London

Before I tell you of my adventures in London and return to Grannie’s, I must say that now I can completely commiserate with those that have had an encounter with Norovirus. I can’t describe the awful completeness of the debilitating nature of this bug. In my case it ran its course in 60 hours or so, and with my complicating health issues I probably should have been hospitalized. I knew what I had and that the only treatment is to stay in bed and stay as hydrated as possible. A hospital IV would have been ideal but I have had enough of those and seen quite enough of hospitals. This was my first encounter with anything but a mild food poisoning, which is like a mosquito bite compared to the scorpion sting of Norovirus. At the moment I am scared of food that is not the freshest and prepared by me, shaking hands, or shared anything, and people in general. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norovirus I’ll get over the experience as what fun is it without people and food and “shakin’ it up baby”?

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When I left you on my de-schooling journey (http://abuddhas.net/?p=130) I had snagged a decent hitch away from the the old-boy’s club of Blundells School, mastered by old boys of various stripes if you catch my meaning, and all the way into the heart of London. I was let out of the car without ceremony at a youth hostel. I had very limited funds, and had also broken the cardinal rule of never forgetting your towel, though I’m not sure I had even been taught that lesson yet.

The clerk no doubt saw dozens of young idealists without a clue every day, looking for a bed and perhaps some guidance around this huge and alien city. I believe I had five pounds (@ $12.50 at the time) and the bed was to be half a pound, $1.25, and included a bed in a dorm style arrangement just like at the school except with bunks. There was a large shower room and rows of sinks shared by gals and guys, as was the dorm, replete with the ambrosic and calming odour of hashish. This did nothing for my finances but everyone shared what altered states of consciousness they had available. Granola, trail mix, was also a shared resource but that is where the social equality ended and paranoia set in seeing as there was no hostel security. I slept with my shoes on.

A nice hot shower in the morning was co-ed but in no way prurient. Without a towel it was very much air dry and a squeak into yesterday’s clothes. That is only a minor reason to never forget your towel. You must read Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy to have a more comprehensive Knowledge of the Implications.

So I had $3.75, about 1 lb of front desk guidance booklets, and a city of unimaginable size to explore. Another night at the hostel and a fish and chips and a pint and I’d be broke. That was not going to work. The light bulb that turned on was that I was still an American citizen and surely they would help in some way, Off to the embassy I trundled admiring all in my path and entered its lobby of empire with high hopes of being a fellow well met. I drew my military dependent card and proceeded to tell my woeful tale to the attending bureaucrat. His demeanor was not welcoming in the least. I was a hippy-ish looking kid making contact with and actually asking for help from Him and all he stood for in those years of kids not much older than me enduring the slaughter of Vietnam.

A kindly middle-aged lady next to me had heard our transaction, said that there were a few nights left in her room reservation at the embassy and that I would be welcome to them. My eyes lit up with a zest that only an unjaded youth could possess and I thanked her profusely. The eyes of the man behind the desk darkened as only a hardened careerist’s could, exclaimed without any displayed affect that that would not be possible and would I please leave the embassy. And there it was.
I stood on the sweeping steps of this massive edifice, hope dashed, caught between the idealism of a new shared and happy world and the actual harsh fact of slammed doors in the face of optimism. The lady from the embassy lobby came down the stairs to me and handed me a ten pound note, and told me I really should go home but see a bit of the city first. My spirits were at first lifted, and then a deep malaise set in; my education had truly begun.

You were likely wondering when we’d get back to the primary focus of part one of the Journal of the Hermitage. I’ll make my best effort not to break any more of myself so as to be able to continue in a more unbroken fashion. As I heal in the places I physically can, much of what I relate will be a mixture of miraculous insights and broken perceptions. There is no way around it. The entirely clear-minded child open to all possibility and dazzled by the improbability of it all falls from grace. What is found is hypocrisy, cynicism, deception and the rest of the detritus of human confusion. There is joy, exuberance and lust, empathy, compassion and the rest of the manifest of human love.

Next time, the journey back to Blundells to face the music. For now how about the soundtrack of the day:

Falling 2

I’m going to slow our decent. How exactly I will accomplish this feat that has baffled the brightest minds, which I certainly am not, is a mystery even to me. But slow our various falls to a level capable of study, leading to resolution, I am determined to do. So sit back and enjoy what I suppose will be embarrassing to me and perhaps a laugh for you. Unless of course I succeed. If I do, we likely won’t know. A drone dispatched from the Keepers of the Living Light, KILL, will perform a memory wipe using electricity. Investigation in matters electrical is slated for an upcoming essay titled ‘Flow Down’.

Let’s start with gravity. Our current understanding is a potential kinetic mess, with more complications arising the nearer we get to simplicity. Gravity is built into and is heavily into itself. The ultimate partier as it is completely self-contained and self-contained completely. A dull guest at best, we’ve observed enough. Slow-ness defined.

Much more difficult to retard, and at least as exciting as Olympic hockey, was celebrated yesterday in the name of an early Christian named Valentinus. Falling into love, however one might interpret that, seems to require the felling of countless trees for cards to be quickly forgotten or disposed of in ways that are certainly not loving. Chocolates, flowers, and jewelry help the species procreate, though the exact relationship between those wildly disparate forms is studied with the deepest thoroughness by advertisers, sociologists, psychologists, and many other specialists that give not a whit about love or falling. Thus being a personal and private matter, there is nothing there for our attention. Slow, and frankly none of my business.

Falling between the cracks is the usual way of the dispossessed and is painful to watch. Sluggish, too, since we are all reluctant to fill. Pontification is low cost and gives the appearance that something is happening when nothing actually is. Slow and dirty.

There are many ways to fall. There are astronomical ways of not falling at all. We can experience, to some extent describe, but we can in no way explain. Slow, deep, unresponsive.

I’ll leave you with Connie Francis – Fallin’

Falling

Recognizing it or not we are all falling all the time, always, in all ways. This is a situation of the gravest order. Not only do we not know why our experiential reality is like this, it appears we do not even know the right questions to pose to get a start on an adequate description of the condition to begin with.

One could give a nod to Newton’s proverbial apple and the calculus of a mathematical explanation. Unfortunately this gives the wholly unsatisfying mobius of an internal resolution that can describe the observably obvious but does nothing whatsoever to enlighten. Light we can work with. Gravity we can not.

What has set off my tirade on this particular tangent before we get back to my main focus on education, my personal journey through it and thoughts on education in general – just to refresh those completely lost at what this journaling nutbar is going on about – is my recent experience with one aspect of falling.

I had finished my tinkle. I am sorry but I had to use that euphemism for urination as it may be my only chance to ever do so. A very Canadian sorry to you. To continue, I was on my way to do the usual post-tinkle surgeon-quality hand wash when out from beneath me the planet dropped three feet. Why my beloved galaxy traversing planetship decided to choose that exact moment to exercise its power of compression, or closer to the truth why I chose to be be less attentive exactly then, is far past my meager explanatory ability. The bottom line is that my bottom line struck the Earth’s new top line with full unpadded force. With my (m)ass some 6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 kilos less than the ship’s, the consequence was howlingly horrific. I did with some reserve of droll saved for just such times manage to say to my landlord “I think I’ve broken myself”. Ambulance called.

I weigh about 45 kilos, have 0% fat, and so the energy transfer was straight up my spine leaving my L2 vertebrae fractured and a disk herniated. A CAT scan verified that I needed to get to the Regina General Hospital pronto, was stuck into another ambulance for the 300 kilometer trip. One thing about the “free” Canadian health system is that ambulance service is not covered and between home, local hospital, and Regina cost about $1,500; though I did get a free on-board beverage of water and a shot of morphine; 2013 vintage if I’m not mistaken.

After more radiation intrusions and fluid extrusions and patient as object consultations it was decided that surgery was to be postponed to see whether a brace, a steely backed girdle by any other name would evince equal pain, might be able to heal as well as could be expected.

I am a person of co-morbid complication not to be trifled with, what with serious COPD, osteoarthritis eating what spine and every other bone I have, and an attitude of gratitude for the healthcare professionals admixed into a need to know everything they know about me, which is inconvenient for them. I get to calmly remain in my hermitage whilst the docs, nurses, and supporting staff, need to rush off to their next set of complex puzzlement.

Now that you know why I’ve been absent from writing for the last month or so, a broken back teamed with breathless wonder, I want to explore all I can in my remaining time. This essay is titled ‘falling’ not because of my unfortunate accident but because the metaphor encompasses the totality of our human experience. Let’s jump right in. Tomorrow, Dear Ones, as at the moment my bottomless hunger tempts with too much zest and I must fall to its call.

Second Intermission

I want to take this opportunity to express some predictions for where we are heading. Assuming we don’t find ourselves in a nuclear conflagration with the resulting catastrophes, the prognosis is still pretty bleak. Transparency will not re-invigorate democracy, revolution is untenable, and we are at a terrible loss.

To start with, transparency is unthinkable for the intelligence community because what they do is by definition clandestine. Likewise for law enforcement agencies not because they are secret, very public in fact, but because many of the acts and methodologies used are disreputable and must not be visible to the general population. In the same vein the social agencies, hospitals, even religious groups, need to keep their information private and secure.

The trouble is that none of that information is secure at all. The ‘Five Eyes’ of USA, Canada, UK, Australia, and New Zealand soak it all up in vast storage facilities for retrieval when a target is identified. This includes everything we do that is not randomly analogue. Even then we are likely to be observed by orbiting cameras, ground penetrating radar, and many other stealthy technologies. Perhaps one could find a cave somewhere.

On to the predictions. I did not intend for this to be a year end sort of thing; I just realized the date a moment ago. One of the benefits of being in a trans-temporal state much of the time.

1) People will become inoculated to being spied on since there is simply nothing to be done about it. This will result in a general self-censorship of thought and behavior so as to not draw attention, and a widening of the gulf between the governed and the governing. Some resistance groups will attempt reform, but they will have been infiltrated and made to seem either violent or otherwise extremist.

2) The rise of technological resolutions to human problems will remain close to exponential, for those able to afford them. This will not be a result of growth in computing power, which may continue to follow Moore’s prediction for some time yet, but rather due to the collaborative ability of the internet. The notion that this will help in any way the most unfortunate on our Earthship is misguided or even delusional. They will be left as minions in the service of economies and the elite in control of them.

3) The middle class will be a significant problem in the years ahead. The divisions may well become quite definable as those who have enough want more, and those left behind have no recourse. The boom of retirement will enhance this disparity as all seniors require service at some level. That service will only be available to those with wealth. Most people should become accustomed to living hand-to-mouth.

4) Military and intelligence capabilities will be greatly enhanced by the technological and computing network. On-demand armaments, made on-site, will replace the expensively transported munitions today. Most armies will adopt drones and robotics as their primary delivery systems to exterminate largely innocent people.

5) The growth of acronymic agencies with a specific purpose will continue. This in essence means that within the foreseeable future a majority of ‘legitimate’ citizens will be working for “the man”, and bringing decent wages, and the rest of us are used as labour to fuel this domestic and overseas inanity.

I have more predictions but not the energy to spell them out. Have a stupendous New Year’s all my Dear Readers. Remember that the spirit is within you and spread joy and creativity where you can. Remain steadfast in the face of tyranny. Stay calm when intruded upon but do not budge unless forced to do so. Be circumspect. Love and let others love you.

Here is an acoustic Jimi Hendrix.

Boarding School

Blundells School was pretty well the opposite of Summerhill, the free-school run by A.S. Neill, though this was forty two years ago and I have no idea what it is like now. At the time I was an anxiety-stricken fourteen year old with a determined free spirit and, thanks to my LSD trip, quite sure that everyone was insane for not seeing through the illusions.

I enjoy old buildings and I think I was a bit overawed when I first arrived, realizing that I was going to live here. Things are of varying ages on the school grounds, but one is imbued with a feeling of antiquity; a depth of history.

My first night was intimidating. There were a lot of beds in a large dormitory room, with a very high ceiling, no bunks, and in other ways much like I could envision a jail. I had gone from the freedom of Dartmoor to a residential school for boys of the upper caste, over the course of some seven years.

We each had our own study space, far nicer than the dorm, in which I had set up my record player. Slade, Jethro Tull, the Stones and Beatles, would grace me with sanity while I tried to adapt to a quite rigorous regimen; may have set my study-room partner off somewhat, though.

Adaptability to nonsense is simply not in my nature. and I hitch-hiked out of Blundells up to Taunton and then on to London. Better free and destitute than wealthy and confined. The man that picked me up had wonderful African hashish, and I was back in my element. We talked war, politics, multitudes, You must remember that Vietnam was still raging, Northern Ireland’s troubles were dire, the cold war was still hot, and my mind was set.

Next time I’ll tell you what happened in London and of the poignant train ride back to my grandmother’s. We’re still on the topic of education, I hope,

What I Am Not

I am not a teacher though I have taught many things over the years, and been taught many more. The struggle to attain a place in this frenzied Western world is a suffering of our own creation. This was my personal revolution and I didn’t give a damn what the elders said.

My first act was to run away, many times. I felt I was in the midst of an insane people that had an utterly wrong conception of our purpose here. Where I was running to was almost arbitrary. Going back home was always a tail-between-my-legs event, but I loved my family and had to be home. The admonishments deeply struck, especially my father’s assertions that I had badly hurt my mother, through which he was actually professing his love for me. I didn’t feel it that way however, and internalized large chunks of guilt and grief.

My revolution continues tomorrow when I’m shipped off to a boarding school in England, and they were not prepared for my self-proclaimed freedom, or maybe it was Jethro Tull. I think you’ll enjoy my description of Blundells, founded in 1604.

Stretch your musical and linguistic skills with La Vallée Barbet Schroeder (1972) Pink Floyd

Dear Sarah

This is an open letter to my second crush. I had left Linda back in Missouri and presently left her uncontacted in a pique of pre-adolescent angst. In other words, lots of guys to play with.

When I first saw Sarah she was walking by with some friends past our school, which her twin brother also attended. I was immediately lost in her wonder. She did not know this of course giggling down the street with her friends. There is not a fibre of her being that I did not want to explore. Her eyes, her personality, her body, my goodness. In grade seven these emotions cannot be processed into a comprehensive, rational understanding.

And they weren’t. I was viscerally afraid to make contact with Sarah, as if to do so would put my very being into the crucible of the goddess and that I could,would, disintegrate upon rejection of her similar attraction to me. We were the same age and went to schools about a block from each other. I would see her and giggly companions on occasion during soccer practise, or playing on the rink. I was a good friend of her brother and did see her once in a while at their house. That was almost too close for comfort.

I would have melted into a puddle of jelly were she have to given me a hug. And then, there was Sarah in my home room at the public high school. Grade nine, more beautiful than ever, and I found it impossible to focus on the instruction of the teacher. He had somewhat of a Hindi accent that complicated things as well. I didn’t stare at her but quickly glanced when I could. The other girls probably noticed but I got no feedback in that regard.

There is no joining of souls, or any ending at all really. I went though my life regretting my inaction and fear, got married twice, and have four great grown up kids, seven grand kids and a great grandchild. Sarah married a great guy, whom I became friends with.

Our trajectory through life is often fairly random. Looking back from this end of the journey is sobering, as well as filled with beamed love for those, like Sarah, that I did not express my true feelings for, attraction to, or even properly try.

Fear is a useless emotion if it not attached to an actual thing, like a predatory grizzly, or abusive spouse, or child in danger. Otherwise all fear does is add confusion to a world that demands decisive action, love and acceptance. I still love you Sarah, not in the way of your husband of course, not even in a romantic way, but as a dream that has enriched my inner life, provided a light for my soul when it was darkest, and eventually, many years later, allowed me to write this. And I don’t really know you.

The Great Brain Robbery

Towards the end of the book ‘The man who changed the world’ is an amazing poem by a friend of his. 1967. How far have we fallen?Take that question to church tomorrow.

Up stood the ape—down came the drag—
The beginning of the blues—
Can’t talk your way out of it adult
Daddy there’s a drag on you.
Oh adult the mistakes you make
You ignorant little man
Adult oh the liberties you take
You mistaken little man.
Between your meals you make your deals
And send your sons to war
Talk all you want but don’t you know
We’ve heard it all before.
Adult will you never see
All you want is to agree—
The lies you tell to save your face
Constitute your grave disgrace.
You’re losing and you think you’re gaining
It’s just your ego needs maintaining
Adult d’you know what is true ?
The drag is bearing down on you.
What you’re trying to regain
Is blood belonging to your brain
Will you know before you’re dead
That paradise is in your head ?
You was robbed—so you made belief—
It’s gravity—we’ve caught the thief
All you prayers won’t save your soul
Adult you need a hole.

By Joe Mellen

I used read this to my kids very dramatically. I think they liked the artwork more than my rendition. Not suitable too close to bedtime.

‘And when he came to the place where the wild things are they roared their terrible roars and gnashed their terrible teeth and rolled their terrible eyes and showed their terrible claws till Max said “BE STILL!”
and tamed them with the magic trick
of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once and they were frightened and called him the most wild thing of all
and made him king of all wild things… ‘
(From a children’s story by Maurice Sendak)

False Transparency

What happens when our government says that it is releasing all the information it has on a particular issue? Do you accept their statement? Here in Canada the environmental scientists have been pretty well muzzled by the Harper Clan, and since almost all of them are federal employees they would risk a very decent wage and loss of their pension benefits were they to speak honestly this won’t happen.

The separation of religion and state is fundamental in Western cultures. Should this not also be true for science and government. One cannot tailor properly executed and peer reviewed facts to meet a political agenda. The plume of radioactivity from Fukushima released into the ocean is almost at our shore and will continue coming for the foreseeable future. Who speaks for the oysters?

The ongoing devastation of our boreal forest for tar sands oil has nobody speaking for the trees and teeming wildlife that once lived there. The injection of unknown chemicals deep underground, known as fracking, is accepted as a staple of our energy supply. No consideration is given for the groundwater contamination or the massive amounts of fresh water required to accomplish this extraction.

We are a supposedly intelligent species. We are able to put on remarkably sight-restricting blinkers in order to get what we want, which is far different from what we need. When a child says they want candy for dinner, we obviously say no, and feed them Kraft dinner. Oh, bad example.

We must learn to say no to corporate values and the politicians in their pay, no matter the personal cost. We must demand full transparency in the machinations of bureaucracy, as we all already transparent to them.

The Moody Blues – Days of Future Passed

Intermission

I will continue my journey through education after these ads from our sponsors. Buy me. No, buy me!

Amazon, CIA, Washington Post are all joined at the hip, and this isn’t hip at all. Jeff Bezos, as owner of the Post and Amazon, has received 600 million dollars from CIA. What could this possibly mean? That’s quite a tangled web they have woven and the implications are dire. The American newspaper of record is obviously compromised as a reliable source and becomes a propaganda arm of deep government, the government within the government. Sure, we get the fluff articles that are on the up and up, but anything they print concerning policy and national security must be discounted.

Amazon.com is a giant corporation that has never made a profit. In fact it consistently loses money.They hire people at the bottom of the wage scale, asks them to meet very difficult production targets, lets them go when they can’t, and essentially is running sweatshops. They rely on employee turnover to keep wages down and productivity up.

“Thus did a handful of rapacious citizens come to control all that was worth controlling in America. Thus was the savage and stupid and entirely inappropriate… American class system created. Honest, industrious, peaceful citizens were classed as bloodsuckers, if they asked to be paid a living wage. And they saw that praise was reserved henceforth for those who devised means of getting paid enormously for committing crimes against which no laws had been passed. Thus the American dream turned belly up, turned green, bobbed to the scummy surface of cupidity unlimited, filled with gas, went bang in the noonday sun.” – Kurt Vonnegut

Is there anything to be done about this social incestuousness between the largest on-line retailer, the largest of the intelligence agencies, and Washington’s newspaper of record? Dream on. That’s game, set, and match.

We are all complicit in this madness, in one way or another, and the suffering goes on. What have we gained? Our lives are immeasurably enriched by technology, medical advances, the freedom of having stuff. We are losing our humanity. That shirt I bought for five bucks at Walmart comes from a desperately poor worker in Bangladesh with little choice but be fodder for the western culture of consumption. What can I do, as I realistically need to buy stuff as cheaply as possible so as to stretch the monthly budget. Anyway, it’s our nature to find the bargain. We have no idea what that bargain really costs.

Things Have Changed – Bob Dylan