Out With The Old

Traditions can be temperamental things. No sooner does one generation discard them as irrelevant than the next picks them up as rebellious. But sometimes people ignore the traditional simply because its convenient.

My first children’s story was written in 1982 and I was told at the time it was too like C S Lewis, and this was seen as a negative. I thought it a compliment but in the world of publishing what I was being told was simply ‘ we have a C S Lewis and he sells very well and we don’t want someone else stealing his sales’. Years ago I read about a French singer who looked too like Piaf and could never get any work.

We tend to think talent comes singly but it doesn’t but the more there is the more work the salesmen have to do to make money so they keep similar talent down. It’s been done for years and will go on being done because people are not honest.

What hurts though for the artist is they never say this, they never admit it, they tell you, you are not good enough. They even denigrate your ability. Such people are, of course, never slow to steal your main ideas and sell them onto their ‘in house’ talent.

Originality in business does not exist.

Singing Is Breath -Taking

They say having a good sing-song is good for the soul. It brings people together and takes one back to the world of lullabies when singing was all about be comfortable and cared for, and it bonds individuals together.

Two weeks ago I was invited to help out at an improvised opera on publishing with only one person I actually knew and was not going to have to sing at all – until someone put a microphone in my face. The whole afternoon was a lot of fun and some very talented people gave their time to raise funds for a festival with drawings, singing and music all made-up with minimal rehearsal time.

There is no doubt that there was a lot of hard work going on and quite a lot of satisfaction that a group of artists were working together. I did very little thankfully but if this had been a show, rehearsed over weeks, the standard would have been very high. There is something almost joyful about making a mess of it, joking with the audience and laughing at oneself.

I don’t know what therapists have to say about it but if you are feeling low singing is one way to bring back your sense of the possible and if you have the skill to make up your own songs, even better.

Quiz Me

There are any number of opportunities for people to test their knowledge on all media, most famously I suppose is the crossword puzzle but there are ancient stories around riddles and many games that were played from early times which are all about solving clues. We are told humans are problem solvers and we know that the unifying element to every job and career in the world is problem solving. So much so if you don’t have to solve problems you cannot be said to be working.

As a form of enjoyment light hearted quizzes and tests are ways in which we display our acumen to our friends. We are impressed by those who know a lot about a lot. We think it says something about the strength of their brain power, the ability of their reasoning but it has to be asked if all these facts are indicative of anything.

Put me to any test that includes any sports or pop music or film question and I would be lucky to even guess at the answer. Quizzes which include these are merely another way of people showing they are part of the community. They are another avenue of showing one’s peers one is one of them. The facts we are able to remember, the facts we choose to remember, are the actual display of intelligence, not the number.

Pyramid Power

Human society has always followed the pyramid principle, though the problem with pyramids is that the top is so far from the base it often doesn’t know what’s going on with its foundations. In the past this never mattered with the human race being at the top of the natural ladder because as the foundations of one city of civilisation crumbled the pyramid moved on to another party of the world or another forest ready to be hacked down.

So resolute were the rulers at the top of the pyramid that the structure has managed to service until today with no one interested that those at the top lack all knowledge of what the foundations are going through. But now the foundations do not just encompass a country or a continent but the entire world. As our foundations crumble there is nowhere to move on to. For the land left that can sustain food will not be shared by those who govern it and those without it will do what humans always do – go to war to steal it.

Whatever comes out of the remnants of the debacle one thing will remain clear – the pyramid structure will be kept, because although human beings have always had somewhere to physically go in the past they have never had anywhere to go with the way they think.

The Criminals Who Are Free

I agree with all those who condemn the actions of the thugs who are stealing and destroying on the streets on the UK this past few days. I do however have something to say about white collar criminals who have given these thugs an excuse for their opportunism.

Although the thugs complain they have been disregard for years much of the unrest in Europe today derives precisely from the banking crisis, a crisis that was created by rich men and women in offices mis-selling investments to each other on a grand scale. Lying to each other and destroying banks in the process. Destroying lives and robbing people of their homes.

I do not believe what these thugs are doing is in any way justifiable because of the banking crisis but I do point out that as long as these thugs are in prison and the bankers are not, an injustice is being done to all of us. It is simply not right that bankers who have bankrupted whole countries because they lied to each other and us, should still be working. They are dispensable.

And they have destroyed far more of the UK than these rioters.

The Eternal Crisis

Just as we sometimes forget that everyone who has ever lived has been a modern so we occasionally get so wrapped up in the events of the day we do not comprehend that ever generation has faced its own series of crises, be they political, social or financial, and every country feels the sway of human anger.

At times like these, which are innumerable, I begin to wonder at the conflicts of interest that create these crises and ask again why human beings find themselves so conflicted. I have come to the conclusion that we are easily brainwashed. That along with the ideas we imbibe as children comes the natural belief that if others do not accept our ideas then they must be wrong.

I always find myself thinking of Omar Khayyám as translated by Fitzgerald (and actually if you see others translations that are closer to the original Fitzgerald almost rewrote the poems). One stanza stands out at this juncture:

Ah Love, could thou and I with Fates conspire
To take this sorry scheme of things entire
Would not we shatter it to bits
And then
Remould it nearer to the Heart’s desire.

Trouble is would my heart and those of all of you be in accord or just make each other weep?

The Horror Of Spectating

I wrote somewhere here about how I thought being a spectator at sports events was ridiculous because the whole idea of sports was to exercise and participate in the game though I left most criticism to sitting in front of the TV. I return to the topic because for most of the events on this world we are all spectators having no direct link with what we see and hear yet joining in its drama.

Yes a high number of American soldiers died tragically this week and a famine warning was given for Africa and I watched in horror. Not only do I do nothing but I sense a kindred nature in these two tragedies because all the deaths are not the consequence of individual stupidity, or a war or even the lack of food. They are the results of a system that is geared up to place the most aggressive human  beings in posts of leadership in countries and leaders adore giving orders.

Orders result in death. Every time we make a decision based upon average statistics those on the periphery will die. And just because we choose not to see it doesn’t make us less spectators. Famine is caused by nature and exacerbated by international trade. Wars are caused by arguments between human beings made worse by fiscal policies.

At least we are not expected to applaud.

Certain Chaos

Psychology is an interesting study that has some part to play in understanding why some decisions are taken without anyone seeming to run through  a process of reasoning. I have somewhere in these ruminations talked about the psychology of history but I am thinking this evening about China rowing with the USA because its AAA fiscal rating has been withdrawn.

this badge, like all badges, is in itself a standard that is given because certain measurements have been attained. That is all it is. But to read some comments people seem to think the badge in-and-of itself is of great importance. I am sure the journalists who last weeks said this was never going to happen might be a little shame-faced, but nothing else has changed. We are in a crisis and have been in one for three years and seen it building up for over twenty years.

Reason should tell us that fiscal policy around the world is shaken to its foundations, as it periodically always is, and that after retrenchment, certain bloody revolutions and maybe even country changes that flow from such crises, things will resume as long as the earth’s resources remain.

Reason should tell us that there are badges that do not exist which would mean far more and the earth lost its ability to sustain the human race around the 1900’s but no one is looking because the crisis is not here yet.

How Talented Are You?

Human beings have a series of gifts but many of us exhibit an aptitude with them superior to others. Many of us practice and become more adept and skilled than others. But when did the applause first turn someone’s head?

I think of this, watching the talent shows and seeing how emotionally wrought people are at the thought of losing.  I recall competitions when I was a teenager and feeling fairly down about losing but it was different for me: there as no money involved only kudos and the things I did were never going to define who I was and what I could do.

There are some of us who are good at things and we entertain in one way or another, by putting on a display for the rest of us to watch. But if these skills become how you define yourself then you are missing out on being a rounded human being. And that will lead you to problems because your emotions are invested in what you can do, not who you are. Sometimes we need to stop looking in a mirror and see someone else’s life, feel someone else’s emotions and remember we are all connected even if we don’t want to be.

Plus ça Change

“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose “, first written by Karr but closely associated with the Theatre of the Absurd a century later, this saying which sums up Waiting for Godot also is supposed to sum up much of life. That no matter what we do, and what we make, the few fundamentals of existence never change. There is little argument about some of them, concerned with eating, sleeping and staying on the planet, but there is hot debate around emotions and ideas of self and the whole idea that we are ‘going’ somewhere, on a journey to who knows where?

Beckett famously said that ‘birth was the death of him,’ and in as far as immutable truths go we can discern certain things that never change but we must not lose sight of the fact that within the immutable there can be some mutations, some changes made that do not alter the whole at all, but can effect difference.

Difference is important. It doesn’t make fundamental alterations to human existence but it does make our apparent imprisonment bearable. Just as non-acceptance can make us both humble and neurotic, so difference can help us understand our predicament and accept it.

At least like the tramps, we can wait until something happens.

What Is A Marriage

When I was at school it was a rough guide to say one third of all marriages ended in divorce. Some say it is more or mostly the same statistic today. The ideal is to stay married all one’s life so one has to ask what did these people do right to begin with and wrong later? Or even to ask what do the people who are married all their lives do right or wrong.

Coming from a  family where few of my female relatives has stayed married ( even as far back as the nineteen fifties ) the most pertinent question ever asked was whether or nor marriage is a natural state of things.

I am sure the making of relationships and forging of bonds that last a lifetime is something that comes naturally to some people and not to others. Just as I am sure that the matchmaking within certain age-gaps between the sexes has nothing to do with love for if love exists then a seventy year old woman and a thirty year old man could fall in love.

The ideal is one of order out of the mayhem of individuals forming society. Dressing it up as something individuals would want to do is taught, not inspired. In actual fact I am certain that two people who want to be together can stay together without marriage but they can display everything that is worthwhile about marriage.

Alter Ego

Perhaps because Hollywood has gone AWOL on making Marvel comics come to life but I find myself thinking about the super-hero. Maybe because as children most of us go through a phase of wanting to fly, beat the bully, change our lives without actually trying just snapping the fingers, or leaping away from our homes in a  single bound. Or even having the ability to heal.

Of course all comic heroes feed into an ancient part of our myths and story-telling, even the ones emerging in the forties in the propaganda war between the world’s opposing political factions. Though I think in our dreams of being able to do more than we actually can, we miss the incredible journey we have all made with no effort on our part at all.

The journey in the chaos of the universe for life to emerge to the even more miraculous one of how each and every relationship that produced a child for as far back as Homo Sapiens goes, could have been different, might never have happened, but somehow did through the million choices and chances of existence, to produce us.

Self awareness is not a super power to us but in the regions of creation and throughout galaxies it certainly must be, for everything flows from it.

Toothache

So it seems fillings that come loose can hurt and whilst that made me think about pain in all its attributes I was also reminded that no matter how much the poor manage to save the savings always have to go on something important they were not expecting. As if all savings were for emergencies and could never be for anything else, which is probably markedly true.

But then there are poor people in the world to whom the idea of saving anything for any time, makes a person rich. Just as there is some pain that makes some people grit their teeth and work on and others scream for panaceas of any kind. I am guessing that physical pain (almost any physical pain) would be a happy substitute for someone in emotional pain. And to have both at the same time must be pretty unbearable for most of us.

So for the most part my loose filling which means I cannot bite down is being repaired today and the discomfort is neither-here-nor-there, and the money to pay for it won’t be going to buy anything nice (though it may help the dentist’s summer holiday next year.)

 But really and truly I may lack money but I am not poor, and I may need a filling replaced but I am not in any pain. Focus is everything.

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