2 I'm enjoying Waldemar Januszczak's new TV series about the Renaissance. It attacks art-historical orthodoxy and could very well have been subtitled, "Up Yours, Vasari". The first episode got angry about the sidelining of the Northern Europeans and the second argued that the Italian renaissance was as much about Catholic anxiety as classical revival. In the process some nice things were said about Pietro Torrigiano- who has been sidelined like the Flemings- and (incidentally) was the chap who broke Michelangelo's nose.
3 The older I get the less I like Michelangelo. He couldn't do women, he couldn't do landscape, he couldn't do anything but huge muscly men. He stands for machismo and simple-minded Catholic orthodoxy and I don't think it's done our culture any good to put him at its centre. His image of God as a hairy old bully has bedevilled religious discourse ever since.
4 I read a little theosophical pamphlet about the Afterlife yesterday- and struggled not so much with its ideas as with the language in which they were couched. Theosophy missed its chance to change the religious history of the West when it decided not to translate the religious and philosophical ideas it imported from India. By dodging this service to comprehensibility it exoticised its truths and put them on a high shelf. Why say "Kamaloka" when you could say "Astral Plane" or "Elysian Fields"? Why say "Atma" when you mean "Divine Spark"? We Europeans have the vocabulary to talk about such things. Why not use it?