Sunday, December 31, 2006
After all, Australia started the New Year (Gregorian) about 9 hours ago, New York has another 7 hours to go, and San Francisco about 10 hours more, etc. I use ZoneTick to co-ordinate myself, so all four clocks show on my Desktop. It makes it difficult for me to run out and party...
I have just listened to a great radio show on Time, that Crissie sent me from the USA. It includes reference to the ECOlogical calendar, devised by a guy in California who also arranges theatrical/spatial happenings through Antenna Theatre; an interview with the woman who wants to construct an amazing sculpture in London, powered by The Thames, and indicating the phases of the moon and tides, etc, which you can find out about here at Aluna; and some great stuff about body clocks - and the effects of night-shift working, as well as the time of day we take medicines affecting their usefulness. They call it Chronobiology now, but it sounds like Paracelsus and other astrologer-healers might say "Duh!"
Saturday, December 30, 2006
As the library offers free access to Ancestry.Com and the databases it contains, I have had to learn how to use it (to help members of the public) and the best way seemed to do real research into the family.
I found my way back to Great Grand-Parents on my mother’s side, and feel pretty convinced by all the evidence – but the Philpott family have proved more elusive. Apart from anything else, this surname gets spelled so many different ways. I remember when still getting my name in the papers (!) how rarely anyone spelled it ‘correctly’ (and when they did they often called me ‘Tony’!)
So anyway, my Great-Grandfather, Richard T Philpott becomes a perfect example.
The 1881 Census has him as Richard T Phillpot
The 1891 Census has him as Richard T Philpott
The 1901 Census has him as Richard T Philpot
He seems to have died in 1908 as Richard T Philpotts
And I just found him, getting born in about 1841 as Richard Theophilus Phelpots
Now I have to search Phelpot, Phelpots, Philipott, Phillpath, Phillpotts, Phillpots, etc – you name it!
I reckon I got his parents (unconfirmed) but data runs out about 1837, and you have to start going around looking at parish records, etc. And a tree like this doesn't begin to trace brothers and sisters, cousins and downright lies (!)
Friday, December 29, 2006
Actually, I don't ever stop posting/writing - I just move around. For instance, on Buddhism, you can find me reporting as Godfrey Zone over in OM.
[use the Index, if you don't wanna use the new option to Search Blogs with the control bar at the top]
That post links to Bobby's great bit about Nagarjuna’s Claim, philosophy which sounds incredibly modern to me (having grown up in a culture inhibited from actual thinking by the threat of getting burned at the stake...
You'll find me both discussing stuff, and purely pontificating (or musing to myself), all over the place - and I try to keep it all linked up, but finally my brain probably represents the only complete collection of thoughts. ?!?!?!?!?
Comments really do work, too! I get notified of them, and try to respond to all and any...
Tuesday, December 26, 2006
Leonard Cohen's book "Beautiful Losers" stole my heart in 1963 and so did the idea of electronic processing on a vocal record.I had a recording session scheduled and Leonard was in town. I propped two pages of his book up on a music stand and I just sang it out, ad libbing the melody and guitar music together as I went along. I've always wanted to re-record it, as I love the way the power of the words obviously commands the music and drives it beyond any consideration of time signature.
God is alive, magic is afoot God is alive, magic is afoot God is alive, magic is afoot God is afoot, magic is alive Alive is afoot, magic never died God never sickened Many poor men lied Many sick men lied Magic never weakened Magic never hid Magic always ruled God is afoot, God never died God was ruler Though his funeral lengthened Though his mourners thickened Magic never fled Though his shrouds were hoisted The naked God did live Though his words were twisted The naked magic thrived Though his death was published Round and round the world The heart did not believe Many hurt men wondered Many struck men bled Magic never faltered Magic always lead Many stones were rolled But God would not lie down Many wild men lied Many fat men listened Though they offered stones Magic still was fed Though they locked their coffers God was always served Magic is afoot, God is alive Alive is afoot Alive is in command Many weak men hungered Many strong men thrived Though they boast of solitude God was at their side Nor the dreamer in his cell Nor the captain on the hill Magic is alive Though his death was pardoned Round and round the world The heart would not believe Though laws were carved in marble They could not shelter men Though altars built in parliaments They could not order men Police arrested magic and magic went with them Mmmmm.... for magic loves the hungry But magic would not tarry It moves from arm to arm It would not stay with them Magic is afoot It cannot come to harm It rests in an empty palm It spawns in an empty mind But magic is no instrument Magic is the end Many men drove magic But magic stayed behind Many strong men lied They only passed through magic And out the other side Many weak men lied They came to God in secret And though they left Him nourished They would not tell who healed Though mountains danced before them They said that God was dead Though his shrouds were hoisted The naked God did live This I mean to whisper to my mind This I mean to laugh within my mind This I mean my mind to serve Til' service is but magic Moving through the world And mind itself is magic Coursing through the flesh And flesh itself is magic Dancing on a clock And time itself The magic length of God
© 1966- Leonard Cohen.
Monday, December 25, 2006
My favourite authors offer me words I never heard before, or familiar words in surprising combinations, or both. Robert Anton Wilson edged me into Ezra Pound and James Joyce, and my respect for him made me work at it, give it time, overcome my pre-judgements, and try to get the context, the intent, the 'feel'.
Bob Dylan has turned up to open my ears (not with his own music, but music that he loves, and influenced his development) but the young things around me can’t even listen to his DJ voice, and his stories, and his musical anecdotes – and probably flip channels as soon as he plays something their prejudice says they don’t like.
Bob Harris used to do a great show for eclectic stuff, but ‘They’ let him go eventually.
He has turned up on the BBC again, and nowadays plays Country & Western (and even my hackles go up at the idea) and yet he finds all kinds of stuff I like. I keep saying ‘does this belong in that category? How come I like it?'
Hey ho. I grew up with voices (my dad did all the voices for his puppets, my mum sang and taught actors how to use their voices). I love vocal tones. For that reason (among others) I love W.C.Fields (a master of the drawl) and Bob Dylan (a master of vocal tones, like a great actor – I didn’t say he could ‘sing’ but few people can beat his delivery of his own material). I don’t have any musicianship, but even if I don’t like smooth tones (Sinatra, etc) I can appreciate phrasing and timing and delivery.
I like to feel surprised.
Robert Anton Wilson has pointed out that Information = Surprise (the very slogan of his online academy), but I won’t go into that now.
We just lost James Brown. How about him for a total package of show-biz, phrasing, rhythm, tones, and all?
Ah me, and back to the bland, and safe, and familiar world – no challenge, no surprise, no new information. Nothing to shake up yer world view, or stretch yer brain, as Chinese music did mine, or the Oud, or Flamenco, or just about anything I never heard before.
I don’t really care if no-one much shares my tastes around here. I can find people with equally weird tastes on the Internet.
Hello to all my long-distance friends old and new, and not yet met. Enjoy!
Be Seeing You!
I suspect it has something to do with my considering the festival one of remembrance of poverty, loneliness and homelessness. I tend to open myself to the distress around the world, and if I haven’t collected myself enough to contemplate the situation with a certain detachment, then I get waves of horror and despair. I so love the Buddha (without considering myself a Buddhist) because he seemed to offer a way of confronting those realities with compassion and poise – neither succumbing to helplessness, nor ignoring them by evasion and self-delusion.
Sadly, to bring such things to other people’s attention tends to evoke the kind of reaction that non-smokers meet when commenting to smokers about ill health, or teetotallers about drink and violence and bad driving, or vegetarians talking about factory farming, or vegans talking (as they do to veggies like me) about cheese, and leather shoes and animal exploitation, and all atheists find themselves on the end of when commenting on almost any religion. A fairly violent over-reaction, at times, which seems out of proportion to the comments.
"The lady doth protest too much, methinks." as Shakespeare expressed it (long before Freud) – indicating that some other agenda of guilt or awareness lies behind such a hysterical over-reaction.
If peasants or hunter-gatherers have an occasional feast it makes sense to me - a gathering of the clans, a short break from frugality and the usual careful nurturing of scarce resources.
In fact, when I grew up, just after WWII, commodities seemed very scarce, we had rationing of basic foods and fuels, and no luxuries. Christmas made a certain amount of sense to me then (in spite of the grinding poverty my parents lived under). The first-ever tropical fruit (after years of no imports), as much chocolate as you want (after years of rationing), etc. These all justified one big blowout per year. Presents tended to the practical side (new shoes, food) and simplicity (homemade food specialities, knitware). I still didn’t enjoy the dead animal in the middle of the table, or the reverence for the Queen’s Speech, or the Jesus stuff – but I must have seemed quite a strange child.
Many people in the West can now indulge themselves every day, and live in a way that medieval kings could only dream of. I find it impossible to eat more, or drink more than I do in normal life. I have no need of any more clutter of belongings (I have a roomful of underused toys and souvenirs).
So I will sit on my own today, and take some time to tune in to the sad and lonely, and spare a thought for my far-flung family (Buddha abandoned his wife and son, as well as the luxurious life of the palace, to seek his answers).
Of course, practical folks will tell me that this, too, represents a form of self-indulgence (as I haven’t gone out to help in a homeless shelter, for instance) and to some extent this remains true. The life of a recluse or contemplative does lay itself open to an accusation of elitism and non-involvement in the world. I don’t particularly hold magical beliefs in ‘good vibes’ helping the planet very much, but I don’t think they do any harm, either, and one more peaceful person always helps.
And tomorrow Julie’s family will turn up, and I will do my very best to join in and share some fun, too.
Sunday, December 24, 2006
Mr Dylan offered a cool yule quote from Dickens' The Pickwick Papers (chapter 28):
Happy, happy Christmas, that can win us back to the delusions of our childish days; that can recall to the old man the pleasures of his youth; that can transport the sailor and the traveller, thousands of miles away, back to his own fireside and his quiet home!
As Bob said "written in 1836, and a far cry from Bah Humbug!"
Saturday, December 23, 2006
I said I would try to stay happy through the Christmas frenzy, make no snide comments, etc.
I didn’t make it. I have a friend with a bad back, a friend who separated from his wife and gets a crappy Christmas handed to him as his gift, even a friend who tries to escape the frenzy, who breaks her arm and can't get on the plane to Borneo. The S.A.D kicked in, and I came home to collapse into five days of rest, only to mess it up and spoil any possible fun going. Sigh. I'm told I do it every year. Spoil the turkey festival. I really must ask Pete Brown (if I can find him) where he goes for his Buddhist retreat, and next year just disappear to meditate on my 'true nature' as a terrible spoilsport.
The news stays full of murder and mayhem, the local priest gets busted for child abuse, the rich (anyone with credit, these days) get stuck in airports instead of making their way to sunny beaches, the Brits carry on photocopying their bums on the office copier, getting too drunk and having sex with office colleagues, before drunk-driving home to randomly kill innocents and spoil Christmas for dozens of other families. The shops can’t give stuff away, as people slightly cut back on their extravagance (4 million in the UK haven’t paid for last Christmas yet, apparently) – so bring the Spring Sale forward to before Christmas has even happened (heh).
When people get upset at my anti-religious rants, and claim it as a 'national holiday for families' I ask why all the stress at seeing the parts of the family they spend the year avoiding, and the sense of pressure and obligation. I don’t think of a holiday as a few days that end with a ‘thank God that’s all over for another year!” I think of it as a time to catch up on my sleep. That may just reflect hitting sixty, of course (grandpa dozing in front of the fire).
I quite like the idea of potlatch. In some tribal communities the richest people re-distribute their accumulated surplus of wealth. They get the prestige, kudos, respect and gratitude of the rest of the tribe – and demonstrate their total confidence that they can generate more wealth (and don’t feel the need to stockpile – always paranoid of thieves) – they disarm any resentment from those poorer than themselves – and the game starts even for next season. This went on within, and between different tribes – and although it generated a reciprocal bond (if you did better next year) it doesn’t really resemble the guilt we often seem to build up (even over a card sent or not sent, let alone the relative value of presents exchanged). The Christian missionaries (surprise!) banned the practice.
What a great model, though! Give your belongings away, take no heed for the morrow, consider the lilies of the fields – Wait a minute! That sounds like Jesus! He’d feel disappointed by a lot of the stuff done in his name these days, I suspect.
Thank goodness we actually manifest a Mithraic festival at this time of year that has little to do with Jesus, so he might not notice when he eventually comes back… [follow link, and scroll down to 'Similarities to Christianity'. The parallels remain disputed by Christian theologians, but 'they would say that' to paraphrase Mandy-Rice Davies on Establishment figures in denial. ]
I feel amused everytime someone does “Bah Humbug” at me – given that the phrase comes from the rich miser, Scrooge, who doesn’t want to share. To me I obviously belong in Bob Cratchit’s family. (underpaid clerk, or library worker). The only real reason I can’t quote that tale, of course, arises from my lifelong vegetarianism. I survived quite well (my mum did her best, most of the year, to keep me well-fed) but I still think of Christmas as the festival where people stick a dead animal in the middle of the table. My cat loved it!
Meat-eaters simply don’t see how off-putting that appears and smells to me (puts me right off my food!) so I can only try to appal them by asking how they would feel at a festival with (say) a dead dog as the main attraction. And then, of course, I get told to stop spoiling 'the fun'.
It got worse since I gave up sugar (no mince-pies, chocolates or Christmas pudding for me, thanks) and simply don’t like (have a lacto intolerance for) cream. So the big meal for me consists of roast potatoes, sprouts and carrots (mmm, delicious, and quite enough to satisfy me).
At least I took up drinking again, after I stopped working as a juggler, so I can share in that.
Hey ho. If you want the rest of the rant (it goes on for hours) just check out the Archives for the blog, in December months of previous years.
Phew I feel better for that. Might even go treat myself to a glass of red wine, before settling down to listen to Bob Dylan as DJ, finally reaching British ears on BBC Radio 2 at 7pm this evening. Cheers Bob! (sometimes he sounds like a fellow curmudgeon, but even he celebrates Christmas tomorrow with a two-hour special).
Stave 5: The End of It from A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.
"A merry Christmas, Bob," said Scrooge, with an earnestness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the back. "A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I have given you for many a year. I'll raise your salary, and endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of smoking bishop, Bob. Make up the fires, and buy another coal-scuttle before you dot another i, Bob Cratchit!"
Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old world. Some people laughed to see the alteration in him, but he let them laugh, and little heeded them; for he was wise enough to know that nothing ever happened on this globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill of laughter in the outset; and knowing that such as these would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they should wrinkle up their eyes in grins, as have the malady in less attractive forms. His own heart laughed: and that was quite enough for him.
He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon the Total Abstinence Principle, ever afterwards; and it was always said of him, that he knew how to keep Christmas well, if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God Bless Us, Every One!
And just to explain the reference (from a page offering Dicken's own recipe for punch):
A final note, if you feel tempted to imbibe somewhat too freely of these splendid beverages: while he did not hold with "the Total Abstinence Principle" (A Christmas Carol, Stave Five), Dickens was a great believer in moderation (he should have followed his own dictum when it came to a certain young actress named Ellen Ternan). "The widespread assertion that drunkenness was the cause of many evils rather than a result of already existing ones angered him, as if eradicating a symptom in any way dealt with the disease" (Fred Kaplan, Dickens , 198). Although Dickens respected the Temperance movement's goals, in "A Plea for Total Abstinence" (1860) he expresses little patience with those who sought eradicate the consumption of alcohol. His many references to liquor often prompted letters denouncing what appeared to be his advocacy of inebriation. In a letter of 25 March 1847 he answered one such complaint thus:
I have no doubt whatever that the warm stuff in the jug at Bob Cratchit's Christmas dinner, had a very pleasant effect on the simple party. I am certain that if I had been at Mr. Fezziwig's ball, I should have taken a little negus -- and possibly not a little beer -- and been none the worse for it, in heart or head. I am very sure that the working people of this country have not too many household enjoyments, and I could not, in my fancy or in actual deed, deprive them of this one when it is so innocently shared. (Letter , Nonesuch Press, II: 20-21)
Tuesday, December 19, 2006
A friend who has read The God Delusion quoted the idea that some people think Jesus walking on water counts as a miracle, whereas to Dawkins the water itself seems more miraculous. I can only agree. In the first Yoga book I ever owned Sir Paul Dukes pointed out that many Indians (and Romanies) don’t swim, when he described a yoga position that would let you float on your back. He suggested that if Jesus could swim then people who had never seen that before might well have felt very impressed and called it ‘walking on the water’ for lack of the word ‘swim’. That makes everything pretty clear to me.
But anyway. Walking in to work today I started to think that perhaps the local environment really does affect how you feel religious. If you live in the desert then some days you feel very small and insignificant (“God is not nice. He is not an uncle. He is an earthquake!”) Hence all that ‘god-fearing’ language. Another consequence? You might over-value humans in such a relatively empty space.
If you live in a dense jungle - immersed in vivid, teeming life - you probably wouldn’t kid yourself about human superiority and significance. You might feel far more aware of how much we all depend on each other, and interact with each other. This could lead to quite a bit of ‘placating’ the ‘spirits’ or ‘gods’ and other creatures, so multiplicity and complexity (animist/pantheist beliefs) might feature in your world picture.
I don't know how a city boy like me ended up empathising with all creatures. Perhaps my dad and his vegetarianism and 'mystical pantheism' started me off. My mother belonged to a more rational humanist agnostic stream. God never came into it.
Happy Holidays! (safe but bland)
NB: The joke quote for the title of this post? Comes from a bizarre book from the 60s, called Musrum. I never read the book, but had that slogan on a badge (do you remember lapel badges?)
Monday, December 18, 2006
I came home, found Clockwork Orange on the TV - the film I never saw for 30 years of censorship - still haven't watched it all the way through.
I may have drunk too much red (communion?) wine this evening while trying to help my fellow human beings, but I walked home past the boarded-up church in my neighbourhood - presumably boarded-up to prevent the local youths (who mostly annoy me by hanging around on my street corner) from throwing bricks through the stained glass windows (instead of trashing the bus shelters) because the local priest just got busted for years of (allegedly) abusing small children.
No 'bastard child born in a barn turning out as a hero' crib/statues this year - just a shocked set of 'elders' in denial about their hero/priest, I guess - "I can't believe it!" say people who have believed in some benevolent God for some years.
I tried really hard to respect the local calendar, and celebrate their local festival called 'Christmas' (anthropologists and travellers should ideally respect local communities they pass through), but...
Fuck 'em! (sorry) Get yer priorities right.
To the rest of you - Enjoy the Solstice (but I hope that the God that judges that so-called 'priest' as he deserves, may he rot in hell if he did that stuff! )
May he live enough lifetimes, and suffer enough weird reincarnations, that he starts to realise that everything he says and does affects other people.
Sorry, the 'aversion therapy' I don't even remember makes me shocked and appalled.
Sunday, December 17, 2006
Did a little gig today (my day off), and felt rather impressed to find myself making sure that R2D2 (Kenny Baker) got back to his hotel, but eventually got texted that dinner had ended up in (virtual) dog, and found myself back in trouble again.
Deep apologies to Julie who deals with this apparently 'new male' who also does traditional erratic drunk 'male in pub' behaviour.
I always make my life up on the spot.
If too drunk I would say "don't trust me, call a taxi" but I foolishly said "I live in this city and will make sure you're safe before going home. Bottom line - you sleep on my sofa!" As it happens I found Jeremy Bulloch (Boba Fett, to you) and his wife coming to look for Kenny, and gate-crashed into drinking wine while they ate. Shame on me. I really like their company, both feel as over-awed as a fan eating with the stars, and at the same time enjoy show-biz banter that dates back to my childhood in the theatre, 'love'. I hope I didn't end up embarrassingly pissed ('drunk' not 'angry').
Thanks everyone, for all the fun today, I hope everyone got home safely. Great to see Barrie, John and Nicole again, and - well - everyone!
Weirdly enough we all form the current tenants of the planet, so we all have something in common - present time!
Couldn't we come to some arrangement that doesn't involve your great-grandfather hating my great-grandfather's beliefs? I have been to Japan and Germany this year (for instance) and those 20th Century wars already sound weird, depressing, futile, surreal, and pointless. Do we EVER learn anything from such fights?
Anyway - sobering up - dinner in dog, me in disarray as ever, (gave up my time-off for this) and.....
You can find me back at my desk in Cardiff Central Library tomorrow morning.
What a strange life. :-)
Tuesday, December 12, 2006
I came across Library Thing, and like the idea (although it might take me a while to load even my 200 free books before deciding whether to pay for the privilege.
For a brief description (aside from a pretty cleanly designed site) you can check out this article.
Wednesday, December 06, 2006
I'll post the Kerouac section, courtesy of this excellent Beat website
On The Road (excerpt)
'... one night we suddenly went mad together again; we went to see Slim Gaillard in a little Frisco nightclub. Slim Gaillard is a tall, thin Negro with big sad eyes who's always saying 'Right-orooni' and 'How 'bout a little bourbon-arooni.' In Frisco great eager crowds of young semi-intellectuals sat at his feet and listened to him on the piano, guitar and bongo drums. When he gets warmed up he takes off his undershirt and really goes. He does and says anything that comes into his head. He'll sing 'Cement Mixer, Put-ti Put-ti' and suddenly slow down the beat and brood over his bongos with fingertips barely tapping the skin as everybody leans forward breathlessly to hear; you think he'll do this for a minute or so, but he goes right on, for as long as an hour, making an imperceptible little noise with the tips of his fingernails, smaller and smaller all the time till you can't hear it any more and sounds of traffic come in the open door. Then he slowly gets up and takes the mike and says, very slowly, 'Great-orooni ... fine-ovauti ... hello-orooni ... bourbon-orooni ... all-orooni ... how are the boys in the front row making out with their girls-orooni ... orooni ... vauti ... oroonirooni ..." He keeps this up for fifteen minutes, his voice getting softer and softer till you can't hear. His great sad eyes scan the audience.
Dean stands in the back, saying, 'God! Yes!' -- and clasping his hands in prayer and sweating. 'Sal, Slim knows time, he knows time.' Slim sits down at the piano and hits two notes, two C's, then two more, then one, then two, and suddenly the big burly bass-player wakes up from a reverie and realizes Slim is playing 'C-Jam Blues' and he slugs in his big forefinger on the string and the big booming beat begins and everybody starts rocking and Slim looks just as sad as ever, and they blow jazz for half an hour, and then Slim goes mad and grabs the bongos and plays tremendous rapid Cubana beats and yells crazy things in Spanish, in Arabic, in Peruvian dialect, in Egyptian, in every language he knows, and he knows innumerable languages. Finally the set is over; each set takes two hours. Slim Gaillard goes and stands against a post, looking sadly over everybody's head as people come to talk to him. A bourbon is slipped into his hand. 'Bourbon-orooni -- thank-you-ovauti ...' Nobody knows where Slim Gaillard is. Dean once had a dream that he was having a baby and his belly was all bloated up blue as he lay on the grass of a California hospital. Under a tree, with a group of colored men, sat Slim Gaillard. Dean turned despairing eyes of a mother to him. Slim said, 'There you go-orooni.' Now Dean approached him, he approached his God; he thought Slim was God; he shuffled and bowed in front of him and asked him to join us. 'Right-orooni,' says Slim; he'll join anybody but won't guarantee to be there with you in spirit. Dean got a table, bought drinks, and sat stiffly in front of Slim. Slim dreamed over his head. Every time Slim said, 'Orooni,' Dean said 'Yes!' I sat there with these two madmen. Nothing happened. To Slim Gaillard the whole world was just one big orooni.'