Archive for December, 2015


Posted: December 23, 2015 in Chat
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Every time you turned the street turned with you:
the languages, distractions, sales, and somewhere
a street band. You turned and the current flowed
around you, through you; kept moving. The window display
was there for you. Streets of bodies eddying, surged.

You still felt their tug in a doorway. Turned, and
lifted away; it fell from you. You rose
quickly and above it all; shop lights far below.
Rose past cornices, pigeon spikes, to colder air;
the smells of fast food, music, muting.

A sudden panic; the city lights indistinguishable –
you were rising faster, ‘How will I breathe?’
Higher, higher to break through to sudden
openness, emptiness,
and strung there
were huge chains of lives, channelled
across darkness — people connected, singly,
as far as sight was possible.

A policemen next to you, his difficult face;
the barrista who snubbed you, the shop assistant
who had seemed distant,  all there together,
connecting.  And listening revealed
high tones, metallic, different timbres. The planets,
ringing in the openness.

Linked lines of lives stretched from planet
to planet and the sun’s radiance. All connected,
attuned  to a vast, opening sense
of awareness, completion.




Posted: December 18, 2015 in Chat

A mannered, difficult piece from my Geoffrey Hill phase. It is not strict paralleling but more haphazard in order to mirror the nature of social and political relations of the period.

Workers and Masters

Transportees. The ones returned
free in name, kneading that name
to prove itself: ballast, in a ship
approaching storms
that they had left as draughts.

‘We regulated Reform clubs;
they tried us as traitors.
In Lincoln jail we learned our art
at the generous hand of jailors:
the skill of moral outrage
turned into language.’

‘The talk goes this way
and the talk goes that;
the arguments fly forward
and then fly back.
The weaver’s so worked
he has wrecked his back;
such a wearisome life
is the weaver’s.’

‘Proud and confused, I offer
my scrap book: see, here,
Richard Percival,
hand-loom weaver, Parliamentarian,
shot, first casualty of the Civil War
on Market Street, Manchester.’

The watermark in the weave;
how for all that, and all that,
a man is…  dutiful to his employ,
obedient to the law,
redundant  in the lean years,                                ,
to the politic
a quantum in the calculation.

And woman, man’s helpmeet,
man’s this and that, bearer
of the mark and the brunt,
the key negotiator
between need and neglect.

Pioneers. They measured out
the warp and weft of the world
battling… well, only dragons
could justify such winnings.
Treading iron-clad in the Congo,
the Americas, China colonies –
and bequeathing
Mutiny, Famine, Disease.

Home as magniloquence;
dutiful wives sew more mill slums
to the map, ‘to compensate
their years of drough.’

This was their myth, aggrandising
trading procurements;
their odyssey, the treasure won,
how they fleeced the colonies
of coffee, cotton.

In the Lords allowed themselves
Bills of Regulation, blood-bought;
a house in the country, sculpture,
English portraits: Nazarene shepherds
fat with health, children ruddy, without rickets,
and the girls demure yet buxom;
rivers, vales, seashores;
– mirrors of their assumption.

Every cloth they manufactured its signature,
the invisible snicks that watermark
how man is to man, interdependence between
need and require: the lady’s ’good work’,
and poverty’s workable negotiation.

They never read Theocritus, Homer,
nor followed Virgil, yet hatched
an Ovidian dialect
with which to address their passing
into power.


Are my chickens

Posted: December 11, 2015 in Chat
Tags: ,

… coming home to roost?


For years I have been boring people, myself included, with how all knowledge needs re-examining to take in current and contemporary thought and insights. This is nothing new of course. R G  Collingwood put forward the idea that history needs to be re-written every generation to take in new and recent discovers and knowledge. That was way back in the 1940s.

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So, when I was working on my new book, GIFTS OF RINGS AND GOLD, I used whatever resources were immediately to hand, restricted to energy and expense. I had trained as an historian; my course was more analytical than straight arts based. I had tried constantly to keep up to date.
But I worked on my own, with no faculty behind me, and very little access to academic material.

What I found was that by using older methods of analysing texts the results and conclusions were not much different from the new writing. The new writing methods were obviously fuller, broader, deeper because they had the resources that I did not have. Yet within all this and their wrangling with equalities and perspectives the conclusions were similar.

My conclusions from this?
In these instances my trumpeted demands for new evaluations have maybe not produced much that is new. Have the energy demands for the new aesthetics overtaken what is then  left available for further insights?


Another item in my rant-repository was how argument, discussion, if it was to be relevant, or more relevant, to our needs, must have a multiple base.

That is, no more yes, no; no more subject-predicate-conclusion…. One way to help towards greater incorporation I thought may be  symbolic logic’s use of formulations to work with larger bases of argument.

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Was all this another effect from having immersed myself in chiasmi, and dual/binary-based structures?
I did not know what was beyond yes and no (remember ‘Po, Beyond Yes and No’ by Edward de Bono, 1990? ), but felt that these dualities were unworkable. In fact that they had long been so, and only led to conflict, opposition and trouble.

The need was for everyone, by implication, to recognise we were all essential, and all part of the world. For genders not to be polarities, but points on the wavelength of being.

Funny how you get to thinking in universal terms. I’d been trying to banish the universal, and applaud our particulars.

So, was I damning myself to computer thought? As my friend Karen so rightly pointed out, no one could possibly think or reason to any effect by  using wider bases.


And I was thinking: If society is to be workable it has to have input from everybody.
And so we now now have crowd-sourcing. Online courses have discussion boards that are taken credibly by the tutors.

And yet, I have to admit, the results of these of these have not resulted in much of interest or innovation.
They read as though social media has reduced responses to dated and glib cliches.


How can the current aversion to religion have any meaning without its sibling, religion-as-rule?
Would an atheist world would be a featureless, medium-shallow terrain of uninteresting sludge?
How can the current body-centred reasoning have the reach and dynamic of more abstract multi-dimensional thought?

Am I getting bogged down in immediate matters, not the big picture: ‘the surface look that soil took, when the seeds of blooms were germinating…’ –  that is, new-world systems of knowledge and thought?
Those old binaries again:
Only allowed question –
Is it This?
Or This?

Disallowed answer –
Well, it has elements of both and yet many other unconsidered factors. The result is a web, a vast network, that we call here, now, us……

What’s in Santa’s sack? A new-world egg?

Why that title?
Partly because of the position of the letter G: when you recognise the form of a ring-composition text, you will recognise this positioning of G was not random.

What is the difference between a chiasmic form of text, and a ring-composition text?
Read, and find out!

In this book I attempt to align the ancient use and craft of chiasmic structures to The Arts of Memory.

I attempt to trace the transmission of these crafts and skills through history.
– There is evidence of their use in the ancient middle-east, and in early Greece.
– They next re-emerged in grand style in the 10th-11th-12th-and 13th centuries in Western Europe: a great flowering of chiasmic and ring forms.
– Our times have classic examples of the form – in surprising places!

Chiasmic form is so deeply rooted in our thinking, the structures of our thought. How did this happen? What are the consequences? Is it possible to break away?

Read the book, and find out!