Category Archives: Enlightenment

Oh Superb Woman

Laurie Anderson at Tate Modern

I headed up to London cos I needed to find Quark in order to iron over some of my concerns about a lack of contact details, it’s very hard to find out anything to do with the functions and possibilities of their package. Fortunately the man who came down to see me when I discovered their offices proved very helpful so I shall probably plough on with it.

The other reason I went to London was cos Laurie Anderson was scheduled to be at a showing of her film Heart of a Dog. We had some difficulty getting there, partly cos I headed off t’ward Tate Britain in the rain (It’s not an ‘age ting’ it’s always been like that, I spent most my life heading off in the wrong direction or up the wrong path!) and the gig was at Tate Modern.

 laurie anderson tate (4) tond sm

Andrea Lissoni talking with Laurie Anderson

It’s her take on her pet terrier Lolabelle’s death and on dying in general. It’s not morbid in any way and in fact she pays a discreet tribute to her late husband Lou Reed, playing him singing as the final moment in the film with a lovely dedication. In fact it’s about finding love, particularly that of her mother, and accepting (or accommodating) death. She also talks of being “in the gap between the moment which is expiring & the one that is arising”, a place akin to where the Buddhists ‘bring the scattered mind home’ in their practice of ‘mindfulness’ where you can find calm abiding in which ‘all your negativity is disarmed, your aggression dissolved and your confusion slowly evaporates as the awareness of clear seeing awakens in you’ through time spent in quiet meditation.

I believe that Laurie Anderson has visited these spaces over a long period in her life and those of us fortunate to watch and listen to her work can be drawn towards her peace-full places.

laurie anderson tate (7) pensive sm

You can listen to about 2 mins of it if yu go to this link and scroll down to “Watch the trailer”: http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-modern/film/laurie-anderson-heart-dog

It gives a brief impression of the lovely narration Laurie gives all of her works. She really does tell the tale so well.

laurie anderson tate (15) tond sm

We were ushered in and luckily placed on the very back row. It is a beautiful piece in which Laurie narrates the tale of her adopted dog in its last days, which gives her an opportunity to mention at least two Rinpoches whose advice she seems to access. (Rinpoches don’t seem to come down my neck of the woods but I am sure they hang around in Laurie’s.) [Hey do a sketch of Rinpoches in Lorries! consider it done, it’s all in me mind! In fact I may already have done it without really knowing that I had. I created a 3D work which I call Lorryhead, which is a Buddha with a lorry cab for a head.]

A Rinpoche Lorry Now!

lorryhead tiny kb
LorryHead Rinpoche

About 12 years ago I bought a cd of her 2001 reading The Body Artist by Don DeLillo in which she employs her mesmerizing and soothing tones to read his book. I never got to the end of the 3 hour piece cos I rarely stay still that long but now I shall return and listen to the end. She always seems to have an aura of expectation in her vocals, as if something is about to occur and if it already did there seems to be an expectant or pregnant ‘looking back’.

laurie anderson tate (11) looks back sm

I was fortunate to be able to take a series of photos from different vantage points which I said to Laurie I’d like to use in ma blog if that was ok as I handed her my card so she can come in and see this ting and she replied, “Yes you can, do that”. And I will.

laurie anderson tate (25) 2 sm
After Words

Tell me the old old story……………………………..So, that’s how it is, is it?

I prevented the flash operating in all my shots so the images don’t have sharp highlights but most importantly nobody got upset or distracted by my flashing. Jumping Jack No Flash they call me.

There’s one or two images of her I’d like to use to paint her portrait but it’s unlikely to happen nowadays as I am a Performance Artist and Bukman Blogga Bloke norra oil painter of the auld skool. But you never know.

And then there was Chiara Ambrosia’s ‘question’ which was more of a statement of affirmation of Laurie’s film and it impact on the emotions. Chiara started and so she continued until she had finished and it seemed to tickle Laurie.

laurie anderson tate (16) toned Chiara smChiara Ambrosia

Afterwards when I congratulated Chiara on her ‘thesis’ we realised we had met before and that she was well into bookart as well as film. I got this incredible shot of us standing in the foyer at Tate with me looking like the man with the light for a head.

laurie a's fans turn + toned litesman sm
Chiara stands next to a bloke with the light in his head and Mikey Kirkpatrick in the corridors of th’Tate.

I have loved Laurie’s stuff ever since I first heard her do Oh Superman and this vid encapsulates her in all her glory:

Laurie Anderson’s Oh Superman https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH2x5pARGdE#t=496.136

and Bowie’s version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5dRY_EHMjU

laurie anderson tate (23) toned sm

Thanks Laurie, Namaste

Images and writing (c) pete kennedy 2016

Thanks for the great gig Laurie and thanks for saying you don’t mind if i use the images of you.

,

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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

I tried to change the world

Now I can listen & hear what three wise men,  Krishnamurti, Roy Fraser & the Dalai Lama, have told me, I don’t know why but there it IS, maybe cos am old?a ceramic buddhaithis was Roy Fraser’s little ceramic Buddhai what I drew…

OM MADI PADME HUMMMmm

Like many others of the Sixties generation I tried to change the world these past 50 years. But, like the US forces going into Saddam’s Iraq, I never had a contingency for what to put in the old world’s place. I found out that nobody changes the world cos the world just carries on in it’s own bittersweet way, forever. The world in which we live, or should I say Universe, has been going on for millions of years and will continue with or without us ubeings. In fact if we blow the Earth to smithereens the universe just keeps rolling along with what’s left of the Earth and all who dwelt there re-constituted. We are in fact always re-constituting, part of you and me was in the BIG BANG what made the existence we became aware of. When we die our bodies will re-constitute once more and help make up other things. If we have a spirit or a soul that carries on somehow.

a penned mystic sm

This is my spirit guide

‘This mug is a combination of particles, atoms, quarks [like the old man in the sketch above which is for me maybe the best thing I have ever created. I very rarely draw things from my mind without any visual prompt but this old guy just arrived from my pencil. Like Lennon used to say he didn’t ‘write’ his songs, he was a conduit thru which they came, same with this old guy]. But each particle is not ‘mug’. The same can be said of everything, including yourself. The mug, ‘me’, are merely labels, something we use to describe everyday reality. The mug, me, came into existence because of a complex web of causes and conditions. They do not exist independently [our] existence is dependent on an infinite, intricately linked series of events, people, causes and conditions.’ Dalai Lama in The Wisdom Of Compassion.

One of the Dalai Lama’s teachers was Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche and I found a beautiful film about him here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQPmnGTUHYU at about 25 mins in it gets very good, seems we are taken into a Shangrila! I even see them printing off pages of a pothi, one of their bookforms. It’s amazing to me how similar looking Khyentse was to one of my mentors in life, an old friend who I painted awhile ago called Roy Fraser. Roy was also into spiritual searching and I had lots of interesting chats late into the night with him alongside a ‘spirit in a bottle’ called Glenn Fiddich.

Roy F as rinpoche smRoy Frasera kheyntse detaleDilgo Khyentse

If you have a couple of hours to spare, take a look at this Buddhist woman and her take on Compassion: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=datWeGjthJU&feature=youtu.be

Both Tai Chi and Ashtanga Yoga help body and mind to gain good health and equilibrium. I won’t bother to explain that here, just believe me.

I was lucky enough to be able to start doing Tai Chi and Ashtanga Yoga with Gareth Chandler http://www.garethchandler.com/links.htm out of Chelmsford about 5 years ago. Like lots of people I didn’t know what I was doing. Now I discover that what I let myself into was an incredible asset for (my) life (and yours too if you want to try it!). I have moved on to learn Tai Chi with Master Ch’ng Lay Seng in Witham. http://clstaichichuan.co.uk/

master Ch'n Lay SengMaster Ch’ng Lay Seng

Both forms do incredible benefits for the body and mind. These couple and inter-relate with my interest in Tibetan Buddhist ideas, zen and meditation. The more I do it the more I learn how much they are so interconnected. All of them have had a profound effect on all that I do.

I read a book ‘Finding Balance in the Midst of Chaos’ by a ‘Peter Strong PhD’ which is strong medicine, in fact it’s too difficult to read without making notes and having a dictionary of sanscrit/pali words handy but I would like to share a passage where he talks about our body & mind’s ability to maintain ‘homeostasis’ or ‘same state’ balance in our life. Our body is regulated by responses designed to maintain physiological & psychological equilibrium by adapting to ‘instability created by external or internal stress’.

The Dalai Lama also says ‘…karma means cause & effect. Suffering (dukkha) is unavoidable [it is a ‘given’ in human- ubeing- life, ed.] it is something we have to deal with. Accepting the situation decreases anxiety. Acceptance gives peace of mind’.

Psychological equilibrium comes when ‘there is freedom from conflict and suffering. This state is called dukkha-nirodha, ‘dukkha’ being ‘suffering’ and ‘nirodha’ meaning extinction. [think of suffrin-eroder, to erode suffering maybe] Before I befuddle you more with Strong’s words I must say that if you look at the writing of B S Iyengar you’ll find the benefits the different yoga moves/positions (asanas) manifest on us ‘yogis’ [a ‘yogi’ is just anyone who does yoga].

Also when Krishnamurti revealed his secret to life he said, “Don’t mind what happens”. This gives us a clue as to how to reach a place where we find our own equilibrium but it’s very hard. His choice of words as always is very clever. He doesn’t advocate not being interested nor taking initiatives, he just says “Don’t mind what happens”, which to me means, don’t ‘attach’ to what happens, don’t cling to memories, things, ideas etc., we all have our experiences and sometimes we get embroiled, we can’t detach and that can lead to all sorts of issues.

[a spurious aside- Like I can’t, or couldn’t detach from the idea that my art was worthy and the world did me a dis-service by not attaching to it and giving me loads a money and praise and love and attachment. Then I look see what those results brought for the likes of Michael Jackson, John Lennon & Elvis the Pelvis and I can see I don’t want loads a money and praise and love and attachment. I am now more ready to give up my forlorn attempts to be up there with the famous ones, or the special one Mourn-inho! I think myself lucky that I never made it. I no longer ‘mind’, even if I did in the past and that’s really an ‘if’. I have had moments, I’ve had positive feedback which has gone into the burner and helped energise me as did criticisms cos often I’d not take them laying down, I’d up and at ‘em. I’d make my next ting beat better. All the time I wanted to improve. Which is funny when you’re running in the wrong direction with all the prizes under your arms, and then they begin to melt or even worse, rot. I had an instinctive feeling when Mourn-inho returned to Chelsea he would regret it, and now he does. Then again, I wouldn’t put it past Mourninho to have manipulated the situation so that he became persona non grata at Chelsea FC just as it was becoming obvious that Van Gaal had underestimated the task at Man U FC and is proving a little short of the required level to sort that old monster out quickly enough for the expectations in a league where measure has become greatly distorted by vast amounts of money?]

Not ‘attaching’ gives us the opportunity to establish and maintain equilibrium so that if we need to assess some situation we can be non-judgemental. Thereby, having no side to take our reactivity is lessened, maybe to nil. We become observers. His mind, in Strong’s words, is “free to respond in the best way possible to resolve suffering (known as dukkha) and restore stability. Strong cites the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics which he states states that all systems seek a state of maximum (thermos) stability and will change (dynamic) if given freedom to change. It’s a battle between habitual reactivity (habits formed thru conditioning & experience) and the natural intelligence which innate (existent but usually dormant within us) in our psyche. Habits so often overrule the intuitive wisdom. Krishnamurti leapfrogs this conundrum by a conviction not to be bothered by what occurs (Am Oi Bovvad?!). I am going to make it my New Year’s resolution to try not to ‘attach’ to trial, tribulation and triumph!

 

Sunset for ‘Radar Ken’

refleced moi sm Here’s a photo taken of me in a moment of reflection back around 1994 and below are some of the reflections on where the spirit which inhabits the body whilst we ‘live’ goes when we ‘die’: I’d like to thank those of you who have ‘liked’ this post and all of you who have written to me with your feelings & thoughts, Namaste.

I ‘found’ myself when I finally refrained from looking and chasing around. I had relaxed and was just taking my part in the journey of life. I picked up some notes from 2002 where I had mentioned my then 84 year old mother and my father who had died aged 73 (both born in 1918). My mum lived a further 7 years into her 90s. I was reading the Dalai Lama then as I am now and then I likened him to an alien presence, realising that we all are, as we are visitors to this planet. Our ‘spirit’ or ‘essence’ is merely passing through…However, although I respect their vision I must point out there are millions of other stars and planets out there. Don’t we visit some of them as well?

Tibetan insight into existence would have us believe that what we refer to as ‘life’ is the Bardo of Living and what we see as ‘death’ is their Bardo Of Dying. These are opposites like yin & yang which can’t exist without each other. Tibetan monks see existence as a series of steps or ‘transitions’ through these bardos. We inhabit the bardo of living when we are born and enter the bardo of dying when we ‘depart this mortal coil’. The Tibetan Buddhist tradition says our spirit returns to the bardo of living many (millions of) times in rebirth until we eventually get ‘Enlightenment’ and quit this scene for good.

I been lucky as I been around (in this lifetime) 64 years + some months & days hours minutes & seconds. Let’s crunch numbers- in 1967 when I were 16 Lennon wrote When Am 64 with his old mucka. None of us 16 year olds anticipated back then in 67 that we’d ever be 64 but now 48 yearns later I have become 64 and in 48 years from noo, in October 2063 had I lived that long I’d be 112. Few of us in the west ever think about our deaths as it’s almost taboo to talk about death and writing a blog about the subject is a rather risky ting to do on the face of it but I insist it is a good idea to address the issue before I die cos afterwards it’d be difficult no doubt. I don’t intend to be, and I insist I am not being, morbid. On the contrary I am elucidating to those of you what don’t know the Tibetan take on death is that they take it on early in their thinking lives so that when it does arrive it won’t take them by surprise, they are ready.

blessin crowd

Buddhists perceive the human condition as one permeated by ‘suffering’ and their aim is to become a Buddha through gaining Enlightenment. This is intangible to me with the only way to ‘see’ or ‘understand’ it being only by ‘nuance’ or a glimpse.

Occasionally I ‘glimpse’ a sense of the presence of my dead dad. I may see a symbol which represents him for me like a lacewing and often in moments rather appropriate for my memory of time spent with him.

The same applies to seeing or remembering past lives. In a recurring dream I see a 19th century helmet in mud on a battlefield which speaks to me of a previous life-death in the Crimean war. It’s a rather strange view but I ‘get’ that was from a previous life but it would be more convincing if I had a snitchet of conversation or more detail about the site.

dalama peace gdn small

I am not sure if the Dalai Lama ‘sees’ his past lives (on Earth, in Tibet) clearly. Until I myself have had such vivid clear sight I remain unsure as to whether anyone else can do so.

Thinking like a materialist or a logical positivist empiricist I could/would say I can tell you what I saw or felt. So, I can look back and see myself walking up Manchester Road in Burnley ahead of my mum who was pushing a pram plus my sister after we had seen the Queen Elizabeth at Burnley town hall in 1955 when I was 4 years old.

Queen Liz arriving to obsequiousness at Burnley town hall.

a queen alone bly sm

Liz was more interested in looking in the crowd for ‘Littul Pete’ and his mum.

a queen at burnley

I can see myself playing with a big tin American model toy car in the mud near my home on Wycoller Avenue. I have memories of playing football and wrestling other boys. These memories are real in various degrees. My wife often comments that what I just recalled doesn’t fit her memory of an event we shared together, ‘That’s not how I remember it.’ That calls into question my retention skills and also the idea that we all see the same thing or same event the same way which of course we never can cos we are different folks. As for seeing back into different incarnations, well there’s even less ‘proof’.

Regarding seeing forward to what will happen when I die again there’s no apparent cognisance. Recently some three of my personal friends have died. With each of us, when we die, what happens is the ‘life’ leaves the body. We see that.

a roy F leaving his body sm

My old friend Roy Fraser leaving his earth body watched by Apulsfinx.

The evidence is clear. The body ceases to function and we can no longer have a conversation with them, in a physical sense, any more. And soon enough it will occur to my own body, it will ‘die’. (Tibetans say that everything is impermanent and this is true scientifically too. The body we call ‘ours’ is in constant flux, never remaining the same from one moment to the next, subtle changes we are mostly unaware of. Once the spirit leaves the body it has no further use for that body becomes surplus to requirement. Some people donate parts of their old body to science and the medical needs of others which I believe is a generous action. In old Tibet they used sky burials, thus providing the wildlife (usually birds) with sustenance. This was partly to do with the lack of soft earth to dig nor wood to cremate with as in India. I have found a beautiful poem by Robert Okaji in a blog I follow-  http://atomicgeography.com/2015/08/13/another-sky-burial/ Whatever is done with our body after we die in one way or another it reconstitutes. It is said that in all of us there is a trace of elements from the original Big Bang. Everything is always changing. That is a mantra I wrote in the early 1970’s when I used to keep a journal towards my future books. Once you accept that you can see the need to cling onto even our old discarded body is unnecessary. I sense some folk may find this writing a bit difficult. yes it may be with the old taboos that are so prevalent in our society which i believe need to be lifted. I see a need to be able to speak about the subject called death with compassion and harmony rather than fear and trepidation. One lady in reply to this blog revealed to me that she used to care for the body of the person who had died and that she saw the activity as “what a privilege it is to perform this final act of care but for most people who die”. Tibetan writings as in Sogyal Rinpoche’s Book of Living & Dying give guidance on how to stay with the deceased person and help them acclimatise to the bardo of dying. I have thought about Ken this week and whilst listening to some beautiful Tibetan monks chanting on cd I could imagine his spirit coming over the mountain to meet thoise monks who would be ready to recieve & welcome hoim along with their ability to put him at ease in his new form. Namaste, Bless you, Shalom. ) What will happen to this thing which is making this pen write these words is unbeknown to me. I have my suspicions, my thoughts on what may happen and emotion and romanticism will inevitably creep into my ideas. We age from the moment of conception, aging is no crime, it’s a fact of life. The idea that this ‘entity’/spirit me which inhabits this aging body will cease to exist because the body that houses it stops functioning seems naïve and ridiculous to me. But we seem to have no proof, after some millions of years in the process of evolving into ‘modern’ humans (ubeings to take gender out of the term) there seems no proof of what happens to this entity that writes these words when the body that enables the mind to drive the impulse from the brain to the hand to the pen ceases functioning because the life force that impulses the body to pump blood around and send minute (my newt) messages almost instantaneously from brain along the cerebral cortex to the fingers and out thru the pen, stops. There’s a circle there. The life force drives the thought, the nervous system and the blood pump and when that life-force stops the processing stops. There must be a yin-yang or positive-negative force going on. The body cannot function without the life force which cannot function without the body, seemingly, at least we have no proof.

Here is a rather sombre/somber song by Len Cohen which seems to be a reflection on all aspects of life and death. I love Cohen’s work he does the most beautiful poems which translate so well into song accompanied always by stunning musicians and singers. This however seems to be his reflections on life without the faintest gilding.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5x12oo8diKE

We have no proof that there is life on the other planets that have now been proven to be going around many of the billions of stars that exist. We have proof of the minutest microbes because they can be magnified and ‘seen’ but we cannot ‘see’ the life force which inhabits our bodies. Can we?

My life force goes to bed to sleep about 11pm and awakens between 4 (thanks cats) and 7am. Whilst it sleeps it is still functioning. It still pumps from the heart and ‘sees’ dreams and certain sounds impinge enough to wake me up. I don’t wish to give a blow by blow, puff by puff account of ‘living’ what I am trying to get to, to understand, is the life-force. On top of mundane tasks like toileting, washing up, eating, I create ‘art’ including the words on this paper. That’s just above existing. I dance. I drive a car etc. one day in the next 40 years for sure all that will stop. Bound to. My body will have aged and deteriorated so much that it cannot continue to function. Then am gone. This is where the words don’t come. I cannot anticipate what happens. Some say nothing, dead end- pardon the pun. That seems a shame & a waste after all the effort that went in from me being 3 and walking up Manchester Road ‘til now in 2015 with my GCEs & Masters degrees and all. But it’s a fact, it stops, the physical part. So my dad died and took all of his steeplejack knowledge with him, his second world war experience went too.

In a way that’s why I write and create art so that I leave a footprint other than the natural residue of having lived x years but in many ways my ‘work’ is clutter, rubbish and it will dissipate. So enjoy it, drink it while you still can.