a cloud of unknowing
nine mile beach tasmania
7 februari 2023


my comfort tv of choice after long and intense days of supervision — which actually means attention, and as simone weil wrote in a letter, attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity, so it is completely draining — has been humans, a naff but somehow engrossing bbc series about conscious robots (‘synthetics’) that have feelings and are capable of love and feelings and their relationships with humans, and one of them reads nietzsche, but sadly it was cancelled after three series.

so the last two nights ended up watching two terrific movies, three billboards outside ebbing, missouri’ which begins with this. i had avoided it because of the uninspiring title but it is great and the story of how the movie came to be, and a part that was tailor-written for the awesome francis mcdormand is also riveting.

and the night before, courtesy of my landlord who kindly left the tv logged into his apple account and must have purchased 24 hours of access to triangle of sadness’, which is in the recently popular genre of taking the piss out of the rich and poking fun at fashion, patriarchy and colonialism on the way (see also the white lotus’ and the not entirely successful the menu’). shades of le grand boeuff, lord of the flies and survivor!



i like the sound of corryvreckan, between the islands of jura and scarba off the west coast of scotland, which is one of the largest whirlpools in the world.

… water swirling around in eddies, sucking and foaming at the surface. But when a westerly gale pummels the west coast from the Atlantic and collides with a flooding spring tide surging in the opposite direction, the raging maelstrom reaches its greatest fury, with monstrous waves 30ft high and whirlpools so violent they roar with a hideous noise heard ten miles away.

according to the times, at this time of the year, after the equinox, powerful tides are generated by the alignment of the sun, moon and earth, having a dramatic effect on the fearsome corryvreckan whirlpool.



Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) is a non-invasive brain stimulation technique activating areas of the brain that experience fewer electrical impulses in depression. I want to believe, I really do, but the old truism, if it sounds too good to be true then it probably is, comes to mind. Here is a rather annoying article from the UK Times by a depressed journo who put the £299 Flow headset to the test. I want to try it! Not because I am depressed but because there are a lot of areas in my brain that receive fewer electrical impulses than they should.



Rebecca Solnit, where have you been all my life!?

The first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males is not violence toward women. Instead patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves. If an individual is not successful in emotionally crippling himself, he can count on patriarchal men to enact rituals of power that will assault his self-esteem.

— from The Mother of All Questions’



Art + holocaust = profit

This is an intriguing and kind of grotesque story of how in 2023 there are still people making a profit from the holocaust. A Canadian company called Mondex specialises in identifying expensive artworks which have ended up in museums and may have been stolen from holocaust victims by Nazis or others. So far so good, right? Mondex then track down people who may be able to claim that they are descendants from said holocaust victim/s and they give them the good news that there may be an expensive artwork in a museum which they could lay claim to. They will do all the work and foot the legal bills in exchange for a percentage of the value of the work when it’s sold, after a successful claim. No risk to you sir or madam, just sign here.

And so it came to be that a painting by Kandinsky which has been hanging in the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam for more than half a century was returned to the distant relatives of someone who may or may not have been the rightful owner of the painting back in the day and which may or may not have been sold to the museum by someone who didn’t rightfully own it, after nine years of legal wrangling. The painting was sold at auction for €60 million to a private collector and the company can claim a moral victory as well as their percentage the amount of which which has not been disclosed. Obviously. Everybody happy — except the museum and the visitors to the museum who can no longer see the painting. Obviously.

The story is far from complete and there are many unknowns, see here and here. It is in Dutch, so that may be a problem for you. And it is behind a paywall, which may be a problem for you if you don’t have a subscription to the newspaper and/or you don’t have a bypass paywalls extension installed.



Dancing beyond ourselves

My boss — yes I am back working for the foreseeable future, in Australia of all places, a kind of working holiday, at the hospital where I worked ten years ago, although it has moved into a hypermodern, state of the art architectonic marvel since then — said to me, why don’t you teach a course on philosophy?

— But I am not qualified to teach philosophy, I say.
Yes you are, you’ve got a PhD!

I’d made the mistake of mentioning the names of some philosophers I’m interested in and now he thinks I am someone who can teach a course in philosophy! I patiently explain that my doctorate is, at least in theory, in the practical and creative application of philosophy in a particular field or discipline, in my case visual arts, but he will have none of it.

You mean next year?
— No, this year!
So when would you want that to start?
— Next week?
Why didn’t you tell me this six months ago!?
— Because I only just thought of it! he says, laughing.

This is the kind of thing that’s in the realm of the possible in Australia. I had forgotten. I’ve been in Europe too long : seven long years, every one of them a nightmare in one way or another. In Nederland they want to see your Masters before you’re even allowed to open your mouth. And they are so not interested in your qualifications from another country and what you may or may not have done there.

And this is why I stayed in Australia for so long and why I still love it. Things are more possible here. People are more like, yeah why not?! I guess this is part of the mindset that evolved after they landed here with nothing and had to make do. I am trying to find an acceptable postcolonial turn of phrase which acknowledges that this also included killing 80% of the inhabitants, destroying their culture and stealing their land, but it eludes me.

How can I prepare a course on philosophy in less than a week when I have none of my books here?
— You’ll be right, mate. It’s all in your head!
Ha ha. No it’s not! … Is it?

What is philosophy anyway? A dear friend says they are interested in studying philosophy and asks for advice. I mention the undergraduate BA at a nearby university which seems to me quite sound and, ok, it’s not a high profile internationally renowned institution where well known contemporary philosophers teach but I think you would gain a pretty good basic foundation and then you could go on and do further study, perhaps elsewhere, if you’re interested. But they are thinking less in terms of three years of serious full time study, and more of a ten week one evening a week Zoom course ha ha. Well, I say, you may be able to do a series of lectures/workshops on what philosophy is and is not within such a timeframe but that would be about it.

Hey. Wait a minute… Maybe I could do that?!

So. I apologise to all philosophers, past and present. I am a complete nincompoop. I know nothing. But I was dropped in it by my boss. And here I am, so here we go.

Let’s begin with that old rascal Nietzsche and dance beyond ourselves :

Be like the wind when it rushes forth from its mountain-caves: to its own piping will it dance; the seas tremble and leap under its footsteps. That which gives wings to asses, that which milks the lionesses: Praised be that good, unruly spirit, which comes like a hurricane… Praised be this spirit of all free spirits, the laughing storm, which blows dust into the eyes of all the dark-sighted and melancholic! You higher men, the worst thing in you is that you have, none of you, learned to dance as you ought to dance — to dance beyond yourselves! What does it matter that you have failed? How many things are still possible! So learn to laugh beyond yourselves! Lift up your hearts, you good dancers, high! higher! And do not forget good laughter!

[to be continued]



it’s always good to ask someone if they want to hear something before you tell them. it is respectful and transparent.

do you want to know how to spell separate’ and separation’?

you might say, it doesn’t matter because your spell checker will tell you if you spell it wrong — but not always because people who compile spell checkers sometimes don’t know how to spell separate’ or separation’ either.

or you might say that spelling doesn’t matter because people will know what you mean, whether you write seperate or separate, or separation or seperation.

or you might think, if you knew how to pronounce it, that you would know how to spell it. but no, although you say seperate’, seperate’ doesn’t actually exist, or so the internet says — and yet : there it is.

the internet also says seperate’ has no meaning which is ridiculous. if you write seperate’ most english readers know exactly what you mean, and whether the reader then thinks, but it is misspelled! depends of course on whether they themselves know how to spell it.

but if you do want to spell it correctly — and i have no opinion on the matter, i just don’t like squiggly red lines on my screen — just remember that it always has A RAT in the middle and you will always know how to write seperate and separation, and separateness — and even inseparable although that doesn’t have a rat in the middle.

so with that settled, do you want to hear about a separation?. (note that this was written before i knew that separate’ is not spelled seperate’ and the spell checker didn’t let me know.)