Monthly Archives: June 2018

Half the Sky

Emphatically – Word of the Day

Cheryl Wudunn speaks at TED on Half the Sky. Wudunn is co-author with husband Nicholas Kristof of the book Half The Sky Turning Oppression Into Opportunity For Women Worldwide and they are founders of the Half The Sky Movement .

Wudunn, an experienced journalist and the first Asian-American reporter to win a Pulitzer-Prize, has written powerfully about the plight of women and girls in the world today as a result of modern slavery and sex trafficking. Sex trafficking is insidious, and other forms of slavery equally so. There are a number of harrowing documentaries and movies that deal with the subject, the testimony before the US Senate by Ashton Kutcher is brief, graphic and disturbing, as well as passionate. Often conservative groups point the finger at the porn industry, and while I have no doubt it goes on under cover, I beleive that the real culprits are organised crime, prostitution (especially where drugs are used to create an indebtedness), and predominantly – countries whose laws are lax or where such crime can be easily hidden, even encouraged.

Wudunn points out that though there may some closeness in the ideal of male/female being 50/50 in the world, it not true that power and security for women is equal. There are many fact books and expose docos available, but fewer resources on what can actually be done, Half the Sky is one such resource.

The other resource is men! If men don’t add their voice to this critical issue then we simply accede to the status quo, and we are not owning that there is a problem. What clothing labels do you buy, how do you behave at home, at work, how do you treat women? We cannot turn a blind eye to the fact that men are directly responsible for trafficking, the evidence is there, but those who stay quiet or turn away are also part of the problem.

Wudunn encourages everyone to do something about this issue, to firstly become aware, then to take action, even if that is only contributing to charitable work, lobbying, writing, whatever you can do – then do it. But do not do nothing! To quote Edmund Burke (or was it Charles Aked?) again: “The only thing necesary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (I’m going to leave that gender specific). There’s always more we can do, must do!

sweet, sweet cherry
the bees will enable us
fruit for all the world

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under Haiku, life, mindfulness, quote, Trafficking

No Fluke

Fluke – RDP

Whales at Nullabor Whale Viewing site.

No Fluke, just a mother and calf. No fluke because it was planned, we were there, the whales were there, it was beautiful, no fluke either way. You can’t fluke life and you can’t just determine life, it has to be lived, it’s full of surprises, it goes where it goes and you can choose whether to go with it or not, and create your own. But there’s no fluke!

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under beach, bush walking, Country, environment, life, mindfulness, nature

I like Your Angle

Obtuse – Word of the Day

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Photo: decophobia.com/prodimg/marcelbreuer-knoll-bauhaus-chaise-lounge-chair(1).jpg an obtuse angle if ever I saw one, and indeed, geometry was critical to Bauhaus thinking.

 

In 2019 Germany will celebrate 100 years of the Bauhaus. The Bauhaus school of design, a modernist movement,  began in Weimar in 1919, so immediately post WWl. It moved to Dessau in 1925, and in 1933 the NAZI regime forced it to close, citing that it was an enclave of communism. It lasted fourteen years in Germany, then as the NAZIs forced it to close the leaders of the movement took their ideas to other countries. Its influence has continued to the very moment, finding expression in art, design and architecture all over the world.

Bauhaus translated means  house construction, so it was The House of Construction. As a movement it completely transformed art, design and architecture. It was an attempt to reunite art and manufacturing, to reintroduce in manufacturing and construction an aesthetic, a form married to art, and quality. It was an arts and craft approach. Their belief was “Less is more.” Those who joined were known as – Master of Form.

There are three identifiable principles in Bauhaus:

  1. As Ludwig Mies van der Rohe said “Honesty to construction, death to decoration.” Form follows function is rule one.
  2. Typography was important: Bauhaus was instrumental in changing typography thinking – they used simple clean and lean sans serif fonts, they began to use text wrapping around objects, using text vertically and diagonally as well as horizontally. Words simply and clearly put communicate meaning.
  3. Geometry is supreme: simple geometry was the order of Bauhaus achieving a minimalist style. Hence the chair in the photo above.

Bauhaus boasted a collective whose names are now famous: Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Joseph Albers, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Walter Gropius (the founder), Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Marcel Breuer (whose designed the chair as shown above), Carl Fieger, Anni Albers, Johannes Itten, and Herbert Bayer. Student Eliot Noyes went on to develop the corporate identity of IBM. Some 1,250 students went through the Bauhaus School and they took its principles across the world, no small feat.

What I love about Bauhaus is its freedom of thought, it wasn’t governed by executives or shareholders, it wasn’t sponsored by governments, it initially had no commercial traction (that came later), the movers and shakers of Bauhaus were simply committed to their craft and its form. I think that’s why it became popular later on, they had integrity and they stuck with what they believed even when they were all separated by the events in Germany. Even the National Socialists couldn’t stop them.

Life, I think, is about experiencing as much as we can in the time we have, and making our contribution too. But at our core I also think that one of the keys to success is staying true to self and staying the course on what is key for us, going the distance, that’s my angle, but its not obtuse! It can be powerful to live what you believe.

Paul Klee’s painting: “Castle and Sun”

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the tree is tangled
weed and vine overrun it
but the buds will bloom

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under art, creativity, Haiku, history, life, mindfulness, Philosophy/Theology, quote

Together

Plethora – Word of the Day

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Augusta, the beach near Skippy Rock.

A plethora Black Nerita (Nerita atramentosa) a type of Mollusc or sea snail, lining the beach. Tough little shells, but such tender contents, surrendered to the ravages of tide and sun, or predators. Somehow, though they are a common and certainly not a beautiful shell, together en mass they make an eyecatching vista along the shore, one that pleases the eye and draws you to them. Wrecked, faded, empty, but yet varied, together a canvas of colour.

A single shell might go unnoticed, but no one could ignore a multitude. Together their faded, ordinary selves become something else, something to behold. Together there is a strength never achieved alone. What is singularly ordinary with many becomes a spectacle. As we approached this section the shells stood out boldly, and we stood for some time taking it all in.

It’s an analogy that works for me, the idea of being imperfect, a little broken, some faded, all different. That if we apply that to humanity, it works. Individually we are fine, but together we can be more, our colour shows, we are stronger, varied yet one in some ways. We complement each other, enable each other, provoke and challenge, support and carry at times. And we too are sometimes empty, broken, a little faded. Life can be awesome, but it can also be flat at times, and it can be painful too. Community doesn’t have to be clautrophobic, cloying, or homogenous. Like the shells that line the beach we can line each other’s lives with connection, closeness, time, support and more. Together we bring out each other’s colour.

sole black nerita
faded, empty, washed up
now we shimmer blue

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

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The Definition of Irony

Notorius – Word of the Daytumblr_omkdmld73c1v1i52to1_500.jpg

Christopher Wallace (1972 – 1997) Known as Notorius B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls. Originally Wallace wanted to be called Biggie Smalls but the name was already copyright to someone else, so his performing name was Notorius B.I.G. (which stands for Business Instead of Game) but he was unofficially known around music circles as Biggie Smalls, which was taken from the 1975 movie “Let’s Do It Again” and a gangster character called Biggie Smalls, yet it was also a reference to his size, he was big even as a young child.

The name he didn’t want originally was Notorius, yet ironically it sums up part of his early life. From the age of twelve he got involved in petty crime and small time drug dealing to help make money. His father had long gone and his mother was working two jobs to keep the family going. He received parole sentences, community work orders and eventually a stint in gaol. He was a good high school student but transfered to a technical school and dropped out, Eventually finding his way into the rap scene. In a very short time he became a respected and popular MC. He was active in performances and recording especially with Junior M.A.F.I.A., and then in 1994 released a solo album – “Ready to Die” which reached 13 on the Billboard 200 Chart.

His career was marred somewhat by the East Coast – West Coast rapper rivalry that had become intense, and resulted in the death of several people involved in the rap music scene. He also fell out with his friend Tupac Shakur, who became vitriolic. Tupak was gunned down in 1996. Notorius, who had had a notorius youth, was blamed for much of the rivalry and with the death of Tupac. But as these things go, it seems that he had little to do with either, so that when he was actually least notorius everyone believed he was just that. Notorius’ life would make a great definition of the word ironic.

Sadly, while trying to promote peace between the warring factions of East and west coast rappers and businesses, Notorious was shot and killed in a drive by on March 9, 1997, he was 25 yrs old.

His style is called loose and fluid, very relaxed and not as energised or intense as other rappers. His content is more journalistic (compared to the direct social justice focus of NWA) and perhaps too easily dismissed by anyone looking for substance. Yet his songs actually record the life he knew growing up in Brooklyn.

There’s a sadness reading the lives of these young, mostly men, who lived these pseudo warrior lives in clan wars and died in the process. Notorius, Tupac, and thirty others, killed. Again, Notorius, ironically sang, “You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills you), I say ironically because he was already somebody. He already was himself – Christopher Wallace. But as Notorius he was successful and known. And Ironically – because that’s what happened, as if it was self-fulfilling prophecy.

I take a couple of things away from his story, judgmentalism aside, Notorius grew up in a hostile environ and he survived, we may not approve of his notorius crime life, but he made it through and turned his life around. Notorius journalled his life into his music, and through that we have examples of the misery, crime, fear, racism, violence and struggle that young black people experienced (still experience). He was no angel (but then I remember that I too have had my moments), but he was making a new life, making amends (especially through his suport for his children), striving for peace, seeking community, and seeking justice. Even if I achieve one of those aims I’d be doing well.

The Notorius B.I.G. – “You’re Nobody (Til Somebody Kills You)”

darkness covers my past
pain blossoms where I walk
my song brings wholness

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Into The Mystical

Mystical – Word of the Day

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The Blackwood River, Augusta, looking north east, one of my mystical places.

Mysticism comes from thε Greek root of μυω, which means to conceal. Mysticism crosses every religious boundary and belief system. That which is mystical is hidden. In the great debates about God from a Christian point of view there is the mystic view that God is both knowable and unknowable at the same time, that as such, there are elements of God that are visible, definable, but that mostly, God is concealed and unknowable.

Many have pursued mystical experiences. Aliester Crowley (1875 – 1947) was one of the most famous occultists of the twentieth century, trying to make connection with a world beyond. Carlos Castaneda trained as a shaman and explored mescalin using peyote as a mystical experience, inspired by the Toltec. Timothy Leary went with the synthetic drug LSD. There are trance groups, fasting practices, musical experiences, ritual practices and more. True tantra, like Tibetan Tantra, was only ever a form of meditative practice whereby the delay of orgasm and the control of orgasm is said to increase ecstatic experience, but for the purpose of prayer and meditation (and should not be confused with “Californian tantra” as I call it, or with Hindu left hand practices). Kabbalah originated as a Jewish mysticism, but now has non-Jewish paths as well. A number of celebrities have dabbled in Kabbala from Elizabeth Taylor to Madonna.

In the third and fourth centuries Christian men and women from Israel, Jordan, Asia Minor, Egypt and North Africa went in droves into the deserts to develop a communal and contemplative life. And from John Cassian to Theresa of Avilla, to Thomas Merton, a few Christians became mystics, seeking the unknowable God.

I think the unknowable attracts, and we pursue it, partly to make it known, to unravel the mystery, to bring the hidden into full view, in the main, to experience what is concealed. Most of the writings of mystics that I have read reaffirm that God, Other, the divine, is unknowable, but that in the journey of mysticism, there is connection, ecstasy, love, wholeness, union and more.

For me any sense of the divine comes more through nature and the contemplative. The photograph shows a familiar walking space I take in, some days it is beautiful, some days it just is, but always it evokes a sense of mystery, of the divine in some way. There is something about certain places that does that for me. Uluru, Kata Tjuta, Elachbutting Rock, Boranup Forest, and more, are places that move me deeply, places where I sense an otherness beyond myself or other people. I have felt ecstasy in these places, I have been overcome with joy, they can be erotic (in the pure, emotive sense) experiences, I have experienced deep inner stillness, and sometimes a confusion of feelings rushing in all at once. Such things tell me I am more open in these spaces, yet I also know that my openness is also because I sense something more. This for me is the mystical.

As Van Morrison wrote in his song “Into the Mystic” – “Let your soul and spirit fly into the mystic.”

I stand in silence
mystical nature envelops
the heron smiles

©Paul Cannon

Van Morrison “Into The Mystic”

 

 

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Possessed by Desmothenes

Vehemently – Word of the Day

th.jpeg Desmothenes (385 – 322 BC) the man who rallied Athens as the forces of Philip ll of Macedon approached the city state.

Desmothenes was a lawyer and an orator, and clearly a persuasive one. The people of Athens had become indifferent to Philip’s ambitions to conquer the city states and control the whole region. They scoffed that they would be disadvantaged by Philip’s rule. The city would not marshal its army, they preferred to enjoy life instead. Desmothenes could see the problem clearly, could see Athens was doomed if nothing was done and done quickly. Desmothenes also knew enough about Philip to know that he was a tyrant and would not respect their democracy nor their Athenian culture.

What did Desmothenes do? He gave a vehement and rousing speech that rallied Athens to mobilise and defend itself. It was no rhetorical speech, it was a passionate call to arms for the sake all Athenians. Desmothenes believed in democracy and the rights of city states. He was able to point out that all this would be lost under Philip. Well, he achieved his aim, his speech won the day and the defence of the city, the cry went up “To arms, to arms.”

Winston Churchill’s speech to the House of Commons in 1940 “We shall go on to the end … We shall never surrender.”  Churchill’s speech is passionate and rousing, he is credited with drawing the nation into action after a period of apathy and fear. Churchill’s speech is often compared to that of Desmothenes. William Wilberforce speaking in the House of Commons in 1789, was vehemently opposed to slavery, and battled passionately to have a Bill passed to end it. It took nearly twenty years but he finally achieved that goal.

Tyrants are not always easy to read or detect. Some come as the very saviour, Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Franco, Mussolini, Pinochet. Some present as good leaders, Peron, Nixon, Reagan, Thatcher, Blair, Bush Jnr., Putin. But all have been tyrants in their own way, disregarding democracy, human rights, and sovereignty. Sometimes the wolf is circling the camp and we cannot see it, and because we cannot see it we deny its existence. What exposes the wolf more is the lack of argument for a credible enemy or crisis (so usually they invent one, much as Putin is busy inventing reasons to remain illegally in Ukraine, and Trump militating to rile Iran). We need to be a little demosthenic, as the term goes, to be like Desmothenes and vehemently oppose such tyrants whether their tyranny is armed force, legislative force, or propaganda (or all of these) and to draw attention to enemy at our gates.

But to return to my favourite theme, the person, each of us needs to step up and deal with self first. It’s no good railing at politicians if we live as tyrants ourselves, hypocisy is corrosive in any society. If we do make like Desmothenes, as with Churchill, Wilberforce, or a Roosevelt, Lincoln, Washington, we may effect change for the good. Desmothenes singlehandedly turned a city state, imagine what four, five, or twenty Desmothenes could achieve with passion. There are plenty of things requiring our desmothenic attention, the environment, human rights, refugees, corruption, militarism, greed … but with vehemence, with passion, we can do just that.

Canned Heat: “Let’s Work together” 1970, not just another love song!

 

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Time Will Tell

Epiphany – Word of the Day

 

Gillian Welch: Time the Revelator

Aha!

That’s my simple explanation to anyone who wants to understand an epiphany, the moment something is revealed, when the penny drops or the dots are connected. The classic reference is, of course to the series of revelations of Jesus as Messiah in the gospel, and hence the liturgical season of Epiphany to celebrate these revelations.

It was taken and used in literature as personal revelation in matters from the mundane to the profound. The mystic Julian of Norwich, who wrote her “Revelations of Divine Love” in 1395 (reputedly the first known published work by a woman) reveals a series of spiritual epiphanies, perhaps the most often quoted being: “All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.” A profound awareness.

James Joyce polularised the term in his autobiographical work Stephen Hero and in Portrait of the Arrtist as a Young Man, in which he would refer to times when he’d had a deep realisation, or when something manifested more clearly to him.

I really like how Gillian Welch plays with the idea of time as a revelator (see video), as the giver of epiphany, how living and engaging, reflecting and looking back, helps make sense of change and life now. Whereas for Dylan God is the revelator and judge, for Welch Time is. For Welch, time will tell!

I think my first epiphany was that I was part of the fabric of the universe. I freaked my parents out when I was four, I was regularly caught sitting on the window ledge of the second story window where my bedroom was. But I couldn’t help it, the moon and the stars captivated me and held me prisoner in wonderment. Going backwards, I later discovered the world when a maternal uncle gave me a large world wall map to gaze on and realised there was so much that constituted life. And incidentally, I think that order of learning has deeply affected me, because I go to the universe first and the world second.

More recently epiphany is related to my meditation and the contemplative. I never cease to be amazed, even by dew drops on grass! And I’m strangely warmed and satisfied by that.

The whole point of epiphany is that it comes to you, you can’t make it, but you can facilitate it – simply by taking time, time to observe, to engage, to listen, to feel, to receive, to attend.

Paul,

pvcann.com

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There I Am

Epiphany – Word of the Day

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(Image: imgc.allpostersimages.com)

And There I am

Despite the warmth, there’s still dew
my shoes wet
hurriedly marching
briefcase my conscience
notifications bleeping
a car alarm sounds far away
I don’t really care.
My mind a kaleidoscope of
of another day,
like a magnet drawing me ever onwards.
Caffeine,
Sweet sister caffeine,
please, just one.
The park blurs
hands full
still marching
I clip the curb
dramatic eclipse
change on the ground
stopping, retrieving.
Time ceases.
There’s still dew,
lush verdant blades,
light.
A diamond?
A diamond!
All is still, not even a wisp of breath.
The air hangs like velvet,
the grass like feathers.
A tiny drop, perfect, a mirror
of all.
And there I am,
I touch the fabric of the universe,
and there I am.

©Paul Cannon

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Inside Job

Possibility – Word of the Day

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I know the owner of this beautifully restored Morris “Woody.” When he bought it he could see what it would look like fully restored. He did much of the work himself, but outsourced to a friend the work he wasn’t skilled at doing. It was old and tired when he bought it, and once the old faded paint was stripped off, the upholstery, timber frame, wiring and more, were all refurbished, it looked as good as new. Michael could see the possibility of beauty and life, where few could.

Some of us have been around a while, a little over thirty. I’m not a great advocate of exterior renovation, but if that’s your thing, then go for it. I’m more for the interior renovation. I see possibilities in myself for change, for challenge, for renewal. And in my experience, when I actually engage with these interior processes, difficult as some may well be, the outcome is not only that I am different because I have grown, or moved in some way or direction, my view of others and of the world has shifted too. And what I do for myself affects those around me. Not only that, but if we persist and achieve some interior change, others may be encouraged, not just becase we have changed, because they can se ehope for their own journey.

But the question is, do we see impossibilities or possibilities in ourselves? Do we see beauty and life?

“They did not know it was impossible, so they did it.” Mark Twain

“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this, you haven’t.” Thomas Eddison

my heart yearns to change
a storm is raging in me
the pond is still

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

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