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  • Socrates, Sneezing and Daemons December 31, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Socrates, Sneezing and Daemons

    Socrates is the bedrock on which the western philosophical tradition has been built. You can polish him like Plotinus. You can take your geological hammer and tap gently at his sides in the style of Aristotle (poor dolt). Or you can start smashing bottles of nitric acid on his stone-work as Nietzsche did. The fact […]

    A Six Mile Stride December 30, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Six Mile Stride

    A gentle post today as we near year’s end. Beachcombing has spent an unaccountable amount of time in Cornwall (south-west ‘England’) in the last week, looking at nineteenth-century infanticide (as you do). In his many wanderings through the meadows of Cornish books he stumbled upon the tale of the giant Bolster striding from St Agnes […]

    The Future of English December 29, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    The Future of English

    There have been various ‘world’ languages, beginning with Greek, moving on to Latin, and from there changing rapidly from Portuguese, to Spanish, to French and more recently to English. Beachcombing spent a lazy moment yesterday browsing a nineteenth-century essay on the ‘inevitable’ triumph of English, the author arguing that not only would English become the […]

    Lincoln and the Angels December 28, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Lincoln and the Angels

    Beachcombing has previously in this place enjoyed some of the nonsense written about death bed quotes. He thought that, following on with this theme, he would today concentrate on that  memorable room in Petersen House at 7:22 a.m. on April 15, 1865 when Lincoln passed from this world, just hours after John Wilkes Booth had […]

    H.P. Lovecraft’s Invisible Library December 27, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    H.P. Lovecraft's Invisible Library

    ***This post is dedicated to Phil P who suggested and advised*** H.P. Lovecraft is said to be a horror writer. It would be truer to say that, like his near contemporary Arthur Machen, he wrote about evil, evil without consolation of good. A teenage Beachcombing had several uncomfortable nights on HPL’s account and an adult […]

    Lancashire Voodoo c. 1850 December 26, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Lancashire Voodoo c. 1850

    Beach promised no more fairy stories in 2011 but he thought he would go out with a witch tale from nineteenth-century Lancashire on the wrong side of the Pennines. There is something reminiscent of an earlier post from Hebden Bridge here and also of the curious case of the witch who suffered spontaneous combustion in […]

    Stalingrad’s Madonna December 25, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Stalingrad's Madonna

    In late 1942 Kurt Reuber (obit 1944) found himself in the Stalingrad Kessel where 300,000 Axis troops awaited almost certain death, surrounded by an understandably vengeful Soviet enemy: only 6000 would survive the war. As the festivities drew near Reuber – curiously, given his subject a Protestant pastor – sketched this beautiful madonna that became […]

    Highland Gladiators December 24, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Highland Gladiators

    If Beachcombing had another ten years to add to his natural lifespan he would study duels: there is enough bizarre material there for at least a decade of honest work. As it is the years pass and there is little time. So he will offer up here, in passing, just one of those many collected […]

    What do fairies smell of? December 23, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    What do fairies smell of?

    Beachcombing knows that not everyone appreciates his endless posts on fairies, but here is – he promises – the last one for 2011. He might even wait a week before he starts again in 2012. Anyway, apologies apart, he recently stumbled on a rather beautiful book about Yorkshire in the late nineteenth century, one that […]

    Eating Flags December 22, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Eating Flags

    In Beachcombing compendious filing cabinets there is a surprisingly thin folder on flags. ‘Surprising’ as flags, as highly charged symbols, encourage moving and peculiar behaviour. One of the most notable films of the last years is, after all, the Flags of Our Fathers (2006) telling the story of that photograph and Old Glory on Iwo […]

    A Faun’s Invisible Library December 21, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Faun's Invisible Library

    Beachcombing used to think that there was nothing more terrible than being ill: fever, soar throat, all that mucus… However, in the last twenty four hours he’s discovered there is a worse condition and that’s being the only well person in a house when everyone else is ill. Yesterday’s dying by laughter is inviting by […]

    Death by Laughter December 20, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern