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Archive for ‘The Friday Fillip’ Feature

The Friday Fillip: Through a Window Slowly

Duncan probably had it right: “There’s no art to find the mind’s construction in the face.”

It’s where we live — or where we are seen to live — and that’s the point of it, I suppose: communication. All those incredibly numerous and tiny muscles sculpting cheeks and lips, nuancing the skin around the orbits, telling our tales, often whether we like it or no. (The Latin proverb is “Vultus est index animi”: the face is the index of the mind, where “index” means informer or spy.)

This . . . vulnerability may be one of the reasons . . . [more]

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The Friday Fillip: The Unexamined Book

It’s just shy of two months since Christmas, and half a dozen gift books, real books, are staring me in the face. Unread. Unopened. Lodged, in fact, atop a pile of other neglected and unread books on the table — a towering stack of reproach.

credit: FutUndBeid, Flickr

That’s the thing with unread books. They haunt you until you open them. They glare, stiff-spined. They upset coffee cups and martini glasses. They fall with bangs off bedside tables in the night. And the muttering, snuffling, wolf whistling, whining, and all round hailing from the bolder, more importunate tomes can get . . . [more]

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The Friday Fillip: Music of the Spheres . . .

. . . and octahedrons, and cuneiforms, and cross-stitches.

Music is weird. It has no known evolutionary advantage that might account for its existence, at least none that is agreed upon. As for social purpose, were it to disappear from the world, it’s not at all certain that anything would change. And although definition is always difficult and imperfect, it’s particularly hard to say in words what, if anything, makes music different from just noise.

Yet we keep at it, keep making music, hearing it in noise, and, some would argue, have done so even before we could talk about . . . [more]

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The Friday Fillip: Peeves, Foibles, and Quirks — Oh My!

You stretch, get out of bed, fling on something warm, and open the front door to gaze out at the day. If what you see is acres (or hectares) of fields or forests or snow or ocean, i.e. nothing, then… nevermind. Make your coffee, go back to bed, spend the day in your onesie — whatever. You’ve already provided yourself with the geographical solution to the problem of other people, the problem typically known as civilization. The rest of us, rejoicing in city life, must cope elsehow.

We do that basically by taking great care not to bump into each . . . [more]

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The Friday Fillip: “All That Is the Kinge’s Stuffe”

Because we must read so much, it’s rare for you or me to come across a word we don’t know. I suppose there are at least three reasons we might: the word is old, obsolete; it’s a jargon word, proper to some trade or art we don’t practice; or it’s slang from a crowd we don’t hang with (such as young people, for example). All three explain “ligger”.

I came across it in a recent novel, used as a slang term originating in the British music scene that, according to the Urban Dictionary, means among other things:

An individual

. . . [more]
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The Friday Fillip: Pass on It or Pass It On

There is the duty of abstaining from bothering your neighbours with remarks about the weather, or platitudinarianisms upon things in general.
The Times, September 4, 1873 [via OED]

As a complainant or two has reminded me, I’ve already bothered you about the weather — well, about winter, but same diff — and now I shall ignore this advice yet again and bother you about advice, a particular species of platitudinarianism. For a long time after 1873, when this wise judgment was issued, most of the bothering was done in person, and if you wanted to avoid it you could have . . . [more]

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The Friday Fillip: Immortal Hand or Eye?

What is it about beauty? You can’t eat it. You can’t spend it. You can’t get agreement on it. Yes, what is beauty, anyway?

Some would say it depends on whom you ask — that is, that beauty lies, well, not in the holder but in the beholder, a projection, in effect. Others would espouse a version of that in which the beholder is an entire culture and beauty is a matter of group-think. Still others go even wider, making beauty a phenom of nature, which is more or less to say that beauty is an objective reality at least . . . [more]

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The Friday Fillip: Changing and Staying the Same

Some things change. Some things stay the same. And some things do both.

We all know people who maintain aspects of their character even as they age. Heck, our own selves are perfect examples of this business of changing and remaining: despite life’s continual renewal we maintain a sense of constant identity — “Identity” from Latin idem, the same — but the same as what? as yesterday? and the day before? and so into regression back to the beginning of no character at all? (If this sort of thing interests you, have a look at the Stanford Encyclopedia of . . . [more]

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The Friday Fillip: Sunlight Serenade

I’m partial to daylight.

So it’s probably no wonder that around this time of year here in the Northern Hemisphere I become fascinated by the wanderings of the sun. And even though I’m way down south in Canada, as these things go — on a line1 with Rome and northern California — I’m still light deprived, getting barely more than nine hours at the moment out of the available 24. At noon the sun only just crests a four storey building. Bah!

Now I know you can’t push the river (until it freezes) — or Sol for that matter. . . . [more]

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The Friday Fillip: Boxing Day and Hard Times

It’s Boxing Day. The name is of uncertain origin but one thing seems clear about the day: there’s a tradition attached to it, in Europe at least, of giving to those less fortunate. This is good. More so these days, perhaps, because of our inversion of the tradition from a day of giving into yet another day of getting, as the “sales” shout at us from all quarters.

I thought I might “sing” at you instead of hawking wares, sing songs on the theme of hard economic times, because for all of our great wealth, indeed luxury, there are still . . . [more]

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The Friday Fillip: Hues Kidding

Pantone. Pan – tone. All the colours. This is quite a boast and it puts me in mind of the claim by a friend a long, long time ago that his collection of the then new tape cassettes formed, in his words, “the total library of recorded sound.”

How many colours are there?

This is one of those questions that have no answers and far too many answers. On one of its web pages, Pantone, a commercial system for matching colours in printing ink and in paint, claims a measly 2096. “Measly” because logic suggests that there is . . . [more]

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The Friday Fillip: Sans Everything

One winter day, not too long ago, I found myself at the edge of a small bay on Lake Ontario. The night had been still and so the bay had frozen as smooth as if Zambonied. There was no snow on the ice. Prompted by some childhood impulse, I picked up a smooth stone from the shore and fired it to slide out along the frozen surface. To my amazement the ice sang under the caress of the stone. Disbelieving, I tried it again. And again. Each time an uncanny sound returned to me, something like the whine of a . . . [more]

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