Tag Archives: play

A certain Pedigree

via Daily Prompt: Pedigree

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The first edition cover of the novel “Lady Chaterley’s Lover” by D. H. Lawrence. Lawrence who published this privately in 1928 in Italy, then in 1929 in France and Australia. At that time the text was expurgated. An unexpurgated edition wasn’t published until 1960, in England, and an obscenity trial ensued againts the publisher – Penguin Books. Penguin won and ever since the novel has been in print.

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An original Penguin edition.

There are now several dozen covers, and different publishers from Bantam, Harper, Ace, to Wordsworth and more in the years since. Back in 1998, during the Perth Arts Festival, an English theatre company brought Lady Chatterley’s Lover to Perth and we decided to go. It was an adaptation for a two character play. It was produced in the grounds of the historic Tranby House on the Swan River (complete with hamper dinner). The play was steamy as are the sex scenes in Lawrences novel, but the play did miss the social commentary out, where Lawrence was critiquing the social order of post WW1 Britain and its classism. Lawrence was also deriding the British penchant for staid morality, at least on the surface. The novel certainly achieved that, but the play lost some of it. Nonetheless, it was well acted 🙂 and enjoyable.

The novel is set where I was born – Nottinghamshire, and where Lawrence grew up. My father’s family always maintained that the game keeper Mellors, while said to be a character based on a composite of real people, was in fact based on one of my father’s great-uncles, who had lived as Mellors had lived.

In another twist, that night, after the play had ended and the crowd had thinned, I went to speak to the director, and told him about that family legend. He told me it was likely true, and that this particular play adaptation was by a woman whose surname was Cannon. I’ve since forgotten her first name, she has most likely died since as she was well into her 70s then. But a real connection by name.

I haven’t pursued any of it as it simply makes for an interesting dinner story, and I have no need to pursue it really. But if it were true, and there are clues to suggest it is, then I have an interesting pedigree.

But pedigree aside, I have always been grateful for Lawrence’s work, and the theme of liberation in Lady Chatterley in particular. I found that my sexual identity wasn’t located in the stereo-typical moralisms of my parents, or religion, or the gatekeepers of society in general. That women weren’t stereotypically just mothers and trapped in a role. I was encouraged by Lawrence’s vision of potential class disintegration, that status and rights were fake compared to real feelings and self-expression. In many ways I experienced Lady Chatterley as iconoclastic, Lawrence tearing at claustrophobic and constipated society. He was ahead of his time in many ways, as his essays show. But he was also just in time – he was there writing and challenging when it was the right time, preparing for a new generation, inspiring others.

I hope we all have a pedigree that has a lineage back to people like Lawrence who stick their necks out for creativity, expression, free thinking, open-mindedness, generosity, and who are visionary, pushing the boundaries of society, looking for liberation, looking to transcend petty moralisms, and hinting at a deeper, richer maturity, not for its own sake, but for the sake of joy and life.

One of my favourite quotes from Lawrence:

“I shall be glad when yo have strangled the invincible respectability that dogs your steps.” 

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

 

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R.E.M.

via Daily Prompt: Rapid

R.E.M., remember the band and those wonderful songs? As the story goes Michael Stipe was looking for a name for the newly formed band and plucked R.E.M. from the dictionary. So, no deep connection there at the start, but a name that stuck in the public mind.

Generally speaking, there are five stages to the sleep cycle (some say four stages), and the fifth stage is known as R.E.M. or rapid eye movement. The R.E.M. stage is when the body is so relaxed it is as if paralysed, the brain signals the spine to shut down muscle activity, and the body enters deep relaxation. However, the brain enters a phase of intense activity, alsmost as if we were awake, and it is in this phase that we have those memorable dreams. Notably, there is perceptible, rapid movement of the eyes during this stage, hence the name.

Without the R.E.M. stage we are deprived of our deep restorative sleep, the proteins produced at this time will also be lacking, it affects our memory, and our memorable dreams don’t occur. Our diet affects our sleep stages, and if we are not preparing by overstimulating the brain before sleep we will battle to gain the deep sleep and if we are lacking in physical and creative experiences in our day, that too affects our sleep.

Sleep like exercise, play, and creativity, is a natural physical need for healthy living, but it affects us body, mind and soul. Without the restorative and refreshing stage of R.E.M. we are sluggish, sleepy, forgetful, and phsyically, mentally and emotionally flat. It affects mental health in particular. In typical cyclical fashion we need sleep in order to be creative, physical and playful, and we need play, exercise and creativity to help us sleep.

Problem is, we moderns have packed in so much in our lives that we are not all getting the good sleep we need for our health. We are literally cheating ourselves of our health. But, as with play, we can make the change, it’s simply prioritising. But the results are amazing.

The Dalai Lama has said: “Sleep is the best meditation.” 

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Play Is Serious Business!

 

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Play, you know, the thing we do when everything else is achieved! This painting (used by Dr. Stuart Brown in his TEDx Talk featured in my post Galahs Partake ) by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, 1501, is entitled “Children’s Games” but if you look closely, not all of the characters are children, in fact there are many adults also at play. Brown asks what has happened to our society that such scenes are no longer part of our life style.

Brown believes that the root of losing play in our society is guilt. We have been well trained in our society to respect hard work at the cost of all else.

In the early 20th century the sociologist and philosopher Max Weber published his work “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit Of Capitalism.” This work explores the link between work, religious belief and capitalism. Weber’s work was well received, and was commonly called “The Protestant Work Ethic.” Weber lays the responsibility for the drivenness towards capital and work at the door of the Calvinists who held that play was trivial, even ungodly (this from the same funsters who banned musical instruments in churches in the sixteenth century, and influenced the practice of locking up public playgrounds on Sundays). Sadly, this work ethic caught on, and capitalism blossomed in a particular way, a symbiotic relationship, that in my view is destructive on every level.

The result has been an ever demanding economy in which we consume as we are being consumed, body mind and soul, so long as we remain ignorant of the dilemma.

In a more mindful way we need to get in touch with our inner child, to be free to be creative in our own way and not to be drawn into perfectionist behaviours of fun. To be free to leave some things incomplete (which is an acknowlegement that one day we will leave everything complete, and others will do for us what we cannot do for ourselves). In one sense play and letting go has something to give us by way of living as we are aging and preparing for death, the ultimate letting go.

In the short term, play enables us, releases us, heps us reframe and is just plain healthy. We learn more about ourselves and others in play.

That old saying is true: “All work and no play makes Jack/Jill a dull person.” The painting by Brueghel is a reminder that adults used to have fun in simple ways, and perhaps, life was less dull.

In a confronting way, the Benedictine Sr. Joan Chittister once recalled that when she was grumbling about cleaning floors while she could have been studying for her degree, the superior commented “You have all the time there is.” We all have time. Play must be a priority, it must be intentional. Go play 🙂

For an MP3 of Krista Tippett, at On Being,  interviewing Stuart Brown for “Play, Spirit, and Character” (2007) go to Dr. Stuart Brown

Paul,

pvcann.com

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Galahs Partake

via Daily Prompt: Partake

It begins with one, two, then three, then more. They gather to partake in the most joyous fun together. It was raining the other day and we were sitting on the veranda watching the day go by, when nature’s jesters turned up. The ubiquitous Pink & Grey Galah, found almost everywhere in Australia. They love to play, and they love to play in the rain (when it’s warm weather that is). This group started with one then there were more. I love it when they hang upside down to get the full feel of the rain and get a wash. You can hear from there calls that they are having a ball. It’s a little like watching young children have fun together.

The Pink and Grey Galah or Eolophus rosiecapillus (although science is also saying Cacatua rosiecapillus) a cockatoo, is common across Australia. Its common name is derived from its colour – pink with grey. Our English word Galah is taken from the Aboriginal language Yuwaalaraay and their word Gilaa. Galahs form strong bonds as couples who mate for life, and they are known to become depressed if their mate dies. There is an urban myth that if one of the couple dies, the other remains celibate, but it has been proven that they do indeed find another mate. They can live up to thirty years in the wild. They are highly inteligent, social, and adaptable.

In Australia the word Galah has also been used as a euphemism for someone who is a loud mouth. In teaching meditation, the term for a distracted and busy mind was always a monkey mind, but I use the word Galah mind, it makes more sense when you have no monkeys.

But their playfulness reminded me of how humans generally lose their sense of play, we become too serious and dismiss play as childish, silly, immature or a waste of time. We crush the inner child at every turn with our grown up ways. Dr. Stuart Brown gives us a great way to look at play as important to our health and development.

Like the Galahs, we too need to hang loose ocassionally, we need to play in the rain, we need to partake of fun. And like the Galahs who grieve their dead mate, we grieve so many things in our lives, and there is a place for counter-balance, not as distraction, but as intentional. Brown talks about how we need play to be whole and healthy, how doing the most, what appears to be silly things, enable us to see life differently. In other presentations, Brown provided research of prison inmates whose childhood had been deprived of play, there is a correlation between play deprivation and development issues. Some sobering thoughts, but ones that affirm the need to play.

Sometimes we need to be life’s jesters, and make like a Galah (the bird, not the loud mouth).

Paul,

pvcann.com

 

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Memorizing more than things

Memorize

When I was in primary school poetry and times tables had to be memorized, tests and assesments of memory were to be had. Every Friday there was an oral times table test for the whole class, and poetry had to be presented each term. ‘My Country’ was one poem I enjoyed memorizing. Another was Coleridge’s ‘The Ryme of the Ancient Mariner.’ Sunday School brought memory verses and nativity plays to memorize. Scouts brought a whole range of memorizing from the national anthem to knot formations.

But as I have aged it is less important to memorize things like numbers and poetry, knots or scripts (with the exception of the ubiquitous password). The things I have treasured and committed to memory without even trying are moments with people. As we approach Fathers Day in Australia I am particularly conscious of the hole my late father left when he died the age I am about to become. But, that hole is somehow whole through memory, or re-membering, the putting him back together.

He was a simple man, a coal miner who struggled in school, survived the blitz, he had his hopes and dreams, wife and children, a home. But he was also a frustrated man, an angry man, and many times his fists formed what he thought of the world and spoke directly to each one of us. And yet amidst the terror of physical threat, there were times of joy, celebration, play, holidays, excitement. Memories are what they are.

They were the best of days and the worst too, but I am glad I have my memories of dad to treasure, and ponder, to reflect on for myself. For me, memorizing moments and people are about my wholeness, my path, and I am glad to walk with them.

pvcann.com

 

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