Wee Scoops

Measure for Measure

Top ten things about “Prison Break” #prisonbreak

It’s tricky to review “Prison Break” without ruining it. Here’s a spoiler-free list of what I liked about it:

1. The Prison. Very Shawshank.
2. Echoes of “[H]ouse” – Tancredi was 13 and Mahone was [H]ouse.
3. Depth of characterisation.
4. How people got killed off that you’d have thought couldn’t be killed off while having the plot still work out but they were and it managed.
5. Theodore Bagwell. His lines were brilliant. His character was complex. I enjoyed feeling conflicted about having such an ‘evil’ character as one of my favourites.
6. Parent-child relationships being utterly core to almost every character’s ultimate motivation in a kind of clunky and deliberate way.
7. So many deus ex machinas I came to expect them, and enjoyed expecting them.
8. How Sucre called Michael “Papi”.
9. Long-term characterisation of Bellick and Mahone.
10. The consistent level of tension from beginning to end.

Summer Reading Reviews

summerread
I lay and read books for a fortnight. Here’s what I read and what I thought. There will only be spoilers for things I don’t recommend:

1. “The Luminaries” by Eleanor Catton
Set in New Zealand, dealing with gold.
A very long book with good sentence structure. The plot was fairly straightforward but was conveyed through multiple perspectives which resulted in the book’s length. The many characters were mostly male and pretty flat. The two female characters had a bit more colour, but I occasionally forgot which was which as well. I enjoyed reading it, although it took me three times to get going with it. It was so long that, by the end of it, I found myself unclear on a couple of important details but so weary I couldn’t be bothered to skim back to clarify.

2. “The Pleasure Seekers” by Tishani Doshi

A straightforward summer read following a couple of lives. Not quite sure why it was entitled “The Pleasure Seekers”. Boy meets girl…. and so on. Some quite nice thoughts about love and identity and “home”. Linear timescale against a backdrop of real events in history. Uncomplicated.

3. “We are all completely beside ourselves” by Karen Joy Fowler

I enjoyed this book the most – so will say little. Once the book was underway I found myself rooting for the narrator. Interesting and thought provoking.

4. “The Quarry” by Iain Banks
Narrated from the point of view of an autistic young man whose father is dying of cancer. A reunion of the father’s university friends takes place at their house and lives are reflected upon. Sounds bleak, but there was a lot of wit and realism in there. Characters ranted about various topics – political and personal. The quarry itself was a tidy metaphor. A well constructed novel – but if you were wanting to read Iain Banks, I preferred “Whit”. I want to read more by this writer.

5. “The Other” by David Guterson and
6. “Brewster” by Mark Slouka

These two books I read because they were recommended for “runners” in an article in The Guardian
Both were narrated by men who described a friendship – the main focus of the novel being the other man. I was surprised by how little running there was in both novels – although both books were well written. “The Other” is ultimately about principles and compromise. In the opening chapter (this is not a spoiler) is the narrative hook that drives the plot:

“That’s how I met the priviledged boy who would later become ‘the hermit of the Hoh’ – that loner who lived in the woods for seven years and who bequeathed me four hundred and forty million dollars.”

“Brewster” is the setting of the second novel – a tough American town. The narrator runs to prove himself to himself – because running feels like it matters.
Both of these books were well written – Guterson’s moreso – but the amount of running in them wouldn’t have made be put them on a list of five books every runner should read. Which makes me think there is a gap in the market for a running novel.

7. “The Girl who wasn’t there” by Ferdinand Von Schirach

This was the most disappointing book of the summer. The cover was striking, even the paper quality was lovely – even the font had me fooled! It began well with interesting settings and relationships and the development of the main character. SPOILER WARNING BUT THE BOOK ISN’T ONE I RECOMMEND. But then it included some completely tasteless and vile descriptions of things that didn’t need to be in the book and the whole denoument/twist was given away by the title of the book – you can’t/shouldn’t be convicted of murder when there hasn’t been a murder – and the fact that the defendant had staged the crime as a piece of interactive installation art was a very lame way to end. Producing a half-sister out of thin air was also poor.

8. “Curtain Call” by Anthony Quinn
A tidy, straightforward summer read. Interesting historical context – glamorous and seedy in equal measure. Danger and threat and twists. Fine.

9. “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury

A book I felt I “should” have read by now, so I did. My kind of book, really – despairing over the loss of value of the written word, but not utterly pessimistic.

Phew.

Back to Prison Break.

Bikini Bodies and Flamingos

I packed my flamingo bikini and got on the plane. Imagine my delight, when leafing through the in-flight magazine, as I discovered that flamingos are all the rage this season. Whoop.

This was second only to the delight of finding the flamingo bikini in the first place – and that it actually fitted. (One has to blank out the unfortunate “overhang” issue of course, but hey, no one cares. As long as I didn’t ever sit up, people would still be able to see I was wearing both bits…)

Zoning out in the heat alongside me were many others who had also decided to believe the meme “How to get a bikini body: put a bikini on your body”.
bikini-body
Perhaps surprisingly the count of people who looked good in bikinis had gone up since last year. But most people looked like a disaster of one sort or another, as did I – but were were all happy and on holiday. And I lay there smugly knowing that were all secretly jealous of my fab flamingo bikini…

My body, if it were art, is a sculptural oxymoron, I reflected, as I assessed the affect of the rays from that first day. My arms are reaonably toned and muscular, as are my legs – sculpted by two and a half years of fitness training. My abs, were they nearer the surface, would be, hypothetically speaking, beautifully delinieated – but in reality, no amount of ab work can make up for what the children did to my skin when they were in there.

In my own defence, I do know that this is true – I have actually done the ab work. I have done as much as is possible without resorting to surgery. I can plank to my heart’s content. And my heart is content.

We went to “Palmitos Park” which was a beautiful botanical/zoological garden/park and I was particularly delighted to see some flamingos there. They were absolutely beautiful. In the pink, as it were.

IMG_0060-0I wonder if they knew that they were de rigeuer.

The Great @thomascookgc Pigeon Conspiracy #thomascook #grancanaria

It was a rubbish flight time to begin with. A wee-small-hours departure for a four-and-a-half-hour flight to arrive home in time for breakfast and a day laundering fusty towels. 

But something was clearly afoot.

Instead of the usual relaxed end-of-holiday sighs of resignation in the foyer late-evening, the atmosphere was tense. The “Arrivals” board at Glasgow Airport online was reading “cancelled” for our flight (that wasn’t) arriving at 6.30am or so the next day.

Cancelled?

Eh, but, like, we checked out of the hotel eleven hours ago… and the hotel is full… and we have used up all our how-to-kill-time-when-you’ve-checked-out-of your hotel-strategies! (One can only precision-pack one’s hand luggage for twelve hours, keeping within airline protocol of pastes, creams and liquids, I find…)

Cancelled?

Perhaps not, it appeared, as a local rep someone had rung said that the flight was really going to Glasgow. Probably.

But the other local rep someone had rung said that the flight was going to Manchester instead. Probably.

We didn’t mention this on the bus. Probably just as well.

The tour operator’s messenger, fully expecting to be metaphorically shot, delivered the bad news on our arrival at the airport.

Your flight is no longer going to Glasgow. Your flight is going to Manchester.

All of a sudden I am in a muted mob of irate Scots.

One irate Scot began a line of logic that lasted rather longer than I thought it would: this rerouting wouldn’t have happened if we were all English. They have done this to us because they can, because we are Scottish. Just so we will know our place.

Righto then.

Although, I imagine, if I were a holiday company, the last thing I’d want to do is needlessly irritate 300 tired and sweaty Glaswegians.

But the conspiracy theories had begun.

Someone remembered that when they had booked the holiday, the flight had been at a different, earlier, altogether more humane time. And then, without so much as a by your leave, the time was changed. Harrumph.

This, and the cancellation/diversion upon us MUST therefore be linked.

Then another lone rep did his line-up of apologies. Most people remembered not to shoot the messenger. The message, though, was largely disbelieved, given the seepage of the conspiracy theories bleeding throughout the queues.

The rep said that aeroplanes have an equivalent of an MOT, and the plane we were getting on was due its test. It had fortuitously got a slot and a bunch of mechanics lined up at Manchester, and if it didn’t get itself seen to… well… it kind of needed to, so it was … a can’t-be-helped kind of thing. The mechanics were simply not in Glasgow. They were in Manchester.

And then faint worry fluttered through the crowd. What was the urgency to see a bunch of mechanics? If this was the case, should we be getting on this thing, if its airworthyness was in question? What were the Mancunian Mechanics going to do? (No one said it in my hearing, but… if we had been English, would they have chanced it? Fast and loose, fast and loose. )

Faced with… no choice but to get on the plane, we got on the plane and enjoyed our complimentary drink and unexpectedly humungous plane.

It was a Boeing 767, much bigger than the plane that took us to Gran Canaria in the first place. Swathes of room. It was as if… it was… well… as if… this wasn’t our intended plane. This was a long haul plane, doing a short haul flight.

We wondered why.

Once through customs in Manchester (Hello Manchester!) we were given a £5 voucher each. I took ours into the first shop I saw, grabbed as much food as I could carry (just like that cauliflower game in Crackerjack) and staggered to the checkout trying not to drop any of my ‘breakfast’ items: pringles, mentos, mini cheddars, mars bars, crisps, fanta… you know me, health health health…

At least it wasn’t one man versus 300 disgruntled Scots. Poor soul.

We trollied our cases up and through and down and through and out to where some buses were waiting to take us to Glasgow.

No checks were made. The headcount a bit… sketchy. And off we set.

 

The question of the moment became, “When did YOU hear about the change of route?” The bus drivers had been recruited at about four o’clock the day before – seven hours before the ticket holders and, apparently, the reps – proof positive, for the theorists, that this was premeditated act, not a happy happensance of mechanics and machines.

By the time we had had our tea at Tebay Services, the conspiracy theories had reached fever pitch: this change of plan had been the only ever plan. There was no flight. The change in original times was just a first step to the obliteration of the flight as a concept mapped to reality. Those tickets were just a mirage, a cruel promise… a metaphor for multimillion pound corporation domination….

I then stumbled upon a theory of my own…

In the Manchester Evening Times, it details a flight in a Boeing 767 from the day before when a pigeon flew into the engine on the way to Egypt and it had to turn back. The passengers had a ten hour wait and a replacement plane took them to Egypt. Their plane was reported to be functioning again…

In my theory, we switched planes with the Egyptian flight so that they could get off to Egypt while the bird was cleaned out of the engine. Once the 767 was bird-free, it could come and fetch us, but perhaps had to get back to business from Manchester where it was meant to be. And an MOT post-pigeon-trauma can’t hurt.

Who can say?

Either the pigeon or the English had it in for us.

Or maybe not.

Thoughts on 1 John 1 – Authority and Integrity @brianmore59

I went to another church tonight and caught the introductory sermon to their new series. It put me in the mood to read the book they are going to be studying over the summer. I might study it too. Here then are my thoughts on the first chapter of 1 John 1:

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched – this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.”

Quite an introduction. I get the feeling that the writer of this letter was pretty excited about what he was about to say. In a way, this opening line is pretty confusing, unless you know what he is talking about; it is not immediately apparent.

What is “That which was from the beginning”? Is he making a reference to Genesis and the first “In the beginning”? Is he making a reference to the opening of his gospel account “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” I think that this reference to “the beginning” links to both passages. He is going to restate what he proclaims about the “Word of Life” – this Word that was referred to in the gospel as being necessary to creation.

He is launching straight into the unimaginable – he is saying that this “Word of Life” was from “the beginning” – from a time that the writer himself can barely conceive of. More astounding than that, he claims that he has personally met this “Word”.

He explains this in physical terms – he has heard, seen with his eyes, looked at, and touched with his hands. Here, the writer claims to be an eye witness. He himself has lived alongside Jesus as God Incarnate the Word made flesh. The privilege of this has not been lost on him.

By opening his letter in this way, the writer makes two important points: He is talking about the Word of Life from “the beginning” – the creative force through whom all things are made and secondly he, John, has met this one and the same person, Jesus, in the flesh, in physical reality. These two points build up to a stance of experience leading to authority; the writer knows who and what he is talking about.

“The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete.”

So, what does he proclaim? “The life appeared” – the incarnation took place. He met Jesus during his earthly life – “we have seen it and testify to it”. The writer then moves beyond the physical earthly life of Jesus to refer to his eternal life as already suggested by the reference to “the beginning”; he extends this to a proclamation of “the eternal life which was with the Father and has appeared to us”. He asserts that Jesus had life beyond his temporal earthly life and that he was a physical witness to that. Again he emphasizes the physical fact of his status as an eyewitness: “what we have seen and heard”.

Why does he want to impress upon the reader the eternal nature of the Word of Life, and his own experience of meeting Jesus during his earthly life and being a witness to his “eternal life”? He states: “so that you also may have fellowship with us”.

So this letter sets out its initial purpose – to bring fellowship. He wants his readers to share with him in this knowledge of the Word of Life. This fellowship is extended through Jesus to God. By drawing the readers into the fellowship the writer enjoys with the Father and his son Jesus Christ, he anticipates that this will make his “joy complete”.

“This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.”

John then launches into his message. Again he prefaces it with the authority he has already claimed. It is “the message we have heard from him and declare to you.” He is not making it up. He is declaring what he says he has been told and been witness to: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.

Once again we go into the realm of the unimaginable. I’ll try and stay out of metaphor for a moment and think about the first “In the beginning” moment. “And God said, ‘let there be light’”. To make the formless and desolate earth habitable, the first words spoken were spoken in order to make light – light that is needed for all human, animal and plant life. I can’t help but tip into metaphor now when the contrast is made with darkness – and I think that the writer does the same.

If we claim to have fellowship with him and yet walk in the darkness, we lie and do not live out the truth. But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

He is writing about integrity and hypocrisy. He is warning against saying one thing and doing another. He is warning against knowing truth but ignoring it. He encourages the readers to “walk in the light”, to be part of a fellowship and to thereby stand in a place of purification. One’s beliefs have to have a practical outworking to make any sense. There then follows three sentences that all begin with “If”. Each sentence gives a scenario and a consequence:

If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.

Perhaps those he is writing to had been claiming that they were without sin. Maybe they thought they had risen above sin. Maybe they thought that what they did and thought didn’t count as sin. The writer, with authority, points out that this is wrong – they have fallen short.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
The writer then gives them the good news, once they have acknowledged that they are sinful – there is a way to be forgiven and to be purified.

If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word is not in us.
This third sentence echoes the first – again this implies that the recipients of the letter had perhaps been claiming that they were ‘without sin’ and perhaps didn’t need forgiving. By saying they are, in effect, perfect, John states that they have missed the point and are living lives that are in darkness while claiming to be in the light.

This opening to John’s letter highlights his authority as a writer. He was an eye witness to Jesus’ earthly life and resurrection. He had direct teaching from and experience of Jesus. He is motivated by a desire for fellowship – he wants the recipients to share his direct teachings from Jesus so that they can share a broader fellowship with each other and with the Father, through Jesus. He is having to write because the recipients seem to think that they are not in need of forgiveness for their sins, indeed, it is implies that they have managed to deny that they have sin in their lives. The writer points out that this is an error and leads to a confused witness where one thing is said and another is done.

For Christians today then, what does the first chapter of 1 John have to say to them?

Jesus is eternal and is the ultimate authority. He is the incarnation, the embodiment of the Word of God. Miraculous as it is, it is possible for people to have fellowship with God through Jesus and to therefore have fellowship with each other. It is not correct to see our failings as anything less than sin. Sin can be dealt with through Jesus who, if we confess our sins, will forgive us – and he has the power to do so. When Christians do not deal with their sin and do not live lives that reflect the light of Christ, their lives are confused and contradictory. They bring Christ and the gospel into disrepute and make it impossible for believers to share fellowship with each other and with God.

Oranges are not the only fruit, a poem

At work there was a discussion about the relative merits of various citrus fruit. I felt subsequently driven to write a poem on the theme. There are a lot more verses in draft, but I need to go and cook the dinner now. I don’t really have an opinion on Clementines and Satsumas; they are too much of an effort to eat.

Oranges are not the only fruit
 
My darling Clementine,
I find you a-peeling.
 
You assume a Satsuma
May be Mandarin.
You assume that a kumquat
Consumed ought to be what
You thought lay within.
 
I may be thick skinned,
But I have zest.
Squeeze me now.IMG_5487

How to be a winner in the fine art of Sports Day

trailshoesAll day I had been getting ready – all year, if truth be told. The parents’ races are the highlight of the day but the real skill is in generating a veneer of nonchalance while being as primed, pumped and ready as a real athlete.

Having had years of underpreparation for each race, I knew that there was no short cut to take in that regard.

I had once worn flip flops, so that I could look terribly underprepared, but then to be able to slip them off with a casual eye-roll of “if only I’d thought, I would have worn trainers” and then strike out like Zola Budd. Whooft. Away I went.

By the next year I had got through the ‘denial’ stage of the mums’ race and selected a pair of converses. These, I hoped would look natural on my feet, but would be better suited to the actual running part, to detract from the naked thudding of ma baries. But, as we know, Converses are not fit for purpose in real life (unless real life is a ceilidh or a disco), let alone sporting activity. No grip, no support, no traction. Hopeless.

Then, last year, I thought I would go for trail shoes. But… subtly. I dressed as little like a runner as possible and hoped that my fresh-from-tough-mudder shoes would blend in amongst the other footwear. This time is was my steak-pie-esque needing-an-apronectomy gut that let me down. I set off well, managing to avoid calf injuries, only for my gut to kangaroo out of my shorts so that I had to grab it with one hand while restraining my chest with the other. A lesson learned.

So this year was the year. Trail shoes and decent underwear. Still had to dress as if competition was the furthest thing from my mind. You see, it’s the one race where I might not be absolutely last out of everyone I know. There is a chance that one or two of them might not be as fast as me. There might even be someone there who is still in the flip-flop phase, the converse phase, or even the ‘hey-that’d-be-fun-I-think-I’ll-race’ phase. They’d be toast. Mwahahahaha.

We are not quite at the gazebo, picnic and plastic non-alcoholic-champagne flute stage yet, but we did have a rug. Perfect pitch for spectating, perfect weather. Just had to get the kids’ races out of the way before the parents’ races.

At what point do you warm up? Do you warm up? Either you look like a complete choob warming up or you can use it as an opportunity to psych out the opposition. It’s tough. And then, when they shout out that it’s the mums’ race, does one lunge-walk to the start so that one’s children can be utterly mortified? Tee hee.

They ran out of time.

There was no mums’ race this year.

As we stood in the playground to collect the children, it was heartening to see an uncharacteristically high turnout of running shoes amongst the choices of footwear for the day.

It would have been a great race.

Lapping the Couch: Where the Gazelle Stops #BMFGlasgow

If you take a pile of shingle, put it in a bucket and give it a shoogle, the big bits come to the top and the wee grains of sand go to the bottom. 

Likewise, when a pack of runners (that include me) hear the command “Standby, go!” and leg it off to wherever we are legging it off to, the shards of shingle in the bucket shoogle themselves into their natural order which always results in me being at the back. 

I am almost always at the back of the pack. 

But the pack that I am of the back of is a pack of fit folk. 

Our sub-group is for people of “average fitness”. But I have always suspected, it really should be for people of “average fitness for fit folk”. 

Most fit folk are faster than me. 

Most folk in transition ‘from couch to 10k’ are slower than me. 

Most folk are unfit. I am faster than all of them. 

Some people who are fit are sometimes fitter and faster than at other times, but from the perspective of unfit folk they are always superfit. It’s all a matter of perspective. And fitness. 

So after 40 years of nil to moderate exercise, I discover that I like running on varied terrain. I also discover that I am not built for it and I am slow. I will never win any races, unless I live to be 90 and everyone else in the fit bracket has had something go ping in the interim. 

I don’t like running on boring terrain. It’s boring. I think I need the terrain to be varied so that there is something to think about rather than just thinking “struggle, struggle” as I do when road running. I am thinking, “hazardous log to jump, mud, tree branch in face, minor scratch, where’s everybody gone?” etc. It’s funner.

 I sometimes wonder why I can’t go faster. It could be to do with the fact that I am 42, but there are fit folk far far older than me. Age is an irrelevance. It could be to do with the hobbit legs and barrel figure. That’s more likely. There’s the fact that I don’t do enough running training – fartleks, hill-sprints and long runs. I think I don’t do that because I hate doing that. That could be it.

 I do think, though, that a HUGE factor is psychology. I have found that the most interesting thing since the fitness thing kicked in. The things your brain tells you as you run! The deceit! The lies! The fear! Let’s have a wee listen to the brain:

“You’re going to need the toilet as soon as you set off. You’re going to be sick. You ate too recently. You have probably got undiagnosed asthma. There really is something wrong with your calves – best have a month off. Your lungs are going to burst out of your ribcage and your eyes are going to pop out of your head. You are going to overheat and expire in a heap. You’ll never keep up. You’ll get lost. This is a terrible hobby – just think – you could be in your bed. You are slow. You are last. You are rubbish at this. You should give up. You will never catch up. You have idiopathic slowness syndrome. Your legs are made of sand or lead or something else weighty in an unnatural way that makes you doomed to failure…”

My mind is a completely unhelpful companion which again is why I think that complicated off-road terrain is better. I have less time to get sucked into the negativity swirling around in my thoughts. I am too busy trying to stay upright and on track.

 That’s also why it is fun to train with other people. They are far more encouraging than my own thoughts.

 In a way I am content to be at the back of the pack when the alternative is to be unfit. It must be nice, though, to actually be of actual official “average fitness”. I wonder if I’ll ever find out. lapping the couch

Cop Show, a poem

Cop Show

Cityscape at dusk.
Manhattan’s skyscrapers
Pointing up at me
As I swoop down to the alley
Where the streetlights hit the rain
And the footsteps run away.

I’m interrupted
By a snazzy montage.
A line up of supposed criminalists
Caught
With their best side to camera.
Great muscle definition.
Fit, suave and competent.

I return to the scene of the crime.
A 4:19.
Flash, bang, flash flashy flash bang.
Marking out the blood drops
Spotting
A void in the spatter,
A scraped surface –
They never vanish without trace.

Jane or John Doe
Toe-tagged and hosed down
with clinical sympathy.
Through front-fastening specs
Life’s last chapter is read
And re-told in monochrome.

Cut to the streets of NYC.
Suspect located.
He runs, we run.
Yellow cab, hot dog stand,
Steam through vents, a chase and
Shots fired.
Suspect apprehended.
“If you’re innocent, why did you run?”

The next part is different.
The next part is human:
Follow the evidence rather than a hunch;
Cops have feelings too;
Our perp is escalating;
The unremarkable relative is the sociopath;
Sometimes they come for one of our own,
And that is unacceptable.

Scrutinized, bagged and labeled,
Science makes us able,
To rewind time,
To unwind crime.

They put the knife in his hand.
They put him at the scene of the crime.
They gave him the motive.
It was all an act.

The credits roll and I kill the TV.
I try not to think of the darkness.

The unimaginable: “a green thought in a green shade”

Have you ever tried to imagine the unimaginable?

I was blowing my mind today, in the style of a child, having a go at imagining ‘before’ the Big Bang.

The trouble is, that if time, space and matter sprang into being simultaneously, there can’t really be a “before” if there was no time as a dimension in which to conceive of a ‘before’.

Just like that tree that ‘silently’ falls over in a wood with no one to hear it, I was also trying to imagine how the Big Bang could or would sound, with no one there to hear it for thousands of millennia, despite the fact that apparently there are still echoes of it, somewhere…

What else is it impossible to imagine?

Here’s one from my philosophy days: Imagine a bed (without someone naked in it).

Tricky.

But yet, it is possible to imagine unicorns quite easily, despite being perfectly aware that they don’t exist.

In Andrew Marvell’s poem, “The Garden” aka “Thoughts in a Garden”, he expresses some interesting ideas about imagination.

In the previous stanza to the relevant one, the poet has just described being physically seduced by the garden. In this stanza, his mind too succumbs to the charms of the garden. The mind is described in terms of a metaphor – the mind is an ocean:

“The mind, that ocean where each kind

Does straight its own resemblance find”

I think the idea being described here is that anything in physical or conceptual existence in reality outwith the mind could and would be recognized by the mind – the mind would, from birth, be filled with dormant innate knowledge and ideas that would map to outward reality when that reality was experienced in life. Each “kind” – each thing – would find something akin to it in the mind – “its own resemblance find”.

So, our unicorn, that doesn’t exist, can be conceived of – because every element of what it is to be a unicorn (or indeed not to be a unicorn) is already in the mind, ready to be summoned into a concept.

I think.

But (well done if you have followed me so far… I am barely keeping up with myself) the part that interests me, given the thinking-about-time-before-time thing, is the following section of that stanza:

“Yet it creates, transcending these,

Far other worlds, and other seas;

Annihilating all that’s made

To a green thought in a green shade.”

  The poet here is marveling (aptly) at the mind/imagination’s capacity to “create” – not in a physical sense, but to conceive in thought. In a state above physical existence, the mind can create, transcend and surpass physical reality in every way… apart from the fact that the things that are conceived don’t exist.

I am interested by the kind of inverse creation in the annihilation of “all that’s made”. By imagining so intensely, the physical world is reduced for that moment in importance so that, as the poet is consumed by the garden, the whole of actual creation is reduced to “a green thought in a green shade”.

Is our imagination only able to manipulate concepts and experiences we already have, or can the imagination create beyond that?

How much of existence (or whatever preceded existence) is so far beyond our experience and understanding that we cannot even imagine it?

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