How to write violently and live peacefully

September 1, 2013 at 9:31 am | Posted in art, politics | Leave a comment
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‘Be regular and orderly in your life so you can be violent and original in your work.’ Gustav Flaubert said that. So I make my house clean and tidy and lay the fire and fill two blue vases with bunches of my yellow jonquils, and I write my commissioned Churchill book.

Not that the Churchill Trust necessarily wants a ‘violent and original’ book! It will be original but perhaps I will leave the violence to my novel writing.

I brush the white cat who is so pretty he looks like a girl and I do my tai chi in the sunshine. And to relax, between writing and domestic things, I clean out two rooms and build a whole new decor around a glorious doona cover I fell in love with and so bought a single and a double and built everything around them. Doona covers are a good way to bring art and colour into your life. Often on special too. Some of them really are works of art, the same as rugs from Afghanistan or Iran or Pakistan are. If you can afford to buy ‘Persian’ rugs you can walk on art.

I need to do things like this because writing and art are what make me happy – those and people. And with an election coming up in Australia very soon that everyone predicts will be a huge win for a party who do not on the whole share my values, I need to cultivate my garden as Voltaire said.

And in a world in which: ‘For every dollar spent on U.N. peacekeeping, $2,000 is expended for war-making by member nations’, we need to find ways to feel at peace sometimes. Or we’d go crazy. That quotation and the next is by Paul Hawken in his book, Blessed Unrest: How the largest social movement in history is restoring grace, justice, and beauty to the world. (New York, Penguin, 2007) both on p. 18.

‘Four of the five members of the U.N. Security Council, which has veto power over all U.N. resolutions are the top weapons dealers in the world: the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Russia.’ So the latter quotation very depressing but the title of his book so hopeful! It is a good book, and good to read books like that at times like these.

And because I must get back to my Churchill book I’m taking the easy way out and ending with an extensive block quote from Hawken’s book.

‘Unlike indigenous cultures, whose worlds are local, intimate, familiar, we live in the age of giants. In one day alone we pump 85 million barrels of petroleum out of the ground, and then burn it up. And on the same day we spew the waste of 27 billion pounds of coal into the atmosphere. One hundred million displaced people now wander the earth without a home. One company, Wal-Mart, employs 1.8 million people. ExxonMobil made nearly $40 billion in profits in 2006, enough money to permanently supply pure clean drinking water to the 1 billion people who lack it. We have consumed 90 percent of all the big fish in the oceans. Bill Gates’s home covers one and a half acres and cost nearly $100 million.
Not surprisingly, people don’t know that they count in such a mal-ordered, destabilized world, don’t know that they are of value. A healthy global civilization cannot be constructed without the building blocks of meaning, which are hewn of rights and respect. What constitutes meaning for human beings are events, memories, and small dignities—gifts that rarely emerge from institutions, and never from theory. As the smaller parts of the world are knitted into one globalized unit, the one thing we can no longer afford is bigness. This means dismantling the big bombs, dams, ideologies, contradictions, wars and mistakes.
In the midst of such giants a worldwide gathering of ordinary and extraordinary people are reconstituting the notion of what it means to be a human being. While they are organizing themselves into the largest movement in the history of the world, the movement only happens one person at a time.’ (p. 23)

Beyond all rights and wrongs…

August 25, 2013 at 12:22 am | Posted in alexander technique, art, Books, tai chi | Leave a comment
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‘Beyond all rights and wrongs, there is a field – I will meet you there.’

Rumi said that. I found it in Richard Brennan’s Alexander Technique: Change your posture, change your life. It’s in the Canberra public library system and fairly recent. It’s a good book with some wonderful quotations in it. Who was Rumi? Sounds a bit Sufi. I almost don’t want to do the research because I want to retain the mystery for myself. The quotation sounds like someone promising to meet one after death. Even though I don’t understand that quotation I keep coming back to the poetry of it. It sounds profound; I just don’t know exactly why yet.

It’s something to do with there being no judgement, just pure acceptance. It makes me want to sigh with a deep sense of expansive, relaxed happiness. Even if I did the research and thought about it, and teased out and analysed the quotation to the Nth degree I suspect that a part of it would still elude me, and that’s fine. Part of the power of art is its mystery. It must retain some enigmatic quality if we are to keep wanting more of it, keep coming back to it, keep watching it or listening to it or yearning for it.

It also reminds me of some psychic once saying that all those young soldiers who died on the battlefields who were on different sides – there are no sides where they are now; those boys from opposing countries are on the same side now and having a good time together. (Now it’s girl soldiers as well.) No matter what your beliefs in the afterlife are, I reckon it still puts things in perspective. One of my beliefs is that our similarities are much stronger than our differences. It’s not in the interests of certain politicians and the big weapons dealing corporations to have people think like this but left to their own devices, most people would.

‘Beyond all rights and wrongs, there is a field – I will meet you there.’ I just want to repeat it. Such a peaceful and beautiful thought. Like that famous line from one of my favourite poets, Andrew Marvell: ‘To a green thought in a green shade.’ From his poem The Garden. You just want to repeat that too, don’t you? – á green thought in a green shade.’ And sigh with bliss at the perfection of that line.

Back to more prosaic things, in the same Alexander Technique book by Richard Brennan, he quotes Ram Dass: ‘Life is not an emergency.’ p. 78. It does our bodies and minds much harm to rush through life. I have rushed through a lot of my life, but I’ve achieved heaps! Makes me feel good, even though in the writing field I’ve probably published about a tenth of what I’ve actually written! I’m proud of finishing my degrees and of my careers and achieving stuff in spite of life always throwing massive obstacles in my way. But someone always is there to help me – fantastic counsellers etc. who come into my life just at the right time. And then you really must slow down – there is no rushing some things. But my instinct is to rush! Driven by curiosity and a hungry impatience to know. However, I’ve learnt to slow down more these days and it feels good.

Brennan writes that posture is the outward expression of how you feel inside. It’s not something many people in our society are aware of now. The author describes what we get from the Alexander Technique as a feeling of lightness and ease that is brought about by all the parts of the body working in unison rather than in conflict. This gives a sense of peace, oneness and awareness.

It sounds like Sarah Wilson on meditation, which she does every day. See her recent blog on it at

Tai Chi is a kind of meditation too. It certainly is at the pace that my teacher does it on the DVD I bought. It’s really hard for me to slow down that much! I can do all the moves okay but I want to race through them! That is not the way you’re supposed to do it. I’m learning but it’s hard. It’s something you can improve at every day though, and that’s always a good feeling.

“Busy-ness”: an update on writing and living

March 11, 2013 at 1:10 am | Posted in Books, Quotations | Leave a comment
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I haven’t updated this for a long time because of much busy-ness: Chaucer wrote, “Great peace is to be found in little busy-ness”. He was correct. But who is not too busy these days? So sometimes I take a Sunday off and do nothing. (Sundays will be my time for blogging from now on.) Of course my doing nothing is busy compared with some people’s idea of doing nothing. When I say I do nothing, I mean I take the time to sit in the garden, do yoga, read a non-work book, meet friends and perhaps tidy my wardrobe.
What I have done since my last blog: finished my novel. Researched on who to submit it to. I have written a lot of publications, which I have not been able to put on my Publications List on my website because Crazy Domains refuse to answer any emails. There is no other way of contacting them. The contract runs out soon and so I can then be released to be able to get a competent domain registrar. I have about eight new articles published, including one in press that is a chapter in Penguin’s Bush Nurses (to be published 20 March). So this has been frustrating.
I am still reading The Guardian Weekly, New Yorkers and many wonderful books. More on these next Sunday. I have my four day a week writing job and more news next time on another book commission. Not official yet. Let me end with this quotation from Julian Barnes from The Guardian Weekly 20 July 2012. ‘Life and reading are not separate activities. When you read a great book, you don’t escape from life; you plunge deeper into it. There may be a superficial escape – into different countries, mores, speech patterns – but what you are essentially doing is furthering your understanding of life’s subtleties, paradoxes, joys, pains and truths. Reading and life are not separate but symbiotic and for this serious task of imaginative discovery, there is and remains one perfect symbol: the printed book.’

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