No No Aeroplanes: 98 Months and Out

I last took a flight in January 2010. I was still in my mid-to-late 20s, of no fixed abode (no change there) and had only been taking writing seriously for a year. I didn’t own a bicycle, had never worn a beard or grown my hair, and knew Cairo better than I knew any town outside London and my county of birth. Continue reading “No No Aeroplanes: 98 Months and Out”

Carpe Diem: Dancing with Death

Dum loquimur, fugerit invida aetas: carpe diem, quam minimum credula postero.

Even as we speak, envious time flies past: harvest the day and leave as little as possible for tomorrow.

Horace, Ode XI (65-8BC)

I’m currently reading Carpe Diem Regained by Roman Krznaric (incidentally, a book funded by Unbound – it is possible!) and this blog post is inspired by the tools and techniques he explores in the second chapter: Dancing with Death.

The ancient philosophy espoused by Horace in the first century before Christ is one of the most ubiquitous in modern culture, but its ubiquity disguises how little any of us actually think about what it would really mean to live by. Continue reading “Carpe Diem: Dancing with Death”

No Phone (Before Noon)

The best positive constraints are easily explicable and as simple to follow. Before bed, I put my phone on airplane mode and hide it away in a drawer. Then I don’t touch it until after noon the next day. (Unless there is some pressing human need; but that’s only happened twice in the last three weeks.) Continue reading “No Phone (Before Noon)”

Bothy Bothering: Cairngorms

Scotland, it turns out, knows how to put on a show.

As Ben and I walked out on Monday afternoon, squeezing in one last tramp before the drive back to civilisation, we were audience to a scene that the Scottish Tourist Board couldn’t have choreographed better. Continue reading “Bothy Bothering: Cairngorms”

Unfinished Animals: A Novel

In 1973, the anthropologist Clifford Geertz wrote something wise:

“We are, in sum, incomplete or unfinished animals who complete ourselves through culture – and not through culture in general but through particular forms of it.”

The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays, 1973

I love this idea: it’s what makes life so exciting and so terrible. We are born, not as blank slates, but certainly unfinished. Our parents and carers start our finishing, but as adults we, in collusion with our society, continue the process. Continue reading “Unfinished Animals: A Novel”