February 8th, 2017


Living With Livestock

I've moved my bonfire site to the kitchen garden- where I have hedges all round me and the horses can't mob me and pull at my coat tails and nibble my socks. Julia suggests putting a composter in there as well. Our established compost heap is at the centre of the area where the horses do lots of concentrated trampling and to get to it you have to wade through deep mud with puddles in it.

Matthew and Julia have given grazing rights to another bunch of Chris's horses. Their lot keep beaking out their field- and into the road or a neighbour's garden. Our fences have held thus far. Touch wood.

Rereading The Brothers Karamazov

I read it in my mid teens and I'd never read anything like it.  For a long while it was the book by which I measured every other book.

Coming at it half a century later I can see that it is, in fact, a Victorian novel like other Victorian novels. I  detect the influence of Balzac and Dickens. Had Dostoevsky read the Brontes? Had he read Wilkie Collins? Or is it just that he lives in the same tumultuous mental universe?

I'd forgotten quite how frantic the action is. One character throws the most frightful scene and then another character throws the most frightful scene. It's like Eastenders. People converse by exchange of monologue. Everyone is a drama queen.

The people are chaotic but individual. It's not like Balzac where the people are social types and every Parisian dandy is exactly the same as every other Parisian dandy. As a teen I fixated on Ivan (of course). Ivan is cool. He's said and done very little as yet, but he's a presence- brooding, apparently aloof but with the occasional lightning flash- as when he shoves old Fyodor's mini-me, the excruciatingly servile Maximov- out of the carriage with a blow to the chest. Ivan doesn't wrangle with you; he puts up with you until he's had enough, then smacks you one hard and you stay smacked. The chaos is under control but working inwards.

I do remember there being no colour. I'm 200 pages in and I doubt that Dostoevsky has used a single colour word. Except "black" of course.  Oh, and "brown"- because most of the characters have brown hair. Grushenka has just been introduced and she's wearing a "voluptuous" black dress. Well, of course she is.

Landscape description is kept to a minimum- but there's more than I thought there was. I was surprised to be reminded that Father Zossima's hermitage is surrounded by rose beds. But of course it's winter so there aren't any blooms...

The Mandela Effect

The Mandela effect is when you distinctly remember something having happened that didn't happen. Usually it's not just you but a whole bunch of people who have the anomalous memory. It's called the Mandela effect because there are lots of us who remember Nelson Mandela dying as a prisoner on Robben Island when of course he didn't. There was an example  in the news recently where quite a few people were saying they had clear memories of watching a movie that was never made.

Some say the Mandela effect is evidence for the existence of parallel universes. In one universe Mandela died on Robben Island but in the one next door- which is ours- he didn't- and the people who remember him dying have crossed over from one to the other without noticing.

Parallel universes are respectable science, by the way. Moving between them isn't.

There was another story I read recently in which a woman woke up one morning and went to work only to find things had subtly changed and that she was employed in the same building but doing a different job.

I experienced what felt like the Mandela effect this morning when I read that Alec McCowen had died. Now I could have sworn that he'd been dead for years- not just because he's been out of the public eye but because I was sure I'd read the reports. I suppose I must have been mistaken....

And that's how people generally cope. They put the percieved anomaly down to a memory glitch and forget about it- and so the crack in reality gets papered over...