I spent five years as a boarder at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in Surrey. Although the nuns taught us every day in class, a mystique hovered round them and their secret lives. The cloisters, where they slept and ate, were out of bounds. We schoolgirls were particularly fascinated by their hair, or lack of it. Were they completely bald? Some of the younger nuns were only a few years older than we were. When I was twelve, a group of us sadistically tied our form teacher’s black veil to a chair. How thrilling it was to see her head suddenly jerk back! However, the veil stayed on her head and our prurient fascination with hair continued, all our way up the school.
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Perception is a weird thing. Lawrence Durrell saw Hydra as a ‘great horned toad’ but Henry Miller thought it resembled a ‘huge loaf of petrified bread’. Niko Ghika painted it as a series of neat white and orange squares.
The minimalist Fumio Sasaki 'confesses that as he began to purchase fewer consumer goods, his meals shrank in size. He decluttered and lost weight. Accumulation is not just an economic way of life but a form of embodiment too. Enlightenment is reduction.'
'The river’s desecration mirrors Colombia’s long history of violence: "for years we treated it like a sewer," says Ahmed, a survivor of a particularly brutal paramilitary massacre, "just like we treated each other".'
Patrick Wilcken on the Magdalena.