Tuesday, June 30, 2009

i noticed at work they have an ethics policy. they force us to sign it. is that freaking ethical. idiots.

Monday, June 29, 2009

my legs are healing, badly scared but functional, i am alive and kicking, my mind seems to be in overdrive after being shattered, i've been in rehearsing with the deep fix. i have a band, we are four.
louis plays sax, he plays like a jazz demon, a wailing devil renegade, he's a fallen angel, a really decent chap and appears to have great taste in music being a hawk wind fan and having knowledge of jan gabbrick and oscar peterson, two of my fave musicians. he's an old master, i can see his history in his eyes, like a fabulous furry freak brother, i recognize a familiar.
then there's nevin who played with us for the first time this sunday, and like the icing on a cake it all came together. his guitar was a texture that i would say blends in as the missing ingredient. he plays in the shadows, much like i would, he uses feel and intuition, he is a sonic energy magician wielding wavelength like a warrior. he's got some strange amplifier accessory filled with effects and buttons, he gets sound that doesn't sound like a guitar, he gets the deep fix.
and then there's val, the alchemist who seems to take my raw materials and somehow get something greater from them, i don't know but he's a master at intuitively getting me. a very rare thing in my life. and this is what i think the deep fix is. it's intuition.
i gotta learn my words and i gotta put together some film, a difficult task in itself because i really want the visual part to work well. i have to create this, manifest.

speaking about manifesting things my experiments with lottery tickets is still ongoing. a short recap.
over the last five years i have taken to buying a lottery ticket at least once every month. and i never spend more than 10 dollars. i vary the game, there are so many i just enter the ones with big prizes. each time i buy a ticket i win, 9 times out of 10. however i never win more than i spend on the ticket. i seem to average about $7. once i won $14 but that never repeated itself.
last week i won $7 again. i'm going to have to try to change something but im not sure what, i like winning but i wanna win more than i spend so that it counts for something substantial as a verification of personal power. i've been playing with these ideas of lottery tickets for years as part of my experiments with magick and chaos. to me it seems like a great test for random effect to be influenced but some intent. and using a home made concoction of chaos theory and crowley and tantra i seem to be getting somewhere but not far enough. it is time to change something in the formula but i have no idea what.

i've just finished The Night Sessions, the new book from Ken MacLeod. In it he gives us a near future where we finally have got rid of religion. its a detective story played out in scotland and a new zealand christian theme park but there's robots and space elevators in the mix. great ending very satisfying.

Monday, June 22, 2009

okay what's the sweet and lowdown. i'm strangely disoriented, my brain is in some kind of alternative speed, it's functioning way ahead of the rest of my life. my mind is displaced, it's operating in a different space, somewhere elusive, difficult to pin down, it's slightly dangerous. i watched a documentary on christianity in africa, fringe christianity, where local priests believe absolutely in evil, however they think that evil exists in children who are witches or wizards. so rife is this belief that hundreds of children are tortured and mentally sexually abused as part of the exorcism. the documentary showed a lone english chap who goes around helping these kids and he's set up some sort of shelter and school, yet he gets no assistance from the government or church. we saw graphic images of the physical marks left by the torture, we met with many children brainwashed into believing they are evil after spending years being fucked over by these adults, these poor kids have no other life, they are eventually cast away or imprisoned under the churches.
then we meet these so called christians who are nothing but jumped up charlatans exploiting peoples fear and charging cash for the so called treatment, the banishing of the demonic forces.
i was very depressed after watching this, i was angry and cynical about humanity's chances and also wondered if we actually deserved a chance. at least there's one chap out there trying to change this situation. he is representative of humanity but even he was on an edge, almost over the line.
anyways my body feels numb although pain in my legs indicates at least something. healing i'm told.

so mike jackson is dead, i was never a fan, indifferent to his dance moves, video, music and plastic face antics. he could do what he wants to me it was all kinda silly. i do feel sorry for his monkey.
edukation needs a revelution, here's a man who i think should lead it, i read his book and advocate his veiws fully. i was a victim of skool system fucking me over, yet here i am, an ultra intelligent specimen with an over active imagination, a glorious under achiever. somewhat lost in this strange land of maths and logic.

KERRY O'BRIEN, PRESENTER: Kevin Rudd's promised education revolution was a key part of his election victory, an agenda that includes benchmarking schools and raising teacher standards. But a leading expert on education, creativity and innovation who advises governments and major global corporations says that most education systems around the world are still modelled on the needs of the industrial age, and if anything, are getting even narrower.

Sir Ken Robinson chaired a high-powered commission for the Blair Government to define an education strategy for the future. He's since been knighted for services to the education and the arts. Sir Ken Robinson has just written a book called 'The Element' which draws on the stories of a wide range of very successful people whose talents went unnoticed at school.

I've interviewed him at length while he's in Sydney for a conference, and because of the interest in the topic, we're going to run that interview over two nights. Tonight, part one.

Ken Robinson, you tell the stories of a number of famous people whose traditional education failed to help them identify their real talents before they went on to brilliant careers, Paul McCartney, for instance: you say he went through his entire education without anyone noticing he had any musical talent at all. Are you saying that's a common story?

KEN ROBINSON, EDUCATION & CREATIVITY EXPERT: Yes. I mean, I don't mean to say that you have to have failed at school before you can be a success, but an awful lot of people who did well after school didn't do well in school. Paul McCartney went to school in Liverpool and, as you say, he went through the whole of his education there and nobody thought he had any musical talent. One of the other people in the same music group - music class - was George Harrison, the lead guitarist of The Beatles, and he went through school as well and nobody noticed had any talent. So I was saying this recently that this one teacher in Liverpool in the '50s had half The Beatles in his class and he missed it. And the point about this is that, you know, talent is often buried deep; it's not lying around on the surface, but our education systems at the moment are still very focused on a certain type of ability, and the result is very many brilliant people are marginalised by the whole process.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But it's also true that we can't all be Paul McCartney or some other famous person with a brilliant career ahead of us. But are you saying that there is a sweet spot in all of us where our talents intersect with our passions and that that is not being mined, is not being found, is not being looked for?

KEN ROBINSON: Yes, that's exactly the point. And, the thing is, I've interviewed a lot of people for the book, and, you know, there was a time when Paul McCartney, so to speak, was not Paul McCartney. You know, it isn't that all these people were born as celebrities; they achieved some celebrity because of pursuing their own particular talent and their passion. And I do think we all have that in us, yeah. The people achieve their best when they firstly tune into their natural aptitudes - and lots of people I have interviewed aren't musicians, they're mathematicians, they're business leaders, they're teachers, they're broadcasters, you know, they've found this thing that the completely get. But the second thing is that they love it. And if you can find that - a talented and a passion - well that's to say you never work again. And it is true, I think, that our current education systems are simply not designed to help people do that. In fact an awful lot of people go through education and never discover anything they're good at at all.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Well in fact one of the things you argue is that in many cases it's not just that their talents aren't discovered, but they're actually driven away from those talents.

KEN ROBINSON: Yes, I think they are in some respects. I mean, I'm always keen to say this, you know, but we're all born with immense natural abilities and talents. But they tend to be inhibited as we get older. I write a lot about creativity. And I came across this great story which I'm very fond of a little girl who was in a drawing class. And her teacher said she normally didn't pay attention, but in the drawing class she did. It was a six year old kid. And she said she spent about 20 minutes huddled over this piece of paper. And the teacher went over to her and said, "What are you drawing?" And the girl said, "I'm drawing a picture of God.” And the teacher said, "But nobody knows what God looks like." And the girl said, "They will in a minute." I love that.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Is that a girl who's just oblivious of her boundaries, or is ...

KEN ROBINSON: Well it illustrates two things for me. One is that we're all born with tremendous creative confidence and abilities. Young children are full of great ideas and possibilities. But that tends to be suppressed as we get older. And it happens in part through this culture of standardised testing that I think is now a blight on the whole of education. But the second thing is that we all think and learn differently. I mean, some people are highly visual; you know, some think best when they're moving; some think best when they're listening; some people respond well to words, some people don't. And getting the best from kids in schools is about understanding the way they think, as well as what it is they're supposed to be thinking about. And I think that's also why some people get through the whole of their education and don't discover themselves at all.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But how does a teacher in a classroom of 30 kids manage to adapt their teaching methods to all of those different traits in different kids who might require a different approach?

KEN ROBINSON: Well, that, to me, is the whole business of teaching. You know, every education system in the world currently is being reformed. I know it's true here in Australia, but it's true wherever you go - Asia, Europe, America. And it's happening for two reasons. One of them is economic; everybody's trying to figure out, you know, as parents and as employers and as students, how on Earth do you educate people to find a productive life in the 21st Century, you know, when all the economies are shifting faster than we've known them. So the economic thing is really important. But it's also about culture, you know, about how do you give people a sense of identity and what do they need to know to be literate and fluent in these extraordinary times as well. The thing is that most reform movements are looking backwards; they're looking back to the old system that was the result of the industrial revolution.

KERRY O'BRIEN: When you talk about the narrowness of education systems now, if you look at the secondary school system in Australia, there are compulsory strands like English, maths and science, but there's also a big range of other subjects that kids can choose from to complete their course, a lot of electives. Isn't that going to help students, teachers and parents to discover and nurture the talents of their child? Aren't there some kids who are never going to do well in a structured school system?

KEN ROBINSON: Well, my starting premise is that every one of us - all our children - have great natural abilities and talents and they're all unique. And that education clearly has to cover some common ground for everybody. You know, we all need to learn to read and write and so on. But there's much more than that. You know, it always has distressed me that most education systems have this hierarchy - you know, maths and science at the top and languages. And they're very important. And then, the humanities and the arts somewhere near the bottom. Well, you know, that all seems OK, except that when money gets short, you know, when politicians talk about tightening their belts and raising standards, they always focus on these top, apparently, subjects of maths and science and languages. Well, they're very important. But so is music and dance and art and poetry and all the things that the arts teach, and humanities and history, and all of those things which speak to the nature of what it is to be a human being and to be able to make your way in the world. And a lot of the work I've done hasn't been to argue against sciences and maths but to say we need a balance here. Some kids really excel in mathematics and some don't. And they should have the opportunity to do other things, not as a default, but as an entitlement. Because what ends up happening is we get this narrow focus.

I ran a big commission in the UK on creative education, and we had scientists on the group, we had Nobel Prize winners, we had economists, we had musicians, we had dancers, two comedians. And what was interesting was that when they came to talk about the process of creativity, it was the same in every discipline, and also that these things interact. You know, some of our greatest scientists have been inspired by the arts and some of our best artists work on deeply scientific principles.

See, what I think we need here is a different conversation about education. You know, we are still always locked into this conversation about the old system. And all attempts to improve will be like getting a better steam engine. What we really need is to rethink some of the basic terms of the conversation. We need to get back to what it is that drives people to learn and achieve in the first place, and that's what we've lost. And if we know anything about education, it's all about individuals, it's personal. You know, I can't think there's a kid in Australia who gets out of bed in the morning wondering what they can do to raise their province’s reading standards. You know, it's about them and energising them. I think the problem often is that politicians think it's like bailing out the auto industry. It's like refining a manufacturing process. And it's not; it's about cultivating individual passions and talents. And if we don't get that right, nothing else will ever work.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And you've also got a bureaucracy which is endeavouring to take policy that comes from the government and fashioning it in a way that will work through a system covering a state or a nation, and you've got a principal who might have a school of 1,000 kids that they've got to pump through that system. Now, I just wonder, how much you can allow for individuality and how much personal attention you can have from teachers and pupils and how much diversity you can really encourage.

KEN ROBINSON: You can't achieve educational improvement for everybody with a standard template. In the end, you know, every child goes to a particular school, works in a particular classroom with particular teachers. You know, this doesn't happen in the committee rooms of Canberra. This happens in these neighbourhoods with these kids. And great head teachers always knew that. And what I would like to see is politicians giving teachers room to breathe and do the job they're being paid for. And instead what they aim to do is to try and make education teacher-proof, as if it's all machine minding.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But part of the process is actually the teacher training as well, isn't it?

KEN ROBINSON: It is, absolutely. You see, his is the heart of it, if I can say this, that if you think of it, there are several big bits to education. One of them is the curriculum, which is what it is we want people to learn; then there's teaching, which is how we help them to do it; and assessment, which is how we make some judgments about how they're getting on. What policymakers tend to do is focus on the curriculum and then they focus on maths, science and languages, and leave the rest. And then they go to assessment and they do standardised tests, as if the whole thing were like pumping out widgets. And the bit they leave is the only bit that will ever make a difference which is the quality of teaching.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Do you think that because we are, all of us, going through a technological revolution, we're going through a revolution to which we can't see an end, that there is so much anxiety in the community, and so much of that anxiety gets focused on the children and their education, that the parents themselves are overreacting? That the anxiety kind of ends up with a misdirection?

KEN ROBINSON: Yes, I think that's true to a degree. The reason we can't see an end to this revolution is because there is no end to it. You know, it's being driven by new technologies which are becoming faster, more insistent and more pervasive. I mean, I was told recently by some people at Apple that the most powerful computer on Earth at the moment has the processing power of a brain of a cricket. I don't know how they know that, you know, but - I don't know any crickets. But it's an attractive ...

KERRY O'BRIEN: Or haven't spoken to any.

KEN ROBINSON: And they don't reply. But what they mean is that computers look really smart, but they're not; they're just rapid calculators. But within a relatively short amount of time, maybe five years, the most powerful computers on Earth will have the processing power, they say, of the brain of a six month old baby. And I said, "Well, what does that mean?" And they said, "Well, at that point, computers will be capable of learning." I said, "Which means what?" And they say, "Well, it means they'll be able to rewrite their own operating systems in the light of their experiences." Well that's Skynet, isn't it? For anyone who's seen Terminator. I mean, that's - in other words, computers effectively will star to think for themselves at some point.

Now, that's only one bit of what's going on. You combine that with what's happening in the genome, you know with what we're finding out more about the body and how it works, how it breaks down, how that can be stopped. Combine that with the crisis in the climate, you know with water supply and all the rest. There are factors at play now for which there is no precedent in the whole of human history. And the idea that we can deal with all of that by raising results and standardised tests of reading is nonsense. I don't mean we shouldn't do that too. But the one thing we have as human beings is this extraordinary power of imagination and creativity and the ability to solve problems as well as to deal with ones that we've just created. So, this isn't some whimsical idea.

I mean, I always think this: are kids who start school this year in Australia in primary school will be retiring round about 2070. You know, nobody has a clue what the world will look like this time next year, let alone 2070. So, yes, parents are concerned and they're right to be concerned. I'm concerned. I've got two kids. But I'm concerned that they get an education which is tailored to these circumstances rather than the ones that obtained 150 years ago.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And we'll have part two of that interview with Sir Ken Robinson tomorrow night where he looks at some of the schools that he is impressed with.

Ken Robinson, I know you go into detail on some schools and school systems that have impressed you in your book. So, what real schools do come close to your ideal?

KEN ROBINSON, EDUCATION & CREATIVITY EXPERT: What great teachers know, what great parents know, what great head teachers know is that every school is different and every class is different. You have to create conditions where people give of their best. So I find great schools everywhere. There are some wonderful schools. There's a great school in Los Angeles, a brilliant teacher who's a theatre teacher, a drama teacher who's been there for over 25 years teaching a majority of kids who don't speak English as a first language. The vast majority of them now go on to college. And he teaches them by putting on Shakespeare productions.

What I find is that head teachers are critical in schools, like college presidents are essential in universities and in political systems. Leadership is really important from every point of view. I mean, look what's happening in America at the moment: that shift from the last presidency to the current one. There's been a total change of mood because people take their cue from the tone of the leadership. And it's true in every system I know. If you find a school where a head teacher gets it, anything is possible, and I mean that literally. A lot of schools do things they don't have to do because they believe they're required to do them, and they don't. I mean, I don't think - I can't speak in detail of all the legislation in Australia, obviously not, but I doubt that there's anywhere in the legislation for education in Australia that tells high schools they have to have 40 minute periods, you know, six a day, you know, over five days.

KERRY O'BRIEN: There's probably a bureaucracy above them that tells them that.

KEN ROBINSON: There's probably an assumption it has to be that way. Or that science teachers can't work with music teachers, you know. Or that all these things have to happen every day. All the schools I know that are achieving a lot are prepared to question the routines they've taken for granted for years and try something else. There's a great school I know in - actually in the UK, a primary school, where the head teacher abandons the curriculum every Friday and they run a small internal university. So they have 30 or 40 classes available which any kid can go to, provided they go for an eight week series. But some of these classes are taught by the kids and the teachers go to them, because the kids often know more than the teachers do about some certain - some aspects of the new technologies, especially just now. So it's about finding freedom within the system as well as changing the system in the long term.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Tell me briefly about that.

KEN ROBINSON: Pixar, you know, the animation company, which I went to a while ago, has a very interesting model. It's called the Pixar University. And, you know, Pixar's a wildly successful company in the field of animation. One of the reasons is they have this internal university which operates a program of courses, seminars, lectures, workshops. What's distinctive about the company is that anybody in the Pixar staff can go to any part of the Pixar university, which happens of the same campus, for four hours a week of salary time. And it has couple of really interesting effects. One is that there's a constant flow of new ideas running through the company, which has shown itself in the constant originality of the work they do. But the second is because anybody can go to anything, it means that people across the company keep running into each other. So, you know, people from the animation department might be sitting in a seminar with people from accounts or from the catering part. So everybody's discussing the company and understands the whole culture of the company. Google has something very interesting as well and similar in the way it drives its own innovation. So, I was telling this head teacher about it and he said, you know, "That's a great idea. Why do we just have that in companies? Why don't we have one in primary schools?" So they set this up. It's called the Grange University, it's on a Friday and anybody can go to anything.

KERRY O'BRIEN: The Reggio system in Italy, which began in the '60s, has impressed you too. Why?

KEN ROBINSON: Yes. Because it's - I always find this kind of axiomatic. I mean, they practice what generally people call "child-centred education". And I think, well, why would you even call it that? I mean, what else could it be? But they give kids a very structured environment in which they can play, think creatively and work collaboratively. And the whole village is involved in it, in Reggio. And you see similar principles in other systems. Some, like Montessori and Steiner and Waldorf all have different takes on it. But the premise is the same: that in early years education, children need time to play, to socialise, to try new things out and to let their imaginations run. And what they find of course is not that this puts these kids at a disadvantage, but that they learn with a greater appetite later on.

KERRY O'BRIEN: You've identified the syndrome you called the "cram school", which you say is flourishing all over the world, where small children are essentially drilled in the basics - maths, English and so on - to give them a competitive edge over other kids. What's your view on that?

KEN ROBINSON: This cramming thing is really worrying, I think, because it assumes that if our children follow the path we followed and that we know how that's going to work, all will come right for them. And the whole purpose really of the book I've written is to show that it won't, that we need to think differently.

But I'll give you - I mean, a good example of it. I live in Los Angeles. And not long after I arrived there, about eight years ago, I saw a policy paper which said - I think the title - well, I know it was. The title was 'College begins in kindergarten'. No it doesn't. I mean, if we had more time, I could go into this, but it doesn't. You know, kindergarten begins in kindergarten. You know, but - there was a friend of mine who once said he ran a great theatre company for kids. He said a three-year-old is not half a six-year-old. A six-year-old is not half a 12-year-old. They're three. You know, but in some parts of the world - I'm sure this is true in the big metropolitan centres in Australia, kids are being interviewed for kindergarten. I mean, what are they hoping to find out? What are they looking for at the interview? You know, evidence of infancy.

KERRY O'BRIEN: But at the floor of all of this is ambition, and behind the ambition is anxiety.

KEN ROBINSON: It is exactly that, yes. And I'm saying that the problem is it manifests itself very often in parents, in my view, pushing their kids in the wrong direction, pushing them against the grain of their talent, you know, because the assumption is we've got to keep them at the program, they've got to do conventional academic work, they've got to go to a good university, they've got to do a law degree. And presumably the assumption is once we've all got law degrees, the whole world will get back on its axis. But the truth is, people's lives are not linear like that. They develop much more organically. And many of the people I interviewed for the book - I'm sure it's been true of your life, you know, that people have got to where they have got by following their particular talents and interests and passions. And so what I'm arguing for is that at the heart of our education systems, of course we need high standards, of course we need to cover common ground, but instead of promoting conformity, we should be promoting diversity of talent.

KERRY O'BRIEN: There are also people who might be very successful in one field, and it might be in science, or it might be in business, but they also play piano on the side, or go home and thrash their guitar or something, or they paint. So it is possible for people to pursue what you might call a conventional education and pursue a conventional career, but at the same time indulge other creative aspects of their lives on the side.

KEN ROBINSON: Well I think the word indulge is interesting here.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Well, to them it's a hobby or it's an outlet or a release.

KEN ROBINSON: Yeah. But I don't think indulge is quite the right word for it because what we need to - for all of us we need to get is some sense of balance and proportion in the lives that we lead. You know, the - the analogy I always draw is people have become used to the idea now, and quite rightly, I hope we don't ever get too used to it - to the idea that there is a crisis in the world's natural resources. I mean, there is. It seems to me beyond dispute that there are some serious strains happening in the world's natural environment. But I think what this conversation is about is that there is a similar crisis in the world's human resources. That many people, in my experience, go through their whole lives doing work they're not very interested in, just bumping along because they happen to have wandered into it, with no great enthusiasm, waiting for the weekends. And, you know, much to the pleasure of the drug companies and the alcohol companies, you know, to keep them buoyant. But I also meet people who love what they do and couldn't imagine doing anything else. And you don't have to be Paul McCartney for that or to be a Nobel scientist. I meet people in all walks of life, you know, firemen, people who work in teaching, in every type of industry, every type of profession. And if you said to them, "Don't do that anymore," they would be outraged, "But I love this. This is what I want to do. This is who I am."

KERRY O'BRIEN: Assuming the core of what you say is true, how much responsibility should the corporate world take for the failures of the education systems that you're identifying? Are corporations also too narrow in their thinking about encouraging creativity, identifying talents and so on, because often governments will quote business as to why they should be strengthening those basic discipline of maths and science and so on.

KEN ROBINSON: Well I think this is the big irony, you know, that a lot of these restrictions on education are being forced on education by governments acting in what they believe to be the interests of the economy. You know, you say, "Well, why are we doing this?" "Well, because we have to be competitive." Well, if we know anything it's that the real driver of creativity and innovation is imagination and diversity, and those things are essential to competitiveness. You know, I mean, I live in the States, and the States - America is learning some hard lessons at the moment about the competition coming from the rest of the world, from Asia, from Europe. I'm from England originally, and I was saying this recently at an event in America, that if you had gone to the court of Queen Victoria in the middle of the 19th Century and said, "You know, by the way this empire on which the sun never sets will be over in the early part of the next century, like within 40 years," You'd have been laughed out of the building 'cause it seemed so improbable. You know, the country had the largest navy, military, economic engine, dominant language, colonialism. But it was all done within a generation pretty much. And the same I think is true of all of our countries. There's a constant rising and falling of merits and of advantage. So nobody has a secure place here. And it's particularly true in the economy. Some of the world's biggest corporations have failed in the past few years, and many more will go and some will emerge. A lot of our kids will be working in companies that haven't been invented yet in industries we haven't thought of. So, innovation isn't some soft-edged liberal idea, it's an essential economic imperative.

KERRY O'BRIEN: And the key to all of that is imagination and you're saying that our systems. as we know them, our education systems, are at least as much about suppressing imagination as they are about encouraging it.

KEN ROBINSON: Yes, and we could re-engineer that. We could revivify education we did this deliberately. And corporations have a big responsibility here because they need to stand up and start to say politically what I know they say to me all the time, which is we need people who can think differently. And if we get that message - if we get that connection between economic, personal and social development, then we will have the revolution that we've been waiting for.

KERRY O'BRIEN: Ken Robinson, we could go on, but that's where we'll have to leave it. Thanks very much for talking with us.

KEN ROBINSON: Thank you. It was a pleasure. Thank you.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

i awake in hospital, my feet and hands are bandaged up. i have two intravenous feeds going into each arm. a nurse sits by my side, she looks happy to see me.
'mission you're awake.'
'where the fuck am i?'
'your in mona vale hospital, you were brought in saturday morning. five days ago.'
'am i dead?'
'no mission. your not. it was close though. you had a very bad infection through your body. everything okay now. you just need some time to heal and for your body to repair.'
'i recall being in a dream, the future, another place.'
'mmm, you are on a lot of morphine, that can sometimes effect dreams. makes them very vivid.'
'yeah vivid.'

so old captain mission is in hospital, well now discharged and enjoying being at home. the nurses come twice a day to change my dressings and bandages, they stick thermometers under my tongue and take my blood pressure. then they hook up an iv feed to my indoor plant and me and about 500 mls of antibiotic goes up my arm. i fade in and out of sleep, i read alister reynolds book. 'the house of suns' blows my mind. i can feel the atoms being repelled away from one another, traveling like a super collider shooting them in all directions, apart, its quite an experience. 'house of suns' is gigantic in scope, it's brilliant and satisfying.
then i start 'pushing ice' again reynolds takes you there, another amazing story this time closer to home, although as i turn the pages im traveling further and further away, he takes me into the unknown, he is space travel.

Friday, June 12, 2009

it was obvious that we were in the hands of some ulterior motive. the earth was now a distant blue spot in space, even the moon appeared distant as our familiar corner of the galaxy slipped away. there was little point in struggling with the situation, we were resigned to the arrival of a destination unknown and to a mystery.
'i calculate we are traveling close to the speed of light.'
'yes. i thought so to but then i thought you said we were on a case looking for a missing girl.'
'i'm sorry, i had no idea, everything seemed ligit. i guess there's not much we can do but wait.'
'mmm, i can think of something, just to pass time.' stella said with a sparkle in her eyes that matched the stars.

although time was dilating around us we must have travelled in that sphere for several hours before it started to decelerate. we were heading towards what looked like a small city on what we both saw was europa. saturn's rings on the east cut through space in a band of dust and rock, a purple cloud of atmosphere obscured the moons surface.
there was a slight tremor, then the vessel stopped.
a band of light entered as an opening appeared and there before us was a little girl and, her parents, my clients.

we walked into a small high ceilinged area where we were given a seat and offered food and wine. the mother took my hand as she sat opposite me.
'i'm sorry to have abducted you and your friend like this, but when you hear why you will understand.'
'yes an explanation would be appreciated.'
the mother spoke, soft and clear, her voice educated with wear and tear and time.
'the high levels existed for many hundreds of years, far above the lows, our society diverged in a totally different path, we had access to wealth and resources and the pursuit of material things began to appear mindless, we looked inwards at our culture and lives and began to ask the perennial philosophical questions. science and technology were redirected towards our endeavors and about 400 years ago we came to the conclusion that human beings were a failed experiment, we had spent 40000 years evolving very slowly towards annihilation and decadence, there was very little to be proud of. sure we had build these beautiful tall buildings but so had termites, we had created symphonies and cathedrals but these so had whales and one could say that nature is a cathedral made without hands. the beauty of a river or a lake as the sun rises, the numinous exists all round. yes humans were really not that wonderful our destructive natures outbalance the constructive side of ourselves, and like all species that reach an evolutionary dead end we were moving towards extinction. our birth rates declined, our endeavors in philosophy and religion stagnated and eventually we reached that state of decay, entropy.'
stella interjects, ' you paint such a bleak picture, why do you need a reason for anything, the animals don't need a reason they just are. your mistake is you think your better than the animals.'
she had a good point.
'we learnt quickly that we were facing the end of humanity.'
'what about us on the lower level. are we not human?'
she laughed, 'of course but you live on the scraps we throw down, if we die then you will follow, there's been no progress in the lower levels for 50 years what makes you think there ever will be.'
'just becuase there has been no progress does not mean it will never occur, after all one could apply the same rules to your level.'
'yes well we do.' she smiled and there was a moment for me to gaze around the strange room. it was bathed in soft light that came from no observable source, there were no windows or natural lighting, just a weird clinical feel to everything, the chairs we sat on were comfortable but functional, no style really, nothing, no traces of habitation. it were as if we sat in a waiting room.
'the upper levels have ascended. as you have.'
'ascended? what the fuck does that mean?'
another smile and then her words.
'it means you are dead.'

Saturday, June 06, 2009

up there in the clouds, blue skies and natural light envelop us, we are mesmerized, a momentary vertigo takes hold. you must understand that after years on the surface we are overwhelmed by the experience. tears in our eyes.
the lift is a transparent sphere, it travels super fast until it gets to the beginning of the second level where it starts to slow down. we soak up the view, she's pointing at things on the ground, i can make out familiar streets and see plumes of smoke rising. it's filthy down there.
as we ascend we check our weapons. in all probability they will be removed from us as we enter the high levels.
the access portol of the lift is a domed building in the red light district, it is guarded by a force feild and the automated security is beyond understanding let alone explaination, the high levels technology is far more advanced than the low level, it's basically magick. we were given a hundred numerical algorithm that allowed us through the field into the sphere only the numbers were in a form of symbols, lucy's parents were going to meet us at the high level portal and give us the exit symbol. however we were now up in the atmosphere far above the surface, looking upwards i could only see clouds.
we exchanged a look, something was very wrong. we were leaving the earths atmosphere.
the sphere suddenly darkened and became opaque, there was a small screen shaped like a long rectangle and we stared in disbelief as the earth receeded in the distance. what the fuck!

Thursday, June 04, 2009

i wander the city a monument to misery with all it's blood soaked history and conflicting power struggles and shattered dreams in downward spiral, the corporate nightmare in four dimensions, the junkies and the prostitute children, the mavericks and the resolute, the sinners and the saints the television queens and the kings of empires. here where the children are born grown up, the pennies trickle down from skyscrapers build from blood and this criminal elite with cameras on every corner of every street, monitoring suffering and sickness as they brain wash us with political beliefs and hope for the hopeless.
i blend with the shadow, merge with he dark, i'm neither here nor there, no one knows me, no one cares to ask, no body ever questioned a man who is not there. i have my resources my survival needs are few, i'm paid in cold cash for services that lay under the radar, i don't have an id that you could authenticate, i'm only found by those with the ability to locate, i'm not for public consumption or the market would collapse, my energy is lethal, i'm the psychic detective, you can call me mission.

i've lived to long amongst men, their corruption betrays like the stench of an ugly dog.
i'm forlorn with their behavior and contradictory ways, i'm aghast at the horror, just like kurtz, i'm adrift in my own madness, devoid of constructs imposed or propositioned, here in my own landscape there is no discrepancy, i am the purest anarchist, true only to myself and that is a lie.
i saw them struggle to build a society, a civilization we can be proud off, ha! instead we get this new babylonian testament to . where the corporation reflects the individual at his psychotic worst, the puncture through the mind set reeling the truth can only hurt. a place where every man scavenges around in competition with the rats.
this planet is ravaged by greed as its ancient wonders are plucked, the trees ripped from their fabric, the oceans plundered, the environment rebels and time slips faster towards the event horizon, while people are blinded by plasma tricks and microwave ovens and reality tv shows and newspaper lies. but the fools at the bottom drink their arena games and suck down amber fluids to numb the pain.

i read their minds like the pages of trashy novels, throwaway lives, dedicated to misery, the sadness weeps out from under the skin, like a cloud of gas escaping. old women with broken souls wander the streets pushing shopping trolleys with possessions and memories of a life they once had, while men drink in bars to forget something they can't recall. the ground level is where no sunlight gets in, dark and musty and avenues lined with decomposing corpses and scavengers. there's rats that roam in broad day light, some on their hind legs, some even speak, some are even bilingual.
why just last night when i was trawling the streets working a case i stumbled onto a vampyre sucking a midnight feast from some poor girl, he had already torn open her heart and was draining her dry, i could see her eyes flicker as she took her final breath, i could read her last thought, 'peace.' i could see her soul rise. the vampyre being fed and recognizing me stepped back into the darkness in fear. even children of the night fear me. for when your darkest thoughts are laid bare and exposed what else is left, the truth is an ugly beast kept hidden under masks, even the wretched fear exposure. their fatal flaws revealed, their shame known.

the case i was working on was tricky, a rich couple had tracked me down at the old library building. it was a standard missing persons case, their daughter an twelve year old, last seen on the upper levels of the city, where the affluent inhabit, they get natural sunlight up there, they get real food to, and the few times i've been up there i see the way they live, despising the lower level, a class structure built on hate. two extreme lifestyles, one living upon the blood sweat and tears of the other, just like every other place, to many people down ere in the squalor and a handful of people up there in society.

the girls name was lucy, it would be her birthday tomorrow, which meant i knew where to look for her.
the parents were frightened. they were nervous as my reputation was whispered in nefarious circles, they had managed to find me which is the reason i took the case. i needed some opium as well. they would give me a years supply which seemed a deal favored in my direction seeing as i knew where to look for lucy.

down ere amongst the low life, there are many communities, societies and cults. mostly unsavory. a particularly nasty one was the 'oblique sphere' an occult group who had a reputation of sacrificing virgins, particularly on the eve of their thirteenth birthday. when i was assigned to the dark crimes squad in the old days i came across their modus operandi but the cases were always unsolved because missing persons had become as blasé as jay walking and dark crimes were moving more into corporate and cyber crimes as resources dwindled. the idea of a police force was about as worthwhile as attempting to control the tide with a pencil. eventually the dark crimes squad just kinda dissipated into me and the secretary stacy and the chief who was not really human. one day i signed in and we all sat around drinking coffee pondering the futility of carrying on, it was agreed that all things considered it was best if we all cut our losses and walked away. that was seven years ago. history.

now i had about 14 hours to find young lucy, i had two places to go, one was above ground and one was under ground, i didn't want to waste time so i consulted the i ching.

After a time of decay comes the turning point. The powerful light that has
been banished returns. There is movement, but it is not brought about by force.
The old is discarded and the new is introduced. Both measures accord with the time;
therefore no harm results. Societies of people sharing the same views are formed.
But since these groups come together in full public knowledge and are in harmony
with the time, all selfish separatist tendencies are excluded, and no mistake is
made. The idea of RETURN is based on the course of nature. The movement is cyclic,
and the course completes itself. Therefore it is not necessary to hasten anything
artificially. Everything comes of itself at the appointed time. This is the meaning
of heaven and earth.
the moving line read.

Six in the second place means:
Quiet return. Good fortune.

Return always calls for a decision and is an act of self-mastery. It is made
easier if a man is in good company. If he can bring himself to put aside pride
and follow the example of good men, good fortune results.

as usual it was ambiguous but my enhanced intuition understood it immediately, i was going up, but i would respect the moving line and find good company to assist. besides i was looking for a reason to call stella, we had unfinished business.

stella had a gig training people in combat, i found her at her makeshift office, she had her head buried in something, her hands clasping a few precision instruments and a spot light attached to her head, she was playing with a new gun.
'it's a pulse gun, evaporates you from the inside, i'm calibrating it, very delicate job let me tell you.' her head stayed focused on task.
'i need your services stella, i'll pay you cash upfront.'
'oh yeah, if i had a dollar for every guy that said that.'
'stella, it's a case. oblique sphere.'
that got her attention.

we were drinking whiskey in her office, a small room crammed with weapons and old magazines of exotic holidays in tropical places.
'you planning a trip.'
'i always wanted a place in he sun, you know the real sun.'
'yeah, every one wants a place in the sun stella.'
stella drinks her whiskey like a man.
'i'm going to get out of this shit hole one way or another, its only a matter of time.'
we reminisce a bit, she gets sentimental when we talk about the cases we solved, she likes going over her kills. half a bottle later she's agreed to go up level with me. up level, the heights where the elite live is more dangerous than down here. up there you can't see your enemy coming.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

rained for forty years and forty days and nights, shopping malls submerged, the only thing entering them were the schools of fish, swimming down the isles of target and woolworth, the 7-11 inhabited by a family of crustaceans. i was living in my apartment on the 40th floor, we had quite a good space, some good tunes, some excellent reading materials and heaps of food we had stolen form a drifting ocean liner. sometimes my wife would throw a line out, over the balcony and catch a fish. i'd sometimes go out trading some thing for some grass. i liked my little luxuries.
news was scarce, trickles of information came to us, none was confirmed but eventually we gave up being interested. who cares that england and europe was underwater, who cared that the americas was un-populated due to some weird virus, who cared that the armies were attempting to restore order, we had our little community, me, the wife, some people across the hall and the few survivors holed up in their skyscrapers downtown. occasionally we would get together on the roof of the Haliburton corp building and have a party, drink some wines, smoke a joint and fish.
more often than not i spent days reading and cooking with athena. we would watch old dvds on the plasma and entertain ourselves with various games. i traded a box of canned beef for a beautiful 9mm. we had a cache of arms and strange weapons we had found in an underwater military base. athena and i tested most of them but they were a new breed of experimental weapons, intelligent weapons, it was nice to have a gun that didn't talk back. the 9mm became my fave. i took it everywhere.
nights we never went out, never left the apartment. it was to dangerous, nothing was illuminated, when it stopped raining though it was a full moon and we wandered out to the balcony to look at the water surface, and the strange scene of still glass like surface reflecting a gigantic moon. it was the first time we had ever known it not to rain.