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COLENSO BOOKS: A selection of titles

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Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Corfu, Greece: Major New Tourist Resort Development Approved, Kassiopi Area

Happy New 99 Years!

From Bloomberg

By Sharon Smyth,  Dec 30, 2013:

"NCH Capital Inc., a U.S. private-equity firm, won permission from the Greek government to build a tourist resort on the island of Corfu.

NCH, based in New York, will spend 23 million euros ($32 million) for the leasehold and invest about 75 million euros to develop a hotel, marina and private holiday homes...

Greece’s Hellenic Republic Asset Development Fund, which is charged with raising 11 billion euros through state assets sales by 2016, accepted NCH Capital’s bid in January 2013 to lease a 490,000 square-meter (5.3 million square-foot) property on Corfu under a 99-year concession. The deal marked the first overseas investment in state land in 15 years".


Kassiopi (Greek Travel Pages):

"According to a statement released by the fund, NCH Capital will be granted the rights of the Kassiopi plot for a period of 99 years. The land thus remains the property of the Greek State...The total area of the plot at Kassiopi is 490,000 square meters (some 120 acres) in which the investor will have the right to develop mild tourism projects of about 36,000 square meters. More than 320,000 square meters will remain accessible to the public...According to the fund, the investment at Kassiopi is expected to create hundreds of new jobs".

eKathimerini Update, 23.2.2016 - Work to start at conceded properties on Corfu and Skiathos

Greece: Prime Minister's Confident New Year's Message; "Bailout scheme will end in 2014"

"Bailout scheme will end in 2014" (The Guardian) 

To Vima (in Greek)

Fears of foreclosures (Macropolis)

New Year's Eve, Swedish Style (with Tennyson, Dylan and ABBA)


Ring, klocka, ring i bistra nyårsnatten
mot rymdens norrskenssky och markens snö;
det gamla året lägger sig att dö . . .
Ring själaringning öfver land och vatten!

Ring in det nya och ring ut det gamla
i årets första, skälfvande minut.
Ring lögnens makt från världens gränser ut,
och ring in sanningens till oss som famla.

Ring våra tankar ut ur sorgens häkten
och ring hugsvalelse till sargad barm.
Ring hatet ut emellan rik och arm
och ring försoning in till jordens släkten.

Ring ut hvad dödsdömdt räknar sina dagar
och forngestaltningar af split och kif.
Ring in ett ädlare, ett högre lif
med bättre syften, mera rena lagar.

Ring ut bekymren, sorgerna och nöden,
och ring den frusna tiden åter varm.
Ring ut till tystnad diktens gatularm,
men ring till sångarhjärtan skaparglöden.

Ring ut den stolthet, som blott räknar anor,
förtalets lömskhet, afundens försåt.
Ring in det rätta på triumfens stråt,
och ring till seger mänsklighetens fanor.

Ring, klocka, ring . . . och seklets krankhet vike;
det dagas, släktet fram i styrka går!
Ring ut, ring ut de tusen krigens år,
ring in den tusenåra fredens rike!

Ring in den tid, då andarne befrias
ur själfviskhetens sammansnörda band.
Ring mörkrets skuggor bort ur alla land;
ring honom in, den bidade Messias!

Alfred Tennyson,1889.

More information

From Tennyson to Bob Dylan, on New Year Resolutions (Thanks to Michael Gray)

One more time, Happy New Year, ABBA

ABBA at the BBC

From Tennyson's Original Verses:

Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
The flying cloud, the frosty light
The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die.

Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true.

Ring out the grief that saps the mind,
For those that here we see no more,
Ring out the feud of rich and poor,
Ring in redress to all mankind...

New Year 2013

Sydney 2013-2014

On Foot, Corfu and Zagori

The ideal walking holiday in Greece

Greece: Corfu and the Vikos Gorge
Sapphire sea and gorgeous gorge

As you will see below, I have been approached to contribute an essay in connection with this unbeatable walking holiday.

From Facebook:

On Foot Holidays
December 23

"Expert Eyes. Any holiday company tries to make itself a little different from the rest and we are no exception. Our staff are particularly keen that our routes should not be just a good walk, but also an introduction to somewhere the walker has not visited before and would like to know more about. So it was an obvious decision that we should start to introduce into our packages a personal view from someone who knows a particular region really well.

And so have our first "Expert Eye"! Following the launch of our latest route "Greece: Corfu and the Vikos Gorge" (, we tracked down Jim Potts, the renowned Ionian expert and author of "The Ionian Islands and Epirus, A Cultural History" (Signal Books, Oxford and OUP, USA, 2010), and are delighted that he has agreed to contribute the first essay of its type. Extraordinarily, his knowledge mirrors precisely our route (the Vikos Gorge at the centre of Epirus), though extends to poetry and music too! Our walkers will be able to read his contribution as preparation for their holiday, or once there over a glass of local wine on a sunny evening by the sea or in the mountains...."

From Twitter

On Foot Holidays


Simon tweets about On Foot's boutique collection of around 20 self-guided European walking holidays, taking in unspoilt lands rich in cuisine and culture


On Foot Holidays ‏@OnFootHolidays 23 Dec

Scoop! Jim Potts, renowned Ionian specialist to write background info for On Foot's new Corfu/Vikos walk.

More Forster: On Ageing, Greece and Discontent

E. M. Forster, from The Road from Colonus

He had this in common with Oedipus, that he was growing old. Even to himself it had become obvious. He had lost interest in other people's affairs, and seldom attended when they spoke to him. He was fond of talking himself but often forgot what he was going to say, and even when he succeeded, it seldom seemed worth the effort. His phrases and gestures had become stiff and set, his anecdotes, once so successful, fell flat, his silence was as meaningless as his speech. Yet he had led a healthy, active life, had worked steadily, made money, educated his children. There was nothing and no one to blame: he was simply growing old.

At the present moment, here he was in Greece, and one of the dreams of his life was realized. Forty years ago he had caught the fever of Hellenism, and all his life he had felt that could he but visit that land, he would not have lived in vain. But Athens had been dusty, Delphi wet, Thermopylae flat, and he had listened with amazement and cynicism to the rapturous exclamations of his companions. Greece was like England: it was a man who was growing old, and it made no difference whether that man looked at the Thames or the Eurotas. It was his last hope of contradicting that logic of experience, and it was failing.

Yet Greece had done something for him, though he did not know it. It had made him discontented, and there are stirrings of life in discontent. He knew that he was not the victim of continual ill-luck. Something great was wrong, and he was pitted against no mediocre or accidental enemy. For the last month a strange desire had possessed him to die fighting.

"Greece is the land for young people," he said to himself as he stood under the plane trees, "but I will enter into it, I will possess it. Leaves shall be green again, water shall be sweet, the sky shall be blue. They were so forty years ago, and I will win them back. I do mind being old, and I will pretend no longer."

European Bailout Facilities

This looks like it might be a usefuly provocative- if highly controversial- summary guide, posted by Observing Greece (source

"We aim to take the analysis a step further. We question accepted truths and always strive to answer the simple question 'why?' We are opinionated".

Monday, 30 December 2013

The Island at the End of the Earth

BBC News Magazine; Thomas Martienssen on Palmerston, Cook Islands

Listen on Radio 4 (iPlayer)

Blues on BBC 4

Some good clips here

And something extra from YouTube:

Chuck Berry, Misery

Corfu, Zakynthos; British Youth Tourism Workshop; Campaign to End "Excesses"

From Corfu Press

Εκστρατεία για τη… συμπεριφορά των νεαρών Άγγλων τουριστών που επισκέπτονται τη χώρα μας ξεκινά η Βρετανική Πρεσβεία, η οποία θα προχωρήσει τους επόμενους μήνες σε σειρά ενεργειών, ενώ προχθές προκάλεσε συνάντηση με τη συμμετοχή (και) των αστυνομικών διευθύνσεων Κέρκυρας και Ζακύνθου.

Η ημερίδα που πραγματοποιήθηκε με θέμα το «βρετανικό νεανικό τουρισμό» έχει ως στόχο να τέλος στα έκτροπα και την ασυδοσία των νεαρών τουριστών της Μ. Βρετανίας.
Οι εργασίες της ημερίδας πραγματοποιήθηκαν παρουσία φορέων και εκπροσώπων των τοπικών αυτοδιοικήσεων και αστυνομικών σε περιοχές αυξημένου τουριστικού βρετανικού ενδιαφέροντος, καθώς και Βρετανών τουριστικών πρακτόρων.

Some young people behave as if they still owned the islands!

The World of Andrew Wyeth; Michael Palin Explores Wyeth's Landscape Paintings and Inspirations

"Nature has all the answers"

BBC iPlayer: feature on the artist Andrew Wyeth

Available until January 5. Well worth watching.

Programme information:

"Michael Palin heads for rural Pennsylvania and Maine to explore the extraordinary life and work of one of America's most popular and controversial painters, Andrew Wyeth. Fascinated by his iconic painting Christina's World, Palin goes in search of the real life stories that inspired this and Wyeth's other depictions of the American landscape and its hard grafting inhabitants.

Tracking down the farmers, friends and family featured in Wyeth's magically real work, Palin builds a picture of an eccentric, enigmatic and driven painter. He also gets a rare interview with Helga, the woman who put Wyeth back in the headlines when the press discovered he had been painting her nude, compulsively but secretly for 15 years".

Sunday, 29 December 2013

A Slice of Portland

A great day to visit Portland
(in the gap between the storms)

An article from Dorset Life: A Portrait of Portland

PF 2014 (New Year's Greeting, after the Czech Fashion)

Pour féliciter 2014

A Czech-American singer (Radio Prague)
Marta Töpferová draws on Moravian music, landscape and folklore

(Photos from Sweden)

Greece: Waste Disposal- A Blight on the Landscape; No Place for Daphnis and Chloe

One of the most urgent priorities for Greece:

See this article by Mark Lowen, BBC

"Waste is blighting Greece's countryside"

Sensitive Waste at Fyli

Radioactive Waste

Toxic Hospital Waste


Skoupidia, Corfu

Try to forget the rubbish and and refuse by reading Longus' second century AD pastoral romance, Daphnis and Chloe (translated by Paul Turner, 1956; from Book 4):

On Lesbos:

"Lamon ...tidied up the garden so that it could be seen in all its beauty.

This garden was indeed a very beautiful place even by comparison with a royal garden...

There was a fine view of the plain, where you could see people grazing their flocks, a  fine view of the sea, where you could watch people sailing past; and this too contributed to the charm of the garden.

In the very middle of the length and breadth of the garden were a temple and an altar sacred to Dionysus. The altar was surrounded with ivy and the temple with vine-shoots."

No rubbish strewn amongst the trees, or to spoil the fine view...

Classic 1931 film

With music by Ravel

1969 film version

From The Fourth Book, translated by George Thornley (1657):

AND now one of Lamo's fellow-servants brought word from Mitylene, that their Lord would come towards the Vintage, to see whether that irruption of the Methymnæans had made any waste in those fields. When therefore the Summer was now parting away, and the Autumne approaching, Lamo bestirred himself to fit a mansion for his Lord, that should present him with pleasure every where. He scoured the Fountains, that the water might be clear and transparent. He muckt the Cottage, lest the dung should offend him with the smell. The Garden he trimmed with great care and diligence, that all might be pleasant, fresh, and fair. And that Garden indeed was a most beautifull and goodly thing, and such as might become even a Royal Family; for it lay extended in length a whole Stadium. It was situate on a high ground, and had to its breadth, four Acres. To a spacious field one would easily have likened it. Trees it had of all kinds the Apple, the Pear, the Myrtle, the Orange, the Pomgranate, the Figg, and the Olive: and to these, on the other side, there grew a rare, and taller sort of Vines, that bended over, and reclin'd their bunches of grapes among the Apples, and Pomgranats, as if they would vie and contend for beauty and worth of fruits with them. So many kinds there were of Satives; or of such as are planted, grafted, or set. To these were not wanting the Cypresse, the Laurel, the Platan, and the Pine. And towards them, instead of the Vine, the Ivie lean'd; and with the Errantry of her boughes, and her scatter'd black berries, did imitate the Vines, and, shadowed beauty of the ripened grapes. Within, as in a Garrison, Trees of lower growth bore fruit; thickets of various shrubs, with their delicate and fragrant berries, were kept. Without, stood the barren Trees, enfolding all, much like a Fort, or some strong Vall, that had bin built by the hand of Art. And these were encompassed with a spruce, thin hedge. By alleyes, and glades, there was every where a just determination of things from things, an orderly discretion of Tree from Tree. But on the Tops the boughes met, to interweave their limbs and leaves with one anothers. And a man would have thought, that all this had not bin, as indeed it was, the wild of Nature, but rather the work of curious Art. Nor were there wanting to these borders and banks of various flowers; some the Earth's own Voluntiers; some the structure of the Artist's hand. The Roses, Hyacinths, and Lillies, were set, and planted by the hand: The Violet, the Daffodill, and Anagall the Earth gave up of her own good will. In the Summer there was shade; in the Spring, the beauty and fragrancy of flowers; in the Autumne, the pleasantnesse of the grapes; and every season had its fruits. Besides from the high ground there was a fair and pleasing prospect to the fields, the Herdsmen, the Shepherds, and the Cattell feeding; the same too lookt to the Sea, and saw all the Boats and Pinnaces a sailing by: insomuch, that that was no small addition to the pleasure of this most sweet and florid place. In the midst of this Paradise to the positure of the length and breadth of the ground, stood a Phane and an Altar sacred to Bacchus, the Lord and Genius of the place. About the Bomos, of Altar, grew the wandring, encircling, clinging Ivie; about the Phane, the palmits of the Vines did spread themselves. And in the more inward part of the Phane, were certain pictures that told the story of Bacchus, and his miracles: Semele bringing forth her babe: The fair Ariadne laid fast asleep: Lycuraus bound in chains: wretched Pentheus torn limb from limb: The Indians conquer'd: The Tyrrhenian Marriners, transform'd: Satyrs, and dancing Bacchæ, all about. Nor was Pan neglected in this place of pleasure, for he was set up upon the top of a crag playing upon his pipes, and striking up a common Jig, to those that trod the grapes in the presse, and the women that danc't about it. Therefore in such a Garden as this that all might be fine, Lamo was now very busie, cutting and pruning what was wither'd, and dry, and propping up the Palmits with his forks. Bacchus he had crown'd with flowery chaplets; and then brought down, with curious art, rills of water from the Fountains, amongst the borders and the knots. There was a spring, one that Daphnis first discovered, and that served rarely to this purpose of watering the flowers, and in favour to him, it was alwayes called Daphnis his Fountain. But Lamo besides commanded Daphnis to use his best skill to have his Goats as fat as might be; for their Lord would be sure to see them too, who now would come into the Countrey after he had bin so long away. And Daphnis had a good mind to it, because he thought he should be lookt upon, and praised for them. For he had doubled the number he had received of Lamo, nor had the Wolf raven'd away so much as one, and they were all more twadding fat then the very sheep. And because he would win upon the Lord to be more forward to approve and confirm the match, he did his businesse with great diligence, and great alacrity; he drove out his Goats betimes in the mornings; and late in the evening brought them home; twice a day he water'd them, and culled out for them the best pacture ground; he took care too to have the dairy-vessels new, good store of milking pales and piggins, and fairer Crates, or presses for the Cheese. He was so far from being negligent in any thing, that he tryed to make their horns to shine with vernich, and comb'd their very shag to make them sleek. Insomuch, as, if you had seen this, you had said it was Pan's own sacred flock

1. Κ' ερχάμενος από τη Μιτυλήνη κάποιος, που ήτανε δούλος στον ίδιο αφέντη με το Λάμωνα, έφερνε είδηση, πως λίγο πριν τον τρύγο θάρθη ταφεντικό τους για να μάθη μήπως τα χτήματά του τάβλεψε@ καθόλου το έμπασμα των Μεθυμνιωτώνε. Κ' επειδή έφευγε πια το καλοκαίρι κ' έφτανε το χυνόπωρο, του ετοίμαζε την εξοχή ο Λάμωνας, ώστε να του αρέση σ' όλα άμα την έβλεπε· πάστρευε τις πηγές για νάχουν νερό καθαρό· έβγανε την κοπριά από την αυλή για να μη τον πειράξη βρωμώντας· σιγύριζε το περιβόλι για να φανή όμορφο.

2. Κ' ήτανε το περιβόλι κάτι αριστούργημα που και βασιλιάς θα το ζήλευε· είχε μάκρος ίσαμ' ένα στάδιο κ' ήτανε σε ψήλωμα έχοντας πλάτος τέσσερα πλέθρα. Θα το παρομοίαζε κανένας με κάμπο μακρύ· κ' είχεν όλα τα δέντρα: μηλιές, σμερτιές, αχλαδιές και ροϊδιές και συκιές· από τ' άλλο μέρος αμπέλι αψηλό, που απλωνότανε αποπάνω από τις μηλιές και τις αχλαδιές παρδαλίζοντας, σαν να συνοριζότανε μ' αυτές για το κάρπισμα. Τόσα ήτανε τα ήμερα· μα ήτανε και κυπαρίσσια και δάφνες και πλατάνια και κουκουναριές· και σ' όλα αυτά αποπάνω αντί γι' αμπέλι απλωνότανε κισσός, που τα τσαμπιά του, όντας μεγάλα και μαυριδερά, εφαίνονταν σαν σταφύλια· από μέσα ήτανε τα καρπερά δέντρα σαν να φυλάγονταν απ' έξω στέκανε γύρω-γύρω τ' άγρια σαν φραγή χεροφτιαστή· κι αυτά όμως τα περιτριγύριζε φράχτης από ψιλά αγκάθια. Ήταν όλα με τάξη και χωρισμένα κ' η μια ρίζα μακριά από την άλλη · μα τα κλαριά τους έσμιγαν ψηλά το ένα με τ' άλλο και μπλέκανε τα φύλλα τους· κ' έτσι φαίνονταν πως κι αυτά ήτανε φτιαστά. Ήτανε και λουλουδιώνε βραγιές, που άλλα τάβγαζε η γις κι άλλα τα φύτευαν τριανταφυλλιές και λαλέδες και κρίνα τα είχανε φυτέψει ανθρώπινα χέρια· γιούλια και μανούσια και γαλατσίδες τάβγαζε η γις. Το καλοκαίρι ήτανε ίσκιος και την άνοιξη λουλούδια και το χυνόπωρο και σε κάθ' εποχή πωρικά.

3. Απ' εδώ φαινότανε καλά ο κάμπος και μπορούσανε να βλέπουν αυτούς που έβοσκαν· φαινότανε καλά κ' η θάλασσα κ' έβλεπαν όσους ταξιδεύανε γιαλό-γιαλό. Κ' έτσι αυτά προσθέτανε στην ομορφιά του περιβολιού. Και καταμεσίς του περιβολιού στο μάκρος και πλάτος ήτανε ναός του Διόνυσου και βωμός. Περιτριγύριζαν το βωμό κισσός και το ναό κλήματα· κ' είχε μέσα ο ναός διονυσιακές ζωγραφιές· τη Σεμέλη που γεννούσε, την Αριάδνη που κοιμότανε, το Λυκούργο δεμένο, τον Πενθέα που κατακοματιαζότανε· ήτανε και Ιντοί που νικόντουσαν και Τυρρηνοί που αλλάζανε μορφή· παντού Σάτυροι παντού Βάκχες που χορεύανε· μήτε ο Πάνας είχε λησμονηθή, παρά καθότανε κι αυτός παίζοντας το σουραύλι επάνω σε βράχο, παρόμοιος με παιγνιδιάτορα, που έπαιζε τον ίδιο σκοπό και για κείνους που πατούσανε και για κείνες που εχόρευαν.

4. Αν κ' ήτανε τέτοιο το περιβόλι, ο Λάμωνας το εσιγύριζε, κόβοντας τα ξερά, στηλόνοντας τα κλήματα· εστεφάνωσε το Διόνυσο· άνοιξε αυλάκι να τρέχη το νερό στ' άνθια από μια πηγή, που τη βρήκεν ο Δάφνης ανάμεσα στα λουλούδια· η πηγή ήτανε κοντά στ' άνθια, την έλεγαν όμως πηγή του Δάφνη. Παρακινούσε ο Δάμωνας και το Δάφνη να παχαίνη τα γίδια όσο μπορούσε περισσότερο, λέγοντας, ότι δίχως άλλο κ' εκείνα θα ζητήση να τα ιδή ο αφέντης, ερχάμενος ύστερ' από καιρό. Κ' εκείνος δε φοβότανε ότι δε θα παινευτή γι' αυτά, επειδή και διπλά από όσα είχε πάρει τάκαμε και κανένα δεν του είχε αρπάξει λύκος και ήτανε πιο παχιά από τα πρόβατα. Και θέλοντας να είναι ο αφέντης του πιο πρόθυμος για το γάμο του, εφρόντιζε γι' αυτά με κάθε τρόπο, φέρνοντάς τα στη βοσκή απ' του θεού το χάραμα και γυρίζοντας στη στάνη το δείλι· τα πότιζε δυο φορές την ημέρα κ' εζητούσε τα πιο καλά βοσκοτόπια· ενοιάστηκε και για σκαφίδια καινούργια και για τάλαρους πολλούς και για καλαμωτές μεγαλύτερες. Και τόσο εφρόντιζε ως που και τα κέρατα άλειφε και το μαλλί τους εχτένιζε. Θα νόμιζε κανένας πως βλέπει κοπάδι αφιερωμένο στον Πάνα. Κ' εκοπίαζε σ' όλα αυτά μαζί του κ' η Χλόη· και λησμονώντας το κοπάδι της τον περισσότερο καιρό έμενε κοντά σ' εκείνα, ως που ενόμιζε ο Δάφνης, ότι εξ αιτίας της του εφαίνονταν όμορφα τα γίδια.

Friday, 27 December 2013

Jean-Phillippe Rameau, Les Sauvages

Les Indes gallantes. Les Sauvages (1735-1736)


Quite some opera-ballet production! A long way from Illinois.

Les Arts Florissants.


"On 25 November 1725, after French settlers of Illinois sent Chief Agapit Chicagou of the Metchigamea and five other chiefs to Paris, they met with Louis XV, and Chicagou had a letter read pledging allegiance to the crown; they later danced three kinds of dances in the Theatre Italien, inspiring Rameau to compose his rondeau Les Sauvages"

More historical background


"...Nothing is so gentle as man in his primitive state, when placed by nature at an equal distance from the stupidity of brutes and the fatal enlightenment of civil man."

"Hence although men had become less forebearing, and although natural pity had already undergone some alteration, this period of the development of human faculties, maintaining a middle position between the indolence of our primitive state and the petulant activity of our egocentrism, must have been the happiest and most durable epoch. The more one reflects on it, the more one finds that this state was the least subject to upheavals and the best for man, and that he must have left it only by virtue of some fatal chance happening that, for the common good, ought never to have happened. The example of savages, almost all of whom have been found in this state, seems to confirm that the human race had been made to remain in it always; that this state is the veritable youth of the world; and that all the subsequent progress has been in appearance so many steps toward the perfection of the individual, and in fact toward the decay of the species."

Thursday, 26 December 2013

West Bay, Dorset: Boxing Day Wallow; Charity Swimmers

No, I wasn't in the water...116 brave souls were

Corfu: Castello Mimbelli (Kastello Bibelli), Protest Against Privatisation Sale

As it was, as a hotel

Corfu News report

Στη σύσκεψη έγινε λόγος για τις μεθοδεύσεις της κεντρικής κυβέρνησης και της αυτοδιοίκησης διαχρονικά, για το ξεπούλημα του ΚΑΣΤΕΛΛΟ . Αντίθετα με τις ενέργειες της κυβέρνησης και της αυτοδιοίκησης εκφράστηκε η ανάγκη να αναδειχθούν οι προτάσεις για αξιοποίηση του ΚΑΣΤΕΛΛΟ αποκλειστικά από δημόσιο φορέα προς όφελος της τοπικής κοινωνίας και οικονομίας όπως για παράδειγμα ως πολιτιστικό κέντρο , λαογραφικό μουσείο κλπ , προτάσεις που θα μετατρέψουν το ΚΑΣΤΕΛΛΟ σε πόλο έλξης για χιλιάδες επισκέπτες της Κέρκυρας και παράλληλα θα χρησιμοποιηθεί για τις ανάγκες των τοπικών πολιτιστικών φορέων.

See earlier posting

and here

Privatisations, Egnatia Highway?

Corfu (private sector)- 28 hotels for sale:

Kathimerini article

Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Biology and The Perception of Beauty (Faces and Art); The Aesthetic Brain

Why we find things beautiful- human faces, landscapes, abstract and representational art

Audio interview (11 minutes) with a neuroscientist,  Anjan Chatterjee, MD. From The Economist (may need to register).

The Aesthetic Brain, How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art
Anjan Chatterjee, MD

"The Aesthetic Brain takes the reader on a wide-ranging journey through the world of beauty, pleasure, and art. Chatterjee uses neuroscience to probe how an aesthetic sense is etched in our minds and evolutionary psychology to explain why aesthetic concerns feature centrally in our lives. Along the way, Chatterjee addresses fundamental questions: What is beauty? Is beauty universal? How is beauty related to pleasure? What is art? Should art be beautiful? Do we have an instinct for art? Chatterjee starts by probing the reasons that we find people, places, and even numbers beautiful. At the root of beauty, he finds, is pleasure. He then examines our pleasures by dissecting why we want and why we like food, sex, and money and how these rewards relate to aesthetic encounters. His ruminations on beauty and pleasure prepare him and the reader to face art. He wanders through the problems of defining art, understanding contemporary art, and interpreting ancient art. He explores why art, something that seems so useless, also feels fundamental to our humanity. Replete with facts, anecdotes, and analogies, this empirical guide to aesthetics offers scientific answers without deflating the wonders of beauty and art".
1. What is this thing called beauty?
2. Captivating faces
3. The measure of facial beauty
4. The body beautiful
5. How the brain works
6. Brains behind beauty
7. Evolving beauty
8. Landscapes
9. Numbering beauty
10. The illogic of beauty

1. What is this thing called pleasure?
2. Food
3. Sex
4. Money
5. Liking, wanting, learning
6. The logic of pleasure

1. What is this thing called art?
2. Art: Biology and culture
3. Descriptive science of the arts
4. Experimental science of the arts
5. Conceptual art
6. The inception of art
7. Messy minds
8. Evolving art
9. Art: A tail or a song?
10. The serendipity of art

Χρόνια πολλά

Χρόνια πολλά! from England.

Traditional Corfiot Carol

Carol sung outside Zisimos Cafe, Corfu, 2012

A pop song by Sakis Rouvas (born Mandouki, Corfu)

Mikis Theodorakis is in hospital in Athens. Perastika! Χρόνια πολλά!

To Vima

Mikis for President?

In the UK, floods and power cuts...

Greece: The forthcoming EU Presidency

Hard Truths, Home Truths?

Grimm, Grimmer...Fairy Tales

A strange start to Christmas Day,

BBC Radio 4, 6-7am this morning.

Archive on 4, BBC iPlayer, "What Big Teeth You Have..."

A very well researched and produced programme.

"Children's author Anthony McGowan untangles the surprising origins of the Grimm fairy tales and explores how the stories have been used and abused, bowdlerized, distorted for propaganda, given voice to the oppressed and were reborn as therapy for sick children, before finally coming back to us as endless playground for our imaginations, and a boundless resource for storytellers".

Rapunzel, a comparison of two editions

The 1812 collection

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

From Washington and Moscow

The Washington Post reports


Channel 4, Alternative Christmas Message

Not impressed. 

The Winter Solstice: Tate Pictures

Very useful posting from The Art of the Landscape blog, posted by Katherine Tyrrell

The Tate website (inlcudes paintings of Stockholm and La Rochelle with snow)

On Olive Trees in Crete...and Corfu?

Kathimerini article on the fate of olive trees in Greece

Nikos Kazantzakis on England

From "England, a Travel Journal" by Nikos Kazantzakis (Ταξιδεύοντας Αγγλία, written 1940; English translation by Amy Mims, Oxford, 1965),

"No one feels so deeply as the Englishman the irrepressible, seductive call of the horizon. Inside the soul of even the most tight-lipped practical Englishman, there is a little window open toward the ocean...The English love the land, the green lawns, the wooden fences bordering their private estates. But deeper down, they feel the sea as their native land, their own domain...From the time they are small children, they dream of distant travels and sea-swashed glory. The sea satisfies the romantic, anxious necessities of the English spirit; the land, her practical, conservative, stubborn needs".

Review of the Greek edition, Ταξιδεύοντας Αγγλία, from Good Reads:

Γραμμένο στις αρχές τού Δευτέρου Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου, το Ταξιδεύοντας: Αγγλία είναι ίσως το πιο συγκινητικό απ’ όλα τα ταξιδιωτικά βιβλία τού Καζαντζάκη. Στην Ισπανία, στην Ελλάδα, στην Κίνα και στην Ιαπωνία αναζητούσε κάτι που ήδη γνώριζε: μιαν αντανάκλαση του εαυτού του σε διαφορετικά τοπία. Στην Αγγλία εξετάζει κάτι που αισθάνεται πως είναι ξένο, μια κοινωνία που τον συναρπάζει με την αυστηρή της ταξική δομή και αίσθηση της ιστορίας, αλλά και που ταυτόχρονα τον απωθεί με την έλλειψη αυθορμητισμού της και τον φόβο της για τις συγκινήσεις.
»Ακριβώς επειδή βρήκε την Αγγλία τόσο εξοργιστική, επειδή σάστισε τόσο από το γεγονός ότι η χώρα που γέννησε τη διάνοια του Σαίξπηρ, και κρατούσε την εξουσία μιας τεράστιας αυτοκρατορίας, ήταν ταυτόχρονα αυτή η μικρή, γαλήνια, τακτική νησιωτική κοινωνία, ο Καζαντζάκης έγραψε για την Αγγλία μερικές από τις καλύτερές του ταξιδιωτικές σημειώσεις – τις λαμπρές και πάντα βαθυστόχαστες παρατηρήσεις ενός μεγάλου συγγραφέα και ενός μοναδικά οξυδερκούς ταξιδευτή

See also Eleftheria Teleioni  "Nikos Kazantzakis’ Travel Writings on England" 

More information on the original and subsequent Greek editions

"Kazantzakis' impressions from his travels in England. The book was written on Aegina in 1940. Editions from 1958 onwards include an afterword entitled "The Fortunes of an Empire"; which had appeared in Nea Estia (vol. 56, issue 653, 15.9.1954), recording Kazantzakis' revised view of England in the light of British policy on the Cyprus question. A note written by Kazantzakis in a copy of the 1941 edition, heavily criticizing British foreign policy, has been added to all editions since 1986 (edited by Patroklos Stavrou)".

Greek editions
Taxidevontas III. Aglia [Travels III. England], Athens: Pyrsos 1941
Taxidevontas III. Aglia, Athens: "I fili tou vivliou" 1945
Taxidevontas III. Aglia, edited by E. C. Kasdaglis, Athens: Difros 1958
Taxidevontas III. Aglia, Athens: Eleni Kazantzakis 1964 (and subsequent editions)


"From July to November 1939 Kazantzakis was in England as a guest of the British Council.

Having stayed with Petros Vlastos in Liverpool, he went to a house at Stratford-upon-Avon which was put at his disposal by Joe MacLeod, the American lady who had paid for the publication of the Odyssey. In that house, where Shakespeare’s daughter had once lived, warplanes droned overhead as Kazantzakis wrote the tragedy Julian the Apostate".

Karel Čapek on England

From "Letters from England" by Karel Čapek, translated by Paul Selver, London 1925.

"The trees are perhaps the most beautiful things in England...splendidly broad-shouldered, ancient, generous, free, venerable, vast trees...I was seriously tempted to acknowledge the value of old things, the high mission of old trees, the harmonious comprehensiveness of tradition, and the legitimacy of esteem for everything that is strong enough to preserve itself for ages".

"On the whole, a country which has contrived to produce the finest childhood and the finest old age certainly possesses something of the best there is in this vale of tears".


Amazon Book Description:

"Karel Capek's 'Letters from England' have established themselves as masterpieces of observation. The letters and drawings are humorous, insightful and imbued by a profound humanity. They convey a bemused admiration for England and the English. First published in the nineteen twenties in Lidovc Noviny, the Czechoslovak national newspaper, Capek's Letters from England quickly established themselves as masterpieces of observation, and classics of modern Czech prose. The letters described Europe's oldest democracy for the benefit of the citizens of Europe's newest, and Capek was acutely aware of the deep-down affinity between his countrymen and the English. The same understated humour, the same unflappability, the same quiet search for peace, home and comfort, the same love of nature and animals, served to unite the two people, both then and now. Shortly after Letters from England appeared, Czechoslovakia was betrayed by Britain at Munich, and handed over to Hitler. Capek died shortly afterwards of a broken heart. The book was promptly banned by the Nazis, and published by the exile press, with an English translation by Paul Selver, in London. It was again published in Czechoslovakia in 1946, but, after a brief period, was banned again by the communists. This is a completely new English translation. Letters from England, timely when it first appeared, is yet more timely today, when the English need to be reminded of qualities that once were a source of pride to themselves and admiration to others".

See also, in Czech, R.U.R. by Karel Čapek

Čapek, Karel, 1890-1938

R.U.R. (Czech) (as Author)

What Might Have Been: The Vagaries of Fate and Foreign Postings

To give a few examples:

When I went to work in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, the alternative would have been Cordoba, Argentina

When I was about to start work in Edinburgh, Scotland, I was whisked away to Thessaloniki, Greece

When I went to work in Prague, Czechoslovakia, the alternative was to have been Florence, Italy (on secondment); or possibly Baghdad, Iraq; or Damascus, Syria

When I was about to start work in London as Director, Literature Department, the Berlin Wall fell and the need proved greater and more immediate to help manage our work with the countries of Central and Eastern Europe

When I went to work in Stockholm, Sweden, the alternative could have been Yangon, Myanmar (Rangoon, Burma).

Such is life. I sometimes wonder what differences alternative postings would have made to me, my family, and to other "globally transferable human resources". I have never complained about my lot.
I was very fortunate. Some regrets...some  jobs I would have enjoyed:

Christmas Invitation: An Australian at an English Manor House

From "Why Can't the English?" by Lesley Rowlands, Sydney, 1959.

"I had been invited for Christmas to one of my addresses. Every Australian I knew in England had left Australia with a notebook full of addresses"

(The Lady of the Manor, in the car, on the way to the Manor; Christmas Eve):

"I'm sure you're wondering who we all are, so if you'd just be good enough to reach over to the back seat and take the parcel there which is under the rug, I'll tell you." This I did. The parcel contained peas and a small enamel basin. 'I knew you wouldn't think it funny if I asked you to shell them. Colonials are so practical.' I set to work shelling, thinking that we Colonials (I had begun to look upon myself as one at last) were not practical at all, since it had never occurred to me to shell peas on a long car trip, though now that I was actually doing it, it seemed a very natural and wise thing to do."

E. M. Forster, On Photography, Art and Landscape

From "The Story of a Panic" (dates from 1902-1903)

I have visited a good deal of fine scenery before and since, but have found little that has pleased me more. The valley ended in a vast hollow, shaped like a cup, into which radiated ravines from the precipitous hills around. Both the valley and the ravines and the ribs of hill that divided the ravines were covered with leafy, chestnut, so that the general appearance was that of a many fingered green hand, palm upwards, which was clutching, convulsively to keep us in its grasp. Far down the valley we could see Ravello and the sea, but that was the only sign of another world.

"Oh, what a perfectly lovely place," said my daughter Rose. "What a picture it would make!"

"Yes," said Mr. Sandbach. "Many a famous European gallery would be proud to have a landscape a tithe as beautiful as this upon its walls."

"On the contrary," said Leyland, "it would make a very poor picture. Indeed, it is not paintable at all."

"And why is that?" said Rose, with far more deference than he deserved.

"Look, in the first place," he replied, "how intolerably straight against the sky is the line of the hill. It would need breaking up and diversifying. And where we are standing the whole thing is out of perspective. Besides, all the colouring is monotonous and crude."

"I do not know anything about pictures," I put in, "and I do not pretend to know: but I know what is beautiful when I see it, and I am thoroughly content with this."

"Indeed, who could help being contented!" said the elder Miss Robinson and Mr. Sandbach said the same.

"Ah!" said Leyland, "you all confuse the artistic view of nature with the photographic."

Poor Rose had brought her camera with her, so I thought this positively rude. I did not wish any unpleasantness; so I merely turned away and assisted my wife and Miss Mary Robinson to put out the lunch—not a very nice lunch....

Those sweet chestnuts of the South are puny striplings compared with our robust Northerners. But they clothed the contours of the hills and valleys in a most pleasing way, their veil being only broken by two clearings, in one of which we were sitting.

And because these few trees were cut down, Leyland burst into a petty indictment of the proprietor.

"All the poetry is going from Nature," he cried, "her lakes and marshes are drained, her seas banked up, her forests cut down. Everywhere we see the vulgarity of desolation spreading."

I have had some experience of estates, and answered that cutting was very necessary for the health of the larger trees. Besides, it was unreasonable to expect the proprietor to derive no income from his lands.

"If you take the commercial side of landscape, you may feel pleasure in the owner's activity. But to me the mere thought that a tree is convertible into cash is disgusting."

"I see no reason," I observed politely, "to despise the gifts of Nature, because they are of value."

It did not stop him. "It is no matter," he went on, "we are all hopelessly steeped in vulgarity. I do not except myself. It is through us, and to our shame, that the Nereids have left the waters and the Oreads the mountains, that the woods no longer give shelter to Pan."

"Pan!" cried Mr. Sandbach, his mellow voice filling the valley as if it had been a great green church, "Pan is dead. That is why the woods do not shelter him." And he began to tell the striking story of the mariners who were sailing near the coast at the time of the birth of Christ, and three times heard a loud voice saying: "The great God Pan is dead."

"Yes. The great God Pan is dead," said Leyland. And he abandoned himself to that mock misery in which artistic people are so fond of indulging. His cigar went out, and he had to ask me for a match.

"How very interesting," said Rose. "I do wish I knew some ancient history."

Greece: Average Retirement Age is 58

No cause for complaint?

It will rise, slowly.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Dangerous Conditions in Dorset; Severe Weather; Preston Beach Warning; 25-30 people rescued from cars in Dorset

BBC News

"Strong winds and heavy rain are leading to "dangerous conditions" along the Dorset coast, the Environment Agency has warned.
It issued a severe flood warning for the Preston Beach Road area of Lodmoor, Weymouth.
Elsewhere the weather has also caused disruption to transport with fallen trees affecting roads and railway lines.
Wind speeds were recorded at up to 64mph in Portland.
The Environment Agency said: "There may be significant spray and shingle overtopping affecting the Preston Road.
"The public are also advised to avoid the Preston Beach area on foot as conditions are extremely dangerous and will remain so overnight."
Rangers on the Lulworth estate said a landslip had occurred near Durdle Door, although the coastal path did not appear to have been damaged".

25 people rescued from cars in Dorset (up to 30 people, Sturminster, Blandford, Shaftesbury, Sherborne and Wimborne).

Severe Weather Warning, Preston Beach area (Dorset Echo)

Calmer on Christmas Eve, after the severe warning in red below photo:

Environment Agency Severe Warning, Preston Beach (scroll below, left to right), Monday evening:

Severe Warning

Flood status last changed: Mon, 23 Dec 2013 17:00:00 GMT
Preston Beach
Details of the high tide for the previously issued SEVERE Flood Warning have been updated. The time and date of the forecast high water for which this SEVERE Flood Warning is in force is : 11:00pm (23:00) on 23/12/2013, and will remain in force for 2 hours following high water. The forecast wind direction is South South West, Storm Force 10. Flooding is expected to affect up to 10 properties in the area of the Sea Life Centre and Preston Beach Road area of Lodmoor. Spray and shingle overtopping will be dangerous, the public should avoid the Preston Beach area on foot overnight.

On restricting or refusing the sale of alcohol

I have nothing to say on the subject of  the sale of alcohol, or on a refusal to sell it, but I do recall how annoyed I was to be told in Edinburgh in the late seventies that I couldn't buy a bottle of wine on a Sunday.

In Sweden, the Systembolaget monopoly seemed strange. They used to sell bottles of alcohol in brown paper bags as it was considered antisocial and shameful to be seen carrying the stuff.

To say nothing about the prohibition era in the States.

On M and S


Land Art: The Earth as Canvas

From Taschen Books

Andy Goldsworthy, British Land Artist

Thomas Hardy: A Christmas Ghost Story; A Dorset Christmas

From Stephen Pentz's blog

Flash fiction ghost story by Florence Hardy!

A Dorset Christmas, Thomas Hardy (Dorset Life)

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Funky Blues; White (Soulful) Christmas; Jam Session

Charlie Parker and great line-up for Funky BluesReview

I'm reminded of this James Brown cover design:

Soulful Christmas

One for Ella:

Santa Claus Got Stuck In My Chimney, Ella Fitzgerald

"Ella is a little girl who's trying to be good,
Yet I find that things don't turn out always as they should"

West Bay, Festive Seafront

Boxing Day Better!

Which Father Christmas? When?

St Basil or St Nicholas?

When does Santa traditionally bring gifts or presents?

On St Nicholas' Day (December 6), on Christmas Eve/Christmas Day,  on St. Basil's Day (January 1st) - or should we celebrate Christmas on January 7th, like the Ethiopians?

It depends which tradition and calendar you follow.

On Skype, Nostalgia and Homesickness

Guardian article by Ian Jack

"An interesting question then arises: has technology – mobile phones, Facebook, Skype – lessened nostalgia or increased it? Does it give the illusion of closeness, or does it sadden the caller by reminding them sharply of what they have left behind (which is why parents were discouraged from phoning their children too often at English boarding schools)?"

Walking, The Landscape and the Mind

BBC Radio 4, iPlayer

Some interesting material here for walkers

Programme Information:

"John McCarthy explores the effects of walking on the mind - on our creative and spiritual well-being.

We all know that a good walk is physically good for us, but we rarely stop to consider its impact on our mental states. Was Friedrich Nietzsche right when he said, "all truly great thoughts are conceived by walking"?

Walking, especially walking in countryside, has been important to many creative artists and writers. Beethoven, Erik Satie and Benjamin Britten all used their daily walks for inspiration, as did William Wordsworth as he tramped the paths of the Lake District with his sister Dorothy.

John McCarthy looks at the act of walking as inspiration and also considers its spiritual function. Why do so many people, from a wide variety of religious beliefs, walk to display their devotion and increase their spiritual understanding? Around the world, millions set out each year along the great pilgrimage routes, and often travel on foot.

John McCarthy talks to the British artist Richard Long, whose work often describes walks he has undertaken or imagined. He also talks to Colin Thubron - one of our finest writers about discovery and place - who recently made the arduous journey on foot around Mount Kailash in Tibet, sacred to both Hindus and Buddhists".

Produced by Anthony Denselow. A Whistledown production for BBC Radio 4.