Category Archives: quote

The Beginning’s Never As Important

Placate – Word of the Day

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Photo: histclo.com

Neville Chamberlain (1869 – 1940) British Prime Minister 1937 – 1940, whose name is synonymous with appeasement. His first attempt was to keep Britain out of the Spanish Civil War in the hope of winning favour with Italy. His second was an attempt to buy favour with Italy in order to sway them from German influence, by recognising Italian sovereignty over Ethiopa. His third attempt was over three trips to Germany in an attempt to stop Hitler invading the rest of Czechoslovakia, caving in to most of Hitler’s demands. However, at the same time he escalated British military spending, production, and training, while forming alliances and pacts, notably with Poland, so, he wasn’t completely innactive in preparation.

Chamberlain’s main modus operandi was in trying to placate Hitler and Mussolini in order to prevent a major war in Europe. The famous moment was when he gave a speech, while waving the agreement with Hitler to honour the sovereignty of Czechoslovakia, speaking of “Peace with honour” a line he borrowed from Benjamin Disraeli, and “Peace for our time” (which is invariably misquoted as “Peace in our Time”). But history shows that Chamberlain’s policy of appeasement failed miserably, as Winston Churchill had predicted.

 

The Beginning’s Never As Important

I’m not sure where it began,
though you always say that doesn’t matter.
The beginning’s never as important as the end.

But my my mouth threw words like bullets on concrete,
hard, indiscriminate wounds
that imperilled our very being.

I tried to trace the history of the world,
and you retreated to foreign climes.
“I’m out of here if that’s how it is!”

I stared at the floor, my honour defended,
truth the ego’s demand.
While an ocean of tears formed a gulf between us.

The shadows grew long as the clock struck an hour.
Like metal on metal,
my nerves all jangled and churned.

In the embers of light I glimsed your face,
your cheekbones, your eyes, seemed soft.
I sank in your ocean and surrendered myself.

You welcomed me ashore,
embracing a long, lost friend.
And we dressed each other’s wounds.

“I feel so … when you … I do too, I’m sorry I …”
History resolved, the future imperative,
the beginning’s never as important as the end.

©Paul Cannon

 

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under politics, quote, war

Celebrating the Incomplete

Esthete -Word of the Day

Also spelt as Aesthete

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Image: thatcreativefeeling.com

Desiring to study the Way of Tea, Sen no Rikyu went to the tea-master Takeeno Joo who set Rikyu the task of tending the garden as a test. Rikyu cleaned to perfection, but before presenting his work to Joo, he shook a cherry tree, causing some blossom to fall to the ground. A little imperfection being the perfect ground. Thus began his journey into returning the tea ceremony and everything associated to its former simplicity.

It is said that the Japanese revere Rikyu as one who understood the aesthetic known as wabi-sabi. Wabi-sabi emerged in the 15th century as a reaction to the aesthetic of very formal and ornate and extravagant art and design of that time. Wabi-sabi is “focussed on the acceptance of impermanence or transcience.” It speaks of “a readiness to accept things as they are.” Or, finding the beauty within imperfections.

Wabi symbolises rustic beauty and quietness, simplicity and quietness. It can also refer to flaws, quirks and abnormalities that occur during production, e.g. pottery, or, as in the case of Rikyu, the blossom disrupting the otherwise perfect garden.

Sabi refers to things whose beauty can only come with age, like weathered timber, green copper, rusted tin. Sabi is said to evoke a sombre feeling very much like autumn.

Wabi-sabi is said to be honest, authentic, organic, modest, incomplete, and where nature, even nature’s corosive power, is celebrated.

Ref: britannica.com, dt.pepperdine.edu (Richard Martin).

How refreshing! I really warm to this aesthetic, and how much we need to embrace it today. Wabi-sabi simplicity could be the antidote to our materialistic, throw-away, plasticised way of living. An acceptance of life as it is. More than cloth bags and organic soap (important as these things are) we/all living things need a modern aesthetic equivalent to wabi-sabi. More imperfection and less sculptured fruit and veg. More authenticity and less keeping up with the Jones’. More incomplete, and evoking a sense of the real. Celebrating nature by engaging nature’s needs. Being organic in every way from relationships, to lifestyle, to purchasing. Accepting things as they are from people to the cosmos. Living with our flaws (shadow aware). How refreshing. I yearn for a bit of Rikyu in all of us.

 

I Love the Flaw in You

Dead center,
on the mantlepiece,
my truest work
as yet.

Soft clay now hard as nails,
its beauty is its cleft.
Its radiance not celadon,
a muddy glaze its skin.

She sits proudly among the celebrated,
offended by their pretence –
perfect, slick, and mass produced,
with images of empire now dead.

As I contemplate my minimum,
I know she goes with me.
The others to the Op-Shop,
or some other recycle path.

This ugly piece of earth,
this imperfect lustred pot,
speaks, shouts, to me of real life,
and how to cope with love.

©Paul Cannon

 

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

25 Comments

Filed under art, environment, history, life, mindfulness, minimalism, nature, Philosophy/Theology, poetry, quote

My Lissome Soul

Lissome – Word of the Day

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Dame Margot Fonteyn (1919 – 1991) a truly graceful ballerina. James Monahan (Fonteyn, A Study Of The Ballerina In Her Setting) referred to her as delicate and feline. She had an illustrious career dancing with the Royal Ballet. Sir Robert Helpman and Rudolf Nureyev were two of her outstanding dance partners, Nureyev became her sole (indeed, her soul) partner for most of her latter career, and they became very close friends. In a PBS documentary (1990) Nureyev commented that he and Fonteyn danced with “one body, one soul.”

I never saw Fonteyn live, that would have been amazing, but I was at least able to see her recorded performances. She moved with grace and soul and, at times (as in Swan Lake), her movement is itself a meditation, mesmerising.

O to move through life the same, that with the dance of life I might move mindfully and gracefully and with outstanding journey friends of one body, one soul. That my soul be lissome, albeit unburdened, unshackled and free, a meditation.

in my lissome soul
I danced life's curves
like floating blossom

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

12 Comments

Filed under creativity, dance, Haiku, quote

Gregarious – Word of the Day

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Corellas flock together, gregarious by nature, foraging, bathing, flying, playing, they love being together, even when roosting for the night. It is rare to see a lone one and there’s an apparent sadness when one dies. Many animals are gregarious by nature, humans especially, whether introverted or extroverted.

You can be introverted and gregarious too, just in smaller doses, as author Karen Armstrong puts it: “I like silence; I’m a gregarious loner and without the solitude, I lose my gregariousness.”  As author Susan Cain says: To be introverted is to be concerned about how you respond to stimulation, especially social stimulation.”  Or as poet Norman MacCaig once said: “I’m very gregarious, but I love being in the hills on my own.”  As an extrovert I can still relate to that.

The cost is different. Introverts will feel drained after much social stimulus, whereas, while extroverts my feel tired, they will thrive on social stimulus. But both will become vulnerable because there is always a risk in social interaction to the self. We as a human community thrive better when we have social interaction, when we work together, when we can make friends, work in teams, and when we can walk alongside one another. We just need to appreciate each other’s needs more accutely in the area of personality. To be introverted is not a negative pathology, I should know I live with a household of introverts, and I get reminded. We’re all gregarious, just differently wired.

The video below of Susan Cain speaking from the perspective of an introvert may seem long at 19 minutes, but it is well worth a look.

 

We're in full swing
you withdraw, I re-engage
elementary

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Take Courage

Exposure – Word of the DayIMG_0134.jpg

Augusta, the town jetty, and Blackwood River rising.

Fortunately we had raincoats and we knew the rain was coming, but nonetheless, with the wind whipping the rain along, and the cold air pressing in, we felt more than a little exposed. But, because we were prepared we enjoyed the walk. The tide was very high as predicted by the Weather Bureau. There was also a lot of flow from up-river after three major rain bearing fronts have been through and local flooding was expected. You can’t tell from the photo but the timber decking of the jetty looked as if it was floating as the water was touching the underside. We haven’t seen it like that for a while.

Weather exposure can be very serious, hypothermia or sunstroke, the risks are great if you’re not prepared. Preparation means covering up, sunblock, hats, raincoats, warm clothes, appropriate footwear. So that whatever the weather we put on what is necessary to be comfortable and to protect ourselves. However, we know not to wear winter gear in summer and vice versa, and usually we’re good at that.

We’re not so good with emotional exposure. We’re trained, or we train ourselves, to overprotect, and sometimes we wear the wrong emotional gear, like using the mask of happiness to cover depression, or the mask of confidence to cover fear. Rarely do we let others in, we become invulnerable, strong, a veritable fortress. Yet the best possible way forward, the only true way to wholeness is to trust others with our inner world. Of course, it goes without saying, you don’t grab a megaphone and announce your life to the world, but there are people in our lives we can talk to, take off our masks, and be vulnerable with.

As Brene Brown has said many times, in our society vulnerablity, to be exposed, is to be seen as weak. Brown counters this with “vulnerability is our greatest measure of courage.” Brown defines vulnerability as “uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.” It is an opening of the self to another, whereby empathy becomes the healing counterpoint or the supportive staging point, depending on what we are going through. Brown’s research is thorough, and in it she discovered that every courageous act was underpinned by vulnerability. That tells me that we can only really flourish when we are able to speak our truth and take off our masks and be real with others, then we are whole and not just pieces or segments. The fortress life may serve us well but to really floursih we need to let the drawbridge down from time to time, otherwise we not only defend ourselves against the outsider, we imprison ourselves from the world. I’d rather be open than be a captive! Take courage.

cherry tree winter bare
cold has stunted many new buds
the wild branch has fruit

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Haiku, life, mindfulness, nature, psychology, quote, self-development

Unscheduled Schedule

Serendipity – Word of the Day

 

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Sarge Bay, Augusta, storm coming in.

Chaos Theory would say that for every apparent moment of chaos there’s an underlying pattern. Science would say that serendipity is logically explainable. Calvinists would err towards a predestination, others destiny and fate. Some confuse it with spontenaity, perhaps serendipity is spontenaity but I think it is something different, for me serendipity has no particular agency.

Storms come and go, they appear random, we know that for every element of nature there is an action, reaction process, there is an explanation. Storms appear because they are a reaction to pressure fronts meeting, here it is usually cold front meets warm front, winds and rains ensue. A reliable pattern attested to by the weather reports. But perhaps the timing, the position, the intensity are more random.

When we lived on the farm, we would often look out across the valley and watch a rainbearing front coming in from the west, it would drop maybe 1 – 2 inches on our place, yet a property down the road might be dry – nothing. The next time we might get nothing and the property down the road might get 1 – 2 inches. Rain is patchy at best, never consistent across a front. Rain may be patterned by the pressure system, but within that pattern there are random moments where rain doesn’t fall equally, where the wind squalls vary, where hail is inconsistent. A normal abnormality! Thunder and lightning would be another example.

Storms aside, love is perhaps the greatest example. Not withstanding hormones, the what, who and when of love are serendipitous. Love, true love, is interrupted planning, disrupted expectation, blindsided hope, deranged logic.

“When love becomes logical, it dies. When affection is timed, it no longer exists. When bliss is scheduled, no after-thought can bring it back. Now is the only time for serendipity, for synchronicity, for joy.” (Amy Larson/AmyJalepeno.com) All the romcoms, TV shows like Friends, are testimony to serendipity, that the best laid plans all come undone every time, and the unplanned becomes the real. Perhaps love itself is serendipity. I like to think so.

“She was forever unexpected and I was drunk on that about her.” Atticus Finch in ‘To Kill A Mocking Bird.’ (Harper Lee)

snow covers the ground
stark are the barren branches
one blossom smiling

©Paul Cannon

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Filed under beach, bush walking, Country, environment, Haiku, life, love, mindfulness, nature, quote

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

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

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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