Sunday, November 27, 2005

Words don't come easy

I have spent the last year writing and thinking and participating in several quite demanding online courses at the Maybe Logic Academy. I realise that I have neglected my website development, and even this blog, but I have one last rush to do before taking a break.

I must have written thousands of words in these online forums. Now comes the test, as I have taken on the job of trying to herd cats (sorry, edit the online quarterly magazine).

I have written one long piece on playing cards, Tarot, randomness, games, etc which I hope Dak may feel inspired to illustrate. Also, Bobby (a most inspiring artist who has joined me on several of the courses) felt inspired by James Joyce and Vico to produce images for Vico's cyclic theory of history, for which I promised to produce a few words.

I find it very satisfying to work co-operatively with people like this - and I have found a channel for my creativity, which has got a little thwarted by holding down a steady job for 7 years now (even if I enjoy working in a library, have access to all sorts of amazing old books, and have opened several cyber-doors by working with computers). In fact, before getting involved with the Maybe Quarterly I helped start up a blog called Only Maybe, which gave us rather more room to experiment, and for which I regularly write, too.

Hey, I must have written enough for a book! My friend Mindy set out to write a 50,000 word novel in November (along with thousands of other people). I felt tempted, but tried to get realistic about how many other things I had to finish this month.

Perhaps I should take a month or two off from books and computers, and catch up with my card tricks. Phew!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Snow Joke

Woke up to first snow of the year. The Brits panic, as we seem due for 'the worst winter for a decade'. Of course, for the last decade we have had 'unusually mild winters because of global warming' - so presumably they mean winters as bad as they used to feel in the 4os, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s. Still, as we never did have routine winters like (say) Finland or Switzerland, we never have devised a culture to go with it. Outdoor plumbing which froze seemed hilariously bad design to me, as a kid. The inability of the grit/salt lorries, or even the snow-ploughs, to get out because of 'the snow on the ground' made me laugh. And yeh, it did get cold, but I liked toboganning.

The charm of slipping and falling down may have drifted away, as I approach 60, but I still feel alternately amused and appalled at our reaction. Already the panic about oil, and heating getting turned off, and 3-day weeks, and disruption, and stock-piling supplies, etc. While compassion fatigue leads to apathy about the people stuck in post-earthquake Pakistan mountains in a cruel winter, we worry about relatively brief inconveniences.

Meanwhile we plan on 'Winterval' (yeeurgh) feasts, to 'treat ourselves' (as if most of us in the West didn't live like medaeval kings and queens almost every day of our lives).

Ah yes, I can feel the first person teasing me with the ever original "Bah Humbug" because I refuse to get all Dickensian romantic about the season of Good Will.

Any moment now... (Still says November, on my calendar), or, 'Pataphysically,

23 As 133 de l'Ere Pataphysique

Friday, November 18, 2005

mirror, mirror...

I saw a couple of great tits fluttering in and around our veranda today. I have put up bird feeders for the mob of sparrows who camp in the holly tree near by, but we do see other birds occasionally.

What I couldn’t understand was why they kept coming right inside and getting so excited. It turns out that my partner has not only put plants, mobiles and other knick-knacks around, but has included an old mirror. The birds had seen themselves in the mirror, responded in a territorial manner, and now persisted in trying to see off the intruders. Of course, their programs evolved in a world without reflecting surfaces, so I can’t actually think of them as stupid. At the same time, I wonder if they will exhaust themselves with this, and whether I should cover up or remove the mirror. Just as I feel torn between laughing and feeling sorry for them, I also feel torn between ‘doing the right thing’ and seeing if they can figure it out for themselves.

Like Philip K Dick, I do wonder sometimes where my own mirror lies, and what form it takes, and whether Higher Intelligence laughs at me, too, rather than simply helping me out by removing the trap. On the other hand, perhaps I prefer the chance to figure out if I should consider myself my own worst enemy.

But man, proud man,
Drest in a little brief authority,
Most ignorant of what he’s most assured,
His glassy essence, like an angry ape,
Plays such fantastic tricks before high heaven
As make the angels weep.

Measure for Measure 2.2.117
I quite enjoyed this enigmatic comment from the English astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington, in “Space, Time and Gravitation”:
“We have found a strange footprint on the shores of the unknown. We have devised profound theories, one after another, to account for its origins. At last, we have succeeded in reconstructing the creature that made the footprint. And lo! It is our own.”

Monday, November 14, 2005

Life's a Circus...

I have had a hectic few days. I had promised to give a pre-show talk while Circus Oz performed at the Millenium Centre, so on both Thursday and Friday I got to pontificate about the history of circus, 'new' circus, non-animal circuses, etc.

On Saturday I went to the AGM for NoFit State Circus and heard reports of a successful summer, in which they won several awards, and I got elected as a Trustee,too. I am still not entirely sure I understand all the obligations of a Charity Trustee, but enough to accept the responsibility.

The AGM happened in their new training space for the winter - in a large hall at the back of the Ebenezer (no jokes at the back please)Church. Somewhere high enough to rig ropes and trapezes and the like.

According to this site:

The following classes/workshops are planned:

Mondays: 8pm-10pm Intermediate Trapeze £4 (tutored)

Tuesdays: 7pm-8:30pm Acrobalance Beginners £3 (tutored)

Wednesdays: 8pm-10pm Acrobalance Skillshare £2 (experience required)

Thursdays: 7pm-8pm Unicycle Hockey £1
8pm-10pm Juggling workshop £2

Classes are planned to start week beginning 21st Nov, but it depends how many people are interested so if you would like to attend any of the classes call the Nofit State office on 029 2048 8734.

The party on Saturday night left me pretty ragged on Sunday - and now I am back to work.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Thought for the Day

If I had a morning radio slot, this would form the basis for my 'little chat'.

A young woman I know got burgled, and lost passport, camera and cash. She came round to visit, as she was obviously upset at the invasion (student zone, firework night, people out). At some point in the evening she got a phone call, and soon the doorbell rang, and it was a young man come to collect his phone from her! She had found it in the street, waited until one of his friends called, then asked them who he was, and how to contact him (or at least, to let him know it had been found). "Thanks a lot" he said "there aren't many honest people like you around".

I told her that such a good deed deserved a return. The following day someone rang to say her passport had been found, and could she come and collect it. Obviously too hot for an amateur, it must have been thrown away. She went round to find a neighbour who had found her bag with both passport and camera inside. She lost £50, but money (as we all know) is just money. Identity theft (or even just the inability to go abroad without paying again for the privilege) and the loss of recent photos can feel much more upsetting.

Instant Karma, you see.

Here's Tom with the Weather...

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Mood Swings

Moods swing at this time of year, but the simplest thing can still cheer me up.

For all the gloom about having to move the Central Library into temporary accomodation, and not knowing the plans, and approaching 60, and the light going, and all that - I also get pleasant surprises. Emails from old friends (one of the groups I keep a blog for) - the news that my Murray Roman tracks will arrive back clean (another reason for using a blog - without my having mentioned finding those albums here, another human looking for them would not have found me). He's now cleaned up the crackle of 30 year old albums, and dropped them onto CD. Poifect!

Blogs might lead to jobs, reunions, fresh starts, etc. You see I cheered up again!

Next week I get to see Circus Oz - because the Millenium Centre have again 'announced a talk' and either been let down, or failed to hire someone. I will reprise my 'History of Circus' speech in the foyer before the shows next Thursday/Friday. Last year (when Cirque Eloise came here) very few people turned up to listen so I don't want to over-prepare, but I still get stage-fright after all these years.
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