Natural Hate

Hate is not a feeling I think I know. We usually use descriptions such as loathe or intensely dislike, but hate has always had the connotation of wanting to eradicate, be happy to see dead, and such feelings I have never had. But being told I ‘hated’ someone has made me think about hatred and wonder what its purpose is and how it springs from reason.

Many years ago they brought out a game where the payer was a ruler and could make decisions. The game threw up cards which gave the ruler problems and the journalist who was playing for the article said after a while it became very enticing just to wipe out the tribe or group who were saying no to his ideas, or the progress of his agenda for the make-believe country. He was quite surprised at his reactions. But that is where hate comes from, within all of us given the situation.

And it isn’t just rulers who we can see are disconnected with the day-to-day lives of others and therefore able to disconnect their feelings from their well-being. It is the neighbour who is culturally different so we make fun of them. And by making fun we belittle them. And once belittled they become ‘the other’. Then we can imagine things about them that are not true but fit our dislike. And so disaffection uses reason to make ‘the other’ hateful to us.

And it works with animals; the uglier they are the more we dislike them.

Which is the way the ancient polytheistic world used to believe the gods acted and reacted. A reflection of ourselves.

The Passing Rain

We all have our comfort zones. Those places that take us away from ourselves for a while, or place us in the middle of ourselves without distractions. Wholly dependent upon character they are a haven, a solitude, an outlet and a reorganisation of the brain to complete or attempt to complete the other things we have to do. Even sleep can be seen as a comfort zone as a friend at boarding school used to tell me, ‘bedtime’ was the very best time of day.

We can argue I suppose as to why comfort zones are needed, respected and desired and wonder what on earth we are doing not to inhabit them all the time, but I think living is not about comfort but the striving for comfort. Not about the knowledge we seek but the seeking and what we do when we have it. The journey as much as the destinations.  It is all in the balance, and those moments of reflection and change help our balance.

The reason politics doesn’t work well is because of its lack of balance.

So when the rain passes as it is today after glorious weeks of sunshine it it not something to draw out complaints, but something to cherish for its own sake. For giving the day a different complexion and adding to the contours of our lives. For telling us that change is nature’s habit, and we are in her comfort zone.

Early Morning Meeting

It was bright and warm again this morning. There were a few lazy clouds in a mostly blue sky and the sunshine was just beginning to warm my face. The field had been cut last week and I climbed over the metal gate to see a fox on the far side.

It was sniffing around, probably fairly young; as I walked along the side of the field opposite. the fox didn’t see us. My rough collie, looking a little foxie herself, padded towards the fox, stopped veered back to me walked along with me, padded towards the fox, veered back to me and did this for half the length of the field. The fox never saw either of us. Just went on sniffing in its own little world.

And even more surprisingly a rabbit was moving, and yes it was a long way from the fox, but even so foxes come in pairs in this field but it seemed utterly ignorant that a few seconds run from it, its worst enemy after man was enjoying an after-meal investigation of the ground. I assume it had eaten for it took the longest time to notice it was not alone.

They have hunted foxes in the UK since they ran out of warthogs and wolves which they hunted to extinction. Some people only want to share the world with animals they can eat. But sharing life is the most precious of all things.

Late Is A Speed Of Its Own

Today I am writing in the evening instead of the early morning. This is because yesterday afternoon I was the recipient of a present of a newish computer, 64 bit dual core. I spent the evening putting in my disc drives and finding out one was not recognised, and dual booting to Linux so I can learn the open source world. I was surprisingly unworried by the few little things that went wrong because I have come to the point that as long as all my work is fully backed up, nothing can harm me.

And although I am late toady I have noted an increase in speed here and also losses for some of the software will not work in the 64 bit environment. But now as I sit here connected to the Internet with all drives working, today’s e-mails all read,  and all work backed-up and ready I can take full measure of the speed improvement and maybe not worry so much about the computer stalling.

I can also pass on the gift as mine with its hard drive all ready with an installed OS will be going to someone who needs it. I will try not to be late again!

The Temptation Of Language

Of course it has been said before, mostly notably in recent years in the playwrights of the Theatre Of The Absurd, that we find it difficult, not easy to convey meaning when we talk and write, because the same word has nuances of meaning for other people they do not have for us. Equally, the words we use are often not up to the exacting task of conveying ‘exact’ meaning but merely get us into the general area of what we mean to say. A problem that lead GB Shaw to suggest expanding the English alphabet to give is more words and more discipline over their use. (Thereby getting over some of the problems of one word meaning more than one thing depending upon context, and so forth.)

I have noted in reading, how different writers writing the same thing, will place the words in a different order (most particularly sub-clauses) but even negatives can be written differently (the placing of ‘no’ and ‘not’) simply because their brains work differently.

And this is the hub of difference and maybe even talent – the way in which connections are made within the brain. Because just as the human being can generate an infinite number of languages so within a single language we can generate and endless supply of meanings.

Added to which languages are always changing. Meaning itself is evolving with us.

Paradise Restrained

I remember reading Moore’s Utopia many years ago about how to reach some kind of equilibrium in our political, social and ethical lives. And we all know the stories of the ‘perfect place’ that litter our cultures from Shangri-La to the Garden Of Eden. There is a definite belief amongst people that what we have is wrong in some way, that what we experience is misguided to some degree.

But also in these stories and ideas is the belief that there may be somewhere that is better except it is hidden or we have lost it, or that somehow there was a golden age way-back-when which we need to regain.

It isn’t hard to see why such stories have such a hold on us: we find life difficult, emotionally tragic and we all die. None of these things endear us to the social or political systems we live within because those systems have no answer for them. And religions give a hope of an answer and make a virtue of the pain as some kind of cathartic ticket to meet with god.

Atomic theory tells us that the atoms in us rarely get broken up, and the particles in our bodies have been here forever-and-a-day. And if you look outside the sunshine and fertile Earth is still there, she just has this ridiculous wallpaper of economics plastered all over her.

It is city life that makes utopia so important. Here in the countryside every breath taken is rewarding.

How We Really Make Connections

I enjoy some of the friend-making at facebook and link-in. Mainly to see just how many people want to be writers and what they choose to write. Sometimes for the fleeting glory of being commended. All this getting connected around the world has rapidly become just another way of selling ourselves to each other. I shouldn’t complain, that is the reason I joined in with the social networking.

But the deep connections I have made with human beings in my life have little to do with shared interests. Since I was nineteen my two closest friends I met at University. One of them sadly died in 2004 and he and I did share ideals, but my other friend, now a mother of two, is someone that I just get on very well with. Whose company has never produced the slightest angst.

My closest friend here where I live is a builder by trade, he is also a fine man and a wonderful father. He is another person that despite any differences we get on very well on a human level. He loves fast cars, flying and all kinds of things I don’t find relevant but they don’t matter, it isn’t the cars I go to have dinner with.

And that’s what I have begun to look for in social networking sites. People who speak, who write, from their hearts because it is their humanity that is the  connection between us.

Reaching Out

When I was eleven we lived in a village that had a seriously lovely, if small, beach. Strewn with coloured shells that still today glisten on the shell box my mother made. It was whilst there that I went swimming in the sea for the first time and letting go of a rock kicked out towards a small boat bobbing in the tiny bay. It looked far away but probably wasn’t much further away that twenty yards.

And that defined achievement, striving to do something one has never done, going to a place one has never been; my first open sea adventure. What I didn’t do was do it again, and again until the technique from letting go of the rock to touching a boat that didn’t belong to me and swimming back was improved and less splashy. Because what I didn’t know about achievement in those days it is also striving to perfect one’s abilities.

But what I did know then, was that achievement is not a race to be better than someone else. I knew I was in contention with other children for something, but not the important things. No one else in the world could ever be me, and no other children (but me and my sister) in the world belonged to my mother.

What I have come to realise is that achievement is also recognising our individual and collective humanity. There are no prizes, no medals and no score cards in the Cosmos, just us and infinity.

The Not So Obvious

When I was twenty one I stayed at a lovely house in the Cotswold’s that had been built in the time of Shakespeare. The bedroom floor was at such an angle going to bed was like rock climbing. One of the relatives of the owner needed a hedge clipped and I said I would do it and went to look in the garden shed for the shears. I couldn’t find any. It turned out they were propped up on the floor immediately on the inside of the door. To which a very funny gentleman said to me that I ‘missed the obvious’.

When I was twenty-six I took a two year course in farming believing no more practical people lived in Earth than farmers. Being asked to list ten points about buying a new field I did not list access first. It seems I had not yet learned enough about the obvious.

I think it is probable that one could go through the whole of life ignoring the obvious for the more rarefied – in my field I put knowing the chemical composition of the soil first – but in the end that hedge could not have been cut so well without those shears. The obvious is very, very important and should never be overlooked.

But for some of us seeing it, is a skill we have to learn.

Sonnet To Childhood

The glories of your heaven cannot show
A being quite as lovely to the eye
As one that through the days and months will grow
From babe to child, fro child to mystery.
Inventions filter through your searching hands
Ideas shape and mold your every move
With grace you smile, with brilliance understand
What others took the centuries to prove.
The hours draw us closer to the time
When equals sit beneath a tiring sun
And from the chaos of the world confine
A million problems into only one.

Yet no matter how wise your words will be
In my heart you’ll remain this child to me.

What Makes A Poet?

Having been to University and watched the rigmarole of the Chair of Poetry over the last year at Oxford University, I am reminded of how many ‘poets’ come out of Universities across the world. How college magazine publish them and how ‘movements’ are started by like-minds promoting each other enthusiastically for their entire careers. Most recent has been the Anglo-Saxon mob in the United Kingdom. For the most part if you are not prepared to join in with the mutual ego-massage of these people you are ignored. Actually if Ted Hughes is an example of a poet one is better off separated from them as he only used words as a therapy for his depression.

But Poets are not all born, some very worthy ones are highly intellectual and driven to the form because it is their only outlet. In the time of the great catholic/protestant wars in Europe to be a catholic in protestant countries and vice-versa left one without a vote or a voice. Alexander Pope solved that problem by writing stunning polemics in verse.

When you are at odds with accepted wisdom and accepted ways of doing things, people simply do not want to know you. In the UK the whole Poet Laureate debacle is about raining in the dissenting voices but making sure you have a trained voice to out-perform them. Betjeman was no poet. The closest he came was in Death In Leamington Spa.

Movements are a problem to the world of Poetry where individuality is a synonym for true talent.  The sooner English loses the Ezra Pound influence the sooner the real poets will be discovered.

And no I do not count myself amongst them at all.

The Extraordinary Tale of Underwater Flying

The sea reflects the colours of the sky, letting the shadows of clouds ripple over its surface. The adult reflects their childhood in many of the ways in which they, think act and speak. Our society itself reflects how we have evolved and how we use patterns and systems to create around us what we call ‘civilisation’. The microscopic world, showing us that the atom is largely empty space in which particles revolve, reflecting the macro-world of the Universe itself.

One of the most illuminating and wonderful TV moments I ever experienced was listening the Carl Sagan describe how a two-dimensional being would ‘see’ our three dimensional world. He showed a three dimensional object and described it passing-by our two dimensional being and how they would see sections, like shadows, of the object as it passed them. But how their physical make-up prevented them from ever seeing the whole three dimensional object. Then he said, ‘I cannot show you what a four dimensional object looks like in our three dimensional world, but I can show you its shadow.’

We are awash with things hidden deep within us; that psychology and genetics barely dream about, that reflect things and times we have never known but part of us cannot forget. These things connect us to the history of everything.

And whether their shadows make us feel cold or warm, they have a profound effect upon us every second of every day.

To Be Desireless

The Buddha of course, taught people to desire less and to attain a kind of happiness by not engaging in the endless round of human ‘wants’, which are usually based on what others have, what others want to sell you and what others think you need. But he did go further in that he saw many of the natural desires of humans, to raise families for instance, were also chains. And yes they are but I wonder if he knew how some people take these chains on knowingly?

Hinduism also practices the denial of self  as a way to attain a form of enlightenment about one’s true place in the Universe.  I am not sure I go along with the whole eating one’s own defecation thing, but I understand the discipline involved in trying to lead a life of pure mind when that mind is trapped within a body. It is, after all, the generally accepted idea of spirituality that it is more noetic than corporeal.

Living a life of the imagination I do have a sense of what it means not to be the me everyone else sees and interacts with, but I think we all do that. Because all of us wear the persona we only take off for those we are most intimate with, and sometimes not even for them. But in a way that also reflects the Universe for that too has a persona.

It is not all trees and butterflies, but physics and chemistry.  And so are we.

We All Have Something To Say

Trying to promote my new book I have noticed just how many outlets there are for people who want to say something, in writing or simply talking. I know there are a lot of people in the world but have you ever considered the ‘millions’ of weblogs that now have been added to the newspapers, magazine, radio shows, tv shows, free newsletters and books that bombard us everyday?

I am sure most of these people are talking about much the same things. Take away simply news, and then take away opinion, I wonder how much is left that is objective thought, and after all is not objective thought where we all should be?

How much time do spend using reason for misguided purposes?  Can we really believe that endlessly using reason to argue only for our own ideas is the best use to which we can put our minds? Surely it is when we put time into understanding fully other people’s ideas that we shine?

And the reason that this is important is because everything we think is based upon certain assumptions. It is because we make different assumptions that any of us think differently from each other. And since they are just that, assumptions, to build a house upon them is to build in sand.

If we could read and listen to everything said on this planet for one day we might get close to what a human day ‘is’ on Earth.

Imagination’s Tenderest Gift

Of course we always wanted to have wings, we always wanted to be able to breathe under water and we wished we could speak to animals. In some people these are passing fancies in others they become life-long passions, never attained but dreamed of so that we get ‘nearly there’ with hang gliding, aqualungs and crazy gadgets that make animal nosies.

But the brain is a clever piece of evolved technology and it carries with it exquisite instances of the strange and rewarding. High on that list is hearing in your mind the prefect reproduction of a dead friend’s voice.  As the Greek poet put it ‘…those nightingales awake,” but there is also the thought of projecting oneself into the future beyond one’s years. I share with you one of the most beautiful such thoughts by James Elroy Flecker:

To a Poet a Thousand Years Hence

I who am dead a thousand years,
And wrote this sweet archaic song,
Send you my words as messengers,
The way I shall not pass along.

I who am dead a thousand years,
And wrote this sweet archaic song,
Send you my words for messengers
The way I shall not pass along.

I care not if you bridge the seas,
Or ride secure the cruel sky,
Or build consummate palaces
Of metal or of masonry.

But have you wine and music still,
And statues and a bright-eyed love,
And foolish thoughts of good and ill,
And prayers to them who sit above?

How shall we conquer? Like a wind
That falls at eve our fancies blow,
And old Moeonides the blind
Said it three thousand years ago.

O friend unseen, unborn, unknown,
Student of our sweet English tongue,
Read out my words at night, alone:
I was a poet, I was young.

Since I can never see your face,
And never shake you by the hand,
I send my soul through time and space
To greet you. You will understand.

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