a devil called time

Time is an exceedingly curious thing…and much inner humour is generated in the course of exploring it.

We don’t really know what time is. It might even be ‘no-thing’ at all, of course, and simply some kind of movement of consciousness…

But let’s not get too high-minded about that. This is a basic post about common sense and the fact that we can’t shake time’s effects: real or imaginary.

I often muse that time is the devil. I can think bigger than my time can do; yet I’m trapped in this devil’s cage of passing time, and that big clock on the wall is extinguishing possibility… by the second.

It’s not just about the changing state of the out-there; the one that gives away the fact that something has altered i.e. that time has passed. Zen, at its core, is said to be about that: staring at the wall until you realise that there’s only you there, but ‘there’ is everywhere.

It’s the changing state of not-me plus the actual possibility of there being a change in the way I want – a kind of potential of the possible.

And perhaps there’s another thing: effort. For something to happen that (for example) is not simply that beautiful stream over there flowing through this glorious valley. For an action that I want to make happen, then I need effort. I need to have sufficient energy for that action to be completed. Without the finish, there’s nothing…

Perhaps there is a fourth aspect? My Action is nothing, is not even capable of beginning, unless I have some sort of goal, some kind of picture for what is to be the resulting state of the out-there. These pictures must have been learned as my young mind discovered its power to do, and began to refine it so that doing created pleasure.

Unless I’m being bad Stephen, and the goal is to exact revenge, or something equally horrible. In which case, most of the process is identical to before, with the exception of the initial ‘spark’. Where do such sparks come from, I wonder? From a state of ‘me’ that had been pleased or picked on, possibly.

These are the mechanics of how ‘time and me’ interact. And this is good, for now I can see a bargain, a deal, being struck that involves time, whatever that is. Time is the basis of the bargain between doing and not-doing. When we do, it involves the consumption of time.

At the base level, I might just want to sit on the banks of that beautiful stream and let all my senses enjoy the experience. If I’m any good at it, I’ll have refined a state of presence that allows me to simply be here, enjoying the natural beauty with no desire whatever to do anything.

But who wants that, when there’s so much to be done; when there’s so little time to do all that stuff that needs doing! After all, nature gave me (and you) this incredible ability to make things happen.

I have a list as long as your arm of things I need to do, and, most importantly, today!

Most of them are urgent. I will let people down if I don’t do them all… and I hate that. Careless or unfeeling people do that and I’m not one of those.

My mind flashes back to the systems of my corporate youth: The all-conquering ‘Time Manager’, that sexy Filofax (or equivalent) in which you could fly like a vulture over the day, week and even month ahead, and write – in pencil so that fine-tuning could be done at ‘run-time’ – before you picked up the phone and made something else happen. Oh, the joy of it…

I remember when I first spotted him – the devil, I mean – hiding in the vertical lines of my large, leather Time-Manager folder. So big you didn’t need to take a briefcase on the train to London, you could just organise your day the night before and clip everything into the vast rings and pockets of the system.

I was looking at the few spaces I had left in the month ahead, and wondering. When, as though not an accident, a torn-out piece of a corporate magazine slid out of one of the binder’s pockets. It was a secondary training course for the time management system that I’d seen some time prior and never read. The extension course offered to teach you how to be as ruthlessly efficient with your leisure time as you were, already, with your business time.

And there he was – the devil – staring back at me from the blank lines that were yet to be filled.

And I knew him…

He was the destroyer of peace, the shatterer of moments by the stream, the force that pulled apart the present and, laughing, threw it back in your ‘wastrel’ face.

I put my pencil down and refused to think about anything else… all the way to London. When I got there, I had a coffee and boarded another train back. Arriving home in the middle of the day, I changed, then pushed my motorcycle out of the garage and set off…

…For a beautiful valley in which I would sit in the spring sunshine and listen to the stream by which I would do nothing… and be everything.

And time, freed of the Devil, would be the song of nature that I would find in that place.

{Author’s note: most of this is true}

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

Petals, wood and stone

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Friday the four of us met as usual at the Queen Anne in Great Hucklow for lunch and business before the evening’s meeting. It was a damp day, not particularly summery, which was disappointing in the middle of August… but it didn’t matter where we were going. First, though, we had to take a look at the well dressing… the pictures made of flower petals and seeds pressed into damp clay that are created every year for the blessing of the village wells.

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This year the theme was Alice in Wonderland, and in addition to the main well dressing, there was the children’s one by the chapel. Many homes had added extra touches of humour and Alice-style signposts led visitirs on a trail of discovery…

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We work on the hoof much of the time, so we decided we should take our companions to Bakewell and show Steve the scene of the ‘Ben’s’ misadventure… it seemed only fair as he had just finished reading Scions of Albion… and was  now exploring Ben’s thought processes from the depths of Bakewell Gaol… We parked up and crossed the bridge over the river, now hung with lover’s padlocks in a pale imitation of the Parisian bridges now struggling under the weight of too many such locks. I have always found it an odd thing to do… Love shouldn’t need to be shackled to a bridge, but should be as free and as full of life as the river.

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We wandered through the town, the damp bringing out all the colour in the stone. For once we managed to avoid the calorie-laden Bakewell Tarts and headed, instead, towards the churchyard. I have shared so many photos of this church… and yet it is as impossible to share everything as it is to see everything. Each time we visit there is something new… even though it may have been waiting there hundreds of years for us to notice.

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First of all, we had to show our comapnions the stone crosses dating back to Saxon times and carved with images from the Norse myths and Celtic patterns. The larger of the two still shows Sleipnir and Ratatosk quite clearly, while the smaller holds the sensuous spirals that seem to hold a forgotten language in their curves.

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We walked around the outside of the church, admiring the beauty of a huge Rowan in berry and pointing out the ancient arc of the doorway, the Book and Grail carved near one corner of the roof, the strange carved faces, both Victorian and far, far older that dot the walls and guard the windows and the weathered Norman figures, flaking away as the sandstone erodes.

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We finally got as far as the porch and were able to stand back and enjoy the amazement of our companions as they realised the sheer scale and antiquity of the collection of stonework that lines the walls. Even if the church was kept locked, it would be worth the trip just to see what is outside the doors, with almost a thousand years of history looking back at you, tantalising with details half seen and figures from myth, legend and the stories of faith. And that was before we went inside…

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Like time…

 

The Chariot (Tarot card) - Wikipedia

*

“I see a chariot coming over the plain.”

***

“…The next day Connor Cruel-Crest and Long-Horn O’Leary

met at the stables of King Grim-Gaze the slug-man.

 

“Let our horses be brought and our chariot’s yoked,” said O’Leary.

 

“There will be little profit for you in that,” said Connor,

“by the men of Albion, the clumsiness of your horses is renowned,

as is the unsteadiness of your going and turnabout.”

 

“And your chariot’s movement is so heavy that it’s two wheels

raise turf on both sides,” said O’Leary, “so that for a year after your passing

the track is still recognisable to the men of Albion.”

 

“Put not on me the precedence of kings until I have fared

before the champions of Albion in woods and confines,”

cried Connor as he stepped into his chariot.

 

“Put not on me the precedence of kings until I have nimbly

crossed fords and outstripped the champions of Albion,”

cried O’Leary stepping into his chariot…

***

…He watched two figures striding across the hilltop.

A man and woman laughing in the dusk.

They were talking.

He could hear their voices, but the words were strange.

The woman stopped and picked up a feather, holding it out to the man.

They stopped and looked at it.

He knew.

It was an owl.

The birds too saw things other eyes did not see.

The man was tall and slender, carrying a leather pouch across his shoulder.

All in black, tight like a knight’s gambeson.

She was small, brightly coloured, her hair like flame catching the last of the light.

He liked their laughter.

It warmed the coldness around him.

He watched as they walked on.

She looked over and met his eyes.

She smiled at him.

He could see the castle lights through her.

But she saw him and she smiled.

He watches the surface of the pond.

as the ripples merge one into the other…

Like time.

***

…So the heroes of Albion set out for the Cave of Cruachan…

Through the Gap-of-the-Watch,

over the Plain-of-Two-Forks,

across the Ford-of-the-Morrigan

into the Rowan-Meadow-of-the-Two-Oxen

by the Meeting-of-the-Four-Ways they drove

before a dim, dark, heavy mist overtook them…”

Extracts from Heart of Albion

***

Heart of Albion – Stuart France & Sue Vincent

Can’t help ourselves?

(Above: the exhibit ‘Can’t Help Myself’ at the Guggenheim Museum
See sources and links, below)

Over the past three years, I’ve been closely following the ever-accelerating development of robots. In an age where the use of military drones for ‘state-backed’ assassinations is not unusual, and artificial intelligence is pervasively present in household devices, it pays to be aware of the various ways in which technology and the humanities are interacting.

It is also instructive to see how darkly we have diverged from the visions of our future seen in earlier sci-fi.

It was only last year that I became aware that the Guggenheim Museum in New York had, since 2016, staged a ‘robotic installation’ called ‘Can’t Help Myself’. This speaks to the heart of this malaise. It is, to my eyes, a deeply moving spectacle, and one that refers, quite subtly, to our sleepwalking into a new age.

I’ve been lucky enough to visit the New York Guggenheim, though that was many years ago. I would have loved to visited this exhibit, which is now closed. As it is, having seen a reference to it, I’ve gathered this information from the internet and the Guggenheim’s website.

The exhibit was surrounded by a dedicated glass corridor, enabling visitors to position themselves to see the action. The ‘action’ was an industrial robot set at the centre of what seems to be a violent crime scene. In fact, this is a robot modified so that its one job is to use a massive sweeper – positioned on the end of a flexible and extending arm – to gather back into itself all the blood-coloured liquid that has spilled across the floor. At the end of a successful exercise, the robot performs one of a number of dances…

The visceral liquid constantly leaks from the machine, as though from a wound. The smooth and precise movements of the arm and sweeper gather the liquid back into ‘the body’ of the device, but a thin film is always left behind – and more accumulates, by splashing, beyond the reach of the arm.

The ‘spilled’ dark red fluid is necessary for the machine to function. The robot is programmed to trigger the use of its sweeper when it sees the dark fluid has spilled beyond a certain radius, but the arm can only reach so far…

There were reports that when a certain level of fluid-loss was reached, the body of the robot literally dies… The audience looked on in silence as this miracle of modern technology came to the end of its life, unable to help itself.

Artists aren’t paid to be political… they’re paid to be revolutionary.

Personally – and these are my subjective views, only – I consider this was a ground-breaking statement aimed at the heart of our global society; a statement about our own, massive exposure to the effects of unchecked technology in the face of a moral and political edifice that has run out of the will and the means to redress it. That this trend has continued and accelerated only makes the greater case for such art to speak out. It’s one of the few voices that will do so…

With little debate, we have entered the age of the robots. Completely lacking in any kind of global governing agreements, we are walking, blind, into an era where the value of the individual human is defined by his or her economic contribution, alone, leaving behind the older societal norm that human life has intrinsic value.

In the near future, wars will be fought by robots whose job is the killing of populations. If you don’t have the best military robots, you won’t survive long as an important country; therefore massive spending on military robots will be assured We could say that this mirrors the ‘cold war’ and the nuclear stalemate, where the horror of mutually assured destruction (MAD) and the cost of deployment became the only buffers to further madness, but there’s an important difference.

Military robots have given the technologists an entirely new playing field; that of the ‘battlefield-limited aggressive automaton’, programmed to recognise and kill the human. ‘Bad humans’ will presumably be differentiated from ‘good humans’ by secret response codes built into their battle fatigues, or more likely, wired into their bodies. This won’t apply to you and me, of course, only soldiers overseeing the war. We will be at work, paying for it.

This should scare us. Reassurances from governments would be meaningful if they had any track-record in other, related fields, such as how many children live below the official poverty line in each country.

All of this is a far cry from Isaac Asimov’s laws of robotics, formulated in the 1950s and written about in his famous Sci-Fi book ‘I Robot’:

First Law- A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Second Law – A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

Third Law – A robot must protect its own existence, as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law

Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, the creators of the ‘Can’t Help Myself’ robotic installation say of their work:

“More and more mechanical devices have entered our lives and even become part of our bodies. It is natural that they enter the art world.”
Sun Yuan goes on to say:

“This installation examined our increasingly automated global reality, one in which territories are controlled mechanically and the relationship between people and technology is rapidly changing. During the exhibition, viewers were invited to gather outside the transparent enclosure and watch the machine inside, setting up a dialectic that reflects a moral question, “Who is more vulnerable: the human who built the machine or the machine who is controlled by a human?”

Resources:

You can see a YouTube video of the ‘Can’t Help Myself’ robot in action by clicking here.

The opening photograph is taken from, and copyright of, the Guggenheim’s website, click here.

The opinions expressed in this post are those of the author, alone.

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

a testing christmas…

(Image by Stephan Wusowski from Pixabay)

It’s been a challenging Christmas and New Year…

Two days before Christmas, my wife tested positive for Covid with a home lateral flow test. I immediately took the same type of test and it came up negative. She had some mild symptoms, including a strange headache and a dry cough. I had none, but I was cautious about being asymptomatic, hence the need for a more accurate ‘second opinion’.

We immediately booked a drive-in PCR test in nearby Lancaster. Within the hour, we were processed and returned home to await the results, hopefully the next day.

Shortly after we arrived back, my mobile rang. It was the care home, in Morecambe, where my mother is a resident. As part of their routine testing, she had shown up positive for Covid. I phone her every day, but we had not been physically together for over a week.

Bernie and I made some tea and digested the news and its implications.

We were due to visit mum on Christmas morning, taking her some presents and wearing our reindeer antlers to bring some cheer. With a confirmed Covid result, she would now be confined to her room for at least the next week, and possibly longer. She would not be able to take part in the home’s Christmas Day festivities. Our only link with her would be the mobile phone which, between us and aided by the force of habit, we manage to keep alive for her. She is still able to use it and its pre-programmed numbers of the four most important people in her life.

We had one final method of contact; an accidental benefit of her room’s location and used often during the two lockdowns she’s endured since March 2021 – we could go and stand outside her room’s window on the ground floor… Talking to her through the glass by using the mobile phones. It doesn’t sound a lot, but it’s something; and that something is a life-saver.

The one good thing was that we had already had our Christmas meal with the extended family. We had taken mum out of the home – with their blessing – for both the family meal and (at their request) to escort her to the home’s Christmas meal, held at a nearby hotel on Morecambe’s seafront. Both were lovely events. Serendipity had smiled on that, at least.

But now we had Bernie’s testing to deal with…

It came back, just before midnight, as positive, confirming that she had Covid – omicron variant; the one that’s sweeping the country, infecting at least 1 in 25 of us. Thankfully, its effects are reasonably mild – in the healthy body at least. It can be a different story in the elderly.

My PCR test was negative. So far, I was able to move around, freely.

We could do nothing about mum’s personal lockdown; nor my wife’s positive diagnosis – which meant she could not leave the house for the next week, and only then if she got a negative lateral flow test (LFT) two days in a row.

I rolled up my sleeves, went to bed early and prepared to play nurse, cook, dog-walker and general juggler. But, sharing the same life and bed, I was unlikely to be Covid-free for long.

My wife’s sister is widowed. She normally joins us for two or three days over the Christmas period. We phoned her with the bad news. She was instantly adopted by one of her close friends and invited to spend the whole of Christmas day with them. One problem solved… As long as Bernie’s infection followed the normal pattern, her sister would be able to join us for New Year, or shortly after.

We cooked as much food as we could store to be ready for the week ahead, Bernie remained well enough to stay out of bed within the house. I made sure I had my small armoury of tools to help fight off the infection, as I was the proverbial ‘last man standing!’. These ‘tools’ are my own and include regular nasal salt-water flushes and regular gargling with an alcohol-based mouthwash, like Listerine.

A friendly medic assures me the alcohol kills any virus in your throat stone dead, but needs regular refreshing. The former was a wonderful gift from a friend of my mother in my teens (a yoga teacher) who spotted I had troublesome sinuses. If anyone wants the recipe, I’ll gladly supply it. It’s slightly yucky, but very effective at flushing out sinus tissues. It’s been a lifelong friend ever since. The salt water does not kill viruses but the laws of physics (rather than molecular biology) suggest that it will flush most hostile things out of your nasal passages. I have no idea what the experts would say. It seems to work for me.

We phoned mum on Christmas day, to try to bring her into the family warmth. Her symptoms were still mild and she was okay with things. “At least,” she said, “we had our celebrations early.”

Over a week later, I’ve shown negative on two PCR tests. We have learned a thing or two about Covid testing. Chief of these is that you can have Covid (Omicron) for many days without it showing up on a Lateral Flow Test (LFT). This shocking fact was confirmed by a biologist friend who had recently recovered from the Omicron variant. In retrospect, she worked out that it was only on the fifth day of catching it that the second line showed up on her test.

Effectively, this means that the LFT is practically useless as an Omicron early warning tool. A massive number of responsible people who regularly test themselves are seeing false negative results until the ‘viral load’ builds up to a level detectable by these older devices. By that time, the infection will have continued to expand at its exponential rate.

If we could work this out, Governments have known this for some time. Yet, there appears to be no movement to produce a more accurate LFT.

Bernie is now through her Covid and feeling well, again. My mother is not, and her cough is getting worse. We are all praying that, at 92 years old, she has the strength to survive.

I’m still virus-free. My eldest son, a doctor in Australia, says I may have had it earlier and not noticed the symptoms.

Me, I have faith in total hand hygiene, masks to protect others… lots of fresh air and my little tool kit.

©Stephen Tanham 2022

Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.

http://www.thesilenteye.co.uk and http://www.suningemini.blog

Gardening…?

sparrows 010

The honeysuckle hedge has got a little overgrown,
The roses have gone loopy and the lawn has not been mown,

sparrows 003
Valerian is sprouting out of every nook and cranny…
And in amongst the detritus of summer, you’ll find Ani…

sparrows 0071
I haven’t done the jobs I should; the garden is a rare mess,
But given all the residents, I really couldn’t care less!

sparrows 005
There’s butterflies and honey bees and hedgehogs in the border,
A colony of sparrows for the dog to keep in order…

sparrows 006
They chirp from daybreak through to dusk, and squabble in the hedging,
And are a sheer delight to watch from nestling through to fledging.

P10003041The weeds grow wild and fast… the garden couldn’t be much fuller,
But why would I complain when it’s ablaze with life and colour?

 

sparrows 012

Lazarus…

 

Death (Tarot card) - Wikipedia

*

‘Loose him and let him go’

John 11.44

***

… “So, why do you suppose that both Mary and Martha say, ‘…my brother had not died.’ Instead of ‘… my brother would not have died.’?”

“The vagaries of King James?”

“That might not be too far from the truth, but not in the sense you mean, and why do both Mary and Martha say pretty much exactly the same thing anyway?”

“Well, that fair smacks of interpolation, actually.”

“To what end?”

“To cover up the fact that the Man was very friendly with one particular woman by insisting there were two.”

“Which also simultaneously halves the importance of the role played by that woman if all her functions and actions are split with another character.”

“Sounds infinitely plausible to me and the napkin bound about the face is also suggestive.”

“It puts us right back in Veronica’s ball-park, especially as the literal translation of ‘face’ renders ‘visage’.”

“And if the Pseudo-Mark with his ‘young man and linen cloth’ be believed the veracity of the Turin shroud also appears to be a distinct possibility.”

“So, why do you suppose that both Mary and Martha say, ‘…my brother had not died.’ Instead of ‘… my brother would not have died.’?”

“Because Lazarus hadn’t died?”

“Quite so.  If Lazarus had died and had been raised from the dead by Jesus, it is inconceivable that the writers of the Synoptic Gospels would have failed to mention it.”…

***

“So, if Lazarus wasn’t raised from the dead by Jesus, what happened at Bethany, and why is Lazarus so important for our ‘Templars’?”

“It can only be an initiation and it would only take Jesus to be the member of a mystery sect for that to be a distinct possibility…”

“’Let us go and die with him.’”

“Say what?”

“That’s what the disciples say when they and Jesus get news that Lazarus has died.”

“Hmm… not an altogether recognisable notion if we are dealing with an actual death, but if we are dealing with an initiation…”

“They could even be referring to the role of witnesses.”

“Quite easily.”

“…There are esoteric mutterings to the effect that both John and Jesus were members of the Essene Brotherhood which was current at the time and active in the area…”

“Which would explain the stone and the cave.”

“I mean, how usual was it for people to be buried in caves and how usual was it for people to have communal burials in caves?”

“And there’s the emphasis on linen!”

“Linen was an extremely expensive item at the time and was used almost exclusively by the priesthoods in all manner of rites.”

“The stone and the cave could even have been borrowed from Jesus’s own rising.”

“Which was also an initiation?”

“Quite possibly.”

“Jesus as Lazarus?”

“It would explain the importance placed upon Lazarus by our Templar friends, or to give him his original nomenclature, Eleazar, which purportedly means ‘The Lord helps’.”

“But not their insistence on him being a leper. ‘The Lord helps’, hmm…”

***

… ‘Leprosy entered Albion in the fourth century and had become a regular feature of life by 1050.

In its extreme form it caused loss of the sufferer’s fingers and toes, gangrene, blindness, collapse of the nose, ulceration, lesions and a weakening of the skeletal frame.

Some people saw the suffering of lepers as akin to the suffering of Christ.

Lepers were regarded as enduring purgatory on earth and as such it was believed that would go directly to heaven when they died.

In that sense they were closer to God than most of the laity.

Those who cared for them or offered financial charity believed such actions would reduce their own time in purgatory and hence accelerate their journey to heaven when they in their turn died.

Care in religious leper houses, known as ‘Lazars’ i.e. Help Houses, centred as much on a person’s spiritual needs as on their physical problems.

Most Houses consisted of a group of cottages built around a detached chapel where praying and singing continued throughout the day.

The emphasis in these Help Houses was on cleanliness and wholesome food.

Clothes were washed twice a week and a varied diet was supplied.

The therapeutic effect of horticultural work and the beauty of nature were recognised.

Many Houses had their own fragrant gardens of flowers and healing herbs, and suffering residents took an active part in their upkeep.’

“Hmm… I can’t help thinking that somewhere in all this there is an eloquent argument which links skin disease with the natural health of the planet so that the care of lepers would become a metaphor of ecological expediency but, unfortunately, its precise formulation eludes me.”…

Extracts from, Beck ‘n’ Call

***

Lands of Exile Volume Two

BECK ‘N’ CALL

Stuart France and Sue Vincent

Ben, fast becoming a folk hero after the apparent theft of a standing stone, now languishes in Bakewell Gaol. Don and Wen, suspected of being his accomplices, are on holiday… or ‘on the run’ if Bark Jaw-Dark and PC 963 Kraas, hot in pursuit, are to be believed.

From England to Scotland, the officers of the Law have followed the trail of the erratic couple as they visited the ancient sites of Albion. This time, though, as Don and Wen take the slow boat to Ireland, Kraas and Jaw Dark are one step ahead.

But Ireland is a land of mystery and magic, where reality intertwines with vision and standing stones are still open doors…

How long can Don and Wen continue to evade the long arm of the Law?

Who are the men who wear the Templar emblem… and what are they doing in Derbyshire?

In the shadows, a labyrinth of secrecy shrouds a mysterious figure. What is Montgomery’s interest in a small standing stone?  Just how many high-level strings can he pull… and why?

And what is the dark, winged creature that is now on the loose?

Join Don and Wen as they continue their adventures in the sacred and magical landscape of Albion.

Available in Paperback and for Kindle via Amazon

(Illustrated in full colour)

 

A misbehaving mind

P1050533

“Susan…” I was never called Susan. Except when I was in trouble. I looked up; Miss Bedford, blue eyes wide under raised brows, looked down with a severity belied by the twinkle. “Daydreaming again…?” She sighed and shook her head… I said nothing. There wasn’t much I could say… or she, for that matter. I never had to teach my mind to misbehave… it already knew how, without any help from me. The lessons were always done, only the handwriting invited censure, a messy scrawl where the words, unable to keep up with the imagination, got away and went off to play on their own.

I spent years working on that handwriting, perfecting a passable tribute to my mother’s copperplate script. By the time I hit adulthood, my public handwriting even drew compliments. My private version, however, copied out the text of library books I could not afford to buy in a longhand scrawl that was both economical and just about legible.

Books mattered. The voices of long dead poets, contemporary authors and authorities on their subjects rang in my head. Stories danced with facts, creating a heady alchemy of wonder as door after door was opened on possibility and worlds unfolded to invite me in.

wilde quote

I had my favourites, of course. Some for their knowledge and the way they taught, others for the woven tapestry of words that became a magic carpet ride into alternate realities. Each had their own voice and some became as dear to me as if I could hear them. You can, of course… with the best books the words really do sing from the pages with an inaudible harmony. Whole choirs, sometimes, as the writer speaks the character’s thoughts, changing rhythm and timbre to suit the moment and the scene.

I didn’t analyse a writer’s style back then. I’d had enough of that under Mr Ward, pulling apart the great works of English literature, phrase by phrase, dissecting every choice of word and every overlay of colour. It took me decades to be able to read Dickens again after that. How could I know why such a writer had chosen this word instead of that? I was eleven… I knew too little of the history of that period, even less of psychology and less still about Dickens himself. All I knew was that these were the great classics of their time…. And I grew to loathe them…

…and anyway, I knew how writers worked. I lived with one. My mother didn’t agonise over the choice between ‘dog’ and ‘hound’, she wrote the one that felt right… the one that had its place on the page as part of her voice. Her stories were reported from the scenes she watched as she daydreamed with intent and wrote her books. My grandfather dreamed strange dreams and cast them into stories just as he cast the bronze sculptures he created.

Writing, I could see, came from within… and when you got it right, it was an art, not a craft.

P1050516

 

Wilderness…

 

The Devil (Tarot card) - Wikipedia

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‘You were a sealer of the sum…’

The Living One

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…Then was he led up into the deserts

and hungered in the wilderness

with wild beasts for forty days.

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Said the voice, “If you are a Child of God

command these stones become bread.”

He said, “It is written that man shall not live by bread alone

but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

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…Then was he led up into the city

and set upon a pinnacle of the temple.

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Said the voice, “If you are a Child of God

cast yourself down, for it is written…

‘He shall give his angels charge concerning you

and on their hands they shall bear you up

lest you should happen to dash your foot against a stone.’”

He said, “It is written that man shall not tempt the Lord his God.”

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Then was he led up into the mountains

and shown the kingdoms of the world

in all their glory.

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Said the voice, “All these things shall be yours

if you will only fall down and worship me.”

He said, “Get behind me.

It is written that man shall worship God

and shall serve him alone.”

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Said the voice, “You are my beloved child

and in you I am well pleased.”

 

…And the Spirit, as a dove, descended upon

him and the angels ministered to him.