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Sunday, 17 March 2013

Blog 107: The Unborn Companion

This is an appendix from a larger piece I've been working on for a few days but encompasses the idea simply and quickly. This is from a fiction novelette so far called The Singular Soul which I want to publish through Blurb as I did with the books for my degree show but more in the format of my dissertation, playing with chronology and continuity. Here it is:

A man loved me more than half a century before I was born. He knew about my life; its highs and lows, they were his escape from his own tormented life and I've come love him back in my own way via the stories passed on by the man who helped free him from the confines of an asylum. I was the unborn companion of Nathaniel Cawdor who saw my life and me through reflections. He loved me and my life with a passion I could call obsessive a creepy but to be honest I could have done with a friend like him before now. He worked around the rules and made the best of a hard life in war torn times.

Each life might be considered a room with a door at either end. We walk through the first door into the room which might be bigger or smaller, full or empty and then we exit through the second door to a new life. This is reincarnation as best I can describe it. Most of us can't remember the last room. When I leave this room I'll enter the room that is Nathaniel Cawdor, I can't see his room but he can stare through the keyhole into mine. Maybe the rooms of our lives aren't in one long line, it seems impractical that they wouldn't twist back alongside or on top of and under themselves and have small skylights, windows or a glass floor here and there.

Maybe you’ve experienced the moment where you're feeling vulnerable and another person who still has to deal with their own problems offers you a hand to hold or a shoulder to cry on. That's what it feels like when I read the story of the man who died so young so long before I could have met him. His hand reached through time to me to offer the comfort he took from my life when he needed it. I was a friend who could be there for him in solitary confinement while the screams of the mentally ill and the odour of their waste kept him awake. That I could help someone in a time like that brings warmth to me, the pride of hope donation. We could all of our organs away and never have enough but within us hope springs eternal, why not give?

Blog 106: Stagnant and Stationary Self-discovery

Know thy enemy and thyself and you need not fear the outcome of a thousand battles was the quite reasonable theory of a Chinese strategist Sun Tzu. My enemy is for the moment and has for the best part of my life been boredom, we’re well acquainted. Through familiarity with boredom I know myself ever more. People talk about journeys of self-discovery, traveling abroad to ‘find themselves’ which I’m finding ever more absurd as I remain where I am, as I do the same thing day in and out.

On a journey we meet new people and learn things about them and the world where as stuck in place I feel we are better poised to look within ourselves. Day after day I clean the same rooms in a hotel and day after day I return to find them trashed by drunks with no regard for the time limit I have to clean a room set by someone in an office, possibly in another country. This person might never have heard of Aberdeen or considered the scale of destruction half a dozen drunken louts can wreak within a room between check in at three in the afternoon and noon the next day.

While I clean I have a lot of time to think, escaping the cycle of destruction, restoration and making beds by walking through far flung realities within my own mind. I have hours to consider my view on any particular subject that might be raised by the daily papers left next to televisions I must dust or to learn Polish from my co-workers. Free tutelage in a foreign language, dziękuję.

I’m in a job I’m overqualified for just as anyone with independent thought and free spirit would be but my stagnant and stationary self-discovery feels as valid as any story about a gap year in the third world that I could never afford.

People moan about the density of foreigners within our country, immigration’s terrible isn’t it? No. I see the faces of foreign places, the words of foreign languages and I think how lucky I am to live in a time where even if I can’t afford to see the rest of the world as much as I might like to children of other nations will surround me that I might learn their ways in the comfort of Scotland. I hate the heat of strong sunlight which makes me sweat which in return causes rashes to cover my oversensitive skin. If stories of the sunny equatorial regions fly their way to me then why moan about it? I joy in the possibilities of genetic diversity the present and future hold with people moving so freely across the globe. Genetic predispositions to illness or other maladies could be negated with less pedigreed genetic pool.

I have to wonder if the morons who clamour for racial purity have really paid attention to the portraits of communities in the past. I saw one a while back while on holiday in a rural region of Scotland, the portrait of an entire village. The whole image seemed to detail every minute change you could make to the one face in order to render one individual as many. Each villager had the same nose, the same shape of face, the same jawline and ears. If that’s the past we’ve left behind good riddance. Our ancestors inbred because they could not or would not summon the effort to leave their native hills and valleys. There’s nothing romantic or patriotic about marrying your brother or sister and being both parent and aunt or uncle to your children.

Through this view of not just the advantage but very real need for genetic diversity which lighten some of the load bourn by our strained health services by improving genetic health I have been considering once again the concept of uniformity. Schools have an obligation to educate us in more than just academic fact but not to set impressionable children bad examples in terms of socio-politic concept. In this last respect I think any school which enforces and idolises the uniform fails its pupils at a very basic level. The purpose of uniform is to nurture a group mentality which may benefit the school as a unit but suggest a group mentality to the detriment of individuality which seems unhealthy. We live in a world of individuals, each unique and better for it. To program us to fit in by wearing the same clothes as school bothers me for the same reason I hate to be turned away from an establishment for my chosen garments or hear stories of outsiders picked on by groups with a hive mentality.

In America all of the gangs have a form of uniform; The Bloods show their allegiance by wearing red, the Crips wear blue and the Latin Kings wear yellow. We are better together for certain but can’t that mean the group is humanity or life itself which is the outsider in an otherwise cold and empty universe?

We must follow our own path in life, unhindered by the rest of humanity and equally helping others along their own road. I hear of depression amongst those who live undeniably comfy lives here, supported by a welfare state and one of the best healthcare systems in the history of the world. I hate the days where I feel I’ve done nothing to further my goal of being a writer/visual artist. I think that anyone with any concept of where they want to go in life will suffer depression if they no they’re making no progress. Even those who live without a dream or vague aspiration must strive for one. We are programmed to grow at every level. There is no limit to our ambition, we must move ever onward for our own peace of mind.


Saturday, 16 March 2013

Blog 105: The Once Silver Moon

Did you know the moon shone silver once? The sun's light was bounced off the grey dust that feeds the grass that gives it the emerald hue we see today. It must be ringing a bell now, you've heard an old man tell you that idly, maybe your father or his. It's easy to forget that life did not find itself on Earth's constant companion by the same means as it did on Earth itself. You'll have heard of N.A.S.A I'm sure? They were some of the first spacemen, sponsored by the American Government, desperate to beat the Russians in a petty publicity war known as The Space Race. The Russians had their early victories such as the probe Sputnik which only hastened the Americans on to set other records of their own. It was an American who set foot on the moon first, you must know that.

Even the grainy black and white footage in defunct  four by three ratio shows clearly enough that there was no sea of green grass on the satellite's surface when the astronaut took his first steps. The seeds of the all-encompassing lawn we see today were sown by his organisation three quarters of a century later to make their final mark on history. As a last act N.A.S.A coloured the moon green so their legacy could be seen by anyone who ever looked skyward at night. The effort was also the first and to date the most successful example of terraforming.

You might one day be lucky enough to stand on the green turf of the moon and look down upon the glimmering blue orb of Earth and if you do just think about how long Earth has looked as it does compared to how long there has been grass on the moon.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Blog 104: Judging Depth

The surface of the water glistened like glitter, blue and shimmering in the bright light of the summer of two thousand and nine. He dipped his toes in, wishing the lake was as warm as the air, the wind only serving to blow more of the heat into his face. He wished he'd cut his hair which was too long and working too well as insulation. He waded into the water, shivering while his body baked in the sunlight. The pebbles on the bed were mostly round but here and there they hurt his bare feet as he'd left his shoes, jeans and t shirt above the tide-line.

He saw the destination, half a mile away, right next to the waterfall. Beyond that point the calm water became vicious and swift, twisting and turning for miles downstream.

He thought of the car in the car park, almost out of fuel. He walked deeper and shivered more violently as the water reached his crotch. He gasped, thinking he was past the worst of it and threw himself into the cool water. For a moment he forgot to breathe from the shock and then gasped and floundered in the still shallow water.

Only steely determination kept him in the water, made him swim but swim he did. He stirred the dirt in the shallows and kept his eyes shut beneath the surface, having to course correct until the bed of the lake sank away. He hit his stride there, knowing he could not turn back.

The stolen car parked in and around a tree was being inspected that very moment by police. His blood on the steering wheel proved he had been injured but not enough to stop him kicking his way out of the passenger's window and running off through the woods toward the lake. Drops of blood from his nose punctuated the deep imprints of his footsteps in the mud of the woods and then the sand. Drops swirled in the water as he made waves, swimming for his target.

He heard the sirens but it was too late for them, he'd reached the concrete of the old dam. Beneath the surface he moved the grill of the service panel which led into the disused outlet for a village up the hill. Replacing the panel behind him he hauled himself out of the water into the dark, slimy cavern beneath the public path. He found the torch he'd left there and illuminated the dank space where there was also enough food to last his for two days.

Hours passed, he heard officers on the path above discussing his disappearance and the continuing search downstream. He waited until the voices had stopped before taking a nap, it wasn't comfortable but he wanted to wait longer. After waking to complete, extended silence he made his way up the narrow tunnel towards the water works through a horrendously smelly old pipe and exited through hatch into the dark building. There were no workers needed for the facility to run which was why he was shocked to discover the bag of clothes he'd left himself was missing.

He had presumed maintenance workers had removed the bag and quite rightly but not that they would have informed the police who were waiting for him as he left the facility. He was almost grateful for the blanket draped around his shoulders but not the handcuffs as the officers bundled him into a car.