Posts by Cheryll Barron

for 9. 4. 2023


The drawings above and below are by Susan Eales



It should be of the pleasure of a poem to tell itself how it can.

                                         Robert Frost, 1939


It is of the pleasure of this website to both make and point to superficially improbable links, or those that emerge only from extended mulling.

Here is a poem about the beauty in an inescapable great truth about the making of art. What it has in common with Easter is its appreciation of what matters most, and is acknowledged as such in so many world religions and folk tales. In the Christian tradition, the man on the cross said, in defending himself against that sentencing, ‘To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.’

Religion is not part of this site’s remit. Nor is it the subject of the gently wry, judo- and koan-like, but strictly secular poem by the Anglo-French poet Roy Eales. Yet his poem is written from that same preoccupation with the supremacy of what is both essential and true — in this case, about the purpose and meaning of the lives and work of artists. 

What are these worth? On the Indian subcontinent in the 1600s, the Moghul emperor Jehangir — who was also a consummate art-lover and collector, and a good writer — arranged for artists to receive regular wages roughly equivalent to the pay of soldiers. Unfortunately, he failed to start a trend. Connoisseurs of unlikely connections will want to know that the record of his admirable innovation was gleaned from following a mention in a finely wrought miniature essay on a financial news site, the other day, to a detailed explanation by Polyxeni Potter of the choice of cover art for a 2009 edition of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

‘The essence of a fine idea’ is taken from Roy’s latest collection of poems in Hazy mist on the sea, delicately illustrated by his wife Susan, an artist in her own right, and published this spring by Blackbird-Pawel Editions in a slender volume that looks and feels as if it grew out of a masterclass in exquisite bookmaking. In another expression of the dream of a culturally unified Europe, it includes English, Breton, French, German and Dutch versions of each poem. 

I am placing the English verses after their French rendering in this post because French is the language in which I believe they came to Roy, in the unaccountable way poetry does to all genuine poets. 

My ordering is a matter of sensing more or less music in an arrangement of words. What faculty decided the question? Citing the theories of the neurobiologist Antonio Damasio, the virtuoso Israeli pianist and conductor Daniel Barenboim has pointed out that we perceive more finely with our ears than with our eyes. A foetus growing in a womb begins to listen forty-five days into a pregnancy, giving hearing a seven-and-a-half month edge over the development of vision. This, Barenboim says — without any bias, naturally — means that the ear is ‘probably the most intelligent organ the body has.’

If nothing else, that makes me wish I could say and not merely write to anyone reading here today or tomorrow:

H A P P Y    E A S T E R  



L’essence d’une idée admirable


La poésie n’est pas nécessaire.

Les idées sont essentielles.

La poésie représente les idées du poète.


Peindre n’est ni utile ni nécessaire.

Les idées sont essentielles.

Les peintures représentent l’idée d’un peintre.


La musique est abstraite et n’est pas nécessaire

sans paroles pour chanter l’idée du compositeur.


Les idées sont essentielles.


Faire des images avec des mots

revient au même

que d’étaler la peinture sur une toile

ou bien de coucher des notes de musique sur le papier.


Seul, chaque processus n’est qu’un processus, une abstraction,


dépouillée de l’essence

des idées de l’artiste, 

cachée pour enchanter, 

pour être dévoilée

par nos imaginations.

Les idées sont nécessaires.

Faire quelque chose qui n’est pas nécessaire est une admirable idée.



The essence of a fine idea


Poetry is quite unnecessary.

Ideas are the essence.

Poetry represents the poet’s ideas.


The process of painting is neither useful nor necessary.

Ideas are the essence.

Paintings represent a painter’s idea.


Music is abstract and quite unnecessary

without words to sing its composer’s idea.


Ideas are the essence.


Making pictures with words

is no different

than stroking paint on a canvas,

or penning musical notes on paper.


Alone each is just a process quite abstract,


bald without the essence

of the author’s ideas,

concealed to delight, 

to be unveiled,

by our imaginations.

Ideas are necessary.

To do something unnecessary is a fine idea.



Tech power has gone bully-boy, part 2: as they shove apps, QR codes and their spying tool siblings onto us, why are the technologically unskilled more thuggish than tech insiders?

About these images: see part 1 on this topic — in which a top-ranking AI researcher took a question from the daughter of a former Chief Rabbi of Britain about whether we are powerless against coercive AI 

Is the chick wondering whether knows that the QR code in its call for participants in a wildlife survey could be hijacked, diverted and deployed for human tracking-and-profiling?

[ Part 1 is here. ]


Discovering that the youngest of us treat apps like a digital pox, presumably because they pay more attention than their Generation X and Boomer parents do to the use of apps as spying and profiling tools will, after a second’s pause, surprise no one. Decades have passed since grownups turned their bright teenagers into family tech support departments.

Checking on this site’s indexing by search engines by typing in the header of my last post, I was pleased to find Bing persistently showcasing, for a virtual companion, a two year-old article on the Forbes site: ‘91% Of Us Hate Being Forced To Install Apps To Do Business, Costing Brands Billions’. This section of it was reassuring about the newest generation of adults:

[T]he younger we are, the more likely we are to give a brand the middle finger for requiring an app install. 87.1% of people from 18-24 have abandoned purchases for being required to install an app, compared to just under 70% for people in the 55 and over age category. 

“77.9% of mobile phone users say the mandatory app installation roadblock caused them to abandon at least one transaction in the last year […] Younger users are progressively more likely to abandon transactions if required to install an app to make a purchase, complete a sale or try a service.”

Perhaps: older people feel “that’s just how they do business,” whereas younger people are aware that services can be delivered over the web as well … and that apps have privacy implications.

… One good thing about apps being required for purchase?

It’s saving consumers billions of dollars.

30% of us saved over $100 in the last year because we stopped a purchase decision that required an app. Another 30% saved between $20 and $100. And almost 8% saved over $500, according to

Older people are still running most influential institutions — anything from the companies pressing us hardest to install their apps to idealistic non-profit organisations. But age alone is not a reliable guide to whether someone has correctly weighed the pros and cons of tracking and data-gathering software. Perhaps Amir Khan, an M.D. and president since last October of Britain’s  — Royal Society for the Protection of Birds — knows that using the QR code included in a print notice of this week’s crowd-sourced species count could put the privacy and security of participants at risk. But — perhaps he doesn’t.  

Judging by search results, no other high-profile mainstream publication is as enlightening about seemingly innocuous tracking tools as Forbes, which has a 55 year-old editor, Randall Lane. This is especially remarkable for anyone who remembers that for years, the magazine’s slogan was ‘The Capitalist’s Tool’. Media coverage of data collection and reselling is full of surprises. One newspaper on which many of us cosmopolites fondly imagined we could depend for protection from capitalist excess used to run excellent reports on commercial tracking and profiling, but stopped doing that without any announcement or explanation. It also appears to be an unrepentant hawker of personal facts about its readers. 

Subscribe to get access

Please see the note in ABOUT explaining my switch to subscriber-only access. If it makes sense to you, I hope you’ll subscribe to read the rest of this post.

Tech power has gone bully-boy since its spread beyond Big Tech and Silicon Valley to traditional enterprises. For the fightback, we want a super-app that puts our choices first


Coercive early, everyday AI is forcing us to install apps and submit to privacy-smashing data collection by organisations of all kinds. It’s the ugly face of endearing, emotionally attentive AI and charming ChatGPT


[ Part 2 is here. ]

Above, left. Ravishing, subliminal magnetisation: Google/YouTube algorithms link a follow-on recommendation from a search for a fragment of Vivaldi to a powerful 18th-century portrait of a young English prioress in a French convent


Above. Through their shadowy data-gathering, data brokers in a low-profile $200 billion-plus industry are rapidly filling in outlines of our identities and lives


Can there be light at this disturbing tunnel’s end? Maybe.

An underpublicised idea floated by a computer scientist of the underpopulated Yoda class offers a speck of hope — countering this site’s gloom about companies tracking, collecting deeply personal data about, and profiling us

As noted already, their methods have sped up our descent into George Orwell’s hell-on-earth since they began to be aped and exchanged by political operatives as far apart as India and the U.S., for deployment in campaigns in national elections — and the essential facts about them have been laid out not by hallucinating conspiracy theorists but in the MIT Technology Review.  

I will get to that promising idea — eventually. First I must explain why you could call the need to fight back against the destruction of our privacy and freedoms desperate, with no fear of exaggeration.



Let me introduce you to the Digital Dirty Tricks (DDT) department that now exists, in some form, in virtually all companies and nearly all organisations, and which — in an unregulated sphere — is forcibly compelling customers and any site users to do exactly what it wants us to. Congratulate yourself if you are guessing that its coercion specialists are, in effect, Big Tech mimics. The ugly face of the digital revolution has taken us from being unsuspecting dupes of corporate surveillance of all sorts — not just by Silicon Valley enterprises — to puppets bamboozled or bullied past any wish to resist submission to monitoring, data-siphoning, and profiling through special (application or ‘app’) programming. 

You might not recognise the DDT tech invertebrates for what they are.

(**see About )