Category Archives: ancient writing

Team of trophies.

 

Real Madrid have eleven European Cups in their trophy cabinet now. (Liverpool have 5, Notts Forest won it twice & Man U av 2.)

That makes Real Madrid (Ray-Al some say) historically the greatest club in Europe, by far. Even back in 1961 when I was ten years old and playing for Tod Road Junior team in the Hartley Cup Final Ray-Al had already won the Cup 5 times, in fact every year since its inception in 1955 and we all fought to be Di Stefano, Puskas or Ghento in kickabouts in Burnley’s backstreets. I go to two finals as a 10 year old and we were joint winners of both. That’s the closest I ever came to winning a cup. Where does that place me in the ‘greats’ of football? About the same place as I am in amongst the greats in everything else- Nowhere Man.

But Don’t Give Up I hear Peter Gabriel, Kate Bush & the Dalai Lama sing. I may never have won a cup but I scored many wonderful goals and had some great achievements. Oh be Thankful!

sennacheribs prism BM image

The Sennacherib Prism 691 BC rests in the British museum for all of us to fascinate over. Their comment is:

‘Hexagonal clay prism, foundation record lists campaigns of (Assyrian king) Sennacherib until the start of his final war against Babylon, and includes a description of the tribute received from Hezekiah, King of Judah in 701 BC’. See this fascinating (despite having subtle leanings toward a biblical bias) article about the prism et al:

http://www.bible-history.com/empires/prism.html

 

I discovered it (The Sennacherib Prism) was there (at the BM) in the final week of my MA in ‘Art & the Book’. I had just about completed a major project in which I had used six men of ideas as the focus for my idea of placing ‘knowledge’ in clay pots. The project pivots around the concept of ‘six’, which in fact was a pragmatic reduction on Gurdjeff’s use of nine, nine would have increased my workload by another 50% and I had enough with six. Luckily six sided shapes tessellate as any bee will tell ya and bees also feature in the ideas of two of my ‘heroes’, Gurdjeff & Beuys.

 

For me the ancient hexagonal prism was and is tantamount to a book and at the time vowed to make a book(s) influenced by it. I love it. I cannot read cuneiform so must rely on the experts to tell me what it records. It seems to me that the view of history which we received in schools was so jaundiced against Assyria & Babylon, for reasons I shall not try to mention nor explain here, suffice to say that the region in which it was made has been at war with itself and others for millennia.  Assyria & Babylon and Persia for that matter had truly great civilisations for their time and those people arose out of a cauldron of activity in which their cultural and technological skills grew exponentially. I just love this prism. For me it represents (not in its words which are about wars and conquests but in its skills of the art of writing and making) a great human achievement. Compare it to an ipad. If in 2,000 years time a being stumbles upon an ipad & this prism I think it will be the prism which would communicate more once that being deciphers the content into its own language. The ipad will communicate little because the waves (of the internet?) which inform it will no longer be around, so it’ll be just a piece of plastic with a few words like ‘ipad’ marked on it.

My first real opportunity to make a book(s) influenced by the prism came recently when I saw an ad in Sarah Bodman’s BAN p49  http://www.bookarts.uwe.ac.uk/pdf/newspdfs/103.pdf

‘Call for artists’ books: The Great Silk Road International Artist’s Book project Organiser: International Association “Artist’s Book” Curators: Vasily Vlasov, Mikhail Pogarsky Project theme: Artists’ Books unite the world! The art of communication The international art project “The Great Silk Road” is aimed at the development of communication and cooperation between countries and peoples. Two thousand years ago, the Silk Road united the Far East and Europe and has been the main channel for the exchange of goods, technologies and knowledge. Today we offer to renew the exchange on a new level of art’s message, ideas and images through the artist’s book. The Great Silk Road is primarily a metaphor. We do not limit artists in the methods of the interpretation of this theme. We are open to any bright images and ideas aimed at communication between East and West, North and South, art and society; on building productive dialogue between countries and peoples. If politicians cannot find a common language for each other, they will have the help of the international language of art.’

BANG off I go again. I don’t have time to create any artisbuk right now, but anyroadup am gonna! And I did and I sent it to Moscow and I shall shew it to yez when I get a message from Russia saying they gorrit and they’ll have it in the show. Why did I bother to do it when am so busy working on other books like my long awaited (by at least half a dozen long term suffering friends + one or two masochists) New Shrewd Idiot? Well.

I may win a trophy like Ray-yall Madrid did? [Idjet! there’s no trophies to be won. The real trophy is being able to participate, innit?]

 

The Silk Road is what I DO! It features loud in much of my work since my MA studies in 2013. The Silk Road was much frequented and writ about by my old mate Gurdjeff (Gurdjieff or Gurdzhiev if you like) who talked of the Remarkable wise men he found tucked away in places like Bokhara and Samarkand on the old Silk Road. So I just cracked on and did it.

silk rd buk 2 sm

The result is my first hexagonal prism book. Using binds and words and artefacts together to indicate my fascinations which my bookbinding mentor Mike Sullivan kindly said, ‘…they look very exciting…’.

Everyone who sees them seems to like them. I have made 3 slightly differing versions each of which can be shown in different placements, all of which are reminiscent of ancient stupas built by various peoples moving out of India onto the Old Silk Road trail to China taking one of the most valuable of human commodities with them, ideas. And creative, beneficial, positive notions are, for me, the best.

What else happened this week?

Well I turned up at Firstsite for another impromptu lesson in break-dance from ‘Isaac’. He runs classes there as part of the YAK youth project. He’s so tolerant and patient and I have now nearly ‘got’ the first six steps in the basic break-dance form.

Blu Bella sm

I have installed the Quark2016 package and am working thru some teething issues with one of their engineers. Well I think I am, I hope she didn’t get back over the weekend cos they don’t work over (British) bank hols in India, not cos she’s given up on me as a dead loss. Hopefully once solved I shall rapidly (I hope) put my 1970’s illustrations into the New Shrewd Idiot. I got to get it finished and finally out. I have a new idea for the wrap-over cover. I have a self portrait what I done just before I left my home town for college days.

a self P 1969 v sm

I may use that with three flower picture above it representing three young women who play important parts in the book; a bluebell, a rose and a camellia. It’s wonderful where an unshackled mind takes you innit?

and in tribute to those who drowned at The Battle of Jutland, both sides.

a first poppy 2016 sm

 

Advertisements

1450 BC is a pivotal moment

Please bear with me here in this blog cos I’ve not taken to or ’got’ religion, no, but I have gotten humanity or spirituality.

Spirit is in all of us. It’s what makes us live. We are the body which the spirit inhabits. Spirit is bigger than us, it is all of us, it transcends all boundaries physical and conceptual. Spirit is above all these conflicts, it yearns for peace amongst the races of planet Earth. Like the Dalai Lama says we all wish to be happy and contented.

Some are willing to fight wars, to kill and maim in the name of their peace. Hence the crusades and the jihads. I am not of that leaning or school of thought, I would prefer to cherish all living beings. [Although as a meat eater I must bear some responsibility for the demise of some of the world’s stock of beef, sheep, fish and all but I spoke with a man who was raised on a farm and they ‘get’ that you give the livestock a good living time then it becomes food on the plate. We need protein but I draw the line. Some animals were reared from time immemorial to serve humankind; cows, pigs, horses, camels salmon and so on. The indigenous folks of the Americas had the right idea when they would co-exist with the buffalo and when they killed one would use every part in some way, the buffalo was their brother.

In my last blog I mentioned 3 countries whose recent history has been strife-ridden; Afghanistan, Iraq & Syria. In fact their strife goes back as much as 5,000 years despite their being the cradle of civilisation. That area has almost always been at war, as have many other areas of this globe. That’s mostly because the human race [my name for the human race is non-gender, ubeings I spose that can be shortened some more to Ubees? Or even Usbees cos we are all in it together, Usbeez I may say Usbeez] are family-protective and territorially jealous whilst also being covetous and greedy. To put it another way, Usbeez are tribal.

My interest in the ancient history of this planet began when I was young and forced to listen to stories in church from the old & new testaments. Ironically Christians broke away from Judaism to set up a different view of life & death yet the powers that ruled GB chose to re-adapt the Old Testament. The powers that ruled GB were from the so called ‘upper class’; the rich, the landed, they decided somewhere along the line that Greece and Rome were the pinnacle of the ancient world and that Greek & Latin were the languages with most importance. That must have seemed obvious as many words in the ‘English’ language hail from Roman Latin and the idea of democracy is supposed to have hailed from Greece altho their democracy was nowhere near all inclusive.

However, the world of what has come to be known as the Semitic-speaking peoples which includes what was Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Phoenicia etc, now known as Iraq & Syria etc, was vitally important in the development of the later Greeks & Romans. Without the Semitic-speaking peoples there would have been no writing. The Phoenicians were Semitic and the Greeks adopted their alphabet. The Phoenicians built Carthage and (I believe) eventually settled in Etruria. http://www.britannica.com/place/Etruria-ancient-country-Italy

The Phoenicians were the big power that moved around the Mediterranean and they traded with the people of Crete and Thera (modern day Santorini, look at the map in this link and you’ll see it is like a polo mint shape, that’s because it was blown asunder in 1450BC (https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=santorini).

thers

The people of Crete and Thera were the Minoan civilisation, maybe they were what Socrates and Plato referred to as Atlantis. At the time of the massive natural disaster in 1450 BC which destroyed the Minoan culture the people of Crete and Thera had the most advanced society in the region, possibly on the planet. It pre-dated the rise of the Mycenaean Greeks who indeed took advantage of the wreckage left by volcanic eruptions and tsunamis to over-run and overcome a group of people who had held them at bay for a long time. I believe that 1450 BC is a pivotal moment of earth’s history and it is hard for us to comprehend how big the changes brought about by that disastrous time were. Everything in the ancient world changed.

http://www.explorecrete.com/archaeology/minoan-civilization-destruction.html

There are some thinkers who believe that there were also some cataclysmic occurrences in the sky, possibly outside the Earth’s atmosphere, something like a comet coming very close to colliding with the planet. There is evidence in all the records of peoples who at that time were capable of keeping records of huge displays of bright lights and explosions in the skies. I believe that a lot of myths about dragons and the gods fighting come from these events. But, whereas that’s some incredible stories from Scandinavia to China, it’s not the focus of this blart.

The focus is on installing the peoples of Assyria and Babylon into their place above the tiny enclave around ancient Judea which has taken on such a big over-important position because the west adopted a form of Christianity which was already a watered down version of the Christ story by the time of the Nicene Creed in 325 A.D. (http://www.theopedia.com/nicene-creed )

I say watered down because the literature adopted at the Nicene Creed deliberately cut out, exiled, many writings which the creed’s creators didn’t see fit for their purpose.

he went right back
some words taken from David Jury’s letterpress version of my scroll poem about Johannes Scheffler, medieval author of the poem ‘Cherubinic Wanderer’ which is about making contact with the source of all things, inside yourself.

It is my feeling that a lot of valuable information was therefore lost to the next 1620 years until in the 1940s various excavations and discoveries found out the content of some of the damned documents in places like Nag Hamadi (http://gnosis.org/naghamm/nhl.html ).

 

tumultus disc by Pol sm
Tumultous disc in stained glass by MLK

This has not got to do with ‘religion’ it’s to do with truth, honesty and fairness. These vital traits were absent from the Nicene Creed’s outlook which was aimed to push a certain view of the world which was already alien to the ideas of the revolutionary group that surrounded a man with great ideas and example, known to the west as Jesus Christ. Joshua ben Gennesareth may have been his title in reality. If you want to research this further see this set of links https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=Joshua+ben+Gennesareth

When I mention Christ (which indeed was a title for ‘messiah or anointed one’ see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christos_(given_name)) I do so in the group of  extraordinary thinkers who lived in this order; Buddha, Christ and Mohammed,  I say let’s give these three guys equal billing as none of them would have been into pecking orders and all of whom had a message which was essentially the same- “Walk away from previous bad actions, forgive the perpetrators (including yourself if it were you what dunnit) and build a new future with trust, mutual acceptance and love for all beings.”

The reason I mention this is because all 3 were well aware of the penchant of mankind to take revenge and how that always leads to its corollary (its natural consequence), more violence, more revenge. So these three genii were and still do advocating a revolution against the natural consequence.

I am not ‘religious’ but I believe in the spiritual aspect of existence and I believe these three men were spot on!

I was reading about the (ancient) Hittites, the Babylonians and the Persian (all of whom had incredible advances in their societys, sciences and arts) and the books tell us that each of those countries fought continuously amongst themselves and I don’t think it takes a brilliant mind to say those battles still continue today. The Middle East is riven with strife over the past 5,000 years where men have continued to administer the natural consequences and the wars which began 5,000 years back still continue today. That’s a fact.

Surprisingly there has been a miracle in Ireland where the tribes did kill one another for hundreds of years and that miracle was what is called the Good Friday Agreement (10 April 1998). I hope that they can come to such an agreement in Syria soon enough. Where there’s a will there’s a way.

Give Peace a Chance!

Kentish Town PA

I drove 120 miles

And got lotsa smiles

Yesterday at the Society of Bookbinders Book Art day in Kentish Town.

After Sarah Bodman had mentioned the 5th of March as the anniversary of the car bomb in the Al Mutanabbi street in Baghdad (https://en.qantara.de/content/al-mutanabbi-street-in-baghdad?page=7 ) I asked the following question but didn’t find the chance to give my reply so here it is:

What are these 3 countries famous for? Iraq? The Sennacherib Prism, cuneiform hexagonal prism with a story on six sides in the British Museum.  http://www.britishmuseum.org/research/collection_online/collection_object_details.aspx?objectId=295077&partId=1

Afghanistan? Gandharan scrolls of birch bark in pots. http://www.washington.edu/uwpress/search/books/SALANC.html

also  https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=cJtMBAAAQBAJ&pg=PA109&lpg=PA109&dq=Gandharan+scrolls+of+birch+bark+in+pots&source=bl&ots=lB5rvlZ7ga&sig=IorCCBOdH174U_cpldg3W2gclW4&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwipkp3BzKXLAhULWBoKHYJ0DzYQ6AEILTAD#v=onepage&q=Gandharan%20scrolls%20of%20birch%20bark%20in%20pots&f=false

Syria? First alphabet- Ugarit ( The golden age of Ugarit. The most prosperous and the best-documented age in Ugarit’s history dated from about 1450 to about 1200 bce and included periods of domination by the Egyptians (c. 1400–1350 bce) and the Hittites (c. 1350–1200 bce). That age produced great royal palaces and temples and shrines, with a high priests’ library and other libraries on the acropolis. After the discovery of the temple library, which revealed a hitherto unknown cuneiform alphabetic script as well as an entirely new mythological and religious literature.

The art of Ugarit in its golden age is best illustrated by a golden cup and patera (bowl) ornamented with incised Ugaritic scenes; by carved stone stelae and bronze statuettes and ceremonial axes; by carved ivory panels depicting royal activities; and by other fine-carved ivories. Despite Egyptian influence, Ugaritic art exhibits a Syrian style of its own.

The excavators of the site were fortunate in the number and variety of finds of ancient records in cuneiform script. The excavations continue, and each season throws some new and often unexpected light on the ancient north Canaanite civilization. The texts are written on clay tablets either in the Babylonian cuneiform script or in the special alphabetic cuneiform script invented in Ugarit. Several copies of this alphabet, with its 30 signs, were found in 1949 and later. A shorter alphabet, with 25, or even 22, signs, seems to have been used by 13th-century traders.

Scribes used four languages: Ugaritic, Akkadian, Sumerian, and Hurrian, and seven different scripts were used in Ugarit in this period: Egyptian and Hittite hieroglyphic and Cypro-Minoan, Sumerian, Akkadian, Hurrian, and Ugaritic cuneiform. These show clearly the cosmopolitan character of the city.)fromhttp://www.britannica.com/place/Ugarit

I felt privileged to be first speaker out of the blocks and did a rapid show of the several books that I have made following Joanna Drucker’s introduction to the history of the written word  in her Alphabetic Labyrinth which really inspired me to make books of many different historical types and ultimately to do this PA piece (https://www.google.co.uk/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=alphabetic%20labyrinth)  Since I started the project it has taken on a life of its own and led me to much new knowledge.

The PA took place at 3pm and I did give a short intro to what some of the moves meant.When I referred to the fact that there’d probably have been copies of the Kabir poem, which I use as inspiration for my project, in the shops that got blown up I felt myself starting to cry unintentionally. Doing PA does touch a chord.

a pete + treeking at SoB black
here’s me about to start my PA piece on 5th March 2016 in Kentish Town. Photo taken and provided by Sonia Serrao.

Happily my Performance Art piece went down well [‘Thankyou Pete for an awesome performance’], even converting several folk who had been sceptical about its fitness for purpose. The attention to detail is quite startling. Whilst watching my PA I realised in the mime about making letterpress print I had forgotten to ink up the  ‘chase’ so I went back and did it (in my mime) and sure enough one lady said afterwards that at the time she thought, ‘He’s not inked it up’, which shows the concentration of the audience. Apparently you could hear a pin drop, probably when I mimed holding the needle to sew the book sections together?

Some members made pleasant remarks about my little new binding of David Jury’s prints of my 6 poems in the Vessel. Well, not so little cos it’s about  20” x 18” and some were amazed at how I had managed to keep such a big surface area from bending. Actually so am I and I told them, ‘It’s beginner’s luck, follows me everywhere.’

In fact it is the result of many years of only sporadically making traditionally bound books, partly because I like ‘alternative’ but partly cos I was always frightened of being judged incompetent. The confluence of my increasing self-reliance and a perceived need to bring David’s beautiful rendition of my words made me so determined to overcome my personal weaknesses and get the darn thing done and done well. The book took a few weeks of research, seeking advice from DJ and ace bookbinders Mike Sullivan & Son (Robert), doing trials and buying the right materials. And taking lots of time and consummate care! So when I finally released the book from under heavy boards last week this was my reaction, “I have just taken the new ‘Vessels’ book out from under the weights and in my eyes it is dang near ‘perfec’. [However, remember the compere in ‘Cabaret’ who sang ‘If you could see her thru my eyes’, whilst looking at a gorilla!]I am over the beautiful waning moon I can see out my window this morgan. Wow. It’s taken several days of tears & sweat but I am glad to say it is good (enough for me, and that’s ‘good’.” Here’s an image of it.

a vessels bound sm
This is the ‘Vessels’ series of letterpress print made by David Jury from my words in 2014 which I have now made into a codex book.

And for those interested here’s my work towards the day:

Visions of Joanna The Ideas behind and Script for S o B.

In a recent interview Yan Martell said he thought that art can bring about changed perceptions by altering your perspective, “to posit a different reality” [to that/those with which you’re familiar]. All my life in art this is what I have tried to achieve. I always looked for a difference. Now in my Performance Art I have discovered a way to animate my vision.

We all know about books. Many of us make beautiful books. But do we all remember the way the word was first turned from an aural thing into a physical thing? At first it was inscribed in clay then a variety of different grounds were tried. We are embarked on the digital age and who can dream of where that will take the book? I look at different book forms and try to create them and their makers using my body and some props and specially composed music. The bark mask is typical of my creative process. I conceived the idea and began to make it using materials I had saved from my work in my garden. As I moved through its making I allowed the mask to dictate to me some of its form hence some rather unusual asymmetrical results with the elements of surprise and a degree of shock.

Part 1

I am standing still, wearing black vest & suit (no shoes), hold up the bark mask, looking at the audience. “I am the book”

“We are all aware that paper is made from trees. But in Gandhara they made scrolls from birch bark and buried them in pots. These are the oldest surviving Buddhist texts ever discovered. (pick from the pot show my scrolls and place as start of the ‘sculpture’ which will be feature of the Part 2.)

As my tribute to those early pots I made my own pot with words around the neck and scrolls hold my words and images. I need to mention Jackie Leven here. He sang a wonderful version of a poem by Kabir which I shall recite as I cannot sing”.

I use music specially written and played by Luke Walker for my Clay Jug.

“Inside This Clay Jug there are canyons…”

Now

“I am doing my piece in 2 parts of 15 minutes each.

This first part I shall introduce a series of books to you and tell the background which is really the history of the book through my own book-making. Then in part two there’ll be no explanations just enactment.

I have produced a book, G BATCH, which explains the project and contains the first version of six poems that I wrote feature which throughout the series.

Whilst doing my Masters I was amazed by Joanna Drucker’s Alphabet Labyrinth book which goes into the way the first words were put onto a surface, the first writing. This was on clay tablets, which I made but not using cuneiform, just English. (Show my yellow one & place in sculpture)

I also made a clay poti, (show and add to sculpture) which is a book form used in the East. Tibetan monks like the Dalai Lama still read from daphne paper potis.

I shall be referring to my Leaf Books here. Which are in codex form. (show and add to sculpture) Later the letterpress was invented and books became more available. I did a collaboration with David Jury with my Earthen Vessel books.

 Part 2

The instructions

Wear black vest & black ‘dance’ pants. Also I shall be using a shawl to add the ‘outfits’. For each part first pick up relevant ‘book’.

(with this movement in between each book:

Foot forward, back, move left, hands up

Move right hand out to right and back

Move left hand out to left and back

Foot forward, back, move right, hands up

Pull hand over hand to left to signify pulling back time)

The PA piece:I was going to recite this but I forgot:

‘Have a care

Beware, it’s best to be wise

If you go down to the woods today

You’ll never believe your eyes

Be careful what you do to the trees

The guardian is in his guise.’

 

Everyone knows paper comes from trees but did you know that in ancient Gandhara  they created scrolls from birch bark? These were found hidden in pots and are the oldest records of the life if Buddha.

The Tree-King is slightly scarey and gives warning that we should care for and treasure the tree.

Performance Art has an unsettling aspect here shown by the Tree-king who sets the tone of the scene. Using an invisible cord I connect with past times and I trawl through different book forms from the past 3 thousand years; clay tablets, scrolls, pothis, manuscripts, letterpress and eventually codex. I attempt to create various historical book forms and their makers using my body, mime & movement with music created by Luke Edward Walker and mark Newby Robson. I shall exhibit and refer to several of my own books influenced by; clay tablets from Ur, pothis from Tibet, scrolls from Gandhara, illuminated manuscripts, letterpress pages and codex. Watch me become the book-makers and the books. Meet the scribes, calligraphers, printers and book-makers from bygone ages.  

 

bark-mask the bark-mask covers most of my face, stand tree like to start. unmask

begin Luke Walker music

‘bow’ to Pot from which I take

Move thru the books-

clay tablet- use one of the clay tablets from poti or the yellow one shawl becomes ‘kilt’, sit upright like the scribes from ancient Ur. Become a clay tablet

 scroll- Take a Scroll from the pot and unravel it, ravel it, unravel it– shawl becomes Tibet style robe, sit cross-legged. become a scroll

 codex- show one of the Leaf Books shawl becomes ‘hood/cowl’. Sitting at a desk become the medieval monks who created illuminated manuscripts. Be a codex book. Here I lay down and ‘turn’ like a book then stand and do it standing, foot out front, to side, out front, down.

Show Earthen Vessel books

 Letterpress-

I become the printer using a letterpress method?

The David Jury collaboration prints first.

Show my new bound book of DJ’s prints.

End pose

Return to the pot, go down into child pose.

I think Sonia Serrao who organised the day did a great job and there was a really happy bustle throughout the proceedings. I met and made friends with a whole new bunch of people. My mate Dave Doughty came up with me and his being navigator got us both safely thru the streets of London. Had I been on my own I wouldn’t have reached the show.

I hope to be able to add more images to the one Sonia sent me when anyone who got a good shot sends them to me.

Now that’s over I can shoot back to London, this time on public transport, to see the Auerbach at Tate. And return some books to the Poetry library.

I’d love to go to Zurich to see my friends Vest & Page, but I can’t. If you can you’ll have to go next week:

VestAndPage & Kollektiv Phantomschmerz kindly invite:

vest & page in their latex suits
Enter a caption

Verena & Andrea dressed up in latex. As Vest & Page they are astounding Performance Artists
in
YGGDRASIL
Fabriktheater Rote Fabrik, Zurich
9 – 10 – 17 – 18 March, 2016, 20:00h

YGGDRASIL, the second production of Kollektiv Phantomschmerz – in collaboration with the Italian-German artist duo VestAndPage and musician Marc Rossier – is the continuation of the search for identity started in their first production Highlight. Following the question “What do you know?”, now they inquire into “What do you believe?”. In a time of spiritual alienation, a journey between conscious and unconscious states ensues through a hybrid of performance art and theatre.
Shows at the Fabriktheater Zurich (Doors open at 19:30)
• March 09, 2016, 20:00 – Premiere
• March 10, 2016, 20:00
• March 17, 2016, 20:00 – Post-Show Q&A
• March 18, 2016, 20:00

Tickets: fabriktheater@rotefabrik.ch and 044 485 58 28

My bookart friend sent me this link to her beautiful contribution to the al mutanabbi street project. This is a beautiful piece.

http://www.chrisruston.com/al-mutanabbi-street-project.html

About LaoTze

I like this story about LaoTze

“Patanjali and Lao Tzu came to a stream. Patanjali began to cross the stream by walking on the surface of the water. Lao Tzu stood on the bank and called him to come back.

“What’s the matter?” Patanjali inquired.

“There is no need to cross the stream, because this shore is the [as] other shore.” said Lao Tzu,

That’s the whole emphasis of Lao Tzu: There is no need to go anywhere; the other shore is here. There is no need to do anything. The only need is just to be. Effort is irrelevant because you are already that which you can ever be. Go nowhere. Follow no path. Seek nothing. Because wherever you will go, the very going is missing the point because everything is available here already.”

I’m not trying to challenge the world, it’s always been the same. Conflict happens. Underpinning that and vastly more important is Harmony. Harmoniousness has always been there. Witness the Indian master Tshengregacha’s visit to Zarathustra. They were the roots of the so-called ‘Great Religions’ but what underpins both is Belief in Spirit as One Everlasting Harmonious Being, of which we are part.

There’s a story about a king who thought he was being deceived by his wise man:

“So the king sent a caravan to a great Indian mystic, Tshengregacha, to whom came disciples from all over the world, and with the caravan went the same messengers and the same treasure that he had once sent to Zarathustra.

After many months, the messengers returned from India with the philosopher, but the philosopher said to him, “I am honoured to be your teacher but in frankness must tell you that I come chiefly to your country that I may meet the great Zarathustra.”

Then the king took the golden box containing the grain of wheat and answered, “I asked Zarathustra to teach me. See, this is what he sent me. Here is the teacher who shall teach me the Laws of the universe and the forces of nature. Is this not ridiculous?”

The philosopher looked long at the grain of wheat, and silence fell upon the palace while he meditated. At length he said, “I do not regret my many months of journeying, for now I know that Zarathustra is in truth the great teacher that I have long believed him to be. This tiny grain of wheat can indeed teach us the laws of the universe and the forces of nature, for it contains them in itself right now. You must not keep the grain of wheat in its golden box. You are missing the whole point.

“If you plant this little grain in the earth, where it belongs, in contact with the soil, the rain, the air, the sunshine, and the light of the moon and the stars, then like a universe in itself it will begin to grow bigger and bigger. Likewise you, if you would grow in knowledge and understanding, must leave your artificial life and go where you will be close to all the forces of nature and of the universe, to the sum total of things. Just as inexhaustible sources of energy are ever flowing towards the grain planted in the earth, so will innumerable sources of knowledge open and flow towards you until you become one with nature and the organic universe. If you watch the growth of this seed of grain, you will find that there is an indestructible and mysterious power in it — the power of life. The grain disappears, and in that disappearance there is victory over death.”

“All that you say is true” answered the king, “yet in the end the plant will wither and die and will be dissolved into the earth.”

“But not until it has done an act of creation and has turned itself into hundreds of grains, each like the first. The tiny grain disappeared as it grew into a plant, and you too as you grow must turn yourself into something and someone else. Life always creates more life, truth more abundant truth, the seed more abundant seeds. The only art one needs to know is the art how to die. Then one is reborn. I propose that we journey to Zarathustra himself that he may teach us more of these things.”

Extracts, with thanks from:

http://www.energyenhancement.co.uk/yoga/Osho-Yoga-The-Alpha-and-the-Omega-Vol-7-Discourses-on-the-Yoga-Sutras-of-Patanjali-Chapter-4-Be-A-Seed-Question-1.html

The one about Zarathustra comes from Edmond Bordeaux Szekely’s Book of Asha. http://www.amazon.com/The-Essene-Book-Asha-Journey/dp/0895640082

I found the yogasutra site last night and I thought I were in heaven. I saw a lacewing yesterday it flew past me onto a leaf. They are angels to me bringing messages from my father who died 1993 after he’d introduced me to one about 200 foot up an industrial chimbley.

Ailing & Aliens

Some of my friends are ailing. I near said aliens. Would that be correct? Maybe, if you think we are just passing thru. I sometimes get real bad cramp, say, in my calf at 4am, I just did. I guess am lucky (to be alive, it reminds me I’m alive!).Some of my friends don’t get cramps, they have strokes and heart problems. Yes am lucky. Reading Osho and all of that, they say don’t yearn to do the world, don’t run to get to the other side where the grass isn’t really greener. Just be there, just be. I intend to be myself Now.

I am collating buk(s) from previous books I prepared. No hassle. Keeps me off the streets. Here’s some writings I prepared (+published in my buk The Dull Jodrell, which I may do in a new revised second edition soon…ish) earlier:

dj hopi cava sm

THE DULL JODRELL DUCKS THE ISSUE

dw foto sm

It’s nice lovely coming to chez Duncan Dragonhat because everything comes together.  Despite the blocks of flats, cars and planes it’s a beautiful place, overlooking Kew.  Although you can’t see the gardens you see the trees, hear the crows and witness swan-like ducks fly three abreast over the roofs.  But it’s more than that.  Last night he gave me religion.  Not Duncan.  VAN.  Van the man. Saw him at the Dominion Theatre and it was like a religious experience.  I used to be a Van fanatic.  Now I am just into the music, so to speak.  But last night was such a beautiful experience as Van took us through his repertoire and the audience went ecstatic.

Afterwards we came back for the hot chilli Janet made and I went to sleep from 2.30 till now at 6.30.  It’s light and warm enough to sit undressed and it looks like being a good day.

And Duncan’s little library here, I don’t know where to start, books on everything and all, and he’s read them all (nearly), records galore.  One called Achalay is all original Latin American music – pan pipes, flutes and all, and his books, more ducks fly by, his books are a sight for sore eyes; just the ones I put by to look at – Russell Hoban’s ‘Riddley Walker’, Bukowski poems, Casteneda’s ‘Tales of Power’, the ‘Lunar Effect’ by Arnold Leiber, ‘The White Hotel’ D M Thomas.  There are books about Castenedas, Gurdjieff, Enstein, Krishnamurti, Buddhism.  He’s got Kerouac, Genet, Hesse, Beckett, Alan Watts, Brautigan.  To list them would be futile, so I have.  But suffice it to say I’ve already said it.  A jet plane majestically interrupts my writing.  I don’t mind but it is the sixth one in as many minutes, but in London you forget it, they’re like the bird song.  There, like the bird’s song, the slight blue sky and the mild wind moving the tree tops, and I’d like to tell you all about Duncan but I can’t, because I have, suffice it to say.

The seeds you planted grow and help you when you need it.  ‘Organisms are either in a state of positive or negative receptivity relative to their natural environment’ (Arnold L Lieber).  This quote takes me back to when I wrote about positive and negative aggression, or should I say creative and destructive use of the ‘aggressive aspect’ in all of us.  The ‘natural environment’, Dunc’s got his here, I’ve got mine in the country, so to speak.

He the town mouse,

Me the country mouse.

To begin with we knew not where we were going.  We were kids from the street, like all the rest.  We still are.  But we found the clues.  We followed our Hunches, we saw the light come shining through and it’s shining right on YOU.

Once you begin to tune in more easily, through experience of Effort, through having been there before, you begin to recognise the signs, you look for the signs, the signs of synchronicity begin to aid you.  Everything begins to fit into place.  The most unlikely things occur and become right.  That’s why developing and keeping an open mind is good.  By opening your mind (like a walnut shell pulled apart), you begin to see connections, you begin to cut through the mist that clouds the consciousness.  So; the clouded consciousness clears as your mind opens up to all aspects all around.  My mind opens up as I write this story about the Dull Jodrell.

Duncan is not a Dull Jodrell, nor is he a Shrewd Idiot, but he is a fellow Traveller, he’s with us on the Journey to the East.  He and me are about the same age, we went to the same school, we both went into college and came out.  Twenty years (53 now) we’ve known each other, helped each other, watched each other from afar.  When we get together, by letter, tape, telephone or in person, we talk at length about our various discoveries.  He understands my effort, and he sees the Path I trod.  Now and then he makes observations on my werk, suggests directions, sends books which he thinks will help.

As every creator knows, he can often find somebody to criticise or sympathise, but to find someone who he respects, who can empathize, is elusive.  I found that type of friend in Dunc.  I’ll always remember when I gave him the first part of ‘The Shrewd Idiot’ to ready. We were in the Tate at the time, a William Blake exhibition.  Duncan disappeared.  I found him when I can to leave, in tears of laughter as he read through my manuscript, rolling around the seat in the foyer.  I asked him why the mirth and he said, ‘Because it’s good, so good, it’s so good to us because we know how far you had to come’.  Here are some of his other comments:

a Duncan and the cosmic egg (1)

  ‘I have thought that I spend too much time thinking about how to view reality, which is futile.  As the Zen Buddhists say, “All that is, is”.  This is true, but you must be in a receptive state.  If, by your very nature, you are inquisitive and unsatisfied by the world view our society has trained us in then this ‘Cosmic Egg’ has to be broken and our own personal one needs to be built, otherwise we are in the garden but cannot touch its beauty.  I used to use the concept of a furrowed field, representing tunnel realities.  I strived to build up enough energy to leap onto the next furrow, gain its experience/view point, then leap onto the next, eventually arriving at a point where I’d attained cosmic consciousness and was running on top of all the furrows.

We are like displaced people, trying to get back to our world, we see it fleetingly during our illuminations, which give us energy and faith, but then we are sucked back into accepting this world.’

 dhatdkblu

Namaste Dragonhat, Avatar & Ally,

Love from D. J. O’Dourke.

getting ready for BABE.

So, getting ready for BABE.

You have a new ‘book’ Inside This Great Jug out in time for BABE, why?

pete's earthen vessel

Well, I wanted to complete the cycle of artist’s books which emanated from my love of that poem by Kabir Inside This Clay Jug. It’s the third version of the poem(s) and the last changes which I shall ‘publish’ as an artist’s book in an edition of 25. Although the Beuys’ poem I shall be doing at BABE has already been changed several times since I completed Inside This Great Jug. I have a version which I intend to use at BABE now and that is it! No more alterations or ‘improvements’! And I am shewing that to nobody before BABE, except in spoken form, in practice.

 

So it follows on from and develops the poems in your second book in the series, Inside This Earthen Vessel. What then is Inside This Earthen Vessel (ITEV) about Pete?

 itev cover

It’s about spiritual harmony, peace on Earth, goodwill, humankind(ness). It’s about some (6) humans  who sought to find harmony & answers then share their ideas (whose names make up the title of an earlier book in the series G BATCH)

g bat cova

G Gurdjeff

Beuys

Angeli Silesi

Tenzin Gyatso

Carl Gustav Jung

Hermann Hesse

(As it happens only one of them, Tenzin Gyatso the Dalai Lama, is still living in his human body, the others still live on in the ideas they left for us).

ITEV is a search for peace and harmonious existence. It shows six men who pursued practices which encapsulated a vision of what life can mean and how to prepare for leaving the mix of sorrows and joys of this mortal coil…foil…toil…. Coiling, swirling, twisting, trickstering, mysterying, and most of all it’s about dancing to the sound of the Cosmos, to the sound of one hand.

I have made the words in the new version, Inside This Great Jug, are a bit easier for the casual onlooker to understand which will be important if I am going to read any of them in the Arnolfini to people who may never have met me nor seen my work before. The images are also a bit brighter in Inside This Great Jug as I’ve made the portraits more colourful. Whereas ITEV is a more complex package with the layouts of its poems being in the shape of a pot and the pages remain unbound but kept in a little folder. Inside This Great Jug is a concertina folded book with a cover. And it’s a dinky tiny thing which people seem to like and they are calling it ‘pocket size’.

I notice there’s one poem which is very different from the other six?

Yes well that’s from the collaboration I did with David Jury who took the words from ITEV and reset them in his letterpress version. We edited the poems and even added a subtext. That odd one out is from that version of ITEV. It’s handy really because I chose to have it in this new book cos am doing a reading of it in the ‘talk’ at 4pm on Sunday 12th April. Most of that ‘talk’ will feature the life and work of Joseph Beuys because he is the most artist-like of the six men in the poems and of course it’s being done in an art gallery. I won’t be ‘talking’ all the time I hope to be able to answer any questions that folk bring up although it’s only scheduled for 20 minutes. Then I guess they’ll be rushing back to pack their tables if they are fellow stall-holders. Visitors should have an hour to make final purchases and walk, float or fly out of the gallery, depending how they feel after watching my gig! They may even dance all the way home.

My old mate Duncan recently sent his summary of my Clay Jug Project. I chose to emphasise the words which are emboldened:

Pete,

I’ve been thinking about where you have arrived at with your Clay Jug project ……

You are now presenting and embracing a set of representations of communications of knowledge from six chosen mystics.

In the beginning was the word and yours is represented by the Jackie Leven chant of Kabir’s Inside This Clay Jug , a memory of the oral tradition of conveying knowledge.

Your presentation contains the vocal tradition through poems, complemented by spiritual dance and music in order to enhance the meditative experience; this is a time before the word was conveyed by writing.

Your clay jug containing scrolls represents the first forms of conveying words.

Your self-made books are a next step in the man’s way of representing knowledge, illustrated by drawing and symbols.

Then, you move to type-set books and try and preserve the original energy of the dancing communications, through layout and emphasis.

Even though you can view this as a historic progression of representing the written word, you are trying to maintain and enhance the meaning and rhythm of the original thoughts and vocal communication of the mystics in all its forms together.

You can view your project as a complete set, with no linear sequence, of the different forms of conveying the knowledge of the mystics, they are presented all together and intertwined, so giving more emphasis to the wisdom of the words and the form does not detract too much from the words.

Your presentation and artefacts created, deliver a dancing pageant of art representing the communication of the knowledge of the mystics through the changing forms of communication.

Duncan Walker (14.2.15)

Duncan has been a friend of mine since we met while playing football for the school team in 1961. He has kept a close eye on the way my art and ideas has developed since we were at school. Another old friend who I met in 1969, Ian Woolard, tried to put a comment on this blog last week. He filled in the form on the blog and pressed send, but it never came through. I wonder if that happens often? I mean, there was about a 20% return in ‘views’ from the folk I notified last week, which is great, but never do I get any comments, which should be coming in if only by law of averages. IF you have commented on my blogs and never got an acknowledgement from me then that would be cos it never showed up in my domain. So, you should make comments in emails maybe, then if you wish me to add them to the blog just say so and if I can bear the view expressed I shall add it in. Ta.

Peter the Prancing Prattler

PETER THE PRANCING PRATTLER says, ‘I make it 7 weeks to go to the BABE weekend!’ (you just can’t shut him up). Expect to see him on a table, well he’ll not actually be on the table, alongside his collaborator, David Jury. Now David is not a Prattler no, not at all, not likely, but he’s a darned good printer of letterpress and he’ll have some of his sheets which we collaborated on last summer, for weeks on end.

Let me tell you about the ‘poem’ that David letterpress printed , (which is shown in the featured image at the top of this blArt in situ at the Slack Space exhibition in Colchester until 28th February), because it has a history and even a follow on after we completed the DJ version.

So it began with Destination Dust, a series of ‘poems’ about 6 men of ideas and actions who had impressed me on my journey thru life and art and literary stuff and exhibitions and dances and cosmologies and more. I’m not going to list them here, that’s done elsewhere. I am going to take one of them and try to show the different incarnations of my ‘poems’ about him and some drawings and other forms.

So, to begin at the beginning, Hermann Hesse. A German Nobel Prize writer. A thinker. A poet. A pacifist. A lot of my work is directly influenced by his works. Destination Dust is influenced by his books Siddhartha and also Journey To The East. In my ‘book’ G BATCH the first ‘poem’ is about Hesse.

Hermann Hesse

Whilst following the winding road toward the village of Montagnola

Near Mount Saint Salvatore a footloose exiled pilgrim full with wanderlust

HH encountered a mendicant monk named Dhona chanting a mantra

Dhona said that when he had met Sakyamuni way back when

He asked the beloved one

Sir would you be a human?

Sir would you be a Gandharvan?

Sir would you be a Yaksa?

Sir would you be a god?

To each the Bodhisattva’s reply was No Dhona

What then would you be?

I am a Buddha, brahmin, a Buddha. … All composite things decay…Strive diligently.”

 

As he watched Dhona walk his quiet way HH had the idea

To write a story called Siddhartha

So that people in the West might learn about the Enlightened one.

 

I did some readings from that poem and found it difficult to read out loud so I set about a new version which I planned should be simpler to read.

 

Dhona the Brahmin was a mendicant monk

Who asked Siddhartha

“Are you human or one from Gandharva

Are you a god or maybe a Yaksa?”

 

“Brahmin everything that’s created passes,”

“Go peacefully to your destination,

Strive diligently t’ward your transition, Dhona

Which is escape from Samsara’s wheel of Suffering

 

There was dispute after Guatama’s passing away

Dhona intervening did say,

“The message of the Blessed Buddha

Is still peace and forbearance today.”

 

Thereby the Malla chieftans of Kusinara

On whose soil Shakyamuni died

Reluctantly released the relics

To be divided into eight domains

 

Each claimant built a monument

Which every time turned to rust

Confirming Buddha’s message that

Everything passes to ashes and dust

 

Up on the road near Montagnola

A Wandering Writer named Hesse heard the tale from a mendicant monk

Then he recounted the story to you and to me

In a book called Siddhartha

 

Shakyamuni saw how we can escape

Samsara ’s spinning wheel

Shakyamuni said, “Namaste.

The Light in me

Greets the Light in thee.

I Am a Buddha, Brahmin, I Am a Buddha Now.”

 

I am unsure if it was any easier to read but I then decided to publish it in a ‘book’ in which the poems would all be laid out in the shape of a pot. The word in a vessel so to speak so I designed Inside This Earthen Vessel and proceeded to print some copy so I could fold the cover come folder in which to drop the new set of poems. Funnily enough recently I mentioned to Gary at the Baltic that there is an illustration in the book whereas all the pages bar one are ‘illustration’ where the words become the pot. Then DJ saw the book with its pots as poems and liked them enough to adapt them for his own summer project. He was careful enough to show me any changes or edits he made and slowly but surely his version arose. I am happy to say the Saison poetry library at Festival Hall bought a copy and featured it in their Open Day show.

 V1 hesse sm

You’ll notice there is now a subtext. Where I had left dots DJ wished for words and asked that I write a set of poems which would be appropriate but of a different ilk which I did by writing about my life in the northern town of Burnley. So here is the new ‘poem’

And now, the end is near

I prepare to claw

My way through

And this

I call it bliss

Has come to me

The hard way

But one thing I know for sure

One thing I want you to know

That thing

That thing is this

I did it my way

I found that bliss

Not just a kiss

I went all the way

I did not turn

I ceased to yearn

I found it my way

And now

At last I say

I have the key to untold wonder

The only way for you to find it too

Is to do it your way

I Am I say

I Am today

I was then and I Am now

I Am Real

Now and forever more

I found out my way

A bit far removed from the cultural philosophical grounds of the main poems but NOT! In fact Burnley is overlooked by Pendle Hill where the founder of the Quaker group George Fox experienced a vision in June 1652 (slightly before my time there). http://bcw-project.org/biography/george-fox

A couple of weeks ago I decided to attempt a reading of the content of the DJ version of the poem which is in some ways influenced by the typography of Kurt Schwitters and I saw that a reading would bring in some of Schwitters’ sound poetry ideas. In fact it became a very liberating and creative experience with great potential for its future.

 

Dhona the Brahmin And now was a mendicant monk the end is near Who asked Siddhartha-(Gautama-Shakyamuni-Tathāgata)  I prepare to “Are you human, one from Gandharva? Claw My way through Are you a god or maybe a Yaksa?” this And this I call “Brahmin everything that’s created passes, Strive diligently into your transition, it bliss Has come to Go peacefully t’ward your destination, me The hard way Escape from Samsara’s wheel of Suffering.” But one thing During a dispute when Guatama passed away Brahmin Dhona, intervening, did say, I know for sure One “The message of the Blessed Buddha

Is still peace and forbearance today.” Thing Thereafter the Malla chieftans of Kusinara I want you to On whose soil Shakyamuni had died know Reluctantly released the relics To be divided into eight domains. That Thereby, Each claimant built a monument thing Which every time turned to rust. Confirming Siddhartha’s message that Every That thing thing passes is to truly ashes this and I did it my way dust. On the road near Montagnola And now A Wandering Writer named Hesse heard the tale from a mendicant monk I found that Then he recounted the story to you bliss Not just a and to me In a book called ‘SIDDHARTHA.’ Tathāgata showed how to escape The Spinning Wheel of Samsara  Tathāgata said, “NAMASTE.  The Light in me greets the Light in thee. I Am a Buddha, Brahmin, I AM A kiss BUDDHA Now.”

 

And it doesn’t end there. I have written yet another version for BABE alone which will be published in my new book especially for BABE.

 

There is Hermann Hesse

A nomad exiled from his native Germany

(because he mistrusted insolent might)

who was heard to say

‘There is no reality except the one contained within’

 

Perambulating the Apennine mountains

A Wanderer searching the Door to renascence

His mind a Magic Theatre

A ‘Journeyer To The East’

He bumped into ‘mystic travellers’

Like Dhona the Brahmin

 

Dhona told him of the time

(It was around about 400 BC)

When he asked Shakyamuni

Sage of the Shakya clan

‘Do you come from Gandhara?

Are you a god?

How did you stop clinging on?

How do you emanate so much Love?’

‘Because I am no longer a Brahmin Dhona

I am a Buddha now’.

 

Hesse was inspired to write Siddhartha

Which in turn inspired the back packers

Beat poets like Ginsberg and Dean Moriarty

And Burnley beat nit Daniel O’Dourke.

Later on Jack Kerouac came to greet him

On The Road from the Wild West

 

Dance little sister dance we pray

Twirl and Swirl the Dervish way

Skip along that road with a little sway

Rolling on down to Destiny’s Day

Now you see what keeps me busy. I think this last version positively sings and dances. Hence the monicker, Peter the Prancing Prattler.

NAMASTE TO YAH

my article is due out today

I saw that today, 17.2.15, someone had been studying my blog archives and looked at 22 ‘articles’ one of which was this one about what constitutes a ‘book’ I have added some illustrations of books I have made and think it is a good time to reblog this post as it is about what the limits are in ‘bookness’, if there are any. Take a look at Anselm Kiefer’s books if you want to know the limit. There’s lots of folk out there who are befuddled about what the term ‘artist’s books’ refers to who ask me to ‘define’ them which those in the field know is impossible as there are as many variations to what an artist’s book may be as there are artists and others out there to create them so the best way I use to describe them is that they are like paintings, in other words they are whatever the maker can dream up

See blArts below the first is mostly about my creation Apulhed, the second is mostly about my book G Batch.

https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2013/11/07/my-past-pages-from-the-net/

https://apulhed.wordpress.com/2013/11/21/artasblag-blagasart-its-a-big-blart/

apulhed tinking

October 2013

My first article is due out today in Artist’s Book Year Book edited out of UWE by Sarah Bodman.

I wrote it because I was astounded to find at the end of the 3rd semester of a Master’s Degree course that one of the assessors understanding of what constitutes an ‘artist’s book’ seemed rather, let’s say, antiquated. He was not entirely alone with his view so I decided to take an  stretch on what makes or constitutes ‘book’ or ‘bookness’.

biscit fired set sm

my clay pothi book

In the article I look at ‘books’ before the codex bound book which predominates the shops today. I look at cuneiform tablets in ancient Assyria & Ur, the Tibetan ‘pothi’ book form, scrolls  and some modern artists books which become ‘book-sculptures’, I show examples of  my own take on the 3 forms. So, I put my money where my mouth is and make a…

View original post 109 more words