Thursday, 29 November 2012

Musings

The wind blew a half-open hibiscus flower on to the driveway. It is on the bench top in the kitchen now and as it opens it looks like a mutant poppy; red, red, red. Near the stamen the colour deepens to smooth red/black.



Thinking about words; I do that a lot. Some longer words are fascinating and some shorter words are too.

The word Bat is short and sweet.
A bat is a flying mammal. To have bats in the belfry is to be a bit scatty or eccentric.
A bat is something made of willow to whack a cricket ball.
When we moved from Salisbury to Cape Town the removalist wrote on the manifest: 2 hockey bats. Why not a hockey bat?
Bat is also a verb.
A person can bat her/his eyelashes or not bat an eyelid.

My mum used to say, "Short and sweet like a donkey's gallop". Short has a multitude of meanings, check it out.

I have read that there are many words for snow in the Inuit language. This led me to thinking about how many words we have, in English, for those little beings that lived so vividly in my childhood: fairies, pixies, peri, imps, gnomes, elves, sprites and goblins among others.

In the book Miss Garnet's Angel by Salley Vickers reminded me of a word that I first heard many years ago from my mother: Apocrypha. The word is originally Greek (ἀπόκρυφα) and means "those hidden away". Set in Venice the story unfolds in unusual ways. The reviewer from The Tablet writes, "Salley Vickers’ subject is one that few contemporary writers dare to – or are able to – tackle, namely the growth of consciousness of the human spirit. The novel has vision."

Also set in Venice is the late Ruth Cracknell's memoir Journey From Venice. It is some time since I last read this book but I remember how much it touched me.

How do you live your life to the full? According to Wade Davis, named by National Geographic as one of the explorers of the millennium, to live life to the full you must do what you fear most. He will be giving a lecture at The University of Western Australia in December 2012 “The Wayfinders: Why Ancient Wisdom Matters in the Modern World”. I'd like to go ...

Interesting, I didn't know that millennium was spelled with double n. It is a dull day when I don't learn something new.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Challenged by Philosophy


Peter Singer's The life you can save: Acting now to end world poverty is a challenging book by any measure. Singer is uncompromising in his discussion about ending world poverty. As I read, a lot of the time I'm wondering is he dictating what we should do to end world poverty or is he making suggestions? 

The three premises on which he bases his argument are set out in a clear and concise way. I quote
 First premise: Suffering and death from lack of food, shelter and medical care are bad.
Second premise: If it is in your power to prevent something bad from happening, without sacrificing anything nearly as important, it is wrong not to do so.
Third premise: By donating to aid agencies, you can prevent suffering and death from lack of food, shelter and medical care, without sacrificing anything nearly as important.
Conclusion: Therefore, if you do not donate to aid agencies, you are doing something wrong.

The example he gives in the second premise of his argument is this; by cutting back on unnecessary spending "... and donating what you save, until you have reduced yourself to the point where if you give any more, you will be sacrificing something nearly as important as a child's life - like giving so much that you can no longer afford to give your children an adequate education". I read that before reading more deeply into the premises and was, I have to say, shocked. In my thinking (and I don't know whether I am alone in this) I presume education to be of vital importance in alleviating world poverty. So, perhaps his example is not one that appeals to me! 

I may or may not add to this blog. The book really is difficult on all sorts of levels and I end up playing solitaire on my iPad to take my mind off it. In a way it seems Singer is provoking a guilt trip in the reader. 

One reviewer writes, I gave the book 3 stars because (a) I assume the *facts* presented are accurate, and (b) we should be doing something about poverty on this planet. Just not the way Singer says we should.