Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘inspiration’

Les joueurs d’échecsHonoré Daumier – 1863

So, I’m thinking of writing a story about chess. Well, not actually about chess, but somehow it’ll feature chess. Why? Well, it’s popular at the moment, thanks to the Nexflix series “Queen’s gambit”. I should get some downloads on the back of that, especially if there’s a chess piece on the cover of my book. What’s not to like? Okay, let’s go,…


I see a couple of oldish guys. Yes, I know, young strapping bucks would be better, guys of college age, say, where the female interest is so young they’re still playing with Barbie-dolls. But that was all such a long time ago for me, so oldish guys it is because you’ve got to write what you know, and I’ve not the patience to fake it any more.


They meet in a coffee shop. One guy’s playing both sides of a pocket chess set. He sees our hero sitting there on his own, looking glum, so invites him to play. He’s testing this theory the world’s gone to hell in a hand-cart. Not only that, but he reckons the general public is as thick as mince, as evidence by the fact no one plays chess any more, except him. But our hero does. He doesn’t play like a pro, but he manages a decent game. He doesn’t win, but has the old guy sweating a bit. They agree to meet again and play some more.

The old chess guy has a daughter – ah, here we go! Her husband’s gone off somewhere with a floozy, and broke her heart. She’s no kids because I don’t want any kids in this story. Kids always take centre stage. They whine a lot, and have the adults running round like simpletons, trying to please them. So, no kids. Right?

The daughter? Well, she’s a looker of course, otherwise why bother? And she’s posh. She comes across our two old guys playing chess, and our hero falls in love with her, I mean at once. Heavily, deeply, seriously. But this is no ordinary love. This is from the depths. It’s an unconscious projection of ground shaking, Biblical proportions. But there’s a serious age gap. Let’s make it thirty years, so she’s not going to look twice at him. I mean, he’s not even worn well. He’s grey and craggy, and he’s been ill, and he looks a mess with soup stains down his jumper. And he’s not stupid. He knows there’s no prospect of a Hollywood dénouement there. But that said, what the hell is he supposed to do?

Then it turns out the old guy’s some kind of toff, with a big house in the country. He starts inviting our man out there for weekends, so he sees a lot of the daughter, as well as playing chess. She’s sweet and intelligent, still young enough to start over, and live a normal life with someone her own age. As for our guy, she’s a little frosty with him, thinks he’s weird actually, because he’s edgy when he’s around her, on account of him thinking she’s a goddess. But he’d never say anything about that because he’s a gent, and knows it’s better to do the decent thing. So far, so unrequited, and long may it remain so.

So that’s the set-up, but now the story’s up to fifty thousands words, and fizzling out because I’ve no idea how to solve the puzzle of it. It’s as well I never started writing the thing in the first place, isn’t it? Maybe it just needs another character to unlock it.

Okay, I see an older woman, someone unsentimental, practical, sturdy and above all human. I see the kind who’d wash his jumper in exchange for him mowing her grass occasionally, and just,… well, helping him to smarten himself up a bit, because she sees something in him it would be a shame to let life crush the – well – the life from. But let’s not get carried away here. She’s no time for love-stories. She isn’t even looking for a man. But she doesn’t mind sharing a glass of wine with one, so long as he doesn’t go thinking that gives him rights of ownership.

Now, she sounds interesting, and I’m liking the sound of things again, so we’ll push it out another twenty thousand, see where it leads. But then, ah,… damn,… there’s still the Covid problem. I mean this is a contemporary story, so strangers can’t meet that way any more, can they? Nor can they go inviting them round to each other’s houses. Plus, the cafés are shut, and we’re all wearing face-masks which makes it hard to read people, let alone fall in love or play chess with them. And the world’s such an unstable place now. I mean God knows what’ll come along next and hijack the story in the middle of my writing it? Been there, done that. Got the tee-shirt. Twice.

Maybe I’m better going off-world this time, writing a space-opera. I’ve done a bit of Sci Fi in the dim and distant, and that might be the safest thing to write in 2021, something well away from our physical reality. Or I could dip once more into the liminal zone between dream-time and topside, where anything is possible and anything can be true. But contemporary love, tenderness, empathy, the subtlety of human relationships? Hell, man, that looks like it’s over, unless you can do it by Zoom or something. I can set it back to 2015, but I can’t even remember what I had for breakfast this morning, let alone who the PM was in 2015, or what was on the TV, and was Netflix even a thing back then? No, I’m hardly going to do justice to the background details, am I?

So, we’ll park it there for the better and save ourselves a whole year of trouble, never having typed so much as an opening line. Maybe some other writer will have the pleasure and the pain of it. Or no, wait,… how’s this:

“Do you play?”

No, it doesn’t speak much to me yet, it doesn’t suggest this cast of characters has much to show me. And it’s me they’ve got to seduce first. But, that said, whether the story gets written or not, it’s as good a start as any. So we’ll sleep on it. If the dream fairy gives me a working title by morning, we’re on.

Good night all, and welcome to 2021.

Read Full Post »

rhinogI return from Wales feeling a bit flat. This is normal. Wales was beautiful and silent and very, very grand, but then I come home to find the garden around my ears, at least the bits of it not killed by drought, and there’s a pile of mail already nagging at me like flies, and the shower’s bust at the first twist of the dial so you can’t turn it off and the water’s gushing down the plughole and a drought order hanging over us.

So I’m wishing myself already paddling again like a little boy on Harlech beach, shoes and socks in hand, and for a short time not a care in the world, or walking a quiet stretch of rural lane of an evening, watching the sun set over the Llyn, and then a glass of Malt on the terrace of my little cottage as the moon rises over the Barmouth hills.

I fixed the shower with a blob of glue, which should hold until the next time someone uses it, and then I spent the day researching shower units to replace the broken one without needing to redecorate the entire bathroom and I ordered one off Amazon, thus neatly pushing the problem out in time to the mercy of the oppressed delivery man. And then I sat, and I tried to pick up a few threads of writing, but they were elusive, or maybe it was because the phone was in my hand and I’m glued to it already, like an addict, to the fall of the western world.

I learn that in my absence, it has been decided we are to stockpile food and medicines in warehouses that have not existed since 1945, and we’re to borrow generators from the army to keep the lights on in Northern Ireland. This sounds like fiction, the plot of a Ballardian dystopia, perhaps? It cannot actually be true, can it? It’s merely a ruse of those cheeky tabloids, something to show Johnny Foreigner we mean business, and we’ll damned well live off Spam post BREXIT, if it means we can still wag our Agincourt fingers. Or maybe these are the first Machiavellian priming strokes of a second BREXIT referendum, because who in their right mind is going to vote for Spam when we were promised milk and honey?

Then I’m sucked sideways into an article on the whys and wherefores of writing, and how it’s good for the soul and all that, and how money’s not the important thing, and just as well, and who can argue, except in the last paragraph I discover the writer’s just flogging his book on how to write, which is rather bad form, but not entirely unexpected because that’s the kind of world we live in – everyone a chancer and a spiv now.

Then another serendipitous swerve has me bumping into Vonnegut, a writer I don’t know that well, but he seems like a good egg, and he’s telling me yeah, you know it’s true, Mike, art’s not about making a living, it’s about making the living bearable,… which is something to ponder I suppose while we’re tucking into that Spam and wondering where our next tank of petrol’s coming from. At least we will have our art, except we don’t encourage it in schools any more, so we won’t even have that.

And I’m wondering about rushing out to Tescos to stockpile my own “no deal” BREXIT larder – hint, tins and dried stuff – and again feeling this terrible post holiday blues, and Vonnegut’s talking about just writing stuff because all there is is life and death and inbetween there’s this brief opportunity to grow some soul, and that’s where the writing comes in. For you. Your self. To grow some soul. You see, Mike? And I’m nodding my agreement because I’ve been living that story for a while now, but sometimes,… sometimes you forget, don’t you?

Except,…

I can’t forget that view inland from the Barmouth viaduct – that great sandy funnel of the Mawddach Estuary at tide’s ebb, or again in the evening with the flood roaring around the pilings and covering up the sand with quicksilver again, and the green mountains beyond, the mist and the light playing upon them in endless symphonies of mood.

And there’s been this poem trying to take shape in my head, something about those mountains not remembering, or the trees, or the hoary stones, or the foxgloves nodding in the sleepy lane. Not remembering what? I don’t know, but that’s what the poem’s trying to get at you see?

And it goes:

The hills will not remember,
Nor these scattered, hoary stones,
Nor the foxgloves
Nodding in the sleepy lanes,
Nor the oaks whose leaves,
Turning now their backs,
Anticipate the rains,…

There’s more, but I can’t feel the shape of it yet. It’s being driven most powerfully by the memory of a nearly full pre blooded Welsh moon rising, white as death over green hills and into a queer, luminous turquoise, and the air is warm and the night is still, and quiet. Then there’s the scent of that Islay malt I’m sipping, and it’s reminding me of another country, that’s also my own, a place I’ve not seen in thirty five years, but whose impressions remain strong, a place that doesn’t remember me either. And then there’s that other place, land of my grandfather I’ve yet to visit, and that’s been bothering me awfully of late. But in the main I’m thinking it’s a human thing, this curse of remembering, and those hoary stones and that Welsh moon are all the better for being without it.

Yes,… confusing I know – I’m English and Welsh and Scots and Irish, and I’m a European too, and proud of it. Identity is whatever you want it to be, and it’s best to let it stretch as wide as possible than to narrow it down so much it throttles the life out of us. Dammit what’s happening? Can we not fight back?

So, the poem? Okay, I think I know what it’s getting at now. It’s going to tell me that I am the mountains and the trees and the hoary stones, and all that, and even the foxgloves nodding in the sleepy lane, and that what I feel most keenly at times like these is my separation and a loneliness at the oneness now broken, yet reflected still in the things that are largely untouched, like the hills and the hoary stones, and the trees and the silver moon rising and that view up the Mawddach Estuary. It’s that final realisation on the path to healing the rift with this aching sense of “the other”, that in the final analysis there is “no other”. But that’s a tough sell when you’re drunk on secularism, or scientism, or religion 101, or that petty, petty nationalism, and all that’s holding the whole damned shower together these days is a blob of fucking glue.

(Sorry for the F Word)

Graeme out.

Read Full Post »

 

man writing

Eve of September at half past ten,
Dark at the window,
I see my face
Reflected in isolation again.
Withheld from grace and the subtle path,
Eluding with ease my inadequate craft.

 

 

Read Full Post »

Hartsop old wayThe source of our creative energies is a mystery. All I know for sure is it’s not a physical thing. Provided we have sufficient strength at least to draw breath, stay awake and sit down at the work desk, it’s simply a question of opening the valve inside our heads for the creative steam to come gushing out with a vigour untempered even by age and infirmity.

But we can weaken it,…

I’m weakening it now by talking about it. It builds pressure over time and we can either nurture it, then let it out in a sustained, calculated burst and achieve something significant with it – a novel say, or a painting, or an epic poem, or we can be constantly leaking it off in short squeaks until there’s nothing left and we are reduced to a state of creative barrenness.

Bear in mind, once upon a time, words like these would have had no outlet beyond the private diary. In so keeping them within the bounds of a closed personal awareness, they would not deplete the source. Indeed quite the opposite, for maintaining an intimacy with one’s self is both to respect one’s self and also the daemonic forces within us. But now our heads are stuck inside this box and we’re venting words the hyperspatial vacuum, which does nothing but empty us of our creativity.

Listen, we can either do a thing, or we can explain to an imagined audience why we’re doing it – explain it through our blogs, our tweets, our Instagrams. But in explaining it, in chattering about it, and self justifying, we lose the point, the point being the thing itself, rather than the describing of it.

I have talked a lot about Tai Chi on this blog, why I do it, only lately to realise, actually, I don’t do it any more. Meditation – ditto. I talk about it, but I don’t do it. And if I’m talking about writing, I’m not writing. So I guess what I’m thinking about at the moment, what I’m exploring tonight, is the perennial problem of self-justification, of explaining ourselves to the imaginary “other”, when what we’re really doing is comforting our own egos.

We cannot help our insecurities. It’s human nature, this feeling some of us have of being pulled away from the tit too soon, and we assume the other person wasn’t. We assume the other person has no insecurities at all, that they are not the same lost child we feel ourselves to be when we close the door at night and face our selves, alone. Well guess what? They do. The problem then is one of self assurance, of reassurance that what we are is all right, that we need not explain ourselves, nor less try to impress others with how successful, interesting, cool, sexy or even just how extra-specially normal we are. To this end we wear a mask.

Everyone born has ample reason to simply be. It’s just that we aspire to be more than we are. More than what? Well, more than anyone else, perhaps – more cool, more insightful, more intelligent,… and just well,… more! This is what the mask conveys. But if we forget the mask, forget the usual external appearances, the difference between me and you is nothing much. We both arise from the same collective milieu of unconscious potential, like periscopes, each to pierce the surface of this, a somewhat denser and less yielding reality. Our uniqueness lies only in this individual perspective, our singular view of the world.

Knowing what that view is, is one thing, sharing it with others is only useful to point. We are all of us on a personal voyage of discovery, and it’s ultimately our own vision, our own private view that is the essential thing. It is the picture postcard we gift back to the consciousness from which we arise. It’s not important then to capture every thought we’ve ever had, to write it down and self publish it – just because we can do it now, doesn’t mean we should. The importance of the moment has already been captured by the inner eye.

It’s more important then we notice when the sun is shining, important we do not feel the need to take its picture all the time. It’s beautiful, yes, but there’s a limit to the intimacy with which the essence of such beauty can be shared, because beauty is a thing with our unique perception at the centre of it. The urge to share it is the writer’s bane of course, but one should always be mindful that in sharing anything, the essence is always lost, and no matter what our skill with words, no one can ever truly know or see the world the way we do.

So go easy on the media. Take a break from the Blog now and then, don’t feel the need to post on Instagram every day, and don’t you ever go tweeting to the world what you had for breakfast.

Save a little something for yourself. And keep it safe.

Think outside the box from time to time.

Read Full Post »

 

roamerInhibition. Self consciousness. It makes our dancing stiff, our singing flat, faltering, subdued. We know we can do better, but the crowd or at least the suspicion of its scrutiny puts us off. It’s better then to close our eyes, to believe we’re the only person in the room. But what about writing? Do we write best when we believe no one will ever read what we’ve written? For most writers this is a distinct possibility, but what’s the point in writing anything at all if you’re the only person who’s ever going to read it?

This is an existential question. The point of writing is opaque, defiant of reason, cycling between the black dog of depression and an over-inflated self worth. Both are damaging in their way, but in particular we fear that black dog getting the drop on us, for then surely we’ll never write another word.

For whom do we write, then?

I asked this question of Google and turned up one of my own blog pieces entitled, appropriately enough: For whom do we write? I concluded we write for ourselves, that the person we imagine reading our work, the imaginary “other” is a projected version of ourselves, and who am I to argue with my own analysis? But this is not to detract from the mystery of the process. Yes, we write for ourselves, but are inspired by the belief that any revelations we uncover in the process are potentially of value to others following in our wake.

1960AviaAs I write this evening, I’m wearing an AVIA wrist watch from the sixties. It’s nearly as old as I am. Although we’ve only recently become acquainted, it means as much to me as my father’s Roamer which dates to the late forties, and as much as the Rolex I bought myself with my first month’s salary, at the outset of my dayjob, in 1982. By contrast, I bought the AVIA off Ebay, last month for £20. Why should it mean anything? It’s worthless. What puzzle does it pose? And  why should you be interested in my telling you about it?

I mean, who are you anyway?

My father’s watch tells the story of his life, a story that ended when I was fourteen. I rarely wear it, but his life and its premature ending is what I think about when I handle it. It needs a minor repair, but one I’m not yet confident enough to tackle for fear of damaging it. The metaphor in this is complex and strange and deeply personal and may only yield further revelations when I have the courage to finally take the back off the watch.rolex

The Rolex was to some extent a marker of stability, telling of a time when I had stilled the stormy seas somewhat and established a way forward in life for myself. I wear it on special occasions, but am sometimes embarrassed to be the owner of an aspirational timepiece, all be it by now a vintage one – that a part of me once thought such things were important or impressive to anyone. I would never spend that sort of money on a watch today, no matter what my disposable income, yet I could never sell it, so appear to be clinging to those old perverted values, no matter what my opinion of them.

Then there’s the AVIA, a curious old thing that adds it own unique twist to the story. It tells of a thing as old as I am, one that’s survived the years in good condition, and is still of use, still reliable. The previous owner is unknown to me, as are the times the watch has known, a mystery only to be guessed at, times that have ticked away oblivious to my own, yet in parallel with them, yet also now suggesting a kind of collective completeness that might be revealed in the contemplation of its feeling tones.

I may of course be stretching my metaphors to destruction here, but these things provide sufficient energy to draw my fingers to the keyboard. But  I cannot allow myself to imagine your presence, your derision, your boredom, at least not until the thing is worked out and revealed at least to me as a valid commentary on the human condition. Then, my friend, you can take it or leave it.

A telling of any kind is an exploration of the mystery of being, and the conclusion is the opening of a door, one whose threshold we arrive at by entirely abstract means. And the revelation that awaits us might similarly be expressed in abstract ways, but the writer knows when the puzzle is solved, because that’s when the story ends, whether we’re writing literature, or a murder mystery. The tale of the three watches is still seeking its conclusion, and I use it here as an illustration of the underlying psychology and both the challenge and the necessity of  writing as if no one were listening.

A story is not real life. In a story the boundaries are set as a specimen mounted under a microscope. In a romance, often the telling is of the obstacles to love, commencing with the first meeting and concluding with the marriage, or the first kiss, or the long awaited making love. The story of a life however does not end in the same way. It goes on, rich in revelatory material, at least for the writer with sufficient sensibilities. But the love story is a familiar pathway, one most of us are familiar with, and it’s pleasing to be led along it, so the writer need not feel shy or self conscious in directing his pen to such an enterprise, even under the full glare of an imaginary readership. But what of those other stories, those other questions, questions one might even be afraid to ask?

For myself I have no interest in controversy, finding, as you’ve seen here, sufficient mystery in the tale of three wrist watches, and it’s perhaps for that reason I’m content to proceed without an audience, if only because I cannot imagine anyone being held rapt by the telling of such a tale. What provides the energy to keep writing in this vein is not the arrogance  my musings are as valid as anyone else’s. To be sure they may be nonsense, but in writing the only arrogance is the belief we are in any way responsible for the creation of our own work in the first place.

The question of the three wrist watches rises from a part of me to which I have no direct access. Yet it burns, and must be given voice to or the writer in me is not complete. In this sense then the audience does not matter. So yes, although it’s a hard thing to imagine, we must write like no one’s ever going to read our words. This isn’t so difficult as the non-writer might suppose, for the words themselves, even if they lead the writer on a merry dance to nowhere, are sufficient reward, and especially if, through their telling, the writer gets to glimpse beyond the doorway of one’s liminal consciousness to an abstraction of the universal revelation of what it means to be a living, thinking, feeling human being.

Read Full Post »

So, what are you reading at the moment? I don’t know about you but my reading comes in waves, or moods – usually when I’m unable to write. So then I surf the tides of literature instead and can devour a novel in a couple of days, like I’m tearing it apart for the answer to why it is I can’t write. I started out with an idea about reading the Romantics, really settling in to Wordsworth and Coleridge for a bit, but an odd tide fetched up on Patrick Harpur’s shores instead, and in the space of a few weeks I’ve read both his “Mercurius” and “The Philosopher’s Secret Fire”. These books have in turn had me re-reading Carl Jung, and generally blowing the dust off that mysterious trail through the Perennial Philosophy, a thing that’s denied with equal vigor by both religion and science but is probably closer to being a description of reality than either of those curmudgeonly old sages will admit.

If you don’t know Patrick Harpur, but you’re interested in how you can tie up mythology, the Romantics, alchemy, Jung’s psychology, anthropology and even a belief in the fairies, then he’s your man. I wouldn’t say his books are easy going, but I’ve found them utterly engrossing, insightful and enlightening. I’ve just ordered his “Complete guide to the Soul”, and I’m looking forward to devouring that one as well.

I’ve also been reading “The Road” by Cormac McCarthy, and a bleaker story I can’t ever remember having read, except perhaps for Hardy’s “Jude the obscure”, though both for completely different reasons of course. Jude was a reaction to a hypocritical morality, a bubbling up of unspoken nastiness through to the surface of the Victorian psyche. The backlash nearly ruined Hardy’s career. It’s thirty years since I read it and its  unrelenting break-heart bleakness has stuck with me ever since. Masterful though it is, it’s one the few Hardy novels I could never bring myself to re-read – it would just finish me off. In a similar vein, I’m wondering if McCarthy’s The Road is a similar bubbling up of something powerfully indigestible. It’s not  a very long book – you’ll get through it in a couple of days. The prose is beautiful but all the more shocking for the horrors it describes – you do need a strong stomach for it. It’ s a post apocalyptic vision that is surely without equal, and the benchmark against which all others will be measured.  I can’t remember the ending of a book that made me weep before, but this one did – and though it seems a long way off the other stuff I’ve been reading, I’m sure it’s all connected, all a part of the same meltings in the crucible of my imagination.

But apart from all that, and yet also similarly related,…

It’s summer, and it’s the weekend, and I’ve been sitting here in the garden thinking I should write something, if only to get myself in the contemplative mood. But that’s not how it works, so I’ve wasted most of the day, even to the extent of nodding off for a couple of hours this afternoon. All of this is trivial and not exactly what you want to hear, but there’s nothing much to tell, and certainly my reading isn’t yielding much by way of answers – at least not directly. The answers come like shy cats, and you can’t make a fuss or even look at them directly or they will melt away. But I’ve a feeling an answer is coming, and it has to do with the imagination, with the Romantic  sense, and an acceptance of its validity, though not in a literal way, and it’s this non-literalness that I’m beginning to see, thanks to Patrick Harpur,  is the important thing, the thing that keeps us on the straight and narrow. This is both complex and yet, I suspect, also very simple,… but I need to think about it some more.

At the moment my literal reality consists of this summer house I built back in the spring, and in which I am now sitting. It also consists of  a patch of garden, and some trees beyond. The sky is grey. It’s about 20 degrees, getting on for 9:00 pm and I’ve got work in the morning. I’ve just lit a vanilla scented joss-stick, and my head’s a little thick from too much cheap wine. But in imagination, I’m a long way from here…

In my mind’s eye I can see a  lake in a bowl of mountains, and by the shore there stands a pavillion, terracotta coloured, its pillars reflected in the gently rippling waters of the lake. I’m in the Swiss Alps somewhere, though perhaps not literally. It’s just somewhere that reminds me a little of the Alps. Anyway, this pavillion,… it has a domed copper roof, whose centuries old verdigris is luminous in the early evening light and inside, unseen, in the pavillion,  a woman is waiting for me, seated on cushions. I’m making my way to her. It’s been a while in coming and though I’m not exactly reluctant to have finally made this connection, I can’t hide the fact that I’m anxious, that there’s a gravity here I’m not sure I grasp properly, and I have to allow my unconscious to guide my hand now or my ego’s going to ruin the moment. I’ve no idea what she’s going to say to me because I’ve not written that part yet. It may yet be that she’s fallen asleep waiting for me, and I’ll spend the night just watching over her.

To what extent is this imaginative scenario a valid reality? Should one take any of it seriously? Where did the pavilion come from? I’ve never been there, but I know its shape, the feel of its pillars against my palm, the sound of the lake lapping at its base. I  did a watercolour of it yesterday just to explore it a little more deeply and if I were to see a photograph of it tomorrow I’d say: “Oh, yea: I know that place.”

It could be a subliminal suggestion of course, a pastiche of images, of experiences long forgotten. The thesis of  mentalist Darren Brown, for the degree to which we are suggestible is very convincing,.. and yet,…

Her name is Gabrielle. I don’t know where she came from, nor her sinister, gnome like parents who forbid me from having anything to do with her, nor the wily old hotelier, the white suited septegenarian, Herr Gruber, who seems bent on smoothing my way with her, if only I will take this thing seriously, he says. Indeed, he says I must, for all our sakes – his, mine and Gabrielle’s.

To be clear, I’m talking about a story I’m writing here – a story that may eventually be completed and stuck up on some free to download e-book emporium, or it may yet languish unfinished on my computer for years, like a puzzle unsolved until either time or carelessness results in its deletion. To some extent, the plot, the conflict, even the language,… these are literary devices that deliver up at the end of everything a story that someone else can read. It is a format for recording imaginary events, events that have no literal reality, no literal meaning,  but what about the abstract imaginative energy that created them? Where did that come from? And can it not mean something? That pavillion of my imagination – is it not a place someone else can travel to in their imagination, if I describe it well enough?

These are the themes that Patrick Harpur deals with – the daemonic reality, he calls it, and it’s the reason I’ve found his books so interesting. They are archetypal, and mythical, these themes – as all good stories are, and if I’d only studied the classical myths as a lad, instead of engineering, I might have a better idea of what my work is about instead of shunting myself into so many dead ends all the time. All right, if I’d clung to the writing at the expense of everything else, I would have starved to death by now, and I’m quite happy to be uncovering these kindergarten stories in my late middle age, thank you. You see, there are no new stories any more. They were all written down at the beginning of time, etched deeply into the bedrock of our mythology. Each generation of writers merely comes along and reinvents the myths in contemporary disguise and claims the stories as his own.

I think I’ve always  accepted the imagination is a window on a different kind of  reality, wherein dwell these mythical aspects of ourselves., these daemons – some of them close and personal, some of them much, much older, more fundamental, primeval, elemantary.  If we know how to balance our literal and non-literal realities, then I think we stand a chance of living as we should: we “think along the lines of nature”, as Jung said.

The trouble is modern man seems to have such an uneasy relationship with it. He can no longer think along the lines of  nature because two hundred years of Enlightement thinking has addled his brain. But we need to be careful in waking up from this delusion and jumping too far in the other direction. We can go too far in our acceptance of every little thing that comes out of the unconscious, not realising that it is the antithesis of logic, and that to analyse it in literal terms may be to tie ourselves in knots and waste decades of our lives until we can wise up and tell true insight from delusion. On the other hand it’s equally dangerous to deny the imagination any kind of voice at all  because it may end up coming back at us in ways we don’t like.

I’m almost convinced now of the ability of the collective imagination to manifest itself in some kind of  physical way. The thrust of  Dean Radin’s work on Conscious Entanglement is compelling, suggesting that human consciousness is capable of manipulating matter or events, that indeed conciousness itself may be the primary ground of being. It’s only a small leap therefore to speculate on what might happen when the collective unconscious becomes focused in literal reality.

People see things.

Only last summer a trio of tall angelic beings were spotted by a policeman near Silbury Hill in Wiltshire – part of the crop circle goings on that enliven that part of the world every year, and if that’s not a manifestation of a mythical reality, I don’t know what is! No amount of investigation ever yields a definitive explanation to these things. They are like smoke, and remain a mystery, fastened upon by the credulous and the needy and denied with equal fervour by the establishment as preposterous – yet people go on witnessing all manner of Forteana, all the time.

While we should be mindful of the reality of the imaginative dimension, and intuitively alert for any personal meaning coming out of it, it doesn’t do to spend too much time humoring its every whim. To be sure, the fairies are a beguiling crowd but we live in a literal reality while they do not. We are flip sides of the same coin so to speak, neither of us able to manage in isolation from the other, but equally neither of us are equipped to make way for long in the other’s realm, nor to make sense of it in any great detail. The literal reality is our domain, but it is perhaps the non literal that gives it, and our lives, its colour and its meaning.

Read Full Post »