Ancient future

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Atheist freed from Nigerian psychiatric hospital – because of doctor’s strike!

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Eideard

A Nigerian man detained in a hospital psychiatric ward because he did not believe in God has been freed.

Mubarak Bala was released because of a doctors’ strike which has seen many patients discharged, a charity said.

Mr Bala said he now wanted to reconcile with his family who committed him to the hospital in Kano where he says he was held against his will for 18 days.

But he said he wanted to leave the predominantly Muslim north of Nigeria after receiving death threats.

A humanist charity which took up his case said that Mr Bala, a chemical engineering graduate, was freed on Tuesday but news of his release was not made public until he was in a secure location.

“There are still deep concerns for Mubarak’s safety in a part of the country where accusations of ‘apostasy’ can be deadly,” the International Humanist and Ethical Union said…

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Whence “towering infernos”?

Dante’s
Inferno

Purgatory scares me the most

Boisterous beholding

The most common sense of inferno in English, when used as a common noun rather than with reference to Dante’s poem, is “large conflagration.” But why? Because of the traditional (and biblical) image of hell-fire, of course — but why is the Italian word inferno, which entered English through Dante, used this way when hell so rarely is? Those who have read Dante’s Inferno know that fire hardly figures in it at all; and of course etymologically inferno simply means “underworld” (related to inferior and infra-). No one would dream of calling a conflagration a “towering underworld.”

Nevertheless, the word inferno is inextricably linked with the idea of a conflagration — so much so that some publishers simply must have a fire on the cover of Dante and aren’t too picky about what kind of fire it is. Here’s the Collins Classics edition:

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Notice anything strange about that…

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It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. / Joseph Campbell

It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. / Joseph Campbell.

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