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Halcyon In Kaleidoscope

On Humour

We often assume that laughter occurs when we hear something funny, but research has shown that it is the people doing the speaking who laugh the most - 46% more than their audience.

On Imbolc

Imbolc, imbolc, the light will soon return, warm the Earth this winter's night and let the candles burn.

A time of purification (hence spring cleaning), this is a hopeful time of year, with the days drawing out and even the mornings slowly lightening. Later this month, the first snowdrop and crocus should visit, suggesting that Spring is not far behind.

On Now

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Dave Pollard wrote thought-provokingly of the "Now Time”, a multidimensional recursive eternal present familiar to aboriginal cultures the world over, and recalling Friedrich Nietzche's desire to be a "yes-sayer" to each moment.

This recalls Camus' celebration of Sisyphus starting afresh each day and more recently, Eckhart Tolle's "power of now".

On Others

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For me the purpose of life is to know other people…is to discover what life is. Who inhabits the world? What is it to be human? What can I give to the world which it doesn’t have…a gift for tolerating my presence in this world..…and unless I know the people, I can’t know what it does not have - Theodore Zeldin

Imagine balancing self-interest and caring for others. If this is possible, then:

(1) What is the approximate balance between the two today - in individuals, organisations and societies? How much time do we really spend thinking about and then acting on other people's needs?

On what mattered in the past

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Asking which shifts, in which centuries, really shaped the modern world. a historian identified 10 leading drivers of change, century by century (see below).

Meanwhile, Prospect believes that reflecting on the past can give great in sight into the present and has published accordingly The past in perspective e-book.

See also:

On Theodore Zeldin

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Theodore Zeldin re-iterated his belief in the powerfully transformative role of conversation:

"Individuals are no longer what they used to be, each is unique. That makes a big difference to how they work. Each one is an enigma. There are six billion people whom we need to discover. We are now in the same position as the scientists of the last century, discovering the different elements and molecules of the natural world. So there is no need to feel lost or aimless. There is a wonderful adventure before us."

On Joseph Campbell

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Joseph Campbell's The Masks of God have been a constant companion to me for more than 25 years, while his The Hero with a Thousand Faces outlines the common journey of the archetypal hero across a wealth of ancient myths from around the world. Now a short animation from TED Ed presents a synthesis of Campbell’s foundational framework for the eleven stages of the hero’s quest - from the call to adventure to the crisis to the moment of return and transformation.

On Books

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Above and beyond the many unread volumes in our library, there are many other books that I'd still like to read, given sufficient life and leisure, including the following:

On Exercise
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Halcyon In Kal… 19 October 2016

Why do I run, cycle, play football and tennis? Well, there are many reasons.

On Stars...and On Us

The nitrogen in our DNA, the calcium in our teeth, the iron in our blood, the carbon in our apple pies were made in the interiors of collapsing stars. We are made of starstuff - Carl Sagan, Cosmos

While the saying “we are stardust” seems poetic but vague, it is literally true. The atoms of our bodies were created in the cores of stars billions of years ago. 

On Qualia

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If we're dominated and therefore de facto separated by our qualia - i.e. the the subjective quality of conscious experience - can we ever reasonably hope to reach a consensus on what should be our shared values?

On Kaleidoscopes

The kaleidoscope is perhaps Halcyon's prime metaphor for personal, organisational and societal development, allowing us all to consider problems and solutions through a wide and changing set of lenses.

History of kaleidoscopes

On Bob Dylan

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I was relatively late in properly getting into Dylan...into my early 20s - although before that I'd appreciated individual songs, such as Lay Lady Lay, Like A Rolling Stone and others.

However, when his force finally it hit me, it hit me hard. Chimes of Freedom, To Ramona and Ballad in Plain D all affected me on a deep emotional level in different ways, while the likes of One More Cup of Coffee had a beguiling exoticism.

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On Meditation

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I learned Transcendental Meditation (TM) through a formal course in 1989. I don't entirely buy the claim that just a few minutes' daily meditation can make a difference between an anxious existence and a life of quiet contentment...but it helped. TM opened inner portals that, happily, have never closed.

On Roy Harper

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And the town label makers stare down with their gallery eyes
And point with computer stained fingers each time you arise
To the rules and the codes and the system that keeps them in chains
Which is where they belong with no poems no love and no brains 

- from McGoohan's Blues

Roy is, for me, among the most singular poets of this or any age, someone whose songs and messages have been with me, through all emotions, for more years than I care to remember. 

Welcome back, Roy; hopefully you've got many years of creativity still ahead; after all, my other great musical hero, Leonard Cohen, is still going strong beyond 80.  Indeed, great to see one true genius recognising another.  In "Uncut", Roy chose his 10 favourite albums. Under the sub-heading "The Perfect Record for a Mid-Life Crisis", he picked Lenny's "I'm Your Man" and had this to say about it: "What a great record - and what a crisis I had.  Cohen is the best songwriter of them all. I don't think I'm overstating that.  He has the spirit and is a man who cares about his poetry more than any other songwriter that I know."

Roy was honoured by Glastonbury Festival founder Michael Eavis at the 2013 BB Folk Awards. Great to see this truly unique talent finally getting some of the five-star plaudits he has long deserved. Roy's latest (hopefully not last) concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London in October 2013 did not disappoint. Roy followed this up with a session on 6 Music.

After a three-year hiatus, for unfortunate reasons well documented elsewhere, Roy returned in triumph to the Royal Festival Hall in September 2016.

On Modern Art

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To Bozar in Brussels for the final days of the Facing the Future exhibition, which shed light on about 180 works created between 1945 and 1968 by artists from Europe and the former Soviet Union.

Notwithstanding the tensions between Eastern and Western Europe in the years following the Second World War, artists on both sides of the Iron Curtain experimented in similar ways: from media art to action painting, conceptual art and sound art.  

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On Perfume

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Luca Turin was in Zurich in late 2016 and a journalist asked him what he thought was a reasonable price for a perfume. He replied that the price of a dinner for two with a decent bottle of wine in a decent restaurant was about the upper limit, say $120 or so for 100 ml of Eau de Parfum (EdP) or a half ounce of proper extrait. While To natural materials are going up in price because there is more demand, Turin points out that formula cost in all but a handful of fragrances is less than 10% of sales price.