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" Friendship is a sheltering tree "

Coleridge

Improv Everywhere

March 23rd, 2008

Last week I took a train to London. As it pulled into Victoria Station the guard announced over the PA “Welcome to Victoria. As you leave please look around you. Have you left any mobile phones, lap-tops, book, coats, hats or scarves? Any livestock or children? Please remember to take everything you brought with you.” Everyone in the carriage broke into a smile, and started looking at each other. I thought ‘There is hope for humanity!’ Jolted out of fixed patterns of thinking for a moment it was as if we all woke up.
One of the central ideas in many spiritual teachings is that most of us are ‘asleep’ – caught in habitual semi or fully automatic patterns of behaviour, thinking and feeling. To ‘wake up’ we need experiences out of the norm. A group called ‘Improv Everywhere’ stages impromptu performances through co-ordinated ‘undercover agents’ to create these experiences. Have a look at the film clip – it’ll give you the idea!

Our Vocation and Our Challenge

March 23rd, 2008

Derek Jarman was a film-maker who was fascinated by alchemy, Queen Elizabeth I’s astrologer Dr John Dee, jazz, and the relationship between religion and sexuality, amongst many other interests. Tilda Swinton recently wrote of him:

He supported the hunch I had long before I met him, and which drew me to him in the first place: that life is too short a thing to spend outside of your own urges and instinct. An artist’s responsibility is to remain self-determining at all odds: uncooptable and free. Derek modeled exactly this measure of a responsibility met head-on. It was his vocation, just as it is any artist’s – and his challenge, just as it is ours. And if not ours, then whose?
Tilda Swinton

He lived in the beautiful, stark and surreal setting of a tiny wooden cottage on the beach near Dungeness nuclear power station.

There’s a Jarman exhibition at Tate Britain until 1 June 08. Details here.

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