Just say No!

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Don’t let the banks and corporations have it their way again on our watch! We need to stop this TTIP from being endorsed by all the major political parties. use this site to help consolidate support against this insidious agreement. This is what Richard Murphy has commented, Economic Justice Campaigner of the Year ad described as an “anti-poverty campaigner and tax expert”.
The second of my concerns with the Labour manifesto is its commitment to TTIP. I’m aware that it has said it will ensure that the NHS is excluded from this Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership but that is not enough. This deal with the USA appears to me, and many other campaigners, to provide legal backing to multinational companies to enforce their right to profit (whether or not they could actually make one) from the supply of services to the government or within what we now think to be the state sector. It is my belief that the entire TTIP agenda is wholly misplaced and represents a belief that wealth is only generated by private sector companies and never by the state. As I have argued, including in The Courageous State, this belief is wholly misplaced. Mariana Mazzucato has done more than anyone to prove this in her book The Entrepreneurial State. So in that case the endorsement by Labour of TTIP is worrying and appears wholly contrary to the philosophy I hope it would adopt.

All the major parties are keeping very quiet about their endorsement of this agreement and I think it deserves alot more attention before we vote in the next government.  This site is not party political – it consolidates views from people of all political persuasions and focuses attention on the concerns of them, please have a look at what they have to say – then make up your mind as to whether our elected representatives should be endorsing it,

https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/pages/ttip_more_information

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Become a Fortress

amonikabyanyuvva:

Probably my favourite blogger of all time.

Originally posted on Eddie Two Hawks:

Buddha scroll 3

Do no evil, for suffering comes to those who
cause suffering. But suffering cannot assail
those who do good. Become a fortress,
both on the outside, and within yourself,
so that nothing can overcome you. Life
is short; there is not a moment to lose.

source: The Dhammapada
image: Eddie Two Hawks, Image Files, Buddha Scroll

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Where the spirit meets the bone

miller

 

 

Today I heard Clive James, the well known and loved writer and presenter talk about his imminent death and what he was thinking about while still in the here and now.  His regret centred on not feeling that he had been kind enough, that he had not paid enough attention to generosity of spirit, nor to being a good enough husband .  I expect many of us feel regrets  – some more than others and some without facing death as a close encounter – there must be time for reflection in all of us.  Kindness seems to be an underrated virtue, one almost meeting scorn and mockery in our cynical age.  There’s a tide that may be turning – in the words of Plato – ‘Be Kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle’.

It may be no coincidence that Clive James is also a poet – it behoves a poet to be reflective, and one of poetry’s great gifts is that it often takes us down a path that leads us to some introverted consideration that questions our behaviours and attitudes.  A good poem is like a shortcut to something we need to know about ourselves, a spotlight that focuses our attention and drives us to exploration.  Poetry is a signpost that can direct us to to where we want to be, to who we want to be.

Richard Porty wrote  in an essay “Pragmatism and Romanticism”;

‘Shortly after finishing “Pragmatism and Romanticism,” I was diagnosed with inoperable pancreatic cancer. Some months after I learned the bad news, I was sitting around having coffee with my elder son and a visiting cousin. My cousin (who is a Baptist minister) asked me whether I had found my thoughts turning toward religious topics, and I said no. “Well, what about philosophy?” my son asked. “No,” I replied, neither the philosophy I had written nor that which I had read seemed to have any particular bearing on my situation. I had no quarrel with Epicurus’s argument that it is irrational to fear death, nor with Heidegger’s suggestion that ontotheology originates in an attempt to evade our mortality. But neither ataraxia (freedom from disturbance) nor Sein zum Tode (being toward death) seemed in point.

 

“Hasn’t anything you’ve read been of any use?” my son persisted. “Yes,” I found myself blurting out, “poetry.” “Which poems?” he asked. I quoted two old chestnuts that I had recently dredged up from memory and been oddly cheered by, the most quoted lines of Swinburne’s “Garden of  Proserpine”:

 

We thank with brief thanksgiving

Whatever gods may be

That no life lives for ever;

That dead men rise up never;

That even the weariest river

Winds somewhere safe to sea.

 

and Landor’s “On His Seventy-Fifth Birthday”:

 

Nature I loved, and next to Nature, Art;

I warmed both hands before the fire of life,

It sinks, and I am ready to depart.’

 

It doesn’t seem melancholy to me to begin to consider the brevity of our lives – it seems sanguine to work out while we still have life how best to use the minutes and seconds.  Life is busy, demanding, inconsiderate in it’s relentless drive to succeed, to impress. I like the impressions of poets and philosophers – they help me get to where I want to be.

Richard Rorty (1931-2007) was an American philosopher best known for revitalizing the school of American pragmatism. He served as a professor emeritus of comparative literature at Stanford and was the author of several books -http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/richard-rorty

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Nonsensical Rhyme of no Reason

 

life

These are disordered and disorderly thoughts that are pressing themselves to share with you, and have been doing so for some time. I have been distracted – illness, family , restlessness – the ordinary consequences of being human.  Half a century has passed since I landed here – and strangely I feel as new and strange and unfamiliar as that birth must have seemed to a tiny creature unused to light and air .  For some odd reason I laboured under the delusion that some sort of sense would ultimately dawn upon my consciousness, there would unroll some measure of meaning amongst the maelstrom of existence. I don’t think I am going to discern it if there is. So I continue to hop through the pattern of my days, bringing to them any sense of fulfilment and pleasure and meaning I can.  Probably as you do too. Anyways, I present these in no particular order, and offer them with no promise of enlightenment. I just like them, and thought you might too.

 

Live your ecstasy amongst the dog eared maps of desire,

Search for the glimpse of truth for which you have forgotten to ask

Amongst the extraordinary in plain sight.

 Existence is eternal but life has end.

 

The Ways We Touch

Have compassion for everyone you meet,
even if they don’t want it.
What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism
is always a sign of things no ears have heard,
no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets
the bone.

Miller Williams

 As here, so is everywhere.

Be safe, be kind.

‘Three candles that illuminate every darkness: Truth, Nature, and Knowledge’

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I am Taliesin. I sing perfect metre

I am Taliesin. I sing perfect metre,
Which will last to the end of the world.
My patron is Elphin…

I know why there is an echo in a hollow;
Why silver gleams; why breath is black; why liver is bloody;
Why a cow has horns; why a woman is affectionate;
Why milk is white; why holly is green;
Why a kid is bearded; why the cow-parsnip is hollow;
Why brine is salt; why ale is bitter;
Why the linnet is green and berries red;
Why a cuckoo complains; why it sings;
I know where the cuckoos of summer are in winter.
I know what beasts there are at the bottom of the sea;
How many spears in battle; how may drops in a shower;
Why a river drowned Pharaoh’s people;
Why fishes have scales.
Why a white swan has black feet…

I have been a blue salmon,
I have been a dog, a stag, a roebuck on the mountain,
A stock, a spade, an axe in the hand,
A stallion, a bull, a buck,
I was reaped and placed in an oven;
I fell to the ground when I was being roasted
And a hen swallowed me.
For nine nights was I in her crop.
I have been dead, I have been alive.
I am Taliesin.

Anonymous

Eleven medieval Welsh tales collectively referred to as the Mabinogion have been widely influential  providing the basis of much European and world literature including Arthur and Merlin.  In the mid 19th century Lady Charlotte Guest published her translation of 11 medieval Welsh folk tales under the title The Mabinogion,ironically  incorrect but used ever since, from when the tales came to prominence. They are concerned with the themes of fall and redemption, loyalty, marriage, love, fidelity, the wronged wife, and incest  set in a magical landscape  corresponding geographically to the western coast of south and north Wales,in which white horses magically  appear, giants, beautiful, intelligent women and heroic men.

I love the lyrical quality of Ifor Williams translation above, a reknown Welsh scholar who made Old Welsh his main field of study.

Artwork my own.



					

Reading is the way. Signposting .

oldnorth

‘Language is the centre of everything and what we do, it’s a fundamental of being human’.

“every reader is, while he is reading, the reader of his own self. The writer’s work is merely a kind of optical instrument which he offers to the reader to enable him to discern what, without his book, he would perhaps never have perceived in himself” -M. Proust

You don’t have to read Proust to know what he is describing here, but it probably helps to recognise how reading affects the qualitative experience of being human, because it really does. And some people are missing out. Reading provides a context from which we can better explore the subjective realities we all live in.  It takes time to build a human – that’s why artificial intelligence still has a long road to travel.  Time, patience and compassion. There is an apparent paradox that the activity of reading brings out the true – in reading fictive lives the reader is learning compassion in their own realities, the exploration from the armchair is as powerful as the journey of long haul flight’s destination – and all readers know this. Proust realises in Time Regained that

“[I]n all perception there exists a barrier as a result of which there is never absolute contact between reality and our intelligence”.

From the time of our first story we learn how our world may look different to others, that we experience through our personal senses and that these differ dependant on who you are born to, where you are in the world, when you live.  This is possibly the foundation upon which the human experience is subjectively different to other species.  I suspect the foundation has other substantive components to it, but I am discussing the value of language here.  When Proust spends his time describing past experiences he is wanting to explore the depth of his imaginings understanding that the subjective experience of everything relies on the layers of memory and associations with it.  And so we too can take pleasure in the understanding that our contact with nature or mathematics or love is embedded in the personal narrative we bring to it, we are not having to live in an impersonal world of the rational mind, which only describes the ‘thing’ and not the feeling that the ‘thing’ triggers. We are all looking for those “intermittencies of the heart,”  amongst our  ‘dog eared maps of desire’, and that’s o.k.!  Within ‘ Time Regained’ Proust is seeking to uncover and experience “[f]ragments of existence withdrawn from Time” in order to live more fully. That appears to be his aim – to live more fully. To live more fully, shouldn’t one turn ones attention to living rather than writing?  Not if writing is what brings meaning. Proust exhorts us to engage, to dig deep, to immerse in experience. He did.

Proust is a mountaineer and we cannot all follow his individual path up the mountain, but his message is valid and important – we can transform our experiences by what we bring to them, and if we bring to them the values inherent in authentic works of art, we too can recognise our own moments of illumination to be of value.  An artist is working in metaphor in order that he gives us easier maps to read our own atlases; the poet, the author treads those maps tirelessly and becomes practised with them in order that we communicate with one another. And the magic is this – the artist communicates that which is beyond language, using language, knowing it is just the tool of something infinitely more complex, more interesting, more mysterious. Thus music moves us when we cannot play a note, and poets sing melodies of solace and yearning beyond meaning. I read Eliot long before I knew a poem even held meaning.  That is magic and mystery

working on

.. dawn of a doom of a dream…

 cornwall 2011 014 - Copy

what if a much of a which of a wind

what if a much of a which of a wind
gives the truth to summer’s lie;
bloodies with dizzying leaves the sun
and yanks immortal stars awry?
Blow king to beggar and queen to seem
(blow friend to fiend: blow space to time)
-when skies are hanged and oceans drowned,
the single secret will still be man

what if a keen of a lean wind flays
screaming hills with sleet and snow:
strangles valleys by ropes of thing
and stifles forests in white ago?
Blow hope to terror; blow seeing to blind
(blow pity to envy and soul to mind)
-whose hearts are mountains, roots are trees,
it’s they shall cry hello to the spring

what if a dawn of a doom of a dream
bites this universe in two,
peels forever out of his grave
and sprinkles nowhere with me and you?
Blow soon to never and never to twice
(blow life to isn’t; blow death to was)
-all nothing’s only our hugest home;
the most who die, the more we live

E.E. Cummings

This is  a poem that sings a scary , standing on the edge of a cliff tune.  The wondrous skill of the poet  plays with the reader – the  rhythm is playful, whereas the message is apocalyptic. I have spent the majority of life fearing the the ‘dawn of a doom of a dream’ that  bites ‘this universe in two,’

I heard a singer songwriter, Sharon Murphy, on a popular UK programme ‘The Voice’, who effected that same magic -the unquantifiable quality that by some alchemy changes words and melody , rhyme and cadence  to thought and feeling, communicates the existential pain of longing that everyone feels, the understanding that loss and grief are an inevitable facet of human experience.   If we are without our poets and musicians, our sculptors and our artists, where would we go to find ourselves?  One of the darker aspects of living in the Western world in the 21st century  is the effect neo-liberalism is having on the mindset of society.  The human being is more than the sum of its parts, and should not be seen only as a unit of production. The more technology we introduce into the experience of being human, the more we need to balance our lives with connecting with nature, with life force, with the act of creating expression.

  ”I have spent my life watching, not to see beyond the world, merely to see, great mystery, what is plainly before my eyes. I think the concept of transcendence is based on a misreading of creation. With all respect to heaven, the scene of the miracle is here, among us. The eternal as an idea is much less preposterous than time, and this very fact should seize our attention.” Marilynn Robinson