Tag Archives: yoga

The Riches Of The East.

 

 a penned mystic smIt may be said that Socrates was a rebel? He didn’t wish to follow no party line and when he was in 399 BC by 3 Athenian citizens of failing to worship the city’s gods, introducing religious novelties and corrupting the young men of Athens and told to renounce his philosophy in court, unshaken from his convictions despite being denounced as foolish by a large number of Athenians, he spoke,

“So long as I draw breath and have my faculties I shall never stop practicing philosophy and exhorting you and elucidating the truth for everyone that I meet…” (See Alain de Botton who says this promised him, ‘a counterweight’ to his own ‘supine tendency to follow socially sanctioned practices and ideas’ in his book The Consolations Of Philosophy). Botton goes on to say his ‘priority was to be liked rather than speak the truth. I didn’t publicly doubt ideas to which the majority was committed. I sought the approval of figures of authority and worried at length whether they thought me acceptable. but Socrates had not buckled before unpopularity and the condemnation of the state. he had not retracted his thoughts…he had [his] rational , as opposed to hysterical, confidence when faced with disapproval.’

All of my life, at least since I began to realize I was ‘here on Earth’ aged about 10 I have fought against that ‘supine tendency’. Maybe that’s what held back my progress in many situations in English society? My lack of conformity (or was it my face- it didn’t fit? or my choice of deodorant?) meant that I had to fight for almost every inch of ground I made.

Like Socrates I’ve been a renegade ever since ‘they’ rejected me at my secondary school, (‘they’ being the powers that be/the status quo holders who saw me as scum from a poor working class family who didn’t always agree with what they said) and I rarely if ever sought approval, especially not by altering my work and ideas. so, in simple words I paddled my own canoe. and my canoe took me to some strange and wonderful places, mainly in dream but also in some of my output. one renegade, the late great Jackie Leven, introduced me to Kabir and Robert Bly through his wonderful song Inside this clay jug. A lot of my work since hearing that song has been about the mysteries of life and mystical ideas. Some folk think mystical means ‘not for me that strange stuff’ but no, if you listen to Bowie’s music, at best, it has a mystical chime. It’s like searching for the lost chord and he found it sometimes like in Ashes to Ashes, China Girl and his last songs plus vids for Dark Star etc. Mystic is when you hear or glimpse that something which emanates from a place far away and deep inside you. Namaste. Om Mani Padme Hum. listen to Van’s Into the Mystic from his astral Weeks.

The wonder-full American artist Robert Smithson, who created The Spiral Jetty, on Great Salt Lake, Utah in 1970, was a renegade & a wordsmith too as witnessed in his Heap of Language sketch:

See http://www.robertsmithson.com/drawings/heap_p104_300.htm

and

http://www.robertsmithson.com/essays/heap.htm

“Smithson becomes exhibit A for the case that an eruption of the linguistic sign into art has fragmented beyond repair the traditional integrity of the object…” Thomas Crow in Prophetic Turns In The Life & Art Of Robert Smithson.

My writing also is part of my ‘art’, equally nowadays, as always, words play a role in my performance art. My 1975 buk, Apul-One, was a ‘work of art’ in its whole = images, words and book.

This renegade never did the obvious, rarely followed the rules and always bent them even if only a titsy witsy bit. Thereby he made it difficult, by not following the trend, the advice, the latest fad etc.

I remember going into Slade Prix de Rome scholar David Wild’s ‘life-study’ night classes and seeing a day student doing (copies of) hard edge American abstract painting by using masking tape to get straight lines on his canvas while I was learning how to observe and paint the figure. I made a conscious decision there and then I wouldn’t be doing no American abstract painting then nor not ever. (In fact a couple of years later I fell in love with Barnet Newman’s work in the big London retrospective of his work and did adopt some of his techniques, but in a way which used his ideas of fields of color which I then placed my images into with ‘zips’ (gaps) separating them. My images might be mimics of other Abstract expressionists set against realist images. So you see, I even broke every rule I set myself. The come uppance was that I kept my eyes open to different possibilities and I could be inspired by many things that the ‘mainstream’ art student would not look at cos it weren’t in fashion. Similarly, I liked Roy Orbison when the Beatles were all the rage, and Van Morrison when most folk hadn’t even heard of him.

Which takes me onto Hermann Hesse (HH), whose book Steppenwolf I saw in a Truro bookshop window in 1970 and on the cover was a Paul Klee painting so I was intrigued enough to buy and read it, so my journey into Hesse had begun. It was his writing which led me to the wonders from the East. Now when you looks at my recent works where I do things like poems inspired by Hesse and Dalai Lama you’ll agree they’re not the most fashionable icons nowadays, butti don’t care. It’s my art. Come back with me, to a day when the Upper Class (expletives omitted) led their campaigns for King & Country to conquer lands in Scotland, Ireland, Wales, South America, Africa, to asia minor & China they were, for the most part, looking for gold or jade etc and they gottit in abundance as they stripped whole countries of their inheritance. BUT in fact they missed the real treasures which eventually filtered thru to the west via the likes of HH and scholars who studied unknown languages like Hittite & Ghandaran. The real treasures are more lasting than gold, they’re spiritual. Things like yoga, tai chi, and meditation, the religions of old (like Hindu, Zoroaster) and in Tibet’s case, new – Padmasambhava brought Buddhism to Tibet in the 8th century AD. Insight into our place in the Universe is being enhanced daily by astronomy & science but we benefit from things brought to us by Tibetan Buddhism, Muslim Sufism, ancient Indian ideas about the cosmos and the place of us ubeings in it which they anchor down thru yoga, Chinese (&Malayan) Tai Chi does similar things with mind/body equilibrium. Who needs the gold that artists like Damien Hirst use?

on a better note

Here’s a lovely song of Bowies sung as a tribute to another renegade. Listen to her pre-amble, it’s lovely too

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxGoZySud7k

Every snowflake lands in its own place

I am pleased to share that Alice Springs News online in, Australia, ran a beautiful article (most of which I compiled) about an old friend of mine Ken Perry who died recently titled, “Jindalee Pioneer Ken Perry dies”. (December 5, 2015) http://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2015/12/05/jindalee-pioneer-ken-perry-dies/

The opening paragraph helped me understand even more the essence of Ken’s achievement. The editor, Erwin Chlanda, was a pilot who had flown over Ken’s radar installation on many occasions so he has a good knowledge of the terrain. “Intruding aircraft can fly just a few feet above the sea, below the cover of microwave defence radars: In order to track this threat, with his expertise in microwave, Ken Perry oversaw the development and production of high frequency surface wave “over-the-horizon” (OTH) radar, with a huge antenna spread for a kilometer or so on the ground off the Yuendumu Road, north-west of Alice Springs and a second similar facility is north of the Plenty River Road.” Getting some recognition and spreading the news about Ken’s accomplishments is not my main aim in life but it arose out of my admiration for the way he ran his life and his great modesty and generosity of spirit. Ken was alive with intelligence and was always thinking of his family and how he might help them progress. All of his daughters became graduates and his grandchildren seem to be trumping their achievements with first class honours at some big universities in a wide range of subjects. Ken never emphasised how clever he was, he would just rally round them all when they were growing up and help them to understand maths and science in particular. He lived his interests and shared his abilities.

I think that is a good way to go about my life too. Of course my main area has been in Art and ken was not au fe with ‘art’ so he would ask searching questions about my latest zany idea until he got a better grasp of what I was saying or hinting at.

My aim has been fairly constant over the years, to bring a lively enquiry into the field of creative art and to create ‘original’ works. Over the years it became clear to me that nothing is ever purely ‘original’ cos everything has precursors and all of us are inspired by or detest earlier example and we either pick it up and run with it (appropriation?) or attempt to do the opposite. On 1.12.2004 I was looking back on my Nonogon Show in Colchester library in 2000

my poster nonosho 2000 sm

 and planning an assault on Tate Modern with it which as you know didn’t happen yet. More importantly, when I make these dastardly plans I often reflect on where I been and wur am goin. I wrote these now very prophetic words, “My public personae would be like a mix of Joseph Beuys, Ken Campbell and Keith Haring.” Well, in fact, I drew like Haring before Haring did, so there’s no surprise there. I was already looking into Beuys and was very intrigued by Beuy’s antics, I was drawn to ‘performance art’ before I had a real idea of what it was about. I watched Ken Campbell perform at Brentwood theatre where he would often prep his stuff ready for his London shows. I remember walking into one and being bowled over by his strange props. It struck a bell in my head which is still resounding, or is that what they call tinnitus? I think that my projection about my future persona is still playing out.

  • I read somewhere* this week that we, us Ubeings (that’s my non-gender word fer Umans) are not like we often see ourselves like a standing stone person/personality forever set, we are more like a flowing stream or river that is constantly moving and shifting as we alter with the passing moments the sum total of which make up each of our lives. Or as the Tibetan Buddhists put it, this Bardo of Living we find ourselves in (or don’t for that matter). I love this comment on life from a zen master, “The snow falls, each flake in its appropriate place.” In other words, there is a meaning to every thing that happens even if we don’t understand it to begin with (that reminds me of Tai Chi), turn turn turn you whirling dervish. Or just listen to Judy Collins when she were young https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K3kKqfTjsj0

*Deepak Chopra said via Carla McKay, “we all tend to see our bodies as ‘frozen sculptures’- solid, fixed, material objects- when in thruth, thye are more like rivers, constantly flowing patterns of intelligence…”

  • I have just made a lovely shift which combined my desire to meditate along with my gathering ability at yoga. I get so stressed out when I can’t ‘meditate’ and I am pretty incompetent at yoga’s bends & twists. But I sat down on the floor and had Garbarek playing with some musicians from Pakistan going. I thought you should meditate in ‘silence’ not with music? Well no, I’m leaving this music play. OK, so go into a lotus? No I cannot. OK somewhere as close as you can? Yes but that hurts the little protuberances on the outside of my feet. That’s life, suffer! OK, so I sat as long as I could suffer it. Then I said why don’t you move your feet? Place one foot under yer bum, stretch the other out and lean forward like you try to do in Ashtanga? That’s not meditation. Is it not? Actually let go, just do it. So I did and I held it awhile then swopped sides meantime ‘meditating’, well trying to concentrate on my breath and trying to get stuff out of my head that didn’t seem appropriate. Actually I spent some minutes moving into positions I learned in various yoga classes in the past 4 years. Then I thought, hey, I am enjoying this, I’m enjoying doing my yoga and my med, with an emphasis on MY. So for the first time ever, I found myself doing my own adaptation of the things I tried so hard to learn. I can do what the teachers say when am there, but when am here I will continue to experiment, and enjoy!
  • There’s a wonderful 93 minute documentary on Wilko johnson’s acceptance that he had terminal cancer on BBC Imagine series which I find very uplifting. he says, “I am a feather for each wind that blows.” http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b06qqrk9/imagine-autumn-2015-5-the-ecstasy-of-wilko-johnson I was lucky to see Wilko in th’early days of Dr Feelgood when I took my  famous (NOT!) photo of him.wilko hands in waistcoat tiny Wilko holding Apulhed.
  • Finally just a bit more about yoga folks. I am almost finished Carla McKay’s Reluctant Yogi and over the past 4 years I have moved totally away from the gym to concentrate on Tai Chi and Yoga where she says, “unlike pumping weights or running a marathon, yoga gives the body a complete workout increasing endurance, building strength, stretching all the muscle groups (whilst preventing injury), and stimulating organs…” I’d drink to that if I drank! Having given up booze 4 years now I realise it was the inner soul preparing me for my journey down Yoga Way turning into Tai Chi twists. McKay also says that K. Pattabhi Jois who developed Ashtanga yoga out of Hatha yoga by adding a dynamic flow called vinyasa lived until he was 93, that’ll do for me, I have 28 years left, should give me time to get known on the Performance Art circuit. I contacted Live Art in London very near to where  I live. I was hoping to pop in to chat with some real players but got told to wait til next summer and then join them in their workshops, “Please do sign up for our newsletter where you’ll receive useful information about our work and other Live art opportunities and keep your eye out for calls for next year’s DIY programme – artist-led workshops.” I was hoping to do some performance art stuff before that, otherwise what i learned at IPA may disappear into my mists of time. Krishnamurti says we got to just go with the flow, like the river does. He revealed his secret to life, “Don’t mind what happens” he said. Or doesn’t maybe? (cf Wilko’s feather blowing in the wind.)
  • listen to snowflakes dancing
    Here’s Debussy’s beautiful original version
  • and Tomita’s electronic take on it at  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EM7X4mHEmPw

Namaste

Let’s Do It, Live Art…

‘Whilst Live Art remains elusive to most mainstream commentators its influence is pervasive, and intriguingly the concept of performativity – its central tenet’ from an article by LADA (Live Art Development Agency) Director Lois Keidan that appeared in Guardian Online on 22 October 2015 when I was half way thru the two week course led by Jurgen Fritz which has totally re-aligned my thinking on what my art is, was and forever more will BE. I am so determined to do Performance Art in my future and have just come across a conversation involving a friend I made (Andrea Pagnes http://www.vest-and-page.de/ ) at the IPA fortnight with a man whose work totally blew me away when I discovered it in a book that I saw at the bookshop in the National Theatre (I’ve yet to see anything other than photos of the man), Ron Athey. Their conversation gets to the hub of the issues in PA and altho I am a novice by comparison I felt so privileged that both Vest & Page said such wonderfully constructive things to me about my efforts. I received so much encouragement to carry on. Recently I have heard it said that ‘art’ is a minority interest (but today on Anglia BBC morning news they tell me “Creative Industries are worth £76 billion per annum to the ‘Economy’- why don’t i see any o that?), well it may be a minority interest to some but it’s been my obsession now for 48 years. I still have some more to say and it will be thru PA/Live Art which is so much more demonstrative in its appreciation than the ‘art world’ [sorry art-world but I been trying to make a dent on you fer 48 years and the door won’t budge! At least when I do Live Art they clap and cheer (when I get off)]Hee Hee.

v & p latex dancers

That’s Andrea in the mask on right hand side.

Some words from Andrea Pagnes in conversation with Ron Athey,

AP‘… the richness and uniqueness that can emanate from personal experience, lived life and the consequent artistic research which arises directly from the deepest inclinations and existential urgencies of an individual.’

‘…when performance art intersects life directly and uncompromisingly, and draws on the most basic instincts, processes and transforms the deeper reasons and urgencies of Man’s presence in the world … it is revelatory: a sincere, transformative experience on human scale.’

RA says, ‘…How, in any medium, to bring something esoteric to

life, how to disturb a given, how to represent the super natural.’

AP you have … challenged conventional bourgeois mores, tastes and expectations

…by addressing viscerally emerging social hypocritical worries…’

RA performance art today… is not populist. Why not do benefits/write for funds/self produce in an amazing site-specific place? Cuz it is so much work but so worth it!

 I love the bit about ‘the richness and uniqueness that can emanate from personal experience’ and that underpinned what 3 of my course leaders said to me. Andrea saw the natural clown/fool in me in two settings which he commented on. I see from the vids on V&P website that he has done much work with clowns.http://www.vest-and-page.de/#!the-smile-at-the-top-of-the-ladder/c1orh

They all encouraged me to use my life experience in my PA, something which comes easy to me I must say as I’ve reached a point in my life where I treasure every moment I have lived and I am ready to go out there and bring my stuff to folks in a variety of settings. At IPA I used some of my Ashtanga Yoga practice in some of my pieces, particularly the Jug Dance but there were other ‘moves’ and references too. Ashtanga Yoga is a fairly vigourous form which emanated from the teachings of T. Krishnamacharya thru his pupil K. Pattabhi Jois. Another of his students B K S Iyengar popularised his Iyengar form in Britain from the 1960s. The main difference as far as I can see is that Iyengar encourages the use of aids like cushions to ease the new student into the forms that can be somewhat excrutiating for a long time for starters. I for one have massive difficulty trying to do a lotus position but no matter, you do what you can and you gradually move towards perfection.The good thing is people do yoga into their 90’s which is fortunate cos I never started til I were in ma 60’s!arnolfini outside jug dance smPhoto by Nicole Murmann (thanks!)

This is not Yoga it is Performance Art, why? cos PA is what the artis says it is, Jurgen told us that, didn’t he?

I discovered a book on yoga which I’d recommend to anyone who wants to know its benefits, it’s called, The Reluctant Yogi by Carla McKay http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/15000943-the-reluctant-yogi

I have been doing yoga once or twice a week and now I am so glad I began as it’s obvious it has so many astounding benefits.

Namaste.