Biography

Excellent poets who get very little attention on here:
Just Lines, Iris Blue, Ron Dragano, William F Dougherty, Tailor Bell, Martin Turner, Will Barber and Sandra Fowler for starters.

Some fairly random stuff. Never owned a horse; I like catapults, bows and slings, and love a single slow
violin...

I was born close to the Wee Black and the Big Black - two lochs in Loch Inch grounds: wood encircled moody waters that lap at the roots of the trees. The kind of place you want to leave when you're young and return to when you're old enough to love it for its dark mysterious beauty.

Looks like there's a lot of places I won't be going to now, though. But Drummore will be fine. I knew love there a long time ago. The sea and the cliffs and the tides are there and I've loved them all my life. I never had a list of destinations, or even a vague ambition to travel in the first place. And never had a list of things to aim for except happiness, and I suspected that it might be associated with love. I didn't really have any ambitions at all, beyond making an escape.

I've read and written a lot of words. Most turned to ash and were blown away. And I've said too little about the right things and said too much about the inconsequential. It would have been wiser to
have fixed and made things, to have actually done some good for even a few people, though inadvertently benefiting others isn't morally worthy in itself though... the incidental has no intrinsic moral value. It has to be deliberate...Having said all that, I've always done the little things that I could to help others. But, culpably, I didn't make that my life's work. I should have.

Civility and honesty, though pretty important imv for harmonious living, don't achieve much in themselves that can be measured or valued by the standards of the modern world. It seems that much more urgent, self directed and less compassionate qualities are essential to those who want to 'make it' now.

Lacking a clear sense of ambition shaped direction, I set out to climb too many unspecific mountains at once, without, I hope, ever using others as a means to my ends, but still, I can't help feeling that focusing on climbing one efficiently is too safe a course to follow. I've seen average talents do just that to great personal benefit, which gave them much personal satisfaction and social cachet, and saw many highly capable individuals, who cared nothing for such things, lose their way in the maze of futility that deeper thinking or the pressure of expectations can bring. And there's luck to consider... who can account for that?

Historians look for pivotal moments. Sometimes life seems to be a flowing pivotal moment, but that may imply we have the power of choice. If we don't then
it's simply about the working out of the various forces that combine to make up action in time, with us as little more than conscious pawns in the great algorithmic game.

I think the subconscious mind directs much more powerfully than the conscious part is inclined to believe, but with a touch so light we can't feel it, though even it is in thrall to dna, hormones, hard wiring, situation - including other individuals - and the limits of the possible. So where is the space for the volitional, a necessary condition for morality?

Surrendering is never easy, though perhaps it's easier than loosening the hold of vanity or shame. But surrendering to the moment, stepping outside of time, to the extent that such a thing is possible... That's hard. I always had one foot in the past and one in the future, and yet was always trying to catch up on the far future, as if the present was never enough... Is surrender the same as being satisfied...? Took me a while to work that one out.

And now I suspect that I'm developing a growing hunger for more time, which would explain a lot of stuff about old folks. No more sprinting off into the future, at last.

Beauty is vanity. Unless there is beauty in modesty? Would that be just a more subtle kind of preening? . It's also evolution's trickery at work, of course. Or was Solomon wrong and both beauty and vanity/futility no more than biology? He was probably right about everything else. Is there nothing new under the sun... are all of our creations built on the microchip for example just some kind of extension of what we are, a kind of self realisation reflective of human intelligence/creativity; for all we do with all that appears to be new is employ it to indulge various perennial emotions. Nuclear weapons included. Bigger bangs, bigger fires, bigger threats, more blood spilled... the same old stuff but only more of it.. or less.

And a single universe from a single big bang? How long did that bizarre notion prevail until someone twigged that in limitless space and time there might be scope for at least a couple of dozen more.. Our universe had to be the only one...! Ye gods..Crows learn faster than we do. Would bright working class kids who've never been the centre of anything be less inclined to fall for such an anthropocentric 'science'? Perhaps. Might be entirely natural of course for us to explain every mystery with a theory based on the fundamentals of our experience, given our hubris and our limitations.

One night in 72 a young woman and I were parked at Portpatrick harbour. I'd stopped the van a red Ford Anglia van with windows along the side! Hand painted with a black stripe. Ultra uncool. with the front wheels close to the edge of the harbour wall so we could look into the harbour. Time to go home.. I start up, forget to check which gear I'm in and the van lurches forward, producing instant panic.. nothing else in the world mattered..and instant brakes just in time luckily. Tiny things can change everything. Fourteen months later, in late October 73, I'm dressed in full scots regalia, McKechnie tartan and white sandshoes - aye, totally ridiculous, but I was young - and I've been kebabbed into going to this discotheque at the college of Domestic Science behind Eldon St in Glasgow. I swagger through the door and at the far end of the hall I see a familiar face. I suddenly realise it's that same young woman in an unfamiliar place, and the nature of the game a good friend of ours was playing, and I turn tail and nip straight out the exit, because I haven't yet learned to handle class differences and maybe more because I'm scared of surrendering. Next time I see her she's with a guy with a Rutgers badge on his jacket and he looks like he's a match. She was beautiful. Then I see her picture on the QM Halls foyer wall one day I'm visiting Alistair and Sheena, and surrendering completely is the only thing I want to do... Later I wonder what it is that can be more powerful than even love... by just a fraction..

But, ideas. Back to that swamp again.. Big ones, little ones, systems and haphazard bunches of them. Abstract, concrete... consistent and contradictory.
What exactly are they...? Germs, of at least two but not completely separable types maybe? Value based or technical/factual/speculative. Value based ideas are the ones I’m most suspicious of. They have a certain look about them under the microscope: as if they’re parasites on emotion... they seem to colonise the mind by harnessing themselves to our emotions, and direct our behaviour while hiding out in the long grass of the subconscious – unselfishly allowing us to think that WE are in charge. And the more integrated
the system of ideas infecting us the greater the deception. We all know, and may sometimes have been, such people, totally in thrall to a set of ideas we believe are so superior to the other guy’s that we’ll argue over them, be totally confounded by the other guy’s failure to see that his are inferior, and sometimes gladly go to war and kill millions for them, like scratching a massive compulsive itch until it
bleeds enough relief; cf the 20th C especially, all of human history, and the future, too, probably.

Some argue that we’re born with a particular set of values, or at least a predisposition towards a certain world view, from an endless range of possibilities – evolution’s way of preparing us for all eventualities perhaps.. as depicted by Cohen’s lines “I will help you if I can, I will kill you if I must”, opposed in the same song to “I will kill you if I can, I will help you if I must”.. Are we all born to live and die somewhere between those extremes.?

Unstrangely I’ve been fervently supportive of the free market and its opposite, at different times of course, and I’m not alone. I’ve tended to engage with the logic of different systems before they’ve gradually infected me, and they invariably did to some degree given time, but somehow now I seem to have become immune and although I find ideological commitment understandable in the young – schooling should now be able to offer inoculation against that condition - it strikes me as silly in the old... something we should grow out of earlier or be released from.... But for too long we bumble along, driven by the emotional fuel such ideas attract within us, and if we’re in politics we subject the lives of others to the policy equivalents of the actions that such ideas aspire to become; basically they're subjected to political prejudices, sometimes in the shape of technical ideas, for example, that help to reinforce those prejudices by compliance: eg weapons designed to kill people who oppose our ideas and leave their buildings intact! So maybe technical ideas aren’t immune either to the effects of value based ideas...It's hard to see how they could be since probably all purposeful action will be value driven to some degree. Are we just value based ideas in action, mediated through the subconscious mind, with all technical ideas likely to be contaminated by values or press-ganged into their service?

So, just who is in charge here? And whose “good” should rule then? Did Mill of the On Liberty phase have the answer? Should we apply a reasonable “harm” principle as the principal rule? I think so. Maximum freedom compatible with avoidance of harm to others. Though of course that “freedom” is at best a partial state.. Which makes Browne’s simple advice appears to have merit:

“let your illusions last until they shatter,
whatever you might hope to find
among the thoughts that crowd your mind,
there won’t be many, that ever really matter”

But no, it’s not ideas that are the problem essentially, for we are the originators, and then we become their vehicles: we shape ourselves to fit their load... it’s us... it’s always us, however blamelessly undirected our efforts, or otherwise. The kind of creature we are is the problem.

Without emotion we are effectively dead.... emotion is what binds, divides or isolates us. Some of us are full of the stuff, the vivid rainbows amongst us, others are bland rainbows whose propensities are less inclined towards extremes. Most are probably somewhere in between. And those with the most emotion to fire their commitment to ideas are potentially the most dangerous I suspect, regardless of which end of the spectrum they inhabit...But ideas, both technical and value based are simply how we try to make sense of the mysteries that confront us, and the more we like the explanation the more emotion we invest in it, the more we are committed to it – the means by which ideologies become lethal.

The subconscious seems to be the automatised version of our conscious processes and its energy is emotion, in all its forms. And crucially we don’t control the
subconscious, though we may be aware of its activities on reflection. For the most part it is us... we are it... and we ignore its contribution at our collective
peril... the antidote might be to knowingly programme it the best we can with a simple set of ideas, a simple set of values, such as honesty, fairness,
independence to a reasonable degree, awareness that accommodates uneven beginnings etc, and that foster individual happiness/flourishing within a framework limited only by an effective “harm” principle. The way many " good" people do already. It’s not the same as free will admittedly, but if we allow ourselves to appreciate just how powerfully the subconscious directs us then maybe it can be a horse we can saddle and ride safely; maybe we should use the little understanding we have to harness it to the pursuit of reasonable less conflict afflicted ends – which would amount to a kind of indirect free will. Maybe that's as close as we’ll ever get.. No doubt some would be horrified at the idea. But hey, I’m not going to start a war over it, or even an argument, and it would hardly amount to a revolution either...

And those who break the “harm” rule? The peaceful and free indirectly or otherwise who accept and respect the enjoyment of individual and mutual happiness should be protected I believe. Those who murder, rape, maim, exploit and use others damagingly, or for their own benefit, under the sway of forces lurking within themselves over which they have no real control are not evil – since the moral needs volition – but act beyond the bounds of “civilised” behaviour and thus have to be either fixed, if that’s possible, or locked away in civilised conditions to protect others.

The others: those who'd ideally be free enough to be themselves to the maximum extent that they can. For all of us have the potential to self realise, and also an " eligibility to be noble" Bellow. Even if only to sing their songs, swim in cool, fresh water, and walk and talk with those they love without fear that their peace and happiness will be endangered so long as they remain vigilant, and take no more than the minimum steps required to protect their chosen lot. A better world? There's always scope for that, even if it's no more than a zero sum game in the end.

It's to be hoped that what we think and what we do aren't too disconnected. On that basis, the above rambling probably provides some insight into the origins of the scribbles I've posted. There used to be a lot more. I don't know whether I dumped the best or worst, or just the stuff I personally didn't like. The difference would have been trivial at best. I'm far from being a poet in the conventional sense. Poets write poetry, and poetry is a hard taskmaster; much more demanding than I'm willing or able to give. But I've gained some pleasure in shaping at least some of the lines in most of the scribbles I've lodged here. As a famous fictional character once said: A man's got to know his limitations." Easier said than done. But the proof is in the pudding.
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5/7/2021 6:50:50 AM # 1.0.0.576