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Showing posts from August, 2011

Review - Is There Life After Death? The extraordinary science of what happens when we die. By Anthony Peake,

This book was thrust into my hands by a fellow magician, because she'd found it interesting and thought it might be my kind of thing. I think the author would have me believe that this was significant, a signal from my Higher Self who reincarnates endlessly into the same body, the same life-cycle, again and again. For this is Peake's thesis - that we are each in one of the runs of our own personal, solipsistic, endless Groundhog Day. These repeats are an Eternal Return that differs only in tiny or great differences that increase with the degree of experience of the re-incarnating Self. This book follows a pattern familiar from the science-mystic fringe: introduce a wacky and exciting idea, back it up with an unusual stretch of interpretation from quantum physics, then proceed to contrast 'Western thought' unfavourably with some interpretation of Eastern mysticism. Peake kicks off with a dubious leap from the double slit experiment and the Copenhagen Interpretat

Adventures in Ireland 2: The pilgrim's mountain, Irish hyperreality and the island sanctuary

On Lughnasadh Sunday we walked up Croaghpatrick, the mountain from which the notorious St Patrick is supposed to have banished the snakes from Ireland ('What's that guy got against reptiles anyway?'). Over 15,000 people (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/8204987.stm ) go up every year on that one day, and you can believe it – the long track is as busy as the Old Kent Road. It was a pretty unpleasant climb, especially after we ascended into the fog and rain, but an incredible spectacle: people of all ages and dress styles, being helpful towards each other. An old man with two sticks fell in front of me, and people gathered round to help him up, I got one of his sticks back to him, and he proceeded another three steps before falling again. And it didn't stint on weirdness: up on the summit, in fog, a speaker system blared out Mass and the confession queue snaked up to the tiny stone church. On the way back down I saw a little old man in suit and tie and brogues, strolling up th

Adventures in Ireland 1: Localism and the satnav; bathing in slime

I've now had my phone (destroyed by Irish rain) repaired, have devirused the main computer, welcomed another laptop into our home and taught it the house rules, had the car fixed following the breakdown it politely waited for us to get back from Holyhead to have, and fixed the shelf that fell off the wall in the middle of the night we arrived back. Yes, to a Ragnorok of household appliances. So now I can spend time writing my blog. Stuck in Dublin traffic we have time to discover our satnav's map is not just Britain, but the British Isles, so we use it to get out of Dublin and on our way to County Mayo. By nightfall, we are in Ballina, and, flushed with our earlier success, attempt to get the machine to direct us to Bonniconlan, the nearest village to the hamlet our friend Donal lives in. Judy tries various spellings (we're already alerted to the range of spellings employed as Gaelic turns into English), but the device is having none of it. So we try 'Knockroe', t