Category Archives: Mind

Another one bites the dust

Another year bites the dust. I’m getting to the point where there’s rather more of those than I like to admit.  A year of mixed fortunes which has seen me slump into inactivity on my blog. Sometimes one needs to step back and simply walk in the woods. Out of that has come a new creativity in photographs and paintings and a resurgence of an old project. Never give up on that novel! christmas card 2017

Anyway I wave 2017, with all it’s contradictions, ups, downs and side-slips, on its way and look forward as ever to what the next year will bring. I am the eternal optimist even about humanity and Brexit.
So to finish here is this year’s bit of doggerel and greeting card and hopes that 2018 will be…… whatever makes your toes curl in delight.

Happy Hogmanay one and all


Making and Becoming Part II

More musings on the interaction and interplay between the ideas represented by ‘making’ abstract-landscapeand ‘becoming’ led to an emergence of some unexpected connections in my mental universe.

Making and Becoming are words and as such are metaphors which we use to communicate. Each of us will share some meaning in common but I doubt whether any two people have exactly the same nuances and harmonics of reference attached to these labels. That is of course what makes it so interesting. It is why creative pieces, whether visual or aural take on a life of their own once their enabler/maker has let go of them.

My travels took me through the landscape of ideas represented by Democracy, Duality, Mysticism, Newton’s Third Law, Reality, Quantum Reality and Wittengenstein’s proposition that “the limits of my language are the limits of my world” which is to say that the Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao. 

knowledge leaves 1That is probably where I should stop though like Lao Tsu I am going to go on using words but, hopefully, rather less than 5,000 of them. Ideas can be represented non-verbally in music, dance, sculpture or painting, Chagall was a consummate exponent of visual story telling, but words are necessary tools if often imprecise ones. So bear with me while I ramble on attempting to share what to me at least was an interesting journey of exploration.

So my last blog ended with the thought that many of the problems the world faces arise from too much making and not enough becoming. I was really considering the idea of making as a conscious act of will and becoming as the opposite process of emergence. Slower and less deliberate; the contrast between the yang energy of making and the yin energy of becoming.

So this led me Newton’s third law which states ‘When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.’ Or ‘for every action there is and equal and opposite reaction’.

Applying this to the ideas of making and becoming led me a bit further into wondering about its application to the abstract rather than the physical. For every idea there is an equal and opposite idea. This prompted some interesting speculation about modern-day politics with its oppositional right-wing and left-wing ideologies and I need to explore that in another blog or I will outdo Lao Tsu and spend 10,000 words before I finish. So back to making and becoming. Is it that one necessarily begets the other because they are the two forces needed in the creative process? I would say the opposing force to making is destroying and I think that would hold up in most people’s judgement. So I was left with asking what is becoming? What do I mean when I talk about this idea? I came to the conclusion that Becoming is a process that finds itself, it emerges. It occupies the still space and it is of itself and the centre. So as an artist or writer perhaps we should concentrate les son the making aspect of what we do and more on being enablers. Letting the work emerge as a result of the creative process flow through us. It is where I started from in thinking about making and becoming. The most rewarding part of  being creative is the process. That is what illuminates the mind and spirit and energizes the body. The book,the poem, the picture, the song are the by-product of this alchemy. perhaps we need to apply this way of thinking to the whole way we live as a society? 

Quantum worlds provide a very different experience and reality is simply what we observe (the double slit experiment) or what our brain produces from energy fields. So reality is subjective not objective. I am but equally and oppositely I am not. I use words to attempt to communicate idea/concept/understanding as perceived in my subjective reality. So Words are metaphors. Art and music are metaphors. My creation is altered by your observation and response to it. It becomes something new in your reality. That is change and the process of change the dance of life and entropy. Metaphor is metaphor; life is metaphor and the secret at the heart of the Tao is that there is no secret.

I didn’t discover any answers just more questions and possible paths to explore. The pursuit of understanding would be no fun if it could be answered as easily as ‘do you want a cup of tea’? On second thoughts that prompts a whole new set of speculations and is not as straightforward as it might appear at first sight.

November! – TTIP -Trick and Treat and Guy Fawkes

bed time

“Do not disturb until Spring – except for Turkey dinner”

November has arrived as dour and dreekit as you would expect.  I looked through my photo library for a picture illustrating dreekit a good Scots word for a day where the cloud ceiling is about head height and the small space between it and the ground is full of cold, driving rain, thick enough that you can’t see anything more than a few feet away.  I discovered that funnily enough I don’t seem to have spent any time taking photographs on those days.  Instead I’ve posted a photo of Dog’s way of dealing with it all.

I should be doing something useful like writing the thought provoking, insightful piece I’d planned about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership instead of which I’ve been munching chocolate, staring morosely at the rain and letting my Glia’s wander about down the cobwebbed corridors of  the Inifinite Brainstore.  Specifically investigating the difference between Halloween now and then and Guy Fawkes aka Bonfire night.  When I was a kid trick or treat was not even on our radar.  We had Hallowe’en – turnips, not pumpkins, hollowed out with a candle inside them to guide the spirits home and we laid an extra place at the table for those no longer with us.  This was my Grandma’s custom  and I believe it was originally associated with Yule rather than Hallowe’en.  Very different from dressing up and running round collecting sweets but today’s kids have great fun doing it though like everything else it seems to require having a lot of money spent on it.   Turnips, candles and apples dipped in clack (brittle toffee) cost pretty well nothing at all.

Our great collection was based round ‘penny for the guy’ and we started in October and kept it up until bonfire night.  We were as ruthless as any gang of medieval bandits in our pursuit of hapless adults shoving our straw stuffed dummies in pushchairs into their path so it was stop or fall over.  We scorned offerings of sweeties, we were after coin of the realm to be spent on such marvels as Thunderflashes, Whizzbangs and Jumping Jacks.  We were fully alive to the glorious possibilites offered by these tubes of black powder,   The effect of a jumping jack let off in school assembly could only be described as awesome.  The trick of course was to scream as loudly as everyone else and get rid of the matches quickly.   Sadly, but probably wisely, these instruments of mayhem and destruction are as extinct as the dinosaur, all banned on the grounds of health and safety.  In those less safety conscious days shopkeepers seemed unconcerned with selling explosive devices, single cigarettes and boxes of matches to seven year old brigands.

Every child used to know “Remember, remember the fifth of November, Gunpowder Treason and Plot.  There is no reason why gunpowder and treason should ever be forgot.”  Like the cries of Old London you heard it on every street corner.  We chanted it relentlessly while mugging people for pennies.  Now it’s a custom that has run its course and is dropping out of popular consciousness. I doubt if many children these days have even heard of the rhyme.   Hallowe’en (Samhuinn) is absorbing bonfire night and reasserting its place as the festival marking the onset of winter.  Given that the 31st October was the last decent day of weather we had this year it has been extremely accurate in that!    The need to celebrate or mark the beginning of winter is remarkably persistent in the human psyche it has not gone away just shifted in form over the millennia.  When I was little no-one in our village still guised but my grandparents remembered the custom of dressing up with blackened faces and singing songs and insulting the household until food or drink was brought out.  In Wales the Grey Mare (Mari Llwyd) and in Ireland the White Mare (Láir Bhan) were taken from house to house by guisers.  The origin of trick and treat but done by adults not children.   My grandparents said the custom of guising at Samhuinn died out around the time of the Second World War.   Now the custom has returned via the United States in a different form to suit our times.  I rather like that though I do feel slightly guilty about the effect of the amount of sugar I handed out to the neighbourhood children.  They were probably hyper for days.