“To inspire people, even just for one second, is worth something.” Paul Simonon

The best dressed man in Punk rock, and sometime undercover chef on a Greenpeace ship, Paul Simonon is a true artist.

A painter prior to becoming a musician, and now a man of many achievements, and an impeccable collection of fedoras, Simonon, along with Strummer, Jones and Headon, was a key inspiration to a whole generation.

But he recognises that really four guys with guitars, drums and microphones were unlikely to change the world. The utopia they hoped for never came to pass, and now of course, their standard bearer and combat coat wearer Joe, is dead.

Nevertheless, they did inspire, and they continue to. And that, as Paul says, is worth something. People who were inspired by their vision of the world have made, and continue to make, small changes to their world. I am one of those people.

We all have that opportunity – don’t let it go to waste.

Hazelnuts, ego, and death

Millionaire mystic and sometime pseudo-science salesman Deepak Chopra recently described enlightenment as: ‘getting rid of the person that never was’.

There’s something in what he says I think. If one were to become what Chopra calls enlightened, it would surely be through a process of self-unrealisation, whereby one realises that the self you know – is not what you think it is.

Freud classified the psyche as having three ‘theoretical constructs’ – id, ego, and super ego. While the id, or the instinctual part of the psyche hasn’t gone on to become famous, and the super ego is not exactly a rockstar either, the ‘ego’ has become a very popular term. It has the X factor.

Ego has been transplanted into a million-billion conversations, which are basically about ‘big headedness’ or perhaps an overinflated sense of self-importance.

But ego is more than that, in psychoanalytical terms it actually relates to the sense of self, which intervenes between the instinct and the environment – it is, you might say, what classifies each of us as separate entities.

What Chopra is actually saying, I think, is that enlightenment is the realisation that we are in fact ‘all one’. We aren’t confined by the ‘boundaries’ of the ego, or the understanding of self. 

Julian of Norwich, standard-bearer for medieval contemplatives everywhere, had a famous vision.

“And in this he showed me something small, no bigger than a hazelnut, lying in the palm of my hand, as it seemed to me, and it was as round as a ball. I looked at it with the eye of my understanding and thought: What can this be? I was amazed that it could last, for I thought that because of its littleness, it would suddenly have fallen into nothing. And I was answered in my understanding: It lasts and always will, because God loves it; and thus everything has being through the love of God.”

The confines of ego-bound self-understanding have to be stripped away if we are ever to become aware that we are given being, only, as Julian puts it ‘through the love of God’. We have, in words familiar to Bible readers, to put the self to death.

By putting the self to death, Christians believe we can ‘become one’ with God, this makes sense if you think about it in the sense of what Julian talks about – everything has being through the love of God, but we separate, quite literally, ourselves by constructing a self. And it must die.

I’ve really got to find a way
Of taking care of him for good
I know he’d kill me if he could
So I’ll nail him to the wood

Killing my old man
You may not understand
He’s a terrible man
Got to make a stand
And kill the old man

(Bob Hartman)

On the other hand – is this ‘mystical one-ness’ a load of mumbo-jumbo, please have your say…

Thoreau and blogging

I note that Joe quotes Thoreau in a recent blog post, and as it happens I too have been reminded of a quote by Thoreau this weekend.

Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end,… We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.

It, along with other things I have been reading recently about the value of silence, the encumbrence of possesions and the use of alienating media (sorry Adam, I still think computers alienate us from the end product, rather than bringing us closer – please dont get cross) are making me reconsider the whole thing of blogging.

As more and more of my friends are on facebook, I find myself more and more glad that I am not. I dont miss twitter, which I found made me less productive, and more inclined to be a twit. Blogging is a useful outlet for writing, but I wonder if I might not be more inclined to find other outlets, were I not able to spout off online quite so easily.

None of my great heroes were bloggers – not that blogs existed in their time – but even if they had, I doubt they would have bothered. Indeed most of the people I respect and admire greatly were deeply insignificant to the world around them, and only a few made it to great public acclaim in their lifetime, and that was despite their lack of profile.

Even Jesus seemed to go out of his way to avoid PR, and did a pretty good job of it too – (how come everyone forgot about his miraculous birth?)

Anyway, I’m not stopping just yet, but its on my mind, and may yet come to pass.

everything he touches turns to facts

I love this quote from Malcolm Muggeridge, apologies but I cant remember where I first found it:

“Accumulating knowledge is a form of avarice and lends itself to another version of the Midas story. Man is so avid for knowledge that everything he touches turns to facts; his faith becomes theology, his love becomes lechery, his wisdom becomes science. Pursuing meaning, he ignores truth.”

Malcom Muggeridge – Firing Line interview 9/6/80