Posts Tagged ‘ramblings’

Reposted from 2013

One of the first Philip K Dick novels I read was Lies Inc, initially published in 1966 as The Unteleported Man. I was immediately hooked.

The one image of the many I want to bring to mind, is that of the means the original inhabitants of Whale’s Mouth, NewColonizedLand, used to scuttle earth’s colonisers.

For those who do not know the story, it is set far into the future. Lies Inc is an Earth-based organization intent on creating a quiescent population. They do this by continually bombarding people’s minds telepathically with a feedback of personal memory mixed with inconsequential thought. The person cannot distinguish an original thought, or follow a through-line. They can conduct relatively easy tasks but are unable to question authority to any disruptive level.

On Whale’s Mouth, the original inhabitants of the planet, on being taken over by earth people found could not challenge the colonisers technologically, so they picked up on Lies Inc’s techniques. They formed themselves into books; each book comprised the life story of whoever its reader was, and the story was full of instantly recreated memories of the reader; most importantly, the story took the reader up to their present moment. The effect was that the readers became so enthralled in their own life stories, a ‘take’ on their own life story, and so they became caught in a solipsistic loop, incapable of further action.

For those who are not afraid of spoilers, it’s like this:
Whale’s Mouth is an advertised planetary haven, bucolic and peaceful, with planet-sized room for emigrants. The only problem is the teleporter has no return function.

What emigrants discover is a mechanised, industrial world, that is building up an army to take on earth and subdue it to its own totalitarian rule. Via a return-functioning teleporter: oh yes, is does work both ways, but it’s best no one knows – they aim to take the Earth.
To subdue new emigrants they drug them with psychotropic drugs in transport, and by the time they come down it’s too late. Some don’t come down, however. This is their story, as with all PKD stories. This last group try to discover of all their psychotic visions of their present condition, which is the true one. They had, I think, 9 to choose between: which one repeated?

The solipsistic image has so many repercussive parallels in our culture. Do we see here the attraction of the soap opera, of the highselling magazines? The hook is in the ability to describe the life, making coherence out of the jumble of impressions, half-resolved tensions, aspirations based on rickety superstructures, the half-understood, and the ignored detail. But is it the ‘real’, the ‘true’ or even the ‘valid’ story?

This also is dialogue, with the protagonist of the book, and the antagonist of the memory. The book ie autobiography, as a memory-place. Memory-places are essential to us: our house, apartment, car even is a memory place. We decorate and ornament all with our own or combined personal effects. We live within mirrors, we feel comfortable there. It is not our image pleases so much as what we effect: that we can trace our place in time and space with these designs and objects.

Another way of seeing this is in our use of chiasmus, a device of two parts that relate to each other intimately. They relate either antithetically or sequentially: they parallel each other either inversely or directly. But they have a crossing point, a connection. You can find chiasmus in everything we make. Take music: listen to the patterning of counterpoint; but importantly the structure of a fugue by Bach; a symphony, even. Listen to the arch structures of Bruckner’s later works. There is the setting up of structures of phrases and musical relationships, and there is the restatement of key phrases and structural elements, changed perhaps, but only within the parameters set up in the first part. It is everywhere in architecture.

And truth, and its lie – to work the lie has either to counter point by point the truth, or bear no relation whatsoever, be so outlandish… but even there, it depends for its existence on the other’s condition. The relationship is always tacit, implicit; like atomic entanglement, they co-depend on each other.

Our reasoning uses the same structures: think of dialectics. It is a form of two parts, intimately related: it sets up a tension, an interrogation, as in music, and holds it in harmonic relation. Think of the basis of argument, discussion.

Think of Shakespeare (if you must!). His Sonnets are full of struggle and tension. The root cause of this tension is the structure: he posits an argument, a statement of being, then complicates it with antithesis. The form, the Sonnet, is his resolution, a form that exists outside the personal world of the self; it is a statement of the tension, but not the thing itself: an artifact, that has its separate existence. This theme is another major theme through the Sonnets.

In his early plays we see him use chiasmus prodigiously; in Love’s Labours Lost it is a great piece of language-furniture. The form then goes through variation and development in the Sonnets, to emerge in the later plays as a major structural element. Look at MacBeth: both Lady M and M set out from antithetical positions, then diverge as events draw them, to end up in opposite camps. The language of Macbeth himself is full of chiasmi that express his feeling of entrapment within a structure of act and retribution: ‘Foul is fair, and fair is foul’. Contra-diction, frustrated movement, entrapment. Macbeth is ensnared by his reason, and what options it gives him; he has no way out.

From chiasmus to ring: is this from dialectic’s thesis and antithesis, to synthesis? Is the ring-structure that of the syllogism? It is still a trap, a gilded cage. If we look at the pioneering work in neuro-phenomenolgy of Professor Dan Lloyd we see similar forms: the sensory input, and the brain’s mapping, create a back and forth response (as he puts it a ‘recursive recession’) that maps our body in space: the mind’s space. It is the superstructure of consciousness. We are forever trapped in our images that are and are not ourselves.

I have become very wary of dual-option thought: yes-no; this or that; up or down, Conservative-Labour; Republican-Democrat. Think of the Matrix: this reality, or that one – that’s all, folks!

I want a way of thought that works on multiple bases and results in multiple possibilities. I want a way of thought more in tune with a multiverse, that allows more options.

There is a greater harmonic out there to tune to.

Time to move on, folks.

So, where do you stand now with Philip K Dick?
I had a go at re-reading Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep/Blade Runner, recently. I couldn’t read it; I could not believe how bad it was: clunky, nearly every ‘ist’ in the Equality book… and Deckard just escaped one close shave, to jump right into another without  a single ‘Hang on, this guy….’.

Yep, time to move on, folks.



The time of dandelions is early afternoon
when half the world thinks of siesta,
and half pauses to take breath

and the nettles rest on their push through tarmac
and working fingers into hairline cracks
of concrete: when half the world
thinks How untidy these weeds,
and the other half
A mouthful of food

is the time of dandelions.
Their square-cut, overlapping petals
spreading from a centre
with a splayed-hands gesture,
become sun-bright,
a light amongst lights, that underlying leaves
brighten to yellow.

Early afternoon, and the dust a little restless
emphasising how still it is;
the vibrating of light’s wavelengths,
the faint tingling of nerves, raises them
to a gold colour –
when half the world
turns over to begin a new dream, and half
unwraps its gift, the night’s work,
exploring the finer points
of the underlying argument:

the greenery
that makes the gold glow.







I’ve always liked putting different things together, and seeing what happens.
Years and years ago when I had a passing interest in such things I had a wondering-moment about the Tree Alphabet.
This alphabet was proposed by Robert Graves in his White Goddess book; it is constructed from ogham practice and text references in Irish.
It is an alphabet that uses tree names as the letter names. I never could work out why which tree was used where, their leafing, flowering, growth do not seem to coincide with the specific months Graves gives.

There are 13 lunar months; each is a letter of the alphabet, and a sequence in the tale of the growth to maturity of the year, represented as a god. He is then supplanted at midsummer by the god of the waning year. Until New Year when it starts again..
It goes like this, from late December on through the year:

Beth -birch
Fearn – rowan
Luis – alder
Nion – ash
Saille – willow
Uath- hawthorn
Duir- oak
Tinne- holly

Of course, he then arranged this sequence into what he called a Dolmen Arch:


Saille Uath Duir Tinne Coll
Nion                               Muin
Luis                                 Gort
Fearn                              Ngetal
Beth                               Ruis

So, this arrangement puts Duir, the oak tree as the all-important capstone of the (square) arch. This accords with his midsummer fight between waxing and waning year gods. Ok.

So, I thought, how does the tarot’s major arcana fit in with this?
Let’s see:

Willow             Hawthorn                Oak                       Holly               Hazel
Emperor/Nion                                                                                      Temperence/Muin
Ash                                                                                                               Vine                                                   Hierophant/Fearn                                                                                Hanged Man/Gort
Alder                                                                                                               Ivy
Magician/Luis                                                                                        Death/Ngeta
Rowan                                                                                                          Reed
Fool/Beth                                                                                                  The Tower/Ruis
Birch                                                                                                            Elder


A few are missing, you say.
Graves has what he called Cross-Quarter Days, special days in each sector. They rule the following months, until the next cross-quarter day, and so on.
From the Fool’s late Dec/early January Birch month, we have The High Priestess: the young year.
The Lover’s March-April Willow tree month has The Empress: the mature year.
The Hermit’s August Hazel month has Wheel of Fortune: the fall from greatness.
The Tower’s November/Dec Elder tree month, has The Devil, as god of the fallen year, darkness, death. Think of him as a god of the underworld: Pluto, Hades, rather than of all things bad.

With this being an alphabet of consonants, we also have the five vowels These make the lintel, or door step:
The World-The Moon-The Sun-The Star-Judgement.
These, like the extra days, do not have tree names. But with this arrangement the Sun vowel is opposite the Strength/Oak consonant; The Moon is opposite The Lovers/Willow and Chariot/Hawthorn; The Star is opposite Justice/Holly and Hermit/Hazel.
The World covers with the gaining year’s upright, and Judgement the falling year upright.
The vowels cannot have to one-to-one matches, because they breathe life into all the consonontal word-clusters.

This all made a kind of sense to me. Most appropriate seemed to be The Emperor with the old Ash god, and most of all Strength with the Oak and Sun connections.
The Rowan tree with the Magician also had a resonance.
On the other side The Hermit with Hazel seemed to fit. Not sure about Death, then The Tower, though. What do you think?
You have to know Graves’ construction of the story to fit it in. And there you have it: can you believe the man? Was he back-arguing ie fitting things in afterwards?
I have caught him out on a few things over the years. Enough, anyhow, to make me back off.
You can tinker with things forever, seemingly, and it’ll still get you nowhere.



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.

th (2)

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.

th (1)
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?