Monthly Archives: December 2011

… circular versus linear time …

In rural Spain the young people leave for the city to chase the future. Houses crumble in the hills where the past is guarded by the older generation, or so it seems. When families shrink the olives stay where they drop, and nothing sells without a brand.

Some brave souls, like my friends, Harold and Agnieszka, return to the land and make self-sufficiency into an art form – a beautiful ecological haven where water comes from a well, food from the land, and the sun’s light and heat is captured to provide under-floor heating, as well as casting an iridescent haze that cheers the heart and bronzes the skin.

Total calm descends during late afternoons, when the sky becomes a canvas to all colours and darkens to night, sparkling with deep layers of stars invisible to the city folk. In the blink of an eye the world appears again in a new gloss of day.

Harold pondered on the slow, enduring movement in circular time, recalling the other life we all know too well, where the measure of things completed is treasured before we rush on to the next project.

Both qualities of time, circular and linear, have their beauty.

As I walked in the olive groves, a  thought popped up – followers follow those who feed them. Could one be neither follower nor feeder (leader)? Would this bypass nature’s law? Like resting at the centre of the grindstone and not be crushed? Would it be living like a beggar receiving what is surplus and freely given? Like where presence alone illuminates the heart in which peace abides blessed by the invisible source. There are such states, tiny escapes, small eternities, in-betweens, unexpected gifts of nothingness, when the world stops to laugh at its beautiful mirage.

So here we are, after Christopher Columbus, standing now proudly pointing at the horizon beyond Barcelona’s harbour, while a plane comes in tickling his finger, he who at one stroke widened and shrunk the world with his vision. Would he want to play with this shape and time-shifting capacity? What territories would he explore today?

Returning through Gatwick I had a tantrum. I rarely have tantrums. How it happened that I landed in a queue of people who (presumably) volunteered to undergo an iris-recognition-test I can’t recall.

This is the future, where you walk through a cubicle and look into a mirror that reads your eyes to establish whether they correspond to the photo in your passport. Each unique individual becomes data enshrined for their lifetime and beyond. I sabotaged the process for several irrational sentiments. Who wants to look straight at their exhausted mien after hours of queuing and ignominies  at an airport? I hated the intrusion – eyes being the mirrors of the soul – and, I figured, thousands of jobs will be lost since scanning passport and eyes alone will herd the masses along.

I found myself in the cubicle avoiding the mirror, which meant the stupid gate remained closed and I was trapped. The official encouraged me repeatedly to look directly into the mirror … I blinked frantically … of course the gates refused to let me through. Finally I stomped my foot like an angry toddler and consequently was allowed to pass through a human gate.  In that instance I powerfully grasped the indignities and the dehumanising experiences so many people had to endure and do so continuously, being sifted by whatever power resides, experiences I was spared all my life. And this is me, who am normally fairly open to new technological inventions. Is this my limit regarding progress, or do I sense an issue here,  a host of abuses that potentially lie in the wake of artificial eyes … ? What do you think?

Here are some images from my week in Spain …



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… cognitive dissonance, yes …

First of all – I’m wishing all my friend and foes sparkling, blessed and worthwhile festive days.

In the New Year – wouldn’t be great if we could take first steps all over again? … And resist making others walk, since  they get more satisfaction from accomplishing this feat themselves.

I’ll never forget the first day my son walked, on his first birthday. He rose, took a few steps, fell, rose again, took a few more steps, fell, and so on … By the end of the day he walked – beaming with pleasure. I had the wisdom not to interfere – a wisdom I did not always apply to myself or other people in my life.

And if you’ve walked beyond the edge … you might like Gide’s quote …

‘One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.’

Which brings me to the theme of ‘cognitive dissonance.’

The Four Horse Men …!

Watching these hour-long sincere debates between Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennet, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchen, I had the following thoughts:

Split brains are unstable … a good thing, because  cognitive dissonance is vital for evolution …

Knowledge will always be a blessing and a curse and that’s our challenge …

*    *    *

And here the poignant reflection of a man whose’s thoughts penetrate the heart:

‘Thoughts are beings that generate … One thought of kindness gathers a thousand beings of love and kindness around one.’            

Hazrath Inayat Khan


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… I miss my cat …

Yes I do …











When I sat down quietly to meditate she joined me, unfailingly,

from wherever she was hunting. I always thought that was amazing.





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… we attract more of what we hold in our heart …

I appreciate feedback – please comment. Wrapped up in doing another edit of Course of Mirrors before I head for Spain , I came upon this scene in chapter 21 – below – where Cara, Ana’s soul-sister from the twentieth century, interacts with her in a dream. In the previous scene Ana finally learns from her mother who her natural father is and has her suspicion confirmed. To mend hearts is not easy.

This first novel was character driven, and I get never tired of editing (reading) it. This must be a good sign.

*    *    *

Having wandered unseeing through a copse, I nearly  tripped over a branch. Beyond a downhill clearing, amongst a cluster of beeches, were the tell-signs of a tree house.

Animated, I ran as fast as my legs allowed. A rope ladder dangled from the beech, which I climbed. Under tattered canvas awnings the generous platform had a low table and seating. In a casket, I found items wrapped in waxed cloth – oil-lamps, and blankets. My beloved sanctuary all over again, Luke must have been here or even built the den. Expecting a clue I found one. Carved in the main trunk were the weathered remains of the familiar heart with wings and underneath it faint letters – S&Z – clear evidence to torture my mind – S for Sirus. And Z for Zara, whom I had not met. They were pupils of Ruskin. They would not have known they were siblings. I had heard of their tender friendship. Sudden jealousy crushed me. Luke cared for her – I had no special place in his heart. I wrapped a blanket round me like a tent. Was he still caged in that dark room? Fingering the ruby heart, memory brought a scent – musk trailing in Luke’s step. Curling up on the hard planks, a fantasy unfolded – us together in Magna Spring. We could both explore new ways of seeing … the song of a blackbird lulled me to sleep … 

I walk through endless corridors. A shimmering being by my side radiates golden light and opens a door for me to step through – and another – door upon door. I am guided through a labyrinth. I wake to voices. My eyes open to the surroundings of a sick ward. I don’t want to be here and shut my eyes again.

‘Is she all right? Has she lost her voice?’ Mother worries.

The ward sister reassures. ‘She will come round.’

 I want to prolong the peace and drift into another dream. Cara appears and says, ‘This was my dream. The golden being resembles your Sat, a protective presence that is part of me.’ Cara observes my surprise. ‘Unseen beings live within us. Reality – in any world – is what we accept as real in our imagination. Come, Ana, I will show you something.’

She takes my hand. We enter a small room crammed with students around complex machinery. Colourful lights flicker on dark panels with rows of buttons. They are marked by numbers and letters. The atmosphere is one of a starlit night. Behind the panels sits the tutor, a burly man with a red beard, resembling Tatum. He talks excitedly about the expansion of a single bird sound and demonstrates how this is done. 

At the press of a button the melodious trill of a blackbird fills the room. The tutor runs his fingers over the lights and slides knobs on a panel. The blackbird’s tune repeats itself. Its sound is stretched and then overlaid, softened, strengthened, speeded up, slowed down, turned round in time and overlaid again, forwards and backwards. The tutor extracts a rhythm, sets a base note and adds different keys at different speeds, until the bird’s song has been absorbed into a strange and beautiful symphony. A hush fills the room. The tutor sits back and beams. We share his happiness. ‘This, my friends, can evolve from the trill of a blackbird, using a digital system.’ 

I want this explained. Cara pulls my hand and we drift into another space, a garden, where we settle on a stone seat. She looks at me with eyes that always seem like my own. ‘In your world, sensual date is recorded on surfaces. Scores, texts, images and numerical figures are imprinted on tablets and fibres. Copies are made, and copies of copies that eventually decay. In my lifetime we record sound and condense any kind of information into binary codes, which can be multiplied and rearranged indefinitely. 

‘What’s a binary code?’ I ask 

‘A system based on light pulses that switch on and off. Used in endless combinations and sequences these pulses transmit unimaginable amounts of information – weightless – in abeyance – send as bit-strings to a particular location. On arrival they are temporarily assigned to a context, decoded, expanded and reassembled. A play of random associations can offer fresh insights, as happens in dreams. Snippets, like the bird sound that became a symphony.’

What she describes is beyond my grasp, but the idea of reassembly sparks my excitement. ‘I cut my paintings of seascapes into squares and patch them together into a new image, joining different perspectives to express my sense of the vast body of water.’

Cara laughs, ‘Exactly you’ve been using the same idea!’

‘Some fellow students think I am making a farce of reality. My tutor thinks I show what is beyond the eye. It is not a lie. I express what I perceive, a kind of energy.’ 

Cara says, ‘our heart-mirrors reflect deeper realities. Value your imagination, but choose what you give energy to, be clear what you want to reflect. When a thought is ripe it manifests. What we hold in our heart acts like a magnet, attracting more of the same.’

I woke with the phrase – we attract more of what we hold in our heart – and cringed. What I held in my heart today was resentment. I did not want more of the same. Climbing back up the hill to the mansion I saw my mother standing with Rheine. They looked out over the harbour from where faint music and revelling could be heard. My conscience pleaded and would not be ignored. Rheine met me halfway. We embraced easily, deeply, like back in Kars, when we were refugees in the night. Rheine was going to be my witness. I reached for mother’s hand. She stepped close, eyes wide in astonishment. ‘Mother,’ I said, ‘I love you.’ She folded into my arms, like a child. For that moment I was the mother she had longed to have.



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…the revolt against regulations …

Our sanity is at stake if we don’t learn to bridge extremes. Below I paint two contrasting scenarios illustrating, arguably, two types of tendencies within our society. They relate roughly to left and right brain functions.  Each is a simplified, fictional abstraction and ignores the function of the corpus callosum and the complexity of individuals where many overlapping abilities, dichotomies, and all shades of grey and colour apply. Like Yin and Yang, one contains the other. In the two graphic scenarios I make the environment the crucial factor. To complicate matters, imagine being born with a predisposition into an environment that is not supportive of your natural inclination. It’s bound to mess you up for a while.

 First scenario …

Imagine you grow up in a disciplined environment where bedtimes, mealtimes, tasks in the home and considerate attitudes are encouraged, and in cases enforced, not to be digressed. As long as you toe the line you are accepted and feel supported.  Within this ordered structure, you learn to respect yourself and know your place. If this structure appeals to your temperament you will extend your expectations of order towards school life, friendships and work life. In other words, as a well-adjusted member of your community you anticipate similar coherent behaviour from others. You may feel particularly drawn to work for organisations that require a solid structure to function efficiently, the army, police, government, education, science, social services, the NHS or any large corporation. You become part of a sub-culture, a clan your feel protected by and will most likely defend. Natural forces may seem as something to be conquered. The concept of the unconscious and a free-wheeling imagination often fly in the face of rationality and seem alien. If your clan lets you down because its structure is crumbling and needs changing in order to survive, due to technological advances, financial pressured or corruption, you will have a really hard time and may feel betrayed.

What will be your challenge …?

 Second scenario:

Imagine you grow up in an intellectually and emotionally highly stimulating, or a merely disorganised home. You are frequently left to your own devices, have to think for yourself, find your own rhythm and make decisions as to your role in life. You may be lucky to find your field of action or feel lost and, or develop slowly. You certainly will experience adults as fallible beings, not semi gods. You might revolt against imposed structures and the way they inhibit your creative freedom. And if you are driven by innovative ideas you will find obstacles towards their manifestation whenever regulations are involved. You are a risk taker, but you need emotional intelligence and elbows to push through obstructions or linger in obscurity as misunderstood maverick. If you manage to find a voice, a platform and supporters, your influence could have wide-ranging consequences. Yet if you can’t find support for your wild ideas, what will be your challenge …?

The rational, first scenario, dominated our culture for centuries now. But if it hadn’t been for passionate, irrationally motivated innovators we would live in a very different world. You could apply all kinds of other dichotomies, the masculine versus feminine principle, historic versus psychic time, whatever concept you apply, it’s pretty obvious that what is called for is bridging, a facilitated traffic across 250 million or so nerve fibres of the corpus callosum that connects our two brain halves. Culturally integrating our dichotomies into some kind of functional unity seems a vital part of human evolution.

Many know a truth beyond appearances in their hearts, but truth seeks fresh expression. New maps are needed in time to make the expansion of consciousness intelligible, through science, through the arts, through sharing processes and insights, and through collaboration.

How to give expression to the implications of the enormous changes that happened during the last hundred years, the consequences of which are evident in the fragmentation of values around us? How to remain alert to the transformations in store, and find creative ways to birth ‘essence’ into the context of now? It‘s ‘playtime’ again because the rulebook we inherited has lost is meaning.

The collective is still trying to process the metaphor of Einstein’s concept of relativity, which in a psychological sense opened a climate of moral liberty and allowed us to play with perspectives, and which is why moral advice lost much of its authority. And we have hardly understood the symbolic reality of quantum physics, offering new understandings of human consciousness in relation to the universe, a spiritual liberty that a hundred years ago could have only been imagined by a very small minority – probably mystics who always knew …

Light is both particle and wave, and though we can only observe one at a time it is one light .

And now we are swept up by the digital revolution, which makes the linear metaphor and our limited concept of history redundant and transforms our relationship to time and space.

The seeming liberty of democracies is threatening to  traditionalist cultures. Too many regulations in a democracy will cause a lack of co-operation or revolt. We need new maps, different living structures for families, including families of heart and mind, and we must find ways to translate what we think we know anew, fresh, and offer each other guidance in the changing room (the psyche). This happens in as many ways as there are individuals who value psyche as the bridge and gateway connecting the sensible to the spiritual world.

‘What else, when chaos draws all forces inward to shape a single leaf …’ C. Aiken


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