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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 forthcoming 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
Halcyon In Kal… 16 August 2018

 

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.

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

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 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 T.S. Eliot
East Coker
Halcyon In Kal… 5 August 2018

T.S. Eliot died over 50 years ago now. His legacy remains profound and his poetry moves me deeply.

In 2016 I had the privilege of visiting his final resting place, East Coker.

I listen to the peerless Little Gidding at least once a quarter, sometimes more often, and almost every line entrances, as if peering through a veil at something once known, but half-forgotten because not looked-for.

On William Blake

William Blake

 

Nearly two centuries after his death, the final resting place of William Blake (1757-1827) is about to be marked with a gravestone. The remains of the poet-painter lie in a common grave under an anonymous patch of grass in Bunhill Fields cemetery, just outside the City of London.

Blake has always been dear to me, not least because I read a few lines from his immortal Auguries of Innocence at our first daughter Maddy's naming day:

To see a World in a Grain of Sand 

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower 

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand 

And Eternity in an hour

 

On Xenophilia

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During these dark days of worsening refugee crises, can we still imagine reaching a state of "xenophilia"...overcoming our "homophily", i.e. the love of that which is like us, and reaching the love of that which is different?

Indeed, if we're ever going to care enough about conflict, genocide, poverty, hunger etc. enough to act on them properly, then we need to try much harder to avoid conflict with people we might not yet fully understand.

 

 

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 Exercise

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A new trendy workout in 2018 that I quite like the sound of is plogging -  which is picking up litter while you're jogging. Plogging started in Scandinavia (the word is a combination of "plocka upp," which means "pick up" in Swedish, and "jogging"), and it's gaining popularity in the US. Digital health startup Lifesum recently launched a feature that lets users track their plogging.

Why do I (try to, though not always in a very disciplined way) run, cycle, play football and tennis? Well, there are many reasons.

On Herbs

Jekka

 

Growing herbs, seeing them, smelling them, touching them, eating them and I hope, soon sharing them (as plants and incorporated into recipes and remedies), makes me - as it does millions of others, i'm sure - just feel better.

Jekka McVicar is an inspiration - she now grows around 700 different herbs.  We can even use herbs to grow our own first-aid kits

I have now been privileged enough to spend a day in the company of the wonderful Jekka and her family. Jekka, with no fewer than 14 Chelsea Golds, probably knows as much about herbs as anyone in England.

On Friedrich Nietszche

Nietzsche

 

You need chaos in your soul to give birth to a dancing star - Nietzsche

 

Ah, Nietzsche. Always so fashionable, always so little understood and even so little read, although the young man I vaguely remember once being enjoyed first Beyond Good and Evil and then on to The Birth of Tragedy and On the Genealogy of Morality and of course the far cooler Thus Spake Zarathustra while bumming around the Ionian Sea (funny how these things always seem hip with hindsight),

On Marcel Proust

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I realised that the essential book, the one true book, is one that the great writer does not need to invent, in the current sense of the word, since it already exists in every one of us — he has only to translate it. The task and the duty of a writer are those of a translator - Marcel Proust

After the BBC opened up its archives of In Our Time, I came to the episode about Marcel Proust.

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 Calvin and Hobbes

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"Possibly the best comic strip EVER in the history of the entire universe", claimed one commentator.

I think Dennis the Menace (in its heydey), Gaston Lagaffe and one or others may occupy the same pantheon as Calvin and Hobbes, but there is little doubt that, for all those of us who have been deeply touched by the warmth, humour, sheer humanity with which Bill Watterson blessed us over so many years, these creations occupy a very special place in our hearts.

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 Pablo Picasso

Las Meninas

 

As the pioneer of Cubism, godfather to the Surrealists, and creator of the enduring anti-war painting Guernica, Picasso produced thousands of paintings in his lifetime, not to mention his sculptures, ceramics, stage designs, poetry and plays. A recent BBC Forum discussion looked at Picasso’s life and work.

Three of Picasso's many interpretations of Las Meninas by Velasquez stare down from our walls. This short video helps the non-expert interpret Picasso's works.