Photograph courtesy of Jeremy Deller, Trafalgar Square, London. 6th May 2023
“Looking back I feel as if I was never really there, that I was storing up all these experiences, gathering material as opposed to living it, always the author never the character in the book, which explains why I wanted to be a writer obviously.” –David Keenan from This is Memorial Device
“Let your heart break and drop the story” is attributed to author Pema Chödrön. Her quote is often cited as a prescription for the first and essential stage of recovery from devastating loss, life changing trauma, and inconsolable heartache. But this is curious advice for those who already are overwhelmed by sadness, rage, guilt, or shame. After all, when we are besieged by these feelings, how much more heartache can we bear? As I think Chödrön would put it, the answer is that the story we attach to our feelings may get in the way of fully experiencing the depths of our emotional despair. The reasons we use to justify our feelings or explain why something bad has happened, inevitably create a narrative that revolves around victimization and blame. And the more we get caught up in a story that serves as a justification for our feelings, the more we get trapped—ultimately prohibiting ourselves to feel grief or rage that needs no justification at all. This is why unleashing our most ugly and fearful feelings can be so liberating. In those moments, we are freed from causality and intellectualization, freed from turning our feelings against ourselves, and freed from believing that finger pointing will make us feel whole through vindication or revenge. When we learn to lead with our broken hearts, not our heads, we can find a profound solace for which we all yearn. This place is at the heart of soul.
Pema Chödrön Born: 14 July 1936
Lynne Ramsey x Aphex Twin =
‘What haunts are not the dead, but the gaps left within us by the secrets of others.’
-Nicolas Abraham, Notes on the Phantom, 1987
‘Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow’
–Tjinder Singh, Cornershop
…is what most human beings would like to do a great deal of the time. Running is the flight part of the ‘fight or flight’ deeply in our bodies and our past, it has been our protection, an evolutionary momentum and a biological memory deep in the human body that allowed our ancestors to survive to another day and bequeath to us, generations later, this day.
To want to run away is an essence of being human, it transforms any staying through the transfigurations of choice. To think about fleeing from circumstances, from a marriage, a relationship or from a work is part of the conversation itself and helps us understand the true distilled nature of our own reluctance, thus allowing us a deeper honesty and sense of presence.
Strangely, we are perhaps most fully incarnated as humans, when part of us does not want to be here, or doesn’t know how to be here.
Presence is only fully understood and realised through fully understanding our reluctance to show up.
To understand the part of us that wants nothing to do with the full necessities of work, of relationship, of loss, of doing what is necessary, is to learn humility, to cultivate self-compassion and to sharpen that sense of humour essential to a merciful perspective of both a self and another.
In the wild, the best response to dangerous circumstances is often not to run but to assume a profoundly attentive identity, to pay attention to what seems to threaten and in that attention, not to assume the identity of the victim.
Through being equal to fierce circumstances we make ourselves larger than the part of us that wants to flee while not losing its protective understandings about when it might be appropriate.
We decide not to run not only because there are many who would be left behind who cannot run as fast as we can, but also because in turning to the source of the fear we have the possibility of finding a different way forward, a larger good, through circumstances, rather than away from them in some supposedly safe area where threats no longer occur. We know intuitively that most of the time, we should not run, we should stay and look for a different way forward, despite the evolutionary necessity.
Rarely is it good to run, but we are wiser, more present, more mature, more understanding and more thoroughly human when we realise we can never flee from the need to run away.
‘Run Away’ taken from Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words By DAVID WHYTE
“I don’t think people realise how the establishment became established.
They simply stole land and property from the poor, surrounded themselves with weak minded sycophants for protection,
gave themselves titles and have been wielding power ever since”.
–TONY BENN 1925 – 2014. Served as a MP for thirty seven years.
He who binds to himself a joy
Does the winged life destroy.
He who kisses the joy as it flies
Lives in eternity’s sunrise.
-William Blake 1757-1827
‘With everything in me screaming No! Yet the sum of me sighed Yes.’
-James Baldwin from Giovanni’s Room
‘No one wins. One side just loses more slowly.’
Dennis Lehane and Ed Burns -THE WIRE
courtesy: Floria Sigismondi
As we Brits come to the end of celebrating the platinum jubilee of our monarch, I’m reminded its said that -the ruling class are never more dangerous than when they are doing impressions of being human beings– now whilst I may not disagree with this, (especially at last orders on a Friday night) however please indulge me now by watching a music film I made in 2008 with Oasis and Natasha O’Keef, which perhaps infers more complexity. If only they felt that about us…
‘We have two lives, the second begins when we realise we only have one.’
Confucius 479 BC
‘Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity’
Simone Weil 1909 -1943
‘I am the wound and the knife! I am the slap and the cheek!
I am the limbs and the rack, I am the victim and the executioner!
I am the vampire of my own heart’
Charles Baudelaire from “The flowers of evil”
“You know I hate, detest, and can’t bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appals me.
There is a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies – which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world – what I want to forget. It makes me miserable and sick, like biting something rotten would do.”
Joseph Conrad writer 1857-1924
On 23 March 1953, singer, songwriter and former Black Panther Yvette Marie Stevens, better known as Chaka Khan, was born in Chicago.
Her stepmother was a civil rights activist, who encouraged Khan to speak up. By the age of 14 she had joined the revolutionary Black Panther Party. A friend of Chicago Panther leader Fred Hampton*, she dropped out of high school, spoke at rallies and worked in the organisation’s free breakfast for children program.
Khan was later given a gun which she held in her room, but she later told Guardian journalist Alexis Petridis: “every moment I had that gun it changed me. I felt physically sick. I threw it away into Botany’s Pond by Chicago University, then I felt better. That finished me with the Panthers.”
Khan went on to international success in bands and as a solo artist.
‘Wisdom comes with winter’ -Oscar Wilde
I would much rather have someone’s respect than their money. –Mia Farrow actor
You never know what worse luck your bad luck has saved you from -Cormack McCarthy
Let there be spaces in your togetherness, And let the winds of the heavens dance between you. Love one another but make not a bond of love: Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls. Fill each other’s cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf. Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone, Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music. Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping. For only the hand of Life can contain your hearts. And stand together, yet not too near together: For the pillars of the temple stand apart, And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.
Khalil Gibran. Lebanese-American writer & poet 1883-1931
جبران خليل جبران
HORSE wisdom always attempts quality over quantity and its trusted that this edition, six months since the last merits your patience. Merci x
I write because the pen and paper trust me -Arnošt Lustig
Of all manifestations of power, restraint impresses mankind the most. -Thucydides
You’ll meet your destiny on the road you take to avoid it -Carl Jung
Film still from ‘The Gleaners and I’.
Directed by Agnès Varda, France 2000.
Kimberly Jones speaks the truth about the history of racism in America.
“The beauty of anti-racism is that you don’t have to pretend to be free of racism to be an anti-racist. Anti-racism is the commitment to fight racism wherever you find it, including in yourself. And it’s the only way forward.” -Ijeoma Oluo (born 1980)
Thanks to Martin Tomlinson.
‘The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.’ -Audre Lorde 1933-1992
ANDREW WEATHERALL 1964-2020
Visionary, electronic punk, munificent soul, savage wit, top Herbert. No sell out.
‘Boy am I gonna wake you up!’
FRANK ZAPPA musician, USA
December 1940 – December 1993
There are too many idiots in this world. And having said it, I have the burden of proving it. –Frantz Fanon French West Indian psychiatrist and political philosopher
‘People are shit! But people is all we have’ –Phoebe Waller-Bridge
Klaus Littmann– ‘The Unending Attraction of Nature’. 2019
‘I think a certain underlying optimism is required: “A pessimism of the intellect and an optimism of the will” as Gramsci said. That means hard thought, hard graft, recognising what the world is like, recognising the way the terrain is set against you, and remembering the openness of history and seeing where one can intervene’ –Stuart Hall cultural theorist and political activist. 1932- 2014
‘Despair is collaboration with the enemy.’ -Ken Jacobs, filmmaker USA.
‘I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do’ -Georgia O’Keeffe. Artist 1887- 1986
‘It’s hell where solidarity is important, not in heaven’ –John Berger author. 1926- 2017
Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared. –Buddha
“In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything was possible and that nothing was true. … Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust that if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.” ― Hannah Arendt German-American philosopher 1906-1975
‘To get to a place where you could love anything you chose, not to need permission for desire, well now that was freedom’ -Toni Morrison, novelist.
‘Childhood is the bank balance of the writer’ -Graham Greene
‘You have questionable morals.
-Yes I question peoples morals’
(from ‘Hiroshima Mon Amour’) by Marguerite Duras: novelist, playwright, screenwriter, essayist, and experimental filmmaker.
‘I’m not offended by all the dumb blonde jokes because I know I’m not dumb… and I also know that I’m not blonde.’ -Dolly Parton
‘The Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word “crisis”. One brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger -but recognize the opportunity.’ -John F. Kennedy. Indiana, USA. April 1959
‘I’m not funny because, I can’t take myself seriously anymore.’ -Gena Rowlands in ‘Opening Night’ by John Cassavetes
‘My socks are telepathic. My pants are telepathic. Everything I wear is telepathic.’ -Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry
“Courage is the solution to despair. Reason provides no answers.” -Paul Schrader
With always the keenest profundity: ‘Eat in the bed, fuck in the kitchen!’ (from ‘Neruda’ a film about the Chilean poet Pablo Neruda)
Winter’s Cloak by Joyce Rupp
This year I do not want
the dark to leave me.
I need its wrap
of silent stillness,
of long lasting embrace.
Too much light
has pulled me away
from the chamber
Let the dawns
let the sunsets
let the evenings
while I lean into
the abyss of my being.
Let me lie in the cave
of my soul,
for too much light
steals the source
Let me seek solace
in the empty places
of winter’s passage,
those vast dark nights
that never fail to shelter me.
Written on the wall of The La’s practice room, Bootle, Liverpool, UK. Summer 1989.
Comedian: Debra DiGiovanni
The centenary of WWI armistice day.
Is a gun a metal tube with someone poor at each end?
‘I’m a softie, only hard people break’ -KATE WEBB war correspondent
‘The older I get, the better I was’ -Van Dyke Parks
‘Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it.’ -Mark Twain
‘The most important thing is that people love in the same way, wether they are monarchists, republican’s or communists. They feel pain in the same way, as well as hatred, jealously, fear and fear of death. Whether you are deeply religious or an atheist, if you have toothache it hurts just the same’ –Krzysztof Kieslowski
The good consumer…
Anna Magnani, to her make-up artist in prep for her titular role in ‘Mamma Roma’. Pasolini, Italy 1962:
‘Please don’t retouch my wrinkles. It’s taken my whole life to earn them.’
‘Any artist who works in paint or chalk or film or whatever knows that sometimes the medium itself will give you something entirely unexpected, and something far better than what you intended,’ she says. ‘And at that point you follow the medium.’ That, for her, is art. ‘Digital media do not have that resistance and I think that is a big problem,’ she says. ‘Nothing can really happen in digital that is not intended.’ –Tacita Dean
Photographed last week: ‘Dream Makers’ an exhibition on Italian film producers. Biblioteca Salaborsa, Bologna, Italy.
‘Marijuana will save world capitalism‘ -Richey Edwards, 1993 Manic Street Preachers.
‘Images come from chaos’ -artist Francis Bacon
photography: Floria Sigismondi
And while we’re currently besotted with our betters, here’s one prepared earlier:
cartoon by David Simonds
‘Between two evils, I refuse to choose the lesser.’ -Karl Kraus
What did one wall say to the other? Meet me at the corner dude.
‘I have always liked people who can’t adapt themselves to life pragmatically.’ -Filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky.
‘Music is the strongest form of magic’ -Marilyn Manson
‘You know I can control the weather with my moods. Only thing is I can’t control my moods…’ -Nick Cave
‘The trouble with quotes on the internet is that it’s difficult to discern if they are genuine.’
‘The trouble with quotes on the internet is that it’s difficult to discern if they are genuine.’
‘I turned down the OBE because it’s not a club you want to join when you look at the villains who’ve got it. Its all the things I think are despicable: patronage, deferring to the monarchy and the name of the British Empire, which is a monument of exploitation and conquest.’ –Ken Loach
‘It’s cold gin again…’ with much seasonal warmth x9x
‘Alienation’ –I know it is there whenever I sing a love song, or recite a poem, whenever I handle a banknote or enter a shop, whenever I glance at a poster or read a newspaper. At the very moment the human is defined as ‘having possessions,’ I know it is there, dispossessing the human’ -Henri Lefebvre
‘I didn’t really care about ‘good’ photography, I cared about complete honesty’ -Nan Goldin photographer
‘I say, play your own way. Don’t play what the public wants. You play what you want and let the public pick up on what you’re doing, even if it does take them fifteen, twenty years.’ -Thelonious Monk