Sunday 31 August 2008

My Catholicism- Liberation Theology

To start with, I'd like to share some pictures of my local church with you.

They are taken from the website of the Church, which I'm not going to post a link to, simply because it's written by my priest, a man who is also someone I regard as being a personal friend. But if anyone is interested and wants to mail me, I'm happy to provide the link and if anyone is in the area, more than happy to give them a tour of the building.

It's an amazing church really. It was built in 1928, just two years after the law was repealed that prevented Catholics putting towers on their churches. And they went to town with this church. What we have, here in the heart of England, is a church that feels like it belongs in the south of Italy. It's an unashamedly Byzantine basilica.
And sometimes it's easy to forget just how lucky you are to have such a beautiful building to be your church.

I suppose being brought up Catholic essentially makes you at some level deeply UN-English. I don't see myself as English, I can't really. My great uncle fought the Black and Tans and my Mum came off the boat from Sweden in 1973. England is where I live, it's not in my blood. I like it here, but I still feel essentially I come of immigrant stock.
And Catholicism is by and large an immigrant faith in England. To be sure, the Midlands has, like any part of England, a long history of persecution of Catholics and that, that history is ingrained in me somewhere. To me, Harvington Hall is almost a place of pilgrimage, a testament to the suffering imposed on our faith by that evil woman the English call 'Good' Queen Bess.

But the congregation at my church shows what Catholicism still is in this country. About a quarter of the adults sound like they just left the Emerald Isle, and there are many Poles, Filipinos, Africans etc. And the church is always rammed. This is Catholicism. This little dormitory town has only one Catholic church, and both its weekly services are full to the rafters. It's a living faith.

And our poor priest has his work cut out. Not like the four C of E churches. I think only two of them have regular services now.

The problem Catholicism faces isn't dwindling congregations. The faithful are still faithful- it's the lack of priests. They are dying off. Even when I was a boy, this church had several. It had a college attached to it, now demolished, which meant the church had about six or seven priests attached to it.

I get on well with my priest. He came to visit me when I was on my little break from civilised life and that means a lot to me. He worries when I've not been to mass for a while, because he's a good priest. He knows I'll never be a weekly attender, but he knows at heart I remain Catholic and yes, he would be worried if I dropped out of it completely. He's always glad to see me come up to receive communion and always make sure he grabs me before I dash off, so he can have a quick chat.

We've had some in depth theological chats over the years, and whilst I don't think our theology matches in many ways, he has always respected my theological viewpoints. I think when I was younger, he had some hope I'd take the cloth once I'd had my spell of youthful exuberance.

But a Catholic I am, even so. Some of my detractors have argued that I'm not a Christian, that the views I espouse are a perversion of Christianity. Maybe. I of course, would argue the same of them. And I'm going to explain that.

Actually, I resent being referred to as a Christian. I'm not. I'm not, because I don't rest my faith in the Bible. I don't believe in Christ the Redeemer, the Son of God.
I believe in Christ the Liberator, the great philosopher who proposed a radical system of values to change the world.
I don't believe in a vengeful god who tells people where they can and can't put their bits, I believe in a conscious force directing the universe which you can call a deity if you so wish, but actually lacks any criteria that would define it as personal, or a 'he' and certainly doesn't care whether or not you worship it.

The particular branch of theology I subscribe to- or to be more accurate, my faith is rooted in, is a type that most outside Catholicism might well deny is Christian at all. Even within Catholicism it is regarded as suspect. It has been roundly condemned by this Pope, as it was by his predecessor. I suspect at one time, it would have been pronounced a heresy.
This belief system is called Liberation Theology. Essentially, it's Christian Marxism. It takes as the premise that the problem is sin. Not sin in the prude old fashioned sense that so many see it- but sin in the sense of all those bad bits of being human that taken together mean that we're just not very nice to eachother.

Because sin is real. Not all the things that the moral crusaders say are sins are sins, not really, because as I say, it really doesn't matter where you put your bits.

But it matters if you exploit people, if you use people, if you maim people, if you torture people, if you lie to people.
It matters if you abuse power.

And that, is what Catholics who subscribe to Liberation Theology believe.

It's theology for those who believe that Christ and Marx were seeing things from the same angle.

Because to me, Christ and Marx are almost two halves of the same walnut.

And now to perhaps a controversial statement, because I'm going to offend a lot of people, but it's my historical perspective.

I don't like being called a Christian, because I don't like to be associated with what it has come to mean. Usually, it is taken to mean Protestant Christianity.

And to me, Protestant Christianity is a bastardisation of Christ's message, for the most part.
I don't mean that in a sectarian way.

Liberation Theology would not be possible within Protestant thought largely because Protestant thought is an Oxymoron. Protestants believe in justification through Faith alone. Protestantism ultimately rests on the literal truth of The Bible, and that, to me, can only mean one thing; a religion founded on ignorance and judgement.

Ultimately, yes, I believe in religious freedom and religious tolerance, but that doesn't mean I believe that all creeds are equal in value.

And I believe that the OLD Testament is the book of an ignorant and cruel religion, not much better in my view than the Valhalla of the Vikings and considerably less fun. I don't justify anti-semitism on racial grounds, not at all, but I think that one of the reasons the Jewish people did get such a hard time in the past is that yes, their religion doesn't really have a positive message to offer. The Old Testament is a bigoted, often racist tract which justifies all sorts of unpleasantness and certainly doesn't present the sort of God anyone should believe in.

A key difference between Catholicism and Protestantism is how we regard those books. I think many Catholic thinkers regard the Old Testament as more a kind of background to understanding the culture that produced Jesus than actually being of any theological value in itself.

To be sure, great evils have been committed in the name of Catholicism. How could we expect that not to happen over so many years in an institution that came to dominate the globe and involved the input of so many, many people.
It was and is a Church built up of human beings.

And some of them were flawed.

But Protestantism I hold to be a flawed, bastardised version of Christ's teaching.

Marx invented a term 'Bonapartism'. It's quite an important concept. What he observed was a phenomenon whereby revolutions are perverted by power hungry dictators who then fasten the language of the revolution on to rebuilding exactly what it was that was overthrown.

And of course, Trotsky's supporters used the term of Stalin. So in a sense, Marx predicted what could go wrong in Russia.

I see Luther and Protestantism in such terms. Because yes, you can argue that much was evil about the Catholic Church of the late middle ages. But it was still a force for progress, a counterbalance to the tyranny of kings, to the exploitation of the people by commercial greed.
In killing the monasteries and killing the strength of the church to stand up to the state, Luther paved the way to create the royal autocracies and worse.

For Capitalism is ultimately a Protestant creed.
And yes, it was a necessary phase, it's the how. The way it happened, the values inherent in the WAY it happened.

Because Protestants don't believe in Justification by Faith and Works, they believe in Justification by Faith alone.
It's about getting to Heaven just because you believe.

It's about the Protestant work ethic.
It's about I'm all right Jack.

It's a regression in terms of social thought, Protestantism is a Faith that reclaims the Old Testament and places it above the 'Pagan' philosophies of Plato and Aristotle, that says that in that series of squalid tales of people being struck down, turned into pillars of salt and the like because they asked too many questions or disobeyed a ridiculous commandment, there is something of real value to us.

Yes, maybe. In the same way reading The Eddas is instructive.

I don't think it's anti-semitic to say that the moral system proposed in the Old Testament is often pretty repulsive. It's notable that the Gnostics, an early Christian heresy believed that the God of the Old Testament and the Devil of the New were one and the same, that Christ represented the coming of the true God, to save humanity from the lies of the false one.

I don't believe in a real devil, but I do believe that within Western thought are two opposing moral systems; the moral system that Christ grew up in, and the one he wanted to replace it with. Call them the Old Law and the New. Call them right and left, but the division starts then, and it starts with Christ.

It is the belief in select nations versus the universal brotherhood of man.
It is the belief in judging people, rather than understanding them.
It is exclusive versus inclusive.
It is the belief in the righteous, versus belief in the repentant sinner.
It is the turning of Lot's wife into a pillar of salt versus Christ's embracing of Mary Magdalen.
It is the belief that your main life task is to help yourself, versus the belief that you're part of this world.
It is the belief in simple black and white truths, versus a wish to truly understand.

Protestantism for all its pretence of being Christian, is a return to the values of the Pharisees.
And unfortunately, the Capitalist cycle is marked out by having its birth within Protestantism and by being imbued with the Pharisaical values of that ignorant school of thought.
It is a return to the Old Law.

And yes, maybe by that time, the Catholic Church too had become imbued by Old Law thinking.

You see, to me, Liberation Theology is a return to the real teachings of Christ.

Marx preached the New Law.

At the heart of Catholicism is it's belief in a better way to live, and Marx believed in that too.

The ethics of Marx are the ethics of the New Testament, they are the ethics of Jesus Christ.

To me, it's not about redeeming my soul.
I trust in a far more human agency to do that. That's what I have faith in.

It's about embracing the New Law.

And it's about building the Kingdom Christ promised here on earth today.

Because if that isn't the point, I sure as Hell don't know what is.

Waking Up Without Her

I just woke up with the hangover from hell.

But I woke up to another strange realisation.

She is the first thing I think about every morning.
I am aware of her existence the instant consciousness returns.

She is the first thing that enters my head.

I don't usually think about it, not really. I've got used to the fact that she is the first thing I think about and I don't think about the fact it is so.

It's hard to explain. She has an aura. I feel her presence and sometimes I feel her absence. Most of the time I kind of feel she's with me in some sense, though I'm sure she doesn't really know that and I'm sure most of the time I'm very far from her thoughts.

I suppose I don't really think about it weekdays because I just see it as part of the brain kicking in to gear, preparing for the avalanche of activity that kicks off the moment one forces oneself to put feet on solid earth; bathroom, dress, fag, cup of tea, e-mail her, shave, do hair, leave flat.

I suppose I do miss her when I don't hear from her, but the gaps are never so long that I really notice how much I miss her when I don't hear from her.

But this morning it was a clear sense.
I woke up and the first thing I wanted to do was draw her close to me.
I woke up aware of her, aware of the fact she exists, as I do every morning.

And aware of the fact she isn't actually there.

And as I sat out on the step with my cup of tea smoking, I realised that this isn't the same as waking up alone.
If I woke up with someone else there, it wouldn't change anything.

I'd still be waking up and she still wouldn't be there.

Because it isn't waking up and being alone that is the thing. It's waking up and her not being there.

It's wanting to reach out for her, wanting to hold her close, wanting to feel her breath against your neck as you stroke the skin on her back.

It's wanting to wake up and know she's there.

It's not to do with sex, sex is the last thing on my mind this morning.

It's not to do with not wanting to be alone, either. As I say, had I woke up this morning and found I wasn't waking up alone, yes, there would be someone to hold close, I'd feel their breath on my neck, I'd stroke their back and kiss their shoulders and be glad that SOMEONE was there.

But it still wouldn't be her. I'd still be lying there wishing it was her. I'd still be where I am now looking forward to the next time I heard from her.

I realise it doesn't matter who I wake up next to, she would still be the first thought that came into my head.
It's the first thing I want to know.

That she's Ok. That she's safe. That she's happy.

I want to feel her presence there when I wake.

And just hold her.

Just lie there and feel her with me, know that she's safe, know that I'm safe and feel that nothing else really matters.

Because it wouldn't.

No one could really be her substitute. Waking up and having someone there is better than waking up alone, but it doesn't mean waking up and her being there. It couldn't and it never could. If waking up alone is nought out of ten, and waking up next to her is ten out of ten, waking up to someone else is still only three out of ten.

I'd still miss her.

They say you can't miss what you never had.
They lie.

I miss her.

Every minute of every hour of every day.

Thursday 28 August 2008

Waiting On The World To Change

Everything changes. The seasons, weather, emotions, people, thoughts, relationships, sometimes even realities. According to Heraclitus, the weeping philosopher, change is central to the universe - "All is flux, nothing stays still".

Yet somehow we all find ourself stuck in moments that we just cannot get out of – bad relationship, bad job, bad state. We tend to blame that on outer factors and lack of control, but the truth is, in most cases even when things are bad we tend to chose to stay there simply cuz we are afraid to leave our comfort zone and leap out onto the unknown. Sometimes we simple get accustomed and used to the pain, the hurt, the hollow feeling, thinking we are getting what we deserve, cuz surely we do not deserve more than this.


Life should be lived by choices, not chances. Sometimes you don’t have many choices, but you always have to make a choice, even when it is between two evils. The fact that you are the one choosing should change your perspective, cuz you are the one controlling your destiny. We don’t chose the card that have been given us, but we do chose how to play them.

Charles Darwin said that “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” Everything changes, and so must you. People often talk about changing the world, but very few of us thinks of changing ourself. Revolution might be needed, but you have to start with somewhere, so why not with yourself? If you really want something in life, you cannot just sit around and wait for someone to change the world or for divine intervention, you have to be the one getting it.

Easier said than done, I know. I am currently finding myself standing on a defining crossroad, not certain which road I shall walk upon. Should I take the safe road, knowing that what I will be getting won’t be enough, but at least I will know what I’ll be getting. Or should I take the unknown road, which on the map and writing sounds like something that could be an opportunity and the beginning of something really grand. But am I really ready for that immense change and the uncertainty that follows – can anyone really ever be ready for it?

Sometimes living out your dreams isn’t as easy as it seems, but it shouldn’t keep you from at least trying. Nothing worth having comes easy.

I suppose all that is left to say is that instead of waiting on the world to change, we should ourself become the wind of change.

Quote of the Day:
You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” / Gandhi

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Post also found at Crashed Site

Wednesday 27 August 2008


I'm not doing a long post tonight.

Had a crap day.
And I'd rather talk to Haydee than post.

It makes me feel better.

I really do have nothing at all I can ever possibly offer her.

Nothing whatsoever.

I can't offer her financial stability, I'm pretty sure I can't offer her a sex life of the quality she's used to, I'm wildly unpredictable, highly volatile, unreliable, spend money like water, have absolutely no practical sense and I'm not even really that good looking. I'm like ET, you think at first I'm cute until you realise that actually I'm an ugly little thing with puny limbs and a sunken in chest.

I'm difficult to get close too, I'm evasive, I can be callous, I'm defensive, I'm dismissive.

And I'm quite brittle. REALLY brittle.

If I was a woman, you'd call me 'High Maintenance'.

I'm damaged goods. Unfortunately, I'm non refundable.

I have absolutely nothing to offer her. She deserves to be loved by someone worthy of her. And that is SO not me.

But love her I do.

And somewhere a part of me thinks that maybe, just maybe, I wouldn't make her life miserable.

Because I really do believe that she, and only she, can redeem me.

And tonight, she's more important than posting.

Tuesday 26 August 2008


There were once a man and a woman who had long in vain wished for a child. At length the woman hoped that God was about to grant her desire. These people had a little window at the back of their house from which a splendid garden could be seen, which was full of the most beautiful flowers and herbs. It was, however, surrounded by a high wall, and no one dared to go into it because it belonged to an enchantress, who had great power and was dreaded by all the world.

One day the woman was standing by this window and looking down into the garden, when she saw a bed which was planted with the most beautiful rampion - rapunzel, and it looked so fresh and green that she longed for it, and had the greatest desire to eat some. This desire increased every day, and as she knew that she could not get any of it, she quite pined away, and began to look pale and miserable. Then her husband was alarmed, and asked, what ails you, dear wife. Ah, she replied, if I can't eat some of the rampion, which is in the garden behind our house, I shall die.

The man, who loved her, thought, sooner than let your wife die, bring her some of the rampion yourself, let it cost what it will. At twilight, he clambered down over the wall into the garden of the enchantress, hastily clutched a handful of rampion, and took it to his wife. She at once made herself a salad of it, and ate it greedily. It tasted so good to her - so very good, that the next day she longed for it three times as much as before. If he was to have any rest, her husband must once more descend into the garden. In the gloom of evening, therefore, he let himself down again. But when he had clambered down the wall he was terribly afraid, for he saw the enchantress standing before him.

How can you dare, said she with angry look, descend into my garden and steal my rampion like a thief. You shall suffer for it. Ah, answered he, let mercy take the place of justice, I only made up my mind to do it out of necessity. My wife saw your rampion from the window, and felt such a longing for it that she would have died if she had not got some to eat. Then the enchantress allowed her anger to be softened, and said to him, if the case be as you say, I will allow you to take away with you as much rampion as you will, only I make one condition, you must give me the child which your wife will bring into the world. It shall be well treated, and I will care for it like a mother.

The man in his terror consented to everything, and when the woman was brought to bed, the enchantress appeared at once, gave the child the name of rapunzel, and took it away with her. Rapunzel grew into the most beautiful child under the sun. When she was twelve years old, the enchantress shut her into a tower, which lay in a forest, and had neither stairs nor door, but quite at the top was a little window. When the enchantress wanted to go in, she placed herself beneath it and cried, rapunzel, rapunzel, let down your hair to me.

Rapunzel had magnificent long hair, fine as spun gold, and when she heard the voice of the enchantress she unfastened her braided tresses, wound them round one of the hooks of the window above, and then the hair fell twenty ells down, and the enchantress climbed up by it. After a year or two, it came to pass that the king's son rode through the forest and passed by the tower.

Then he heard a song, which was so charming that he stood still and listened. This was rapunzel, who in her solitude passed her time in letting her sweet voice resound. The king's son wanted to climb up to her, and looked for the door of the tower, but none was to be found. He rode home, but the singing had so deeply touched his heart, that every day he went out into the forest and listened to it.

Once when he was thus standing behind a tree, he saw that an enchantress came there, and he heard how she cried, rapunzel, rapunzel, let down your hair. Then rapunzel let down the braids of her hair, and the enchantress climbed up to her. If that is the ladder by which one mounts, I too will try my fortune, said he, and the next day when it began to grow dark, he went to the tower and cried, rapunzel, rapunzel, let down your hair. Immediately the hair fell down and the king's son climbed up.

At first rapunzel was terribly frightened when a man, such as her eyes had never yet beheld, came to her. But the king's son began to talk to her quite like a friend, and told her that his heart had been so stirred that it had let him have no rest, and he had been forced to see her. Then rapunzel lost her fear, and when he asked her if she would take him for her husband, and she saw that he was young and handsome, she thought, he will love me more than old dame gothel does. And she said yes, and laid her hand in his. She said, I will willingly go away with you, but I do not know how to get down.

Bring with you a skein of silk every time that you come, and I will weave a ladder with it, and when that is ready I will descend, and you will take me on your horse. They agreed that until that time he should come to her every evening, for the old woman came by day. The enchantress remarked nothing of this, until once rapunzel said to her, tell me, dame gothel, how it happens that you are so much heavier for me to draw up than the young king's son - he is with me in a moment. Ah.

You wicked child, cried the enchantress. What do I hear you say. I thought I had separated you from all the world, and yet you have deceived me. In her anger she clutched rapunzel's beautiful tresses, wrapped them twice round her left hand, seized a pair of scissors with the right, and snip, snap, they were cut off, and the lovely braids lay on the ground. And she was so pitiless that she took poor rapunzel into a desert where she had to live in great grief and misery.

On the same day that she cast out rapunzel, however, the enchantress fastened the braids of hair, which she had cut off, to the hook of the window, and when the king's son came and cried, rapunzel, rapunzel, let down your hair, she let the hair down. The king's son ascended, but instead of finding his dearest rapunzel, he found the enchantress, who gazed at him with wicked and venomous looks. Aha, she cried mockingly, you would fetch your dearest, but the beautiful bird sits no longer singing in the nest. The cat has got it, and will scratch out your eyes as well.

Rapunzel is lost to you. You will never see her again. The king's son was beside himself with pain, and in his despair he leapt down from the tower. He escaped with his life, but the thorns into which he fell pierced his eyes. Then he wandered quite blind about the forest, ate nothing but roots and berries, and did naught but lament and weep over the loss of his dearest wife. Thus he roamed about in misery for some years, and at length came to the desert where rapunzel, with the twins to which she had given birth, a boy and a girl, lived in wretchedness.

He heard a voice, and it seemed so familiar to him that he went towards it, and when he approached, rapunzel knew him and fell on his neck and wept. Two of her tears wetted his eyes and they grew clear again, and he could see with them as before. He led her to his kingdom where he was joyfully received, and they lived for a long time afterwards, happy and contented.

--The End--

Don't you just hate it when cop out happy endings spoil a good story?

Alternative ending, as cautiously proposed by Crushed...

The Prince reflected as he roamed the forest that generally speaking, if big tall towers have no doors, than whoever owns the tower doesn't want you to get in and shouting up to some unseen female expecting her to let down her hair and you to climb up it without great chance of risk to yourself is naive beyond belief.

Still, it was too late to cry about spilt milk, and crying isn't exactly a sensible thing to do if you've been blinded anyway. It ends up being pretty messy.

Eventually the Prince made his way to the city and made a niche for himself as the blind mouth organ playing busker standing outside the butcher's shop. To anyone who would listen he'd say 'I used to know this girl once who lived in a big tower with no doors. And I used to climb up her hair.'
And everyone thought he was mad, but gave him a few shillings out of sympathy.

Meanwhile, Gothel sat in the tower and foamed at the mouth till one day she burst her spleen out of spite and died.

Rapunzel returned to the tower. Putting the ladder by the wall, she slowly climbed up and looking through the window, saw the cat she loved so dearly and had missed whilst in the desert.

Looking out of the window, she realised she'd missed the tower. And no witch and no prince, just her and the cat, she could be happy.

She kicked aside the ladder and never looked back.

And she cut her hair every month so that no one could ever, ever again climb up her hair and cause the unfortunate chain of events that separated her from her cat.


Monday 25 August 2008


As you I'm sure you've probably noticed, I try to stick to non-controversial topics.
So tonight will be no exception.

Since the Bank Holiday means that Monday night is kind of a Sunday night too, you get Music mixed into this post to a greater degree than normal.

All on that wonderfully non controversial little powder.


Before we start, the results of whether or not you thought that Islam itself, meaning the actual religion, was the enemy of our lives.
You didn't.

You have a new issue to vote on this week- and I'm sure you already know what it is. But read the post before you get clicking on that poll.

I have chosen Cocaine for a very simple reason.

In 1920 the eighteenth amendment to the US constitution was passed prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcohol. It's widely agreed that one defining factor in this was that the brewing industry were saying 'ban spirits not beer', whilst the distilleries said 'ban beer not spirits'.

The point is, that Cocaine being a 'hard' drug, so called, it allows me to nail my colours to the mast and state; All prohibition is futile, stupid, and ultimately creates a culture where the law itself is tacitly despised as an ass.

Because all the arguments I am going to use here have relevance to other 'illegal drugs', and I'm assuming that if you can support legalising Cocaine, you are almost certainly behind legalising anything 'softer'.

Having said that, I don't want this post to be taken at ultimate face value and it be assumed that I propose legalising Heroin. This post does NOT propose blanket legalising for over the counter sale Heroin any more than it does Arsenic or Cyanide. And the reasons it why it doesn't, are exactly the same.

Now, let's just have a look at the underlying assumptions behind the war on drugs.
And actually, they can be summed up in one very simple phrase. One you've heard so many people use. It's a truism.

'If Alcohol had been discovered in the sixties, as opposed to having always been with us, they'd have banned it.'

Too damn right they would have done.

You compare Alcohol to almost any drug you can think of. It's an awful drug, if used in the wrong way. The town centres of any English city on a Friday night prove that. The police cells on a Saturday morning likewise prove it.

But would you really want to ban it?

Like a lot of things, its a kneejerk reaction. And of course, most people don't think.
The commonest image that most people who have never touched Cocaine have of Cocaine, is Daniella Westbrook facing the camera to reveal that in her case, where nostrils were concerned, two had become one.

And this of course, just adds more grist to the mill. Do a line of Coke, your nose falls out.


Well, I guess the best thing for me to do here is put my hands up and admit I've done Cocaine in my life.
In fact, I'll go further. From your point of view, I've done a LOT of Cocaine. From Daniella Westbrook's point of view, I've hardly touched it.

You see, there IS a huge difference between USE and ABUSE. Something we seem to understand when it comes to alcohol. But not Ecstasy, Cannabis, or - Cocaine.

To be sure, if you abuse Cocaine, the results really aren't good. Ms Westbrook's septum proves that. But they'd never have used Oliver Reid in beer adverts either.

Francis Rossi- he of Status Quo fame and likewise a man who lost his septum- reckons he polished off about 150 kilos of the stuff in his lifetime.
Now this is abuse. It's not rational use- it's high level addiction funded by having more money than sense.

What you don't realise is that thousands of ordinary professional people shell out on Cocaine every weekend and have perfectly intact septums.

I think the problem with the 'drugs' debate (God I hate that word, the grouping together of so many diverse stimulants together in a blanket bag of evil), is that it's based on so many logical fallacies.

The anti drug lobby simply have to say 'It can do this, if you do too much', or 'We don't know yet what it might do, because not enough research has been done'.

What kind of arguments are these? And apologists spend too much time fighting these non-sequiters.
Firstly, the burden of proof should rest with those seeking to prohibit. Not those seeking to defend individual liberty.
Secondly, proof that something CAN prove harmful, if misused, does not mean that there might not be positives which distinctly outweigh those negatives.

Which is why Cocaine is such a good example to use.
Because Cocaine has obvious, tangible, demonstrable negatives.

It costs. It costs a lot of money. Most drugs are dirt cheap, so the argument that they cause people to commit crime- other than the crime of buying or selling them doesn't hold too much water. With Cocaine, the simple cost of the drug and its powerful attraction means that it can conceivably lead people to take drastic measures.

Non sequiter. This one very good example of a case where the fact that it is a seller's market and its a drug very much in demand, means that the street price of this drug is astronomical compared to production costs.

With most drugs, if you legalised them and taxed them at the same rate you do tobacco (about 80% of the price you pay being tax), the cost to the user would remain largely unchanged. With Cocaine, it would drop substantially.

The fact is, people are prepared to pay good money for it.

And the fact is, no one stops to ask why? Why are people prepared to pay so much money for an illegal drug? We ARE talking £40 approximately a gramme.
It's a lot of money.

Cocaine is NOT a drug you can use on income support. Crack, yes. But for reasons, I'm not going to go into here, that's actually a Cocaine PRODUCT, essentially transmuted into a narcotic. It's not the same thing.

I'll tell you what the real point about Cocaine is.

A huge number of people have actually already, through EXPERIENCE, made Cocaine their drug of choice. They've decided, one way or another, it gives value for money. In a way alcohol most certainly does not.

I used to use it loads. I hardly touch it now- but that's not for any particular reason other than I tend to be slightly less wild than I once was, and I have a career to think about. It's the law and the cost. But there are still times when I won't say no. The fact is, it's a very pleasurable stimulant.

It's difficult to explain to someone who has never used it what the attraction is. The best way I can explain it, is that is both an anaesthetic and a stimulant.

So it sedates you as well as stimulating you.

My favorite words to describe it are 'serene' and 'tranquil'.

It puts you in a calm frame of mind, it totally relaxes any nervous tension you might have, yet at the same time heightening your awareness and your co-ordination. It hones your thought patterns into straighter lines, it enhances your cognitive abilities.

You feel as Sauron does when he puts the ring on his finger.

It's not everyone's stimulant at all, not at all. Some people shouldn't use it. But some people shouldn't drink either.

Some of the most advanced thought processes in my life have happened whilst using Cocaine. Some of the post here that I would say were conceptually my best, weren't actually written on Cocaine, but they were composed on it. They were composed in conversations at parties and emerged in post form at some later point.

I'm not going to say that Cocaine doesn't have many negative qualities. Look at Daniella Westbrook's missing Septum and you'll see, of course it does.

But life is about balances and you can't get something for nothing. Everything has a price, and certainly Cocaine can demand a price, as can most things.

But it is my belief that people should have the right to make their own mind up on this things.

Cocaine, like anything else, can cause pleasure, but ultimately it can cause pain in terms of human cost, it can deliver misery too, I don't deny that.

It can cause enlightenment, transcendance, cognitive liberation, or even, just a great night with a wealth of beautiful emotions.

And in some cases it can fry people's brains and lead to drug induced psychosis. There's no denying that.

But does it actually OVERALL offer more positives than negatives to the potential user?
My view? If used in moderation, yes. I reckon over the last ten yours about four hundred grammes have gone up my nose. That might be four hundred grammes more than you, but it's 149,600 grammes LESS than it took to deprive Francis Rossi of his septum.

On the whole, weighing it up, most people who come across it, tend to find that it becomes their drug of choice. It doesn't mean they turn into crazy Coke fiends, just that all things being equal it is, when used in moderation, the thing that potentially gives MOST, in terms of value for money, and in terms of mental and physical recovery after usage, hurts least.

The law right now only offers us the people ONE drug of choice. And it's about the worst choice of the lot.
I think society would be a lot better off if we allowed people to make their OWN choices on this.
And actually allowed people to gain knowledge on things from better sources than the Government message 'Drugs are bad' and the dealer's message 'Go on, it's cool.'

Because Cocaine isn't bad at all, not if used responsibly, no more so than Vodka- and a lot more mentally stimulating and conducive to creating good company.

I'm going to come out and say, I think that not only should Cocaine be legal, but actually using it in moderation actually has huge benefits to the individual.

Mankind has found so many stimulants that are BETTER for it than fermented berries and fermented hops.

And I really think it's only vested interests keeps it that way.

I'd love to be able to say 'Try it, you might like it', but I think my critics might then accuse of me of using this blog to actively push 'hard drugs'!

So I'm not going to say that.

What I am going to ask you to do, is agree that people should be able to make their own minds up and each of us be allowed to find our own routes to happiness, as long as those routes don't trample over the routes of others.

The poll is in the sidebar.

Have your say!

Sunday 24 August 2008

The Third Way- The Future I Choose

My life is back.

Those four words are so simple, yet they mean a lot.
I have faith and hope, and a bizarre kind of way, love. And everything that is wrong with my life, is rectifiable.

And it's great to be able to feel that way.

About this time last year, I really was starting to feel that my life was potentially heading towards being as good as it had ever been. There really was only one cloud on the horizon.
That doesn't need going into really. Those who know, will know that that cloud become the most horrific ordeal I ever, or will ever I'm sure, have to live through.

But it's over now.

It's over.

And the difference has been amazing.

You can't go back. You can't make it as if it had never happened. My life hasn't- and can't return to the way it was before the ordeal.

But is it BETTER as a result?

Yes, because what doesn't kill you only makes you stronger and the whole experience has been a fascinating- if brutal- learning curve.

So life has begun again. But this isn't like the restoration of King Charles II after Cromwell, or the Bourbons after Napoleon. It's not as if the past year never happened.

It's a new era completely.
After all, I'm thirty now.

And now I'm finally able to take stock of what I want from life. What's practical and what's not. And how to go about it.

First things first.

The ordeal being over has meant several things have already returned to normal, and the rest can, in time.

Lack of continual worry, being able to focus more on closing, rather than losing deals because one's thought processes aren't sharp enough, means that in real terms the last month saw me have my second best month EVER (My best was last October), and I'm earning what I was. This month looks like I'll kill it too, and bearing in mind this is dead month, that's pretty damn good.

We're talking about two hundred pounds a month better off.

But there's more. Back in January- when the ordeal was at its height- my heavily pregnant flatmate departed to pastures more suited to a newborn baby than this flat, which essentially serves the needs of a slightly bohemian lifestyle.

And sorting out a replacement was something I really couldn't focus on.

But now my mind has been free to tackle that. I've had viewings, and there is someone I have in mind who fits the bill.
Asian female, mid thirties, own business, nice person.

And no, I don't sleep with my flatmates. Recipe for disaster. I just don't really care for living with other males. I suppose the Baker kind of treats this as a sort of home and does kind of live here some of the time, and other friends often sleep here, but living? I don't do living with blokes.

So that's another three hundred quid, potentially.

I can live comfortably again. Five hundred quid on average, every month, better off.

And there's the rest of it.

I kind of decided to take a kind of sabbatical from women last October. I say sabbatical, because I do this from time to time. The ostensible reason is, that it's for me to sort my head out about what I really want from women, sex, love, and life.

Now I've kidded myself that this one lasted such an inordinate amount of time because of my sincere dedication to working these things through.

But that of course, is complete bollocks. If I hadn't had so much crap on my plate, the sabbatical would have ended the same way they always do.
After a month or two, it gets too much and with the best will in the world, something soon happens to make you weak.

There are several reasons this one lasted so long. One of them will be alluded to later. But reasons Two and Three were; Being too absorbed with stress and worry to pick up on signals from, or be interested in, the opposite sex and being too snappy and arsy to be of much appeal to the opposite sex. I seem to have accrued a lot of phone numbers whilst drunk or otherwise over the last year, but never done much with them.

Now that weight has lifted from my mind, well, let's just say I'd forgotten just how much temptation is about and just how poor I am at resisting it.

Only my perspective has changed a little.

Because something bizarre happened over the last year, something I never really thought could happen.
Let's just say I'm starstruck. Kind of Head over Heels.
These things creep up on you when you least expect them to.
Only these things aren't really that simple. For the purposes of this post I'm going to call her Haydee, and if you're thinking this a reference to the Count of Monte Christo, it is.
You don't need to know any more than that.
Suffice to say, in practical terms, though I think I would want to have her in my life ultimately as the person I share my living space with, I rate that idea as having the same probability as Birmingham City making it into Europe.

Anyway, I was sitting in the pub earlier assessing the salient points of reality.

  1. If I work at my career, no reason why I can't still go all the way. So, I made some mistakes in my twenties. I was a naughty boy. No reason why I can't one day be a Company Director- even if I'll never now have a political career.
  2. I'm still not sure how long I want to stick with sales. It's a living, but it's not the calling of my heart. That's why I blog, really. But I have faith again, that that's going somewhere. Some positive things have happened there. I know I want to write, writing is what I enjoy doing and if I was in a position to say 'shove sales up your arse', I would.
  3. I can live comfortably. With more money and no reason now to drown my sorrows in alcohol, life can be good. It IS good.
  4. I CAN reclaim normal relations with my family. They were approaching some degree of comfort before, and they can do again. I really do think we can return to me popping round every month or two for a meal and we can return to the way things were, with the general consensus that my personal life is not a subject for discussion.

So that's all that.
And now to points that I've been mulling over of late.

When you're little they spin you all this crap about happy ever after love stories. And it doesn't correspond with reality.
This afternoon I was reflecting just how much I often totally go against all things I preach, in my own subconscious outlook. I preach reality, but I still cling on to fantasy in my head.

One thing I was arguing recently to a friend was that we are moving to a classless society, in the sense that tacitly, regardless of occupation, most people under forty now have much the same outlook and aspirations. That distinction between the morals of the middle and working classes is gone, for those under forty.

The thing is, so many of us in so called 'professional' sectors, feel we still have to conform to a moral code we don't actually believe in. And in my case, that's actually WORSE, because I openly say I don't believe in it. I actually believe in Free Love and I openly speak in favour of it.

The point is, the so called 'working' class don't pretend to believe it. They actually live lives which better resemble the way of living I think is more natural and they do it openly. We 'professional' people still feel compelled to try make nuclear families and marriage and all that work.

Yet looking round my local, I realise that most of the people there lead happier and more honest lives.

They don't have stupid expectations. They get on with real life. It's only those of us who have to put suits on feel we have to try live lives politicians and other 'moral leaders' think we should. Because we're actually more brainwashed. We WATCH all the discussion programmes, we READ their newspapers. These people don't. They just get on with THEIR lives. They emote to people as they find them. It is only us in suits feel we need to stick to archaic- and unrealistic- ways of living.

And ones where we lie.

Life doesn't have to be as simple as a choice between holding out for The One and settling. There is a middle way. One ordinary people choose, without thinking about it.

So, points.
  1. Ideally, yes, I want children. That doesn't mean I want a family, not necessarily. What it means is that I'd like children who I have regular contact with. I don't believe that has to involve spending your life with the mother. It's possible I may already have children, but even if I followed that up, I'm not part of their lives and never could be now. What I mean is, I'd like children who I give names to, and grow up baptised Catholic, supporting Birmingham and at least seeing their father on a regular basis. And with the relationship between myself and their mother always being somewhere in that spectrum between people who live together and just good friends who get on amicably and both have the best interests of the children at heart.
  2. I don't really want to commit to anybody. With exceptions. And those exceptions are clear. I don't really like being alone, but nor do I want to be attached. Not in that way. Not a permanent commitment. Because it would be wrong. It would be a lie. Any arrangement I got into with anyone, it would have to be on the understanding, it was just for as long as it lasted. What came of it, would come of it, and yes, we could be good friends, GREAT friends even, friends who live together and sleep together, but love everlasting? No. That's only possible, I think, with two women in the world.
  3. Regardless of the situation, if Angela showed up tomorrow and said she'd come for me, I'd go. I'd go off with her into the sunset. Nothing would hold me back. And I'm not going to pretend it would. If I was with someone, I'd leave and go with Angela. I promised almost two years ago that would be the case, and to be fair, it's a promise I'd keep in all but one situation. What I actually said 'The offer always remains on the table- I'll never withdraw it.' And I really don't think I could resist going off to a lifetime entwined in those slender ebony limbs. Angela is not The One, I know that now, but she's still the most stunning woman I have ever come across and she could walk all over me all she liked, no it wouldn't QUITE be true love, but it would be the next best thing. It would be true lust and true adoration.
  4. There is one woman who would still take precedence over Angela. I can't see there ever being a situation where I ever had to choose between her and Angela. The chances of such a situation arising are infinitesimal. But if it happened, I'd choose her. And that's Haydee. She is The One, I know that.

How to be realistic about this?

Quite simple. The way ordinary people do who haven't got their head up the arse of idealism. Live in reality.

Of course it's Haydee I want. And she knows I'll wait for her. But let's be reasonable about wait. What it means is if she called, I'd come. I'd drop everything and build a life with her.
But she may never want that.

And I'm thirty now. And looking round the pub, I realise there are plenty of options.

Options, as in, ones with no expectations.

There are plenty of girls out there who aren't looking for love everlasting. They know it's not real. Not in the world of The Star.

They expect that in their life they'll live with several different men and have children by more than one of them. It's normal.

They don't expect a lifelong commitment, they don't expect the father of their children to be the love of their lives. They don't plan to have children, but they don't plan not to. One day they'll just tell you they're pregnant. But they don't expect that to affect how long you stay with them. Relationships to them aren't an all or nothing deal. There is far less of an expectation of fidelity on either part.

This is the world of the women that up to now, I sleep with often, but have relationships with never.

But maybe I should.

In many ways, they're often actually NICER people.

Why not just take these things as you find them?

Why not just stop the acting? Just be honest, don't tell them you love them, or that you'll be there for life.

Some of you may think I'm awful for saying this, but I'm happy with that. Happy with doing that. Staying with someone as long as we stay good friends, and then when and if things don't work out, taking that as it comes. Not fighting to preserve it. Just moving on.

Settling? No it's not settling. It's not settling, because I'm not accepting it as final.

Haydee knows I'll wait for her.

But that might BE forever.

So I've just got to be practical about how I pass my time as I wait.

And I think- finally- I'm looking forward to the future.

Life really is so much easier if you're just HONEST with yourself and those around you.

So, as far as I'm concerned the deal pretty much is this.
I know who I ACTUALLY want.

But I'm open to anyone who has certain qualities while I wait. I just don't offer commitment. I'm not averse to seeing someone regularly, even possibly having some kind of shared living arrangement, but I don't offer commitment. I offer an open relationship, and nothing else. I don't offer permanency. It lasts till one or other of us really has had enough. And as far as I'm concerned, that's the first argument. The first argument, will also be the last argument. And if they want children, I don't have a problem with that. But don't consider that to tie me down in any way. I promise to provide for the children if there are any, but I don't promise how I do that.

Angela? I'm not waiting for her, no. If she came back, I'd go off with her, simply because, with the exception of Joanna and Haydee, she's the most amazing woman I've ever come across. I don't miss her, but if I saw her again, I wouldn't look a gift horse in the mouth.


It will, I realise always be her. And I will wait for her. Forever. In the ways that really matter.

And if, if, that miracle should ever happen, then yes.

She and she alone of all the women in the world can expect me to do that I will never do for anyone else, ever. And that's a promise.


Because I do actually love her.

The Bad Samaritan

Something happened the other day I can't QUITE shake from my mind.

I can't help feeling I failed a life test.

I was walking from Five Ways Island back up the Hagley Road. I was in a rush. I was ramming a sausage and bacon bap into my mouth and wiping the brown sauce from lips, at the same time reaching for my cigarettes.

And then I saw and heard it.

As no doubt, others had too. The bus stop was right there and no shortage of people standing there.

There they were. At the foot of the ramp. Right by the underpass leading under the road. Where it goes to, I don't know. I've never used that particular underpass.

She was cowering against the wall. A little thing she was, but pretty. Even with the terror written across her face, you could see she was pretty. An Asian girl of perhaps twenty two or so.
He was shouting. He had his face pressed in to hers. You could feel his attitude. She was 'his' woman, she WOULD listen.

He wasn't a big lad. Sure, he could throw his weight around at a woman, but I doubt he'd speak like that to a night club bouncer. A coward.

I stopped briefly and looked over the railing. She caught my eye. I could see the look she had in it. Fear. Terror. Had he hit her before?
She wanted me to intervene.

He saw her eye had caught something and turned, then gestured as if to say 'It's nothing mate, nothing really.'
Then he led her off, into the tunnel of the underpass.

I stood wondering whether to head off. Time was a premium and it was none of my business.
I could hear the shouting continue. His, not hers. Every so often a squeak would emerge which showed she was trying to speak, but he was not letting her.

Slowly I walked down the ramp and stood a few feet from the entrance to the tunnel.

He was accusing her of 'Fucking around'. Whether he meant that literally, I don't know. Or care. Even if she had, it wouldn't have justified what was going on- and worse- what I feared MIGHT go on.

She is a human being, not property.

I stood wondering what to do.

The voices appeared to be moving away. He was saying 'We're going to sort this out'.

And I played a mental trick on myself. I kidded myself that his voice had got less harsh. That he was cooling.
Maybe. Cooling because he knew she was safely on her way home with him for a good beating.

But let's be honest. I walked back up that ramp because I didn't want to walk into a dark underpass and say 'Oi, leave her alone'.

In case he had a knife on him.

And because I wanted to get back to the office.

And it gets worse.

At the top of the slope another guy was standing there. He'd probably seen me go down, and he too, was worried for her.

And we both eased our cowardly consciences here.

He said 'Everything OK?'

I said 'I think so. I just wanted to make sure he wasn't going to batter her'.

He nodded.
We both kidded ourselves it was OK.

But I hadn't even got back to the office when I knew that wasn't what I should have said.

He'd have come with me. Reluctantly, yes, but he'd have come. His standing there proves that.

We should both have walked back down that ramp and risked it.

Because sitting here, I can't lie to myself.

That guy beat the crap out of her later on, I'm sure.

And I just carried on with my business.

And actually, it would have been worth possibly getting knifed for.

As it is, I'm pretty ashamed of myself.

Saturday 23 August 2008

Life on Mars- Part Two

I'm not going to give any introduction this week. For those who are interested, the first part is here.

Otherwise, this piece can still be read on its own.

Wednesday, Week 5, Quarter 3, 2208

Well, it's sundown now on my second full day on Mars.

And it's been tiring.

Yesterday, George and I took the chance to go out and about in Lowell. Lowell is exactly the sort of city you'd expect George to settle in, and as he pointed out it's not exactly a typical Martian city, in many ways. Not of course, that one should necessarily expect there to be a typical Martian city. Oh, I guess they're all different to Earth cities in ways which mark them out as Martian cities, but each one of course, has its own peculiarities.

Some say there is no such thing as a picturesque Martian city. That each one looks as if it was built in a day. That's not true of course and the Martians take pride in their history, in a way that sometimes seems amusing to us. Because two generations to a Martian, is ancient history.

Lowell, of course, has history. How many millions have been enchanted by it's name?

George explained that the bulk of Martian cities are much more utilitarian developments, having grown as they did out of early mission settlements, or having grown out of the mining of raw materials. We still have Viking and Beagle to see, but from the images I have seen, I know to expect cities of steel, plastic and concrete, cities designed according to the needs of administrators and scientists, cities where at least in the beginning, people were an afterthought.

Not with Lowell. Lowell stands out as a city founded by people, for people. It represents the hopes and beliefs of mankind in their future.

I think it's hard for Earthlings to appreciate just how not being bound by history has enabled Martians to design cities that suit the way we live today. Lowell truly is a Garden City in many ways, to be sure, the industry and the infrastructure are there, but the city has been planned with human aesthetic considerations foremost.

The centre of the city may best be described as a vast domed artificial parkland, interspersed with buildings. It is a work of art in itself. One cannot help feeling that every mythical Paradise image from the subconscious of man was used in it's creation; it is Eden, it the Elysian fields, it is Asgard, it is Shangri-La.

Waterfalls. Roaming cows, imported of course, from Earth (and still something of a novelty to the residents). The parkland at the centre of Lowell stretches for miles. The chief buildings of the city nestle amongst its flowing rivers and its verdant slopes, looking almost as if they they are hollowed out hills.

Which they aren't of course. But it's hard to conceive of just how many people are actually busy working, planning, organising, doing here in what looks like a few square miles of Paradise.

Because this is, in fact, one of the busiest and most important cities of Mars, capital of the Cydonia Region.

Lowell has always been at the forefront of Martian cultural change- I guess Cydonia has always had that magical feel- it's attraction was never it's raw materials, or features of obvious use to mankind- more it was somewhere new, somewhere faintly mythical and it is here that the dissatisfied of Earth have come.

And it strikes a delicate balance. On the one hand, it has opened it's doors and welcomed with open arms every group and belief system that has felt caged and lacking in oxygen enough to flourish on Earth. Lowell has possibly the largest trans-sexual culture orbiting our star, for example. And yet here too, is to be found a substantial Mormon community, with a temple larger than that to be found in Salt Lake City.

But by the same token, Lowell guards its free living culture well. Reason, Tolerance, Co-operation. There are rules here, definite rules. Fit in, get on, live your own lives, harm nobody, but do your bit. If you can't do that, we don't want you in Lowell.

Cydonia has an amazing set of laws the reason and tolerance of which is something that should perhaps be looked at on Earth.
You are free to do pretty much what you want. All that matters is how that impacts on the environment around you.
Cydonia tells you what it wants from you, what you are expected to give to get back. And it really is up to you how you do that. Cydonia offers the social contract in simple terms. The only thing anyone needs to worry about is; Do you owe Cydonia, or does Cydonia owe you?

And it is testament to just how well this works, that most people really strive to go to bed every night knowing that Cydonia owes them, not the other way round.

The Martian culture is built on people feeling that they give more than they take, that sense that progress is only possible when as many people as possible do that, is an ingrained part of the thinking of Mars.

Martians really seem to have simplified their political processes to ultimate simplicity. They do not talk so much of 'Freedom ' or 'Equality', but more of 'Fairness'. Is something fair? All a Martian wants to know, is whether something creates a fair social contract. Everything, everything here is a contract between the individual and the communal infrastructure. On Earth, though we do now govern ourselves and every effort is made to ensure that no decision is made without total consultation of the people, certain archaic ideas such as people who 'govern' and people who are 'governed' still remain.

The Martians are less tolerant to that idea.

It's interesting as well to see how native Martians view things we would see as ordinary. After all, Mars is a processed world. The Martians have no reverence for Mars itself, the rock, as some on Earth do for Earth, the rock.

Mars the rock was conquered by Man. The Martians have no second thoughts about what the greatest thing in the universe is; they are. Because they're human.

And everything around them, everything they touch, everything they feel, everything they eat, everything they enjoy, it was all created by man from basic raw materials.

You will never hear a Martian complaining about messing with nature. Martians find the concept of 'natural' in the way we see it, as profoundly alien. On Mars FOOD isn't natural.
And this certainly affects the way they think. To a Martian, there are only two great things to be admired in the universe, the nuclear reactions which created elements, and the human mind which knows how to use them.

As we saw the sites in Lowell, George explained to me that the name of the city itself is almost symbolic. It is no accident that the city is renowned for it's water features. Because Lowell, a centuries old astronomer, was perhaps the founder of the Martian dream. Percival Lowell, it seems, was an astronomer who believed that a non-human Martian race kept their dead world alive by covering its surface with canals.

It wasn't true.

But now the human race have given life to this world and perhaps it is only fitting that the city which makes real that which Lowell dreamed of, carries his name. Because though his dream wasn't true, we made it so. And perhaps that dream, of a Martian race striving to make their planet live, was an early chapter in Man's dream to give life to this world.

Today we went up Face Mountain. This Mountain was a symbol of the New World for early settlers, and it still holds that awe- aside from Olympus Mons, it is maybe one of the best known Mountains of Mars. George tells me it got its name because early images suggested it was artificial, indeed, that it was a carved face.

Yet now it is home to rolling pine forests, and if ever it's dusty slopes showed a human face, it would be covered today by a carpet of greenery.

Sitting on the slopes of the mountain looking up at the red sky, a kind of permanent sunrise, I reflected that in so many ways this was a beautiful world, beautiful in its naked rawness, in its youth, and the sense that it was free from the corruption, free from the ossification, free from the stultifying routine, the conformity of Earth. This does not feel like a dead world, it is a living one, one where life feels colder, yet sharper, where it feels like an enervating breeze, more uncertain, yet freer.

I looked down at the orderly sprawl that is Lowell, and realised that actually its edge is so clearly demarcated. Where Lowell ends, it ends. And beyond that is the developing zone, the tracts of land that ripple outwards to the still red rock. Eastwards, one will reach another such city, Sagan, but here on Mars, there are cities, and there is the barrenness, and not really that much in between. This is an urban world.

As we walked down the slopes to get back in our plane, George shared with me some of his thinking since he had come here.

Mars is now home to half a billion people. It still imports about a quarter of it's needed materials, and still exports very little, but it COULD survive on it's own now, if it had to. It COULD cut the apron strings.
If Earth pushed it.

But what good what that do? Earth needs Mars as a friend. We're all human beings and our future as a species is linked. A hostile unilateral declaration of independence and complete cutting off of contact between the worlds, is a damaging division of human labour. It would be bad for Earth too, because the two worlds would compete, not co-operate in the further aims of the species, competing for the energy of the Gas Giants, competing in the exploration of the Kuiper belt, competing ultimately, for control of this star system. And it is easy for Earth with its eighty billion inhabitants, its natural bio-system, its vast infrastructure, its vast technological capacities to think it could, if it wanted to, swat the red planet into oblivion as it would an errant comet.

But that isn't the response of a rational species. That sort of thinking belongs back in the barbarous days of twentieth century thinking when human beings pointed missiles at eachother and thought that was a safe way to live.

To Martians, its all about the social contract. And to them, its about the biggest one of all; the contract Mars has with Earth.

Mars knows it's not yet the equal of Earth. A hundred years of history have not yet given it that. But nor is it a child any longer. What Mars wants to be is Earth's junior partner now.

Mars has needs that can only be dealt with by Mars having full control of itself and by it also having a voice in the decisions of humanity as a whole. When dealing with issues affecting the human race as a whole, this needs to be done by dialogue BETWEEN the UN- or what would now become the United States of Earth- and the Government of the Martian colony- Or the Republic of Mars, as it would now be.

And Martians believe that together, the two planets should work towards common human aims, and, yes, together bring Venus up to join as a third partner too. In fact Martians seem to have more enthusiasm for the Venus project than is found on Earth. I guess they feel that if they, the Martians could do it, they wish the Venutians well too.

As we flew back, George said 'It's actually about Earth. It's about whether Earth can cross that threshold of realising that her child has grown up. It happens time and time again in human history- the mother culture not seeing till it's too late that it's child has grown up, like the father who does not want his little girl to become a woman- he knows she will one day, but he'd rather it wasn't today. And today will never come, deep down. Earth can't afford to do that.'

And I realised then, that that was what it was all about. When we have children, we spend so long with them under our rule, that a part of us starts to see it as a right. Those primitive cultures with their 'honour thy father and mother'. It's not actually healthy. Because it just aids a flaw in human character- the refusal to accept adulthood in those who once depended on you- but are now your equals. We as humans fight to cling on to when they were our dependants, not our equals.

Britain did it with America, the twenty first century west did it to its economic dependencies across the globe, we are doing it now to Mars.

Do we grow up when we can stand up and say 'We are not any longer your children, but your equals'?

Or do we REALLY grow up when we can say 'YOU are no longer our children, YOU are our equals'?

Maybe humanity the species is finally leaving adolescence.


Thursday 21 August 2008

The Duplicities of Speech and Speaker

What a dilemma. Here I have the opportunity to communicate ideas to you. Yet barriers abound. Communication among humans is so much less effective than we seem to acknowledge.

The ideas in my head must be translated into words and sentences. The reader must translate that text back into ideas. How much goes astray with each translation? Each word is treacherous enough with all the wiggle room the English language provides. But string a few together and the opportunities to misconstrue grow mightily.

Communication in our societies must be succinct or else the audience has no time for it. We don’t break each idea down into each of its components and all of their subcomponents and so on. The effective transmission of ideas demands that we already possess the shared dogma which we then use as evidence to tackle greater ideas so as to propose greater dogma. And we behave as if this is happening though I observe that in reality it is not done with legitimacy.

If I say the girl had eyes the colour of the sky you might assume she is a comely girl. If a Martian reads the same sentence he might assume she was drunk or sleepless - because the sky on Mars (for now) is red of course. All language relies on common experience.

But we don’t have to live on separate planets to miscommunicate. Every human is unique, with unique perspectives of each of our living experiences, shared or otherwise. We all operate with individual dogma (usually deeply flawed, I suggest) but we speak and write as if we all shared the same. And I’m not talking about dogma in terms of religion specifically (in case you’ve already misconstrued), but in its most general sense; meaning any idea assumed to be true without breaking it down into all of its components; with the assumption that all of such components have been earlier verified and agreed upon by all persons in the present circle of communication.

Not only is there an absence of structures dedicated to the tracking of universally accepted dogma, but I’m convinced that few people even actively participate in their forming of personal dogma. I never did, in a sustained conscious way for the first thirty-seven years or so of my life. It is only now, having lost interest in the mainstream influences of my society, that I’ve come to take an active interest in such minutiae.

Another barrier to effective communication – which I’m forced to deal with immediately – is the reality that ideas connect together in pyramidal and circular relationships – while speech or written text is forced to be linear.

So we have conversations and debate which accomplish little. A typical exchange often seems more or less a scant integration of two separate internal conversations where little is accomplished in bringing the parties into closer understanding. But in a society so aptly termed the rat race, what else can we do? We don’t spend hours discussing the colour of a girl’s eyes. Our priorities dictate otherwise. We have scholastic courses to complete and clients to satisfy and promotions to win and shiny new things to buy – or whatever it is we think we have to do to impress those in our chosen crowd - and quickly so. The competition is fierce.

The other barrier to assembly of properly shared dogma is that strange human idea of belief – the arbitrary subscription to someone else’s ideas, unsubstantiated by ones self. We can’t bear to navigate our lives with insistence on a clean internal database of knowledge where all ideas are loyally divided into truth, fiction and testimony according to our legitimate personal experience. We would deem this too laborious. If we did do this, testimony would carry the biggest load at any given moment. In practice it’s typically the smallest. After all, artificial intellectual currency is the name of the game. Just sounding like you know what you’re talking about buys all kinds of respect. It bolsters your all-important reputation. And it doesn’t take much faking it before you’ve faked-out even yourself.

I don’t hear many conversations where everyone’s saying, “Perhaps it’s like this? Could it be like this? Do you think it’s like this? I’ve heard testimony that it’s like this.” I just keep hearing people say, “It’s like this and like this and like this and like this! So there!” And they usually sound suspiciously like they’re only reiterating something they’ve heard someone else say, without really consolidating for themselves or, often, even understanding it.

I suggest to you that we live in a society where there is no requirement for truth; not even regard for it or even reward for it. Not within our societal scheme so utterly dominated by so few and so powerful pervading structures: The education system, politics, religion, the workplace, media, pop culture and the family tradition. These structures don’t demand truth. They only demand participation in accordance with the rules of the game. But this is a subject for another time. I’m not declaring any of these structures good or bad, by the way. They are what they are. They have their various uses and flaws and their particular susceptibilities to corruption. I don’t even believe in the concepts of good or bad except perhaps within specified contexts, nor do I believe in belief, by the way! I’ve learned to live with a brain full of testimony and found much personal reward in doing so. Even testimony can be divided into useful and not useful until it eventually clears through the backlog and becomes clear as truth or fiction.

There is certainly a natural reward for participation in truth though; a natural sort of court of justice in which we all participate though almost universally without being aware of it. It’s one of many realities of our existence that we’re blinded to, by the confining world of those above-named societal structures which you’ll hear me refer to, collectively, as the matrix in essays to come, that is if you good folk can bear my ramblings and Crushed keeps me on! But these too are complex sets of ideas for another time.

Now that I’ve spent too many words introducing this article and disclaiming it, I sense there will be little remaining of the attention spans of those still with me this far! So let me call this an essay on communication and truth and close with this:

In a world where people dare to cop out with such absurd ideas as personal truth, I urge you to consider that there is indeed such a thing as straight-forward unvarnished truth. It is simply reality. Whether human beings had ever existed or not, there would always exist a genuine reality; the authentic states of the universe and its components.

But as humans do exist and have created ‘lives’ artificially complicated, interacting with so many ideas, some tangible, some mystical, and without fully exploring them for themselves, and fearing inside that reality is so much more complicated than it really is, and trying to hide their confusion and let on that they know what’s going on – let me insist on something. It is possible to live far more peaceful and truthful lives than you’re prepared to believe. The evidence that you absorb with your own five senses, day after day, minute by minute, carries a massive wealth of reliable evidence which, if assembled with integrity and courage and a divestment of reliance on the matrix, bears tremendous assets with which to solve the apparent problems in your life.

This earth is not apart from the ‘great universe.’ It is part of it and an excellent part because it bears a wealthy accessible sampling of the core components of the (albeit, known) universe. Okay, no nebulas or black holes but a marvelous selection of minerals and life forms and living behavior! Much of this past evidence, largely untapped, still resides in your memories and my earnest proposal is this: If one wishes to interact with more truth in their life and reap the rewards from such, one may leave the difficult mystical ideas aside for a time being, and start by building the most reliable truths first; the kind one can verify with the product of their own senses; one’s undeniable valid living experience. And once that is truly exhausted, one can then see what questions or what mysteries remain, and if any do, only then look back to the mystical if one chooses.

But what if all your untapped data were to be unearthed and it all came together, appearing to explain everything? What if it were to validate the claims of sciences and religions harmoniously and explain the great variances of human behavior and the inevitability of it and make impotent all the causes of your previous confusion, frustration, intolerance and rage? What if it brought about an evolution in you that greatly disempowered the greed and lust and pride within you and made you master of those forces instead of the other way around? What if it brought about the manifestation of previously unimagined states of joy and peace and freedom!

It would be bold testimony to claim this not only possible but well within the grasp of any thinking person and you probably wouldn’t believe it. Nor should you. No, you shouldn’t place this in the truth file of your personal knowledge database. But you should place it in your testimony file. In fact, I urge you to. For such a claim, grand as it is, I do sincerely make.

People asking questions; lost in confusion. Well I tell them there's no problem; only solutions. - John Lennon

When thy intelligence shall cross beyond the whirl of delusion, then shalt thou become indifferent to scripture heard or that which thou hast yet to hear. – Bhagavad Gita 2:52

It's either real or it's a dream. There's nothing that is in-between. - E.L.O.

Speaking the truth in times of universal deceit is a revolutionary act. – George Orwell

Truth is God. – Mahatma Ghandi