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Conversations on consciousness: Francis Crick
Susan Blackmore



Nokes, David. Jonathan Swift, A Hypocrite Reversed (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985).
A fascinating account of the presumptions scientists have about the main philosophical problems-a mixture of scholastic-like speculations and science fiction, e.g., the "zombie" story. Professor Francis Crick cogitates on a subject out of the scope of his work, an aftermath of the present trend of the media, so eager to see a liaison between celebrity and wisdom. Professor Crick would have certainly had acquired some enlightenment on the real problems of consciousness, e.g., the real problem is not about the mechanism that triggers consciousness, but about the evidence that it exists as I exist, had he read the texts of the philosophers he finds so boring to tackle. As Kant put it out, the essential problems of metaphysics, consciousness, God and the World, are out of the reach of mathematic and geometric understanding. To see all human beings as complex machines, is to return to the mind setting of positivism, preparing the ground for a new era of Nazi-like speculation-and experimentation. It has been the work of philosophers such as Husserl, Jaspers and Habermas to call the attention about the dehumanization of science.

Ravoke, Jack, Origrinal Meanings: Politics and Ideas In The Making of The Constitution. ( New York: Knopf, 1996)
Prof. Ravoke intends to elucidate the original intentions of the US Constitution. He pursues a twofold goal: on the one hand he explores the creation of a US national policy during the revolutionary era; on the other, he addresses the question: "What authority should its original meaning [that of the Constitution] enjoy in its ongoing interpretation?". Influenced by the works of Bernard Bailyn and Gordon Wood, Ravoke immerses in the primary sources written during 1787-1790, such as the letters interchanged amongst its makers,  the numerous articles published in Federalist and anti-Federalist newspapers and the minutes of the Federal convention. Ravoke structures his interpretation through tree concepts: meaning, intention and understanding.
 



A portrait of the whole man in his multifarious roles as satirist, politician, churchman and friend. Son of an unlucky father and a detached mother, Swift developed an acute interest in fame and success. As many satirists, he criticised the environment he was relying on—no wonder he was a misanthrope to the eye of his generation. Educated under the protection of William Temple, for whom he worked as a secretary, Swift never believed in thankfulness. From a practical point of view, Swift was a dull character. He believed his discoveries on Human slyness were truly unique—his writing ironies a hypocrisy he learnt how to use to his own advantage. His first laudatory poems are dumb and pretentious, his first essays brilliant and entertaining. As it has been repeatedly pointed out, his late work enjoy a popularity based on the meticulous description of the characters he wanted to laugh at, rather than by the force of his irony.  And yet, his interest on flattering is instructive:

«Climbing is performed in the same posture with creeping» (p. 66).

His pamphlet against superstition and astrologers is worthy to be read. Bickerstaff, his imaginary hero, foresees the death of the famous astrologer John Partridge and publishes an almanac that is sold out in London in three days. Copies and imitation follow it, amongst them Swift's «The Accomplishment of the first of Mr. Bickerstaff's Predictions», where he contests Partridge's claims he didn't die. This sort of Hoax will be dangerously emulated by Ben Franklin decades later.

Some pamphlets were interpreted contrary to Swift's expectations, in particular when they referred to the Church of England. He wrote: «Making religion a necessary step to interest and favour might increase hypocrisy among us: And I readily believe it would. But if one in twenty should be brought over to true piety by this, or the like methods, and the other nineteen be only hypocrites, the advantage would still be great. Besides, hypocrisy is much more eligible than open infidelity and vice: It wears the livery of religion, it acknowledged her authority, and is cautious of giving scandal. Nay, a long continued disguise is too great a constrain upon human nature… And, I believe, it is often with religion as it is with love: which, by much dissembling, at last grows real.» (p. 97).
His relationship with Stella, or Esther, is obscure, and the biographer spends entire pages suggesting she was Swift's secret lover. Such puritan approach makes dull the reading of this book.
"Meaning must be derived from usage (...) Intention connotes purpose and forethought, and it is accordingly best applied to those actors whose decisions produced the constitutional language whose meaning is at issue (...) Understanding, by contrast, may be used more broadly to cover the impressions and interpretations of the Constitution formed by its original readers." (p.8). It is not clear, though, whether Ravoke applies the above concepts to his own research. Meaning, Intention and Understanding are rather excuses to the general, uncompromising and unoriginal thesis of his work. As he romantically puts it "historians who pursue or merely observe the ongoing quest for the Holy Grail of original meaning thus occupy an awkward position vis-à-vis other knights-errant." (p.10).
The first three chapters of this book discuss the intellectual roots of the US Constitution. "De l'sprit de lois" by Montesquieu had a principal role in many of the articles written in the US Constitution, some of them as important as the separation of powers or the extended republican issues. Works by Hume and Locke were widely read as well. Nonetheless, Ravoke strangely concludes (under the assumption that those politicians were as bad readers of philosophy as the ones that rule our celebrity-oriented societies,) that the US Constitution was mainly nurtured by the diverse and sometimes ironic events that took course in England and America during the XVII and XVIII centuries. The Glorious Revolution of 1688-89 allowed British commoners access to the English government. Ravoke does not analyze here the economic power of those ‘commoners’, for reasons that come clearer on the next chapter. He underlines that the issue of representation was dear to the American Revolution, and a central point in the constitutional debate of 1787. Chapter VIII deals with the aristocrats’ moves to limit the representation to landholders and wealthy citizens. The fact that the majority of the soldiers who fought the revolutionary war lack property raise the opposition of more democratic leaders. "Every man having evidence of attachment & permanent common interest with the Society ought to share in all its rights & privileges", Mason asserted, and Franklin made this point even more poignantly when he recalled how American seamen captured during the war had refused to gain their freedom by agreeing to serve on British ships". (p. 225). Another factor that shaped the US Constitution was the "experiment of republicanism" that each state had between 1776 and 1787: "The adoption of written constitutions of government in the mid-1770s was in one sense a wonderful accident made possible by the literal-minded way in which the colonists believed the collapse of royal government and the eruption of civil war had reduced them to something like a state of nature." (p.21). The makers of the Constitution had obviously learned from their previous errors: "Americans were as eclectic in their use of history as they were in their often selective reading of texts and authorities." (Ibid.)
  Ravoke also deals with the intellectual development of James Madison in constitutional matters. Influenced by Machiavelli-who analyzed the factors that undermine and finally deteriorate republican governments, Madison's political challenge was to create a republican project with universal significance. His first task was to refute Montesquieu, who disbelieved of land-extended republics. "Imperium in Imperium" was the maxim he recalled in order to strengthen the coercive powers of Congress, instead of relying on the good faith of the states. Madison spent the spring of 1786 at home, in Montpelier, reading the history of ancient & modern confederacies. He foresaw the economic crisis of the US during the 1780s and was the leader who summoned a new general convention after the frustrated Annapolis convention of 1786. Towards 1787 he was aware of the motives that encouraged the state delegates to make their way to Philadelphia. The delegates from Virginia, Pennsylvania and Massachusetts came to the Federal Convention longing for the imposition of an even system of taxation, the control of the printed money and the creation of a Congress with legislative power able to coerce civil rebellions. In contrast, the southern state delegates came pursuing a government able to control Indian encroachments in their territories, and to resolve the Spanish prohibition to sail the Mississippi River. They also wanted to preserve their status as slaveholders.

Through the chapters IV to X, Ravoke discusses in detail the thick debates that surrounded the writing and ratification of the American Constitution. These are the most interesting pages of his work: Ravoke evinces the different and often opposite political ideologies that the makers of the constitution had on controversial issues, e.g.. the creation of a Senate able to represent each State, the imposition of slavery-which got in reality a weak and very suspicious opposition, taxation, the creation of the Presidency-that was shaped under the criteria of counterbalancing power, according to the the "virtues of General Washington" (p. 245.), and finally the adoption of a bill of a rights.

The chapter V adds to this discussion the political shrewdness Federalist displayed during the ratification of the US constitution in every State-exception made of tiny Rhode Island. Federalists made their way through, agreeing with their opponents, instead of attacking them. In these pages Ravoke follows other historians that saw the Federalist process of persuasion as a rhetorical one (p.390, note 94). Nevertheless, such rhetoric was the one that ended up shaping the original constitution. In Massachusetts, for instance, Federalist accepted to add amendments to the Constitution; in New York they specified that these amendments could be either explanatory or recommendatory.

After completing his research, Ravoke returns to discuss the issues that motivated him to write his book. Unfortunately, he is not clear when answering the question about the utility of his research in terms of constitutional interpretation: "Is it because the meditations about popular government that we encounter there remain more profound that those that the ordinary politics of our endless democratic present usually sustains? (p. 368".) Leaving aside the lyrical value of this lines, the fact that he answers a question with another question leaves us in the air.  At the end we wonder up to what point did Ravoke research on the original meaning of the constitution. He appeals to primary sources, true, but these primary sources are reduced to the rhetorical articles published by anonymous Federalists in local newspapers. Except Machiavelli, Ravoke ignores most of the political thinkers that shaped the mind of the constitutional makers: Montesquieu, Locke and Hume. It could have been far more interesting, for instance, to know about the contents of the "two trunkloads" of books and papers that Jefferson sent to Madison the year before the writing of the  Constitution. This lack of perspective aside, "Original Meanings"  goes beyond the boundaries of American history, adding understanding-as Gordon S. Wood writes-to lawyers and jurists about the original meanings of the US Constitution.


Darwin, Charles, The Origin of Species (London: J.M. Dent & Sons Ltd, 1971)

Historians of ideas recognize in Darwin, Marx & Freud the three great plagiarizers of modernity.

Darwin, at least, has the excuse of commiting the pecadillo within his own family. His ideas had been already developed by his grandfather. To his credit, he discovers that fear and trauma are alien to an animal mind—which live in a continuous state of innocence:  «When we reflect on this struggle, we may console ourselves with the full belief, that the war of nature is not incessant, that no fear is felt, that death is generally prompt, and that the vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive and multiply» (p. 79).  This innocent state before death is the envy of atheist existentialists; only a saint or an indolent man can reach it.

«There can be no doubt that a tribe including many members who, from possessing in a high degree the spirit of patriotism, fidelity, obedience, courage, and sympathy, were always ready to give aid to each other and to sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes; and this would be natural selection» ( p. 166).

«Can we doubt (remembering that many more individuals having any advantage, however slight, over others, would have the best chance of surviving and of procreating their kind? On the other hand, we may feel sure that any variation in the least degree injurious would be rigidly destroyed. This preservation of favourable individual differences and variations, and the destruction of those which are injurious, I have called Natural Selection» (p. 81).

Darwin gets confused when explaining nature as a wise entity: «It has been said that I speak of natural selection as an active power or Deity; but who objects to an author speaking of the attraction of gravity as ruling the movements of the planets? Everyone knows what is meant and is implied by such metaphorical expressions; and they are almost necessary for brevity. So again it is difficult to avoid personifying the word Nature; but I mean by Nature, only the aggregate action and product of many natural laws, and by laws the sequence of events as ascertained by us. With a little familiarity such superficial objections will be forgotten» (P. 81). Flimsy dismissal of the problem. He treats Nature as a goddess soon after: «Man selects only for his own good: Nature only for that of the being which she tends. Every selected character is fully exercised by her, as is implied by the fact of their selection» (p. 83).

Pro-colonialist views: «We may conclude, from what we have seen of the intimate and complex manner in which the inhabitants of each country are bound together, that any change in the numerical proportions of the inhabitants, independently of the change of climate itself, would seriously affect the others. If the country were open on its borders, new forms would certainly immigrate, and this would likewise seriously disturb the relations of some of the former inhabitants» (p. 82). «In all countries the natives have been so far conquered by naturalised productions, that they have allowed some foreigners to take firm possession of the land. And as foreigners have thus in every country beaten some of the natives, we may safely conclude that the natives might have been modified with advantage, so as to have better resisted the intruders» (p. 83).

«He who believes in the struggle for existence and in the principle of natural selection, will acknowledge that every organic being is constantly endeavouring to increase in numbers; and that if any one being varies ever so little, either in habits or structure, and this gains an advantage over some other inhabitant of the same country, it will seize on the place of that inhabitant, however different that may be from its own place» (p. 166).

He validates Eugenics: «In the future I see open fields to far more important researches. Psychology will be securely based on the foundation already well laid by Mr. Herbert Spencer[1], that of the necessary acquirement of each mental power and capacity by gradation. Much light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history» (p. 462).


INTRODUCTION BY L. HARRISONN MATTHEWS: «'The survival of the fittest', a phrase first used by Herbert Spencer. As early as 1831 the importance of natural selection had been pointed out by Patrick Matthew, who wrote: 'As the field of existence is limited and preoccupied, it is only the hardier, more robust, better suited to circumstance individuals, who are able to struggle forward to maturity, these inhabiting only the situations to which they have superior adaptation and greater power of occupancy than any other kind; the weaker and less circumstance-suited being prematurely destroyed» (p. vi).

In 1858 A. R. Wallace pushed Darwin to publish with him On the tendency of species to form varieties; and on the perpetuation of varieties and species by natural means of selection. Wallace writes in his Life: «One day something brought to my recollection Mathus's Principles of Population, which I had read about twelve years before… Then it suddenly flashed upon me that this self-acting process [selection by survival of the fittest] would necessarily improve the race, because in every generation the inferior would inevitably be killed off and the superior would remain: that is, the fittest would survive», quoted by Harrison Matthews (p. viii).

«The fact of evolution is the back-bone of biology, and biology is thus in the peculiar position of being a science founded on an unproved theory—is it then a science or a faith? Belief in the theory of evolution is thus exactly parallel to belief in special creation—both are concepts which believers know to be true but neither, up to the present, has been capable of proof» (p. xi).

«The breeder of domestic animals uses selection in an attempt deliberately to reach a preconceived result, whereas natural selection has no such directed end; Spencer's tautological 'survival of the fittest' avoids the unwarranted implication. I have said elsewhere in illustration: motor buses do not select careful pedestrians—jay walkers get killed» (p. xi).

«Genetics… has shown that evolution by natural selection of random mutations, generally of small size, is a logical explanation of the origin of the immense array of organisms now and in the past living on earth. The theory is so plausible that most biologists accept it as though it were a proven fact, although their conviction rests upon circumstantial evidence; it forms a satisfactory faith on which to base our interpretation of nature» (p. xii).


Ruse, Michael, The Darwinian Paradigm (London: Routledge, 1993)

He quotes John F. W. Herschel's positivist Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy (1831): «Many of Herschel's major claims have a curiously familiar ring to today's reader, for in important respects he anticipated the modern philosophical school which also looks to physics for its ideals, so-called 'logical-empiricism'» (p. 10). A new conception of vulgar materialism.

His language is clumsy and hesitating: «shamans are often exclusively homosexual, and yet they can hold great power and accumulate high benefits for family members» (p. 171).

His purpose is to associate good and evil: «Evolutionists argue that the human sense of morality is something which is a product of evolution, no less than the hand or the eye. Our sense of morality is an adaptation… In the past, those people who lacked a sense of morality, simply tended to be ostracised and at a disadvantage» (p. 231). Nonsense; in those terms, Socrates and Jesus were people wrongly adapted to the morality to their times.
 His conclusions are laughable: «The evidence is strong that the genes, as promoted by natural selection, do have a significant causal input into human social behaviour, and consequently into culture. This is a fact with massive empirical backing… Humans need their eyes and mouths and feet and digestive systems to survive successfully. Why should their behaviour be an exception?» (p. 253).

His chauvinism is disguised with apologies:  «One would expect to find stronger kinds of obligation between relatives than between non-relatives — 'blood is thicker than water' — because the biological benefits are surely stronger, or at least more certain. A gene reproduced has a definite biological cash value. And as one encounters people further from one's immediate circle one would expect the sense of obligation to fall away. The possibilities of reciprocation begin to fade» (p. 266).


Weiner, Johathan, The beak of the Finch: evolution in real time (London: Vintage, 1994).

Winner of the 1995 Pulitzer prize, Mr. Weiner is honest at exposing the arguments against evolutionism:

«It is one thing to demonstrate, as the Grants have done, that natural selection leads to evolution. It is another and much more complicated thing to demonstrate precisely how this evolution leads to new species; and despite the title of his greatest book, Darwin himself never spells out the details.

Darwin calls the Origin 'one long argument,' and this is the step in the argument that many of his readers find the hardest to follow, the step that feels like a leap of faith: from slight individual differences in ones nest, or one seedbed, or one family album, to the striking differences between species. They can accept that Darwin's mechanism, natural selection, can refine adaptations. They can understand that Darwin's process might play, in this way, a sort of supporting role on the stage of life, as an editor of beaks and bodies, and improver of lines. But they cannot believe the process can create something new« (128-9.)

«Nordenskiöld's History of Biology dismissed Darwinism forever in 1924: 'To raise the theory of selection, as has often been done, to the rank of a 'natural law' comparable in value with the law of gravity established by Newton is, of course, quite irrational, as time has already shown; Darwin's theory of the origin of species was long ago abandoned'» (128.)

«In a letter to a friend, Darwin confesses: 'I remember well the time when the thought of the eye made me cold all over, but I got over this stage of the complaint, and now small trifling particulars of structure often make me very uncomfortable. The sight of a feather in a peacock's tail, whenever I gaze at it, makes me sick!.'
 
Can the Darwinian process really produce something as marvellous as an eye, a wing, or a feather —let alone a flying bird, a thinking human being? Without being allowed to watch, without the spectacle actually before them, scientists have found it hard to picture how Darwin's process could lead again and again to such magnificent results. The mind's eye simply cannot see that far, as the evolutionist George Williams writes: 'I believe that modern opposition, both overt and cryptic, to natural selection, still derives from the same sources that led to the now discredited theories of the nineteenth century. The opposition arises, as Darwin himself observed, not from what reason dictates but from the limits of what the imaginations can accept.'» (p. 131.)

His response is formulated in the previous paragraph. He, as Williams, believe that it's not a question of faith, but of imagination. But faith is called imagination by the very evolutionists, who pretend to rely in plain facts.

Were the faithful to facts, they would apply statistics to evolutionism. What are the probabilities of life in the universe? To be generous —we haven't found another earth on the universe yet—, let's say 1-1 million. What are the probabilities of an evolution step? To be generous —we haven't recorded any evolution in the past sixty thousand years—, let's say 1-1million. How may steps from an evolved cell to a man? To be generous, let's say 1-1 million, and each of them, being subject to an evolutionist step, renders a 1-1 billion chance. It gives us a partial percentage of becoming human of 1-1 billion + 2 millions. Add a percentage for probable catastrophes at this very moment on earth: 1-3 trillions. Add the universal harmony that life needs to procreate itself —without plants, animals and sunlight there is no human life—: 1-3 trillions of trillions. Add the temperature climate, one hundred degrees amongst the infinite: 10-∞ . Include the result in time, which is infinite, 10-∞ of ∞. Add now Darwin's cause of sickness: beauty, which is an abstract creation, based in all this 'factual' statistics: 10-∞ of ∞ + 3 trillions of trillions, 3 trillions, 1 billion and 2 million. The 'imagination' we need to achieve to believe in Darwin's theory is probable to 10 -4∞. As our understanding  goes, 4 multiplied for infinite equals infinite. Although Darwin's theory is infinitely improbable, an inhuman understanding of mathematics may validate his theory.


Polybius, The Histories: books I, II, tr. W. R. Paton (London: Heinemann).

Rome acquires power in order to check the growing power of Carthage in Sicily, a nation which used to hire mercenaries: Ligurian, Celts and Iberians. Injustice was Rome's source of strength:
 «But on this occasion and often on previous ones it is the excellence of their institutions which has saved the situation for the Romans; for with them death is the penalty incurred by a man who deserts the post or takes flight in any way from such a supporting force» (p. 45).  An example that inspired the execution of John Byng on March 1757, after the British admiral avoided a sea battle against the French —thus relinquishing Minorca.  Voltaire believed it was a step taken by the crown 'pour encourager les autres'.  Death: the secret of an empire.

A historic parallel of the USA-China spy conflict in 2001: «On this occasion the Carthaginians put to sea to attack them as they were crossing, and one of their decked ships advances too far in its eagerness to overtake them and running aground fell into the hands of the Romans. This ship they now used as a model, and built their whole fleet on its pattern» (p. 57). Since them, the Romans became masters of the sea.

Xanthippus was a Lacedaemonian emigrant who saved Carthage of annihilation: after the Romans invaded North Africa, they provoked chaos and rapine. Xanthippus, who had some war experience, spread out the idea that the double defeat of the Carthaginians—by sea and land—was mainly due to their General's ignorance, rather than to the Roman power.  The government got noticed of Xanthippus and summoned him: he persuaded the Generals to give him command of the army. Despaired as they were they accepted. Xanthippus formed the Carthaginian troops accordingly and won a decisive battle against Rome.  

«But Xanthippus, to whom this revolutions and notable advance in the fortunes of Carthage was due, after a little time left again for home, and this was a very prudent and sensible decision on his part; for brilliant and exceptional achievements are wont to breed the deepest jealousy and most bitter slander. Natives of a place, supported as they are by their kinsmen and having many friends, may possible be able to hold their own against those for some time, but foreigners when exposed to either speedily succumb and find themselves in peril» (p. 101).

Before Gibbon's thesis on Rome's fall: after Carthage was defeated by Rome, they had to cope with their mercenaries: «One can see very clearly from all that took place what kind of dangers those who employ mercenary forces should foresee and take early precautions to avert, as well as in what lies the great difference of character between a confused herd of barbarians and men who have been brought up in an educated, law-abiding and civilized community» (p. 177).

An example of the advantage of learning languages: «Autaritus the Gaul was the next speaker… He was much the most effective speaker in their councils, because a number of them could understand him. He had learned Phoenician, a language which had become more or less agreeable to their ears owing to the length of the previous war» (p. 215-217).

On violence: «In the case of men in such a state [malignant lividities], if we treat the disease by pardon and kindness, they think we are scheming to betray them or take them in, and become more mistrustful and hostile to their would-be benefactors, but if, on the contrary, we attempt to cure the evil by retaliation they work up their passions to outrival ours, until there is nothing so abominable or so atrocious that they will not consent to do it, imagining all the while that they are displaying a fine courage.  Thus at the end they are utterly brutalized and no longer can be called human beings. Of such a condition the origin and most potent cause lies in bad manners and customs and wrong training from childhood, but there are several contributory ones, the chief of which is habitual violence and unscrupulousness on the part of those in authority over them» p. 219-221).

The end of a wicked host, used to mangle the limbs of their living enemies: «They were at last driven by famine to eat each other—a fitting retribution at the hands of Providence for their violation of all law human and divine in their treatment of their neighbours» (p. 229).

At Polybius' time, history was written «to record and hand down to future generations such episode of Fortune, that those who live after us may not… be unduly terrified by sudden and unexpected invasions of barbarians» (p. 329).

He condemns Phylarchus, a historian that took side: «In his eagerness to arouse the pity and attention of his readers he treats us to a picture of clinging women with their hair dishevelled and their breasts bare, or again of crowds of both sexes together with their children and aged parents weeping and lamenting as they are led away to slavery… A historical author should not try to thrill his readers by such exaggerated pictures» (p. 377).

«The tragic poet should thrill and charm his audience for the moment by the verisimilitude of the words he puts into his characters' mouths, but it is the task of the historian to instruct and convince for all time serious students by the truth of the facts and the speeches he narrates, since in the one case it is the probable that takes precedence, even if it be untrue, the purpose being to create illusion in spectators, in the other it is truth, the purpose being to confer benefit on learners» (p. 379).

Ideology of the time -Inspiration of Brutus: «Who, for instance, does not think it an outrage for a free man to be beaten?… obviously he who kills a thief of adulterer is guiltless, and the slayer of a traitor of tyrant everywhere meets with honour and distinction. So in every such case the final criterion of good and evil lies not in what is done, but in the different reasons and different purposes of the doer» (p. 379).

Again: «Why! The very word 'tyrant' alone conveys to us the height of impiety and comprises in itself the sum of all human defiance of law and justice?» (p. 387).

Alas, Polybius: «He [Cleomenes, a tyrant of Spart] should not have been racked to death at night in Cenchreae, as Phylarchus says, but should have been led round the whole Peloponnesus and tortured as a spectacle for the public until dead?» (p. 389).


Wheen, Francis, Karl Marx (London: Fourth State, 1999)

An enthusiastic approach to the subject. The introduction is an apology of Marx. We meet then a drunk philosopher, with an overpowering will and memory. Borges was able to use erudition to his advantage; Marx was able to blend it with dialectics and logic. According to the biographer Max let his beard grow in order to present himself as a prophet—her drama was to posses the vital qualifications to rule the world, and the misfortune to be excluded by his social status.  His first social critique appeared in 1842 in the Rheinische Zeitung—where he was appointed as editor: a critique of the new law dealing with thefts of wood from private forests. The newspaper was banned, and Marx never knew the reason. In fact, the Prussian king had been asked to suppress the paper by Tsar Nicholas I of Russia, whom Marx had offended by writing a Russian diatribe. Marx was, in fact, an intolerable thinker, who dare to discriminate Jews when it was convenient: «Marx wrote in 1862, discussing the ever-fascinating subject of Lassalle's ancestry. 'Now, this blend of Jewishness and Germannes, on the one hand, and basic Negroid stock, on the other, must inevitably give rise to a peculiar product. The fellow's importunity is also niggerlike'» (p.55.)  Leaving aside his hard temperament, he believed that communism was the solution against anti-Semitism: «The emancipation of the Jews is, in the last analysis, the emancipation of mankind from Judaism» (p. 56.)

«Eleanor Marx wrote, 'He loved the poet as much as his works and looked as generously as possible on his political weaknesses. Poets, he explained, were queer fish and they must be allowed to go their own ways. They should not be assessed by the measure of ordinary or even extraordinary men'» (p. 65.)

Marx revives Aristotle's slave ethos: «The result s that man (the worker) feels that he is acting freely only in his most animal functions—eating, drinking and procreating, or at most in his dwelling and adornment—while in his human functions he is nothing more than an animal' (p. 73.) Alienated labour.

Marx attacked the «petty-bourgeois platitudes of Proudhon, or in the pipe-dreams of egalitarians such as Fourier and Babeuf, who—driven by 'envy and desire to level down'—would not abolish private property but merely redistribute it» (p. 74.) As in Manatí.

«[Engels] was able to pass himself off as a conservative local businessman. His communism, his atheism, his sexual promiscuity: these all belonged to his separate life» (p. 79.)

Marx wrote a libel against King Friedrich Wilhelm IV's grammar in Vorwärts!, in Paris. «On 7 January 1845, at an audience with Kin Louis Philippe in Paris, the Prussian envoy Alexander von Humboldt handed over two items—a valuable porcelain vase, and a letter from Friedrich Wilhelm IV protesting at the outrageous insults and libels published by Vorwärts! Marx was sent out of France» (p. 90.)

Marx never could gather a fair account of communism: «In a communist society there are no painters, but only people who engage in painting among other activities» (p. 97.) He also affirmed he wouldn't like to live in such a society. Marx's attack to Proudhon was stirred up after the latter rejected a vindictive and 'democratic dictator' Marx: «But simply because we are at the head of the movement, let us not make ourselves the leaders of a new intolerance…», wrote Proudhon in a letter to Marx  (p. 107.) Marx replied by writing «The Misery of Philosophy».

Marx on England: «But England, the country that turns whole nations into its proletarians» (p. 142.)

Engels on war: «His most important discovery, he told Jenny Marx, was 'that the much-vaunted bravery under fire is quite the most ordinary quality one can possess. The whistle of bullets is really quite a trivial matter.' He saw little evidence of cowardice, but plenty of 'brave stupidity'» (p. 147.)

Marx, as the Nazis, used to check people's intellect by the shape of their skulls, before accepting them into the Communist League (see p. 154.)

Lion Phillips, whose eponymous company flourishes to this day, was Marx's miser uncle (see p. 159.)

On self-interests: it was out of wrath that Marx wrote «Das Kapital», swearing the bourgeoisie would suffer the poison of his pages (see p. 169.)

A paragraph from a Marx's article, published  in New York's Tribune:  «There is something in human history like retribution; and it is a rule of historical retribution that its instrument be forged not by the offended, but by the offender. The first blow dealt to the French monarchy proceeded from the nobility, not from the peasants., The Indian revolt does not commence with the Riots, tortured, dishonoured and stripped by the British, but with the Sepoys, clad, fed petted, fatted and pampered by them» (p. 187.)

Marx always wished a recession able to stir up the revolutionary mass: «He had been waiting ever since, with some impatience, for the crisis to arrive—reading the runes, seeking out portents» (p. 201.)

Marx was aware that revolution comes from strife, and strife from abuse. A mild conciliatory party is contra-revolutionary: «In England our movement can progress only under the Tories. The Whigs conciliate all over the place and lull everyone to sleep» (p. 203.) «The historian Keith Thomas has suggested that 'the preoccupation with gardening, like that with pets, fishing and other hobbies… help to explain the relative lack of radical and political impulses among the British proletariat'» (p. 206.)

An example of Marx's tact: «Yesterday I was informed of a VERY HAPPY EVENT, the death o my wife's uncle, aged ninety» (p. 219.)

Victim of nationalism:  «Riding up Tottenham Court Road on an omnibus one day, he and Liebknecht noticed a large crowd outside a gin palace and heard a piercing female voice call out 'Murder! Murder!' Though Liebknecht tired to restrain him, Marx leaped off the bus and shoved his way into the throng. Alas, the woman was merely a drunker wife enjoying a noisy argument with her husband; and Marx's arrival at the scene instantly reunited the couple, who turned their anger on the interfering busybody. 'The crowd closed more and more around us,' Liebknecht reported, 'and assumed a threatening attitude against the 'damned foreigners'. Especially the woman went full of rage for Marx and concentrated her efforts on his magnificent shining black beard. I endeavoured to soothe the storm—in vain. Had not two strong constables made their appearance in time, we should have had to pay dearly for our philanthropic attempt at intervention'» (p. 258.)   

On «Das Kapital»: «What Marx did predict was that under capitalism there would be a relative—not an absolute—decline in wages… 'Accumulation of wealth at one pole is, therefore, at the same time accumulation of misery, the torment of labour, slavery, ignorance, brutalisation and moral degradation at the opposite pole'» (p. 301.), quoting «Das Kapital».

About Marx's poetic aspirations: «More use-value and indeed profit can thus be derived from Capital if it is read as a work of the imagination: a Victorian melodrama, or a vast Gothic novel whose heroes are enslaved and consumed by the monster they created ('Capital which comes into the world soiled with mire from top to roe and oozing blood from every pore'); or perhaps a satirical utopia like Swift's land of the Houyhnhnms, where every prospect please and only ,man is vile» (p. 305.)

Pierre Trémaux wrote «Origine et Transformations de l'Homme et des Autres Êtres» and postulated that evolution is governed by geographical and chemical changes in the soil.


O

Rushdie, Salman, Fury.

Salman Rushdie belongs to that unfortunate group of writers and filmmakers who after a premature success find themselves in the quickmire of Status Quo complacency. Rushdie's characters do not utter a single line without taking their eyes off from the whimsical discourse of the Media. Thus, if the Media says that God is dead, God must be dead, and if they believe that a vague entity such as Europe is intellectually superior to another non-less vague entity such as the US, so let it be.  Not surprisingly, Fury is a melodramatic account of a love affair -deadened with naughty sentences and improvised academic reflections about Greek mythology, commercial films and science fiction as metaphysics, in which the voluptuous heroine dies asserting that Galileo was right in affirming that the earth spins around the sun.  But the melodramatic effect of her final words is no as sadly spoiled by physics (the earth spins around the sun as the sun spins around the earth and both around the Milky Way: Galileo was not as right as we would like to believe), as by the lengthy reflections of Professor Malik Solanka.  Rushdie captures in his hero the decadent discourse that most University Professors are forced to display in order to achieve their dubious reputation.
Kundera, Milan, The Unbearable Lightness of Being (New York: Harper Collins, 1984) tr. Michael Henry Heim
Kundera states in this book the nervous mood of a century that agonizes. After a first reading The Unbearable Lightness of Being appears to be a cry against misplaced sensitivity, a theme that Kundera elaborates later on in Immortality, a novel in which he coins the term homo sentimentalis.

The Unbearable Lightness of Being narrates the unfaithful marital life of several men and women, actions that Kundera seasons with his own ironic opinions on psychology, politics, metaphysics and history. The blend of narrative actions and a self-reflective discourse on those very actions is a technique that Proust unfolded with refinement. Kundera's meditations, though, are but confessions of a tentative or imperfect dialectics. He delights, for instance, in pointing out the aversion of all Western societies to human waste. What we call hygiene he opts to call kitsch, a term that he traces back to 19th-century Prussia. Had Kundera studied universal history, he would have known that such aversion was inherited from the Egyptians, which due to religious reasons adopted it from… cats. Soon after Kundera redefines kitsch as the ideology of totalitarian societies.  This contradiction or paradox is not the main one in this book. Reaffirming his spurn towards sensitivity and compassion, Kundera treats his characters with a professional coldness, his pen refraining from directly narrating the death of human beings in his novel. But then, in an absurd tour de force he obliges his readers to accompany him through the agony and euthanasia of a dog. Very much to our distaste we are compelled to shed a tear for a pet. And although many a critic might defend Kundera's effort-by dismissing it as an irony or as a reflection of the main character's anguish, we cannot but suspect that The Unbearable Lightness of Being is nothing more than what its author would call a kitsch novel. Kundera's contradictions, notwithstanding, are misguiding, for the main value of his best known novel is confessional. Not without pity, we understand the animosity of Kundera towards any social manifestation of consensus as a subproduct of the harsh living conditions of the Soviet world he had to bear.
Tertius de Kay, James, Monitor (London: Pimplico, 1999)

A narration of the conception, building and short and glorious life of the «Monitor», the first sophisticated iron-clad boat. The writer masters the art of story telling—a skill that, unfortunately, most novelists despise.  The first pages narrate the story of John Ericsson, a Swedish emigrant that endured the prejudices of England: he conceived and built the Novelty, the swiftest carriage of the day, and submitted it to a contest sponsored by the Liverpool & Manchester Railway. «The sponsors, who wanted another entrant to win, changed the rules in the middle of the competition in an effort to eliminate the foreigner Ericsson and subsequently disqualified his entry on a technicality. The incident undoubtedly fed the inventor's inherent distrust of the English» (p. 12). On April 19, 1837, he showed to the world his main invention, the propeller, launching a tugboat, the Francis P. Ogden on the Thames. The press dubbed it the «Flaying  Devil», but it was quickly dismissed by the nationalist British navy. His coming to America was not as glorious as he expected: he was supported by Robert F. Stockton, a would-be engineer that allowed Ericsson to built the Princeton. Stockton placed a cannon of his invention on it and the boat exploded killing eight celebrities. Since Stockton was a senator, Ericsson was entirely blamed and excluded from US public life for almost twenty years.  In 1854 he tried to persuade the French of building an impregnable battery--the ancestor of the monitor. The French dismissed him with European contempt. His final chance, his one-in-a-life opportunity and his glory happened by «accident», as the book narrates in detail.

Historians as dazzled by the turns of history: either this storm, or this delay, or this hesitation changed history for good or bad.  Their fascination lacks deepness—they can not see beyond the intrigues of power. A dramatic mind may relate the confrontation of the Monitor against the Virginia to that one of Napoleon against Wellington, of Hitler against Stalin, of Cesar against Pompeii, of Alexander against Dario. Very few interpret in those adolescent games the painful equilibrium of the loving force that made possible the universe once.


Farganis, Sandra, The Social Reconstruction of the Feminine Character (Boston, Rowman & Littlefield, 1996)

A cynic may point out that the best feminist writers are timid commentators of male writers. Farganis starts his book with veneration and modesty: «This book is an interpretative essay on a way to read contemporary feminist theory using the sociological approach suggested by the writings of Karl Mannheim» (p.1).

Farganis final statement reveals the misery of feminism, as of any other pre-conceived theoretical trend: «…feminist ideas may represent the interests of certain women even where the ideology would have it that the ideas are meant to express the interest of all woman» (p. 241).

Boles, Hanet K. & Hoeveler, Diane L., From the Goddess to the Glass Ceiling (Lanham: Madison Books, 1996)

A series of predictable concepts, recipes for intellectual success in the worn-out circle of gender studies.  The dismissal of Euripides compassionate 'Medea' displays the arrogant I-know-what-I-say attitude of the authors: «Although Euripides paints a sympathetic picture of the wronged wife and women's lot in general through his portrayal of Medea, the older tradition [only revealed in these two undocumented lines:] which absolves Medea of the murder of her children is kinder to her and more accurate» (p. 194).  The authors' main interest is, as in any feminist discourse, the struggle for women empowering over life; the sadistic thought that givers of life should be rewarded with the choice to murder their offspring at their will.


Hardy, Alister, Darwin and the Spirit of Man (London: Collins, 1984)

Hardy understands that evolution occurs by will, rather than by chance -a thesis already expounded by Lamarck:
«The gene combination which are best suited to the habits of the animal may tend to survive in preference to those which do not give such full scope to the animal's pattern of behaviour» (p. 18)

To validate the manipulation of genetics, he writes:

«There would be interplay between the two selections; natural and directive» (p. 21)

However, such directive selection is, in fact, a conscious selection undertaken by man's will.
He keenly relates religious feelings to art and beauty: «Many scientists have dismissed (quite irrationally, I believe) religious feelings as only superstition or childish wishful thinking, but surely no intellectual will deny the reality of our love of art, music, natural beauty or of adventure. Our appreciation of all these lies in our field of consciousness; whilst not strictly amenable to quantitative science the records of spiritual experience can be examined systematically by the naturalists of human nature. Biologists cannot have it both ways; if we are one with the animal kingdom, as they all must believe, consciousness, not necessarily self-consciousness, must be an essential part of the living system. Can we conceive of such a fundamental aspect of life being confined to one species of animal — man? (p. 155.)


Leakey, Richard & Lewin, Roger, Origens Reconsidered: in search of what makes us human (London: Little, Brown and Company, 1992)
Evolutionary trees

Leakey attempts to answer metaphysical questions. His exposition is honest; his thought, clumsy.

Enigmas: «After about thirty-five thousand years ago, all that is ever found is Homo sapiens sapiens, modern humans. We therefore have to account for the period between half a million and thirty-five thousand years ago, no easy task» (p. 209).

The 'Homo' catalogue is the product of prejudices:

 «'The urge to include forms as diverse a Petralona, Steinheim, Neanderthal, and you and me in a singles species Homo sapiens must be sociological in origin,' counters Ian. 'The only rational explanation for the taxonomic corralling of these widely differing fossils is the setting of an unconscious 'cerebral Rubicon,' perhaps somewhere at around 1200 ml. Once can only applaud the generous liberal sentiment that leads to the inclusion in Homo sapiens of all hominids whose brain size falls comfortably within the modern rage,' he adds, with a touch of sarcasm» (p. 211).

«Africans have the deepest genetic roots, suggesting that an African population was the source of all other populations. This pattern fits the Noah's Ark hypothesis» (p. 220).

Interesting is the verification of the Golden/Silver/Bronze/Iron mythical ages exposed by Publius Ovidius Naso in Metamorphoses—also by Swedenberg. Men lived for nearly twenty thousand years in peace; with agriculture, war started: «Suppose modern humans really did evolve in East Africa more than 1000,000 years ago. And suppose they had reached the Middle East by ninety thousand years ago, where they coexisted with Neanderthals for as long as forty thousand years before moving farther north. How are we to explain this unusual period when modern humans and Neanderthals coexisted for forty millennia? (A much shorter period of coexistence occurred in Western Europe when modern humans reached that part of the continent.) It is extraordinary to imagine» (p. 224-5).

«The monumental architecture of the earliest civilizations seems often to be almost a celebration of warfare, of victorious over the enemy. Even in earlier times, between five thousand and ten thousand years ago, indications of a preoccupation with military strife are to be found, often in paintings and engravings. But go back beyond that, beyond the beginning of the agricultural revolution, and the depictions of battles virtually vanish. I take this to be significant in the evolution of human affairs, I believe that warfare is rooted in the need for territorial possession once populations became agricultural and necessarily sedentary. Violence then became almost an obsession, once population started to grow and to develop the ability o organize large military forces. I do not believe that violence is an innate characteristic of humankind, merely an unfortunate adaptation to certain circumstances… Not reasonable, in my opinion, is Milford Wolpoff's assertion that because humans have been genocidal in recent times, they must have been so earlier» (p. 234).

«If, as seems likely, fully modern humans evolved about 100,000 years ago, why is it that we don't find evidence of artistic and symbolic expression until some seventy thousand years later?» (p. 269).

Caín & Abel: «Coexistence as illusion or reality? It is a difficult question to settle. There is no unequivocal evidence of interbreeding, such as the existence o hybrid individuals: no indications of exchange through contact or trade; no suggestions of violence, such as obvious trauma or, say, a Neanderthal individual having been consumed at the site of a sapiens camp. Our best answer lies perhaps in the technology, the tools with which each population interacted with its environment according to separate adaptations and habits» (p. 226).

 «Blades are the very essence of it [technology]. The signal appears first in Africa, a little less than 1000,000 years ago, but its progress is difficult to trace in the few archaeological sites currently known there,. In Western Europe the task is easier, because of a long tradition of research and a wealth of suitable sites. The technology began there about forty thousand years ago and rapidly accelerated» (p. 228). It's naïve to think innocence as a disadvantage: reason was common to all men thirty thousand years ago.

On page 229 he describes Australian aborigine's way of living. Archaeologists relate a distant past to aborigine's life today.

Physiologists are frustrated when dealing with the brain: «Although many functions can be localized in the brain, one of the remarkable features of this organ is that some functions, often important ones, defy precise location. One of these is consciousness. No one has been able to point to a region of the brain and say, This exclusively is the seat of consciousness. Even the location of language facilities cannot be established 100 percent. For example, an individual may lose relatively large sections of his or her brain, with no apparent loss of cognitive functions, including language» (p. 253).

Even so: «I take the materialistic view that consciousness is the product of the brain's activity, not some gossamer attachment to the organ, as the noted neurologist Sir John Eccles recently suggested. «I am constrained to attribute the uniqueness of the Self or Soul to a supernatural spiritual creation,» he wrote in his latest book, Evolution of the Brain. While rejecting external intervention of an Ecclesian [again, he articulates his dogmatic prejudices] nature, I am nevertheless sympathetic to the sentiments expressed in a recent essay by Colin McGinn, a philosopher at Rutgers University.

'How is it possible for conscious states to depend on brain states?' ponders McGinn. 'How can Technicolor phenomenology arise from soggy grey matter? What makes the bodily organ we call the brain so radically different from other bodily organs, say the kidneys—the body parts without a trace of consciousness? How could the aggregation of millions of individually insentient neurones generate subjective awareness?… it strikes us as miraculous, eerie, or even faintly comic. Somehow, we feel, the water of the physical brain is turned into the wine of consciousness, but we draw a total blank on the nature of this conversion'.

In saying that the consciousness is the product uniquely of the brain, McGinn is emphasizing Dennet's point: the mind is the brain» (p. 282). The author is incapable to understand that the mind is articulated through the brain. And he adds:  «The human brain may not be equipped ultimately to understand itself» (p. 282).

As Darwin, he relies on physical laws, without asking himself who OR WHAT has designed such laws: «The physicist Steven Weinberg said recently that 'the more the universe seems comprehensible, the more it also seems pointless'. By this he meant that he saw no divine hand guiding the fate of the universe, that the universe proceeds according to its own physical laws, aimed at no ultimate goal. Something similar can be said about Homo sapiens: the more we understand about our history, the more our connectedness to nature becomes apparent, the more we see ourselves as part of nature, not apart from nature… 'There is grandeur in this view of life,' observed Charles Darwin at the end of Origin of Species, referring to the power and creativity of evolution. This is my perspective of human evolution» (p. 341).

Before opposing God to nature, he articulates a dogmatic definition of God, as a magical entity. This contradiction is the source of metaphysical stiffness in the world; instead of conciliating metaphysics with sciences, the oppose the latter to dogma.

He briefly exposes the notions of the Inevitability: «The unacceptability of our being here by chance has been expressed mainly in three ways. First, In the anthropological literature itself, in which the special qualities of Homo sapiens are taken to imply that we are here for a purpose and by design. The second is the Antrhopic Principle, the view that the universe (and us within it) is the way it is because it could be no other way. And third is a characterisation of evolution in which the unfolding of life on earth has followed a path of progress and predictability (p. 342).

Of particular interests is the Anthropic Principle, which relates Natural Theology to physics: «William Paley, the greatest exponent of natural theology, drew a famous analogy, of finding a watch on a heath. 'The inference, we think, is inevitable; that the watch must have a maker; that there must have existed, at some time, and at some place or other, an artificer or artificers, who formed it for the purpose which we find it actually to answer; who comprehended its construction and designed its use.' For every watch there is a watchmaker. So, too, for the perfection of a flower, the sleek, swift horse, and the transcendent human mind.

The constructions of Natural Theology are now part of the history of science[?], not a current scientific theory, but their attractions can be easily appreciated. So too are the arguments of Wallace and Broom. They were followed by the much revered writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, the French theologian and anthropologists. 'Life, if fully understood, is not a freak in the universe—nor man a freak in life,' he wrote four decades ago. 'On the contrary, life physically culminates in man, just as energy physically culminates in life.' This last statement touches closely on the recently developed notion of the Anthropic Principle. 'The phenomenon of Man,' said Teilhard de Chardin, was 'essentially foreordained from the beginning.'

The second of the three expressions of the notion of the Inevitability, the Anthropic Principle, is in the domain of physicists, but I believe it resonates with the sentiments described above. Very briefly, cosmologists have become increasingly impressed—and have increasingly expressed their astonishment and awe—that the laws of the universe operate within tight margins with respect to our existence. Change even slightly the fundamental physical forces, and the universe—and life—as we know it could not happen. Everything is precariously balanced, just right, so that we can exists. In order that we shall exist?

Few exponents of the Anthropic Principle go so far as to suggest, explicitly, as Teilhard de Chardin did, that man was 'essentially foreordained from the beginning.' Some, however, come close. For instance, the Princeton theoretical physicists Freeman Dyson says, 'I believe that we are here to some purpose, that the purpose has something to do with the future, and that it transcends altogether the limits of our present knowledge and understanding.' Others are more cautious. 'Without going as far as some,' says Martin Rees, a British cosmologist, 'I wish to argue that there is something special about the time and place that has produced intelligent life» (p. 344).

His refutation is flimsy, without inquiring into physics:

«Had the primitive primate been less lucky at the Cretaceous extinction, there is no reason to expect that animals like primates would ever have evolved again, no prosimians, no monkeys, no apes —no humans… God surely had no plans for Homo sapiens, and could not even have predicted that such a species would ever arise» (p. 349).

As if luck were under the domain of sciences.

He assumes a reactionary view on culture: «I came to be critical of formal religion, particularly of the damage that missionaries were doing to the culture of the people of Kenya. I had no difficulty in accepting the notion that standards of ethics and morality could be derived in the absence of religion. And I now believe that such standards are an inevitable —and predictable— product of human evolution: altruism is part of the behavioural repertoire of social animals, so it can be expected to develop much further in intelligent and intensely social animals, like our human ancestors. This is the humanist's position» (p. 350). As if primitive cultures were doom to survive for the sake of anthropology.

The wisest page was inspired by a farmer: «A few years ago, in a town in Minnesota, I gave a lecture on human origins. Afterward a gentleman, a farmer, I think, rose and asked a question: «Have you ever met a monkey that knew the meaning of sin, Dr Leakey?» I realized that the idea of sin is so much part of Western culture. It is a mental concept that helps us guide ourselves and, through ourselves, society in a particular direction. Sin is a human word for knowing wrong from right. I'm quite sure that monkeys, and apes too, under certain circumstances, know that some things may be unacceptable in social interaction. But monkeys and apes are not burdened with this higher mental concept, sin. I'm sure our more recent ancestors were so burdened, however; it is the product of evolution in the intense social setting o human life» (p. 350-1).

  «Unless there is genetic intervention by new technology or deliberate breeding programs over many thousands of years—both of which options properly ring ethical alarms in our society— further evolution of Homo sapiens is probably at an end» (p. 356).
Holmes, Richard, Coleridge, Darker Reflections (London: Flamingo, 1998)


The second part of a detailed biography of Samuel Tailor Coleridge. As many literary biographies, this work is interesting by the quotes of the subject, rather than by the opinions of the biographer. Holmes makes reiterative efforts to excuse the mishaps of the poet—one may suspect that in order to accumulate page over page the biographer must develop a deep sympathy for the childish and uninteresting letters of Coleridge. The poet emerges as a victim of Laudanum, wavering between the abysm of sickness and the «unwholesome quick-silver mines of abstruse Metaphysics» (p. 68). Within such a path the reader feels vertigo page after page. The biographer overemphasises Coleridge's love for Sara, the sister-in-law of Worthsword—his alter-ego poet. Besides these melodramatic passages we may catch signs of Coleridge's insight: «But there is a time in Life, when the Heart stops growing» (p. 112), «[amongst listeners there are] sponges, sand-glasses, straining-bags, and lastly, the Great-Moguls Diamond Sieves who retain everything that is valuable and forget the rest.» (p. 123), and poetry:
 
Waste daily with the poison of sad thought (p. 113.)

Or

Sight seem'd a sort of memory, and amaze

Mingled a trouble with affection's gaze (p. 114).
 
            Unfortunately Holmes lacks poetic sensibility,  tipping towards ugly verses that depict Coleridge's intimate life. Davy, an attendant to Coleridges lecturers in London, pointed out: «He has suffered greatly from Excessive Sensibility—the disease of genius.» (p. 119).

A hint on imperialistic mentality: «Struggle in the minds of the (native) inhabitants between their Dislike of English manners & their Dread of French Government» (p. 8).




Hugo Santander Ferreira © First Film Productions 2011