topic: attention

Roy Eastland on life drawing

Roy Eastland is an old friend of mine. When he put up another of his beautiful life drawings on Instagram, I asked him: “Roy, what is that you get from doing this?” I would like to share his sublime answer with you. “Good question. Hard to answer briefly and hard to know fully. Here are some thoughts off the top of my head though. I don’t exactly enjoy drawing but there is pleasure in seeing […]

the primacy of touch

I drink tea from a Japanese cup. Because it has no handle, when I pick it up, I feel how hot the tea is and will not put it to my lips too hot and scald my mouth. Eating with my fingers makes sure my food is not too hot. I feel its texture before I put it in my sensitive and subtle mouth. I pick an orange, bring it to my nose and inhale […]

a bonfire of the vanities?

The Internet could be the ultimate liberation of human creativity: into the hands of anyone with access to it, it puts a printing press and a recording and film studio—all connected to a world-spanning distribution system. By volume of output, by its breadth and quality, it has brought us a New Renaissance. But this revolution casts a shadow. When one of these dotcom colossi offers social spaces where people can meet and discuss and share, […]

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 2ºC – 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 […]