I live near a river that has a large flood plain to the north. We are very lucky because our home is on high ground so when the river floods we have “water views” but we don’t suffer the effects of a flood. The flood plain is quite large and consequently the views are expansive. This makes the sky and the clouds a prominent feature of the landscape.
Below are some photos of the sky above the flood plain with one picture reflecting the sky on the glass top of the river.
Today while on my daily walk a question crab crawled behind my eyes. I was looking at the scenery, taking photos of same, tweeting them and all the while there was this feeling – question “Why Write?” The question arose because I’ve been working on a book that I want to complete the first draft by the end of this year. In the background there’s another book I started and restarted many times that I also want to write after this one. A part of me says, just leave them, no one cares if they’re written or not. Why put yourself through all this anguish? Another part of me says, no you have to do it.
But why? Why write?
Do I write for fame? Well, that’s a joke, especially for someone my age. Even if I wasn’t old why would I want it? I love my invisibility. I don’t mind occasionally sticking my head out from the cave into the spotlight for a few seconds – a small spotlight, for a good purpose. To have that light on you every day, that would be torture. There’s a lot to be said about using a fake name. This is why I like Twitter. You can be kinda anonymous, say your stuff and just disappear.
Do I write as a side hustle? To make some extra dollars? That’s another joke when you consider that the average book sales in Australia is 813. This figure is the last time the Australian Bureau of Statistics collected comprehensive data on the publishing industry back in 2003 – 4. In 2015, 20,000 new ISBNs were created of which 390 books sold more than 10,000. Now a best seller, in Australia, is anything over 3000 copies. Hmm….and then you get 10% royalties on the net profit. So, if you have a best seller and sell, say 5000 & net profit of each book is say $15, you will get about $1.50 per book. You’re looking at about $7,500. Now, this is for a big best seller. If average sales is say 1000 you’d make about $1500. If you self publish the earnings are about 60% of net profit. I won’t bother going into details but suffice to say you won’t be making a living from it…unless you are lucky and have a super best seller.
It doesn’t look like I want to write to make money because it won’t make money. The other reason is that just making money doesn’t turn me on.
How about spreading a message, you know, changing the world? Telling people my politics and writing the ideas so that people take them on and hoping more people do it so that there’s a change in the world – for good. Yes, that appeals but it doesn’t require the discipline of writing a book to get those ideas out. I wrote an email Call to Action for the Flotillas of Hope to Nauru. Not a book, just an email. Did it change anything? Yes. John Howard’s conservative Government released 77 asylum seekers due to the Flotillas of Hope. Ideas do change the world and I can see that it’s a good reason to write. However, given that a best selling book in Australia is about 3,000 the chances of my book changing the world is pretty limited. I’d much rather write an email than a book if my purpose in writing it is to change the world.
What about leaving stories for my family and future generations to know who I was after I die? Yes, that’s a good reason to write. Out of all of the reasons so far, this one resonates. But it’s not enough. It doesn’t answer my question “Why Write?” It gives a partial answer but doesn’t explain this inner need to write that I feel.
What if I spent a few years writing my masterpiece and getting it published in the traditional way and no one buys it except family? Well, say my partner, my kids I don’t think would care. I won’t make money on it. I won’t get fame from it. I won’t change the world through it… and my family won’t really be interested.
If there’s a nano chance of achieving any of the above goals from writing, why write? Especially today with the web, print-on-demand and so so easy self-publishing. All of these self-published and traditionally published books flood the world with at least a million new titles every year. Let me say that again, a million new books, every year!
The question arises – is it a waste of time and effort to write a book if only your partner and maybe two others read it? According to publishing metrics if only 3 people buy it, the book is a gigantic failure. So, was it worth the effort to write it and then get it published, either traditionally or self published?
Well, something deep inside me is calling out YES! It’s this voice I hear when I write. It’s not logical, reasonable or even smart. It may even be idiotic but I’m subject to idiotic episodes, as my life demonstrates . What is this voice? Who does it belong to? It’s a voice I’ve listened to when I dropped out of uni, hit the road and traveled around Australia with hardly any money, fallen in love, left jobs, changed direction and sailed 8,000 kms with no prior experience in sailing. This voice can be dangerous to listen to but simultaneously can open a door to amazing adventures and emotional journeys. It is the voice of my heart. Heart? That muscle pumping blood? Maybe that’s where this voice resides, like my mind resides in the brain. Anyway, my heart informs me through feeling that I must do what must be done so that I feel OK. When I don’t listen I get depressed, I get a feeling that I’m dying inside. When I listen to its promptings I feel energised, alive and full of purpose. I have meaning in my life. Put a gag on the voice and I die.
So, why do I write? I write so that I answer the call of the heart. The heart may have other names – the Higher Self, the Muse, the inner god, the Wild One. Whatever name it has I have a need to express and this need is the heart calling me to do so.
There are times when I need to be counselled, when I need someone to advise me. I need the counsellor to really care and understand my situation. My whole situation – my thoughts, my fears, my hopes, my secret wishes and the open ones. The only being that would be able to counsel me in such a holistic way would have to be an Angel. My Guardian Angel.
I believe that we all have a Guardian Angel whose duty is to ensure the safety of our souls in this “vale of tears” through signs. This sounds romantic, mythical, sounds so melancholic, semiotic and ….idiotic. Behind the verbal veil of “Guardian Angel” lives an organic reality whose form may have more to do with music than feathered wings.
Enough of this. I believe it is possible to commune with one’s Angel. It is the harmonic modality of a sea shell spiraling its smooth textured lines into a web of waves. The secret whisper behind a sigh, the underlying pattern of a coincidence or a splendid deja vu may all be the body language of our Angel. We have to get away from thinking that angel shapes are like apples, stones or trees. An Angelic form is closer to a mathematical proportion or an architectural geometry than to a physical shape of a bird. The Angels in architecture are as intangible as a proportion. Angelic form is closer to the phi – the Golden Mean.
Sometimes my Angel speaks to me in a dream, sometimes through mouths of babes, sometimes through a book that falls open at a certain page, or even just a sound. All of these depend on me waiting for a clue. Most of the time I go about my business in a half sleep state. I know I’m not the only sleep walker around here! All of us spend most of our time in a sleep zone. I don’t mean to chop a tall poppy or a climbing rose down but we’re all vegetating in the sleep of matter. Sometimes a little ray of light breaks through our eyelids and in that crack between the eyelashes the Guardian Angel speaks.
Now we all know that this doesn’t happen all too often so we need a way to communicate with our Guardian Angel at will. This requires special devices. These devices are mantic in nature and require intuitive software hard wired in our nervous system. These devices have been known as the Tarot, the I Ching, the divinatory aspect of Astrology, Runes and many others.
After reading The Third Mind by Brion Gysin and William Burroughs I thought I’d try my hand at it. The technique uses cut-ups and involves taking texts, cutting the pages, and then rearranging and combining the pieces to form new narratives. I used some of my own spontaneous prose which I cut up and made this.
Doors flower here, my secret parents told me a long time ago.
I was standing outside the driftwood gate near the rusting letter box.
Yes, the one where the letters you sent me didn’t arrive.
Heart trip blue, harbouring despair – smoke symbol outside the drift wood gate near the mountain top.
A show of innocence, Earth moments, Venus breaths and Martian chaos.
A smoke journey, a curling language, a wording made of clip clap foot steps and sacred sighs …
The possibility that thought was matter and that this equivalence may be divided by a number, made every belief housed in my skull obsolete. Meaning was a promise made by my existence, so I thought. I knew then I had to seek solitude. Why and what solitude meant was just as an unknown as my new predicament. My body at ease and receptive to a message. In this moment recognition crept along my spine. At first it was a tingle, a feather gently stroking my skin. From the small of my back up along the trough following my spine the sensation flowed. A place of warmth emanated from the middle, between my shoulder blades. I didn’t know what was recognised, only that a call had registered through my nervous system. Who or what was calling?
It was strange how this new ignorance appeared. The recognition was sensed complete with a set of meanings ascribed to without consent of my mind. Could this new ignorance be old knowledge long forgotten? Deep down, beneathe layers of thought matter was the hidden destiny. This is what I felt. It didn’t matter whether it was a long forgotten bone buried by a long forgotten god, or just an abstraction to humour me. This hidden destiny pointed in a direction away from thought.
I lit another cigarette and walked over to the window. The sky was clear, the thunder clouds were swept away by the afternoon breeze. What was this call that began to sound in my secret emptiness? “Surely bones don’t shape one’s destiny!” I said aloud. Perhaps destiny was too big a word. My skin felt warmer all over, I closed my eyes and concentrated on an image of a candle flame. This was something I did when I was a kid before falling asleep. I felt the in and out of warm and cool air through my nostrils. Deep inside my chest, the flame burnt steadily. Gentle candle smoke rose and insinuated itself along fissures and walls of my skull. My feet and hands became an extension of an invisible stranger that uses flesh and bone as a gardener uses a spade.
A snake slithered through sounds in the air. Its presence a mere hiss of silence, a soft scrape against a wall. As I looked down onto my hand resting on the window sill I recognised the snake curled up in gold around my Holy Ghost finger, a ring, a gift from a long lost friend.
“Babylon is burning at the end of your cigarette,” she said. She appeared before me with a pitcher of water in one hand and the other holding a glass. The air around me crackled. She whispered, “Tell me, what is a man? Wind blown dust swirling into a cone of events, swinging to and fro, like a pendulum across the arc of his life?” By now she had me in her gaze.
I replied, “I take refuge in my beliefs…..” I repeat this over and over in my mind, a merry-go -round mantra. The guns of doubt click and explode in Russian roulette timing: silent movies, iceberg expectations, half life relics, pantomime gestures. Bang! Frame by frame, every movement a question mark in human animation, every frame subtitled, ” I think, therefore I am.”. The soundtrack ever repeating “I take refuge in my beliefs”.
She placed the pitcher on the table and took a sip from the half empty glass. “You think that the real, natural heart’s,” she pointed with her long finger , “that thing pumping in your chest. You are seriously mistaken.”
She flicked some hair away from her eyes as she spread the feathers of one of her wings. Each feather had inscriptions that looked alternatively Cyrillic then Chinese with Arabic curves, Hebrew endings and Greek beginnings. All this however was just guess work for in truth I had no idea what was written. For all I knew each feather could have been a letter in this alphabet of feathers and the whole word wing a verb. Perhaps the split between subject and object wasn’t even in this grammar – I was illiterate in the language of angels. I found myself mesmerized by the area of her wing immediately to the left of her elbow. The letters or patterns were themselves hieroglyphs, or so I thought. I felt here was a mystery – how could something be itself and yet point to something else for its identity?
“This is not the time to labour the point. The whole three dimensional world presented to your senses five is a total illusion. If you could slow this holographic movie down to nearly zero you would find flesh and blood is one step removed from your real body. This real body which you fail to recognise is imperishable. It’s the same with your mind. You think that you think, that you set the perceptual and then the conceptual parameters, that the images and ideas in that psychological space are yours. They are just as synthetic as your heart.”
She stopped talking and stroked the rim of the glass with her index finger. A low hum came from the glass punctuating the silence. She began talking again in a slightly louder whisper, “In fact your thinking is the thinking of someone else that has passed through your mind. You are property. Thoughts that cruise and fly by in your mind are visitors and have nothing to do with your volition. They enter, stay and leave, sometimes become squatters on their own accord. The cube of mind, a stage and a corridor, a cage and a peeping Tom show through cracks of vision, sound, smell, taste and sensation .”
Her countenace slowly began to fracture and crumble. Gradually her form shattered into many more countless pieces. She became a mosaic of color merging with the window. Like salt in water she dissolved through the glass and became orange streaked twilight dusk.
A snail slithers across the dome skull of history. Echoes, of prophets wailing, a curling shell. Cochlea. Earth. I heard the calling, (my) intent unknown.
I love my phone camera. I have it with me all the time and when I see something that looks good I just shoot a picture. I walk daily around my neighbourhood for both pleasure & exercise. Where I live I am lucky that to get to my local shops I can take a slightly longer route and walk along the river bank. Consequently many of the pictures here have been taken along that route. I will let the pictures speak for themselves so there’s no captions. Just click on the photo & it will expand to its true size.
Oh yeah…some pictures are of stuff in my home except the “Metropolis” Man of steel & car parts. That’s from a garage nearby that closed down. Don’t know where the steel man is now. Hope he’s OK. I included a photo of the recent red moon eclipse on 26 May 2021.
Here’s some more photos on another post. I have put some of those on this page because I forgot they were on this page. Hey, that’s cool – so we see them twice! >
Here are some drawings and art work my grandkids have made over the last few years. There’s some art of my kids too, though not much because the camera phone wasn’t around then. My kids’ art is taken from screenshots of a video I took many years ago.
There’s no age categories here – just stuff the kids made. There’s no particular order. Some have their names written on them, most don’t.
Digging into the mind, listening to Pattie Smith “Dancing Barefoot”,…she is sublimation…she is concentrating on he…here I go again, and I don’t know why …..”
Been reading Kerouac. I thought the guy was a lot cooler when I was a kid. Now, reading him as an older man, I realise he was a sad man. He was brilliant in speaking the heart flow sonic strange music prose. Yes, some of the places he takes me in the mind, literally blows the mind…and it’s all in the way he writes, his style…his own dreaming eye, elastic light form and satori grains. Yes, moments embedded on his road with subterranean angel thoughts and for just these moments, I love Jack Kerouac. Everything else is forgiven.
What is there to forgive? Who am I to forgive? Does it really matter?
His tramping way….he was a tramp, a bum, all be it a Dharma Bum. He couldn’t commit to a relationship except for the one with his mother and in many ways coopted his friends and events to his art and pursuit of fame.
I feel strange writing these words because I love the guy even though all of the above is true. I love his innocent take on the world, even when he’s down and beat, really beat, he comes up with some beatitude sun grains in his prose.
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Thank you for visiting Journeys and Star Gazing. Here there's stories of my various journeys, some inner but mostly outer; photos, song lyrics, poems, astrological readings and interpretations, I Ching speculations, quotes from people I admire and some cool graphics. There are reflections and archival material on various human rights campaigns I have been involved in over the years. With these, some have a "Star Gazing" interpretive filter.
Posts include my interests in alchemy, magic, kabbalah, consciousness studies, the Fourth Way and anything else that may enter my sphere of living. I hope you enjoy your visit. I'd love to hear from you in the comments.
Follow me on Twitter @dodona777 where I mostly comment on Australian politics and my blog interests.