Diary: Childhood, Imagination, Nature

constable.jpg

Today I have been looking after my niece. We have been wandering around the garden, examining insects – (all of which she idiosyncratically refers to as ‘Ladybugs’) – and I have every confidence that she will go on to be a pioneering entomologist!

It reminded me of how an appreciation of the natural world is innate in us, and only later lost, as our quest for pleasure becomes confined to silicon screens; consigned as useless because, while it may make us happy, it will not make us money or orgasms – better to get lost in the pulse of clubs and pornography, than listen to the jukebox of songbirds in succession.

There is a virtue to being a small child: from the vantage of your innocence and unworldly perspective, you look at things more closely, with a more immediate intensity; even seeing a single ant in motion was enough to make my niece gasp – when was the last time you gasped in wonder at something so small, it could be crushed by your little finger?

It reminded me of my own innate love for nature as a child. At Primary School, I always loved those activities that most involved interplay with other forms of life: catching crickets in the long-grasses; fishing for newts, insects, and fish with our nets in the pond – and if you ever had the good fortune to capture a frog, you were tantamount, for a day, to a king.

Now, as I write this, I am reclining on a sandy bank against a willow tree I have known since I was four. Its long, sinewy flanks lie horizontal on the river’s edge; and for its sheer clamberability, and adjacency to water, it was our imaginal ‘Pirate Ship’ when we were children. We would climb its limbs, improvising stories – the River Usk a gateway to the rollicking high seas.

This again shows how natural creativity is – the desire to ‘make things up’ – the eternal art of story-telling. For so many of our ancestors, whether read from a book, improvised, or from memory, the relating of stories would have formed much of the entertainment and social cohesion during idle hours – an opportunity for a whole family or community to be transported together into the past – into The Dream Time – into the bourn of other worlds.

Now, there is the sense that stories are only acceptable within the safe confines of a film or paperback novel – people seldom get together to tell stories anymore. It’s almost as though we fear fiction – we fear imagination – as though, if we do not keep it too tightly imprisoned within a well-ordered space, it may threaten to spill over into our reality, and stretch and warp it beyond our means of comprehension.

But reality and imagination are inseparable. Reality feeds imagination, and imagination ornaments and modifies reality. Nature is the collective dream of gods, daemons, and faeries; art, culture, and civilization are the hardened nightmares and fancies of women and men.

This is something that children intuitively understand. Nature is more than just a resource, a biologic reductionism, a house dead of green furnishings – it is the birth place of dreams. An ant is not just ant, but an introduction to an adventure – a flower is not just a flower, but a portal to another world.

And if you were infinitely small, and capable of falling into the cup of a bluebell as into a wormhole, who’s to say what worlds of magic iridescence you would endlessly discover?

 

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Karma Plate: New Articles

Kuan Yin

http://karmaplate.com/female-japanese-buddha/

http://karmaplate.com/buddhist-beliefs-buddha-teachings/

The two links above are for Karma Plate – a website on Positivity, Buddhism, and Meditation that I have been writing for for the past two weeks. Hope you like them!

Short Story: The Assassination of Abdul the Lech

Tartarus

Last I dreamt I was witness to an assassination.

I was roaming along a half-constructed and war-torn stretch of suspended highway out in the Middle East, where I had been hazily employed as a War Reporter.

Whilst taking a brief rest behind a pile of rubble, I observed a man – whom many of the locals held to be a holy man and saint of considerable repute – being beheaded by a well-known radical insurgent.

“What are you doing?” I asked, emerging from the somnolence of my detritus. “That man is a saint, highly revered by many of your people. Why did you kill him?”

The insurgent scoffed at me callously.

“This man was no saint, though he may have been called as much by many ignorant pigheads who didn’t have the sense to know better. He was a lecher, a rapist, and a slave-trader. Come – let me show you how he spent his days.”

Thanks to the elastic morphology of dreams, the hitman was able to transport me into the past, where I could experience several years in the life of Abdul the Lech.

This esteemed mystic lived in a corrugated tin warehouse of incredible squalor, piled up with junk and fluffy accumulations of asbestos-containing insulation materials, the carpet comprised of dirt and litter. The living conditions were unbearable. But the mystic, who shared it with many of his assistants, spent most of his time in a semi-conscious haze, completely oblivious to the scunge and rot that was his decor; most of his time expended lying in a dissolute, bilious state on the floor, incapacitated by nausea, and groaning and keening soundlessly into the ether.

Despite spending most of his time like prophet Ezekiel, lying paralyzed and sick on his side – I never once, in my tenure as the mystic, saw him engage in fornication –  Abdul was known to be an incorrigible and demented Casanova, sleeping with, and impregnating upwards of thirty women a day.

I asked the insurgent how this was possible.

“A man with Abdul’s power does not require a body to act. He projects many hybrid forms around the community, and uses them to enact his bidding, appearing in exactly the right form to seduce the unfortunate women he molests. He fabricates his semen out of dirt and demon spit. But this enterprise still costs him a lot of energy, which is why you see him in this recumbent, pathetic state. Return to him now and take a closer look.”

I did as the insurgent commanded.

Several months passed, and Abdul was still lying motionless on his left side. But a change had come over his grotty dwelling. The floor had begun to literally expand and distend, looking very gravid, with strange, tendril-like protuberances emerging from each lump, like the shoots of a sick onion plant. I recognised later that these tendrils were actually a species of organic antennae protruding from the heads of a new generation of women that were gestating there.

It seems that, again, thanks to some mysterious occult agency, Abdul, once he’d inseminated the women through the medium of his impish projections, was able to transfer the wombs that he had fertilized into the floor of his squalid chamber, where, I now realized, all the junk that was scattered therein was not arbitrary, but had actually been placed there deliberately, as a sort of necromantic manure, to the aid the children he had begotten to grow, without the envelopment of their mother’s body. Truly, these were not woman-born children, but children plucked straight from the chthonic depths of Tartarus, unwanted and despised, except by this mystic, who sought to exploit them.

Eventually, the soil and loam began to shift and quake as his children all rose at once from the pregnant earth.

Every child that he  bore was a fully-grown girl, about six feet in height, dressed in the sackcloth clothing as of some medieval peasant. They could have passed for impoverished, if not overgrown beggars, were it not for their mutated heads, which were cuboid in shape, the colour of decayed spring onion, with those ugly long tendrils pointed out of their heads. They produced an awful, unnameable smell, and bore wretched, termagant scowls on their faces. Despite this, I felt very sorry for them, and was disgusted that Abdul would have any part in bringing these tortured beings to life. It caused me pain to contemplate their unhappy existence, and I felt a deep loathing for this man whom before I had been willing to save.

The square-headed women crowded around Abdul with mania and glee. “How are you going to feed us?!” “When are you going to start working and get some money in?!” – that’s what they wanted to know.

They chased Abdul out of his house, and it was amazing to see him move so sprightly, given his extended lack of motility.

But here the flashback was abruptly cut off.

“What happened next?” I asked the insurgent with a morbid eagerness I was disgusted with myself for feeling.

“What you witnessed there,” he said, “was but a single turn in a cycle that this perverted man played out again and again many times in his life. No one really knows what he did with the women once he had born them. Some believe he slaughtered them just for the fun of it. But, judging from photographs and corpses I have had the privilege of autopsying, he mostly used these women to generate money by selling them to powerful people as slaves.”

“But I thought slavery had been abolished here?” I asked, somewhat naively.

“It has, on paper. But, as these women couldn’t readily be classified as of human origin, he is able to traffic them to whomever he likes, marketing them as ‘jinn’ or ‘ifrit’. From the analysis of their remains, I suspect that sexual abuse is a common occurrence.”

I was very close to throwing up.

“If this is his life you have just shown me, how is it that he earned a reputation as a holy man?”

The insurgent shrugged his shoulders.

“How is it that we knowingly allow evil, corrupt, genocidal maniacs to rule the world?” he asked me back, socratically. “Charisma and mythology can be an excellent disguise for just about every misdeed. How many clean-teethed celebrities do you think engage in child sacrifice on a daily basis?”

With this he left, taking a leap off the motorway.

I turned, threw up into the wreckage of a crashed car, and got out of there at once.

Short Story: The Blind Photographers of The Underground Temple

hermit

Photographers live principally underground.

Largely blind, with mole-like eyes, they feel their way along cavern walls, wearing dank sack-cloth robes.

Prior to becoming a photographer, all acolytes must have their eyes gouged out; once cauterized, their sockets are replenished with an unknown, semi-coagulated chemical – a milky, opaque quality to it – that half hardens, whilst still retaining its leakless fluidity – a dangerous, volatile chemical.

During periods of planetary conjunctions, these chemical pools within their eyes sockets begin to bubble and effervesce. The liquid heats up to a scalding intensity. Bilious streams of steam squeak out from behind their eyes. The heated liquid spatters out onto their skin, leaving them with a latticework of scars.

The periods of boiling are intensely painful. The deeper the pain, the deeper the photographers burrow, to try to hide their screams from others. But it is also when they experience their greatest inspirations. The pain drives them out of their ordinary consciousnesses: propelled into worlds where imagination is the ruler, they come back bewildered, inspired, haunted, raving at each other to try and convey their experiences; but, lacking the words to do so, they jabber at each other like a box of pixies, before better venting their madness through art.

Though blind, their sight is revived fourfold when a camera is placed before their eyes. At night, they rise to the surface of the world, and use their sacrificially enhanced sight to capture images beyond the ken of the surface-dwellers

Though the surface-dwellers can see, they are so weighed down by the worries of the world that everything to them just appears to be uniform and dull. This is where the acolytes come in – it is their responsibility to remind the world of the impenetrable colours surrounding them.

Only by blinding themselves, and withdrawing into the folds of darkness, can they show the sighted the wealth of what they have missed. They hide glossy magazines and 12X8’s outside their houses, in the hopes that this will one day inspire them to wake up.