An emperor thinks in empires.
A king thinks in nations.
A governor thinks in provinces.
A mayor thinks in cities.
An elder thinks in villages.
A farmer thinks in fields.
But a philosopher thinks in worlds.
An emperor thinks in empires.
A king thinks in nations.
A governor thinks in provinces.
A mayor thinks in cities.
An elder thinks in villages.
A farmer thinks in fields.
But a philosopher thinks in worlds.
Aged around three I gazed at my hand and thought ‘I can’t believe I am actually here! I can’t believe this is real and I exist!’
I remember it distinctly. I recognized myself, and the stupendous odds of my ever having incarnated.
It took twenty seven years, but just this week it truly hit me that the world actually is, and the world actually fucking exists. It actually is, it really is, it moves through time, it is. I can’t believe it is actually there, its incredible! The stupendous odds of it.
Strange things happen in this universe.
It is impossible to escape the news, as much as I find it necessary in my current condition. It feeds anxiety, sensationalistic violence and ‘unprecedented’ tragedy, every day.
The news is a narrative, and a sorrowful one. The mind, wishing to predict the future, looks to the past, and projects it outwards. We watch the news, then, to be safe, to gather memories from society’s great ocean.
As with most anxious thoughts and dispositions, there is exaggeration and skewed perception. The news, like an anxious mind, focusses on danger, terror and harm.
But the news only tells of ‘cinematic’ harm, massive harm, sellable harm. The news about the millions of people, elderly, with disabilities, poverty-stricken, living in absolute psychic squalor is few and far between. These drawn out sufferings, if added together in some utilitarian calculus, would far outweigh the pain of war and terror.
This is in the billions: the exploited and the starved. The objectified and the enslaved. Billions, everywhere. Not only overseas, in distant lands and different narratives, but here. Your own elected officials will harm people in your own life time in your own country. This is real and it is happening.
Slaves all to ‘progress’, more aptly described as fear of stillness and re-evaluation. The juggernaught carries on, humanity is swept away. Chugging oil in its engine, it breathes out thick clouds of noxious smoke.
Fortunately, it will slow and eventually grind to a halt. There is much cause for optimism as humanity evolves, and I have no doubt we can grow from our pain, if we finally learn from it.
The antidote to anxiety does not lie in the cause of anxiety. One that takes cannot give, one that silences cannot implore, one that demeans cannot exalt. We must look beyond the societies around us for answers. We must plumb the depths of our histories, reaching back to stone circles and we must dream to the future where things improve and technology is used for the common good. We must dare to imagine something beyond capitalism, or amoral systems which can never provide for the most important thing of all. Human, plant and animal wellbeing, safety, encouragement and happiness.
They harm people every day, but you never hear about it in the news. Well, you can hear about it here. Now that we have these shared nodes of consciousness, let us expand until we reach critical mass. Let us undo these shackles of thought and throw off the heavy weights of despondency. Evolution is unstoppable, be part of it, and make sure you are evolving mankind in the right way.
It is possible. It is only the part of the mind that builds predictions based on anxiety that says it is not. That is a worm of the mind, planted by those who harm people.
I often go on an upward spiral when I remember you. Of late, my handwriting has become so bad my notes are like hieroglyphics! Nonetheless, plentiful wisdoms await, yearning for their chance to the see light.
Writing in this notepad is like finding seeds in a meadow, and expressing them the digging, tilling and planting. Looking back, what I have written is often good advice on the right track; glimmers of what is to come all but presaged. But to embody truth takes something else I cannot quite put my finger on. The words say what would be best for me to do, but this awareness alone has to become practiced and truly embedded someplace deep within. That ‘someplace’ is a mystery beyond us all. As unknowable as the forces behind the cosmos.
And even if we know the right path, day to day bad habits pulls us away. Into tunnel-vision, into bad routines, into negative thinking patterns. I am prone to a lot of this, and the isolation and sadness and frustration that follows.
Of course, even that last paragraph is quite unnecessarily gloomy! Things are not bad now, just wobbly and (occasionally) boring. I have made great steps toward recovery, and crossed a threshold of understanding today.
It is about giving the body the time it needs to process things and heal. I will trust myself and those around me. I will trust the flux of all-things we are contained within.
Life has humbled me; my being turned out to be more than just a mind and its expectations. I must learn to live at a new rhythm, away from impossible expectations and unhealthy obsessions.
Reading has helped enormously. Although anxious and vulnerable, the power of words has a much bigger impact on me. Music too. I experience it now with the vivacity of a child. The world is scary and wonderful again at the same time.
But writing, like a mirror, reflects and expresses. I have created a narrative and history here, through Nyteshade, and I am happy that you are travelling along with me.
At one time, this was the only solace in a harsh and demeaning Winter time. Now the spore has landed and grown into a mushroom, I promise to be more active and restore this good habit!
I want to feel good. I want to be well.
That is self-love, writing is self-love. Please express yourself too. Say how you are, say how you will meet Nyteshade in the dark, colourful glade. Say something whimsical and silly, or just be.
Just bring a quill and parchment!
Imagine sitting in a chair that is hard and uncomfortable. No matter how you wriggle, you always end up with an ache somewhere. The top of the chair digs in to your back, so you hunch further down into it, but that only makes things worse in the long run. So you go back to how you were at first, having forgotten the feeling of a wooden bar against the top of your spine. You turn sideways, but now your neck is cranked at an awkward angle and in futility you begin to massage your shoulders. So you hunch down.
This is what my consciousness feels like inside my head. Disjointed, disorientated, confused. Uncomfortable with itself, it struggles between uncomfortable places.
I believe this is for two reasons, both metaphysical and intellectual: the first is that I have not accepted that there is no centre, that consciousness is intrinsically afloat on a stormy sea, and the second is that change and loss is the nature of all things.
I will focus on the second. Everything comes from something and dissolves back into that something. Change is a blessing when you are in pain, for it won’t be forever. But it is not a nice though to think that what is familiar to you, people and places, will someday cease to exist. This is especially true when we have a strong sense of memory and the places that made us happy.
Good days are the ones we want to hold on to, but inevitably they come and go. And when we really think about it, we were never truly in control of the millions of factors which fed into those good days. Indeed, that is what made them good!
So longing to recreate them is futile. What has been has been. Things are gained and lost. People in our lives also; found and lost.
Trying to predict every factor that feeds into this impossibly complex ‘equation’ that is life / lyfe – such a thing cannot be done. And is not desirable – imagine how terribly contrived it would be if everything fit your dreams to perfection and was entirely of your creation; there would be no other autonomous people, just you directing everything.
Yet insecurity and instability are frightening, so it is understandable that we want a foundation of control. We could talk about balance here, but I feel that will be naive. What balance? What sense of control?
None of us will ever be given one for long. Consciousness, echoing the nature of all-things as transient and permeable and centre-less, cannot sustain itself forever. It evolves by virtue of what it is.
Even this article has no coherent central theme, just fragmented paragraphs loosely linked together. That is more profound then you may think, if you can work your head around it.
Holding on is anxiety, letting go is anxiety!
Perhaps this universe was made as some kind of joke, one that we human beings, limited in power and perception, can never truly see the funny side of. The joke is really cruel because we have the infinite abilities of thought and imagination, without the inner-strength to truly make sense of this great something (which doesn’t have much of a meaning anyway), we are beholden to. Sometimes it is funny, at least when people take it a bit too seriously and fight to hold on to their illusion. But largely it is tragic, and it is only in being together that we can survive in such a universe for long.
God has been taken away from us and there is nothing to take His place. Well, except for the microorganisms which feed on the bloated corpses of the fallen perhaps.
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.
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.
‘It is not the sufferings of winter that cause us to quail in this world
It is the evil of warped good, and the secret slaves of the false god.’
As the shadow of the South creeps ever closer to the realms of men, Winter grows more furious. The forests at the Edge of the World begin to gnarl and die, giving way to flood and landslide. The rivers grow sick with grief, and mountains are torn asunder for the stones and minerals within. Wealthy factors in the cities increase the price of wheat and corn, as Lords tighten their belts and raise their taxes. The ‘Dorian Alliance is tested to its limits as delegations stop visiting the Grand Councils and Calls to Summons, becoming more suspicious of their neighbours. Priests and monks of the Old Faith still attend solstices and celebrations, but pilgrims and fanatics come in lesser number. Corruption in the Temples is rife.
This is an age of cynicism. Trumpets of doom are blown. Brother grows suspicious of brother, peasant collectives begin to fragment and turn against their own interests.
Avagoth raids intensify on the borders, the steeds of many warlords reaching as far as the Inner Cities. With diminishing armies and plummeting morale, the Alliance brings in ever more desperate measures – Orcish mercenaries to quell the anger of their own people. It is a short-term solution bound to spread resentment. People start to question where their civilization is going and whether there truly is an eternal, celestial order to things. Those few who profit from the increasing struggle are the only ones with any power, their miserable souls slowly evolving into demonic aspect, their fangs feeding on millions of poor and desperate.
Only Gylfanon, the Dark Prince of Gylfanys, goes on the attack. Looking to expand his Kingdom, he forges links with the Lorcanians of the sacred wood. He avoids the worst of Avagoth raids by promising his barbarian “friends” power and land in his new domain. Turning warlord against warlord, Gylfanon’s knowledge of Avagothic clan politics spares him much grief. In his own lands he makes it illegal to raise the price of grain, and threatens the wealthy factors and their private guards with his furious league. Many flee to neighbouring lands, and Gylfanon’s council take their wealth and estates, distributing much of it to the needy. Yet more volunteers step forward to take up spear and shield for their prince, yet more weeping maidens stitch great banners of valour to be carried into battle.
At first he only aimed to frighten his neighbours into compliance, but quickly Gylfanon gained in confidence. High-Priest Furion secretly joined him, and advised he begin the Dark Crusade of Vengeful Truth, to turn the armies of evil away by any means possible – even turning the weapons of evil against itself! In a moment of revelation, Gylfanon realized how much his own inner-darkness and suffering was a source of strength. Caused by the evils and inequalities of men, it is rage enough to overturn his oppressors. Deep inside that nihilistic tendency lay the fearlessness to face death.
As news spreads and champions gather beneath the black and red Gylfan banners, the five brothers of the Turcans respect the brazen might of bold Gylfanon and his wise council. The Scyldlings send him gifts from the Northern Ice, mighty frostblades, and a pair of armoured mammoth to serve as his battle-steeds. Many creatures emerge from the deeps, drawn to his pulsing soul, understanding the speech of his beastmasters. And much are his loyal volunteers, among them Thugul and Au Ko, and even a few companies of the hardy Dalf Byorn tired of the decline around them.
On the attack, Gylfanon gains momentum, and the Dark Prince is seen as a hero of Hy-Selasia, even by his enemies. But those enemies are great; The six warped, mind-controlling giants who rule over the still, ancient domains of Ivis. And the King-in-the-Crystal, the single most powerful man of all. He commands no army, yet his believers are many, and they have many armies. Their hearts gripped by tightening despair and irreverence for nature, they know only anxious obeisance to their cruel King.
It is almost time to put ideals to the test. It is almost time for battle.
Gylfanon hands his diamond broadsword to his lieutenant, the silent and bold Halbard. Delving to the depths of the ancient armoury of the Nagothi, he seeks a greater treasure. A dark creature of Elvish aspect waits there, hidden beneath a robe of samite, and he holds in his naked hands a long, serrated sword. Clutching Nightcleaver to his chest, Gylfanon prepares for the ultimate battle, not against the true, inevitable darkness, but against the warped light which casts an even greater shadow.
Propelled by self hatred
You are shit. Worthless child, go do something! > Big dreams! Big visions! > Very little done, action just to placate inner loathing > You are shit. Worthless child…
Propelled by self hatred we are never able to achieve much. The self-hatred is not a healthy motive. It is an abyss, and the energy it saps undoes much good. It is an anxious state, which requires unrealistic, impatient thinking to escape, further reinforcing it. The root is never addressed, the root being obsession with the past, and the narrative created by the tortured mind. Feeling like anxious crap leads to trying to do everything at once and getting confused, hamstrung by foolish mis-ambition. Get rich quick, instant success – instant escape from a deep inner-dissatisfaction. The grass is always greener on the other side, but all the sheep are racing across the bridge to get it, and they all get stuck.
But propelled by mindful action.
Be in this present moment > Act without anxiety or comparison > One step achieved. Next! > Be in this present moment…
Able to achieve great things, eventually! To do instinctively is with zen confidence. Nothing is done for the sake of an ego, and no void is being filled. Action is an end in itself, a desire to see a beautiful thing created. The smith is amazed by his own forged axe, the director amazed by his own work. It is like being an audience member to your own work. When finished, it is to be shared, not wrapped in rights and other protective crap. Ambitionless ambition, motiveless motion, desireless desire. Whatever happens, you create something to bring joy to others.
And when my celestial forge burns low, and I hold in my hand a treasure of the highest artisanship, I toss it over my shoulder to be wield by Mankind, however they see fit…
Are you telling me that it doesn’t all add up? That the sum total of all the hatred, fear, spite, cruelty, envy, self-destructive, irreverent, thoughtless stupidity and shallowness doesn’t stain the collective consciousness of the world we live in?
I often wonder why I feel like crap for no apparent reason. Maybe it is because, even if I were in blissful homeostasis, there are mothers shivering in cold flats, fearing the return of an abuser. There are injustices of war, the murder of the innocent, rape, pillage, the waste of so much potential. There is labour exploitation on a massive scale for nothing more than the esteem of fickle, shallow citizens of the rich world. There are easily treatable diseases killing people, and easily filled stomachs left empty. Animals tortured for fur and meat, ancient forests destroyed to build coal pits and golf courses. Callousness on a mass scale, against a droning machine which seems undefeatable.
I do not want to dwell on the darkness of life. I do not want to paint a bleak picture. I just want to identify why we might feel the darkness within, seemingly without explanation. This can lead to a true hope, and a true optimism – for we will know what needs to be done, and gain purpose from that.
Being present, we can appreciate today. But we cannot truly rest until justice is done; the light brought to every corner of the world. Wounds must be recognized, given space and time to heal.
It all adds up, and much has accumulated. The soul of humanity is stained, but that does not mean we cannot free ourselves of this pain. What is made can be unmade, and a pyramid of skulls can be dismantled, one by one. Love and courage is enough, love and courage our battlecry!