Medusa (c. 1875) by Frederick Sandys
Like William Waterhouse, Frederick Sandys
(1829-1904) is called a Pre-Raphaelite. Alas, in Sandys’ case it’s true: like Rossetti, he did belong to that despicable, deplorable and downright disgusting movement. But like Rossetti again, he sometimes managed to break the strict Pre-Raphaelite principles of ugliness, ill-proportion and bad colouring. Indeed, Sandys may have been the most technically skilled of the Pre-Raphaelites. The marvellous chalk-drawing above is a good piece of evidence for that.
• ’Dys Miss — Perdita by Frederick Sandys
“… for comic effect he also drew on neglected Arabic words, including buldah, or ‘freedom from hair of the space between the eyebrows’, and bahsala, to ‘remove one’s clothes and gamble with them’.” — Christopher de Bellaigue, The Islamic Enlightenment: The Modern Struggle between Faith and Reason (2017), writing of the Lebanese Christian Maronite novelist Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq (1805-87) (ch. 5, Vortex, pg. 167)
“We had a roadie guarding his dressing room, to stop him [Graham Bonnet] getting out, because he was threatening to have his hair cut. It was very petty, but it had become an obsession with me. But he got out of the back window and went and got his hair cut. I didn’t see him until we went on stage, and, sure enough, he’d had his hair cut really short. He was doing it just to annoy me.” — Ritchie Blackmore: “[…] Music is very serious”, The Guardian, 25/v/2017
You can stop reading now, if you want. Or can you? Are your decisions really your own, or are you and all other human beings merely spectators in the mind-arena, observing but neither influencing nor initiating what goes on there? Are all your apparent choices in your brain, but out of your hands, made by mechanisms beyond, or below, your conscious control?
In short, do you have free will? This is a big topic – one of the biggest. For me, the three most interesting things in the world are the Problem of Consciousness, the Problem of Existence and the Question of Free Will. I call consciousness and existence problems because I think they’re real. They’re actually there to be investigated and explained. I call free will a question because I don’t think it’s real. I don’t believe that human beings can choose freely or that any possible being, natural or supernatural, can do so. And I don’t believe we truly want free will: it’s an excuse for other things and something we gladly reject in certain circumstances.
Continue reading The Brain in Pain…