Ryoan-Ji zen garden in Arashiyama, Kyoto. Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com

No news of the affairs of men

In the age of omnipresent news and digital devices dominating our every waking moment, this poem by 18th century Japanese hermit poet Ryokan seems very relevant. No news of the affairs of men. How lovely to be without the news of the world. Whatever the news of the day, Ryokan sure as hell didn't give…

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Travel: Ryoan-ji, Kyoto

And the people stayed home by Kitty O’Meara

And the people stayed home. And read books, and listened, and rested, and exercised, and made art, and played games, and learned new ways of being, and were still. A terrace house in Sevilla, Spain. © Content Catnip 2010 And listened more deeply. Some meditated, some prayed, some danced. Some met their shadows. And the…

Day in the life: Facebook is destroying our understanding of normal life

On silence and idleness

"Happiness is in the quiet, ordinary things. A table, a chair, a book with a paper-knife stuck between the pages. And the petal falling from the rose, and the light flickering as we sit silent." Virginia Woolf, The Waves Time Moves Slow by Bad Bad Good https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hgPQ2J_uM3A “Nothing thicker than a knife's blade separates happiness…

Book Review: Weatherland by Andrea Harris

Book Review: Weatherland by Andrea Harris

Weatherland by Alexandra Harris is a sweeping panorama and magic carpet ride through the history of England using a quirky weathervane to measure the changing culture - the weather. Author Alexandra Harris’ debut book won The Guardian’s Book of the Year. It’s no surprise either because this is a far-reaching, expansive book written in an…

Fisherman at dusk, Auckland © Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com

The challenge of a life’s time and a lifetime

It may be when we no longer know what to do, We have come to our real work, and that when we no longer know which way to go, We have begun our real journey. Wendell Berry (b. 1934) is a poet, farmer, writer and activist. Frozen Lake Menteith in Scotland during mid-winter. Copyright Content…

Moko looks into a mirror

Arriving at your own door by Derek Walcott

The time will comewhen, with elationyou will greet yourself arrivingat your own door, in your own mirrorand each will smile at the other's welcome, and say, sit here. Eat.You will love again the stranger who was your self.Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heartto itself, to the stranger who has loved you Watermelons during…

Reflexion by Odilon Redon

This being human is a guest house

This being human is a guest house.Every morning a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness,some momentary awareness comesas an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all!Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,who violently sweep your houseempty of its furniture,still, treat each guest honorably.He may be clearing you outfor some new delight. The dark…

Olaus Magnus’s Carta marina of 1539

Ancient word of the day: Kraken

A Kraken is a mythical behemoth. A man-eating and fearsome gigantic cephalopod that drove fear into the hearts of sea-going Scandanavians. The word kraken comes from the Swedish word “krake”, which means twisted. Seen traditionally as a beast to be feared and respected, it also embodied a sense of deep oceanic magic and mystery. Kraken…

Travel: Eileann Donan Castle, Kyle of Lochalsh, Scotland. Copyright Content Catnip 2010

Ancient Word of the Day: Kawaakari

Kawaakari (Japanese) The glow of a river or stream in darkness or dusk, the gleaming surface of a shadowed river (Japanese 川明かり). Kawaakari can refer to the reflection of the moonlight off flowing water, or the gleam of late sun at dusk. Obumbro (Latin) To shadow over and over: to make dark with shadow; to…

Seven Tips for Writing Top Notch Travel Articles http://wp.me/p41CQf-5h

Ancient Word of the Day: Grimmelings

Although similar to the gloaming, grimmelings is a slightly different natural phenomenon at both ends of the rotating sun's traverse across the sky. Grimmelings - The first or last gleams of the day (Scots, esp. Orkney). From the Norwegian "grimla", to glimmer before the eyes, to twinkle or blink. Also "grimlins". Or “the harlot’s hour”:…

Got enough books? What a stupid question!

Ancient word of the day: Tsundoku

The Japanese word, “Tsundoku", which literally means "reading pile", dates back all the way to the Meiji era (1868-1912). It's a unique word for which there is no English equivalent. If you're an avid reader though, you will well understand that feeling...it's pure happiness, the feeling of knowing that you have many more books ready…

The Sensual World of The Unseen By Photographer Duane Michaels

Wallace Stevens – Somnambulisma

On an old shore, the vulgar ocean rolls Noiselessly, noiselessly, resembling a thin bird, That thinks of settling, yet never settles, on a nest. The wings keep spreading and yet are never wings. The claws keep scratching on the shale, the shallow shale, The sounding shallow, until by water washed away. The generations of the…

Ryoan-Ji zen garden in Arashiyama, Kyoto. Content Catnip 2018 www.contentcatnip.com

Jisei: Haunting Japanese death poems from history

Japan has a long history of jisei, or death poems. Jisei is the “farewell poem to life.” These poems were written by literate people, often monks, royalty or courtiers just before their death.  A Jisei from Prince Otsu in 686 BC is one of the earliest recorded death poems. Not all death poems are written…

Ancient Word of the Day: Whelm

Ancient Word of the Day: Whelm

Whelm originates from Old English and it means to overturn or capsize a hollow vessel (a boat, a heart); to bury by wave, flood, storm, avalanche. The etymology is from the Old English hwelfan, to 'upheave'. This explains the modern use of "overwhelmed" and "underwhelmed". No voice divine the storm allay'd, No light propitious shone;…

Poetry and music from the film 'Wings of Desire' (Der Himmel uber Berlin)

Poetry and music from the film ‘Wings of Desire’ (Der Himmel uber Berlin)

One of my favourite films of all time is the Wim Wenders film The Wings of Desire known in German as Der Himmel uber Berlin. It won the Best Film at Cannes in 1987. Some of the magic  of this film comes from the music (Nick Cave, U2), the acting (Bruno Ganz, Solveig Dommartin) and…

The ancient and elusive fairisle of Hy Brasil

Hy Brasil is a mysterious phantom island that was thought to exist off the west coast of Ireland in the Atlantic Ocean for hundreds of years. The area being nautically challenging for seafarers, it was an elusive and mysterious place, hailed in pre-Christian times as being the Celtic Elysium or land of promise. During Christian…