Monday, 31 March 2008

Friday, 28 March 2008

Oh you pretty atheists

You may enjoy listening to this while reading;

Vivaldi's Concerto Grosso in G Minor is one of my favourite pieces of Baroque music. I find it harmonically beautiful and structurally perfect. As with most music from this period, I'm satisfied when the music repeatedly resolves to its root key. It just feels 'right' to me. Safe, even.


Just like the film where the boy gets the girl, good triumphs over evil and the mystery is solved - its all tied off nice and safe. It meets that very human need we have for meaning, structure and resolution. We are after all, just pattern recognition machines.

Classical music may not be up your street and to be fair, I'm hardly the buff myself (I'm an indy boy at heart), but the beauty of this piece is undeniable. It's as if it has an inherent, tangible beauty - something you might grasp in the palm of your hand.

Kittens are nice too. You can hold them in the palm of your hand if you want. Sunsets, grand vistas and stars are equally beautiful, if rather difficult to get a grip of. Yet still they feel 'right' somehow.

Love and morality have aesthetic similarities too I think, as it's tempting to see them as tangible entities - things that exist in and of themselves and outwith our own bodies.

I've had many a conversation with the faithful about this very phenomenon. They go something like this;

"Just look around you - look at how beautiful the world is. How could something so perfect be random?"

"Erm, we've evolved to see beauty in this 'apparent' order perhaps?"

"Yes, but it would have to be beautiful in the first place, surely?"


"What is love?"

"Fucked if I know mate, but it feels nice..."

and so on...

I find that on these points of aesthetics, I have some commonality with believers. I've never struggled with the notion of gods per-se, but the nature of beauty, love and morality have had me tied up in knots for years. Like the Christian, who believes that God is the absolute root of beauty, I've struggled to get to grips with them as human, relativist constructions.

Until I decided to stop trying to get to the bottom of it and just get on with appreciating them for what they are.

John Cage, the avant-garde composer (and polar opposite to Vivaldi) once said;

"If you develop an ear for sounds that are musical it is like developing an ego. You begin to refuse sounds that are not musical and that way cut yourself off from a good deal of experience."

Well said, I say.

Thursday, 27 March 2008

Brain Implant Next...

An LG Viewty and an unlimited data plan means there's now no limit to the banality I can contribute to the Internet...

Tuesday, 25 March 2008

Beach Run

Was a bit nippy.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Soft Play

If there's one thing I'm certain of, then it's that people who are certain about things unnerve me. Those that would purport to grasp the absolutes of good / evil, beauty / dissonance or right / wrong are, in my view, quite tiresome and in some cases profoundly dangerous.

To put it more simply - they get on my tits.

Which begs the question - why do I describe myself as Atheist - that absolute position of godlessness, rather than agnostic?

Well, I'm agnostic of gods in the same way I'm agnostic of triangles with four angles. I'm also agnostic that the sun may not rise tomorrow morning. Considering the evidence however, I don't think they're eventualities worth preparing our children for.

God may very well come down to earth in his fiery chariot, beard all tangled by the wind and smite the faithless with his thunderbolts.

If he does, I plan on saying "Well, bugger me" just before getting zapped.

So technically you could call me Agnostic. But for all intents and purposes, my position is indistinguishable from Atheism.

Also if I'm honest, I don't like the term Agnostic. It's a soft bellied, limp excuse for a word and one that I'd rather not be labelled with.

Agnosticism is a continuum, not a position, as it can imply someone ready to take Pascal's Wager and believe in God, through to someone like me - pretty much the Atheist. This is why religious people find the word 'Agnostic' so much more palatable I think, as 'Atheist' has so many angles that it's difficult to swallow. Whereas Agnostic slips down just nice.

So, amongst friends I may call myself agnostic, but in public I'll remain atheist. I'd rather people understood my position than be cushioned from it by a soft, cuddly word.

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Monday, 17 March 2008


I seem to have got out of the blogging habit. Perhaps the urge will retake me soon. In the meantime, here's three photos of my weekend's antics.

My Favourite Wood

Wonky Horn

The New Uber-Library

Sunday, 9 March 2008

Why I've been absent

I don't remember birthdays being such events as they are for children these days. Meg was six on Thursday you see, which does scare me a little.

Her festivities began on Tuesday, when friends came home for tea. Since then there have been various gatherings, large and small, culminating in a Ten Pin Bowling party this AM.

Now, much as I love my children, I'm afraid I'm kiddy partied out. Also, I'm a man - so I have to work against my genetic programming to eke out a small jot of enjoyment from the screaming of children other than my own.

So I bid my goodbyes to Miche & the kids this morning and buggered off for a project run - up the north bank of the Tyne from Newcastle, past Wallsend, through the pedestrian tunnel and return via the south bank.

Some 16 miles or so. I'll admit to biting off more than I can chew, as I had to walk a good bit of the last three miles, but the peace was wonderful.

Of course, we had a houseful on my return home, though some of my boy mates were there, so drinking could be done. Mind, after a run like that, boozing isn't really a good idea. I am, to be honest, quite profoundly drunk writing this post. But I do have my feet up on the couch and the house is quiet once more.

Some photos of my run;

Tuesday, 4 March 2008

To spin an egg

If you spin a raw egg, like you would a top, then stop it and leave go, it will keep on spinning.

Busy days at work have a similar effect on my brain. Things must be quiet back home, so that I can concentrate on anything meaningful outside of the daily grind. No such luck this evening, when there's a wife and two children at hand - the brain yolk just keeps on rotating.

It's a shame really, as I had a rather nice post in mind. It would have took some serenity to formulate however, so it'll have to wait for another night.

I tease you with egg photos Weeta - they will be forthcoming, I promise...

Sunday, 2 March 2008

Crackin' Toast Gromit

This year, for the first time, Meg is of the age that she can butter her mother's toast and carry it upstairs on a tray for Mother's Day. She propped up her home made card next to the tea cup, within which she'd written a story about baby animals and their mums.

It went down well.

Later on today, we took a family trip to Woodhorn where there's an exhibition of Wallace & Gromit memorabilia. I got quite geeky and moist, it must be said, to be so close to these models in real life.

Some photos for you - apologies for the cell phone crapness;