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Beyond Belief

No – not a clumsy reference to the Emlyn Williams book, or a glancing reference to the current media killer-feeding-frenzy preoccupying the UK at the moment (How did they find his MySpace so quickly, Why were the police digging up his garden before anyone was reported missing, why did they, as ever, find absolutely nothing until the media spelled it out for them, how did they get an interview with him prior to arrest – In short – who is hiding what from whom and why?)

No, this is simply the title of the conference I jumped to from Arts and Letters Daily. I heartily recommend session 9 which features Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins going head to head with Melvin Konner and Jim Woodward. Its around 2 hours long, but absolutely riveting – especially once the presentations are over and they start sparring; empiricism versus impassioned, informed versus convinced…

Beyond Belief

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Gossip by the Well

The very lovely Clodagh pointed me in the direction of this website, suggesting it might remind me of living in NYC, and that it was a good place to “Collect gossip by the well”…

Arts and Letters Daily

I have never seen so many words on a single screen – most of them reasonable, too. If you have the time, you could spend a lot of it here. I have already been diverted towards a video archive – all 15 hours of it – of the recent Beyond Belief conference.

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entertainment culture

The MySpace phenomenon continues to scale ever new heights of all that is bizarre…
A couple of days ago i got a friend add request from “international supermodel Naomi Campbell”

Human Greed? Naomi Campbell? could it really be the case that international media figures are having to scrabble around to such depths as to have to unearth the likes of Human Greed to add a digit to their list of friends?

Now, I stopped caring long ago about signing up who ever called by as a friend, and one of my insomnia cures at the moment is poaching the absurdly bloated friend list of Stephen Stapleton – HA! But I really draw the line at this and have sent a message asking Ms Campbell why she might want to be a friend of mine.

The meaningless howl of desperation whistles through this crap like the wind at the end of time.

And yet it is so very very funny, no?

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Seagulls on landfill

Maybe it is the time of year, but my head is junk. My mornings grow quickly dizzy as I flit from book to book;
Bachelard’s Anatomy of poetic reverie and psychoanalysis of Fire (Thanks you to the very wonderful Clodagh for giving me something hard to read at holiday time!)
Techgnosis – featuring a fantastic timeline on the birth of written text and the correlation with the move to abstract, or monotheistic belief systems. (Yes, may believed the words themselves were magic – ergo SPELLING)
Narrative Based Medicine – don’t ask!
Metaphors we live by – Lakoff’s seminal work

…And yet, all my head can do is settle on popular songs and abuse them. I cannot help myself. The Jam’s Eton Rifles keeps popping into my mind when I see a suitably stepped phrase that can replace the original line…

Hello, Hooray, its the price you pay at Marks and Spencer, Marks and Spencer!

…And now Bowie’s come a cropper too. Remember the thing he did with the Pat Metheny Band called This is not America? Well, just as I was leaving my home on Big Hill I picked up some mail… This is not a circular – No – Sha-na-nana-na

…And all the Christmas songs going around at the moment. I keep singing along and replacing the words with, well, whatever is rude, vulgar, filthy, vile and obscene. No examples. Go figure!

And I turned away from a whole evening of instructive, illuminating and inspiring television in order to watch the Take That documentary. Fantastic stuff! Desperate, bleak and overwhelmingly nauseating – but fantastic! Oh when Robbie never showed up at the viciously orchestrated “reunion” – ouch! – absolutely compelling, brilliant stuff – yet equally devious and morally bereft – a the sulphur whiff of popular entertainment!

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A clean, well lit space

Hemingway said that all a writer required was a clean, well lit space – and there is a lot you can agree with there. But its often just a dream that one will ever find something that pure, that simple as a clean, well lit space. Writers – and I mean that in the broadest sense to accommodate “avant electronica” and “melancholic experimentalist” musicians – often compensate for the impossibility of this simple provision with accommodating every inch of spare space with the detritus of the mind made fact. I have certainly been there. Anyone having seen the space in Berlin where Nick Cave used to work will know what the space looks like. Hunter Thompson almost certainly led the way when it comes to describing the state of the mind with the clutter of the room. And here we find Will Self issuing 71 piccies of his study to nail the point home.

Point of interest – you can go through them all and they have one thing in common – he ain’t in them!

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The difference

I got on a train in town and it didn’t move. Eventually, the driver announced over the speaker that there had been a fatality on the track between Musselburgh and Portobello”
I called home and said “Someone’s been hit by a train” which caused others in the carriage to look at me.
One by one they made their calls home and I swear it trickled down the carriage… Every single one of them said “there has been a fatality on the track between Musselburgh and Portobello”
Soon enough, we had to get off the train and wait. An announcement came over the PA system saying that, due to “an incident near Musselburgh” the train was postponed. Again, that strange thing as people picked up their phones and made their alternative plans… Each one saying now that there had been “an incident near Musselburgh”

This stuck with me for a few days. Then a friend called and said that they were out of town treating an uncle who simply wasn’t dying quickly enough. The line was “I’ve been deeply engaged in palliative care these past few days”

Writers are different. It was only recently that a very gifted writer (though he doesn’t perhaps know it) said that he had “trimmed his father’s moustache and combed his hair for him so that he was comfortable and dignified”

Writer’s, despite themselves, are always out to create a response. Not hide in the proscribed text for the moment at hand. It would be a mistake to think of writers as being bound to the written page, after all.

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slow erasing of life

It is a conspiracy. First, one host goes out of business and brings down humangreed.com – which I have only just retrieved. And now, Omnempathy goes down because the host has screwed up on the registrar renewal.
The fact that this blog and the various myspace profiles are the only live areas where info can be had about me presents an interesting situation:

Why bother with personal / company sites when there are these free web 2.0 tools that are, mostly, more robust and effective?

Really there is no reason, until you come to consider the underlying trend of Web 2.0 and the myth of liberation of content and democratising of content authoring.

Consider that all of these tools are owned by a very small handful of very powerful businesses, then consider that it is highly, HIGHLY unlikely that I am the only one who has considered transferring all of my concerns to a Web 2.0 portfolio… Then weep.

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Every winter I fall in love

Every winter I fall in love with this city. It suits flags so well, and all the little lights on Norwegian trees, and the early dark in the cold afternoon that has us cowering in our scarves.
The city is spread out as a stage for a thousand pantomime scenes – creeping vines around the sleeping beauty, spires for wicked queens.
In the Abbotsford, robust females touch up their lipstick and leave their prints on gin highballs.
And still, after all this time, there is a ghost of me lingering in every bus stop, wishing merry Christmas to strangers as I plot to overthrow City Chambers with loneliness, style and the youthful art of sleeping around.

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Fame is an arrival hall in which you give up your life

I saw a photograph the other day of Morrissey arriving in a Mexican airport. It suddenly struck me that this was the measure of fame itself outrunning that which you are famous for doing. You are captured in an airport just for being famous – nothing more – and I can only imagine that as being the most uncomfortable thing to live with.
listen I’ll tell you a story.
It was a few years back. Morrissey was at the beginning of that ill fated tour with Bowie. Early Sunday morning. Dublin airport. I backed out of a cab, dragging my case off the seat and bumped into someone walking past. I turned to apologize just as this chap did – and it was Morrissey.
If that wasn’t surreal enough the morning got a notch more weird when I checked in and went upstairs. Andy Bell and Vince Whatsit from Erasure were there in the Doc Martin shop, looking at red and yellow boots.
A little while later I chuckled as I saw Morrissey walking towards where I was sitting just as Erasure came out of the shop. He clocked them, looked aghast and changed direction, hopping off down an escalator.
Later still, I looked up from my magazine and saw Morrissey across the way looking at me. He looked off as I raised my head and I found myself really thinking what a curious, isolated, sad and gentle looking man he really is. I found myself wondering why he wasn’t in a business lounge, and how touring must be so cruel to force such regular early morning hours in airports – where a minute can last a day – where ones eyes being to blur and fade in the vague white light – where humanity has already been stripped by security and where anxiety (certainly for me) underpins every moment on the approach to take off.
Of course, I had to go across and say hello… And yes he was instantly likeable. Quiet, considered – and with a very well measured and controlled stillness. He was off down to Exeter. The band had left the night before but he had remained for the Cornelius Carr v (if memory serves) Michael Collins boxing match.
I think it was after the Exeter show that he bailed on the tour – but I can’t be sure.
I just find a kind of sadness in juxtaposing these two situations. The early hours of Dublin, free to wander and sit alone and be accosted by little more than a Scots boy – then Mexico: Photographers waiting at what can only be the worst of times.
If you take it that far – you really lose everything. You give up your life.