restless peasant: life, changing :

global positioning system

The linear/spectrum model doesn’t explain autism and the fact that there are probably as many types/grades of it as there are sufferers (we’re not suffering by the way, we’re just being treated differently for not being average). Our tangental leaps away from the accepted line of average, or from the  supposed spectrum result in us not being accepted due to our distance from the mean.

The world meantime, well, the West with its consumerist, materialist capitalist and puritanical world view can’t deal with anyone or anything above or below this imaginary line. If most people were autistic, then this would be the accepted average and the world would be built around that line.

This obsession with average has been driven by the need to standardise everything in order to minimise financial burdens and maximise profits from the industrial revolution right up to today. But, we are supposedly in the information age now, so why is it so difficult to treat everyone as an individual?

The truth is that only those that conform to the average, and this can apply to everything from apples to people can be graded and sorted profitably.

The affect of this is widespread if you are unlucky enough to have to rely on healthcare, schooling, the justice system etc, because all of that is built on a spectral linear model that doesn’t allow for things or beings that stand off to the side somewhere.

Maybe it’s time to adopt a new model to explain and accommodate difference, so that we can truly become an inclusive society that benefits from all of our little tricks and skills.

I propose a gps system that recognises that every part of the 3D jigsaw is as important and as critical as all the others. The precedent is already set with our atomic model and the actual global positioning system we use everyday to get around and decide where things are.

Moving to an atomic or universal model, much like our accepted visualisation of electrons orbiting nuclei/earth and the other planets orbiting the sun explains it more readily.

Way beyond autism, I think this can become a universal ecological model for understanding everything?

Your thoughts and ideas are welcome.


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Our Human Condition

Happy New Year!

A somewhat vacuous statement that we’ll hear for a day or so this week. But how can we ensure that this year will indeed be a happy one?

Well, we can continue our search for true freedom, the freedom to choose what we do every day instead of dancing to someone else’s tune. That way lies true freedom for the individual at least.

However, the freedom of choice for each of us doesn’t necessarily equate with good. My personal choice might be to fuck up someone else’s life through revenge or malice…it doesn’t, but you can see where this is going.

Yes, this year I want to aspire to greater heights alongside each of our individual quests and what could be a better or more worthy quest than an end to conflict, poverty, hunger and war? While we’re at it, why don’t we do something about Climate Change? Lofty aspirations by any measure, but easily within our grasp if we could only get to grips with the differences between cause and effect. The very essence of this lies in an understanding of the Human Condition.

It’s a massive and far reaching subject to tackle in a Happy New Year Blog Post, so this year I’m dedicating myself to exploring this idea as far as my little brain will allow and I would love to have some help.

Gonna have a war to keep us on our knees

At a time when it seems like the world has split into a few dangerous tribes, the danger in the comparative brevity of the individual human lifespan installing a common forgetfulness about the relatively recent past, has us staring down the barrel of a new wave of right wing fascism, hatred, bigotry and an apparent complete disregard for each other’s welfare and happiness. The powerful are taking advantage of the social media bubble to further the lining of their pockets by stirring up hate and accentuating difference, at a time when we should be consolidating our previously hard won unities and peaceful enterprises.

They want to have a war to keep us on our knees,

They want to have a war to keep their factories,

They want to have a war to stop us buying Japanese,

They want to have a war to stop Industrial Disease

Industrial Disease, Dire Straits

Brexit in the UK is one such fuck up in my mind. In almost every argument for this idiotic scheme the subject of greatest importance is the Economy, as if that was even a real thing, and a close second comes racism…“how can we stop people who talk different and eat slightly different food from us coming to live here in our place?”

This is exactly how almost every war in history has started and we all know how futile that is. The European Union has reigned over the longest period of peace in mainland Europe in many centuries, but now the Tory party want to fuck that up. At a time when Britain has the tiniest armed force ever, the English are beating their dumb chests and singing Britannia Rules the Waves. Just yesterday we were subjected to all of the stupid anointments of medals and honourable memberships of the great British Empire being bestowed on those with social clout (celebrities)…and the uber vacuous of this parish obediently puffed up their chests with pride, failing to see that they are being used in a game that started with and will continue to support the oppression and in some cases extinction of those who aren’t like us.

Anyway, I probably didn’t need to point all of that out to you, but you can see what’s happening here. The powerful find it most easy to conquer when they first divide us and pit us against one another…2019 UK, smells a lot like 1939 Germany to me!

After Brexit, unless some very well intentioned people with true knowledge of the Human Condition arise to take the reins, I predict another war in Europe in our lifetime. Although we might have no desire to become politicians or indeed one of the powerful, We are those people.

Duality and the Human Obsession with Symptoms

One aspect of being human that must be overcome is our obsession with Symptoms. This arises from our inherent split personalities as described by Jung, Plato and even alluded to within the Bible and probably all of the Good Books of the major world religions. It is certainly the key tenet of the peace driven thought system that is Buddhism.

You can observe Symptoms Thinking in almost every corner of every day life. In fact it is hard to observe anything else if we’re honest. Some examples:

Symptom

Headache

Depression

Weeds

Climate Change

Crime

Hunger

Poverty

Cure

Painkillers

Anti-Depressants

Herbicides

Renewables/Waste Reduction

Punishment

Food Aid

Welfare

This obsession with dealing with Symptoms rather than digging deeper to find the root cause of the problems we face is a very human one. In fact it isn’t that we don’t know we are just tickling the surface, it’s that we actually prefer it that way, otherwise we would have to face down our arch nemesis once and for all…Our Self.

Add to this equation a relatively un-illuminated Illuminati and you have the perfect recipe for perpetual suffering as described by the Buddha himself 2500 years ago and expounded later by Jesus Christ and all of the other wise religious teachers. In fact this is the source of the Heaven and Hell stories in those great books. Unfortunately the meanings of these texts are so deeply hidden in out-dated metaphor that we dismiss them as fairy stories. The are actually telling us about our own nature…The Human Condition.

So, regardless of how well intentioned and deeply qualified David Attenborough and Al Gore are in urging us to take action on Climate Change to save the planet, they are unfortunately barking up the wrong tree if they expect actions that will achieve that goal. And that is because Man Driven Climate Change is merely a symptom of Man’s greater trouble that is the underlying Duality of human existence.

At the root this is a conflict in every human individual between Instinct and Rationality. Our Instinct says “don’t touch that fire”, but our Rational brain says “I’ll just touch it to make sure my instinct is right, anyway, Ouch!

The Spiral of Disappointment

The trouble with this internal battle between our relatively new rational brain and our ancient instinctive brain, is that the conflict is born into us now as we are so many generations on from that first meeting of the minds.

But our continued focus on Symptoms will always result in more suffering. here’s an example from direct experience:

 

Symptom

Fungal Disease of Agricultural Crops

Cure

Spray Chemical Fungicide to kill disease

Result

More Fungal Disease of Crops

The reason for routine use of chemical fungicides resulting in more fungal disease in crops is that it doesn’t take heed of the underlying ecology of the field the crops are growing in. Factory farming is leading us down a spiral of doom that will one day result in there not being enough food to go around. Meantime, though it is resulting in a human population explosion due to the relative abundance of factory farmed food. The techniques employed to achieve this are depleting the world’s soils and reducing overall human health.

Soil Fungi form huge underground networks that are vital to the on-going health of soils and plants that has been described as the Wood Wide Web. Mycorrhizal Fungi play a fundamental role in a perennial plant’s ability to extract enough nutrients and water from the soil and in general soil health:

Chemical Fungicides are broad spectrum, i.e. they kill any fungus they come into contact with. Combined with other factory farming methods, this gradually depletes the soil of beneficial fungi species, leaving plants exposed to only the pathogens, therefore requiring more fungicide.

The Wood Wide Web Explained Beautifully by Chris Packham

This kind of Symptoms thinking abounds in almost every sphere of human existence now including Climate Science, Agriculture, Medicine, Education, Law Enforcement and ultimately Government and Politics. This in and of itself is also a Symptom of one thing…The Human Condition. The duality of rational versus Instinct. Both can serve us well if we can only recognise and reconcile the conflict within.

Symptoms Thinking leads to downward spirals of more and more symptoms

I’ll expand on these ideas as the year progresses and would love to hear from you on this subject. Meantime…I wish you a very happy and meaningful 2019 and will leave you with some reading suggestions to help you take this further:


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ritual

After reading 21 Rituals to Change Your Life by Theresa Cheung  recently, I felt compelled to revisit the concept  of Journaling as this was one of the rituals recommended in the book and something I had attempted after reading Julia Cameron’s,  The Artists Way. I’d also been aware previously from countless other self help tomes and through my membership of a global group of business improvement facilitators many moons ago, about the power of journaling, or writing down your thoughts each day or maybe a summary of your day. It seems that it is almost universally accepted as a major contributor to success and productivity, especially for creative types.

In the past I have had mild success with turning journaling into flow state like spells of really creative writing and indeed have developed a great many ideas that were otherwise just idle thoughts, when in that mode in the past, but had never made the connection with this process and the (relatively unimportant in the global scheme) reasonable success I have had.

So far blah blah!

It wasn’t until I eventually picked up the yellowing copy of A Life of One’s Own by Joanna Field (Marion Milner) that I had intended to read (among the many other must read books gathering dust on my shelves) many years ago, that I came to realise how powerful the habit of writing down my thoughts and ideas from each day could become.

In this book first published in 1934, the author Joanna Field (Marion Milner) asked a simple question:

“What will make me happy?”

She then uses the 220 pages that follow to describe how she used her own intimate diaries to delve deep into her own psyche and, much like a detective would, takes a very practical approach to observing her own reactions to seemingly everyday and somewhat overlooked stimuli. It’s a fascinating study that is hard to put down.

Early on in her investigation she realises that there are probably two versions of herself. One she called her  deliberate self and another, seemingly far more interesting version she called her automatic self.

The book in its entirety is a fascinating read and a refreshing new approach to the endless quest we have as humans to understand our own minds and to make sense of the world around us. And of course the subject of happiness!

However, for the purposes of this post, the most enlightening passage I’ve come across so far is when the author describes her two levels of thought. In Chapter 3, Exploring the Hinterland she puts it like this:

****************

“Once more I tried, this time 6 months later. I had not read through what I had written on the two previous occasions and could not remember at all what I had put. This time, however, I did not begin with the word God, but with the phrase ‘I believe’. 

I BELIEVE . in God, etc. – that’s no use – God – some-thing large up in the sky rather like a canopy – and a shrinking fear inside me – memory of pain, when I have said: ‘Oh God’, the ache of foreboding and fear of consequences – dread – when I have said: ‘God help me’ – ‘God, let me not be late for school’ – panic, terror – unreasoning, in which only God can help – it’s terror of wrong-doing, of disapproval – it seems a long time since I felt it. God – a far-away altar to a man god -Abraham on the mountain – the God of Moses with piercing eyes that burnt one’s face – no, it was a burning light, the face of God, that blinded one – St Paul was also blinded – and God, no, the Lord, was not in the Fire – yet I feel he is very much fire – the queer awe and terror and excitement of watching a heath fire and fighting it – the living fury of the flames – this is as God – fierce, destructive, beautiful, inhuman – the sun also blinds one – I cannot look upon his face – he is joyful and strong and aloof – Balder the beautiful – the light of his countenance is new life in one’s limbs – but he is far away, benign, and not a force to be feared and wondered at, as the Fire – Fire – a queer thing sometimes glowing inside oneself – sometimes a little flickering flame – God – the woods and forests stand aloof- great beeches on the Downs with a brood-ing life of their own – rain, persistent, uncontrollable, wind. – sometimes malevolent, howling, furious seas, personal but In-human having purposes, apart from men’s little affairs – a vast brooding existence – more than a mass of water – the Earth, a gentler being, passive, bearing fruit, more man’s slave than the sea and the wind and the fire – when these are tamed it is more on sufferance.

All this puzzled me a great deal. I thought ‘What is the good of imagining I accept what the scientists are saying about the nature of the universe if all the time part of myself is believing something quite different ?’

Might not these apparent beliefs of my automatic self, although I had no notion of their existence, possess the power to influence my feelings and actions? And was it not important that I should find out how to control the beliefs of this part of myself, since they seemed to take so little account of what my deliberate self thought?

One day I showed some of these outpourings to a friend. We had been children together, often living in the same house, and had had exactly the same religious teaching. She said, But where on earth do you get such ideas! I never think like that!’ But I said, ‘Nor do I. If you had asked me what I think about I couldn’t have told you a word of all that. It was only when I let my thought run on absolutely freely in writing that I dis-covered such thoughts. Perhaps you have another mind too which has ideas that you’ve never guessed at.’ She said, ‘Perhaps’, but did not seem inclined to try the experiment.”

****************

What I think this describes is that when physically writing down her thoughts, the author was sliding into something akin to a flow state, she was accessing what she termed her deeper mind, below the superficial surface somehow. It’s as if we have the capacity to gloss over our true feelings in order to present a facade to the world that is more acceptable to society…as if!

This is the Power that gurus speak of when they talk about Journaling or keeping a Diary…it isn’t the content itself that is important, as I will shortly demonstrate, but the fact that it illuminates the underlying state of our minds…and illumination is exactly what it can bring to us. Through this one simple ritual we can pull out new ideas and develop old ones to a level that we couldn’t even conceive of before. It is a truly fascinating concept that I will now be pursuing with greater vim than before…I needed this insight, perhaps a prompt to say…read the books you thought you would be fascinated by instead of leaving them to gather mould on the shelf!

In Julia Cameron’s Artists Way, the first practical exercise she recommends is what she terms Morning Pages…a free writing ritual that you undertake every morning, committing to scribbling down at least 3 full pages of text with a pen or pencil, just as Joanna Field described back in 1934.

I started doing morning pages on 26th May 2017 and lasted until the 30th! Although I see now that I also did it on 14th September 2017 just for one morning…

To be honest it felt stupid and a bit like a teacher saying you had to do it, just because. It didn’t make a great deal of sense to me, I didn’t understand fully why it was necessary. BUT now I do and with the enlightenment of someone’s direct experience from 1934 brought by Joanna Field I now get it and recommend it.

Part of the reason I felt stupid doing it at first was to do with the fact that it was stream of consciousness stuff…writing quickly in order not to lose thoughts or even to become blocked…it seemed like a lot of writing being done that would never see the light of day because it wasn’t about anything in particular…wasted efforts maybe?

From today, I’ll use Restless Peasant as my outlet for this…sorry Julia, no more pencil scribbles, but hopefully a mind opening ritual anyway. For posterity, here is my first Morning Pages from 26/05/2017:

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“My first go at Morning Pages is a bit of a puzzle for me. The idea of course, is to unblock my creative, artistic side. Yet, I find myself seeking out a Palomino Blackwing 602 in order to write these first scribbles.

That Palomino, I think, represents Resistance as Stephen [ Stephen Pressfield]- the War of Art guy says.

As a concession to my Resistance, I went with the Palomino, although it’s a much sharpened one and actually hurting my hand to grip it, as it’s so short now.

Palominos, Molskines, Caran D’ache ([FixPencils], Berol China Markers, all tools that I’ve needed over the years in order to get in the write space but never have……

Instead I’m a writer who doesn’t write much. An artist, once promising (35 + years ago) who hasn’t painted , other than that short burst around meltdown time before Buddhism when I produced a small canvas or board everyday.

I am also a guitarist who doesn’t play guitar, a Volvo dabbler/twiddler who doesn’t ever get round to doing much in the garage.

After I decided to do this, I instinctively went looking for the perfect place/tools with which to do it – Resistance again. But I found a community at Julia Cameron’s site where the insistence was on hand writing – so here I am with my scribbles.

Everything is in place now, I have no excuses. I need to embrace the Kitchen Table – my own advice after all!

I’ve had some writing success, I can make nice websites. I can sell books. I can engage people with my writing and move them to comment, challenge and slowly come round to accepting challenging ideas.

BUT, am I a writer? I always thought I’d be visual and then musical, but music is a mystery still.

Maybe I don’t have to decide, at least yet anyway?

For now, these morning pages will be done, I won’t miss out a day – no excuses, no Palomino required. Let’s just see where it goes.”

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Time flies.

A new study sheds light on why time flies, or at least seems to, as we get older.

On the face of it another daft study into bugger all, but on closer inspection it really does explain a great deal about the different perception we have of time as we age. An hour to my 5 year old self seemed like an interminable wait.

Now an hour just zips by looking out the window.

And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun. Time, Pink Floyd

I go to a concert and of course the young musicians look like they have it sussed. They are so talented and have achieved so much in their young, vibrant lives…what have I done with all of that time?

Enter Nostalgia; we can’t get back lost time, but can we slow it down a little by spending each moment (when we remember to) actually present? Or can we at least make sense of this flying time through creativity?

Beside one loch, a hind’s neat skeleton,
Beside another, a boat pulled high and dry:
Two neat geometries drawn in the weather:
Two things already dead and still to die.

I passed them every summer, rod in hand,
Skirting the bright blue or the spitting gray,
And, every summer, saw how the bleached timbers
Gaped wider and the neat ribs fell away.

Time adds one malice to another one–
Now you’d look very close before you knew
If it’s the boat that ran, the hind went sailing.
So many summers, and I have lived them too.

Norman MacCaig

 


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Through the Asperger window

I’ve recently been fascinated by the idea of frames, windows and/or lenses. By that I mean the potential for everything to be viewed in a particular way, from a certain angle maybe. Another way to think about this is the way we see the world through our built in, or manufactured prejudices we have very little control over.

Marketers are well aware of the potential to show us something through a particular lens in order to make us respond positively to their offer. Politicians (or at least their spin doctors) are masters at showing us the opposition and its ideas through a negative lens, knowing as they do that bad news sells faster than good news. Hence the lack of good news in the News!

In the past 6 months I’ve realised that viewing things through a different lens, or looking at old pictures through new windows if you like, can be very enlightening.

I’ve always been a bit odd, a loner, or an outsider in the view of many people I’ve encountered throughout my life. If you’ve had this experience, then you’ll know that mostly it remains unexpressed by them and you are just ignored, shunned or avoided, but with a few people, probably fewer than 10 in my 50 odd years, they’ve felt compelled to just come right out and tell me how weird they think I am or to let me know in very certain terms that my company isn’t required. These are the brave (or stupid) souls, who are actually doing you a favour in helping you to find out about yourself more readily than those who simply shun you and stay quiet about their reasons.

I now know that my experience is largely down to the Aspergers like wiring I have. I only learned of this last year and it has been enlightening to pick out a few sample experiences from the past and look at them through what I’ve come to think of as my Aspergers Window. A bit like the round, square and arched windows they used to have on Playschool!

If you’ve had troubles, difficulties or have come up against roadblocks when trying to make sense of your life, perceived failings or have niggling doubts or worries about yourself, try looking at them through a different window. A window through which you are not always to blame, where the problem isn’t always down to you to fix…it could be a life changer.

 


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Lagom

With idea generation not being a particular problem, I live in what I’ve always thought was confusion about how to keep track of creative ideas, how to turn them into real projects, and how to see those projects through to any sort of conclusion. Failing to note them down causes anxiety that they will be forgotten. Noting them down causes anxiety that there are just too many ideas, projects and dreams to follow and no where near enough time to do so. Maybe the problem isn’t a problem, but a built in sense of what’s right. After all, a long time ago I used to worry at length about why I can’t make myself do stuff sometimes, only to ponder it and find out that it’s because somewhere in the gut I know I wasn’t doing it for the right reason in the first place. Could the same be true of these projects building up in lists and notes? Are they there for the wrong reasons? Are they vanity projects?  Maybe. But, I think for at least some of them the problem isn’t a problem, it’s a way of life that is ingrained in  me and it is probably best described by the Swedish word Lagom. I’ve always liked old Volvos for their other worldliness when compared to ordinary cars like Fords and Vauxhalls. I’ve always liked the idea of Ikea and feel good there. When I fish, I use only old ABU Cardinals and Ambassadeurs. I played with Lego extensively as a child. Truth is, I’m taken with Scandinavia and Nordic stuff. I’m a sucker for Wallander, Lund and Salander. Is Lagom what’s been happening to me? Am I just deeply aware of what’s enough and unable to fight it? Is this why I can’t even force myself to do stuff, to maximise ideas for greater financial gain? Is this due to there being an obvious trade off with time being used for stuff that deep down I maybe don’t want to be connected with. Is this why I am a knappeter and not a high flying go-getter?  

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