According to a recent survey, 61% of Flemings agree that “everyone should have the right to a guaranteed basic income”. About a quarter say that, if guaranteed this right, they would start their own business, and women in particular would be more entrepreneurial.
The questions about a basic income guarantee formed part of a larger survey on the economy, conducted by Trendhuis (“Trend House”), a research group that has been following trends in public opinion in Belgium since 2005. For its survey on the economy, which was released in January 2017, it polled 1,028 members of the Flemish population (Dutch-speaking Belgians) over the age of 18.
In the web-based survey, Trendhuis asked respondents whether they support a basic income, defined as a fixed (monthly) income provided by the government to all citizens, without means test or work requirement. As seen in the table below, a majority in each demographic group analyzed — young and old, male and female, “short-” and “long-” educated — supported the idea. The greatest support came from the 51-65 age group, in which 67% of respondents favored basic income.
Weaving between history and gossip, private lives and public declarations, repression and celebration, the exhibition Queer British Art recounts a complicated story of sexuality and desire through work that is as often as coded and veiled as it is candid and outspoken.
From pre-Raphaelite London to 1920s Bloomsbury, from Edward Burra’s raunchy sailors in Boston bars to a poster for the wildly successful 1945 Soldiers in Skirts variety revue, this is an exhibition about stories and lives, and conflicting social mores, as much as of images and objects. Here is Man Ray’s 1934 photographic portrait of Virginia Woolf, there William Strang’s 1918 painting of Vita Sackville-West, self-assured in a red hat. Lovings and pairings across the years, paintings and photographs, intimate sketches, letters, masks, Noël Coward’s dressing gown: what a compelling show this is, filled with surprises that are as much human as artistic.
Here are a selection of the library books Kenneth Halliwell and playwright Joe Orton borrowed, collaged and returned to Islington library in London between the late 1950s and early 60s. A play by Emlyn Williams is retitled Fucked By Monty. Phyllis Hambledon’s romantic novel Queen’s Favourite has a pair of men about to have sex collaged on to the cover. Orton and Halliwell, pursued by librarians, went down for six months, less for their crime of collage, and being irreverent and funny, than for being queer.
You is one of the most common words in the English language, but you might be using it in ways you didn’t appreciate. Grammatically, you is a second-person pronoun used to refer to someone who is not, well, you — “the verbal equivalent of pointing to one’s audience,” say psychologists who study this. But you is also a way of referring to people in general, as in “you win some, you lose some.” And a study just published in Science reveals that we use you in that generic way not only to express norms, but also to describe personal negative experiences. Doing so provides psychological distance and helps us find meaning in the hard things that happen to us.
Who knew a pronoun could carry so much weight? Not I.
The main difference between linguists and psychologists who study language is that the psychologists experiment. There was plenty of theory about how we use the generic you, but no one had formally tested them. That’s what psychologists Ariana Orvell, Ethan Kross and Susan Gelman at the University of Michigan set out to do. In a series of six experiments involving nearly 2,500 participants, they first established that people do, in fact, use the generic you to talk about general rules and expectations, such as what to do on a rainy day or how to use a hammer.
It is not just the beauty of art, it turns out, that lies in the eye of the beholder, but also its “queerness”. Tate Britain is preparing its first show dedicated to “queer art”, a term long understood by art historians but which still has the power to bring the museum-going public up short. Does queer art, some ask, refer to a specific school of protest? Is it designed for a particular audience? And do paintings that might be described in this way really have a different perspective to offer? On the evidence of the work coming together for this landmark show, the answer is “yes, all of this and more”.
When the doors open to Queer British Art 1861-1967, almost 50 years since the decriminalisation of male homosexual acts in England and Wales, the curator of the exhibition, Clare Barlow, believes these difficult questions will all be tackled. Perhaps surprisingly, Barlow’s choices even include some works that originally had no clear position on gender or on sexuality, but simply came to be celebrated as gems of gay subculture.
Charging 25p for every disposable coffee cup would help to cut the number used by up to 300 million a year, a study has concluded.
A charge would be far more effective than the policy adopted by Starbucks and Costa of offering a 25p discount to customers bringing a reusable cup to the store.
About 2.5 billion disposable coffee cups are used annually in the UK but waste companies said last year that only one in 400 was recycled because of the difficulty of separating the plastic inner lining from the paper.
In the early, happier days of our marriage, I enjoyed reading aloud to my wife. Much of our honeymoon was spent reading Dickens’ Barnaby Rudge. Later, there was more Dickens – I remember specifically, Martin Chuzzlewit. For our first Christmas together, we both woke up with vicious colds, and we spent the day in bed with me reading aloud her gift to me – a set of Moomintroll books which I’d never previously encountered. Later, I read through The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. The latter, I effectively read twice: once to her, and because I found the pace of reading aloud too slow, I began to read ahead for myself, while continuing to read for her. Toward the end, I ended up reading right through the night to get to the conclusion.
With the arrival of children, reading aloud was a major part of my childcare routine, especially at bedtime. I regret to say though, that some of my choices were far too ambitious for children of their age. For instance, I introduced them to The Hobbit very young – and then, ridiculously, to The Lord of the Rings. We got about half way through, but never completed it. I’ve not picked it up since.
(It’s not for nothing that Joyce describes memory as “fadographs”. Memory is intrinsically fallible. What follows is not necessarily an authentic account of what happened – but it is a meticulous account of how I remember it.)
By this time, Marie-Jeanne been through numerous bouts of suicide attempts and threatened suicide attempts. However, she’d also been through an extended period of therapy with an excellent psychotherapist who had assured me that she was well on the way to recovery. He had also advised me against the danger of allowing myself to be manipulated by her (possible) emotional blackmail. When I received a telephone call from her at work, I was initially reluctant to be drawn.
She said to me that I really needed to come to home immediately, for the children’s sake (just as I had sometimes done before, in times of emergency. I was blessed to be working for an understanding and supportive employer, The Cape Argus newspaper). Trying to avoid being “manipulated”, I resisted, arguing that I had a job to do, which I could not simply abandon. Her response was that it was essential for the girls’ sake that I did get home ASAP, as she “would not be there”. Still I demurred, and hung up.
Thinking about it thereafter, I reconsidered. Something in the exchange led me to think that it was perhaps more serious than previous such calls. I did not then know what she meant by “would not be there”: perhaps she simply meant she would be going away, as she had done once or twice before, without warning. Whatever the case, I concluded that I should indeed go home. I spoke to my immediate boss, and got permission to go immediately. (I think he even drove me home). When I got there, I found six year old Robyn sitting on her suitcase outside the front door, unable to get in. Barbara was home from school a little later, and I made some excuses for their mother’s unexplained absence.
When she was still not home by evening, I made supper as usual, got the girls bathed, and ready for bed. We spread out on the main bedroom double bed, one on each side of me, ready to read from The Lord of the Rings, “The Fellowship of the Ring”. (By memory, the passage in question was the journey through the mountain of Moria, just before meeting the encounter with the Balrog – but memory could be playing nasty tricks on me).
What I definitely remember as accurate, is that as I picked up the book, instead of a bookmark I found a note from Marie-Jeanne, placed where she knew I’d find it:
“I’ll be under the floorboards”.
I knew exactly what she meant. In the centre of the house was an open plan room, with a trapdoor in the centre. Underneath it was a space not quite deep enough for a cellar, but which invite thoughts of conversion into some sort of usable space. I immediately realised the gravity of the situation – but had above all, to avoid alarming two young girls, already confused by their mother’s absence.
I found an excuse to put down the book, saying I’d remembered I needed to phone a friend up the road. Jean and her husband Allen were committed Baptists, and Jean had been very friendly and supportive to Marie-Jeanne, with two children just the age of our two. As circumspectly as I could, I explained the nature of the emergency and the need for urgent help. I told the girls that it was they (not I) in need of help, and drove them up the road to Jean and Allen. Once their, I gave my front door key to Allen, who slipped away, while Jean and I put all four children to bed.
I then returned to the family home- where I found an ambulance already on hand. busy taking Marie-Jeanne on board . Allen explained that on lifting the floorboards, he had found her unconscious, with assorted empty pill bottles around her, and her head enclosed in a plastic bag, tied around her neck. We were told by the ambulance crew that if she’d been found just a short while later, it would have been all over.
“Finiche! Only a fadograph of a yestern scene.” (Finnegans Wake I, 7)
“And after that she wove a garland for her hair. She pleated it. She plaited it. Of meadowgrass and riverflags, the bulrush and waterweed, and of fallen griefs of weeping willow. “(Finnegans Wake IV, 207)
So – she is gone, my wife that was, the mother of my daughters.
I heard the news last Friday evening, via two emails from my daughter Robynn.
Just fyi – Mom is in hospital, expected to die within a few days. It’s *probably* cancer, but she refused to go to a doctor for so long, by the time she was admitted she was far too weak for them to do the usual tests, so it hasn’t been confirmed. In any case she’s in a very bad way and apparently now shutting down.
Just thought you should know.
followed a short time later by
She died 3 hours ago.
The suddenness of her passing, as a result of having refused to see a doctor, was no surprise. Later, Robynn shared her thoughts in a blog post, including this,
You can’t grow up hearing constantly that your own childish neediness was the reason she’d tried to kill herself, and the reason she still wanted to, without sooner or later thinking “Well then – get on with it!”
Ever since, my mind has been turning repeatedly to that time, thirty five or so years ago, when her suicide attempts and threats were a constant part of our lives together. It’s ridiculous of course, to have blamed the girls for her mental health difficulties – at the time of the final, very nearly completed attempt, Barbara was just barely eight years old (almost exactly the age that my granddaughter Claudia is now), and Robynn only six. Nor do I accept that I was myself “to blame”, as she also would have alleged. However, with hindsight I must accept that I was indeed part of the problem.
That’s not how I saw it at the time of course. Throughout her many difficult periods, I had done my best (as I saw it), to support her in every way I could. Because she had difficulty coping with too much stress, I had taken on responsibility for pretty well all the cooking and shopping, and as much of the childcare as I could, when not at work. When she was willing to see therapists for her depression, I took time off work to get her to them, saw them with her when required, and attempted to comply with all their recommendations. When things became too much for her, I did what I could to ease the pressures and soothe her distress. When it all tipped over the edge, I was the one that got her to psychiatric casualty at Groote Schuur hospital, a place I got to know far too well. Throughout, I also tried simultaneously to maintain as normal, calm a life as possible for the two young girls, in situations that were very far from normal. In my own mind, I was doing everything I could to be part of the solution.
The reality I could not then see, was that while not the “cause” of the difficulties, I was very much part of the problem. As a gay man, I should never have proposed marriage in the first place – something I had done at a ridiculously young age, impulsively and without proper forethought. When we married a few years later, it was on a precarious financial footing, and we never developed a sound, partnership based approach to managing household finances. Two young children arrived too soon. The first pregnancy and birth were difficult – with post partem depression exacerbating an existing mental health difficulty, quickly compounded by a second pregnancy. As the years went by, the marital difficulties mounted, and depressive episodes, emotional meltdowns, threats of suicide and actual attempts became a constant in our lives. She came to demand a divorce, which I refused. Although no longer by then a practising Catholic, I clung to the myth that marriage vows are sacrosanct, and must be forever. How wrong I was. It’s little wonder then, that feeling trapped in what had become a destructive marriage, she chose to get out in the only way she could.
The time has come that I need to write about these times. I do so, not with any intent to complain about or to disparage Marie-Jeanne, but just to describe what it was like, especially as it concerned my daughters. They lived through some extraordinary conditions in their childhood, but somehow not only survived, but in the end thrived. Both are today strong, capable and independent women and excellent mothers – in spite of their parents. I salute them.
“These Fragments I Have Shored Against My Ruins” (TS Eliot, The Waste Land: What the Thunder Said)
Is truth dead? That’s the question on the cover of the April 3 Time magazine, a clear call-back to the famous “Is God Dead?” cover of 1968. While it’s tempting to see an analogy between the two, worry over the current “post-truth” political climate is not an ontological issue of the same order. It’s an issue of factual truth: What did or did not happen, what is verifiably true or false—like the size of the crowd at Donald Trump’s inauguration. “Post-truth” is an elegant way to describe an attack not on the metaphysical nature of truth, but on the sheer denialism of historical facts.
The theological culture of the institutional church is not immune to the rise of the “post-truth.” In fact, it was already showing signs of the syndrome in the early 2000s. Such challenges to the idea of distinguishing between what happened and what did not catch the Catholic Church just when it faces a crisis over the role of the study of history in theology. The consequences for the intellectual viability of Catholicism are significant, especially in considering the formation of future Church leaders.
President Donald J. Trump’s executive order to repeal key policies meant to curb global warming is a direct contradiction of Catholic social teaching on caring for the environment.
The order, signed at the Environmental Protection Agency on Tuesday, reverses policies set by the Obama administration and opposes Pope Francis’ core teachings on environmental protection. The move extends Mr. Trump’s “America First” stance to make the country energy independent and diminishes Obama’s vision of the United States as a global advocate for clean energy.