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" A good traveller has no fixed plans,

and is not intent on arriving "

Lao Tzu

Words are clothes

November 3rd, 2007

The idea that through writing you can somehow undress and reveal the ‘real you’, the ‘naked you’ , your True Self, is of course a sham. Words are clothes. Writers are fashion designers, models or tramps, flamboyant or boring…

Even so, I believe it is worth following the advice of the sculptor Henry Moore who said one should always have an unachievable ambition, and the ambition of using words to reveal the unrevealable, the known to speak of the Unknown, seems a worthwhile ‘hopeless ambition’.

Nakedness Again

November 2nd, 2007

I’ve got this Winter planned – I have a stack of ancient Naturist Magazines (most of which, in the 1930’s were proudly subtitled ‘The Official Organ of the Sunbathing Society/The Canadian Naturists and so on) and I shall study these organs by the warmth of the fire with mugs of cocoa laced with whisky.

Lest you should think this a trivial way to pass the time I must stress that this is serious research for a book called ‘A Brief History of Nakedness’ that I am writing. It will deal with the philosophical, psychological and spiritual dimensions of nakedness, as well as including some of the sillier aspects of human behaviour.

Since I need to focus on the book I’m going to use this blog as a common-place book mainly over the next few months. A place to put film clips, odd bits of research and so on, such as this short clip pasted below.

All very silly I know but we all need a break from the gloom of the economic and political situation and the art of healthy living involves the ability to explore both profound and trivial issues – to be fully human we need to be able to be serious and silly!

[vodpod id=ExternalVideo.437929&w=425&h=350&fv=]


The Middle Way of Relaxed Discipline

October 19th, 2007

A friend from Brittany, the multi-talented Zil, who is the harpist you can see in the photo in an earlier post on opera, has written a comment on another post which strikes at the heart of the process I am trying to work with through this blog, and which I referred to in this blog’s opening post – ‘It’s like taking off your clothes.’

In it she says  that her initial reaction on being told I had a blog, was  ‘Surely such a thing is not worthy of him?’ – a kind of dismay that I had sunk to the populist level. But she then found herself amused by the ‘That’s so 2005’ entry and read it out to her family. She then went on to say, ‘How can you avoid this being yet another reason to be glued to the computer?’ To be fair to Zil I am translating – her comments are splendidly in French and my translation is rough.

That second point is one I struggle with daily. Now for example the sun is shining, the garden is looking lovely. Why am I here at all? I have a love-hate relationship with these computers and technology. I think it is just marvellous that, as in yesterday’s post, I can quote a reader from Ohio of my father’s book, give a link to where you can buy it for one click for 70 cents, and link to his article somewhere else on the web. Or that movie clip of the ball-passing game that shows most of us how easy it is to not see the glaringly obvious. And yet, and yet…. as the Haiku poet Basho wrote! It’s like many things I suspect – love, power, sex, money, magic – neutral in itself, and capable of being destructive of our time and sanity or inspiring and capable of bringing joy, education and entertainment.

When my son Matthew suggested email to me I remember being unconvinced that it would be useful. Now, of course, it is indispensable and it is both wonderful in helping me connect with friends all over the world, and work all over the world, but also has become yet another job to be done, yet another reason to be away from the garden.

And as with money, sex, love and so on, the path leads from experimentation, indulgence, making mistakes, getting hurt, to hopefully finding some Middle Way that for me is a sort of ‘relaxed discipline’. Relaxed because then you are happy and ‘in the flow’ and are feeling good. Discipline because being relaxed isn’t enough – like Love without Will.  And the only way to deal with the lure of the computer is discipline! Like this blog. Just ten minutes a day. So Zil’s first point will have to wait till tomorrow – but it’s such an interesting point, because it comes right back to core issues of perception, identity, roles, purpose in the world, the ego and more.

It is a call to the idea of nakedness once again.

No more Nakedness!

October 11th, 2007

As the trees start shedding their clothes here it’s time to put some on, and with this blog thing changing clothes takes about three seconds. One click and I’ve been able to slip this blog into this nice new autumn outfit!

I’m now experimenting with how I can make tag cloud entries bigger. How many times do I have to say the same word until it gets larger, as the bishop said to the actress?

It’s like taking off your clothes…

October 3rd, 2007

When I first heard about blogs I thought they were yet another example of how self-obsessed we have all become – another example of our narcissistic culture. But I’ve changed my mind and have decided to take the plunge!

Two realizations acted as catalysts for this change of heart: I was reading Thoreau the other day and was struck by the self-revelatory, diary-like informal quality of his wonderful Walden Pond – and then I read somewhere that he was the equivalent of a blogger. Delving deeper into the work of the American Transcendentalists I discovered that journaling, and sharing that journaling, was at the heart of their spiritual practice.

I was almost convinced – particularly after one of my oldest friends the ‘recovering journalist’ Jonathan Miller showed me his stylish and provocative political blog I Told You So. He waxed lyrical about the virtues of blogging and urged me to start. But something held me back… Read more