Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Montaigne's Essays - A French Aristocrat shares his personal opinions

Montaigne

Before I dive into talking about Montaigne's basically random thoughts, all of his essays are available on the internet (Project Gutenberg hosts all of them) if you are interested in reading them. Obviously I prefer the good old fashioned book (because you don't have to worry about either running out of battery power or exceeding your monthly internet allocation - not that text really drains huge amount of bandwidth) however for those who prefer using devices, due to the fact that they were written over 500 years ago, you don't have to worry about paying for them.


Anyway, Montaigne is credited as being the inventor of the essay as a literary device, however I noticed that his essays are not structured in the same way that our modern essays are structured (but then again he did invent the style). He does use evidence, mostly ancient Greco-Roman authors, but then again a lot of other authors (even in the ancient world) supported their arguments by quoting other sources (though they didn't have to apply the strict rules that universities these days enforce).  Mind you, these days people tend to just link websites, as I do in my blog (and the website I mostly link is - yep, you guessed it - Wikipedia).
    As we know an essay is a literary device with an introduction, body, and conclusion, and that all arguments in the body need to be properly referenced from the sources which support the argument. Now, Montaigne does none of this, excepting his use of sources, however basing arguments on source material has also been used quite frequently in the past. Even the authors of the New Testament would base their arguments on sources rather than making things up themselves (though many out there would dispute that). My favourite example of the ancient use of sources comes from the book of Hebrews where the writer says 'somewhere, someone says ...' (Hebrews 2:6 - and there are many students who wish they could get away with that).
    I've noticed that in the introduction to Montaigne's books, the editors generally write an exposition on what Montainge believed through reading his essays, and they would suggest that because he said this in his essay then that is what he believed. I guess there is nothing wrong with that approach (especially since you could discern what I believed by reading my blog, or my book reviews), except that Montaigne published his Essays in three books which were published in three different eras of his life (with the third one published shortly before his death). Moreso, I suspect that he did not write all of his essays at once but rather sat down and wrote an essay when he was inspired to do so. As such, we cannot say that something he believed when he wrote an essay in book one would necessarily have been the same when he wrote an essay in book three. The thing is that no person is a truly static entity but changes and evolves over time (for instance there was a time that I believed that the Christian church was nothing more than a sophisticated ponzi scheme, something that I would have balked at even three years previously, and these days would not be so scathing - despite the fact that there are, unfortunately, quite a few churches that do behave as such). However, instead of trying to understand Montaigne, I will simply comment on a number of the essays (definitely not all of them) as I read through this collection and throw my thoughts out there in turn (though I won't be referencing anything specifically, since this is not academic writing).

Montaigne & Machiavelli

Montaigne and Machiavelli
    I want to compare these two because it is interesting to note that Machiavelli was writing at least a generation prior to Montaigne, which to me indicates that Montaigne was not really the originator of the modern essay. Anybody who has read The Prince will understand that little book seems to take the form of what we would consider, in the modern day, an essay. It has a beginning, a middle, and a conclusion, as well as being meticulously researched. However, the other thing I wish to mention, the one thing that I like about both authors, is that while they use a lot of classical references in their arguments, they also refer to contemporaneous events.
    Both authors also provide us with a window on their contemporary world and of events that we probably would not otherwise know. Okay, both of them are probably writing after these events occurred, sometimes a couple of centuries, but when considering the distance in time to these event, we see that these two writers provide us not only with an outline of the event, but also use them to prove a point. Granted, every writer of history is bringing their own opinion to bare onto their writings (I know I do), but sometimes it is really helpful to see these events in the context of some argument. Granted, they are probably not the only authors who write about these events, but by putting them into context of some argument, it goes a long way to add flesh to what would normally be a skeletal account.

Essay 1:34 On Cato the Younger
Bust - Cato the Younger It seems that Montaigne quite admires Cato the Younger: however I don't. Cato was a senator of Rome during Julius Ceaser's reign and was one of his main opponents. He was a staunch Republican in that he supported and voted for the patricians as opposed to the plebians, and probably had the mind set that since Rome was magnificent then those who did not enjoy her bounties probably were not working hard enough (one could rise in ranks due to military victories). Cato met his end when he killed himself in North Africa after he found himself on the losing side of the civil war. Suicide was an honourable death in Ancient Rome, meaning that you had stuffed up so badly that you might as well kill yourself than live in poverty (gee, sounds a lot like today, doesn't it). Montaigne sourced a number of poets (namely Republicans) that praised his virtues, however anybody that supports the wealthy over the poor generally doesn't earn my praise. The reason that I say this is because it tends to undermine the social mobility of all classes of society because as wealth tends to concentrate itself at the top, those at the top tend not to want to share it. They may come out with some pathetic theories such as Trickle Down Economics, but in the end it is just another excuse for them to live luxurious lives at the expense of everybody else.

Death of Socrates

Essay 1:35 On Laughing and Sorrow
   This is one of the examples of how Montainge would take almost anything and write a little thesis on it: this particular one is on how close laughter and sorrow really are. I guess many of us (I hope) have been in the situation where we have found something so funny that we literally burst into tears (I know I have). On the other hand, there are times when things just simply get so bad that we literally end up laughing. They say that laughter is the best medicine, and while in some cases it is true, I would not recommend laughing at somebody's funeral (though I must admit it does happen, and quite often, not that I have been to many funerals - in a way, a funeral without laughter makes us wonder whether this person's life really had an impact upon us). Montaigne cites a number of examples of where kings have cried at victory, but this is not the same thing. Ceaser cried when he was handed Pompey's head because of the ignoble nature of his death. Pompey was slain by a treacherous crewmember who did not understand the long and deep relationship that Ceaser had with him. The crewman thought he was doing Ceaser a favour, but in reality he was wrong. Pompey was Ceaser's friend, and while they did go to war, Ceaser was not looking for Pompey's blood, or his head for that matter.

School of Athens - Raphael

Essay 1:40 That the Taste of Goods or Evils do Greatly Depend on the Opinion we have of them
    Pretty much this essay is about relativity, more specifically relativity when it comes of moral behaviour. Many churches argue that this is a new thing, but it is not. Socrates discussed the idea of whether morality was relative or absolute, and here Montaigne seems to believe that in some cases morality is relative. In fact, even the Bible seems to divide morality into the relative and the absolute. There are the morals which are absolute, such as murder and worshipping other gods, and then there are the relative ones, such as eating meat (which was a huge issue in the church back then). I will also suggest that there are some such as sexual conduct which is also relative (and drinking alcohol). To some it is okay, to others it is not. However, one should not be insisting that the other accept their relative views.
    Montaigne does not seem to explore the topic all that much but rather throw a lot of examples at us to show how morality is relative. One instance involves the king of Spain kicking all of the Jews out of his kingdom, who then fled to Portugal where they were going to be shipped off to Africa. However this never happened because the king kept on changing the laws. At one point all of the Jewish children were abducted to be raised in Christian homes, at which point the Jews then began to murder all of their children. This is a way that turns an idea of murder into a relative concept. The law says though shalt not murder, and then proceeds to give us a bucket load of exceptions (such as having sex with a goat). The idea was that it was believed that it was better to murder a child than to force a child to grow up as a heathen.

Jewish Pomgrom in Spain

    Montaigne then seems to go onto another topic: that is of dying. He suggests that it is not death people fear but rather the pain that leads to death. I am inclined to believe him, particularly from a biblical point of view. Take for instance John Donne's famous poem 'Death be not Proud'. It is the idea that the Christian holds that death is nothing to be feared because we know that death holds eternal life for us. Many Christians seem to believe that their faith stands apart because of this promise, and yes, that may be true, but then again did not the Pharasies also believe that, and does not the faith Muslims of today also believe that as well? The idea that the Bible teaches was not to those of us that believe in such a paradise, but rather to those, namely the Greco-Romans, and in particular the slaves and the dispossessed, that did not believe that they would inherit such a wonderful afterlife.
    I also agree that it is not death, but rather the pain that makes us fear death. In a book I recently read there is this belief that because we do not fear death we believe that we can face death. That may be true, but can we handle the pain that leads to this death? The book suggested that many cannot. However, Montaigne goes further and suggests that even the pain that leads to death does not necessarily mean that somebody will do evil simply to avoid that pain. In some cases people would rather suffer the physical pain than to life a life of guilt because of the evil that they had done (for instance, recanting one's faith). This is even more so when this evil that one person refuses to commit is what could be considered a relative evil as opposed to an objective evil (for instance living a life of singleness because one believes that it is evil to marry a person who does not share your faith).
    It seems that in this essay though Montaigne does not have a consistent flow of thought because he then goes on to talk about wealth and poverty, and suggests that greed (which is an objective evil in my eyes) is not created by poverty but by wealth. He suggests that greed is scorned by those that have plenty and simply want more, as opposed to those that have nothing and simply want their daily bread. I am sure everybody dreams of being wealthy, but I suspect most of the people that dream those dreams live in the developed world, were we are already considerably more wealthier than the majority world. This would have been moreso in Montaigne's day were the wealthy were few and far between.
    It is interesting though, because I did hear of a story of a successful businessman who had a beautiful wife. He had everything, and could probably have more, but there was one problem, he was seeing a psychologist. So, if this person is wealthy materially why was he seeing a psychologist? I never found out the answer.

Sleeping Woman

Essay 1:44 On Sleeping
    It seems that Montaigne would be happy to write an essay on almost anything. I don't think it is because he couldn't think of anything else to write about, but rather because he felt that any topic was worthy of an essay. I must admit that, like everybody, I like my sleep. It refreshes me and re-energises me (in the same way that food does), however sometimes I feel that sleep can be counter-productive. I have heard of people that get away with four hours of sleep a night, however I also suspect that these people also end up burning themselves out bigtime. They say that 8 hours is a good amount of time to sleep, though we can get away with less, but should also give ourselves time to have a lot more.
    Some of Montaignes examplies seem to be a bit over the top, such as the guy who slept for 57 years. Okay, the body does slow down when you sleep meaning that you do not need to have as much food as otherwise, but I am sure that if you slept for 57 years you probably won't be waking up again. I believe that people who are in comas still have to be fed intravenously. There is also the story of the tribe that sleeps for half a year and wakes for half a year. This also sounds a bit far fetched, but that is probably more possible considering that there are animals (such as bears) that do hibernate for extended periods.

Another Woman Sleeping

    Montaigne also mentions three people, Alexander, Cato, and Otho, who all had a deep sleep prior to either dying or a great battle. In a way this is reflective of the rejuvenating power of sleep, but also there is the idea that sleep is reflective of death. Some believe it is the same, others do not. The Bible seems to indicate that the period between our death and the final judgement is like sleep, but we must remember that the Bible also uses concepts that we understand to try to explain concepts that are pretty much beyond the function of our brain to understand. Just because the Bible says that something is like something does not mean that it is the same. Others also suggest that maybe sleep is a preparation for death, but because I have not actually died I personally cannot say either way.

Essay 1:46 On Names
    This essay is somewhat amusing, and somewhat serious, and I guess it raises the question of what is a name. Is a name simply just a collection of pen marks (or sounds) or is it something a lot deeper. Montaigne points out that there are a lot of people with the same name but have different personalities. This is noticeable back in the Ancient World where people did not necessarily have multiple names (as we do now, though the Romans sometimes had up to six). He indicates that he notes that there were at least three Socrates, numerous Platos and Xenephons, and I can even point out at least two Jesus' (in the Bible that is). While they may have the same name, they are not the same person (though a person's tribe in Athens would also form part of their name). He also indicates that just because somebody has a certain name does not mean that they will automatically act in a certain way, for instance a stable boy with the name Pompey the Great (I hardly expect a stable boy would go around calling himself 'the Great') is highly unlikely to go out at start a civil war (though we never know) and then go and have his head cut off in Egypt (but then again anything is possible).
Stable Boy

    Another interesting thing Montaigne points out is that kings and common folk tend to have different names. For instance kings will bear names like Henry and William, but not Harry and Bill (though we do note in Shakespeare that a king Henry will be referred to as Harry), nor do we get a king with the name Jack.
    He also talks about surnames, which we must remember is a relatively knew development, particularly for commoners. He suggests that a surname is like a coat of arms which can be incorporated and also sold (though I have never heard of anybody selling their surname). Some people even play with names, such as the example of the King who sat everybody at a table in alphabetical order according to their names, and then served them a meal according to their names (so that Peter was served Pork, though I wonder what Zak would have had to eat). 

Renoir - Dinner Party

    Names, in the end, are identifications (though they can y have a meaning, as indicated previously just because you have a certain name does not mean you will behave in a certain way - I am sure that there are a lot of David's out there that do not feel all that beloved). Apparently Socrates said that it is the duty of the father to give the child a fine sounding name, though sometimes we wonder if that is the case these days. Modern society seems to treat names as some sort of game (such as the pop stars naming their children silly names like 'Heavenly Moon' though once again we have always done things like that, it is just that the names we have now are borrowed from ancient languages, such as Phillip meaning 'Lover of Horses', Stephen meaning 'crown', and Peter meaning 'Rock'). Also we can change our name at will, but to me I find that to change one's name as such is to dishonour one's parents.
    Another thing about names is that we generally do not give them to ourselves. With the exception of the Asians who come to Australia to study and give themselves English sounding names (because we Anglo's find Asian languages really hard to pronounce properly) we do not give ourselves our names, we earn them. Our first names are given to us by our parents, our surnames we inherit, and our nick names are given to us by our friends. Some of us will refuse to respond to certain names (such to knobhead), but once again it makes me think that the idea of us changing our names for our own reason is only because we want to take control over our lives (which, in the end, is impossible).
William Raney - Horses

Essay 1:48 of Steeds, called in French Destriers
    This is not necessarily an essay about horses but rather about horses that are used as mounts. To be honest, the horse is not the only animal that is used as a mount, however for speed it is one of the best. Elephants have also been used as mounts, but that is usually because they are big and can stomp the enemy pretty hard.
    It is interesting that Montaigne notes that the Turks had forbidden the Jews and Christians from owning horses, though this is not surprising because horses can be used as weapons of war. It would be the same in some countries where certain members of the population are forbidden from owning cars simply because cars can give the owner a freedom that they may otherwise not have. Horses are the same because horses give you a much wider range for roaming than walking does.


    He does mention Bucephalus, the horse of Alexander the Great, and in this sense horses are like any other animal to which we bond. For those who us who have owned a pet animal (especially a dog) we know how these animals tend to bond to us in a special way that other animals do not. The same would be the case for horses, particularly those who generally only let a certain person ride them. Animals are not stupid: they can distinguish one person from another.
    Montaigne also mentions that he believes that the Arabian Steed is the best horse in the world, but that is probably a matter of opinion, and not being a horseman myself I cannot comment. What I can comment on is how he claims that the French are the best horsemen. This is clearly little more than nationalistic pride because everybody knows that the world's best horsemen were the Mongols (apparently they lived on horseback).

Essay 1:56 On Prayers and Orisons
    This is a decidedly Christian essay, which differs from a lot of the other essays that Montaigne wrote because they generally stay out of the spiritual realm and generally do not have anything to do with Christianity. I guess that is because Montaigne is what we consider a humanist. Not a modern humanist (who claims that humanity is god) but a Renaissance humanist who realised that knowledge could be obtained from places outside of the Church (Luther was also a Humanist in that sense).
    While this is an essay about praying to the Christian God, he still refers back to classical authors; in particular Plato. We note that Plato lists three fallacies about prayer (something that we as modern Christians should also take to heart because we also find ourselves falling into that danger). The fallacies are 1) there is no God, 2) God does not answer prayers, and 3) God answers all prayers. I would suggest that these fallacies are not so much that people can fall into them all at one time, but can still drift through each of them throughout their life.

Priests

    It is also interesting how Montaigne steers away from quoting the Bible. Even in an essay such as this he will not quote the Bible but still quote Greek and Roman sources. He is also clearly Catholic with the belief that one needs to be pure to approach God in prayer, but the question raised is how does one become pure. I note the Bible does give a hint where in places it talks of dirty robes being removed and clean robes being put back on, so it is clear that God is the one who does the purifying, not us. The Bible also suggests that purity comes through God's grace and forgiveness, but how do we know that we are pure? There are many out their that believe that they are pure but they may not necessarily be so, while others believe they are impure but may not be the case.
    Notice that Montaigne also accepts that God is love. Despite being a humanist he believes in a God and he believes in a loving God. I say this because there are many out their that despise humanism, but do not really understand what humanism is. Montaigne, Erasmus, Martin Luther, and Machiavelli, were all humanists, but they also all believed in God.
    There is also the theme running through here about the prayer of the wicked man, and that this prayer is ignored by God. Is this true? I cannot answer simply because I am not God. Also, does God only answer the prayers of the faithful, and if that is the case, who are the faithful? Remember that the Pharasies in the Bible believed wholeheartedly that they were faithful, but the also received the harshest rebukes from Jesus (that is beyond his disciplines, but then again they were being groomed to lead the church after he ascended to Heaven).
    Motaigne praises the law as being beautiful and perfect, reflecting the language of the Psalms, but once again he does not quote the Psalms, or any of the other parts of the Bible. Another interesting thing is that he argues why the Vulgate is the correct translation, and points to the Hebrew and Islamic texts. The problem is that the Bible was not written in Latin, but in Greek (or at least the New Testament was) and while the New Testament was written in Greek, we need to remember that all of those speaking in the Gospels originally spoke in Aramaic. It is unclear whether Jesus actaully spoke any languages beyond Aramaic, and the fact that the Bible indicates that he emptied himself of all of this power, I suspect that he was bound by language in much the same way as the rest of us are.

Rembrant - Old Man

Essay 1:57 On Old Age
    This was a popular topic back in the ancient times, and it is a shame that these days the older generation are not shown the same respect that they used to be. In fact while I accept that we must encourage and develop our youth because they do bring fresh ideas, we must remember that the elderly have a wisdom that many of us don't have. These days the whole idea of the being the youngest to attain a position is getting beyond a joke. A recent Federal election had a 19 year old elected to parliament. Okay, granted, it is illegal to discriminate on age, but while age does not necessarily mean experience, being young generally means that you can lack it.
    I have noticed that a lot of partners in law firms that I have worked with look very young and it makes me wonder once they get to the top, whether they can go any further. The truth is that they can, depending on the area of law that they practice. A lot of partners will move from practicing law to running companies, or even running a country. Julia Gillard was once a partner at a law firm, as was John Howard.
    One other thing that I have noticed is that Montaigne indicates the existence of dementia back in his days when he speaks about how some people seem to lose their mind before they lose their sight. Some suggest that a way to combat dementia is to keep ones mind active, however a part of me thinks that that is not the grand solution to this problem (and since Terry Pratchett died of dementia, I guess that theory isn't all that true).

Greek Vase - Symposium

Essay 2:2 On Drunkenness
    This is one of those discussions not so much on drunkenness but on virtue and vice. Okay, Montaigne does seem to like drunkenness, but seems to get it mixed up with the idea of making merry. That is interesting because I wonder to what extent is he referring to being drunk. These day we tend to think of drunkenness as being the extreme, though we do have a lot of different words to describe the stages of being drunk, from tipsy to plastered. The Bible does not necessarily condemn being tipsy as the psalms say that God created wine to gladden the hearts of man, however it does warn us against the extremes; for instance it describes being drunk as like being on a ship, the addictive nature of alcohol, and the inevitable hangover.
    However, as a vice, drunkedness tends to stand out in that it is not subtle and the effects are not subtle. Okay, some might say that sex is not subtle, but I am inclined to disagree in that the adverse effects do not become apparent until sometime down the track and other vices, such as greed, tend to have destructive results upon others as opposed to oneself. One of my favourite biblical passages on virtue and vice is Galatians 5:19 'Now the works of the flesh are evident: prostitution (the translators usually use the words sexual immorality, but I believe that that is an incorrect translation), impurity, sensuality, idolatory, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, division, envy, drunkedness, orgies, and things like these.' Looking at this list, we note that many of these vices involve living a decadent life (sensuality is not sexual, but rather much broader in scope), and indicates a life in which we fight and bicker with people and hold our own pleasure above those of others.

Wine is a mocker

    One thing I should mention is the difference in our culture and Montaignes. Okay, many of us these days prefer alcohol (namely because it is legal) but many of us would have been exposed to, and even tried, drugs. However we have an aversion to drugs that are not alcohol. There are many reasons behind this, but one of the main reasons is that because alcohol is a part of our historical tradition while many of these drugs are quite new. Marijuana has been around for millennia but was not much of a European thing. Other drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and the like are all new (say 150 years old). Personally, I am not a  big fan of them, due to my addictive nature, however it is not so much the addictiveness of these drugs (alcohol in many cases can be much worse, but in other cases better), but that it is something that we don't know, we don't understand, and as such reject it out of hand.

Essay 2:8 Of the Affections of Fathers to their Children. To the Lady of Estissae.
    I was initially trying to keep these to a minimum since if I wrote a comment on all of Montaigne's essays we will be here for ages (though his book might still be longer than my comments). Anyway, as I read through this one (and it is quite long) a few things did pop up on which I wanted to comment.
    This particular essay, as you can tell from the title, is about raising children. In those days, especially among the aristocracy, the father and the child would hardly see each other, an in many cases they would not see the mother either. The idea of children being seen but not heard did not even exist then. In fact, it was usually nannys and tutors that would spend most of their time with the children. Also, due to large age differences between the mother and the father, fathers tended to be old enough, in our terms, to be grandparents, which gave rise to the idea of God being an old and distant man, as is reflected of the aristocratic father.

Return of the Prodigal Son

   Montaigne does raise a couple of things; one being discipline. Montaigne indicates that he is not a fan of harsh discipline, and if he is to discipline a child he believes in doing it lightly. I personally believe that a balance needs to be established between warning a child away from dangerous pursuits (such as sticking tongues in power sockets) and encouragement. However, in some cases, a child needs to make mistakes so that a child can learn from them, and this is what I believe needs to be encouraged. However, I do have concerns with the way our society is heading in that children cannot be disciplined.
    Another thing he mentions is child mortality, which was quite high in those days and as is clear from Montaigne's essay, it was also the case among the aristocratic families. Montaigne indicates that most of his children died young, and his daughter only managed to live until the age of six. This is much different in our days with a much higher life expectancy among children, however this is only evident in the western world. Many times we hide the fact that in the majority world child mortality is actually still very high.

Father and Son

    Montaigne also raises the issue of marrying too young or too old. Now in his era men would marry around the age of thirty while women would be probably half their age: things have changed a lot now with people getting married in their early twenties. This has been happening for quite a while (my parents married at the ages of 23 and 24 respectively and this was considered late for them) however it is also interesting that a lot of these marriages, especially now, are falling apart. As such, people are actually postponing marriages and simply living in defacto relationships before they decide to spend the huge amounts of money that a modern wedding costs. However, Montaigne seems to believe that by marrying too early or too late ends up confounding the generations. We see this anyway in the poorer areas of Australia where children at the age of 14 are having children. On the other hand, the middle class tend to be having children later, meaning that where people used to have children in their mid to late 20s, this has jumped 10 years.
    As a final note on this rather long topic, I notice that in book two there is a lot more mention of the Christian God, and in fact Montaigne seems to even differentiate the Christian God from say, Socrates' God. His earlier work seemed to focus more on the classical period, but since the second and third book of essays were released much later in life, I guess this shows a lot more maturity and understanding on his part. In a way he does not seem to be going down the modern humanist path of completely rejecting the spiritual world, however he seems to be noting a difference between the pagan and the Christian world. 

Liberty

Essay 2:19 On the Liberty of Conscience
    Montaigne seems to talk about the destruction of ancient texts by some overzealous emperors in the later Roman Empire (such as Theodosius, who banned the Olympic Games due to their pagan origins, and no doubt would have gone on a witch hunt and a book burning exercise as well) in this essay, though I suspect that it has more to do with maintaining a clear conscience. Mind you, most of the destruction of ancient literature was actually the result of Julius Ceaser accidentally burning down the Great Library, and then later the second Great Library being destroyed by the Muslim invaders in the late 7th century. However, a glance at Wikipedia also suggests that Theodosius also had a hand in destroying the library.
    What I suspect the reason for this is that Montaigne does not necessarily believe that just because something is written by an unbeliever does not necessarily mean that it is bad. It is not a question of whether they are Christian or not but whether the writings assist us in maintaining a clear conscience. It was Plato that indicated that living a virtuous life is the better life, and Plato was, well, a Platonist. 

Burning of the Library

    In my experience I feel that doing right by other people is a pleasure rather than a commandment. Many Christians seem to believe that they are obligated to do this and thus they unwillingly live a virtuous life, despite the fact that in reality they do not want to do so and would rather live a self-serving life. However, it is also interesting that many of the people that command us to live a virtuous life are far from being virtuous themselves. In the end we cannot please God by our actions, and thus if we are being virtuous with the self-serving belief that we are earning brownie points with God then we are surely mistaken. However, I suspect that living a virtuous life for one's own gain is not virtue in and of itself.

Essay 2:23 How a Man Should Not Counterfeit to be Sick
    Montaigne tells a story of a Roman who had a dream that he was blind and when he woke up he discovered that he was, in fact, blind. Now, I suspect there are other reasons behind why that happened as opposed to pure willpower in itself, but Montaigne is right to warn us against feigning sickness. The reason for that is that our mind is so powerful that we can will ourselves to being sick and the desire to be sick can actually make us even sicker.

Sick in Bed

    It is a fine line though between people feigning sickness, or even using sickness as a reason as to why they cannot do something and actually being sick. In a way one test of character is that of the sick person that does not use their sickness as an excuse not to do things but rather goes and does it anyway. There are many people out there who, because of illness, have been at a significant disadvantage (Steven Hawking for example) but have overcome their disability and became great. However, there are also many people out their who use their sickness as an excuse not to actually do something and end up hiding in their rooms moaning about how life has treated them unfairly. The more we believe that we cannot do something, the more difficult it actually becomes.
    Another aspect, especially in this day and age, is when somebody can get money out of being sick. In Australia, where we have a pension, there are many people who will feign sickness to get onto the pension because it is more than the dole. However, in litigious circles, such counterfeit sickness becomes even more obvious because the sicker you are the more money you can get. In fact, people will go out of their way (and are supported by lawyers and doctors) to appear to be so disabled that they theoretically should be dead. Mind you, this is also self defeating because by constantly believing you are in pain you will always be in pain, though as the saying goes, the best medicine is a compensation cheque.

Essay 2:30 On the Monsterous Child
    This is an interesting one because Montaigne describes a child that is clearly a Siamese Twin. Obviously such deformities existed in those days as well as ours, however in those days people would parade them around the country in freak shows making money off of their suffering. However, even further back, such things were seen as bad omens. The question that is also raised by Montaigne is whether such people are loved by God despite their monstrous appearance: the answer to that will always be yes.

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Montaigne's Essays - A French Aristocrat share's his personal opinions by David Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me

Cato the Younger Bust: Source Prioryman used under Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike 3.0 unported
Bucephalus Statue: Source Carole Raddato used under Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike 2.0 generic
Greek Vase: Source Marie Lan-Ngyen used under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 generic

Monday, 23 March 2015

Remembering Discworld - A tribute to Terry Pratchett

RIP: Terry Pratchett 1948 - 2015
I must say that it came as a bit of a surprise, not a shock, but a surprise, to receive a post on my Facebook page telling me that the author of the beloved Discworld series had passed away. I wasn't shocked because, well, death comes to us all in the end, as he would remind us time and time again in his books, yet from my perspective (and I must admit that while I enjoy his books, I don't necessarily follow all aspects of his life) he did not seem to live the type of lifestyle that would bring about his passing at such a young age. Yeah, I know, he was 66 so while that may hardly be young in some people's books, I still consider people of that age to be in the prime of their life. 
In a way he never came across as one of those people that lived the life of a rockstar (you know - sex, drugs and all that, or what would be more fitting for a fantasy author - wine, women, and song), though I was aware that he did suffer from, and ultimately succumbed to, a rare form of Alzheimers. In a way, to me, he seemed to be one of those nice, jovial type of characters who always had a smile on his face and was always up for a good laugh. However, as far as I could tell, unlike many people in the lime light, he seemed to have a private life where the world of his celebrity status did not intrude. Sure, he did receive a knighthood, which is fitting for such a writer, and upon receiving it he even joked about getting a horse and a sword (which he ended up constructing with the help of his friends, and I could quite well imagine him running around a paddock in a suit of armour, on the back of a horse, waving his sword in the air).

Knight of Horseback
He even has his beard
Sir Terry Pratchett (Knight of the Realm) was certainly one of those authors. Everybody new about him, and many have read his books. Sure, like every author, not everybody liked his work, but the people that really hated it were few and far between (and while I went for a while not wanting to read any of his books, that had more to do with people telling me all of the jokes before I read the books as opposed to not liking the books themselves). He is also one of those authors, in fact one of those very few authors, whom people would instantly recognise his works. Even the other week, when I was getting onto a bus, a young lady looked a the book I was holding and exclaimed "Hey, that's Terry Pratchett, I've got to read him one day" (all the while she was fiddling with her mobile phone, which made me wonder why she didn't exchange that phone for a Terry Pratchett book).
The thing was that I always believed that somebody who regularly uses this mind would less likely develop Alzheimers, however that does not necessarily seem to be the case. He seemed to be just as surprised, especially since he had written around 45 novels over a period of 27 years. On my logic, if there was somebody that was not going to get this disease, it was him. However, while my Grandfather also died of dementia, I am not really in the position to comment on it beyond what I have already said. In fact, I feel that the best person to speak on the disease (other than a doctor of course, especially a doctor that specialises in dementia) is Sir Terry himself.
Not surprisingly, tributes have been pouring in from around the world, so I guess mine is simply going to be one of the many, many that have appeared in the Twittersphere (a term I like to use for the social internet as a whole because, well, it sounds so cool). I even clicked on the Terry Pratchett tag on the Guardian website with this result. One tribute that I feel I should share is this one by Frank Boyce (also published in the Guardian) where he compares him with many of the other great satirists of today and times past.
What Terry Pratchett has left us is a legacy, a legacy in the sense that has been left with us by the likes of Shakespeare, Voltaire, and many other authors of the past and the present. Their stories and their books are their children that live long after their passing and continue to thrill many of us who always return to their hallowed pages. As such, to remember this unique man, I wish to simply share some of my favourite characters (remembering that I would hardly call myself a Discworld expert - especially since I am nowhere near halfway through the series).

Death
DeathMaybe it is true that Death comes to us all, but when we finally meet him (or she, but even though there is some vagueness about Death's gender, when he - or it - is referred to as Daddy and Grand-daddy, then maybe Death was supposed to be a male) we generally don't expect him to have such a dry sense of humour (or even give the amount of lip that he does). Okay, he does have a daughter, and in fact a granddaughter, though he does seem to get lonely doing his job - not so much killing people; Death never kills people, he just helps them move from the land of the living to the land of the dead, whatever that land might be (and it does change from person to person). He has tried giving up his job from time to time, usually with disastrous consequences. The problem is that people, that is humans, tend to have a softness about them. They simply do not seem to be able to harm innocent people: but if Death does not do his job properly then, well, even worse things can happen. So, in a way, I feel a little bit sorry for the poor guy.
We always seem know when he is lurking around, yet in many cases he comes as a complete surprise, especially when Sir Terry STARTS WRITING LIKE THIS. Sir Terry seems to be a master of moving his major, and even some of his minor, characters across the worlds. Many of them do not seem to even realise that they have died until THAT VOICE, and there is only one person who has THAT VOICE, drifts over their shoulders. Even in that moment of confusion Death always seems to have the right words to say, even if he really doesn't care, to lighten up the moment.


Granny Weatherwax
Granny WeatherwaxGranny first appeared in Sir Terry's third book Equal Rites and I always thought that she was a rather colourful and amusing character, until I actually saw an artist's impression - she actually looks like one of those really nasty and scary witches. Mind you, looks can be deceiving, and that is very much the case with Granny because the more adventures you go on with her the more attached to her you become; in fact over the couple of years I have been reading through the Discworld series (and now that Sir Terry has passed away I feel compelled to, at least attempt to, read through all of them) I have become ever more attached to her and companions Nanny Ogg and Margrit Garlik.
The thing about Granny is that she is so set in her ways and she refuses to change, which really makes her stand out when she leaves her home in the Ramtop mountains for whatever reason may compel her to do so. Mind you, at first, it was a simple trip to Anhk-Morpork because a young girl, Esk, had some how acquired the powers of a wizard (which wasn't supposed to happen because in Sir Terry's world women weren't allowed to become wizards). Then we follow her to 'foreign parts' in Witches Abroad where we see her cause all sorts of trouble in the lands beyond her home.
When Sir Terry first introduced her two companions (in Wyrd Sisters) it was very much a nod to the three witches from Macbeth. In fact the whole story was a nod to Shakespeare's two most well known tragedies (Macbeth and Hamlet); then in Lords and Ladies, he takes her into the world of A Midsummer's Nights Dream. However, Granny was never meant to be like the witches from Macbeth, and in fact was never meant to be like the typical image of a witch, but rather an old spinster who lived in her cottage and provided whatever services she could to the village. She was not, and was never meant to be, to be an evil character - the only magic that she ever practised was headology.

Lego Granny Weatherwax
Yep, there is even a lego model of Granny

Greebo
One of the things that I love about Discworld is how from its humble beginnings it has grown with the creation and development of a multitude of characters. One such character is Nanny Ogg's foul tempered cat Greebo. Greebo is everything that we expect in a cat, but everything that we don't. Okay, there are probably three types of cats: the 'slut' who befriends anybody and everybody; the scardy cat, that runs away from everybody and everything; and Greebo. Okay, I have known cats like Greebo that will leave long lasting scars on you simply from looking at it, or even daring to touch it, however Greebo is a cat in a class all of its own. In fact, the best thing that I can do is not so much tell you about him, but rather show you a picture, or at least an artist's impression, so you can see for yourself.
Greebo the manHowever, there is much more to Greebo than simply a foul tempered cat that has the ability to hospitalise you if it really wanted to (apparently he has killed two vampires, at least according to Wikipedia) but has, at least twice so far, been transformed into a human. Mind you, I had seem images of Greebo-turned-human for quite a while but it never actually clicked until I first read Witches Abroad. Upon Greebo suddenly transforming into a swashbuckling hero that, well, behaves like a cat, speaks like a cat, and drinks milk like a cat, I never really understood fully what those pictures meant. Now I do, and now I have a much, much greater appreciation of who this rather psychotic kitty really is.
However, I cannot finish this off without mentioning Nanny Ogg. No matter how nasty, cruel, and vicious Greebo is, he simply could not be the cat that he is without his mistress Nanny Ogg, and it is her belief regarding that cat that makes him so attractive. In fact, she is very much like the owner of a vicious cat who can never, and will never, see anything bad about him. As far as Nanny Ogg is concerned Greebo can do no wrong.
Oh, and should I mention that he is one hell of a stud - but then again he is a cat.


The City Watch
Originally comprising of Captain Vimes, Sergeant Colon, and Corporal Nobbs, the night watch first appeared in Guard's Guards. As Sir Terry said at the beginning of this book, the city watch in many fantasy novels are the people who would kick down the door and proceed to be slaughtered by the occupants - much like the red shirts in Star Trek. As such he decided to write a story dedicated very much to these part, and mostly short-lived, characters.
The night watch was one of those underfunded organisations that nobody really wanted to join, and if you landed up there you had probably stuffed up big time (and when we meet Corporal Nobbs, we begin to understand why). However, the Night Watch is soon bolstered by Carrot, who doesn't so much have red hair (though many of the drawings of him I have discovered on the internet do have him with red hair) but rather that he is shaped like a carrot. However, I will say more on him a little later.

The City Watch
After defeating a dragon (that wasn't actually supposed to exist, despite torching much of Anhk-Morpork) Captain Vimes meets, and marries, into a lot of money. With this new found wealth, as well as the appreciation from the city for managing to fight off this non-existent menace, they are given a new headquarters (particularly since their last one had burnt down), and their ranks are bolstered with new blood (which include the troll bouncer from the Mended Drum: Detritus).
Now, Carrot is just one of those adorable characters. He is so innocent, yet as a member of the watch, he is really, really good. In fact, the one thing about him (other than his strength) is that he has pretty much memorised all of Anhk-Morpork's laws and ordinances (and has got himself into trouble at times trying to enforce them). The other interesting thing is that he grew up amongst dwarves (and was also in love with a dwarf - Minty Rocksmacker - though that was never going to work out) and in many cases thinks that he is a dwarf. He also regularly writes back to his parents, who had encouraged him to go out and explore the world (namely because they felt that he would be better amongst his own kind, despite the fact that he pines to return to the mines and a life that he misses). He also is one of those personalities that everybody seems to know, and likes, despite the fact that he is a member of the watch.
Okay, at the time of writing I have only read three of the City Watch books (Guards, Guards, Men at Arms, and Feet of Clay) and I must say that I really like these books, simply because Sir Terry has taken a different direction than many of his other fantasy novels in that they are the Discworld version of a cop show. They even have elements of a mystery novel (though not to the extent of Agatha Christie). In a way Captain Vimes is like the Hercule Poirot of Anhk-Morpork


Lord Ventinari
Now, how could we possibly forget Lord Ventinari, the ruler of Anhk-Morpork. He pretty much appears in almost all of the Discworld novels (or at least those set mainly in Anhk-Morpork). His first appearance is when Rincewind is dragged kicking and screaming into his chambers after attempting to flee the city with a bag full of gold. He is cold, calculating, and incredibly ruthless, yet his rule over the city has been one of stabilisation and prosperity. Despite the fact that he has been deposed a number of times, he always seems to find himself back in the seat of power.
I remember one book (Guards, Guards) where he is locked in his own dungeons, however he already knows the way out (since he had built a bolt hole just for that occasion). However he is the type of ruler that will patiently sit in that cell, reading his book, knowing that sooner of later he will be back on the throne. Ventinari is that type of character, he is cool, he is confident, and he knows that he is the one that has brought prosperity to the city, and since nobody wishes to return to the chaos of the past nobody seeks to depose him.
For instance, one of the ordinances that he has created is allowing thieves to operate in the city, however to operate in the city they must belong to the thieves guild. Thieves are only allowed to rob people a certain number of times, and every time they are robbed they must be given a receipt. As such, if you have already been robbed, you can then confidently walk about the city without fear of being robbed again. Mind you, there are still unlicensed thieves operating in the city, but they do so at their own risk. If they are caught, they are not handed over the the city watch, they are handed over to the thieves guild, and in many cases they would be much better in the hands of the watch than in the hands of the guild.
I believe that Lord Ventinari's Coat of Arms (which is basically black) describes his method of power quite well: Si non confectus, non reficiat - If it ain't broke, don't fix it (such is the humour of Sir Terry).
For those who really want to learn more about Lord Havelock Ventinari, somebody with way too much time on their hands has written a very detailed entry on Wikipedia.

The Unseen University
Well, I probably can't forget the grand old wizards of the Unseen University since they do play a major role in many of the books. However, I should be honest with you and say that I have never really been a big fan of Rincewind. Okay, he is quite a character and certainly does go on many adventures, as well as discovering that running away from pretty much everything can be a very useful tactic - especially if the goal involves running away. However, if there is one thing that I have to say about the wizards is that Sir Terry certainly has captured the essence of the world of academia.
Discworld WizardsOkay, as far as I know, there isn't a university where the role of the chancellor becomes vacant simply because somebody has assassinated him, or her (though I could be wrong - who knows what goes on in the hallowed halls of Oxford). In the later books some stability does come about (probably because Sir Terry didn't want to create a new chancellor every time he introduced the Unseen University into his stories). On the other hand, it could simply be that Ridcully (the current Chancellor) simply knows how to keep himself alive (without having to resort to Rincewind's tactics).
Magic is really odd in Discworld. In some ways it reminds me of nuclear radiation - the way it seems to seep into everything and change its characteristics. It also seems to simply sit in the background - people know about it, people accept it, and people go about their normal lives not thinking all that much about it. Unlike many of the other fantasy books that I have read, people don't even use it to gain power over others, which is why the wizards all lock themselves away in the university and go about their studies basically producing stuff that is of no use, or value, to the outside world. To me, it seems that in Discworld being a wizard means that you don't use your power for anything beyond doing what wizards do in the university.
When I was first introduced to the Unseen University in The Colour of Magic I was under the impression that while it was in Anhk-Morpork, nobody could actually see it because, well, it was supposed to be Unseen. However, when I finally saw a map of Anhk-Morpork, there it was, slap bang in the middle of the city. Apparently the name goes back to the Invisible College, which was the precursor to the Royal Society of London. While that is probably the case (and who am I to argue with Sir Terry), I like to think of it as being called the Unseen University because the academics really do not want the outside knowing what is going on inside.


The Librarian
Okay, the Librarian is a faculty member of the Unseen University, but this character is just so cool that I simply cannot help but have an entry all of his own. The thing about the librarian is that he is an Orang-outang (and whatever you do, do not call him a monkey - if you value your life that is). He wasn't always an orang-outang, at one stage he was human, however in The Light Fantastic he was transformed, and really liked the fact that he was an orang-outang (since he found it very useful for his job) that he refused to be turned back. Okay, he can only say 'ook', but that has never held him back, and those who know him seem to be able to communicate with him without too much difficulty.
Like Death, whom you know has appeared when somebody STARTS SPEAKING LIKE THIS, you may not realise that the Librarian is actually in the scene until you suddenly hear (or read) an 'ook'. I love how Sir Terry just sneaks some of his most memorable characters into his books like that, and even though (so far at least) the Librarian only ever takes a supporting role in the books, having him along for the ride is always an adventure in itself. He was even at one stage deputised as a member of the Night Watch in Guards, Guards (which I found really amusing - though in the later City Watch novels he had returned to his beloved library).
The Library of the Unseen University is a marvellous place in and of itself because, as Sir Terry tells us, having so many books dripping with magic all stored in one place is going to have an effect on the library as a whole. In fact, it is not just the books that are transformed, but the room itself sounds as if it has been warped into many different dimensions creating the distinct possibility that while you can enter, you may end up never leaving the place ever again (and not necessarily due to called in the Librarian a monkey).


The Luggage
I really wanted to finish off with The Luggage. You see some people have really nasty and bad tempered dogs (or actually I probably say cats because cats tend to be a lot more bad tempered than do dogs - I don't think I have ever met a bad tempered dog) but Rincewind has The Luggage. Yes, as the name implies, it is basically a suitcase, but it is not any ordinary suitcase (or should I say chest, because it looks more like a chest, but I think suitcase sort of describes its purpose much better), it is a suitcase that runs around on a large number of legs and has a very, very bad temper (don't try opening it if you are not Rincewind because you are likely to be eaten).
LuggageThe Luggage first appeared in The Colour of Magic as a suitcase that was following Twoflower, described as being the Discworld's very first tourist (namely because people on the Discworld simply do not go to places to basically see what is there). However, after two books worth of adventures where Twoflower and Rincewind travel the length and breadth of the land, Twoflower, as a parting gift, gives the luggage to Rincewind.
Mind you, the Luggage pretty much has a mind all of its own. Okay, it knows that it belongs to Rincewind, but it does not necessarily go wherever Rincewind goes. In fact it has a tendency to go off on adventures all of its own, and just like the aforementioned bad tempered cat, seems to always be able to find its way home again.

Well, there we go, some of my favourite characters from a really enjoyable series of novels. Okay, I have probably infringed quite a number of copyrights on this post, however all of these pictures have simply been to illustrate the characters that I have remembered, and have no intention of either claiming these pictures as my own, or trying to usurp anybody's intellectual property. Anyway, I like pictures on my posts because they do break up the monotony of the written word, and sometimes it is really good to see who I am talking about, and what this post is, as I have said, is a tribute to the creator of all of the wonderful characters - Sir Terry Pratchett.


Creative Commons License
Remembering Discworld - A tribute to Terry Pratchett by David Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
This license only applies to the text and any image that is within the public domain. Any images that are the subject of copyright are not covered by this license.

Terry Pratchet: © Luigi Novi / Wikimedia Commons used with permission
Death source: Wikipedia entry Death.
Granny Weatherwax source: http://www.writeups.org/fiche.php?id=5366 
Lego Granny source: Klapi used with permission under Creative Commons Attribution Share-alike 4.0 International
Greebo source: http://www.au.lspace.org/art/fan-art/fauna.html
City Watch source: http://www.deviantart.com/morelikethis/artists/357774257?view_mode=2 
Captain Carrot: http://johnny-wolf.deviantart.com/art/Captain-Carrot-Ironfoundersson-253211304 
Ventinari source: Wikipedia entry Havelock Ventinari

Discworld Wizards: http://thelablib.org/tag/discworld/

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Goodwood & Unley - Exploring Old Adelaide

Unley House

Okay, I did go to Adelaide to spend some time at the Fringe, however instead of spending Friday afternoon wandering around the CBD looking at what was on offer, I decided to jump on the new electric train and wander around the backstreets of the inner southern suburbs. Despite not seeing the buskers performing in Rundle Mall and visiting the Garden of Unearthly Delights before the crowds arrived, a trek from Goodwood to Unley was still quite a pleasant day out. Anyway, I did want to get another video of the electric train so I could post it up on Youtube for the benefit to the followers that I seem to have collected (and maybe I should start watching some of their clips - then again I really don't have that much time).

And this was supposed to be an express

Anyway, as I have done with some of my other travels by foot, I'll post a map of where I went (though this time I cheated a bit and caught a bus along Unley Road) and talk about some of the places that I went by numbering my stops (or even if I didn't stop, at least rabbit on about the place). So, first of all, here's the map:

Map of my travels

One of the things that I do like about walking through some of these older suburbs is that you are almost taken back in time to the early twentieth century when many of the houses were lived in by the working class, not that early Adelaide was a working class city. Mind you, a lot has changed since then and like many of the inner suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney, this part is Adelaide is also becoming gentrified (though you won't be paying as much for a house here as you would be over there). Anyway, here are some photos of the houses in the area:

Unley House 02Goodwood House 02


Unley House 01Goodwood House 01

They probably thought I was some sort of property developer

It is still quite interesting looking at the different styles of houses, even in similar areas of the same city. In the inner suburbs of Melbourne many of the houses are single story and joined onto each other, where as in Sydney many of them are two, even three, story terrace houses. However here in Adelaide the old houses of the inner suburbs have a lot more space and are somewhat larger, though as I moved over into Unley the houses became smaller, but they were not packed together as they were in Melbourne. I guess this had a lot to do with Light's Vision in that the city of Adelaide was to be built so that there was space, as opposed to being all crammed in together as was the case with many of the cities in Europe (where space is at a premium).
Anyway, enough of the houses and let us visit some of the places that I passed on my afternoon stroll.

1) Royal Adelaide Showgrounds
It seems like every city, and in fact every major town, has something akin to the showgrounds. Okay, the original idea of the Royal Show was for the farmers to bring their best animals to the city to have them judged, however over time it has blossomed into an annual event which includes famous rides such as the Mad Mouse and a plethora of showbags that are filled with sweets and other useless junk. I still remember as a kid (and even the occasional times I came here as an adult) seeing families walking around the place lugging more showbags than they could even expect to carry with two hands. Mind you, it is not just the Royal Show that has brought me here as I have been here on other occasions, such as raves, and even university exams. While I only walked past the showgrounds this time I could see that they were preparing for another music festival - Future Music.

Godwood Park Hotel
Certainly not my best photo

2) The Goody 
Well, after a short walk from the railway station (through the side streets of course because the other route simply took me past a huge block of flats) I arrived a this pub which doesn't really bring back all that many memories because I haven't really been here all that much. From what I remember I came here once after an exam to have some drinks with friends, and I came here another Friday night because I hadn't really been here all that much. Anyway I decided to stop in for a drink (because that is what I generally do when I come to a pub - though not always) only to discover that it was pretty empty - probably because it was 11:00 am on a Friday morning, so obviously people weren't finishing work all that early, even though it was the Fringe.

Capri Theatre
I've seen some interesting films here

3) Goodwood Village
A short walk south along Goodwood Road, just across the tramline, brings you to what I would call Goodwood Village. It is a quaint little suburban shopping strip that seems to have changed very little since the early days (or at least the 1950s, because it really does feel like the old charm of the place has changed very little). The thing that really stands out about the place is that the developers haven't moved in, knocked down all of the buildings, and set up some modern shopping centre. In fact, other than a Subway a little further down the road, you won't encounter any of those shopping centres until you hit Cross Road (I know because I used to live down there).

Goodwood - Greek Orthodox Church
This church is frequented by the Greeks
Along with a couple of old churches, there are a handful of cafes and a few restaurants, as well as a bar. One of the restaurants I walked past reminded me of Don Don's in Melbourne in that there was a line outside stretching down the road. No doubt, like Don Don's (which I really should go to one day because if there is a line, no doubt the people waiting in the line really like the place - unless of course they are in the line because they see all of these other people in the line), the food is cheap, tasty, and pretty quick to prepare.
While I was here I decided to step into one of the cafes (Whisk,  for a cup of tea). I must say that the cafe was really nice and had a very homely atmosphere. It was funny watching this guy come in with his child and the child (who was probably about five years old), taking his wallet and placing his order (they sure do teach them young). They then sat in the bay window because, as he explained, his boy loved watching the trams go buy, and that was the only place you could see the tram (I'm really starting to like this kid).

Wisk Cafe interior
I really like places decorated as such.
Another place I should mention is the Capri Theatre. Okay, it may not be The Astor, but it does come pretty close. In fact they show a number of double features during their Cult Classic sessions (and a quick look on their website has them playing a Dirty Harry double feature, an Aliens double feature, and a Back to the Future double feature). I even remember going to one of these double features years ago with some friends from the Adelaide University Film Society (who also specialised in showing cult classics). They still have the piano sitting next to the movie screen and have been told by some of the older generation that they can remember the piano being played before the feature film would begin.

Goodwood Village Tree
I just had to post a photo of this tree

4) King William Road
After wandering around the village (and finishing off my cup of tea) I decided to plunge into the side streets and walk over to King William Road. So, I walked past quite a few old houses, through a park where children were playing and a council worker was mowing the lawn, past some more old houses and an old Church that has evidentially been purchased by the Christodelphians, and out onto King William Road in Hyde Park.

Goodwood Park
I didn't think the council worker would be too impressed with me taking a photo of him
Anyway, there were a couple of places I wanted to visit on King William Road, one of them being a coffee shop, another being the pub (which I hadn't been too before - but more on that later). Anyway, the coffee shop turned out not to be a coffee shop, but rather a bar (therefore Google lied to me). So I continued walking down the road until I found myself another place where I could have a cup of tea. It was then that I discovered why I don't drink tea at coffee shops in Adelaide - it is because the water is disgusting. Mind you, to add insult to injury, they even had the audacity to charge me $4.50 for drinking tea made from Adelaide water (and if you know anything about Adelaide it is that their tap water is foul). Seriously, can't they even use a water filter, even if they are way too stingy to use spring water?

Hyde Park - Spats Cafe
This wasn't the cafe by the way - this one was closed
Anyway, as I continued my trek along King William Road it suddenly dawned on me the nature of this part of Adelaide - it is really classy. It is not trendy in the way Northcote or Prahran are trendy - rather it has more of an upper class atmosphere to it. It is one of the few parts of Adelaide that hasn't been invaded by the chain stores, though many of the shops around here do carry a fairly high price tag. It does have the feel of some parts of Chapel Street though, especially when you move away from the area between Dandenong Road and High Street, which is mostly bars and clubs, to where the residents of Toorak do their shopping.

Hyde Park Tavern
The Toorak Tractors sort of give the game away

5) Hyde Park Tavern

Well, I don't think I have ever actually been to this pub before, which was one of the reasons that I came down here. Mind you, I've never really graced this part of Adelaide all that much (except when I was driving one of my 'girl friends' home). They do (or did) have a really cool video store down here called Kino, which had a huge collection of cult and foreign films (and I believe I even joined as a member). However, once again, I only ever went to that video store a few times, and only when I lived in the area (not in Hyde Park, but a short drive away). As for this pub, well, I'd never had a reason to go here before because it was never on my friend's radar and we never selected this place for a meal, or even a few drinks.
So, I decided to rectify that, and well, I can't say that there was anything all that impressive about this place. However, instead of writing a review on the pub here (because I do that on other sites - I'm just sharing a story of my travels through Goodwood and Unley) I'll simply say that I had a beer (and they do have craft beers on tap, but then again this is Hyde Park so I'm not surprised) and then continued on my journey.

Unley - The Cremorne
Yep, that's right - another pub

6) The Cremorne
Okay, now that I have marked the third pub on this post you are all probably thinking that I am an alcoholic. All I'll say is that I like visiting pubs, especially pubs that I have never been to before, and since I also post reviews up on True Local, I have found that pubs (and coffee shops) are some of the best places to review, namely because you can get a good impression of a place simply by ordering a drink and spending fifteen minutes inside reading a book.
However the Cremorne is hardly a pub that I am unfamiliar with, having been here a few times. I believe my first excursion here was years ago when my friend wanted to get a carton of beer and this was the closest pub to where we lived (which in fact it wasn't, but he didn't want to walk too far and we could catch a bus here). However, I became a bit more regular when I started some evening courses at the Bible College of South Australia (which was just around the corner) so after work, and before class began, I would get off of the bus one stop earlier and come here for a drink (yes, Bible College students do drink beer, however I was only checking it out, not actually studying to become a member of the clergy).

Unley Rememberance Gardens
We certainly like to remember things

7) Unley Remembrance Gardens
Initially I was simply going to catch a bus from the Cremorne, but then discovered that there was a bit more to Unley than simply a strip of franchised shops as far as the eye could see. So, I decided to walk down the road to remember one of my old haunts. One of them happened to be this park. The reason I say that is because I had a friend (who happened to be a girl, but she was not my girlfriend, despite us spending a lot of time together) who lived around here, so we would take the occasional walk through this park (usually to either get to the bus stop, or so she could go shopping).
This is a park dedicated to those who fought and died in World War I (and later World War II) so that we could speak English as opposed to German. In fact, it is really hard not to find a memorial, or a park, like one of these in Australia, especially if the town or suburb dates back to the early to mid twentieth centuries. Mind you, the newer the suburb, the less likely you are to find a memorial (you usually just find some really tacky piece of modern art outside the council chambers).
Another thing that tends to stand out about these places is that there is always a cannon sitting somewhere. Okay, the cannons (or should I say artillery piece, though I doubt that there is really any different, except that cannons are more prone to blowing up if not loaded correctly) generally don't work, but I remember as a kid I always loved playing on them.
Sometimes I wonder if these memorials harken back to the Old Testament where God would tell the Israelites to set up memorials so that when their children would see them and ask them what they meant the older generation could then tell them the stories of the good things that God had done. However, I don't ever remember asking my father (or mother) what those cannons meant, and sometimes I wonder, since these wars are getting so further and further into the past, that the true horror of the event is having less of an impact. In a way, these memorials were designed to remind us that never again do we want to go down that road (though as we are all aware, twenty years after the end of World War I Europe was once again plunged into a war much worse than the one that they had finished).

Unley Town Hall
I wanted to see this building

8) Unley Village
Next to the gardens you will come to the village, however there is now a large, modern shopping centre (actually, it's not all that large, but it is still modern, and it is still a shopping centre) in the area, though it has been there for as long as I can remember. On the opposite side of the road you still have the old council chambers, and two churches (one of them Anglican and one of them a Uniting Church). Mind you, Unley Road is actually one really long shopping strip, meaning that you can walk from Cross Road to Greenhill Road (or drive) without actually seeing any houses. Some of the shops, or the buildings in which these shops are located, are quite new, others of them still hold that historic charm.
However, the reason I came here is because when I was standing outside the Cremorne I noticed that there were a few old buildings that I wanted to check out, so I wandered down here to do just that (not that I hadn't been here before, it is just I wanted to see them again). However, I had been walking for quite a bit, so I ended up sitting at the bus stop to wait for the bus to take me to my next location.

9) Boho Bar
Okay, yes, this is another pub, but it is one of those pubs with which I do have a lot of memories. It is one of Adelaide's trendier pubs, and has a really cool atmosphere inside. However I've also noticed that they were in the middle of renovations (they are setting up a rooftop deck for all of the smokers so they don't have to pile out onto the streets, and so they can smoke their cigarettes and drink their beer at the same time). I do remember coming here for a friend's engagement party, and also coming here for a few drinks at other times. In a way it is one of those bars that is quite popular with certain crowds, however tends to be hidden away because it is not in the centre of the city. Adelaide, unlike some of the other cities, does not have a huge nightlife strip outside of the Square Mile.

Leicester Arms
Last pub, I swear

10) Leicester Arms
This was my final stop before I made my way back into Adelaide so that I could visit the Fringe (well, actually, I had a few more stops, but I will say that I finished off here). So, after living some fond memories back in the Boho Bar I once again plunged into the side streets and meandered through to the Leicester Arms. In a way I preferred wandering through the back streets of Unley simply to look at the many old houses that line the streets (as well as taking numerous photos - though I did get some odd looks). I finally arrived at this pub, a pub that I had only been to once before, and that was after the first night of a Christian conference (see, I told you - Christians do drink beer). Okay, we were supposed to be up early in the morning, but we still wanted to finish the night off with a drink or two, so we came here, simply because it was just around the corner.

So, I knew it was time to finish off my trek through the inner southern suburbs of Adelaide when I received a call from my friend letting me know that he had finished work. Mind you, my journey around here wasn't completed just yet because there were a few other places that I was planning on visiting, however for the purposes of my story, and the fact that I was to have a further adventure at the Adelaide Fringe that night, we will call it quits for now.

This post also appears on my travel blog.

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Goodwood & Unley - Exploring Old Adelaide by David Sarkies is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. If you wish to use this work commercially please feel free to contact me.