You know I would be King (Not!)

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Happy Apulhed surfing on the Leeds to Liverpool canal just passing thru Brunlea over the Culvert Bridge.

(c) pete kennedy 2014

I said in my most recent blogart that I’d been trying unsuccessfully to learn how to meditate and I had found a meditation on the Four Immeasurables* which decided me to try this meditation exercise which concentrated on them; *Loving Kindness, Joy, Compassion, Equanimity. I also said erroneously that ‘meditation is difficult cos you do nothing’, erroneous cos in fact it’s even harder than that, you actually have to do something very difficult, especially for me, STILL your mind. Stop the chattering of the monkey mind as they say.

One of Tavener’s last pieces was a song to SHUNYA, also called SUNYATA meaning ‘luminous emptiness’ or pure untrammelled ‘openness’.

I hinted at the fact that I had loosened the grip of my own expectations by thanking some folk for some adverse criticism but taking the advice of Tata Madiba I realise now that I have to do more. He said, “To be Free is not merely to cast off one’s chains but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

I remember when I was preparing for my Book Exhibition at JDD’s studio last October when I planned to do a ‘reading’ from my prose poem, ‘Inside My Clay Jug’ and the idea dawned on me that there may be one or two folk in the gathering who had no liking or respect for my poem and who may voice those feelings. I remember saying to myself, well if that happens you need to be prepared. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. So I was a bit better prepared when I found much to my amazement there was one heckler there, my wife. Whatever her opinion, it’s not any good asking cos she wouldn’t say anyway, but she saw my reading the poem as unnecessary. I’ve heard about the enemy within but that seemed ridiculous. However, like Mandela said we need to learn how to “live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.”

Wow that’s hard. Actors and actresses (when did actresses suddenly all become honorary ‘actors’? tell me) learn to take the critic’s opinions, it’s part of the training. They also learn, if they are doing live performances to fend off the blows graciously, like Billy Connelly did (not!), especially in Australia. Life’s a constant renegotiation, a compromise between misunderstandings, a best fit, a learn-to-live together thing.

Anyway as they say in the song, If You Can’t Stand The Heat Get Out The Kitchen. In fact one of my resolutions is to cook some more, which won’t be too hard as I didn’t cook at all for a long time.

So, as I embark on a new round of putting my work out there in 2014. I hope I can apply these new found skills in dealing with the rough and the smooth, the criticism and the praise. I’ve been saying for some time I’m different, I do Do difference. To help me move forward I’ve been looking at different cultures since way back, well, in the 1960’s. As a youngster I was fascinated by earlier cultures and by taking History I looked to learn more about Egypt, Assyria etc but the English exam system concentrates on Europe.I did a bit about Israel in A level R.E. and heard about the Q documents and the Dead Sea Scrolls for the first time. Masada is a stunning example of the Roman Empire’s way of annihilating a group using astounding engineering skills and them writing it out of history. They did it to Carthage, one of their most dangerous rivals, razing that civilisation to the ground. I was lucky to see Dan Snow’s programme on New Year’s Eve about how they destroyed the Dacians (like you I’d never heard of the Dacians! So the Romans were indeed effective) in central Europe when they didn’t really need to be so severe but wanted to set the Dacian rebellion as an example of something they would not tolerate.

So, in 105 AD Trajan built a mile long stone bridge across the Danube then besieged the Dacian capital of Sarmizegethusa, cut off the water supply and when the town surrendered Decebalus killed himself he razed and burned it to the ground. The, and Dacia, which corresponds roughly to modern Romania, was occupied as a Roman province.

This rule by tyrannical oppression was adopted by many later empire builders like the Brits, Stalin and Hitler. I won’t bother to name the massacres carried out by these empire builders as they are well documented elsewhere.

On the other hand Snow said that the Romans learned not to always destroy their rivals. In the now desert land around Petra in North Africa they set up a trading centre manned of course by a series of barracks. It must have been a thriving fertile area with at least 20 thousand inhabitants which I presume collapsed after Rome was razed by the tribes who had gathered together to defeat it.

The vainglorious overthrow of cultures which had less devastating technologies & techniques for war (like the Brits in Tibet) has always mortified me. I prefer the way Peter O’Toole, bless his socks, does it in Lawrence in Arabia or the twins in tandem do it in Connery & Caine’s Man Who Would Be King. They found the so called ‘primitive & inferior’ cultures could have more than enough to handle and indeed had a lot to teach ‘em. I once met, or rather accosted a very famous individual. I know that I said in my last blart that I rarely impinged on the space of ‘famous’ folk but I did ignore that rule once near the National Portrait Gallery in Londres with my young son when I spotted a man in the strangest green trousers you’ll ever see standing tall talking to a much older man. He was Richard Harris and I was an artist who did portraits of folk with interesting visages and character, so I approached him and handed my card to him. I don’t know why I bother with a card as I never got any business from it. People look at my cards and invariably go, ‘That’s a wonderful card’, then put it away forever and a day. Richard said when I asked him to contact me if he would like a portrait, ‘Thank you Pete I’ll think about that.’ How did he know my name? I thought. Then I realised he’d read the card in an intake of breath and called me by my name with the outtake. I loved Harris’s Celtic nature, that madness I am part of myself, that insane ability to do the impossible. Who else other than Harris could have taken a song everyone and their dogs had rejected with words second only to Procol Harum’s hit about waiters floating across the floor for incomprehensibility and turn it into a classic? MacArthritis Park:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=amzJDSsC2IA

they tell me that he only chose the song cos everyone who was anyone had rejected it.

As it happened in the USA, a spiritless place with blood on its hands, with the decimated indigenous injuns still living in poverty* as do the original (even called Aboriginal) populations of Australia and Tasmania. Younghusbandman the conqueror of Tibet eventually took to mystical religious beliefs, maybe the spirits of those he killed slaughtered came back to possess him? In fact as the Tibetans, when they realised the force they faced was too great, turned their backs and walked away being sent to their Nirvanas by a hail of British bullets. The rich heritage of the Americas, going back like the Australian aboriginals tens of thousands of years, which was so totally unheeded during their genocide which took place with the equally stupid slaughter of the buffaloes in the 19th century, is now being increasingly unearthed and revealed. The USA had better sort it act out, I suggest making reparations to past ‘foes’, something they rarely consider and the list is long; Cuba, Vietnam, Korea, the indigenous peoples, the list goes on. Look at what happened to the Mayans. When the pendulum swings the worm turns. Africa, China and India are all on the rise now, all of them still troubled by things the imperialists left behind, mostly divisive partitions and setting of false boundaries causing generations of internal disputes. I am making myself scarce, even tho my ancestors, including my dad, played their roles in the Empire’s Conquests as previously subjugated subjects, I am disappearing myself, into SHUNYA. I declare myself a Buddhist tinka searching for the Void, Nothing or as Apulhed might say Nuttingness.

*I understand some injuns do have their finger on a fortune, is it Las Vegas area? Well, the fact they appear to have re-invested some pay-back money for the whites stealing their land in what? Gambling dens isn’t it? Well that is an indicator of how bad things got for them. And the bigger they are the harder they fall as the saying says. All the Empires bite the dust eventually. Tink about it. Rome, Assyria, Egypt, Mongol, Mughal, Hittite to name but six that have disappeared.

(quote the Shelly poem from the Italian bk with brian eno in)

Asoka was a vicious tyrant who as it happened saw the Light. He took up the ways of the Buddhists and found his own piece of peace spreading the words and ideas of Buddha as far as Egypt and Israel where some writers feel that first the Theraputae then the early Christians adopted the ideas. Even Buddhist peaceful civilisations like those at Gandhara and Dunhuang on the silk road http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunhuang

‘My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:

Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!’

Nothing beside remains, round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundlsee and bare

The loan and level sands stretch far away.

P B Shelley 1817

“Ozymandias” may have been a corruption of Rameses II, ruled Egypt for 67 years in the 13th century BC who defeated the Hittites, the Nubians and the Canaanites and had massive statues made to commemorate his majesty. These enormous sculptures had been lost beneath the sands before the 19th century invasion of Egypt by the French under another self-appointed ruler, Napoleon Bonaparte, who devastated lands and eventually brought ignominy upon his loyal forces and effectively made the French incapable of self-defence* as a consequence of the vast loss of population that occurred in his battles and campaigns to rule the world.

*witness the French capitulation to the Prussian invasion in 1870 then its need for outside intervention to prevent it happening again in 1914 then the massive prolonged push by the Allied forces to oust Hitler who had steamrollered over France in 1939. Yet for some strange reason the main thrust of French consciousness is apparently anti-English?

The book that may have informed Shelley of “Ozymandias” was thought to be “The Ruins” (1791) a French treatise on why civilisations fell by the Comte de Volney. I know the enigmatic Sphinx was built for different reasons to Rameses monuments and was possibly thousands of years older but it too was almost totally submerged beneath sand. In the 1970’s I was fortunate to be asked to contribute a comic to Brainstorm 2 by its publisher Lee Harris. The Brainstorm Trilogy was Bryan Talbot’s arrival on the world graphic novel scene. I met Rick Griffin the genius of American Underground comic art at the launch as Lee had invited him over to it. Of my four pager Rick said only two words as he shook my hand, “Good Strip”. So, I could stop now, it would never get better than that. Indeed it was about to get much much worse, and the outcome was my withdrawal from the ‘comic’ fraternity but not before I got wounded by the barbs and editorial knife of one Marc Proops of the piss yellow suit. Despite Lee & Bryan liking my next offering enough to insist against his desire to take it out of the next comic he lost it on the way to the printers. Oddly it did turn up several months later and I am including it here because the world needs to see it. No really, it is about the Sphinx and that mystery of the Watchers. I am not complaining that it was edited out but I am a little angry that I gave up so easily. In fact I did not stop creating ‘comics’. I moved on. I was working on a graphic novel with my Apulhed character in it on a holiday to the south coast. I called it Apulhed & the Grockles. It wasn’t so bad but I decided after talking with retail outlets like Martins that I could not afford the outlay and the risk attached. It would not have sold anyway. There is a reality out there. You have to be famous to get published etc etc etc. I did try to get Apulhed ‘famous’ but that’s another story. The thing that grew out of The Grockle comic development was a new style Apulhed, one I could draw quickly and who could be animated more easily. He became more zen. He started to have a more zen acceptance of the human story with all of its ups and downs. But that is another blog.

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