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A ‘Clear and Present Danger’?

The life of the law has not been logic; it has been experience.”
― Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

For me as a citizen of the old colonial Empire that was rightly rejected by the American colonists in an insurgency in the late eighteenth century, it has always struck me as unsound that offensive and racist language and acts of intimidation, threatening behaviour and violence that are motivated by racism, bigoted white supremacy, antisemitism and hatred for the Other, have been allowed to take place upon the streets of American towns and cities under protection of the American Constitution.

Marches and demonstrations by the KKK and neo-Nazi groups have been allowed in the 4 years of the Trump presidency (and overtly supported by the Administration), that have from a British and European perspective seemed utterly idiosyncratic and bordering on the bizarre, given the history of the United States in World War Two, the history of slavery and the ongoing fight for African-American civil rights. In Europe similar marches would have been allowed, but with strict regulations in place and with a large police presence at all times to avert confrontation. However, the language and rhetoric being promulgated within these marches and the symbols of hate being brazenly displayed, would have undoubtedly been prosecuted for incitement to hatred under Article 17 of the European Convention on Human Rights. …

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A gallows placed outside the Capitol building by the fascist mob.

A nationalist will say that “it can’t happen here,” which is the first step toward disaster. A patriot says that it could happen here, but that we will stop it.
― Timothy Snyder, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century

Victor Klemperer was a German Romances language scholar who became much better known for the diaries he kept detailing his life under the German Empire, the Wiemar Republic, Nazi Germany and the German Democratic Republic. …

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Great Expectations’ (2012) directed by Mike Newell

‘It was on a dreary night of November that I beheld the accomplishment of my toils. With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly burnt out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.’

— Mary Shelley

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John Keats on his deathbed ca 1821

It is arterial blood. I cannot be deceived in that color — that drop of blood is my death warrant — I must die!

— John Keats

In every family there was either a death from tuberculosis (consumption) or someone was known to have died from that terrible illness. I remember my grandmother telling me of her younger sibling then 14 who lay in her bed and continually coughed blood, until she eventually and mercifully died in my grandmothers arms. It was a prolonged and terrible death. Medical science at the time could do little. …

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Motherhood’ by Tracey Emin (2020)

‘‘The goal towards which the pleasure principle impels us — of becoming happy — is not attainable: yet we may not — nay, cannot — give up the efforts to come nearer to realization of it by some means or other.’’

— Sigmund Freud

She sang of the Love that is perfected by death, of the Love that dies not in the tomb.”
— Oscar Wilde, The Happy Prince and Other Tales

Currently showing at the Royal Academy of Arts in London is a new exhibition titled The Loneliness of the Soul which displays paintings chosen by Tracey Emin of her most recent work and a select few of Edvard Munch that express her deep affinity with Munch:

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To do such a thing would be to transcend magic. And I beheld, unclouded by doubt, a magnificent vision of all that invisibility might mean to a man — the mystery, the power, the freedom. Drawbacks I saw none. You have only to think! And I, a shabby, poverty-struck, hemmed-in demonstrator, teaching fools in a provincial college, might suddenly become — this.
― H.G. Wells, The Invisible Man

Plato’s long dialogue, the Republic, is concerned with one central issue: the justification of the morally good life. “Why be moral?” is the crucial question that must be answered. Plato does not use the word morality in his dialogues, talking only about moral theory and not morality in the way that it is now used. He addresses morality through discussions of the interconnected concepts of virtue, justice, and happiness. Plato maintains a virtue-based eudaemonistic conception of ethics. …

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Charles Laughton as Dr. Moreau in the first film adaptation of Wells novel, The Isle of Lost Souls (1933)

“And this also,” said Marlow suddenly, “has been one of the dark places of the earth.”
― Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

Darwinian ideas and their relationship to human life were major elements and anxieties pervading the intellectual climate of the Victorian era. There were two writers who explored this relationship in great detail, H.G. Wells and Joseph Conrad. Conrad’s acquaintance with Wells dated to 1896 when he learned that Wells was the anonymous reviewer of An Outcast of the Islands. Conrad writing to Wells in 1896 informed him that he had read The War of the Worlds and had requested a copy of The Island of Doctor Moreau. …

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Fulchran-Jean Harriet (1778–1805), French. Oedipus at Colonus, 1798. Oil on canvas, 157 × 134 cm. The Cleveland Museum of Art. Mr and Mrs. William H. Marlatt Fund, 2002.3.

“I conclude that all is well,” says Oedipus, and that remark is sacred. It echoes in the wild and limited universe of man. It teaches that all is not, has not been, exhausted. It drives out of this world a god who had come into it with dissatisfaction and a preference for futile sufferings. It makes of fate a human matter, which must be settled among men.

(Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus)

In The Myth of Sisyphus a 1942 philosophical essay by Albert Camus and published in 1955 we are given the breathtaking elucidation of his concept of the absurd. …

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Judge George J. Barnes

Were you Norman Maine the actor?

Norman Maine


A Star Is Born’ is a 1954 American musical tragedy film written by Moss Hart, starring Judy Garland and James Mason, and directed by George Cukor. I am pretty sure most of you if not all of you who are reading this have seen the film. Probably quite a few times. I watched it again very recently on the BBC iplayer and this time maybe because I am much older (and possibly a little wiser) saw it in a completely fresh light.

I had in the past been completely overwhelmed by the star personality and performance of Judy Garland. And of course that had been the intention of her then husband Sidney Luft. On the face of it the film is the story of a vocalist with a dance band who catches the bleary, wistful eye of a topnotch male star, an alcoholic, now skidding on the downgrade, and gets his help toward motion-picture fame. Garland is incredible as singer, dancer and actor. Her performance is so perfect because it is so believable. I have no doubt she drew from her own life experience at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. …

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Gustave Doré’s The Spectrum Appearance of Banquo at Macbeth’s Feast


That, trusted home,
Might yet enkindle you unto the crown,
Besides the thane of Cawdor. But ’tis strange.
And oftentimes, to win us to our harm,
The instruments of darkness tell us truths,
Win us with honest trifles, to betray’s
In deepest consequence.

Banquo is a character in ‘Macbeth’ by William Shakespeare, and the ghost of Banquo is one of the most famous ghosts in English literature.

Banquo is Macbeth’s friend and fellow military commander. At the beginning of ‘Macbeth’ we see them together, fighting and defeating the rebels against the king, Duncan. On their way to Duncan’s camp the two men are stopped by three witches who show that they know who the two are. They predict that Macbeth will soon become Thane of Cawdor and, subsequently, king. …


Marc Barham

Column @ on iconic books, TV shows/films: Time Travel Peregrinations. Reviewed all episodes of ‘Dark’ @ site.

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