Friday, June 21, 2013

Old Dogs in the mountains

Up at the cottage, and the weather has been very mixed.  Dandy Dog doesn't seem inclined to go for steep walks right now, but I am not sure if he is ill or just lazy.

Back then, he even accompanied me up there in the snow (and this is in an area without even a mobile SOS signal, so that might have proved a bit reckless).
I also forget how quickly dogs age, because 3-4 years ago when we last went to the highest point for miles around, he was effectively in his teens, now he 'is' in his late-40s.

Still, yesterday I went without him, for the first time, and it was very misty, rainy so I didn't get another clear shot of the iron age hill fort, or anything.  Hey ho - but some aerobic exercise.

For contrast, this is how I captured it last time, on a crisp winter's day:

And the old dog remains adventurous on brighter days, and walking along the level of the river, rather than up and down the hills...

Note: This blog got neglected in a flurry of other projects, but it is a diary going back aways, likely to get plundered for the more recent years of my autobiography (work-in-progress).

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

If you're so clever, why aren't you rich?

This perennial question does assume that the smart thing to do with intelligence is earn money, and to the extent that having money does free up your time, eventually, it could prove a good idea.  However, if you sell all your time in exchange for money, putting off your thinking time, or your creative time, until you have 'enough', then maybe it doesn't seem such a good plan.

In the simple terms of IQ tests (whatever you think they actually measure) I score quite highly.  I got a scholarship type pass to the 11+ exam (although that apparently had a bias towards boys), and on various self-testing scales I did pretty well (though such tests seem rather unreliable).  When Test The Nation first happened I scored higher than anyone in the studio, and as high as the best on-line participant, but that test is not one recognised by MENSA, for instance.  MENSA chooses people from the top 2% of the population, whichever test that gets measured by.

I only once met a group of MENSA members, and don't remember a particularly stimulating time, but I would not dismiss the possibility that not all members are too glum or serious for me.  I appreciate that I might simply have been boring company for them.  Who can tell?

I reckon I know quite a lot of smart people, particularly if we look at them through the filters of multiple types of intelligence (cf: Howard Gardner), a model which seems to correlate with the world far better, as those earlier tests do seem biased towards literacy and  numeracy, in spite of a certain number of spatial awareness elements, and didn't appear to consider excellence in arts of sports (for instance), or maybe relationships, or the ability to communicate, as forms of intelligence.

Although I generally lean towards text-based learning myself (after decades of putting myself through the circus skills hoops, to encourage the other aspects of myself) I still veer away from books that sound like this:

"Despite the many specific disagreements that have marked the development of these theories of aesthetic and cultural  postmodernism, their development has generally been contained within a horizon of consensus that has defined valid theories of postmodernism according to their deployment of methodological self-reflexivity, based (sometimes covertly) in the unconditional rejection of categories of totality, or totalization - a rejection that acts as a negative totalization itself."

This, from a professor of English - discussing the vivid and lucid writer William Burroughs, in "Wising Up The Marks" - a title that sounded sufficiently 'street' that I might find it amusing and enlightening.

No way could I study 'English' in such a context of abstractions and technical jargon (although I did find lighter patches in this book).  That form of abstract, analytical study is what made Samuel Beckett sound unfunny, and Joyce 'difficult'.

The main problem for me, however, remains my dislike of tests.  I don't like the experience of auditions, interviews, exams, tests or any of those events.  Fear of failure, like everyone else (of course) plays a part in that - but also wanting to know who was so damned clever that they can set the tests.

Hard to fool a cat...

I love this movie.

I love Robert Altman, Elliott Gould, Raymond Chandler and the cynicism and world-weariness of film noir (and its deconstruction).

And I love the cat. Especially the gag about trying to fool the cat into thinking it was getting the right brand of food...

Note: though it is an extended stoner joke from 1973, it has one extremely unpleasantly violent moment.

How weird that Elliot Gould is now "the man from Ocean's Twelve", not "the man from the movie M*A*S*H" (long before the tv series).

Monday, March 04, 2013

Why is asking so hard?

I never felt comfortable with other people or society's rules. I thought I was surrounded by idiots. I couldn't even work out why I was on this planet.  I didn't want a job, or property, or respect, or power, or privilege.

I immediately fell in love with the assorted Zen fools that I came across in the literature, and in Western culture the bohemians and tramps and others who simply did not share the values of those around them.

At the same time, I felt sad to be alienated, because when humans act kindly, they seem really great!  I began to feel that in the 60s, when I also stopped feeling so alone, but that didn't really help me re-integrate with society, as I didn't display any musical or graphic talent that could be traded, for instance.

Street performing emerged from my defiantly spending my time on something I found interesting, and taking no heed for the practicalities of tomorrow.  It was other people who spotted the potential, and started to offer trade-off payments in kind (food, shelter, lifts, clothing)  in return for the entertainment value they perceived.  I never managed to hustle my hat-passing, like some of the more efficient/proficient performers who came along later, and turned it into a real profession.  I simply did my thing, and then told people that was all I did, and if they wanted to see me again, they could contribute, and that if they had no money I hoped they enjoyed it.  And that's all.  I have always been embarrassed to ask, and never could beg, for instance, I'd rather starve.

So everything in Amanda Fucking Palmer's wonderful TED talk rang bells for me, from the 'get a real job' jibes, to wondering whether I was somehow exploiting people and relationships, and whether it was fair to act 'as if the world owed me a living'.  I went through all that angst, and it was only the warmth and reassurance of other people (the audiences and students) that convinced me I was genuinely earning my right to be here, to do play/work.  And having regained my trust in people around me, other opportunities opened up.  Please, especially if you are a creative person, give Amanda just under 15 minutes of your time.

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