Tag Archives: books

… guiding spirits & stones …

Contemplating buzzwords relating to my soon to be published novel, Course of Mirrors, I thought I make a start with guiding spirits, or angels.

We each have one, so ancient, such intimate presence, so discreet and soft spoken, we fail to notice. My protagonist forgets hers, despite obtaining an object of remembrance she takes on her journey as talisman – a shiny black stone, polished by the elements,  holding aeons of memory and embodying her first encounter with spirit in matter, the invisible in the visible:

“I was bridge, river, riverbed and water falling from the cliff, the aria of water. I was air, breeze and water dust rising. I was mirror to mirrors yet looked from beyond mirrors. Behind my eyes a truth flashed.”

When, seemingly by chance, she does remember her treasure, a timeless power is released, the miraculous happens, aligned with nature’s power to transform.

‘All time is contained in now.’ – Meister Eckhart

‘Time is eternity living dangerously.’  – John O’ Donohue

These related posts open new pages, so you don’t lose this one:

Oh my sweet crushed angel.

The magic of remembrance.

 

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… The banality of good – a review of ‘Alone in Berlin’ …

 

For me, Edward Munch’s painting  –  – The Scream —  sums up the fear of the unknown, and by implication, the fear of the feminine principle – a fear that spurns men towards controlling nature.

Hans Fallada’s novel, Jeder stirbt für sich allein’ (Everyone dies alone,) first came to my attention through its publication in English, ‘Alone in Berlin,’ a translation that was delayed by 60 years. The book has been sitting on my shelf as a ‘must read’ for a long while. Burdened by regressive small-mindedness and divisions around the world, I finally tackled ‘Alone in Berlin,’ aware that it would be a grim read, having been described as a testament to the darkest years of the 20th century from the point of view and experience of ordinary people.

Resistance to the Nazi regime by individuals had no news value after the war. Yet such stories provide the most poignant insights into what it is like to oppose a state under a dictatorship. As such, this book, written raw and in haste eighteen month after the defeat of Nazism, offers a high alert to simple solutions for social problems. The author, Hans Fallada, aka Rudolf Ditzen, died before this last of his works was published in 1947.

The urgency behind the writing is palpable. The players, sketched with harsh strokes, embody the full range of human nature – the capacity for compassion, kindness, complacency, stupidity, meanness, stubbornness, false pride, envy, hate, and resentment, fear, fanaticism and vengeance tipping into the most depraved cruelty.

Very quickly the dread of being caught in the nightmarish system of a totalitarian state jumps at the reader. While the ghostly despot drifts in the background, his control is shown through the dynamic interactions of ordinary citizens – be they power-hungry officers, opportunists, cunning manipulators, cowards, reticent objectors or unsung heroes. Resistance carried the threat of death and seemed futile.

The anguish conveyed is chilling, intensified by the archetypal hue clinging to the tragic comic characters, at times suggesting caricatures. The sheer absurdness of the stupidities and sadistic cruelties depicted may dilute the shock, but it makes the scenes all the more heart-breaking.

The classic method of totalitarianism is to instil fear and divide factions of society against each other, so people spy on each other and nobody can be trusted anymore. In this chapter of history fear served as the leverage for forcing the banal idea of a perfect state that can be safeguarded through clockwork control.

Fallada’s main protagonists, Otto and Anna Quangel, were based on the records of two insignificant objectors to the regime, Otto and Elise Hampel. The elderly couple started spreading anti-Nazi missives written on postcards in buildings around Berlin. For their sadly ineffective attempts of rebellion, the Hampel’s were arrested in 1942, tried in 1943 and executed shortly after. The same fate befell their friends and relatives.

Can a few virtuous individuals, each driven by personal idiosyncrasies, redeem the moral integrity of a nation? It is up to the reader to decide whether the many deaths a totalitarian regime inflicts on soon forgotten brave people are in vain.

The book brought alive the pressure my grandparents must have lived under, as well as the uncanny anxious atmosphere that spoiled my parents’ teen years, and, the wariness I personally and many of the post-war generation developed towards overbearing authority.

Presented in the context of ordinary individual lives, the story reads like a tragic comedy that screams – let us never forget that freedom lies in people being allowed to be different, not chained to a hell of obedience and conformity.

Primo Levi’s declared ‘Alone in Berlin’ as the greatest book ever written about German resistance to the Nazis. English readers have had to wait 60 years to read the novel.

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… notes on messy old women … 

p1100616Hurrah, today is poetry day in the UK.Where would our world be without poets?

I sometimes forget I’m a poet.

Waving hello to all poets the world over I’ll share here a poem I wrote years back for an artist friend and her family.

 

… notes on a messy old woman …

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in her art the charcoal mining hills

are shadow lands holding gold

and white mountains of china clay

spark New Jerusalem in her heart

 

she draws Cornish Cliffs rising black

from pale sands – jutting like mythic

creatures into a calm cobalt sea                                                      p1100619

beneath an impassive slate sky

 

she delights in the yellow of lemon

green of pear – shape of aubergine

textures of sunflower – curly kale

and the pink gleam on the skin

of fish – best caught on the day

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each thing away from its home

…solitary objects …

alone in space – the pot – pan

cup – knife and fork she paints

like icons on white and says

 

… they speak for themselves …

 

when spring brings pungent earth                                                     Rose, autum 4 low crop 2

she plants narcissus and hyacinth –

geranium and rose – tomatoes – mint

clematis – azalea and rose again

 

she bends low to weed her garden

but not to wash the kitchen floor

nor does she mind a grimy table

sink – bowl – glass or plate                                                                    Cornw. cross at Lamorna Cove 3

 

yet her home is bright with friends

walls are hung with paintings

shelves groan under books

colourful rugs blot out the dust

 

her stomach has hardened to bugs                                                  Farnham Easter 2011-45

and if a thing cracks or falls apart

one of her five children will come

to fix the chair – shelf – clock – tap

the leaking roof or creaking door

… her strategy works …

all objects she observes revert

to the empty spaces between them

Ashen, 2004

You may wonder what has been happening since my last post, to which many of you kindly responded in relation to my dream and my desolate, confused state, which was heartening.

The post coincided with my publisher coming clean after I had faithfully waited three years for the production work on Course of Mirrors to begin. Still, I’m thankful – at least the path is clear. I decided not to approach any of the giants. I’m taking control. Having had lots of time to compare self-publishing set-ups, I’ve chosen one that’s most respected in the trade and also stores and distributes books.

I believe strongly in Course of Mirrors – the book will be launched in spring 2017.  I’ll keep my online friends updated. Once my first novel is on the road, I may crowdfund for the sequel … and a collection of my poetry.

‘Faith is the evidence of things not seen.’ – W Hutchinson Murray

 

Sorry, the layout of this page turned messy  🙂

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… Winter Tale …

A poem for Ricarda Huch

Snow-tracks, 3Snowflakes spin in lantern beams like distant nebulae,

iron scrapes on ice and halter-bells chime with the trot

of horses. The sledge slows on the steep track,

at the top – a click of tongue – the reigning in.

One window shines in the black yard. Off the sledge,

I drop back in time and nearly slip on frozen muck.

 

Inside, the woman serves hot stew; she says, matter of fact,

‘Stay up, read, that’s fine by us.’ They have an early night.

I feed the fire in the hearth, wrap up and settle near the light

of a paraffin lamp. ‘You love books?’ This is how it began,

Ricarda left books, enough to span the valley to the farm.

You must visit us.’ I was keen, though mother held mistrust:  

 

‘They’re odd; famous relatives don’t take away from that.’

A hiss, a splutter of flame, the antler’s shadow shifts on the wall.

 

Morning sun, books in open crates, scattered across the floor,

nibbled at by Billy goats – how had they opened the door?

Three dog puppies jump and bustle on my bed, gnashing holes

into the eiderdown. They grin at me, feathers on their snouts,

Their eyes propitiate. I let rip and belly laugh. From the hall:

It’s all right; our creatures can wander in and out as they like.

 

The southern window glows opaque with frosted fern and flowers,

cold grace melts under my breath and hand, unveiling a frozen

lake, and beyond the valley, a curl of river and the white rim

of Alps like a parade of porcelain elephants under the pale sky.

From the blue … Ricarda’s voice: ‘Poetry is perception unbound.’

It will take years to feel at home with no rules but my own.

Ashen

An unashamedly romantic  facet of my childhood. For several years I used to spend parts of my school holidays at a ramshackle estate close my home, because my parents had a business and could not always find the time to attend to me as they would have wished. The treasure in that special place (owned by relatives of Ricarda Huch) were the amount of books, stacked up in crates because no one had the time to sort them into shelves. For me, this was an exciting and oracular milieu.

As is the case with 99 percent of images on my blog – the image of the snow tracks is my own.

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… patina – beauty of use & age – wabi-sabi …

From an old postcard. I can't source the photographer.

Old woman – from a postcard I can’t source.

The phenomena of patina on surfaces is intimately seductive – layers of flacking colour on facades, walls and doors of old houses – thresholds dented and polished by feet treading on them for decades and centuries, tools honed by use, lichen-coated wood and stone, the fading or darkening of materials affected by exposure to light, air, water, wind, heat, humidity, wear and touch – and – poignantly – human skin inscribed by living.

Essaouria

The irreverence of organic processes brings endless revelations, a subtle kind of charm, a triumph of endurance, a fleeting glimpse of time in motion, a mystical hue of imperfection, evidence of existence that display glorious or sad narratives of beauty, relationships, melancholy, comedy, tragedy, remembrance and transformation.

Linus and his blanket

Linus and his blanket

Children naturally form emotional attachments to objects that then become love-worn. The remarkable psychoanalyst Donald Winnicott (whose ideas are worth exploring) specialised in early emotional relationship bonds and the importance of a holding environment for children. He coined the term transitional objects for the blankets, stuffed toys, dolls, or anything a child may choose to have an intimate relationship with, for comfort, often substituting the closeness to mother.

And don’t we know …  people are complex and unpredictable when it comes to holding our projections, quite unlike objects, be they associated with visual attractiveness, taste, smell and sound, or with tactile sensations. Objects can retain comforting feelings for us throughout our adult life. Anything from pets, trees, trinkets, letters, pens, photographs, books, significant presents, clothes, furniture, tools, cars, houses, places , feathers, sticks and stones can become treasures that give us pleasure.

Often a search for something lost is at work. My mother, in her later years, became passionately obsessed with replacing the Biedermeier furniture her family had lost in the Blitz on Berlin.

Then there is shabby chic, distressing and antiquing of furniture, which seem to gratify a need for aesthetics and comfort that some people enjoy but could not otherwise afford. To that end various sophisticated techniques are used on wood, glass, metal, stone, plaster and even plastic to replicate the vintage look.

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But the love-worn feel of an object stressed and polished by personal use over many years, additionally endows it with a kind of cellular memory and connection, which adds a more enduring and special significance of a personal kind for which words are inadequate. The value a child or adult attaches to such an object is often poorly understood and not respected by others, be they parents, friends or  strangers.

In my case, apart from certain books I loved to bits,  photographs of dear ones, stones picked in memorable spots, and so on. I grew fond of a purse made for me by my ex-husband. I repaired its stitching many times. The purse is not only useful, with a special compartment for payment cards, and encrypted markings I added inside its flap, it hoards contradictory symbolic connotations worth remembering, though I won’t divulge those. Sales-people in shops tend to look at this purse far longer than necessary. Its leather shines – you see.

P1070909 - smaller My purse is not full enough and my house not big enough to indulge in the hunt and collection of rare objects to which the Japanese concept of Wabi-sabi would apply. Then again, I chose my priority to be writing, and am content with the few minor wabi-sabi objects I cultivated over time.

In a way we all express wabi-sabi qualities in our personalities.

… Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenuous  integrity of natural objects and processes. Nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect …

What are the transitional objects in your life that bridge one love to the next?

Clicking on an underlined words in the text will bring up a new page, which means you won’t lose this page.

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… physical books I loved to bits…

Aged eighteen, while staying with a family friend in London, I came upon the catalogue of the greatest photographic exhibition of all time – The Family of Man – a mirror to the essential oneness of mankind throughout the world.

The exhibition was assembled by Edward Steichen for the Museum of Modern Art and contained photographs from sixty-eight nations …

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There is only one man in the world

and his name is All man

There is only one woman in the world

and her name is All Woman

There is only one child in the world

and the child’s name is All Children

 

The inspiring collection of images decided my first career as a photographer.

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Ironic, given that my parents’ photographic business had held no interest for me. I realised my search was for what shone through reality, the essence in people and situation. I was inspired by poetry, story, light and shadow, movement, point of view and framing.

Fully embracing this passion started an active and adventurous period of my life, with opportunities to travel and mingle with groups of highly eccentric and creative people.

 

A decade later, at New York’s Kennedy airport, after a several momentous months in Washington DC, while waiting for a flight back to Amsterdam with my husband to be, a title on a book rack screamed for my attention … well, it jumped at me like a dream tiger.

P1060064 lowres

Man and his Symbols.

You couldn’t find a better window into the ideas of Carl Gustav Jung.

It was Jung’s last project, addressed to a wider public, readers who would not normally come upon the over 17 volumes of his work.

Due to its pocket size, as you can see, the yellowed pages of my copy travelled and have been well-read over the years ….

The book came about through the persistence of the remarkably diverse John Freeman: http://www.newstatesman.com/politics/politics/2013/03/john-freeman-face-face-enigma

He interviewed Jung in a Face to Face programme for TV: https:/ /www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPGMWF7kU_8

Seeing the programme, Wolfgang Foges (Aldus Books,) urged Freeman to persuade Jung to write a book for the general public. Jung firmly refused – until he had a dream. He consequently asked Freeman to act as editor and co-ordinator with the average reader in mind. So it became a collective project between Jung and four of his followers, M L von Franz, Joseph L Henderson, Aniela Jaffe and Jolande Jacoby, and was completed before Jung’s death in 1961,

In his introduction Freeman suggests the reader will find it a persuasive and profoundly absorbing journey … which, for me, was true from the start. During eight hours on the plane, with an occasional glance at my partner, the receding skyscrapers of Manhattan, and the expanse of oceans, my interest in dreams and the unconscious were powerfully validated. The book makes a convincing case for the imaginative life as the most distinctive characteristic of human beings. I totally grokked this: The unconscious is no mere repository of the past but also full of germs of future psychic situations and ideas … they grow up from the dark depths of the mind like a lotus and form a most important part of the subliminal psyche.

Two years on, having become a mother, and living for five years in rural Somerset with treasured time to study, it was C G Jung’s work that inspired me to delve into cultural and mythological research, leading on to my training in psychotherapy, and later still, to write novels.

My shelves contain many more books I loved to bits, and I wonder if digital version of these publications would have had the same lasting impact.

Frankly, I doubt it.

Only today I shared a tattered copy of Kahlil Gibran’s ‘The Prophet’ with a supervision client. She had never heard of the poet and was delighted.

Do you have books that fall apart through love and physical touch and still inspire?

 

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… patterns of eternity humbly opens your mind …

I want to tell you about a friend and writer – Malcolm Stewart – Initially a priest, Malcolm’s life sparkles with many roles – poet, singer-songwriter, editor, book jacket designer, cartoonist, BBC and ITV producer, UN project coordinator, NGO relief-aid and refugee organiser, artist, stained glass designer, lecturer and writer, friend, husband and father to 5 children … He is now in his 70s and lives with his wife, Nora, in Surrey. The Maze below is one of his many designs waiting to be collated and shared.

Maze design by Malcolm Stewart

Maze design by Malcolm Stewart

Having published Patterns of Eternity, of which more later, Malcolm wrote a second book, Symbols of Eternity. In the process of delivering the manuscript to his publisher, Floris Books, in March 2011, Malcolm suffered a stroke, which deeply shocked his family and friends.

He consequently lingered in a coma – drifting in and out of consciousness over a period of 5 weeks. Helped by the extraordinary determination of his wife, Nora, intense rehabilitation, the healing skills of friends, and the prayers of many, Malcolm gradually recovered speech and movement. During 2012/13 he improved in leaps and bounds. He now walks several miles a day, is his old delightful conversationalist, and has made friends with his computer again. He is working on another book, Light of Eternity (landmarks of a soul’s journey) and, in addition, is completing a novel he had kept hidden in drawers for years – Dictionary of Amazement.

Malcolm and Nora Stewart, photo by Peter Langford

Malcolm and Nora Stewart, photo by Peter Langford

We met up last week, and I asked him to sum up Dictionary of Amazement in a single sentence (a question I dread when it comes to my own novels.) His face lit up – A Tall Story – he said. It was one of those moments when you can hear the angels clapping. He read me the first chapter from the screen of his computer, and I can’t wait to read more.

Malcolm’s work inspires me. Even as a child I was in awe of music, forms and patterns in nature, proportions in art and architecture, the cosmos … and though I remained shy of mathematics, I recall my joy on discovering that all these manifestations could be based on mathematical principles of numbers made visible through geometric shapes, revealing a golden mean that pervades all systems. As I see it, evolution is the adventure of discovering the intersections from which new forms forever develop. Or, to re-appropriate the line of a poem by John Masefield I came across the other day (through Brain Pickings) … the mind re-members the beauty of fire from the beauty of embers

Patterns of Eternity - by Malcolm Stewart

At intervals to writing this, I was dashing into the kitchen to check on the setting point of my Damson jam, which requires a fine knack of proportions – fruit, sugar, lemon, a little water. We’re all born with a knack for proportions – though this tends to get obscured by an education that tips the scale of balance by valuing quantity over quality.

While much has been written on sacred geometry, Malcolm’s book is unusual. Not only does it welcome lay persons, like me, and entertain with rare, charming stories, and sumptuous illustrations, it also presents a simple device of great significance, the Starcut Diagram.

John Martineau writes in his review about Patterns of Eternity … the single most important addition to the body of sacred geometry to re-emerge in a decade …

Look up the book   Patters of Eternity (first time I try to do an ‘elegant’ link 🙂

An excerpt of my review: … The Star Cut Diagram introduced by Malcolm Stewart is an eye-opener in that it sheds light on one of the simplest and earliest geometric construction known, which he suspects pre-dates Euclid by thousands of years, a mnemonic device, and the template of many significant patterns throughout history and across the world … in architecture, art, rituals … a way of seeing and connecting things up.

Here a few themes from the book …

Chapter 8, The Hidden Geometry of The Divine Raphael. This chapter made me realise why Raphael’s paintings are so appealing. Malcolm first noticed the geometry in his painting The Transformation, which perfectly fitted the boundary rectangle of two circles interlocking as a Vesica Piscis, a ration that is also the perfect 5th harmony in music, like the notes C and G played together, or in sequence. The simple 2:3 ratio, root of all this, is as harmonious to the eye as to the ear or to the mind. What fascinates is how the directional gaze of the characters in the painting brings meaning to the theme.

Raphael - The School of Athens

Raphael – The School of Athens

The chapter also explores Raphael’s fresco set in a semicircle, The School of Athens. In the ceiling medallion (not visible here) it says Causarum Cognito (Knowledge of Causes.) The female figure of philosophy in the medallion holds two books, one vertically, which is titled ‘Morals,’ the other horizontally, titled ‘Nature,’ resonating with the two central philosophers – where Plato points to heaven and Aristotle gestures to the earth. All the well-known philosophical figures in this stage-like painting also represent ideas, and Malcolm expands on their connections in detail, adding inspired meaning by overlaying the diagram of the Starcut.

Chapter 21, The Lyre of Apollo, applies the Starcut diagram to architectural spaces and relates to vibrations and resonances. Images show samples of standing waves created by sound within different elements. And the tonal vibrations of the human voice are discussed, like Psalm singing, the reciting of Indian puja, Sufi Zikhr, Buddhist sutra chanting or mantra. Practising this kind of tuning in groups (as I experienced) powerfully tunes mind and body. The chapter goes on to elaborate on the length, tension and ratio of musical strings, using once more the Starcut diagram to show the consistent harmony of numbers, and the hidden one that remains quiet.

P. of Eternity, ten pebbles

By bringing light and clarity to simple forms, with beautiful illustrations, the materials presented throughout the 25 chapters convey a deep intuitive connectedness, which makes this book a joy to explore.

A surprise at the end of the book introduces 5 Starcut Glass Bead games, not featured here.

You can listen to Malcolm reading a little from Patterns of Eternity on yourtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-N8QiyJU_SY

Dip into it at Amazon – PATTERNS OF ETERNITY  http://www.amazon.co.uk/Patterns-Eternity-Geometry-Starcut-Diagram/dp/0863157122/ref=cm_cr_pr_pb_i

And also look at SYMBOLS OF ETERNITY   http://www.amazon.co.uk/Symbols-Eternity-Landmarks-Soul-Journey/dp/0863158374/ref=pd_sim_b_2

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… interludes – and poetry by W S Graham …

I’ve neglected you, my reader friends, immersed in writing the sequel to ‘Course of Mirrors’ and a few interludes. Like, my writing fixation was pleasantly disrupted last week through meeting my son at Covent Garden, and later attending the launch of ‘The Inflatable Buddha’ by András Kepes at the Hungarian Cultural Centre in London.

Armadillo Central launches 'The Inflatable Buddha.'

Armadillo Central launches ‘The Inflatable Buddha.’

 

It is the newest project of my to-be publisher http://www.armadillocentral.com/  András’s novel offers a more subtle perspective than officially recorded history, showing the fictional lives and wits of three ordinary, idiosyncratic Hungarians during the twentieth century. The sample readings enticed me, and I’m now looking  forward to reading the book. The well-attended, grand launch event also gave me a taste of what is to come – being exposed to questions about my own epic .

 

Then came a traumatic interlude to my writing …

I mourn the shimmer and music of its leaves.

I mourn the shimmer and music of its leaves.

During the last two days, to the grinding noise of chainsaws and a shredder, I mourned the loss of a beautiful poplar/aspen tree in my neighbourhood, which has grown too high for its owner. The now mutilated tree (the image shows a third of its size) will be gone completely next week. I’ll miss the shimmer and the watery music of its leaves, produced by the slightest breeze, and the golden hearts trailing into my garden come autumn. I picked a few early leaves to treasure, pressed to dry in my dictionary.

Today a most pleasant surprise … a poetry book arrived unexpectedly in the post, sent by a Scottish friend/poet, who is at this moment working with a visual artist on a project about Tin-mining in St Ives. Due to blank spots in my education I rely on stumbling upon poets less publicised, and was delighted to receive this gift of an expertly edited ‘New Collected Poems’ by W S Graham. So I thought I’ll share excerpts from his poems – on themes that will chime with fellow writers .

W. S. Graham (1918-1986) grew up in Clydeside, Scotland, and initially followed the footsteps of his father, who was a structural engineer in the ship-building trade. However, a year studying philosophy and literature at an adult education centre outside Edinburgh set him on the path of writing poetry for the rest of his life, irrespective of meagre financial rewards. He travelled to London and New York City, but later lived with his wife in Cornwall.

W S Graham, image by Sally Fear

W S Graham, image by Sally Fear

I was delving into the book this morning. Here some facets, unconnected lines, the first from THE NIGHTFISHING    (1955) – a melodic composition, speaking to the seen and unseen,  from a night in a herring boat out on the North Sea.

… Gently the quay bell

Strikes the held air …

Strikes the held air like

Opening a door

So that all the dead

Brought to harmony

Speak out on silence …

I am befriended by

This sea which utters me …

… Far out calls

The continual sea.

Now within the dead

Of night and the dead

Of all my life I go.

I’m one ahead of them

Turned in below

I’m borne in their eyes

Through the staring world.

The present opens its arms …

… Each word is but a longing

Set out to break from a difficult home. Yet in

It’s meaning I am …

… The bow wakes hardly a spark at the black hull.

The night and day both change their flesh about

In merging levels …

The iron sea engraved to our faintest breath

The spray fretted and fixed at a high temper,

A script of light …

… The streaming morning in its tensile light

Leans to us and looks over on the sea.

It’s time to haul. The air stirs its faint pressures

A slat of wind …

… The white net flashing under the watched water,

The near net dragging back with the full belly

Of a good take certain …

 

Some of the last lines of – THE NIGHT CITY – a turning point … I found Eliot and he said yes … T S Eliot was then with Faber and Faber. He became Graham’s publisher.

… Midnight. I hear the moon

Light chiming on St Paul’s

The City is empty. Night

Watchmen are drinking their tea …

Between the big buildings

I sat like a flea crouched

In the stopped works of a watch.

 

From IMPLEMENTS IN THEIR PLACES (1977) I picked a refrain from WHAT IS LANGUAGE USING US FOR ?

… What is the language using us for?

It uses us all and in its dark

Of dark actions selections differ …

 

And last – AIMED AT NOBODY – Poems from Notebooks (1993)

PROEM

It does not matter who you are,

It does not matter who I am.

This book has not been purposely

made for any reason.

It has made itself by circumstances

It is aimed at nobody at all.

It is now left just as an object by me

to be encountered by somebody else.

 

*    *    *

This may well be how it feels for most writers who simply can’t help sculpting experiences into words. What do you think?

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… a rare book – now on-line …

Following an eight-months labour of love, between my co-editors, the Archventures group, and contributing writers, a small edition of 250 beautiful copies of a book were published in 2011 – Heart of a Sufi – A prism of reflections on Fazal Inayat-Khan (1942 -1990.) As of now, the book is affordable on-line, see below.

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Fazal at Four Winds. 80s

Hand printed wood engraving by Susanne Harding inspired by Fazal's signature.

Hand printed wood engraving by Susanne Harding inspired by Fazal’s signature.

The book contains stories, essays and poems written by those who were inspired by the controversial and innovative nature of Fazal’s work, or by the creative spirit that pervaded the place and people he left behind.

Kaliani, singing

Isha, Elias, Aisha, Puran - lowres

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the way mystics talk about the right time, place, and the right people, Fazal offered a timely and challenging spiritual education that embraced wit and the complexities of modern life. During the 1970s – 80s he attracted people from many backgrounds and countries who had very little in common, other than being exiles from tradition and hungry for truth. The book gives a flavour of encounters, stories charting the edge of learning and unlearning, relationships with one’s self, the groups, the world, intense experiences, affecting deep peace and change, often achieved after games of orchestrated struggle and conflict, peaking in performances on the stage of a magical theatre – live and experience first, then reflect. Debriefings after workshops were sobering, humorous and mind-blowing events. And something ineffable was transmitted in these transformative setting, through music, through silence or through a glance.

Fazal, 84 inside page for Heart of a Sufi

Signature

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A short history:

In 1968, at the age of 26 Fazal Inayat-Khan became the head of the Sufi Movement founded by his grandfather, Hazrat Inayat Khan, accredited with introducing Sufism to the West. By 1982 Fazal embraced his personal style to honour his grandfather’s legacy of spiritual liberty by surrendered his leadership of the Movement and chart his own path. His approach to Sufism resembled Idris Shah’s, whose writings had perked my initial interest in Sufism as a timeless practice of wisdom pre-dating Islam, a teaching kept alive through adapting its essence to new times and people. Adaptation in many fields was called for during the 1960s – 80s. The psychological and scientific insights of that period were so radical their social assimilation has yet to happen.

Conceiving of a book that offered a window to Fazal’s work, the editors had wondered if anyone would be brave enough to come forward and share their interactions with this passionate man, the groups and the tumultuous conflicts worked out during that period. We thank again those who contributed. And there must be many more stories of regret, pain, delight, disillusionment, new found coherence, inspiration, and significant life-changes.

Sufi Way gathering - Four Winds 1991

Fazal, 80s with children at Four Winds

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The rights for Fazal’s hundreds of talks, poetry and musical tunings rests with the present leadership of Sufi Way. Our book contains some of Fazal’s quotes and the extraordinary poem – Qalandar – but the purpose of Heart of a Sufi is to show the potent seeds of love this remarkable man placed into the hearts of people he touched, seeds now unfolding in new settings for generations to come.

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Archventures are pleased to offer Heart of a Sufi as e-book, making it affordable:

http://www.troubador.co.uk/book_info.asp?bookid=2180

On amazon you can peek into some of its pages: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Sufi-InayatKhanReflectionsebook/dp/B00BFUO0T6/ref=sr_1_22?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1363426951&sr=1-2

 

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Relevant links can be followed up from the e-book.

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… the wonderful visit …

I loathe most talk of angels since they became best-selling brands, but the synchronicity of Annie Lennox wearing wings and singing to an angel at the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, and the discovery of a rare book among my shelves, brought angels up close.

H G Wells (1866-1946) has been referred to as the Father of Science Fiction. A neglected story, The Wonderful Visit, published shortly after The Time Machine, was regarded as a mocking reflection on attitudes, beliefs and the social structure of a typical English village in Victorian times. I read the social commentary as ornamentation, the comical human attempt to stay the same, round a more essential theme, the conflict that can accompany awakening.

The edition below is from 1922 and has an illustration by Conrad Heighton Leigh. The line under it is from chapter 5 – ‘He fired out of pure surprise and habit.’

A strange bird was sighted.

Ornithology being a passion of the Vicar of Siddermorton, Rev. K. Hilyer, he was going to outdo his rivals and hunt the strange bird. So it came to be that on the 4th of August 1895 he shot down an angel.

… He saw what it was, his heart was in his mouth, and he fired out of pure surprise and habit. There was a scream of superhuman agony, the wings beat the air twice, and the victim came slanting swiftly downward and struck the ground – a struggling heap of writhing body, broken wing and flying blood-stained plumes … the Vicar stood aghast, with his smoking gun in his hand. It was no bird at all, but a youth with an extremely beautiful face, clad in a robe of saffron and with iridescent wings … never had the Vicar seen such gorgeous floods of colour …

‘A man,’ said the Angel, clasping his forehead … ‘then I was not deceived, I am indeed in the Land of Dreams.’ The vicar tells him that men are real and angels are myth … ‘It almost makes one think that in some odd way there must be two worlds as it were …’

‘At least two,’ said the Vicar, and goes on ponderinghe loved geometrical speculations, ‘there may be any number of three dimensional universes packed side by side, and all dimly aware of each other.’

They met half way, where reality is loosely defined, and truth has no hold. And they shared the nature of their worlds. Eat, pain, and die were among the new terms the strange visitor had to come to grips with.

‘Pain is the warp and the waft of this life,’ said the Vicar. Riddled with remorse over having maimed the Angel’s wing he decides to looks after him. But to adjust to the Vicar’s world, the Angel must eat and accept pain, and learn all manner of things very fast indeed … Starting to read, during a phase of now legendary sunshine, I settled in my garden with a glass of red, and consequently spilled the wine on my wild strawberry blossoms due to sudden bursts of laughter.

‘What a strange life!’ said the Angel.

‘Yes,’ said the Vicar. ‘What a strange life! But the thing that makes it strange to me is new. I had taken it as a matter of course until you came into my life.’

Mr Angel is nothing like the pure and white angel of popular belief, more like the angel of Italian art, polychromatic, a musical genius with the violin. Listening … the Vicar lost all sense of duration, all sense of necessity … The reactions of the villagers oscillate across a hair-thin-divide between comedy and tragedy, while the bone of the story is psychological, and spiritual. Indirectly, the Vicar encounters his anima (his inner female) through the Angel’s love for Delia, the maid servant of the house. There is no escape. Things get intense. The Angel, over the span of a short week, is tainted by the wickedness of the world, and it crushes him. And the Vicar’s awakening from his narrow prison brings him into tragic conflict with his community.

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Not much has changed. The world is crowded with wounded angels seeking compassion, and since our daily vocabulary offers little more than clichés for other realities, awakening rarely convinces, unless it is embodied and conveyed through atmosphere. Look out for the artist… the musician, painter, writer, animator, filmmaker … and the children.

‘If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro’ narrow chinks of his cavern.’
― William BlakeThe Marriage of Heaven and Hell

The painting heading this post is by the Finnish symbolist painter Hugo Simberg.

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