August-September 2014

I have not completed the task of rebuilding the website on WordPress. But progress has been made. I underwent half an hour’s training on the product last week, and have started to refine the template and populate the new site. I do, however, leave for a three-week visit to the UK on Thursday, so the completion of the project will have to wait until my return. Thus, for this month, I have merely added the normal Commonplace entries.

As part of my research towards my post-graduate degree in Security and Intelligence Studies, I have been reading a lot about espionage, as well as Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union in the 1930s. As a break from the horrors of Hitler’s oppression and exterminations, and of Stalin’s purges, I turned to Compton Mackenzie’s ‘Water on the Brain’, an absurd spoof of Britain’s intelligence services. Mackenzie wrote it in something of high dudgeon after he had been prosecuted for breaking the Official Secrets Act in his record of his experience working as an SIS officer, ‘Greek Memories’. ‘Water on the Brain’  was published in 1933, the same year that Hitler came to power, and perhaps shows that an ability to laugh at oneself, and at one’s country’s institutions, was as good a reason as any to fight for a liberal democracy. Ironically, the main theme in the novel is a (misinterpreted) fight for Scottish nationalism – something Mackenzie was himself romantically keen on. I include three brief extracts from the novel in my September Commonplace entries.                                                                                                                                                                                                              (September 30, 2014)

I have good news for the regular readers of this website. (You know who you are, even if I don’t). Ever since its inception, I have been encouraged  –  nay, implored   ̶  by many well-meaning counsellors to improve its design, so that it would lose its clunky textual feel, and include some eye-catching graphics. It has always been my intention to do so, but I am a man of words, not pictures, and the inertia against changing something that worked at an adequate level has contrived to put off that task. Well, the time has come. The tool I used to build the website is Microsoft’s FrontPage, which I acquired over ten years ago. The website of the town where I live, St. James, had been constructed with it, and at one time I was going to help out with site maintenance. But Microsoft has long withdrawn support for the product, and the company that hosts my site has issued an ultimatum that, from November 1, it will no longer support sites constructed with it. I have accordingly chosen a template design tool with which I shall reconstruct the site, and populate it with all my stuff (including some glitzy pictures, no doubt.) I hope to have this activated by October 1, as I shall be in the UK for much of October, but, if not by then, soon after my return.

I shall meanwhile keep updates to the minimum. I did receive a fascinating message from a reader in Peru, who had discovered my commentary on ‘The Enchantment’ from a Google search. He was in possession of a fuller version of this lyric work, one passed to him by his mother. I intend to post his version when I return, and offer my thoughts on where it stands in the historiography. Otherwise, just the updates to the Commonplace Book this month.                                                                   (August 31, 2014)

Leave a Comment

Filed under Personal

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *