By far the most indecipherable book I have ever read (except perhaps for the Old Testament, and I have also read that book from start to finish) would be ‘Being and Nothingness’ by Jean-Paul Sartre. Talk about being largely incomprehensible! I defy anyone to make full sense out of it. Some passages work, like those concerning good and bad faith, but mostly the text just snakes and winds until it disappears inside itself and loses the reader entirely. I am not even going to bother reproducing examples since they would only bore the blog-reader to distraction, suffice to say that only if you are absolutely sure concerning your ‘thing-in-itself’ and its attendant ‘facticity’ is there any chance of you taking the thousand hours or so required to follow the author’s mangled brainwork. – And this coming from the guy who has attempted to elucidate his ‘Key of Love’ theory throughout much of his work i.e. me.
Having gone to so much effort in forming his convoluted sentences, JPS reaches the conclusion: “I exist, that is all, and I find it nauseating.”
You may discover the antidote for any residual twentieth century ennui below:
When I see my Levi jacket, there is simplicity. Stitched up denim with a couple of top pockets and good hand pockets lower down. Used to be left pocket for my fags and right pocket for my money and drugs. Now it’s going to be wallet on the left and phone on the right, specs in a hand pocket…
First time I wore my Levi jacket into the woods with a headful of acid in my brain there was always a new tomorrow just a’waiting round the corner.
The town of High Wycombe and the vast expanse of the Rye before us made a welcome for any kind of thing to happen – and if you were to hear of those things, I don’t know, you might be completely shocked.
We arrived in Dubrovnik yesterday, having driven the length of Bosnia-Herzegovina north to south…
After surviving the worst electrical storm in living memory inside our camper van amongst the north Croatian hills, we settled down to living in the woods alongside Ingrid’s working homestead. This included making the half-hour drive into Karlovac where we saw yet more remaining evidence of the nineties’ Balkans conflict. Communist countries of the late twentieth century had a penchant for erecting bow-shaped walls twelve-feet high and covering them with murals depicting workers in all their industrious glory accompanied by state slogans of the ‘onward to a better future’ kind. Croatia was no exception. Today the Karlovac wall is pock-marked with bullet holes and whitewashed all over, while bearing the inscription ‘Britney bitch’ in black spray. With such precise emblems has the early twenty-first century zeitgeist supplanted the intended socialist ideal.
Having learned previously how with satellite technology a straightforward forty-five minute drive could become a six-hour odyssey of near-despair along country roads, we used our atlas map to take us out to the border at Dvor. Departing Croatia was easy enough, entering Bosnia predictably awkward. “Green card,” asks the officious border guard. “Don’t need one.” “Huh? Documents!” Yes, documents, always bloody documents in these little tinpot bureau-states. He takes our passports to the guard-hut, shows them to another official, scratches his head, walks back, hands them over, tells us to be on our way. What a palaver! There is confusion about where we can park in the border town without paying so while I stand guard Anne goes off to spend any leftover kuna on food and drink. Now we are hopeful the Prijedo-Banja Luka road will offer up plenty of camping opportunities. Ur, no. Soviet-hangovers and sinister conflict associations are about all we see. Thankfully, someone at a petrol station points us in the direction of the gorge at Krupa na Vrbasu so we follow the river south and fetch up on a disused camping ground there. In that odd manner some out-of-the-way communities have of quickly exchanging information, within ten minutes a car pulls up, the washhouse is partly-opened, and our passports are requested; money changes hands, and we are permitted to stay overnight. Best of all, we have access to a small supermarket and the Cric Cric bar – where my last post concluded…
At that point, we were headed easterly for Sarajevo, but now refreshed and learning from our mistakes about which roads to take, we make the decision to drop more directly south on the gorge road towards Mostar. With the help of an internet connection we have pinpointed a little campsite not far from the famed Islamic town. That afternoon, we pull into the site alongside the fast-flowing river Buna, say hello to the half-dozen Hungarian bikers relaxing in the shade from the hot sun, and set up in the furthest corner snugly beside the river.
Bosnia-Herzegovina does not fill with me joy. Everywhere are reminders of the most recent conflict and tensions existing between the various communities, most notably the Islamic and Christian. How I would love to see the end of all established religions. They breed so much hatred. In Mostar we see the replacement for the old bridge so infamously destroyed by the Croatians in full view of the TV cameras, then head to the war museum where a series of displays, artifacts and photographs aid us in re-living the terrible torments meted out and undergone under the guise of achieving freedom and independence, but which in actuality had the sole purpose of gaining perceived lost territories and the settling of old scores. Names of places cropped up: Prijedor, Banja Luka, Visegrad… The book I brought with me, Ivo Andric’s 1945 novel ‘The Bridge over the Drina’, tells of the bridge built by an Ottoman vezir – himself a kidnapped blood sacrifice as a ten year old from a Christian Serbian village – and the years of pain and toil it cost to erect over the Drina…and now in the Mostar museum five centuries later I am reading on the walls how Christians and Muslims have continued to torture and murder one another on that same bridge , before throwing the dead and mutilated bodies into the flowing Drina below. Heraclitus says you cannot stand in the same river twice – well, these guys seem able to stand in the self-same place thousands and thousands of times over. So who is telling it like it is, who is enacting out reality: the Hellenic philosopher or the brutal murderers..? You can judge. That is why this country does not fill me with joy, but anguish and dismay. Travelling is troublesome, as much as anything.
Coupled with the above, is the seemingly obsessively remaining sense of state control. Driving through country roads you are prepared around every corner to be pulled over by some hillbilly, dolled-up police officer, who waves you down with his little fluorescent paddle and asks to see your documents, always with that dour expression and the threat of some unpleasant outcome should he feel so inclined.
No, I have had enough of over-zealous guardians of authority pulling me over and demanding to know who I am, what do I have upon my person, where am I going and where have I been. In future, maybe I can refer them to this weblog. This familiar scenario – and I mean familiar even from teenage years in the UK (see in particular DEATH AND THE DEAD – is theatrically enacted four times over during the final two hours of our drive out from BIH: by the policjia, Republika Srpska cross-country patrol and then again at the southern border back into Croatia.
“We don’t need one.”
Life is NOT all about pretending to be reckless under pre-prepared, paid-for, controlled conditions. That is the very opposite of life if you believe life ought not to provide any safety net in order to be fully experienced.
As a matter of fact, connecting a rope to your ankle and jumping from a perilous height is all about death – or, rather, the threat of death. The same can be said for all manner of purchased and only apparently dangerous activities. Crossing the road is far more likely to be injurious.
People say, ‘You only get one life,’ – which is demonstrably untrue since reincarnation is a matter of fact about which numerous proofs exist, of a personal and more general nature.
People say, ‘Life is not a dress rehearsal,’ – and again, sorry to say, they are utterly wrong. Life is precisely that, undeniably it IS a dress rehearsal, a trying on of new clothes, of looking in the mirror, and practising one’s lines. That’s just what life is!
People most often use these sayings when they simply want an excuse to be frivolous with their time and energy. Well, be frivolous – it’s great fun! – but don’t use LIFE as any kind of vindication.
“That’s all, Folks!”
The symbol above – which has sometimes been used as the site icon – is The Banner of Peace designed in conjunction with the so-called Roerich Pact, and was designed by the Russian artist of that name (Nicholas Roerich 1874-1947).
‘The Banner of Peace symbol has ancient origins. Perhaps its earliest known example appears on Stone Age amulets: three dots, without the enclosing circle. Roerich came across numerous later examples in various parts of the world, and knew that it represented a deep and sophisticated understanding of the triune nature of existence. But for the purposes of the Banner and the Pact, Roerich described the circle as representing the totality of culture, with the three dots being Art, Science, and Religion, three of the most embracing of human cultural activities. He also described the circle as representing the eternity of time, encompassing the past, present, and future. The sacred origins of the symbol, as an illustration of the trinities fundamental to all religions, remain central to the meaning of the Pact and the Banner today.’
The historic monuments, museums, scientific, artistic, educational and cultural institutions shall be considered as neutral and as such respected and protected by belligerents. The same respect and protection shall be due to the personnel of the institutions mentioned above. The same respect and protection shall be accorded to the historic monuments, museums, scientific, artistic, educational and cultural institutions in time of peace as well as in war.
‘The history of international treaties shows us how many of them were relevant and applicable to the times in which they were signed, but then lapsed into irrelevance. The Roerich Pact, however, has kept its heart and its life, and is linked to the needs of today’s chaotic world as much as ever. In so many countries we see a deterioration of cultural values and a disregard for the right of all cultural treasures to have their own continued existence, forever protected and unimpeded. We see destruction of life, property, and the inheritance of the creative genius of the nations. One can only hope that a greater awareness of the importance of humanity’s cultural heritage will increase, rather than deteriorate. There is no greater value to a nation than its culture.’
‘The Roerich Pact was first agreed to by twenty-one nations of the Americas and signed as a treaty in the White House, in the presence of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, on April 15, 1935, by all the members of the Pan-American Union. It was later signed by other countries also.’
This is the vancar we’re going to set off in. And this blog is now going to become Old School.
When I ask my international language students where the word BLOG comes from they never know – and it’s likely that a lot of us forget – a BLOG is a ‘web log’ – and that’s what from now on – or at least when the trip begins – this blog is going to be…a log put out on the web from the road.
And it’s going to be an amalgamation of sights and sounds and thoughts political, mystical and social that just pass through the blogger’s mind – just as, in fact, this blog was always supposed to be.
It’s going to be a story.
I am no expert in anything – but I am tired of being expertised to by a whole bunch of know-nothings who are out there expounding as though they really do understand what’s what concerning Europe…Well, THEY ONLY SOUND LIKE THEY DO.
That is part of what this blog is all about and always has been – and especially is from now…
Oh, yeah, those 27 countries…I’ve been to Ireland, France, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Italy, Benelux, Germany, Austria, Denmark, Sweden, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria – so that’s already over half of them – but that means a lot I haven’t and don’t know about, and I look forward to seeing some of those previously visited countries once again,…
This trip is all coming about due to Brexit, remember, so that by around this time next year I may not – as a UK citizen – be able to visit any of these countries without some kind of pass or visa. (As it happens, I have a way out – a trick up my sleeve – . Be that as it may…)
To start with, we’re taking the ferry to Hoek van Holland and heading north-eastwards…to form a triangle containing Amsterdam, Tallinn and Podgorica. That’s the plan.
First, there’s a whole lot more to organise – like what to do with the house…
In a future blog, I’ll try to give my starting position re Europe and the UK’s imminent departure from within its ranks.
Comments will be very warmly received.
In the meantime, here are some books of fiction I’ve written – all available from local bookstores or online, hardcopy or digital, and none of them particularly expensive.
There is only one question in life worth asking (to paraphrase Camus, Il n’y a qu’un problèm philosophique vraiment sérieux…) and that is…
What happens to the human soul after death?
First, the human soul is actually an information pattern based on memory and is stored in the sub-atomic structure – more specifically within an electron, or electrons, and this information continues to be stored following the dissolution of the body’s molecular makeup (as described in Answer, where the human soul is described as a scintilla within the body). Since an electron has no mass there is no known limit to the amount of information that may be stored in this manner; certainly a lifetime’s worth of memory is virtually zero. There is consequently no problem of storage.
As sub-atomic matter electrons do not conform to human sensory efforts of measurement and may appear as discreet particles or waves. Still, electrons are constrained by some kind of law, and that law is one of circularity. Electrons do not disappear forever, nor are they eternal (as far as is known). They appear and reappear. And when they reappear within the context of another human body they carry over the information contained within them from the previous occasion. In this way, they transmit information to the ‘new’ human being. This human being has access to the information stored as memory within the electron, or electrons. That is the human soul, and that is how ‘reincarnation’ occurs.
So, back to our question: What happens to the human soul after death?
Quite simply, it remains contained within the electron or electrons.
People may ask, Where does the soul go?
Well, you have your answer here. It ‘goes’ nowhere – remains part of the universe.
The electrons follow a cycle of reestablishment and this has been worked out through the ancient mystery schools (just as various planetary motions were) to last through periods of one hundred and forty-four years. If you want to work out when your soul last incarnated in an individual human being doing the math is really quite simple. Then, if you want to access the information contained in the electron/soul you have to involve yourself in memory exercises which are more commonly called meditation. Through forgetting your present ego-bound self, you are able to recall previous selves (assuming such exist; if you are a new-born soul then it will not even occur to you to try this exercise, since you will have no knowledge of, or any idea concerning, a previously existing self.)
All that needs to be added here is to say that all new experience you have is added to your store of memory. In this way, through accumulated self-knowledge, you are able to comprehend the universe as it exists – and as you exist in it – and thereby attain the perfect mystic dream of never having to return to a physical human existence.
You have the formula for perfect liberation – of attuning your individual soul to the universal oversoul.
Prior to achieving this state of perfect liberation it ought to be possible to consciously form a memory-pattern that will continue to exist as a waveform after the dissolution of the body and that has nigh on eternal permanence. This waveform – or pattern – will in turn be accessible to any human soul that can obtain the means of recognising it.
Well, it’s gotta come – that feeling of…of…
Let me say, first of all, ‘rock’ ain’t rock and roll. R n r is originally blackspeak for sex – you know, the orthodox heterosexual kind when a man and woman get it together and they rock and they roll and they get the feeling real good.
Whereas Rock is a kind of philosophy of freedom which dates back to the French Encylopedists but probably finds its most recent and clearest ratiocination in the writings of Soren Kirkegaard (b. Denmark, 1813-55).
You’ve just got to look at this guy to know he would have been the ultimate rock star, with his big dreamy eyes, pouty lips and masses of quiffed-up hair. Really, he makes someone like Mick Jagger even in his prime look positively ursine. What’s more, after being reviled by the media, he died young! That boy was born to rock. But not to roll. Early doors, he gave up on love – and the love of his life – owing to a crisis of faith. The Copenhagen philosopher contained sheer inner angst no popstar of the last seventy years could possibly match – not even Elvis ‘The King’ Presley, in all honesty.
Referring to his beloved, the Danish heart-throb wrote in secret, ‘Everywhere, in the face of every girl, I see features of your beauty’ (Journals & Papers of Søren Kierkegaard, 11 August 1838), which could very well have been the inspiration behind Bell & Creed’s ‘You Are Everything’ (Avro, 13 May 1971) as performed by the Stylistics. ‘Today I saw somebody, Who looked just like you, She walked like you do, I thought it was you.’
As the daddy of modern existentialism and rock philosophy, Kirkegaard concerned himself greatly with ideas of ‘authenticity’. By this, he mostly meant being the person you can be (not necessarily ‘the best’ you – just the real you). Later, this translated into applying your energies to a cause you would be prepared either to live for entirely, or indeed die for. An oddly oxymoronic notion, I’ll grant.
Coming across a band, performer or music, you are looking for just this ‘authenticity’. Which means? Well, do they have sincerity in what they are playing or saying? Do they believe it? Or are they just approximating something they think they ought to be conveying? A thought. An attitude.
That’s the thing. It doesn’t matter if they can’t play their instruments like virtuosos, look like gods, hit all the high notes or wear the proper gear.
Do they mean it?
Do they convey it authentically?
Or is the act a sham? An ‘act’, in fact.
The problem here concerns rock n roll. On rock, we ought to be be on safer ground.
For a start, we know r n r is all about sex; so an r n r performer who does not convey this basic requirement is failing. That’s straightforward enough. Their performance is not authentic. They can of course save the whole issue by forgetting the roll and bringing forth something out of the ‘rock’ component, and if they do this then all is not lost. This, then, essentially means attitude. If they are not making you think about sex, then what are they making you think about? Of course, the passive partner in the entertainment – the observer, listener – may only want to lose all sense of feeling, so that a few hits of some chemicals followed by a series of head-banging chords, a soaring chorus or a carefully orchestrated dance routine is all that is required (maybe even without the chemicals, in some cases). To be fair, no authenticity at all is being required here, since what is being sought is pure knock-out escapism. But, if we are going to allow ourselves to rather grandly draw principles developed by first-rate thinkers of whatever century or nation into our calculus, then sheer entertainment is not what we are talking about. Remember, we are talking about life and death – about something to live for, something to die for – about being who you proclaim to be. Your very inner being projected to the outside.
‘Who Are You?’ as Peter Townshend asked.
Now, the other thing about authenticity is that the label attached to it may be altered.
Rock is about freedom. It is all about freedom. Nothing else. The first stirrings of freedom are that you are able to do and have thoughts not designated by somebody else. Your thinking is your own thinking, your actions similarly your own. That’s the first thing. That’s the initial element of rock – that it creates independence (however fleeting). If exposure to a rock performance of some kind doesn’t induce liberation in its audience then it has signally failed. End of. That is why simply being entertained and merely forgetting your everyday life for a short period does not count as freedom. That is just nullity. Freedom requires action of some kind, even if that action only refers to brainwaves.
Which pretty much brings us on to the point of this blog. Watching the old-timers who started out with an idea of liberating their audience, at least in part, you are always left with the impression of watching a bunch of guys going through the motions, no matter how much they or their audience are apparently enjoying themselves, and not unnaturally after all these years. You shouldn’t really expect a whole lot that’s new. Although, it would be great if that still occurred. Simply going over the same ground over and over again is not really particularly satisfying to those who really do constantly seek liberation. You can be lulled. You can be annulled. But you cannot have it all. You cannot be free and safe at the same time. Not here.