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The glory, jest, and riddle of the world

I'll try to set down some of the many thoughts that jumble and rumble around in my head on my daily walks. The ingredients of this cassoulet of pop philosophy will include the issues of the day (eg sex/gender and the environment) as well as conventional chestnuts such as religion and politics, especially political theory. From time to, time I will chat about words and writing, something I care deeply about.

I have no special qualifications for this task other than wide reading and discussion over a fairly long and eventful life. You want a theme? Then it has to be Alexander Pope’s incomparable verse:

The proper study of mankind is Man.

Placed on this isthmus of a middle state,

A being darkly wise and rudely great:

With too much knowledge for the Sceptic side,

With too much weakness for the Stoic’s pride,

He hangs between; in doubt to act or rest,

In doubt to deem himself a God or Beast,

In doubt his mind or body to prefer;

Born but to die, and reasoning but to err;

Alike in ignorance, his reason such

Whether he thinks too little or too much:

Chaos of thought and passion, all confused;

Still be himself abused, or disabused;

Created half to rise and half to fall;

Great lord of all things, yet a prey to all;

Sole judge of truth, in endless error hurled:

The glory, jest, and riddle of the world!

What more is there to say? Not much, but I’ll have a go from time to time.

Alexander Pope, 1688-1744

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