A whiter shade of pale

We tripped the light fantastic,
Turned cartwheels ‘cross the doors (of perception),
I was feeling kind of far out,
And the mind called out for more…

My spiritual journey has been on the road now for exactly two years this week. I look in the mirror from time to time, the face is still the same (albeit with a few more lines and the levels of monochrome in the facial fur department have increased), but looking beyond the physical manifestation lies an inner self which is, to me at least, almost unrecognisable.

I reviewed my commitment today to both myself and others, a commitment which was a sincere pledge undertaken during those dark times and I’m happy to say that I’m on track. My personal outlook is and will continue to be my priority list. I’m a firm believer that it is our priorities that define who we are and how we are perceived by others, and when these priorities change, the universal order of things becomes chaotic, fragile. Often when one changes priority, it’s most often as a result of the ego kicking in, want and desire taking president over need and reason. My priority list is quite simple really:

  1. The Wife and Children.
  2. My health, well-being and search for enlightenment.
  3. My friends.
  4. Everything else.
  5. Work.

Work really is a distraction to what is important to me, but a necessary evil nonetheless. So when I do have to work away from my number one priority, I try to keep myself distracted, to fend off the pull and energy drain of “The Corporation”. This week saw me climbing over the roof of Millennium Dome on Tuesday with my brother-in-law, and Tuesday marked another milestone in my search for “the source”.

Following on from reshuffling of the priority list deck two years ago (whether that took place on a prioritisation table I’m not certain), I took up yoga, meditation and reiki which really help ground me, the glue to who I am now. At that time, I also saw an opportunity to open my still sceptical mind to alternative ways of thinking, alternative ways of operating, which inevitably led me to the door of my good friend in Eastham.

The catalyst to this change in consciousness was a gig in Chester. We went to see Nick Harper (a personal favourite of ours) but instead of taking up our usual front row seats, decided to stop at the bar and talk. And talk. And talk. Nick played majestically on his “Last Guitar”, as our conversation delved deeper and deeper, from quantum physics to Everetts Many World Interpretation, as Anthony Peake stroked Schrödinger’s Cat in a parallel universe somewhere.

Fascinated by all of this, I drove us both home (stopping to relieve myself on the way due to all the soft drinks) and bid my Peroni pal a fond farewell, with a mission to find out more about this Anthony Peake character. The next day I found that he had quite a few books out and more immediately available was a plethora of podcasts, vodcasts and articles on the web. I duly ordered ITLAD and downloaded most of his audio files. It was quite a departure from the former me, no woo-woo name calling was to come from my lips.

There was one particular podcast which drew my attention, it was his theories relating to the pineal gland. The pineal gland makes/secretes melatonin, the chemical which puts us to sleep each night. Peake posits that there is more to this pine-cone-shaped walnut than meets the (third) eye, in that it has the ability under certain conditions to
self-produce “metatonin”, a DMT-based neurochemical which can put the “secrete-ee” into altered states of consciousness.

One such “under certain conditions” is Lucia No 3, a Lucid Light Machine. This device is comprised of several halogen bulbs placed within what resembles a shower-head; it combines a stroboscope with a constant white light which induces a transcendental experience for the viewer.

So a few weeks back, I sent out a list of potential things to do with my chums in work whilst I was in London this week, including running events, the cinema and a “trip” to Light Eye Mind studio in Finsbury Park. I wasn’t hopeful that anyone would go with me to see Lucia, but was happy when “M” decided she would go with me, the lads stating that they would meet us up after for a spot of tiffin.

Eager to read as much of the remainder of ITLAD that I could before our visit, I managed to cram in a hundred pages on the redeye down to London, both eager and a bit apprehensive about what was to come.

Our journey to Finsbury Park took a while, but we arrived a little early and had to wait a wee while (apt as we were desperate for the toilet) for our hosts for the evening. Talking outside the store, “M” and I swapped our own stories about our own experiences, of spirituality, of alternative therapies and holistics.

We were met by “A”, “N” and “D” from Light Eye Mind, and within minutes it was clear that there were no egos involved here which was great. There was no big sell, all very humble and approachable folks. “A” resembling a young Russell Brand (hope that is taken as a compliment should he ever read this :D) introduced us to both the studio (which was displaying some cool artwork by Danny Wilder) and Lucia No 3. His suggestion of an initial three minute tester was well met by both of us, a sample of a longer session to follow if we felt ok with the machine.

Waiver forms dutifully signed (that we didn’t have epilepsy or deep rooted psychological problems), I stepped up as guinea pig and took to my seat. I decided to bring my own music, my approach was one of deep meditation (if that was possible) so on went my Kundalini Yoga playlist from Spotify, as did Lucia. In bright light with the eyelids closed, I guess we would all see a peachy glow, and before the strobe kicked in, that’s exactly what I saw, but once the strobe kicked in, everything changed. Everything changed. I saw art. My art. My eyelid was the easel, my mind the painter. Even though the tester session was brief, I managed to see / create fractal vistas of magnificent colours, a gallimaufry of spirals and shapes, more colours, more shapes, downwards spirals.

When the light dimmed, I took a deep breath and passed the cans over to “M” who selected some of “A’s” own tunes by a band called Carbon Based Life Forms and assumed the position. The three minutes went fast and she was done. She opened her eyes with the same “wow-look” I’d had and immediately wanted more, to get back to that place she had just been, and so she remained in-seat and took a further fifteen to twenty minute session.

I talked outside to “A” and shared my journey over the last two years with him, and he listened, really listened. It’s so refreshing to talk to folks like him, folks in-tune and attuned to one’s own frequency, not ridiculed or pilloried for looking at things in a different way. I told him I’d been reading a lot of Anthony Peake and studies into consciousness (Piero Scariffi), watched a great many videos regarding DMT and ayahuasca (Rick Strassman) and experienced first-hand universal energy flow via yoga, meditation, reiki (advising that I was now Reiki Level 2), and having listened to podcasts pointing the way to Lucia No 3, I’d decided give it a try and here I was.

When “M’s” session came to an end, “A” went to her to gently wake her as she  remained static. She opened her eyes, there and not there, seemingly having a full on hypnogogic experience, managing to finally reconnect her out of body consciousness with her physical form. We made sure she had settled before I took to the chair, the details of her trip to be shared after my own journey.

As the session was a lot longer, I decided to settle into a seated yoga position, and with mudra fully deployed I relaxed into it. Once again I began to create my own William Neal / Roger Dean prog-rock-album-cover type vistas. Isometric shapes began to form, mandalas created by thin illuminous “Tron-esqe” lines appeared, followed by what can only described as wormholes, deep blues and greens spiralling inwards and outwards. Then I saw a swastika, not the revolting symbol of the Nazism, but the softer ancient Hindu symbol, growing in size from central core before disappearing.

The most profound part was yet to come. I felt myself departing into a middle state, not conscious nor subconscious nor unconscious but somewhere in the middle. I remember being surrounded by a warm glow, with a central elipse of orange light (an eye if you will, or tunnel even), a place of peace, and for the first time I saw (or created) white light, three forms or shapes of white light presented themselves. Initially the three small star-like shapes (reminiscent of looking at a far off light source from underwater) moved and twisted, and then grew to be larger amorphous forms, the one on the left staying significantly smaller than the two on the right. It was then that the full on kundalini experience kicked in. I felt a surge of energy in my spine, emanating out from the base and traversing upwards through each chakra, through each of the seven tattoos on my back and out to the meridians.

Whether I was conscious, hypnogogic, unconscious or in another place altogether, I couldn’t say. Gradually the white forms faded and the whole scene turned a blood red orange and then upon reaching the darkness I came out of my altered state and opened my eyes. The energy did not stop however, it continued whilst I gave “A” and “M” commentary of my experience, as it did all of the way back to Finsbury Park train station.

I asked “M” about her experience on the way back and she said she too had seen swastikas, but associated these to the Second World War, and saw ghostly images (like those on film negatives) of soldiers passing her line of vision one by one.

We both felt quite tired and drained, but nonetheless we made it to the Brazilian restaurant where our work chums waited patiently (albeit with beers in hand), for the inevitable closed-mind ribbing and they did not disappoint. We were both fully prepared for the abuse, and took it all, good natured as it was.

One thing “A” told us was to watch out for our dreams that night, as a lot of people have very strange and vivid visions post-Lucia sessions. When I got in to work the next day, I asked “M” how she felt and did she have any interesting dreams, but sadly her dreams were even crapper than mine. She dreamt that she was in work testing a new IT product, mine was running a 10km race which involved climbing up a hill covered in snow, all rather boring…

ADDENDUM: Always a Cynic     

I got in late last night to a message from a friend of mine who’s into his metal in a big way. A favourite band of his is called Cynic (oh the irony) and he sent me a link to their latest video, them having taken a fork in the road to a more progressive rock style. The video itself was surreal, fractal art central, mandalas everywhere. Coincidence or just another universal synchronicity presenting itself?

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Along came a spider

Of late, I have been reading “Is there Life After Death: The Extraordinary Science Of What Happens When We Die” by Anthony Peake (also known as ITLAD). The book is a fascinating read, so very interesting and covers a great many topics (some of which my limited brain can only take in on the first reading).

The section I have just finished (Echoes of the Future) relates to an attempt to describe / prove (both scientifically and experientially), precognition. In short (and my interpretation which is very basic in stark contrast to the book), it is the concept that we have a lower self (our physical form experiencing the external (objective) world subjectively) and a higher self (perhaps best described as the subconscious or the “non-local us” – the premise that our consciousness exists not inside us but “out there”). Furthermore, it is suggested that from a precognitive perspective, certain folks have the ability to tune in to future echoes, via dreams (day or night) or via visions / messages (via mediums). Anthony posits that our higher selves may in fact have lived a life already, our life the we are currently living, and that the likes of precognition or déjà vu is our higher selves way at saying that we know what’s coming next and here is a message, a breadcrumb if you will. The book cites several cases, most notably a precognitive dream a little Welsh girl had the day before the Aberfan mining disaster, sadly her request to stay away from the school that day being denied, and not averting the course of her future and immediate demise.

So it came as no coincidence that I could well have had my own precognition today, my very own Minority Report. As Morrissey once said “Last night I dreamt”, sadly not about someone who loved me, but spiders. At the age of forty two, I have pretty much overcome all of the fears of early life (including some rather irrational ones), namely tall buildings, dentists, sprouts on ironing boards and dying. There really is only one left, spiders (again quite irrational for someone who lives in the UK).

In my dream, I was back living in the Far East and recall that I was on a trip to Thailand, somewhere in the jungle outside Chang Mai. All of a sudden there was a huge down pour and I looked for cover and found a wooden terrace which was only about two foot high. I wriggled snake-like half way down the terrace, when from above spiders (black and yellow) started to descend on fine wires landing on my naked torso, giving me the fear. I woke up in a sweat, itching all over and it took me a while to get back to sleep (after checking under the covers just in case any of the little bleeders where in there).

Maybe it was the fear / negativity within dream or perhaps lack of sleep which put me in the worse mood I’ve been in for quite a while. Maybe it was that work is a real drag at the moment which doesn’t help, stuck in endless days of mind-numbingly-boring contract documentation. Some days (thankfully very rarely) I wake up and without reason and without justification, stay subsumed within a dark cloud, stuck within its black sticky “mono-filament-esque” web, unable to cut myself free. This in itself is ok as long as others are not affected by it. Sadly in a busy house that can be a real challenge.

So before I logged in, I decided to have a quick round up of the news via The Guardian and the BBC website (my last visit to Auntie honest) to see what was going on in the Scottish elections. On the BBC homepage was a picture of a spider. Knock me over with a “magic feather”, what a coincidence. The story behind it read that the UK is set for an invasion of giant spiders by all accounts. Excellent news….

By lunch time, I decided to take my mood into my own hands and sat out in the garden and decided to meditate during lunch. The weather was fine, so on went the Kundalini Yoga playlist, down went the eyelids, up went the mudra and I was taking back the natural order of things, control. It was serene, it was calming. In my hypnogogic state I drifted in and out of consciousness for about an hour, not dreaming, but feeling (not seeing) kaleidoscopic colours and soothing warmth of the sun. Towards the end of my chill out time, I felt something on my left arm, a tickling sensation. Upon looking down I found that there was a “money” spider weaving in and out of the hairs, laying behind it coils of silk. I picked it up with the end of my finger and drew it close to my face, and there it sat not moving for what seemed like hours, just staring directly at me (not that I could see its eyes, it may well have been its arse – I was still feeling quite sleepy and my glasses were still in the office). I gently placed it on a nearby rose bush and trundled back to work feeling much better.

With the wife at college on Thursday nights, I made sure all the kids were settled before I took the dog for a long walk. Still feeling a little dazed from the dark morning cloud, I decided to lighten the mood further by listening to Bill Hicks, a natural pick-me-up of mine whenever I’m feeling blue. Towards the end of our walk, we have to pass an embankment and the right hand side of the road, a high sandstone wall with only earth behind it which acts as foundations for the houses above. There is a rather curious feature on the wall, one which always catches my eye each time I pass it. Half way along the wall there is a door. A door which leads to nowhere. I glanced up at it to see that right in the middle was a huge spider web, with a disproportionate common garden spider sat still in the middle, just as Mr Hicks informed me once again that life was just a ride.

After the wife got back in from college, I went for a late night run with my eldest down on the promenade and told him of the events of the day. He is very logical and put it all down to pure coincidence, and the former me would have done exactly the same. I said that it would be a shame if everything was reduced to materialism, and to me what matters most just now is not matter at all. I concurred that the logical part of my conscious state agrees somewhat to his argument that if I hadn’t have had the dream in the first place, those things may well have been there today anyway, it’s just that my sense have been alerted to their presence (all very mature for a 17 year old boy). The romantic in me would like to think beyond the logic though.

One thing is for sure, I love my new-found thirst for the exploration of the Universe (both outer and inner). There are so many interesting and diverse interpretations “out there” that my reading list grows day-by-day (especially the writings of Mr Peake). I love the fact that for the first time in my life, I can’t get enough of reading and writing about reading. Long may it continue…

ADDENDUM 1: As I type this up, my spidy-senses are once again tingling, allowing myself one final arachnid-based chortle. On getting out of the car (after dropping the wife off at work), I glanced at the wing mirror to make sure there were no cards coming before I opened the door, only to find a further two micros-spiders fighting it out over a well trapped breakfast.

ADDENDUM 2: I just met my wife for a coffee in Starbucks and without knowing that I’d uploaded a blog or even be aware of the whole spider thing as I’ve not spoken to her much since yesterday morning, she said that after she had finished her massage session at the salon, she had heard an almighty scream coming from outside. She quickly went to see what the commotion was about, when she was confronted by a stylist in floods of tears. She asked her what the matter was, and she said that earlier, she thought she had flicked a huge spider from a cardigan she wearing, but was unaware that it hadn’t dropped on the floor, but it had moved to the back of her arm, and eventually crawled itself up her back and then up her neck to the underneath her hair, snuggling in nicely under her right ear lobe to keep warm.

Enough already…

The Magic Feather

Little rook in the midst of the parliament,
They harp and chatter, but everybody knows he’s going to be sent, away,

Cos he’s a wild, he’s got a red eye.

The trees are ringing, with the cackles and the twilight,
Little rook, takes one last look and takes flight, he’s away.

Cos he’s wild, he’s got a red eye.

Can you believe that his family, cannot be allowed to be together,
By the very same tribe that helped the elephant fly,
With a beautiful light and a magic feather

The dark old pie, in the tallest ashtray alone,
In the upturned branches, sceptres for the thrown.

It’s alright, it’s alright,

How can it be that a family cannot be allowed to be together,
By the very same tribe that helped the elephant fly,
With a beautiful light and a magic feather.

——————————————————————————————————————

As breadcrumbs go, I recently experienced a rather significant trail. Around three weeks ago, the mother of a friend of mine passed away. Around three weeks ago, friend of mine passed me an album by Nick Harper. Around three weeks ago, my wife and I started to find our garden, local parks and promenades were all covered in feathers. No coincidence there.

That was until everything was drawn together. My wife and I attended the funeral of our friend’s mother, a beautiful service which focused on both the celebration of her life and the respect her offspring and friends had for her. A few days after the service, our friend got in touch with us as we sat on our patio late one evening, talking. She thanked us for attending and shared something her mother had shared with her before she departed. She told her that once she had gone, for my friend to be on the lookout for feathers, as they will be a message from her that all was well on the other side and as long as she noticed the feathers, she was with her.

A short while later (no more than five minutes), I made the short journey from the patio to the fridge to top up the wife’s wine glass and saw a small white feather float past me, landing on the floor quite close to me. I guess the old me would have been pretty spooked by such a random coincidence, but no longer. I beckoned the wife over to see the spot where the feather landed and to my extended surprise saw another two feathers in the near vicinity.

After discussing the feathers and inevitably ITLAD (Is There Life After Death), we changed topic and talked about our joint excitement over some up and coming live events, namely concerts with John Legend and Lenny Kravitz. I also told her that Nick Harper (an incredible folk guitarist from the UK) was playing Liverpool in October and should we perhaps get tickets as the venue is really small and it would be a good opportunity to catch up with some friends we hadn’t seen for a while. At that point I reached for the iPhone as I had added all of his albums to it earlier in the week, including Miracles for Beginners, the old new album I had only heard live before. I duly hit the forward triangle on my phone and we sat a while, and then it happened. Track number four came on. Magic feather…

I listened to the album as I worked this morning, and was prompted to put fingers to keyboard over lunch before I forgot. The amount of feathers I have seen over the last few weeks has been incredible. Everywhere I look (including at one point on the sole of my Converse), feathers can be found, mostly white fluffy ones.

OK it may be the season for it. OK I live two hundred metres from the beach. It’s the sheer volume of feathers and random links that make you think about reality in a different light.

I have read the lines from the song today (posted above) and can draw even further links to all of this:

“The dark old pie, in the tallest ashtray alone” – my friends mum had a dark complexion and smoked cigarettes.

“How can it be that a family cannot be allowed to be together” – the sad departing of my friends mum.

“With a beautiful light and a magic feather” – the funeral reference that the sky has a new star and to keep an eye out for magic feathers…

British Biased Corporation ?

There has of late (and in my opinion), been a great deal of biased reporting in support (almost on behalf) of the establishment that rules over our green and pleasant land. I’ve never been under any illusion that the British Broadcasting Corporation was impartial, but as a news, sports and entertainment source it was always my de facto medium choice. That was until recently, when I decided to divorce myself from “her” completely (being “Auntie” the BBC must be female).

I have since uninstalled the various BBC apps on my mobile devices in my personal quest for impartiality. My switch coincided with an article I had read in The Independent around two months back regarding the situation in Gaza, as down the line one could get in the local newspaper shop on a Saturday morning I thought. And it was at this point I switched my online feeds to The Independent, Reuters, Huffington Post and Al Jazeera, as well as subscribing to Russell Brand’s “The Trews” which is both entertaining and entertaining.

More recently I have gone on to uninstall Reuters and Huffington Post as there appeared to be a growing sense of sensationalism, the reporting of un-newsworthy articles and a general feeling of bias which wasn’t what I thought the raison d’etre of such organisations to be. So that left me with just The Independent and Al Jazeera.

In a recent episode of The Trews, Russell was shocked to discover that both The Independent and Huffington Post launched a polemic, a diatribe against him and his views regarding issue in Iraq, wrongly accusing him of blaming “everyone” in the West for causing the current predicament in the Middle East which he clearly didn’t if you follow him. So the uninstalling of The Independent app followed, leaving me with little old Al Jazeera and the post-modern bearded bard himself.

russell-brand

Weeks passed and the debate and focus duly changed to Scottish Independence. I was made aware that the BBC was televising a live debate between the Yes and No campaigns, the entire audience being made up of sixteen and seventeen year olds. Keen on seeing the response of the young voters I tuned in to watch, and very interesting it was too, and I was great to see tuned-in kids very keen on the outcome (on the face of it) of the vote later this week.

And it was on that day that several feeds started to appear on Facebook. My wife has friends who live in Scotland whose children attended the debate in Glasgow, and to my utter disgust I learned from them that the majority of the kids who attended were in the Yes camp, and the BBC subsequently took it upon themselves to try and even up the score by trying to coerce children to jeer the Yes campaigners, and act out pro-No noises when appropriate. Allegedly even members of the production team were in on it too, raising the pro-No sound levels unfairly.

Then there was the huge NHS demonstration in London. A complete and utter media black-out on the BBC by all accounts, no indication that anything significant had taken place, again fed through my Facebook feed.

Over the last few days I have been flicking between Al Jazeera and the BBC just to see the difference and the difference is massive. A special report yesterday on Al Jazeera took us to a roving reporter who gave an excellent snapshot of the true situation as it stands in Scotland, the history behind its inclusion in the union, what may or may not happen if the vote goes one way or the other, interviews with both Yes and No voters and no leaning to any one side. Impartiality if ever there was.

I then turned over to the BBC to see the complete opposite. The opening graphic on their special report said it all for me. A group of people were all holding flags, a room full of No flags surrounding one person with a Yes flag. Bullying if ever there was.

Then there was the reporting the concessions Westminster had agreed to give Scotland should there be a successful No vote, concessions which would never have come if the percentile differences still showed 15% in favour of the No’s. Bribery if ever there was.

Then there was the travelling roadshow, all three main party leaders doing their upmost to put pressure on the people of Scotland not to leave the UK and to stay with Westminster as their HQ, none of them could be bothered getting involved before the polls indicated otherwise, and that they would have to get their comfortable asses out of seat 300 miles nearer to the equator. Desperation if ever there was.

And finally, then there was the corporation’s response. The BBC report stated that the banks would migrate south of the border (leaving out that all operations would remain in Scotland thus not affecting jobs) and from the food corporations who stated that prices would go up in most of the major supermarket chains (leaving out the response from Morrison’s which was words to the effect of “don’t be ridiculous”). Bias if ever there was.

I’d had enough at that point and went to take the dog for a walk and claim the first conkers of the autumn from the local Horse Chestnut trees with my son, but what was clear to me was that the BBC was biased and will likely remain biased (and Sky for that matter), aligned far too closely with Westminster and I still have to pay for the privilege of paying a licence fee to them even though I don’t intend using their services in the future.

Although it’s plainly obvious to me, I just hope that the Scottish people who watch and use the BCC realise and underhand the tactics that are going on at present, and don’t  believe everything that the BBC are peddling just now.

I remembered a line from The Young Ones back in the 80’s that came out of an old transistor radio on the table of the four would be students, which went something along the lines of “This independent and impartial programme was brought to you by the BBC on behalf of The Conservative Party”. So here we are thirty years later and nothing has changed…

ADDENDUM:
You only need a UK TV licence if you stream live schedule content (via any device). If you only use Netflix and On Demand apps (like I do) then you don’t need one. So disconnect your Freeview/Sky box, fire your content through your SMART TV via the apps and save yourself £149.50 per year.

Should I stay or should I go…

To quote the delectable Natalie Imbuglia on the topic of Scottish independence, I’m torn.

On the one hand, I think the devolution of power from the political behemoth that is Westminster (or any powerful centralised government for that matter) is a good thing, as it lessens the power and the might of the “UK” on the global stage, whilst at the same time it gives back to the people of Scotland a sense of being in control of the separate nation it once was, with the ability to administer policies and finances solely on and for the people of Scotland.

However, on the other hand, there would inevitably be the erection of yet another border (manned or otherwise, invisible or otherwise), yet another area of our little blue dot segregated from the rest, yet more nationalism both sides of the border. For those left in the UK who are not of the capitalist / nationalist persuasion, it could spell danger. There is the potential (if not inevitability), that those aligned to the right may swell in numbers, which could lead to further segregation (albeit from a social class perspective) if the Conservatives gain a majority government. This could herald a wave of neo-nationalism in England, including the potential (if not inevitable) rise of UKIP and pave the way for an extraction from the EU, as well as no end of multi-culturism problems.

As coincidence may have it (not that there is such a thing of course), I was doing my weekly ‘big shop’ and stopped off at the magazine rack to see if anything caught my private eye. Sitting next to The Private Eye was a copy of the New Scientist which I had never read before, so for the first time ever at the weekend I bought it, as its cover made reference to a special report inside which read “End of the Nation?” It was a very interesting read which went through the inaugural birth and associated definition of nation. It was full of very long words, so it was an article I would definitely have to read twice due to the offspring (not the punk band) vying for my weekend time so I only skim read it. I knew I was in London this week so decided to give it some serious “strokey beard time” on the train.

Many moons ago I purchased a DVD box set, a classic from the BBC archives. The “Ascent of Man” by Dr Jacob Bronowski is a series of essays made into thirteen documentaries, in which Bronowski details from his perspective the ascent of man through the ages. The series starts off with the story with Australopithecus, the first bi-pedal of the primates and in his opinion the earliest hominid which evolved four million years ago, and which arguably played the most significant step-change in human evolution. Sadly after six episodes Dr J seems to be a material reductionist, I hope that changes by the end of episode thirteen.

Dragging myself back on topic, one needs to consider the full chain of events that led up to the formation of what we call nation, the full chain of events and the concept of the hierarchy. The definition of a hierarchy is an arrangement of items (objects, names, values, categories, etc.) in which the items are represented as being “above,” “below,” or “at the same level as” one another.

As Bronowski rightly points out, hierarchies can be found anywhere. Take the atomic hierarchy, atomic order. Particles join as nuclei, nuclei join as atoms, atoms join as molecules, molecules join as bases, bases join as amino acids, the building blocks of life itself. And so it is with geographic order. Homes joins as roads, roads join as villages, villages join as towns, towns join as cities, cities join as territories, territories join as nations. And so it is with social order. Selves join as families, families join as class, class joins as society.

So that which we find in nature seems profoundly to correspond to the way in which we join geographically and socially with our nation.

Following the path of biological order (on the basis that we are modern-man at this point), we evolved and started wandering the land as families, then extended families and eventually formed larger bands of hunter-gatherers, not bound by any rules or laws of the land, nor any boundaries as they did not exist (besides physical ones of course). That was until around 10,000 years ago, when the agricultural revolution started. Due to a “coincidental” amalgam of wheat grasses on the plains outside Jericho in then Palestine, modern man realised the theory of Neil the Hippy from The Young Ones: “We sow the seed, nature grows the seed, and then we eat the seed…”

The agricultural revolution moved man away from his previous hunter-gather, nomadic “camping and caves” lifestyle and developed the first settlements. Early agrarian collectives required little governing as they were largely self-organising and happy living the hippy life. But with the advent of agriculturalism came complexity, as collectives turned into settlements, existential complexity increased.

As time went on, places like Jericho, Damascus and Aleppo came into being (the first cities) and became fixed places on the yet to be penned map of the world, and within the city boundaries there began the production and storage of food. Once food surplus was being stored, inevitable skirmishes between the haves and have nots broke out. Once it was clear that in order to progress, rules and laws were needed to exist to keep law and order, and the first ruling powers took seat.

This was the true birth of the human hierarchy. Society was born and with it the hierarchical class system and more and more cities started to spring up around areas of natural resources. As the social complexity grew so did the concept of trade, with settlement exchanging produce, for produce cash or favour. As society was becoming ever more complex, the apparent need for leadership arose, whether that be monarch or government or warlord, as often territory warred against territory. I guess this also heralded the birth of greed, of capitalism (perhaps).

As lines started to appear on the map, so did the birth of the nation, both visible and invisible boundary lines were drawn segregating one nation from the next. And with the birth of the nation came the notion of national identity, a sense that a population which belonged to one area of a map was glued together by common language or cultural inheritance. For the first time people belonged to something bigger than their local environment, patriotism grew as man pledged allegiance to one’s nation.

Ever since, nation has fought against nation, over boundary lines and natural resources, over religious and cultural beliefs and there seems to be no end to it.

Mother Nature has a reset button and it has been pressed a few times already. Whether it be asteroid, ice age or biological (plague/black death), there have been times in our four billion year history that our little blue dot has changed course. It now looks like man will at some point press his own self-created reset button, that I am almost certain. It looks like Mother Nature has been put out to pasture, for now.

I’d like to see “Un Monde Sans Frontiers”, a world without borders, a world which devolves power to smaller territories in order to look after the needs smaller numbers of folks, where folks are free to roam and settle in places that suit them, where folks all work together for the good of everyone and not the self, all in peace. I think that’s called The Venus Project.

I for one am not patriotic. When I think about pride and allegiances, I am proud to be a father of three amazing kids, proud to be the husband of a remarkable woman, proud to be a friend and confidante to others I hold dear. I have a sense of belonging to my local community as well as Liverpool my home town but that is where it stops. I don’t see myself as English, or British or European, my allegiances lie with man in general, not any one kind of man but all kinds of man. My allegiances do not lie with political ideologies, corporations or boundary lines on a map, it lies with the Universe, with the global collective consciousness.

I personally don’t feel connected to Westminster or the UK one bit. I would feel more connected to a devolved territory, and I guess that’s the decision Scotland has to make next Thursday. They have an opportunity to reconnect. Good luck to them.

Slainte Mhath…

The Arrow of Time and Reality…

A good friend of mine posted an interesting thread on Facebook last week. The central tenet regarded his interpretation of interpretations, namely of MWI (Many World Interpretation) and CI (Copenhagen Interpretation). The night before we discussed the concept of “Quantum Suicide and Quantum Immortality”, a thought experiment developed (further) by Max Tegmark, and all of which now flooded into his noggin at 6am as he watched CBeebies with his sleepless daughter of one year.

To understand this, he first needed to describe in detail the definitions of MWI and CI to his little girl, whose attention was currently being taken by Tinky Winky, Dipsy, La-La and Po.

MWI (Many-Worlds Interpretation):
The Many-Worlds Interpretation is an interpretation of quantum mechanics that asserts the objective reality of the universal wave function and denies the actuality of wave function collapse. Many-Worlds Interpretation implies that all possible alternative histories and futures are real, each representing an actual “world” (or “universe”). In lay terms, the hypothesis states there is a very large (perhaps infinite) number of universes, and everything that could possibly have happened in our past, but did not, has occurred in the past of some other Universe or Universes.

Copenhagen Interpretation:
The Copenhagen Interpretation holds that quantum mechanics does not yield a description of an objective reality, but deals only with probabilities of observing, or measuring, various aspects of energy quanta, entities that fit neither the classical idea of particles nor the classical idea of waves. The act of measurement causes the set of probabilities to immediately and randomly assume only one of the possible values, in essence once something is observed, it turns from a wave into a particle, definitive duality, is or is not.

And if that wasn’t clear enough for her, he went on to give her some examples relating to CI and Quantum Suicide / Quantum Immortality:

Schrödinger’s Cat:
A cat, a flask of poison, and a radioactive source are placed in a sealed box. If an internal monitor detects radioactivity (i.e. a single atom decaying), the flask is shattered, releasing the poison that kills the cat. The Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when one looks in the box, one sees the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead. This poses the question of when exactly quantum superposition ends and reality collapses into one possibility or the other.

The Deer Hunter:
A US Soldier and a 2-barrelled gun with a single bullet loaded into one of the chambers are placed in a sealed Vietnamese gambling den. Christopher Walken spins the barrel every minute and pulls the trigger. The gun either deploys the bullet killing him, or it makes an audible “click” and the erstwhile Mr Walken lives on to take part in a Fat Boy Slim video (ironically titled “Weapon of Choice”).

Quantum Suicide and Quantum Immortality are distinctive from the point of view of the partaker only, the deer (hunter); their predictions are otherwise identical. Quantum Suicide attempts to distinguish between the MWI and the CI by means of a variation of the Schrödinger’s Cat experiment, Quantum Suicide is taken from the deer (hunter) point of view and not the external observer. Quantum Immortality refers to the subjective experience of surviving Quantum Suicide regardless of the odds, in our example 100 trigger pulls to the head of Mr Walken.

The probability of surviving the first iteration of the experiment is 50%, under both interpretations, as given by the squared norm of the wave function. At the start of the second iteration, if the CI is true, the wave function has already collapsed, so if the cat or the deer (hunter) is already dead, and there’s a 0% chance of survival. However, if the MWI is true, a superposition of the cat/deer (hunter) necessarily exists, regardless of how many iterations or how improbable the outcome. Barring life after death, it is not possible for the cat/deer (hunter) to experience having been killed, thus the only possible experience is one of having survived every iteration.

Max Tegmark on Quantum Suicide:
Tegmark acknowledged the argument that “everyone will be immortal” should follow if a survivor outcome is possible for all life-threatening events. The flaw in that argument, he suggests, is that dying is rarely a binary event; it is a progressive process. The Quantum Suicide thought experiment attempts to isolate all possible outcomes for the duration of the thought experiment. That isolation delays de-coherence in such a way that the subjective experience of the superposition is illustrated. It is only within the confines of such an abstract quantum scenario that an observer finds they defy all odds. Another possibility is that although an observer does not die, they nevertheless continue to suffer the effects of aging.

Hugh Everett on Many-World Interpretation:
Everett firmly believed that MWI guaranteed him immortality: His consciousness, he argued, is bound at each branching to follow whatever path does not lead to death. Not unlike the general plot of Source Code with Jake Gyllenhall, Captain Stevens repeatedly experiences “death” as he investigates the bombing of a train. Ultimately, he survives in the universe where the train was not bombed and no one died. Lucky sod…

So it was at this point that I chipped in. My interpretation of interpretations was much easier for me to understand. I told my friend that I had a notion for a simple brain, in that I believed there is only one arrow of time, ergo one reality. As one approached a point in space-time where a decision and consequence (causality) needed to be taken, many waves (options) presented themselves for us to choose from. Once we had chosen wisely (or otherwise), all other ‘opportunity waves’ collapsed and became thus, became particles, became history, became reality, became of the arrow of time.

In my opinion, I didn’t think that there were infinitesimal invisible universes out there each with their own arrows of time based on the different waves or paths we could have chosen. It’s easier for me to follow my arrow of time, and let the rest of the other me’s worry about quantum mechanics…

Imagine, just imagine…

Imagine there’s no heaven
It’s easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us only sky
Imagine all the people
Living for today…

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will be as one…

Imagine no possessions
I wonder if you can
No need for greed or hunger
A brotherhood of man
Imagine all the people
Sharing all the world…

You may say I’m a dreamer
But I’m not the only one
I hope someday you’ll join us
And the world will live as one…

Gig for Gaza

Submit a Google search of “Gig for Gaza” and it will return a great many hits, which is nice to see. There is a wave of awareness and support out there for the situation in the Middle East, and being a part of it is a good thing. Not that you will hear about it loudly, the establishment it seems are keen not to let things like protests and benefit gigs to acquire much noise and attention.

Recently, I’ve made a few small donations and contributions (where finances have dictated) to Gaza and sent out positive reiki vibes to those (on both sides) trapped within what seems to be an eternal conflict, but last night I felt closer to the situation in Gaza, a lot closer.

I took it upon myself to install myself as the unofficial Sports and Social Coordinator at work, doing it for many reasons. Primarily it’s to stop myself (whilst away from the family) from becoming too bored, or too drunk or too overweight. Upon searching Time Out London, I came across an event at London Bridge titled “Gig for Gaza”, the artistes on show ranging from folk singers through poets and on to human beat-box, quite an eclectic mix. Sending out the call, I managed to get two takers so off we popped for a bite to eat before eventually finding the way to our subterranean basement home for the evening.

Katey Brooks (a relatively new artist from what I could make out) both arranged and compared the evening, struggling on through a quite unremarkable and erratic PA system, triumphing through adversity (potentially symbolic reflection of what could occur in the Middle East). Many of the folks on stage during the course of the evening had recently visited Palestine and off the back of that decided to schedule a benefit gig in the capital, with all proceeds go to Oxfam (from a relief perspective) and the Gaza Smile Project (which is a small charity working on a ‘Back to School’ project whose aim is to provide displaced children of Gaza with the means to get them back learning, the most basic of human rights a lot of us take for granted).

The emphasis of the night was not on taking sides, it was not anti-Semitic, it was not against Israel and for Palestine. The primary aim was to raise awareness and funds for the most just of causes. Of course it wasn’t just a collection of like-minded musicians there for a gig, it was an opportunity for the artists and speakers to share their collective opinion, in that they support the end of occupation, the end of oppression and the end of the escalating violence on all sides, without the persecution of any one on any side. This was a Pro-Peace event.

The artists on the night were all very good. Dennis Just Dennis a northern poet who relayed an amazing alphabet alliteration, appreciated by all (he’s got me doing it now). Tom Moriarty, an adept acoustic guitar with an amazing resemblance to Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam (albeit at a distance and under very poor disco lighting). Suzy Conrad who was arguably the best on the night with her own breed of “Loop Pop” (which involved her creating sound loops of her own voice on the fly via a pedal board and playing them all back once recorded as she sang over the top of them). Dizreali, whose Bristolian acoustic guitar poetry and energy was welcomed by all (The Streets meets Nick Harper meets Stephen Merchant). Our host Katey Brooks played through the worst PA set-up I’ve ever heard, earning some serious kudos for her perseverance and talents. Hobbit finished off the evening, a human beat-box champion, was pretty ace too, something I’ve never heard live, he had everyone up off their zabutons.

The highlight of the night for me however was when a Palestinian man took to the stage, having recently arrived from Gaza. It was an opportunity to hear what was really going on from a real person with real experience, not something which had been bastardised, sanitised, demonised and serialised by biased media outlets with ulterior motives.

He said unsurprisingly that Gaza was a truly awful place to be right now. Over 2200 people have been killed over the last 5 weeks, well over 10,000 have been seriously injured, over ¼ of the population of Gaza have left their homes (100,000 houses being completely destroyed) and are displaced all over the region with nowhere safe to go. He stated that the wall that surrounded Gaza was twice the height of the Berlin wall, and on the Palestinian side, graffiti messages were not of blame and abuse, but of a request for peace. What should be safe zones (UN hospital and schools) are continuously being bombed further adding to the misery.

What was quite remarkable was his attitude, his level of calmness. He was quite clear in his request. All the Palestinian people want is peace. All the Palestinian people want is an end to the oppression. All the Palestinian people want is an end to the occupation of Gaza. All the Palestinian people want is access to resources (basic resources like water and more than three hours of electricity per day as the main power plant has been destroyed would do for a start) so that they can get on with life. There was no propaganda, no “we need to get them folks wot did this to us” mentality, no malice, no need for revenge or retribution, no diatribe against his oppressors. This was a Muslim man, with Muslim values, a sincere guy sharing his story and inner feelings with a collection people of really do give a shit about what goes on in this world, and in their own small way are trying to help.

I read an article a few weeks back in The Independent about the conflict, and about how the US and UK profits from the situation in the Middle East and it’s all rather sickening. From a Geo-Political perspective, all I can do is vote for the good guys next May, even if they have no chance of getting in, at least then I can truly say I tried to make a difference

So to everyone everywhere involved in conflict, I hope you find both outer and inner peace.

In time…

Return of the Unwelcomed…

Silently it sleeps, waiting.
Waiting for its chance.
Chance to take over when defences are down.
Down they are, and then the return.
Return of the unwelcomed.

The stark duality of existence.
Existence of the Light and the Dark.
Dark has it’s turn.
Turn the return.
Return of the unwelcomed.

The inner daemon battles it out.
Out to oust reason and sanity.
Sanity temporarily lost.
Lost light and dark’s return.
Return of the unwelcomed.

The chaos brings back memories past.
Past regrets, transgressions of the lush.
Lush sobers, once again locked away.
Away with the dark, will it return?
Return of the unwelcomed.

——————————————————–

To err is to human, and when one loses control of function, logic and reason, the err can be very err indeed. Sadly for me, my daemon paid me a visit on Friday night, a dark figure that I had not seen for a long, long time. It was a stark reminder that such a thing still exists and given a certain set of circumstances, it will return, unwelcomed.

What started off well, a night spent with some good friends, quickly turned sour upon my return to the homeland, my search for further inebriation taking on vortex form, a chaos twisting through empty drinking establishments in the village, my search for a consuming comrade in vain.

The fallout was inevitable, similar fallouts to those of the past. The regret the next morning was inevitable, similar regrets to those of the past.

I guess it was a less than a gentle reminder that I still have a problem, which only comes out when I drink over my limit. Very much like the water buckets you see in Aqua Parks, the liquid keeps going in, filling up. And it’s all too clear from the onlookers what’s coming next. The bucket starts to shake, starts to tilt, until it unleashes its force on its victims below.

Thankfully (I guess) my force is always verbal, ill-judged, irrational, illogical and quite illusory. This time, it came from nowhere and that’s the real danger. No crap day at the office, or any family issues, or any monetary concerns, just a craving for more.

I spent most of the weekend beating myself up about it, taking the dog for long walks and thinking.

If there was a silver lining to this cloud, it was that this weekend gave me a real reminder that inner daemons exist (in most of us in one form or another) and like everything in life, moderation was the key. Food, drink, exercise and desire, if all done in moderation, the Universe stays in perfect harmony and if everything is perfectly balanced then so is the mind, and the daemons remain banished.

So was it coincidence or irony that before I got on the train on Friday, I uploaded a blog about storm clouds, or was it a premonition, or in fact a future echo – a self-created breadcrumb?