Sunday, 22 November 2015

Leaf blowing guys

Leaf Blowing Guys

Of course there is the other side to the Leafblower.
The tragi-cosmic hero (single guy)
At one with the Universe
He tries in vain to channel the powers of the cosmos thru his mechanical wand.
He is the spiritual tuning fork
Art for him is a Cosmic Force
Unaware that nature's playing him rather than the other way around.
But even at his most hubristic he can’t help actually helping bring something sacred into existence.
The black exclamation mark shouting, unheard in the ear protected chaos.
You poor vulnerable absurdist fool. Who sent you?
Take me to you leafer.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Post Rationalisation

We are living in an age defined by the post-rationalisatic tendencies of the left-brain. This “mode” of thinking is so embedded in our culture that it’s hard to notice. I’ll try and explain, as much for myself rather than out of a need to foist my views on you. 
The left-brain is the area that focuses specifically and enables us to grab or get. It is what allows us to categorize and process data. This relies on objective separation, something that empathy does not. If you look at current news all of it is processed through the left-brain. This is because social media has spread journalistic thinking over the world like a binary skin. Now the post-rationalisation process is apparent when Cameron says the Paris murders are an attack on Our Way of life. Sounds very convincing. It’s also retaliation for Western involvement in Syria. Again sounds convincing but the left-brain has been scientifically proven to justify actions it had no part in deciding to implement or understand. The left-brain likes to make sense on its own terms. It likes to be certain and in control and will make up reasons even if they contradict experience. This is all scientific fact and ironic because what we call rationalism is clearly totally subjective. If we were to be truly rational we could step back and see the whole picture.

What we are really seeing is human beings acting out evolutionary theory and giving rational shape to it as if there were logical reasons behind it. Since the first sapiens evolved we have had a tendency to kill off the Other. When Bertrand Russell stated that Love is wisdom and Hate is foolishness he meant we need to evolve. What concerns me is that left-brain culture prevents us from changing the situation. If the world were a family we’d be in crisis talks but instead we have lots of male (scientifically proven to be predominantly left-brained) career politicians deciding what we should do. We could evolve and say this is far too important to leave to such limited thinkers. Even in books on creativity the right brain is often seen as subservient and Nietzsche’s idea of the left brain being the Emissary who forgot he was helping a Master is what we see played out in this digital age. An idea Iain McGilchrist explores in his dazzling book the Master and his Emissary. 
Since the end of WWII alienation has gradually overtaken empathy on the graph of human culture. Bureaucracy enables us to operate on a large scale but it also divorces us from tangible experience. Everyone has stories of how systems fail us. just following orders. So now in the age of separation perfected we have poverty and inequality propping up gross self indulgence and greed and this is justified by post rationalisation of the global economy. But it is a culture of separation creating the perfect hot-bed to breed dysfunctionality on a psychotic level. This, by the way is not an excuse. It's an observation. We all know how focusing on blame never changed anything on a personal level so why should it on a global level? Change requires acceptance of responsibility not telling ourselves stories to justify the irrational.

Monday, 9 November 2015

wood smoke

Wood smoke that’s a nice smell isn’t it?

That's a nice smell isn't it?
I proffered as I approached the two old ladies
Seated close together
opposite the woodburner
behind the low table at the end of a cabin
The table where you pay for the books
I had four clutched to my breast
Taken from the giant book sale
in the potting shed across the garden path.

Where do you pay for the books?
A tall man had earlier asked me
Or at least he asked someone
as he stood there in his pastel coloured Sunday rambling attire
And I was there
In the other hut I assume
I shrugged
He followed me there
hesitating for a moment as the handle resisted my efforts.
A sharp tug and we were in.
Such an enchanting space.
A narrow wooden cabin lined with books.

Yes it is
One of the old ladies replied
A comforting sort of smell
Yes it is I said
I don’t know why?
I added exhilarated to meet someone else who found it so
That this was not necessary struck me in an instant 
And indeed wondering why the smell of wood smoke is comforting 
Is not a guaranteed source of comfort
Comforting smells are best left undecoded.

I myself associate it with my best friend’s lounge
A prosperous family who lived in the countryside
I found it comforting immediately
A totally new and alien smell
It was instantly familiar
And crept directly into my memory attic 
where it has remained ever since.
At our house we had a three bar heater
With fake projected flames
An American visitor in my teenage years
had looked at it like something from the x-files.
(Well she was glamorous like the lady detective)
Aw gee wow what is That?
This is now in family folk-lore
But still snags my shame at our lack of urbanity.

But wood smoke?
That’s not exactly ersatz.
It's older than time itself
So why must wood smoke must be smelt indoors to be this comforting?
Well it must - didn't I say?
Outdoor wood smoke is much more complicated.
At least for me it is.
Scout masters eliciting tears.
Sing songs drowned by jeers.
Damp nights under canvas (literally in those days)
Trying to explain why my camp bag had
Acdemics Kill written on it.
I had no idea but it made complete sense
I even tried to defend it.
My Skip said that he was an academic.
Why? he wanted to know.
And now I am an academic and I know.

Wood smoke that’s a comforting smell
I don’t know why? I half asked
And from the corner of my eye
I detected the micro-expression
of one of the old ladies turn to confusion.
Or rather rueful puzzlement.
But I didn't want to look.
Not really because I wanted her to forget I asked.

Wood smoke that's a comforting kind of smell.