16 Stoddart St, Newcastle upon Tyne NE2 1AN
Date & Time
15th September 2019
Mike Bavidge & Gillian Allnutt were joined by a small group of Mary's friends and family to launch the biscuit tin on its journey from Newcastle's Biscuit Factory. They discussed the theme of Love within Midgley's work. Gillian read a beautiful poem, 'Among Women', in which Mary appears -- the recipient of shortbread flavoured with lemon. The poem goes with the tin on its journey. You can also read it in Gillian's collection Wake.
Mike Bavidge reflects:
Mary’s energy resulted from a determination to rescue us (our intellects, our imaginations, our language) from the fanatics. She was a moralist who re-examined our relationship to animals and challenged the ideas that the environment is here for us to exploit. She talked of the natural world as a ‘rich area of human love’: ‘our attitude to the natural world should be respect and gratitude: personal, familial; children to mother, loving’. Because many of the disputes in which she became engaged are in the contact zone between science and ordinary life, she asked us to be sensitive to metaphors - those that are introduced with malice afore-thought and those that sneak in when no-one is looking.
Her philosophical career began with a rejection of the role that emotion had been given in the dominant moral philosophies of her time. Her recollections of childhood contained in her autobiography, The Owl of Minerva, express the intensity of early attachments and her acceptance of emotional vulnerability. A recurring theme in all her writing is how deeply thoughts and feelings are interwoven.
Our philosophic and poetic concerns with Mary’s emphasis on the personal crystallised into a discussion of the final lines of Gillian’s poem, Early Spring,
‘By absence astounded
By presence astounded’.
Lemon shortbread was provided by Pink Lane Bakery.
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The Ethical Primate
Midgley, M. (1994)
London: Routledge, Chapters 12 & 13 (p. 128-140)
The Solitary Self
Midgley, M. (2010)
Durham: Acumen, p.61-62