The Knife is a surgeon in the UK.  He will post on anything he likes:  politics, our culture, health and the NHS, the arts – anything. Why would you bother to read yet another blog? I don’t really know…

“There is usually only a limited amount of damage that can be done by dull or stupid people. For creating a truly monumental disaster, you need people with high IQs.”

Thomas Sowell

Errors, like straws, upon the surface flow: He who would search for pearls must dive below

John Dryden

If man is not to do more harm than good in his efforts to improve the social order, he will have to learn that in this, as in all other fields where essential complexity of an organized kind prevails, he cannot acquire the full knowledge which would make mastery of the events possible. He will therefore have to use what knowledge he can achieve, not to shape the results as the craftsman shapes his handiwork, but rather to cultivate a growth by providing the appropriate environment, in the manner in which the gardener does this for his plants. There is danger in the exuberant feeling of ever growing power which the advance of the physical sciences has engendered and which tempts man to try, “dizzy with success”, to use a characteristic phrase of early communism, to subject not only our natural but also our human environment to the control of a human will. The recognition of the insuperable limits to his knowledge ought indeed to teach the student of society a lesson of humility which should guard him against becoming an accomplice in men’s fatal striving to control society – a striving which makes him not only a tyrant over his fellows, but which may well make him the destroyer of a civilization which no brain has designed but which has grown from the free efforts of millions of individuals.

Friedrich Hayek, The Pretence of Knowledge, 1974

“One thing is sure. If you stand still and think that the fire is still far from your borders, then your lands will become the stage upon which the tragedy is performed”

Frederick William, The Great Elector of Brandenburg-Prussia, Political Testament, 19/05/1667

You may drive out Nature with a pitchfork, yet she still will hurry back

Horace, Epistles, Book 1

Wordly men talk of ‘simple people’ as they do of ‘humble people’, with the same indulgent smile. But they should speak of them as kings

Georges Bernanos

“I am a socialist”

Adolf Hitler

The most poetical thing in the world is not being sick

GK Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday, 1908

Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.

St Francis de Sales

Put yourselves on the ways of long ago and enquire about the ancient paths: which was the good way? Take it then, and you shall find rest.

Jeremiah 6:16

Hang there like fruit, my soul, 
Till the tree die!

Posthumus in Cymbeline, Shakespeare, 1623



8 thoughts on “About

  1. hi Lisztomega, I was going to read a comments under you post, I was interested about the comments of Dr. Judith Scheisinger’s comments on Creativity and Mental Illness, it’s unfair to delete all her writings here. And why did you abandon your own homage to Genius, “Lisztomega, it seems that you and I agree on a number of things — most importantly, the terrible loss to us all of the brilliant Christopher Falzone.”

    1. I took it down because I did not want to upset anyone. I can put it back. I don’t personally wish to enter into a separate discussion on it though. It was primarily intended as a tribute to CF, not to ‘take sides’

  2. I see it in the different place: “===================

    “I’m very glad to see this tribute to Falzone. His was an astonishing talent – not just as player and interpreter, but, as the author mentions, a peerless transcriber. My favorite is his transformation of Ravel’s La Valse, where his solo piano miraculously conveys the power and romance of a full orchestra.

    Where I part company with lisztomega is in his/her casual reference to the supposed link between creativity and mental illness. Too many people assume these things are invariably connected, a rumor fed by such blatant pseudoscientific distortions as “Touched with Fire,” as well as the insatiable media hunger for tragic icons.

    For the final scientific word on the matter, see the Cambridge University Press text, “Creativity and Mental Illness” (2014). For something equally definitive but far more entertaining, there’s “The Insanity Hoax: Exposing the Myth of the Mad Genius” (2012), which explains why the “mad genius” notion persists in our culture despite its utter lack of evidence. The fact is that most “official” diagnoses of supposedly “mad” artists are based on centuries-old scraps of gossip and hearsay; they also imply that “mental illness” itself is a clear and valid entity, which is a whole other controversy.

    In any case, it is unethical to label a person you haven’t seen, a principle that is widely and conveniently ignored in the eagerness to believe that formidable gifts come with a heavy price. This certainly makes the less talented feel better about themselves, but it unfairly stigmatizes those who bring such beauty to the world.

    You’re absolutely right about the unlikelihood of “proof” in this area, and about the reasons for it: the difficulty (I’d ratchet that up to “impossibility”) of defining and validating both creativity and mental illness. There are as almost many definitions of the former as there are definers, since creativity cannot be tangibly and reliably measured.

    There’s a section in The Insanity Hoax about the difficulty of defining creativity (“Blind Men and Elephant Parts”), which Oxford University Press liked enough to include in their new “Reader for Writers” text. I got a few shekls for allowing this, which was also nice.

    The same conceptual problems apply to mental illness, with more tragic consequences. Categories are notoriously ambiguous, subjective, political and ephemeral; diagnoses change with each revision of the psychiatric manual, with new disorders appearing as fast as Big Pharm can invent drugs for them (and sometimes, the drug appears before the supposed reason for it; don’t start me on the collusion problem!).

    As the latest psychiatric “Bible” was being invented (the DSM-5), complete with furious backstage bargaining, the head of the National Institute for Mental Health – America’s chief psychiatrist – revealed the existence of a 10-year search for a better system, since the DSM was essentially, well, crap. Even the guy who shepherded the IV loudly slammed the 5* and wrote a book condemning it — ironically, for the same weaknesses as the version he supervised. The field is in more of an uproar than the public realizes, which casts further doubt on the validity of its pronouncements.

    Lisztomega, it seems that you and I agree on a number of things — most importantly, the terrible loss to us all of the brilliant Christopher Falzone.

    * – This is not a typo; they switched from Roman numerals to Arabic numbers to facilitate naming subsequent tweaks, as in the DSM 5.0, .1, etc. The DSM is the APA’s biggest moneymaker and so far, most diagnosing institutions/professionals are compelled to buy it.

    Creativity should be celebrated, not diagnosed.

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