Old Friends

Old friends restoring parts of me

Holding the glowing stones of memory

Who I was, who I could be

Bringing kindling to gently warm me

Cups full of my blood, to pour to my lips

And let my heart pump boldly again

Remembering how I used to be

In those fangled days of innocence

Beneath the clinging ivy of nature

Leaving the lonely path home

To a place the dark cannot reach

Nor trickle through the ring of love

Hovering like a bright sphere around me

Fighters against the grey machine

Brandishing banners of truth and light

Forged of the same ideas as me

Seers of the forces know the great enemy

Words in the book of an anguished life

Turned by eager young hands on cold nights

As multi-coloured lights dance on the ceiling

Remembering the old games we used to play

And knew so well, laughing

At some obscure node of consciousness

Only we share, and so prize the more dearly

Egoless sharing and little care for money

Or the roof and walls called property

Like mice in a nest climbing over each other

Old friends, carry my shield and sword

Squires in a saga, greying my brow

Heeding what little wisdom I speak

Admiring the things I built, and forgot

Mirrors framed in gold, gem-encrusted

Beautiful things of the earth

Who will hold my left hand when I lie

Upon my final place, to smile and then die.

 

 

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Nations

‘I belong to this

And you belong to that

Here is a line in the grass

That you may not pass

 

You stay on that side

I stay on this

Here is a lamented card

Without it life is hard

 

You talk in that way

I talk in this

Those similar I hold dear

But you cannot come here

 

I have this symbol

You have your own

Three colours on a rag

You have an uglier flag

 

I am one type of person

You are a different kind

Our kind cannot be mixed

For our categories are fixed.’

 

Nations – what a load of old bollocks.

Bodily Logics and the importance of love

Two logics are at work in me. The one is open minded, beyond prejudice, anarchistic, gentle of spirit, enlightened, various, engaged, giving, loving, and artistically dynamic. The other Is stolid, closed, xenophobic, bigoted, ignorant, depressed, materialistic, unencouraging, frustrated, goalless, artless, authoritarian.

Why can I not choose the former over the latter? Every part of me is for it, every part of me wants to belong to it. My body quakes at the negativity of ignorance, or the grunts of frustration from small people with small worlds.  I don’t want these right-wing feelings in me, I don’t want to be anxious or depressed. I don’t want to play some false economy of finding security in wretched familiarity. I don’t want to snap every so often and spit bile at others. I don’t want to be so jaded as to be void of care for those closest to me.

But the choice is not so simple. If it were, these horrid, stolid things could be exposed and cleansed, as if by sacred flame. Yet character is not so simple. The depression becomes part of you, the un-virtues imposed upon you from youth are maintained into later years. Even being aware of them, they do not shrivel and die. Even speaking words of power to undo this malignant mana, the dark spell persists. Awareness alone does not seem to be enough. The actual physical body is stained by fear and toxic chemical traces. My chemistry, my very being is tainted with vile evil.

Take for example a child growing up in an abusive environment, or a nation under the totalitarian rule of a police state. How such things will warp any human being. Do you think the child or the citizens want to be as they are? Do you think un-free people want to harm others and commit atrocities? Do you think they would not imagine a better world if they could? Whatever they imagine, the reality of their bodies would ground and limit them. The chemical hatred and inferiority inside them would still simmer and sometimes conquer the will.

At this point in time I do not believe it is possible for the most severely oppressed to make free moral choices. The conscious mind would have to be supreme to rein in a lifetime of hatred, frustration and oppression. It would have to be transcendent, and apart from the whole human being – which is impossible. In this sense, I believe the most un-free to be determined. They did not choose to be made anxious by years of being spied upon, nor to fear the next strike of a tyrannical parent. But they had to endure this, and gradually, over miserable years, mental and physical trauma will have imprinted itself upon them.  Without knowing why, they would know a hatred inside for life and positivity, and a jealousy and envy born of feelings of insecurity and self-loathing.

The thing-just-inside feels intuitively right, however destructive it is to our true interests as natural beings. In this way, the oppressed can be crushed without having the will to fight back. The hurt can be convinced that they are too worthless to seek help. The proletariat can be exploited without realizing its own interests.

Help must sometimes come from an external source. What is determined must be un-determined by constant effort. Isolation can happen very quickly. Hope can quickly be shrouded by despair. If you know someone who is out at sea struggling to stay afloat, keep on throwing life-saving ropes to draw them back in until something catches. Then feed them love. It is very hard from the outside to know just how truly a person needs to be loved.

Love is the only means to un-make feelings of worthlessness or helplessness. Love overthrows tyrants. Even more than freedom, love is the foundation of dignity. For one who is free but unloved will struggle with wretched inner-feelings, as much as one who is un-free and un-loved. The love we need to give does not have to be some super-natural concept. The day-to-day concern for people, fellowship, sharing things in common, culture-building and physical intimacy is what we enlightened mammals desire.

Once such basic needs, which can effectively be summed up by LOVING COMMUNITY are accomplished, all that is virtuous can follow. Just as a flower must be planted in fertile soil, watered regularly and mulched around to reach full life, so human beings must belong to a community, be well-nurtured, and protected from the worst of life. No matter how much humanity grows in technology and intellect, happiness will not be achieved until this most straightforward need is acknowledged. Any attempt to encourage happy citizens in a fragmented, isolating society is like planting a flower in concrete, shining the light of a false sun upon it, and selling it artificial fertilizer until it dies of cancer.

To have time for another is the most important thing on this earth for us frail, existentially lost beings. All an animal has is its fellow animal. We can be more than our pain, and we can find a new foundation stone of dignity if we are loved.

Love can turn back any darkness, eventually.

The Pace of Oppression

Oppression is not a solid thing. It is not a tangible entity. I feel it inside me as a pace of life, a compulsion, a chimera of fear and desire and desperation.

A cursory think about the capitalist system reveals the truth of its oppressive nature. What would happen if you decided to take a spontaneous holiday from work? You would become unemployed. To make ends meet you would have to go to a job centre. They would force you to look for work or participate in some kind of scheme to acquire the basics of living. You would be forced to do things equally as unpleasant as work. In other words, beyond set holidays there is no option to ‘opt out’ of this society for any duration of time. You have to be constantly active, most of the time.

This driving force to endlessly do things is the invisible motor of capitalism. It makes people hugely “productive”. So “productive” in fact that they have no time for hobbies, they have no time for relatives, they have no time for volunteering, they have no time for their children, they have no time for those with mental health problems, they have no time for artists. In fact, they have no time for anyone but the busybodies who think that everyone should be forced to do things, all the time (in other words, the bosses profiting from this sorry state of affairs).

As if this false economy of constant motion is somehow a noble end! As if endless consumption and the environmental devastation that follows is an inevitable law of human societies. Please! Do not be such an underachiever.

Human beings who are forced to do things they do not want to do become miserable. And human beings forced to do things they do not want to do, will do so in a half-assed, second-rate way. Left to their own devices, human beings will naturally labour to improve their lot. This is not only because they have to, in order to survive, but also because labour can actually be rather pleasant when done for the common good, and at one’s own pace.  Doubly so when we can actually enjoy the products of our labour, rather than feeding the super rich parasites draining us all.

Pause. Take breath.

We are emotional beings, children of nature. We are not machines waiting to be driven by a crankshaft. Any mechanistic, deterministic view of humanity has to die; we must be liberated from the tyranny of forced work. This race for productivity, to make more and more and more without even having the time to enjoy the fruits of our labour – the quickest way to describe it is a load of old bollocks. The most severe way as a deep waste of potential, and massive cause of anxiety and depression.

To feel like you have to constantly fill your life is a waste of that life. A window is useful because it is an absence of material; a bowl is most useful when it is empty; a wheel runs swifter that has gaps in it. The right to philosophical contemplation, to idle play, to whimsical creation, or just to lie in and have an indulgent wank, is essential to human happiness. Why is our society bent against such simple pleasures and basic securities?

Until the basics of life are provided for, and until labour is performed at our own pace for the common good of all, endless miserable work is the lingering doom we are going to have to live with. This is our inheritance of the archaic capitalist system, which no one really believes in, but the cowardly, uninspired masses go along with for their apathetic lack of hope in humankind.

If you believe that people should be allowed to work as what they want to be, rather than what they are forced to be, congratulations, you are a liberated socialist.

No more neurotic dreams…

Running away, from place to place. As if you can outpace your shadow. Throwing yourself onto the back of another’s horse, begging them to save you. Is this the path to inner-healing? Is this going to lift you out of your tumult and darkest pain?

There is no utopia inviting you, there is no perfect woman waiting for you to find her. Nothing better awaits until you are strong inside yourself. No one is an island, but you must have a basis of self-love and self-worth in order to do any good for the world.

Have you got it? Look deep inside, is it truly there?

Finding this is not a sudden process, and cannot be rushed. Though it may have climaxes and peaks, it requires the opening of pandora’s box, and I wonder how much control we have over such an action. Perhaps you are lucky if you have a crisis, for now you can unlock the truth.

Your secret box is finally open, and now you are looking within, into places of deep daring. You are one with your hurt, even as it heals. And the closer you get to truly actualizing what is within yourself, the harder it is going to get. That final leap, to become a knight of faith, is the hardest step of all, harder than first opening the box or even taking up your sword.

Therefore, do not be surprised if your trembling, fearful inner-child gets worse with time, until the final battle with the ultimate shadow.

And when you face it down, know that you cannot defeat it with even the broadest of swords, for that thing is part of yourself, and to harm it is to harm yourself. Know it, and you know part of thyself. Embrace it, forgive it, and you achieve the ultimate courage, whatever others may say to you.

You accept yourself as a flawed, weak, vulnerable being, and in doing so grow tenfold in flexibility and adaptability. You become ready to evolve into something better.

There is no escaping the inner-truth, so do not long for worlds of fantasy. Do not be so absorbed in art that it loses all relevance to the world-as-it-is. Do not believe the propaganda  of saviours. Do not run from yourself, however painful the feelings, however harsh and hard the thoughts. Do not hide behind work and routine, this is to make reality mundane. You must face yourself.

Every experience is part of your history, and cannot be repressed. Nor can you stop them from impacting upon your conscious behaviour now, in the present, unless you take them unto yourself and resolve yourself. There are many patterns inside of you which you do not realize, and these shape your character. If you have not the tools and sensitivity to unweave that personal destiny, you are a slave to a motive deeper than your conscious being.

The truth must be dug up, and held up. What you truly are, a wonderful conflux of experiences and attitudes, must be beheld by your conscious mind. You must come into the present in order to truly find yourself.

Then you can take the largest step of all, and the hardest. Into true selfhood, as an actualized being of nature. Of course, darknesses and patterns will accumulate again, and there is no final enlightenment. But you will be much more prepared to deal with challenges, in a mature and adult way. You will be more than the sum of your pain and neuroses.

Fear not yourself. Loathe not yourself. Only know thyself, be thyself and love thyself.

The Future

Have you ever felt like the future was hopeless?

I must ask in return – how can that which does not exist have any form of quality?

The future is merely an expected series of moments, no different to these moments at present. Dread of the future requires you to leave the present, but the present is all you really have. And the present, believe it or not, is often bearable.

Things might be difficult now, and tomorrow may or may not bring more difficulty. But when we project into the future, that difficulty becomes magnified many times. Why torture ourselves with such projections? If the present is already quite hard to cope with emotionally, there is no boon in adding a further expectation of misery upon our shoulders!

And besides, as we explored earlier, predictions rest on futility. How things will turn out is unbeknownst to us. The traps are all in our minds; the work of an ego which doesn’t know when to switch off or simply shut the f*** up.

This moment is all we have. You reading this, now, here. Your eyes gazing at the screen, your back against the chair, the air going through your nose and mouth. This is all you have.

A nightmare future is impossible. It is an imagined destiny which can only be fulfilled if you take your thoughts too seriously. Expectation is a never-satisfied beast, which feeds and feeds on hope until it leaves nothing. It is impossible to appease, so why even try to appease it?

Step back from the mind a moment. Turn off the voice inside a moment. Start to trust in your whole being. Let all worries dissipate; they are grounded on nothing but the deranged empiricism of an over-active ego and pained limbic system. We must let our minds and bodies heal.

Fearing the future will not better prepare you for it. Some things, death and suffering, are inevitable. Fortunately, we have the capacity to deal with them – when we do not aggrandise them in our minds. It is only when we long for perpetual comfort, peace, warmth, and freedom that we are least able to appreciate these future promises. By being present we can accept the yin and yang that is life. When we let the unnameable nature within and without guide us, we find our way. For this enigmatic something is far more ancient than the mind, and far wiser.

Stop digging yourself into a hole. Accept what is now. The future is not hopeless or hopeful. The future is nothing.

Feeling Trapped

Feeling trapped and hopeless, you only have to ask yourself one question. The answer to this will determine whether or not you will remain trapped until your body expires, or whether you can change your circumstances. The question is thus: do you want to move forward?

Do you want to take one small step toward your freedom and happiness. If the answer is yes, then you are not truly trapped, nor are you without hope. By taking one small step in the right direction, you are upsetting the cage surrounding you. By taking one small step in the right direction, you are disproving the ideas within and without that you are unable to do anything.

It might feel like a futile step. It might feel like a stab in the dark. But there is nothing wrong with that. There are two reasons to be optimistic about your one small step. The first is that it demonstrates a functional conatus. This nice Latin word is a key concept from the philosophy of Spinoza. Effectively, the essence of any mode (or thing) is its desire to continue existing. Everything has a conatus – a person, a snail, a chair, a wall, a molecule. Everything. By attempting to gain more freedom, you are affirming your will to survival. More than that, you are increasing your power-in-the-world. Your one step forward is not just an intellectual exercise, it is an execution of direct action. You are safe in the knowledge that you are doing what is best for you, and this is a sign of self-love. The second reason to be optimistic about your one small step actually comes from a lack of knowledge. Namely, scepticism about cause and effect. You never know how much of an effect your own small step will take. I liken this to a questing knight, roaming through a harsh cavern alone. She does not know what lurks beyond, but she isn’t going to get out by staying where she is for too long. So, she has one certainty; shield raised before her, sword on guard, she must push forward whatever may come. And this ‘whatever may come’ is a great question indeed, and there are too many variables for it to ever truly be known. Therefore, knowing that the only certainty is to move forward, you can push through the darkness never truly knowing if it is a futile gesture, or will eventually lead to something good. By chance or fortune, the path must reach somewhere.

Looking at my own life, I can see two massive turning points, both small steps. One was setting up a philosophy stall which made no money, at a time when I was ‘trapped’ and living in near absolute poverty. Through the stall I happened to meet someone who saw a light in me. That person, six years later, has helped me find work which will help me survive in this horrible capitalist system without selling too much of my free time. At the time, on the morning of setting up that small, I could never have envisioned meeting her or the effect she would have on my life. The second turning point was around five years ago, volunteering to help plant some birch saplings on a common. I quickly became attached to the saplings and became their primary caregiver. When developers came to destroy the common and the trees, we dug the young woodland out and potted them up. Fortunately a team of cool squatters rode in on their skateboards (true story!) and occupied an abandoned car wash where we could store them. I was ‘trapped’ in a flat again, but eventually took the plunge, bought a tent for eighty quid, and joined the skaters! My first experience of squatting was a huge dose of freedom, which eventually led me to Grow Heathrow; a place of near-total freedom. Those are just two examples of massive positive impacts on my life, growing out of small deeds.

I do not believe that all oppressions are in the mind of the oppressed. That is letting the moneymen and the militaries and the heartless psychopaths who run society off the hook (lol Theresa May). It is also ignoring the sheer negative effect of material deprivation, and our simple mammalian need for warmth, love and nourishment. But there is some degree to which we can oppress ourselves. For in the dark ichor of our minds we might miss the small degree of freedom in us. We must first unmake the ‘woe is me’ attitude, stop engineering the universe against us, and instead recognise where we are disadvantaged and how we will overcome it with our comrades. For freedom, and hope, is simply represented by the will to continue; the will to keep on crawling forward and fighting evil come what may. No one and nothing can extinguish that – it is our essence. Even if it seems we are throwing eggs against a castle wall, it is something; a symbol of resistance and therefore self-worth. You can always manage this, however small a gesture it is.

If you are feeling trapped, as I sometimes do even now, hold on to this light of hope. You are still breathing, and you still have awareness. The seemingly patterned world around you – though it may seem like a solid block, an eternal fortress where there is little of hope or justice – is actually in flux. However slowly it may seem to be evolving, it is. Massive social change could be just around the corner, a tyrannous King could be just about to die of a heart attack, the waves may soon rise and change the priorities of shallow civilizations.

The love of your life might be waiting for you the next time you stand at a bus stop. You will only know if you go out there to meet her.

To the depths

To the depths I went

Always brand in fist

To find what made these paths

I thought I freely trod

 

What illusions waited there

To upturn the ship of tranquillity

What machine within worked

To hide the shadows

What lies came in dreams

To veil the truth

 

And the soul’s guardian, to protect me

Stayed loyal to false master

When it should to my ambition alone cleave

And my song venerate

 

An ocean lays at my heart

It is still or stormy

Of its own wild freedom

But now I can sail it

For I am bound

To the friends of true depth

Who understand what I truly am

 

The illusions in me, games of the mind

Shocked for years, shaken in fear

Of harsh words, of the street, of night

The evidence now piles against it

I have earned my honours

In the heart of the woods

And was always of bliss

And was always of bliss

Gentleness is I, peace is I

Merriness is I, truthseeker am I

Bestial

Bestial, something lurks inside. It wants to crawl along the ground, strength in its arms and legs. It wants its flesh to touch the earth, to source whatever power lurks there.

Bestial, it is the thing that is insulted when your toes are trodden on, your status diminished, your territory invaded. It pulses inside, waiting just beneath the surface of consciousness.

Bestial, it once charged at prey or fled predators. Now men are its predators, and the hate-filled abusive words are their javelins, and the pitiful look is the death-blow.

Bestial, it is an infinite well of courage. It is fearless; for fear exists only within one who wants an unnatural, painless time-span, but the bestial is at one with its suffering.

Bestial, it turns male heads to follow her walking. It longs to escape itself in the clutches of another, it is the fiery fuel for the raw deeds of carnal animals.

Bestial, it is far beyond notions of civility, good and evil. It is the vengeful pulse that wants to tear its enemies apart with fang and claw, a dark-furred savage of unmatched might.

Bestial, it is our primal dignity, and our undeniable nature. Human beings are animals, fooled into thinking themselves something more than the world around them; fooled into thinking they are worthy regents of the earth.

The bestial knows that is must work with the earth, not against it. The bestial knows that fellow animals and plants have as much a soul as any man. The bestial already knows the connectedness of all things and the true sanctity of life – to take it only in the direst circumstances.

I am bestial, a proud beast who walks, crawls, thrums, stares up at the moon, howls and sighs.