tag : bright yellow-green apples: May 2005

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Wednesday, May 25, 2005


figure 3.4. oh no, it's pc world

That's enough earnestness for one month, it's time for a bit of levity. On the one hand we have an enjoyable plot synopsis of the latest Star Wars film, linked from Martin's site. I don't even need to see the film now, thank god! On the other, by Marcus Brigstocke, we have a rather brilliant skewering of the whole "it's political correctness gone mad" line. Marvelous stuff.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

green deserts and misunderstandings


figure 45.2. par example

Last Saturday I took a trip to Hopton Quarry. It might not look like much, but then few really do. But it's one of the best places in my area for interesting flora - for I was celebrating ten years this month since I first got into plants. Call it a geeky anniversary or sorts! And I wasn't dissapointed by all the exciting little green things, that happen to be quite rare.

It strikes me as rather strange how people percieve things. Often things that seem messy and junk will be dismissed out of hand, yet something tidy and innocuous yet essntially sterile will be guarded with great energy. Hense greenbelts composed of monoculture farm crops are protected by laws, whilst Cawdor Quarry (just on the other side of the vally from where I live) is going to have a housing estate and supermarket plonked on it. The former is a green desert, the latter is a jumble of orchids and pond life. Oh where is the logic...

...talking of which, there's a rather fine contribution to a debate about the creation and fall story in Genesis by Robert here.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

digging deep

figure 45.3. family tree

I don't tend to do the whole confessional writing very well, or at least not directly. The poetry is all very tangential. But this must be done.

A couple of nights ago I was salvaging old paper from a bin bag, rubbish coming out of a periodic house clear-out. And I came across some letters that seemed interesting. But reading them shocked me totally. What I was reading was in fact a scattering of letters between my parents, from the time of their splitting up. It happened when I was very young, only just at school, and I have only one small fragment of memory about it. It's literally a blank in my mind, even though an implicit reality in my life, and something that's never been talked about. So reading what they both went through, the trouble and turmoil...I hadn't ever expected to be able to appreciate this in any real way - that could make sense to me, as someone who lives with tangled situations.

Maybe I shouldn't have read them at all, left the privacy to it. But somehow it gave me some answers that I needed. To see their real emotions and problems, that they were struggling with life and how best to live it...I've never resented them for what happened, but it's been a great unknown to me...this allows it all to rest at last, now that I have some small measure of context. I left the letters and tokens of the former love they had right there in the bin, it seems right not to cling onto these things of the past now that they've helped me so in looking to the future.

I've often been very ambivalent about those who rampage for 'family values', or definitive liberated free-for-all forms, any who might presume one form of family to be an unmitigated good or bad. I mean I don't want to get into cod psychology, but it's likely the split in such formulative years did me deep harm, and damaged me in many ways that I cannot possibly trace. Yet at the same time, me and Ben have four more pretty wonderful siblings by other subsequent parental combinations, who'd never even exist without the split. Blithe judgements of good an evil in relating - absolute rightness of one act in an abstract sense - seem to fall down in the light of reality. This kinda stuff is hard to describe, least of all to any of you who come from more 'stable' homes. I hope you'll forgive my indulgence in setting some of these mixed up things down here. A lighter touch will follow in due course.

Oh but another letter came up, which mum came down to show me, was much more obviously heartening. It seems my mum's granny thought she was bringing shame and disappointment for having me out of wedlock, and throwing her life away. She urged my parents to attend Chapel for my sake, and the sound moral environment of the household. Oh to be a part in scandal, we had a good laugh and the honour of it fair made my week!

Sunday, May 15, 2005

a matter or concern

figure 10.9. the pen is mightier than the truffle

For those who haven't seen it yet - and let's face it, there can't be many who don't subscribe to this hallowed organ - here's the letter I wrote a week ago. The full self-righteous indignation was preserved, though I suspect the sensitively political line "Oh sometimes it's really not surprising that we have a Conservative MP." was always destined to be excised. Opinionated interjections are such good fun, I might try this more often! Our small town mentality is occasionally to be seen. Oh yes...and for any fellow nature buffs, you're indeed right to note that this isn't really truffle season.

Dear Mercury

I was interested to read the comments on Matlock's recent French Market, namely that it was a bad thing to do on St George's day. I'm sorry, but what century are we living in here? Are we really so insecure about ourselves that we can't cope with a bit of trans-European celebration mixed in with our national pride? I suppose to be really patriotic we cannot contemplate enjoying, or even seeing, anything from the rest of the continent. After all, it would be a dishonour to the brave lads who died in the Hundred Years war if we had a stall selling French Cheeses in our park. And Wellington would be spinning in his grave at the idea of French chocolates being eaten on our national day. Oh the dishonour we bear. God forbid, we must instead do the decent thing and restrict ourselves to good wholesome English turnips and cabbages.

St George, that quintessentially English North African mythological hero, somehow careless enough to be a patron Saint of another great enemy, Germany, would doubtless ride fourth to our rescue and overturn the corrupting continental tables if he were only here among us today. Oh sometimes it's really not surprising that we have a Conservative MP. Rule Britannia ect, and long live a 'patriotism' of repressed jealousy.


Laurence Craig.

Friday, May 13, 2005



figure 67.1. yet to be

For quite some time now, I've had this little Buddha statuette - a whimsical present from my mum. It's an elegant thing - and though a cheap wooden trinket, it's come to signify quite a lot to me over time. Not least, the story of how the Buddha achieved nirvana and then returned out of compassion, to help all others. In the context of my shrine, it teaches me every day that religion isn't simply a private revelation or contemplation - that it's a vision taken out of the ritual or small sacred space into every part of life, which we might find as sacred.

Well the dog had been sniffing around for some time now, pinching the odd candle. I suppose having it in a low windowsill doesn't help, nor that most of the things in it are nicely chewable. One day disaster struck, and I found the Buddha statuette lying on the floor, with his face missing - chewed off. I was upset and angry, and gave the dog a rather frosty reception for a while. I packed my shrine up, and put it away, to avoid any more loss and destruction. But I got over it pretty quickly, and begun to contemplate the damaged object. I certainly recalled the two giant Buddhas that had long existed without faces, victims of violent attacks. Not that I'd accuse our dog of being akin to the Taliban - that would be a little like overreacting (which of course, I never do!) Anyways, maybe there was actually something I hadn't seen before now?

There's a story that if you ever meet the Buddha on a roadside, you should put him to death. Kill the Buddha. From my own reflections in faith, I've often returned to thoughts around this - that we should hold what we see and know in faith very lightly. And carefully let it go, in favour of allowing ourselves to see things afresh. I don't mean simply a novelty-seeking or restless approach, change for it's own sake, which would be tiring and lose so much along the way. More that we need a dynamic internal reformation, which allows ourselves to change and accommodate and to adapt with life's many lessons. In the face of new experience and what other people can teach us, any stolid fixed faith would be a little bit like spiritual death. Maybe this faceless statuette can keep reminding me of something. In it's sheer anonymity, losing any specific visage. That our religious truths come to us in many people living around us now, re-casting those great figures of Jesus Christ and the Buddha we know. That our truths need the potential to be seen in a multitude of faces, incarnated in everyone, if we might see and make our God and our salvation (to use Christianspeak unabashedly) in this life.

It's sat on what's left of my bookcase at the moment, while I wonder what to do with it and the rest of my shrine.

Monday, May 09, 2005

mind over matter?

figure 46.3. par example

I found a very fine article in the book reviews on Saturday - though this view of the writing comes from my own opinions here. You see it's a celebration of the great French artist Georges Braque - in my view he's the most inspired painter we've seen for the past few hundred years. His pieces are astonishingly beautiful and absorbing, all the more so for the time (principallly the 1910's to the 1950's), drawing a fascination in their materiality. He makes something of the very stuff the pictures are made of, it becomes a key element to their success - rather than just a means to representation. I like him still, because he reminds me of the inherent good in our material world, the creative light that is in all. I don't want to be all grandiose, but his pictures are like a sacrament, they open a view on things. By consciously and prominently using specific materials (sand, oil paint, paper) to create beauty, he also shows what there is beautiful about materials themselves.

I can remember back in 1998, when I was at a low ebb with art - pretty much restricted to a few pencil drawings now and then, and what I had to do to fulfil GCSE work requirements. But then I came across cubist painting, and Braque's work coaxed me out of myself. Gradually I gained confidence again, and eventually grew to love painting utterly. I can safely say that without seeing his inspirational paintings, I wouldn't be so heavily involved in creativity today. And nor would I have a view of the world inspired so much by that, of how much good there is in this world. Nor a lot of my sanity, so maintained by making pictures. Big up St Georges. What a shame some of my fellow Matlockers are being a bit funny with other French produce - if my withering letter of reply to thier approach is printed on Thursday, I'll stick it up here.

Saturday, May 07, 2005

post mortum

figure 76.1. we can feel better, at least it's spring

This will be a very brief look at politics, what with the results having come in. Then we can get back to nice things for a while, like art and mysticism. The least worst scenario came to pass, pretty much. Though Steve Bell does a good job of summing up the mood for many of us, with the current polical state of things. The conservatives lost - and thank God, for all their visciousness has been blunted and the party of most spiteful jealousy is denied the chance to inflict themselves on us. How perverse that we needed the party led by the steely grin - or rather grimace - to ensure some notion of progressive social government continues. Even if they've pretty much forgotten what a lot of it means these days. But thier truely opulant majority has been cut back, so we'll have to see what becomes a priority and what will pragmatically get by.

I feel somewhat compromised, as in the end I voted for the Lib Dems. The ballot paper had little spare room, and I hadn't the wit to come up with another better responce. Better luck next time eh, here's to 2009 or whenever they see fit!

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

go and do it


figure 13.8. it could be you

The general election is nearlly upon us. So with trepidation, I'll make my last political comment (of which there have been few here, and fairly disparate) before the voting. Here're a few little impressions to carry as we go to the booth or postbox from my own little electoral mind:

(1) Tony Blair is not a liar. I don't think he's actually out to tell lies to us, despite what the en vogue view might be. I think he has a very elastic sense of things, choses his words and views so carefully, that he manages to come out feeling full of integrity. We might judge that his view of the world, and his way with words and ideas, is very dangerous. But we cannot call him a liar if we to see him with the complxity he deserves as a remarkable and conssumate politician. And that's not necesarily a compliment.
(2) The Conservative approach to 'the other' has been racist. Whether by explicit talk or by implication, thier national campaign has been extraordinarily xenophobic. We've seen attempts to insinuate crime, terrorism, disease, and economic disadvantage with incoming people. In fact they've been shockingly grubby and negative, trying to whip up our most selfish and dysfunctional impulses. Even the manifesto was spartan, reducing fundamental areas of our life to strange niche promises. So rather than 'better hospitals', we get 'cleaner hospitals'. Desperate? You don't know the meaning of the word till you get Lynton Crosby working for you.
(3) The media have been even more frustrating than usual. Whether The Daily Mail or Jeremy Paxman, so many have been out to make cheap points that resemble theatre more than dood analysis and discussion. And most ridiculous of all, they've chased the white rabbit of Iraq ad infinitum. When there are absolutely vital social and welfare policies around, they would rather ask the same question twenty times - one for which they know what answer they will get. But they wish to be simplistic and look tough and cynical. The war may be symptomatic of many things that are awry about this administration. But the coverage is symptomatic of many things that are awry about our broadcasters and print.
(4) There have been all sorts of dilemmas. Who to vote for? We seem to have been told by all sorts of people about the various dangers and advantages of going one way or another. I would like to keep the Tories out - but some say that it'll never happen, others that Labour are the only way to do so, still others that a good protest vote is in order. I want progressive government, even as I know so many use the term as a fig leaf. The resulting thought? That everyone's been spining thier own agenda for us, and feeding the stories to suit. Oh dear, I sound all cynical.
(5) I would vote for the Green Party by instinct. Environmental policies are more pivotal than most parties have really acknowledged. We cannot pay lip service here - it must be at the heart of every area of policy. From threatened biodiversity right up to climate change, this must be systematic and geniune - for our sake as a species and for the rest of the world in which we are a part. And this party has been the closest I've found to attempting that. I might vote for them, even if they're not on the paper. I'll write it on the bottom if need be.
(6) Not voting is a crime. Morally, there is no justification for it. We cannot allow our governmental system to become collonised by obsessive fringe parties and minority fanatics, who are more likely to be motivated to turn out than the moderate general public. Politics is a compromise, and you'll only ever be totally happy with a one person party of yourself. So chose someone and vote for them, the closest you can find. It's cheap and silly to say 'they're all the same'. They're not. And if you really want to have a go at the terrible stifling consensus - for there is some in some ways - then go out and spoil your ballot paper. Apathy can be used to a politicians interpretative agenda. A spoilt ballot paper is an official record of dissatisfaction. Whoever you vote for, get out there and do it.

"This was a party political broadcast on behalf of post liberal productions. No responsability will be taken for misunderstandings, innacuracies, indifference, or annoyance by the reader, as the writer's shortcomings are well known. See you after the vote..."