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Off The Cuff!

 

Today I will mostly be writing in the spirit of Thelonius Monk who said, ‘There is no wrong note, it has to do with how you resolve it’. My plan: to keep typing whatever comes into my head until I have finished my bottle of beer.

Yeah, when you listen to Monk play you kind of see what he means.

In this age of targeted marketing, with its seamless soundtrack of endless over-dubs and auto-tuned vocals, how refreshing to hear and see someone flying by the seat of his pants! And returning to William Blake’s idea that without contraries there is no progression, surely here is an example of discord enhancing our appreciation of harmony.

Why have we become so risk-averse? I vividly remember the leader of a blues harmonica course telling us that we were only ever a semitone away from musical safety. In other words, improvise like your life depends on it and trust your instincts. How else are you going to get good at escaping from music’s, or life’s inevitable impasses? Those who only play by the book tend to get most lost when things don’t go to plan – which is often.

I once had an argument with a roomful of musos who reckoned Jimi Hendrix was over-rated. Yes, I had to admit, the guy played bum notes … but look how high he could fly! Maybe there’s a connection … what do you think?

The theme opens up like a kaleidoscope and my bottle is nearly empty. Without mistakes, no true creativity. Maybe it’s time to cut ourselves some slack and learn to play again. My two-and-three-quarter-year-old grand-daughter began our game today with, ‘I’m a baby penguin … ‘

You’re never too old to visit Antarctica! It’s surprisingly easy to find. Just turn left at Non Sequitur …

Image result for baby penguin

 

Image: Critter Babies

Ella at 100

So hard to write well about music … somebody once compared it to dancing about architecture … so hats off to this thoughtful, heartfelt tribute complete with original artwork! The first two lines prompted me to add this music link … https://youtu.be/SjJry0vhHj4

method two madness

ella singing s

For Ella

The task of
the basket:  calling
unfinished
collections
together with messages
condensed into song.

The elders
plant wandering seeds,
summoning
the dropped lines
into fertilized pockets,
bringing roots to light.

Cut loose but
not lost.  Walking on
air–a voice–
unclouded,
animated, multiplied,
luminous. Flying.

Today would have been Ella Fitzgerald’s 100th birthday.  I’m pleased to have my drawing and poem included in the anthology celebration “Ella @ 100” .

“The only thing better than singing is more singing.”
–Ella Fitzgerald

Happy Birthday Ella.

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Art Attack # 1

 

 

Inspired by the free-flowing piece on writing that I linked in my previous post, here are some foot-loose and fancy-free reflections prompted by the above graphic.

I’m a sucker for clever graphics. This one pretty well sums up my philosophy of life. If you define science as the exploration of nature, you have the classic art-nature opposition which dissolves because art seeks to celebrate and even emulate nature by mimicking it. As we learn ever more about our world, art evolves to reflect scientific understanding. And like natural evolution, a more willed process than used to be thought, art involves performance-feedback-revision.

I’m also a sucker for equations. An equation to represent the graphic might be:

Knowledge + Creativity = Reverence

By coincidence, I’ve just read this in ‘V’ by Howard Jacobson:

There was rapture and there was responsibility. Each imposed an obligation of seriousness but together they made the serious sacred.

Dionysus and Apollo together make up the ancient Greek ideal – two sides of the same coin, no one without the other. The poet William Blake understood that ‘without Contraries is no progression’. But what strikes me about the equation is how it echoes the Buddhist concept of Higher Worlds: Learning, Realisation and Compassion.

A swift digression – I’m no student of religion and happy to be put right but my understanding is that there are 10 Worlds:

Hell, Hunger, Anger, Animality, Tranquillity, Heaven, Learning, Realisation, Compassion, Nirvana.

Hunger is absolute want. Anger is the root of conflict and war. Animality is obsession with status, pecking-order, dog-eats-dog. Tranquillity, sometimes known as Humanity, is inertia – passive acceptance of the status quo. Suffering two or more of these Worlds becomes a Hell on earth. Heaven is a temporary respite from the other Lower Worlds.

Now the good news. As we all know, there are positives in adversity which enable us to climb out. Learning is our evolutionary lifeline. Realisation I take to mean mastery, the attainment of skills which help us transcend ego. Compassion is simply fellow-feeling. Blend these Higher Worlds to attain Nirvana – escape from the cycle of Birth and Death, with all its inevitable suffering.

Now – cards on the table – I don’t happen to believe in Reincarnation, any more than I believe in Transubstantiation. Infected by the scientific method, I require hard evidence of life after death – evidence which is so far not forthcoming. But the 10 Worlds work for me as a theory of human life, with the potential to alleviate my natural and universal fear of death. And if I can use the certainty of my own demise as a means of enhancing my appreciation of life, so much the better – one in the eye for the Grim Reaper, you might say …

Enough for now. More to come next post, though, as I’ve only just scratched the surface of what I want to say. It gets more cheerful, promise!

Here’s a taste of what’s to come …

 

Image result for the grim reaper

 

Image: Twitter

Home by Warsan Shire

Now this is worth sharing … a trumpet blast in the face of the wall mentality!

Love in the Time of Colorado

square

Try reading this poem out loud without your voice breaking.

Home

by Warsan Shire

no one leaves home unless
home is the mouth of a shark
you only run for the border
when you see the whole city running as well–

your neighbors running faster than you
breath bloody in their throats
the boy you went to school with
who kissed you dizzy behind the old tin factory
is holding a gun bigger than his body
you only leave home
when home won’t let you stay.

no one leaves home unless home chases you
fire under feet
hot blood in your belly
it’s not something you ever thought of doing
until the blade burnt threats into
your neck
and even then you carried the anthem under
your breath
only tearing up your passport in an airport toilets
sobbing as each mouthful of paper
made it clear that you wouldn’t be…

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New Year Resolution (Late Entrant)

After a spell away from home with limited internet access, I’ve been catching up on other WordPress posts like crazy.

I follow more sites than follow me – a legacy of my early and perhaps cheeky efforts to gain readers by sending people links to my posts – although the gap has narrowed with time. But keeping up with them all means less time spent on my own posts, not to mention my own family! (They’d rather I didn’t, anyway … mention them, I mean!)

Visiting a large number of sites in a short time is like keeping a whole bunch of plates spinning on poles. It’s very easy to lapse into skim-reading, looking for hooks on which to hang witty, wise and pertinent replies … although if I have ever sent you a witty, wise and pertinent reply – or even an impertinent one – you have my solemn word that I read every single one of yours!

This time, with jet-lag threatening my concentration, I decided only to view posts from bloggers who have replied to my posts in the recent past. And I’m very glad I did. They were without exception witty, wise and pertinent to my current concerns. On my wavelength, you might say, tuned into the way I was feeling. My only question is, why the hell haven’t I done this before?

My days of chasing new readers are done. And anyway, too many of my more recent followers are concerned with self-promotion rather than self-examination. Ha, you may say, he can talk after confessing to shameless marketing of himself as a new blogger! But from now on I intend to develop more two-way correspondences with fellow seekers after the truth. In a fun way. Blogging is fun, right?

 

Image result for Too Many Spinning Plates

 

Image: http://iquitagain.com/a-year-on-purpose/283-too-many-spinning-plates