Only a week and a bit to go before our skills exchange DIY arts festival events…getting a wee bit nervous. Always do. How many people are going to turn up? Is anyone going to turn up? It’s especially difficult when you’re hosting events in a large venue like the Savoy Theatre. In june our events were deliberately held in small venues across the city. This time it’s different. Our clubnight can hold 900, our gig and film night 400 and our cabaret 200. Is there anyone interested enough? Is it worth it? How long can you go on sitting on the edge of your seat with racked nerves and nails bitten to the quick thinking, thinking, thinking.
But one mustn’t forget that failure can only truly happen if you try. And try we must. Must go on. Keep producing, making, creating space so that new things can be born. Its up to all of us to make it happen in whatever way we can, wherever we are and in whatever we do…keep looking, searching for that chink of light that makes all the difference.
Hope you can all make it. Tell all your mates, family, whoever…send it out on your social network pages…we must not forget that mutantspace.com is a co – operative of people who want to make things happen because we can. That is enough to make all the difference in a world gone increasingly generic. In a world that squeezes time out of everything, makes us run faster, talk quicker. In a society that tries to think for us, do what’s best for us, wrestles decisions out of our hands and at every opportunity tries to commodify everything we do for a quick buck
Cracking fires in small homes is where they return to at day’s end .Along the rivers-edge, stiff men with dejected faces ramble home from the docks – back to the comforting warmth of home, of the burning wood, of the charred coal and the musky scent that pollutes the winter months. In their weathered hands they carry slack bags now empty of the precious meals prepared by their wives that morning. But the hunger has grown back. In their bellies lies a void. And in their eyes a void lies too, darker and aching, gaping into their tired souls. Their voices, now sparse, cackle viciously, full of phlegm and cigarette smoke. One or two of the men leading the pack through the streets whistle sharp notes through the evening air, while others spit sharply and kick stones along the quiet road and talk of horse-racing and car-boot sales.
Their work today, like every other work-day, was laborious and unkind. Without pleasure, without much pay. Their work-slacks are coated in dark red blotches of dried rust, and smell of wet turf and grime. A few of the younger men bend down and pick up light stones. Their smooth surface guarantees a successful triple-skim with the right throw, and now and then they hedge small bets on how many skims they can enforce upon the choppy tide. When it is out and too far to reach, and the smell of dead fish and clumped sea-weed hangs in the air, they throw heavier stones from the strand into the muck and wait for the small wet gray explosions that their force brings about. And they all laugh – even the older men, up ahead, whistling and looking forward to the warmth.
This was my house.
It is built of good, solid oak from the forests that covers this province. It is the same as all the houses around. There is a peaked roof covered in tar for weather. The walls are painted red, the colour of ox-blood. There is a porch with a hanging chair that creaks in the lightest of breezes, a sound that came to be natural as the birds or the leaves. The rooms are small but always tidy, with fine square edges.
Who knows how old it is? No one keeps record here. We work and sleep, and work and sleep. They say it is remembered in the stories but everyone is too tired to tell stories. It is enough to work and sleep.
Bendt Ingemarsson built it, that we know. He came from the sea, a land of open space and perspective. He was seven foot tall and stretched a lot and bellowed like the moose. He was not from Smaland anyway. Ingemar, my father, came to own it and he was the one who began to find out how and why. He was the first to have a pen and paper on a small, walnut writing desk.
No one knows when the big Tilia was planted. My father estimated it was as old as Jesus Christ himself, and he was a strong religious. I sat in its branches and judged the passing seasons. In spring the bees were thirsty for all the nectar of the Linden tree and I envied Ove in the next valley who must have collected such honey from them. The ants had nests in summer. I would stick smoking twigs in the hard sand and watch them pour out. The owl had a house there too. One day I found the minuscule remains of a jackdaw chick pushed from the nest, stared and imagined that all animals closed their eyes when they died. I tried stuffing that bird, with stones from the shore.
It was the first tree to lose its leaves and the first to recover them, after the flimsy birch. Summer was at its height when its head of heart shaped leaves thrashed under a blue sky. In autumn I learnt my first story, of Siegfried who swam in a bath of dragon’s blood to gain immortality. A single leaf of the linden tree fell right onto him and stuck to his leg.
The only weakness he carried with him was the shape of a heart.
Each time the leaves fall, every September, I run and catch them. They are like stars for wishing but that is stupid. When they scatter on the ground they are more like islands in a sea, all fragments and each a separate place.
Sendings’ sources, it must be acknowledged, have truly expended aeonics in an attempt to respond to a general and editorial beg, for pertinent content that preferably obviates necessitating extended cerebral acrobatics for re-invigorated, re-invention of scripting skills; although an eventuality of having singed finger tips for tackling, typing up and emailing stuff that’s too hot to handle, is turf of Acerbica.
And one does have to be gentle with prized sources, prized sources who are obsessively, consistently diligent with assessing and reassessing and checking and cross-checking their own sources. Serious, self dubious and self sceptical enough to be confident that they’ve really, diligently assessed and reassessed and checked and cross-checked their own sources, when they come up with recurring controversial formula in the general equation, in repeated, social laboratory control situation, they can just become so blandly stupefied into a passive stun, that they’ll simply walk off the nearest presenting continental shelf in a benign confidence that they’ve really seen and experienced and known and found out what they’ve lived and done, by what they’ve really seen, experienced, known and found out by what they’ve lived and done, so that there’s nothing else that can be done, except walk off a continental shelf, if anyone never gets, that they do get, that there’s nothing that can be done when slowly, so ever, laboriously slowly, their growing up becomes tantamount to a retrospective waking up, to a trail of controversy following every step of their life, when, in any of the contexts, at any given point in time, in that moment, they were merely being, and they didn’t get there was controversy, they didn’t intend to propagate controversy and then they got, after the fact, that there had in fact been controversy, which they had gotten after the fact before, and now were getting, after the fact, again; they most remorsefully don’t want any more of the bother that goes along with the trail of controversy that follows their every step, so with dedicated, sincere intent, they earnestly travail to rehabilitate self away from circulating in places or, with faces, that are likely to create scenarios which generate more controversy, and then, they become even more vulnerable to potential controversy because, in battening down into an optimum optimism that they can exist in delineated pathways, so that things can just be a whole lot easier, [Shut the mouth. Just carry it all in silence. Discreetly. Don’t ever let on. Be].
A search for a space in which they can just neatly live quietly, in simple truth, seems to identify and zoom in on a whole lot of incongruities which really come jumping out of the woodwork and then, all there is, yet again, is to determine, by what degree, just how much controversy has to be side stepped and then, they are just back at the beginning of finding out just how controversial a life can truly be.
Some controversies might just be too good to be true to be believed. But readers invest and we send.
It can be asserted definitely that the female protagonist of Sendings presented a certain case of brainwashing. Her very early years were invested in imploring herself to get that she got that it was clear that there were clear instructions, and that it was clear that she be clear that she was compelled to comply clearly with the clear instructions that she clearly got: 1. there. 2. there are. 3. there are dots. 4. dots are. 5. dots. 1. there. 2. there are. 3. there are lines. 4. lines are. 5. lines. 1. join. 2. join dots. 3. join lines. 4. join dots with lines. 5. join lines with dots. 1. dots join lines join lines join dots. 2. dots go to lines. 3. lines go to dots. 4. go to dots on lines. 5. go on lines to dots. (Ancestors of Bot Way Points /html /Java.)
She did try. Hard. [A puckered, little frowning face, with eyeballs intently concentrating in a presupposed, revelatory space that was imminently going to bestow an opening grace.] She tried hard. A lot. For a very long time. But she always wriggled with a sense that it was somehow off, somehow strange. Dots were misplaced, or lines had to be rigged to meet dots or, she couldn’t line lines up both ends to join dots very comprehensively and precisely. It was messy. Rulers? Pah! Then focus would blur and dots would animate into bi-locating slur, as if they had merging, flapping, drunken tongues- like when she had to get spectacles for the first time because she’d tried to read everything she clearly deemed she needed to read as a way to get through History I. Then her eyesight was history.
She wasn’t deterred. She was tenacious! But no matter which way she attempted a configuration, the model that emerged would appear totally inferior, tatty, blear, certainly incomprehensible when she needed to defend her steps along lines she’d joined to dots. So she always found herself back at the start of her work. Mal lined. Maligned. In the dark. Hurt. It was all a murk, a haze. She was dozed in a fog. She knew she was. The fog was palpable. Like a chronic bout of never-let-up sinusitis that won’t let you own conclusively that you’re really allowed to acknowledge that you’re suffering, but, on the sly, truly let’s you have it anyway. Of course, what she didn’t perceive, and might always have been on the brink of perceiving, and what would have brought instantaneous, unanimous, complete, ubiquitous relief, was the clear perception of perceiving that she knew that she was brainwashed.
Yes, totally and utterly brainwashed. Like a futuristic, Sci-fi, horror story, where a little girl has a tiny mind control implant device injected into her shoulder via ulterior, medical vaccination and her days fade in soporific, finger tip attachment to an electronic work board that renders her neurology fully deplete and despatched, but for a virtual functionality that is sustained to keep her alert to operating the board through which, she is managed and tracked by constant pulsing running along cables that intersect universal airwaves that are controlled by the agenda of an ominous, central network.
“Nonsense! You have an overactive imagination child. Go to dots on lines!” “Yes…”
How do you send your child into schooling when you’re still busy with the drivel and duel of panel beating 28 year old shunts out of your own brain that were imprinted there upon your impressionable, trusting running system by an outmoded belief pattern that somehow got caught up in the workings of an education system that didn’t detect that it had left you languishing in a mental fender bender because its proper channels hadn’t done enough homework to learn how to square away bits of retrograde data by thorough and regular, official defragmentation after admitting fresh data from an otherwise reputable source that was subsequently deemed corroborated enough and sufficiently and fundamentally important enough to be included in the school curriculum, years after erstwhile emergence of such ‘facts’? Ask every teacher of every syllabus that was ever imposed on her, if any bit of it, or anything of their own personal bent, was ever intended to inculcate into her that the Earth is 3000 years old [sic] and they’d all, most probably, categorically deny knowledge, whatsoever, of any glitch glitching on their watch:
“Ha, ha, oh WHAT a s-i-l-l-y girl!”
“Hmph! Vel, I don’t know vot is da matta viff her; sometime she vurk ant sometime she do not.”
So! Why then, were all her apps specifically set up to work all her delvings, musings and fathomings into conforming dots and lines into contrivance that could squeeze into a 3000 year time span?
All through tertiary and post-grad study and post, post-grad enquiry discovery, furtively, unwittingly, she had been constructing a clandestine template of all the bits and pieces along the way that felt as though they were lucid and meant something, had something valid to say, display, but which disparate pieces she’d secreted away for a better day because they caused dots and lines to go further awry.
Finally, near the festival of her 31st Earth year came that glorious, better day! She’d wanted to run the streets, broadcasting her personal eureka streak that, no actually, she’d read it, at last, in someone’s authoritative black and white, the Earth, -the actual bloody big ball that she lived on that she could suppose wasn’t just someone’s imaginative fake, she could stake truth upon it, couldn’t she, that the planet was really real, exactly as it had been represented, all of it, from Pakistan back to India, from the North Pole down past the Equator and then back up around the other side again, leaning at a slight angle, spinning very fast, and cavorting at unimaginable speed in a sortive circular path? -That Earth, she could pretty well be almost utterly sure now, is more like 4.5 BILLION years old – (old, old, old)… [“...say what? Just a little bit of a calculus difference between 3000 and 4500000000 don’t you think?”]
A whole lot of all things suddenly made some kind of supreme sense and intersectedly, miraculously arranged into a kind of pre-ordained, natural order and her intelligence could perceive the dimmedness of cranial bone pressure roll away from her mental optical nerve, like the eternal reprieve in the brain of the King of the Dead when Aragorn says: “I hold your oath fulfilled; go; be at peace.”* awrrrhhhh. . .! Washed brain. Then could she j-u-m-p for joy! Freeee fall . . . ..”
But, for this, er, minor error, this little discrepancy that had kept her machine in grave incompatibility for all of her miniscule years and had kept her adult busy with subsidiary musings, delvings and fathomings that might otherwise have never been necessary, who could she sue? Granted, it has to be admitted that there were some who ventured to diagnose her as paranoid delusional. Others thought faintly to peg her manic depressive. Then there was the spell of RE-ME-dial sessions in grade classes because she reversed her ‘S’s’ and looked with her closed eye through the toilet roll she was holding that they expected her to interpret as a telescope, so they named her dyslexic. And when the school doctor (a little old man with hairy, exploratory hands who wheezed and peered through bulging eyes) came to the school library, and made her take off her dress behind a screen (before she wore a bra) and physically examined her chest, and then pulled back the elastic on her panties and had a good look inside, she did get rather extremely hyperventilatative and while she was trying to work out why he would need to do that, but that no matter what, she really did think it was not ok by her, the teachers were making her line up with all the other little girls and no one warned her that some scary woman in a white dress was going to grab her by the arm, and jab a series of different, painful needles into her shoulder, (AND that she’d never lose the scars) and well, well, that made her finally, totally, combustatively hysterical.
When her second child was only very little, she’d only just instituted her own carefully constructed series of occupational therapy sessions for “flat map syndrome”: she had believed, conceptually, yes, there was cognizant, that the Earth was round, but, what should have been experienced as a sphere, had been implanted in the sensory receptors of her brain as a forever flat, double A4 portrait page. North was up, Alaska and Russia were ‘on opposite ‘sides’’. Off the blue edges of the pages, the inconceivably huge Ocean that took up most of ‘the back’ of the planet was non-existent. To really re-construe in her whole being that the Earth was round, she began to draw balls and orbs, bounce soccer balls and twirl them round; she tore the A4 pages from the book and would fold them into a cone so that Alaska could meet Russia. Then she remembered that she’d seen, with her own eyes, the curve of the skies from the top of the World Trade Centre and soon, the black canvass of night sky, that used to hang flat above her head, was transforming into a dimensional dome of infinite space. She handled a children’s globe, spinning it, tying string around its latitudes and longitudes to see where the strand would pass through in mirror hemispheres. Aeroplanes no longer flew perpendicular when they were going North. Visually, she entered and re-entered into herself the one third ratio body of water that the Pacific is, across which, arching backwards towards it, with the theoretical ‘back’ of the Earth being Africa, she’d reach left and right hands to feel the arc from Hawaii’s Haleakala Crater to New Zealand’s Lake Rotopounamu.
If she could’ve sent her first child off to a school that reassured her that they weren’t also going to put into his little operating system such a conflagrated mess of jabs and invasive medical inspections and bits of irregular scientific sentiment that would firewall the vast reaches of his neurological notions, she surely would have. But when she politely enquired of the secretary how they dealt with religious education and the person shrieked back down the phone,
“well, do you believe that Jesus is the son of God or don’t you?”
she had to confess that she might be a little deterred by some doubts; and then she just had to retreat in reiterated cowardice when a neighbour’s child came home from the school and taught her child the statement of fact that Jesus made the Earth. She really couldn’t claim that her emerging scientific brain was in any way endowed with the tools or skills necessary to make such a quantum leap of that sort of girth. When no other schools appeared in the vicinity after long hard looking, an interim turned permanent and her kid was unschooled, with her ever telling him,
“don’t believe what I’m telling you. This is what I’ve found out for now, but, it might all be wrong anyway, so wait until I’ve read some more and then I’ll tell you what I’ve read. You read too and make up your own mind”.
Privately she continued a modest interlude of mourning that no-one around her, when she was supposed to be experiencing genuinely that the Earth was round, knew anything of Maria Montessori.
Of course, all of that had put her into a most exponentially, incendiary position with the in-laws, who’d already had quite the painful haul of getting over the home birth stints. She’d just had enough of being prodded and poked and being made to be naked for invasive examinations of the most confronting sort and she didn’t like stark, long, cold corridors smelling of chemicals – gave her the creeps; as her belly had been inflating, so had her heeby jeebies. So when she bumped into some lovely, angel adorned literature presenting verifiable references in an informed article that spoke with credible, substantiated, authoritative witness about the very real option of avoiding pushing the babe into the waiting arms of a sterile, starched white tunic and shining metal implements that were ready and waiting to intrude, invade, slice, through skin, tissue, sinew and ligaments, interspersed with more gratuitous pricks by a medley of more needles, she thanked magical grace of provision and made spontaneous, intuitive decision, which she clinched by reading Leboyer* and Odent, a world famous, natural obstetrician.
On Sunday 6 September, 2009, she was relating an episode of her sagas in ongoing epic escapading:
Circa 1997, she was driving along in a car with her father-in-law. He was her second. Roman Catholic. Her first was Protestant. She hadn’t wanted to have another. Of any sort. In fact, she’d been determined not to have even the first one. But, the channels of the stream of early life simply swept girls being reared in those times into becoming a daughter-in-law and wife.
There’s a photo of her, standing pensive by the Kirk door, about to be given away to a second man as his daughter, by law. She tells she’ll never forget lucidly thinking, “What the b. h. am I doing? Here I go again . . .” because the government of her partner-in-love wouldn’t accept his paternity of their unborn child if he wasn’t officially wed to the mother before the happy arrival. For nationalities and registries dear, for bits of stamped, signatoried paper and little, official A6 books. Against her accruing personal judgement and will, but, with controversy on the mend and no conspiracy to contend, wending down the portentous altar again.
So, five years later, she’s driving along in her second m i l’s Fiat with her second f i l, whom she’d already p’d off by homebirth and homeschool and a whole lot of other controversies. No wonder he was piqued at managing to land himself this little, inconvenient errand of ferrying d i l to an appointment with some sort of strange doctor.
A complimentary therapist in fact, one of the few to choose from in the small town some person of the future might deem stranded back in inquisitional waters of the dark ages; an upper crust woman with a chip on her shoulder, because, poor soul, in that controversially correct milieu, she’d wandered into a modality that required of her, to be brave enough, to dangle a rabbit’s foot over her clients.
In the car some inane exchange was going on to pass the stationary moments until the robot (traffic light) said go and imminent reprieve from the awkward proximity would be in just a few streets. She was probably babbling on unformulatedly, the way she would when she zoned out and deserted her mouth because the context was too phobiac to handle. Then the car lurched her extroverted into f i l’s gruff grunt, “Yes, I’ve read ggggGrof!”. The few streets were passing and she was speeding her library for something that was ringing, “Grof, Grof, who’s this Grof, sounds like that Janov guy, the primal scream thing, Grof, Grof”, and f i l is still gruffing invectively and she’s still processing, “he thinks I’ve read this Grof guy, must be a really controversial dude, this thing has got him hot” and then, simultaneously pumping anchors and professorial pomposity, f i l expletes, “you, you, you . . . Stonehengers!”.
“. . . Take me back to the Ring Stones, blah blah”*, a song of hers, from four years earlier! Neatly and succinctly, f i l had classified her within a certain framework and held over her a controversial opinion that she couldn’t deflect, because, cast in stone, it was after the fact. She would catch up on some of f i l’s background reading twelve years later, to discover, that ‘ggggGroff’* would say, she’d been going through a ‘Spiritual Emergency’ without support or understanding in any way.
She should have got it when she was harassed out of her tree for wanting black people of her land to be free. But she didn’t get it. A general spirit of allowance, tolerance and celebration of diversity? No. Wherever did she line up that pile of hooey? With much more sidelong gruff she’d get that her sense of stuff was dire degree of controversy: home birth, homeschooling, breast feeding, child centred nappy training, natural remedies, allowing boys to play with dolls, staying up late to watch the stars and the dawn, men with long hair, friendly meal times, being in love, meditation, dancing, children’s gift hunts at Christmas, heartfelt, transparent communication, a garden fence made of wattle sticks, growing things, mulching, recycled irrigation? Living au naturel in an eco exercise – that, was certainly uncivilised! A thespianic festival for her second born, telling an allegory from “Story of an African Farm”*, with Earth, Fire, Air and Water in a performance art piece? It had seemed fitting- the Earth was four and a half billion years old! Some kind of matriarchal entity definitely a senior, surely one would find it in one’s own interests to pay respects, especially since the large, apparently living ‘She’ is the only, actually known version of home for as far as the eye can see . . .. “Yes! I’ve read Eliade!”
Under the auspices of his full time, full pay, music education post in an academic institution, f i l surely voyeured Shamanism, in a leisurely, in-depth study of Eliade. But this is most forbidden foray for d i l, fathoming her fulcrum toward quantum definition, while delving the development of appropriate skills and running around between a toddler who’s 1, a boy who’s 4 and f i l’s 26 year old boy who’s faithfully joining lines and dots on a stave. While he’s trying to straight line his dotty family through non controversy, without labels – new age, conspiracy theorists, life artists, musicians, whatever, his bank account is flat-lining and he’s uncovering that his teachers withheld the secret that fiat is not only a car.
Washed brainers get that dots join lines in an electronic board that controls supremely via the spread of bits of highly prized, printed paper. But it’s all apparently phony, worthless actually, since the paper’s value is based on gold that is all vanished and gone from some Fort or other. Or so it is said.
A number of seemingly intelligent and credible experts inside the internet are talking most authoratively about a small group of debased villains who blackmailed a large government into escalating a global banking scam to the tune of a couple of some trillion digits, in the most fraudulent, sinister scheme of dastardly robbery of the people’s money in Common and Post Common Era* history.
To be or not to be conned?
To be cont.
Post Script from Sending’s sources:
In Sending Fie, Ambrasia took the liberty of trying to convey the complexity of working with truly authentic sources that have been on extensive foray through the cavernous membranes that cajole between different dispensations that jostle in contra-distinctory disarray in the worlds between worlds of converging eras in the 21st century P.C.E. societal display of diversity within humanity on 4.5 billion years old planet Earth.
*1 Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” Movie Trilogy after the works of J.R.R. Tolkien
*2 “Birth Without Violence” Frederick Leboyer
*3 “Red Stones”, a song, from the album and staged show: “. . . and on the way I dropped it.” 1993 http://dl.getdropbox.com/u/1469150/red%20stones%20151009.mp3 (see from d.p.w.t., notes page)
*4 “The Stormy Search for the Self” Christina Grof & Stanislav Grof MD
*5 the allegory of ‘The Hunter’ in “The Story of an African Farm” Olive Schreiner
*6 (as opposed to the terms B.C. and A.D., the terms B.C.E. – Before Common Era,
C.E. – Common Era and P.C.E. – Post Common Era offer universally courteous options for
referencing dots that join time lines.)
Along a road that ran from many paths he stood. Then bent down and drew a line. A mark was made.
As with all marks it held within its stroke the entire history of its maker, the experience and story of his life and the generations of life that preceded him. That single mark – expression; a definition, an attempt to clarify, consolidate, all that went on before, all that goes on presently, from which all was to go forth. And from that moment, that beginning, that fragile second of public birth the maker was laid bare, for all to see, examine, prod, criticise, ridicule and reject.
To make a public mark, to define a line, to create a new space for thinking, imagining, making and dissenting requires a leap of faith, a flight of imagination that only has instinct and self – belief to sustain itself – to breathe, to live beyond the barriers of conventional society. It is along this road – littered with failure, rejection and penury – that we all have the opportunity, possibility and potential to realise our own truth.
Having your car burnt out is always a good way to start the day. They didn’t even nick anything. Just burnt it. For the craic. Mindlessness is a very difficult concept to deal with; expending energy on the negation of everything for no other reason than it’ll fuck somebody up, ruin someones day. In this case my wife, very young daughter and me.
On the way to work I felt angry, wanted to lash out, hate, hit, stamp, scream – not so much towards the perpetrators but toward all those who can’t be bothered about anything, don’t care about anything, don’t think for themselves, don’t think at all, don’t think full bloody stop.
Why don’t people make a small effort to think for themselves? Why don’t people use their limited energies to get involved in positive action? Why do we – those that do try - bother going on at all? Why do we make, create and produce when the vast majority don’t turn up, get involved, participate? Why don’t we just stop, shut our imaginations down, sit and slobber? It would make for an easier life
It is on these kind of days – when your car is burnt out – that my resolve temporarily weakens. I become despondent, I despair. But thankfully not for long. The fire returns, the light shines again and on I go in the vain hope that somehow things will change.
Despite all indications to the contrary, it now seems likely that a Green Party energy initiative is going to save the Government, the economy, the country and the planet.
Energy Minister Eamon Ryan has revealed a new technology that will tap into celebrities’ egos to fuel the national grid. “Ego fuel is an eco fuel,” he said. “This is completely carbon neutral. The only waste product is hot air.”
“This is a huge untapped resource,” Mr Ryan added. “We could soon be exporting energy around the globe. For example, it is estimated that less than one per cent of Bono’s ego fuel could satisfy China’s energy needs for a decade.” Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan has agreed to ring-fence the artists’ exemption tax and broaden its terms to include any celebrity who is prepared to donate up to two per cent of their ego energy.
It’s hard writing big picture, pseudo – intellectual, vaguely passionate, inarticulate rants about the arts, even if it is only once a month. The arts, the arts, the arts. Does anyone really care? Does anyone really have the time, money or inclination? Can anyone be bothered to participate and engage with the arts? Engage, now there’s a favourite ‘arts’ word; everybody needs to be engaged. Sounds like a gear stick. See I’m going off on tangents and I’m not even through the first paragraph. Get on with it. Stay focussed.
While everyone is busy running around campaigning against cuts, worrying about where the next bit of funding, smidgen of sponsorship is going to come from the essence of art; of making, thinking, imagining, creating, producing, is being dissipated, diluted to such a degree that it can no longer be seen, heard, smelt, touched or tasted. In the maelstrom of recession the reason that artists continue to go on, continue to practice, do what they do is being lost in the cacophony of voices pleading for the retention of their grants, their funding, their livelihoods. And I don’t blame the cacophonics. I would too. Let me be clear about something, this article isn’t about me railing against worthy campaigns or initiatives. Nor do I want to negate positive action with careless words. However, it is important to emphasise that there is a fundamental difference within the arts community on recent events and ongoing campaigns.
Man, Play and Games by Roger Caillois
According to Roger Caillois, play is “an occasion of pure waste: waste of time, energy, ingenuity, skill, and often of money.” In spite of this – or because of it – play constitutes an essential element of human social and spiritual development. In this classic study, Caillois defines play as a free and voluntary activity that occurs in a pure space, isolated and protected from the rest of life.
Play is uncertain, since the outcome may not be foreseen, and it is governed by rules that provide a level playing field for all participants. In its most basic form, play consists of finding a response to the opponent’s action – or to the play situation – that is free within the limits set by the rules. Caillois qualifies types of games – according to whether competition, chance, simulation, or vertigo (being physically out of control) is dominant – and ways of playing, ranging from the unrestricted improvisation characteristic of children’s play to the disciplined pursuit of solutions to gratuitously difficult puzzles. Caillois also examines the means by which games become part of daily life and ultimately contribute to various cultures their most characteristic customs and institutions. Presented here in Meyer Barash’s superb English translation, “Man, Play and Games” is a companion volume to Caillois’ “Man and the Sacred”.
“Well worth the attention of every sociologist interested in the relationship of culture to play” American Sociological Review
“A book to be read for ideas”
American Journal of Sociology
“An excellently conceived work” Social Forces
Ways of Seeing by John Berger
How do we see the world around us? The Penguin on Design series includes the works of creative thinkers whose writings on art, design and the media have changed our vision forever. “Seeing comes before words. The child looks and recognizes before it can speak“
But there is also another sense in which seeing comes before words. It is seeing which establishes our place in the surrounding world; we explain that world with words, but word can never undo the fact that we are surrounded by it. The relation between what we see and what we know is never settled. John Berger’s Ways of Seeing is one of the most stimulating and influential books on art in any language.
First published in 1972, it was based on the BBC television series about which the London Sunday Times critic commented: “This is an eye-opener in more ways than one: by concentrating on how we look at paintings . . . he will almost certainly change the way you look at pictures” By now he has.
John Peter Berger (born November 5th, 1926) is an art critic, painter and novelist.
On Photography by Susan Sontag
A classic, first published in 1973, this is a study of the force of photographic images which are continually inserted between experience and reality. Sontag develops further the concept of ‘transparency’. When anything can be photographed and photography has destroyed the boundaries and definitions of art, a viewer can approach a photograph freely with no expectations of discovering what it means. This collection of six lucid and invigorating essays, the most famous being “In Plato’s Cave” make up a deep exploration of how the image has affected society.
Susan Sontag is one of America’s best-known and most admired writers. Her critical essays have established her as one of the leading commentators on contemporary culture. She is the author of several work of fiction and her non-fiction and has also written and directed four feature films and stages plays in the US and Europe.
A native of Forkhill, Co. Armagh, Paula Flynn grew up listening to the country, folk and bluegrass records that she found at home. Singing came naturally and she spent her teenage years winning talent competitions and sharing stages with iconic Irish figures like Joe Dolan. In the intervening years the voice has been put to good use accompanying agit-folk anti-hero Jinx Lennon in gigs at home and abroad as well as in the studio.
In 2007, while still studying at Dublin City University she recorded a version of David Bowie’s Let’s Dance which found its way into the hands of Ballygowan advertising executives. The voice did it for them, and it seemed to strike a chord with the punters too. After fielding calls along the lines of “Who’s the girl singing the Bowie song?” EMI came on board decided to release it as a single which went on to top the Irish charts.
Resisting the pressure to release an album of covers Paula went back to college where she not only earned her degree but also picked up the Uaneen Fitzsimons Award for Communications Studies which was instituted by the broadcaster’s family after her tragic death in a car crash in 2000.
Miss Paula is currently working on her solo debut album and really enjoying the process. With college out of the way her time is spent in the studio, when she isn’t making radio documentaries or playing gigs with Jinx Lennon. Her 2008 Christmas single ‘Happy Christmas Valentine’ was the first fruit of the process and was co-produced with ex Bell X1 mainstay Brian Crosby. Her debut album ‘Miss Paula Flynn’ will be released on 25th September 2009.
I’m not on a battlefield,
Not in a war,
And can’t comprehend,
What this hell is for
This is just make believe, just a child’s game,
And I can’t hear my comrades, screaming in pain.
No war machines, enemies, bullets or blood,
Me not up to my knees, deep in the mud.
The bombs aren’t falling and I’m not afraid,
Through the dead bodies, I do not wade.
No reason, no purpose, not even a cause,
Me just standing here, doing nothing but pause
Is it my fault that so many died?
Or is it because the government lied
MECHANICAL BUGS by Alan Maguire
Crawling in my skull,
As the conversation,
Begins to dull,
‘Well, walk away -
It is your choice’,
Said the disturbing, robotic voice.
My skeleton is made of ruby,
And gold the colour of my blood,
I was raised in a jungle,
But was born of the mud
I eat fish and pasta,
Covered in mayonnaise,
Like a confused leopard
I laze and I laze.
I sometimes have nightmares,
Of a place called Cork,
No silver spoon,
But a rusty fork.
Raised by a couple,
Who never actually cared?
To those people I was just weird.
Thirty years of isolation,
That was terrifying,
But I never scream,
Sitting in a darkened room,
Questioning thoughts that have already bloomed,
In the never ending night,
I crave sunshine but all I see is moonlight
This month our resident foodie has decided to give us an Irish recipe for a whiskey tea brack which makes for a perfect Autumnal treat
The strong winds at the weekend brought the remaining leaves down from the trees in the garden. The clocks also went back causing me to mourn the passing of the summer that we never had and to dread what the forthcoming winter has in store for us. On a more positive note, the nearby woods are full of the most glorious colours and it remains unseasonably warm for this time of year.
Yesterday, as I was pondering what to write this month, it came to mind that the passing of the seasons now attracts scant attention. In the days when agriculture was such a dominant force in this country, who could not have been aware that autumn was a time of harvest ? It was also the time when the cook had before him/her ingredients such as mushrooms, blackberries, nuts and apples. Before the days of frozen food and jet planes, autumn heralded that period of the annual cycle when on the vegetable front, one was largely confined to root crops such as turnips, carrots, parsnips and beetroot, and to eternal cabbage. Now, of course, one can have whatever vegetable one wants at any time of the year.
This month in our culture blog a skills exchange member looks at the Irish tax system and how musicians can benefit from it
Over the last few months I have written articles about how one sets oneself up in business as a Sole Trader. In ‘Taxing The Man’ I showed how if one is claiming jobseekers allowance it is possible to still earn money legitimately, not lose any entitlements, and use your recouped VAT to pay your annual PRSI.
In ‘the VAT Man’ I gave you a little more information on how VAT works and how you can reduce your tax bill as a working band. Most recently I outlined step by step how to get your business registered and earn legal money whilst legitimately reducing your personal tax bill. Now obviously most of us are pretty angry about rich people who apparently pay no tax because they have clever accountants who help them avoid it, so how do we square this with trying to avoid tax ourselves? Well it’s a good question and I’m glad you asked me…
I’d like to start by stating I believe there is a moral obligation to pay tax in the jurisdiction where one lives and works. Each jurisdiction has it’s own rules about taxation and the Republic of Ireland is no exception. The individual is also usually legally required to comply by the rules, so there is no ambiguity whether one should or not, one simply should pay. This money is used to pay for roads, hospitals and schools – the three essential requirements of our civilisation. However it is also used to pay for the beauracracy which administers these things – which then consists of civil servants (some of whom are essential – doctors, nurses, guards, firemen + teachers) and politicians. Personally I view administrative civil servants and politicians as ‘necessary evil’ rather than ‘essential good’…
Now the people who actually decide the rules are the politicians and senior civil servants, who are mostly lawyers, hence their role as rule-makers, and they make the rules as they see fit because they have a mandate so to do. Obviously these laws have to be agreed by the opposition in the Dail, but the opposition are also lawyers, so there is a certain mindset that they all tend to exhibit. Also political lobbying (not bribery! there are rules you know!) by interest groups means that each rule is phrased in a particular way and has certain conditions or exceptions. It is these conditions and exceptions that allow super-rich people to pay little or no tax, and allow politicians themselves to recieve a DAILY tax-free allowance of €55 per day to pay for food for which they are NOT required to even show any proof of purchase (ie there is nothing to prevent them pocketing the money or fraudulently over-claiming), whilst I am NOT allowed to claim food as a business expense and must pay income tax and VAT upon it. This ‘one rule for you and another rule for me’ inclines me toward a ‘fuck you’ attitude where politicians are concerned. Not to mention smug rich bastards like Bono who preach abolishing world debt, then decline to pay any taxes and expecting ordinary working people to fund the process of doing so.
Unfortunately these are all emotive points which make ZERO case for avoiding tax. But notice it is AVOIDing tax, and not EVADE-ing tax. The latter is illegal, and would rightly see you in prison for ducking your obligation as a citizen to pay tax to the state. Tax AVOIDANCE now is a totally different thing – it is the the legitimate reduction of your tax bill by NOT PAYING TAX THAT YOU AREN’T REQUIRED TO.
‘Hang on a minute Doctor L.Aserboy’ i hear you cry! ‘Tax you aren’t required to pay? Is there such a thing?’
Oh yes indeed I say. You are paying tax on things upon which you need not by law. ‘Am I? Like what?’
Well for starters there’s prescription drugs and bin charges. You pay for those things AFTER you have paid income tax, but they are DEDUCTABLE expenses, so you need not pay ANY tax on them. The fact that many people do not claim this tax back means that the state is constantly absorbing more of your money than is strictly allowed, but will never give it back to you back UNLESS YOU CLAIM IT. If anyone else takes your money and doesn’t give it back until you claim it, it is THEFT and they can go to prison, but apparently this basic rule does not apply to the state quite so strictly. I’m sure they have a special word for it which isn’t ‘theft’ just to make it clearly not illegal, just as the american military has ‘collateral damage’ which is a legitimate accident in wartime and clearly not the murder of innocent people. Anyway, I digress… the bin charges are merely the icing on the cake. There are dozens of things that you can legitimately pay LESS or even NO tax upon if you are just prepared to do the paperwork required to MAKE THE GOVERNMENT GIVE YOU YOUR MONEY BACK.
Ultimately the process of avoidance is simply accepting that the tricky ruling class who make the rules have arranged it so that the majority of suckers pay a lot of tax. A very simple rule of thumb using a typical factory type scenario illustrates how the Revenue soaks up about one third of the GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT
You work for your company and generate a turnover of: €100,000
VAT at 21% (remember 21/121=17.35%): €17,355
they pay you: €40,000
take out pension payments of 4k per anum: €36,000
and pay your income tax (deducting 4k tax credit): €6,000
so you get: €30,000
+ spend all your money giving the VAT man another 21%: €6,300
TAXMAN TAKE SO FAR: €29,655 (which amounts to 30%)
Obviously this is a huge simplification, but people spend there whole lives studying the real thing in detail and NO-ONE knows how it all actually works, so ANY information you get about it is an approximation to the real thing. Anyhoo, as you can see the tax man takes a lot of money, in this simple model he is absorbing a full thirty percent of all the money generated by the real economy. And i forgot to include the corporation tax and income tax deducted from the 39,000 left after you got paid…
What is the Actual figure? Noone really knows. Probably not even the Ministry of Finance, because they’ve hocked the country so much they have no real idea how much they owe, and they’re borrowing so much every DAY to pay for their bloated bureaucracy that an upswing in the worlds ever changing interest rates could bankrupt us very easily. Ultimately we are paying A LOT for the wasteful systems of the state imposed by a ruling elite who administer YOUR money. They take as much as they can and make it as hard as possible for us to take back money they are not legally entitled to. So I say screw him, let him work out how to make less money go farther and reduce your tax bill as much as you can. The lowest you can probably hope for is to get your personal tax expenditure down to about 10% (I haven’t done the sums yet so that’s a pure guesstimate), but I’m sure you’ll agree that you would spend that 15% a lot better than the minister for finance. And it does belong to you. After all, You earned it.
Do I sound angry? Okay i definitely sound angry… calm…breathe…calm…centre…
The bottom line is the government soaks up alot of our money one way or another, and most people are probably over-paying tax. What I advocate is ONLY PAYING WHAT YOU ARE REQUIRED TO AND NOT A PENNY MORE. After all, charitable contributions are tax deductable too.
(Just in case you’re wondering all of my information comes direct from the Revenue, the revenue online system ROS, the welfare office and Cork City Enteprise Board and is freely available so I can guarantee that at the time of writing this is all good stuff)
This month sees a varied number of recipes using the wonderful parsnip
The feast of Samhain on All Hallows eve heralds the year’s beginning and with it, the coming of the dead and the dark. The dead return to wreak havoc on the living. The darkness, in thin November, overtakes the light. It’s this time of year when food’s most basic role becomes its most valuable – to nourish and steady. And one of the finest ingredients for such: the milky, golden parsnip.
A mild early autumn sees the first frosts coming not until November. Once they have arrived in earnest so too will the parsnip. The chill sweetens the root by turning its starch to sugar.
If you’re happy with the quality of your parsnips, then it’s generally best to leave the skin on, as in them, and the flesh just underneath them, there is much flavour.
Parsnip and mint salad
Parsnips, butter and watercress
This is an occasion in which a good Irish rapeseed oil will be at least as apt as the lushest of Italian olive oils.
Kerry Gold, with its high water content, is a champion butter for cooking with, but it can overwhelm when used like a dressing, as here. Unsalted is best.
Best to use warmed plates or else the butter will congeal.
With your oil and some wine vinegar, make a dressing – a touch sharper, more peppery and more mustardy than usual,
Boil the parsnips (whole if thin, quartered lengthwise if fat) in salted water until very tender. Pop them back in the pan when drained, with some butter, and a little salt if they need it. Give the pan a shake, lid on, with vigour. Dress the watercress. Serve the half-broken apart, buttery parsnips and the watercress alongside.
Parsnips, beetroot and sage
Peel the beetroot and slice thin. Drop into salted boiling water and when tender, drain, reserving the liquid. Give the beetroot a blitz with a little light oil, an even littler – barely even noticeable – squeeze of lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
Fry some sage leaves in hot oil. They’ll be done when the fizzing subsides. Scoop them onto kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt.
Boil peeled parsnips until tender. Mash them, the best you can, in a hot dry pan. Fold through some butter, salt, pepper and some ground mace. When its cool, form into flat little cakes. Flour, egg and breadcrumbs. Fry in butter over a steady, medium heat until golden brown. Then serve with the beetroot puree and crispy sage.
Parsnip and pistachio cake
here are some quantities for a 9ish inch cake tin:
zest from a third of a washed orange and a third of a washed lemon
7 oz. butter
10 oz sugar
18 oz parsnip
12 oz flour
tsp. baking powder
pinch of salt
a half handful of unsalted pistachios
Lube up your cake tin with some butter, then shake around some flour, so you’ve thin layer of both. Keep in the fridge until you need it.
Grate the parsnips as small as you can and then chop through so the textures not too tistict. Cut the pistachios in half, lengthwise. Melt the butter in a pan.
Separate the yolks and whites of three eggs. Beat together the yolks and the sugar with a wooden spoon. Add and stir the parsnips and a little finely chopped orange and lemon zest. Pour in the butter, leaving the white sediment that has sunk to the bottom. Then the flour and baking powder, sifted. Then whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt, until stiff. Stir in a third with the pistachios, and then gently fold in the rest. Then into the cake tin and bake in a medium hot oven. When golden brown on top, turn the heat down to low and bake for another twenty minutes. Let it cool in the tin for twenty minutes and then on a rack. Eat with cups of tea.
I am not a charlatan, and yet, as I get older, I find myself behaving in ways that one would normally associate with charlatanism. A friend of mine deems this a sign of that heroic stance of individualism, eccentricity, but, for better or worse, I am no Quentin Crisp. My life isn’t led by a strong sense of my own underlying principles.
Instead, I am savagely collared and dragged through life by my hounding need to process and promote my every idea; hoping that in praxis, I will discover why I needed to explore that idea in the first place. Although, looking back, I don’t think I’ve ever had such revelation.
I have very few earthly possessions. I don’t own a house, I can’t drive, I have never contributed to a pension scheme or insurance fund, and at present, I owe more than I own. However, I’m a stickler for quality materials and I will spare no expense when it comes to items I use on a daily basis i.e. bed linen, make-up, notebooks, towels, tea-pots, talc. My belief being that if I have to look at it every day, it better be bloody nice.
Earlier this year, I chanced upon a Radio Comedy competition, and decided, having never written anything for radio before, to enter. So, I returned to bed that afternoon with a mug of sweet tea and my laptop, rattled off the first three comedy sketches that came into my head, and entered. I have found that by entering as many of these creative competitions as possible, I have stopped caring whether I get through or not, and most of the time I’m just happy that I was able to pull myself together and enter something which I believe to be of some seminal worth.
A week later I got my reply. They liked one of my ideas and wanted to send me on an all expenses paid trip to Edinburgh, where I would learn to develop my idea for a radio comedy before pitching it to a panel of executives from one of the most progressive radio stations in the UK. Good times? Absolutely.
So, I decided to do a little research on radio comedy and drama. Truth be known, I never ever listen to the radio, and I had never at that point heard any sort of radio fiction. I sped my way through snippets of Danny Robbins Investigates (brilliant), The League of Gentleman (genius) and a few Prunella Scales shows (hmmmm…), learning absolutely nothing in the process, and finding the whole experience of sitting down to actively listen to the radio, a really fidgety one which left me so restless I ended up doing house-work. There is clearly a good reason why I don’t listen to the radio.
A few days before I was due to leave for Edinburgh, I had the dual pleasure of both of my ex-girlfriends coming to stay with me in the one week. No, not at the same time, but oddly enough, there was a gap of four hours between the time the first one left and the second ex entered – roughly the length of time it took me to move from one to the other in the first place. I have remained close friends with both of my long-term ex’s. Has this something to do with the guilt I feel for hurting both of them? Possibly. But, nonetheless, both are still very much a part of my life, much to the disdain of each other. I’ve always gone for dominant women, women who like to take over everything and to be the centre of attention. Women who need so much from me, that I finally get a break from dealing with my own head, because I’m too busy dealing with theirs. And although I don’t see either of them as much now, when I’m in their company, they still have that deadlock vice grip on me, which means that by the time either of them leave, I’m a snivelling shell of my former self, who has to take to bed for a few days to recover. Having both of them visit me in the same week was a strange twist of fate, which meant that on the day I was due to arrive in Edinburgh to engage in the birth of my burgeoning career in radio comedy, I was laid up in bed with, what I can only describe as, absolute brain-drain.
Every hour that passed winded me like an unexpected punch to the gut, while I lay prostrate and ashen-faced in front of Richard & Judy’s sympathetic grins. Staring at the all-expenses-paid train ticket in my hand, I regressed to childlike self-pity, wondering whether exgirlfrienditis, the head-fuck flu or emotional exhaustion qualify as valid illnesses. I don’t see why not. We’re always so quick to dismiss illnesses of the mind, when most of the time, these are of the most painful and dangerous kind.
our next DIY arts festival, the Trash Culture Revue, will take place sometime towards the end of the year. So if you want to create, produce, get involved, play, experiment, try stuff out, have fun, design, administrate, organise, volunteer or just come along then let me know
we provide free creative and production skills for your arts projects and events through our skills exchange so you can experiment, fail, make and play no matter who you are, where you are, what you do or when you do it