Sunday, June 22, 2008

After Reiki

Had a Reiki session the other day, my first. I found it both relaxing and uplifting. Literally, as I imagined myself soaring, like an eagle, above the canopy of a forest. A huge snow-capped mountain filled the horizon while I wheeled about.

Since the Reiki, I can't get this image out of my mind. Curiously, I keep reading references to eagles. Today, another instance of this synchronicity. I recently borrowed Selected Non-Fictions of Jorge Luis Borges, one of my favourite writers. In it there is an essay called The Simurgh and the Eagle. This erudite piece contrasts the emblematic figure of the Eagle from Dante's Paradiso (Canto XVIII), with the mythical Simurgh of the Sufi poet Farid ad-Din Attar, in his Conference of the Birds.

Proper literature abounds with cross-references and reinforcement of images and ideas. The artist takes ideas from experience, 'synchronous' events, and matches them to his or her intelligence. Then imagination creates the structures of prose or poetic fiction to add to the whole (of literature). Simple? It can be, or we can make it as complicated as we like. The fact is, there is no explanation for life that doesn't include the fantastic.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Little Things

Went to see Coetzee in Norwich on Thursday night. He spoke for an hour, a little about his experience with censorship and censors in South Africa in the 70's. Then he read a couple of excerpts from early novels, to illustrate. It wasn't boring, but it wasn't lively either. At a couple of points, I wanted him to ad-lib. Just, say, make a small joke, something a little self-deprecating. He didn't come across as arrogant, just nervous. Also, a bit shy. It was a literary experience, but a dry one. The audience were polite, but they wanted to laugh, applaud, yearned for a bit of his charisma to break away, detach itself and fill the room with energy.

Halfway through, I was filled with terror. I had forgotten to turn off my mobile. It was there, in my jacket pocket, which in turn was lying at my feet. Everything was quiet, and Coetzee read studiously and without much emotion from Waiting for the Barbarians. Should I reach down and retrieve it, turn it off? It makes a ding-ding noise whan I do that - not good. Drawing attention to my faux pas. The woman in front of me looked like she would lead the way, tut-tutting in disapproval while I went as red as a radish, and the phone blasted out the ringtone of Back to Black. No one ever phones me, I know, but what if I they did, this one time, during the one hour when I didn't want them too?

So I left it. My blood pressure fell, as I calmed down. Then I almost dared it to ring. Yes, go on you bugger, ring. At least I would be famous for something. The audience would murmur, I would stand up, and take the call. Coetzee would shuffle his papers, flustered, as security descended the stairs and dragged me out. Yes, darling, we will be leaving soon. Home in an hour or so. Yes, everything is fine. Love you too...

Thursday, June 12, 2008


Lat week I set up Ubuntu on an old PC. The only problem I had was setting up the wireless card (a Belkin Wireless G), but in Ubuntu 8.04, using ndiswrapper and the info on the Ubuntu forums it came alive. So has my slow 850MHz PC. I can recommend Ubuntu, and Linux in general to anyone who wants a safer, hassle-free, more interesting computing experience. Put it this way - I wouldn't call Windows fun. OK, with Linux you might have to get your mind around a few command line tweaks every now and then, but you don't buy a car and expect someone else to pump up the tyres. All right, some people do, but let them buy Vista and visit PC World every other week, Linux is for those who like to get involved. By the way, did I mention that The OS and all the software available is free?

In clanging space

Thanks for the comments on the last blog - it makes me feel wanted! I guess it's easy to sit here and imagine the emptiness of cyberspace all around. What was that line from Yeats -

'The wandering earth herself may be
Only a sudden flaming word,
In clanging space a moment heard,
Troubling the endless reverie."

In reply to Andrew, a former colleague of mine - I am interested in a Linux/Unix users group, but I am not sure how much time I can devote to it. I help to run a writer's group here in Bury St Edmunds. Of course I am also polishing my fantasy novel Inside Out. Then I have work, family and a thin social life to fit into that. What's your email?

To Patricia from Cleveland, Hi. Glad you like the blog. It gets a bit random, and infrequent, but now I know someone is reading it....

In reply to the amateurbookblogger, most of my knowledge of writing style and theory is off the Net and through my writer's group (Write Now!). I think the only thing that improves my writing is doing more of it, but...if you look at how others have achieved certain effects, it can help. Other than that the obvious things: show (dialogue) rather than tell (description); cut down on the adverbs and adjectives; learn how to present your work (look at any published novel); be professional in approaching publishers, agents and magazines. Patience and persistence are the keywords. If you believe in yourself, then sooner or later someone of significance (i.e. who can help get the stuff published) will too.

Lastly, to my nephew Jerome - I will be in touch as soon as my new Facebook password comes through (I made a mess of the last one).