "masters" who live on a higher plane in palaces made of precious stones. Silly doesn't necessarily mean untrue.

Monsignor spends his time doing good, browsing in a library which contains every book ever written and indulging in harmless recreations like boating (yes really) and concert-going. Sometimes he attends the theatre. Plays on the astral omit anything coarse- because the dead have got beyond all that- and always point a moral. (They sound ghastly.) In the first book- where he tells of his own introduction to the spiritual world he's a pleasant enough companion, in the second- where he shows another more recently deceased person the ropes- he comes across as almost intolerably patronising and complacent.

Monsignor (as he still likes to be called in spite of renouncing the dogmas of his church) wrote his books through an amenuensis called Anthony Borgia- which sounds like a non-de-plume to me. Borgia is elusive. He says he knew Benson when he (Borgia) was a boy- and that's all the biography he seems to have.  I've found two photographs of him on the internet- one as a young man, one aged 90. He looks haggard and nervy.
linkpost comment

Pensionable [Oct. 4th, 2015|09:49 am]
Tony Grist
When I were a lad we called it the Old Age Pension. Now it's just The State Pension. People these days have a rooted objection to being called "old". I think it's a sickness.

Anyway I got my letter from the DWP (it was waiting for me on our return from Leicester) telling me I was going to be able to start drawing the pension next year. It encloses a booklet setting out my options and choices- which I suppose I need to read. Why does everything have to be so complicated these days? There's this belief abroad that people want choices in life (you know, umpteen brands of bloody cornflakes) when the truth is we'd just like things to run smoothly. Look, I don't want to have to make decisions; simply pay me my money down. I'll make the decisions once it's in my palsied hand.

Otherwise receiving my letter and little booklet makes me happy. It's a rite of passage.  Look, I'm certifiably old. I can eat golden age meals in restaurants (only I won't because the portions are stupidly small) and I can do all those things Jenny Joseph looks forward to getting away with in her famous poem. Being old is cool.
link12 comments|post comment

[ viewing | most recent entries ]
[ go | earlier ]