The Zen. The Zen. The Zen.

I recently wrote a little piece about an event I was due to perform in. You can read it here: The Suchlike Zen.

Here is what happened next.

Disclaimer: The following piece was written by a different version of me from a parallel universe therefore the views expressed are not necessarily mine. It’s also a bit long, and a bit of a head-fuck, even for me.

‘Hello! I’m Derec – sort of. The thing is, I’m not from round here, and to tell the truth I’m a bit lost, and when I say lost, I mean properly lost, lost in space and time.

You see – I’ve got this theory that, hmm . . . hang on, let’s try to keep it simple. OK, let’s just say that – and remember, it’s only a theory – well, not even a theory really, in the scientific sense, it’s just an idea really, a smidgeon of a thought about the nature of reality – you know, what it’s all about, I mean, I’m not going to pretend I know the answers, any answers to anything, but, and I think you have to show me some respect as a fellow living, breathing creature of this universe, or any other universe come to that.

And that’s the point – Any. Other. Universe. That’s what I mean, there are, according to many respected scientific thinkers, many universes, in fact, according to some, there are an infinite number of parallel universes.

particlesFeeble attempt to represent a large number of particles (or stars)

Continue reading

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The Suchlike Zen

The Suchlike Zen

On Sunday February 9th, 2016, I will be appearing on stage in the theatre at the Chapter Arts Centre in Cardiff. This is a very weird and unusual thing for me to do; it’s so unusual that apart from a couple of best-forgotten skirmishes I’ve never really done it before. One of the reasons it’s weird is because, as of now (January 29th), I have no idea what I’m going to do on that stage – well, I do have some sketchy ideas, but I don’t know if what I end up doing will have any resemblance to what I’m thinking of doing now.

For example, I have written 7 or 8 sides in an A4 notebook that may or may not be the first draft of the story I will tell on that stage. Thing is, It’s not really a story, it’s more of a ramble about parallel universes and quantum mechanics, the main idea being that I am not me but I have somehow got my consciousness mixed up with, another, almost identical, version of me who exists in an almost identical parallel universe.

its-zen

Now, I think that the opportunity for me to appear on that stage and have complete freedom to do or say whatever I like for 10 minutes is rare enough to warrant me developing something, an act if you like, that is worthy of such an opportunity. Trouble is I don’t think my quantum ramble is good enough and I can’t think of anything else clever enough so I’ll probably end up reading poems or passages from my books.

Unless . . .

Watch this space.

EDIT: The follow up to this post can be found here: The Zen. The Zen. The Zen.

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Quantum Relativity

One of the projects I’m working on has the physical attributes of a book. It looks like a book and it reads like a book (or will do when it’s finished). In its present state it contains about 80,000 words all typed up in the same Word document. The content is snippets from diaries, journals, and scraps of paper going back to when I started writing such things half a century ago when I was twelve or thirteen.years old.

I’ve got a few more bits to type up – say a couple of thousand words. When that chore is complete the real work will begin and I reckon it will take about a year. The idea is to then superimpose a story over these seemingly random unconnected scribblings, so the end result will be a kind of meta-fiction-autobiography-fantasy type of thing. So far it looks like there’s a Magic Elf and a thirteen-year-old Alien girl involved in the plot. Continue reading

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This is it

Besides the work on other people’s books I do as a publisher I am working on at least three of four of my own.

The second and third books in the DI Frank Lee trilogy – Beats and Bones – the first book Bums has already been published. These are two full-length novels.

The second edition of my poetry collection – The Words in Me, though I may rename it.

This is it – is a full length novel-cum-autobiography. The title and content may change

So this is something I wrote about This is it just now

Friday October 30th 2015

For the blog

As well as all the other stuff I’m working on at the moment I’m writing an ‘experimental novel’. Its working title is ‘This is it’. It’s not easy to explain without sounding like an apologist for Tracey Emin’s Bed, but that is what it is – the Tracey Emin’s Bed of literature – at least that’s the sort of thing is might look like to the casual reader (which is what Tracey Emin’s bed looks like to the casual observer – or I may be wrong and Tracey Emin’s bed might actually be rubbish as may the book I’m working on.).

The point is, it doesn’t really matter what anyone else thinks of my book because I’m writing it only to myself – my future self in fact. So I make the rules and revise them or break them as I please. So, if you were really nasty and / or cynical you could say it’s a wanky book, created only to please myself.

The process by which I am writing (or constructing) the book might be of interest though.

So far I have compiled a total of almost 45,000 words. Some of it is new writing, some of it is copied from old documents in the depths of my hard drive and some of it is typed in from the many dozens of notebooks and thousands of loose papers usually lurking in cardboard in my attic, or more accurately, because I’m working on them, they are now dominating the dining room.

There is so much material in my personal archives that I am having to be very selective in choosing which pieces to include in the new book. This is a good thing because most of the material is so unpolished as to be unrecognisable as writing in the first place – still I hang on to it because I know that underneath the patina are gems waiting to be revealed – whether I will ever have the time to hack away at them is another matter.

The book is a novel, and it is also an autobiography. Obviously it can’t be a full autobiography because how can you get a whole lifetime into a book, or even a library. As a novel it is hard to pin down to any genre but let’s say it has elements of fantasy, magic-realism, science-fiction, crime, suspense, literary, historical, speculative (whatever that is) and I can’t be bothered to carry on searching for words to describe stories.

Let’s put it this way – it is definitely a story, it is definitely fiction, and it is definitely true.

And another thing – this piece is being written for a blog post, but I’m also going to put it in the book.

 

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He wouldn’t harm a fly

The link between Animal Abuse and violence against people.

(First published in Animal Prints Magazine)

I still feel a vague sense of guilt when I remember how I used to swat flies and watch their squashed bodies slide almost imperceptibly down a wall or a window pane, like fat black currants. Recently, I had to deal with an infestation of ants in my kitchen but that’s another story. We all have to come into contact with animals in one way or another and sometimes (unless you’re a devout Jain perhaps) animals suffer because we exist, but when that suffering is deliberately inflicted by a human being it can be a sign of a disturbed and violent personality.

As obvious as it is to most enlightened people that treating animals badly is wrong, there is now startling evidence in the public domain that makes a strong case for the link between animal abuse and the most heinous violent crimes against people.

For example, in Oregon in 1998, Kit Kinkel killed his parents and two of his classmates as well as injuring many more. Kit Kinkel had a history of animal abuse and killed and maimed cats, squirrels and other animals by putting fireworks in their mouths. He also bragged about blowing up a cow.

Sadly this is only one example of this disturbing link. Continue reading

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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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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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The Three Bears is a Work of Art

3bears cover small“What it is is a work of art, in the fullest sense.” This is a quote from the late great American poet JT Ahearn after he read The Three Bears, a novel I wrote. It was published in 2006, and again in a slightly revised edition in 2008. It is without doubt, the best thing I have ever written and probably the best thing I will ever write. When I say ‘best’ I don’t mean it’s the best plot. the best story, the best characterisation or even the best writing, I mean it is a true work of art, it’s completely unique and wonderful in entirely its own way. By any measure it’s a long way from perfect and if I’d thought about it rationally I probably wouldn’t have published it, but I’m glad I did. Continue reading

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About the Journey

It’s not finished yet, this journey
that began when the first eyes
opened, to a universe unknown.
When the composition
was a mystery.
When colours melded
into one space-less blur.
Before the images resolved,
and a birth shook the world.

Continue reading

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Old Poems 2

The second instalment from the old poems book dated 1970/1971

Click here for the first instalment

.3.
Feeling very good and
knowing what we all should
I smile

Looking all around and listening
to the best sounds
I laugh 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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The Dreamer

the dreamerThe Dreamer

The creature woke up; it was screaming silently, becoming aware that it existed as a presence inside its own skull. It was a bundle of bones, hanging with flesh.

Where was he? Who was he?

Ah! Yes. He was what was known as a man, on a planet known as Earth. A few hours earlier he’d lain on that bed next to a woman, a similar collection of flesh and bones. They’d been together, sharing their existence on that small blue planet for twenty-five of its years. His name was Ianto; her name was Siân.

She was lying next to him now, her flesh and bones covered with a smooth skin. He reached across under the bedclothes and stroked her thigh with his fingertips. 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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