Mapping imagination’s contours


© M@                                                                       Click on the map to enlarge

If, by virtue of bewildered exhaustion with the depleting state of the human heart amid slavery, extortion, poverty, hunger and homelessness, you too are in soothing need of something cheerful, this map of fiction’s finest locations may help.

It is a work in progress, created & co-ordinated by Matt and Rhys B Davies of Londonist by whom your ideas for additions are welcomed.

What is it about maps that appeals so strongly to minds and hearts? The irresistible pull to gaze and imagine allow the inner eye to roam as witches, swooshing across landscape, mapping the contours of reality with metaphysical swank.

The mist of wonder that descends during the process of raking over places hides that what we seek is rarely found: or if it is, it’s never enough as the appetite to look seems resistant to being sated.

What’s fun about this map is to understand others’ locations. That intimate agreement fully to enter into a figmentary universe renders the world a warmer place somehow. And in whatever spot you find yourself at this moment of ubiquitous turmoil, comforting solidarity is always a welcome, fire-side idea.

Either fishy or foul


Eileen Agar’s self-portrait in Ceremonial Hat for Eating Bouillabaisse, 1936  
The Bridgeman Art Library represents the copyright holder

In some senses, it seems as though hurling pesci-ness into a court bouillon to let it simmer is a lazy way to describe the UK’s current intellectual, spiritual, emotional and political state. Tilt in a spoon and who knows what’ll be drawn out?

In virtue of our utter dismay with the vaccuous absence … the complete and ubiquitious absence … in politics of kindness & emotional resilience / intelligence ever since Mr Cameron’s failure [to persuade our neighbours to let the UK have its gâteau et le mange aussi], we reflect on Listening‘s suasive strength. We’ve been banging on about this forceless power since 1994, afterall.

You can’t imagine how refreshing it is to hear a political candidate emphasize the importance he places on it.

Diplomats need to tread carefully as the ground beneath our feet is waving, seismicly. @RoryStewartUK has spent the past six months or so, walking lightly on the earth, conducting street conversations in order to Listen to what we’re all thinking.*

* Mr Stewart is an independent candidate standing for Mayor of London.

Walking for Leadership, rather than Running for Election, intuitively seems a more measured approach: one which serves the electorate rather than the candidate; in which dialogue has the time and space to unfurl.


Halloween, which as soon as B Johnson Esq announced as the immutable date of departure we knew wouldn’t be so, when ghouls and goblins teeter around with chocolate smeared faces and pointy hats swish up drives, it is sincerely hoped the damage this brutal, deaf process of Brexit has caused can stop for breath, allowing hearts & ears to open.

The spell No. 10 seeks to cast by virtue of its excruciating slogans could feasibly stun us into submission. There’s something either fishy or pretty foul at play when oratory lacks grace: surely a sign of wizardry at work?

Turkey votes for Christmas


From ABC News                                                          Image AP: Ismail Coskun/HA         Kurdish civilians enduring … civilization

Mr Erdogan. Do Listen.

Altered states


Before Cubism, this was Mondrian                                             Evening Red Tree

In 1991, the successful endeavour to create Scotland’s first writer’s haven was bolstered by a 24-hour Poethon which took place one long day during the Edinburgh Festival.

An engorged Illiad of diverse verse, the work of living poets was [largely] recited by weavers & devotees of silken lines in a kind of beating-the-bounds-of-Old-Reekie: every fresh hour, a shiny new location.

One recital sticks in the mind by virtue of its piquancy. Acrobat was … a poem? … recited by a self-confident soul whose humour seemed to mingle with a profound enquiry into the meaning of words.

The poem was the word Acrobat, said/uttered/expelled/ intoned/mysterified/whispered/murmured over and over: mebbie in over Fifty such exclamations.

Comatose with fatigue before its performance at around Three in the morning, Acrobat woke us up ~ woke me up.

Repetition of a word takes those who listen through a kind of dark night of the soul: acidly stripping meaning, corrosively reforming its structure in order that it rises, as Excalibur, from murk of meaningless chaos to tangible clarity of truth.

The ghastly clatterage of letters which coalesce as Brexit makes that rule. In virtue of its exceptional inelegance, repetition only reinforces the immutably grizzled impli-&-ramifications which remain wholly resistant to redemptive transformation.

Would that poets gathered up the debris this process has wrought such as to re-form it into something kind, persuasive, generous, focussed: they may be the only clear-sighted souls able to save us.

Moniack Mhor is a thriving, febrile throb of writerly longings, whence the inspiring nurture the aspiring.

Squaring the Circle


Da Vinci’s exploration of proportion                          L’Uomo Vitruviano c1490

When something doesn’t function as intended, it seems plausible to fine-tune or alter its operation; no?

Imprison as punishment or for punishment? What occurs but uninterrupted refinement of criminal skills?

Juries determine guilt, judges utter the sentence, the felon sails off to prison for half the due term. Having served their time in Crim Academy, an unsurprising proportion opt to use skills honed whilst inside the penal system and lo, within 14 months are back behind bars.

The Home Secretary announced this week mandatory time served shall increase. Oh joy: greater cost to the tax payer while the dispossessed continue perfecting all manner of nefarious craft.

How would it be were prisons to shift their perspective from being criminal Finishing school to that of Boarding school? Material alteration would be minimal while the refocus could entail wholesale evolution: use-fully occupied days where learning skills valued by Society was timetabled as 9 – 6.

Reading, Listening, growing self-esteem, developing minds to grasp the impact criminal action has on the victim, accumulating measurable achievement all take time – a commodity  that slooshes as Tsunami along prison landings.

The absence of vision in reframing the picture criminals have of themselves incurs exorbitant emotional cost on the country in macro and families in micro.

And nothing changes for the better.

Here at the Materials, we’re interested in causes rather than symptoms: it seems that returning to simple beginnings may hold a key to unlocking the depleting vacuity of what propels crime and its perpetraitors.

Teaching children that if they like a thing happening to them it’s probably right: and if they dislike something then it’s probably the wrong thing to do it to others. Perhaps start by teaching the parents?

Absence of empathy clatters through crime. Absence of empathy enables crime.

If you haven’t been taught to stretch your mind to try to understand others’ lives / perspectives / traumas …, then what you do to them won’t matter to you. It takes dismally little to slough off the veneer of civilization.

And this is how we seem to exist currently. Gorgeous manners and everyday courtesy are ridiculed. Kindness, a virtue which ought to be as unusual as breathing, has become a prudently used weapon aimed at what it might elicit. Generosity of spirit is taken for weakness. It seems all is out of kilter&proportion.

  1. Teach the young self-discipline, self-respect and self-confidence.
  2. Lead by example of kindness, trust, Please, Thank you and putting hands in front of coughs and sneezes.
  3. Proportionately reward all that is good- and punish poor-behaviour.

By such laughably simple means, ends are reached with equanimity and offer a return to Peace. Listen to what’s known at the cellular level and act accordingly. Unbearable chaos in the national heart has led us to the edge of our ability to cope. One wonders how long will be the wait for nuclear winter’s debris to enshroud us?

Alan Parsons’ Projection


© NASA/JPL-Caltech                   Located about 700 light-years from Earth, eye-like Helix nebula is a planetary nebula, or the remains of a Sun-like star. When these stars run out of their internal fuel supply, their outer layers puff up to create the nebula. The nebula is heated by the hot core of the dead star, called a white dwarf, which is not visible in this image but is located in the middle of the “eye.”                                                                          Our Sun will blossom into a planetary nebula when it dies: in about 5 billion years. Joie

Who knows if the scintillatingly piratical Alan Parsons had knowledge of deep space in mind when he penned Eye in the Sky and gave it the Fortnums-toned green album sleeve? The song became an anthem before raves were even a thing.

The image above, projecting itself onto a celestial telescope, is captured a mere 700 light years from us (you’ll recall 1 light year represents a distance of 5.6 trillion miles: we don’t know how many noughts that is).

Looking at the Earth, the only life-sustaining (as-we-comprehend-it), beautiful blue ball hanging in the whole space of the Universe*, it doesn’t seem much of a stretch that this faded star sees more clearly the galactic sized mess we’ve made of matters. Apart from Antarctica, I don’t suppose there’s any continent free of turmoil but living through Britain’s atrophy is a salutory lesson in the effervescence of hubris.         * true at the time of writing

In Eye in the Sky’s final stanza comes  “…. I can read your mind, I am the maker of rules, Dealing with fools, I can cheat you blind …”

So: prophetic as well as groovy skiing down black runs.

This post began merely to share wonder of the Heavens: the political point which appears inexorably to have risen is purely co-incidental.

Gorillas missed their calling?


Ndakazi & Ndezi                Twin, 12yr old Congolese female orphan Gorillas

The longer I gaze at this image, taken in April by their keeper, Mathieu Shamavu at Virunga National Park in the DRC, the more I tremble inside.

These pages are forever banging on about the dignity of animals, their intelligence, their de anima: but this?

This is different.

(Aristotle’s work Of the Soul (de anima) pertains to biopsychology, thus seems irresistible to acknowledge that Animal psychology is a thing.)

What is going on here? Are these adolescent females mimicking him; or stretching: or thinking ‘what the hell is he doing with that box?’; or saying to each other ‘Ooh, pucker up: a Selfie’. Whatever it is, there is thought behind it.

Mebbie by virtue of language, sentience – the capacity to reason – has been linked to sensory perception – taste, touch, smell and so on. Amid the scientific community, it is seemingly presumed that if unable to speak the Queen’s English (or all other national equivalents) an animal lacks the neurological network that transports signals of pain to the brain. This appears to justify inflicting annihilating misery on creatures with impunity. (Best not get me started on that one.)

So what are we saying here? Do you know, I’m not entirely sure. What seems important to highlight is that humans are one species of creature, gorillas another. The characteristics, biochemistry and physicality we share are largely self-evident. If two species of living creatures share functions essential to sustaining life, it’s not an extrapolation too far to posit all living creatures possess such corporeal operation. Pain is not a function of reason but a consequence of neurological pathways. If you step on a cats foot, the scratches up your leg will tell you it felt it. So, if we’ve the developed intellect to be kinder to all animals, why aren’t we?

Twelve year olds, of whatever species, appear happy to copy grown-ups. What else might we learn were they enabled to observe & experiment? Call it gorilla tactics.