Review: Re-reading Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

My strongest memory of reading this book a as teenager was of the power Siddhartha’s ability to fast gave him in his negotiation with the businessman Kamaswami.  His asceticism freed him from being disciplined by the desire for material things, even food, removing much of Kamaswami’s leverage over him.

I was prompted to re-read this book by my own Ash Wednesday fast, which brought this interaction back to me. Having now re-read the book, the scene remains effective.  Kamaswami assumes that as Siddhartha is without possessions he is destitute and comes to him seeking to serve him to survive. Instead Siddhartha points to the value of his experience fasting, saying that if he hadn’t learned to fast ‘I would have to accept any kind of service before the day is up, […] because hunger would force me to do so’. As it is he can ‘wait calmly, knowing no impatience’.  The demonstration puts him on an equal footing with Kamaswami and he prospers as his business partner from there. Continue reading “Review: Re-reading Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse”

The Bearable Lightness of Leaving Labour

Leaving Labour

Three weeks ago I left the Labour Party.  When the split that formed The Independent Group was announced, I looked in my heart and knew it was time to go.

I’ve been involved in the Labour party all my adult life and the party has been the central pillar of my political identity.  In July last year I ran for candidacy in my ward for the local elections in May this year. I’ve previously run as a Labour candidate n Brighton and Hove, back in 2007, and the difference in the experience of the process this time was significant. Continue reading “The Bearable Lightness of Leaving Labour”

Keeping an Atheist Lent

daffWhat started as a plan to take a break from alcohol for Lent has developed into something deeper.  I started to consider the value of religious rhythms to life – not as a believer, but as an atheist.  So, while I am still giving up alcohol for Lent, I am also going to use this self-denial as a tool for contemplation and to consider my relationship with consumption and appetite satisfaction more generally. Continue reading “Keeping an Atheist Lent”