I was experiencing some difficulty, then “twerp” led me to “Amenhotep”, whereafter things went smoothly. Patience is crucial. LJ



Much as Boris Johnson tends to lead with his chin, …

and notwithstanding his being of too undiplomatic a disposition for the high office he held until recently, or, moreover, his exhibitions of egregious buffoonery, he is nevertheless emphatically right about the dangers entailed by recent assaults on freedom of speech, be it ever so offensive. It is, of course, possible to argue one’s case “sans toucher aux personnes”, but to choke the human voice is the worst of all follies. The poisoning is effected incrementally, as are doses of arsenic, a metaphor I’ve borrowed from Victor Klemperer’s Lingua Tertii Imperii, a compelling examination of the artificial denaturing of language during the Third Reich. Klemperer demonstrates this to have been a process of which the young were scarcely aware until its toxicity had already taken effect, hence the appropriateness of the metaphor “Arsendosen”. If there is a difference, it is that the current insanity was foreseeable as early as 1985, at least by me, because I remember expressing my apprehensions when teaching in Strasbourg. LJ

We need a campaign for free speech to take on the professionally offended
— Read on www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2018/11/04/need-new-campaign-free-speech-take-professionally-offended/


“Tomcats” took a while at the end, but it was worth the effort on the whole.


“One spouting about companion frequently”: now that I know what a cachalot is, the clue makes sense, but I was ignorant of this term for a sperm whale. Learning all the time…



Alain de Botton: Atheism 2.0

Alain de Botton 

An interesting acknowledgement of the organisational and educative strengths of religion in its relation to personal fulfilment and society. Alain de Botton suggests that the western world may have ventured too far in its assertion of personal freedom, implying that this is not coextensive with wisdom. There are yet things to be learned from such practices as ritual discipline,nor should the didactic or instructive dimensions of art and science be ignored. I am reminded, somehow, of the Rabelaisian maxim “Guide de Dieu et compagnie d’homme” and also that I should return to my reading of George Steiner, whose analysis of the problems entailed by post-modernism I find particularly compelling, since it chimes with my own reflections, albeit more eloquently.