reality

A mo(ve)ment in time

A man runs through a crowd

A vehicle in pursuit, chasing him down, looking behind

Bodies parting like a zip, closing behind in disbelief

Shattered bodies, desperate screams for help, adrenaline surging seeking a path through the chaos

Broken pieces of time and space

A man drives through a crowd bodies scatter, disbelief, a surreal juxtaposition

Two men in different places

Steal the attention they have split the masses

The man in yellow will share this day forever with another an entanglement of torment, of pain and of suffering

No celebration at the end

Time closes in on the other his race is over

It is not over…

(In memory of Bastille Day attack 2016 – with the Tour de France leg on the same day where Chris Froome had to run with his bike)

Taking a trip

It’s New Years Eve and many will be out to celebrate. Some will plan and expect to be in a form of altered state, a buzz, feeling good in some way shape or form. Common combinations or at least socially sanctioned (to a degree) buzzes involve alcohol, dancing and sex, statistics don’t lie just take a look at the number of people who have birthdays on or around September 30th. While moderation will be exercised many will vomit, pass out, coma and all completely legal we see it as a right of passage for mates to have a near death experience consuming alcohol. But anyone caught getting stoned with the potential side effects of scoffing anything they can get their hands on (watch out for your weetbix campers), while giggling at nothing for hours will be deemed a criminal.

Indeed, anyone seeking to enjoy themselves or the world around them through other sensory parameters are deemed irresponsible, selfish, reckless, unstable psychologically, immature or lacking a moral compass. Desire and pleasure seeking for nothing other than the pure experience is a no-no. In fact we police this better than anything and we do it from birth through to death – we can’t even choose how we transition to the after life.

We’re a confused bunch when it comes to the right to experience our embodiment and all the parameters of that, especially the perception of the world and reality. And yet some brave researchers and scientists are asking why the pervasive fear of things like psychedelics. Palliative care has started to go there with LSD and psilocybin. But there is one substance pushing the boundaries from all angles and that is DMT. Ironically it is naturally occurring in our bodies and it has been nick named ‘The Spirit Molecule’ and there is a good documentary about it with real scientists doing actual controlled studies.

What we can and cannot talk about or explore is limited by available knowledge in the public sphere. Schools take an understandably conservative approach and can only teach critical thinking and decision making around notions of legal and illegal substances. Risk and preventing harm dominate with minimal acknowledgement of the reasons why human beings seek connection and sometimes use molecules to achieve this. I say molecules because that is at its most basic, stripped back beyond the paranoia and politics.

Science fiction has gone for example Neromancer, but my favourite is the spice from Dune, talk about a direct, overt reference to mind and body altering substances! I remember stumbling across some incomplete scenes from Avatar and being surprised at one in particular. It involved the ceremony where Jake becomes one of the tribe. We are led to believe this happens through some body paint with swirly patterns. However this couldn’t be further from the truth, the scene is shamanic in context and seems to allude to a serious out of body experience, one that transcends time and space. Jake ‘sees’ the truth. But for reasons unknown it was left incomplete, yet could have shifted the tone of the movie toward a far deeper understanding of why this culture (albeit an fictional one) had a relationship with nature that was profoundly different to the sky people. Back in ‘real world’ I think the Sky People represent the western military industrial complex with its overarching driving force of consumption and competition.

But it’s NYE, its unlikely anyone will read this, and if they do I just hope they read it with the intention it was meant – not as a judgement. So if you are out there tonight enjoying yourself in whatever ‘pop up’ community you join, look after your friends if they have taken on too many molecules of whatever substance. Suspend judgement of others who choose other molecules regardless of their legality, but don’t suspend action of someone is at risk or in danger. Substances and driving or swimming are risky. Being out of it shouldn’t be seen as a crime but simply taking an internal journey, a trip, and Kiwis love a good adventure. Inner space and outer space and spaces in-between are all territories to be explored. Let’s afford ourselves and each other some room to travel differently at different speeds.

 

Shelf Life

Book cases are snapshots of who we are have been or wish to become. Mine is a curious mix ranging from childhood favourites, various interests and fields of study. They aren’t particularly well organised, like the messiness of life and the multiplicities, intersections we live. I have one exception, my complete collection of Frank Herberts Dune. Each copy dog eared as I have worked my way through it at least a couple of times. There are numerous gaps however, books that have been borrowed and stayed borrowed or given away as gifts to those who need them more than I do. I’ve been thinking about some of those books I hoped would return but haven’t and whether or not to seek new copies. But there are two in particular that I miss.

First there is Stranger In A Strange Land. I’ve read a lot of science fiction and I know when it was first released in the early 1960’s it was provocative and much like 1984 by George Orwell (although less widely known) the questions it raises about what it actually means to be human are no less relevant today. I love the word ‘grok’ and it is a bit like saying ‘take the red pill’ as a way to strike a chord of recognition and connection with others. The second is Skallagrigg by William Horwood. Perhaps one of the few books that had me from page one and kept me on an emotional roller coaster, cleaver and intense. I’m surprised so few people know about it. It’s a bit like the Tardis of books – infinitely more expansive than the title or plot summary describe. Once you open it you are in for an amazing journey.

These two books fill more than two slots. It is something about what they provoke and stir and I suppose it is the thrill of the creative force they contain that spills through my memories or at least my recollection of how I felt reading them. Even in their absence they maintain a strong presence. Both seek out something beyond the threshold of the familiar, unravelling and splintering linearity and the comfortable containers we prefer to give shape to meaning and materiality.

When we are deeply affected, touched, moved and inspired there is a simultaneous collapsing and expanding of spacetimematter, it is sublime. To share a book is to share life, passion and indeed love.

chasing rainbows

The USA is awash in colours today. The orange, white and blue of the stars and bars put aside for a moment for some to fly the rainbow flag as the Supreme Court delivered marriage equality. Not everyone will be celebrating and I’m sure within hours or even minutes the moral panic theories will be unleashed with all sorts of dire warnings of the slippery slope into legalised paedophelia, the marrying of animals or that children will now grow up deeply confused about the meaning of life, and possibly the human race will die out from lack of procreation…think we’re ok for now on that front. I welcome this kind of hysteria as it allows for the irrationality of fear to be exposed.

Here is the curious thing. We see a very small fraction of the light spectrum and assume that what is seen represents the world and what is real and true. So while the rainbow flag symbolises diversity it also reminds us that colour can be both definitive and illusory, unifying and dividing. And some might be on the same wavelength in one spectrum of life a small shift in frequency sends understanding into an invisible realm of the unknown. In the absence of visibility the invisible becomes mysterious and prone to darker shadowy uncertainty.

When flags are no longer needed to declare or announce a separation of people then love will open its doors to unseen realms. Let there be light.

Out Of Time

What is time to a fish? How do the seconds pass? If a fish was riding a bike would it notice the relative speed of the vehicles? Was I that fish on a bike today when caught in the headlights of a car at a roundabout that hadn’t been there a moment ago. The honking of a horn indicating the arrival of another stream of time and momentum. The jolt of awareness that signalled a dislocation in the fabric of collectively agreed rights of passage that I seemed to have disrupted or ruptured.

Speed, space, time, distance, colluding to segregate and define who can participate in the flow of life. If you become relocated in this and live somewhere in between there is unease and distrust – a disruption to the flow. The ability to be ‘present’ and ‘here’ ‘now’ communicating in ways that identify and signify we know where we are located defines intimacy. When people are tuned to a different frequency the ability to connect on an intimately personal level shifts and the signals we usually pick up become lost in the static hum of confusion.

Common functioning suggests we all must locate our consciousness and awareness and sense of who we are within a narrowly defined criteria. Those experiencing neurological diversity (ASD – Autistic Spectrum Disorders – or – Alternative Sensory Downloads) and other forms of time/space re-location (alzheimer’s, amnesia, altered states of consciousness) highlight the pervasive normalisation of human functioning and fear associated with intentionally attempting to create those conditions – messing with mysterious interactions and perception we can have of reality.

Losing someone in time is hard. They can be physically present but elsewhere, they are not ‘around’ and the grief associated can be experienced in the same way as death. Let’s acknowledge this more instead of brushing over the obvious that they are carrying on regular metabolic functioning – AKA alive, and require people to be grateful for this experience. However my heart tells me love transcends the limits of 3rd dimensional space, we might never truly know how someone experiences the warmth of our caring but to quote Carl Sagan, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

If you do see a fish on a bike, you just might want to check what is in your ‘special’ coffee. And just be a bit patient – no need to get into a flap about it and watch out for those red herrings aye.

Dressing Down

Well what about THAT DRESS if you missed it then clearly you are not on social media or have a healthy filter on what you see. The blue/black or white/gold debate revealed the curious way ‘how we see’ is a function or a combination of interpretation by the brain and physiological aspects such as photo receptors. The next thing circulating online to challenge perception was a bunch of skeletons on a giant screen hugging and kissing then revealing themselves as….humans! shock horror. The idea was to explore how genuine love is unconditional. The conditionality is mapped on by socially constructed expectations of ‘who is behind the screen’. But I’m not convinced it was all that clever or challenging, although it did manage to make my eyes leak.

Quite simply, we don’t walk around as skeletons – ok some people look skeletal – but our framework is universally human. The homo sapiens sapiens kitset pretty much all looks the same. But I think it would’ve been more interesting to have people with different limb combinations or implants, pacemakers replaced joints – like terminator only the lovinator…don’t know if that’ll catch on.

So while I respect the intent it kind of missed the mark – and perhaps missed the level of perception that is about filters other than visual. People seem quite comfortable accepting that our inability to perceive certain colours might be to do with structures in eyes and light and various other biological features, there is no ‘discrimination’ or injustice – it just is. But the layers of meaning that come with the coverings attached to our bones is not quite so simple. Because while our skeletons might be semi genderless and ethno-neutral each layer after that creates these which are then located in culturally constructed meanings of ‘difference’ blinding us from the simple truth that human beings have created these meanings – therefore we can uncreate them at any moment we wish to. Do we want to or care to? Well that very much depends on how the meaning of your human vessel you are currently renting has in the location in time, space, history, country, planet you live on. Certain containers located at these various locations have forms of privilege and power and are able to experience their identity as less ‘problematic’ or contentious.

Putting bodies behind screens for a warm fuzzy moment does plenty to push social media buttons but we need to be having conversations and thinking in ways that reveal these social constructions on a daily basis.

Quite frankly stick me in any coloured dress and I will just hope I am invisible. No bones about it.

Book Ends

I go through book binges. This summer I managed to get through The Luminaries…on which one does not ‘binge’ rather pick away carefully and take time between courses, but I am already losing the plot. I also read two books in successive weekends that were…well…illuminating.

Waitangi weekend, celebrating the signing of a historical document destined to both unite and divide our identity as a nation, I read Russell Brand’s book Revolution. If someone asked me to describe it I would say it’s a – rant – rehab coach – militant – radical peace – best and worst of conspiracy – consciousness – political commentary – autobiography. Or, a bit like a Billy T James skit colliding with bikram yoga.

The follow weekend was Valentines day, celebrating the cultural signs of commercial coupledom destined to both unite and divide our identity, I read A Short History of Stupid, equally digestible with beer and chips, but a bit of a shift from Russell. It was like listening to philosophy grad students talking at the pub after a shandy showing of their ability to both think and drink and solve the worlds problems.

Both managed to capture an individual and global perspective, albeit with differing emphasis. Much like the concept of yin and yang, complementing interconnected forces with aspects running through each other. It was also an excellent example of polarity and diversity. From simple to complex, personal to global, theory and experience all giving rise to intersections of ideas that evoke some challenges to status quo commentaries. I think the authors of both would liven up a dinner party conversation with some charades or twister, but maybe not trivial pursuit. The common use of humour was strong, particularly the ability to locate the ‘self’ as both an individual and in relation to systemic political, historical, geographical….(you probably get the idea) structures. Occasionally both overly self indulgent but read back to back the interlocking of patterns and meaning was intriguing. In the days in between I read How To Train Your Dragon where a sense of irony curled itself into the ouroboros of meaning. The ongoing reproduction, recycling and reinvention of stories past, present and future are all lived now.

Where do the dragons fit? They are mythical to some and real to others with varying degrees of evidence and belief adding weight to the truth. But in the book they are mischievous and generally difficult to bring under human control. Think I might have some dragon in me, well, I do like to breathe fire from time to time…lots of heat and plenty of light…illuminating.

Just mind the kerosene burps after – hydrocarbons not so palatable.

Ministry of silly journalism

I’ve been reading the New Zealand Herald for years. It was considered one of the local broadsheets of choice for those wanting to keep abreast of local and world events. Oh how times have changed. Flicking through The Herald online recently I thought I was reading a script for Monty Python skit!

At first glance the headlines and opening paragraph looked reasonably familiar – following patterns of acceptable reporting. Details generally describe incident with basic facts such as location, type of event, who ‘might’ be involved and what follow up there could be. The general slant is tentative and neutral. Then it degenerates and morphs into some strange montage of social media bites, spurious ‘expert’ opinions, local knowledge, speculation and enough spin to induce (e)motion sickness. To add to the roller coaster there is ghastly spelling and grammar, accentuated by the inclusion of verbatim bystander accounts, I genuinely think if you asked these reporters what they think a semi-colon is; they would say it was part of the intestinal tract.

I’m generally up for a laugh, but I don’t find much of this amusing as many deeply personal events are played out publicly stripping back the concept of private and sensitive to be replaced with primitive and sensational. So here is my concern, we are rapidly creating a tabloid version of life that we accept as real. If something were to happen to any of my close friends and family my distress would be magnified. Like circling sharks we have ditched our higher faculties to go searching for the small drops of blood and we are fed all sorts of ‘offal’ information to keep the frenzy going.

The other conundrum is I love Monty Python for it’s absurdity. If that starts translating into my view of the world I’d prefer to slap myself in the face with a fish. But just in case none of this makes sense I’d like to create a piece of fiction, mirroring the patterns I have alluded to above. I don’t want to offend anyone currently grieving over a loved one, and also understand the media do a good job at helping people stay connected and does generate support and compassion. I’m not against the human side of journalism but there is a thick line that has been well and truly pushed through:

Man dies in tiger attack

A 42 year old man from Colon near Oscopy on the coast of Sphincter was mauled by Tiger that had escaped from the local Zoo. The as yet unnamed man is local and is survived by his son Anaal. Authorities are hunting the Tiger who goes by the name of Pussy Goremore.

CCTV footage shows he had been shopping earlier that day but friends say he had not intended to be in that part of town however there was a Manbag sale on. Shop assistant Peter Bowel said stock had backed up and had been grateful to see it turdover.

Eye witnesses say he had browsed through a number of shops that day and had coffee. Cafe owner Lisa Flatu-lance said he often had a bagel with his coffee but didn’t that day so had left early. She believed the man would not have died if he had kept to his routine and had a bagel. Bagel suppliers have now put warnings on their products about the risk of tiger attacks.

Family of the Man are yet to be informed but police have posted information on Facebook and invited members of the public to help piece together his last moments, people with a morbid sense of self-importance are urged to come forward. Tributes have been flowing online including his former high school wood work teacher who had this to say.

“He was a natural on the lathe, nice long strokes on the plane and always put safety first. Sad day for us – we will erect a memorial”

Zoo authorities were keeping caged lipped today but say it is the first incident of an animal escaping. However a self appointed spokesperson who was closely linked to a former employee, a tea lady and local domino champion, claimed the Tiger had no intention of mauling the man but the bag he purchased was made out of Leopard Skin and was probably just protesting.

Animal rights groups have rallied online to ensure the fair trial of Pussy Goremore, who some believe is not actually a Tiger. The society for the prevention of cruelty to people who like to dress up as animals urged for restraint and asked for calm and that retaliation against those wearing animal products was not necessary. The Tiger is believed to have connections in Sumatra, not Africa as some have speculated.

And now for something completely different – the world shoe horn crisis has been linked to global warming.

….Yup I’m done.
cue flying circus music.

A Con-vexed question

This morning I sat staring at a bauble looking at the distorted image of my face stretch across the surface I felt a stirring of a smirk. The Cheshire Cat effect only added to a surreal sense of hysteria as I played with my reflection. I had been pondering my previous posts about Christmas, and trying to pinpoint my disquiet which seems to keep shifting like the light bouncing back at me. The shimmering mirage reminded me of the book/movie Sphere. As a quick plot summary then, a giant gold orb (like a Christmas bauble for a tree the size of very tall building) is found on a UFO found at the bottom of the ocean. It just happens to have come from earth…in the future, but it’s been there over 300 years or so (thanks to biology and the growth rate of coral). In the movie it (the UFO not the coral) has ‘trash cans’ and a skeleton on board that looks like it was borrowed from set of Indiana Jones. I’ll leave the ‘book vrs movie’ debate up to the IMDB message board.

Turns out the orb has one function, to enable the instant manifestation of thought to occur. Trouble is in the presence of humans it did that all too well – playing on the fears of the crew sent to investigate it, so that they do not realise they have created their own nightmares playing out underwater…it’s very claustrophobic. When they eventually figure out what is happening they decide that humanity is not ready for such power and use the one thing that might send the golden globe back and get a refund on collective paranoia ride. They use the power to forget.

I sometimes wonder if all the mini baubles on Christmas trees have that power. That in spite of our best efforts to focus our intentions on those values we hope are reflected there is an ugly and terrifying truth of consumerism is hard to ignore that polishes off the last resistance to the glittering prize of the ‘bargain’. The hypnotic seduction of advertising has done its amnesiac work as Kiwis spent record amounts of money – well done – slow clap – now look in the mirror.

To quote Sphere:
“This is the gift of your species and this is the danger, because you do not choose to control your imaginings. You imagine wonderful things and you imagine terrible things, and you take no responsibility for the choice. You say you have inside you both the power of good and the power of evil, the angel and the devil, but in truth you have just one thing inside you – the ability to imagine.”
Michael Crichton, Sphere

As the tinsel lights and trees come down and shiny baubles are packed away it really is time to reflect – without distortion. I for one am not about to con-cave in.

Sleighing Santa With Science

I break into a cold sweat around this time of year. For me at least, Christmas represents a morphing of social, cultural, religious, and consumerstic psychosis, wrapped in narcissism and tied with ribbons of expectation, contradiction and excitement. It is a potent combination and one that is set to stay for some time yet, so those of us who feel like the ‘festive’ season is more like a festering sore season need to find ways to cope because to be outed as anti Christmas is rapidly becoming less acceptable than wearing crocs to a wedding.

I’ve also been pondering the dilemma’s parents face when the Santa subject inevitably comes up. Parents are entitled to a short window of blackmail each year. What better way to emotionally manipulate small children into complying that to threaten the potential for complete rejection from big red himself. In a world rapidly running out of a love of mystery and the unknown, where imagination and the realm of folk-law is being eradicated by the insatiable rationalistic machinations of science, we have a curious opportunity as a culture to blend some of the new sciences such as quantum physics with these colourful patchwork rituals that seem to be permanently sewn into our collective consciousness.

This is not to say I am an expert in quantum physics (people get pretty zealous when it comes to stating an ‘understanding’ of this kind of knowledge). However it is hard to ignore the allure of some of its more popular concepts that have become fodder for life coaches and gurus world wide espousing the power of ‘manifestation’. But with science making the quantum world more available as a backdrop for conversations, where time and space can be overcome and reality is ever unfolding, we can make some tentative connections to the role of consciousness and the observable world. Rational, logical, empiricist parents may now safely enter the Santa conversation armed with scientific back up! Here are a couple of simple explanations exploiting BASIC quantum physics:

Schrodingers Santa – This is based loosely on the experiment conducted by Erwin Schrodinger about the relationship between the location of particles and consciousness which has spawned the somewhat macabre obsession with killing cats…perhaps Gareth Morgan is related. Anyway Schrodingers Cat: Very simply cat is in a box, there is something deadly in the box with the cat (gunpowder or poisonous gas…depending on choice of death…ethics were a little different in the 1930’s) the fate of the cat is tied in with the observer, the cat is both alive and dead until the box is opened…or something close to that (plenty of Youtube videos willing to explain it to you much better than I can). So here is my Santa version, as he comes down the chimney this is ‘the box’ and upon waking in the morning ‘naughty or nice’ will be decided by what is under the tree. So this means that santa list is only valid until the moment of waking in the morning – all possibilities exist until children wake up. It means being able to extend the ‘be good or else’ hold for so much longer.

Santas special sleigh – if time and space can be overcome through manipulating wormholes or creating star gates of sorts then it is possible for Santa to cover the entire world in one night because he would have the power to time travel. The sleigh would be for show and the santa sack would be a quantum field of infinite depth where all presents would fit. Anti-gravity technology fits the sleigh and the reindeer of course could stay as part of the picture as he doesn’t want to leave a carbon footprint…just a snowy one.

The awkward conundrum for those in the southern hemisphere is the seasonal issue. Explaining why Santa is dressed in a coat and is dressed for the snow is kind of hard in the middle of summer. The fact that Santa is based at the North Pole could mean that he needs to stay cold so has built a force field around the sleigh to keep him feeling at home. Having said that, the capricious nature of NZ summers means it could be snowing in the South Island at Christmas.

So there are a couple of possibilities to get people started. I will continue to remain proudly detached from Christmas as a whole, but I respect those who have particular rituals, and beliefs that add to the significance of this time of year. My wish this year is for people to think beyond presents to presence and make the most of the connections and love with all things.

No cats were harmed in the writing of this blog…yet…just be mindful if they are playing in boxes.