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This review is taken from PN Review 101, Volume 21 Number 3, January - February 1995.

KNOWING AND GOING SELIMA HILL, A Little Book of Meat (Bloodaxe) £5.95
RHONA MCADAM, Old Habits (Slow Dancer) £5.00
JOHN GALLAS, Flying Carpets over Filbert Street (Carcanet) £6.95

What is the point of the senses? They steer us through our everyday lives reliably enough, but the moment we sit down with even the simplest book of philosophy we're told that, ah, that isn't really or necessarily what it's all about, and the circumstances we took for the facts of our lives may not add up to a reality at all. The discomfort routinely offered by philosophers is admittedly offset a little by neurobiologists, who tell us that the brain does indeed operate from a basis of prior fact: in other words, that there must be something there, something for the grey circuitry in the skull to register, in order for us to function at all in the first place. But between the philosophers and the neurobiologists we are left with an unease. Was that it? The transcendent-minded fill the gap with God: there is, they say, a divine substance that cannot be apprehended by the coarse senses life in this world equips us with, but which we intuit to be beyond things, an underpinning essential reality. Those who have parted company with ideas of substance and of God, such as myself, are left with the thought that the sum total of sense impulses that thrill in our circuits in a lifetime equals the sum of meaning: in the things of this world, and of the senses, lie all the wonder, grief, joy, boredom, revelation and happiness we are heir to. Talk of the meaning of life is ...


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