The Ridere of Riddles


Folklore Fun ©2017- 2025 All Rights Reserved.

The Ridere of Riddles is a Scottish Saga collected by John Francis Campbell in Popular Tales of West Highlands. His fisherman/informant was named John MacKenzie who lived by Inverary.


The Ridere of Riddles

Once upon a time there lived a king who married a great lady who sadly departed during childbirth of her first son. Later the king wed another woman and she birthed a son. Both sons lads grew up strong and tall. One day the new queen had an epiphany, that her son who was the second son of the king would not inherit the king’s kingdom when he passed on. Right then she schemed a plan to poison the king’s first son.

The queen ordered the royal cooks to poison the eldest son by mixing a lethal herb into the first son’s drink. The second son overheard the queen’s conversation about poisoning the first son so…

View original post 1,551 more words




Caryn Drexl Caryn Drexl

Drawing on his cigarette, Al the Angle, coolly poised, as per usual, pauses before re-commencing in his deep, slightly slurred (is something lost in its translation through time and space?) voice.
“As always, I think we need a more oblique approach, pursue a different tack. Although common sense dictates that the map is not the territory, you will find, on further investigation, that this is not actually the case. The map is the territory, I repeat, the map is the territory. In fact, I will go even further and deeper to suggest that the representation of reality is more important than the landscape depicted. The idea of Atlantis, Agartha or Shambhala is more concrete than Imperial Rome, Phararonic Egypt or Ptolemiac Alexandria. The street plan of Mysterious Kor has greater claims to actuality than the highways and byways of London. The marvel that is the architectural drawings…

View original post 130 more words

Dark Corners


House of Heart

One would expect to flee this pale gray carapace
whose high window opens to emptiness.
Far out, below the sea, when I am dreaming
I see us in its whirling.
Filled with disembodied desire we swim among
loves  debris.
My shiver of  eyes search for what we were
in faded murals  and dark corners where I bow down,
my body a cloister, my mind your confessor and
no sin is grave enough, no need so dark as  to stop our love.
I am what remains, and when I look at me,
I see right through us.

art by Guy Finlay “Letting Go”

View original post

“Thy soul shall be dead even sooner than thy body.” (the Rope Dancer, Zarathustra). C.G. Jung, ETH, 12/1/1939



with best Thanks to Craig Nelson

What really happens is the “god image” becomes Psychological not Metaphysical, it is not to be found any longer in the outer world : “Nietzsche said ‘God is dead’ [but] did not realize.. in saying this he was still standing within the dogma, for Christ’s death is one of the secret mysteries of Christianity.. He meant God has come to an end.. & had no successor, [that] something very unusual had happened to the world. He did not realize he was God’s successor! When his psychosis overcame him he signed his letters: The Crucified, Dionysos, or Zagreus who was also a dismembered God, he.. fulfilled this fate himself.”
“Thy soul shall be dead even sooner than thy body.” (the Rope Dancer, Zarathustra).
C.G. Jung, ETH, 12/1/1939


Suffering, not just happiness, weighs in the utilitarian calculus


A utilitarian machine with a suicidal ghost inside. J S Mill (1873) by George Frederick Watts. <em>Photo courtesy Wikipedia</em>

A utilitarian machine with a suicidal ghost inside. JS Mill (1873) by George Frederick Watts. Photo courtesy Wikipedia

As I know well, the thoughtfulness and intelligence are somehow very near to the pessimism, as I remember one of the best Persian writer Sadeg Howeida, who wrote the best seller in the 20th- 30th centuries and as a young man become suicide! but this nice article might help to:: Look at the white side 🙂 or we might just whistle!!

  Scott Samuelson is associate professor of philosophy and the humanities at Kirkwood Community College in Iowa. His latest book is Seven Ways of Looking at Pointless Suffering: What Philosophy Can Tell Us about the Hardest Mystery of All (2018).

Published in association with
The University of Chicago Press
an Aeon Partner

Edited by Sam Haselby

In 1826, at the age of 20, John Stuart Mill sank into a suicidal depression, which was bitterly ironic, because his entire upbringing was governed by the maximisation of happiness. How this philosopher clambered out of the despair generated by an arch-rational philosophy can teach us an important lesson about suffering.

Inspired by Jeremy Bentham’s ideals, James Mill’s rigorous tutelage of his son involved useful subjects subordinated to the utilitarian goal of bringing about the greatest good for the greatest number. Music played a small part in the curriculum, as it was sufficiently mathematical – an early ‘Mozart for brain development’. Otherwise, subjects useless for material improvement were excluded. When J S Mill applied to Cambridge at the age of 15, he’d so mastered law, history, philosophy, economics, science and mathematics that they turned him away because their professors didn’t have anything more to teach him.

The young Mill soldiered on with efforts for social reform, but his heart wasn’t in it. He’d become a utilitarian machine with a suicidal ghost inside. With his well-tuned calculative abilities, the despairing philosopher put his finger right on the problem:

[I]t occurred to me to put the question directly to myself: ‘Suppose that all your objects in life were realised; that all the changes in institutions and opinions which you are looking forward to could be completely effected at this very instant: would this be a great joy and happiness to you?’ And an irrepressible self-consciousness distinctly answered: ‘No!’ At this my heart sank within me: the whole foundation on which my life was constructed fell down.

For most of our history, we’ve seen suffering as a mystery and dealt with it by placing it in a complex symbolic framework, often where this life is conceived as a testing ground. In the 18th century, the mystery of suffering becomes the ‘problem of evil’, in which pain and misery turn into clear-cut refutations of God’s goodness to utilitarian reformers. As Mill says of his father: ‘He found it impossible to believe that a world so full of evil was the work of an Author combining infinite power with perfect goodness and righteousness.’

For a utilitarian, the idea of worshipping the creator of suffering is not only absurd, it undercuts the purpose of morality. It channels our energies toward the acceptance of what we should remedy. To revere the natural order could even turn us into moral monsters. Mill says: ‘In sober truth, nearly all the things which men are hanged or imprisoned for doing to one another, are nature’s everyday performances.’

What Mill calls the ‘Religion of Humanity’ involves pushing aside the old conception of God, and taking over responsibility for what happens in the world. We’re to become the good architect that God never was.

Redesigning the world hasn’t proven easy. Mill claims that our power to inflict suffering is small next to nature’s: ‘Anarchy and the Reign of Terror are overmatched in injustice, ruin, and death, by a hurricane and a pestilence.’ But that’s hard to maintain after the 20th century. What’s the 1755 Lisbon earthquake compared with Auschwitz? What’s a flu epidemic next to Hiroshima? The potential disasters of global warming or nuclear war show that apocalypse isn’t just the prerogative of God.

But the problem isn’t limited to the Religion of Humanity’s catastrophes. Even when things materially improve because of our commitment to utilitarian principles, our increased happiness often doesn’t register as meaningful. Mill’s irrepressible ‘No!’ can be distinctly heard in those I call ‘exiteers’, the growing number of people who, despite their ideological differences, share a desire to exit the system, sometimes with a bang. The irrepressible ‘No!’ haunts even comfy lives in the form of nagging anxieties muted by a steady stream of drugs and distractions. When we see each other in terms of usefulness, as Jean-Paul Sartre observed long before Facebook and Twitter: ‘Hell is other people.’

The problem with our attempt to play God is that it splits us into fixers and problems, marketers and consumers, biotechnicians and patients, entertainers and the entertained, managers and subjects, elites and deplorables, gods and beasts, when we should be workers, doers, caregivers, artists, teachers, students and citizens – roles that involve an openness to risk and vulnerability.

The utilitarian take on the problem of evil is half-right. Suffering ultimately outstrips our goals and beliefs. To claim otherwise is heartless. But it’s wrong to think that the problem of evil brushes aside God or the goodness of nature. When we refuse to accept a fundamental dimension of suffering, we suffer worse. There’s an immense mystery at the heart of being human: the paradox of opposing and accepting suffering. To abandon either side of the paradox is the real problem of evil.

The best things in life clue us into the mystery. Think of art, which by evoking our tragedies fills us with joy. Think of humour, which by registering our humiliations makes us roar with laughter. Think of forgiveness, which allows us to judge and be judged without destroying our relationships. Think of freedom, which by opening us to error gives our lives weight. Though these mysteries don’t preclude the belief in progress, they don’t subordinate all our energies to it. They might often be useless for material improvement, but their uselessness is extremely useful for a meaningful life.

Here’s another irony: what first lifted Mill out of his utilitarianism-induced depression was an act of suffering. Reading a historian’s account of losing his father as a boy, Mill started crying, and the fact that he was crying filled him with happiness: ‘I was no longer hopeless: I was not a stock or a stone.’

Next, he explored Romantic poetry, which nourished the ecosystem of his inwardness. By adding an affective dimension to his life’s projects, literature revealed a new horizon of value, one drawn by the paradox of suffering.

Most importantly, Mill fell in love – with a married woman. After Harriet Taylor’s husband died, Mill wryly observed: ‘[I]t was granted to me to derive from that evil my own greatest good.’ Not only did his eventual wife possess the intellectual vigour that Mill admired in his father, she embodied the poetry that he never got from his upbringing: ‘What was abstract and purely scientific was generally mine; the properly human element came from her.’

Mill tries philosophically to resolve the paradox of suffering by arguing that higher goods such as love and literature are ultimately more satisfying than basic forms of pleasure. In some sense, that’s true. But the terms of this satisfaction are no longer utilitarian; they have more to do with adventure, beauty, even holiness. As the political philosopher Michael Sandel puts it in Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? (2009): ‘Mill saves utilitarianism from the charge that it reduces everything to a crude calculus of pleasure and pain, but only by invoking a moral ideal of human dignity and personality independent of utility itself.’

We should be wary of the Religion of Humanity because subordinating our lives to utility hollows them out. But we have lots to learn from Mill’s fierce desire to add poetry to progress. Let’s rediscover the paradox that George Herbert – one of those poets excluded from Mill’s education – deftly expressed in 1633:

I will complain, yet praise;
I will bewail, approve:
And all my sowre-sweet dayes
I will lament, and love.

Without goods that explode utilitarianism and open us to the mystery of suffering, even the happiest life is miserable.

Seven Ways of Looking at Pointless Suffering by Scott Samuelson is out now via The University of Chicago Press.

When Einstein Met Tagore: A Remarkable Meeting of Minds on the Edge of Science and Spirituality


Collision and convergence in Truth and Beauty.


On July 14, 1930, Albert Einstein welcomed into his home on the outskirts of Berlin the Indian philosopher, musician, and Nobel laureate Rabindranath Tagore. The two proceeded to have one of the most stimulating, intellectually riveting conversations in history, exploring the age-old friction between science and religionScience and the Indian Tradition: When Einstein Met Tagore (public library) recounts the historic encounter, amidst a broader discussion of the intellectual renaissance that swept India in the early twentieth century, germinating a curious osmosis of Indian traditions and secular Western scientific doctrine.

The following excerpt from one of Einstein and Tagore’s conversations dances between previously examined definitions of sciencebeautyconsciousness, and philosophy in a masterful meditation on the most fundamental questions of human existence.

EINSTEIN: Do you believe in the Divine as isolated from the world?

TAGORE: Not isolated. The infinite personality of Man comprehends the Universe. There cannot be anything that cannot be subsumed by the human personality, and this proves that the Truth of the Universe is human Truth.

I have taken a scientific fact to explain this — Matter is composed of protons and electrons, with gaps between them; but matter may seem to be solid. Similarly humanity is composed of individuals, yet they have their interconnection of human relationship, which gives living unity to man’s world. The entire universe is linked up with us in a similar manner, it is a human universe. I have pursued this thought through art, literature and the religious consciousness of man.

EINSTEIN: There are two different conceptions about the nature of the universe: (1) The world as a unity dependent on humanity. (2) The world as a reality independent of the human factor.

TAGORE: When our universe is in harmony with Man, the eternal, we know it as Truth, we feel it as beauty.

EINSTEIN: This is the purely human conception of the universe.

TAGORE: There can be no other conception. This world is a human world — the scientific view of it is also that of the scientific man. There is some standard of reason and enjoyment which gives it Truth, the standard of the Eternal Man whose experiences are through our experiences.

EINSTEIN: This is a realization of the human entity.

TAGORE: Yes, one eternal entity. We have to realize it through our emotions and activities. We realized the Supreme Man who has no individual limitations through our limitations. Science is concerned with that which is not confined to individuals; it is the impersonal human world of Truths. Religion realizes these Truths and links them up with our deeper needs; our individual consciousness of Truth gains universal significance. Religion applies values to Truth, and we know this Truth as good through our own harmony with it.

EINSTEIN: Truth, then, or Beauty is not independent of Man?


EINSTEIN: If there would be no human beings any more, the Apollo of Belvedere would no longer be beautiful.


EINSTEIN: I agree with regard to this conception of Beauty, but not with regard to Truth.

TAGORE: Why not? Truth is realized through man.

EINSTEIN: I cannot prove that my conception is right, but that is my religion.

TAGORE: Beauty is in the ideal of perfect harmony which is in the Universal Being; Truth the perfect comprehension of the Universal Mind. We individuals approach it through our own mistakes and blunders, through our accumulated experiences, through our illumined consciousness — how, otherwise, can we know Truth?

EINSTEIN: I cannot prove scientifically that Truth must be conceived as a Truth that is valid independent of humanity; but I believe it firmly. I believe, for instance, that the Pythagorean theorem in geometry states something that is approximately true, independent of the existence of man. Anyway, if there is a reality independent of man, there is also a Truth relative to this reality; and in the same way the negation of the first engenders a negation of the existence of the latter.

TAGORE: Truth, which is one with the Universal Being, must essentially be human, otherwise whatever we individuals realize as true can never be called truth – at least the Truth which is described as scientific and which only can be reached through the process of logic, in other words, by an organ of thoughts which is human. According to Indian Philosophy there is Brahman, the absolute Truth, which cannot be conceived by the isolation of the individual mind or described by words but can only be realized by completely merging the individual in its infinity. But such a Truth cannot belong to Science. The nature of Truth which we are discussing is an appearance – that is to say, what appears to be true to the human mind and therefore is human, and may be called maya or illusion.

EINSTEIN: So according to your conception, which may be the Indian conception, it is not the illusion of the individual, but of humanity as a whole.

TAGORE: The species also belongs to a unity, to humanity. Therefore the entire human mind realizes Truth; the Indian or the European mind meet in a common realization.

EINSTEIN: The word species is used in German for all human beings, as a matter of fact, even the apes and the frogs would belong to it.

TAGORE: In science we go through the discipline of eliminating the personal limitations of our individual minds and thus reach that comprehension of Truth which is in the mind of the Universal Man.

EINSTEIN: The problem begins whether Truth is independent of our consciousness.

TAGORE: What we call truth lies in the rational harmony between the subjective and objective aspects of reality, both of which belong to the super-personal man.

EINSTEIN: Even in our everyday life we feel compelled to ascribe a reality independent of man to the objects we use. We do this to connect the experiences of our senses in a reasonable way. For instance, if nobody is in this house, yet that table remains where it is.

TAGORE: Yes, it remains outside the individual mind, but not the universal mind. The table which I perceive is perceptible by the same kind of consciousness which I possess.

EINSTEIN: If nobody would be in the house the table would exist all the same — but this is already illegitimate from your point of view — because we cannot explain what it means that the table is there, independently of us.

Our natural point of view in regard to the existence of truth apart from humanity cannot be explained or proved, but it is a belief which nobody can lack — no primitive beings even. We attribute to Truth a super-human objectivity; it is indispensable for us, this reality which is independent of our existence and our experience and our mind — though we cannot say what it means.

TAGORE: Science has proved that the table as a solid object is an appearance and therefore that which the human mind perceives as a table would not exist if that mind were naught. At the same time it must be admitted that the fact, that the ultimate physical reality is nothing but a multitude of separate revolving centres of electric force, also belongs to the human mind.

In the apprehension of Truth there is an eternal conflict between the universal human mind and the same mind confined in the individual. The perpetual process of reconciliation is being carried on in our science, philosophy, in our ethics. In any case, if there be any Truth absolutely unrelated to humanity then for us it is absolutely non-existing.

It is not difficult to imagine a mind to which the sequence of things happens not in space but only in time like the sequence of notes in music. For such a mind such conception of reality is akin to the musical reality in which Pythagorean geometry can have no meaning. There is the reality of paper, infinitely different from the reality of literature. For the kind of mind possessed by the moth which eats that paper literature is absolutely non-existent, yet for Man’s mind literature has a greater value of Truth than the paper itself. In a similar manner if there be some Truth which has no sensuous or rational relation to the human mind, it will ever remain as nothing so long as we remain human beings.

EINSTEIN: Then I am more religious than you are!

TAGORE: My religion is in the reconciliation of the Super-personal Man, the universal human spirit, in my own individual being.

Science and the Indian Tradition: When Einstein Met Tagore is a sublime read in its entirety. Complement it with physicist Lisa Randall on the crucial differences between how art, science, and religion explain the universe, then revisit Einstein’s correspondence with Freud about violence, peace, and human nature, his little-known exchange with W.E.B. DuBois on race and racial justice, and his letter to a little girl in South Africa on whether scientists pray.

Thanks, Natascha