topic: attention

Mirror mirror on the wall

Mirrors have a sinister reputation that I feel is well deserved. I may have an explanation as to why this may be so – and it has nothing to do with Narcissus! Meanings of the word ‘sinister’ – like ‘misleading’, ‘intending to deceive’, ‘dishonest’ – as well as those that have to do with the ‘left’, particularly the left hand side of the body – can be applied to mirrors with some justification. For a […]

the experimental past

The study of the history of non-Western societies – especially those that have ‘failed’ – may be one of the most valuable resources that we have to help guide us through the coming ‘time of difficulty’ that we seem to be heading for. Watching a good BBC documentary about Tiwanaku, I was struck by how pertinent to our present climate change woes was the story of these people, not only surviving, but flourishing in an […]

the human virtuality

The greatest danger facing the human race seems to me to be how our collective ‘idea’ of what the world is is progressively moving away from what the world actually is. Without wanting to open up the whole can of worms that is the ‘mind-body problem‘, I think it is not too contentious to state: that the impression we have within each of us of the ‘world’ is only an approximation of that world. After […]

an argument for scottish independence

(In the Autumn of 2014, the people of Scotland are going to vote in a referendum to decide whether they wish to separate from the UK. There are all kinds of arguments that can be made for and against this separation, I would like to add one of my own.) Humanity seems unable to focus on doing what would have to be done to head off global warming of 2ÂșC – and, the way things […]

grasp…

T’ai Chi taught me many things but perhaps nothing quite as useful as the unlearning of the reflex to grasp. This reflex – to grab hold of something, most often with the dominant hand – becomes a liability in any kind of fight. One problem is that it focuses the mind on the grasping hand: thus focused, the mind loses the ability to see ‘the bigger picture’. Another is that an attempt to grab some […]

the empty buddhas

I was watching a TV program about Afghanistan where the presenter went to look upon the empty niche in Bamiyan that had once held a 55m high buddha carved from the sandstone cliff. This and other colossi were dynamited by the Taliban in 2001 because they considered them idols prohibited by the Koran. Being someone who has a profound reverence for history, I found this act of vandalism appalling. There is serious talk about rebuilding […]

life and art in one gear

motion blur

In writing, and in other art forms whose expression occurs across a span of time, pace is important, however I feel that we are, as a culture, somewhat obsessed with it, and I would like to lightly explore why this may be so. Let me admit from the outset that some of my work has been criticized as moving along at too slow a pace, and so you may say: I would say this, wouldn’t […]

clenching…

elastic band hand

Something that I have observed in my body is how I react to stress by ‘clenching’ – not just in the obvious places such as the stomach – but in different parts of my body according to what it is that is getting to me. This can be a very subtle ‘tightening’ and can occur when I hear something about myself I don’t like, or about someone or something else. Or someone singing whose voice […]

Ming vases…

Wen Zhengming painting

Even in childhood I was baffled as to why oil paintings sold in auction houses for countless millions, while equally exquisite works of art from other cultures seemed lucky if they fetched thousands. One exception is the ubiquitous ‘Ming vase’… examples of which appear in everything from Tin Tin to baroque palaces across Europe. Another are ancient artefacts, though these again seem to be valued less for their aesthetic qualities than for how close they […]

perfume of rotting mouse

Every year we have had mice coming into out house presumably to find a place to hibernate. We would be perfectly happy to let them do so if they didn’t insist on scurrying around in the walls and invading our kitchen. Then there is the danger that they will chew through electrical cables and start a fire. They already gnawed through a water pipe and caused a flood. So, eventually, we put down poison. Now, […]