Monday, October 19, 2015

Dogs after death.

I recently quoted this remark by the art critic Brian Sewell: "As for whether I fear death – I shan’t know until it’s there. All I really want is to wake up and find that every one of my 17 dogs, past and present, is round my bed. Then I shall know that I’m dead, but happily so."

It brought to mind a (once famous) footnote in chapter XXVI of F.H. Bradley's daunting and difficult magnum opus Appearance and Reality. The remarks come in a section dealing with the human desire for life after death and the inconsistencies of the standard (Christian) view. Bradley wrote:

"No one can have been so fortunate as never to have felt the grief of parting, or so inhuman as not to have longed for another meeting after death... One feels that a personal immortality would not be very personal, if it implied a mutilation of our affections. There are those too who would not sit down among the angels, till they had recovered their dog."

I have now come across another reference to a canine presence in worlds beyond. It occurs around the 8-minute mark of this account of a near-death experience.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Looking ahead

A short essay of mine – a minimalistic, descriptive and perhaps deflationist take on obligations and rights – was published a week ago at the new online magazine and discussion forum The Electric Agora. My name has now been added to the list of contributors: this will involve a certain commitment on my part (basically an essay every month or two, commenting and maybe other odds and ends).

The site in the process of establishing itself and I'll try to do my bit to help. It may not work out but, if it does, it gives me access to a sizable and interesting audience that I would not be able to generate on my own account.

The Electric Agora is a spinoff from Scientia Salon, Massimo Pigliucci's 'webzine' which closed down a couple of months ago. The new site was set up by Daniel Kaufman and Dan Tippens with help from Phil Pollack, all of whom were associated with Massimo and Scientia Salon.

We'll see how it goes. My first essay seems to have been a modest success. The comments were certainly interesting and, judging by the likes on the site's Facebook page and Facebook shares from the original site (which are the only stats I have access to), the essay would seem to have been read by a substantial number of people.

Conservative Tendency will continue. It remains my main site and my personal blog. I'm hoping Google will do something soon to open up commenting to people who don't want to use Google+. There are a lot of Google+ comments on my 'English Jewish surnames revisited' post and they continue to appear. I don't want to lose them or the many archived comments from the old commenting system so I am not wanting to take unilateral action to open up commenting on this (or my other blog).

And – who knows? – with more carrot and less stick the tide might turn and Google+ might suddenly take off!

The digital media landscape continues to evolve and it's hard to make long-term plans. The interactive element of blogs has to a large extent been replaced by social media, it seems. I'm wondering now whether the ready availability and increasing use of platforms like Google Docs will further undermine blogs and blogging.

As I say, I'll stay with my blogs for the foreseeable future, but if blogs in general become redundant or merge or morph into social media or other new forms, there is an upside: 'blog' is a very ugly word and I for one would be happy to see it fade into history.