first impressions of the new reality

After a slightly stimulating chat with a mate today regarding the nature of reality that incorporated such things as quantum foam, event horizons, and Zeno’s paradoxes, I realised that every moment is unique. Ha! So what eh! Of course every moment is unique, I mean, in one moment my thumb is hovering above the space bar on the keyboard I’m using and in the next the same thumb is touching the same space bar. And, if you consider a moment to include every other event that is occurring at that exact point in time then it becomes even more unique (if there is such a thing as a sliding scale of uniqueness).

So, between one moment and the next, countless molecules, atoms, and sub-atomic particles have moved in some way, in fact it’s probable that every single particle that exists in all the infinity of the universe has moved, because nothing is actually static, nothing stays the same, everything changes, all the time.

zenoThe friend who I was talking to – over a cup of tea in the Chapter Arts Centre as it happens, later emailed me a link to a wikipedia article about Zeno’s paradoxes, if you want to find out more here it is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zeno’s_paradoxes

I have read it and will go back to it and I promise I’m not being lazy but I am not a scientific writer – I don’t really care about science – and probably don’t believe in it anyway. Science is just a feeble attempt to make sense of something that is beyond making sense of – the something that exists before science and will exist when science fades, as all things do. No matter how far out science goes, how deep it penetrates, how far back in time, or forward in time, there is always something more, something that science cannot explain.

Also philosophy – which is a sort of science in that it tries to prove something using logic and, arguably, evidence. Yes, also philosophy is merely a wisp on the breeze of eternity.

So, if science and philosophy fail me what is left?

No, it’s not religion.

I was trying to get to a point, so let me see if I can just jump to it without all the bother of following a structured logical path.

OK, this is it. You are a different person than you were a moment ago, the universe you are in now is a different universe than the one you were in a moment ago. Every moment is another you, another universe.

I would go on but I am tired and no one is listening, not in this universe anyway!

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water on the smoke

I did think it would be good to listen to Deep Purple’s Smoke on the Water from 1972 while writing this, and I am listening to it, but to be honest it seems dated and restrained. Yes there’s some nice little riffs in the mix and it does build nicely but I wouldn’t put it up there on the top tunes shelf with Led Zeppelin’s Whole Lotta Love from 1969 for example.

Hang on . . .

Now I’m listening to Whole Lotta Love and it smacks Smoke on the Water’s arse with a rather large paddle. Maybe it’s because when the album Led Zeppelin II, where the tune comes from, was released, I was living in a flat in Paddington with a bunch of roadies (one of them went on to become Led Zeppelin’s roadie as it happens) and we’d just scored some very tasty Mexican Grass, so I spent many happy hours, lying back, stoned to buggery, eyes closed, headphones snug, drifting into the void on Led Zep’s shimmering discs of sound that seared deep into my primal core – orgasmic.

Anyway, back to what sparked off this post.

Water on the smoke

Water on the smoke

I went to buy some soya milk and then popped into the Post Office to send a pair of too big Vegetarian Shoes back. When I came out it was drizzling with rain – a fine spray, quite pleasant in a way – a soft cool shower on a muggy day. When I got home I noticed a strong smell of burning aromatic wood permeating the house. Damn, I’d left the bathroom window open and some nitwit had lit a fire in their garden which was being dribbled on by said soft shower; consequently it was billowing smoke like a hippie from the aforementioned sixties.

So. after I pointedly slammed the bathroom window shut, I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be a larf to write something about that and make up an attention-catching headline’, so seeing as it was about smoke and rain (i.e. water) then the tune Smoke on the Water came to mind. I couldn’t even remember the song, but the title is well and truly embedded into the fabric of my brain, and I suspect into millions of other brains around the world and particularly into the brains of people of a certain demographic.

How much other crap is crammed into that endless space in our heads, and is that all we are? Are we just a mashup of memories and memes, blended with a trove of trivia, Is that what makes a person? If I had your memories would I think like you? Would I behave like you? I mean what if I was the person I am now, whatever that is, but remembered only your life? What if you were still you but could only access my past? Would I become you and you become me? If so then we wouldn’t notice – perhaps that goes on all the time.

If you ever make sense of that paragraph above and believe it to be true then it means we are just our memories. The things we think we believe in, the stuff that makes us the sort of people we are, all that, it’s just decoration, window-dressing at best. But that’s not all we are is it? God, we are so complicated, so complex at every level of our existence that it’s just not possible to ever get to know ourselves let alone each other.

But, there is mitigation; if I was a religious person I might call it faith, but to me it’s simply the feeling of being alive, of being capable of experiencing the physical word and able to contemplate what it all means.

Shit! I’m supposed to be editing my novel ‘Bums’

Ah well, everything in its own time eh!

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how it all works – part 2

click here for part 1

Contents:

  1. Always look on the bright side of life.
  2. People and a pigeon

A walk into town to meet my wife from work and buy a new blender. We’ve been using a horrible cheap smoothie maker to make tofu for the past few years. Thankfully, it degenerated into a dysfuntional lump of plastic and metal, and so, if we wanted to continue making home-made tofu, we had no choice other than to buy a new blender type instrument; it had to have a fairly large capacity – at least 1.5 litres, and be heavy duty enough to cope with grinding up soaked soya beans efficiently enough to justify making home-made tofu in the first place.

I got to town earlier than planned, because instead of walking I jumped on a passing bus, so I went for a walk around, pausing in the market where I bought 2 dairy-free bounty-type bars from Clancys, the vegetarian stall.

After coming out of the market I heard someone playing the guitar and singing the song “Always look on the bright side of life,” from the Monty Python film. As I got closer it amused me to see that the guy with the gitbox had the most miserable expression I’d ever seen on a busker.

What I really wanted to do was to film a video of him singing that song with that downturned mouth – I’m not kidding – it would have got a fair few views on Youtube I’m sure. But,  because I’m too shy, or not cheeky enough, or a coward, I carried on walking past for going on for 50 metres and took the photo that the picture below has been cropped from – it’s only a phone camera after all.

always look on the bright sideAs you can see, he’s looking the other way so I didn’t catch the expression I told you about.

He wasn’t bad actually – voice-wise and music-wise – I’ve paid to see less entertaining performers.

I’ve never done any busking but I did beg on the street once or twice, mostly in Tenby when I was about seventeen; sleeping on the beach and harassing holidaymakers.

The police threw us out of town in the end. They drove me and a mate Jimmy, from Birmingham, to a spot just outside the town boundaries and told us to bugger off.

We hitched to Torquay – got harassed out of there eventually as well. But that was a long time ago.

I was still too early so I sat on a small bench type piece of street furniture outside the library and watched the people and the pigeonspigeon and people outside library doing their things.

It was busier than it looks in the photograph – and sunnier.

We’re going out for a drink tonight – now, in fact. Hope it’s not too busy. Will report back . . . .

It’s twenty past eleven, back from the arty-farty centre after 3 pints of cider and a quarter packet of crisps. Had some proper craic with some proper people or maybe I was just a little drunk.

Besides the people we had arranged to meet we bumped into an old (young) friend from the old (old) village. He’s an actor now and doing all right.

Overall we talked about art and music, theatre and television performance, writing and publishing – what did you expect in an arty centre?

But after all that the point is that it just all goes on – I mean in our small party there were people over 60, people in their fifties, people in their mid-forties and early thirties and people who haven’t quite left their teens, but the point is that we were all human beings of the sort that are willing to investigate and challenge the received wisdoms that we are required to subscribe to – up to our own individual limits anyway.

I get the feeling that this piece of writing is not working so I may abandon it now , , ,

But, hold on. I promised you I’d tell you how it all works – if you believed the title of this blog post that is. And since it’s related to part 1 then it should have at least a little relevance to that previous post where we talked about how many stars there are in the universe – i.e. – out there.

So, now we must talk about in here, you know, we must drill down into the sub-atomic level and beyond that even into the quantum foam.

Suffice it to say that where there are 400 billion stars in the galaxy and 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe then are are just as many particles, or bits of stuff, at the quantum level. As far as I know from my limited knowledge of quantum mechanics and from the results of my own contemplative thoughts then everything is made of particles from molecules via atoms to sub-atomic particles, But when you examine a particle then it is far too small to actually see it – it exists only by the effect it has, and individually a particle is far too small to have any effect anyway – so there is nothing!

What it all boils down to is that nobody knows anything and anyone who tells you they know something to be an absolute truth is either daft or deluded.

But the way it goes is that we have to use what we’ve got, so, just let it be, get on with it. Keep on trucking!

That’s how it all works.

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how it all works – part 1

It’s all a bit random and it could have all come together in endless different ways, but this is the reality we have to deal with. According to the latest quantum thinking there are multiple versions of the universe and they all exist in parallel. I find this difficult to understand, or to get my head round, as they say. Maybe that’s because my head isn’t the right tool to do the job of understanding, maybe it’s too small – after all, even just in physical terms, my head takes the space of a small watermelon.

Comparatively, a melon-sized head is infinitely small in an infinite universe, even our dear Mother Earth is a tiny smudge in the night sky when viewed from Venus and in the context of the galaxy our precious planet is a grain of sand that’s slipped between the pebbles on Brighton beach – There are up to 400 billion stars in our little galaxy – The Milky Way; and and there are at least 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe – and that’s just the observable universe and that’s just one of countless parallel universes.

milky-wayWhat some people think The Milky Way looks like. There’s 400 billion stars in there.

The numbers dissolve into mulch and become meaningless, but let’s just say that in the grand scheme of things a single person is beyond insignificance. But I know, yes, I know, that one single person is also the most significant thing there is or was or ever will be, because in the end, without that person, without that consciousness to experience it, those billions of galaxies and gadzillions of stars might as well not be there. They’d be unseeable and unknowable and unknown forever.

Doesn’t mean we’ll ever get our heads round it though. I mean, think about it. If we could understand the multiverse with something the size of a melon then there’d be something very wrong with it (them).

So, how does it all work then?

Maybe I’ll come back to that one.

In the meantime:

It’s only 9 am. As usual I have Radio 4 on in the background. I do sometimes listen to Radio Wales or Radio 6, and occasionally Radio 3, but more often than not Radio 4 is my companion during the day and has been for decades. I’m just wondering what that’s done and is still doing to my take on how it all works.

“You’ve got to fight for every little thing you want to achieve.” Words of wisdom from Rebecca Adlington, Olympic swimmer, who is the guest on this morning’s Desert Island Discs. But, is that true or is it just a part of the world view we’re expected to stick to and which is propagated on mainstream media such as BBC Radio 4. What does a lifetime of absorbing Jenny Murray’s drone and Melvyn Bragg’s whine do to your mind?

Who the fuck am I? What would I be like if I had donated my brain to Radio Hip-Hop instead? Would there be any difference anyway, since both types of media delivery are based on the idea that we must share a common vista. What if you didn’t engage in all that? One of my Facebook friends has just posted a link to a news story about a man who became a hermit for 27 years. The headline is: ‘What Happens to Your Identity When You Don’t Speak to Anyone for 27 Years?”

The hermit article goes on to say: ‘Anyone who reveals what he’s learned, Chris told me, is not by his definition a true hermit.’

Maybe I’ll come back to that too.

God, that Rebecca Adlington is full of herself isn’t she? You’re just a swimmer mate, you’re not going to bring world peace or anything. OK, she’s a success, I get it, she’s worked hard for what she’s achieved, she deserves it – yeah yeah OK. And she is quite young I suppose so perhaps her full-of-herself-ness is forgiveable.

Do I sound bitter? I’m not really, I understand that life and everyone, every creature even, who possesses it, is as complicated as the aforementioned multiverses, but that doesn’t mean I buy into the middle-class, middle-of-the-road, middle brow stew that the BBC and particularly Radio 4, has been pumping into my brain since I crawled from the swamp of adolescence.

I will not be brainwashed.

Resist . . .

Resist . . .

Resist . . . . . .

click here for part 2

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For the Time Being

ForTheTimeBeingcreatespaceBookCover5_5x8_5_Cream_210-webWhile working on my next novel ‘Bums’ which will be published in the Spring of 2015, I have been distracting myself by putting together a volume of other bits and pieces, called for the Time Being.

It’s going to end up as a 200 page paperback book and will be published in late October or early November 2014.

For the Time Being is a bringing together of short stories, plays, poems, snippets and other fragments of my writing. Some of it is brand new, other pieces have been lurking in drawers for decades. Some of the work has been exhaustively edited while some is still red raw. Some of the work has already been published on this blog in one form or another, some of it emerged as I was putting the book together.

I don’t know if the book has any commercial viability – probably not, but I don’t really care – it’s primary purpose is as a distraction for me and something for me to read in my dotage – the pure essence of self-publishing if you like.

There will be more information about the book on Opening Chapter’s website when it’s available.

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Go on – Try it

Go on – Try it.
A dog
a large brown dog
a large brown dog on a lead
going nowhere
but it doesn’t care
try putting a wolf on a lead
and taking it nowhere
go on
try it. Continue reading

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Glastonbury 1971 – Episode 3

Arthur_BrownGlastonbury 1971 – Episode Three

Click for Episode 1 or Episode 2

I found a way through the gridlines of power or whatever they were and saw the sign for the Release tent. I didn’t know much about them other than that they were a charity that helped drug users. A face loomed out of the crowd that wasn’t mine, well, it was me, but it wasn’t this me, if you know what I mean. I recognised him as a person I’d met the year before, or it might have the week before. I’d been sleeping rough in Tenby, scrounging off the girls who worked in the cafes and hotels and occasionally begging off the tourists, when I met Sarge and some other people at a barbecue on the beach one night.

We hung around together for a while, Sarge and his mate, Captain I think, came from the valleys somewhere, maybe Ystrad Mynach? Anyway we marauded around Tenby, harassing the holidaymakers and the locals, for a couple of days I think. Continue reading

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Glastonbury 1971 – Episode 2

Melanie_Safka_1972Glastonbury 1971 Episode Two

Click for Episode 1 or Episode 3

It’s likely that this narrative will get a little jumbled up at this point. There are a few reasons for this, principally, I suppose, is that it’s about events that happened 43 years ago, but also because the events that happened were experienced while I, the narrator, was in a state of mind that had been heavily altered by drugs of one kind or another – principally LSD, which, as you probably know tends to muck about with the brain of the person who’s taken it, causing delusions and hallucinations that may or may not have any relationship to what we know as reality. Continue reading

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Glastonbury 1971 – Episode 1

Glastonbury 71Glastonbury 1971 – Episode One

I have to tell you that even though this is about my experiences at the Glastonbury Festival in 1971, I am only now, 43 years later, writing it down in this form. I also have to tell you that in my opinion, 43 years is a bloody long time, and no matter how hard I try to make this piece an accurate retelling of what happened back then, or even an accurate retelling of what I perceived to be happening back then, it is going to be blurred by the years and by the myths about myself that I have built up over those years of my life, and by the myths that society has focused on and enhanced over the same period of time. Continue reading

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Lottery

lottery-balls

Branwen’s mobile phone shivered in her hand. It was Harry, her hyperactive younger brother. He was always a distraction. He could be a bit too much sometimes, but she was in a generous, and bored, mood.

“Are you in?” Harry said excitedly. “I’m outside – buzz me up.”

Branwen obliged. One minute later Harry stumbled into the flat clutching his new laptop. Branwen was surprised. Harry’s computer set-up in his own flat was usually untouchable, immovable, sacrosanct, with leads and dongles stuffed into every orifice. She only had to sit down heavily and he was on the ceiling.

“What’s up bro?” Branwen asked.

Harry sat on the settee and put the laptop carefully on the coffee table. He flipped the lid open.

“Look,” he said. “Come and see.”

Branwen sat beside her brother and stared at the screen. There was a display of six coloured balls bouncing slowly at random. On each ball was a number.

“What is it?” she asked.

“Can’t you see?” he said.

“It looks like a load of balls to me.”

“Ha ha. Very funny – but honestly, can’t you see what they are?”

Branwen shook her head. “Nope.”

“It’s tomorrow night’s winning lottery numbers.” Continue reading

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Heads or Tails?

Heads-or-tailsBranwen is an A* pupil who has been offered university places at both Oxford and Cambridge. She’s agonised for days about which one to choose. She’s weighed up all the pros and cons and it’s pretty much 50-50.

She decides to flip a coin. If it comes up heads she will choose Oxford; if it’s tails Cambridge will have the privilege of her attendance.

In a parallel universe a Branwen who is identical in every respect down to the last sub-atomic particle has, of course, exactly the same dilemma, and does, of course, exactly the same thing.

This scenario is not science fiction but is based on theories that are taken very seriously by very serious scientists

The Branwens in both universes flip their respective coins. Remember, they are exactly the same. Every thought, every emotion, every breath is exactly the same for each of them. Since there is not a sub-atomic particle of difference between them they are, in effect, exactly the same person.

The coin spins in the air and clatters to the floor of the little coffee shop where Branwen’s working for the summer holidays. She leans down to look more closely at the coin, supporting the small of her back, it’s still sore after the fall from her bike yesterday.

The coin lands heads side up in one universe and tails side up in the other. Now we have two versions of Branwen. Branwen A heads to Oxford while Branwen B takes up residence in Cambridge.

Branwen B loves Cambridge and settles in straight away. In her third year she meets Joseph, a politics student. They fall in love and get married. Joseph wants to devote himself to a political career. Branwen gives him the emotional and financial support he needs to do it.

Ten years later Joseph becomes a Member of Parliament and over the next twenty years ascends the political ladder until he becomes Prime Minister.

Branwen A can’t settle down in Oxford and drinks too much alcohol for her own good. She skips lectures, neglects her coursework and misses exams. In her third year she is asked to leave.

Branwen A goes back to her home town suffering from a breakdown and lives the rest of her life dependent on medication and benefits. Joseph meanwhile, loses interest in politics and becomes a corporate lawyer.

Now, along the way both Branwens make thousands of choices, for example, whether to get a bus to the market or cycle, or whether to wear the red or the green coat. You could say that every time Branwen makes a decision a parallel universe version of Branwen makes a different decision.

This leads me to conclude that if you’re sitting there with your head in your hands lamenting that you should have gone to Cambridge instead of Oxford, or you should have got the bus that day you cycled to the market and got flattened by that idiot in the taxi, then you should stop fretting. In a parallel universe you did go to Cambridge and your husband’s the Prime minister. (For the sake of balance, in yet another one you are the Emperor of the Galaxy.)

Note: I may come back to this. Actually, in another universe I do come back to this and write the most brilliant philosophical piece that leads to the Nobel Prize and world peace, while you win a hundred million on the lottery.

Sorry it’s not this one.

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