Some bits and pieces

Philip Pullman writing on Athensius Kircher (in the form of a book review) is a treat, lightly linking him to the post-pomo cultural melange, and the return of magic:

Kircher lived on the cusp between the magical world of the Middle Ages and the rational and scientific world of modernity – as perhaps we do again today, except that we’re going in the other direction. His half-sceptical, half-credulous cast of mind is very much to our current taste.


The Wall Street Journal keeps most of its content behind a paywall, so I mostly ignore it. To its credit, though, it is one of the few institutions whose idea of Europe gives near-equal attention to Central and Eastern Europe. [This blog](http://blogs.wsj.com/new-europe/) is one part of that.

In a (month-old) interview with Gerry Adams, Johann Hari situates the Troubles within a trans-Atlantic context:

Over the next few years, Catholics in Northern Ireland – stirred by the black civil rights movement in the US, and the dream of Martin Luther King – started to peacefully organise to demand equality…. “There was a sense of naiveté, of innocence almost, a feeling that the demands we were making were so reasonable that all we had to do was kick up a row and the establishment would give in,” he says. But the civil rights marches were met with extraordinary ferocity. Protestant mobs attacked the demonstrators, and then the RUC swooped in to smash them up.

Following this line, the divergent outcomes for the two movements become a case study of the snowball effect of political choices. Also of the distortions of hindsight, which tends to elide the violent parts of the US civil rights movement, and the peaceful elements of Irish republicanism.

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