PREVIOUS THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY|
January 22nd to 26th 2001
MONDAY JANUARY 22
"How beautiful is all this visible world!
How glorious in its action and in itself!
But we who name itself our sovereigns, we,
Half dust, half deity, alike unfit
To sink or soar, with our mixed essence make
A conflict of its elements, and breathe
The breath of degradation and of pride."
The above is from Manfred, by George Gordon Byron, born today in 1788. He was ten when he inherited the title "Lord Byron" from his great uncle. I note that history's most famous romantic remained single throughout his short life. Presumably he believed the line in his poem, Don Juan; "Marriage, from love, like vinegar from wine, A sad, sour, sober beverage - by time."
TUESDAY JANUARY 23
Manet and Monet and money
Manet, the French artist who joined the impressionists, was born in Paris, today in 1832. He should not be confused with Monet, the French impressionist artist, born in Paris, in 1840. The two men had much in common and became firm friends for a while. In one respect though, they were different. The latter found it easier to earn a living from his work. Or, to put it another way, Monet made more money than Manet.
WEDNESDAY JANUARY 24
Incorrect about Lord Byron
On Monday, I mentioned that Lord Byron had never married. I would like to thank the many readers who have written to correct me. He did marry - albeit briefly. I am still trying to work out how the error came about. The most likely explanation is a time warp - or a sudden convergence of two parallel universes. When I checked Byron's biography last weekend, I saw no mention of a marriage. When I looked at the same book again, two days later; there it was. Amazing! I suppose there is also a remote chance that I suffered a lapse of concentration. Just in case that IS what happened; I humbly apologise.
THURSDAY JANUARY 25
Tolerance vs intolerance - Swami
Last week, I made some lighthearted remarks about a Swami who predicts doom for Britain in 2020. Since then, several letters and emails have taken me to task for the tone I took. "We are all entitled to our beliefs. When you ridicule someone's deeply held conviction, you do not help to further the cause of tolerance." That's fair comment. But then Swami Chidandaroop, in choosing to describe the Royal Family as "completely evil", was not being very tolerant either. So now, here's a question. Should those of us who strive for tolerance be tolerant of intolerance?
FRIDAY JANUARY 26
On Wednesday, a senior member of the British government - who is also a famous "spin doctor" - became obliged to stand down from his post. He hadn't done anything terribly wrong - but he had told a lie and been caught out. In the light of this, I wrote the following words for today's UK Daily Express.
Peter Mandelson was born under a conjunction of the Sun, Saturn and Neptune. Traditionally, this implies a gift for creating convincing illusions. It is though, one thing to put a glossy shine on the truth and another to deny its existence. When we are deliberately dishonest, we harm our own ability to think clearly. We also cause confusion in the minds of others. We prevent them from being able to trust their instincts. The minister told a fib. Now he has resigned. Rightly so. But we should think twice before becoming too outraged. Unless, that is, we are quite sure we have never done the same.
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