Monday, February 25, 2008


Recently I received an email, inducing two thoughts.

Firstly that it was mildly amusing and well designed, well crafted.

Secondly that it shamelessly expressed a misandristic assumption uncritically common to our zeitgest. Namely, that it is unarguably obvious, unconquerably true that, well, women are superior to men.

I should say that in the original diagram all the little blue balls were moving around frenetically. Blogger is limited, as is known.

Ever wondered how a woman's brain works? It's finally explained here in one, easy-to-understand illustration:

Every one of those little blue balls is a thought about something that needs to be done, a decision or a problem that needs to be solved. A man, of course, has only 2 balls and they take up all his thoughts.

Obviously this is not sexism, obviously.

Obviously this is not insulting and degrading to men, obviously.

After all, men deserve a bit, or is it a lot, of payback and vengeance. That is so obvious.

But what is less clear is whether the presumably female motivation (?) behind this kind of slur against men, a slur it seems permeating the subsoil of today's cultural discourse, is merely rooted in a sense of grievance that women, rightly and wrongly, feel about their gender’s treatment by men over the millenia; or whether some women, or many, or all women actually believe in all sincerity that men, all men, including me therefore, are only driven by such a testicular monomaniacal fury..

Do women truly believe that women are that much more complex and useful-as-beings in the way the illustration suggests, or do they but ruse?

Do they joke, is this merely a reactive outworking of vengeance, an attempt to balance the scales, or are they being serious?

I am supposing and hoping the former, but sometimes
one never knows.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008


people do not occupy their own space
but are projections of my mind.

A mind I do not control
A mind rebellious!

A reason to be angry!


he thought he was living in a comfortable zone
but he wasn’t.

Oh no!

surprising events unexpectedly trounced him.


she loved him from a deep place in her heart
and gazed upon him wantingly.

he liked her attention
it made it seem that he mattered in his mind.


the atheist had stopped believing in god.
stopped believing in his invention, his projection.

god was very happy about this
and prepared to make his move.


he went to work
because if he didn’t he’d have to lie in bed all day, getting sore.

or wander between shops or café
searching for something new.

it might have also had something to do with money.


he wanted to look forward to Christmas
to think old sores would not be re-opened and prodded

but he knew that they would be
and they were.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

On Hermes in the Blogosphere

Blogging has transformed the world of the writer.

Nowadays a writer, someone who likes writing and wants to write, not just someone who’s been accorded or has accorded themselves the sociological role of ‘Writer’, can access, potentially at least, a very wide, international readership far more easily than at any time in the past. Indeed, because his productions are free he might, theoretically at least, be read even more widely than ever since readers are not discouraged by having to pay or to traipse to the library.

Naturally, some who read only when the author is deemed ‘distinguished’ enough to wear his thoughts in a book will not be impressed by blogs. Well, except perhaps by blogs written by the same distinguished authors, struggling to forestall the possibly negative consequences of their not keeping up with the game by not turning virtual. Some readers, moreover, are averse to the screen. They like the feeling of a book in their hands, in a café over coffee, on the train, in the lavatory, in the bath. Indeed, I can sympathise. I am one of these fellows. Indeed, I am even more sympathetic to the book given that I don’t have a printer. But that’s a point. All you need do is print, and then bind as you like.

Yet, despite these readership resistances to the march of the blogosphere, to which might be added that a great deal of what is highly excellent is still restricted to the book world, I think it’s increasingly evident that blogging has transformed the possibilities for the writer.

For the writer, things can look very rosy indeed. Not only does he no longer have to traverse the obstacle course and trials-by-rejection of the overwhelmed, highly mercantile publishing industry, he doesn’t have to restrict himself to specifically targeted readers, be they friends or like-minded souls, by envelope, or more recently, email or discussion group. He can just declare himself to the world; in a space all his own - a space not imposing itself on another, excluding none other from their place in the sun - and send people a link. He might also be read by ‘discovery’, by readers stumbling upon, or being directed to him by recommendation.

The removal of publishing-space scarcity leads to the added blessing that even if a writer is not paid for his efforts he is nevertheless not required to humiliate himself, as had formerly happened through Vanity publishing when in the desperate wake of the publishers’ failure to accommodate him he had to pay for the privilege of being read in an inverse action to what should happen.

I myself very much like the fact that neither I in my composition nor you in your reading have to part with or receive money. It speaks of a spiritual cleanliness, a purity, in which I am free of your claims upon me as someone not providing what you paid for; and in which you are free of the feeling that you can only read what I write if you’re a certain kind of person, able or willing to pay.

Surprisingly enough, this does not mean I wouldn’t accept money for writing. This might seem to contradict what I’ve just written. The fact that I, as do we all, in a collective condition of acute obnoxiousness, need money, is what leads me to be a TEFL teacher; and TEFL is a profession which, though ethically respectable enough, and allowing teachers an acceptable degree of existential authenticity - it being a wallet destroying, as opposed to a soul destroying profession - is not a profession which reliably excites me.

As to how to make money from writing, this remains to be seen. Any ideas? It could be that I am just not a ‘good writer’, whatever that means, and am misguided to think that I am.

And no, that was not me fishing for compliments.

In any case, what is true is that I enjoy writing and that, for me at least, is enough.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Eighteen to Twenty Five

I have little idea how many readers I get. I have not installed a site meter.

I have been told by Elberry that if I register with Blogger, hits may increase. Yet in a way maybe I wish to hide behind obscurity as a convenient excuse for the minimal attention I imagine I receive. One thinks of the man who expostulates and rants alone in his bedroom, as opposed to he who declaims on Hyde Park Corner and is completely ignored. While the latter can only avoid becoming aware of his irrelevancy to people’s lives by encapsulating himself inside a highly sophisticated interpretative worldview, from which he looks out eccentrically, the former can always maintain in his heart that he is only not being adulated by his fellow men because he is not visible to them.

For certain I know I get some readers, as well as comments. Those who leave comments should know that they are very much appreciated. Thank you very much for them!

Until July 2006 all my ‘creative’ or expressive writing, as opposed to that intended for teachers at School or University, was only done in one of two ways: in letters, especially to Lee Hutchinson and david crane, who were my two best ‘intellectual’ friends in my twenties and early thirties; and in writings which remained unshared on my computer, which to this day remain largely unread. My lack of interest in trying to get these writings published is something I can’t easily explain. In a way I feel ‘guilty’, as if by not trying to get them out there I was withholding from the world, not putting back into society the fruits that had grown as a result of my education and privileged upbringing. Yet, this presumption of a misdeed in my shyness, I am aware, itself implies a supposition I was not always sure was valid. Namely, that the writings, mainly conceived between the ages of eighteen and twenty five, were any good. Attending that doubt would follow the embarrassed lack of interest in imposing myself on publishers, of wasting their time with what they’d only reject. And it is true that I wasn’t interested in receiving harsh criticism of my writings, criticisms that I might have, and probably would have, anticipated anyway. If you are going to dislike them, I’d rather you not read them, was often be my internalized refrain.

Was this only a defensive, prickly, lack of self-confidence, should I say lack of self-assertion – one of the cardinal sins of the age, so it seems, especially in the eyes of women, especially when practiced by men. Maybe, to an extent, though I’d rather call it humility, a making of a space for others, a not wishing to bother others with ones perceptions unless one is asked for them. Or was it something else?

In my world of inner expansiveness, inner tranquility, inner luxuriousness-in-God, interior delighting in infinity, the writings I penned had seemed wonderful to me. The thing was, I was not, in my self-understanding, unhinged enough to then presume de facto that this recognition of quality was objective, shared amongst others. Yet, because I thought them precious in-themselves, I was not willing to have them negatively savaged. And this was the case, I think, not only because I considered that despite what others might negatively have to say, according to their own criteria of judgment that may or may not have had valid claim to represent objective standards of quality, the writings did in fact exhibit a genuine quality, at least of a kind. I think it was also because these writings were exercising a function for me that was more than merely expressive. They were more than a reaching out towards the eyes and ears of others. Indeed, I would say that it wasn’t so much that through them I was expressing myself to the world, as that in them I was on the one hand locating myself and taking refuge from the world and on the other trying to re-create myself through them into a different kind of a being from that which I'd been for the previous eighteen years; such as to become a person inhabiting a new, different kind of reality, a new world, one, moreover, that was altogether superior and more glorious - albeit, as it would transpire, a somewhat lonely world on occasions, and not always one that, as my mid twenties would reveal, would keep the dragons and demons at bay.

Maybe I will publish these early writings on another blog. Though I think I’d be more likely to if I was asked to, if there was an interest in them, which of course I cannot presume in the silence that there would be, or should be.

Some of these writings are already ‘out there’. The Theological notes, or some of them anyway, which I wrote as a twenty two year old in my last year at university when I should have been sticking to my course work, thinking about career plans and chasing women (other than Barbara). Essentially thay are all about hell, and I realize I need to edit them somewhat. Writing them, however, did in a way drive me crazy so I've always been a bit reluctant to revisit.

If thou has nothing better to do.

Thursday, February 14, 2008


At this time of year we are asked to think about Love.

Not agape, not philia, not storge not Xenia but Eros, the son of Aphrodite and Hermes, the God of lust and love. In Roman lore he is called Cupid, and is famous for sporting wings and wielding a bow and arrows.

By Eros, however, the marketing performance surrounding Saint Valentine’s day does not refer to carnal desire as such, as the prurient fear, but to romantic love, a largely modern invention, the Holy Grail of our emotional aspirations. The God of the age; well, alongside money.

Hoards abound sneering cynically at the commercialized monkey business of the St.Valentine’s Day Parade.

I need not add my voice. We know well enough already how the market thrives, all year round, on the propagation, should I say the implanting, of desires in the multitudes for the imitative and the vapid; for trinketry, for tacky plasticity, for whatever can synthetically, cheaply sentimentalise the communality we all share (that unity-as-humans that might possibly, if left to itself, be the basis for a happy, regenerated society).

So what’s so different about Valentine’s day?

I’d rather sidestep this whole debate. People must do as they please. Since I hardly ever have girlfriends, for reasons the ladies I've desired might like to enlighten you concerning, I’ve never had much cause to have strong opinions about the day. Though I did once think it would be funny to eat alone one Valentines at a mighty fine restaurant amidst couples pretending, or achieving, the appropriate displays of togetherness, without newspaper or book to distract me, opposite an enormous mirror; in an act to be construed, as you will, either as performance art, reflecting the growth of singledom in the modern age, or as merely grossly narcissistic self-pity.

It is a day celebrating Love. Be that love merely one of love’s many arms, be that celebration a commercialized contrivance of what might otherwise have become, as St. Valentine himself might have wished, a culturally instituted day of reflection on the real nature, real importance of love in all its dimensions, it is nonetheless a day focused on love. Love, which as we know, is the most important, most precious, most striven after thing in life; that which is most liable to drive us crazy, or else transform our lives into a richer splendour, however conditionally that might be.

So don’t expect Jeremiahan declamations against Valentine’s Day from me. Be it only spoken of badly, and tritely, it is nevertheless spoken of. That in-itself is good. Not for me the path of the Kuwaiti Religious authorities trying to get it banned here in their small, curious land of Starbucks and Oil.

Love gets a lot of press, a lot of praise. Much is said and written about love’s majesty; about the pains associated with its absence or withdrawal. Love is, however, taboo. Like Sex and God it’s not a topic for polite, conformist society. Well, unless treatments are mediated through other people’s loving, preferably expressed in some artform, in which love’s rhapsodies, banalities and desolations can be innocuously contained, ruffling no feathers, disturbing no power structures. Love in its own unruly vitality is liable at any moment to awkwardly challenge the rigid boundaries of what is controllable and predictable in the world.

Anyway, have a Happy Valentines Day, be you or be you not significantly other to another.

Love's oceans are not confined to romance.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Better Perception

I cannot express the real nature of my experiences. Can you?

My life exceeds the language that conveys it.


There is nothing that humanity knows about God that hasn’t been mediated by the human. This does not mean that God (or is it Brian? what's in a name?) does not exist, or that what humanity has known about God is false. It means only that humanity understands its world in human terms. Just as a donkey understands its world in donkey terms. It doesn’t follow, however, that there is only the human, or only the donkey.

Was Xenophanes back to front? It is God's accommodation to our frame of reference, not his non-existence, that underlies our anthropomorphism. If you were God, would you relate to Earthlings as a Plutonite?

Anyway, whether God exists or not does not remove the relevance of the question: What is the nature of what it is to be human. Not what does it mean to be human, but what is it to be human.

Becoming an atheist changes little. You and the universe are the same. What changes is how you understand reality, about what you orientate your being. This alteration in you has little impact on the universe in-itself, which remains as unknowable as ever. It might be that you have exchanged one idol for another.

If we were to experience God directly, as undeniably as we experience water and air, it would matter not a jot if God 'existed' or not. In such circumstances even God himandherself wouldn’t care.

'Do those who know me need to believe in my existence? Do they ask themselves that question?'

Religion happens in the absence of God, philosophy in the absence of vision. In the Kingdom of Heaven there is only joy; and no Knowledge of Good and Evil.

The point is to alter the quality of experience. Not to experience new things.

To see things as if one has seen them for the first time, as it has been said. To see things as if one has given birth to them.

T.S.Eliot: ‘It is impossible to say what I mean.”

Friday, February 8, 2008

On Seed

Received wisdom has it that the egg is more valuable than the seed.

Don’t ask me to wheel out the neo-darwinian arguments. Alas, I can’t be bothered. Others can do it better than I.

Apparently my seed only has value if I can persuade an egg carrier that she should unite her egg to my seed, not to that of another seeder.

In and of itself my seed has no appeal. Even if I am a nice, charming, pleasant enough guy, it exerts no allure. It might only do so if I can persuade myself to perform a certain song and dance ritual, embarrassing to my dignity, antagonistic to the establishment of uncompetitive peace amongst men; a ritual marking me out in the eyes of egg carriers as that sort of a seeder, by implication the carrier of that kind of seed, worthy of her egg.

The implication of this ‘dance, the prerequisite for seeder success’ is that the egg carrier is a passive recipient;that she cannot think for herself, outside the conventions of this dance, concerning what kind of seed she might want for her egg. She, never he, is the one who receives offers. And the offers that come, when they come, must be mediated by the dance.

The idea seems seldom if ever to float that she herself might be the huntress. Strong enough, moreover, not to need ‘warrior types’, those deemed macho enough to protect and feed her offspring. Seeking out seed for her eggs, deciding for herself from amongst the seeders she sees whom she might approach to persuade to part with their seed.

Would I be offended if a woman wanted my seed? Came up to me and asked me, saying ‘give me your seed’; seduced me, wooed me, won me. Did all the work. While my gaze was set on the majesty above, contemplating wondrousness.

I think not. If she wanted my money and my soul and the lifeblood of my mind, maybe. But my seed? Why, not at all. After all, I have what seems to be a plentiful and free, ever gushing supply!

As long as I had the right to say no, of course. Just as women currently do in their role as vetter of we males. We, who so constantly, pitifully throw ourselves at women, women primed to test and reject us.

It could be of course that I only write the above because I am a hopeless courter of women.

According to Maureen Dowd in her darkly titled book “Are Men Necessary” women feel that men who do not ‘make all the running’, do the necessary leg work, dance the good dance, are therefore for that reason selfish and narcissistic, not good father material.


Since when has not imposing yourself on women, not lying to them, not bragging and boasting, not flattering them into bed, not competing with other men to impress them, been selfish?

Oh well, each to their own of course. And I know what that means, for me and my seed.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

The Nature of the Unhinged

The other day, suddenly, I turned round to Patrick and started talking about insanity.

I don't know why I did this. I don't suppose he did either.

I asked him what insanity was. He didn't answer.

I told him what I thought it was. He found what I said interesting.

I said the insane person is not the person who lives in their own world. It's the person who does not accept that other people live in a different world not theirs; be that different world one of their own, equally private, or be it the public world more commonly subscribed to.

I have a friend in Durham who believes things that might lead many to think him mad if they were to judge him only by the things he believes in. Yet he is not mad at all. This is because he is able to suspend identification with his exotic world view and take up the point of view of others when he talks to them.

That process of self-abstraction, I think, makes all the difference. It is also the hallmark of courtesy towards others. Even if you are certain that you're right, you can accept that your truth is not their truth, your reality not theirs.