Do we really own our thoughts to the point we claim we are individuals?

Brand Achetypes for Defining a Higher Level Brand Purpose from Marketing Executives Networking Group http://mengonline.com/blog/2014/03/12/twelve-brand-archetypes-help-find-brand-purpose/

So much of my thinking is not mine. So much (how much?) is a story woven for me. It is the thinking of a

  • Mind (hunter-gathering hominid in a post-industrial revolution capitalist-consumer landscape)

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  • Mind (Post-Christian Western European South-East England)

+

  • Mind (Third son in a Middle-Class family of four)

+

  • Mind (x, a gift of chance mutation and developmental abnormality which may affect the way my brain processes information).

So this is the mind that’s responding to these events along with millions of other minds with exactly the same imprinting. The limitations imposed on the way we think don’t stop once we’re born: our society continues to influence our thinking both passively and aggressively as we develop. There are only so many experiences I can have living here in South-East England. There are only so many ways my thinking can develop living here.

This is a glimpse of what the hive-mind is. Interconnected by modern media. A diet of aspirational TV, books and movies that feast on our archetypes and vomit them up in our faces for us to redigest, again again again until there is no sustenance to be had, no meat left on those bones.

“Kill Your Idols”

Destroy All Archetypes

(but its not enough to make the hero a villain and the villain a hero- that’s an archetype! We must undo the very idea of archetypes!)

Every thought I have seems as if it has been thought 1 million times by someone else. Even my goals and dreams and fantasies are someone else’s at the same time as they are mine.

CAn I escape this? Isn’t an cliche just a commonly held truth?

What are MY ideas?

The thoughts that are mine alone are memories from my life, remembrances of the facts of my interactions with people and places that coming together create events. Every second of my life is an event. Events affect each other. Some events have more weight- more connections to other events, more weight to effect others. Some have so many connections they become super Events. but the physical experiences of each event are rationalised in a mind fed not just by the direct outcome of an event itself (hand+fire =burn) but its context:

I put my hand on a candle at dinner time=physical pain together with the admonition of parents and restriction of liberty as consequence.

I put my hand on a lighter as a test amongst a group of peers= pain but respect & fear .

I have been moulded to the point I no longer know what is me and what is not me. Despite what we are told, that this is the era of the individual, I find it incredible to believe anyone is truly individual.

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the bLOwINg oF tHe gALeS

The Blowing of The Gales

The bands and the gasping,

pass.
age.
ways.
Underconstrictionsparks,
Inmyskull,
Everything is dull

And the Blowing of the Gales.

Dis, engaged ,
Dis, engaged,

Liberation of the smallest curse,
My playground blessing, my sweetest nurse

Disengaged, Again. disengaged
I sit back free from humankind
Into my stifling, stagnant mire of mind

Which the thought I collect,
Which the thought I let fly;
Which thought, dropped in
Lights the fire, closes the gap
The because of the why

I am the looked for Messiah
Of my own salvation,
Crucified by choices.

A ham sandwich and a cup of tea
A fly performing satellite telemetry
The breath inside my inert body
Somewhere, there is a key

Passageways.
Under constriction
Sparks In my skull,
Everything is dull

And the Blowing of the Gales.

Image

Magic Theatre- For Madmen Only

steppenwolf-001

Its been a year since I last posted on TEF which has reflected a life out of balance: too much work, too much inward looking and absorbing. I also lost my password.

Coming back has partly been achieved through the book I have just read: Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

I believe this is one of the most important books I have read. Its not revolutionary transformative; Hesse was disappointed with its reception by a younger audience who apparently misrepresented his outsider misanthropic antihero hero Heller and his inability to interact with, but alos distance himself from, bourgeoisie life. He wrote it in his 50s and saw it more as a take on mid-life crises.

I’ve discovered Steppenwolf after many years of existential angst, through battling with depression, bringing mindfulness practice into my life through meditation and an interest in philosophy and ecology (I work in conservation). Steppenwolf has been a “poetic catharsis”, a road trip through themes and ideas which have allowed me to understand my own world better: the multi-facetted nature of the self, the mystery of the ego and the ultimate desire to satisfy the ego and reach for something greater; and finally, the most useful tool to bring meaning to life: humour.

Illustration (c) Ignatio  Serrano http://www.ignacioserrano.com/about-me-2/

Illustration (c) Ignatio Serrano http://www.ignacioserrano.com/about-me-2/

At the age of 43 I still don’t quite know where I’m going, but I’m understanding now that any sense of going to or getting to places is illusory. This “magic Theatre” is a place truly only understood by the mad- those trying not to make sense of it but instead approaching life with an understanding of absurdist humour.

So this I understand, but

I want to read it again already, but I would like to explore Hesse’s other w how to live with that knowledge? How to shape your choices and decisions round that awakening?

I’d love to hear your views..

Where Do You Go When You Are Looking For Yourself?

I take a sip of coffee. Its cold. The pillow at my feet glows softly in the light of a standard lamp. A dull memory of swans. A hum from the upstairs flat as my neigbour takes a shower.

The minutes pass and still I am still no nearer a resolution: what are you waiting for?

A younger man thought he knew. He was awaiting the call. A man standing in the saddle, knocking on the shutters. Time to move, everything would make sense and click into place. Perhaps that was just a need for everything to click into place and make sense.

The older man is wiser. Nothing like that will happen. Time will pass- there is never enough time, of course- and change will be subtle. Everything is almost, could have been, not quite, maybe given enough time.

I’ve lost any desire to change things. Instead everything will be as it is. The most I can ask is to be alive to every passing moment when everything is what it is. That in itself is a struggle for a mind that ruminates about the past and is anxious about the future.

My life is a tale told by a bad storyteller who forgets important details and has to to back track to fill in the detail.

I wait for the phone to ring.

Tonight I am alone with my thoughts. Always, a world of thought.

 

 

The Mini Moke Song

I always consider my first “serious” album by a “serious” artist was Status Quo’s “Back to Back”, asked for and delivered by Father Christmas in 1983 when I was but  thirteen. However my musical education began long before this. In my pre-teens, growing up in the 70s, I remember a number of tunes that stick in my head to this today.

I inherited the album “Sing A Song of Motor Cars” by Jill Adamson & Mary Elaine from one of my brothers. It was a curious collection of songs about different cars including  Mini Moke SongBig Red Bus   and   The Thirsty Mini.  In trying to recall the songs recently, I remebered just the Mini Moke Song and had the impression it was by Pinky and Perky, those puppet forerunners of Basil Brush,Gordon the Gopher and Roland Rat. But on finding the songs again on Youtube, I was reminded with some hilarity about the track endings which were the artists talking speeded up. I remember how I loved the end of the Big Red Bus:

“a hissing noise, what was that? Now I know the tire is flat! <laughter ensues>”

I  had a 45rpm of the Pinky & Perky Track “Up, Up & Away”

Much of the music around me in these early days was classical because my father was  a huge fan of Beethoven, and my brothers both learned classical instruments: the piano and french horn. Indeed my brother is now  a classical music teacher and I remember keenly his hours of practice as a strong early influence on me.

My concessions to classical music came in the form of versions “rocked up” by Sky, and particularily the parts played by  John Williams:

Bach’s Toccata http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgbgUrp1a70&feature=list_other&playnext=1&list=AL94UKMTqg-9Ar8_WWw8Ioq1l7OzTmxr3U

Masquerade http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EKqm8ajyVd0&feature=related

Dance of The Faeries http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cXTvj9votKg&feature=related

March to the Scaffold http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_FWEQH0e6yM

Sky’s sound led me eventually into the “serious music” of Mike Oldfield and also in part to discover Jeff Wayne’s War of The Worlds.

Other favourites were :

Carpenters On Top Of the World http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1u6628Rdqs and

Apollo 100 Tamares http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55BGk_wCXXk

Abba “Eagle”  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OrrQuxZC1JY

and I admit to an intoxication with ALW’s musical Jesus Christ Superstar! Rock Opera at its best!

 

 

Expectations, grating

 

You would have thought I’d have learned by now, but forward planning is not something I should entertain as much as I do. Or rather, planning with the expectation that dreams will come true, wishes will materialise or the experience pathways mapped out in books and films will necessarily be those I share. It is possible that I am reading the wrong books and films but I am beginning to realise that its not the events in peoples fiction or biographical journeys that I share, but the humanity and emotional experience that is common.

 This morning as my mind surfaced into a new day from dreamless slumber like a hatching chick pecks away at shards of shell before emerging fully although unceremoniously into its new world, I was aware I had carried through sleep a sadness, a disappointment, and a dull ache of longing. Last night, arriving home softened around the edges by some drink, music and pleasant company I was tempted onto the net. I knew what I was doing, searching for her in the stars, and before I knew it she was there, a friend of friend of a friend. The blood around her eyes and the black choker was of course part of her Halloween costume but she looked like she had been crying from a deep wound. How could she be, amongst all her friends? And there, in every picture was her partner; the man she had know all her life, who was good to her, who she should be with.

 

 Despite the evening’s fun I could not help but feel the breath go out of me, a physical deflation. Could she have meant those words, the last she sent me? I had not remembered the time we spent together in the same way she did. The connection I had felt, the energy and possibilities in a moment. The desire. She had not felt these things. Yet I could not forget the four days and three nights we had spent together, barely sleeping, sat huddled against the cold in an armchair by the fire, watched over by a Mother Oak and a canopy of stars shot through with meteorites. We had danced, we had walked amongst the fields, we had kissed and she had spoken to me of dreams, and in them she was with me.

 

 

This morning I wished I was still in that chair by the fire, her small body in my arms, my cold nose snuffled in her dark hair. I would have quite happily expired on that last morning, because I knew what I wanted would not be if I went back into the real world..

The pain I felt, I still feel although through self preservation I think about it less now, was born the moment I realised I had something I didn’t want to lose. I wanted to possess her, keep the experience of those days, the perfect days, alive in my life. We had shared ideas, living together, living with the earth, children. I wanted to see her dark, Iberian eyes in my children. I could not, cannot, let the experience live as a moment in time. I was so happy in those few days and now everything else seems just a lit bit less colourful. I am afraid I will never have another experience like that in my life, and now I can’t imagine meeting someone I will feel so intoxicated, and so masculinised by.

The failure of life to live up to Expectations has led me more to confusion and loss of direction than outright anger. I’m not a petulant child that threw arm-flapping tantrums when expectations weren’t met- or at least not any more, although the “chicken dance” was an early favourite of mine, accompanied by clucks of  “its..not..FAIR” each word reinforced with an exhalation on the downward stroke of my arms, the pressure on my ribcage and lungs acting like a pair of biologically constructed bellows.

I failed to meet the grade in my early ambition to become a fighter pilot in the RAF. I couldn’t understand why after years of Airfix modelling kits, visiting airshows, viewings of every war film ever made but especially The Battle of Britain, The Dam Busters and 633 Squadron, did not eminently qualify me for my Wings. I even kept a small book with the Squadron Codes of the US Armed Forces listing all the jets they flew, what more could I have done? I didn’t realise, nor was I really prepared for this by my parents or my school, that the skills the RAF were actually looking for were the ability to do simultaneous equations whilst standing on your head, strong leadership skills and attendance at public school. I was physically, emotionally and socially unprepared and after one day at Officer Selection at Biggin Hill I failed every test spectacularly. I didn’t realise then but on the lonely train journey home, I had fallen off the Cliff of Expectation and was plummeting in a freefall into a future without dreams or even boundaries to direct me. I spent the next 13 years wallowing in a directionless void attempting to find an identity and a course for my life that would fulfil my dreams and desires.

 

Meanwhile those dreams and desires where manifestly more Expectations but this time they were subconscious pressures, mythical albatross that had piled up around my neck like the neck rings of the Kayan lahwi tibeswomen. I was, I am, driven by an urge to accomplish, to drive forward that is so consuming that I rarely find it possible to celebrate my achievements or rest on my laurels. There is always something more to strive for. I’m never quite where I want to be and happiness is something I will experience when I am there, not here. Happiness was something that would be mine when I had got myself back into university to study, then only after I had my Master’s degree; then I had to be using my master’s degree in the best job possible where I was really making a difference. Now I don’t know whether I am making a difference, and the pace of change certainly isn’t fast enough. I have also lost my partner and my dog and the house in the woods that we lived in, and I can’t be happy until I have that back, or at least something like it.

 

My life is ruled by expectations of happiness to come. For some reason I find it supremely difficult to celebrate the here and now, the small achievements.

Your Existence

I have to take a pill every day to keep me from not being sad. I wouldn’t say it keeps me happy as such,  but just takes the edge of that crippling negativity which makes everything seem futile.

I wonder how I have become this person. Was I always like this? I look at my father and see an introverted, anxious man, plagued by existential angst, yesterdays regrets and fears of tomorrow.  I hear him speak of his own father and a pattern starts to form. I wonder if genes are involved.

I recall being a lonely child, making my own games in the playground.

Now I am an adult, I have a good job, friends and a family that love me. But….

Another long-term relationship lies in the dust behind me. Why is it that despite having wonderful friends and a loving family it seems this one relationship that evades me is the one that causes me most frustration.

I feel out of sorts, like I’m marking time. I’ve recently been working too hard and I’ve let slip doing the things that keep me peaceful: meditation, exercise, music. But these things have started to feel like distractions, something to fill up my time to distract me from the hollow sound of my own existence.

I used to feel like I was making a difference to the world through my job, but I don’t feel that and more. It seems as significant as gardening at the moment.

I find it so hard to focus on the good things I have. How lucky I am to be alive, physically healthy, a roof over my head, having food to eat. I know I am lucky. I just feel weighed down.

I wonder what would happen if I just stopped. I mean, if I just gave up trying. I’ve experienced such calm though meditation i sometimes wonder whether I shouldn’t just stay there. That’s the goal of meditation after all- to get to the point where you are just being. Can you even have a goal of meditation?

I need to step off again and walk barefoot through the grass and just have time to mediate and play my guitar. And maybe someone might look at me with soft, kind, understanding eyes, and fold me in their arms and I won’t have to keep going on my own.

 

 

The Tears of Romy Schneider

I’m lying up on the sofa today. I got on the train to work but my body wasn’t having any of it and quickly rejected my idea as a bad move. So instead I’m lying up.

I watched “The Triple Cross” on i-player. Christopher Plummer in a wonderful role that allows him to be the masterly cad with a sensitive side that he does best. He is a very handsome fellow indeed, but his half smile has a cruelty to it that makes him seem like a carnivorous plant: beautiful but ultimately deadly. His other most memorable performances for me have been Colonel von Trapp and as Squadron Leader Colin Harvey in “The Battle of Britain”; in both roles he has the same cool charm belieing an intensity and ferocity of manner when things don’t go his way, whether it be the Nazis threatening his family or his own wife not accepting a posting to be near him.

But this post isn’t about Plummer it’s about his co-star Romy Schneider who plays the Countess Helga Lindstrom, a German agent who is ordered to seduce Plummer’s character Eddie Chapman, an ex bank-robber, and secure his loyalty. Predictably, the Countess finds herself falling for Chapman, but in a film where the central loyalty is one man for himself, it was hard to see things ending well. In the last scene we see her in, with the Allies marching across Europe,  the Countess tearfully tells Chapman she will be returning to Sweden, and suggests he might join her there. “It wouldn’t work”, he replies.

As the film ended I reflected on the changing fortunes that life brings and the relationships people build often only to leave them behind. Helga’s tearful face in the French Cafe was uppermost in my mind, and I wondered what had bought this Countess to be where she was right then, mourning the loss of a man she had come to care for who rejected her out of hand: was it out of callous self-interest, or simply knowing his own narcissism to well, his own self-confessed desire to “keep looking at beautiful things”, he was protecting her from hurt he knew he would inflict. I wondered where her heart and head took her next, and whether she found happiness. It is likely she would not have many places to hide having worked with the Nazis.

Schneider’s face was familiar  and I was intrigued to know which other films  she had been in. I was taken aback when i looked her up on Wikipedia only to find she had died in 1982 aged 43, from a heart-attack induced by a cocktail of drugs and alcohol. She was found sitting slumped in an empty chair by a half-written letter, by her partner.

I was soon unfolding the bleeding petals of the tragic life of this Austrian rose. Her mother Magda was Hitler’s favourite actress and perhaps had even had an affair with the Führer. She had been engaged to actor Alain Delon, living with him for five years, before he walked. She cut her wrists. Her first husband committed suicide. Her 14 year old son from a subsequent marriage fell onto a spiked railing, punctured his femoral artery and died.

Recalling that cafe scene now, shot as it was perhaps a year after Delon walked out on her, what could Romy Schneider have been thinking as she told Plummer to go? Her tears seemed so real. Could she have already known when she accepted the part that her relationship had ended and she would have to relive the loss through this scene?

I sit here saddened by what I have learned. I enjoyed the movie, but the real story has moved me even more.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2008/sep/29/romy.schneider

The stories so far

I’ve always written things down.

I started writing notes to myself in small diaries, barely larger than my smartphone is now, at the age of fourteen. They are quite consistently filled with the angst caused by being young and rejected by my first proper girlfriend.

I wrote stories in notebooks, and the year after I’d left university early to become a motorcycle disapatch rider I found myself with a broken bike and holed up writing my first novel in the bedsit I shared with my girlfriend. We played sonic the hedgehog, watched Twin Peaks and collected the tops from Captain Morgan Rum bottles on a bootlace which made a snake that Chaos the cat chased around the room. I re-read the novel years later and choked on its self- indulgence: a tale of angst-ridden friends with impossible dreams, two heroes (well, one anti-hero) battling over one girl, a murder and doors opening to new worlds. A psychologist would have had a field day, and perhaps it might have proved useful if I’d kept it to show mine. But disgusted, I burnt it. I regret that now. Even the worst of your ramblings has its worth.

I’ve kept journals since then, lately preferring the black moleskin favoured by Chatwin- summoning the power of an exceptional writer to inspire my own. And I think I’ve learned a thing or two since I sat in the bay window of my bedsit, trying to capture the essence of great themes and only ending in bathos and caricature. It’s the small things that count.

So here you’ll find small things mostly, because I’ve yet to find a narrative to link the world I experience. Has anyone I wonder? I suppose if there was one it would be the theme of this blog: that change is the only constant, but even that depends on how you view things.

I’m still writing after all.