Wednesday, 30 May 2007

Illth - Definition on Wikipedia

Illth, a term and concept used by John Ruskin as the reverse of wealth in the sense of ‘well-being’. The Oxford English Dictionary recognises it as a valid word.

In Ruskin's view:

Wealth, therefore, is 'The possession of the valuable by the valiant'; and in considering it as a power existing in a nation, the two elements, the value of the thing, and the valour of its possessor, must be estimated together. Whence it appears that many of the persons commonly considered wealthy, are in reality no more wealthy than the locks of their own strong boxes are, they being inherently and eternally incapable of wealth; and operating for the nation, in an economical point of view, either as pools of dead water, and eddies in a stream (which, so long as the stream flows, are useless, or serve only to drown people, but may become of importance in a state of stagnation should the stream dry); or else, as dams in a river, of which the ultimate service depends not on the dam, but the miller; or else, as mere accidental stays and impediments, acting not as wealth, but (for we ought to have a correspondent term) as 'illth,' causing various devastation and trouble around them in all directions; or lastly, act not at all, but are merely animated conditions of delay, (no use being possible of anything they have until they are dead,) in which last condition they are nevertheless often useful as delays, and 'impedimenta,' (Unto this Last, 1860)

Various other writers have used the term, and continue to do so. A notable example is Shaw, who uses illth as a subheading in an 1889 essey.

Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Word/Phrase/Moon of the Day/Week


(Sly, shrewd, dryly humerous)

Aio Quantitas Magna Frumentorum Est

(yes that is a very large amount of corn)

The moon is waxing gibbous

Monday, 28 May 2007

The Triscombe Stone

May 28th 7pm
Vicky and Cuckco duet together

Buddah's fingers

Crepuscular rays, in atmospheric optics, also known as sun rays or God's rays, are rays of sunlight that appear to radiate from a single point in the sky. These rays, which stream through gaps in clouds, are diverging columns of sunlit air separated by darker cloud-shadowed regions. The name comes from their frequent occurrences during twilight, when the contrasts between light and dark are the most obvious. Various airborne compounds scatter the sunlight and make these rays visible. The reason we see the light so defined is because of diffraction, reflection and scattering.

Crepuscular rays are near-parallel, but appear to diverge because of linear perspective. They often occur when objects such as mountain peaks or clouds partially shadow the sun's rays like a cloud cover. Three main forms of crepuscular rays are:

* Rays of light penetrating holes in low clouds (also called "Jacob's Ladder").
* Beams of light diverging from behind a cloud.
* Pale, pinkish or reddish rays that radiate from below the horizon. These are often mistaken for sun pillars.

The rays of the second and third types, in some cases, may extend across the sky and appear to converge at the antisolar point, which is the point on the sky sphere directly opposite the sun, and they are called anticrepuscular rays. Like crepusucular rays, they are parallel shafts of sunlight from holes in the clouds, and their apparently odd directions are a perspective effect.

Crepuscular and anticrepuscular rays behave in the same way. Crepuscular rays are usually red or yellow in appearance because the atmosphere acts as a giant lens, refracting low sunset rays into long curved paths passing through up to 40 times as much air than the rays from a high midday sun. Particles in the air scatter short wavelength blue and green rays much more strongly than longer wavelength yellow and red.

Crepuscular rays can also occasionally be viewed underwater. Particularly, in arctic areas, appearing from ice shelfs or cracks in the ice.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Warren Cottage, Wiltshire

Tucked in a cluster of trees,
The cottage hides from the walking lane,
Flint-bricked on a wheatened hill,
Crowned by an English rood.

Looking north,
An ancient fort moated by knurled oak,
Where once centurions stood, clenched against the wind,
Plumed in the shade to greet the dawn with fear.

On the south,
Nymphs and a scaled garden,
Foliation's and stems and tarragon and thyme,
Its own Byzantium,
Hedged in the patient simplicity of sun.

Within the cottage,
Musick and an oil-lit fantasy of suites,
Plucked wingless among the old bricks,
A tracery of eaves, and shuttered windows,

All veiled in a brush of trees,
Where the fire and the rose are one.

Keith Treacher 1997

Coruscations of Light

O ‘Children, my Children - come closer
And I will tell you of the stars;
The Stars that fall to earth in glittering array,
And contain the fragments of our future’s hope,

Each one is so precious and so fragile,
The vital force that entices the shoot to bloom
Carries its own burden of stories past;
Each generation fights against the tide.

Listen to me; it is the inherited fears that conspire against the beauty of new life;
And wounds open against every thrust it seems.
So, we must struggle to heal these dark set wounds;
Relinquish and grow aright.

I tell you, I will not add to your burden from my vessel,
Receive no new amount from me to bend and twist your growth.
Together we will staunch the blood that flows,
And grow together strong and new

Vicky Hemingway 2001


When glassy eyes reflect upon the land,
And torn emotions float
Sky-bound to the cloud-bound high,
Empty is the space and there is peace again

Is this the draught for the soul?
Is this the time for contemplation?
Watching the earth spin,
Exhilarating in the force of movement.

Nature in moments of being, affirms our existence,
Asserting itself, pushing upward edger to make seed.
Clear space expands and the sky,
Rampant now in its freedom, is dappled and vast.

Vicky Hemingway 1989

The Rainbow - An Excerpt

D.H. Lawrence (1915)

...She knew and the rainbow stood on the earth. She knew that the sordid people who crept hard-scaled and separate on the face of the world’s corruption were living still, that the rainbow was arched in their blood and would quiver to life in their spirit, that they would cast off their horny covering of disintegration; that new, clean, naked bodies would issue to a new germination, to a new growth, rising to the light
And the wind and the clean rain of heaven.

She saw in the rainbow the earth’s new architecture, the old, brittle corruption of houses and factories swept away, the world built up in a living fabric of Truth fitting to the over-arching heaven...

I am not yet born

Louis MacNeice

I am not yet born; O hear me.
Let not the bloodsucking bat or the rat or the stoat
or the club-footed ghoul come near me.

I am not yet born, console me.
I fear that the human race may with tall walls wall me,
with strong drugs dope me, with wise lies lure me,
on black racks rack me, in blood-baths roll me.

I am not yet born; provide me
with water to dandle me, grass to grow for me, trees to talk to me,
sky to sing to me,birds and a white light
in the back of my mind to guide me.

I am not yet born; forgive me
For the sins that in me the world shall commit, my words
when they speak me, my thougths when they think me,
my treason engendered by traitors beyond me,
my life when they murder by means of my
hands, my death when they live me.

I am not yet born; rehearse me
In the parts I must play and the cues I must take when
old men lecture me, bureaucrats hector me, mountains frown at me, lovers laugh at me, the white waves call me to folly and the desert calls me to doom
and the beggar refuses my gift and my children curse me.

I am not yet born; O hear me,
Let not the man who is beast or who thinks he is God come near me.

I am not yet born; O fill me
With strength against those who would freeze my humanity, would dragoon me into a
lethal automaton,
would make me a cog in a machine, a thing with one face, a thing, and against all those who would dissipate my entirety, would blow me like thistledown hither and thither or hither and thither like water held in the hands would spill me.

Let them not make me a stone and let them not spill me.
Otherwise kill me.


Saturday, 26 May 2007

My Flowers

Kitchen window, No.7 Danes Road 2007

Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Word of the Day

Sam and Vicky's word today is:


"a detestable compound of vulgarity and rodomontade"

From quantitative to qualitative

...His great work as political economist was to turn the thought of his countrymen from a quantitative to a qualitative ecomony...

... Approaching social and economic structure rather as an artist than as a scientist, he felt his way down to the roots of many a problem, and then turned on it the illuminating lantern of his anaylytic genius. His teaching was genuinely revolutionary. For he saw that the social economic system was rotten to its roots with the moral cancer of a wrong motive, and that no concessions, modifications or alleviations would restore health. Nothing short of a complete transformation of its structure and a new spirit would suffice...

Ruskin the Prophet, JA Hobson, page 98

Sower of Seeds

...He was an assiduous sower of many seeds...

Ruskin the Prophet, JA Hobson, page 97


funky dancing at the Royal Festival Hall - 2005

Ruskin used illth to descibe bad wealth:

...Social reformers were, he rightly reckoned ,certain to concern themselves too exclusively with the task of trying to improve the conditions of pay, the distributing of wealth, to the comparative neglect of the conditions of work. Capitalism would be able to maintain its worst tyranny, that of subdivided and de-humanising toil, by concessions as liberal as they had to be, upon the wages question. This Ruskin clearly saw, would in itself be no solution of the social problem. It would leave degraded human beings with more money to apply to the satisfaction of degraded tastes. The whole problem of luxury or bad wealth, "illth," would remain unsolved...

Ruskin the Prophet, JA Hobson, page 91

Tribute to My Man

...He shared the fate of the prophet. He moved as the one man who had eyes in the country of the blind, and the one desire of the blind men was to reduce him to a condition similar to their own. He was not limited, by just the survey of the immediate surroundings in the time and place in which they lived. He looked across the centuries, saw cities rise and fall, forms of civilization organized by man remote and different from the civilization of Westmorland, or Wakefield, or Westminster; and he refused to believe that this particular, and as he thought, wrong direction taken by a certain section of the human race, whom all the while that they were marching to ruin, were crowning themselves with flowers and hailing themselves as immortal, was the last word in the dealings of God with man...

... He had seen the people round him like the man with the muckrake in the parable, with every kind of glory, and beauty, and nobility of life offered them freely, still with heads averted, raking together the sticks, and the small stones, and the dust of the floor. He saw the possibility of gentleness and courage, and compassion torn to pieces and lost in the mad struggle partly for wealth and partly for mere existence in a society which was less a civilization than a sham. He proclaimed it and in proclaiming it, he gave everything that a man can give. Let us not in our turn refuse to do him honour.

Ruskin the Prophet, page 59

Natural Beauty was being Threatened

... And just when he perceived this most passionately (in his young manhood) that natural beauty was being threatened from without by the machine and the foundry and the railway. We, now, are used to our critics being filthy and to tracts of our country being black, and to the railway as a means of transport. But in Ruskin's time those things were only beginning, and their beginning seemed to him a vile poisoning and degradation of base and beastly purposes of whatever was lovely and sacred, on which the mind of man could brood and in which the eye of man could see the Divine. He saw what he calls "the blunt hard hand" marring the Divine vision - John Bull wadding in to the place of St. George, the Diving revealer flouted by this not golden, but rather stony Jerusalem, which had stoned so many of the prophets, Blakd and Keats and Wordsworth...

Ruskin the Prophet, Ruskin by J Masefield, ed, J Howard Whitehouse; page 19.

Great Valley and Little Hill

View across the valley to the White Horse of Uffington 2005

...that landscape of great valley and little hill, which is lovelier than any landscape in this world. There is no more exquisite feeling about the beauty of the world than in the best English landscape...

Ruskin the Prophet; Ruskin, J Masefield, ed. J Howard Whitehouse, p 19

Monday, 21 May 2007

Monday 21st May

On the white board in the office - Sam and Vicky begin the day with:

Word of the Day

Phrase of the Week
Ab Ovo Usque Ad Mala
(from the egg to the apple)

Phase of the Moon
(the toenail)

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Message in the Waves

"Hawai‘i -Message in the Waves" is a film from the BBC Natural History Unit looking at some of the environmental challenges facing the people and wildlife of the Hawaiian Islands.

Although the documentary is from a Hawaiian perspective it is really a global film. Because of their size, location and social history, the Hawaiian Islands represent a microcosm of the planet and are in a unique position to tell all of us where we are going wrong and what we can do to help put things right.

There are many messages in the waves but the one we learned in Hawai‘i that we feel requires immediate attention is that of global plastic pollution. We have put this website together to provide some more information about the problem and how we can all help.

" Kuleana"- privilege AND responsibility. Although we made the film, this is an unofficial web companion and does not reflect the views of the BBC.

Natural World -
Hawaii: "message in the Waves"
(to air on BBC2 6.10pm Sunday May 6th).

Monday, 7 May 2007

Torturing nature….

An Autobiography by RG Collingwood

Oxford University Press 1939
Page 77

... Nature was no longer a Sphinx asking man riddles; it was man that did the asking, and Nature, now, that he put to the torture until she gave him the answer to his questions...

Thinking outside the box

An Autobiography by RG Collingwood

Oxford University Press 1939
Page 77

...Soon after the beginning of that century, a number of intelligent people in western Europe began to see in a settled and steady manner what a few here and there had seen by fits and starts for the last hundred years or more: namely that the problems which ever since the time of early Greek philosophy had gone by the collective name of ‘physics’ were capable of being restated in a shape in which, with the double weapon of experiment and mathematics, one could now solve them. What was called Nature, they saw, had henceforth no secrets from man; only riddles which he had learnt the trick of answering. Or, more accurately, Nature was no longer a Sphinx asking man riddles; it was man that did the asking, and Nature, now, that he put to the torture until she gave him the answer to his questions.

This was an important event in human history, it was important enough to divide the philosophers of the period into two groups: those who understood its importance and those who did not. The first group comprised all those whose names are now generally know to students of philosophy. The second, an immensely greater host of good men, learned men, subtle men, sleep their long night unknown and unlamented, not because they did not find a poet to praise them; few philosophers do; but because they misread the signs of the times. They did not realise that the chief business of seventeenth century philosophy was to reckon with seventeenth century natural science; to solve the new problems that the new science had raised, and to envisage the old problems in the new forms which they had assumed, or would assume, when refracted into new shapes through the new scientific atmosphere.

The chief business of twentieth-century philosophy is to reckon with twentieth-century history. Until the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, historical studies had been in a condition analogous to that of natural science before Galileo. In Galileo’s time something happened to natural science … which suddenly and enormously increased the velocity of its progress and the width of its outlook. About the end of the nineteenth century something of the same kind was happening, more gradually and less spectacularly perhaps, but not less certainly, to history.

Until then, the writer of history had been in the last resort, however he might prune and pad, moralise and comment, a scissors-and-paste man. At bottom, his business was to know what ‘the authorities’ had said about the subject he was interested in, and to his authorities’ statements he was tied by the leg, however long the rope and however flowery the turf over which it allowed him to circle. If his interest led him towards a subject on which there were no authorities, it led him into a desert where nothing was except the sands of ignorance and the mirage of imagination...

(Collingwood grew up in an atmosphere of archaeological exploration, his father WG Collingwood was a minor painter, secretary to William Ruskin and a passionate archaeologist. It was a mixture of these early influences that would effected the way RG thought and ultimately influenced his way of approaching historical assumptions and to see ‘outside the box’. VH)

Seeing the wood for the trees

An Autobiography by RG Collingwood

Oxford University Press 1939
Page 76:

…and if anybody had objected that…one couldn’t see the wood for the trees, I should have answered, who wants to? A tree is a thing to look at; but a wood is not a thing to look at, it is a thing to live in.