Wednesday, February 21, 2007

A Quiet Week

Well, sorry, it all went quiet for a week. Apart from my birthday (which passed serenely) I helped launched a new website on Wednesday, so have anxiously nursed that along for a few days. Circus Arts Forum. A little freelance work for Arts Council of England. I remember when I used to work as solely as a freelance (all 32 years of it) - and 'they' didn't consider circus as an art requiring funding, respect and support back then. Things changed (but too late for my own performing career).

I didn’t get to The RAW Wake last weekend (all over the planet people did farewell events for Robert Anton Wilson – “who RU calling a cult?”) because my subconscious slept through the alarm to catch the train, perhaps resisting the idea of a day-off with heavy drinking, so I had a doze under the duvet for Bob instead. :-)

[UK news] Even a right-wing, conservative paper like the Daily Express has finally realised (acknowledged) that theoretical (notional) house prices do not really mean true wealth. If you own your house, and house prices go up, then you really could consider yourself better off (assuming you sell at the high point) but if you have promised to pay for it indefinitely then (in my mind) you don’t own it until you paid it off. This becomes significant when House Prices go up so much that your monthly payments go through the roof! Far from getting ‘richer’, you actually end up trying to buy a house beyond your means…or, as the Express had it:

“Mortgage Costs Are Crippling”.

Hilarious! It will hardly stop so long as everyone buys (sic) the idea that property values display the wealth of the country. You can’t lower the interest rates without people borrowing more, and demand going up. Someone has to reverse it – the music stops, you end up living on your current step in the ladder – and you stop paying out ¾ of your take-home pay just for a roof.

Imagine going into the bookshop for a book costing £10, and then before you can get out the door they tell you what a bargain you have as that book now has a value of £23, so would you mind paying the other £13 before you go?

What else this week? Ah, I just got invited to join some creative team to continue developing the Maybe Logic Academy campus/collage/complex/website/thing.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Solar Returns (many happy)

Have You Seeen the stars tonight? Not a lot of planets up there, just Saturn (order and limitations), nearly everything else in opposition, or in a placatory trine. What do I know? I know the Sun has conjoined with Neptune (myths and dreams) in its Opposition to Saturn. Take that as you will.

Many thanks to Astrodienst for a totally free, but powerful tool online. It takes the left brain out of astrology (although I used to quite enjoy the maths and the 3-D imaginings). Now I just snap my fingers, and bypass that 'scholar by candlelight with his tables' stage completely - and go straight to the dreaming.

My left-brain reminds me that this pattern got given the name "The Bucket" by someone in my readings so long ago...I don't remember what it means exactly, I can't quite get a handle on it!

Friday, February 09, 2007

A gale of laughter

I can hear people in Canada and Northern Europe laughing themselves silly. A couple of inches of snow, and the UK grinds to a halt. Actually, here in Cardiff it didn't seem much, but I guess it might fall much heavier up in The Valleys (or mountains, as you might say).

I suspect the Council sold off the snow ploughs (not having used them for a couple of years, and with rumours of global warming) and the gritting lorries couldn't get out 'because there was snow on the ground'.

A cartoon on the front of The Telegraph had a puzzled man standing outside the Climate Change Research Bureau, reading a notice pinned to their door:


Snow - Louis Macneice

The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes -
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one's hands -
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Separated at birth

David Threlfall as Frank GallagherSince I got on the internet I find I watch less and less television (I guess you only have so much screen time). I do try not to miss Channel 4's "Shameless". Not only does it have great scripts, and an excellent set of performances, but it manages the difficult trick of seeming both over-the-top slapstick and realistic...

[Frank's voice over]
Now, nobody's sayin the Chatsworth Estate is the Garden of Eden, but it's been a good home to us, to me - Frank GALLAGHER - and me kids, who im proud of! 'Cause every single one of them reminds me a little... of me. They can all think for themselves! Which they've me to thank for. Fiona! Who's a massive help. Lip, who's a bit of a gobshite, which is why nobody calls him 'Philip' anymore. Ian - a lot like his mam which is handy for the others 'cause she's disappeared into thin air.61 next week, and doesn't look a day over 70 And Carl! We daren't let him grow his hair for two reasons; 1, it stands on end and makes him look like Toya and 2, nits love him. Debbie! Sent by God, total angel. You've to check your change, but she'll go miles out of her way to do you a favour. Plus Liam! Gunna be a star! Once we've got the fits under control. Steve; Fiona's boyfriend. The truth is out there... NOT. Fantastic neighbours, Kev and Veronica! Lend you anythin' - well, not anythin'. But all of them to a man... who knows first and foremost the most vital necessity is this life is they know how to throw a PARTY! Heh heh... Scatter!

Monday, February 05, 2007

Returning to Jedi

The Star Wars phenomenonenonenon rolls on 'n on 'n on...

I just heard from Jambe Davdar, who contacted me last year. We never did get to Skype an interview, and did it solely in writing, but he produces definitive 'making-of' DVDs, and asked for help with 'Returning to Jedi', which he has now completed.

I look foward to seeing it (small sample available on his Blog - Building Empire), which refers to his first such project.

You can find links to reviews and trailers, etc. on the blog.

Thursday, February 01, 2007

You Become Your Secrets

Maslow's hierarchy of needs Growing up in the 50s meant that psychology either saw you as a Behaviourist rat (army training, school indoctrination, etc) or as some murky realm of unconscious horrors that would need endless therapy to disentangle (Freud started that).

A Third Force in psychology had started in the USA, studying healthy people rather than damaged ones, looking at our potential not our flaws, and when I bunked off school to read imported books in Foyle’s bookshop I came across Maslow, Jourard and others who sounded immensely attractive, modern and realistic to me. I even figured I would go on to university (as my mother hoped) to do Psychology and Philosophy, but at the interview for Bristol University it became clear that they didn’t have any sympathy with all that Californian nonsense about Zen and humanism…so we went our separate ways (I dropped out, along with many in my generation). My later attraction to Leary and Wilson comes from this interest in human potential rather than human damage and limitation...

This came up today because I realise that sometimes in these diaries I may occasionally make disclosures that could make others uncomfortable. I edit myself a lot, but if I edit people out of my everyday life I create an illusion and an untruth.

However uncomfortable, I still carry an idea I got from Sidney Jourard, in The Transparent Self, when he said that we tended to become our secrets. In short, all the grooming in the world, and smiling, won’t hide twisted insides from others (George Bush, anyone?) And equally, some people who appear to live in dire circumstances, and may even ruefully put themselves down, have an inner glow. He concluded that it seemed healthier to admit our faults and flaws to others, and hide our good deeds. And when he talked of ‘confessing’ he didn’t mean secret absolution like the Catholic confessional, but declaring your weaknesses before your fellows, as he claimed early Christians had done, and as Alcoholics Anonymous (and all the other such groups) do. Equally, he said, most of us try to cash in our good deeds for merit points (I gave a homeless man ten pounds today) rather than simply do them and ‘store up our treasure in heaven’.
an elaborated version of the model
I also liked the idea that before Huichole Indians take peyote they have to ‘clear the air’ by passing around a string and and tying a knot in it for each of their failings and sexual transgressions admitted before the tribe. They then burn the string. No-one wants weird vibes when taking psychedelics, and paranoia often comes from getting lied to…telepathy (if we can say such a thing exists) can only happen between people who do not hide behind their lies.

Of course, having said I prefer honesty and straightforwardness, I often fail – and have even found myself cheating or lying on tiny insignificant things for no apparent reason. (Freud may come in handy here, or the Behaviourists!) And equally, people can misuse this ‘honesty trip’ to merely act in a cruel way - “I am telling you this for your own good!” - but the general principle of not bullshitting people still seems good to me (especially around the young), and equally “doing good by stealth” still gives me a little glow (I could hug myself) that often sustains me better than telling people about it, in the hope they’ll think I am kind and generous – not easy to do without sounding like showing-off!

I quite like the models of Random Acts of Kindness – (Pass It Forward) – because such acts rarely come back to reach the ears of your friends and family, and you can savour the secret glow. You can even consider the possibility that such stuff may come back to you by another route (if you still believe in the ‘karma’ inherent in a ‘whole system’ worldview).

Information wants to be free. Stewart Brand
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