Tag: truth

A Change in the Weather

With a little help from online friends, I’ve figured out that the glitch in my blog-post production-line is down to disappointment with the world.

Not the natural world, of course, but the rowdy human element that threatens its stability. Crown of Creation, my arse! Oh, we know enough as a species to make things better but currently we seem hell-bent on making them worse. We resemble nothing so much as a bunch of toddlers throwing our toys out of the playpen.

I say we but too often it’s us and them as our much-vaunted global communication network splinters into weird cabals, soundproof silos and oddball obsessions. Knowledge itself is under attack, with truth obscured beneath a toxic cloud of clueless prejudice and wilful falsification. Once upon a time rules governed what was published. Nowadays, it seems, anything goes! I suspect today’s most widely-read author is named Anon.

As a matter of indisputable fact, I have just become ruler of the universe and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it …

Fake news, of course, because Donald Trump beat me to it. Probably.

As to genuine tidings, here’s an update. My loss of voice – notwithstanding this hysterical babble! – is really dismay that nothing I can possibly come up with will make a blind bit of difference. My mum’s withering comparison for something – or someone – utterly useless springs to mind:  like a fart in a colander!

Come to think of it, that’s a handy descriptor for a fair few things you read on social media. Wind and hot air. Let’s hope the warming doesn’t go global … whoops, too late!

Ha, now there’s an example of my problem. Everything, it seems, plays out on the big stage. And here am I, waiting in the wings for a walk-on part afraid of fluffing my only line and dropping my spear.

Those encouraging responses to my cry for help previous post come back to me … start from where you are … stick to what you know … keep it short and sweet … write what makes you happy … all of them solid-gold suggestions when the currency of public discourse is so debased. A world in uproar is a good place to set your own house in order. Home truths hit hardest, they say, and shine brightest … enlightenment is the only thing denialists truly fear.

This isn’t to limit what you can write about. Reading some short stories by Herman Hesse, I learn that his childhood ambition to be a magician stemmed from a dissatisfaction with what people conventionally called ‘reality’. Later in life, by magic he came to mean the transformation of reality – the creation of a wholly new reality – in his writing. Northrop Frye observed that ‘fantasy is the normal technique for fiction writers who do not believe in the permanence or continuity of the society they belong to.’ JRR Tolkien defined fantasy as ‘the making or glimpsing of Other-worlds’ and Hesse’s stories often display the ‘arresting strangeness’, the ‘freedom from the domination of observed fact’ that Tolkien called the essential qualities of fantasy.

All of that leaves plenty of wriggle-room, I reckon. Truth doesn’t have to be mundane. The other day I was puzzling over my very young grandson’s invariably scatological response to perfectly reasonable questions like Who did you play with at nursery today? and What would you like for your dinner? Instead of admonishing him, I decided to have a little fun myself. Adopting a cod French accent, I would launch into something along these lines:

Ah yes, your words, zey take me back to zose far-off times in gay Paree – in 1923 – ze Café Royale in Montmartre – oh, such music, such dancing! – and ze most beautiful dancer of zem all, ze leetle French ballerina Pupu – what was eet we call her for short? – ah yes, Pu – and Oui we cry as her lurvely leetle dance ends Oui Oui Encore Une Fois Pupu Oui Oui …

You get the idea. It wasn’t long before my peculiar little outbursts started to do the trick. Now he gives a straight answer, more often than not. Like most audiences, he may be aware something has gone on but he won’t know exactly what …


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Image: Amazon.ca

Something New #3

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If John Lennon was hard on other people, he was harder on himself. But he was never Nowhere Man. Today it’s his radiant honesty that’s remembered, a shining sincerity that sometimes got him into trouble but more often – and especially since the senseless tragedy of his early death – won the much longer battle of hearts and minds.

Lennon’s originality lay, I think, in his capacity to touch a raw nerve. There was no formula, no going through the motions. His music always retained an improvised edge.

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Lesser artists are often shameless crowd-pleasers. The great ones are themselves usually their own toughest audience. They lead rather than follow taste because what they give us has come through such rigorous quality testing. And the most important quality is authenticity.

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Image result for originality quotesIs it too far-fetched, I wonder, to compare artistic originality with escapology – the evasion of constraints to liberate the self from chains or, to push the analogy, from convention? And if there’s any magic, perhaps it’s in the sudden realisation of freedom. Truth is the touchstone.

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Good news, then, you don’t have to come up with anything new! Let’s stay in the 19th century for confirmation of this.

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Nietzsche once said that, without music, life would be unimaginable. Time perhaps to consult a musician …

Nifty link, huh, even though all I did was type Originality into Google Images?

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Another comparison comes to mind, originality and alchemy – the transformation of base metal into gold. If that seems too supernatural, consider the miraculous implications behind this next idea.

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We may not be original but what we do can be. New writers are often given the following piece of advice.

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After all, it’s one of life’s truisms that we can only ever start from where we are. Duh! But, as so often, Philip Larkin comes to the rescue.

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Ah, takes me back to those ‘possibilities of being’ that were the plus side of Pirandello’s ‘multiple identities’! Perhaps you remember them from Something New #1? And let’s cheer ourselves up some more with a photograph and a playful comment from the person who took it.

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Playfulness is another facet in the jewel that is originality. I play with my granddaughter and marvel at how she naturally and instinctively incorporates whatever happens to be lying around in the creative games we play together. She connects me to my younger self like a bolt of lightning links heaven and earth.

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Striking image, eh? 😉 And speaking of striking images, how about this one?

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The trouble with the visual image, though, is that it can’t really capture the inner nature of an abstract concept like originality. Surface not substance, pose instead of profundity. (Enough alliteration already. Ed.) 

Ah well, let’s plough on …

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Playing with whatever I find online is fun, though I usually try to acknowledge my sources. Too many to list here but just this once I’ll risk the lawsuits in the interests of, er, art or whatever!

More seriously, a general point emerges – however original people are, or try to be, they should  always credit their guiding influences. And as my WordPress friend Curt Mekemson put it: Creativity emerges from clashing ideas.

I would venture to add that the most vital motivation is a moral imperative – put simply, we care. Which brings me to my final sequence of images.

Luigi Pirandello wasn’t wrong about mutual incomprehension and multiple identities and the clash of vibrant life with inert forms, structures or templates. But William Blake’s law of contraries holds that every negative contains its own positive – much as the Buddhist higher worlds (Learning, Compassion, Realisation) are said to emerge from the lower worlds (Hunger, Anger, Animality, Humanity) – a source of much comfort and no little inspiration to me.

Turns out there’s light at the end of every tunnel.


Who knew?

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Oh, and don’t get me started on Tribute Bands … deep breath, 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 …

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Ah, that’s better! I’ll end this circuitous exploration with somebody way beyond imitation …