Thursday, 30 September 2010

Make war against war

The concept of fighting a war against war (‘the war to end war’) has invited a good deal of ridicule from many people, because it takes the form of an evident contradiction (‘like,’ to quote the excellent David Nobbs, ‘fucking for virginity’). But this phrase describes very exactly the strategic aim of pretty much all major conflicts of the last and present century. Perhaps the key here is to see that violently opposing this concept is even more contradictory: ‘to wage war on fighting a war against war’ ...

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The Passion of the Christ

The passion is God committing suicide. In a Schmittian sense, God enacts the exception that creates and defines the limit of his subject’s behaviour: namely, the interdiction on our suicide. In a sense, we are not permitted to kill ourselves precisely because God did.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010


At quite a deep level, tradition and originality are incompatible.

Monday, 27 September 2010


One of Einstein’s big ideas was that (to put it in a nutshell) we can’t ultimately tell if we are in the moving train leaving the station or in a motionless train with the station sliding past us. There are many cool elaborations of this idea (Are we moving through time one second per second, or is it that we are stationary and time is moving past us?) but it's worth recalling how counterintuitive the original version is. Because deep in our bones, so deep it's almost impossible to shake, is our belief: 'but surely ... the station is stationary! The train is en train! Look at the names!'

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Repellent Affinities

The wisdom of OK Go: 'nothing ever doesn't change, but nothing changes much.' I wonder.

'Of the Blue Colour of the Sky' is, I discover, an album that was recorded in reaction to A J Pleasonton's weird 1876 booklet, The influence of the blue ray of the sunlight and of the blue colour of the sky: in developing animal and vegetable life; in arresting disease and in restoring health in acute and chronic disorders to human and domestic animals.

It has much to say on the subject of change, including this from p.180: ‘the slightest change in the angle of incidence of the white light of the sun as it falls upon vapours, clouds, or gases will excite their repellent affinities, and resolve them into the varied and brilliant tints of primary and composite colours.’ Now, Repellent Affinities would be a great title for an album … or a novel?

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Categorical Imperative

It sometimes seems to me that Kant's Categorical Imperative is a sciencefictional conceit. From Grounding:
Kant asserted that lying, or deception of any kind, would be forbidden under any interpretation and in any circumstance. In Grounding, Kant gives the example of a person who seeks to borrow money without intending to pay it back. This is a contradiction because if it were a universal action, no person would lend money anymore as he knows that he will never be paid back. The maxim of this action, says Kant, results in a contradiction in conceivability (and thus contradicts perfect duty). With lying, it would logically contradict the reliability of language. If it is universally acceptable to lie, then no one would believe anyone and all truths would be assumed to be lies. The right to deceive could also not be claimed because it would deny the status of the person deceived as an end in himself. And the theft would be incompatible with a possible kingdom of ends. Therefore, Kant denied the right to lie or deceive for any reason, regardless of context or anticipated consequences.
It's the absolutism here that is SF, I think; the argument from Bizarro world ('argumentum ad Mundo Bizarro'?). The world is this way; imagine what it would be like if it were the exact opposite.

One problem is that this is predicated upon a sort of one-to-one mirror transformation. If everybody always told the truth, then one would always know where one stood; but if nobody ever told the truth, then one would still always know where one stood. The real ethical problem comes in a world in which some people are always truthful and some habitual liars and you can't be sure which is which, and more to the point where most people sometimes lie and sometimes tell the truth. The key here is inconsistency, precisely the thing absent both from Kant's Categorial moral alternate reality and its Mirror-Universe evil double.

Friday, 24 September 2010

The Crapulous Individual

"It is always the crapulous individual that best executes the infamous deed" - de Sade (The 120 Days of Sodom, apparently), So strangely wrong that it gives pause. Hunger, not satiety, is the motor for infamy in deed.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Olympic Sports that Are Not

It surprises me that there's no Olympic medal to reward really fast winding. It could be competitive reel winding, or winding down the shutters on a shop window, or turning the handle of a mangle ... but winding is a basic human activiy, which some can do faster and more powerfully than others. The Olympics ought to acknowledge that.

There's some winding, I suppose, in some of the sailing medals. That's by no means the same thing.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The Clearly Seen Ones

I wouldn't want this blog to become a mere conduit for interesting facts derived from wikipedia. But, having said that ...
The English word "dragon" derives from Greek δράκων (drákōn), "dragon, serpent of huge size, water-snake", which probably comes from the verb δρακεῖν (drakeîn) "to see clearly".
What's nice about this is the ironic etymology in naming an imaginary, and therefore (strictly) invisible, beast 'the clearly seen one.' But it's right, isn't it? Dragons are clearly seen, in cultural imaginarium at any rate.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010


When somebody dies unexpectedly, people say things like: 'but I was just talking to them, the other day!' It's this notion of death as an unplanned interruption in an ongoing conversation that is the most heartbreaking.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Gods poem

The machinic sea;
the supreme depths;
the porous sky.

Gods without moral attributes;
Beauty that has
no place for beauty.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Ockam's Phaser

Yes: "entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity" (entia non sunt multiplicanda praeter necessitatem). Very nice. But a razor isn't quite what we want, here, now is it? The razor can slice away superluous entities, but they'll still be floating around, complicating our worldview. Better would be a device that fired a beam of sfnal energy at the superfluous entities, vaporising them so that we need not concern ourselves with them ever again ...

Saturday, 18 September 2010


In the Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689; IV:18) Locke laments that 'Religion, which should most distinguish us from the beasts, and ought most particularly elevate us, as rational creatures, above brutes, is that wherein men often appear most irrational, and more senseless than beasts.' But this is puzzling. Locke obviously knew Psalm 104:
21 The young lions roar after their prey, and seek their meat from God.

22 The sun ariseth, they gather themselves together, and lay them down in their dens.

23 Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.

24 O LORD, how manifold are thy works! in wisdom hast thou made them all: the earth is full of thy riches.

25 So is this great and wide sea, wherein are things creeping innumerable, both small and great beasts.

26 There go the ships: there is that leviathan, whom thou hast made to play therein.

27 These wait all upon thee; that thou mayest give them their meat in due season.

28 That thou givest them they gather: thou openest thine hand, they are filled with good.

29 Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled: thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to their dust.
I suppose the point of this (an elaboration of the Psalmist's more famous assertion, about the heavens declaring the glory of God) is that is portrays the holiness of beasts to be a kind of purely unselfconscious worship: at once unrelective and passive. I suppose Locke's point, accordingly, is that the rational worship of homo sapiens is, or should be, the opposite of that: it should be self-reflective, and it should define itself actively in opposition to, its object. But that's quite a radical claim, if you think about it.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Black plants

Interesting new theory, gleaned from the latest New Scientist:
Why aren't plants black?
Plants are green because they don't absorb green light. The question is: why? Why let these wavelengths go to waste? No one can say for sure, but the most intriguing explanation was proposed by Andrew Goldsworthy of Imperial College London (New Scientist, 10 December 1987, p 48).

When photosynthesis evolved, Goldsworthy suggests, the oceans were full of a purple pigment called bacteriorhodopsin. Some simple cells make this so they can exploit light energy in a primitive way, and it looks purple because it absorbs green light. In fact, chlorophyll absorbs precisely the wavelengths that bacteriorhodopsin does not. So plants might be green because photosynthesis evolved in bacteria that had to make do with leftover light.

Because photosynthesis is so complex, by the time these cyanobacteria started to dominate the oceans, it was impossible to make major changes to chlorophyll without breaking the system. Some plants, particularly marine algae, have evolved extra pigments that can capture other wavelengths, but most remain stuck with the wavelengths chlorophyll can absorb.
It looks like our green world is a fluke; and that science fiction stories, to be consistent, really ought to fill their distant jungle planets with purple and black vegetation. I know I shall, in future books.

Thursday, 16 September 2010


'Faith is like love, it cannot be forced,' according to Schopenhauer. I suppose he means 'the true feeling of faith and/or live, in the heart' ... because as an empirical fact in the world it's hard to deny that genuine faith and genuine love are forced all the time: children are forced through religious educations that leave them, genuinely, believers. People talk themselves into relationships, or marriages are arranged by third parties, that result (not always, but often) in genuinely happy set-ups.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

End of Summer Poem

The colour blue, the shade of heat.
The odour of hot tarmac, which smells
of borderlines, and fences, and the future.

Breeze, breeze, breeze, and
the water's surface is gooseflesh.
The sky does not lack circles.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010


I rather like the musician Boris Grebenshikov's comment: 'I do not think songs can be political, any more than sunshine can be political. It is the right to enjoy them that is political'. I like this, but I don't think its right, not so much because it ignores the fact that sunshine is naturally occurring where songs are made by human beings (although there's something in that), as the fact that I'm not sure an 'artwork' and 'the right to enjoy an artwork' can, really, be separated out like this. They're part of the same thing, actually.

Monday, 13 September 2010


Not for the first time.

Breaking news: Jean-Paul Sartre has had his honourary knighthood rescinded! From now on he's plain Jean-Paul Tre.

My boat was hijacked by particle physicists. They made me walk the Planck length.

In Henry VIII's day, tennis was played until a freshly mixed jelly went hard. Hence the duration was called 'a set'.

We now have the historical perspective to say with some authority: the three greatest musical geniuses were Bach, Beethoven and Jimmy Nail.

'Mark Twain' took his name from a Mississippi river-boatsmen call. So did his friend, the writer 'Out-Of-My-Way Dumbass'.

The pen is mightier than the sword. Well my pen is, anyway. It's ex-KGB and shoots acid.

Last night's chess match: I played the King's Indian. He beat me, though.

These leaves are just mad! Completely out of their tree!

Edward 'King' Lear: 'How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is/To have a thankless dong with a luminous nose!'

People who drop the initial letter from white drinks. I hate all of that ilk.

'Is this sugar?' I asked the spade-bearded man in the loincloth. 'No!' he bellowed. 'This! Is! ASPARTAMINE!'

Latest news on Groove Armada: most of them were shipwrecked trying to sail round Groove Scotland & get back to Groove Spain.

I keep my wallet on top of a lamp in my private Papillonerie. I like to put my money where my moth is.

He won't do business with me? I'll persuade him with a lifesize model of a famous rugby player. Gonna make him an Offiah he can't refuse.

A new organisation formed after the example of SETI, called 'SETT', will attempt to contact intelligent badgers.

As the velociraptor said when it got nappy rash: 'oh! oh! dino sore!'

I always set conjunctions in a larger font than the rest of the text. Also I sleep standing up. I like big 'but's and I cannot lie.

Oh the irony! Ah the paradox! Buying Perec's A Void for an e-Reader!

Gene Kelly was necessary. The original unmodified Natural Kelly couldn't dance at all.

I'm tempted to blow a raspberry. Does performing oral sex on a piece of fruit count as adultery?

I've taken to wearing spats, especially when I'm in pain. Because, of course, in spats, nobody can hear you scream.

Sunday, 12 September 2010


No matter what your age, when you start crying you are a child again.

Saturday, 11 September 2010

Contracting Universe

Pleasant cognitive dissonance. We believe, because science tells us it is true, that the universe is expanding. But our experience of growing from a child to an adult is of the world around us appearing to shrink ... there's a rather delicious conceptual inertia in this. If the universe (seemed to) shrink so markedly during my first two decades, surely it will continue to do so ...

Friday, 10 September 2010


I once interviewed Brian Aldiss at the Cheltenham literary festival, and he talked about The Lord of the Rings: one problem he had with that novel, he said, was that it was full of people but had only one character. That character—he meant Gollum of course—is one of the highpoints of Tolkien’s fictional art; and it would be a plausible answer to this mind-meld question. But it’s worth pondering why. Other characters are notionally ‘conflicted’ in the novel: Frodo, Boromir. It might be that their conflict is externalised; they are tempted by the ring, presented with the external dilemma 'can I resist this external temptation or not?' But I'm not so sure. Gollum is a pretty thoroughly externalised piece of writing, too. I now wonder if it doesn't have something to do with potential. With Frodo, and Boromir, the salient is: what might happen? Gollum has already been corrupted. In a manner of speaking (symbolically, that is): most of the characters in the novel are prelapsarian, and consequently only as interesting as Adam and Eve. Gollum is after the fall, and starts to become Iago -- or Lord Jim.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Geese and tree poem

Canal geese: pin-eyed,
their bakelite beaks,
their leaf-shaped feet,

the crosshatch shading
of their feathers
under white sunlight.

Nothing bears down on them;
they sit on the yielding
cloth of quite open water.

The goiter bark of the oak,
shouldering the whole sky
like a wooden Atlas.

The enormous, metallic
weight of all its jangling leaves,
the contortion of its limbs.

'Everything that bears bears down'
says the tree, grasping at earth
with a thousand fat fingers

desperate to hold and hold on.
But, all at once, en masse,
the geese leap from the water

and go clattering off,
massaging the open air
with their rhythmic wing-fingers.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Browning's Necromancer Poetics

Browning’s dramatic monologues are aesthetic attempts to call forth particular dead individuals and hear what they have to say to us. To say so is to figure ‘the dramatic monologue’ as a form of verbal resuscitation of the dead, a quasi-spiritualist voicing of dead men and women. It's a little odd to position Browning in this way, given that he has traditionally been seen as implacably hostile to the developing discourses of nineteenth-century Spiritualism (as in 'Mr Sludge "The Medium"'), in sharp contradistinction to his wife Elizabeth Barrett who was energetically enthusiastic about seances, table-rapping, hauntings and the whole bag-and-baggage of the Victorian supernatural. Browning (according to this particular interpretative narrative) is materialist in contrast to his wife’s spiritualist biases, conventionally religious where she was interested in the unconventional.

Nevertheless, when Browning writes his masterpiece, The Ring and the Book (1868-9) he includes at the centre of its first book a powerful self-characterisation of himself as poet as Resurrectionist. This passage explicitly identifies Browning’s epic project, and by extension the form of the dramatic monologue itself, as a ‘resuscitation of the dead’, in which Browning connects spiritually (by sending forth ‘half his soul’) with long dead individuals, and allows them to speak through his poetry. This way, ‘something dead may get to live again’ and the poet ‘makes new beginning, starts the dead alive’ [R & B, 1:722, 726]. The Ring and the Book is a poem explicitly figured as a seance, a ghostly haunting, ten speakers called back from the dead by Browning’s occult power to tell their tales. As such it becomes a poem precisely about the passage from life to death (and back); about the borderline state ambiguous between death-in-life and life-in-death. It is a text haunted by the brutality of the point of death, the ontological wrenching figured as physical pain. It is haunted by spectres -- of Pompilia, of Elizabeth Barrett, of ‘honour’ and ‘truth’. It is Browning’s masterwork because it embraces these themes so expertly: the dead returning to life, life haunted by death, the same themes that characterise Browning’s poetry throughout his career.

Death has traditionally been seen in criticism as the ultimate point of resistance to discourse. According to Garrett Stewart, ‘death necessitates a mastery of “the Impossible” by style. When the linguistic forms death, dead and die are extrapolated from their own referential vacuum into anything like a subjective episode of narrated dying, language unfolds a definitive instance of pure story, unapproachable by report ... As narrative event, death is the ultimate form of closure plotted within the closure of form.’ [Garrett Stewart, Death Sentences: Styles of Dying in British Fiction (Cambridge MA: Harvard Univ. Press 1984), 5-6] Stewart’s concern is with deathbed scenes in the novel rather than with a supernatural ‘resuscitation of the dead’, but his observation pinpoints two key features of this poetics of the resuscitated dead. The first is that death obviates the third-person report: once we speak of somebody else dying there comes a point when they pass beyond our ability to say anything. Only a first person narrative, only the testimony of a spirit called back by a Sludge-like Spiritualist -- or only a device such as the Browning-invented dramatic monologue -- allows us imaginative access to this state. The second is that giving voice to the dead radically problematises closure: it unpicks the closure of form by reversing a form of closure.

So many of Browning’s poems are positioned on this troubled boundary that it might almost be identified as the key defining feature of his verse. He writes a great many death-bed poems: ‘The Bishop Orders his Tomb’, ‘Prospice’, ‘Confessions’, ‘Holy Cross Day’, ‘A Death in the Desert’, ‘Doctor ---‘ and many others. More than this, several of his most famous poems are point-of-death works, where the speaker actually dies in the process of voicing his or her monologue, or where another speaker describes the process of actually dying. ‘Pompilia’ from The Ring and the Book is a kind of large-scale representation of this situation, but poetry that ‘starts the dead alive’ is central to Browning’s corpus from his invention of the dramatic monologue in . His first collection of dramatic monologues, Dramatic Lyrics (1842) is full of poems that give voice to the dead. This is to say more than the fact that Browning’s poems of necessity give voice to historical speakers, like the fifteenth-century Duke of Ferrara in ‘My Last Duchess’ or the English Civil warrior of the ‘Cavalier Tunes’. It is to observe the way these poems (which are formally about resurrecting the dead to speak) are so frequently plotted against content that expresses the passing from life to death and back again; poems that deliberately straddle the death-life border.

So many dead people in Browning’s poetry; so close a proximity of life and death, to the point almost of a continual exchange between the two states: this elaborates and explains both subject and form in Browning’s work. His necromancer, resurrectionist poetics mark him out from the mainstream of Victorian poetics. Tennyson, by contrast, writes no poems about the resuscitation of the dead: he has no deathbed monologues. His key figures either cannot die – like King Arthur in the Idylls of the King – or have moved from this world in a way that denies the possibility of return – like Arthur Hallam. In Memoriam is precisely about the ways Hallam does not haunt the present, the ways in which Tennyson’s narrator has to come to terms with his absence. Tennyson’s wizard-figure for the poet (Merlin) is a bard, where Browning’s (Cornelius Agrippa) is a necromancer. This is presumably why so many of Tennyson’s dramatic monologue speakers are contemporaries, where so many of Browning’s – the overwhelming majority – are long-dead historical figures. Matthew Arnold is another contrary figure: his invocation of the dead, as in ‘The Scholar Gipsy’, is designed to mark out how far the modern world has fallen away from the idyllic past. In other words, his Scholar Gipsy disappears into an unrecoverable past before our eyes as we read the poem. Only Browning’s explores the presence of the dead to the living, the way mourning an individual or a past time is an ontological activity focused on the material particulars. His haunted poetry works at giving voice to the dead by way of situating the dead as always already with us, as simultaneously sinister and uncanny (occult) and as promises of divine resurrection (Christian). This is why so many of his poems concern dying people, or dead people, concern death and the processes of death.


Arterial blood is more eloquent than veinous blood.

Some believe/We over-employ our gifts

Blackness is the distinguished form

Of blankness’

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Sidereus Angelicus

Sidereus Nuncius. The title of Galileo's famous treatise is 'usually translated into English as Sidereal Messenger, although Starry Messenger and Sidereal Message are also seen.' It's not the 'starry' part that interests me, though: it's the 'messenger'.

Now, 'nuncius' does indeed mean 'messenger', although it's more usually spelled 'nuntius' (it may be fanciful of me to think that Galileo prefers the former because it more literally includes the 'nunc', the now, of his 'news'. Lewis and Short define 'nuntius' as 'a bearer of news, one who brings intelligence, a reporter, messenger, courier.' Galileo's title depends upon the startling linkage of this mundane postman/newscaster figure with the stars. But that also contains the title's sly irony: for another word for messenger, and one more conventionally associated with the heavens, is 'angelus'. This of course is the Latin version of the Greek word ἄγγελος, and can be found both in the mundane postman/newscaster sense (Seneca's Epistles 20) but also in medieval Latin as 'angel'. This, I think, is what Galileo's title flirts with: the idea that his telescope is replacing the Biblical angels as the bearer of heavenly news ...

Monday, 6 September 2010

Late Summer Clouds

Some splotchy white clouds against the grey, like blots of chewing gum flattened upon a pavement.

Sunday, 5 September 2010


More fascinatingiana from wikipedia:
most dialects of English, the letter's name is zed ( /ˈzɛd/) reflecting its derivation from the Greek zeta (see below) but in American English, its name is zee ( /ˈziː/), deriving from a late 17th century English dialectal form. Another English dialectal form is izzard ( /ˈɪzərd/), which dates from the mid-18th century and probably derives from Occitan izèda or the French ézed, for which the Latin form would be *idzēta, perhaps a popular form with an prosthetic vowel.
'Zed', 'Zee' and 'Izzard' hardly exhaust the possibilities for naming this letter, though, do they: I'd like to make a few proposals: zah; ziq; zum; pz; zipproqira; zer; zeb; zay. With a bit of popular usage, one of these could take off. ('I can recite the alphabet, from a to zay' ...)

Saturday, 4 September 2010

The Price of Hating

If only Eldridge Cleaver's superb statement were true! 'the price of hating other human beings is loving oneself less.' But the baleful reality is that hating others, by strengthening the schloss of the ego, focuses self-love rather than dissipates it.

Friday, 3 September 2010


Nobody likes to think of themselves as a prude; but most people are. The mistake they make is to think that 'prudishness' is a state of mind that applies to their own sexual life -- 'you call me prudish; but you wouldn't call me that, if you only saw what I and my husband/wife get up to of a summer's night!' That's not it, though. Prudishness is a function of how we relate to other peoples' sexual life. If thinking about people with tastes very different to yours having sex raises even the slightest 'yuck!' in your inner sanctum of consciousness, then you're a prude.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Transcendental Unity of Apperception

Let's see if I've got this right.
It is by means of the transcendental unity of apperception that all the manifold given in an intuition is united into a conception of the object. On this account it is called objective, and must be distinguished from the subjective unity of consciousness. ... The transcendental unity of apperception is alone objectively valid; the empirical possesses only subjective validity. (Critique, 80-81)
OK, Roger, help me out:
It is important to understand this phrase, which contains in embryo much of Kant's philosophy. 'Apperception' is a term taken from Liebnizian metaphysics; it refers to any experience of which the subject is able to say "this is mine". In other words, 'apperception' means 'self-conscious experience'. The unity of apperception consists in the '"I think" which can accompany all my perceptions' [B.131-2], to borrow again Kant's version of Descartes. It consists of my immediate awareness that simultaneous experiences belong to me. I know immediately that this thought, and this perception, are equally mine, in the sense of belonging to the unity of consciousness that defines my point of view. Doubt here is impossible: I could never be in the position that Dickens in Hard Times attributes to Mrs Gradgrind on her deathbed, knowing that there is a pain in the room somewhere but not knowing that it is mine. This apprehension is called 'transcendental' because I could never derive it from experience. I could not argue that, because this pain has such a quality, and this thought such another, they must belong to a single consciousness. If I did that, I could make a mistake; I could be in the absurd position of ascribing to myself some pain, thought or perception that belonged, not to me, but to someone else. So the unity that I apprehend in my point of view is not a conclusion from experience, but a presupposition of experience. Its basis 'transcends' anything that experience could establish ... the transcendental unity of apperception provides the minimal description of our point of view. I can know one thing: that there is unity of consciousness. [Scruton, 43-44]
Conceivably the reason why this isn't as well known as the Descartean cornerstone cogito it seeks to reform and reesetablish is because its much harder to grasp. Or conceivably the reason has to do with its wrongness ... a splendid, rather glorious wrongness, to be sure, that I can't be sure if Scruton is slyly acknowledging here -- I mean the way that, to illustrate the notion that my pain is mine and your pain yours and we two could never get confused on that point, he brings in a Dickensian character who contradicts exactly that point. I don't think he is trying to suggest Kant's wrongness, though, because the larger objection remains unmade (in fact, reading his book, I suspect he thinks Kant is right, here). Let not that larger objection remain unmade.

The larger objection, of course, is that human consciousness is not monadic in that crass sense that Leibniz's 'windowless' sometimes implies. This is so in large part because of that universal human quality -- empathy -- that erodes the capacity crisply to distinguish between my-pain-which-is-mine and your-pain-which-is-yours. Or to put it another way: Kant is saying we must have transcendental unity of apperception, since I think my thoughts and you think your thoughts; and that without it we might be in the situation of me thinking your thoughts and you thinking mine, which would be crazy. But this means that I refute Kant's transcendental unity of apperception simply by contemplating it, because by contemplating it, by running it through my mind, I am precisely having Kant's thoughts.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

... and work.

Depression's great lesson, for those of us canny or lucky or strong enough to learn it, is: work. Likewise, the representation of depression ought to encourage those strong enough to read it to do something. Perhaps that sounds Arnoldian, or Carlylean; but in fact it is a kind of modifed Shelley: 'look on my despair, ye mighty, and work.'