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Part consultancy, part thinktank, part social enterprise, Halcyon helps you prepare for and respond to personal, organisational and societal change.

Halcyon's 52:52:52 campaign on Twitter will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

To be a catalyst is the ambition most appropriate for those who see the world as being in constant change, and who, without thinking that they control it, wish to influence its direction - Theodore Zeldin

Halcyon In Kaleidoscope

On What We Think

Kaleidoscope

 

These pages highlight our founder Dominic's subjective views on the ever-changing range and scope of subjects that Halcyon focuses on.

This is less a blog than a set of irregularly updated and often fragmentary views - on ideas and values, places and people - evolving over time into mini essais which pay humble homage to the peerless founder of the genre. Our writing is provisional, always open to change as new thoughts and ideas emerge.

The kaleidoscope is Halcyon's prime metaphor, encouraging us to embrace change and to view issues through an ever-moving series of lenses.

On the Ethical Development Goals

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In spite of spectacular strides in science and technology, and still unlimited ones to come, something basic is missing. There is a sort of poverty of the spirit which stands in glaring contrast to our scientific and technological abundance. The richer we have become materially, the poorer we have become morally and spiritually. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers - Martin Luther King

This evolving paper will examine the overall Ethical Development Goals (EDGs) that Halcyon is developing to complement the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Introduction

The EDGs are inspired by the SDGs, officially known as ‘Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’, an intergovernmental set of aspiration Goals with 169 targets.

On A Mundane Comedy

The Divine Comedy

 

These are working notes for a book to be published in early 2019. Please contact us with any questions about the evolving book.

In 2013, poet Niall O'Sullivan's The Mundane Comedy used Dante's terza rima to document a year of his life, detailing big current events, intimate everyday happenings and "the tired rope bridge of opinion that naturally forms between the two".  Touching and amusing in turns, O'Sullivan's poem is well worth dipping into on any day of his - or your - year. However, my ambition is somewhat different: firstly I have deliberately gone for the indefinite article and title my work A Divine Comedy, as while Dante (and who knows, if he is picked up by the right publisher, perhaps O'Sullivan too is for the ages.

On Novelty

Novelty

 

This is a work in progress. Please contact us to discuss further.

 

On a novel view of life

The sheer novelty of the ideas of such leaders not only addresses the issues at hand and but gives the world a new perspective to address issues of the future. The outmoded ways of leadership, of securing selfish interests and of exploiting public sentiments, should be relinquished. The new age leaders must look forward to lead the global thought rather than leading only a particular country or a section of society - Club of Amsterdam

 

Our lives are characterised, above all, by change.

On Emotions

 

Can we imagine how others are feeling at any given time?

We Feel Fine tried to do this, by harvesting "human feelings" from a large number of blogs. Every few minutes, the system searched the world's newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases "I feel" and "I am feeling". When it found such a phrase, it recorded the full sentence, up to the period, and identified the "feeling" expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.).As blogs are structured in largely standard ways, the age, gender, and geographical location of the author could often be extracted and saved along with the sentence, as can the local weather conditions at the time the sentence was written.

On Leonard Cohen

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"So come, my friends, be not afraid.
We are so lightly here.
It is in love that we are made;
In love we disappear."

Happy posthumous birthday, Lenny.

You tried, in your way, to be free. Thank you. Now go join that great gig in the sky. So I wrote a year ago, when Lenny left us. However, the legend lives on - listen for example to How the Light Gets In.

'We Love Leonard Cohen' celebrated his 81st Birthday, and then, for his 82nd and final birthday, Leonard gave us a present. "You Want It Darker" is the title track to last album, his 14th studio album in his 49-year recording career. (See also Leonard Cohen Makes it Darker.)

"Leonard Cohen offers the possibility of living with grace, dignity, and integrity, without submitting to illusions, without succumbing to indifference, and without indulging in denial of our own failures and flaws, in a world that is too often corrupt and malevolent" - Allan Showalter

On Mabon

Mabon

 

The Garden releases its last
radiance, not as something failed,
but as its full reason for being: to give
continually, to its last bit of energetic being.
Its giving is its beauty. It is a smile,
it is the heart of love.

- from “Equinox” by Richard Wehrman, from the book, THE BOOK OF THE GARDEN, Copyright © 2014

 

The Autumnal Equinox occurs the moment the Sun crosses the celestial equator from north to south. On this day light and darkness are equally balanced.

See also:

On Jane Austen

Jane Austen

 

Though not particularly taken by recent film adaptations of her novels, and well-used to my family calling me "Mr Bennett", I remember very much enjoying Pride and Prejudice when I read it as a student in France.

Today, Jane Austen is loved mainly as a charming guide to fashionable life in the Regency period. She is admired for portraying a world of elegant houses, dances, servants and fashionable young men driving barouches. But her own vision of her task was radically different, believes The School of Life. She was an ambitious – and stern – moralist. She was acutely conscious of human failings and she had a deep desire to make people nicer: less selfish, more reasonable, more dignified and more sensitive to the needs of others.

On what mattered in the past

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Where did everything come from? Where are we heading? Big History tells the story of the Universe starting from the Big Bang, the formation of stars, planets, life on Earth, modern civilisation — and what might exist in the future.

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

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 the unnamed

Unnamed

 

The growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs - George EliotMiddlemarch

 

Unexpected celebrities have in recent times included the likes of Captain Sully Sullenberger and Susan Boyle, whose years of patiently working on their own talents suddenly came good, shooting them instantly to international attention, and who then accepted the spotlight, perhaps reluctantly, but with quiet dignity nonetheless.

On the Veil

Veil

 

I have always been attracted by the veil, by seeing through a glass darkly:

 

And the children in the apple-tree

Not known, because not looked for

But heard, half heard, in the stillness

Between the two waves of the sea

- from Little Gidding, T.S. Eliot

 

When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now

On Voltaire

Voltaire

 

Si Dieu n’existait pas, il faudrait l’inventer.

 

Voltaire said of himself that he ‘wrote to act’, and he wanted his writings to change the way people thought and behaved. In leading his crusades against fanaticism, he even invented a campaign slogan, Ecrasez l’Infâme!, which translates roughly as ‘Crush the despicable!’. L’Infâme stands here for everything that Voltaire hates, everything that he had spent his life fighting: superstition, intolerance, irrational behaviour of every kind.

On Albert Camus

Camus

 

I was first attracted by Camus, "prince of the absurd" when I was 16.  Camus still fascinates me, now well beyond what would have been his 100th birthday, and close to 60 years after his premature death in a car crash in Burgundy (it's said that he was found with an unused train ticket in his pocket - he'd planned to go by rail to Paris to rejoin his wife and children, but had accepted at the last minute the offer of a lift from his publisher).

On David Hume

David Hume

 

Beauty in things exists in the mind which contemplates them - David Hume

 

When I was studying, inter alia, Metaphysics and Moral Philosophy at Edinburgh many years ago, local boy made good David Hume was a name never far any philosophy professor or tutor's lips. Aeon now writes movingly of Hume's life:

"While Hume was lying aged 65 on his deathbed at the end of a happy, successful and (for the times) long life, he told his doctor: ‘I am dying as fast as my enemies, if I have any, could wish, and as easily and cheerfully as my best friends could desire.’ Three days before he died, on 25 August 1776, probably of abdominal cancer, his doctor could still report that he was ‘quite free from anxiety, impatience, or low spirits, and passes his time very well with the assistance of amusing books’."

On George Orwell

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According to Open Culture, Orwell's Animal Farm was almost never published.  The manuscript barely survived the Nazi bombing of London during World War II, and then initially T.S. Eliot (an important editor at Faber & Faber) and other publishers rejected the book.  It eventually came to see the light of day but, reportedly, Animal Farm still can’t be legally read in China, Burma and North Korea, or across large parts of the Islamic world. 

However, the Internet Archive offers free access to audio versions of Animal Farm and Orwell’s other major classic, 1984.

See also:

On Ulverton

Ulverton

 

When I think of books whose messages have stayed with me down the years, I often think of Ulverton, which contrives somehow to feel more "authentic" than many a "non-fictional" historical text in bringing the past alive, lifting the edge of the veil and allowing us to see - at times almost voyeuristically - what Dylan Thomas called the "yellowing, dicky-bird watching pictures of the dead".

On Perfume

4160

 

My fascination with perfume - or scents more generally - probably began in suburban teenagehood. My then girlfriend wore Smitty, and I proudly sported Blue Stratos (which trumped my second choice, Old Spice, and was streets ahead of Brut, fashionable at the time).

Fast forward the best part of 30 years and a family trip to the perfume museum in Grasse, where the fragrant air even in the streets outside and the fabulous design on show inside hooked me once again.

Next was picking up a copy of The Emperor of Scent and trying to understand the scientific processes behind the olfactory genius that is Luca Turin.

In late 2016 came my first attempts at creating perfume myself, taught by the inspiring Sarah McCartney and her husband at 4160 Tuesdays.