Monthly Archives: July 2013
In lieu of a camera
In the park, at eight this morning
A men’s singles tennis match skids
Along wet asphalt, volleying
And far off commuters hiss
Their way to work
Through thick sky spray.
One, fat, wood pigeon
Takes a short-cut jacuzzi
To puddled bedragglement.
Sodden roses hum
An old show tune
Whilst bruised petals
Fading fast, fall…
As I walk,
At these sinful feet
My mud soles
Soil in my toes
From bringing in
barefoot 4 a.m. washing
As MC thunder interrupted
To announce the rains
I am going a bit mutton, and it can sometimes lead to amusing results. The thing is, when you start to lose your hearing, you compensate a bit and you don’t really notice the creeping and cumulative effects. So when the screen is out on a till at the supermarket and you can’t read the numbers to tell you what you owe, you have to rely on what the cashier says. The cashier usually mumbles the required amount into their tabard and then you start to panic. You realise how reliant you have become on visual clues for what’s being said: the digital readout and *yikes* lip-reading. Yes, folks, you start to lip-read and you don’t even know it. That’s how clever the brain is…
The other thing you do without realising is you interpret what’s being said, and pass it through a sense and meaning filter. Then you rearrange what you heard, into something approximating a coherent sentence. You do this because quite often what you actually heard was nonsense… Again, like lip-reading, you don’t decide to do this, the brain starts helping you out of its own accord. And it does everything fairly quickly too. Granted, when I first became aware of the sense and meaning filter I would speak as if I were on some kind of time delay, but now, I’m pretty much in real time, mostly.
Which is all a fairly long preamble to the main point, which is this. Today I had a genial conversation with a colleague in silent cafe with no background noise. Therefore, there was less reason for me not to hear – background noise is my nemesis, so much so that I hardly bother to socialise any more because it’s far too much of a cognitive load. Anyway, my mind was a little off centre. This out-of-whackness was amplified because I was hungry – where I work manages to produce the most unappetising sandwiches in East Anglia (but that’s another story).
That’s my excuse for what happened next. My brain was limp, my ears giving their customary poor performance. The combination could be deadly. I was explaining how, as a child, all I longed for (prior to John Travolta in Grease) was a wall full of rosettes won by me and my imaginary horse. Then I explained how I was allergic to horses. I then clarified (and at this point I now realise my colleague’s ears may have started bleeding) that I did have my own horse once. I also felt it necessary to emphasise (goodness knows why) that the horse was a misfit. What I said next need not be shared, but it was about this point in my monologue that my colleague managed to squeeze a few words in edgeways.
“Horses aren’t sheep.”
“No I said, but sheep are very loud, haven’t you heard them?” I would then have, doubtless segued into an unashamed rant about a night I spent in Wales, quite pregnant and wide-awake on account of the sheep’s endless baa ing. Did you know sheep are nocturnal, I would have said.
Except, my colleague, brave and intrepid man that he is, pressed on.
“I said, horses aren’t cheap.”
Now, if my brain filter had been on, I would have realised straight off that my learned friend would have known that horses aren’t sheep, and furthermore that he wouldn’t feel the need to point it out…
Still, we’ve both worked one thing out today: an equine ain’t no ovine and I’ve had the added delight of figuring out that I really shouldn’t talk to people with only my ears flapping in the breeze and the handbrake off my brain.
We then moved on to discuss the children of the Rolling Stones, or was it the Avebury Standing Stones… but that wasn’t to do with being hard of hearing, that was a mere confusion of 1970s schemata.
Science is based on observable events (that can be replicated). This constitutes empirical knowledge.
These sentences are going to be quite short, because, as I type, I am thinking quite hard…
What science cannot observe – they dismiss. Thus we have people like Professor Brian Cox, calling things he cannot empirically prove, ‘woo-woo’. I quite liked the way Cox presented his knowledge on the television for a while, until he overused the word woo-woo and was dismissive of anyone who had a belief, or belief system, based on non-scientific paradigms.
It’s like when Professor Stephen Hawking claimed that ‘philosophy was dead.’
Don’t get me wrong, I like science. I even read the New Scientist sometimes, although I can’t claim to understand it all. What I don’t like is the idea that science trumps philosophical thought, or spiritual faith, because it consists of observable phenomena.
If we allow this idea to prevail, aren’t we limiting ourselves to what we can perceive with our own senses. Hasn’t science shown us that some of our own senses are distinctly lacking when compared with, say, a bat, or a lizard? Didn’t the Copernican revolution show us that it is the position of the observer, or the act of observing, that influences the outcome of the observation? Doesn’t science fall short when trying to understand the behaviour of unobserved particles in the double slit experiment? Therefore couldn’t we speculate that it is also our position as unobservers (what we cannot see or sense) that makes us resist so much that is unobserved but tangible on some level: a level that lives outside our five sensory realms – what might partially fall into the category of metaphysics
Are we using a limiting model when we insist on science being only based on observation? Isn’t empirical evidence a bit woo-woo too? After all, if I own a big pharmaceutical company I can pretty much commission scientific research to empirically prove what I like. And my rival can do the same. And then what, when the science is contradictory, as it sometimes is? Is it a co-incidence that Einstein came up with a theoretical model, not one based on lab work. Isn’t the whole universe a laboratory if only we are sufficiently mentally unshackled to move beyond the limits of our five scientifically-proven senses? How many senses do we really have. What about your gut or your heart intuition or neurons, for example. What about energy fields?
I don’t know. It’s just something I’m thinking about. What goes on outside the observable field of human experience might be far more amazing that the stuff the anti woo-woo merchants peddle (and that – classical science – is pretty amazing in itself).
The grass is turning a shade of golden brown round here. I don’t have to worry too much about that thankfully, because my annual ‘lawn’ growing never entirely banished the brown patches of stubborn earth this year. I blame all that snow in the spring – it held this gardener back *ahem*.
Anyway, I’ve had this picture in my mind’s eye for a few days now, so I am downloading it here to free up a bit of internal disk space in the old synaptic department. I think I have said before that I have never been too keen on Edgar Degas’ ballerina studies, but I certainly appreciate the technique. My antipathy is something to do with the creeping feeling of lechery with the ballerinas. Still, perhaps I am unfair on that. His output was largely dancers in the end, but this was because the market liked it and his family were strapped for cash. Degas’ overall body of work, if looked at simply as studies of unforced posture have something of the quality of the modern paparazzi – he captures natural attitudes and poses and it is that draws me in.
In this particular picture, Jockeys in the Rain, I don’t think the rain is as much of a success as the body language of the both the riders and the horses. The rain has to be there, to give some the hunched figures their proper context, but what comes through even more strongly, for me, is the horses. The way the ones in the foreground hold themselves, the look in their eyes and the flare of the nostrils tells me that they are not so concerned about the rain soaking their flanks, rather that they are anticipating the off. The rain has to be there, but it’s not really what all this is about.
…what has gone to my head.
Life rushes by and everyone looks really hot. Sometimes I am rushing too, but my head always feels fairly calm. This is becoming more and more the norm for me. The opposite used to be true. My head was always rushing; maybe I looked calmer. I think I prefer it this way round. It really makes a difference to just do one thing time at a time. Today I ate my sandwich sitting on a bench outside. I just ate my sandwich. I didn’t think about anything, or talk, or text, or read – I just ate my sandwich. As a result, I noticed all kinds of things that I hadn’t noticed before. They weren’t big things. They weren’t marvellous and outstanding things, they were just little, but when you are just eating your sandwich and making space for things to come in, the little things can seem pretty damn marvellous.
It wasn’t even that special a sandwich, but that’s not the point… Multitasking is the enemy of peace of mind and a contemplative lifestyle. It’s also bad for your health. Don’t fall for it!
Here’s another end of term picture by Cassia. I think it’s hot where these women are too, but they look pretty cool to me.