A Little Revulsion to Be Free

 

1930 - from the top left: Paul Eluard, Jean Arp, Yves Tanguy, Rene ClevelBottom Left: Tristan Tzara, Andre Breton, Salvador Dali, Max Ernst, Man Ray

Funny how history has thrown up so many variations of looking at the world. Human kind has never had a shortage of what to think or make of the world.  The Surrealists of the early 20th century are a case in mind.

Surrealism was a movement born out of the remains of madness and terror. After the Great War, the writings of an obscure psychologist in Vienna, Sigmund Freud suddenly seemed relevant. Soldiers had experienced what was called “shell shock” in the early twentieth century to a degree never experienced in the warfare of previous generations. The Great War produced such numbers of afflicted soldiers that no excuses of cowardice or treason, no amount of executions could make vanish the effects of war on the mind. The madness of war lingered and altered the rules of public engagement for so many individuals. It also set the tone for a movement that rejected outright the institutions of a society that allowed so many to die horrible deaths and with apparently little to show for but piles of dead bodies, rubble and wounded spirits.  As a wartime nurse, André Breton had observed the power of the wounded mind over the helpless body and in 1921, he visited Freud to learn more of what the doctor called the “unconscious mind.”

For Freud, dreams were “the royal road to the unconscious,” meaning the mind was capable of communicating at various levels, and perhaps the least of which was the conscious level. The deeper buried layer of the mind “spoke” in codes, whether linguistic or visual, and these clues had to be decoded by the psychologist who could translate the obscured messages. What he learned from Freud gestated in the mind of Breton and so began a movement of artists from every discipline to shake the shackles off a hypocritical, uncaring and morally bankrupt society whose rigid conventions of social behaviours carved the road to so many senseless deaths. Contemporary society holds on to a delusion that this war and others that follow evoke noble and commendable acts of self -sacrifice which are still commemorated as some kind of testament to the courageous spirit of our species, but the Surrealists cut through this social facade and dismantled the propaganda  of the Great Hoax  and saw the power games of the rich which lured so many unsuspecting young men into illusory notions of King and Country  to kill their fellow comrades across the vast trenches of Europe. The Surrealists rejected everything that society and civilisation deemed to be normal and scoffed at the hypocrisies of institutionalised society by looking into their subconscious and releasing a primordial instinct based on emotional relevance.

Salvadore Dali was one among many artists, including writers, sculptors, playwrights, poets who absorbed this new freedom to explore, express and to test the limits of the human imagination in direct defiance of social codes of conduct and attitudes and created some of the most wonderful Surrealist Paintings of this era. The Surrealist works of art remind us that the unconscious imagination is another window to another reality.

The Persistence of Memory (1931), Salvador Dalí

The Persistence of Memory (1931), Salvador Dalí

Dalí described his meticulously rendered works as “hand-painted dream photographs,” and certainly, the melted watches that make their appearance in this Surrealist masterpiece have become familiar symbols of that moment when reverie seems to uncannily invade the everyday. The coast of the artist’s native Catalonia serves as the backdrop for this landscape of time, in which infinity and decay are held in equipoise. As for the odd, rubbery creature in the center of the composition, it’s the artist himself, or rather his profile, stretched and flattened like Silly Putty

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From the Other Side !

Image result for graveyard at sunset

Whenever I happen to perchance walking past or into a cemetery there is a timeless feeling of relief and tranquility washes over me like a cleansing agent for my emotional stresses. Walking past all of the rich and varied epitaphs on the grave sites offers a beautiful tapestry of singular moments caught in the memories of the deceased. I sometimes feel humbled at these precise moments of contemplation questioning, what is more important than celebrating communal life in all of its glory and transient wonder? I have never been obsessed with the thought of dying and I am not into living my life waiting for death but the absolute and final exit from this stage holds an unbelievable fascination for me. The idea that a close friend or relative or even a personal role model was with me in flesh and blood and we communicated once upon a time, undergoes a hard process to accept that this physical encounter will never happen again. I do not feel morbid or emotionally anxious about this inevitability that befalls everyone but at times I ponder the various platitudes surrounding the thought of death and also scan the mental images of this thought as perceived through the passageways of history. The conceptual reality that we walk into this room of life through the front door and then exit through the back door into a land unknown and from where no-one has returned leaves me stunned,  in a sense like being stung with a strong dose of medicinal reality.  I reflect on all of the trials and tribulations, all the hopes and the aspirations of so many; in fact all of humanity who have preceded me. In this realisation there is a comforting thought that emanates from a socialist perspective. All the riches, all the powers, imagined or real vanish once we pass that threshold. I empathise with my ancestors and imagine the sensual mysteries that life would have held for our progenitors; I witness the soothing theories of after-life and trace their natural demise with the ongoing rationale of contemporary science. And still as I meditate the discoveries of the modern world, the legacy leaves me with stunned silence and reverential respect for all that have passed by and for all who will enter into the beyond.

I use these ponderous thoughts to whip up a mock epitaph using an image to bounce off……

From Beyond

Welcome stranger to my final rest

I come to you from the other side

A faceless person emerging from this nest

With a passion to guide

In life as in death the sad truth

Is captured in this prism I hold

The  wonders of  eternal youth

Of celebrations foretold

Do not deny me the dignity

Of your reflective thought

Strike a light on my memory

Immortalise what I sought !

Expanding thoughts for an expanding universe…..

I am a thinker.

I can’t help it but most of my life has been consumed in thinking about this or that. I love squeezing the paste out of reality and seeing what I can make of it. Over the years my thoughts have criss-crossed the landscapes of philosophies, religions, fiction, historical ideologies, scientific discoveries, mathematics, fashions, fads, theater, occult, art, music, contemporary news – you name it – I have probably dabbled in it in some small yet personally satisfying way. I have never been an expert but tasted of various disciplines until my interests were either distracted into some other area of indulgence or I became satiated enough to leave and divert my attention towards something else. But in all of these emotional and mental meanderings my undivided focus is completely and utterly absorbed by the fascination of the ultimate purpose of this thing we call life;this space we occupy and the stuff of the universe. I have come up with a theory, a theory that is still not fully formed but an idea that helps me construct some kind of personable rationale……..here goes…….indulge with me for a few minutes…

We eat to survive.


Food replenishes our bodily mechanism.


In fact all living things consume other living things to renew .


It seems to be the governing law of life.


Without eating we perish sooner than expected


And yet once we reach our life span we die anyway.


And so it goes, we perish and the cycle continues with the next generation of 
living organisms.


But this food consumption that replenishes our bodies also requires the oxygen that we breathe,


Without the interchange of gasses there is no life.


This process combines to create other substances 


So breathing and eating and the exchange of gasses can be an apt definition of life.

  
It seems Nature is in the game of creating living things as food for other living things as an all-embracing concept this helps define the mechanism governing life.


We eat and breathe to perpetuate the renewal of life. This interactive process of renewal is a universal phenomenon permeating the fabric of substance in every sphere.


This law of nature is not guided by morality but a simple structure of renewal. 


Renewal guides and defines the sequence of time.


The basic structure and renewal of life measures up to the renewal and structure of the expanding universe. Growth and expansion are synonymous in the same way as expansion and contraction are limitless. There is a two-way process going on. Size is a relative concept in much the same way as time is a relative concept. 


As a participant in this renewal process, by the miracle of my existence, I also have a role to play in the all embracing governing mechanism of the renewal processes governing life.


Life is not confined to this earthly ecosystem. Life as we know it is not confined to the physics and biology of our planet but is a part of the great scheme of the universal mechanism that constantly renews and creates the act of self perpetuation.


Einstein once suggested that the Universe does not play dice. 


And I agree that the idea of chance or accidental 
design cannot satiate the deeply human need nor logic for an answer to the patterns that propose a purpose in life through renewal.

To seek an answer to the ultimate question I am drawn into the world of quantum physics.


Quantum physics is an area of science that operates in the 
realm of probability


 A basic understanding is that it is an area of science that 
does not fully comprehend how the fabric of the physical 
universe meshes together but still manages to harness a 
theory of probability enabling it to manipulate areas that 
help create the marvels of modern technology.


It is only with the power of imagination that scientists have 
been able to appreciate the flaws in our perceptions of 
reality and have opened up a new world of possibilities in 
defining the fabric of matter.





My life, tiny and infinitesimal as it is against the backdrop of the ever expanding universe is a  breathing, regenerative life that partakes of the process that 
is connected in the renewal of the regeneration of the expanding universe.


My individuality is transformed and metamorphoses into another individual reality made up of a different set of physical realities after I transit through the processes of death and renewal.


This transient process undergoes transformation as part of a life play that participates in the renewal of the transformative reality of the universe.


The substances I generate through my breathing and daily renewal  assist in the all governing principle of Nature’s renewal  into another sequence of reality.


My  role and my place in the expanding universe is a minor yet significantly precious  player in the ever expanding renewal of the universe.

What is the outcome of all of this reflection ?


 To intellectualise and systematically 
rationalise  my obvious, momentary and transient 
existence ……………and to satisfy a need for logical problem solving.

To end with two more of Einstein’s quotes
  • The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is comprehensible.
  • We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.

Food for thought?

Reality is Drowning – A psychological overview of the politics of drowning.

It is quite insane how people identify with a religion or social group or cause and label themselves as such without a thought towards what they are supposed to represent.

Take any case in point.

The Christian. Or the Agnostic. Or the Feminist. Or the Liberalist…….

To call yourself a Christian is nothing more than a force of utterance. It is a label you strap around your head and it makes you feel you belong to some kind of clan, to some kind of oppositional camp that has a better grip on reality than the other labels. But they are all labels and shameful labels at that. Their real inspiration derives from feelings of superiority and the holier than thou nonsense, as if the perceptive arrangements your group has concluded have an exclusive right to judge others and deflate what others subscribe to.

Why do I say this? Well just focus on Christianity for the moment. 

One of the basic premises of Christianity is Love……Love Thy Neighbour and all the other remaining basic Commandments.

If you consider yourself a Christian then you have to agree that you consider yourself a practising Christian, one who is guided by these all pervasive tenets of Christian dogma.

If you identify as a Christian then I take it  you strive to live by these commandments however difficult it may be to achieve these Christian ideals. Your aim in life is to practise through trial and error the basic commandments of the Christian faith and apply these principles into your everyday behaviours and attitudes.

This is not rocket science. It is very simple and straightforward. Where there seems to be a problem is in the idea that somehow an interpretation needs to be factored in.

This is where the hypocritical insanity takes over and the reality is lost at sea and floating on a flimsy raft of meaningless words.

e.g. Thou Shalt Not Kill. This is a very simple request and a basic commandment. It probably arose in a setting where killing got out of hand and it was borne out of necessity. Taking aside the functional purpose of killing and eating other animals the commandment is very straightforward.  But after the initial calm settles in some argue that this generic definition does not meet socially accepted standards, for example the reality of tribal wars, and the need to recruit, so therefore  a need arose for expediency and necessity- the need to change the original wording to the socially legal term of “murder”. This makes the commandment less hypocritical and better equipped to face the expectations of community aplomb.

So the commandment changes and becomes, “Thou Shalt Not Murder.” The nuances of the word “kill” are forever altered, confusion takes over, snowballing into a mixed bag of treats waiting for entrepreneurial ingenuity to pick and package a particular interpretation and forcing reality to take a nose dive, sinking into the depths of culpability and human fondness to conflict.

Now this is what happens when the politics of any social group manipulates a simple tenet to accommodate a specific context. Certainly reality is not a simple cut and dry affair so the idea of tightening the definition to embrace a changing context is nothing new. But why?

It can be understood that social, legal terms need to be strictly defined and leave nothing open in the equation for meaning because that is the way the law operates. Leaving a law open to individual interpretation and therefore misinterpretation would render it almost meaningless and ineffectual in a society looking to construct uniformity and civilised behaviour patterns. First degree murder, manslaughter all have their role to play in law. And the law does constantly adapt and change to suit new circumstances and contexts in an imperfect way, but nonetheless evolutionary in its purpose to embrace a concept of unmitigated fairness. 

But do the same procedural practices apply to a spiritual quest for personal salvation? Or a pragmatic search for a better lifestyle? Or set of attitudes? Isn’t the basic foundation underpinning religious belief or improvement in lifestyle attitudes that people begin in these journeys as uninitiated, imperfect prototypes? That individuals have an inherent need to undergo a personal process of trial and error to achieve a personal ideal and in this way forge spiritual or pragmatic fulfilment? What is personally and morally right or wrong is a deeply personal discovery and there is an underlying assumption that a person’s instinct, conscience, humanity helps to override any misinterpretation and guide the unenlightened to some kind of personal awakening.

 If the wording does not fit or meet the needs of a contemporary context then the belief system is outdated and therefore an anachronism. It  should be discarded into the wastebins of history. Trying to adapt it to a new set of circumstances is like grasping on to an alien life- jacket floating on the seas of Jupiter. 

Forcing an interpretation on a simple request such as ” Thou Shalt Not Kill” should set the alarm bells clanging away warning the individual that something is amiss,  to question who exactly has the right interpretation. When people start toying with the basic tenets of Christianity or any social cause then this process sets off the chain reaction of political manipulation whose imperative is to confuse, divide and rule.

This process of obfuscation is very much like George Orwell’s  “Animal Farm” when the pigs are defining their authority by reinterpreting the revolutionary manifesto of equality and insert the notion that some are more equal than others. This ofcourse is to justify their ongoing ascent into privileged lifestyles and outcomes of authority over the rest of the animals on the farm.

These techniques share many  similarities with the processes underpinning advertising. What advertisers do to a basic product is to offer a reinterpetation of that product. Advertisers do not sell a basic product but a carefully designed manipulation of how we identify with that product. So associations of strength, coolness, power and individuality, for example are toyed with for the prime purpose of harnessing unsuspecting individuals into buying something and satisfying an emotional identification. These processes of advertising are also used to divide and reinforce brand loyalties and to construct group loyalty.  

If you indulge in a simple experiment and exchange the label from Christian to any other one including,  feminisim, islamism, protectionism, isolationism, atheism, deism, judaism, patriotism, liberalism to name just a few off the cuff, I think the argument of the title rings true; our collective sense of reality is drowning, and it is drowning in a quagmire of self perpetuating conflict and hostility, divorcing us from our humanity and reflective compassion for our species.

Proclamation of the Mending Spirit

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”

George Bernard Shaw

In moments of reflection I gather my thoughts and consider the nature of my life as it is….

The way I see it, is always changing and the beauty is in the ways I can define myself through the imagination….

The emotional journey that each day has in store for me triggers associations and memories that capture fleeting predilections….

Should I abandon these feelings all is not lost and the place of unguarded moments follows another sequence of imaginative thoughts and the journey begins once again ….

At times I am led into dismal caves of unpleasantness usually provoked by the symptoms of social stresses that unwittingly codify and compartmentalise my creative self and so I lock myself in to these cages of despair unknowingly…

I eventually escape, reinvigorate, reinvent my intentions and restore to empower my journey to continue into areas of depersonalised and neutralised zones of discovery

Oblivious to the sacrifice that buffers the sadness of my fellow comrades I must proclaim… 

 It is I who will die one day and it is I who should live my life in the way I create.