Relocating - please follow the link for new content
Sunday, 23 December 2007
Friday, 9 November 2007
Monday, 8 October 2007
This is a beautiful book about Mahayana Buddhism. Like all of the books I have read by Thich Nhat Hanh, it is written in a stunningly clear and lucid prose. He deals with very complex issues in a deceptively simple way. As a Vietnamese monk living in the South of France, he captures issues of the human condition with great precision. His story about his first love is poignant and thought-provoking.
If you are interested in Buddhism and have not read anything by this author I would urge you to try a book by him. This is a good place to start.
Monday, 10 September 2007
'The Folkways Collection' is a 24 part series available as a freely downloadable podcast. Each episode is an hour long. Here is what the site says:
"This series of 24 one-hour programs explores the remarkable collection of music, spoken word, and sound recordings that make up Folkways Records (now at the Smithsonian as Smithsonian Folkways Recordings). The music of modern day giants like Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, and Ani Difranco is interwoven with original Folkways recordings to demonstrate the lasting legacy that Folkways Records has on popular music. Recent and archival interviews with Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie, Lead Belly, Mickey Hart, Studs Terkel, and others help reveal the remarkable human stories behind this equally remarkable collection. The series was produced by CKUA Radio in Alberta, Canada and originally aired in 1999."
I'm about a third of the way through the series. The sheer diversity of material collected is astounding. Well worth a listen!
Monday, 20 August 2007
"An Internet meme is a piece of digital content that spreads rapidly, widely, and organically from person to person on the internet. The term is a reference to memes as virus-like self-replicating packets of information."
So, if you are keen to spend time exploring this phenomenon there is a brilliant portal where a new meme is posted each day. It is run by Gary La Pointe, who has his own blog here.
The portal points to many sites where you will find memes. Many of them take the form of '5 questions' or '10 favourites' and spread using internet tag. I've answered this one, now I name 5 other bloggers and ask them to do it too. A bit like a blogging chain letter.
[from the 'Things I found' archive]
Friday, 17 August 2007
Recently I bought an issue of 'BBC Focus' magazine, which is a science and technology magazine here in the UK, produced by the Public Broadcaster. It is full of fascinating facts.
There is a whole section on atoms, which includes this which I thought was really mind-warping:
"Atoms are 99.9% empty space. If all the space was sucked out of the atoms in your body, you'd shrink to the size of a grain of salt. If you did the same thing to the entire human race then all six billion of us would fit inside a single apple."
I'm doing a series on Buddhism on this blog at the moment. This fact about atoms conjures all sorts of ideas about us being full of emptiness, and the idea that we can all fit inside an apple is a beautiful way of looking at the connectivity of us all.
Friday, 10 August 2007
I watched the little specs of dust as they floated
In shafts of light through the church
A voice was working its way through a sermon
But my mind was engaged in this little world
Where the dust bits fall then spin and whirl
Some micro universe where I can imagine
A whole world flowing out and away
I imagine being a deity myself
A young Buddha watching worlds collide
Wanting to ease suffering, push aside
Left beneath the senses
Once it was all flickered into my inner world
Where the imagination can withstand anything outside
Crash of life-form to the real meaning of all things.
Friday, 27 July 2007
Fripp's rants are well worth a read. But it is also worth reading his considered thoughts on the process of living and creating. The site also generated frippisms which are good fun to read. For example:
"The question is its answer" and "Just below the surface of our everyday world lie riches"
These frippisms are randomly generated at the bottom of each page.
In recent months the number of photos he posts each day has grown, so that the site is also becoming a visual record of his day to day life.
It's also worth giving a quick mention to Sid Smith who is the webmaster of DGM Live - which hosts the diary, as well being a download site for the work of Robert Fripp, King Crimson and associated projects.
[from the 'Things I found' archive]
Thursday, 26 July 2007
So, I am currently using the following techniques:
- Take a selection of old poems and re-work each one into a new version, using different lay-outs or verse forms.
- Take old poems and redraft or create new poems as reactions, prequels, sequels and observations on the material in the original poems.
- Take a number of poems and dismantle them to create new works from the pieces by putting them back together in new ways.
- Take one poem and use each line from it as the first line or title of a new poem, creating a whole sequence of poems which builds on the original.
- Take one poem and reconstruct it into a series of remixes - like musical remixes, draw out key lines and phrases for repetition and distortion.
I'm going to experiment with some of these techniques over coming weeks. If you use any of them, feel free to post feedback in the comments.
Tuesday, 24 July 2007
It's a way to encourage community building by getting people to offer their skills into a bank so that they can trade them for the skills of others. Thus, you could offer an hour's baby-sitting time in return for an hour of painting and decorating. I really like the idea.
From the website:
"Time Banks UK is the national umbrella charity linking and supporting time banks across the country by providing inspiration, guidance and practical help. Time banks link people locally to share their time and skills. Everyone's time is equal: one hour of your time earns you one time credit to spend when you need."
Their patron is Dame Anita Roddick who was the founder of Body Shop in the UK - she brings a lot of credibility.
The mission of the organisation is described as - building community, caring for the marginalised, bringing up healthy children, and fighting social injustice. Great aims.
[from the 'Things I found' archive]
Friday, 20 July 2007
I've just been listening to the two albums again, and decided to do a bit of net searching to see what's going on. I drew a blank everywhere I looked. The band's own site now re-routes to Polydor records, and the fan site has been taken over by a golf site! (Yes, I understand the link!)
I've tried searching for Steven Bayley (singer, writer, guitarist, pianist etc) but can't find anything. Does anyone know what has happened to him and the others in the band. Are they making music? I have this romantic notion that Bayley will reappear to make a solo album. Now, when Mark Hollis made his solo album some years after Talk Talk split up, it was a work of remarkable genius. So, I remain optimistic. If you have any information, please leave a comment.
Tuesday, 17 July 2007
When the last REM album (Around the Sun) came out a couple of years ago, I saw the video to the first single, - 'Leaving New York'.
It was nothing startling or different, but then why would REM want to do that when they have a formula that works. As with much of their best work, the lyrics tug at a melancholic feeling that connects us together. After watching the video I visited their official website for the first time. And found that they have a load of remix downloads available which are worth a listen. They can be downloaded for free - just follow the link.
REM have just finished a series of dates in Ireland to test out new material and are now in a studio in that country working on the new album.
[From the 'Things I found' archive - with an update!]
Monday, 16 July 2007
Thursday, 12 July 2007
Put simply, the site is a collection of children's art - totally inspiring. When you consider that many great artists aspire to be able to rediscover the innocence with which they painted when they were young, it makes sense to put together such stunning work.
"Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."- Pablo Picasso
The project belongs to the Natural Child Project - "Our vision is a world in which all children are treated with dignity, respect, understanding, and compassion. In such a world, every child can grow into adulthood with a generous capacity for love and trust. Our society has no more urgent task."
The Global Children's Art Gallery now features 1,050 pictures by children from 67 countries. Browse all the pictures, and order prints, posters, greeting cards and clothing to support our work. Take a look.
[From the 'Things I found' archive]
Tuesday, 10 July 2007
It was in my middle teenage years that I first became interested in Buddhism. I had grown up in a traditionally Christian family. My parents were both regular attenders of the village church. My older brother and I were both in the choir, and we were also altar boys. In fact, my older brother went on to be ordained into the church and is a practising minister still.
I remember from a young age, sitting in church on Sunday evenings and feeling a sense of spiritual presence, but being in awe and fear of the overwhelmingly paternal perspective of the protestant church. In fact, the ramble of the sermon was usually lost to me as I drifted off in my imagination. I would sit and watch motes of dust as they drifted through the light beams that shone from the stained glass windows, and imagine whole worlds within those specks of dust.
In my teenage years, I drifted away from regular church going and began to explore ideas of philosophy.
Then my reading brought me to an awareness of Buddhism. Schools are more inclined to look at the religions of the world today than they were in the 1970s. There was no mention of other religions in either Religious Studies, History or Geography lessons. It was my explorations in poetry, philosophy, fiction and psychology that opened up the world of Buddhism.
Probably one of the earliest influences would have been ‘Siddhartha’ by Herman Hesse. I had read ‘Steppenwolf’ first – curious to follow the link back to the book from the Canadian rock band who produced the hit ‘Born to be Wild’. I enjoyed the novel so much that I went on to read many of his others, and came across ‘Siddhartha’. This allegorical novel tells the spiritual journey of an Indian man called Siddhartha during the time of Buddha. The story follows him as he goes through a series of changes and realizations to achieve his goal of enlightenment. It is a beautifully written novel and charmed me into wanting to find out more about Buddhism.
Monday, 9 July 2007
There were two fabulous exhibitions which we saw. The first, on the ground floor, is by Ellen Gallagher. To quote the Tate's site:
"Ellen Gallagher (born 1965) is a leading contemporary painter who also creates drawings, prints, sculptures and films. Her works explore the language of Modernist painting with symbolic or narrative content, often touching on issues of representation. In her recent work she has explored the myth of Drexciya - populated by a marine species descended from captive African slaves thrown overboard for being sick and disruptive cargo during the gruelling journey from Africa to America. Ellen Gallagher's Tate Liverpool exhibition includes a range of work to reflect the breadth of her practice."
The work is very subtle, requiring lots of close attention. I really liked the mythical underpinning to the collection.
The other exhibition was a major retrospective of the work of Peter Blake. Most people will be aware of his paintings in the form of pop culture, particularly the cover to 'Sgt Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band' by The Beatles. He also did the cover to 'Stanley Road' by Paul Weller and the recent compilation album by Oasis.
The impressive thing about this exhibition is the sheer range of Blake's work. When an artist becomes famous for a particular style, it is easy not to realise the sheer breadth of work achieved, as is the case with Blake.
There are paintings from his Pop art work in the 60s. But there are also paintings that are more abstract, many pieces which use collage, and a series of illustrations for Alice in Wonderland. This is the largest exhibition of his work since 1983 and contains paintings drawn from a wide range of galleries. The work divides into sections:
- The 1950s
- Deja vu
- Wrestlers and Pin-up girls
- The Brotherhood of Ruralists
- Venice Beach
- The National Gallery Residency
- Marcel Duchamp's World Tour
- From this moment on...
The final section contains paintings which are unfinished. It's an inspiring exhibition. Whatever your own art form is, the range of work by Peter Blake and his ability to borrow from others and make things his own, makes me want to experiment myself. I was impressed with Peter Blake's technical ability and his creative range. An exhibition well worth a visit!
Friday, 6 July 2007
Wednesday, 4 July 2007
Rik points out that he has a specific need to publish so that he can share his work with friends, family and people who ask to see work. The web, in the form of downloadable pdf files is one way to satisy this demand. But there really is nothing like a real artefact to hold in the hand and turn the pages.
Something well worth investigating further.
I have self-published chapbooks / booklets a couple of years ago under the bluewater books imprint, and am in the middle of preparing a new series of booklets - all produced myself. I like the idea of a service like Lulu where the work is done for you.
Tuesday, 3 July 2007
The blog belongs to the Global Ideas Bank site. The bank is a place where you can find or post your own big ideas. It's a great place to look for inspiration. Meanwhile, the blog is a good read too, and has good links to other blogs with ideas on them.
[From the 'Things I found' archive]
Saturday, 30 June 2007
Buddhism is followed by some 350 million people in the world today. Being brought up as a Christian it has taken me a long time to feel comfortable with the idea of describing myself as a Buddhist. In recent months I realised that I had reached that point. And I came to the understanding that being a Buddhist doesn't require formal practise at a shrine a daily routines. That just isn't me anyway!
So, now I have the acceptance it is time to trace the journey. Further episodes follow over the coming weeks. You can track the whole series by clicking on the 'Buddhism' label in the right-hand column of the blog.
Friday, 29 June 2007
A couple of years ago, I took part in a knowledge cafe, run by David Gurteen. I wrote about it on my now deceased blog called 'Things I found'. The technique, which is openly available in a truly open source way, is a brilliant way to get true participation. I used it myself for an event which I facilitated at the start of this year.
The technique is taken from the work of the World Cafe, which can be found at their website. The Principles of the World Café are:
* Clarify the Context
* Create Hospitable Space
* Explore Questions That Matter
* Connect Diverse Perspectives
* Encourage Each Person's Contribution
* Listen Together for Patterns, Insights and Deeper Questions
* Share Collective Discoveries
They work well because:
* The future is born in webs of human conversation
* Compelling questions encourage collective learning
* Networks are the underlying pattern of living systems
* Human systems--organizations, families, communities--are living systems
* Intelligence emerges as the system connects to itself in diverse and creative ways
* Collectively, we have access to all the wisdom and resources we need
I particularly like the fact each table is covered in paper sheets and everyone is encouraged to write or draw on them. This gives the quieter members of a group an alternative way to contribute. I also like the 'consensus' approach which encourages everyone to build on others' ideas rather than to critique them.
(From the 'Things I found' archive)
Tuesday, 26 June 2007
Some new poetry fragments – towards a 2007 sequence…
The sound of the helicopter blades reminded me that
The first time I had stood on this rocky outcrop I had
Wondered what I was doing next
Then the pieces of the jigsaw all fitted
Because the steam-like mist rose from the valleys below
As if it was time to be going
Growing like an adolescent in the kitchen raiding the fridge
Watching everything like it’s the first time.
Pictures on the wall were all taken with this new camera
Living in a world where every second can be captured as a
Perfect digital image. Still or moving images
Everything caught as a series of digital code
So that every trace of every life can be saved for future viewing
If only we had the time to review everything
At least then we might learn something from the mistakes of history.
Be here, be now
Somehow holding on
To everything that we thought was
Precious and spoken
Winged fragments of encapsulation
Such as bones and carcasses
Pieces becoming new things, new essences
As though the earth were starting all over again
Washed and bleached inside the sea-bed
Where once waited creatures now extinct
Flapped and furrowed, waxed and winnowed
Embraced in water, pictured on the stones
Each one scraped against the soul.
Tuesday, 5 June 2007
Elephant Talk was a regular newsletter for some 15 years which updated the fan / fanatic about the activities of King Crimson, all of its members through the years and their own solo activities. It took the form of a discussion list, so there were many diverse views in each edition. At times Robert Fripp himself posted entries to it.
Anyway it ceased publication as a newsletter recently, and has now entered the world of Web 2.0 by converting itself into a Wiki using the same technology as Wikipedia itself. It's worth a look if you are curious about any of this branch of music. There's probably the answer to pretty much anything you might want to know in the pages of the wiki.
Now, I've been thinking for a while that there must be some really useful applications of wiki technology. I have started to experiment again with WikidPad which is really easy to use and has moved on a lot since I last used it. Of course, it is always important to avoid the trap of finding a useful piece of technology and then hunting desperately for something to use it on. It should be the other way round! That said, I will be experimenting with the whole wiki approach because I really like the intuitive and flexible approach.
Friday, 25 May 2007
- The Guillemots - Through the Windowpane
- Badly Drawn Boy - Born in the UK
- Duke Special - Songs from the Deep Forest
- Tracy Thorn - Out of the Wood
- Porcupine Tree - Fear of a Blank Planet
- Rush - Snakes & Arrows
This is a post on the run, so no detail. But, go explore - you won't be disappointed...
Sunday, 6 May 2007
Saturday, 14 April 2007
Tuesday, 20 March 2007
Thursday, 15 March 2007
I was led to 'TED' by David Gurteen who wrote about it in one of his recent newsletters (well worth subscribing to - it is free!) TED stands for 'Technology, Entertainment, Design'. It is an annual event which hosts talks, music etc. But it is much more than that description implies. If I said that speakers over the years have included Tony Robbins, Malcolm Gladwell, Bono, Peter Gabriel, Richard Dawkins, Dan Gilbert, Nicholas Negroponte, Dan Dennett, and Al Gore - would that give some idea of the sheer range and depth of presentations? TED sells out at least a year ahead, and is to an invited audience anyway. So, why should I be talking about this? Well, the link above takes you to a page where you can download videos of over 70 of these speakers. More are added each week - using an RSS feed, they can be downloaded as video podcasts. I've watched a handful of them and am incredibly inspired by what I have seen.
Wednesday, 14 March 2007
At the time I wrote that first post, it was difficult and probably near impossible to use music in podcasts without breaking the law. Many early podcasters were playing copyrighted music without permission. One of these early podcasters (who may lay claim to having invented podcasting) Adam Curry, received a 'cease and desist' letter and promptly stopped playing music other than that which he had permission to play.
For many podcasters at that time, the only way to do this was by searching for music from independent artists who had no recording contract and were able to give permission for their music to be used. Artists like Hollow Horse, Chance, Three Blind Mice and Brother Love became widely used.
Alternatives were inevitably going to be needed.
Then along came the podsafe music network. It wasn't the first (labels like Magnatunes were already making mp3 files available) - but they did provide a real leap forward. Established by Adam Curry, the Podsafe Music Network has grown massively since it was set up last year. Alongside a podcaster delivery system, it provides an easy way to find music that can be played legally on a podcast. And there is some excellent music on the network - including some big artists who have put a few tracks on there like James Brown (RIP) and Tom Waits.
Innovations like this have led to an increasing explosion in podcasting. There are heaps of new podcasters appearing daily on the internet, and the medium is being used by an increasingly diverse range of people for an incredibly wide ranging set of uses. In the coming weeks I am going to run a series of posts where I write about the podcasts which I regularly listen to (such delights as Adam Curry's Daily Source Code, Lynn Parsons, Dark Compass, PodcastPaul, the Zencast, Shrink Rap Radio, Ultima Thule, Echoes, Typecast, Steve Pavlina).
Tuesday, 13 March 2007
Friday, 9 March 2007
If you are interested in new music, contemporary, electronica and jazz it is well worth a visit. It would appeal to anyone who wants to explore sounds and names that they are unlikely to have heard of before. The editing of the magazine is handled by a team of people including Nate Dorward (who also edits an excellent poetry magazine) and Dan Warburton who has written for Wire magazine for a few years now. Dan Warburton has also produced music for the online stasisfield music label, which I love.
The magazine comes out monthly and is worth a surf when you have a few minutes to spare.
(From the 'things i found' archive)
Friday, 2 March 2007
The music which is forming the soundtrack for my life at the moment is:
1. Nine Horses - Money for all
I bought the original album 'Snow Borne Sorrow' a while back when it came out. This new release is a mixture of new tracks (3 of them) and remixes of tracks from the album. David Sylvian works well in the mix with Steve Jansen and Burnt Friedman. It's a CD which slowly burns into your memory banks and demands replays.
2. Tom Waits - Orphans
This had such amazing reviews, that I couldn't wait to get hold of a copy. I got it for Christmas, and have been dipping into it ever since. Three hours of Tom Waits, meandering all over his various muscial styles, voices and topics. The third CD is probably the weirdest (saying something where Waits is concerned!) as it mixes stories, poems and soundtrack outtakes. The whole CD set is a mammoth thing which surprisingly hangs together.
3. Ketil Bjornstad /David Darling - Epigraphs
This is a stunning album of improvisations between piano and cello. It shifts from modern ambient, cool jazz to echoes of Bach and Mozart. Great music for thinking and creating.
4. Joanna Newsom - Ys
It's an epic album, full of stories and threads of ideas. The orchestration by Van Dyke Parks is amazing and the whole thing is a labryinth which reveals new secrets on each listen.
5. Joanna Newsom - The Milk Eyed Mender
Well, the new album took me into the first one. This is a much starker arrangement. Her voice is somewhere between Bjork, Kate Bush and Tori Amos. But it has its own unique territory too! I love the lyrics, and I love the arrangements for each song.
6. Badly Drawn Boy - About a Boy
I know he has a new album out - and no, I haven't heard it yet. But I saw the film of which this is the soundtrack again recently, and was drawn back to this album. Damon Gough carves out his own furrow. But above all else, he writes great melodies. I absolutely love the song 'Silent Sigh', used at a particularly painful moment in the film.
7. Fennesz - Endless Summer
I came to Fennesz's work through a collaboration he did with David Sylvian. He is a guitarist and laptop improviser from Austria. This album is truly beautiful - it rises gently out of a backround of noise and captures you like a stunning sunrise on a crisp morning.
8. John Cale - Black Acetate
An eclectic mix of styles, some killer riffs and a giant bag of seething energy. And the production is stunning. I'm not particularly precious about production values - but this one just reaches out of the speakers and grabs you by the throat.
9. Paul Weller - Stanley Road
I'm not sure how I missed this when it first came out. Last year I bought the anniversary edition and have listened to it so many times since. What a classic album!
10. Sigur Ros - Takk
I know I have chosen this album before on this blog, but it really does tease out new things on each listen. Earlier this week I spent an evening listening really carefully to it through headphones and there is so much going on in the mix that I hadn't heard before.
Wednesday, 28 February 2007
One thing I particularly like about the site, is watching someone who is clearly following their passion.
Sunday, 11 February 2007
Friday, 2 February 2007
It's a great way to get inspiration moving. But do be warned - if you are easily distracted like I am, you will need to time its use very carefully.
This is the first of a series of posts taken from a parallel weblog which I ran for a while called "Things I found". It was a place I used to keep links to interesting things on the internet. Now that blogger has labels I can do this within the main blog!
Monday, 22 January 2007
And those tighter moments, when the neurosis of the time
Made no more sense than the 70s were supposed to…
Three lines, two times, and once we had become
The glide of a hawk, the times when we captured
All the dreams that had been spinning around outside
And put them in a small leather bag, pressed in tight
So that we could save them for later
Hang on until it all felt right
Dreams are alive in my head now
Good and bad, sad and mad
Wanting to be regrets, urgent needs to do things now
And so I jump out of the plane, ask rather than waiting
Sing rather than whisper, let go rather than clutch
And think that it is all too much, too particular…