Just Nathan

A musical offering, in parts
June 06, 2006
The tube line of beauty

As seen on the Jubilee Line from Oxford Circus to Canning Town:

La forza d'un bel viso a che mi sprona?

Beauty is impelled to find a face
To dwell in: there delight is such that I
Seek nothing more, I would scour the sky
To share with the elect this living grace.
The works of their Creator bear his sign,
So if my soul burns fiercely with love
Of all fair shapes, then judgement from above
Must hold me guiltless: beauty is divine.

Michelangelo (1475-1564) translated by Peter Porter

Posted by nathan at 04:57 PM | Comments (0)


September 03, 2005
The jar, viewed

Isn't it weird, when one becomes sensitised to a word or phrase? Once encountered, it reappears in a variety of contexts shortly thereafter.

I'm currently experiencing this phenomenon in respect of the word 'atomised', in the context of 'an atomised society'. I am about two thirds of the way through Atomised, which our reading group will be discussing in October. The words 'atomised' and 'atomised society' keep popping up now, most recently in the context of the lawlessness and breakdown of society in New Orleans in the wake of the disaster of hurricane Katrine.

If you don't believe me, read a July 3rd article by John Harris on Live 8 which contains the following:

"...it doesn't seem entirely misplaced to see the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales, far more than the original Live Aid, as the decisive harbinger of a very modern archetype: those periodic spectacles that suspend the usual rules of our atomised society, and are built around huge, emotion-strewn crowds. The big draw, it seems, is the thrilling feeling of significance."

Adam Ash also has something to say about it, as does GNN.

My direct reference, which can't find on the Internet, was a comment on BBC News yesterday about the looting in the streets of New Orleans and Bush's slow reaction to the disaster being evidence of the atomisation of society. That line of argument is partly about whether Bush would have reacted faster if the people left behind in New Orleans were WASPs rather than poor and predominantly black or elderly. (I think the answer is just that he was enjoying his month-long holiday in Texas and avoiding returning to the line of body bags coming back from Iraq, but you know the respect I have for him).

So, apart from the issue of 'atomisation' (to which I'm sure I'll return), has anybody else experinced this phenomenon of sensitisation to a word or phrase?

Posted by nathan at 12:14 PM | Comments (0)


December 28, 2004
Don't look back in anger

I am thinking of recommencing posting to this public version of my blog after a gap of some seventeen months.

I feel like the victim of a pavement assault, slowly struggling to my feet, collecting my belongings and my wits about me, inspecting my dusty clothes and scratched hands before deciding which way I should walk along the dark streets. Through the orange puddles cast by the streetlights.

Posted by nathan at 04:33 PM | Comments (0)


June 02, 2003
Welcome the dawn?

We saw Trembling before G-d at the Cambridge Arts Cinema yesterday. Sexuality and religion are uncomfortable bedfellows – this film documentary was compellingly humanistic viewing.

I’ve wanted the shadows,
I don’t anymore.
No matter what happens,
I won't anymore
I've run from the sunlight-
Afraid it saw too much.
The moon had the one light
I bathed in-
I walked in.

I held in my feelings
And closed every door.
No matter what happen.
I can't anymore.
There's someone who must hear
The words I've never spoken.
Tonight if he were here
My silence would be broken.

I need him to touch me-
To know the love that's in my heart-
The same heart that tells me
To see myself-
To free myself-
To be myself at last!

For too many mornings
The curtains were drawn.
It's time they were opened
To welcome the dawn.
A voice deep inside
Is getting stronger,
I can't keep it quiet any longer.
No matter what happens,
It can't be the same anymore...
I promise it won't be the same

Barbra Streisand: Yentl (why do so many gay people see Yentl as such an important film?)

How can orthodox faith be reconciled with homosexuality and twenty-first century living? Why do these people try to effect such an impossible combination – clinging to their beliefs in the face of the bible’s teachings, bigotry, rejection (even excommunication) and lack of humanity from other Jews?

The most heartening aspect of this understated film is its role in provoking debate in the Jewish community. Screenings have been organised in orthodox shuls and for Israeli headmasters. But will the kafuffle change anything? Those of a conservative disposition will retreat to their view, and the liberals will continue to beat their heads against the wall of bigotry and lack of understanding. “Piety, paternity and family” sees homosexuality as an evil sickness, treatable only by abstinence and prayer.

Of particular note was the Lubavitch Rabbi who had counseled a young man from Los Angeles whilst failing to understand that homosexuality is about far more than anal sex. He persuaded the youngster to enter into therapy for several years in an attempt to find a cure. Meeting again after twenty years, the Lubavitcher could only scratch his head in puzzlement about the problem that hadn’t gone away.

The theme was limited to that of orthodox Jews and their struggle. This was rather unbalanced for the Christains and Moslems who may miss the universality of the insoluble dilemma of gay people who want to stay true to themselves and to their religion.

Most worrying was that one of the gay men interviewed was terrified of being persecuted by his religious collegaues once the film was screened. The non-judgemental, documentary style contained an implicit plea for understanding and change. But I don’t see it happening whilst people remain prepared to cast aside theior human understanding in favour of mistaken religious beliefs.

Posted by nathan at 10:52 PM | Comments (0)


May 29, 2003
The Celibate

“And I finally appreciate the difference between the words ‘innocent’ and ‘naïve’. Which is not one that can be learned theoretically, but only in practice. Since however paradoxical it may sound, true innocence is the product of experience; it’s a state of mind, not a state of ignorance. And it won’t be found in any childhood garden (of Eden); but rather in an uncompromising and an uncompromised acceptance of life”.

“There is no fundamental state of wickedness, and we don’t have a propensity to evil, merely the capacity for it. How can it be otherwise when we’re made in the image of God, with his two supreme faculties of creativity and moral responsibility? So perfection is neither a lost cause, nor a lost paradise. The ideal may lie in Christ, but the potential is in ourselves”.

Michael Arditti – The Celibate

Posted by nathan at 06:12 AM | Comments (0)


May 18, 2003
Im ain ani li, mi li?

Im ain ani li mi li
Uch'she'ani l'atzmi, ma ani
V'im lo achshav eymatai

If I am not for myself, who will be for me?
And if I am for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?

Hillel said that over two thousand years ago. (Ethics of the fathers 1:14)

Strange how the words occur to me now. As I weigh the evidence.

Someone will chuckle when they read this. I know who you are.

Posted by nathan at 08:09 AM | Comments (0)


May 09, 2003
From our own correspondent

I received an interesting posting from the author of "it's no mitzvah to be homophobic" (see 23rd January). I've replied to him by email, and may post the correspondence there.

I'm delighted that, despite my personal distance from Judaism, there are people who care enough to provoke and continue a debate about how far the rabbinate should go in the battle between the rule of law and the need to recognise human diversity.

Posted by nathan at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)


April 24, 2003
An unexpected extra day in New York

From this morning's New York Times:

Detainees from the Afghan war remain in a legal limbo in Cuba.

US Naval Air Station, Guantanamo Bay, Cuba - Fifteen months after the first hooded and shackled detainees arrived at a primitive tent facility known as Camp X-Ray, some 664 prisoners seized after the Afghan war remain here in a legal, political and geographical limbo... Sir Adam Roberts, an Oxford University professor who is a leading authority on the law of war, said that the United States might not be obliged to treat them as prisoners of war but that officials should recognise that they had some international legal rights - "the US has paid a high price in international opinion. In Britain, people see Guantanamo Bay as a symbol of American defiance of international norms". Forty nations are represented in the camp, the majority being Saudis, Yemenis and Pakistanis. But Canadians, Britons, Algerians and a Swede are also detained.

In the same issue, I read of American plans to punish France for its opposition to the war, prosecutors trying to limit defendants' powers to cross-examine witnesses in terrorist trials, allegations that DARPA research funding was withdrawn from a University of Pennsylvania project after anti-war comments by a computer scientist and a remarkable admission by the FBI that they had seized unclassified documents in a FedEx parcel sent by Associated Press. "The FBI does not have the right to seize material without a warrant, without even notifying anyone, and just making it vanish. That, in our minds, is completely illegal" said Lucy Dalglish, executive director of the Reporters' Committee for Freedom of the Press. The FBI has opened an internal enquiry. I wonder what that will find?

I look out of my hotel window onto a cold, blustery but dry New York. The basketball lot is empty (it's 6:30 am) and the cars and trucks rumble, clatter and hoot their way across the triangular intersection of West Broadway, Canal Street and the Avenue of the Americas on their way to or from the Holland Tunnel to New Jersey. Lights change from red to green without pausing at amber. Signs flash with a red hand or white man. Through a sightline along Laight Street, a boat chugs along the Hudson River. SoHo awakens.

Posted by nathan at 06:37 AM | Comments (0)


April 13, 2003
Revenge Reviewed 2

Ruthless slave of evil power
Terrible Tenglewyth does exact
His terminal toll in full;
The bestial balance
Of tethered mind and soul forgotten
Will subdued to insidious force

Horrible ending has cut them all
From pedestals high and precarious fall
The victims of time
Revenged by time
The wronged

Posted by nathan at 12:00 PM | Comments (0)


April 12, 2003
Bread. Falling. Buttered side down.

This entry by londonmark reminded me of a similar rejection, years ago. Afterwards I dreamed of buttered bread. Falling. Buttered Side down.

The Pet Shop Boys captured a similar fear of rejection in this track on their Album Behaviour.


A nervous boy in several ways
I never knew the world could operate this way
I was nervous when we stopped to speak
And the world came crashing around my feet

We don't talk of love
We're much too shy
But nervously we wonder when and why

A nervous boy, in spite of which
I never thought I could tremble as much as this
Your flashing eyes and sudden smiles
Are never quite at ease, and neither am I

Oh, we'll talk about it all some night
But nervously we never get it
From the start I approved of you
Right from the moment you turned to face me

A nervous boy from another town
With a nervous laugh and a concentrated frown
I spoke too fast with watchful eyes
Of a recent past and some nostalgic surprise

We don't talk of love
We're much too shy
But nervously we wonder when and
Knowing why I approved of you
Right from the moment you turned to face me

Have you ever experienced a blind date like this?

Posted by nathan at 03:47 PM | Comments (2)


April 11, 2003
Driving in my car

Driving in my car. My thoughts are skittish as the traffic glugs along the motorway. Noise of the road, babble of the radio. Chatter chatter chatter. This conversation, that email I need to send, the jobs I have to do before New York. The tooting of horns as an impetuous driver weaves aggressively across the lanes. Foot on the clutch, accelerate and break, change gear. Slow down, brake, accelerate, up a gear. Break, stop, first gear. All in irregular sequence.

And then I look across through the windows of the cars at the people I pass. None smiling. All scowling. Some speaking on their mobiles. One woman in a car (so battered) obviously arguing with her husband, gesticulating, face contorted and full of hate, oblivious to my intrusive gaze. A river of painted metal and sullen humanity moves uphill past junction 17.

My thoughts change to home. Work. What I must do tonight. Over the weekend. And I know that Alfred will be at home, waiting for me. Waiting to hold me in his loving arms.

Pizza and champagne. I'll fall asleep, exhausted, woozy and comfortable. Far too early.

I know what's coming. Don't knock it. Life could be much worse.

Posted by nathan at 06:25 PM | Comments (0)


February 23, 2003
Of mice and men

Metaphysical discussion with Alistair and Alfred over Kaffee und Küchen this afternoon in Chesterton. Read here and here for more information.

See, the universe looks like this:

Cosmic Microwave Background radiation image from the Boomerang experiment

Isn't astrophysics marvellous?

And are we the mice in the machine?

Posted by nathan at 07:21 PM | Comments (0)


February 17, 2003
Meeting JR

After nineteen years (or thereabouts) I met JR this morning for coffee. Neither of us had changed as much as the other imagined. I enjoyed the meeting so much - my admiration for him has remained undimmed. We spoke of his disillusionment with religious institutions and whether change may be enabled by questioning from within. He remains orthodox in his roots, but questioning and non-conformist. He seems to believe that his mission is to preach a non-fundamentalist, inclusive standpoint. I stand pointedly outside, a non-believer, lost to the cause. I had assumed that the key deciding factor was that of belief - I had thought it to be a binary switch, but he (correctly, I think) sees even the existence of God as more subtly nuanced. I still felt that he was trying to make a 'big tent' out of Judaism - he may be trying too hard to bridge an irreconcilable divide between a dying religion and its moral distillation. Who knows?

This evening, I asked my mother how JR could have remembered me so clearly amongst the thousands of pupils who passed through his care. She burst into laughter and wouldn't explain why.

Posted by nathan at 08:50 PM | Comments (0)


February 16, 2003
Blake's Heaven

I listened to Jane Siberry's album Love is Everything with Alistair yesterday. I'd heard the name, but never the music - very Kate Bush in style. It was autobiographical programme music with an introspective, mystical tone.

The booklet accompanying the CD set puzzled me. Pages of biographical detail and no lyrics (they're on the web site). And, buried in the text, a quote from Blake "Exuberance is Beauty".

William Blake: The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (1790-93). Proverbs of Hell

The head Sublime, the heart Pathos, the genitals Beauty
the hands & feet Proportion.
As the air to a bird or the sea to a fish, so is contempt
to the contemptible.
The crow wish'd every thing was black, the owl, that every thing was white.
Exuberance is Beauty.
If the lion was advised by the fox. he would be cunning.
Improvent makes strait roads, but the crooked roads
without Improvement, are roads of Genius.
Sooner murder an infant in its cradle than nurse unacted desires
Where man is not nature is barren.
Truth can never be told so as to be understood, and not be believ'd
Enough! or Too much

I've never studied Blake, so found this very opaque. Checking on the Internet, I can only find random references by people who have chosen the quote simply because it links the words exuberance and beauty, not to derive benefit from the meaning of Blake's words.

Reading around this, Blake seems to value nature as worthless without humanity. He seems to be firmly on the classical side of the ‘great divide’. He looks for a uniting force between intelligence and art – the impulses within us are holy and good. Man's drive to intelligent expression and love are not the result of the Fall, but of a creative force (a God) acting to make nature purposeful through the intelligence of mankind. Man’s exuberant expression of wonder at the natural world is thus essentially and necessarily beautiful, as it must lead to the fusion of intellect and nature. Art is the gateway to paradise, and creation the divine will to form man within nature.

I think I'd better read some more about Blake. Tough luck, doing Science A-levels.

For an alternative approach to the exegesis of this text, look for these words of wisdom.

Posted by nathan at 04:10 PM | Comments (0)


February 08, 2003
Making the numbers add up

I spent over two hours today chasing around some numbers, trying to make sense of them. My mind won't let me rest until I have a perfect arithmetical understanding. It niggles me when I'm asleep if I can't balance accounts, or understand the dynamics of a market.

It's a more profound statement than it appears. As we try to make some sense of this bewildering world in which we live, how much do we see of the sum, and how much the parts? What is it in my brain that craves the balancing act, even the trivial solution?

Posted by nathan at 08:28 PM | Comments (0)


January 26, 2003
Use of English

“I’ve had an epiphany today"

I saw this on somebody's personal profile.


So I looked up "epiphany" in my dictionary.

Epiphany is a church festival celebrated on the 6th of January, the twelfth day after Christmas, in commemoration of the visit of the Magi of the East to Bethlehem, to see and worship the child Jesus; or, as others maintain, to commemorate the appearance of the star to the Magi, symbolising the manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles.

1i A Christian feast celebrating the manifestation of the divine nature of Jesus to the Gentiles as represented by the Magi.
1ii January 6, on which this feast is traditionally observed.

2 A revelatory manifestation of a divine being.

3i A sudden manifestation of the essence or meaning of something.
3ii A comprehension or perception of reality by means of a sudden intuitive realisation: “I experienced an epiphany, a spiritual flash that would change the way I viewed myself”

If only I had an epiphany today.

Somehow I don't think so.

Posted by nathan at 12:29 PM | Comments (0)


January 25, 2003
Chomsky Beat 2

I found a link to some Chomsky interviews on the repercussions of 9/11. Isn't the BBC wonderful?

Of course, Douglas Rushkoff at NYU manages to bring Chomsky and Rambo into one sentence.

Rushkoff somehow believes in the possibility of power being devolved away from the media corporations and put in the hands of the public. "Things will only go horribly wrong if we as a media consuming culture decide to value more what they're selling than we can get from each other via the net or any other method. And if we value what they're selling, we'll get what we ask for. If people would rather watch Rambo than talk about Chomsky, then that's what they'll get. Right now what we really have is an opportunity for the people of this world to take charge of the global agenda. The controllers of society let the wars of society be fought in the ideological realm, which is the mediaspace. But now they've lost reins of the coach and I'm encouraging the idea that anyone can pick them up."

Does he really feel that the Internet frees our minds? I'm sitting at my desk, writing, when I could be out in the sunshine.

When reading Rushkoff’s blog I came across an interesting New York Times article from November 2002 about Judaism by Numbers. He asserts that “the Jewish people are not a race, to be preserved. Judaism is a set of ideas to be shared”. I can’t share that view. Judaism wasn’t "a loose amalgamation of peoples united around a new idea". It is a race and a religion. This, and his humanitarian interpretation of Jewish social consciousness, undermines the core proposition of his article, that the core strengths of Judaism are greatly needed in this modern, dangerous world, and that “it would be a terrible shame if the religion’s biggest concern continued to be itself”.

Posted by nathan at 11:42 PM | Comments (0)


January 23, 2003
It’s no mitzvah to be homophobic

In last weeks’ Jewish Chronicle, not a regular read for me, there was an article by an Orthodox Rabbi, David Sedley, calling for Jews to be more open-minded towards homosexuals.

Sedley argues the line that same-sex relationships are acceptable if not consummated. He discusses the difference between a Jew’s contract with God and with other people. His core point is that Jews must become more accepting of same-sex relationships. I can’t link to the article, as the JC requires that you pay a subscription, so here are three quotes:

“Yet we must, above all else, be tolerant. It was hatred that destroyed the Second Temple; and intolerance of others is the reason we are still in exile”.

“We can acknowledge homosexuality and same-sex relationships without accepting these as Jewish values. Surely we would do better to encourage stability and long-term commitment than to force people to live a lie…. So I call on everyone to be more open-minded”.

“We must reach out to every Jew in our community and train ourselves to see only that which is positive and good in one another. Let us recognise that homophobia is as destructive as any hatred based on religious or ethnic differences”.

In this week’s JC, Rabbi Daniel Levy writes that Sedley went too far. His argument is that “Judaism must send out the most forthright of messages” based upon biblical law. “Gay relationships are screened long before the 9pm watershed and so viewed by young children, adding to their confusion in a world where it is already difficult for them to learn what makes for a successful relationship. Today… everything goes”.

I was pleased to read this debate in Anglo-Jewry’s most established newspaper. It’s fascinating to contrast Sedley’s approach, based as it is upon the need for inclusiveness and tolerance, with Levy’s response, based upon the rule of law. Neither condones homosexual behaviour, but one responds with love and the other with hate.

Of course Levy will win. His prize will be the death of Judaism.

Posted by nathan at 11:21 PM | Comments (1)


January 19, 2003

I question my own motivations for writing this blog. I question the urge that drives me to seek new friendships on the Internet. I question, and analyse, and doubt.

Posted by nathan at 08:57 PM | Comments (0)


December 31, 2002
Year's end

I always feel maudlin at the end of the year. It's nothing to do with Christmas - not my religion. It's more to do with the lack of progress I make in a year when compared with my hopes.

Every year I write a "situation review" with eleven sections covering differnt aspects of my life, and concluding with some targets, or aspirations, for the new year. I don't think I'm brave enough to publish last year's on my web site, but suffice it to say that I'm disappointed with my performance in the last year.

I won't fall into the comfortable trap of another whinge on the hardships of life, but it's very disheartening to see that the areas in which I had predicted progress were entirely obvious - I achieved my targets in the "easy" things, but have made no progress at all on some fundamentals.

I feel old as I move into 2003.

Posted by nathan at 06:20 PM | Comments (0)


December 12, 2002
Nathan Returns

Well, I didn't go anywhere. But I have been working far too hard (as ever) and not stopping to do anything other than sleep and eat. Why, I ask?

Posted by nathan at 06:31 PM | Comments (2)


December 03, 2002
A dilemma in the making?

I think the project I'm being asked to quote for is in one of the anti-Israel states in the Middle East. That'll be an interesting conundrum.

I don't wish individuals any harm, but I'm so disillusioned with the apparatus of the Israeli state that I can't work up any feelings of loyalty. So should I be helping a (non-military) business capability in one of the Arab states?


Posted by nathan at 11:36 PM | Comments (0)


November 26, 2002
Credo ut intelligam

St. Anselm (AD 1033-1109) was a brilliant teacher and defender of the Christian faith. He was also the Archbishop of Canterbury.

He is best known for the celebrated "ontological argument" for the existence of God in chapter two of the Proslogion, but his contributions to philosophical theology (and indeed to philosophy more generally) go well beyond the ontological argument.

Follow St. Anselm's Argument:
1) God is defined as the being in which none greater is possible.
2) It is true that the notion of God exists in the understanding (your mind.)
3) And that God may exist in reality (God is a possible being.)
4) If God only exists in the mind, and may have existed, then God might have been greater than He is.
5) Then, God might have been greater than He is (if He existed in reality.)
6) Therefore, God is a being which a greater is possible.
7) This is not possible, for God is a being in which a greater is impossible.
8) Therefore God exists in reality as well as the mind.

He is also well known for his famous motto "Credo ut intelligam," or "I believe in order to understand".

Posted by nathan at 11:59 PM | Comments (0)


November 21, 2002
Answers to nothing

High upon a hillside, a preacher tells his story to a crowd
He tells the same old story, a thousand times he's read that story loud.
He wants to give the answers but his words are only
Answers to nothing

Lying in my bedroom, a man comes on my TV with a grin
He tells me to believe him, he said that I should put my faith in him
He says he has the answers, but his words are only
Answers to nothing

Hear the chosen leaders say we can't stay sitting on the fence
Believe the stuff they feed us, they're buying guns and bombs for our defence
They think this is the answer, but their thoughts are only
Answers to nothing.

Where is all the friendship, how can all the comradeship be done
What of all the teachings, what of all the things that we learned when we were young
It doesn't bear the asking 'cos the answers given were
answers to nothing.

Midge Ure: Answers to nothing, 1988

Posted by nathan at 07:49 PM | Comments (0)


November 11, 2002

Give generously to the Royal British Legion

Posted by nathan at 11:00 AM | Comments (0)


November 08, 2002
A whinger, moi?

Pita called me this morning and told me what an unreconstructed Victor Meldrew I've become. I have a beautiful partner, a flat of my own, a car, a business, two marvellous parents, a brother and nephews and nieces who love me. I go to the theatre, cinema, opera and great restaurants whenever I want. My friends are kind, thoughtful people and we can rely on one another in times of need. I have a lovely glass of wine in my hand and (if Alfred would allow me) a bar of white chocolate. So why does my blog come across as a stream of miserable consciousness, moaning and groaning about life, the universe and everything. The death of the Conservative party, the appalling state of our roads and railways and my own working habits all seem to rile me. I'm like some latter day Bessie Smith.

Bessie Smith: Down Hearted Blues, I've been mistreated and I don't like it, What's the matter now - singer extraordinaire

I can't explain this persistent, nagging dissatisfaction that plagues me. Others must envy my life and lifestyle, but for me it's never quite good enough.

I can't deny my feelings as I express them in this blog. I'm doing my best to give a resonable reflection of my mood as I write. Maybe Occam's Razor applies and I'd be happier if I took a sunnier, more optimistic view of life.

To cheer myself up, here's a picture.

Is that a boemb?

Posted by nathan at 08:34 PM | Comments (0)


October 27, 2002
Tonight the winds begin to rise

It was a dark and stormy night....

To-night the winds begin to rise
And roar from yonder dropping day
The last red leaf is whirl'd away,
The rooks are blown about the skies;

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), In Memoriam

I had an unsettled night, with too many things on my mind. The wind whistled around the turret of our bedroom and there were plenty of noisy club-goers outside the window. Well maybe my restlessness also had something to do with the combination of Veuve Cliquot and veggieburgers last night. Alfred and I lay awake for a couple of hours chatting about Life, the Universe and Everything. He's such a patient and good friend, absorbing the nuances of my moods and reflecting them to me.

I forgot that British Summer Time (!) ended last night, although I've been asleep so little that an extra hour hardly made any difference.

Time for some reading and a bit of catching up on Radio 4 programmes on the Internet, methinks.

Posted by nathan at 08:38 AM | Comments (0)


October 06, 2002
What the pictures tell me

I spent some time today writing text for my new personal web site, JustNathan.com - I'm still not sure why I'm doing it, as it's bound to be oversentimental, self-indulgent and offensive to those closest to me.

The text was hard enough to write, and I found the style difficult. I opened a box of photographs and sifted through them to find pictures that could be scanned to illustrate some of the text. After ten minutes I found myself in tears as I saw pictures of my younger brother, his wife and children, who are growing up without a family.

All those pictures of Scotland, Japan, Germany, America, Mexico, Peru, friends, family, loved ones. Only fifteen years have passed since the earliest snap in the box, and we are all so old, and some of us faded or dead. I couldn't stop crying.

The introspection of the exercise has robbed me of any levity which remained when I started in so foolhardy a fashion a fortnight ago. The text reads as over-earnest, and perhaps reads for that reason as insincere, a pose.

I listened to my Solti Maher 3 - it lifted me beyond the cares of the world, to a place where intellect and nature fuse in joyous harmony.


I've reproduced the text I composed for the home page, just in case I remove it from there.

Thank you for visiting JustNathan. I've written the first version of the text for this web site in early October 2002.

JustNathan may come across as being rather self-indulgent, oversentimental, and telling you more than you may wish to know about my thoughts, interests, my family and friends. If so, I apologise. I realised as I was writing that you will receive a somewhat distorted view of me. This partly reflects my view at the moment, and is perhaps also a function of the introspection caused by the need to write and, particularly to summarise my life to date. Some of it hurts, but I'll let you work out what - it's not all obvious. A former manager called me "intellectually terrifying". I felt that to be less than perspicacious, and didn't reflect the true balance between my heart and head.

Reading this myself, some trends seem apparent:
- The influence I have had from people such as Gustav Mahler, Jeremy Rosen, Tom Stoppard, Douglas R Hofstadter and Mario Vargas Llosa (see the connection?)
- Sentimentality and romanticism (how does that fit in the classical versus romantic scale, given my earlier comment?)
- Questioning of orthodoxy in thought of all sorts, including politics and religion. But is that free-thinking?
- How important is the "gay thing" really in my life?
- Given to too many highbrow pursuits (I assure you that is a distortion)
- If I describe myself as "a Jewish eclectic iconoclast", how much of that is real, and how much a pose? And can I distinguish that myself?

And I'm probably rather too fond of D minor. Entartete Kunst, indeed.

Anyway, I suggest that you either use the little "x" in the top right hand corner of your screen or read, decide for yourself, and perhaps correspond with me. After all, JustNathan is merely another human being sharing your planet and the air that you breathe. Probably.

6th October 2002

Posted by nathan at 07:45 PM | Comments (0)


September 30, 2002
Underneath the sheltering sky

Today was the most memorable birthday of my life. Alfred had organised a set-up whereby an evening meeting was cancelled and I was dragged away from my desk at 15:30. We drove to a golf club near Longstanton - even as we drove into the car park I had no idea. I assumed we were going for a golf lesson (oh the distantly remembered humiliation)! It was only when I saw all the people standing around the car park that I realised something else was up.


We all had to help offload the gondola, unfurl the huge balloon and inflate it.


Landscape in the haze

The gondola was far more capacious than I had imagined, there were sixteen passangers, plus the pilot. We drifted with the wind about a thousand feet above the flat Cambridgeshire landscape, with Ely cathedral in the hazy distance, fields, roads, villages and drainage canals below.

The overall sensation was dreamlike. It was as though we were floating in silence (except for the occasional burst of the gas burner). I was careless, ecstatic, eyes wide open and scared to blink in case I missed an iota of the experience. A rarity for me to live in the moment.

The sounds that carry into the air are odd. An ice cream van blared out its instrusive tune, dogs barked and children in a garden screamed their pleasure and waved at us as we floated by, underneath the sheltering sky.

The sun set, and it suddenly seemed chilly. We landed north of Chatteris and helped rolll up the balloon before a bumpy ride in a Jeep back to Longstanton.

The rest of the pictures are in the gallery.

We later went to Venue for supper and had a rather pleasant bottle of Gewürztraminer.

An extraordinary day. Thank you, Alfred.

Posted by nathan at 11:50 PM | Comments (0)


September 26, 2002

I hope nobody's reading this.

If I scream in an empty but curved universe, I may hear my voice or an echo return, but I'd need to have lived a long time.

Posted by nathan at 06:29 AM | Comments (0)


September 24, 2002
Swindon, Gateway to the West

I'm still puzzling about what I should write in this journal, so please excuse a few days of delicious mundanities.

I have listed some potentially shocking revelations as follows:

1 Facts that reveal my identity
2 Facts that connect me with my work
3 Contentious, elitist or subjective observations about the world around me
4 Discussion on political, philosophical or religious themes
5 Intimate revelations about myself, my family and friends (amusing or inoffensive, or at least I think so)
6 Intimate revelations about myself, my family and friends that may cause offence
7 Depravities of thought and deed that I have never admitted

And that's only a draft list.

For example, did you know....?

So, to quell my fears, I've decided to start with entries that merely observe the day, reflect my mood and calm my nerves. This will doubtless lull me into a false sense of security, after which I will publish something I'll regret.

My fear, of course, isn't that of discovery - a few people know me as a "whole person", but of public discovery. Through this very mechanism of the Internet and my decision to write in this medium, I give you, the unbidden voyeur, permission to lift the net curtain and peek through the dusty window into my sordid life.

By the way, in the spirit of observation and open revelation, I was in Swindon today.

Posted by nathan at 09:21 PM | Comments (0)


September 22, 2002
OK, so where do I begin?

So I've chosen a name for my diary / "blog". You don't really need a reference do you? We can have a discussion about multiculturalism on the Internet another time.

But what should I write here? How honest should I be? Do you need to know my identity? Do I?

I've spent some time reading other people's "blogs" (I still can't get used to the word, it sounds ugly and techy). Some dance around the issues beautifully. You can't tell the age, location, sex, sexuality, name or occupation of the author from their artfully crafted and articulated text. Others are bewildering excercises in honesty - the Internet as confessional. Of course, the outcome depends upon the attitude of the author and my interpretation as the anonymous reader. One writer is insouciant, faintly arrogant and boasting of his sexual prowess. Another pours out his dissatisfactions and worries, as though to a therapist. Yet another sees the blog as a record of mundanities and platitudes in a seemingly anodyne stream of observations and consciousness.

Some "blogs" are updated many times a day, as though the author is compelled to document his every thought, others go through cycles of intermittent storytelling.

Shall I construct a fable akin to "Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter"? Or a stream of consciousness. Should you know all of me, or just the part I choose to show? Do you care?

Oscar Wilde wrote in "A woman of no importance"; "All thought is immoral. It's very essence is destruction. If you think of something you kill it. Nothing survives being thought of".

I think of this now - and you now know me. My urge is now not to think, to care for the consequences of my revelations, but merely to let this trickle develop into a stream, find its own path and flow to its outlet, whichever way it is pulled by the urgent and unreasoning force of gravity.

Posted by nathan at 02:56 PM | Comments (0)