24 January 2008
Not so long ago, I mentioned my religious faith in this very blog. Keeping on that theme, I'm currently engrossed in Evelyn Underhill's classic tome, Mysticism: A Study of the Nature and Development of Man's Spiritual Consciousness http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evelyn_Underhill . Written way back in 1911, this is an amazing study of mainly Christian mystical experience. Alongside this, I'm also looking into Mysticism: A Study and an Anthology by F.C. Happold http://www.escapefromwatchtower.com/mysticism.html, The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard http://www.dwillard.org/ and I'm re-reading parts of Karen Armstrong's A History of God http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karen_Armstrong. That may all look a bit heavy but, somehow, it all fits together and it seems that everytime I come across something that sparks a light in me in one book one of the others has something relevant to say the next time I turn to it. This all seems to me to be just about the most vital subject for a person to take an interest in. Of course, merely reading about something is one thing, doing something about it is another. I must take up meditation once more and search for a way of 'right living' (as Buddhists would put it). I go to church (from time to time); I pray; in my feeble way I do my best to be 'good' but it never feels like it's quite enough. Don't get me wrong, I'm not chastising myself but I acknowledge that 'the search' goes on and I should try harder.
Something quite exciting happened today. I came back from my first solo walk (quite s little walk, really) since I became unwell and had to undergo months of treatment and I checked the blog to find that The Purple Gooroo had added some links that I hadn't noticed before. I clicked on the bottom one and this led me to an interesting site which had another load of links which I duly searched through to find a lot of people with similar interests to myself and many seemed to be on a similar quest. Most seemed to be far more mature in the spiritual life than I am and it was inspiring to read their thoughts and look at some of the things they have been reading and read some of their own poetry and prose. So, thanks to The Purple Gooroo. Back to the subject of walking, I hope to continue to build up my strength with regular walks and times of solitude, if the weather allows! I will be having a scan in a week or so to tell me how all the treatment has gone and we'll take it from there. I'm in God's hands and, whatever you believe in, please send postive vibes my way and I'll be sending them back to you too with great thanks.
Talk again soon.
23 January 2008
We haven't been up to much lately, just the usual. Working, chillin' out--that sort of thing. The weather's been dull and rainy, but we managed a couple of short walks around the village.
We were asked to attend a Confirmation service a couple of nights ago--so we duly attended. I was mainly surprised when the church didn't collapse after I walked in. Having (mostly) forgotten about all of the pomp surrounding Confirmation services, I was also surprised at how long it all took. Apparently, it was even longer last year, as there were more Confirmandi. Ah well, we survived.
I've been spending a bit of time over at GoodReads the past few days (in fact, I've been spending virtually all of my on-line time there). I received an e-mail invite from Mark D., over at Cheek. The site seemed interesting to me, so I signed up. It's pretty much a place to list the books you've read (and are reading and want to read) and give and get recommendations from fellow bookworms. It's been an interesting exercise trying to remember exactly what I've read over the years, and when. I've been amazed that some of the titles I read over twenty years ago actually appear in the GoodReads database. I'm still adding titles to my bookshelf--I'm up to around 170 at the moment. When I've got as much as I can remember, I'll explore the other features of the site. Maybe I'll see you there.
The next couple of months looks good for tunes, with the newest Mars Volta album, The Bedlam In Goliath, out on Monday. More Latin-tinged prog-punk from the boys..and that's fine with me. I think I'll give their last one, Amputechture, another spin or two. Mike Oldfield's brand new one, Music Of The Spheres, is due out in March. He's collaborated with Karl Jenkins on the record. Jenkins is best known for his classical-lite Adeimus series--but once upon a time he was a second keyboardist in Soft Machine (alongside Mike Ratledge), with his apex being the remarkable Six album, released in 1973. From what I can gather, "Music Of The Spheres" seems something of a 'return to form'. I haven't been overly impressed with the last couple of Oldfield albums, so I'm hoping "Music..." does recover some of the magic. The new Elbow album is also slated to hit the racks in March. The boys are touring then as well and we may try to catch them at the Academy. It'll be tough for them to top Leaders Of The Free World, but I suspect they gave it really good effort. Time to warm up the disc player.
11 January 2008
Has it really been a year since Pope Bob left this planet for unknown adventures? I still miss him and I'm still hoping that his remaining family can put together an anthology of his unpublished works. Maybe even the fabled Tale Of The Tribe? Some of the MLA'ers have been talking about completing T.O.T.T. themselves--in which case, I'll definitely be up for helping out with that. In the meantime - there's the two MLA-related Wikipedia pages. The collaborative fiction one and the newest, a page dedicated to the Illuminatus! trilogy. Cool stuff.
As for Pope Bob himself, well, I don't necessarily "believe" in an after-life..but if such a thing 'is' a possibility--I imagine he's still tripping the light fantastic with Arlen, downing pints of astral Guinness with Jimmy Joyce, Timmy Leary and Flann O'Brien, having ol' Ludwig Van teach him piano sonatas and blowing minds everywhere. Hail Pope Bob!
It's also the 102nd birthday of Dr. Albert Hofmann, who, in case you're not aware, was the first to synthesize a little compound called LSD. The man seems far more rational and sober-minded than a lot of "War On Some Drugs" types would have you believe. I've got a recording of Hofmann speaking at a psychedelics symposium held in San Francisco in September 1978. He describes his experiences with LSD with a clarity and focus that only a rational, scientific mind can conjure. You can read that 1978 lecture here.
It would be pure speculation to consider what 2008 would be like, had Aldous Huxley, Humphrey Osmond and Hofmann's view that psychedelics should be studied and used for therapeutic purposes won out over the mass-experimentation model of Leary, Ken Kesey and Allen Ginsberg. Some later counter-culturalists managed to bridge the gap a bit between the scientists and mystics (Terence McKenna comes to mind), but the cat's been out of the bag far too long now and the TSOG won't budge on the matter of keeping psychedelics illegal and "immoral"--so still no scientific testing and the only stuff available is dodgy 'street acid', which may contain a number of things and pure lysergic acid probably won't be one of them. Maybe someday that will change--but for the moment, I'm glad 'Uncle Albert' is still with us.
Check out Bogus Magus' post over at Only Maybe for another R.A.W./Albert Hofmann tribute.
07 January 2008
Happy New Year, All! I contributed to the latest Maybe Quarterly (a sort-of web-zine published by the crew at the MLA on the solstices and equinoxes) by flexing the Photoshop skillz and creating the cover. I meant to have it ready for the autumn equinox issue and all sorts of stuff happened to effectively sabotage it. Anyway, better late than never. Looks pretty good...to me, that is. See if you can spot the typo--and be sure to read the contents of the issue. Loadsa good stuff there--but especially Bogus Magus and Bobby's collab piece, called Magical Means. You can check out the issue here. 'Till next time...