Crankish Thinking

by Mark English The term ‘conspiracy theory’, though it no doubt serves a useful purpose when used in carefully-considered ways, is most often used in polemical contexts simply as a derogatory descriptor. I want to set down a few ideas on the problem of deciding which ideas in the political realm (and, by extension, which sources) are too crankish (or […]

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Where the Beauty Lies

by Mark English The neurologist treating my mother’s Parkinson’s disease, an old-school physician with a heavy Afrikaans accent, first suggested using music as part of her treatment some ten years ago. We probably would have got around to it anyway, as she had had some early training in music and retained a great love for certain Romantic piano pieces and […]

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In Beethoven’s Shadow

by Mark English “Are you mad?” “But you asked me to play.” “I asked you to play. If you can’t think of anything better, play a chromatic scale or a five-finger exercise, but spare me your suburban shopgirl trash.” This exchange comes from a very popular movie of the 1940s, The Seventh Veil. (1) A romantic melodrama, it explores the […]

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A Few Thoughts on Romanticism

by Mark English The great Romantic writer and statesman François-René de Chateaubriand is virtually forgotten today. The steak or the sauce named after him is still well-known, however. I can’t help feeling that this tells us a lot about our cultural priorities. One of the things that Chateaubriand is known for (by the few who even recognize his name) is […]

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