Just poured myself a beer …

It’s time I let rip. Most of my posts are composed like school essays, plenty of notes and constant editing to achieve A* and all that stuff. This one comes straight from the black hole somewhere deep down. First thought, best thought … Alan Ginsberg had it right. DH Lawrence too, he never edited anything he wrote and you sure in hell couldn’t uninvent him! DHL was a great admirer of Walt Whitman, another literary berserker. Anyway …

A bottle of beer by my side, JB Hutto’s Stompin at Mother Blues on the hi-fi … real music, check it out! … and a solid determination to let everything I type stand, no matter what! Deep breath, here goes!

We are an evolved species. We share that with every other species on the planet. That means we are as good as it gets. We know how to survive. It shouldn’t be beyond our collective wit to create a sustainable world for future generations of all species. Make no mistake, we find ourselves with a hell of a past – much of it recent – to expunge. In my lifetime, on my watch, we have even entered a new era named after ourselves – the Anthropocene.

But for most of our history we were in partnership with nature. We knew how to play her with finesse, living off her without taking too much. We only took as much as we needed to survive. Honourable, you might say. Something happened – the jury is out on the what and why of it – to make us want a cushion, an excess of protection against what nature often in the form of other humans threw at us. We created money, property, secure investments and whatever took us through the night …

Panama is the outcome, Panama and all the other so-called tax havens in the world that separate humanity more than any bogus division that has been devised – and devised by whom, one might ask, but isn’t that a whole other question? – bogus divisions such as race, creed, class or colour. Modern science has proved we’re all the same under the skin so get used to it. Everything you read is propaganda of one sort or another – this excepted, of course! – and most of us are pretty good at spotting spin. Hemingway said the most important thing a writer needed – and which of us isn’t a writer? – is a built-in crap detector. I know when I’m talking shit and so do you.

That’s what I mean. We’re an evolved species. We been around a long time. Strip aware the bullshit culture we’re all immersed in – me included, I’m not pulling rank – and we’re left with inherited instinct coupled with an awareness of the instinctive sense still alive in others. I look at the reproductions on my wall – may science be praised! – and see the art of Monet, Turner, Japanese prints, Van Gogh. Coming out of my speakers – the JB Hutto ended – is Boo Boo Davis, erstwhile harp player turned drummer with Muddy Waters, singing along in Howling Wolf style with a superb Dutch band. This was another random choice from my CD collection. Anything I don’t like goes in the bag for Oxfam. This is a stayer. It connects with history.

We are here to fulfil the hopes of our ancestors. We live the life they imagined. They weren’t all struggling in the mud. Our own idealism didn’t spring from nowhere. We may have been lucky to encounter idealists in our own lives – I cite my granddad and his daughter, my mum, as personal examples – but all they did was strike a chord in our inherited potentiality for this stuff. We are primed for hope and mad optimism, like it or not. Depression is a stupid cultural imposition. The human brain is hardwired for happiness.

I speak as one whose glass is half full. If you’re interested, it’s Hobson’s Rich Ruby Porter aka Postman’s Knock 4.8% Vol. Never mind half full, it’s nearly empty. What say I open a bottle of something else? You’ll have to shout, my internet is kinda slow … OK, we’re agreed on another beer, or is that just me?

Right, glass refreshed, onwards! Only connect, said EM Forster. Great … the question is, what to what? Duh, you’d have to be stupid not to know the answer … everything to everything else. We can do this stuff. The elephant in the room is death … and who doesn’t love elephants, with their long memories and touching graveyards? Pun intended …

Our awareness of the Grim Reaper is universal. It binds us together. Birth, taxes, death. Get used to it. Unless you tried to buck the common trend in Panama, or wherever. My dad was a tax inspector. He was proud that he helped shift the burden from poor to rich. To live in a land was to accept its rules, to feel honoured that you could contribute to the fairness that made your nation great. To honour the spirit of the law as well as its letter.

I didn’t always get on with my dad. To be honest, he was a bit of a cold fish. His own dad was lost at sea in WW1 … which of us isn’t affected in some way or another by that appalling conflagration? … so without a role model himself, he wasn’t that great a dad. Plus there was that big generation gap in the 60s … we were something new, man! My mum took dad to the musical Hair and he wasn’t comfortable with hippies crawling all over him on their way to the stage although my mum was up for anything. He and mum had their problems and for a while I was piggy-in-the-middle so dad was hard to get on with.

With the benefit of hindsight, though, my dad was spot on when it came to the morality of taxation.

Where was I? Oh yes, death. Our common knowledge of death binds us like nothing else. Some fantasise about an afterlife, but what if this is it? An all-too-brief window of wonderfulness? Doesn’t that make it all the more precious?

I’m 67. Who knows how much longer I’ve got? As they say, I’ve had a good innings. My generation is probably the luckiest ever to have lived. Free cod-liver oil and orange juice on the NHS, no war, no obesity after rationing and before fast-food, the mind-expanding experience of rock’n’roll and all that entailed, full employment, the sexual revolution … I’m starting to bore myself, need I go on?

Waddya mean, pour another drink you old soak? I told you this would be uncensored. A friend of mine once said I had a shopping-bag mind. By this he meant I no sooner made one point than I would answer it myself much as a supermarket shopper would pluck items from here, there and everywhere. Probably comes from the observation of my parents’ incessant arguments … one long argument, as it happens. I’m painfully aware of both sides of every question.

Right, where were we? The CD has ended, time for another. What’s it going to be? I have a big collection. Another random choice. I bet you can hardly wait.

Can. Ego Bamyasi. Life is good, each day borrowed from nowhere, the music continuing as long as it can. Joke, haha. Gallows humour is all we have. Best make the best of it. Seriously, though, the sweet thing about not believing in the sweet hereafter is that here and now is all the sweeter.

Did I just say that out loud? What I crave above all is a natural reverence for life to replace the crazy cults that crave a higher existence beyond. Life can be hard. Keats called it a process of soul-making, envisaging a heaven on earth. Nietzsche said what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Buddhism offers a useful description of what we’re up against to achieve higher consciousness:

Ordered from the least to the most desirable, they are: Hell–a condition of despair in which one is completely overwhelmed by suffering; Hunger–a state dominated by deluded desire that can never be satisfied; Animality–an instinctual state of fearing the strong and bullying the weak; Anger–a state characterized by an unrestrained competitive urge to surpass and dominate others and often a pretence of being good and wise. These four states are referred to as the Four Evil Paths because of the destructive negativity that marks them.

Continuing, Humanity is a tranquil state marked by the ability to reason and make calm judgments. While fundamental to our identity as humans, this state can also represent a fragile balance that yields to one of the lower states when confronted with negative conditions. Rapture is a state of joy typically experienced when desire is fulfilled or suffering escaped.

Which of us hasn’t been there and bought the T shirt? And could Google be the portal to a new stage in human evolution? If so, we need to evolve a way to use it to our advantage. The facts are out there but we need to teach our children how to access them … or perhaps, get them to show us! As I understand it, the higher worlds available to us all here and now are Learning, Realisation and Compassion. These are the escape routes from the lower worlds. Together, they constitute Nirvana.

Or as near vana as you can get. Let’s not get precious about this …

Moral: keep studying, keep your mind open, keep your empathy flowing. As to the last, I’m intrigued by the French poet Rimbaud’s phrase Je est un autre – I is another. For me, this is a cry against the egoism of subjectivity and for a more objective fellow-feeling … I contain multitudes in the words of Walt Whitman … but I’m open to other interpretations.

Anyway, the beer has run out and the CD has ended. The rest is silence …

 

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37 thoughts on “Just poured myself a beer …

  1. It’s not a black hole you have there, Dave, it’s a beacon. Agree with the learning, open mind and empathy moral – if only the rest of our evolved species would too :-). Keep up the good rants and spread the words. Mike.

    1. Thanks for the kind words and support, Mike. I must admit I like climbing the lectern of WordPress and expounding therefrom. When I was a little kid my friends used to call me the Preacher. And while I’m in confession mode, those beers I poured weren’t the first of the evening …

  2. Not silence – but you’ve left me with the music playing in my head as the thoughts bounce around.
    We were truly in harmony with the planet. Then it all went wrong.
    Can we get back to the garden?
    Great one Dave. Mirrored my own thoughts. You said it.

    1. I think I wrote it with you in mind, Opher, you and one or two others like Mike above. I really value being in touch with like-minded people like yourself. By the way, finished your Education book – a cracking read from start to finish, will write a review for Amazon this weekend. Ah yes, the garden! We went into education to tend its lovely borders, not build bloody hothouses … grrr, let’s calm down with some more music.

    1. Actually, most of my essays were done the night before the deadline in a blind panic! As to the length of my posts, fair point, perhaps I should start banging in a few really short ones. The next one is a haiku, though there will be a bit of a preamble …

  3. Editing is like cleaning up a room after you’ve had sex with a tornado witch: you want people to know that you got down and freaky with this wind-whipping beauty, but you don’t want them to slip on your juices. There’s a fine line between self-editing and self-censorship. Best to do the dirt dance and leave the cleaning to the onlookers.

  4. Quite the best epic simile for the writing process I’ve ever heard, not that I’ve heard many … thanks for the imagery, gloriously unforgettable, and the serious point behind it. As an ex-teacher of English my inner critic has too much to say during the first-draft stage, so it was nice just to let rip for a change. Even with this post I’ve started editing, like a stoned musician going in the next day sober to add overdubs … hey, you got me started now!

  5. Kerouac would be proud of you Dave, straight off the top writing, letting it flow, letting it all hang out. Great blog. Have another porter. The really big question, from my perspective, is will we achieve our potential before we self-destruct. It’s a nip and tuck all out race with the outcome far from decided. And the vast majority of humanity appears to be unaware we are even in a life and death race. Or lying to themselves. Or being lied to. Or not giving a shit. Sometimes I want to scream WHY? It doesn’t take a genius to determine the long term implications of our actions. Even a tiny bit of enlightened self-interest would suggest another path. –Curt

    1. Haha, I’m sure in hell proud to be in the same sentence as Jack Kerouac! What a triumvirate … Kerouac with his sublime free association, Burroughs with his radical cut-up cleverness and Ginsberg with his beautiful and inspiring human kindness. We owe them a debt of gratitude. And I thank you for your passionate questions, Curt, which cut to the heart of the matter.

      I often think, if you put a few ordinary people like ourselves in a room with a few beers that it wouldn’t take us long to come up with all the solutions to a better future. Ha, we could list them on the back of an envelope!

      The Panama Papers – just the tip of a very dirty iceberg – have only revealed what we’ve known all along … those greedy for riches and power stitch things up to suit themselves and treat everyone else with cold contempt. Being left out of the loop makes us all fools, dupes and hypocrites. Our generation let it slide and … oh heck, think I’ll pour myself that porter … cheers!

        1. Spooky! What if WordPress is that room and they’ve got algorithms to spot spurious activity … hey, that porter’s kicking in … just thought of a good name for a band – Al Gore and the Algorhythms … I’ll get my coat!

  6. liked the whole concept of this posting. wasn’t it in several of shakespeare’s plays where we learn that we should distrust those who don’t or won’t become inebriated? sometimes we just need to let go.

    1. Cheers, my friend! Yeah, ‘Twelfth Night’ comes to mind. Malvolio is the puritan who scorns the sottish behaviour of Sir Toby Belch and his drinking partners, who revenge themselves by playing a prank which exposes him as a self-deluding fool. Wondrous stuff! (My spellchecker liketh not ‘sottish’ – he can go pleasure himself with his own dictionary!)

  7. Dear Dave,
    finally had time to reread your fabulous essay.
    (concert over-conductor dead.Or maybe it just feels like it)
    And throw my two cents in. If you don’t mind.
    I definitely agree with you.
    We are, like all things on this planet, evolved. And evolving.
    The point being, that all evolved species devolve to a lower level, or several levels, when faced by extreme pressure. Or continuous pain. Or destruction.
    Then the struggle starts.
    First for recovery, then to re-reach the level we left off at when we got hit by whatever truck hit us.
    We are in a world of constant stress. Constant checking of facts. Constant spying on each other. Darwinism is raging in politics, and in the manufacturing world.
    And as our numbers grow, and our security of being like the others around us decreases, due to purges in countries, wars, the constant fleeing to survive,
    as those who are engaged in just trying to survive, through no fault of their own, start venting- hate, horror, -just to survive the inner psychological turmoil-
    we are being caught up in a place with no quiet, no rest, no joy.
    Joy, then, becomes again, a form of venting- at a lower level-
    wine, women, or men, loud music, drugs, alcohol, anything to lower the level of decibles in the head. Not that these things, and sports, and creativity, and and just plain laughing with friends
    (well, expect for the drugs, in my opinion)
    are a bad thing,
    but they are a substitute.
    For the joy of writing, creating music, studying, philosophizing, sharing in peace with others,
    in short, working to create in us, singly and communally, a higher level of existence,
    that gives us, and all other forms of being, from trees to air to others around us,
    peace.
    And I agree, with you, that we, every living species, recognizes death, but that we are wired to ignore the fear.
    So what do we do?
    Hold hands and om together?
    My own personal belief is, that recognizing reality, doesn’t mean you have to act on it.
    ie look for the light, when you see it in others, stay calm, drink tea,
    give each other a push up, and then keep climbing.
    p.s. from now on, I’ll keep it shorter.

    1. Thank you for this passionate response, my friend, I love your flow of thought and wish there was much more genuine exchange of ideas in the world instead of the buttoned-up soundbite-society that encircles us. I finished reading your comment wishing it was longer, not shorter! It helps that I agree with pretty well everything you’ve written but I also believe that passion is required if we are to break the wicked spells that have halted or even, as you suggest, reversed our evolution – though I do think the internet can rescue us.

      We are nothing if not social creatures and I believe the changes we both want will be collective and cultural. Art and creativity are key. As children with our make-believe play we understood this instinctively but such instincts are discouraged by slavish consumerism and life-hating fundamentalism alike, the twin scourges of human life.

      Stop Press: slogans needed for secular psalms!

  8. Just to let you know: after commenting on your post, I received a reply from an idiot named “Someone” (in a mask that looks like a marshmallow) with a few very nasty and choice comments for me. This was linked to a poetry page you, and apparently some other members of your page, are on. It apparently has something to do with Tamil language publishing??? Do you know what is going on, and has this happened before, or am I the only chosen one for the masked malvolient.

    1. How strange … and how unsettling for you! I’m as puzzled as you are. I have followers in the Indian sub-continent and occasionally receive posts in Asian languages – not sure if any are Tamil – and once replied asking if they ever posted in English as I couldn’t understand. That’s it really. Perhaps I correspond with someone who has annoyed others … who knows? The internet is as murky and complex as modern human life. I feel like an innocent abroad. I’ve always been straightforward and positive and our interactions have been the same … it’s a mystery.

      Not sure how to follow this up. I’d ask you to send me the nasty reply so I could read it for clues but would this be counter-productive or awkward? Let me know what you think. What now? Thanks for the heads up on this, do let me know if you receive anything else and I’ll keep in touch with you. I could post about this myself. Any thoughts?

      1. Thank you for your reply. Yes, the internet definitely is more than a little bit murky. I also am straight up about what I do, and honest about what I write. Otherwise there is no point in being on. The problem I have with sending you the reply you ask to see, is that it was first a note praising opher for his work- perhaps the comment above was meant, then that dissappeared, and in its place was the nasty note, about how I had to finally say something that was a bit more argumentative, and get an own life, not copy someone else, ie shut up or push the envelope, then that disappeared, and your note appeared. All in the same spot. Do you have anything in your spam filter? I put on a stronger anti-virus this morning, so that may do it from my side, but wanted to let you know. I also write on the Friday Loose Bloggers Consortium, and we also have an Indian connection, not that they would do this, but perhaps one of them is being stalked. I will check and let you know if it is, but unlikely. We’re a non-political quiet group, actually, of which I and another couple of writers are the youngest, so… I definitely will let you know if anything else arrives. As to posting about it, I don’t really know, as I don’t know your friends and don’t want to intrude if they aren’t being bothered. I think the worst thing for me is the feeling of having to walk six times around each word, limiting what I say. Who knows, maybe someone just doesn’t like my bizarre sense of humor.

        1. Ah, I can explain part of the above. When I read your comment, it sounded so much like my friend whose name you mentioned that I didn’t check your logo and replied as if it was him. When I realised what I’d done, I edited my reply so that it referred to you. As to the nasty comment, no idea. I’ll check this spam filter business, don’t really understand it, need to find out. As I say, I’ve had nothing bad and no one else has told me about anything bad yet. I’ve read your stuff and it seems fine to me. I assume you’re like me and have been brought up in a free world, so any pressure to censor what one writes is repugnant. Not nice, though, but at least we can give each other our support. Keep in touch, my friend …

          1. PS Just checked my Akismet stats and there was no missed spam nor false positives (whatever they are!) and Accuracy was 100%. Not sure what any of that means or whether it has a bearing on what you’ve experienced. Let’s hope it’s stopped.

  9. I think you’re dad was spot on about the morality of taxation too. I don’t agree in the slightest with those people who say tax is government sponsored robbery. We live in a society and all get the benefit of that. It seems like basic fairness that people contribute depending on what they can afford. If I were a millionaire, which sadly I’m not, I’d be proud of doing my bit to contribute toward the common good.

    1. Agree completely! My parents didn’t always see eye to eye but they did both like the saying ‘to each according to their needs, from each according to their abilities’. Transparent finances and progressive taxation were their cornerstones of a civilised society. Otherwise, why have nations at all? Hmm, that’s a whole new question … thank you for your comment, my friend.

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