The Lakeside View

Rivers are the most wonderful natural waterways. Here in the UK they have cleaned them up a great deal over the past generation and much of the damage done to them from pollution has been reversed, though there is still a lot to do.

The freshness and sound of running water is one of the most soothing to the human being. The glimpses of colourful birds, the sweetness of watching invertebrates, touching mosses and picking over the smoothed pebbles or clambering over a fallen tree whose branches are catching at oddments as they float on the water. It is strange that coldness should inspire such feelings of warmth.

But then there are degrees of coldness in nature as well as in human beings. And as rivers run slow, fast, bubble and meander so human beings can accept some coldness as delightful, short bursts of snow, swift passing of ice; the kind of coldness that does not become a chill. Even bathing in a river on a summer’s day and shivering slightly until one is dry is a pleasure because it is a marked difference. A coolness to the body.

Rivers have all the passions but heat , for those rivers you need to go to the tropics where the rainfall is warm and an ice cream is all the coldness anyone wants.

Galanthus Nivalis

The snowdrop has ever been the first flower of spring. Planted out by gardeners to cover whole banks with their seeds, our garden has hardly changed in ten years with most of the clumps of snowdrops staying where they were planted reticent to expand.

Until I built the wooden shed and the earth pile from the digging now has over forty snowdrops whose seeds must have been hidden in the soil and were just waiting for me to till or changes their position and give them more sun . . . or something. The others in the rest of the garden are the same but the few under the willow tree must have been secretly doing their work and now I wonder how many are hidden in the soil.

And what else is hidden? How many plants we thought lost or new plants we did not know were here, how many are waiting for their time. And reflecting upon the sudden revelation of new flowers I realised why my mother loves gardening. Not just for the beauty, but because flowers can be so like artists. Hidden sometimes for centuries and then found growing by someone who might not have been looking for them at all and certainly not expecting them. The discovered manuscript, the unveiled painting, the lost musician . . .

To be lost all that needs to happen is for no one to be looking anymore.

Once Upon A Time . . .

there was a dream and a dreamer for all dreams need dreamers and all dreamers need dreams. And the dream was in colour because life is in colour, only thoughts can be black and white. And the colours were all the colours you would expect because they were images of real colours. And all the people in the dream were real people and looked like real people and spoke like real people. And the places and events looked like real places and seemed based upon real places.

And everything was just as you expect it to be.

Except this wasn’t a human being dreaming.  But human beings being dreamed about. And in the dream human beings did all the things they always do and one could ask, how could anyone who was not a human being dream so clearly about being human? But the dreamer wasn’t dreaming about being human, the dreamer was dreaming about all the things it knew, all the things it had seen.

For the dreamer was a zoo animal, and in its dreams were all the things that humans are and all the colours that the world is for the dreams are its only freedom. And in our dreams we may all dream as we please.

And only human beings who cannot dream would not understand.

Education

In the insightful book ‘The Boy Who Was Brought Up as A Dog’, Perry points out that in a lifetime of work he discovered the crucial importance of the first three years of life to the actions and reactions of the adult. It is in those years, when we barely speak, when we are putting the world together, when the brain is developing, that a hug at the right time performs what years if therapy may take in an adult.

Children left to cry become antisocial because they learn their pleas for comfort go unanswered,  the wrong touch traumatises and instills a lifetime of fear, behaviour patterns are laid down with the baby in the cot.

Many people look to education and try to amend the system to get ‘better’ citizens, more thoughtful individuals but the foundation of the individual is their emotional make-up. Their willingness to engage, their social skills, the ability to navigate through the complex social cues of a highly intellectual animal are all given in our early years.

You can help a child learn facts and make friendships at school, you can develop characteristics, but those characteristics depend a great deal upon parenting and you cannot ‘teach’ feeling. As Perry says repeated actions in those early years instruct the brain and thirty repeated hugs will do in the baby what it takes thousands to achieve to help stabilise a traumatised adult.

If you want to change the world, always be there for your children.

Words Pander

As I have been writing this everyday I remember my mother telling me that words pander. If you are literate you can write and but just because you can write does not make you an artist of any calibre. Words will always flow. She explained this to me on many occasions telling me once that Ted Hughes used words as a therapy.  As such he was a deeply flawed writer.

I have visited many sites this past few months for writers and seen all the creative writing classes and many of the creative writing results. There is only one thing I can say about any of it and that is that it is good they are concentrating on writing as opposed to other things that occupy peoples minds. But they all prove that everything is certainly not art.

Art is not only the individual mind, it is also Nature speaking through us. It is not just one person’s experience but experience expounded for all to embrace with recognition. Art is not something just artists do, it is the creative instinct in us all that a few fight with all their lives, to bring into all our lives.

There are far more artists out there than actually live the life. Many people give up early. It is too tough an existence for them to contemplate.

Art is the life.

Photographs

are at once a joy and a deep sadness. We take them to remember, forgetting that as time goes on memory itself changes until it is more than just a moment or two of time, but a place we can no longer visit except in our minds. The people we can no longer talk to, the friendships that are caught in the amber of time which we can no longer explore.

And the photographs come to others who look at our lives with their own experience and yet with a lack of knowledge and depth. These are not their friends, their loves or the faces they recognise. These are not their families. And the clothes look strange even in colour, and the oddest thing elicits a smile like seeing someone in a T-shirt or dressed up . . . or holding an umbrella.

Photographs, even as they are taken, are history. Living history. Shared history. They are art in light, capturing all that can be caught by the process which of course, is never everything or even the most important things. What were they thinking about in these pictures? What were they feeling? What were they hoping?

You can put a lot of passion into a photograph if you try hard enough but you can rarely find much truth.  That’s not what they are about.

Tables

Not that I mind having a new desk/table to work on or that it has a glass top but I was thinking how much of my life is upon it. All five feet(1.5 metres) of it. Take away the fact that my computer is all set up here, the A3 scanner is there specially bought to scan in my mother’s original manuscripts. The printer is there which has just printed out my first thriller (275 pages)for readers to pass judgment. As I think thrillers are children’s books with sex and violence I am sure their critiques will be horrible.

The papers strewn over the top are half formulated ideas for names and books I am writing, lists for shopping, must do’s for the house and several lines that might be a poem one day.

Discs of data, pens for writing to friends (I prefer ink) and biros for jotting down (usually  what the upcoming electricity bill will be) by blackberry which I bought for emergencies and now has of all things, twenty odd names in it for friends and keeps buzzing me with texts. And lastly my speakers, small and very useful on those days when it all gets a bit much and my classical music collection come to my aid.

Nowhere else in this house is there so much of me ,than on this table.

I better keep it clean.

Blackbird’s Song

A friend told me that she would kill her dogs in a crisis to feed her children. I once heard this said by another woman on the radio and have wondered what sort of crisis they mean. It reminded me of the Andean air crash where the survivors ate the dead to keep alive before they were rescued. One of the survivors refused to do so. He died.

In most crises, earthquake or flood, if the dogs themselves survived it would be good luck. But one’s own survival could well depend upon the dogs’ ability to smell out and catch food. I think this supposed ‘crisis’ is really no more than an expression of the importance of the child or oneself or other human, over animals.

So it comes down to what would you sacrifice to survive. If it were your own child dead would you eat it to survive high in the mountains? If it were an earthquake would you kill a dog rather than accept it as part of the group to work together to get through?

We are so used to seeing ourselves as the preeminently superior animal in the world we forget the kind of things that make us so: wisdom.  Sometimes it is better to strive for the ‘all’ and fail than to survive as a human being who would sacrifice anything to live.

This is not about rights, not even about Ethics, it is about heart. If you get through a crisis with the dog intact you will be a better human being, and a better family for it.

In Writing We Trust

If it is in you the art will come out. You will starve, wear rags and let others take the plaudits but you will create no matter what. Because the most important thing is to create. Because you only have this time in which to create and once it is over the chance is gone forever.

And that is why moments matter so much. That is why the smallest time has ‘all importance’ because together they make up all the time you have. It isn’t about making a name for yourself, that is largely a matter of chance or whether those with the ability to make you famous see money or sex in you. It about doing the work.

It is the mark of the true artist that even with money they still live at that standard, low or high, that enables them to create. They can still be irascible and temperamental, unsociable and difficult but that is the way they are because their work is everything.  Love Shelley for his work but he was an awful father; enjoy Hardy for his brilliant novels but he was a terrible husband; artists are flawed socialites.

And those that let money rule them and get carried away by the plaudits are destroyed as artists.

The Coldness Of Bones

And so it is snowing again and across the fields and upon the trees the ancient white goddess shows her glory and her impermanence. She is fickle like all goddesses and cold to the touch and across her skin are my footprints and those of my dogs. And across two fields this morning those of a sleek fox.

She colours everything with the same indifference with which she chooses her days to fall. She cares not for our preoccupied minds and needs, but like an artist taking an empty canvas and saying, ‘now’ she draws a thick brush across the canvas and before you know it the canvas is changed into a painting.

And it is the painting she does that allures, that captivates, that draws us out. The softening of all we know, the clouding of all we are used to, into something at once charming and somehow uncertain.

These are the days when no one can hide their footprints and no animal can be anonymous. The days of snow.

Walking The Dream

The high cliffs of Cornwall, dressed in gorse,  dipping down with sudden thoughtlessness to coves of sandy beaches are the perfect places to ‘find out’. Here with the wind in your hair and the sea in your eyes you learn the power of nature. And looking out towards the continents of Europe or America depending upon which coastline you are on, you see nothing but your own infinitesimal smallness.

And walking those coves you find that sailors are dirty people who throw everything off their clean boats and ships to be washed ashore in a softened form and occasionally you find the sea herself throws up her children and leaves them to rot beneath a cheerless, grey sky.

And across the rocks you find your muscles and your blood, you find reason and question as you see the crabs scuttle and touch the mussel shells and salty, stinking seaweed which somehow delves deep into your mind as if touching your ancestors or reminding you that here is the mother of DNA.

And somehow you are filled with the sea and the cliffs. Your body heat becomes their moments and your moments become their possession. You adorn their existence.

And words are born.

An Ancient Task

It isn’t so much getting up in the morning, as wanting to get up in the morning. Bringing yourself to the day and the day to yourself. And it isn’t so much not wanting to face the day, as not wanting to face what you have come to fill your days with, the chains of society.

We are still trying to survive. No longer just walking the Serengeti with a dirty spear and bare feet, we have other tigers to be careful of: the constant need for money, the constant need to eat, the constant need to sleep safely. And so many of us are not managing, millions of us.

And they do not suffer the torment of teeth crushing the bones, but the longer tortures. The lifetime of tortures. You can be secure and still be failing. You can be rich and still be failing. You can be asleep and still not be dreaming. For the art of life is a balance that reflects the brilliant balance of nature. We have lost the balance.

This is nothing to do with spirituality, it is to do with stewardship of nature. To maintain fresh water is beyond many of us. To grow trees not cut them down is beyond many of us. To plunder without cause seems to be our ignorant course. To convert nature into money has no long-term merits.

We get up in the morning but so much is still darkness.

authonomy.com

Reviews by readers of the first 10,000 words of A Brief History Of Lies within one day of uploading not very good rtfs.

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Barry Wenlock wrote 15 hours ago

I’m having trouble reading it on my screen but what I’ve read makes me think I would buy this book. It’s such an interesting subject. this site holds many lies. We’ve all told them and tell them. I want to read more and will do so. Congrats. Best wishes, barry (Little Krisna and the Bihar Boys)
PS. Little Krisna says, “How can you tell when the bihar boys are telling lies? Their lips move.

Lesley Stevens wrote 23 hours ago

Daniel
I backed this from the moment I started reading, and then I couldn’t stop. I just wish there was more of this posted here.

I am hoping your title is a working one though as there is much more than a brief history in what you have written so far and the underlining theme coming through is that there is nothing brief about the history of lying anyway – it seems to be a universal component of modern society that is as complex and intricate as the lies people tell.

I love the connection you make between intelligence and lying, and how you slip in that in the absence of lies you have integrity. How would it be if we applied that to the comments people write about books here?
I was looking for the role imagination plays in the elaboration of some lies. After all aren’t good story tellers skilled liars? Don’t they have everyone believing in what they are saying? And then I got to the bit about Santa and the Tooth Fairy – what are you telling me they don’t exist?

I’m not surprised that psychologists have not deeply studied lying – it is after all a little like looking in the mirror – the more you look into it the more blemishes you see on your own face. Maybe Hugh Laurie has actually paid us all a service in his role of Dr House, his frequent and blatant statements that everybody lies I am sure made people stop and examine themselves a little deeper.

I found it interesting that you don’t distinguish between story-telling and lying but boldly refer to them as the same thing, which in retrospect they are. But you see I have convinced myself that I am a great story teller while at the same time holding firmly to my integrity in other things. I justify it, I suppose, because I tell everybody when I’m telling stories, bull-shitting, spinning a yarn – it’s all part of the fantasy. But in all other things I try to tell the truth – to myself, to others – even if it does reflect badly on me in the end.

So this is a most interesting book to me because of course it forces the reader to reflect on their own behaviour and experience.

And then I got to your bit about pathological liars – now that really is food for thought. When I think of the spectrum of liars you discuss I wonder whether religion needs to fit into the same category as the Tooth Fairy and the bogeyman. When you first touch on this I like how you don’t pass a judgment but rather state it as a question. How Socratic. And I wonder if that is the point of a study like this, raising the questions. If individuals lie, can companies and countries and societies as a whole? We know they can accept a lie, believe a lie, but are they also capable of generating a lie? Maybe your title needs to the about the philosophy of lies for that really is what I’ve read so far amounts to.

But then a few little judgments sneak in, phrases like “It is a shame that…” are judgmental and I think weaken what you started. Keep it Socratic, allow the reader to draw the conclusions they do from the statements you write here, without a value statement from you. (By the way the paragraphs “It is a shame…” and “If there is a god…” are repeated twice – you might want to relook at this section).

One last comment this would benefit greatly if it was structured a little better. It is non-fiction and therefore can take sub-heading to make it easier for the reader to find sections of particular interest. Maybe in the original text you use the illustrations to do that, but here you need to divide the different analyses in someway. You could chapter it if you like, but sub-sectioning would force you to be more succinct in places and limit the rambling.

I shall go off now and contemplate whether I should consider lying more so I can have a happier existence, or whether I prefer to sleep easier at night knowing I have told the truth – as I know it.

Best of luck with this. A most enjoyable and thought-provoking read.
Lesley

CharlieChuck wrote 23 hours ago

This is interesting, a lot of work has gone into it. A very dry element of humour remains throughout. Backed
Charlie

Betsy wrote 1 day ago

This is a must have book. Erudite, easy to read, and humourous. We’ve all lied, but mostly, don’t want to be lied too. It’s a topic everyone wants to know more about. (And you tell it so well!) Backed with pleasure, Jacqui Christensen (William’s Revenge)

Nit wrote 1 day ago

Daniel and Calvin,

Fascinating. You gentlemen really did your homework.

If this ever sees print, please let me know. I’d love to own a copy. It would make a great addition housed in the psychology section on my shelf of non-fiction works.

All the best,
Nit

George Fripley wrote 1 day ago

What a great book…it will go my bookshelf (real bookshelf at home) once it is published. A fascinating subjecet. Backed.

George FripLEY
(Wurzel of Clutton)

Sheila Belshaw wrote 1 day ago

A BRIED HISTORY OF LIES:

Daniel,

An absolutely fascinating subject, which you delve into with amazing literary dexterity. It’s amazing that you write in so many different ways and genres, and now you demonstrate that you are also a psychologist. It is all far too complex for me to start discussing the different angles from which you approach your subject, and the platform for discussion is far too small. All I can say is that if I had time I would want to read it all. But what I can say is that the construction is very organised and you seem to have covered every possible angle from which to draw conclusions. The writing is clear and concise and easily accessible for the ordinary man in the street.
(Some of the text appears to disappear off the page.)

Backed with admiration.
Sheila (Pinpoint) (You say you write thrillers, so you might like to have a look at my psychological thriller, Pinpoint, and I look forward to your views on it. )

Ben Zaaiman wrote 1 day ago

I recently saw on Andrew Sullivan’s blog someone hold a view that masturbation, being a work of the imagination, was a sin because it constituted lying (to oneself.) Freaky. You have and interesting topic, and I’d love to see the illustrations. Backed and good luck.

Ben Zaaiman – Person Under Control

My Sheep Dog

We go for early mornings walks. With my mother being so ill it is usually one of the few times of the day she is peaceful enough for me to leave the house, and as spring approaches the morning walks become brighter, milder and the air slowly changes with the change in the light. This is the time of year the farmers bring in the sheep to lamb on the very early grass and swap them every two days from field to field. And not all fields are secure.

So our walks the past week have been joined by four lambs due to be slaughtered for Easter who don’t quite understand what a road is. The sight of them running from me actually hurts as I won’t be eating them and I am not a threat but they are wary of my dogs.

Which is all the more amusing as this morning the four were three and we were walking with them ahead of us when the fourth, suddenly realising he or she was alone, ran past me to join the others. only between me and them was my rough collie of one year and one month and she was being chased by a single sheep.  It was amusing to see her running behind three sheep and not being able to return to me because she was running away from one sheep.

We used to call people like my dog cowardy-custard.

Where Is Strength. . .?

Where are the leaders who have a certain tyranny in their minds which translates into authoritarianism but when they have served their agreed time go and live quiet lives, out of the limelight, and let others do the work? Where are the thinkers whom we all look up to and admire for the clarity of their thoughts? Are we so bereft of intellect that poorly spoken, intellectually challenged singers and entertainers are the whole of all we can quote, all we can follow, all we can talk about?

And yet did they not mourn the Circus Maximus in Rome who could think about the polity? Did Pericles to show Athenian power, build  homes for the disabled or a church? Do kings and queens not laud themselves in pomp as a spectacle?

Human beings experience each other and nature. That is what we do and what defines us in our four dimensional existence.  And that experience is a series of actions that builds up in our lives and what rules us, are our ethics. Wherever we are, whoever we are, we all have ethical considerations and yes, they are all different for all that religions try to make then uniform.

But you cannot impose the idea of self upon an individual. All you can do is assuage the selfishness within them and it is that which gives us strength.

The selfless person is the strongest human being known. They are the people who give up power when it is right to do so and take up power only if it is right for them to do so and not because they can. They are the people who build for the weak and ridicule the selfish in their every action. They are the true kings and queens of us all.

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