La crainte du temps perdu by IKB

While reading Mary Read’s SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome, I was transported to my brief time at St. John’s College. A decade ago I struggled to bridge the intellectual, cultural and ideological gap I perceived between a Hellenic and a Christian Western civilisation. While I endeavoured to span the chasm, my cohorts made the transition seemingly without a hitch.

For me, the transition between these two antipodes required a giant leap of faith or rather a millennium-long medieval period to make sense of such a progression. And herein lies my issue with St. John’s College and its “Great Books” curriculum: while I examined the works, my classmates took a teleological approach to the development of Western civilisation. To my exasperation, no-one questioned the jump from reason to faith. While everyone else made the paradigm shift, I was left behind. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

I saw the same phenomenon when we analysed the Bible. While my fellow Johnnies did not object to the idea presented in one of our Bible seminars that the New Testament had superseded the Old Testament and that Jesus was the Messiah, I expressed my disagreement with such a view. Again, I required evidence other than “this is how it happened” to convince me. What in the work corroborates these assertions? The fact that we were living in for all intents purposes a Christian society and Jesus is considered the Son of God did not make it so for me. Moreover, such type of thinking went against the St. John’s College ethos.

Perhaps my excessive zeal for examination is the reason why I was a failure as a Johnnie. 

On Last.fm by IKB

I have been scrobbling since 2005. I have never used Last.fm to discover new music or exploited its social network features. Instead, I use Last.fm to log the music tracks I play. It is an unobtrusive process, for the most part. And ever since I stopped using iTunes entirely and switched to Spotify, the activity of tracking my music has become completely seamless and invisible. While my music tastes have changed over the past eleven years, one thing that struck me from analysing the data provided by Last.fm is that there was a sudden and dramatic drop in the number of music tracks I played after 2010. 

While the number of music tracks has risen, the increase is nowhere near to the levels prior to 2011. I returned to the US in December 2010, was such a shift that disruptive to my music listening habits? 

 

 

Portobello by IKB

We have moved. Again. We relocated from the ostensibly working-class Dunedin suburb of Ocean Grove to the village of Portobello. This settlement is halfway up the western side of the Otago Peninsula, nestled around the eponymous Portobello Peninsula, which juts out into the Otago Harbour. We have exchanged the sound of the Pacific Ocean for the mellifluous songs and calls of the native birdlife. While I will miss the sprightly pükeko with their gangly legs that inhabit the marshes by Smaills Beach, now I have the kererü to gush over. They make a distinctive whooshing sound when they fly. And then there are the tüï and their imitative repertoire of bird calls who are frequent visitors to our property.

The new house also offers views of the Otago Harbour,  which can be quite lovely on those rare sunny days. Also, Quarantine Island  can be seen from the house. 

on genius by IKB

On the discordance between the artist and his creation:

But genius, and even great talent, springs less from seeds of intellect and social refinement superior to those of other people than from the faculty of transforming and transposing them .... Genius consist[s] in reflection power and not in the intrinsic quality of the scene reflected.1

1 Marcel Proust, Remembrance of Things Past. #

A lot happens in five years by IKB

A lot has happened since the last time I actually blogged. I am no longer in Ireland. And after four years back in the United States (first in Ohio and then New York), I found myself relocating to yet another island. However, this time I would travel to a place more than halfway across the world: New Zealand. But it wasn’t enough to move to one of the most remote places on earth: I had to settle in one of its far-flung outposts.

But before pulling up stakes and going to Aotearoa, we had to drive across the United States with our two border terriers and cat, from New York to California with an unexpected prolonged stay in Ohio as the processing of our visas ran into some difficulties. If you ever find yourself in central Ohio, make sure to visit the thought-provoking Malabar Farm. Apart from a flat tire somewhere in the outskirts of Indianapolis, Indiana, the cross-country road trip proved to be a rather uneventful affair.