Friday, 24 November 2017

2008 - My dawning awareness of the systematic dishonesty of economics, and then the rest...

As the so-called economic crisis of 2008 unfolded, there were several significant things happening in my life: one of which was that I gradually became aware that economics was a thoroughly dishonest and self-blindedly-incompetent field and subject.

What was particularly overwhelming was that this affected the whole field - that everybody who had any kind of public authority, even any kind of public presence - was equally affected by the partiality and distortion - such that was no way they could ever acknowledge their systemic errors (let alone correct them).

It was really quite something! In the end, the whole thing was discredited for me - I mean the whole lot - the entirety of what might be called 'established' economics!

I should be clear that this was not accompanied by an alternative view that I regard as correct - not at all. My recognition was that nobody knew anything.

It is similar to my (much earlier) recognition of the Anthropogenic Global Warming fraud: the recognition was quite simply that nobody understood global climate. Not even nearly, not even slightly. Therefore (obviously!) nobody could predict - let alone modify or control - the temperature of the planet.

Economics was the same - economics is like the global warming fraud: nobody knew; the discourse was nothing more than an echo chamber...

But of course there is nothing special about economics - economics is utterly typically - what applies to economics applies to all of the mainstream, global, establishment institutions: politics, mass media, government, science (self-styled), churches, police and military... They are wrong all the time about everything!

Not, of course, because every-single-thing they say is wrong - but because the wrongness is so highly-prevalent, and so pervasive, and so locked-in - that all knowledge is rendered invalid. When error, lies, incompetence are woven-into the institutional fabric, the fabric of discourse - then everything is invalidated.


Now, of course, there are pockets of effectiveness, individuals who know some something about something, individuals who can do valid and useful things - but the institutions, the committees, the official views... well none can be relied upon about anything.

Of course, it is hard to live by this truth - but truth it is. The official world is wrong. The whole thing. The whole world of mainstream knowledge is a fake - and the real bits they contain are embedded deep into that fakery, hence invalidated. Completely.

That is what I realised starting 2008, that is what is true. And we must do our best to live on that basis, rather than any other basis.

So 2008 was a big year, a new beginning. It was, also, the year I became a Christian.


Picturing the human condition - William Arkle

The above picture is by William Arkle -

It is an early oil painting from the 1950s that shows his vision of the human condition was already 'in place' from early adult life; including the characteristic motifs such as the calm-faced divine presence, the enfolding hands, the posy of daisys (God's gift, patiently being offered to us), sailing boats, the teapot and cup (the everyday - transfigured by awareness of the divine) - and the characteristically-shaped tall-blobby trees, which he continued painting until late life.

Arkle's painting technique at this point is midway between a naive impressionism which seems to be his first favoured method - which made less use of symbols,

and the more detailed and worked paintings of later years.

Some of which became highly abstract...

Or fully-abstract...

 But the personal symbolism was never forgotten...

William Arkle's son Nick pointed out that the colour red almost disappeared from his father's palette over the years; which became mostly pinks, purples, yellows and an emphasis on turquoises - this was clearly deliberate and significant. Presumably it reflected Arkle's own visionary experience.

(In sum, the style and colours changed - the symbolism remained.)

 The above images (and scores more) can be found at:

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Beams and Motes: The problem of repeated failure to live by our basic assumptions

By Domenico Fetti

I was reflecting on Owen Barfield's shorthand term of RUP, meaning Residual Unresolved Positivism, by which he pointed out that those who accurately diagnose the spiritual malaise of modernity nonetheless continue to live-by positivistic, materialistic, reductionist, scientistic assumptions - and this comes-through again and again in the person's thinking, writing and actions.

One example Barfield gave was Jung, who said and wrote many contradictory things - Barfield diagnosed the root of this problem as partly the persistence of many positivistic features of which Jung seemed unaware; plus Jung's compromising wish to communicate-with and be-valued-by a positivistic world.

We need to be aware of such matters - because the thinking, writing and doing of most writers and philosophers of the modern condition is likewise compromised - and we need to avoid being misled by this. To avoid absorbing their confusion and errors, we need to distinguish the points where other-people are failing to live consistently by their most considered assumptions.

In a nutshell - with RUP there is a significant gap between the metaphysical assumptions we wish to hold; and the metaphysical assumptions that we have unconsciously absorbed from socialisation and propaganda. Our new and improved metaphysics may simply be an aspiration; our true belief (that which we live by )   

However, the mote in the eye of another is easier for us to acknowledge than the beam in our own eye; and all of us who are trying to move beyond alienation and materialism into Final Participation are only-partially successful (at best). Most of our thinking is not primary, but automatic; and our alienation is often relieved (temporarily) merely by lapsing into the passivity and unconsciousness of Original Participation rather than actively, consciously, thinkingly moving-forward.

The answer is not to aspire to eliminate 'positivism' - because that is not possible - but to learn from the RUP problems of others to diagnose, to notice and acknowledge, our own inevitable, frequent deficiencies.

In other words - we should probably not be aiming to attain perfection of Final Participation as a powerful and permanent state - since this is (at present, for us) impossible; as to recognise and repent our own failures to do this.

This is, indeed, the core Christian response to our own weakness and corruptibility.

A Man's mortal life is trial, error and repentance - with repentance the worst sins are washed away, without repentance the slightest lapse or deficiency may be enough to damn us by a pride-full insistence that we have not erred: thereby such error becomes built-into our self-understanding. 

Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Since life is a great cosmic drama - how much meaning can we stand?

There's an inspiring and insightful post on this subject over at Junior Ganymede


How much meaning do small events carry? Is a chance encounter on a train foreordained, or simply one in a random stream of events? Is there such a thing as coincidence? And here is the real question: which do we hope, and why?

The conclusion I have arrived at is that we can live at different levels of meaning. We can see ourselves as players in a great cosmic drama where all is knit together, worlds without end, or as nobodies in nowhere. We can assign eternal significance to our daily actions, or treat them as not that important one way or another.

The chief virtue of the meaningless life is that it is relatively painless, at least in the acute sense. There are no great tragedies, because there’s nothing to lose.

Meaning brings pains as well as glories. Understanding the potential for heroism in our smallest actions also means acknowledging the possibility (and reality) of the gulf between who we are and who we ought to be.

Repentance hurts because it first involves de-anesthetizing ourselves and coming to the realization that our bad actions are, in fact, “that bad.” But this is an unavoidable consequence of taking ourselves seriously enough to not flinch when told the Lord wants us to be kings and queens, priests and priestesses.

I have an intuition that one of the chief differences between the degrees of glory is the meaning we assign to our existence. The celestial is the stuff of legend, a life larger than life. The telestial may in comparison simply be a very pleasant but vacuous resort.

So... the question becomes: how much meaning can we stand? How important do we want our actions to be?

(More at Junior Ganymede...)

Tuesday, 21 November 2017

The children's Nativity story needs to be rewritten (with a bigger and more important role for Joseph...)

Joseph as a dummy! - Nativity scene from Backwell Church, Somerset - I attended the linked Primary School

I hope it is not only because (ahem...) I myself performed the role of Joseph as an infant; but by ignoring the true status of Joseph and misrepresenting circumstances of Jesus's birth, the standard Nativity Play introduces an error and bias which, for most Christians, seems to be lifelong.

Jesus's was the legitimate son of Joseph, and Joseph had a strong claim to be the rightful King of the Jews by lineal descent - that is the meaning of the detailed (different) lineages given in Luke's gospel (at the baptism of Jesus) and Matthew's gospel (at the opening); and by the many references to Jesus being born 'of David's line) and being King of the Jews (after Joseph had died).

Therefore the Nativity story should begin with Joseph - living in exile but not obscurity; well-known to be the 'true' King of the Jews; and working as a skilled craftsmen of the 'middle-class'.

In other words, the story needs to establish that Jesus was born heir to this claim to be the real King of the Jews; and in this sense already famous at the time he was born.

In other words, the common notion and depiction of Jesus as born-into poverty and obscurity is absolute nonsense; and makes the Gospels incoherent - when we find, at the end of Jesus's life, the Jewish and Roman authorities treating Jesus as a potentially very dangerous political threat.

That was plausible; on the basis that Jesus was heir to the Kingship, and could plausibly have rallied a revolutionary army to restore him to his rightful political position --- quite apart from - and in addition to - Jesus's various blasphemies, breakings of The Law, the possibly-demonic/ dead-raising (necromantic) miracle; and his denial of the legitimacy of the authority of the Jewish people's existing priests and rulers.

Joseph is necessary to set-out the proper framework for understanding the life of Jesus; and that should especially be reflected even in the simplest account of The Nativity for kids.

Inklings depicted at the Bird and Baby

Further details at The Notion Club Papers blog...

Implications of the evolution-development of human consciousness

It was Owen Barfield's central theme, through most of his writings from Saving the Appearances (1957) onward, that humanity had undergone an 'evolution' of consciousness through recorded history (and presumably before recorded history). 

NOTE: It is vital to understand that when he deployed the term 'evolution', Barfield was using the pre-Darwinian concept; which meant something much more like 'developmental-unfolding'. In other words, the evolution of consciousness is being conceptualised as closely-analogous to the maturation of a human being from childhood, through adolescence into adulthood - but occurring over a timescale of centuries, rather than years. This means that the evolution of human consciousness was intended, and has been built-into the 'species'; and implicitly the evolution of consciousness was built-in by God.

Barfield's special contribution was to trace this evolution through the changing use of language, especially the nature of changes in word meanings, which form an unfolding pattern (most clearly set-out in the early book: History in English Words, 1926).

(I find it best to regard Barfield's mass of linguistic evidence as an illustration of the evolution of consciousness, and consistent-with the theory that consciousness has evoloved; rather than 'proving' that consciousness has evolved; an assertion that is, strictly, a metaphysical assumption - therefore something that cannot be either proven or disproven.)

The implications of accepting the reality of the evolution of consciousness is that the nature of Men changes through history; therefore the nature of human societies will change. This is absolutely inevitable, because societies are made of Men, and when Men change, the same socio-political organisation (the same incentives and punishments, motivations and deterrents) will produce different outcomes.

Men can either accept these changes of consciousness, learn about them, and take them into account; or they can ignore, deny and try to oppose them - which is what we are currently doing.

Radicals (the great majority in The West) deny the idea of God, therefore deny that there could be a divinely-destined - necessary and Good - evolution of consciousness - and insofar as this is acknowledged it would be opposed.

Reactionaries (a shrinking minority in The West) regard human consciousness as fixed, regard past societies as preferable to the current, and therefore hope to try to restore some earlier and better version of society.

But if human consciousness is really developing, and if this is divinely destined; if - for example The West has been in an unfolding 'adolescence of consciousness' since about 1750; then both the present and the past are impossible. The present is impossible because adolescence is a transitional phase; the past is impossible because we have left-behind our spiritual childhood.

If the evolution of consciousness is real, in the way that Barfield explained it; then Man can only move forward, can only accept or reject maturity; and such a move will be into-the-unknown - because, as adolescents, we cannot know what it will be like to become adult until we actually get there. 

Monday, 20 November 2017

The future of sacred pilgrimages...

 Cloister Cemetery In The Snow by Caspar David Friedrich

There are places which have been regarded as especially sacred - and these have sometimes become places of pilgrimage. In the past couple of hundred years, the ideas of 'sacred' and 'pilgrimage' have become... secularised, or at least expanded in their meaning...

But things have changed with respect to the long-standing places of pilgrimage; and what used to be special places (where, let us say, the veil between the material and spiritual worlds seemed thinnest) have now, in many instances, been corrupted and rendered ineffective or even counter-productive: whether by commercialisation, destruction, or ideological colonisation...

We cannot any longer avail ourselves of traditional sources of spiritual nourishment and connection. At best, we may find the spirit in the buildings and landscape of a place, rather than in the human institutions...

I discuss an answer to this problem at Albion Awakening

The meaning of insanity in persons and nations - the primary need for restoration of sanity

To be sane is to be in touch with reality, to be in touch with reality means (minimally) having a coherent perspective.

To have more than one perspective - to be thinking one way, then another, then another; and to lack a basis for ever combining, sequencing, stratifying these perspectives - is to be insane.

It is to lack any basis for deciding-between persepctives - merely to be trapped by whatever perpective is currently in-place.


There is no basis for deciding the importance of events, neither their absolute nor relative importance - on a scale between overwhelming of everything/ nothing else matters or utterly trivial/ ignored, the same event might be regarded as either - and there would be no coherent argument about which.

Between events, between possible subjects of attention - there is no basis for allocating attention, or resources, or concern.

There can be no long term purpose, no coherent planning - because there is no relative scale of values; no value as higher than another; all are 'ends' and none are means-to-ends; life is merely one thing, then another, then another.

Each specific perspective is partial, hence false; it leaves-out most things (to make it simple) and it is biased (no specific perspective is a microcosm of reality - rather it is a tiny chunk of reality of unknown relationship to the whole - that could only be known if the whole were known: if there was an underlying coherent perspective).


Modern societies are differentiated into perspectives - these are the specialist social institutions - politics, law, military, religion (in the past), the mass media and so on. Each makes its own selection from reality and works by its own rules... There is no underlying master perspective - no meta-narrative.

In other words, in modernity there are many selves and no ultimate real self. Each perspective can be conceptualised as a separate self, processing the world differently.

This happens in modern people, as well as modern institutions. We have many selves. Some we have learned in order to perform certain functions - one self does our work, and within that are several separate selves with various skills, When such a self is engaged, the world is seen and understood from that self.

But whenever another self is engaged - then another and different self becomes the locus of our subjective-self - when watching The News, on Social Media, engaged in sports, with family, engaged with one or another of the many bureaucracies that constitute our world (each with somewhat different rules).


Our subjective self moves between these many selves - some natural, some self-training, some inculcated by socialisation, others by propaganda.

Most are taught that there is no real self - just a sequence of specific selves - to be adopted temporarily then cast aside as another is picked-up. This is the ordinary, unremarkable, universal experience of being-adapted-to modernity. And it is insane.

We are insane, because we move between distinct false selves; and the society is insane because it does the same.

Insofar as there is convergence of social systems to one socio-political system (of secular Leftism) or there is convergence of our personal systems to the one system of political correctness; these are merely establish insanity more solidly; since the ideology on which there is convergence is negative and oppositional. It is an ideology without purpose or aim - except destruction of The Good.

Convergence on evil is not convergence on sanity; it is the active embrace of insanity: a species of value inversion.


So we are, each of us, insane; and we live in an insane society - the the depth of our insanity is measured in terms of tour will assent to and embrace of this insanity. It is not merely that we have not (yet) found coherence and sanity - but that we believe there is no coherence to be found; and indeed we have a morality which would reject such coherence if it did exist.

In a world of actively embraced and aggressively promoted insanity; the one priority above all others must be restoration of sanity: first in ourselves, then in others.

The Destiny of 'Britain'?

Over at Albion Awakening - William Wildblood discusses whether the island of Britain has a special destiny; and, if so, what that might be...

Sunday, 19 November 2017

Runs and Trills: Two of the best Rossini tenor voices - Luigi Alva and Richard Conrad

Luigi Alva's performance of Ecco Ridente from the best of all comic operas - The Barber of Seville - is my favourite of those I have heard; and it occurs in a truly wonderful filmed version conducted by Abbado and with an unsurpassed Teresa Berganza as Rosina and Herman Prey as Figaro.

Alva has a sweet tone, effortless agility and actually separates the notes in the 'runs' (rapid scales) - although sometimes as the cost of aspirating a little between them. He also has an 'ardent' quality that suits the role of the Count (in disguise), and he does a decent acting job - although nowhere near as good as those true masters of this difficult art: Berganza and Prey:

 However, getting back to Ecco Ridente - I have come across this performance by Richard Conrad:

Like Alva - Conrad also has a lovely, sweet flexible voice. Conrad's performance lacks 'drama' and he does not fully separate the notes in the run - however; his use of trills as decorations (a trill is the rapid alternation between two notes) is astonishingly good.

Indeed, I have never heard any tenor who comes near to Conrad in his control of the trill: it is extremely rare for any singer to be able to do it, and much rarer in men than women (at least, with modern vocal production techniques - the fact that trills were written for men in the Bel Canto era suggests that the ability was commoner in the past).

In fact the only other really convincing trill I have heard from a male singer was John McCormack in this Handel aria:

Unsurprisingly, McCormack and Conrad have the same basic type of voice - similar strengths and limitations; and I think this is the case for all singers, and indeed all people - are strengths are the other side of the coin of constraints: and this is why it is good to have many singers (and people...)!

There is no perfection in singing - not least because the single most important aspect of singing is tone; which is natural infinitely subtle and unfakeable; becuase it is expressive of the person, of the inner self. All great voices are expressive of distinctive personalities.

At the bottom line, we want singers of beautiful and affecting tone - we want to be moved by singing: and other technical aspects must be fitted-in around tone as best as maybe.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

What did Jesus Do?

Firstly - according to John's gospel - Christ made this world; within the context of God's creation Christ made this world we inhabit.

Then later, as Jesus, he was born-into this world which he had made; and lived as a Man.

As fully divine, Jesus lived his entire life in truth. He was a perfect Man because he was fully divine, and therefore always had direct knowledge of that created-reality he encountered and always lived and acted in accordance with that perfect knowledge of created-reality.

Therefore, even as he lived as a Man, Jesus also participated directly in the divine reality which he had created.

As a Man; Jesus's life unfolded in linear sequence and from his individual perspective (just as life unfolds for each of us); but as his life unfolded Jesus always knew what he needed to know, when he needed to know it; he always knew exactly what to do, and he always did it. And (therefore) this was always Good.

The knowledge that the above is true, is the faith a Christian needs. (Faith is knowledge, not belief.)

Such faith should-not and cannot be forced-upon anybody (not by coercion nor by 'evidence'); each must achieve such understanding from-himself.

The perfection of Jesus's life is the necessary datum.

(What that perfection means, how to understand and explain that perfection of life - comprehend the nature of its goodness, is of course subject to human partiality of knowledge: an on-going project for each of us, which extends beyond the door of death.)

Friday, 17 November 2017

Barriers to primary thinking and final participation

What are the barriers that tend to prevent us from living in primary thinking and achieving final participation?

The answer is partly interference from modern culture - partly its unprecedented number and pervasiveness of distractions, but mainly its materialist, anti-spiritual, anti-religious metaphysics. This means that any inklings a person may have of the reality of primary thinking, or experiences of final participation, will typically be interpreted in subjective terms - and therefore as an ephemeral, unreal product of wishful thinking.

But another factor is that primary thinking requires consciousness; it is not merely a matter of 'instinct'; therefore we cannot 'relax' into it, but must attain it purposively and actively. The typical spiritual guidance tends to recommend a passive process along the lines of the sixties mantra of 'turn on, tune in, drop out'- or a meditation practice which is negative and aiming at assimilation with the divine, rather than a conscious participation.

On top of these, there is the near-totalitarian dominance of modern culture; especially, in recent decades, via the mass media and social media; on top of the shallowness and mutual exploitativeness of most social interaction in an age where public discourse is actively hedonic or crushingly bureaucratic.

The combination - in the wider context of generalised Christian apostasy - can be interpreted as a triumph of purposive evil; in other words, that demonic powers are largely in control of the world, especially via the most powerful and influential global (especially Western) institutions. And, once this spiritual fact is sensed (and perhaps especially when it is consciously recognised) it may create a variety of counter-productive reactions.

For example the response may be despair in face of such (apparently) overwhelming power. Despair is rightly described as a sin - because it is a denial of the hope (and promise) of Jesus, and a surrender to evil.

Or, a realisation of the scale and nature of evil may alternatively lead to the mistake of 'fighting' evil on its own ground, and with the enemies own weapons (such as mass media propaganda, or political organisation).

Whereas the proper response is to recognise the presence of evil in our own hearts, and to regard our own soul as the proper battle ground; and to 'fight' on the divine grounds of ultimate universal reality - in other words, by primary thinking to participate in God's work of creation.

This is exactly what the vast apparatus of evil is trying to prevent us from doing - for them, almost anything else is preferable to you or I doing this.

Even one single solitary individual person attaining final participation via primary thinking for any length of time; represents a colossal set-back to the agenda of evil. Furthermore is is an ongoing defeat of whose origin they are not aware, and cannot become aware - because it is intrinsically Good and its level of operations is invisible to, far above and beyond the possibility of demonic perception.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Was William Blake a proto-revolutionary-socialist? Umm... No!

But how did such a massively, bizarrely, obviously false idea gain such wide currency? Over at Albion Awakening I suggest it was (as so often) a matter of metaphysics...

Most difficult opera aria ever? Possente Spirto from Monteverdi's Orfeo (1607)

This is pretty much the first surviving opera - certainly the earliest to retain a place in the performing and recording repertoire - however, at its centre is an 'impossible aria' for the lead character Orfeo.

What makes Possente Spirto impossible is that there are extremely long and sustained musical phrases, which ought to be sung without taking a breath - and therefore must be done at a reasonably quick tempo; also if performed too slowly the music loses cohesion, and becomes dull.

However, embedded within these long phrases are decorations - runs (short notes, going up and/or down the scale) and repeated notes (sometimes called Monteverdi 'trills', but not really so, because a trill is a rapid alternation of two notes). These decorations are extremely difficult to articulate at the necessary speed, to differentiate each individual note clearly from the notes on either side.

And especially the machine-gun-like rapid-fire repetition of single notes (i.e. that 'Monteverdi trill') is something which singers are nowadays simply never required to do  - and hardly any singers can get anywhere near to achieving it; but instead just slur over the repetitions; with a great reduction in the dramatic power.

Here the aria is done by Anthony Rolfe Johnson in a very highly-regarded performance (with probably the best modern conductor of this music) which you can follow on the score; however - if you do this - you can see quite clearly that ARJ is just-not singing all the notes of the rapid passages - nor is he separating the rapid repeated notes.

The nearest any singer gets to articulating all of the written notes was probably Nigel Rogers; who (I once heard him say in a radio interview) needed to study some kind of Eastern folk singing tradition (I can't recall which) in order to develop a technique that is alien to the operatic or choral tradition.

Rogers voice was neither loud, nor (to my ear) was it particularly sweet-toned - however, by attacking the rapid decorations (with an almost hair-raising effectiveness!), he achieves a dramatic quality (in the right way) which is overall more effective than his many later rivals.

Judge for yourself:

Anyway - this first great tenor aria is perhaps the only one that is also impossible; at any rate it seems very unlikely that there will ever (ever again?) be a tenor who has all the qualities of tone, power and agility necessary to sing Possente Spirto as well as it might potentially be sung.

Thoughts on thinking: thought during a migraine

The Owen Barfield Blog continues to grow - with 33 cumulative reposts since it began just a few weeks ago.

Today's post there is a particular favourite insight, or confirmation, that I recently had during the lucid period of a severe migraine under-treatment:

The conviction that primary thinking of the real self is identical with Owen Barfield's Final Participation.

Which is to say that such thinking is intrinsically true, creative and loving.

Such is a brief and partial glimpse of what it is to be a god - that is, to become (for a time) fully what were are from the beginning of Creation destined to become: Sons and Daughters of God.

(But, in the meantime, we still have much to experience and to learn; which is why such experiences are - necessarily, because by intent - infrequent and incomplete.)

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Compleat Lecturer- 3: Lecture theatre size and design - now published in Oxford Magazine

The Compleat Lecturer- III: Lecture theatre size and design

Bruce Charlton

Oxford Magazine. 2017; No. 389 (Fifth Week, Michaelmas Term): 11-12

A perennial question is the ratio of teacher and students in a class: one teacher to how many students? How large a lecture class can effectively, or optimally, be taught at once?

I would argue that for specifically educational purposes (as contrasted with entertainment, or mental stimulation) there is something like an absolute maximum size for teaching lectures; which size depends upon how good a lecturer, how well-designed the lecture theatre, and how motivated and disciplined are the students.

For average situations, this maximum is about two hundred – and numbers in excess of this (e.g. those sitting far away) will probably be getting very little from the lecture while – by their disengagement, and inattention – be damaging the experience of the rest. With too-large lectures, only some smaller proportion of the class will truly be engaged and actively-learning: this situation constitutes a type of fake teaching, because it pretends to something it cannot deliver.

At one time I mostly lectured in a steeply-raked, two-tier Victorian-built theatre that sat about 250, and yet the lectures ‘worked’, because none of the audience were very far away from the lecturer (the balcony seating jutted forward over the lower seats), so despite the numbers there were good acoustics and sight-lines. Furthermore, the large classes were usually of cohesive, highly intelligent and motivated groups (e.g. medical or dental students) - keen and able to learn.

But that was an ideal situation; not readily transferable to other circumstances such as sub-optimal lecture theatres, and mixed-subject classes including less-motivated, less competent students. As a broad generalisation, applicable to most lectures (by most lecturers to most classes) the ratio ought to be no more than about one-to-a-hundred; that is the lecture theatre should not usually be larger than a hundred seats (assuming that the genuine intent is that all students present may be engaged in active classroom learning).

A hundred students in a class is actually a very large number; and keeping classes down to this size (and only as big as this, in a reasonably well-designed venue) would not be regarded as an onerous constraint by any serious educational institution… however (by what they actually do, rather than what they say) sadly few institutions really are serious about education.

So there is often pressure to push above even this maximum class size; for example by using audio-visual amplification technology to address many hundreds of students in vast, or multiple-simultaneous, venues… These, I can only regard as pseudo-lectures; and they have little to do with a serious attempt to provide real education.

At most, such situations may attain the level of those ‘dictation-transcription’ lecture of the Medieval universities; in which both lecturer and audience have ‘engaged autopilot’. But in an era of abundant, accessible and good quality textbooks, such exercises are largely redundant; and insofar as far too many modern lectures conform to this description, then this probably accounts for the generally poor reputation of the lecture method.

In fact, if modern students have only attended ‘PowerPoint’-style presentations to audiences numbered in their hundreds; in which the proceedings occur in the dark, making note-taking impossible; surrounded by people on laptops and mobile phones, browsing the internet and social messaging; the invisible teacher merely an amplified, disembodied and un-localised voice reading-off the slides; and the entire substantive content available in lecture handouts or on the internet - then these students have, in fact, never actually experienced a real lecture.

Such unfortunate students are being palmed-off with a dishonest simulacrum of what lectures can and ought to be.

The size of audience that can effectively be lectured-to partly depends on the specific venue. Indeed, lecture theatre design is very important – and many (probably most) lecture theatres are significantly (sometimes grossly) unfit for purpose.

For small classes, the specifics of a lecture theatre are relatively less important – since everyone can see and hear what is happening; but as the size of the class increases, the design becomes more and more important; until with large classes (above about 100) only the very best-designed lecture theatres are adequate.

It is necessary that the audience in a lecture be in audio-visual contact with the lecturer. In general, the closer the physical proximity of lecturer and audience, the better. For big classes this means that the lecture theatre must have a steep rake; that is, steeply-sloped seats (as in a traditional theatre – some Medieval lecture theatres were positively vertiginous in this respect!); so that all students are close enough that they can clearly hear and see the lecturer and any visuals, because the sight-line is above the heads of the students sitting in front.

Another aspect of sight-lines is that all members of the audience need to be able to maintain ‘eye contact’ with the lecturer. This implies the lecture theatre should be well lit, with plenty of bright lights especially at the front where the lecturer and writing boards are located. In sum, the level of brightness in a lecture theatres should be more like a bright kitchen (500 Lux) than a gloomy bedroom (50 Lux). As well as encouraging eye contact, and maintaining alertness, bright lighting also enables lecture notes to be created more effectively.

Naturally, the benefits of a bright environment also mean that the ‘house lights’ (illuminating the audience) should be kept-on for most of the lecture – with the whole room lit such that everybody can see everybody else. The practice of showing slides on a screen in a dark room should be kept to a minimum (when it is not possible to eliminate slides altogether).

As well as sight-lines, the lecture theatre acoustics must be good; including an absence of background noises and external noises (e.g. from traffic, builders, or conversations from students passing outside). Sound-proofing is necessary both to avoid distraction, and in order that all students present can easily hear what is being said without artificial means of amplification.

The use of microphones may sometimes be unavoidable for some lecturers and some venues (even I have occasionally been forced into this by laryngitis – although I have trained myself to ‘project’ the voice like a stage actor). But microphones should be discouraged and the usage of amplification regarded as exceptional - since electronic reproduction interposes a psychological barrier between lecturer and audience. (For example, most amplification systems do not localise the voice to the exact place from which the lecturer is speaking – which creates an alienating dislocation.)

Of the other ‘sensory’ factors, the most important – and most neglected - is ventilation. Lecture theatres simply must have an ample flow of cool air – because a warm, stuffy, humid lecture theatre may become soporific such as to render a lecture futile. Therefore it is better for the lecture theatre to be a bit too cold than too hot; and too draughty than too stuffy. After all, in extremis the lecturer and students can always wear an extra layer!

Furthermore, and vitally; taking lectures seriously means building enough lecture theatres of the necessary size, and designing them to be effective environments for learning. There is no need to ‘reinvent the wheel’ – colleges should simply find and copy the best examples of lecture theatre design (which are often the oldest). Any motivated lecturer or serious student will be able to say which are the best lecture theatres - unmotivated lecturers and non-attending or unserious students should have no say in the matter!

The Jerusalem Suite - by John Fitzgerald

John Fitzgerald has posted one of his wonderful essay-fictions at Albion Awakening. Here is a taster:


...I was right about that. Jerusalem was a joy to sing. It really was. Our raw but eager voices boomed, echoed and rebounded around the Hall, bringing (for myself at least) a marked sense of release, of vast spaces - inner and outer - opening up.

The melody's dignified, gently rousing lilt soothed and settled my mind while triggering a powerful longing for a depth and quality of being - both individual and collective - which I suddenly and starkly realised I'd wished for more than anything else throughout my young life but had so far only partially experienced, if at all.

Blake's fantastic words - the molten lava of his language - 'countenance divine', 'clouded hills', 'burning gold' - had a poetic and spiritual potency which I had encountered in only a very few places - the Narnia books mainly, plus Roger Lancelyn Green's retellings of Greek, Norse, Egyptian and Arthurian legends.

Mrs. Elms, to be fair, had told a few good stories in this mould too. She was from the West Country and had often held forth about Joseph of Arimathea and how he'd brought the Holy Grail to Glastonbury and planted his staff on Wearyall Hill, bringing forth the miraculous thorn tree which flowers every year on Christmas Day. All these tales played a pivotal role in my life, giving me that mythic, archetypal sustenance which the somewhat desacralised, post-Vatican II Catholicism of my youth believed the world no longer needed.

I was ready for Jerusalem, in other words, and when we sang it that morning it felt like I was coming home - to myself, to God, and to my friends - to that wider mystery I had always dimly perceived and had reached out for through both my reading and my yearning for camaraderie - a double-edged quest for a 'Round Table', if you like - all through my time at St. Catherine's.

'I will not cease from mental fight,' we sang, and the sun smashed through the windows, transforming the Hall into a golden bowl of warmth and light. I've always had a vivid imagination, it's true, but I swear at that moment I heard a voice in my ear. An old man's voice. Foreign. East European or Middle-Eastern. 'Before you leave this school,' it said, 'you will see the Holy Grail.'

I was so shocked that I missed the next line - 'nor shall my sword sleep in my hand' - but made sure I was back on track for the last two - 'till we have built Jerusalem, in England's green and pleasant land.'

It felt, all of a sudden, like a matter of life and death that I should sing those two lines loud and well. If someone had asked me why, I could only have replied, 'the old man expects it of me.' But who that old man was and why he had spoken to me, I had no idea at all

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

What we cannot do and What we must do

My understanding of what needs to be done combined with what can be done is crystallising around the insight that the necessary change is up-to individuals; and that the hope of group-action seems more-and-more like a fantasy which is serving as an inner-excuse to delay each of us from taking individual action.

The spiritual and religious awakening of The West cannot be forced - it needs to be active, conscious, deliberate; and this active stance must be from the choices of free individuals.

It seems to me that all powerful and influential groups and institutions are now overall and by leadership intention on the side of evil (evil meaning destruction of the Good: the true, beautiful and virtuous).

The mainstream channels of communication have long been closed to opponents of Leftism; but now the alternative media and personal social media accounts are being incrementally harassed, blocked and closed-down under the 'fake news' or 'anti-extremism'. or 'conspiracy theory' rationales.

Furthermore, all groups which pursue a Christian agenda - or indeed any policy opposed to the New Leftism of totalitarian bureaucracy excused by the sexual revolution, antiracism, and the class war - is now actively been sought-out and attacked without restraint.

In the past year the line has been crossed from media firestorms, personal ruin and sackings, into the billionaire-sponsored and police-protected and media-promoted, planned-violence of 'antifa' and similar SJW goons and thugs...


My point here is Good can only happen if we, as free individuals, set about doing it in our own autonomous, conscious, active and divine thinking; nothing else will suffice - and under current circumstances there is no excuse for delay because alternatives are absent...

Read the whole thing at Albion Awakening...


Monday, 13 November 2017

PC Insanity: Defining the nature of psychosis in atheistic Leftism

Leftism (in its modern Western form of the New Left/ Political Correctness of Social Justice Warriors) is essentially atheism - hence strictly insane.

I shall term it PC insanity.

Atheism leads (inevitably, albeit by stages, incrementally) to a species of insanity - and it is important to understand the nature of this endemic madness.

Atheism leads to insanity because it entails a denial and rejection of that which is intrinsic to Man: an awareness of the divine and universal. Hence there is an assertion of existential isolation - consequently futility. Despair and a suicidal self-hatred is the outcome.

However, on the way to this outcome there is the PC insanity, a pervasive psychosis, that we see all around us. Political Correctness is not identical with any specific psychosis known to mainstream psychiatry - but has elements of all four of the primary types: schizophrenia, mania, melancholia (depression) and the delusional disorders.

With schizophrenia PC insanity shares 'paranoia' - i.e. delusional self-awareness, persecutory ideas and the belief that everything is about 'me'; also an underlying existential fear.

With mania PC insanity shares aggression, irritability, interfering querulousness, extreme (but brittle) grandiosity and pride, indiscriminate and fickle physical lust; and a frantic and distractible energy.

With melancholia PC insanity shares guilt, despair and the yearning for escape into suicide (in the belief that death is the end of all consciousness).

With the delusional disorders (e.g. delusional jealousy, persecution, erotomania) PC insanity exhibits resentment and projection: attributing to others that which is most powerfully experienced and feared in oneself; and sometimes 'dysmorphic' somatic delusions of bodily abnormality - the fixed and false belief that something is physically 'wrong' that needs to be surgically 'corrected'.

Please do not imagine I am joking about this! The modern mainstream West really is insane, and this is reflected in widespread beliefs and behaviours that truly are delusional in their nature, conviction and intensity.

Fortunately PC insanity is curable. And the treatment is available to anybody and everybody, free of charge. And is instantaneously effective (although it may take a considerable time, perhaps longer than a mortal lifetime, to make a full recovery).

But the cure is available only from a single provider, who has a monopoly on production and distribution: His name (make a note of it) is Jesus Christ.

The divine behind the everyday


This was one of William Arkle's most frequent themes - an ordinary, everyday scene of a breakfast tea set, but illuminated by divinity. For me it captures the 'holiday' feeling of (potentially) any morning in which we awake with a proper understanding and attitude to Life. 

It also reminds me of the delicious Foreword to A Geography of Consciousness (1974), which I believe to be a collaboration between Arkle and Colin Wilson:

Imagine that you open your eyes in a dark bedroom. You know it is morning outside, because you can see the cracks of light at the edge of the heavy curtains; it looks like a cold, grey light, and you suspect it is raining. You think of the things you have to do when you get up, and they all seem dreary.

Finally you yawn, cross to the window, and draw the curtains.

Sunlight streams in, marvellously warm!

You open the window, and the air smells warm and fresh. The feeling of dreariness vanishes. It is replaced by an eager desire to get your breakfast and get outside.

A moment before, your consciousness has been 'hanging back', like a dog that doesn't want to go outside on a cold day. Now it is straining at the lead, pulling you forward.