Here, fetch

Here, fetch

Not the first time we’ve celebrated the playfulness of otters in these pages.  This description of the artful animal turning the tables on would-be human tamers is a delight.  You start by throwing a ball and end up being the one who runs to fetch it. But when...
A question of landscapes

A question of landscapes

I haven’t managed to answer these questions for myself, but still keep returning to them, and wonder how other people are shaped by their landscapes, and how they perceive them.  How do people imagine the landscapes they find themselves in?  How does the land...
Like wine through water

Like wine through water

A lovely image of something – a dream or an idea – imbuing every part of your being. I’ve dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after, and changed my ideas; they’ve gone through and through me, like wine through water, and altered the...
Extra pleasure

Extra pleasure

There are those who suggest that understanding too much of the workings of things diminishes our sense of wonder.  Like many, I believe the opposite, the more we understand, the more pleasure we can derive from this complex thing called the universe.   Thus to a man...
Without going soft

Without going soft

I recently read Thucydides on the beach and was struck by how contemporary, or perhaps just timeless, he is.  Here is a thoughtful reflection in one of his reported speeches; you can love beauty of things and of the mind without going soft.  Our love of what is...
Mind hoard

Mind hoard

I love the word ‘hoard’, in the sense of a bardic ‘word-hoard’, or here, a hoard of observations you stash in the cupboard of the imagination, a mind-hoard.  And I like the absolution from having to understand those bright-shining things you...
The urge to play

The urge to play

This excerpt from an interview with a Russian writer brought up in Siberia, due to the political exile of her parents, demonstrates the child’s deep need to play and the imagination which led her to create her own dolls, despite poverty, exclusion and general...
Ping-pong purposeful

Ping-pong purposeful

The capacity of otters to play and to turn anything they find into a game, is breath-taking.  Here is one, having worked out the ludic possibilities inherent in the physics of ping-pong balls, setting off to entertain himself for an hour or two at a stretch.   You can...
A grandmother’s stories

A grandmother’s stories

Gorky’s grandmother probably ensured his psychological and possibly physical survival, somehow rescuing him with her luminous spirit and her fantastic story-store. There seems to have been no end to the stories she spun, though it isn’t clear whether she...
A song to make me laugh

A song to make me laugh

This one I discovered by accident, tucked away at the end of the album for which its composer is famous, namely Tubular Bells.  I bought the CD second-hand in a moment of nostalgia and was unexpectedly disappointed in revisiting the Tubular Bells piece, but it was...
Thinking, from every angle

Thinking, from every angle

I love this description of the eccentric British Consul in Rhodes after the war.  The better to mull over a newly striking idea, he would precipitously slam on the brakes of the car and give it his full mental attention. Only hope he looked in the rear-view mirror...
Ah yes, so it does

Ah yes, so it does

A simple injunction, but timely, always. Be patient. It takes time for ideas to become clear. Source: Adam Nicolson, Sissinghurst: An unfinished history (London: Harper Press, 2009), p. 120Photo credit: Quadronet_Webdesign at...
The mother tongue of our imagination

The mother tongue of our imagination

A lovely notion in George Eliot, that our imagination has its own mother tongue.  It made me realize how much of my imaginative world was indeed seeded by my mother. I can’t even put my finger on how she did it, other than by simply being an imaginative person...
In praise of the individual mind

In praise of the individual mind

A fascinating comment by a very individual mind on exactly that, individuality and its creative capacity. While I believe also in the power of combined minds, and don’t agree with Steinbeck’s ‘the only creative thing our species has’, I do...
The other reality

The other reality

An intriguing thought, that art is the means to receive hints from another reality.  I am not sure what he means by it, but as I get older, I sense something more numinous.  And I like the idea of art as a kind of antenna – it was Ezra Pound who described poets...
Pushing the boundaries

Pushing the boundaries

This post and its quotation are now available in audio on Spotify – click here to hear! Martin Rees, Astronomer Royal, puts our relatively short-termist parochialism in stark contrast to that of our forebears, who despite multiple constraints of which we are...
Memory in triplicate

Memory in triplicate

I liked this pithy analysis by Vico, which could serve as an exercise in imagination training: take a memory, describe it as a realistically as you can, then alter or imitate it in some form, then give it a new turn by placing it in a relationship to other things....
The joys of this world

The joys of this world

Many indeed and I like the short list, but even more the loving depiction of cleaving to the sea and the islands in a gentle autumnal light. May your masts spring branches and fruits, but not before you are safely in harbour. “Many are the joys of this world – women,...
The most potent force

The most potent force

What if love were the prime driver of our creativity?  I liked the power and simplicity of Stravinsky’s statement. And I remembered this photo taken with and of a friend who held up a book he found in a magical library we found in the Jura. ‘In order to create...

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