Tag Archives: book
As an example, not a general theory, a parent who habitually keeps everything organised, clean and in place, may feel displeasure when their child does not follow this model. Sensing displeasure, the child may feel restrained and controlled, and possibly develop a reaction via contrary behaviour. Of course, reactions to initial conditions are way more complex. But both, excessive order and excessive chaos in the early environment set a tone.
My early impressions were in the middle, yet plenty of condensed experiences pull me into repetitive behaviour. But people for whom, let’s say, the organised model felt intolerable, meeting an adult partner who likes order, even in a mild way, easily hooks into their initial reaction. The desire for order is stability, beauty, keeping the wild and unpredictable at bay, and also serves as a buffer against anxiety. But someone who felt restricted by order may easily feel controlled. In this two-way process, any projection also frames the projector, and various complex relationships are such defined, with children, partners, work colleagues, mentors, groups, and even political parties. The irony is that instead of choosing a partner or group where this conflict does not arise, we often unconsciously attract an early model we disliked, maybe because of its familiarity, maybe because of the implied challenge. I assume it’s a psychological trick allowing for lessons in tolerance and, hopefully in time, a reframing of one’s life story.
While periods of stability are necessary, it is from chaos that creativity is born and new forms emerge, which is why some artists embrace chaos, allowing for the spontaneous discovery of new patterns and hidden harmonies.
To voluntary endure the dissonance between order and chaos is a spiritual quest towards an attitude of transcendence.
In this sense, and with the emphasis on becoming, my Sufi teacher, Fazal Inayat-Khan, who was also a musician and poet, used to orchestrate chaos in workshops for his students to great effect. He trained us well for the turbulent cultural changes that are now upon us, a global rite of passage we best consciously engage with. Faith in the unknown tends to signal our guiding spirit to open unsuspected doors towards a deeper resonance with the collective psyche.
“Beauty is mysterious as well as terrible. God and the devil are fighting there, and the battlefield is the heart of man.’ — Fyodor Dostoevsky
‘The Gods envy the perfection of man, because perfection has no need of the Gods. But since no one is perfect, we need the Gods.’ … Carl Jung, Liber Novus, page 244
‘The ideal is the means; its breaking is the goal.’ Hazrat Inayat Khan
Ever since I came upon James Gleick’s book ‘Chaos,’ the William Heinemann Ltd 1988 edition, I was fascinated by the concept which has radically changed scientific enquiries, as well as giving new meaning to my practice of transpersonal therapy.
James Gleick’s book also contains the amazing Mandelbrot set. Here a short introduction …
James Gleick’s newest publication is on ‘Information.’
Phew … here I’m challenged … a new wordpress format with its insistence on ‘blocks,’ disallows me the use of the classic editor. It’s a headache to create a post.
One book of poems I have always at my bedside, for when I need to shift my thoughts, is Wislawa Szymborka’s New and Collected poems 1957 -1997, translated by Stanislaw Baranczak and Clare Cavenagh, published by Faber and Faber 1999
She lived from July 2, 1923–February 1, 2012
Apologies for not having the photographers’ names for the two images of her that are spanning decades.
I like the humour, the ironic style, the contradictions running through the poems like a clear spring.
I thought I share a poem in full, since I posted a fragment on Twitter the other day. And also because I remember the protagonist in my novel, Course Mirrors,’ is in search of The Real.
THE REAL WORLD
The real world doesn’t take flight
the way dreams do.
No muffled voice, no doorbell
can dispel it,
no shriek, no crash
can cut it short.
Images in dream
are hazy and ambiguous,
and can generally be explained
in many different ways.
Reality means reality:
that’s tougher nut to crack.
Dreams have keys.
The real world opens on its own
and can’t be shut.
Report cards and stars
pour from it,
butterflies and flatiron warmers
and shards of clouds.
Together they form a rebus
that can’t be solved.
Without us dreams couldn’t exist.
The one on whom the real world depends
is still unknown,
and the products of his insomnia
are available to anyone
who wakes up.
Dreams aren’t crazy—
it’s the real world that’s insane,
if only in the stubbornness
with which it sticks
to the current of events.
In dreams our recently deceased
are still alive,
in perfect health, no less,
and restored to the full bloom of youth.
The real world lays the corpse
in front of us.
The real world doesn’t blink an eye.
Dreams are featherweights,
and memory can shake them off with ease.
The real world doesn’t have to fear forgetfulness.
It’s a tough customer.
It sits on our shoulders,
weighs on our hearts,
tumbles to our feet.
There’s no escaping it,
it tags along each time we flee.
And there’s no stop
along our escape route
where reality isn’t expecting us.
Her Nobel Prize speech inspires … if you are shy to call yourself a poet, follow this link and soak it up.
Poets, not being profitable, get little screen-time. Wislawa Szymborska says … ‘Their work is hopelessly unphotogenic. Someone sits at a table or lies on a sofa while staring motionless at a wall or ceiling. Once in a while this person writes down seven lines only to cross out one of them fifteen minutes later, and then another hour passes, during which nothing happens … Who could stand to watch this kind of thing?’
‘I’ve mentioned inspiration. Contemporary poets answer evasively when asked what it is, and if it actually exists. It’s not that they’ve never known the blessing of this inner impulse. It’s just not easy to explain something to someone else that you don’t understand yourself.’
‘Whatever inspiration is, it’s born from a continuous “I don’t know.’
Her words bring to mind a Rumi quote: ‘Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment.’
Follow this link to Brainpickings and find a number of write ups about Wislawa Szymborska
Brainpicking’s Bulgarian creator, Maria Popova honours language, and somehow manages to bring context and coherence to the irrational and the imagination. Her curiosity is unlimited. She writes about my favourite people in the world. Among them are poets like Wislawa Szymborska.
A few days ago, waking at dawn, I had retained a dream vision:
I saw the entire content of my novel, Course of Mirrors, 400 pages in all, displayed on one huge panel. Astonished, I pondered how this expansion graphically showed that writing a novel involves massive work, time, and fierce motivation.
To put this into context, I must add I lacked motivation and confidence for some time now, having to deal with existential problems.
The 21.5 cm height and a 13.5 cm width of each page poured out onto a single panel would create a near 100 meter high and 52 meter wide installation.
Even if the panel size were halved by using front and back, it’s still a crazy idea – right?
Maybe the dimension of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall could suffice, but only a Turner price gets you there. In case you don’t know, the Turbine Hall is the place that allowed visitors to touch the sun, like my son did during an Olafur Eliasson’s weather project exhibition a few years ago.
As regards my high-rise panel of book pages, any visitors keen to engage in reading could only do so at average eye levels, unless they had means to levitate. Now that would be another idea.
Well, imagination being such fun, I played on.
Much smaller double-sided panels could each display the pages of one of the 29 chapters, broken up into moments, occasionally interspersed with slivers of mirrors, where the body of a reader flits by, or maybe images that enhance or contradict the mood of a scene. You enter the story by stepping into a cave-like enclosure. The text on panels is lit from within, not spreading much light, to achieve a twilight experience, which was done in caves long, long, long ago, with the imprints of hands.
This cave could be entered from four sides. One may choose to start at the end and read the story backwards, or wander through and pick chapters randomly, more in the way one reads poetry. In any case, the title image at each entry/exit gate would evoke an enchanting journey at the edge of consciousness, between rational and the mystical states.
Normally, a writer’s work is condensed and hidden between the neat covers of a book, or captured on e-book screens, one click by one click. The concept of spreading the pages out in real space fascinates me, and ideas keep tumbling in. Like making the text respond to the concentration of the reader, or the lack, in which case sentences would ripple, as if floating on water.
Intrigued by this vision of visitors wandering through the chapters of my novel, I thought of the remarkable characters, all archetypal part-mirrors of me, of you, of anyone really.
How if readers could scan a paragraph about one character, place it on an empty panel and temporarily type a scene of their own imagination about that character?
If you feel the fun and have any additional ideas, please share them here.
What I like about the interactive setup, is the random strolling. Just while writing this post I opened my novel at an arbitrary page and hit on a romantic instant after Ana met her first love. He gives her a heart-shaped ruby as a promise – half a page at the end of chapter six. Here the excerpt …
Luke dropped the jewel back into my palm and pressed my hands close. “You’re the true heart for me. We’ll meet again. We’ll journey together.” He glanced at the travel-ready troupe, waiting for him. “I won’t fasten the chain round your neck, though I’d love to.” His face was close enough for me to catch the scent of his hair, the pond, grass, wood smoke and musk. I longed to touch his lips, steal and take along his smile.
“How can I contact you?”
“Find a messenger to deliver a note to Tatum and his Magic Theatre. His troupe is getting known along the river.”
I felt drawn into the loop of his mysterious fate. I wanted to be held, forget myself in his arms. Instead, I stared at my feet, pondering this indelible moment of intimacy and suddenly dreaded the journey ahead – without him.
Last week Course of Mirrors had a lovely review by Cath Humphris, which I’m pleased to share:
Since I have presently no way of realising my crazy interactive vision, you can only enter the world of my novel condensed in its covers, here: Courseofmirrors This Troubador page connects to other platforms, too. Then again, any bookshop can order the novel.
The image on the left was an early cover idea from authonomy days, not used in the end.
For the time being I’m having a hard time surviving, which hinders my deepening edit for the sequel to Course of Mirrors … Shapers … from which I share some chapters on my Patreon page. If it is within your means, and you can tolerate or even like struggling fools, please support my creative spirit on Patreon. Here the link.
This time of year I like reading in the garden. Last week I forgot to take a book inside – ‘The Hand of Poetry,’ collected poems from Sanai, Attar, Rumi, Saadi and Hafiz, translated by Coleman/Barks, with introductions taken from talks by Inayat Khan. During a short but heavy shower that night, the book greedily feasted on rain. I found it blown up, like a balloon, to double its size.
Restoration would atone for my failing. Gently lifting page after page, I placed toilet paper between each, twice and three times over. On the third day I hung the book by its spine on the washing line. Once dry, I managed to press the volume with a heavy vintage iron into reasonable shape again. The ordeal required my undivided attention. The re-read pages during those hours lodged themselves with refreshed presence in my heart.
I recalled a scene from ‘Shapers’ – the not yet published sequel to ‘Course of Mirrors.’ The story starts with a shipwreck. Surviving this tragedy, my protagonist finds her diary drenched to pulp. The irreplaceable loss gained her unexpected access to internalised memories, and the ability to exchange virtual letters with her soulmate of the future, scripts made visible in the thin air before her.
This phenomenon happens to me frequently these days. Just before sleep, or waking, I see screens with writing, sometimes even Twitter pages, which later turn out real. Beats me – explanations are welcome.
Memory is fluid. The child in us not only imagines the future, but also re-imagines the past. While I was lifting apart the soaked poetry pages during my restoration, it struck me they resembled crumpled and discoloured reminiscences of my father – a trailing grief about our dissonance brought to light in dreams, with messages to abandon this nonsense. Can you miss a surreal projection? Yes you can – releasing a feeling of rejection that ruled years of your life takes getting used to. Had I not taken my dad’s anger with the world, and me, so personal, I might have implored deeper into his heart pain, and mine, since, after all, deep down, our sensitivity for beauty and nature, even our humour, were much alike.
I had resisted my father’s expectations and boldly followed my heart, which, while gratifying, brought its shadow of existential anxieties. My rare brave attempts to cross the dividing bridge were met with contempt for my quixotic worldview. Bridges then became imaginary sanctuaries between varied realities, a neutral zone for my rebel to gather strength for the next quest ahead. Bridges became a major theme in my novel ‘Course of Mirrors’ – see book page on this site, or my twitter page @mushkilgusha
Rejection can add fuel to a journey. But what if a regular fuel runs out? Consider the weird silence when a monotonous background noise stops … suddenly. I identified my inner background noise as the subtle lament of blame that long ago slyly settled in my unconscious. Blaming something or someone can achieve an emotional distance, displace resentfulness, a hurt, – but now – this peculiar silence …
The symbolic intelligence of psyche’s inner dimension communicates not only through dreams, but also through our surroundings: world events, people, objects, images. My restoration of ‘The Hand of Poetry’ resonated. Compulsive energies shift when time slows,. Familiar scripts may assume fresh meaning, and re-write themselves with different rhythms and new pauses for the spirit of surprise to enter.
Meanwhile I enjoy some treasures close by …
And I’d like to share a Hafiz poem from the restored collection. Hazrat Inayat Khan says of him:
‘The mission of Hafiz was to express, to the fanatically inclined religious world, the presence of God, which is not to be found only in heaven, but to be found here on earth.’
A gathering of good friends
talking quietly outdoors,
the banquet being served, a dry Rosé
with a bite of Kebab afterwards,
a wink form the one who pours,
Hafiz telling some story,
Hajji Qavam with his long laugh,
a full moon overhead,
the infinite mystery
of all this love.
If someone doesn’t want the pleasure
of such an openhearted garden,
companionship, no, life itself,
must be against his rules.
Every time I look at the image I smile.
It’s sufficiently intriguing to draw readers into my harvest of gathered paradoxical reality and, ideally, fall in love with the gripping odyssey of Ana and the memorable characters she meets. I took the photograph some years ago at the Atlantic coast, while exploring Morocco with a friend.
The official publishing date of Course of Mirrors – 29/04/2017 – and a short description, show up at my Troubador page, which will eventually have links added to amazon and other platforms.
When pre-ordering the book becomes possible I’ll let you know. It’s my hope that there’ll be early paper copies available at the Troubador stall during the London Book Fair in March.
At this stage the text of Course of Mirrors has been typeset and after a few tweaks looks great. Once a last proof between me and my editor is completed, I’ll forward PDFs to the two writers who kindly offered a review, unless they prefer to wait for a printed copy.
Releasing this book demanded years of patience, partly because I allowed my hands to be tied with a contract that did not materialise. This then is the beginning of a beginning that has awaited its beginning as in a dream. During the various delays I wrote Shapers, a sequel, where the myth-maker, Cara, is entangled with the same characters in a future time-zone. A SF, or a science of the heart, depending on how one looks at it .
Initially I’ll depend on friends to support my first offer and, if they enjoy the story, spread the word. At a later point I may have the resources to pay for promotion. Against all advice aimed at writers, I won’t set up a stall in the marketplace, nor will I create an e-mail list, nor will I increase the frequency of postings on this blog, though I’ll add a link to my Amazon Author Central page and my Goodreads page once the book becomes available.
A December 2016 blog post of mine was shared 58 times on Facebook. I’ve no idea who these kind people are. In case you’re one of them, please feel free to befriend me: Ashen Venema on Facebook, or join me on Twitter: @mushilgusha
I enjoy engaging with visitors here on all manner of quirky subjects, and I look forward to also respond to readers of my novel, inviting questions about the story and its characters.
This photo was recently taken by my son on a non-make-up day, after a delicious meal with one two glasses of wine. I softened the stark reality of my age with a slight photo shop treatment. It’s the best smile I can manage in this time of confusing tragic/comic politics, for which there is no solution but to pray that the majority of people, the psyche of the world, will be able to face and endure the shadow revelations of our age, and the usual opportunists of fear – without falling into despair …
Soothing hearts is of the essence.