Archive for February 2013

Notes from Heaven

February 24, 2013
Volcanic Brightening Burst

Volcanic Brightening Burst

Yes, it’s been a while since I updated you, readers.

To begin with this was because my life had been thrown into unbearable disarray because my loft was insulated on 31 January and I had to have it emptied first, of course. I’d discovered that I had the house contents again in crap in the loft, but I needed to go through everything in case I threw something away I wanted to hold onto.

Initially I didn’t start clearing. I lived a life of doing very little. The amount of STUFF was so huge I felt overwhelmed by it. Only the bathroom was unaffected by it.

And as I sat in it I told myself that I would make the clearing a part of an art exhibition. I took a few photographs that didn’t save for some reason, to I’ll have to take photos of what’s left and make sure this time that I don’t lose them.

Meanwhile a few weeks later a friend, I’d not seen for some time, gravitated back into  my life and one evening he gravitated into my house. He sent me a text two days later saying that I should think about storage for my stuff. Then two days later he said he’d help me if I was willing to be ruthless and to do as he told me. I clutched at his terms with gratitude.

So over the last 10 days or more I’ve been very busy helping Mike to help me to sort my house – and maybe, consequently, my head – out.

It’s working a treat!!! I feel as if it’s a kind of game, so I focus on doing as I’m told, and since that means going through and chucking loads of books and paperwork and babies clothes it means that my surroundings are emerging to become tranquil and pleasant instead of busy and blocked!!!

So I’ve had the space internally to relax and day dream, and I now have an exhibition planned out more or less; a book in planning, a list of ‘to do’s’ in relation to them – and a kitchen and living room that are genuinely comfortable and preparing to become very attractive. I never realised that the outside of me was SO important!

I haven’t published my friend’s name because I haven’t asked his permission to do so yet.

Transforming the Old in Light of the New

Transforming the Old in Light of the New

Doh!!!

February 5, 2013
Stuck in the mud; trying to get clear again

Stuck in the mud trying to get up again

Mistakes Made During the Year

This isn’t going to be a long entry; I simply want to correct something said in the Human Aesthetics piece.

Frankly I have to confess that on a reread of Goodman which arrived today (my earlier copy having been lent out ..permanently….) I can’t support yesterday’s confident assertion that my thoughts subtend from his theory.  The influence of Goodman and Kuhn are present in the background of most of my broader thinking but I think that is as far as it goes.

I shouldn’t really have shared my working so soon after producing it because in retrospect I’m having serious doubts. It lacks rigour, there’s little scope offered for the ‘fleshing out’ of it and all in all it’s really just a bit of meandering ‘thinking out loud’.

Well – you didn’t do it for me but I got there in the end: the writer becomes her own critic.

… Back to the drawing board apparently…

Introduction to the as yet unformed theory of Human Aesthetics

February 3, 2013

Image

The following represents the formative ‘overview’ informing what I intend to become a more fleshed out theory, a less idealised and more concrete, theory of Human Aesthetics.

I will naturally be astonished as well as extremely pleased if anyone chooses to contribute to the architecture of this theory by commenting on these early cogitations.

The concept of ‘aesthetics’ from which I draw in forming the theory of Human Aesthetics is taken from Nelson Goodman’s ‘Languages of Art’ (first published in 1968).

Nelson Goodman’s discussion of ‘aesthetics’ is extremely instructive. He takes a view that is not necessarily normative in relation to the concept.  In his model of the term,  ‘aesthetic’ refers to that attention paid to the perception or the production of a thing in which absolutely every tiniest detail is attended to, and every detail is related to the larger whole.

It is a concept that fully meets with my approval and thus I am using it in relation to the idea of ‘Social/Human Aesthetics’ that I will be elaborating in this essay.

A few weeks ago I began to intervene in my working life by asserting the need for ‘femininity’ to enter the arena. Women, I’d noticed, had achieved the right to enter public spaces as nominally ‘equal’ to men.  The culture of femininity, however, I’d  noticed, in equal ration had been entirely ‘left out’ of the equation. Thus we women were entering public life as ‘damaged men’. We didn’t have penises, we didn’t have deep voices, we didn’t have paternalism, we didn’t have meetings organised around a hospitable culture for us. All in all we were simply pretending to be men and feeling pleased with ourselves the more accurately we managed to hide our true natures. Particularly since the more successful we were, the higher we climbed on men’s ladders.

[Although – I will say this – and it forms a part of my inability to work on this line – I have found that my inability and unwillingness to co-operate too much with this way of working has NOT harmed me in any way. I have noticed that, these days, the men I am around are endlessly accommodating, if at times a bit ruffled and other times amused, with my ‘eccentric’ approach to life. – It’s an eccentricity that loses such a noticeable quality the minute I find myself back in the kitchen with a couple of kids and a female friend round for a cup of tea or vice versa, so I definitely think that femininity is involved in it.]

This IS and remains, a pertinent issue.

However, my purpose was never to place men on the defensive or to add to the culture of guilt and shame which has often been the unintended, and sometimes intended, outcome of ‘feminist’ actions and movements.  Far from it.  I LOVE men.  Where would I be without men?  I have possessed so great a love for men that I have, over the last couple of years, recognised the absence of women friends in my life, and have been addressing that issue.  I need to love WOMEN more than I have done, and this is not only because only then can I truly love and accept and value myself, but also because, on  balance, – well, we won’t get true balance until we love both men AND women.

We aren’t loving women by asking of them that they learn the ways of men. We aren’t loving women by developing masculine subcultures of women behaving as men.

SO – the masculine/feminine culture debate is a rich minefield for exploration and elaboration and I’m likely to return to it again.

But I noticed that I was running near a danger zone by raising division in the work place. So I took a step back and meditated on what was in the hind of my thinking.

Human Aesthetics was the term I then selected to identify my zone of attention.

I am relating this term to the ‘Shared Humanness Model’ articulated by Tracey Holley in a Power Point Presentation three or four years ago.

The presentation was deceptively simple at first view.  When Tracey sent it to me I read it through and found myself entirely agreeing with everything she was saying – indeed, Tracey and I had ‘clicked’ on first meeting, at least, on my side that was the experience, I mustn’t speak for her.  Though she was quintessentially feminine and womanly with all the long, blonde, wavy hair and bodily curves that imply such identity, and the soft voice and soft manner that backed up such an appearance, whilst I was and am spikey, angled, sometimes fiery; a long way from my feminine ideal! Nevertheless, our essential natures were mirrored because of our shared value in empathy and ultimate gentleness.

I underestimated Tracey’s work initially. I thought ‘yes, absolutely,’ but I didn’t properly recognise the profoundly innovative potential in her thinking.  Her natural modesty somehow assisted me to under appreciate the significance of her work.

I found myself mentioning her ‘shared humanness model’ often when I was giving presentations, until this year, during my Collaborative Learning Initiative work at the University of Birmingham, I found myself insisting on a projection of Tracey’s first slide to provide the backdrop for my entire contribution, a background which I brought to foreground in my talking.

In fact, of course, I had become Tracey’s marketer. Not by request – I’m still waiting for a skype call to talk with her about this. But by passion. The thinking, in my view, evident in this presentation, is but the tip of the iceberg in relation to the thinking that may collaboratively emerge out of it between us.  Because, of course, I’m thinking of this ‘Theory of Human Aesthetics’ as a pillar of support and elaboration –expansion – within/of it.

So – what is ‘human aesthetics’?

I am using this term to draw attention to and to emphasise the micro, as well as macro, behaviours and settings in which human beings interact with one another.

I am also using this term to draw some confusion away from the ‘art world’.

I am going to attempt to design a model for clarifying the proper concerns of ‘Fine Art’ and for upgrading the activities of every day human existence. I am going to try to ensure that in so doing I gain sufficient agreement and support from sufficient a number of people that the theory starts to lean rather destructively on ‘inhumane’ models of production – not because they fail to be ‘efficient’, ‘powerful’ or ‘rapid’,  but because they fail to be ‘enjoyable’, ‘beautiful’ and ‘nutritious’.

Yes – to accommodate this theory of human aesthetics we shall need to revise our normative daily values.

We may prefer to slow down. We may prefer to scale down. We may prefer to spend some time decorating ourselves and our lives in ways that bend toward the pleasure principle. We may prefer to move toward honesty instead of hypocrisy, not because it is morally ‘better’ but because it makes us happier.  We may prefer to revise our Hobbes and Locke and discover that their convictions were borne of their circumstances, not of their unalterable genius in divining the core of human nature as infinitely avaricious and competitive.

We can be and will be these things for as long as we believe it is our nature.

As soon, though, as we believe that we are ‘naturally’ co-operative and supportive, and that we are ‘in-born artists, every one’ – then that is exactly what we shall be and become. And obviously we will see rapid alterations in the balance of life in consequence of such an alteration of conviction.

Don’t  be deceived. Hegel got it right – it is through the evolution of ideas and beliefs that our lives are altered.  Action follows belief.  Belief does follow action, of course, reactively – but on the whole, it is by far better to form an action plan upon belief and value than to act impulsively or ie in knee jerk manner to actions already taken by others – or even by oneself.

Funnily enough, this is a theory that could well assist an outcome not unlike that foreseen by Marx in his early idealistic phase, by the romantics in the 19th Century, typified by William Morris and so forth – it isn’t a revolution of blood and guns but an evolution enabled by the wondrous technologies made available to us by the humanly tragic phase of the industrial and post industrial revolution. Raymond Williams, was thinking along these lines in his ‘Long Revolution’ (1961) – it was a piece of work which attracted plenty of criticism at the time on the grounds of its ‘wishy washy socialism’ – but I think if we took another look now we might find that it was ahead of its time. I haven’t been back to it since I first read it in my late teens, and I think I might just check back now.

It’s true that some ‘levelling down’ will need to occur and that there will be those who resist the alterations for this reason.  But the levelling up of quality of life will be so enormous for such a large proportion of our world’s population that it is simply a matter of persuasion required to delimit any enthusiasm by the army to kill its own families, effectively to enable economic transformation to take place.

Passing Strangers

February 1, 2013
Mr Fox

Mr Fox

Started this entry and lost three paragraphs immediately. How infuriating is that!!

Well, as I was starting – I met with Nicola Bate today for the last time.

As the woman who has worked with me for two years to adjust my identity toward self acceptance, embrace of my womanhood, ego-stabilisation and recognition that ‘no man is an island – nor is any woman’ and, even, that this was a lesson I needed to learn: it was not an occasion I necessarily looked forward to. She has become my ‘internalised mother figure’ and it’s always nice if you have an external figure to attach to your internal registers.

Still, I have memorised her image quite well, I doubt I’ll ever forget her face or her gait, indeed, I’ll never forget anything much about her. To her I owe my entirely novel state of wellbeing.

It is an achievement that would not have been possible, however, without an entire network of friends and associates in my life echoing her acceptance and positive regard.

Is this the point at which I list all of the people I regard as contributing to my recovery, indeed, not mere recovery but progress toward what Mike Smith and Marion Aslan define as ‘Thriving’?

Is it too soon to make such an announcement? After all, I’m sitting in a kitchen that defies description in any civilised terminology – my entire home is reminiscent of anyone’s concept of ‘hell on earth’ – boxes, bin bags full of books and clothes, portfolios, canvases, ‘people’ every inch of the place – it’s barely safe to walk to the front door, so likely is it that I’ll fall over something leaning in my way. Loft insulation wonderful, preparation for it – nightmare!

But also – preparation for it: miraculous: down fell so much art work I thought I’d binned many years ago.. Of course the larger part was binned and this is merely the smaller stuff the ephemeral stuff that was easy to chuck above myself out of sight. Still, it’s been a treasure of wonder to me that I can only feel deeply grateful for. How to proceed from here, though, is another question. My father’s will to furnish me with sufficient fund’s to see me out of financial distress after his death was an unexpected privilege I still haven’t got over, any more than I will ever get over, past, or want to move from his words and look on the last day I spent with him, five days before his death. The cash is not in sight as yet, however, and won’t be for some time. The house needs to be cleared, cleaned and repaired before that can occur.

I’m still accepting incapacity benefit/esa and ‘therapeutic earnings”supervised’ by a woman who seldom offers any supervision, and I remain in the dark regarding how or when a more dignified alternative to this plight will arise as an unmissable opportunity.

Yet, such an opportunity is what I have some sense is absolutely predictable for me within the year.

So, again – is now the time to announce my transition to health or is now the time to remain a little wary of such open optimism?

On balance I’ll stick with just a little wariness. Whilst also thinking it’s high time I thanked endless characters from the University of Birmingham – Jerry, Maureen, Kris, Ann & Alex, Dee, and from MHRN, Sonia, and Paul McDonald, for a culture of acceptance and tolerance in relation to me that has made a big difference to my life in recent years. To Paul Roberts and Gordon Parsons, Becky and Bella I owe my sense of security in possessing a local friendship circle and to Glenn Miranda I am ever grateful for his unswervable faith in MissionMiraculus. He, I and Gordon alone, I suspect, remain enthusiastic adherents to the mission and values informing that eccentric little group. It’s never been smaller or less active, officially than it is today – other than that ’til 2009 it had remained effectively a concept in my head and a few bits of paper since 2000 – so it’s made progress since then.

It surfaced in my mind today after seeing Nicola and having my eyebrows threaded (not simultaneously). I sauntered into Cafe Nero, my favourite Redditch coffee bar (there’s a really cute little girl who works there, same age as my own daughters, and I tend to buy her a chocolate each time I go there, though today, after the expense of the threading, she had to go without). I sat down and within minutes the owner of the cola on the table I was at appeared and sat beside me. His name was Mr Fox and he was 26 years old and he suffered from the kind of restless, nervous leg movements that aren’t unusual amongst young men. It transpired that he has suffered from mental health distress and that he attended Kings Norton Boys School. I add in these details because, if anyone recognises this description I’d like you to urge him to come along to Suresearch and find some peer support in Birmingham. In the absence of any organised peer support in Redditch it seems the best thing to do.

Suresearch has a website and the address and directions to arrive at the right destination will be on the site. I go to these meetings so he won’t arrive and find himself isolated in any way.

It made me think. Maybe I need to localise some of my energies and organise some kind of peer support group in Redditch that isn’t paternalistic and boring as hell but appeals to young people being casually written off by a cynical social infrastructure.

That’s it for now.

I need to brush my hair and dash along to Birmingham to get another hepatitis jab for my honorary research contract.

Toodle Pip,

Janie

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