Art for Life’s sake.

Art, photogaphy, Thoughts

‘with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.’                       Wordsworth.

Then there are the times we all experience, when the conscious mind is subdued and anxieties or concerns of the everyday are chased away . The unconscious mind takes over, time becomes suspended and our own personal sense of self is in harmony with its surroundings, so much so that it too is less clamorous, and the feelings of abandonment and joy take precedence. Such times cannot be willed, only encouraged by submerging the self in the context that helps to create those moments, and only history can tell the individual what the context is, it being specific to themselves. I have learnt over many years where my moments of limerence occur, and they emerge when I am amongst the ancient comforts of rock, sea, landscape. That is the reason I will return to Skye, to allow
my self to be quietened, hushed and to allow the mystery to work its magic.

What results from these moments is the drive to communicate with others some sense of the experience, and this must be an echo of the same drive that motivated artists of all genre throughout  our history. It is a fascinating facet of all our lives that in some way we approach life through the experience of art, or more accurately , through the experience of what Ellen Dissanayake calls ‘ making special’. ‘If something extraordinary can promote emotions of delight, we can recreate it as something “special” and pleasurable. It might be removed from the mundane aspects of life, but the mundane may become art.'(Dennis Dutton on Dissonayake) To me then, the act of making a digital picture from my experience of loving my time in Skye elevates my life, gives meaning to it. This is important to me, since I often struggle with understanding our brief sojourn on earth, non-believer that I am. Thus Nietzsche recently started to make sense to me, on account of his understanding that man’s struggle is to make art of his own life. This is hard to do in a very Western modern capitalist society, where the rational has reigned supreme over the last century and a half.  I am boldly asserting that we may be having to involve ourselves in some sort of mindset change , in order to adapt and to survive .

-“we’re developing a revolution in consciousness. And when you synthesize it all, it’s giving us a new view of human nature. And far from being a coldly materialistic view of nature, it’s a new humanism, it’s a new enchantment. And I think when you synthesize this research, you start with three key insights.”   David Brooks The Social Animal

Those three insights include the understanding that the unconscious is a major player,doing most of the work. The amazing circuitry of the brain is handling millions of pieces of information a minute, of which it can be consciously aware of about 40.

The second insight David refers to is emotion, emotion is essential to the foundation of reason because emotions tell us what to value. Alasdair MacIntyre, the philosopher, said that, “We have the concepts of the ancient morality of virtue, honor, goodness, but we no longer have a system by which to connect them.” which  has led to a shallow path in a whole range of human endeavors.We are beginning to confuse synthesizing real experience with the actuality of experience. There are no shortcuts in the understanding and acquisiton of knowledge and wisdom. Technologies can progress and offer new methods that speed up and deliver a fuller breadth of information, but individually we all have to work to assimilate and find meaning in that information.

The third insight is how we are social animals, as the  poet John Donne wrote “No man is an island”. The truth remains that we are not just rational creatures, like The Hounyhyms in Gullivers Travels. We try to rationalise our positions, but we are influenced by our passions and our sentiments, being deeply entwined with others for good and bad.

(David’s)”work corrects that bias in our culture, that dehumanizing bias. It gives us a deeper sense of what it actually takes for us to thrive in this life. When we think about human capital we think about the things we can measure easily — things like grades, SAT’s, degrees, the number of years in schooling. What it really takes to do well, to lead a meaningful life are things that are deeper, things we don’t really even have words for.’


…limerence is not an ability, it’s a drive and a motivation. The conscious mind hungers for success and prestige. The unconscious mind hungers for those moments of transcendence, when the skull line disappears and we are lost in a challenge or a task — when a craftsman feels lost in his craft, when a naturalist feels at one with nature, when a believer feels at one with God’s love. That is what the unconscious mind hungers for. And many of us feel it in love when lovers feel fused.  ‘  The Social Animal


Bowing to Sports

illustration, Life, United Kingdom


So you wish to conquer in the Olympic games, my friend? And I too, by the Gods, and a fine thing it would be. But first mark the conditions and the consequences, and then set to work. You will have to put yourself under discipline; to eat by rule, to avoid cakes and sweetmeats; to take exercise at the appointed hour whether you like it or no, in cold and heat; to abstain from cold drinks and from wine at your will; in a word, to give yourself over to the trainer as to a physician. Then in the conflict itself you are likely enough to dislocate your wrist or twist your ankle, to swallow a great deal of dust, or to be severely thrashed, and, after all these things, to be defeated.
Greek Stoic philosopher.

Spirit of freedom, isn’t that how we should be experiencing the countdown to hosting the Olympics?   I’m not a sportswoman in any sense of the word. I neither play any nor enjoy the spectacle to any particular degree. I am forced by default to honour and respect it, in the shape of cricket and football, as the majority of the household seem to be avid competitors or spectators and often both.  What I do like is the effects of sport – the distraction from the harsher realities of life, the engagement and passion that flow from it, the team spirit and camaraderie amongst players and fans. The self discipline it breeds in the training  and the self esteem it builds . Then of course there are the physical benefits, the fitness and the reason to avoid stimulants and alcohol. I have a lot of gratitude towards sport, even if I cannot lose myself  to it. I have managed to come across these though, which celebrate sport in a wonderfully illustrative way.  Cigarette cards, again! Thanks to NYPL digital gallery, if you want to find some of your own, then finger walk over here

Lurve, and what you do with it.

Art, Life, Thoughts

You think you’ve got it? If you have, you know the downside, and if you havn’t , the downside is unimportant.  This is the target that reputedly belonged to Anniie Oakley, and shot (photographically that is) by Anne Liebnowitz, now in  a private collection. Today is the day our attention is turned to matters of the heart. Except they aren’t. The commercials grab the occasion and mix it up with some touching images, the restaurants put some different flowers on the table and hire more waiters, and anyone in love dismisses the day as kitsch, and anyone not in love gets reduced to a melted puddle of embarassment/humiliation/ rage/bitterness when asked for the eigtheenth time that morning how many valentines they received/sent. Then there are the married, who don’t know whether they should or whether they shouldn’t.  Such dilemna and all in complete contradiction to the idea of any sort of Valentine at all.

Let’s dig a little deeper and throw some light onto this critical condition we term love.  Everyone knows it, everyone suffers from it, and not many of us deny ourselves completely.  Most of us want some, most of us look for it.  The acqusition of it is hard enough, but try living with it.  That is the hard part. The English novelist Iris Murdoch said this,’

‘Love is the difficult realization that something other than oneself is real. ‘

I love that . It took me a long time to understand it, but I do. I have fallen in love more times than I care to admit to, and have believed my own position, have lived longer than I should have with mistakes. But when I have recognised the mistake, I have always brought it into the light.  None of us fall in love and want the love to end. For me, I think I wanted love so much, lacked it so dearly that I saw love where it was not.  Schopenhauer wrote about how he saw the human condition  with persuading wit and wisdom about a tale of hedgehogs. And it’s not Beatrix Potter.

A number of porcupines huddled together for warmth on a cold day in winter; but, as they began to prick one another with their quills, they were obliged to disperse. However the cold drove them together again, when just the same thing happened. At last, after many turns of huddling and dispersing, they discovered that they would be best off by remaining at a little distance from one another. In the same way the need of society drives the human porcupines together, only to be mutually repelled by the many prickly and disagreeable qualities of their nature. The moderate distance which they at last discover to be the only tolerable condition of intercourse, is the code of politeness and fine manners; and those who transgress it are roughly told—in the English phrase—to keep their distance. By this arrangement the mutual need of warmth is only very moderately satisfied; but then people do not get pricked. A man who has some heat in himself prefers to remain outside, where he will neither prick other people nor get pricked himself.

I like the image of the push and pull of intimacy as this reflects my own experience of truly loving relationships.  When the desire to overcome the fears and pain of sharing is greater that the pain of humiliation and pride, that’s when you know you’ve found love. And it doesn’t have to be romantic love, I mean love between lovers, parents and children, siblings, friends.  Romantic love is an extension of love between two autonomous people, who meet on a level playing field, who both have strength and weaknesses they are confident enough to share with one another. One of my tests that I have used on my own relationships in the past is this, does this person make me feel good about myself, or not? Is he for me? I managed to answer that honestly, and I cut myself away, even though at the time I felt feelings of amazing love for him. I had to recognize that he did not share the same for me.  That was decades ago, but the memory of the pain lingers, still makes an impression. I can understand how some people prefer to curl up in a ball  and remain like a hedgehog. Not for me though.

Deborah Anna Luepnitz.shows through five case studies how we all have simultaneous needs and fears for intimacy, thus creating a dilemma for full living. She uses psychotherapy to listen to peoples stories, and help them to see patterns in behaviours that once recognized, can be altered , and thus improve the quality of the relationships in jeopardy. I believe in the power of being able to tell your own story, in a safe and non judgemental environment.  A few weeks ago a friend of mine rang me, and shared an issue bothering her.  I asked her why she didn’t consider a therapist. Her reply was that she had friends, and that was how she worked her way through her problems. I loved that. This has progressed away from the topic, but digression has a place in a blog, it’s all part of a whole. That’s what I wanted to show!! How it is connectedness that is the joy and the key to love. It is a prerequisite and a condition in my case. Sometimes I feel disconnected from the people I love, and it is painful. But it is also part and parcel of the flow. And worth it. My lowest times are when I cannot feel the love I know I have  for the ones who are beloved to me. That is the darkness.  Knowing that day follows night anchors me, and keeps me in anticipation of the dawn.

Happy Valentine. To human beings everywhere, whoever you are.

Here’s a treat



Because I love all my readers, (what writer doesn’t?) , I am going to tell you  to find this beautiful collection of short stories, shut yourself away, and be reminded of the power of story-telling.

 In these tales, we are introduced to characters that inspire our love, and that is not an exaggeration.  It is full of humour and insight, written with such a lightness of touch, you are not consicious

that you are reading.  Trust me,  I have read as many words as there are galaxies, at least , that is how it feels to me. so when a book slows me down, invites me to take it carefully, treat it with

regard, with consideration – well, I sit up and take notice.  The writer is female, and like me, old enough to have had a myriad of experiences , and she uses  all her wisdom to craft these scenes.

More alive than daily life, these stories resonate with the challenges and frustrations of what it means to be human.  I read and read again. Then I am sent scurrying into nooks and crannies of my own histories,

relationships, understandings.   Terrific. 


Life, Thoughts

Scale of the universe

Hope you’re feeling humble, because there’s no way you’re going to enjoy this video, unless you have come to terms somewhat with idea of how inconsequential we all are on this little planet, gorgeous as it is.   I love the paradox that this life offers up, how immediately vital our lives are, how individual each member of the human race is, has been , will be, and yet simultaneously,what specks we all are.  It’s liberating and reassuring in some sense, at least to me.  And mind-blowing,  the ability to watch a video like this seems magical to me. The scope of human ingenuity and imagination that has got us to this place, the invention of language, the discoveries of science and the unending curiosity . It’s not so long ago in our human history that we thought we knew the cosmos looked a bit like this.

A Heliocentric Cosmos


This volume is the first edition of the work that set forth evidence that the earth and other planets revolve around the sun. Written by Polish astronomer, Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543), and published just before his death, the work was met by tremendous opposition because it contradicted religious beliefs of the time. The Copernican views provided the basis for the later work of Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), Galileo (1564-1642), and Isaac Newton (1642-1727).

Now we think there may be particles moving faster than light. Maybe.  An interesting dilemma for all physicists if the tests are proved correct, but the beauty of science is that is how it works. We believe in the model last proved by scientific endeavour.  So it may be we need to discover a new model for how we perceive existence.  That’s what I’m saying, there aren’t ‘arf some clever bastards. ( in the words of Ian Dury).

Scale of the Universe video from Primax Studios.


This SO pleases me

Art, Life

If I can’t have the real thing, then this adorable little pony will just have to do.  Get over here, to see how clever this lady is, at making all things so desirable. You have to go and see which one you would covet, you know you want to. If these don’t roll off the production line , then I hold no hope for the future. These will go VIRAL!!  I don’t what it says about me, but give me something that is childish, and I go all mushy inside. I must have beeen deprived as a child of all things pink and bling ( I was censored from Enid Blyton), and growing up with two older brothers, I strove to be an honarory male for the first fouteen years of my life. Until I was dishonoured (not at age 14 I hasten to add, but you get the picture). I have lived all my life in male households, without the presence of a female sensibility since departure from the parental home, and two sons and three stepsons later, I ache for some PRETTY!!  For someone so unathletic , my life is dominated by sport, which can be challenging at times, but hey, we all have our crosses to bear.  In my dream house Johnny Pony Depp will take centre stage, along with this,

It’s a real green house made for real people, with Lego!!!  I love Lego!   Pleeeeze, can I have one of these?

Life, Thoughts


Imagination holds the key to humanity. It is the mainspring of all  progress, to create the envisioned reality from existent reality.  It is present throughout all human endeavour , encompassing technology, science, sport, and all the literary, audio and visual arts.  It must therefore be critical that we encourage creativity to continue our evolution.  The Western culture has exaggerated the benefits of productivity, and capitalism in recent history.  There is no doubt that a great deal of human resource has to be spent on producing the resources required to feed and deliver care to humankind, but the  capitalist model delivers it with such inadequate recognition of the vast majority, that it can only be seen as a flawed model.  The vast amount of wealth, in the ownership of so few results in a level of injustice and inhumanity that we must question.

Our education system does not encourage imagination, it requires rigid adherence to unimaginative syllabuses delivered across rigid time scales, demanding the student to merely regurgitate ‘stuff’ , and is unable to respond adequately to genuine curiosity and enquiry.  We do not learn in our system, or even learn how to learn.  We download nuggets of information, and hope that some of them are ingested and developed by the few students diligent enough to work around the obstacles of the system.

As a society, we need to renew our hunger for imaginative appetite.  All around we are made comfortable by the increasing technoligies, yet still hunger for meaning, for the feeling of aliveness that is lacking.  We all recognise the sleepinesss, and the weariness that fill our complex, sophisticated ,modern lives. What we failing to engage with is our creativity. We are growing increasingly reliant on passively receiving the creativity of others, and in doing so, become increasingly dissatisfied with our own imagination, seeing it as inferior to the models streamed to us via computers, television screens, and audio interfaces. The people I see around me who are most satisfied with their lives, are those who engage in their own creativity, whether that be in the work they do , or in the hobbies they pursue. They are engaged in making something for themselves, using their imagination to do so, seeing something new, something with possibility.  What it doesn’t necessarily promote is productivity, in the moment, but in the fulness of time, productivity will always prosper , given an environment where endeavour and imagination work together.  Here endeth today’s lesson.  Sometimes things just have to come out, don’t you find that?


Questions, always questions.

Life, Thoughts

There are innumerable times. in innumerable places that I have been dismissed with the comment ‘You think too much’.  I have usually taken a step back and recognised my position is either upsetting the other person, or I am simply flogging a dead horse.  I am not particularly blessed with the sort of brain power which suggests genius status, and firmly believe that most our difficulties encountered are down to not enough thinking. The difficulty in this process is that it requires the willingness of all parties to partake, and think rather than react. Anyway, what I found interesting was a site about how to think about meaning, when belief systems fail.  My own belief in a ‘god’ thingummyjig faltered about twenty years ago, and during that time I have held onto vestiges of a faith in a system of connectedness of some sort that encompasses the Universe. One of my challenges was the hole left by the lack of religion, and I am constantly drawn to other people’s experiences of searching for meaning.  I liked the style of this video link, and have been drawn to another set of great videos discussing atheism, amongst other interesting ideas.

Summer triumph!

Art, Life, photogaphy


This is a snapshot of our Monday, and of the fantabulous summer exhibition at the Royal Academy this year.  It is an annual visit for Chris and I , and we anticipate it , looking forward to the mooch around Covent Garden, and the surprises when we get there.  This year the trip was enhanced by meeting up with good friends, Karen and Ellen, whom I miss considerably, since they relocated to Yorkshire.  Shared time is precious, and I love how we trip seamlessly into the same relaxedness we had when we spent so much of our daily lives together. Life is so busy, and time so demanded by different influences, that I really appreciate when we do get together. And I want to know how come Karen never , ever looks any older than previous, when I do!  The pictures , when we got to them, were a delight.  The previous two years had not thrilled me to the same measure, but this year has got me back on board.  There was lots of interest, and more than a handful of paintings and photographs, that I would gladly hang on my walls. If you have the opportunity before August 15th, take a trip, it’s a treat.

Then on to Covent Garden to round the day off with a lovely meal al fresco, watching the world and his wife pass by.  Under a glorious sky. London at it’s best. And pizza.

Why can’t all Mondays be like this!


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Flower Power


I really need to put a frame around this image, and will have to sort that out , anyway, I have been working on flower images today, and am really pleased with the results.  What I need to do is sort out somewhere where I can publish them as cards, as doing them as hand-mades is very time consuming , with very little reward.  My friends and mum get a good deal, as they get one offs for no more than it costs to go to a supermarket, but I don’t feel I want to make any profit from them, so I just recoup my costs of materials.  If any of you know any contacts for publishing cards, I would be really interested.  I am building a portfolio, and getting there slowly.  The pastime is enjoyable anyway, and I doubt I will ever rival Hallmark.   Anyway, I thought I would share my endeavours today, as I have nothing of import to impart, and a few chores to get to.