What I want V

I want a mature industrial democracy, where the workers by hand and brain, in full control of their means of production, exercise that control freely and generously for the common good: where they may provide comfortably for their families, and then give from the abundance to anyone in need. Where their work is sustainable, and they live without exploitation, caring for the world and all life on it.

From each according to their abilities, to each according to their need.

-But that’s Utopian. “No-place”-ish.
-Well, I am a Quaker. We seek to build the Kingdom of Heaven here on Earth. And there is just a chance that I might be able to help build such an industrial democracy, by co-operating with those with that aim, who have taken steps towards it, not to be reached in my lifetime but with clear progress visible.

And- there is the ultimate goal, the full beauty, and the step to be taken now. It is difficult to see.

So they built as men must build
With the sword in one hand and the trowel in the other.

There are no rules here. If I said, Do not look to the final goal- stare downwards, so that you may see the next step- that might seem sensible, and you might miss the next step. “We have faith that way will open,” say Quakers: we don’t know how, but believing that it is possible to make things better is necessary, in order to get out of bed. If you see the Buddha on the road, kill him- for knowing is possible but fleeting and uncertain, missteps are a constant risk, panaceas against missteps are so, so tempting illusion. That was the title of a book I read about fifteen years ago, amazed at its wisdom and how I was learning The Meaning of Life- but if I had kept it to read again now it would not give me the same feeling.

He quoted Godel, Escher, Bach which I have not read: you may be conscious, and conscious that you are conscious, and conscious that you are con- in endless iteration. I counter with something I read somewhere, that you may either be conscious of a thing, or conscious of your consciousness, but not both: you switch your attention, and the thing outside yourself disappears, so that you are only thinking of yourself. This is philosophy and psychology: we build a picture and an illusion of perceiving it all, but pay attention to constantly changing small parts all the time, like the scanning of a cathode ray tube.

There is a science fiction novel- I heard this, I have not read it- where the Invaders take over the bodies of politicians, military personnel, business executives, and use them to further their invasion plot; and the original owners see all their captors see, hear what comes out of their mouth, unable to influence it. A vision of Hell.

What do you Want?

The phone rings. Fxxk.
-Can I speak to Clare Flourish?
-Who is it? (angrily)
-The Blood Transfusion Service. (I should not be unpleasant to them.)

So I told him that the reason I have given blood is that I want to imagine that I am a good person; that this does not work; and that therefore I want him to remove me from their records.

Chaos of thought and passion, all confused…

-That’s Pope.
-From An Essay on Man, III. (Actually I have just looked that up, in a paperback- I told him it was from “Know then thyself- presume not God to scan”.)
-You beat me. A quote I did not know.
-Oh! I did not want to beat you! (But I did, obviously, to show off my erudition and taste, or I would not have looked it up just now.)

What do you Want?

I don’t know. There are conflicting motivations in my brain and psyche, which may surface in consciousness or not; which I may misunderstand, which conflict, which may present themselves as something other to my consciousness. I want heughmagandie, and that part which wants it, wants it with no heed to consequence. Sometimes I find what I want when I see what I do: the want is too difficult for the conscious self-concept to admit.

“Let’s talk next week.” Oh, God. Only if I can get something from it. Only if I can feel slightly less desolate than I do now. What do I want? Impossible things, and the seeming of taking a step towards them; and if I seemed to move towards them, I would want more, so that I may never be satisfied. From the desolation of my dearth I offer illusion and false hope, distraction from the reality that we will all die, and are all alone. I betray myself, doing what seems to be a step towards WHAT I WANT, but it is delusion leading to misery.

This is good, actually- honest! I am understanding more, conscious more. Step by step…

Arshile Gorky, the liver is the cocks comb

Non-free media rationale: I wanted to pinch Arshile Gorky’s picture, so I did.

Giving blood II

File:Blut-EDTA.jpgI rarely look at the Daily Mail without thinking, yuck- but occasionally it surprises me, and I feel amazed horror and disgust. I saw its headline about Benefits Britain: a man murdered six children, and for the Mail the headline about the story is that he was a benefit claimant. The news now about benefits is that the Government is cutting housing benefit deliberately to drive people out of their homes- no, they cannot keep a social housing house, they must go private renting. The Mail however seeks to demonise the claimants.

Sitting waiting. A woman asks her little girl if she would like to sit quietly, or to watch. The girl wants to watch, surprising the older woman and me. “I wouldn’t have wanted to watch when I was her age,” says the other. “You must remember that they are not hurting me,” says the mother, then caresses her back as the child hugs her. My blood does not sink fast enough in the test solution, so the carer gives another test. I sit, patiently, as she fiddles with the plastic tubes and needles, and the plasters, just as I lie passively when another takes the 470ml. It is so easy to drop into this passivity, that when the first carer does not give me a plaster for my fingertip and I bleed over my hand while she does the backup test, I wait for her to notice and wipe my hand for me.

More waiting. I have my e-reader with me. “How d’you get on with that, then?” asks a man as he sits down. He does not own a kindle, but has access to one. “Do you pay for the books?” He doesn’t. He is reading the plays of Aristophanes. “The trouble with that is you have to read 19th century translations,” I say. I have scored a victory, though I did not know it at the time. “That’s the best translation,” he says, vaguely. I get called to lie down with the tubes.

I am pleased to donate so quickly, once she finds the vein it only takes five minutes as I clench and unclench my buttocks as instructed- to keep blood pressure up. I have the cup of tea after as a granny talks to her grandchildren about the donor card she has been given. The Polymath comes to the table. “I only come here for the conversation”, he says. He tells me more of Aristophanes, and how he took the mickey out of So-Crates. Socrateees, I mean. A bit like Descarteez, the famous Ancient Greek French philosopher, I say, or it was Des Carteez, the philosopher on the Northern comedy club circuit. Another point to me. He heard American tourists talk of Ivan Solzhenitsyn. Except it wasn’t Ivan, was it? For the life of me, I cannot recall, and after a minute he puts me out of my misery: Alexander Solzhenitsyn. I have the feeling he is scoring points at that moment, after he has talked of how dreadful to be offered decaffeinated coffee, and the fall of Athens. How dreadful to have to show off your wit and erudition in that way! Worse than blogging.

Feeling virtuous

I posted the photo, saying Something I can do which is absolutely Good, creative, and caring, with absolutely no down-side, and D commented, And makes one feel virtuous. Words…

Bernard Crick, commenting on the lessons of Wells’s Mr Polly and Orwell’s George Bowling, writes: Life is all right, good even, if one looks at it with the simple wonder of a child exploring everything as new, or with the heightened delight in ordinary things of a stoical person who knows that he or she is soon to die. Does one call this the mysticism of common sense? Though both Bowling and Polly have run away from their tedious lives and jobs, which got all too much for them.

I certainly did want to feel virtuous: I look back at that time and it is quite clear from what I did and how I was. And- I was not conscious of it at the time. I knew that I wanted to be good, which is a different thing. I consciously wanted to be good, because unconsciously otherwise I did not have a right to exist. As my morality changed from that of the Daily Mail to that of the Quakers I still wanted to be Good.

Mark 10:18:  ‘Why do you call me good?’ Jesus answered. ‘No one is good – except God alone.’  I don’t think Jesus is denying being Good here, so much as challenging concepts of what Good is. Are we good enough? Perhaps it does not matter: analysing how Good a past act is, is- I was going to say, backward looking, ineffective, I am not sure of that. Circumstances alter cases. Sometimes useful. Something not to do “too much”.

Now, I want- I claim- that sensation of being in the Moment, mind and body integrated, carrying out a purpose. I would have called it a Spiritual Experience, an amazing wonder, and as I have it more it remains a delight, a heightened way of being. Like in my kata practice this morning. I want my Taigyoku Shodan to be beautiful: torso upright, head gliding at the same level not bobbing up and down, hips on or off properly, place the foot not fall onto it, turn with the legs after placing the foot rather than throwing onesself round- so much detail to master, the most important being full power at the moment of the block or strike, with relaxed movement to that point. The body just does the move, without effort, because conscious effort actually gets in the way.

It is perfectly beautiful and delightful, and I still make excuses and find myself not doing it, or stay in bed a bit longer. I have moments checking my watch in my meditation space, and also moments with delight- why on Earth would one avoid it? Do you avoid your meditation time? Can you imagine why?

Giving blood

P1000372Desmond P1000394Tutu: I know the space is very small between “I am doing it in response to love” and “I am doing it to be loved”. But in that space resides the difference between joy-filled peace and anxious despair. In short, we don’t have to “act” like a holy man or holy woman. We need to simply live out of the joy and generosity of our goodness.

Should I give blood? Well, I have to reproduce it, it is about 10% of my blood volume. I have the time, I have done it before without ill effects. Last two times I went to give, I was refused because I was going to see a Consultant, even though it was about my transition and did not refer to any physical illness. I took that as meaning they did not trust me.

The question as I walk in the sunshine from the river home (Thursday 29th) from whence the community centre where the blood service is operating is about a hundred yards, is, am I doing it to be loved, or in response to love?

Not even, “to be loved”, because my rights against the NHS remain the same, but to imagine myself a good person, worthy of love: if that is an illusion it is worse than giving a gift to a friend, because that might possibly favourably dispose that friend to me. Though the staff are friendly, joshing about spilling the alcohol-based hand cleanser on one’s tunic. They know the motivations we have.

Facebook birthdays: two German friends today (Friday 30th). I know a few words of German- musical, like “lustige” or “klavier”, philosophical like zeitgeist, and, from our unfortunate War obsession, “Achtung!” and “Schnell!”. I got from Google translate “Alles Gute zum Geburtstag”. I want to use that. So, is it a desire to please my friend and to communicate to her in her own language, or a disgusting, worthless, cowardly desire to ingratiate myself? Mmm. I really am that hard on myself. And for any act, it is possible to imagine vile motives or generous motives, and create a rationalisation for why either is the true motive.

Do I want to see myself as a good person? Not sure. I have told myself for long enough that it is not a good motive. I did, before, want to be good.

Friday evening, kneeling for the first time after an inactive day, I think it possible that I was indeed giving blood to imagine myself Good. According to this theory- for how could I ever know?- after being so distraught about that last paid job yesterday, I revert to earlier, less healthy ways of dealing with my emotion, to preserve my fragile sense of self.

Then I read this. Don’t try to meet people where they are. This is a common trait especially for healers– we often automatically tune in and meet people’s needs. Don’t meet people where you think they are. Let go and let the situation flow organically.  After 24 hours for it to percolate I felt amazed joy, I felt liberated: it is just the way I am. That I could be being kind or generous from a position of weakness, rather than cowardly, overwhelms me. I wept hysterically at the realisation of how heavy the burden had been, and joy at its release.

So, a question for you. If I now get sad and angry about events around two years ago, am I wallowing in the negative emotions to my harm, or letting off my suppression and at last dealing with the stale, toxic emotion, to my benefit?