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07 April 2009 @ 10:44 pm
I whine about my work a lot in this blog, despite that I still deeply enjoy it and get a deep sense of fulfilment for a day completed, tasks signed off, customers satisfied or told where their files are (some under their own desks - for serious). You do get those days, more often than not of late, where problems spring up, your inbox is glowing like an angry rainbow, customers can barely grasp the logic of teletiquette 101, never mind the basics of records management....You get those days when you are rushing just to keep afloat, where everythign seems to be slipping, when the work just piles up and goes overboard with the baby. But such is work. One copes, one adapts, one gets things done. Whether that be through late hours, delegation or pure hard work, things get done. One battles against the nonsense, the insanities, the random files coming flying in through the post, the minefield which is social services, the black hole which is any office outside of Chelmsford, the endless tide of shite from up On High, and one gets on. Work gets done.

It turns out that if you work hard, damn hard, you might just come up lucky, and find a nice email awaiting your attention, with a nice number. Unfortunately not a 9-digit one that they usually are, but 3 figures, starting with £, then 2, then 5, then 0, signed 'Managers'.

To excise all the above fluff and guff, I am very, very pleased with my bonus, as it proves that my efforts have not gone unnoticed, have not been fruitless. Not just gratitutde, but a fatter bank balance, which is always nice. Can't complain, can we?
27 March 2009 @ 10:22 pm
It has been a pretty good day. I had the day off from work, so went to the gym in the morning and delivered political leaflets in the afternoon, with a bit of reading in between. I'm going to do a fair bit of Latin tomorrow (3-4 hours), so that will catch up on my laxness today. Oh yes, I've cleared my room a little bit, but more needs to be done yet. Definitely a need for a full Saturday...Oh yes, my little brother just set fire to the microwave, or it certainly smelt and looked that way. I hope for his sake that the parents do not detect the acrid fug of burnt bun and roasted microwave when they walk in....


I had a book given me to me a long time back, back when I was queuing to see Celtic Frost at the Mean Fiddler, their first UK show in 18-19 years. It was an amazing show, as one might expect, with stupendous weight and musical ability behind it. But that book has just come back to me, with quite a revelation attached to it. It was handed to me by a monk, and it was evidently of Eastern origin. I did not read it, and still haven't, as back then I was not interested in religion in the way I am now; I was still very much in the bratty, rejectionist, angry little dork mode, railing against Christianity with lots of vitriol but not much actual reason or sense.

It has emerged that the book is published by the same organisation which published the megahuge Bhagavad Gita that I own (but haven't read - only Juan Mascaro so far). This is a very interesting discovery, as the little book is a selection of dialogues, between reporters, followers, doctors, other religious people & the founder of the ISKCON. I shall start to read it tonight, without further delay. I am very glad that I did not throw it away, as has been the case with some less pleasant Jack Chick publications (wiki him as well).


Oh it is a treat to return to an old master, and a delightful surprise to find a rather competent play as well. His ideas for the scenery were rather outlandish (rooms, barbed wire fences, gates, etc - would've needed a HUGE stage), but apparently it did reach rehearsals in Moscow before the regime stepped in to stop the production. The huge list of roles has actually worked out rather well, portraying vividly the number of fingers in each pie, the amount of corruption, blackmail, and all out criminal behaviour which was part and parcel of camp life. The laziness, the selling on the side, the bribes, the sexual favours, it is all there, in colourful, vibrant language. And in the middle of it all, the innocent, who is struggling to adapt to the harsh environment of the camps, after succeeding on the front line. He has just met the love-girl, and now comes the moral dilemma, of whether to engage with her or not-is there a place for morals in the camp, morals above survival?

Now playing: Absu - The Absu Of Eridu & Erech
via FoxyTunes    -seriously scary, seriously fast, absolutely fucking amazing. ABSU!!!!!!!!!!!!
poet who just broke the subject box. I think he was called Milton

Did I mention Milton? I wonder if he met Shah 'Abbas? Or if he spat on the Pope?


Anyway, we met at Liverpool Street at the decided time, then immediately headed to Bloomsbury. The weather was impeccable - best day of the year so far. Touching 60fahrenheit. We had time to dive into a Starbucks before we headed for the British Museum for Shah 'Abbas, an exhibition on an important ruler in Safavid Iran(Persia) in the 16th century.

Shah 'Abbas

I was deeply impressed by the exhibition, as the structuring was very accomplished, giving background on the Safavids before Abbas, of the many tasks he undertook, the artistic accomplishments of Persian artists during his reign, and his lasting legacy. Of interest were the links to Europe, and how he manipulated trade to reconstruct the Persian economy which had been wrecked by his ineffectual father. To see Van Dycks of notable diplomats, dressed in Persian custome, and to be given a picture of the interest in Persia at the time was very welcome.

By far the greatest piece of the exhibition was some simple projectors, which displayed on two walls of a passageway various images of some of the fantastic Mosques 'Abbas renovated during his reign. Some of the architecture and artwork is beyond compare, and the sheer scale is staggering. To read that 'Abbas walked 700km from Isfahan to Mashbad on a pilgrimage, and then took up menial tasks there for 4 months was compelling, a fine example of his religious zeal. Also astounding was the Chinese Porcelain, part of a charitable donation to a Mosque.

It was nice to hear that he was descended from a Sufi mystic, and managed to maintain a balance in society between Shia, Sufi & Armenian Christian. Something modern Iran could well learn from.

I would rather like to visit Iran, for, well, Isfahan and Persepolis, to cut it down to 2 gems. Too bad the political situation is still mucky. It was a very good exhibition, and I appreciated the usage of 'carpet displays' to break up the flow of the exhibition, so that the crowds were dispersed adequately. It comes recommended.

After the exhibition we ventured forth into the bowels of the Museum, hunting for Sutton Hoo goodies. We found them eventually, surrounded by a mob of school children. There is something quite magical about that helmet they found, and the wealth of other objects they discovered. There isn't much left at Sutton Hoo these days, though there is a nice visitor centre & they have reconstructed the mound, but the good stuff is of course in London.

We tubed it to Moorgate afterwards, where we had lunch on a small patch of grass with views of the Barbican down one road and the City behind us, Tower 42 & the Gerkhin looming up majestically. From our Paradise we ventured forth, two pilgrims in search of our master.

Sadly we couldn't find Dan Brown (but then he was thrown in front of of the 10:13 to Luton), so we had to opt for second best with a postration in front of Milton. The church was open this time round, and the memorial was stupendous - 25 foot tall, psychedelic colours, amethyst eyes, real hair, utterly astounding. We paid our homage with streaming eyes and grazed knees. He was not impressed and subsequently damned us to an eternity stealing penguins. And apparently lying is bad, but then he is one to talk.

There was a book sale in the church, so we shuffled through it, finding not an awful lot, apart from some precarious Christian books (obviously), and one pocket Bhagavad Gita (but with the 'archaic' thees, thous, etc, which I do not appreciate. If it had been a pocket Juan Mascaro I would have wet myself).

We walked down towards The Barbican after the pilgrimage, and caught the tube all the way down to Piccadilly Circus, from where we proceeded to the Royal Academy, stopping off at a HUGE Waterstones where Marco purchased me Coetzee's 'Waiting for the Barbarians', which was deeply appreciated and also unexpected.

We went straight into the Royal Academy for the Byzantine art exhibition. It was not was well choreographed as the British Museum, with less space, more people, inferior lighting & piddling notes on each exhibit. That said, the exhibits invariably spoke for themselves, some being quite, quite splendid. The exhibit ranged from the 5th to the 15th century, from the rise of the Eastern Empire to the fall to the Ottomans. There was a magnificent chandelier in the first room, which lent a Mosque-esque atmosphere to that part of the exhibition.

There were many beautiful ivory carvings, some fantastic silverwork, some quite insane micro-mosaics & dazzling church ornaments. The highlight for me was a gold Virgin Mary, in a grotto of rock crystal, which had beauty far beyond much of the other items in the collection.

I shan't dwell upon the exhibition too much, as one can write reams and not convey the power and colour of the works, and I do not know how to insert pictures into livejournal. There were some extravagant pieces of jewelry, and above all, the works from Sinai were stupendous, especially the icon of the ladder of faith. I shall let Marco write further on the exhibition. I shall write more if requested, as it is still fresh. It does come recommended, but go quickly, as it ends in a week!

After this we walked to the Strand where we had a rather fine Italian meal, looking out over the traffic. We eventually found a pub on High Holborn after the meal, where we chatted for aaages, and drunk beer. And praised Dan Milton to the Heavens.

12 March 2009 @ 10:16 pm
I just clicked that magic 'firm' button. Reading is set in stone now. I am going to be an interesting student.
11 March 2009 @ 10:34 pm
I am munching through this gem now, clocking 50 pages a day (well, on those days when reading time doesn't subliminate into sleep time...), and there have been some quite astounding scenes so far. There is a great deal of intricately captured emotion, some very moving laments. The utilisation of 'mob vocals', or rather, commentary from multiple members of a crowd, truly lends great detail & context to the events taking place, and gives you a flavour as to the intentions and feelings of the populace.

The balancing of the characters is utterly exquisite - the fiery, reactionary Laksmana vs the stalwart, stoic, dharmic Rama. Kaikeyi, the contemptuous queen, versus Kauyalsa, the pure. There have been expansions on the theme of combatting fate, on kingship, and on keeping one's word. And it is still going to grow, it is going to get yet more powerful, that much is evident.

Rama himself is incontestibly amazing, yet very human, which further enhances his psychology & divine nature. Not any man would just give up a kingdom to protect his father's honour and standing.

It has to be said that it hasn't quite hit like the Odyssey yet, or Gilgamesh, but neither is really a sound comparison. This is an ancient masterwork in and of itself. I am aiming to reach book 3 tonight, and I might be able to finish it by this coming Sunday, as I am cat-sitting on Friday & Saturday. I realise that the above is rather brief, but this is not only a different genre of literature from the Gita, it is an entirely different class - not lower, just different. The absence of Krishna is slightly confusing, but then one has to consider that Krishna is an avatar of Vishnu, or is he an avatar of Brahman? I still haven't worked that one out yet. He is awesome, that is for certain.

10 March 2009 @ 10:41 pm
More of the same. I have no idea where all this is flowing from - it has no especial relevancy to my current read or to the Gita, it just needs written down, ya know?


Something that has dawned on me with increasing clarity over the past few months is the fallacy of bearing one's religion as a possession, something to show off, a badge of pride. For one can 'be' a good Christian or whatever but if you wear your faith in arrogance and vanity then one is going against one's faith right there in those shallow attitudes and habits. One has to bear the cross with humility. This is where I suspect I have been, not so much falling down, but looking at the matter with distorted vision. I suspect that had I found a faith, I would have used it as a weapon against others of different faiths, 'Well I'm Jewish' or whatever, a combative, divisive stance, which would in most cases clash brutally with the fundamental tenets of the religion I had 'adopted' but not understood on a most simplistic level as that of humility in practice.

To expand upon this theme a little more, I confess that most of my communications with my cousin on the subject matter had dreadful levels of arrogance, idiocy, crudeness and pride, riddling them like Swiss cheese. I imagine that if I had found another faith I would have combatted his Christianity much as described above. Not a good start to a life in faith really. I am building up to an email to him on the subject, but it will contain an apology on the above matter, as my conduct has been disgusting at times, something I am ashamed of, for it did me no good and certainly gave him no pleasure in responding to.


While I could not at the moment commit myself to evangelising in the name of Christ, for the obvious reasons, I am not afraid to spread the word of the Gita. Nothing more. I am not about to spread the word of Krishna or Brahman or of Nirvana, but of the text, of the source of such interest and delectable inner ruminations? Most certainly. 


 Something I have noticed while 'meditating' (not that I have learnt how to yet - but then, with all due respect, I like to think that one can master it without outside guidance-after all, how did the progenitors of the faith come across the methods?), while my mind is free from thoughts like 'after this I will wash up' or 'I must do more work tomorrow' or 'Thursday afternoon is MINE!', the mind is clogged up with thoughts ON meditation, on keeeping quiet, on the breathing, on the calm. So thoughts upon the theme of meditation. One finds oneself thinking oneself into meditation, which surely is an oxymoron. One must FOCUS on something to escape these distractions. One must meditate upon a theme, the theme being the Divine Supreme.

10 March 2009 @ 09:48 pm
From delusion lead me to Truth.
From darkness lead me to Light.
From death lead me to Immortality.  - from the Brihad Aranyaka Upanishad

Better than a thousand useless verses is one verse that gives peace - The Buddha

I am increasingly finding myself in a state of flux, a state of constant questioning, a very fluid, unstable state of affairs, in some respects in my external life but much more so in my internal life, within myself. In the maelstrom of my soul, the above poetic truths, especially the prayer from the Upanishad, are proving of great comfort, and immense value. It has to be said that I am not one for prayer - I never could truthfully, sincerely cast my thoughts and woes up to the Creator, or God. I did not believe in what I was praying to, and sometimes even questioned what was being prayed for. And yet, I could see the power of the prayer in its effect on others.

I can see myself quite readily reciting the above prayer, as it is a truth of the most exquisite fundamentality & simplicity, yet is of immeasurable importance.

There has to be something more to this world than the material. If all there is to live for is Robert Peston, your paycheck and kebabs, then really, what sort of a life is that? Not one of much merit. Of course, there are higher feelings, things of greater importance in human life, such as family, companionship, love, but so much of that has been greatly eroded by the horrific culture we have allowed ourselves to slip into. Our comfort is our spiritual downfall. Material wealth is no substitute for spiritual fulfillment. No, there has to be more to life than this, a force we can direct and channel our efforts towards, one to shine light on our darkened souls. What is that truth, what is that source of light? I am not sure, for there is growing within me a thought, or rather a theory, that all faiths correlate, and eventually lead back to the Source, to the end goal, to Nirvana, Heaven, whatsoeever it may be called.

There is a problem with the theory, that being that religions are indivisible. You can't pluck one element from Christianity and staple it on to Hinduism. It is simplier within the families (Abrahamic & Vedic), but still, one can't really cross-pollinate with religious elements. One has to make a commitment, and accept a religion as the entire entity. But how does one accept? Is accept the right word? I am certain it is not, but I can't think of another, more appropriate term. Adopt? Convert to? In the end, such a process doesn't really need a word, for such things go beyond words. But then one is not suddenly heathen one day and the Pope the next - these things take time, as religions have so many different elements & practices involved that there is an inevitable evolution in one's faith, from infantile scrabblings to mature contemplation and on to perfection, whatever that may be. St John of the Cross described the Dark Night of the Soul in terms of taking a child from the teat and letting it walk on its own two feet - cruel perhaps, but only through austerity and trial does one advance in faith. 

How does one quantify one's faith? Where does one draw the line between perfection and 'getting there'? Does the journey ever really end, and indeed, does it matter, as surely you will be enjoying the journey, and indeed, the journey should truthfully be the object of your actions, rather than the end goal being the object. The path to Nirvana is long and narrow, and to reach it you must be alert and aware at all times, not just when you reach the Peace Supreme.

Absolute peace is a great dream of mine, in this cluttered, noisy world of ours, to be able to completely zone out and sink deep within yourself, connecting with yourself and your surroundings in altogether deeper fashions than the usual, conscious variety, would be a fantastic boon. That is where much of my appreciation of the Gita comes from, in the peace and tranquility which runs throughout the text, and flows eloquently from Krishna himself. 

To return to the indivisibility of religions, this is the epicentre of my problems with Christianity. I just can't excise those aspects of the faith I dislike, as they are integral parts of the whole. So much appeals, yet one surely has to adore the entirety of God's message, rather than just those bits which do not jar with one's personal opinions. There is no 'rule' against magpie theology, but it is surely a slippery, unfocused slope, with no true resolution & wisdom behind it. One cannot help the influences of one's literary exposures & social education, but they should be manipulated to complement, rather than contest one's faith. 

This blog is long, and my thoughts are schismatic. I no doubt shall return to the theme but offer my apologies for the above, as while there might be nuggets within, there is also an awful lot of kaleidoscopic mental gravel.

------SOOO Nearly lost all this. Servers went down last night

Now playing: Nina Simone - I Put a Spell on You
via FoxyTunes   

08 March 2009 @ 11:20 pm
Or rather, some thoughts spawned by the Ramayana thus far, at such a infantile stage of what I can already tell will be a most stupendous, if not tremendously moving read.

A long road out of Eden

The Ramayana is not anything like as religiously deep as the Gita - I did not expect it to be. But it does however complement much of what the Gita says, adding flesh to the skeleton (not that the Gita left you with many questions, but you understand). One thing which has struck me so far is the austerity involved, the great commitment, the tremendous years put in to worship and study, to allow one to ascend to Brahma. It all seems such a remote end goal, but then if one is only 'religious' for the end goal then one rather misses the a large part of the enire point: a religion is far more than just a means to an end - indeed, it is a system of means to the many ends which constitute day to day life. And besides, one can transcend to th heaven of Indra, or into birth into a better family or situation, and gradually work your way up the cosmic stairway to heaven. And besides, I am hardly going to start sacrificing horses and whatnot - any religion I partake of will be very short on the ritual and very high on the intellectual.

It is all very far removed from the Chrisitan message of salvation and freedom in the light of Christ, but then I don't really think I should be drawing such comparisons. Yet at any rate.

It is comforting, in a way ,to find the Hindu Pantheon to be much like the Olympic, although the Olympic does not have an entity quite like Vishnu-Shiva-Krishna, with Brahma some aethereal creator supreme riding above and within all. It is also familiar to have various creation myths, moral tales, and other assorted mythological stories inserted into the narrative by key characters at various points (sometimes without a great deal of relevancy). There is a great deal of sensuality and downright pornographic material in the poem thus far. I haven''t even started the Ramayana (journey of Rama) proper yet. So much more lies ahead.

I have revised my expectations somewhat. I am not expecting it to hit me quite like the Gita. It will enhance my understanding and appreciation of ancient Indian religion & culture, but I do not think it will have quite as intense an impact as the Gita had. But then the Gita, while not being a evangelical script, is much more focused, and packs a punch far above it's diminuitive size.

The next step? The Dhammapada. A great deal of the principles I have uncovered in the Gita I previously associated with Buddhism (and indeed, I think they are common principles in truth), so to start my exploration of Buddhism (which of course has not been ruled out and was at one point the 'blind preferred choice') would be expedient.

In fact, I need a side-read. And whatdya know...Juan Mascaro. SAVAGE BEATS!

23 February 2009 @ 06:42 pm
Ivan Sergeevich (I love the patronymic in Russian nomenclature - it adds such flavour to the language, such history as well, not to mention variety & a side order of 'who is this????)

Fathers & Sons

I am rather enjoying this. It is very different from both the Dostoyevsky & Lermontov, yet has common traits as well. Turgenev doesn't seem anything like as angry, as fiery, or indeed as downright verbiose as Dostoyevsky, but he does have an archetypal angry young man in Bazarov to match Hippolit & to some extent Rogozhin in The Idiot. Turgenev hasn't pushed anything quite yet, it has all been rather gentle, or rather subtle. The messages are still there, the most fundamental would seem thus far to be the power of love, and its ability to conquer even the most stalwart & hardened of hearts. Much like Pechorin, Barazov finds himself falling for a woman, although he despises such emotions as unncessary & meaningless.

There have been some charged arguments, some beautiful descriptive sections, some marvellous displays of inter-generational strife, some truly vicious jabs, the genesis of the breakdown of a friendship (again, a theme from Lermontov).

I wouldn't like to draw direct comparisons between Turgenev & Dostoyevsky just yet, as I have only read one novel by the both of them thus far, or not even that in fact as I am still reading the above. I can however see how the two of them could well fall out cataclysmically. I shall post further when I have finished the novel.

Now Playing - Megadeth - Hangar 18.

19 February 2009 @ 10:53 pm
Good events to sweeten bad

I am trying to engender a system, or rather a semi-conscious relay system, whereby when I feel down about something that isn't going well, has run into trouble, or is troubling me, I think of something I have achieved today, something that has resolved.

For example, I am having some trouble with the doctors at the moment, namely that they apparently do not have me on their books any more. The problem is just going to be a bit of administrative juggling, so nothing to really gripe about. I countered the negativity with the twin triumphs of sorting out my Dad's printer for his 50th & that I had read stackloads of Marcus Aurelius in the past 8 hours.

Dictionaries R Gud

It has been an all too frequent occurrence that I find a word in English that I simply do not know the meaning of. There have been many to slip through the net (as in, 'oh, I'll look that up tomorrow', as if I could ever find it again....), so from now on I am intending to write them down as I find them on a little A5 pad next to my reading chaise longue.