In the golden age of the Persian Empire there was a community of thinkers, Sufis they were called, whose poetry and song celebrating wine, love and spiritualism had them demonised by the pious as heretics, debauchees and drunks. Their Holy Trinity was their lord, love, and leisure, and for them the three could not be separated: if God was love, then love was god, in all its amorous array. Continue reading “Leonard Cohen (1934-2016): A Sufi Maestro”
Beltrán Domecq and César Saldaña together make up the heart and head of the Sherry world. Who is which is too hard to say – both house a bodega’s worth of knowledge in their heads, a lifetime’s worth of Jerezano lore in their hearts.
When I was looking for a good dance teacher to train me up in time for Jerez’s Feria – a week long fair of horse-riding, drinking and dancing – someone said to me “Ahhh! Juan Parra! Yes, you must go see him, he is the best!”, while another declared “Ahh! Si! Juan Parra! There is no other!”. Continue reading “Learning Flamenco with Juan Parra, Maestro and Caballero”
It was, I think, 2009 when I met Bob Ellis, a writer who was not content to sit idly by to ‘objectively’ observe his objects like the rest of the voyeuristic journalist class of Australia, but instead to fight for them and fight against them throughout his life that ended not long ago. Continue reading “Meeting Bob Ellis (1942-2016)”
Below follows my translation of a 2013 article written by Mario Vargas Llosa, Peruvian Nobel laureate in literature, in the Spanish-language daily El País (original here). His piece on Padre Ugo di Censi is probably the best and most widely-read piece on the living Patron Saint of Ancash Continue reading “Translation: Mario Vargas Llosa, Chacas and Heaven, on Padre Ugo di Censi”
From bitter searching of the heart,
Quickened with passion and with pain
We rise to play a greater part.
This is the faith from which we start:
Men shall know commonwealth again… Continue reading “Watching Bernie: The Voice in the Wilderness”
When I was a kid I always thought that the times I was living through were the ‘boring’ times of human history. I felt that feeling of those times that history had really ‘ended’, just as Fukuyama had declared a year after my birth. When I flicked through an illustrated history book that my grandmother gave me and my brother, I figured that all the world had already been explored, all the world’s ancient cultures had already been dug up, all the big wars already fought, all the depressions wrought.
Over the past week so much has been said of Gough Whitlam’s tumultuous life, and so many fine words have given voice to all the silent tears of those whose lives he radically changed. There is not much more to be said of the man himself, least of all from someone who was born nearly 20 years after his sacking, but there is, I think, a lot we can take from his brief time in office that is relevant to the situation we face today. Continue reading “Comrade Gough”