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Spirit alive?

Tuesday, 23 November 2021 at 22:21

Impressive house on Dr John Dunn. Spirit alive?

Whilst preparing my next YouTube video publication, my attention was drawn to a large and interesting Georgian house on the corner of Huntingdon Street in St Neots. For whatever reason, I did not pay it any attention during my actual motorcycle ride through the town.

On the video I also noticed a blue plaque on the wall of the same building.

Now there is a fascinating building: Bellingham House, named after the man born in it, a John Bellingham.




Only one Prime Minister has ever been assassinated in Britain, and here was born the man who carried out the deed. The plaque reads:

JOHN BELLINGHAM 
1776-1812


BORN IN ST NEOTS 
FAILED BUSINESSMAN WHO BLAMED GOVERNMENT FOR HIS PROBLEMS


ASSASSINATED PRIME MINISTER SPENCER PERCIVAL ON MAY 11th 1812


EXECUTED AT NEWGATE PRISON WITHIN THE WEEK

One wonders, is the spirit of John Bellingham alive somewhere today?

Look him up on Wiki. The man certainly suffered. You might even agree that he, a victim of debt, had a grievance to justify his action.

Such was the sympathy for Bellingham, combined with a loathing for Spencer Percival, the Prime Minister, that the fund raised by sympathisers to care for Bellingham’s wife and children exceeded the amount owed to creditors by Bellingham in his lifetime.

© John Dunn.

Over-hasty Nietzsche

Monday, 22 November 2021 at 21:35

Nietzsche on Dr John Dunn. Over-hasty Nietzsche

Nietzsche was over-hasty when he exclaimed ‘God is dead’.

Quite reasonably, we might say, Nietzsche was right in thinking that there is no longer a god who gathers men and things unto himself, visibly and unequivocally, and by such gathering disposes the world’s history and man’s sojourn in it. The divine radiance has become extinguished in the world’s history. Man once was beholden to such a god without question, but it was questioning that killed the god. The world is bereft of a ground that grounds it and is left in the abyss.

But is that old god dead, i.e. that which worshippers have themselves sculptured in the mind as an object of worship, which they go on to believe is an entity wholly apart from them, i.e. an all-knowing God which controlled the affairs of man from across a divide?

No - that god still exists.We might lazily, but with some rationale, identify this god as Mammon, with the implications of materialism, in all senses of the word associated with that evil demon, but inauthentic being would be a better description of the god to whom we remain beholden, despite Nietzsche’s declaration.

We shall find the new ground of our existence and our new vocation only when we expose ourselves to being itself in a new mode of experiencing and assimilating it, which is to experience the present purely in terms of the future.

‘Only a god will save us’ and that god will be the future authenticity of being.


© John Dunn.

something else for Heidegger

Sunday, 21 November 2021 at 20:39

Simone Weil on Dr John Dunn. something else for Heidegger

‘There is something else for Heidegger; he is no solopsist.’ I wrote this in my previous blog.

I wrote also that Massimo Scaligero moved on to declare that the something else, as it relates to being, is the Logos.

And yet, all the while, when reading Scaligero’s The Logos and the New Mysteries, I felt that something was lacking. There has to be a starting point, an originating principle

Some words by Simone Weil (pictured) come to mind:

The mind is not forced to believe in the existence of anything (subjectivism, absolute idealism, solipsism, scepticism: c.f. the Upanishads, the Taoists and Plato, who, all of them, adopt this philosophical attitude by way of purification). That is why the only organ of contact with existence is acceptance, love. (Gravity and Grace.)

Love as the originating principle, it cannot be explained; something I tried to express in Child of Encounter.

Love is the only starting point of such mysteries of body and soul. It is a dizzying reflectiveness without reference points. I am not referring to love in the agape giving sense; I mean unrelieved sickness and nausea, Eros, sexuality, destructive lust. To be stuck in the domain of the problematical and the objectively valid is to be enveloped in assurance and certainty. And yet what are the criteria of true love? There are none. Criteria only exist in the order of the objective and problematical. Criteria, those presuppositions, belong over there, with them, ‘the they’. Love belongs over here, with me as an individual and the mystery.


I think about those chance encounters. They left deep and lasting scars on all my life. I would never have predicted that. How did this happen? I am asking a metaphysical question here. I am asking about causality. I am in the presence of a mystery, a reality rooted far beyond the domain of the problematical and the day-to-day challenges of just getting by. And this is no fanciful reminiscence, for in the chance encounter’s awakening of consciousness, with its ‘implications for eternity’, we cut right to the heart of religious mystery. For what is Love? Love is God.

Does this mean that for being to be we must be in Love? in God? Well yes, is the answer, now and at every moment.

…he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. (1 John 4:16)

It seems that the something else with which we started out is God.

© John Dunn.

No solopsist

Saturday, 20 November 2021 at 21:26

Solitary figure in the woods on Dr John Dunn. Heidegger in front of his hut in the Black Forest

No solopsist

A re-examination of my archived essay Heidegger - passive or active? in the light of reading Massimo Scaligero’s The Logos and the New Mysteries.

Martin Heidegger’s beautiful metaphor for the mind's passive facilitation of being's emergence is the clearing in the wood, the sunlit space across which being passes from the surrounding darkness of the trees. The resultant emergence of being is described by Heidegger as Aletheia, the Greek word for the state of not being hidden, unhiddenness or, to put it positively, the state of being.

Being open to the emergence of being is closely bound up with Heidegger's notion of living authentically.

There is something else for Heidegger; he is no solopsist.

What he does deny however is a world of pre-constructed Platonic forms, which the mind must negotiate in a constrained manner.

The something else is not mind-constructed, it exists independently of mind. However, it can have no being without the mind of man.

There is a kind of false being i.e. mind-constructed and an authentic being that the mind allows to emerge.

On the one hand, Scaligero defines the false being that we see around us as reflected thought, i.e. thought originating in the mind that solidifies, only to be reflected back to us as a mind-independent reality.

On the other hand, authentic being for Scaligero is the living thought that emerges in the mind before it becomes solidified and reflected back.

That living thought is not mind-constructed, rather it emerges in the mind from another source. For Scaligero, this is the light of the Logos entering the world.

In both Heidegger and Scaligero, there is no question of the mind creating reality; it is rather a question of facilitating the emergence of reality.

This might be embellished, as Scaligero did, by declaring that this is the Logos entering the individual.

So that’s authentic being as the Logos, which makes the acceptance of false being idolatrous.


© John Dunn.

St Neots to Croxton

Friday, 19 November 2021 at 21:48

Image of a toll house on Dr John Dunn. I ride the old roads of England on my single cylinder Royal Enfield motorcycle and occasionally video my progress. These are additions to the commentary on a video that I will be placing on YouTube in the near future.

I have to acknowledge that this commentary is incomplete, but will be polished for the YouTube production, the publication of which will be announced on this website. It must be remembered that the words are for spoken text and will no doubt be altered one way or another in the audio recording.

St Neots to Croxton

I’m now approaching the former eastern edge of St Neots, passing through the immediate pre and post-war housing developments of the nineteen thirties, Forties, fifties and sixties.

I say former edge, because a new suburb is being added to the eastern side called Wintringham, and it is in this suburb that I hope to find a relic of the turnpike era.

A stop to check the map, but my researches tell me that it should be just at the other side of the railway bridge.

This is Wintringham, and there’s the relic, just there on the left on the grass verge - a milestone from the turnpike era. I’ll pull over to take a look.




It was erected by the St Neots to Cambridge turnpike trust in the 19th century.

It’s hard to see in the sunlight, but the inscription reads:-

: CAMBRIDGE / 17 / MILES : : ST NEOTS / 1 MILE :

How wonderful to see this old survivor from the stage coach days.


It’s back to the bike now to seek out another relic of the old coaching era.

I’m now joining the current main road to Cambridge, which to this point has by-passed St Neots.

I know that it’s not far ahead.

And there it is on the left. I’ll have to do a U turn to take a look.

And there you have an old Toll House on the St Neot’s to Cambridge Turnpike.




Currently domestic property with only minor changes in its two hundred years or so existence.

The toll house is similar to the one depicted in the nineteenth century painting near Dunstable on the road to Kensworth, at the head of this home page ( https://www.dunstablehistory.co.uk/archives/STU/The%20Turnpikes.htm )

Agate would have stretched across the road at this point, and the toll house keeper who live in the house would only let you through if you paid the appropriate toll, which was dependent upon the manner in which you might be travelling, by horse, by coach, by waggon, with a herd of sheep etc.

This toll house was built by the St Neot’s to Cambridge Turnpike Trust in the nineteenth century, which used the funds collected here and elsewhere to maintain this road. The trusts were all disbanded by the end of the 1880s, the task of maintenance being picked up instead by local councils and rate payers.

It’s now back to the bike to seek out another relic of the turnpike era.

It should be here at the Croxton crossroads. I’ll pull off this busy road to look for it.

And here it is, small, rusty and seemingly insignificant, another turnpike milestone, or rather, not a stone, it’s made from cast iron, which makes it a milepost.




Again, erected here in the nineteenth century by the St Neot’s to Cambridge Turnpike Trust.

But it’s what’s on it that makes it so fascinating, to me anyway.

As you might expect, the miles to St Neots and Cambridge are shown, but on top is the distance in miles to Oxford: why? Because it bears testimony to the importance of the road to traffic between the two universities in the coaching era.

In the turnpike era, this road was considered to be on the route between Oxford and Cambridge, or should I say on one of the routes. I examine all the options in my Oxford to Cambridge Arc project, an essay from which is usually visible on the home page of dr.johndunn.com


© John Dunn.

St Neots

Thursday, 18 November 2021 at 21:15

Old New Inn at St Neots on Dr John Dunn. Coaching inn at St Neots, examined below.

There follows the next few words in my commentary to a new video, which I will shortly be publishing on YouTube. I continue my motorcycle ride along a road with multiple histories, i.e. the former A45, main Oxford to Cambridge route and old St Neots to Cambridge Turnpike.

The commentary continues on from my most recently published video, in which I ride my Royal Enfield motorcycle along a section of the Great North Road at Eaton Socon.

St Neots

The site of The Bridge House dates back to at least the 16th century. Situated on the banks of the River Great Ouse the building was formerly known as The Half Moon Inn before it became The Bridge Hotel in 1914.

And so to the wide open space of St Neot’s market square.


St Neots Market Square in the 1960s

That brick building on the left was the old Cross Keys Inn. This old coaching inn was closed in February 1989 and has now been converted to shops and offices. The staging bell above the arch, which once announced the imminent departure of the coach disappeared in the development.


Looking back at the old bridge and Half Moon Hotel (as it then was) from the Cross Keys in 1905.

The Cross Keys served travellers to Cambridge on the St Neots to Cambridge Turnpike of 1772, later designated as part of the long A45 before St Neots was by-passed.

There’s a pub name which speaks for itself on the right, ‘The Coach House’. It was the New Inn until its name changed in 2011, but there were good intentions behind the name-change, which aimed to emphasise its history as a coaching inn.



The New Inn (now the The Coach House) c.1920

A photograph does not come any better than this to describe the transition period of the road, that is the period between the decline of road transport following the steam railway explosion of the 19th C. and the return of traffic to the roads, firstly in the form of cyclists who, in turn, blazed the trail for motor transport.


This photograph shows the classic entrance to the stabling yard behind the inn. In the coaching era, stage coaches would have entered the yard to change horses, ready for the next stage of the journey. Passengers on the coaches would have been fed, watered and lodged overnight in the innas necessary.

Then came the bleak period for the inn, as travellers abandoned the stage coaches for the railways.

Things looked up again as riders of the newly invented bicycle took to the roads, and on the photograph, hanging to the right of the building, is the winged wheel symbol of the Cyclists’ Touring Club. No doubt the inn was recommended in the CTC members’ handbook.

Hanging over the yard entrance arch is a sign which reads, “New Inn / High Class Hotel / Motor Garage and Pit”. The words speak for themselves; the former coaching inn now had motoring customers very much in its sights and, just to emphasise this, to the left of the arch hangs an AA sign. The AA began to inspect hotels in 1912, so I guess this was taken between then and, say 1925.

© John Dunn.

Historic cross country route

Wednesday, 17 November 2021 at 21:13

Old bridge St Neots on Dr John Dunn. St Neots town bridge about 1958 prior to reconstruction

What follows is a draft partial commentary to a forthcoming YouTube video. It continues on from my most recently published video, in which I ride my Royal Enfield motorcycle along a section of the Great North Road at Eaton Socon


Historic cross country route

I’m now leaving the Great North Road to head for St Neots.

The cluster of buildings behind the wall on the left, in the trees, is the old workhouse. The St. Neots Union Workhouse was built in Eaton Socon parish in the village of Eaton Ford. The Workhouse buildings are now known as 'The White House' and have been converted to flats.




St Neots Union Workhouse in 1902, St Neots Rd, Eaton Ford

This road was a connecting road, I guess at one time maintained by the Biggleswade to Alconbury Turnpike of 1725, to St Neots, but also to another historic cross country route.

This roundabout marks the meeting with that historic route.

From the left once designated as the A45, which will take me through St Neots, these days as the lowly B1428, and later on to Cambridge.

In its heyday, the A45 ran from the centre of Birmingham all the way out to Felixstowe, and was a vitally important route from the Midlands to the East Anglian coast, and all points beyond towards the Benelux countries via ferry. This important trade route is now served by the A14.

Here I arrive at the crossing of the River Great Ouse across which the traffic on the old A45 once poured. The old stone bridge was demolished in 1963 without detailed recording when it was replaced by this concrete structure.

The old stone bridge was built in 1617, and widened substantially in the 19th C. but it eventually proved inadequate for the weight of modern motor traffic, even when passage over it was restricted to one-way operation, with a five mph speed limit.

What follows is a selection of old photographs of the old bridge. It was quite a monument to lose.


A view of St Neots Town Bridge before its demolition in 1964.