Tag Archives: myth

… then they lived again – friends – soul families …

How we make friends is a mystery. What is the unremembered that draws people and groups together as in a mirror? Are there families of souls tasked to exchange particular reflections during particular times?

Via serendipitous events my son was born in a Hamlet in the deepest Somerset hills among neighbours who adored him. The phase lasted five years, enough to provide me with a much needed hiatus after intense years of work, travelling and communal life.

Our selfless neighbours left an indelible impression on my son. They made him a valued and loved part of a small community. Our farmer friend, Hope, was hungry for knowledge, though never realised her dream of travelling as a journalist. She had however the most vivid visions of Tibet; a place neither of us had visited but felt strong emotional connection with. Not the first time, I had a shock of appreciation for the unremembered sparking instant rapport slipping through time.

‘We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.’ – William James

I was thirty then, had travelled much and been involved with innumerable internationally composed groupings, circles upon circles – this was to continue for decades to come. Among the groups were people who felt strangely familiar, like Hope. We would guard out solitude, cry together, or laugh hilariously about silly things. Equally there were those wary of me, often for reasons unknown to themselves, which made me wary of them. You may know this treading-on-eggshells feeling.

Serendipitous time-jumps weave through my novels. The cast of ‘Shapers’ has characters from ‘Course of Mirrors’ set in a future time, but caught in similar psychological dynamics.

It has been said that behind every creative expression is a desire for immortality, the prolonged influence of personal achievement. This seems simpleminded to me. I think our desire is to create beauty and meaning to make our existence worthwhile. It is the human search for our spiritual identity, generated by three persisting questions: who are we, why are we alive and what is the purpose of it all?

In this illusionary play of differences and multiple meanings we need friends. To have even one friend is a blessing. Friends distanced by space, and time, reside in the heart nevertheless. They include those who died. They may be writers, artists, innovators, past and present. They include friends who moved to other continents. They include the sympathetic minds we encounter via the internet, who greatly enrich our lives.

Friends I shared core experiences with are especially dear.  A few of them I see face to face at yearly intervals. We may catch up on the narratives we hold of each other, though there will be new thresholds – moments where the known encounters the unknown.

My mum used to put a ruler or a book on my head and mark my height with a date inside a doorframe during my rapid growth years. More than a physical measurement, these marks made me think of what else had changed during the months since the last recording. Our essence abides, but our persona grows and is mutable in the way we evaluate ourselves against the passage of time.

This is why I like having guests. When a Dutch friend visited last month, the thought arose as to how the time gaps between our actual meetings affect us. He suggested I write something about this. He works presently in Germany, so our conversation slipped into German, with snippets of Dutch and back into English. He uses one language for business, another for philosophy, and yet another for emotional subjects. This strikes me as a neat arrangement. A little space between feeling and thinking, and a choice between modes of operating can make one’s internal communication more finely tuned and coherent.

The occasional visit of a friend eclipses my routines and opens extra dimensions, like the virgin pages of a notebook where our idiosyncrasies are redrawn, edited and updated. Connective threads shift past memories or future visions.

We are re-imagined and in the process re-connect to our essence.

The lens we focus on each other is subtly adjusted by the most intimate of all friends, the angel that is our inner story teller.

 

 ‘Nothing makes the earth seem so spacious as to have friends at a distance; they make the latitudes and longitudes.’ ― Henry David Thoreau

‘No human relation gives one possession in another—every two souls are absolutely different. In friendship or in love, the two side by side raise hands together to find what one cannot reach alone.’ ― Kahlil Gibran

 ‘Mankind is interdependent, and the happiness of each depends upon the happiness of all, and it is this lesson that humanity has to learn …’ –  Hazrat Inayat Khan

 

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… first long review – this is not your mom’s fairy tale …

Once a novel is released into the public domain it belongs to readers who, when snatching the story from a stream running by, engage with it from their own perspective.

I’m a slow reader of novels. I like discovering myself in other worlds. When I’m not intrigued by chapter three, I drop the book. The language may excite me or put me into a pleasant trance. I may admire or envy the writer’s way with words, or think, huh, I’d have expressed this differently. Sometimes I find fresh metaphors that resonate or come upon a sentence that makes me catch my breath and pause for a while, at other times I rush through a story for the sheer adventure.

Reviews, feedback, short or long, are gold nuggets for a writer. What took years to compose is finally shared. Close-reading of a 400 page novel that sits grinning apologetically behind stacks of neat categories is no small feat. Joe Linker, a blogger friend from Oregon, had fun.  On amazon.com he heads his review  ‘Girl Disguised.’

Brilliant. Had this been the title, algorithms might have set it next to recent bestsellers, since ‘girls’ are the new trend. Joe posted the review originally on his blog  ‘The Coming of the Toads.’ … Go there and also check out the comic page, showing his ingenious electric doodles.

I was thrilled reading Joe’s thoughtful review. Here a few snippets:

… She’s interested in neither shame, nor honour … The holy grail of ‘Course of Mirrors: An Odyssey’ is a story of its own … This is not your mom’s fairy tale. … We are on a rogue adventure in a picaresque tale where disguise and subterfuge are necessary and ordinary … The writing style moves with the scenes … There is economy in the writing that is expedient, efficient … How serious is all this? … First, it’s great fun … Myth is not false news. It’s a way of telling a story.

An animated film quality is touched upon, likely influenced by my love for film, and, possibly, aided by the creative distance from my mother tongue that writing in English allows, giving me the liberty to step into multiple characters that resemble aspects of my suspended and ever-changing self, variously dormant or expressed in my life.

Last year I posted a review here on Joe’s novel, Penina’s Letters, about love, friendships and passion for the ocean, which made me grasp the exhilaration of catching a wave.

If you’re a member of Goodreads, please  consider entering the give-away for 3 free copies of ‘Course of Mirrors,’ running from today, Sunday 11th June until Monday 19th June.

Apart from a chance to win a signed copy, your entering of the contest will increase the visibility of the novel, and, hopefully bring a rainbow of reviews. All different.

What fun.

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… sharing a heart-warming present …

A few years ago I decided to value my writing enough to make sacrifices.  I’ve since devoted every spare moment to this solitary word-sculpting activity, with no idea where it will lead, and therefore feel tremendous joy whenever my compositions arouse curiosity, and especially when someone groks the universal myth I struggle to filter through my individual imagination, my psyche.  Why do writers, and artists, share the facets stirring in the depth of their soul without the promise of a resonanating  audience? … It’s a mystery.

Image by Cynthia Holt JPEG riverside8

Cynthia Holt, living on the other side of this planet, created this painting for me, inspired by two of my poems, Riverhead, and Sleeping Sun … It struck me that the image relates, in essence, equally to the constellation of my novels, yet to be published.

Thank you, Cynthia, for your spontaneous offering. It speaks to how, through interconnections, face to face, or in the realm of the virtual web, we stimulate each other’s creativity.

The image can remind us of the two worlds, indispensable to each other, which we bridge – and how against the canvas of pregnant darkness, the spirit’s eternal light defines our unique myths towards consciousness.

A peaceful Christmas time, and abundant Blessings for the New Year to all …

I’m looking forward to spending a few days in Amsterdam with friends and family.

Since I posted this, Cindy has done a most beautiful post on her mermaid tavern site, including a poem by T S Eliot, a song, and a chart of the Hero’s Journey.

http://mermaidtavern.net/1/post/2015/01/the-law-of-three-artistspoets-and-quantum-physics.html

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… a tribute to snags …

I’d make a lousy fundamentalist of any kind, and was probably born with negative capability http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negative_capability and a tendency to daydream and contemplate life, skirting extremes, which makes my voice almost inaudible in a culture where sensation trumps. It also means I procrastinate on tasks that need doing, until a snag propels me to act.

CNV00003 - copy 2

One morning last week, easing myself into the day, the shirt I dusted in the cool morning air was trapped when I shut the back-door; next the sleeve of my pyjamas got caught while I closed the lid of my coffee tin. SNAGS – their repetition blinked a green light for associations and made me think of dreams, how they sneak into the daylight via signals. With only a vague memory of my dream, I followed an impulse to catch up on practical tasks round the house.

A shelf in my shed needed fixing. It had crashed, bringing down an array of cans, sprays and sealants. In the way one thing leads to another, I sorted and dumped stuff, and dumped some more – making space. Seized by the flow of action, I de-frosted the freezer, thinned the ivy round the shed, cleaned windows, filled a sack with confidential papers for shredding, loaded the washing machine and made some overdue phone calls … all amounting to what I call a BLITZ day.

Knocks from the dark, SNAGS, help me overcome procrastinations. BLITZ is how I operate to gain periods of laziness. I’ve learned to humour my inner driver (superego) and made peace with Lazy.

Dark of beginnings

Flees the meddler

The shrill demand

The noisy footfall

The sharp beams of

Imposing eyes

Dark folds its mantel

Round the dreamer

The shy nomad

The vague image

The tendrils of

A budding poem

Approach it softly

Like a lover

It may surprise

Or yield nothing …

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After my Blitz day, a book came to mind, ‘Worlds in Collision’ (1950) by Immanuel Velikovsky. His research resulted in controversial astronomical theories about catastrophic events planet earth experienced over time, and how the human race was affected. Here a link to a 1972 Horizon documentary:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U18gMJXNyX8

He concluded that as a victim of amnesia, collective humanity is compelled to repeat and re-experiencing traumatic events, to aid, in a psycho dynamic sense, recovery through triggering repressed feelings, wake up, and learn to control the experiences. It’s a wider, thought provoking context for the contemplation of our human lot, which I leave to you, my readers, to explore.

———————————– 

On a smaller scale, we may have memories of being held in the womb and in the arms of our mother – or not. In either case, there are giants to overcome, grown-ups. One of the saddest things grown-ups do is deflating a child’s dreams and desires, talking down: Wait till you grow up. Life is tough etc. etc. It’s like telling a seed, ‘Don’t bother; you’re doomed from the start.’

collage2, familyThe desire to be  held equates home. The longing for a permanent home seems to motivate our actions in relation to food, shelter, competition, acquisition, power, money, knowledge or love, as well as being the impetus underlying the craving for prophets who promise salvation.

Fear of not being held, of having no claim on a place where it’s safe to rest when life gets tough, has made us inventive. We wall our interests, invest in insurances, wage war to protect what we identify with , or claim ownership of ideas, philosophies and creeds. Maintaining behaviours that keep familiar systems in place, we find it difficult to accept with sobriety that we are all in the same boat, that our ideas and identities are fleeting chimeras.

Imagine … wouldn’t it be wonderful to seek nothing and simply enjoy the miracle of living, and be like this child overcome by the mystery of rain?  http://vimeo.com/84802749

There is an experience of home that tends to go unrecognised, hiding, as it does, between each breath, in dimensions beyond time. Such glimpses come and go, leaving a sense of union and connectedness while we’re tossed along the rapids of progress, inevitably bumping into obstacles – the snags of life signalling messages from the unseen.

The psyche is a bridge between inner and outer dimensions (the theme of my novels,) similar to the corpus callosum connecting our two brain halves. On good days I sense that in addition to existing in time, a part of me also resides in another frequency dimension, as a light-body, or soul, resonating in my body while I occupy it.

*    *    *

A day, whether six or seven years ago or whether six thousand years ago, is just as near to the present as yesterday. Why?  Because all time is contained in now. Meister Eckhart

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… the frottage of life …

Aged 14, my confidence and love for writing was shattered by a teacher. She praised a brilliant essay – mine – based on a painting of our choice. The romantic image of a Carl Spitzweg painting I picked had freed my imagination. After reading my essay out in front of the class, the teacher stated it was unlikely the pupil had written this herself and she therefore had to disqualify the work. I was pushed off a flying carpet, too speechless and humiliated to protest. My creative writing went underground. I wrote poetry, in secret.

Water

Water

Images inspire me, they tell stories. Photography came to my rescue, not so much in the sense of recording concrete reality, but more in the sense of sub-creating it. Light attracted as liquid poetry that fell through shadows and sculpted fleeting life. I discovered my knack for framing the essence of a story.  And in the spaces between things I looked for something transient emanating from other spheres. There were moments in my life when finding words for these other dimensions became imperative, like, for example, when working as still photographer on a film-set at the shore of the Red Sea. In poems like ‘Riverhead’ and ‘Sleepless Sun’ I tried to encapsulate such instances: https://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/poems/

Photography started out with a process of reversal – getting the positive print from a negative film – which is being superseded by digital bit-structured data, leading us into new metaphors for time and space. The tiny window of the laptop I’m writing this text on has become my interior sanctuary. The window of its screen frames worlds well beyond my garden – microcosms and macrocosms. My grandparents would have called this feat magic, which it is, of course. Computers have become our second brains, compilers and recorders of our imagination, easy to share.

The habit of leaves, Max Ernst.

The habit of leaves, Max Ernst.

In search for the invisible hand that animates the unseen, I remember coming upon the technique of frottage by Max Ernst. He was intrigued by the reversal of textures achieved when rubbing surfaces with a soft pencil – be it weathered wooden planks, bark, textiles, netting … For Ernst the results evoked superimposed images and visionary associations.

Whirling Hosta

Whirling Hosta

Not only artists find surprises in the textures of surfaces. Who does not occasionally pause before a weathered wall, lichen-covered gravestone, the grain in a wooden plank, a windswept cloud, a reflection in glass or water, or detect resemblances and fresh arrangements in the shape of cliffs or in the veins of plants? Unexpected patterns call for unfurling, inspire a collage, a scientific idea, a poem, a story,  or painting.

Grain

Grain

We rub off impressions from the ambience around us, especially first impressions – scents and sounds, tactile sensations, patterns of light and shadow, textures, colours and shapes, anything that attracts or repels us.

In a psychological sense, we rub off qualities we find in each other – in parents, siblings, friends, strangers and public figures we admire or despise. From what impresses us we extrapolate and find recurring resemblances. As our imagination sparks random associations involving all of our senses, a theme becomes reflected in our heart, as in a mirror, and informs our personal myth.

It’s what my novels are about, which, I hope, will also have a universal appeal.

Among related posts:

https://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/2012/05/25/pattern-which-connects/

https://courseofmirrors.wordpress.com/2013/10/07/patterns-of-eternity-humbly-opens-your-mind/

Most of the photos on this site are mine. A selection can be found here: http://500px.com/ashen

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… storytelling and the primary world …

Knowledge is not the rare gem it used to be. Then again, without recording, analysing, sorting, summarising, calculating and disseminating mega quantities of data we’d have none of our ingenious toys to play with. Without statistics our systems would grind to a halt, and, yes, it’s annoying that almost daily yet another quantitative study announces what’s good, or detrimental, for our well-being. Thankfully, none of the churned out evidenced facts can make a claim on meaning. Humans remain idiosyncratic. We apply messy values to our life-choices, and we frequently ignore the logical road signs of scientific landscapes, or blank out the hassle of linear time.

Wind

 

Instead, we are tossed along by emotional encounters, the unexpected, are awestruck after a quantum leap of intuition, and are generally guided by what appeals to a body/mind that likes the stimulation of nature, her moods, seasons, the phases of day and night suggesting action or repose, like the in-and-out-breath, between which we may catch a glimpse of a dream, a relevant truth, an eternity even. Hardly anyone I know is without this conflict: liking order and control, as well as yearning for rapport with the dance and rhythm of nature.

Over 300 years ago G W von Leibnitz, who could’ve been a poet, was gripped by an emerging idea, to collate all human knowledge and to systematize it via a common language. Computers would have been his bliss. He loved to correspond with most scholars in Europe during this baroque era. And he might have gone some way to explain the whole universe in the hope to solve every conceivable problem. Paradoxically, he also stated … the universe had to be imperfect otherwise it would not be distinct from God. Near the end of his life, Leibniz wrote in a letter that combining metaphysics with mathematics and science through universal characters would require creating what he called:

a kind of general algebra in which all truths of reason would be reduced to a kind of calculus. At the same time, this would be a kind of universal language or writing, though infinitely different from all such languages which have thus far been proposed; for the characters and the words themselves would direct the mind, and the errors — excepting those of fact — would only be calculation mistakes. It would be very difficult to form or invent this language or characteristic, but very easy to learn it without any dictionaries …

Source:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Characteristica_universalis

I’m not doing honour to this remarkable man, so here is a sketch of a biography … http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Biographies/Leibniz.html … should you have the patience to read this, note the time it took for letters between Leibniz and Newton to be delivered, which makes me admire the tenacity of these scientists.

The notion of a calculus for a universal language intrigues and troubles me. Nature speaks a language everyone understands. Key-terms of my mother tongue (see my last blog post) easily bring back the plot of land my toddler feet bounced across. The stories I most enjoy writing grow organically, with tendrils of their roots nourished by the alpine woods and hills of my childhood.

But things change. Data collation is now available to authors, promising control, over marketing, though formulas and blueprints are now offered for the creative process, like how to write a novel in four week. Imagination serves many masters and is not easily controlled – its life-sap flows through all forms. Totempole 4

We can only explore everything known continuously in fresh situations and move on, in the way that children and creative people place a familiar object into a new context. The play of imagination destroys and creates, and has the power to shift the meaning of our past, present and future.

‘There is the truth of truth as well as the truth of fact.’                   D.H. Lawrence

Being part of the dynamic process of evolution (which Philippa Rees ingeniously terms ‘Involution’ in her book of that title) we are walked by the tightrope of ecstasy and pain, of dependencies on environments and people, for better or worse, dependencies on beliefs too, mostly not by choice, but driven by binding needs.

Couple shadow series, 3a small

We face exploitation, conflict, sudden change, harmony alternating with phases of chaos – the story of life, a record marked in DNA and every tree trunk. Instigating control, or preaching harmony while shading off the dark, the chaos, the collective psyche of humanity, will only repeat the distortions of otherwise genuine messages from enlightened thinkers, sages and prophets.

It would serve us as well to teach our children how to accept the dark and how to deal with conflict. Reading the collected folk tales of the Grimm Brothers to children would be a start.

Dore - public-domain-image

Dore – public-domain-image

The inspired P L Travers, author of Mary Poppins, had a talent for highlighting the vital function of myth, symbol and story. She shared her reflections in a collection of essays that appeared in Parabola Magazine. The essays were later published in a book, titled: ‘What the Bee Knows.’

She wrote … The Primary World, in order to go on living, needs the things man cannot create – the earth with all its composted dead, the rain that raineth every day, the seasons, nightfall, silence – and the ear free of all pulsation but that of its own blood.

… The Primary World is that which has never been invented but came into being, along with the blood stream, as a legacy from the Authors who, according to Blake, are in Eternity. All the rest is manmade, or as Tolkien has it – sub-created.

As a writer I sub-create and grow stories from within, using images and words that resonate with personal experiences, myths and visions that provide an ever-changing way of relating to myself, to others and the worlds we share. So when Travers says … nothing is truly known until it is known organically … this chimes for me.

We forget – a happy fault – imagine there was no pause between one dream and another, no night. We forget so we can re-member creatively, which takes practice. We walk on star dust and ancestral bones that inform our bloodstream, as much as the stories of this world nourish our imagination, continuously re-shuffling our psyche, which explains our function as being the bridge between matter and spirit. Every bee knows this.

Image by Yeshen Venema

Image by Yeshen Venema

What the Bee Knows, by P L Travers http://www.amazon.co.uk/What-Bee-Knows-Arkana-Travers/dp/0140194665/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1376737128&sr=1-3&keywords=what+the+bee+knows   Wow, no reviews

Parabola Magazine: http://www.parabola.org/

‘Involution’ by Philippa Rees: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/30171.Philippa_Rees

 

Images are mine unless the captures say otherwise.

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… consciousness – the mystery …

People who engage in therapeutic work with me often ask – why dig up my past, it holds pain, why look at attachment patterns, why explore the theme (myth) of my life? What a waste of time. I only want to get rid of my symptoms.

We all, without exception, suffered injuries. The creative question to ask is – how has the injury shaped my life, and what purpose does it serve? Many years ago, during a group dialogue following the inspirational talk of my Sufi teacher, we discussed three basic kinds of injuries. I connect my own experience to the third injury.

1        Having experienced physical injury can result in fight and flight behaviour – it brings a heightened sensitivity and develops a sharpening of the senses.

2        Having experienced sexual, sensual and emotional injury can result in escape from one’s self into others, estrangement from self, lack of differentiation and boundaries – the great challenge is to accept one’s self, differentiate as an individual from the tribe and take responsibility for one’s unique potential.

3        Having experienced injury on a cognitive level accelerates individuation – the escape is into deeper realities, a search for authenticity and truth and the development of symbolic reality – universal reality.

My novel, Course of Mirrors, is the fictionalised account of an aspect of my personal myth made universal – in the sense that memories of events don’t have to be real for a story to be true.

@ Natasha Tonkin

@ Natasha Tonkin

Even the most die-hard materialists among us grok that life is animated and guided by an all-pervading spirit? We are vessels, psychic switchboards for the spirit that animates and records all life.

An ungraspable phenomenon we try to name in vain.

Mental states pass through us. We call in and then process thoughts and feelings, seeking coherence, and – given we assign meaning to what happens to us – are gaining wider perspectives and deeper insights. With every new connection made and every little light brought to what is forgotten and unknown – collective consciousness grows.

Our body knows, if we care to notice, what stirs in our psyche, what wants to unfold and emerge. When energy flows freely through us our essential nature is uplifted, and our desire is aligned with the potential in us that seeks actualisation – in the way a cocoon reveals the butterfly. Our life has many cocoon and wing stages. The proverbial flutter that causes a stir in all spheres of the universe is like yet another love-transcended aspect of us emerging from yet another cocoon.

Presence, responding to situations, accepting differences and contradictions, frees energy that is ghosted and stagnant. While blocked energy creates frustrations and often painful symptoms, it is totally inevitable, since every organism evolves through condensed experiences. Life enhancing and life destroying events subject us to a pattern of repetition in time until we embrace change.

‘A truth outgrown crushes you under its weight.’   Fazal Inayat-Khan

To bring a repeating pattern to a higher level of flow requires a kind of quantum leap of consciousness. Small leaps occur frequently, especially when we befriend the unconscious and allow fresh symbols into awareness. The released light/energy brings new meaning and allows the self-actualisation of new potential.

‘It is obvious that the percolation of a timeless NOW is penetrating everything!’  –  Philippa Rees

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The image above is by Natasha Tonkin, my son’s partner. It was done two years ago as Christmas card and gift idea towards illustrating my novel, to help bring it to life. I scanned and inversed the image for the mirror to appear light. Natasha’s animation website: http://pandahorse.com/

Link to a book I co-edited about the Sufi teacher I mentioned above, Fazal Inayat-Khan. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Heart-Sufi-Inayat-Khan-Reflections-ebook/dp/B00BFUO0T6/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1369084226&sr=1-1&keywords=heart+of+a+sufi

Link to ‘Involution,’ an exceptional book by a kindred spirit, Philippa Rees.                                         http://involution-odyssey.com/  her book will soon hit the market. Her site is being developed.

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… inner time – writing – rant …

Beyond my window, robins, wrens, blue tits and blackbirds are nest-building, with bursts of passion. Dipping in and out of view, they settle shortly on a deck chair, branch or flowerpot, balancing lavish bouquets of fluff, moss, twigs and leaves, before darting off towards the next promising material. The birds winging through my garden make me happy.

Yesh

My thoughts wing in similar fashion dedicated to another passion, no less preparing for a new round of birth – in my case the writing of the next chapter of a novel. I anticipate with joy each few hours of unstructured time that allows me to visit my garden of recollections, a space where myths re-weave themselves from the fluff, moss, twigs and leaves of memories. Like the visions I brought into this world, ambivalent responses to my existence, altered states, affinity with elements, genetic markers, epigenetic quirks … my bundle of life that fell into a mould and was conditioned by socially convenient patterns of time.

Dividing reality into past, present and future time, measured by clocks and dated events, called facts, is a fairly modern idea that made Science the grail of knowledge. The best of science deepens our understanding of the cosmos and improves the quality of our lives, but its method is limited, not suited to go to court on another reality dimension, inner time, infinite, immeasurable, where our experiences assume meaning. We may walk through life like snapshots of ourselves, collecting capture after capture of evidence for our existence, while longing for a dimension within, the bridge to a spiritual presence hidden between each breath, a truth impossible to evaluate? Some religions banked divine capital in heaven. Science too, in its present phase, projects a kind of heavenly capital, hijacked by corporates selling us the future, a Promised Land of artificial intelligences catering to our every need, uncannily resembling the Matrix or Plato’s cave.

My rhythm of life changed when I dropped out – the second time in my life – taking the financial risk to work from home and make time to write, which I had failed to combine with careers, family and social obligations. The experiences were vital, up to a point. Now I relax about clocks and tend to my inner worlds. I crave unstructured time. Not everyone does.

Recently a friend reflected humorously on her frustration at finding herself with one hour to spare, having miscalculated her travel time. She would have been happy had she brought a book to read. Instead, she endured a dragging hour of unplanned, wasted time. Intrigued, we reflected on this sense of loss when there is unexpectedly nothing in particular to attend to.

Is there merit in unstructured time … what do you think? Is it only for children, is it a luxury, a waste, or an opportunity to shift perspectives, discover your passion, break the mould and loosen up your ideas of reality? I don’t see unstructured time being much encouraged, or its lovely randomness being valued. I was burdened by the message that my imagination is fanciful, a kind of debility. It took me decades to claim the time for my passion, writing …

Little Prince

This seems the place to share a personal rant, blaming no one in particular, since, from where I look the rift between head and heart that is tearing apart the fabric of western societies may yet need to become wider before the peril is addressed. If the media is anything to go by, meaningful purpose, visions, let alone joie de vivre, are overshadowed by collective gloom. Feel free to disagree with my take on this. Straining under the pressure to change, I see our systems are attempting to cement a shaky launch pad towards a logarithmic future, with good intentions, though the consequences are dire. Every aspect of our lives is in danger of becoming: over-calculated, over-regulated, over-efficient, over-specialised, over-mechanised, over-prescriptive, over-secured, over-insured, over-compartmentalised, over-conglomerated, and over-economised.

On a more cheerful note, young people in their 30s, at least the ones I know, are asking sharp questions, and are finding ingenious ways to play with, while not getting sucked mindlessly into programmes that abuse data, spoon feed illusions, appeal to personal anxieties, invade privacy, and insult the intelligence of creative individuals.

Back to the birds winging through my garden …

*     *     *

To see a world in a grain of sand

And Heaven in a wild flower

Hold infinity in the palm of your hand

And eternity in an hour … W. Blake, from Auguries of Innocence

 

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… what’s your myth …

Do you paint your myth into clouds?

Vienna04cloud1

Do you find your myth on the ground?

P1110100 - low

Do you search for your myth in love?

mercats

Do you clean up writings on the wall because you weighed life on scales and found it wanting?

Graffiti under Waterloo 1 lowres

Is your myth in the process of being sculpted?

Two faces in stone

Are your myths about debunking clichés?

My Pictures 414 lower

Are you shaping your myth into the future?

Royal Academy, London - lowres

Are you the eternal traveller – like me?

Elba travels - Copy

This post was inspired by a writer friend I exchanged a few emails with. And I found myself expressing a thought in this vein … Writers and artists are like archaeologists; they dig, uncover and re-shape a personal myth until the myth takes wings and becomes universal, though many writers would deny this. And yet – think about it – the myths we live and re-shape give meaning to our lives and entice readers to explore theirs.

*    *    *

And who do we share our myths with?

Copy of Teddy and child, lowres

A listener like this chap does wonders for one’s confidence 🙂

Re-posted at:

http://thirdsundaybc.com/2013/04/21/april-2013/

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… surfing the virtual waves …

I first accessed the internet while doing a sabbatical film degree as a mature student in the 1990’s.

Struggling with basics, feeling the fool among bright young computer literates, I typed surrealism into the search engine, a subject that rhymed with my passion for transpersonal psychology and fascinated me. Take yourself out of your familiar environment, lose the original context into which your identity had been projected, then gaze and ponder. I had done precisely that. During my first year on the film course I felt displaced and, like my son at a stopover, did a trawling assessment of the oracular unknown.

Yesh, Nurnberg station -smaller

I was going to write an essay, on how Freud’s work influenced art and film during the 20th century, a glittering subject that led me into a dreamlike maze. Each follow-up link on the screen led to another site – another artist, philosopher, writer, page after page, world after world opened until I was afloat in a sea of rich associations. Gripped by Alice in Wonderland sensations, I thought – unless I stick to the context of my essay, the web will suck me into a whirlpool. Exploring the unconscious for its potentiality and its poetic combustion via dis-identification  was of course the surrealists’ impulse, to the ends of tricking the rational mind by using trance to break out of trance – which may well be the ultimate purpose of the internet.

One of the lies would make it out that nothing

ever presents itself before us twice.

Where would we be at last if that were so?

Our very life depends on everything’s

recurring till we answer from within.

The thousandth time may prove the charm.      – From ‘Snow,’ by Robert Frost

I had worked as photographer on film-sets in a former career, so I grabbed the opportunity to study the ultimate trance in its historical context, and play with it. Manipulated by high-angles, close-ups, masking, dissolves, and cross-cutting during editing, underscored by sound, images could be displaced, speeded, up, slowed down or distorted. The surrealists were among the first to love fluid images, using them to disrupt unconscious processes of identification at the same time scientists’ deconstructed particles, and time, and space in good measure. The search within, long pursued in the east, was taking hold in the west. P1090946 - Copy

Deconstruction is the prelude to creation. Having learned that we are conscious of only a tiny island of our psyche, much like we can only see the tip of an iceberg, had affirmed my lifelong desire of seeking what is behind the mirror of appearances. In that vein, I recall feeling an awesome sense of responsibility when I first held my new-born son, imagining that my every gesture, my every tone of voice, and even my very thoughts might subliminally influence his pristine being. I was quickly grounded, adapting to the routine of being present to my little one’s basic needs, and soon realised that he had brought along his own world from another sphere, and that beyond my stimulating mirror, he would shape his own destiny.

So here was a kind of baby – an essay on surrealism. To deal with the mass of on-line leads, I took capacious notes, plundered the college library, and relied on intuition to guide me through the process of writing, allowing the essay its own agenda. It was when I first acknowledged that my sixth sense made writing a pleasure. Years later, starting my first novel, responding to subtle influences became the only way I could write, trusting that the unconscious – rather like a digital binary system – condenses and displaces material that can re-emerge with the right prompts.

Spending several months co-editing a beautiful book of reminiscence about a remarkable teacher, printed as a limited edition (also available in E-PUB soon), I started my second novel, and forayed into the on-line publishing world. Armed with the intention of finding a publisher my trust deserted me. I felt suffocated by the genre jungle, the flood of how-to-does and the racing schemes offering self-publishing. I scolded myself for procrastinating, being lazy, not believing in my work, but nevertheless stubbornly held back. Having ordered a few print-on-demand publications by friends I made on a writer’s site, who had got their act together, I was disappointed by the poor presentation of most books – cheap paper, cramped layout, narrow margins and too small fonts. Is this how small publishers and self-pub schemes treat writers who spent years on composing their epic? My heart sunk. I observed my frustration, took stock and decided to relax and wait for a beacon.

In any case, I had been fooling myself, betting on the wrong horse. Being a published author has its perks, but what truly matters to me is the actual process of writing, which is alchemy, a sculpting of feelings, a release, being other than what is familiar, uncovering myths and creating new ones, digging for treasure, a journey into the unknown that reveals horizon upon horizon.  Copy of Child at shore, colour, lowres A metaphor for my life, about the how, about the journey inside with my others, relationships woven from layers of experience into something new, each time, and time again … life writes its stories through us.

Apart from receiving vague out-of-the-blue proposals offering dubious contracts, I had two chance-encounters with publishers who welcomed a read of my MS, encounters resulting from surfing the web on the crest of my interests, often as unsubstantial as a keyword from a dream. It’s no different from how I live my live. Not exactly a structured approach, I sometimes scold myself. But for better or worse I don’t attach myself to goals, only to transitional containers, which could be an object, a character, a dream image or a place, and the rest follows. My stories emerge from kernels lying in wait, and they pursue their own agenda. I let them, and trust they will find a readership.

Like Stan Brakhage, one of the early experiential film-makers, I think of the deeply personal as universal and conceive of the real world as invisible ‘… thus in the physical or spiritual or light world all forms are beings – stones, trees, stars, streams, men, flames and turds are really facts of invisible presences. Mineral, wood, fire, water, flesh are terms of dense soulful sense.’

In this way, rather than going nuts, as I feared when first exploring the global mirror of the internet, I’ve made peace with it, relating to it as a spacious, time-freed being that interconnects all our stories and projections and offers its content according to the container I bring to it.

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