2016-09-06-13-39-15

Negative Energy, by Richard Livermore.
24 Essays and Blogs. Elefantasia Press, 2016

ISBN: 976-1911357-17-9                  Price £.7.99 (Postage free in the UK)

The book can be purchased from:
Richard Livermore, 6/1 Jamaica Mews, Edinburgh, EH3 6HN, Scotland, UK.
livermore.chanticleer.richard@gmail.com

 

Richard Livermore should be better known.
He founded and edited Chantecleer Magazine, and its later online form Ol Chanty:

http://www.chanticleer-press.com/

He has been active in the literary and poetry worlds for many years. He is a seasoned campaigner for wider dissemination, deeper understanding, for the neglected and the deserving of better readership.
But he never shies away from the difficult questions, the tricky areas.

Aficionados of literature, poetry, film, philosophy, culture will feel very at home in the world of this book.Why? Because

This Is The Book For You!

 

2016 marks the five-hundredth anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.
I mention this in this context because my favourite essay so far in this collection contains a wham-bang essay on Shakespeare. He opens by questioning Why he was never given a place in Poet’s Corner in Westminster Abbey.

What he gives us in response is SHAKESPEARE AND THE QUESTION OF LEGITIMATE POWER.
In this mere eight pages he takes us through the pungency of Shakespeare’s response to power as he found it in London under Elizabeth 1, and earlier claimants. He shows how Shakespeare ran the gamut of realisations from Timon of Athens, to the big three of Hamlet, MacBeth and King Lear. This he argues persuasively was a zeroing-in on the subject of the nature of power itself. Timon, he writes was about money as power; no, the real kick came when Shakespeare found a way around censorship via history, other cultures, to look at, pull apart, expose the gaining, use and abuse of political power.
This is why Shakespeare was difficult to domesticate. He had to be ‘bowdlerised’ as one term has it; he had also to be rendered benign through academic study modules.
That is why it takes an essay like this, outside of the academy, to reveal just how much Shakespeare pushed perceptions; how he threw it out into the open, to the populace, to people outside privilege and court circles.

I wrote above that essay was my favourite ‘so far’. Admit it, our likes, our desires, change. They grow develop. Or do they? Is the pack just reshuffled after a time? Time, yes. Time is the problem. What happens to us over time?
Some have attempted road maps (of the soul) for us. Whether they are religions, philosophies, politics or ethical systems, the intent is similar: how do we navigate our combined lives through time, in our shared space?
These essays and blogs take us through these invented landscapes searching all the time for that thing that makes our lives. He has his own particular criteria.

A close second on the Shakespeare essay/blog is EPIC PERSPECTIVES.
Being challenged can be one of our greatest pleasures, as well as spurs to learning, to knowing. In this piece Richard Livermore brings us to that body of writing I have long wanted to dive into and swim, The Mahabharata. In this instance it is Carole Satyamurti’s version. His love for the work is obvious on every page, and it illuminates the text.
The Mahabharata is, of course, another way of navigating time and space. This time it does not follow on the Greek/Classical rationalism method, but uses an older means, that of story. It is an unfolding story, series of stories, though, and this is important: it is not a static, rendered-into-text, finished product. The stories went out into the villages, were added onto, changed, re-valued. What we have here is one-off screen-shot of The Mahabharata’s vast complex of stories.

Think Game of Thrones has twists and turns, and conniving and general skullduggery? Try The Mahabharata. The difference is that The Mahabharata has Dharma, it has a through-line of purpose, intent, that is responsive to current and contemporary situations. G R R Martin certainly knows his predecessors.

On the topic of time, duration, and identity, Richard Livermore takes us through the book  Difference and Repetition, by Giles Deleuze, in his essay DELEUZENARY STATES
It is necessary for any thought-traveller to have some grounding in Deleuze (and Gatari), and this essay is an excellent place to begin. We encounter Kant as a major contributor. Kant occurs throughout the essays and blogs: his contribution to modern thought is given due recognition.

What do you think of democracy? That sacred cow of the enlightened Western world: Do not touch; do not question; just accept it as the best we have to offer.
Well, is it?
Richard Livermore writes: ‘Personally, I would  extend the notion of democracy and limit it at the same time.’ You see, it is possible to think further, think round corners, look at democracy from other sides, angles, and not just the big sell part. In our small worlds of personal interactions, equality and diversity etc, it has proved invaluable. On the big stage it can take on an appearance as lumbering, out-dated.  ‘A means to an end, and not an end in itself.’ he writes. Once an idea, a political ideal, becomes realised it is limited by its success, its existence, even. We sit back: the work is done. It is never done, though, is it. Democracy is just a station on your way, to quote Leonard Cohen.

So what does he mean by Negative Energy? It is part of an equation with positivity. Positivity denotes creating, building up, aspiration and achievement of promise. Negative Energy is not its opposite – that way of thinking, of universals, logical oppositions, contradictories etc is not helpful. Negative Energy is the energy released from the break-down, break-up, of ossified structures and systems. Sound familiar? Sound like someplace you know? The energy can be just as creative, just as vitalizing. The best of our works, our books, plays, symphonies we value as such because they give us the struggle of the breaking out and rebuilding.
It is quite a whoosh when you realise that!

The book is in no ‘particular order – chronological or otherwise’ Richard Livermore writes in his Preface. I see that as a strength, it gives the book a jewel box quality, full of surprises and sparkles, some dark, some glittering, some challenging our icons, some valuing them.
That is not to say there are no through-threads, themes, obsessions, even. There certainly are, and it provides us with a pleasure to find topics occurring in unexpected places.

We glimpse a very human heart and mind at work here behind the essays and blogs on film, opera, novels, plays, poetry, philosophy, science.
Here are our cultural nodes and political moods, explored and unraveled for us. For us to carry on the work.

GIFTS OF RINGS AND GOLD

Posted: September 7, 2016 in John Stammers Page

Whoo-hoo!

Now available on Kindle!

Cover

Kindle book ready and waiting!
Roll up! Roll up!

So what’s it about?
It is about how stories, poems were structured in a certain way from early times. The structure works as a memory system. I investigate how this structure fits into the now well-known Arts of Memory. The book also looks at how the structure was passed down through time. 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01IRPODPW

after ‘Orpheus and Eurydike’, choreographed by Pina Bausch

 

They walked the beach as sun rose through cloud-bands
and the moon not yet down; the sands
like stars: the sun and moon in the sky together!
And all their heart’s desires held in their hands.

A wave of the world broke over them, and he
left sprawled among ruins . Where was she?
All he saw was horror, wreckage; no walls,
no roofs, nor anything left. Somone said, Follow me.

Rocks and Stones
Reached for the light, there was none;
only shade; and alone, sprawled—
were those people? Or rocks, stones?
‘Who are these?’ They were the strangers
you shared that day with. ‘All these?
Will they ever wake?’ Some maybe;
there are many though, who never wake;
who turn to dust. You walk on them.

His silent tread stirred up that dust;
it moved and flowed: the particles
of lives — lost to time, shadow.

‘There are people alive like this.’ he said,
‘If I am now to be honest… I’ve…
done this too.’  And now, his guide
answered, all those who, like you,
wasted time, see here where it goes.

They entered an ingress of deeper shade,
a folded area of quiet, blackness

Smoke and Noise
then smoke, heat — and noise, noise…!

i
I knew this’d be mine!’ one bent,
tore off his shirt,  he knelt then went
into the fire, its glowing streams;
put himself into his screams.
The others shuddered, queued to the rear.
About them groups cowered; an overseer
whipped them, blood ran; another came
whipped them all again.  ‘If only I’d known’,
one sobbed, ‘if only….’
We deserve this; this we deserve!
Oh Lord! Lord God, reserve for us
Your worst!’ they wailed; overseers heard:
the noise went up  another notch, spurred
further horror  ‘till hearing failed.

ii
‘Dictators, tyrants? Are they here?’
All such big shots are allotted space
amongst the hordes who make up the floor boards
for all to walk on. ‘And bankers, financiers…
surely economists…? Paired off
with alchemists, redundant theorists?’
All smaller fry, the  you and I,
are here for the duration. Some
move on.

iii
Everywhere blood-red, black,
with lurid crimsons, greens  — too fast,
too loud, too hot — his guide looked back,
watched him as he gasped. It passed,
he calmed, the connection failed, lost.
The overseers wandered off, interest lost.

‘Where is it hurts?’ he asked those closest.
‘You have no bodies; no flesh, no bone!
It’s only the memory of pain.
You have no bodies now. What hurts?’
Sound stopped, all looked. ‘But what are we
without them: memories? We would be
less than we were…. They make us ourselves.’

‘They can’t let go, can they! No matter
what the cost to them.’ His guide
said, simply, No.

Sleep
Noise shut off, and the heat
and choking fumes stopped. They had passed
another gate.

All was cool grass,
soft light, trees, water somewhere, or was it
bird song? And here and there in meadow grass lay
clothed shapes in simple shifts: men, women.
The children not huddled, but stretched at ease.
or quiet in reveries.

And there were those who lost definition,
skin-colours merging with the earth;
hip-ridge, rib-cage eroding down,
a gleam of glorious hair gone or going to — where? —
birds nest building.

His guide said, What do you see here? He answered,
‘The soft sifting down of the self.’
Then there was the next gate,
ornate, and set in a mossy wall.

Clouds
Great rushings of wings, clear trumpet calls,
some fine and well-tuned instruments somewhere,
and hazy swept-colours of clouds in the air.
The busy to-ing and fro-ing of fluttering angels.

They no longer stepped on ground but tall
clouds, and somehow supported by the air;
a hand was offered him, to share
flight among the light and fluttering angels.

A chorus of voices somewhere, in call
and answer; even the brassy trumpet blare
was melodious to hear there,
as they flew, entwined with fluttering angels.

They flew through skies, by wall on wall
of towering cumulus, through the vast easy glare
of a summer sky; there was no rain there
only the rainbow cloud-clothes of fluttering angels.

All light, lightness, release; no fall
from state of grace, he thought; felt the thought tear
his joy, and his friends left him, to stare
after them, the free and fluttering angels.

He stood there, alone, noticed how all
flew only at cloud height, there were none there
ascended higher than where there were.
The endless and pointless joy of fluttering angels.

Deep
Deeper in, spiralling down to an inevitable centre:
a sea shell left in the deepest part. The surface
such a long way now, a memory: it no longer exists;
how wrong they all were, the living;
their hopes and dreams, like tangling mists
in forests of birch and conifer, on mountain, fjord,
that remember nothing, not growth, nor fall,
nor the touch of wind in their branches, twigs.

Words failed; there was no air. And no gravity held him,
no space tied him; no time, just continuance,
a long hung-up sense of itself. ‘When will it end,
this ongoing self?  All I have travelled are just gut
and aliment. I search for that out side me;
for her.’ ‘Or is it her inside, the reflection
of her in you; what you have made her to be?‘

Then he saw her. ‘You keep her here, by thinking
of her. She only wants to go.’ they said.

Noise, and Smoke
i
This is cruel of you; heartless, even!’
‘Then let us go and ask her.’ He said.

 ‘There are rules and regulations.’
All there wore cloaks of red and black:
he met his questioners.  ‘Who will speak
for you?Where is your guide?
Here were puzzles he could not plumb;
where was his guide? He turned, saw none.
Alone, then, with oneself before the judges:
‘My guide is my love for Europina’.

Pass’, one said. ‘to the next one.

ii
Never to look at her, never to see
her face.’  ‘Not blinded, though: too easy…’;
No hand’s soothing her soft … contour!
Her hurts or injuries.’ ‘Not to hear
her passing…’, ‘swished clothes…’ , ‘hiss of sheer
silks …’. ‘Nor know the scent of her…’,  ‘imprint
of lipstick…’, ‘choice of perfume…’, ‘the mint
of her toothpaste in the bathroom.’,  ‘trespass
of her shower’s condensation on cold glass!’

iii
If you agree with all points then you can go to her.
One slip and you will lose even memory of her.
Do you agree?
He said, ‘I know you now, you are
the angels of the intermediate realms; I have already
passed beyond you. Lawyers and legislators,
I am already free of you; I have entered
all the gates despite of you.  None of you
asked her for her choice. Not one
thought it necessary to defer to her. Why is that?’
It is too late now,’ they said, ‘for you. For her.
We all are the lost here.’

Stones and Rocks
He stood among stones and rocks: ‘If life
makes of itself, then here’s where it must be.
I have seen none passing likewise like me
on this journey; only she came this way.
She is in every part of me;
wherever she is, so then will I be.

The laws of the universe
are known to change through space.
I need no guide now, nor further proof.
There is nothing that laws can stop
that have not sounded her wishes too.’

 

He stood among the stones and rocks , a ridge there
where earth met sky; and a bridge in the air
to the greater mystery. Clouds raced, tumbling.
Was this the last gate? Then she was there;

her hand slipped warm from a pocket of her jeans
to his how she had done in their teens;
the waves of days flowed away around them,
between them all was balance, equal means,
found.

 

 

 

 

ALBANOR AND EUROPINA Pt 7

Posted: August 31, 2016 in John Stammers Page

after ‘Orpheus and Eurydike’, choreographed by Pina Bausch

Stones and Rocks
He stood among stones and rocks: ‘If life
makes of itself, then here’s where it must be.
I have seen none passing likewise like me
on this journey; only she came this way.
She is in every part of me;
wherever she is, so then will I be.

The laws of the universe
are known to change through space.
I need no guide now, nor further proof.
There is nothing that laws can stop
that have not sounded her wishes too.’

 

He stood among the stones and rocks , a ridge there
where earth met sky; and a bridge in the air
to the greater mystery. Clouds raced, tumbling.
Was this the last gate? Then she was there;

her hand slipped warm from a pocket of her jeans
to his how she had done in their teens;
the waves of days flowed away around them,
between them all was balance, equal means,                                                                                                                                                                                    found.

ALBANOR AND EUROPINA Pt 6

Posted: August 23, 2016 in John Stammers Page

after ‘Orpheus and Eurydike’, choreographed by Pina Bausch

Noise, and Smoke

 i
This is cruel of you; heartless, even!’
‘Then let us go and ask her.’ He said.

 ‘There are rules and regulations.’
All there wore cloaks of red and black:
he met his questioners.  ‘Who will speak
for you?Where is your guide?
Here were puzzles he could not plumb;
where was his guide? He turned, saw none.
Alone, then, with oneself before the judges:
‘My guide is my love for Europina’.

Pass’, one said. ‘to the next one.

ii
Never to look at her, never to see
her face.’  ‘Not blinded, though: too easy…’;
No hand’s soothing her soft … contour!
Her hurts or injuries.’ ‘Not to hear
her passing…’, ‘swished clothes…’ , ‘hiss of sheer
silks …’. ‘Nor know the scent of her…’,  ‘imprint
of lipstick…’, ‘choice of perfume…’, ‘the mint
of her toothpaste in the bathroom.’,  ‘trespass
of her shower’s condensation on cold glass!’

iii
If you agree with all points then you can go to her
One slip and you will lose even memory of her.
Do you agree?
He said, ‘I know you now, you are
the angels of the intermediate realms; I have already
passed beyond you. Lawyers and legislators,
I am already free of you; I have entered
all the gates despite of you.  None of you
asked her for her choice. Not one
thought it necessary to defer to her. Why is that?’
It is too late now,’ they said, ‘for you. For her.
We all are the lost here.’

 

ALBANOR AND EUROPINA Pt 5

Posted: August 20, 2016 in John Stammers Page

after ‘Orpheus and Eurydike’, choreographed by Pina Bausch

ocean

Deep
Deeper in, spiralling down to an inevitable centre:
a sea shell left in the deepest part. The surface
such a long way, a memory only, no longer exists;
how wrong they all were, the living;
their hopes and dreams, like tangling mists
in forests of birch and conifer, on mountain, fjord,
that remember nothing, not growth, nor fall,
nor the touch of wind in their branches, twigs.

Words failed; there was no air. And no gravity held him,
no space tied him; no time, just continuance,
a long hung-up sense of itself. ‘When will it end,
this ongoing self?  All I have travelled are just gut
and aliment. I search for that out side me;
for her.’ ‘Or is it her inside, the reflection
of her in you; what you have made her to be?‘

Then he saw her. ‘You keep her here, by thinking
of her. She only wants to go.’ they said.

ALBANOR AND EUROPINA Pt 4

Posted: August 14, 2016 in John Stammers Page

after ‘Orpheus and Eurydike’, choreographed by Pina Bausch

clouds

Clouds
Great rushings of wings, clear trumpet calls,
some fine and well-tuned instruments somewhere,
and hazy swept-colours of clouds in the air.
The busy to-ing and fro-ing of fluttering angels.

They no longer stepped on ground but tall
clouds, and somehow supported by the air;
a hand was offered him, to share
flight amongst the light and fluttering angels.

A chorus of voices somewhere, in call
and answer; even the brassy trumpet blare
was melodious to hear there,
as they flew, entwined with fluttering angels.

They flew through skies, by wall on wall
of towering cumulus, through the vast easy glare
of a summer sky; there was no rain there
only the rainbow cloud-clothes of fluttering angels.

All light, lightness, release; no fall
from state of grace, he thought; felt the thought tear
his joy, and his friends left him, to stare
after them, the free and fluttering angels.

He stood there, alone, noticed how all
flew only at cloud height, there were none there
ascended higher than where there were.
The endless and pointless joy of fluttering angels.