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BARBICAN LIFE


lower last note on a phrase. They took a deep controlled breath and complied, competently.


I was alarmed at an implied invitation to split myself into two – the output of my right brain, (for computer buffs amongst you, the parallel processor) is NOT admissible in law making, being a matter of experience and subjective interpretation only. My left brain, (the analog processor) which does things sequentially is the king. Why ? The conductor of the choir, a young woman of great self possession and a lovely voice, continued to demonstrate how to sing (without benefit of piano or even a tuning fork) to her flock, who followed with a surprising degree of accuracy.


Following a competent person – this is how we learn. Humbly, I followed in my mind an internet link. . . Next was a journalist – somebody whose profession has taken quite a knock of late. I liked this one, because he described so accurately what journalists do – only talk about the extremes of human experience. What we do in private should be connected to how we live in public, surely. In a talk entitled ‘Strange answers to the Psychopath test’ Jon Ronson tells us what our societies do – capitalism sets its success criteria in bottom line numbers, measures performance, and rewards its practitioners highly for achieving them in money, perhaps innocent of its other achievement : that its highest rewards are for those who exhibit a good number of the characteristics of the psychopath. Ronson, leafing through the DSM manual (a 886 page listing of mental illnesses) says that he himself seemed to have a round dozen of these characteristics. Should we give out labels to people after consulting lists of symptoms ? Isn’t every soul worth more than that?


The choir was coming to its singing of ‘Jerusalem’. A young man had now taken over. As the children sang ‘bring me my bow of burning gold’ (descant) I summoned the most fundamental part of my psyche, and found it to be full of texts which have philosophical/ religious origins. Keeping in mind my own household’s penchant for academic back up for thinking anything, I went straight to a man who


has opened a new private University of the Humanities: A C Grayling has written ‘The Good Book’. Kay Dunbar had included Grayling amongst her guests at Ways with Words, a festival in Dartington held last summer. I decided to look at the creation story as it is set out by this secular (and therefore purely rational?) publication. Grayling, a strongly secular philosopher, might have a good supporting argument for those who advocate the division of the private self into rational and ‘experience based’, keeping the latter out of our collective public space.


I looked at the front of this publication: All white, unadorned.


When you read that a document has been ‘conceived, selected, redacted, arranged, worked and in part written’ by its author you do not expect it to be an easy read. I was surprised beyond measure - let it speak for itself: It starts with :


‘1. In the garden stands a tree. 2. Its


fruit is knowledge. . . ‘you get the picture, a caricature of the Biblical form, and filled with. .what? I read on, holding my breath:’ 6. It was from the fall of a fruit of such a tree that


Jon Ronson


A.C. Grayling


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