Back in 1982 I began working on a novel about a young man who blows up an exclusive club in London to demonstrate his hatred of the neo-liberal agenda and attendant neo-con policies: the contrived ever-lasting wars, austerity measures, pro-elite/anti-social laws, and so on.
The novel was supposed to be a wake-up call about what was happening in capitalist societies – a warning of what would inevitably occur if monetarism and right-wing ideology was followed through.
My only surprise concerning actual events since then is that such an act of individual violence has not taken place. This suggests that people on the whole are very generous with regards to the intentions of their leaders, or that the public’s passivity knows no bounds. Perhaps it illustrates people’s innate goodness, I don’t know.
The only acts of individual violence regularly witnessed are committed by those who have been deranged by social, military or religious pressure.
Mainly, as ever, the violence continues to be carried out by authorities on behalf of the state, either on its own citizens or in foreign countries.
This situation cannot be allowed to continue.
The whole world is under existential threat as a result of the violent policies being pursued in capitalist societies. Either war or environmental catastrophe have the very real potential to destroy the planet upon which we depend for survival.
Thankfully, more and more people are waking up to this prospect and recognising from where the real threat to their well-being emanates.
In my just completed novel there are many references to the Rosicrucians, old and new.
In case anyone is not familiar with the Rosicrucian tradition, here are a few pointers.
No one really knows when existence began – or if it ever really had any beginning at all.
If there was no beginning, then there can surely be no end.
So in that case what exists is only and purely eternity.
Whatever you may know outside of this truth can only be illusion.
Overcoming this state of uncertainty leads to true knowledge.
In theory, anyone can reach this end point of realisation and understanding.
In practice, few know where to begin.
Which is where the Rosicrucians come in.
Down through the centuries knowledge of the path to certainty has been handed down from culture to culture. The Rosicrucians are a part of this process.
In the seventeenth century proclamations in writing appeared in various important European cities announcing the re-discovery of the eternal wisdom as it had been experienced and passed down through the generations. This learning, it was said, now lay in the hands of an organisation consisting of the members of the ‘rosy cross’. Hence the name ‘Rosicrucian’. People were invited to join, but had to find their own way to make contact with the organisation.
And so it remains today. The big difference now, if there really is any, is that people are less likely to be persecuted for seeking the truth which exists beyond the illusion of everyday existence. At least, one would like to think so… Even if you believe this is so, there is still a great deal of ignorance and hostility to the idea which has to be overcome, not to mention personal prejudice.
Still, with clear-sightedness, strong purpose and the courage to pursue what currently appears possible only in the imagination, full knowledge is attainable through the right means.
This is why there are so many references to the Rosicrucians in my just completed novel ROSICRUCIAN
I don’t know about you, but for me exhaustion has got to be about the worst feeling in the world. Some people desire it, go out of their way to feel exhausted, start out their day seeking exhaustion – presumably so they can more easily sleep that night.
It’s probably best to differentiate between mental and physical exhaustion, even though in fact I hate both conditions.
With physical exhaustion you pretty much know that a good night’s sleep will revive you, unless you have worked yourself so hard physically that your poor body requires extra daytime hours to really get going again.
However, with mental exhaustion of a particular kind…
Oh, we ought to mention that kind of intermediate bodily/mental exhaustion; for example, following a hard day’s work or after driving a vehicle for innumerable hours, and that feeling of being shaken up that can go on for an indeterminate amount of time (though usually simply lying still for long enough will get rid of the symptoms).
No, what I am talking about is the type of exhaustion which follows an extended bout of mental effort that no amount of rest seems able to placate. At least, the intensity of the exhaustion is such that you feel it never will. A level of exhaustion whereby you cannot imagine ever feeling peaceful or at ease again. An exhaustive state which takes over your entire being.
Such a feeling is one I experienced last week and was similar to that I experience every time that I get to an end of a novel; or the draft of a novel (sometimes you don’t know which is which).
The mental agony of reading through tens of thousands of words and paying attention to every single internalised phonetic sound within every syllable within each word within each paragraph of every chapter which must then be made to flow harmoniously within a massive structural whole which only began in the imagination… Well, that does me in. Exhausts every brain cell and molecule extant within my body, while stretching and pulling at the once teeming and now apparently sated creative state which started the whole process going in the very first place.
In that final condition there seems no end.
Coming round from exhaustion is probably the most exalted state in the world.
Like walking out from a church into daylight.
When you are ill, recuperating, each day you get better and better until you wake up one morning and feel normal.
To have energy after having none – to see the world in sunlight after groping around in the darkness.
A second of nothing is the same as an eternity of pleasure. Each lasts the same amount of time. You do not know the difference. There is no difference, except what you feel at that moment.
Try to explain that. You can’t.
Just as you can never explain anything to anyone.
Realisation is shared – a shared moment. Like listening to a piece of music together.
Exhaustion causes unnecessary separation, from your normal healthy self and that person closest to you.
Walking in the woods, feeling the earth beneath your boots, knowing animals are around you, breathing in the wooded air, sensing the airy surrounding space, you are brought back to life and corrected from that awful inclosing experience of interior closure that exhaustion causes.
You go to positive from negative.
Love life and peace is an exhortation, not an empty phrase
This time last year I was diagnosed with a potentially fatal illness: haemochromotosis.
After doing my research, rather than go down the route of constant tests and check-ups at the hospital – let alone blood-letting, I bought a bottle of turmeric capsules, made kim chi, cut out alcohol, had a course of acupuncture and booked a stay in Gran Canaria.
I also changed my job.
Later, I gave up work completely to concentrate on my writing.
That resulted in the publication of SOUL JOURNEY earlier in the year – an artistic representation of the mess we all find ourselves currently living in.
Now I have just completed another full-length work.
What I was reminded of while writing the two inter-connected pieces was what I disliked about growing up in my beloved country, despite actually having an idyllic childhood (paradoxical though that might sound): the authority-figures wanting you to conform to some unstructured and ill-considered narrative idea running inside their skulls about how life ought to be conducted.
Not that many of them conformed to the ideas they expressed themselves.
In other words, it soon became obvious even to a child they were utter hypocrites demanding one thing from others while expecting absolutely nothing of the sort from themselves.
Now – following the social gains of the 60s and 70s – that same old, mean, exploitative, hypocritical and out-dated set of so-called values seems to be closing in again – perhaps for good this time – on that little island setting itself further adrift in the Atlantic Ocean.
Thank you Margaret Thatcher, thank you John Major, thank you Tony Blair, thank you Gordon Brown, thank you David Cameron, thank you Theresa May and all your benighted cohorts…
Thank you for screwing up what was set on course to be a truly liberal, respectful and caring society.
And so down here in Portugal watching the whole UK Govt/Brexit fiasco unravel you get to recall and consider why you embarked on a ‘let’s see Europe one more time while we can’ journey in a tiny little red van you can’t stand up in – and then of course your original decision makes perfect sense.
You don’t want to be – were never part of – a collapsing identity.
You want to be yourself.
Standing back, seeing just the way people take irresolute positions and try to force others into believing their own absolutely unsubstantiated take on affairs they know nothing about…
Makes you realise why you never believed them in the first place.
Wow! Phew! Sometimes, learning how to say the simplest things in a new language is really, totally, pearly perplexing… I am sure you will agree. And this one is just utterly basic, if you notice what it is saying, and it is not saying anything more than that:
Ramsay MacDonald, the pacifist first Labour Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, was the father of Ishbel MacDonald, who married my great-uncle Norman precisely eighty years ago. Ramsay MacDonald has been condemned by many, but I wonder where British society would be now without such a trailblazing personality. For my part, I am glad to know that such an intelligent and far-sighted individual added something so positive to our family. I intend to add to the legacy. A few videos are attached:
A plaque that I re-discovered in the High Wycombe museum commemorating the death of my great-uncle Charlie in the Great War is being reinstated at the Methodist church in his home village of Bryants Bottom on Armistice Day, not far from where I was born.
I never knew uncle Charlie but I would like to think that he would not have approved of the present-day slaughter of innocent people in countries like Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria…
If commemoration of atrocities means anything, then we can hope that the death of those like my uncle Charlie Ridgley leads to love, life and peace.
I walked into a bookshop in the university town of Coimbra last weekend and felt really pleased for about thirty seconds as I looked along the shelves…
I so, so want to enjoy being in a bookshop and feel that they are worthwhile and a book-buying renaissance is forthcoming…
Books – and bookshops – are so lovely and so worth having…so much a part of who I am…
Here is a daring truth to admit: I have not bought a book from a book shop for… What?… Six – maybe seven – years or more! Tell me, why would I? What would I buy? Jamie’s ‘One Hundred Recipes in Zero Minutes’; JK Rowling…some kind of moribund thriller about somebody being tortured and executed by a psychopath for no good reason other than my supposed amusement; a political memoir…doh!
Where is the fiction..!
I have been in my local Waterstones twice in the same amount of years – to buy calendars as Christmas presents…and that’s all.
One look in the window is enough to turn me off…
Really, very, very sad (to quote an orange-faced American president…)