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Wednesday, 16 December 2009

"The authority of science comes from the power it gives humans over the environment" Or 'Promethean Madness'


http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/copenhagen-climate-change-confe/6807295/Copenhagen-climate-summit-How-banks-can-help-to-save-the-planet---and-make-a-profit.html

“When the average punter sees hordes of crusties protesting in Copenhagen and calling for the collapse of capitalism, he or she is unlikely to be sympathetic. They don’t want to be told that the answer to global warming is to repastoralise society (minus the cows), and for us all to sit sneezing in yurts until the Earth cools down. They need the warning but they also want hope. They want the technological optimism that has characterised our species since the Stone Age.”

The only answer is to repastoralise society. Faith in technology and humanist ideals is the same Ricky Ray Rector saving his last piece of pecan pie for later. Technology and a growing economy is unsustainable within a limited environment with limited resources. The capitalist system that is based upon economic growth and technological ‘progress’ is doomed to crumble and fail because it relies on limited resources, but in order to be successful requires unlimited resources.

When oil runs out how will these technologies function? Oil is a fundamental resource used in the manufacture of all renewable resource technology and almost all technologies. To put faith in a future scientific wonder-breakthrough technology that will save us from all our animal natures is rather absurd, or at least exactly the same as putting faith into a God that will save us. In fact, God is a much more realistic power to put our faith in. He works without limitation. Technology will always be ruled by the limits of the natural environment. The crusties are not protesting in order to save the natural environment: that will sort itself out. What they are protecting against is the destruction of humans by putting all our faith into the destruction and reliance upon limited resources.

The only way to ensure a happy and sustainable population of humans is to choose to live sustainably, not using the limited resources faster than they can be replaced and not using resources that cannot ever be replaced (or at least not relying on them).

This means a total change in the way we live. We need to become resilient and self-sufficient.

We need to abandon our blinkered faith in technology. It will not save us it will destroy us.

However: it is not technology itself that is the problem, it is the attitudes and ethics that rest beyond it. It is possible to use technologies that do not use limited resources in order to make tasks easier and safer to perform. These technologies when applied to a society that has sustainable, self-sufficient attitudes and ethics can be wonderful and useful and these are the technologies that have been developed and used since stone age times. Technologies that are applied to a selfish and greedy society will only end up destroying that society.

The ‘hope’ that Johnson speaks of is the hope to continue extreme greed, extreme selfishness, extreme inequality. This is impossible within a system of limitation.


( http://slowriot.deviantart.com/art/Boris-81346348 is where I got the image from. )

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Submarine Review


I wrote a review for the book Submarine by Joe Dunthorne. The website EssentialWriters.com have featured it here: http://essentialwriters.com/submarine-by-joe-dunthorne-4818.htm

The review I submitted was quite long, so it's been edited. Other than a few bad re-phrasings I am happy with the review and am glad that EssentialWriters have featured it. The website is very good and a great resource. It's one of the best places to find jobs and places to submit stories.


I am excited about the prospect of the forthcoming film adaptation of Submarine. Richard Ayoade is the director and most of the stuff he's worked on before has been brilliant. I think he'll do wonders with Submarine. Craig Roberts who played Robin Branagh in CBBCs Young Dracula is playing Oliver Tate. Roberts is a very good actor, and I hope this film will provide him a solid platform to future success.


Talking of Young Dracula, I have gone and done the obligatory YD fanfiction. Yeah, I know: sad.

I needed something verbal to do in-between toning The Klandestines. I didn’t want to get stuck into one of my own novels so I decided to write a fanfiction. I chose Young Dracula because I had an idea which would allow me to twist the story a little. It has not all been uploaded yet. You can read it here: http://www.fanfiction.net/s/5534456/1/Lacuna

So far I've uploaded chapters 1-8 of 13 chapters. I'll link again when it's all up there.

It’s a kind of hardboiled thing and it doesn’t matter if you don’t know what the hell Young Dracula is, since it’s from the point of view of Robin (played by Craig Roberts) who had a year of his memory wiped at the end of the series, therefore remembers nothing in the series.


This is the sort of very visual stuff I have been working on that has lead me into writing a fanfiction in order to do something verbal. It is a graphic novel called The Klandestines, written by me, drawn my Jian Yang Dong and toned by me:


I was going to post a clever response to a comment in The Daily Telegraph written by Boris Johnson. I wrote it out on a scrap of paper and showed Mr Kite, who really liked it. I left the scrap of paper at Mr Kite's house, so I'll post this silly entry instead.


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Contradict yourself



Don’t take things too seriously.


Learn to laugh at yourself and the world.


My personality is a construction. It does not really exist. I can be someone today and someone else tomorrow. To pigeon-hole myself into one box for the sake of continuity is absurd.


Everybody is split into many fragments. A madman is someone who believes he is one man.


Contradict yourself.


If you or others start to second-guess things about you; if you or others think they have you pegged and that they know you inside-out then you need to disillusion them. You need to do something that will surprise yourself and others.


There are no rules beyond those that you make for yourself. But be wary of others who think otherwise: be prepared to flex and bend things in order to keep yourself and others happy.


Success and happiness are not usually intertwined, unless you view success as being the attainment of happiness.


If I am unhappy now I will be unhappy later. If I am able to be happy now then I can be always happy. It is futile to find ways to be happy in the future.


Find happiness in nothing and I will be happy wherever and whenever I happen to find myself.


There are things that I feel are important, that are fair. Looking after the earth so that others may come after me falls heavily in this statement. So: Nothing at all matters; it is my nature to be contradictory; there are no rules; happiness is a state that you might as well be in because it is preferable to sadness. Knowing all of this, I can loosely point myself in the direction to ensuring that I look after the earth, but to also retain a sense of perspective. I need to allow myself to be all of these things at once.


Thursday, 3 December 2009

Endgame

“When a white man kills an Indian in a fair fight it is called honorable, but when an Indian kills a white man in a fair fight it is called murder. When a white army battles Indians and wins it is called a great victory, but if they lose it is called a massacre and bigger armies are raised. If the Indian flees before the advance of such armies, when he tried to return he finds that white men are living where he lived. If he tried to fight off such armies, he is killed and the land is taken anyway. When an Indian is killed it is a great loss which leaves a gap in our people and a sorrow in our heart; when a white is killed, three or four others step up to take his place and there is no end to it. The white man seeks to conquer nature, to bend it to his will and use it wastefully until it is all gone and then he simply moves on, leaving the waste behind him and looking for new places to take. The whole white race is a monster who is always hungry and what he eats is land."
-quote from Chiksika recorded by Eckert, taken from the book Endgame by D. Jensen.


I live in constant despair about the culture I was born into. I hate that I have been shaped by it, that it owns me, controls me, limits me. This is a culture that so many cling to; that so many view as being great and the only way in which any human should live. I think this culture is full of ugliness, evil, greed, hate, violence, destruction, myopia, childishness.
There are things about this culture that have vastly improved our lives, that is certain. But at what cost does this come? We have exchanged a life of risk, sustainability and freedom for a life of mundanity, self-destruction and short-term safety. We are destroying everything around us, and we will destroy ourselves. So what; modern medicine means that if we find ourselves in an otherwise life-threatening situation we can clamber out of it. To what end? For what purpose? If this means that our entire race is doomed to destroy itself painfully and bring a lot of other species down with it, then I don't see what's so great about it. There is no benefit.

I hate that I have been shaped by this culture, that I find it so hard to break free of it, despite how terrible I know it to be. In order to break free I need to first totally embrace it. Because the land I was born onto, and all land in the world, is now claimed and owned it means I must become ugly, evil, greedy, hatful, violent, destructive, myopic and childish in order to accumulate enough money to buy myself out of this system. I don't know how to do this. I am living in two worlds. I cannot totally embrace it, and I cannot totally reject it.

I will go for a walk. Yesterday the forest looked more beautiful than ever. The mist transformed the valleys and the forest so completely. It was like I was in another country.


This is an article about a tribe in Africa called the Hadza. It is interesting. I recommend reading it.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Rural Living Update!

I meant to write about this about two months ago. My boyfriend, Mr Kite (who is thinking of changing the spelling to Kyte), lives in a small cabin in his parents’ garden. There are two large vegetable patches that he and I are in charge of. This year we did very well, and managed to feed ourselves on home grown peas, broad and runner beans, chard, spinach, onions, potatoes, cabbage, salad, strawberries, courgettes, butternut squash, brussell sprouts, leeks, parsnips and carrots, plus the existing perennials such as apples, raspberries, herbs etc. We managed to harvest things from June onwards, and we’ve still got leeks, parsnips, spinach, and a carrot (plus the harvested stored veg.) I spent much of October preserving all of it. I made countless jars of chutney, jelly, jam and syrup; not just from our produce, but from the wild also. Here is a bad photograph of a tiny amount of our produce:



Now that the annual veg season is closing we’re focusing more on craft. I am learning to spin wool using a spinning wheel that belongs to my grandmother. I learnt what I know about it from my grandmother, which is the way it should be. I am half way through knitting my first scarf. I dabbled with knitting last year, but never got beyond a small square of material. Finally I have got the hang of it. I hope to be wearing my scarf before not too long. Mr Kite is setting up an indoor ‘pole’ lathe, but instead of a pole he is using bungee rope.
We’ve also finally got some chickens, who live in a large patch of garden under some trees. They are very happy in their new home, it seems. I like the sound they make. It’s so soft and gentle.

Mary and I learnt to weave a basket in October, which I might talk about another time. Here is a photo of our baskets anyhow:



Mine is the wonky, taller one. Mary has made a basket before, so she’s better at it than me. I store all of my wool and knitting needles in mine. I like it very much. Perhaps later this month, or next year, I will weave another.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

The Seaside Donkey



An Illustration of mine has been published in the very excellent Shrieking Violet Magazine, a free-sheet zine based in Manchester. I believe you can download it here. The story is by Emily McPhilips and can be read here, minus the illustration, or download the zine to read it with the illustration. Emily is an excellent writer, I urge you all to follow her blog and keep your specs peeled for future works.


This is my first ‘commission’ and I enjoyed it so much that I’d like to do more. So if you want me to illustrate something for you, drop me a line. I’ll probably do it for free, if I like the project.


Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Jump into the Void


I take in a gulp of crisp cold air, filling my lungs with it. My palms stick and my heart drums heavily in my chest. The rocks beneath my bare feet have soaked in the heat of the sun that the wind steals out of the air. The landscape rolls out in front of me. Between here and there is a sea of dimpled rock. Huge ravines and gaps span outwards. I stand at the edge of one now.
One. Two. Three. Jump into the void. My muscles scream as I push upwards. The cold blue air rushes against my skin. I have become a bird. Free and light.
When I land it is with a heaviness. The rock is hard and unyielding. My skin soft and exposed.
I take a shaky breath and look back. The ravine looks darker now. Deeper. What if I had fallen? Shakily I press onwards. Put one foot forward. Now the path is clearer and the next gap a comfortable distance, I can truly soak it up. This place is so big. So empty. The sky is a blanket above. The rocks like some other world. Smooth faces with rounded bumps. Gritty under my feet but clean and gentle to my eyes. I walk slowly, extending the time between now and the next gap, the next jump into the void.


------

This was the second freewritten piece I wrote for the writing workshop I attended recently. We were asked to chose a picture from a small selection and to set the scene of the picture. I couldn't believe it when I saw this one in the pile. I grabbed it and started writing straight away.

Monday, 19 October 2009

The Watcher

I went to a writer’s workshop on Friday. The workshop was focused on writing for young adults and teens, though most participants seemed to have more interest in writing for younger children. We had some very interesting debates about young adult fiction, some of which I would like to briefly share here. If you are indifferent to the ins and outs of YA publishing then feel free to skip ahead to the story I wrote whilst at the workshop, which is below the image. The image was given to us as a reference for a 10 minute freewriting exercise. We were told to write the back-story of one of the characters in the picture. I wonder if you can guess which character I chose.

As for the YA publishing debate we had: the writer who lead the workshop has written a YA/ teen novel that was rejected by publishers because it contained sex scenes. There is a lot of heat in the literary world about how many young readers stop recreational reading during their mid teen years. This comes as no surprise to me if publishers are refusing to publish stories for them that they actually want to read. Teenagers want to read about sex, violence, drugs. They want the characters to use the same language as them. The sort of teenagers who don’t get along with literature do not want to read about little angels who never say a single little shit or fuck. They want characters who they can relate to doing stuff that they can relate to. When you climb up the age ladder and reach the 16,17,18,19 group you will find that these kids are into Skins, the Inbetweeners, they watch films full of fucks, shits, blood and gore. Yet when it comes to books they have a choice: twee or adult. Adult books can often leave the weaker teenage reader feeling lost, often unable to relate to it at all. No wonder they chose not to read. They have little to read about.

Anyway, here the freewritten story I wrote at the workshop. I wrote another which I might post up shortly. Keep your specs on.



The Watcher



I come here to watch them sometimes. I never go further than this. The man who lives there has a gun that he uses to shoot deer. It wouldn’t be so different for him to train his sights on me instead of antlers. I am just as wild. Fair game. I own nothing. No fancy house. I don’t go to church and I hunt my food rather than grow it.

There is a girl who is paid to feed the chickens. She was one of ours once, but her mother decided to get out. Her mother wanted her to know a proper life; one with a house and money and hierarchy.

I head away, back towards the woods. My back turns cold to the house and I make tracks in the opposite direction, trying to push it all away. Keep my mind on the job. There are rabbits to hunt and berries to gather.

My long legs make big strides. Before not too long I hear rustling in the undergrowth. My muscles harden and my breath turns soft and still. But my mind is heavy with images of that house and the girl who keeps the chickens. Her name is Sylvie. I taught her to draw a bow. I taught her how to skin a rabbit, how to cook it and eat it. She knows how to really get along in this world. No need for a house or a church or pots of gold. Despite this she stays down in that valley in the shadow of that house and she scatters feed for someone else’s chickens, picks apples from someone else’s trees, tends their swine and seed. All for cash to take home to her mother. My breath comes too harsh. The rabbit hears and bolts. No dinner for me tonight.

I sit in a sulk and pick at the grass. Why does she never look up when I go to watch the house? Has she seen me? I’ve watched from up there too many times for her not to have seen. I guess that means that she doesn’t want to know. That all I taught her meant nothing. That I mean nothing. I stay sitting here until the sun sits low on the hill. She will be putting those chickens to bed right now. I should put myself to bed. I don’t think I’ll go back to that hill again. It puts my head out of line.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Lost Secret

Here are some recent photographs taken on walks near my house:









The Wood Fair was good. I spoke to the editor of Living Woods magazine and he suggested I come up with some article ideas. Perhaps I will report on the basket making course I am attending on Saturday. It is not going to take place in the woods, however, instead in the middle of Gillingham. Gillingham is a small country town that causes embarrassment in its residents. All the other towns scattered about this beautiful region have quaint streets and pretty houses. Gillingham has a massive industrial estate, a large collection of estate agents and is surrounded by a ring of newly built housing estates. But there is a little thatched cottage hidden in the middle. Surrounded by trees, this place is a lost secret. A little ancient smallholding with chickens and a cottage garden with pretty vegetable patches and winding small paths. The basket-making course will take place there.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Cranborne Wood Fair

No gymnastics this week. Mr Kite is ill, and so is everybody else who could happily give me a lift there.
This coming Sunday I shall be attending the Cranborne Wood Fair up at the Larmer Tree Gardens, not that far from where I live. Should be good! This is probably the last wood fair of the year so I’d better make the most of it. Mr Kite hopes to buy a side axe and a froe and I’d like to buy some basket making tools. There’s a guy who sells lovely second hand tools who will be there, I hope he doesn’t sell all the good ones on Saturday.
I have not been writing at all recently. There is too much kitchen-work to be done. Today I made a whole lot of green tomato chutney. Tomorrow I need to make more beetroot chutney, and if there is time; some rosehip syrup.



This is a photo of the outdoor kitchen that I sometimes cook in up in the woods. And also Mary.

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Reviews, Preserves & Gymnastics

I have had a couple of reviews published on ezines recently. The first of which is a review of Lateralus by Tool for a Classic Albums section of the e-journal. You can read it here.

The second is a review of a wonderful book called a Handmade Life, please go here to read my review.

I’ve been having so much fun recently, away from my computer and involved instead in much more down-to-earth activities. Mary and I have been cooking in the woods a lot, but now she has gone off to live with Dick Strawbridge and co down in Cornwall for a while.

I’ve been making many jams and jellies, the most delicious of which being the Elderberry and Blackberry jam. Crab apple jelly was so, so yummy but Mr Kite and I went too far beyond the setting point and it has the consistency of Turkish Delight rather than jelly. Works beautifully well in jam tarts though.

The beetroot chutney I made is really good. I wish I had made more. Next plan is for some tomato chutney.

I have also started up gymnastics after a ten year hiatus. It’s incredible how my muscles remember what to do. I just run up to the springboard and then I do a handspring vault just as cleanly as I did when I was 14. When I was last a gymnast I suffered a lot from lack of confidence, and I never liked to do backwards things. I assumed I wasn’t built for gymnastics. Now I’m older and slightly more confident I know I can do these things if I put in the training. I learnt to do a backflick yesterday, which is something I was always much too afraid to try in my however many years of childhood gymnastics. I’ve managed to do front somersaults, handsprings and a dodgy backflick after just two sessions.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

I saw an Osprey just the other day.

I’ve been away from the internet for a short time, and might not be back for a few days or weeks. As I said in my last post; I finished writing the first draft of a novel and figured it would be nice to spend some time doing practical things. I feel like jotting down some interesting things I have seen and done recently.

I saw an Osprey down at a lake a little way from my house, in fact there is a picture of the lake on an earlier post and a mention of spotting a strange large bird that I thought was black, or at least dark. It transpires that the bird was probably an Osprey; and even if it wasn’t, I later saw one for sure. I had the great fortune to go by the lake when some twitters were set up there with their long lenses. I asked them what the bird I might have seen earlier in the month might have been and they directed me to look in the lenses. There it was sitting in a tree, all proud and beautiful. An Osprey. I couldn’t believe it.

Myself and my boyfriend (Mr Kite) made some jam (a batch of strawberry and a batch of raspberry, picked at Ansty PYO). It’s so delicious. We’re going to make some hedgerow jams and jellies tomorrow with the help of our newest fabulous friend, Mary. I love meeting new friends, especially ones who are on my same wavelength. Today we went to the woods near Bath, and Mary and I were working in the outdoor kitchen together, baking a cake in the cob oven and making delicious food for the workers to wolf down. We both would like very much to be homemakers in self-sufficient heaven. Maybe someday we will. Maybe I will post some photos of this sometime.

Cheese fair in Stir on Saturday and then back to the woods for more outdoor cookery on Sunday. Fun times!

Thursday, 3 September 2009

What is your favourite tree?

My all round favourite is probably Ash, for the sheer versatility of it. Ash is a wonderful wood to whittle things from, it’s strong and fairly flexible. The only wood to burn well mature or green is Ash, and it’s a very handsome tree.

My favourite individual tree is the Wyndham Oak in Silton, near where I live. This tree is so old that Sir Hugh Wyndham, who died in 1684, sat under this tree. It’s massive and gnarly and beautiful.


Aesthetically I think white poplar is very stunning. It shimmers and dances in the wind. A whole row of them look so out of this world, like you’ve fallen through a wardrobe and come out the other side.


And you?


I made two batches of shortbread today with the help of my little sister. One made with caster sugar and the other with Dorset honey. This is the consensus: refined sugar is no good for anything. Honey is good for bees and good for me and it tastes damned good in shortbread.


I finished the first draft of the novel I am writing for the same sister who helped me bake shortbread. I feel sad to know that I will no longer be journeying with these few characters I have shaped and learned to respect along the way. At least now I can finally get on with things. Learn to make a basket, whittle a spoon, bake some bread. I’ve been too long sucked into this world of my creation. Time now to immerse myself into a world that created itself.

Sunday, 30 August 2009

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Gullible

This is an old freewritten thing I wrote some time ago:

She worshipped him. He ignored her. Never once did he answer any of her letters, yet she never lost faith in the hope that one day he might show her he loved her like they said he did. It was more their fault than hers or his. They told her that he loved her more than anything in the world, and the more she spoke with him and tried to please him the more he would love her. They told her that he liked things to be done in a certain way so she made sure to do everything in the correct way so as to please him. They told her to deprive herself of things to show him how much she loved him. In actual fact they didn’t even know him; he did not care what she did or how she did it. He thought she was stupid for being gullible enough to take all they said literally without thought or reason.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Walk

I have to go on a walk everyday otherwise I start to loose connection with what’s important and what isn’t. The only days that I don’t go on walks is if it’s raining heavily or I have become too neurotic and sucked into what I am working on, which usually happens when I haven’t gone on a walk in a while.

Yesterday it rained all day. I did not go for a walk. My words started to slip and get lost somewhere between my animus and my ego.

The day before yesterday I went for a walk. I thought I was gone less than an hour, but when I came home it was already 6pm. I’d been walking for almost three hours. When I walk I try hard to push verbal thoughts out of my head, to live only with what my eyes see, my ears hear, my nose smells, my skin touches, my tongue tastes. Anything beyond this, anything verbal, I try to dispel. I am a verbose person, I guess that’s why I choose to write stories. If I’m not careful I start to drown in words. It isn’t good. It isn’t healthy. I have to take a break sometimes.

I am very fortunate to live in a stunningly beautiful place. The things I feel for this land are extremely primal and powerful. I love this land more than I love almost anything else. Within walking distance of my little white cottage there is so much to see. Here are some photographs of just a tiny amount of the treasures they lay in the surrounding three miles of my house. I don’t often photograph my walks because the process of photographing what is around me detaches me from my surroundings. I get stuck in Plato’s Cave. But I’ve walked these paths so many times that I think it’s now ok to respond to them from a reflective, detached point of view, on occasion.


This is the foundry. It’s been slowly decaying for 14 years, left abandoned. In 1860 the largest water wheel in Europe was in operation at this foundry (60ft diameter), and this was where the wheel was made. Bomb casings for WW2 were made here. It’s had countless uses, and now after hundreds of years of operation this place lies silent; a window into our history. A lot of the villagers want it to be demolished, because it's been decaying like this for 14 years and they think it is ugly. I think it is beautiful. It's a magnet, it draws in young creative people from all over. Music videos have been filmed here, art and photography projects inspired by it, graffiti artists turning the peeling white paint into a huge canvas for their work.


In a small wood beyond the foundry, up past the golf course, there are a number of underground bunkers that were built in WW2. They have something to do with the nearby Zeals airfield, which was in operation at that time. When myself and my siblings were children we’d play here, afraid that tramps lived in the bunkers. Even to this day I approach them with caution, terrified some bedraggled old man will stagger out into the light.


A view of the forest.


New Lake. I sat here on the shore for a long while, watching the herons and a strange black bird. Not sure what that was. It was huge and hulking and beautiful, nesting in the corner of the lake I think. This lake is very close to the famous Stourhead gardens.


This forest is quite large and stretches from here up to Longleat. One day I will walk from home, from the most Southerly point of this forest, right up to the most northerly point.


This is my favourite place in the whole world. It doesn’t capture well on the camera because its beauty is subtle. I can sit in this coombe for hours on end and never feel bored. A small stream bubbles down the trough of the valley, dragonflies darting across the water. Beyond the valley is a small copse in which is a witch’s cottage.


And here we are parallel with the foundry, back near the start of the walk. The distant view of Shaftesbury across the vale. That’s a town where most of my friend’s live. Sometimes I wish I lived there too, because though I am very shy, I like to be in the company of my friends. I don’t have a car. The town is up a steep hill. I am not fit enough to comfortably cycle it yet.


Where will I walk today? I don't know. I try to let my feet guide me and not plan it out in advance.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

Typhoon

On Friday it was my mum's birthday. I wrote a story for her, which I made into a nice little book. Here are some pictures of it (please click on them to view them) :











On a similar note: I am starting to compile some stories together with the intention of making a short story collection and then maybe selling it. Most of the stories are allegorical, or freewritten or both. I have a few ideas in mind for the aesthetics that will probably mean I will self publish the collection. The way I want the artwork to look and feel and sound is very important, and in order to get it exactly right I think I will have to do it all myself. I’m really keen to collaborate on this one, but it’s early days so I’m going to refrain from talking about the kind of stuff I’m looking into. Keep your specs peeled for more news.