Friday, 29 May 2009

A Magical Evocation Born Out Of the Rigours of Choice

A zen student once composed the following haiku:

Clipping the wings of
of a flying dragon
is pepper dust.

To which the master replied:

Pepper dust
Give it wings
It's a flying dragon.

Sunday, 24 May 2009

Pictures with self-contained stories Pt 3

More lovely pics I've snagged...

Can we be happier? Yes

Well, it's not like I don't get it. When I see Paul McKenna's face, I probably have the same reaction you do. I want to attack. The guy has this look of conviction and self-assurance that is horrendously grating.

However, I'm rethinking my feelings about McKenna and 'self help books' more generally. My suspicion now is that we live in a culture that doesn't buy into the possibility that we can be told anything that might make us more productive, more prosperous or happier.

Perhaps it's not the idea of self-improvement that bothers us, but the 'self help' culture. However, if there was such a thing as a book that could make you happier and more productive, what would it look like? Answer: a self-help book.

I've been reading some of his ideas and I find them to be insightful. For example, he says that our teenage years are a critical period in which we build our self image, but for most of us it's also a period of self-doubt and insecurity. I genuinely thought that that was interesting.

With his book "Change Your Life in 7 Days", there is a hypnosis CD. I've been listening to to every day for a couple of weeks now and it really does help inject some positive vibes into your day. I've been imagining my ideal self and stepping into that guy. I'm more polite to strangers, and not getting as stressed out by the heavy workload I have on at the moment. Oh, and I have a new girlfriend :)

And no - I don't think that I'm being duped into anything, and I don't think that I'm being naive by accepting the hypnosis CD and his ideas on their own terms. There is a fine but significant line between healthy scepticism and useless cynicism. I decided that If I'm going to benefit at all, I need to be complicit. It seems to be working.

One friend of mine told me that McKenna is a fraud. Well, if this is so and he hasn't been sussed out yet, he's doing very well. Another friend who is cheerful and productive by nature scoffed at me for saying I'm getting into stuff he talks about. If someone is born hard-wired with characteristics that you want, and you're laughed at for trying to attain them, well... that aint right.

There is a defeatist mentality in this country which has to be scotched. Feel the love! Be complicit! Engage with the guy on his own terms before deciding to dismiss him.

Friday, 22 May 2009

Personality and Nervous System

I'm kind-of just writing this down so as to keep it as a note to myself.

At some point, I must give some thought to the idea that one's personality, in part, could have something to do with one's nervous system.


First thing I'll have to do it define these two things....


There are little conversational games I enjoy, like asking "if you could have a dinner party with 5 people, living or dead, who would you have?". You can learn about a person with stuff like that - their interests, their mind set and their level of imagination. Another one would be "what song do you want played at your funeral?" or "who would play you in the movie of your life?".

I asked one inventive friend who would play him in a movie and he immediately replied, "can I have Michael Jackson while he was still an embryo?". I love this. It slid the key under the door for me as well with how I could have fun with these games. There was a kind of creativity simmering beneath the surface with me, but I needed my friend to lift the lid and demonstrate to me that I can come at it from that angle.

So while I previously may have said for the dinner party that my 5 guests may have been:
Harry Partch
Spalding Gray
Stan Brakhage
VS Ramachandran
Steven Pinker

now I can flex the rules, and say:
The person who wrote the alphabet song
The last cow before they go extinct
Winston Churchill's corpse
The Queen's gynecologist
The first person who counted as a human rather than a monkey

We need people to show us what is permissable in creativity. It unlocks our own potential.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Sunglasses that make you look like an Asshole

Fashion is a peculiar thing. Initially, it was only available to the very wealthy - nobility, and the like. Not something that the peasants could afford. Modern day-peasants wear Nike!

(OK. That's me at my most non-PC, but there's a kernel of truth to it)

Fashion changes tremendously quickly nowadays - every decade in the 20th Century has its own aesthetic, but it wasn't like that in the 1300s. As such, we are sensitized to possible errors we made in recent history. Errors in the 70s:

and errors in the 80s:

Incidentally, if you ever have a moment of thinking that black people are automatically cooler than white people, look at this picture again. They usually are cooler, mind. But this pic serves as a sobering reminder that even people as hip as Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five can be corrupted...

At any rate, our mistakes become clearer in hindsight but I think I know what we'll be looking at in 20 years and asking ourselves, 'why the hell did we wear that?'. This is a picture I took of a poor dupe while I was on the tube in London:

This plonker presumably believes that those glasses will make him look cool and mysterious. They won't. It's just a big mistake.

Mis-shapen, over sized. Bad.

Fingers crossed that guy won't see this blog, track me down and kick my ass.....