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The Pequod
Dr Alistair Brown
Associate lecturer in English Literature; researching video games and literature

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Through exploring the psychopathology of Capgras syndrome, in which a patient mistakes a loved one for an imposter, The Echo Maker offers a sustained meditation on the ways in which we project our own problems onto other people. As a reflection on the mysteries of consciousness, the novel offers some interesting if not especially new insights into the fuzzy boundaries between scientific and literary interpretations of the mind. Read more


Scotland Trip: Postscript

I reflect on this, as we drive across from Carlisle to Newcastle through a terrific thunderstorm. I recognise that the theme of today's trip to Lanark, like that of Scotland more generally - from the wheel at Falkirk to the moors of Mull - is of the impressive way in which the natural environment has been turned into its greatest asset, rather than a blank canvas to be exploited by industry.

Tourism accounts for 3 percent of Scotland's economic output, and directly sustains around 1 in 10 jobs. Though Scotland has tried to reposition itself as a major financial hub, the collapse of Royal Bank of Scotland in 2009 may perhaps refocus attention on its most stable asset, its landscape. With its Great Glen Fault dictating that Scotland will remain predominantly rural, natural-world tourism will always be central to Scotland. Scotland has also long been a net exporter of electricity and this, coupled with the income from tourism, makes the environment take centre stage in government thinking. Our walk today puts the peregrine and the power station as metaphors for Scotland's future, protecting the natural whilst also using its wind and hydro resources as best it can.

And then I think back to the Farnes, and those preening puffins enjoying themselves on the stage of the islands, unaware that their declining population is an early indication of the far larger, tragic drama of climate change. I think of the boy racers cutting around Lomond, their exhausts desperately announcing their presence. I think of ourselves, trying to avoid flying but nevertheless burning a thousand miles of petrol on our trip, wondering at the beauty of the environment from our steel shell, and in the process doing a little to destroy it. I think of the debris on the shoreline even of Carsaig on Mull. And I wonder if, in spite of it all, the protective efforts of rangers and planners and islanders will ever be sufficient.

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This page was published on July 2011 | Keywords: tourism, Scotland, environment, energy

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