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Showing posts from July, 2019

Repetition, Repetition

I heard the hymn "Love Divine All Love's Excelling" the other day and, once again, the genius of the line in the final verse struck me: "Changed from glory into glory. . . ."

The meaning of this repetition is neither readily apparent nor easily understood, yet it makes immediate impact. Why?

I have thought about this on and off for a number of years and the best reasons I can come up with are:

1. It's unexpected
2. It presents us with a mystery

And that's the point. The line is alluding to something we cannot begin to comprehend. The glories we can imagine in our human forms do not come close to those we will experience on admission to Heaven. It will be a transfiguration that is total, and unknowable to us as mortals.

This interpretation fits with the concept of a Divine love that excels all others.

I suspect the individual words themselves had more power in the days before hyperbole was literally overused. [That's an example of irony, for those who misse…

And now for something completely different. . . Ian Thomson: The Northern Elements *****

It’s too rare these days to find good novelists who dare not to conform to the strictures of genre. Publishers want writers to grind out the same type of novel again and again so that they can be easily categorised and marketed. I think this comes from the undue influence that accountants have had on modern life and their desire to fit every thing – and everyone – into neat compartments. They are incapable of seeing how disastrous this is in the long term, stifling the imagination and creativity. The novelist Monica Ali recently spoke on BBC Radio 4 about the expectation that her works deal with ethnicity and women’s issues while she just wants to be a novelist and make stories.
Ian Thomson’s The Northern Elements is a major departure from his previous novels. Its depiction of two (harmless) gangs of young boys, in the same place (Blackburn) but at different times (1890 and 1960), borders on the naturalistic. The two periods illustrate that even though the world changes, children don’t…

Halfway though July Already

Why doesn't "toastie" bread fit in my toaster?

One of life's great mysteries. That and how does the Venus de Milo hitch-hike, as Robin Williams once asked.

A work in progress this month is reading Ian Thomson's new novel The Northern Elements. While I will be writing a full review in due course, I will take this opportunity to encourage others to read it. It's an engaging and intriguing story about youth, life, death, fun, love, disappointment and pain as well as friendship, loyalty and growing up.

I've known Ian Thomson since not long after he accompanied GĂ©rard de Nerval walking his lobster in the Palais Royale and know that he is a great flaneur. Reading about the two gangs of boys exploring the nooks and crannies of Blackburn points to how his disposition for urban exploration began.

Thomson also reveals his youthful interest in the Roman Catholic Church through some amusing incidents and remarks. I suspect this interest continues, as ritual, mystery, eth…