Tag Archives: zen suzuki

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


Artist Writer Agent of change – Egocentric or Altruistic?

kokopeli kokahoop

There is something in me that pushes always for change; dissatisfaction (with status quo), dislike of canons, desire for improvement, hankering for difference, dislike of monopolies, the list goes on, well it would if I could think of more ideas behind what drives me. I have this desire to see things changed, for better or worse? Not always sure. Sometimes I know I can visualise a better way, other times I am being mischievous and promote change just to unseat somebody or knock them off a pedestal or I am simply insanely jealous of success (which I know so little about, not) that I want to unsettle others more apparently ‘recognised’, prized or given accolade.

Question is, is my change drive egocentric or altruistic.

I often say it’s the latter when in fact it turns out to be the former. So, I may vaunt a gallery, say it’s wonderful, build it up etc supposedly for ‘public’- benefit but the real reasons may just be I want to see the gallery succeed so that one day they will realise I am ‘good enough’ and exhibit my work, altho that’s a contradiction in terms as successful places don’t exhibit normal human beings, only gods o’fart.

Anyway, I am building up to a diatribe against the artworld. Some will say yeah, he’s so right, others will say he’s just griping cos they never let him in, he’s a wimp what never done nothing of no worth. (read that carefully). Yes part of me has plenty to gripe-moan about, part of me has lots to rejoice about, me, I just try to steer the middle path cos afterall, I have work to do, ongoing, in books, images and artefacts, and I will undoubtedly do my outputs til the day I die. I am an ideas man and I cannot stem the flow, good or poor, I have to let it out.

However, things are what they are. It IS what it IS. Accept? There’s this ting in the realm of ideas and thought that things are there, as they are, and we will be happier if we act as observers rather than change agents. So, we can look at the world around and say that starving person or animal is the way it is, I observe, I see, I experience but I cannot effect, intervene etc. WHAT? Well, if I see something ‘wrong’ or that I feel as ‘wrong’, then do I intervene, try to influence/change? So, like if I am doing a course and the course is ill-equipped, do I try to ‘change’ that? Get more and better resources? Is that a public favour or an ego driven desire for my own selfish needs? Or do I say, that is the way it IS, get on with it, find your own resources etc.




Call yourself an artis?

But you are always being turned down even by turning pages! Yes I applied to be accepted…list….most all on em said, ‘I hear yu nockin but yer can’t cum in’, some dint even say that, some dint even hear my footsteppes dancing and whirling, swirling around like a crazy cranky oirisht  dervitch O’Ceinedgh, others just ignored my call and cry from this wilderness. Poor ole tootless Blarty-no-mates me. No I’m not feeling sorry fer mi’sen! I bin around longenuf to be long in da last toof in fact I no longer got no teef, I got a set of falsies. But am not ere to kowtow, to beg nor to bow. I WAS THERE in the early70’s (1970) at the Bath festival. I was there speaking to Oz magazine. I admit I missed the Stones in 1966 at nelson Imp cos me mummy sed not to go they may contaminate me, but I caught them 5 times at Earl’s Caught in 76.  I was in Brainstorm 2. I was in Sennet before it went bust some tink it went bust becos I wer in it.I bin in Cantab too, have you? I did over 22 solo shows. Now I retract. I hanker no more, no longer hope or simper nor wimper. I reject the galleries and the media too cos I jump before I’m pulled in therefore I yam free. I am RA Doubtless without doubt now. I just am the man what makes my art & tings. I use the blog-ting as my book. I still make artisbuks for me own delight, buy one if you might.


Van sang ‘It Ain’t Why It Just Is’. Knopfler another poet sang ‘Why worry? There should be laughter after pain. There should be sunshine after rain.’ And D T Suzuki said, ‘The philosophy of clothes…the apparent world where everybody dresses for everybody else to make himself appear other than himself…when this goes too far one loses one’s originality, makes oneself ridiculous and turns into a monkey’. I am of course like all of us a little monkey with a monkey mind meditating to try to move on. So, call yourself a monkey.

Now I have learnt that you don’t have to aks to be accepted, you either are or you aren’t and there’s nothing you can do about it. Some folks are ‘in’ others are ‘out’. NOW I don’t care no more cos I know I Am accepted, Out There. Where? There on the fat chair, thanks Herr Beuys. My art (& my ideas) are not like that of anybody it just is. It is what it is, that’s what it is. Nothing changes, everything is as it always is. Yet I wer reading this Suzuki man, not DT but SHUNRYU, (that’s Shun Ryu, not we shun yu, I know his mate well, Eye Byn Shund) and he says in zen we must, ‘accept difficulty as pleasure, become honest enough, or straight forward enough, to accept the truth of transiency (everything always changes), it is not so difficult to accept this truth, (altho that too may change, get it? transiency). But nevernot  don’t fergit, one man’s boot is anudda man’s missing toot. Shut it Blarty Monkey Pants.

How do we ecscape the monkey mind? Find that quiet place then Meditate. Then go back, go back to do what you do, do your work your passion your obsession. Just do it, with love, tolerance and equanimity. Have faith and hope.

I been meditating on the one hands clap conundrum and I tink I ‘got’ it, the sound of one hand. It’s not the achievement, the winning nor gaining, it’s the being, the seeing that counts. Counting every millisecond, seeing every petal- experience all the pain & joy of life. It is real, that is IT. I believe I have discovered the secret to life, it is life itself- live life! Really!Gurdjeff says it, Buddha says it. Life is really really real and I should live mine. I mean real-ly ‘live’ each and every millisecondmoment. Appreciate life for what it is, Real-ly a series of miracles ad infinitum. This pen this book this hand this jumper this rug, they are all part of the miracle.

‘Pete, In your article, you do some good and honest mulling around of your dichotomy with the establishment.

I reckon that a lot to do with this common position of outsider creatives is about the lack of power. Because you have no power in the established artworld, which translates into influence, status and remuneration, it leaves you bitter and resentful. You are a classic angry outsider, aye Tha Bin Shund.

But…. looking at it a different way, you have not been in their field, but have ploughed your own furrow, and isn’t that what money can’t buy….a creative freedom? You should be paying them!

Your musings of what IS and whether you should fight it, makes me think of a way I prefer to to look at this.  I think we function at two levels of being,

1) The operational level, where we just do or enact things according to habit, practice logic, experience, principle or reflex reaction. We are following a script.

2) The reflective level, where we abstract up from the operational level to see it has a series of patterns of action, goals, events, outcomes, players etc., a kind of model of our behaviour. We reflect on this and adjust it to achieve different outcomes and behaviours for different reasons. A creator is adept and feels at home in this level, but it is the operational level where the results of its work are manifested. The creator has power in his reflective world, because he defines his own model, but the power in the operational world comes with currying favour with the gatekeepers of the artworld. So it isn’t either or, its both levels at full belt

You cheeky monkey!

postit mr postie

P. Shakey ManKey

came from Lankey sure

and danced with a rosette

pinned into his chest’


ps- see my next blArt for a biggie about the new McKlean exhibition at the landmark gallery of Essex, Firstsite. Their best show so far, times ten!