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Posts to this blog (beginning in March of 2012) if read in sequence, should hopefully present the reader with a reasonably coherent and sequential narrative.

So… if you’re new to this blog, then I would suggest that you start by reading my first post by clicking here: or, you can do the same thing by going to the ‘Recent Posts’ section of the blog – located to the right of this message (under the ‘Subscribe’ box) – and click on ‘1. Setting the Scene‘.

If, after reading this first post, you’re still interested, then I suggest that you read through all the remaining posts in numerical sequence.

New posts have been appearing on this blog at regular intervals, on or around the last day of every month. But, after September 30, 2013, they might not be appearing here quite so regularly – particularly if there happens to be some interaction on the Forum section at the time. As, in order to give this material the attention that I believe it deserves, my own contributions will – almost certainly – take most of my available time to put together.  (To visit the Forum section of this blog – click on the ‘Forum’ tag at the top of the page or here)

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Remember though- before you start here – to please read the About page!

 

 

 

“Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.” – André Gide.

I have very recently, in the last couple of days, decided to split this post into two parts, as I am finding that it has become far too unwieldily for me to manage in quite the way that I would like.

This particular post will deal further with my experiences at ‘Working’; while my next post will deal with attempting to present various accounts of my attempts to engage with Eugene Halliday’s ideas on ‘Being here now’.

For the time being at least, these two post will be the last ones in which I will be dealing solely with these related ideas.

I should also add here, that although the contents of this particular post arose as a direct consequence of the comment Richard had posted at the end of my previous post (here), what I have written below is not intended to constitute a reply.

To begin then …

NOTE: At some point during this post I hope it will become clear to you why it is that, when I’m attempting to clarify what I mean (certainly in practice) by the terms, work (‘work/Work’) and working (‘working/Working’, I make use of both, the small-case ‘w’, and also the upper-case ‘W’.

If you maintain that you’re having real problems in coming to an appreciation of this ‘work/Work’ concept of Eugene Halliday’s (a situation that is understandable if you’re relatively new to his material; but difficult (at least for me) to appreciate if you claim to have been ‘working/Working’ – or ‘involving yourself’ with his ideas for a reasonable amount of time) then what I am suggesting below, is that the tackling of questions such as “Who is doing the work?” might be used to uncover a great deal of useful information – and perhaps even result in an increase in overall understanding here. Particularly if this subject is approached with questions that attempt to view it from a number of disparate (and maybe not quite so obvious) viewpoints.

I have used this approach myself a great deal over the years as a means of uncovering information concerning this, and also a variety of other subjects that have – one way or another – somehow managed to ‘take my fancy’.

I would claim that this approach is, in many ways (in part at least) similar to the one used in deconstructing texts. Particularly where I am attempting to discover any ‘gaps’ that I believe might be situated ‘around the periphery of’ the accepted meaning of the text(s) that I am examining.

This approach was one that I first began using as a consequence of the way in which I believed I understood Eugene Halliday’s ideas regarding the (as he puts it) ‘limits of the application of terms’.

A quick comment here then before continuing, about Eugene Halliday’s ‘limits of the application of terms’…

If you continually attempt to bear this idea of Halliday’s in mind, you will hopefully, in the ‘here and now’ moment, eventually become aware that any utterance you are presently making use of (that is – any concept, or any idea that you are presently examining) is always relative; is always bounded; and is thus then, always heuristic by its very nature…

You do not, and cannot, speak exhaustively about anything whatsoever, and thus any attempt to say what is absolutely ‘real’ is – before you begin –  doomed to failure.

What you can do though, is objectify your present view of the world, and construct a relative viewpoint in such a way that it allows you to move forward.

You need to formulate then, what it is that will (for the moment at least)  allow you some measure of predictability in the manner in which you proceed… Or, in my case, what exactly was it that I need to know now in order to make some progress -  had become the pressing question here for me.

So we can say that, when using language as a method of formulating meaning, we are always being, in some measure at least, hypothetical … And thus we can, in practice, be aware then, that the moment we hypostatize our hypothesis – that is, that we believe it to be ‘real’ – we are already beginning our slide down the slippery slope of the process that Eugene Halliday refers to as ‘identification’…

The ‘name of the particular game’ here for me then, is to attempt an understanding of the context, the range, and the scope, of that group of ideas contained in Eugene Halliday’s term ‘Work’ – in order to discover ‘the limits of the application of this (particular) term’… for me.

If I am – to any significant degree – successful, it should then be possible for me to realize when I can properly make use of this term, and so when it might be prudent for me to use a different one (such as: ‘talking past myself’; ‘fiddling about’; ’trying to be a smart-ass’; ‘fantasizing’; or ‘dithering’).

Here, then, are a number of ‘different’ approaches that I would suggest could be used in order to throw further light on this term –  ‘working/Working’

  • Can you be ‘Working’ and not ‘know’ (not be aware) that you are? …Can you ‘Work’ without ever – either vaguely or exhaustively – attempting to define (and thus subsequently give a textual meaning to) this concept/activity? Or – putting this another way – can you Work and be completely unable (or perhaps simply just not see the point of) formulating a precise definition for this mode of activity? …. Looking at the question this way could help you get some idea of just how important the formulating of concepts like these are to you (at least emotionally).
  • If, on examining a significant number of examples, you arrive at the conclusion that knowing what ‘Work is’ appears to matter very little in these instances  (that is – where it concerns the process of actually doing some Work) then this conclusion of yours could lead you to maintain that people who need to define and explain everything in this way might very well not in fact be, in some way, superior here… But, rather, that they might actually be handicapped by this continual attempt on their part to engage in an endless search for (and subsequent pontification over) the ‘correct definition’, or the ‘real meaning’, of everything… A process that might even have gone so far as to see them agonizing over every single letter that they make use of, during these attempts of theirs.
  • Would you ever maintain something like, “‘Working’ constitutes its own definition; it is its own text… It does not need some form of further elaboration.” Or perhaps, “It is the real and only expression of Love, and it ‘speaks for itself’.” …And if you did, what would you mean by that?
  • Are you the sort of person that, when presented by someone else with explanations, like (say) the one that I have used for ‘Working’ in the paragraph above, thinks that its ‘very good’. And, as a direct consequence, will then immediately attempt to appropriate it? … If you are, to what degree do you then attempt to ‘make it your own’ by, say, meditating over this ‘explanation that has taken your fancy’, and then attempting to incorporate it into some form of praxis (use it to ‘work/Work’ yourself)? … Or do you just find that you now have a very good way of disguising the fact that you – in truth – don’t actually do much work – but when asked about the subject, you can now ‘say something smart about it’ and so appear to those who are looking for answers here, to be someone you’re not; that is, to be someone  who is practically ‘in the know’..
  • What advantages were obtained (if any) by you, in studying material produced by people like Eugene Halliday (and perhaps others in the same field) where it concerns your own efforts at – what it is that you now (or in the past) refer(ed) to as – ‘Working’?
  • Was it essential to you that there was someone like Eugene Halliday ‘about’ – a person with whom you believed (or imagined) that you could form some sort of (meaningful) relationship with, in order to – in principle at least – come to any subsequent understanding (as you see it) of this concept of ‘Working’? … That is, would you subscribe to one version or another of the idea that some sort of ‘qualified teacher’ is essential here – before you can begin to engage in something like ‘Working’? ….
  • And to put this last bit into some sort of context… The overwhelming majority of those beings who were passing themselves off as ‘yoga teachers’ in the 60’s and early ‘70’s (such as Ken Ratcliffe) had learned what it was that they thought they knew about the subject from either: reading a book; listening to a recording; watching others doing it on TV; making it up themselves; engaging in – and subsequently promoting – various calisthenic and/or calming exercises that are all rather obvious really; or (like John, Paul, George, and Ringo) hanging around with some guy who hailed from ‘East of Suez’ (take your pick) while, at the same time, dressing-up like extras for the cover of a ‘Quality Street’ chocolate-box photo shoot… In these instances above though, would you say that, even so, it would still be possible to gain at least some understanding of what it was that ‘working/Working’ might actually be about; even if these particular experiences only resulted in serving to illuminate what ‘Working’ ‘was not’?…
  • If your answer to this last question was, “Yes, you must have a teacher,” then how do you arrive at the conclusion that the particular teacher you’ve ‘signed up with’ knows what they are talking about? … Do you take it on trust? … Would it simply be that they appeared to be ‘popular in a particular ‘occult’ area’ (like Russell Grant in Astrology, say)? Or would you say that you ‘just knew’ they were the right person, because of the ‘strong feeling’ you had about it…. Or was it for a completely different reason – for example, you felt that if you demonstrated a ‘real earnestness to learn’, this person (unlike almost everyone else you knew) might recognize something in you ‘of true worth’ and ‘bring it out in you’… Or something like that?
  • Would you admit that, although you don’t need a ‘teacher’ constantly, the truth of the matter is, that you believe you needed someone to point you in roughly the right direction at the beginning here… Even if you subsequently ‘moved on’ and severed this relationship.
  • Do you believe that ‘Working’ is something that you (and perhaps all human beings) are, somehow, already naturally required, or fundamentally equipped, to engage in? … Or do they need to acquire – what you presently believe are – ‘special powers’, (such as ‘reflexive self-consciousness’ for example). And thus, that this activity therefore, is only available to the ‘fortunate few’ (or some group or other of ‘The Elect’ etc.)… Or do you believe that your average milkman/postman/fisherman/tax-collector/’lady of the night’ would have just as much success at understanding – and of actually actively engaging in – ‘work/Work’ as, say, Eugene Halliday? … What are your reasons for thinking about this in the way that you do?
  • Was ‘becoming involved in these sorts of activities’ a course of action that you thought you might like to embark upon (when you could get round to it) that was suggested to you by someone else (as an ‘idea’ or ‘concept’, or ‘interest’) … By someone who (perhaps) represented some sort of ‘authority figure’ here… … But that, even so, this idea already appealed to you in some way? (You rather liked the sound of it’ – although you didn’t really understand it at the time – but just ‘sort of’ believed that – one way or another – ‘it would all become ‘clear(er)’…eventually… ).
  • Did you have a vague intuition that becoming involved in ‘this sort of thing’ would somehow make you a ‘more interesting person’, either to yourself, or to others… Why?
  • Do your ideas about ‘Working’ include the necessity for you to be associated with some particular group of people?
  • If the answer to the last question is ‘Yes’, do you believe that this group would be hierarchically organized, and that your position in this hierarchy, or the activities with this group that you like to engage in, constitute for you, in some way, a measure of your ‘success’ in ‘all this’?

I am suggesting that you look at these questions (and questions here like this) because they arise out of my own experiences – which I believe is a far better approach for me to take here than attempting to supply (yet more) mysterious and occult ideas that I have purloined from either some book; or from some other source; or have ‘personalized’ from someone else’s ideas, or from accounts of their own experiences … (Which is something that I am more than capable of doing, by the way :-) …)

I began reflecting upon my own position here relatively early on in all this, with the result that I came to realize that I had swallowed this particular ‘work/Work’ concept, ‘hook line and sinker’ (along with quite a few others) – without really understanding it – simply because I was attracted to it, and found it so appealing! … If I were to be more precise, I would maintain that I was, in fact, seduced by these ideas (a situation that I have alluded to in other posts) …

And so, as a direct result of this ‘seduction’, it became essential that – before I went any further – I completely understood that I would have to take full responsibility (or as much responsibility as I could) for what it was that I had willingly allowed to happen to me here… if I was ever going to move on, that is… Otherwise I would be condemned to a life of ‘turning up at meetings’ without really understanding why… These habitual ‘social occasions’ being pleasant enough so as to not ‘rattle my cage’ and perhaps ‘wake me up’ … (Heaven forbid!)..

To elaborate on the seductive aspect of these ideas for a moment (as far I experienced them), this idea of ‘working/Working’ (and ideas very like it) seemed to point to the possibility of my appreciation of – and perhaps my subsequent direct involvement with – other ideas that I vaguely thought were ‘related’. Such as; ‘understanding’ stuff from the vantage point of a ‘higher level of consciousness’ (although I did not – and still do not – have the faintest idea as to what that term might really mean in practice); or come to embrace the idea that we were all, somehow, disembodied beings, who were making use of these ‘gross material’ bodies of ours  – via our various ‘consciousnesses’; or perhaps we were all making use of the same consciousness; or indeed, that perhaps ‘it’ was making use of ‘us’ – and upon dying we would all subsequently be released (somehow) in order to ‘fly off’ (or ‘plummet down headlong’) to a ‘better (or even worse) place’ as a direct consequence of some sort of ‘evolutionary mechanism’, or ‘grand cosmic plan’..

I should also mention here, that one of the very real problems with Eugene’s material that I initially had during that first ten years or so was one that I now realize was absolutely necessary for me to experience… Which was that, the more that I fancied that I ‘understood’ his ideas, the more this meant – in some way – that I was finally getting to know ‘what was really going on’ down here… But in practice, nothing could have been further from the truth … and I was actually, instead, very busy laboring away at ‘vanishing up my own behind’…. Luckily for me though, during this period, I was still unable to give up the fags, booze and other recreational ‘enhancers’, bacon sandwiches, visits to the White City dog track, and the perusing of magazines such as ‘Tit-Bits’ and ‘Reveille’, etc. … Which probably went a long way towards saving me for more advanced stuff… (Which is, so to say, after I had ‘matured a bit’) …

Anyway, it was some time before I was able to stop (for short periods at least) all the ‘occult fantasizing’ that was going on. And it was with something approaching relief that I eventually came to accept – and also realized that it would be extremely profitable for me to go along with – Eugene Halliday’s concept of ‘working/Working’ – which he defined simply as, ‘The act/process of ordering (sentient) power’.

Of course, seeing the subject this way didn’t actually make it any easier for me to do any ‘work/Work’ myself… Although, it was now beginning to dawn on me that this ‘working’ (lower-case ‘w’) was not (and indeed had never been) a problem – because ‘working’ was something that I was doing all the time, and actually couldn’t stop doing – whether I liked it or not..  But luckily – from this perspective – I saw that it might now be possible for me to change things, by attempting to find ways of limiting the negative affects of my ‘working’ if I could; or even devise ways of increasing my ability to actually do some ‘Work’ (upper-case ‘W’).

In addition, accepting this concept of Eugene Halliday’s in the way that I now did, allowed me to view beings who weren’t particularly nice (such as Satan, Adolph Hitler, and Batman), and also very nice people (such as St Francis of Assisi, Miss Marple, and Jimmy Carter) to have been reasonably adept at managing their own  abilities to ‘work/Work’ – at least for some of the time… … And the fruits of these ‘various beings’ labors (that were the direct result at their attempts at ‘working/Working’)? … Well, of course, this was conditional upon their particular ‘field of endeavor’… In one or two of the instances immediately above, for example, this could be said to be: marching into Poland; or riding around on a bicycle through the English country-side solving all manner of heinous crimes …(‘As ye sow,…etc.’). …

If I could be perhaps overly melodramatic for a second – I was also surprised to discover that it was now possible for me to ‘Defend the Devil’  … because I could now appreciate that He was, at the very least,  ‘working’; or even (and far more interestingly as I understood Eugene Halliday to be suggesting) – ‘Working’.

+++++++++++++++

This realization vis-à-vis ‘sentient power’, and ‘working’ – that is, that not only your dog, but also the bacteria in your dog’s gut etc. were all very busy ‘working’ (the former beavering away at sniffing the crutches of various family members and friends, barking, tail-waging, and fetching sticks; and the latter producing dog-poop) – because both dog and bacteria were ‘ordering power’ – seems rather obvious now.. And indeed, this ‘obviousness after the fact’ is one of the reasons why I’m really attracted to the way in which  Eugene Halliday presents some (at least) of his ideas.

And, indeed  – from that time on, right up until the present moment – this is how I ‘see things’. And I am now in the happy state of finding it blindingly obvious that – in fact – every ‘body’ is ‘at it’… all of the time…

You might say then, that I fancy I now, almost, understand this idea.  :-)

+++++++++++++++

Having got that out of the way then, the task in hand now became one of coming to some understanding as to who it was that might be choosing (if indeed anybody was) to  ‘affirm’ all this ‘work/Work’.. I was OK with the ‘who’ then, but now the ‘why’ seemed to be yet another crucial question here., because I could intuit that the ‘why’ would pretty much determine who the ‘who’ was.

And it was for this very reason, that ever since I arrived at my conclusion regarding what this ‘ordering of (sentient) power’ might mean for me, I have found it necessary to differentiate between ‘work’ and ‘Work’.. And also to recognize that both these activities constitute, ‘What it is that all of existence is ‘actually, really, all about’ …’ (Particularly in Eugene Halliday’s sense of ‘real(ly)’ – making a difference; and ‘about’ – around out’)

+++++++++++++

The question of what exactly constituted ‘work/Work’ then, was now, I felt, something that I had, finally ‘got some sort of handle on’…. But the question of just why this who was doing all this ‘work/Work’ was not nearly as clear to me…

I hope you can now see why this question of ‘agency’ (the ‘who’) began to dominate my thinking, when it came to this subject of work/Work… And also that I already appreciated a satisfactory answer here would not be anything as simplistic as just ‘the observer’…. or something like that. At least unless I could come to some idea as to why ‘the observer’ (if indeed I came to believe that there was such a ‘who’) would be involved… I mean, for God’s sake, “Why bother?” … :-)

However, thankfully, it was now a question that I believed finally ‘had some flesh on its bones’ for me. And so I hoped that I would find myself, sooner or later, arriving at some sort of satisfactory answer here – or at least enough of a one to allow me to move forward.

But what I believed I needed now, was a way of ‘seeing’ these two concepts of ‘working’ and Working’… That is, I had to create some sort of metaphor in order to ‘illuminate’ them… Something that I could use to judge the degree of work/Work that I believed I was observing; and at the same time, also what it was that I believed this work/Work to consist in … as clearly as I could …

Because, if work/Work was – as I now maintained – going on all around me, all of the time – then in order to understand it, I needed to establish some form of relationship with it… At least one that would provide me with a way of constructing some form of text that: a). Satisfactorily described this work/Work as a process; and b). Described my relationship(s) to it in some way (my reaction to it; the consequences of it in the world for me; etc.).

The model that I eventually came to use was in the end, I would maintain, relative simple.

It consists of an imaginary rope that is black at its left end, and white at its right end. This rope gradually changes color from one end to the other – such that in the middle – for my purposes here – it would, most usually, be grey.

On the far left end I situate mechanical ‘work’ – this would be ‘work’ at the level of gross matter, that was just ‘going on anyway’. Power is being ordered here in such a way that it establishes the simplest of basic forms – something like, say, sub-atomic particles – and although ‘spin’ (rotation) is, I believe, the ‘quality’ that is most apparent in them; even so, they still – at this very basic level – demonstrate the capabilities of attraction and repulsion (reactivity then), or of ‘relationship’ (in the simplest of terms)…

On the far right of my rope is a Mythological Abstraction – ‘God at Work’.

The degree of difficulty that I experienced in attempting to maintain my balance when I (metaphorically) positioned myself on this rope at any one particular time (which was how I ‘saw’ my various attempts at working/Working to be) would be mirrored (would correspond metaphorically) to the height of the rope above the ground … Which, I should mention, was (again metaphorically speaking) positioned directly over the mouth of a large crocodile pit … which had big poisonous spikes sticking up from the bottom in it … that all had poisonous tips..

I should also add that – if that wasn’t enough – there would always be a wind blowing about – from the caress of a slight breeze, to a howling gale…

Everything that’s ‘going on’ down here then – when I’m either participating in it myself, or when I’m observing other beings ‘doing stuff’ – can be situated (metaphorically) by me, somewhere in-between the two ends of this rope.

Human beings are the only beings that I have experienced who I believe are capable of actually doing any ‘Work’ (although I appreciate that you might maintain this is not the case for you)… Primarily because they are the only beings potentially capable of being reflectively self-conscious at any particular moment in time – should they freely chose to be so…. All other sentient creatures that I have encountered have only been capable of ‘work’… But they can all, of course, still be situated at varying distances away from the far left end of my metaphorical rope… With, say, Geckos being ‘further to the right’ than Artichokes….

My sole intention for constructing this metaphor is to explore – and to consequently construct accounts for myself – of my own attempts at working/Working, and also my appreciation of other being’s attempts…. So it is crucial in all this that you fully appreciate these accounts of mine are purely hypothetical… And indeed, this is why this particular metaphor (with its colored rope and crocodiles etc.) in it, is so useful to me… Because I find it almost impossible to fall into the trap (… :-) …) of believing that it is substantive – that is, that it is ‘real’ … And this helps prevent me from  hypostatizing these various metaphorical  hypotheses’ of mine… And also allows me the room to appreciate that this metaphor could even become – in the future – far too naïve, or simplistic, for my purposes here… So you might be relieved to know that I am never in the position of actually believing that I am really balancing on a colored rope, suspended above a crocodile pit… Because, “Hey! … That would just be ridiculous!!”

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So, from this point onwards, I attempted to shift my own perspective around to a point where I could reflect on just what it was that I understood Eugene Halliday’s position to be here… Which was that it was not concerned simply with ‘working’ (with simply ‘ordering power’) but was – in practical terms – far more about ‘the act of affirming this working/Working’…. More importantly then, about just why it was that the who might be doing this affirming.

So, ‘the who that was in charge here as a consequence of the why’ from moment to moment became the consuming interest for me now. … And, indeed, I quickly discovered that this was an extremely slippery and evasive question for me to even attempt a response to – particularly where it concerns the formulating of any sort of textual (written or verbal) account that I was, in any way, even reasonably satisfied with….

But at least I now believed that it was now possible for me to be in a state where I could identify ‘who’ it was that was in charge (by reflecting upon it ‘in the now’) even without this ability for me to produce a (metaphorical) description of it… However, I now suspected there was a distinct possibility that I might soon be able to create these accounts – by, say, recalling them from memory, and subsequently writing them down (without, hopefully, embellishing them too much, in order to ‘present them in a ‘kindlier light’)..

But of course these ‘new improved’ accounts would be more complex, and so would have to include far more than just my ‘rope’ metaphor/analogy. Which was – although still very practical (at least as far as I was concerned) –  obviously going to be missing a great deal of essential detail.

I would claim that my relative success at now being able to focus on my own states during these attempts of mine to work/Work began (and have remained so ever since) to provide me with (what I am pleased to refer to as) numerous examples of ‘Archetypal material’…

This material was dependent for its particular ‘form’ on those different working/Work scenarios that I found myself attempting to deal with at any one particular time… That is to say, these scenarios of mine seemed to naturally produce any number of different ‘personalities’, that – by the use of active imagination – I found I could then allow to ‘speak through me’..

And thus the particular scenario in question was ‘fleshed out’, as it were, in the form of this subsequent ‘account’ of mine. Which could (as a direct consequence here) have then been (hopefully) dragged into my egoic consciousness – to the extent that I was then able to interrogate it, to debate with it; to converse with it; to form a relationship with it; and to subsequently ponder over any implications in all this that it might contain … to my heart’s content …

You might say that I was ‘conjuring up spirits’ here :-) … Or you could say,that I was allowing myself to be possessed … and that this is what I was ‘affirming ’…

Only kidding! … … (No I’m not).

We never hear things as they really are; we only ever hear things as we really are.

From ‘NOCTURNAL EMISSIONS’
’
Random Dribbling from the Twilight World of the Undead’
(A series of fragments from Bob Hardy’s notebooks – from the late-1970′s to date)

I would occasionally (and still do) sometimes sit down and just attempt to noodle away at the the piano instead … As this particular approach to ‘getting at who it was that I am’ at any one particular time, does seem to mirror – broadly speaking a least – the particular ‘cluster’ of ‘in-the-now’ emotional states that I find myself in…

But the situation that I now found myself in had started to make me realize that keeping two of – what I believed were  -  Eugene Halliday’s major concepts  separate, was becoming next to impossible for me.

These two major concepts of his were:

1) The one that I have been attempting to present in this and the previous two posts, re ‘working/’Working; and,

2) The one that I intend to attempt to deal with in my next post – ‘being here now’.

To be continued then …

 

BOB HARDY

March 22nd  2014

 

Man is the only creature who can refuse to be who he is.

Albert Camus.

The contents of this post consist entirely of my attempts to respond in more detail to the question, “Who is doing the Work?” – posted in the ‘comments’ section, at the bottom of my previous post.

(NOTE: To go to my previous post and the associated comments thread, click (here). Scrolling to the bottom of this post will take you to the ‘Comments’).

Even though I do have a number of ideas about what I mean when I say that I am ‘Working’, I realize that I have never clarified any of my views on this subject – or how it was that I arrived at them – to anyone else, at least not in any detail…And although the post below is rather long, I have still only managed to provide a brief sketch. Be that as it may, here then are a ‘variety of my views’ on the subject of ‘Work’.

Before going into the ‘Who’ however, there is another question – ‘What is Work?’ – that, in my view, must come first; because I find that I can’t say anything in any really meaningful way about this ‘Who’, until I can place it in very particular situations.

But, if I were pushed into answering this question right now – from the point of view of my own cultural background (which is Judaic/Christian) – then my (one-word) answer here, at least in the sense that I understand the word ‘Work’, would be, “Jesus.”

But, for the moment at least, that answer might appear to be almost ‘flippant’ … …  Almost…

◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊◊

For me, the major defining characteristic of ‘Working’ is that it is a process, and not a ‘thing’ or an ‘idea’ (a ‘think’)… So it cannot then, by it’s very nature, be defined – except in the broadest of terms…

Rather – Working can possess any number of meanings. Each of which is dependent upon which section of the ‘task at hand’, you happen to be Working on, in the moment …

This meaning of Work is also, rather obviously I believe, intimately connected with the psychological make-up of the ‘who’ that is attempting to do this Work.

So from my perspective then, Working can only ‘actually’ be described, at, or from, ‘point–to-point’… If, indeed, ‘described’ is the correct word to be used here… And this also applies to any attempt at coming up with the ‘who’… In fact, I find it helpful to use a variety of labels for ‘who’ here. .. such as: ‘Naughty Bob’… ‘Happy Bob’ … ‘Introspective Bob’ … “I’m really going to give it my best shot this time Bob’ … ‘Look – this time I’m serious here – Bob’ … ‘No – honestly – this time I am really, really, serious about this – Bob’ … ‘BoH-bee-zZzz -K’… etc. … which all helps me in dismantling any notion I might harbor that ‘at the end’ there will be a ‘who’ that is going to eventually emerge from all this… A sort of ‘unchanging, all-knowing, eternal, smiley, super-Bob’ who – just like all the other members of the elect here who have somehow managed to ‘make it’ – is now eternally united with Margaret Thatcher, The Queen Mother, Winston Churchill, and Karl Marx…

Not my favorite idea at all, I’m afraid…

So – as I also maintain that ‘the name of the game’ here is the introduction of ‘change’ (or better – ‘transformation’) to ‘being’ – the question as to who exactly this ‘Who’ is then, now clearly becomes far more complicated to answer than we would all, perhaps, have liked…

But, if it’s any comfort here, examining these resistances, or difficulties, to providing any (evolving) description of what takes place to beings when they do actually get round to doing a bit of Work produces great steaming mounds of personally produced ‘raw material’, that can eventually – amongst all sorts of other useful things that it can do here – provide an extremely clear account of what it was that Eugene Halliday meant by his use of the term ‘engram’…

This might – for the moment perhaps – appear to be another subject entirely to that of Working… But I believe that this reaction to Eugene Halliday’s material – which is to say that the difficulty almost everyone I have come across has had, in applying their subsequent understanding of Eugene Halliday’s concepts, such as ‘engrams’, to their own situation – is crucial to any understanding here, of this ‘Work process’…

And even though the individual pieces themselves… those talks and essays etc. that Eugene Halliday was almost continually, ‘putting out there’ … are invariably (reasonably) clear to ‘see’ (rather like the individual pieces of a jig-saw puzzle). Getting an appreciation of the whole picture is another matter entirely. Particularly as – before you start attempting to join the pieces together – you discover that you have not been provided with a box that has a nice copy of the ‘finished picture’ on the lid (There goes another of my cheesy metaphors! :-)).

But I believe that it is always at least possible here, to come to some personal evaluation of the ‘situation as it now stands’ (by, say, answering a question to yourself such as, “How did that last bit go?”) … And then – having arrived at one answer or another here – of being aware that this immediately opens up the possibility of being able to ask the next question.. Which is of course – “OK then! … I got that bit … I think…  So far, so good!… What is am I supposed to do now? … Next?”

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Attempts can be made at ‘explaining’ Work from any number of viewpoints – but these will only ever be little more than lifeless theories unless they are rooted in actual experiences – no matter how cunningly contrived these ‘explanations’ happen to be…

But, that said, I can also see that it is possible to have a belief about the possible reasons for Working in the form of a sort of overview of it, … For example – if you like – ‘We Work, because doing so will (eventually) set us free.’ … (But in this particular case though, I would caution, “Don’t hold your breath!”)…

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Viewed as a process though, it becomes much easier to see that ‘the who’; ‘the what’; ‘the how’; and ‘the where’ of Working, are all so intimately related that it becomes almost impossible to explore the answer to one, without simultaneously taking into account all of the others.

So – from this perspective then – this ‘Who’ that we are interested in revealing to ourselves, depends very largely upon ‘what’ it is that needs to be done in that moment..

Indeed, this fact – that I am faced with a choice of what to do at every moment – is one of the major reasons why I believe that there needs to be any ‘who’ here at all… In the first place… for anyone to wonder (wander) about!..

Because, if there were no choice here; that is, that any Work that needed to be done could only ever be done in one way – then there would only ever be a need for one ‘who’ here; or there could be lots of ‘who’s’, but they’d all be doing this identical, one, same thing…. Which seems rather pointless to me… Although, I suppose, we could all be doing ‘the-same-but-different’ thing … But if that were the case, then we’d all have to be Irish, because they’re the only ones who can understand what things like this mean – and we’re not.

Because we are all finite – and so we are all, in one sense then, incomplete – it can easily be seen that in identical circumstances, I will be required to do something quite different from you (you may have to ‘stoop under’; while I may have to ‘jump over’, for instance)…

This ‘who’ and ‘what’ for me, both depend intimately then, upon what point it is along the journey (the ‘where’) that the ‘who’ here, happens to be at.

The ‘upside’ to this perspective on things for me, is that questions and comments, such as, ‘What have you stopped for?; ‘You’ve missed a part out!”; and “That’s the wrong way!” etc. all become much more immediately obvious – and so much simpler – to appreciate.

So now, in my case, the original question of ‘Who is Working’ (as I begin to focus on it then) quickly becomes for me, far more complex; taking the form of – “Who is it here that is ‘becoming’?”; “Who is it, specifically, that is now involving themselves – here and now – in this particular part of this process?”… And this allows me to factor in, not only this ‘who’, as an evolving ‘who’ – but also situate this ‘who’ in the ever-changing background of a ‘what’ (located at a specific place); and at a ‘where’ (at some point in the time-process)…

Which all serves to give me a much greater ‘purchase’ on the original question…’Who is Working’…Believe it or not!

All this also means that – not only stating exactly ‘Who’ is Working’ has suddenly become difficult, except in general terms – but also that ‘a set of instructions’ as to ‘how to Work’ cannot now be given – in any practical detail – by any ‘teacher’ – or they can only be given in the broadest of terms.

Because, in the actual, practical, matter of Working (which, in my view, is the same thing as the actual, practical, matter of living) this will be incredibly complex, and uniquely different for each individual – particularly where it concerns the quality of these experiences; and also that the ‘task at hand’ changes – both in its form and function, and from from moment to moment – to a degree that is dependent entirely upon the ‘position along their evolutionary path’ that the being attempting to Work happens to find themselves at in that particular moment…

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It is possible, from time to time, to recognize someone else who has actually been Working, by the way in which they relate any of their experiences of the process involved to you. And, in these instances, it is possible to have a little rest and a chat with them – before moving on.

I can sense when others are ‘recalling their own personal journey’ and so are relaying their own actual, lived, experiences to me … There is an emotional engagement with the recounting which I believe is almost impossible to fake – at least not for very long.

However, a complete lack of embarrassment on the part of those relaying these experiences, or a sense that they are being guided in some way by my reactions to their tale, will almost certainly mean that – no matter how convincing they might sound – they are almost certainly lying, or that they are self-deluded, and are ‘acting’ … or at the very least, embellishing most of this account of theirs, in order to make it more ‘interesting’, ‘mysterious’, or even ‘sexy’…

Thus – the only one, really essential, requirement here when ‘listening in’ to all this  -  is a sense of humor.

From ‘NOCTURNAL EMISSIONS’
‘Random Dribbling from the Twilight World of the Undead’
by Bob Hardy
(A series of fragments from Bob Hardy’s notebooks – from the late-1970′s to date)

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So, its more for me then, that ‘Working is a process that – freely interacting with – will result in the further development of an evolving ‘Who’; rather than a sort of static ‘Who’… who  just ‘beavers away’ at stuff … getting older by the minute.

Interestingly – in my own case, back when I was first introduced to Eugene Halliday’s material by Ken Ratcliffe in the mid 1970’s – the very first word that I felt impelled to work with, was process… This word was not suggested to me by anyone else… It seemed to just ‘come to me out of the blue, as it were… And I have never been able to quite figure out why… Not back then, or now… And I’ve often wondered about this since… (I still have the notes that I made back then, as well)……

…But it has just dawned on me  – as to possibly – why…

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I will also say that I am ‘on board’ with much of the content of that posted comment … I agree that Working can be intensely irritating – but that this is exactly what you need in order to Work… And it is your intuition here that will provide the inspiration for you to Work. i.e. “Although I know this is going to take a great deal of effort I really believe that I will achieve this goal,” or, “I have a strong sense that I must do this.” etc. … You shoulder your particular problem, and attempt to move forward – as you are able. Your intuition will provide some ‘light’ for you here, and give you a guide as to whether or not you are moving in the right direction.

I would also agree that Work can seem to be carrying on ‘without you’ … and so there is always the problem here of one’s ever-present, ‘inertic self’…

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But – re the part of this comment that reads – ‘An intelligence that transcends my personal egotism’…  I’m not really sure what is meant here… This seems to be implying that (say in my case) it wouldn’t actually be me who would be doing this Work … And that’s the opposite of what I do believe … Because central to any claim by me that I have actually done any of this ‘Work’, is my active experience of having done it! …

I have never had this sense of ‘otherness’; this ‘intelligence that transcends my personal egotism’ – in this way.

Whatever state(s) I do experience, it’s always me that’s having these experiences – although this state may sometimes seem ‘better’ than others (say one of resolute calmness, or focus – as opposed to experiencing depression, or irritation); and those accounts, by others, who claim that ‘something or someone else’ is having these experiences instead, just don’t ‘add up’ at all, for me..

In my case then, I’m either having an experience, or I’m not; if someone else (or some ‘thing’) is claiming to have the experience instead (but, ultimately, in situations like this, how would I really know if they were?), then I’m OK with that; and I have no problem with sharing experiences… But when it comes to ‘doing’ – I’m either the one ‘doing the doing’, or I’m not… Of course I can also ‘hold your coat’ and watch you ‘do it’ – but then my experience in this particular case would be one of ‘holding your coat and watching you’.

I couldn’t really see me maintaining the view that I do – that Working is the only thing we are really here to accomplish – if I thought Working was just ‘a really good idea’, or ‘an interesting, sound, metaphysical concept’: or ‘the nectar of the Gods’; or of ‘being touched’ by somethin(g/k) ‘else’; or ‘a code of behavior that it would be ‘really good’ to live by’ – when I can manage it; or when I’m in the mood to; or when I get around to actually doing so; or something like that…

And although some of the states I do experience seem to me to be ‘far more together’ than others, and the degree (or force) with which I can experience them, ranges from ‘hardly noticeable’ to ‘overwhelming’, I have never had the experience of being ‘occupied’ by ‘another’…. (Although two of my past friends did develop paranoid schizophrenia later in life, and it clearly seemed – to them at least – that they were ‘occupied’)  … So – as far as I’m concerned then – it has to be me that does this Work.

But then I suppose a great deal would also depend on what is meant here by the term ‘ego’…

I use this word in a very specific way, and I don’t really understand it most of the time when others use it… Eugene Halliday use of the term seemed somewhat ambiguous, or even contradictory at times, to me – So I tend to ‘screen it out’…

And where I hear it used in common speech? … Well, it seems to be able to be applied to almost anything, and anybody, indiscriminately – and this makes it almost pointless for me to attempt to use it as a meaningful term, when I’m speaking to others   …

From my own understanding, it seems to me that when others use this term they are almost invariably referring to their self-constructed ‘social mask’ – or, as I prefer it (and using the term in its Jungian sense) ‘Persona’… This persona is, for me: ‘Who it is that that beings are presently invested in presenting themselves as – both to themselves and to others’… And this is not, for me, the ‘ego’…

So I would need more background here before I could comment further – at least on this bit.

That said … whether or not any other part of this response is what it is that you had in mind Richard, is another matter entirely!  :-)

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To continue on then …

This is (obviously, I believe) a very ‘deep’ subject for me. But I do appreciate that the way in which I view some aspects of it (and fret over others) might seem odd to someone else… Especially, when I add here, that I don’t believe it’s necessary to understand the ‘who’, ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘were’, and ‘why’ of Working, in order to Work… In the same way that I don’t believe it’s necessary to know how a watch works, in order to be able to use it to tell the time… And so I can appreciate that there are those out there who might wonder, “What’s the problem here? … What is there to know?… Why can’t you just get on with it?”…

So then, if others don’t chose to nit-pick away at this subject to the same extent that I do, I’m OK with that…

But – in my particular case – I find that understanding something of the ‘who’, ‘how’, ‘what’, ‘when’, ‘were’, and ‘why’ of Working, helps me to keep ‘having a go’ here, at least.

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All these questions re ‘Working’ were difficult for me to get a handle at the beginning, However, I eventually came up with a variety of ways of approaching them … and some of these approaches were reasonably straightforward.

For instance, where it concerns, “Where do I start Working? … I now have an allegory that takes me immediately ‘straight to the starting line’ – if I can remember it in time (and at the time) that is!

(A) doctor doesn’t start with a book of cures, and then go hunting for a disease. He starts with somebody who has got something wrong with them; he diagnoses the disease; and then he looks for a cure.

Alex Elmsley.

The ‘somebody’ here, is me; and the ‘something’ here, is what it is that I must Work on…

This allegory also made it much easier for me to focus on Working primarily on myself; and at the same time to tone-down my attempts at ‘offering good advice in this area’ to others… Such as (using a cheerful, confident, tone of voice) – Quote, “Just ‘be here now’ – That’s all there is to the whole business really!” Unquote… etc. et al.).

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I’ve tried, in this post, to cover the important aspects of my response to this comment from as many angles as I could. But I would first like to remind readers of this blog that  - almost from the very beginning here, some eighteen months or so ago – I pointed out that arriving at a position where I could even structure questions re ‘Working’ correctly, was one of the major reasons for my continued interest – for at least the first few years – in studying Eugene Halliday’s material – because I didn’t really ‘get it’…

Almost at the beginning of my first post here then, in March, 2012, I was attempting to describe my introduction to, what was, at the time for me – some 35 years ago, this vague idea of ‘Working’ … And I wrote:–

What is the essential nature of this ’Work’? … Well that, for the moment at least anyway, is the ‘Million Dollar Question’..

But I have always believed that if you can frame any question correctly, then you’re already over halfway to your answer. So that was my approach… I was attempting to clarify what it was that I was striving to get an answer to …

Much of the content of my initial posts were concerned with describing how I attempted to move from a purely intellectual interest in Eugene Halliday’s ideas, to the dawning realization that they were all really a load of useless waffle – at worst a psychological toxin and at best a load of time-wasting hot-air – if I failed to involve these ideas essentially in my actual life, as I was living it moment to moment, as often and as well as I was able…

So uncovering the ‘essential matter’ of these questions for me (that is, the ‘what’; the ‘who’; the ‘how’ and the ‘why’, of this ‘Work’ and ‘Working’) – and as a consequence, making the attempt to embody my own limits to the applications of these terms in my actual situation (or, if you prefer – the meaning of these terms for me in the ‘here and now’) – became the real name of the game for me..

As a result (but I don’t think this will really help right now) I have come to the conclusion that my (current) response to the question ‘Who is working?’ would be that, “Everybody is working.” …. Although I would also claim, “Not everybody is Working.”

I’ve introduced this (rather short) answer, immediately above, here, because I believe it allows me to immediately bring into play two other important ancillary questions early on – “Working for whom; and Working for what purpose, exactly?” … Pondering over these two questions does, in my experience, also throw some valuable light on ‘Who is Working?’

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When I first started writing this post I did so by attempting to supply a direct answer to this question (but not the answer I’ve given just above) However I soon realized that I would be assuming anyone reading, and so hopefully, subsequently understanding this post, would need to have shared a great deal of the same background here as my own.

So – as to a bit of this background of mine then…

My present position here is a result of – not only my own extended reflexions upon ‘What is this ‘Working’ thing all about?’ – but also (obviously I believe) incorporates elements of what I take to be Eugene Halliday’s position (and a number of others – including Gurdjieff) on the subject.  So here’s a ‘rough sketch’ of some of this material…

Any understanding that I arrived at initially where it concerned Working, followed from my early decision to work on acquiring an ‘active language’; and to foreground two of Eugene Halliday’s concepts. These were:

  1. All that there is ‘Sentient Power’ … (a term I do not substitute the word ‘God’ for by the way – because I can’t get it to fit; and I find that attempting to do so only confuses things hopelessly for me)
  2. This Sentient Power can Work for the development of the potential in all being (but I don’t refer to all that it ‘does’ as  ‘loving’).

So, I would not claim then that, “God had ‘just entered the building’,” if I viewing something amazing in the natural world, but instead I would say, “This is an example of one of those amazing things that Sentient Power can become.” … And I would not, in the past, say things like, “That was done with love,” if – for instance – I felt I’d had a particularly good night on the piano..

So, let’s just say here, for the moment at least, that I’m very cautious indeed about substituting these terms (‘God’ and ‘Love’) when I’m mulling over something here with myself… However, I will use these terms when I’m talking with others about these concepts, if it can’t be avoided. But – if given the choice – I would prefer not to… Messy – and not very straightforward I know – but that’s how it is for me I’m afraid…

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‘To work’ is to ‘order power’. And for this ordering to take place, this power must be in motion.

We refer to our awareness of this ‘power-in-motion’ as ‘energy’.

So – if, say, you are presently ‘feeling frisky’, then this would not only be an example of your awareness of ‘sentient power as ‘energy’ – but also that you had qualified it to yourself by giving it the label ‘frisky’  … It is also crucial here to appreciate that there will also always be an evaluative component present of, “Yes!… ‘Feeling frisky’ is just what I need right now,” or of, ”Oh No! … Not now!… I’m trying to get some sleep!” – or of some evaluative component in-between.

You must also bring up this ‘energy’ in yourself (as it were), and it is you who must then direct it.

This energy ‘comes up’ in you either: as a result of you involving your Will here, in order to Work; or, as a consequence of your innate desire(s) ‘getting the better of you’… [This is a subject that constitutes a completely separate, and lengthy, topic on its own I’m afraid] …

So then, it is you (and not any other being – either immanent or transcendental) who has the responsibility for initiating this ‘getting things moving here’, in order for you to Work… And it is also you alone who must do all the Work here – with all your ‘warts and all’.

You cannot wait until you’re ‘suitably prepared’ – because there’s no such point in time when you will ever be ‘ready’ in this way; there is no ideally favorable ‘stars in the right position’ point at which it would be better for you to begin either – because there is no such place ‘out there’…. You cannot – by one means or another – enlist any celestial (or otherwise) ‘help’, because all that any other being can ever do for you here is point the way to the entrance door (which is all that I believe Eugene Halliday ever did) … And that door is going to stay closed until you yourself get up of your behind and onto your feet… And it is you who must then do the knocking at that door, in order to pass through …

Nothing here will ever be achieved by relating that you ‘knew, or sat at the foot of, Eugene Halliday’, or claiming that you ‘understand’ concepts such as ‘All there is, is sentient power’; or that ‘we’re all going to be reflexively self-conscious at the ‘end of evolution’… … None of that is Working… Because if it was, then there wouldn’t actually be anything to do…except to sit in your armchair – or (if you want to tart it up a bit) ‘adopting a yoga pose’ and ‘meditating’.

So here, I would say that, “All that Eugene Halliday ever tried to do for others was to attempt to get them to begin to Work.” … And would quickly add that – although an appropriate feeling of gratitude here would be just fine – the rest of it… the real part… the Working part … is entirely up to you … entirely up to you… ever last bit of it.

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You can only ever do any of this Work in the ‘here and now’, and you must do it purely from your own efforts.

And… Oh Yes … Eventually you will (inevitably) fail – no matter who you are, or how you go about all this … That cock is going to crow in your life (at least) three times whatever you do … And you must be ‘just fine’ with that before you even begin your attempts here… Just like you must be fine with the sure fact of your inevitable demise… This is something that you would be better coming to terms with, here… and now … and also sooner, rather than later… Because if all this is done as some sort of desperate attempt to ‘get something’, then it won’t Work…

One of the very few things that I try to do every day, is to contemplate my own death for a few minutes … and that seems to put things in some sort of perspective for me … it gets me looking at things in the right way… Often enough though, I will soon forget even this very quickly, and instead identify with the situation that I presently find myself in, and thus become dominated by it  … But, anyway, I appreciate that starting your day like this might not suit everyone…

‘Resignation’ then, is one of the (real) ‘names of the game’ here…

You must generate – within yourself – enough positivity to perform this Working… And you must do it for ‘doings sake’, and do it in the ‘now’… As opposed to, say, attempting to figure out ways of ‘banking it’ – ‘just in case you might need it later’…

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You will always experience resistance to your efforts at Working – because if you don’t  – then you’re not Working …

And where it concerns your awareness of this resistance?

Even the ‘brand new’ energy that you have initially acquired; that you have ‘called up’ from yourself in order to begin Working, will be ‘tinged’ with some element, or with some quality, or other..

Because, briefly, in order for it to be experienced by you as actually being available (“Where is it?” … “Oh there it is!”) it must possess some degree of ‘quality’…For you to experience this awareness. (To have this experience of it ‘being there’)…

Let us, for example, use the element – our ‘tinge’ – of violence or turbulence (very normal) here… This ‘quality’; this initial ‘adulteration’ of sentient power as ‘energy’, (which will probably not – for the moment at least – be focused by you on any particular object ‘out there’), will be continually attempting to influence your efforts to Work here … almost before you are ready to begin.

I make use of an allegory for Working, from my own cultural background here (‘European Judaic/Christian’) to get a sense for me of what all this entails…Which is that of willingly shouldering one’s own ‘cross’, and then attempting to move forward with it.

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My general impression is that Working – for the majority of human beings that I have come across anyway – is something ‘to be avoided at all costs’… Although laboring (‘going to work’) in order to ‘make some cash’, seems to be fine, at least now and again… Regrettably, for the majority of people though, this is, invariably, not the same thing, at all as Working (although it can be – but very rarely, in my experience).

Which is one of the reasons that I take as much care whenever I can, to differentiate between ‘work’ and ‘Work’.

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But luckily (you might say), for anyone taking all this on; in order for them to actually do any Working’ they must first affirm this choice of theirs to do so, within themselves; and so, of course, they can also chose to say “No,” to this Working…

I maintain then, that we all have a freely-willed choice here.

The attempts at avoiding Work; the legion of excuses; states of delusion, and of illusion, that are brought into the service of justifying this ‘No’ are – for me – quite magical to behold; and do (rather surprisingly, you might think) actually serve to reinforce my own view as to what it is that is really going on down here … With the result that I actually find myself further empowered in my own determination to Work … … Sometimes :-)  ….

Which is a rather neat example – in my opinion – of something good (something that reinforces my ‘Yes’), coming out of that veritable legion of ‘No’s’ that I find ‘out there’.

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Here’s a pretty straightforward example of Working – and I would guess is a relatively simple situation that many people have found themselves in, at one time or another…

If you find yourself with a surplus, and you decide to give (some of) it away in order to help others, this is not, in my view, an example of Working… But if you have something that you have a strong desire to hang-on to; and you – none the less – still give it to someone else who you believe needs it more than you do – this I do see as an example of Working… Or, at the very least, I would see that this act as an example of ‘moving in the right direction’…

So I would maintain that Working is not necessarily some elaborate, involved scenario done on a special day of the week, under special circumstances, and requiring the wearing of a purple robe; or some grand celestial scheme, involving powerful Angelic or Demonic forces, or some other visitation from ‘outside’; or anything like that… But (thankfully) can, more often be any number of – to others – seemingly insignificant, or unimportant, activities..

And I don’t believe that what it is that you must do in order to Work, arises from being somehow presented with a finite number of ‘tasks’ or ‘tests’ (by some celestial being or other) that you are subsequently required to complete before you inevitably exit the world… Subsequently ‘going on’ to receive some sort of reward for your efforts here (or some suitable booby prize for your lack of it) either… As soon as you sort one thing out, very soon you will simply get another… But I am persuaded that you are only ever presented with one thing at a time to Work on. And although this could be taken as a contradiction to a great deal of what I have maintained here up to now – actually it isn’t … And you’d know this if you’d ever had a go at Working…

It’s more the case for me, that the more you can ‘see’ here, the more choices you have in your life – and so the more opportunities that you have to freely engage in Working… But that you can chose to do whatever it is that you are able to do …. or not….

Regrettably, there is a ‘determined ignorance’ here, that can easily be seen in the world – not only where it concerns the ignorant ‘impoverished masses’ but also in academically educated ‘folk of privilege and rank’ – in freely choosing whether or not to Work.

And I would claim that, although in reality, we are all in this – equally – together, the situation that others are in quite often seems to us to be more desirable than our own – in its presentation to us of ‘real’ opportunities for Working …

With the result that, rather than help someone a couple of hundred yards away ‘down the road’, which might see us becoming involved in something tacky, difficult, time-consuming, and with more than a comfortable element of real uncertainty – both as to the outcome, and how much of ‘our valuable time this is all going to consume’ – when it isn’t really convenient. We prefer, instead, to send our old shirts and socks to the local charity shop… That’s the one with the really appealing photograph of a starving child (or a kangaroo – but more usually a silver-backed gorilla) from the ‘third world’, in the window… and that the ‘Charitable Concern’ (and Co.) in question is very busily attempting to raise money for – minus administrative costs of course!

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People with my background – who are not only the heirs to a wealth of cultural history here, but who now also possess the means to easily access it via the internet (rather than, say, waltzing off to some remote and exotic corner of the world in order to ‘discover the real truth’) can quickly put ourselves in the position where we are really able to appreciate a view of the world in which we are continually being offered opportunities to Work. Because we possess so many inspiring accounts of others – from our historical past – who have devoted their life to doing so… And so we can freely decide to take part here also  –  by deciding (or ignoring, and so not deciding) that we will attempt to emulate them, if we are able.

And, in my particular experience here, I have also come to appreciate that this myth I chose to live by, has at its root the idea that if I freely chose to ignore these opportunities to Work when they are first presented to me, then they will be presented to me again and again throughout my life – but a little more insistently each time – until eventually (if I continue to ignore them) they will completely overwhelm me, and I will die without ever having accomplished anything Real during my limited time here; that I will have done no real Work; and that I never, in fact, ‘really’ existed – So there’s no ‘Hell’ then, in my scheme of things, because there would never be anything of any being to send there…. So it’s either ‘get somewhere as you are willing and able ’, or ‘ceased to exist completely’, for me I’m afraid…

And appearing – from the point of view of others – to have clearly achieved some measure of ‘success’ down here, isn’t really what it’s all about either, in my book…Although I would quickly add that success is by no means an automatic obstacle to Working – it’s just that it’s probably the most common form of (easily observable) engramic identification.

Even so – on a lighter note for a second here – surely all this makes you a deliciously exciting place to ‘hang out in’ for a lifetime  doesn’t it? … It can even be a bit of a real adventure – if you want … :-D

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To repeat again – most importantly for me then, is the idea that Working is something that only you can do. You must chose to do it, and you must take the full responsibility for it…

So not God, not Jesus, not The Buddha etc. al. not any other agency whatsoever, can do any of this Work for you… You have to do it yourself. And only those who do this Work can ever gain the profit from doing so.

I believe that this Working is the only way I have of contributing here, of ‘giving anything back’ for the amazing experience I have had of actually having lived … And that these ‘fruits’, that this ‘harvest’, is actually required of you… And at the end you must bring to the table whatever it is you are able (‘it’s the thought that counts’)…

You can Work at any and every moment. So there is no such thing as ‘a time to Work’ then…. The only thing that you can do is to decide whether you will (or will not) Work now.

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What you have to Work with, initially at least, is your talent(s)… This talent will get you ‘a hand in the game’, and – if you’re lucky – can also get you into lots of interesting trouble, if you chose to ‘push the envelope’ here, rather than ‘play it safe’… :-) … And this is where I position the idea of ‘profit’ or ‘increase’ (again, my cultural background helps)… Because you can always practice your talent, and so – in theory at least – get better at it…

Thus, you can Work almost anywhere at anytime (and you certainly can do so if you are in a real relationship with someone); and you can also structure your time here so that your attempts at Working bear fruit in an area that you have an interest in cultivating (your ‘talent’)…. And so, in a strange way – your strength here is somehow your weakness – because it will automatically limit you to those particular endeavors required in exercising your talent… But from another perspective (and one that is mentioned in that ‘comment’) this could be seen as a ‘mercy’.

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But of course you are also continually ‘ordering power’ anyway – and usually for any number of purely selfish reasons… :-)

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And who can work?  Well any sentient being can work… Animals and plants can work – because they can ‘order sentient power’ …. I’ll go even further here, and claim that every thing that is in motion provides an example that working is occurring in that place’ (So that I do – from this perspective at least – support a pan-psychic view of things) – because every ‘thing ‘that comes to be’, does so as a consequence of this ‘ordered motion of sentient power’.

Although every ‘thing that there is’ provides me with evidence of working, not every ‘thing’ is itself ‘Working’… Because ‘Working’ (which is what I claim all sentient beings can do) is not the same thing as ‘working’…

Working – by its very nature – involves both, reflexive self-consciousness, and the act of ‘free-willing’. Both attributes that are (as far as I am concerned) ones that only human beings possess.

And, as my position here is not the same as others I have met who claim to be ‘followers’ of Eugene Halliday, let me – once again – make myself absolutely, unequivocally, clear here… We are already reflexively self-conscious (but most of us chose not to be, for most of the time) and we all possess free will (but most of us would rather deny that we do, because we can’t handle the response-ability of having it)…

You do not (and cannot) then, ‘practice acquiring reflexive self-consciousness’ somehow, until you can ‘do it’… (“Do you know darling, I think I had it there for a few seconds! … Oh Damn!… It’s gone again!…) …

But, if you like, what you can practice – anywhere and anytime – is ‘getting out of the way of it’.. :-)

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Here now is a particular, and direct, example from me now, of, “Who is Working? … that can now, hopefully, be appreciated as having arising from the context that I have outlined above.

“I would say, for certain, that Eugene Halliday Worked as much as he was able.” …

Although I would quickly go on to add here that, in my opinion, his various talks, writings, and works of art, represent only one aspect of this Work of his… And that these do constitute – in part at least – the fruits of his Working; or, to put it another way, they ‘bear witness’ to the fact that he had Worked.

So, although I would claim that I have observed Eugene Halliday in his attempts to Work (by hearing him speak in person, say) I do not mean that the only time I believed he ever Worked, was during the odd Sunday evening, every month or so – when he spoke in front of a hundred and fifty people or so….

What I will add here though, is I believe that there would certainly have been periods when he wasn’t Working… Because – for any finite being – there needs to be time to quantify, and qualify, to gather, resistance; and this, then, needs to be ‘experienced in the now’ in order provide the ‘matter’ of Work … (And don’t forget here, “Nothing for nothing, and very little for a half-penny.”)….

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Although I believe then, that Eugene Halliday Worked a great deal, and that his attempts to devise accounts of ‘what it is that’s going on’ are – for me at least – extremely helpful in my own attempts. This does not mean I believe that how he Worked is the way that everyone else should Work … This is just how he Worked. .. And an understanding (or even a ‘vague appreciation’) of his ‘metaphysics’ and methodologies, is not at all necessary for anyone who decides that they will attempt to Work themselves.

And, in this sense, as to the contents of Eugene Halliday’s talks and essays – I would maintain that, just as the majority of what he had to say would have been incomprehensible, until the late eighteen hundreds, it will also become obsolete in the very near future … So sadly, not ‘eternally true’ for me either then, but – happily for me – fine for ‘here and now’.

Regrettably though – because Eugene Halliday did put his ideas ‘out there’, and because they were so powerful, those impressed by these ideas have subsequently invented all sorts of fantastic accounts of, not only what he was doing, but also what these attempts of his at Working made of him as a person… Which – as I have said on other previous occasions – tells you a great deal more about them, than it does about Mr Halliday

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Here, perhaps, is (another) one of those odd ideas of mine…

Until you have come to some understanding in all this – you can have no real way of knowing whether or not the person that you have just walked past who is sweeping the street, is Working more efficiently than Eugene Halliday ever was…

From ‘NOCTURNAL EMISSIONS’
‘Random Dribbling from the Twilight World of the Undead’
by Bob Hardy
(A series of fragments from Bob Hardy’s notebooks – from the late-1970′s to date)

It is almost always the case – in the ‘greater world out there at large’, that Working is an activity which is only ever ascribed to someone who can put words together impressively – and then proceed to make a career out of it almost, by trotting them out whenever the chance arises; or who ‘wears a big hat’ and is ensconced in ‘impressive surroundings’ – preferably an ancient, venerable building … (‘foreign’, and/or ‘exotic’, can also helps a great deal here)…

But I would caution here that, “It is only ever a dog’s world – and particularly so if you’re a dog.” … And that you are only ever going to experience here what it is you really are – which to a large extent will depend almost entirely on how much Work you have done; even though – no matter how much you do, you will never get to realize fully who your really are, any more than you can ever know what is really going on down here… Because that would mean you could stop Working then … Wouldn’t it?

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My primary interest in Eugene Halliday came about when I gradually realized that what he was ‘doing’ was ‘the thing to do’ for me (I’m afraid I can’t put it any clearer than that)

Most importantly though – this did not mean to me, that what I had to do was ‘get to know what Eugene Halliday knew’; or, ‘Do what Eugene Halliday did, the way that he did it’.

All this became much easier to appreciate when I realized that what Eugene Halliday was doing, was striving to Work as much as he was able… (As Zero Mahlowe – someone who lived with him for twenty-five years – put it to me, somewhat exasperatedly, a couple of years ago, “Eugene… just… Worked!”)…

And, incidentally, this view that I came to have of Eugene Halliday provided me with a much clearer example, and a practical understanding of, the ‘ego’: what it ‘is’; what it is ‘for’; and how it functions in all of this… [And also, how it was that a number of people came to imagine that Eugene Halliday didn’t have one… An ego, that is]….

Incidentally, until this idea of the ‘ego’ is ‘cleared up’ experientially by those ‘who quite like the idea of doing some Work’, no Work will be done by them… ever… Because anything they do manage to accomplish here will only ever be ‘snaffled’, by that part of them that wants to parade about in an attempt to impress other folks – who are, of course, doing exactly the same thing themselves … (The words to Work on here – by the way – are ‘worship’ … and ‘idol’ .. (and ‘idle’ perhaps – if you can see it)…).

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To continue …

I would say for certain then that, “Eugene Halliday was Working.” …

And as the title of this blog is ‘Inside the Eugene Halliday Archive’ – I think it might be a good idea if I now focused further on explaining - in a little more detail – just why I would say so .

I had decided a long time ago, to ground any attempt of mine to supply an answer(s) to topics like this as firmly as I could in my own experiences – rather than to just simply highjack someone else’s ideas…

As a consequence then, my own method of attempting to achieve some clarification in these ideas, is not just to focus upon ‘defining the term used here, and/or research its etymology’ (although I usually do include this approach in my initial ‘pass’ at any answer)… But has far more to do with investigating that particular group of terms (which would almost certainly be different for each different idea here) which inevitably, invariably, and immediately arises – as soon as I focus further on ‘this idea that has captured my attention’ in order to begin this attempt by me, to investigate its current meaning…

It is these terms, I believe, that constitute the initial intellectual component of my personal relationship to these terms – at any one particular time…

In justifying the meaning to my claim – that ‘Eugene Halliday was Working’ – as an answer to the question, “Who is doing the Work?” – I would have to say right away then, that this justification would depend upon what I ‘was after’ here at the time… As this would determine ‘where it was in the moment’ that I had decided to began looking for the answer…

This approach might sound a bit strange, but it’s how this all works for me… Different points of departure by me then, would result in me gaining different perspectives (although these different perspectives would hopefully – in the end – all prove to be intimately related to each other in any single topic)…

I don’t want to go into any more detail as to  ‘these points of departure’ of mine now, because my thoughts on this process have become very involved over the years… And I don’t see that my elaboration – on what has become, essentially, a hermeneutic technique of mine – would add that much here at the moment… So I’ll just stick with attempting to clarify my claim that, “Eugene Halliday was certainly Working.”…

I worried away endlessly at the question, “What was Eugene Halliday actually doing?’ for years… And, although it is obvious, from reading his essays and listening to his talks, that what he was doing was, in some sense at least, fairly self-evident … That is: answering questions; providing information re ‘matters esoteric’; introducing his own – in part – unique way of dealing with ‘meaning’; etc… That was not, at all, what I was after… I was after something more ‘basic’ here – and I needed a language – that came ‘from myself’ – that I could use to ‘center him’ on…

So I attempted to ‘see’ him from a number of perspectives … And in order to do so, I devices a methodology that made use of – what I have come to refer to as – ‘groups’; or ‘sets’; or ‘classes’ of terms in order to clarify matters here to myself… (If anyone is interested, there is an (obvious) ‘mathematical and philosophical connection’ to this method – but it’s not important that this be understood at the moment)

What I will do here then, is go through one of the early sets of those terms that I worked on, as an example… As I believe that this is relevant to what it is that I am trying to clarify at this point.

The particular set of terms that I began with – those I though would help me to, initially, gain some insight into ‘Eugene Halliday as a being who was Working’, were – ‘mysterious’; ‘mystical experience’; and ‘mystic’…

‘Mysterious’.

It is mysterious to me that my wife almost always knows when I have been embellishing ‘the facts’… And even if there is (in part at least) a rational (all the way down ‘biological’) answer to what it is that she does, nonetheless I still find this ability of hers to be a bit ‘mysterious’ – even ‘spooky’… But when I hear Eugene Halliday speak, or when I read something of his, (which I would claim provides me with concrete evidence that he was ‘Working’) I don’t find this material ‘mysterious’ at all…

Some of it I don’t perhaps understand at the time; or I might not be too familiar with the source material that he refers to; or it might all seem somewhat contrived to me, from time to time….  but I have never experienced it as ‘mysterious’ …

I would claim that I found almost all of Eugene Halliday’s material – at least the material that he actually ‘put out there’ himself – to be extremely clear. In fact I would describe this material as being – at times – almost too straightforward for me…

And so one yardstick that I would make use of, in order to determine whether or not I believe that someone is Working, is to assess the degree of clarity that the ‘fruits’ of – what I consider to be – their attempts at Working, have for me….

Which also means, of course, that there could be any number of people out there who are Working – and so producing material – that I am just not able to  ‘get’; and as a consequence then, I could go on to open my big mouth and maintain that these people were not Working – when others would believe that it was blatantly obvious that they are … … Somewhat tricky this, then! … (But fine by me, all the same… as it all adds to the fun down here).

‘Mysterious’ is a term I tend to reserve (if I’m being polite) for those who – for example -  like to talk about ‘seeing UFO’s’; or who claim that they enjoy the occasional ‘out-of-body’ experience… So it is a term then that is, in the main, definitely a ‘no-no’ ‘for me, at least where it concerns Working.,,, And I would be extremely reluctant to apply the term ‘mysterious’ to anyone that I believed was ‘Working’ – although I would be quite happy to apply it to any number of New Age ‘gurus’ out there.

So – if I can now use my favorite metaphors here of a ‘journey’ and a ‘place’ – the term ‘mysterious’ marks a ‘border-line’ for me. And it is one of the ‘limits’ of my understanding of just who is, and who is not, Working.

Which leaves me with the option here to allow that it just ‘might be the case’ that someone who, initially, appears to me to be ‘somewhat (suspiciously) mysterious’, could indeed later turn out to be – in my (now revised) opinion – in fact, Working…

Briefly (!) … The Material produced by those who I would maintain are Working then, has to have this ‘clarity’ for me… But that they just might be (perhaps) ‘a tad mysterious’ at the ‘border’ …

I will admit though, that ‘Mysterious’ can often be ‘intriguing’ for me …if I’m in the mood…   :-)

‘Mystical experience’.

This term is far more of a hornet’s nest for me than ‘mysterious’. As it appears to be used as a label to describe anything from Saul’s ‘Road to Damascus Experience’, to the claims of New Age Seekers-after-truth, such as Eckhart Tolle, and his (quote) ‘inner transformation’.

A vital component of these experiences, it seems to me – on the part of those who claim to have experienced them – is that they are almost impossible to pass on to others in the form of a coherent account.. And frequent use is made of words like ‘ineffable’ and ‘unutterable’  … which does have the added advantage here of discouraging plebs like me though, I suppose.

It is almost as if the rule here is, ‘If the experience could be described, then it wasn’t a mystical one’… A state of affairs that invariably results in the sound of a very loud (virtual) alarm-bell, going off inside my head.

These incomprehensible accounts are particularly beloved by – for example – the followers of people such as Madam Blavatsky etc. and indeed, seem to me, to constitute an essential component of their ‘leader’s’ allure…

In fact, I find that the more mixed together: cabala; astrology; tarot; vegetarianism; collective nude-bathing; anything with the word ‘Brahman’ in it; Native American spirit chiefs; numerology; yoga; sacred geometry; King Arthur and Avalon; Hobbits; Led Zeppelin; Ozzie Ozbourn; Egyptian mummies; Carlos Castaneda; Telepathy; the ‘after-life’; Psionics; and the odd martial art ‘killer-move’, the more likely those doing so will be considered to be ‘in the know here’, and so become – possibly – the recipient of ‘much funding’ or adulation … …  ‘Way to go!’ then.

Hysterics such as Aleister Crowley were famous for these ‘stream of consciousness’ accounts – many of which contained accounts of meetings with beings possessed of weird and exotic names, such as Choronzon…. (There never seems to have been a ‘George’ or a ‘Deirdre’ about in these accounts of ‘other worlds’ – unless, of course, the writer happened to be someone like James Joyce).

Established Western churches have been smart enough to refer to these ’experiences’ as ‘visions’ – which allows them the intellectual breathing space to decide whether or not they were beamed down to their various recipients by the ‘goodies’ (so allowing these hallowed institutions to lay some form of claim to them) or the ‘baddies’ (in which case… well …. just burn everyone involved here … ‘for their own good’, of course ) …All of which I think is ‘really smart’.

So I would say that this is an ‘area of experience’ which is saturated with the bogus claims of anyone – from your common-or-garden charlatan, to your ‘full-on’ hysteric… And thus … extreme caution is advised…

But this viewpoint of mine doesn’t mean that I don’t believe anyone ever had a ‘genuine mystical experience’ – quite the reverse… I can also appreciate why it is that those who have had a ‘genuine mystical experience’ might find it difficult to relay their accounts to others… Because it seems to me that many of these authentic experiences were ‘freebies’… That is – that they just ‘happened’ … and that no special preparation was necessarily required in order to experience them. ..(An ‘Act of Grace’ if you prefer).

So, from my perspective at least, it is hardly surprising then, that the overwhelming majority of those claiming to have had these experiences would find difficulty in describing them; as these recipients possessed no ‘active’ language to do so… And that if they wished to subsequently describe these experiences of theirs, then they first had to Work at developing their own active language ‘in the time process’ in order to do just that – like the rest of us down here would have to.. (The development of Boehme’s account of his experiences here is a fascinating case in point here for me. As, in my opinion, he starts off with the [privately printed, and publicly circulated without his permission] extremely confusing ‘Aurora’ and then goes on – becoming more and more lucid in his writings – as he gains more experience here.)….

Rather, then, usually these people were ‘victims’ of these experiences if you like, and so, more often than not, passive to them… And I imagine that they were really just as bewildered by what had happened to them, as those who were attempting to follow the various explanations/descriptions that they were attempting to provide.

The big ‘no-no’ of course, is that we are here firmly in the domain of the charlatan; the self-deluded; and the outright liar… Because, devising ways of making up these experiences in attractive language is relatively easy to do so, for those with the ‘gift of the gab’; and this also has the advantage that there are legions of mugs out there who are only too glad to, not only be simply entertained, and enthralled, by these accounts, but also to part with large sums of cash, in order to do belong to the corresponding, resultant, club (cult).

NOTE: This viewpoint of mine re ‘mystical experience’ puts me in the situation where the only way I would be happy to elaborate further here would be to launch into an extended explanation of – what I take to be – the difference between cases where ‘the ego has been assimilated by the ‘self’ (a quite different entity from the ‘Self’ for me); and ‘the ‘self’ has been assimilated by the ego’… Which I’m not going to do right now…(But if anyone’s interested – let me know)..

People who I would see as having had a genuine ‘mystical experience’ would include Jacob Boehme and William Blake… Those who I would view as not having had a mystical experience would include Dante, Goethe, Shakespeare, Milton, William Law … and Eugene Halliday…

‘Mystic’.

In short then, I don’t believe that Eugene Halliday ever had a ‘mystical experience’ … And in my view, of the three terms here, it’s the last one – ‘mystic’ – that comes closest to saying something useful about him for me… But in order to support this claim of mine, I would have to tell you what I mean by ‘mystic’ in this particular case – at least what it is that constitute my ‘limits of the application of this term’ here.

The mystic, for me, is someone who creates a state in others – usually by making use of language, (either in speech, or in writing) – of believing that there needs to be some supremely important redirection in their life activity… This affect is, primarily, due to the result of the listener or reader being inspired (with the associated, subsequent experience of a sudden flow of conscious ‘positive energy’) by the web of ideas created in them that the experience of listening or reading here, has induced in them.

There is also a definite sense for me, from listening or reading, that the ‘mystic’ is looking both inwardly and outwardly (or perhaps ‘panoramically’ would be better) almost simultaneously …. That they can ‘see’ …. That they are describing something.. And also, importantly, that they are only describing one part of ‘it all’ at any one time … These parts would, for example, constitute the various subjects of Eugene Halliday’s talks, or essays …. This effectively means that we only get a part – and not the whole – at any one talk, or in any one reading of his… But also, confusingly for us perhaps, we can also sense that each of these ‘parts’  form part of  this greater ‘whole’ here…

Another important aspect here for me, is that any impression of the production of – what might be called – ‘theology’, arises only out of what is being presented at the particular time of the talk or essay. There is then the absence, or minimum amount here, of ‘mysticism’ present… A subject, that – when all is said and done – is just another bag to hold yet more theories and dogmas … just another ‘ism’, if you like.

The ‘mystic’ then, is characterized by me as presenting material that arises from personal experience. It is a ‘seeing’ that, at the same time as this ‘seeing’, confers the necessary energy required for producing a clear description of what it is that is ‘seen’…. Hence this ability of his to ‘talk from scratch’ etc…

The Work that – as a consequence of this ‘seeing’ – is being done here, by Eugene Halliday, is in the tying down, by him, of what it is that he is ‘seeing’, and the resultant re-presenting of it in some form of cohesive structure (in Eugene Halliday’s case, this would be his active language)

In my experience, what is being described by Eugene Halliday is often not of any particular ‘religious importance’ (although I think it was blindingly obvious that his focal point was a decidedly Christian one) and neither did this ability of his to ‘see’ provide him – as far as I’m concerned – with any, so-called, ‘psychic powers’ (whatever they might be) – although many of his ‘followers’ that I have met, appeared to like playing around with inventing suggestions that ‘perhaps’ he did have the odd one or two; or, at least, seemed genuinely troubled (or puzzled) that he couldn’t, say, walk through walls, or read people’s minds…

Rather then, I will say that Eugene Halliday did produce in me this clear sense that an integrative process and a unification – together with a sense of purpose and a state of conviction and positivity – was taking place ‘in him’ …. And that’s as near to admitting the possibility of the existence of an ‘inner-human spirit’ that I’m prepared to go… At least in print … :-)

Most importantly in my view – where it concerns anyone else’s attempts to Work – Eugene Halliday cannot give his ‘eyes that see’ to others here… He can only talk, or write, about what he can see; and his words will have little meaning for those who lack at least some rudimentary vision in this area.

However, I have come to realize that there are those, like me, who – while we have great difficulty in articulating what it is that we can see – are reasonably certain that what Eugene Halliday is clearly describing, is also ‘out there’ for us… Maybe it is dimly lit, or fragmented, in our case, but – none the less – his talks and writings serve to confirm that it is ‘the same place’..

I do not mean to imply here that we must all somehow be ‘mystics’ here, in order to appreciate Eugene Halliday’s Work (I am not implying then, that there needs be some experience of an ‘election of grace’ in this sense here)… Only that the ability ‘to see’ seemed to have been experienced by Eugene Halliday as the prerequisite to this process of integration and reconstruction that he, as a consequence, went on to share with others…

Neither do I mean to minimize -what I believe was – his own sense of indubitable certainty here; but rather to take some comfort from his ability to overcome any difficulty that he had in clarifying this experience of his.

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The richness of his consequent conception(s) here are, I believe, his true legacy to the rest of us … and these then constitute, for me, the ‘fruits of his labor’.

Preventing the appropriation, and commodification, of these ‘fruits’  of Eugene Halliday’s by others; and providing a way of rooting out any distortions and biases (including my own) that arise from others, is essentially what my attempts at providing an archive of Eugene Halliday’s original material has been all about for me.

Oh! … And by the way, creating this Archive wasn’t an example of ‘me Working’ (How I wish it was!)… But was just an example of ‘me working’… Something that almost anyone could do – if they could be bothered, that is…. Also, I should add here, that in my opinion – regrettably – neither is ‘giving a talk’ an example of Working… And I mean ‘giving a talk’ on any subject… Take your pick: The Old Testament; The New Testament; Egyptology; Yoga; Atlantis; Gnosticism; Tai-Chi; Art Classes; Acting, etc etc etc. Because … obviously … if it were – then every teacher and lecturer in the world would be Working … Wouldn’t they?…

And this can be a major problem – that Working has absolutely nothing whatsoever necessarily  do with anything … Indeed, for me, Working is only, ever, ‘It aint what you’re doing, now; it’s the way that you’re doing it’, now’ … you might say.

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You have the opportunity to appreciate that Eugene Halliday responded ‘in the now’ to many of the questions that were asked of him, at many of his recorded talks… Because you have access to hundreds of examples of him doing so in the Archive … So why not stop for a moment and try to let that sink in… And ask yourself if you could ever do something like that, as you ‘are’ now … and if not, why not…

And then, for a little exercise here, why don’t you listen to one of his talks, and keep saying to yourself – every 30 seconds or so – “All this is completely unprepared,” for the hour plus that the talk takes to listen to… … … And then see how you ‘feel’ about that…

I believe that this could help you … if you’re really serious about Working yourself – that is.

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There is no magic in words, though, it must be confessed, they often exercise a psychological influence so profound and far-reaching that they seem to possess a miracle-working efficacy. Some persons live all their lives under the suggestive spell of certain words…

Rufus M Jones

What was Eugene Halliday to me in the context of this particular post on the subject of ‘Work’ then? He was a rarity for me…. Someone that I could observe ‘at Work’.. And his method of inter-acting with others here was done in such a way that he was continually demonstrating to the members of his audience how Working was accomplished ‘in the now’… All that they had to do was ‘be there in the now to witness it’ with him… (Regrettably, in my view, also something of a rarity… :-)  )

For me then, that primary, active word that I was looking for, – that defining characteristic of Work, as far as I’m concerned – is ‘clarity’… You could call this clarity ‘The ‘signature’ of Work’ for me then…

If I experience someone as Working, then what I experience of what it is they have done will be this striving for clarity. They will not appear ‘mysterious’, or ‘enlightened’, or ‘on a higher level of consciousness’, or ‘holy’, or ‘spiritual’, etc. … but simply – even though they may not be all that easily understood, perhaps – clear

The experience of mine – where it concerns this degree of clarity  for me – will reflect both the Work that has been done here, and also whether or not I am – in the moment – in the right place to see it….

By the way – there is, of course, always then the distinct possibility that what might be very obvious to someone else here might be completely opaque to me… (Keeping this in mind though, helps to keep all the hubris and arrogance in line quite nicely … :-) )

This clarity that I experience, and which comes about as a result of my attempts to engage actively with the Work of others (Eugene Halliday for me in this instance) successfully, illuminates what it is that that had been Worked on… But if I were only passively engaged at the time – if I were just there, say, for the entertainment value – then this illumination would rapidly fade for me in an hour or so…

But if I were attempting to Work with this material myself (because I had been inspired) then this light would provide a much longer illumination. Such that there would now be the distinct possibility that what I could perceive could, consequently, now be formulated by me in my own unique, active way …

Here then is a reason, not only for the multitude of beings about who are – potentially at least – capable of Working, but also something of the ultimate purpose for all this in the way that things really are… And also, incidentally, what friends really are, and what they are really for…

‘Work’ ‘per se’ is not the important thing for me then. That is, arriving at a definition of what Work might be exactly… But ‘Working’ is  –  that is, what is it that can be done?

And so, a more in-depth appreciation of what it is that might be meant by Eugene Halliday’s ‘The limits of the application of terms’, for anyone attempting to Work, becomes the crucial factor here for me… How much of the meaning of all this to me, can I articulate myself using active language?

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Finally: You might find that posing the following questions to yourself could also help here – “Why am I the way that I am at the moment? What are the pertinent factors that have contributed to – or are determining – why this ‘who’ that I am at the present time, is here… now?”.. and, “Is it possible that I might – perhaps – get to elbow some of the crap, that’s lying around here, out of my way in order to move forward a step or two – and so, possibly, improve a bit?” ….

To be continued……..

Bob Hardy

October 29th, 2013

 

Before continuing on…

I must stress here  … that the methods I have devised to assist me in any presumed understanding of Eugene Halliday’s ideas or concepts, were developed exclusively for my own use; and it must also be clearly (and unequivocally) understood that I make no claim whatsoever to possessing any kind of ‘universal authority’ here… Indeed, I fully appreciate that many might completely disagree with my approach.

Bob Hardy – from the ‘About’ page of this blog

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Nothing down here is ever quite what it seems… … ‘Par exemple’…

(The lights fade up slowly to reveal a plainly decorated room with pale green walls; and dark brown varnished wooden floor-boards that are partly covered by a threadbare, stained rug. The room is lit by a single bare electric light bulb, suspended from the ceiling. The furnishings consist of a coat-stand – on which hangs an over-coat; bowler hat; scarf; and umbrella; a small table, on which there is a kettle, a few cups, and a biscuit-tin, etc; an old-fashioned electric-fire. Against the back wall, in which there is a door, we can see a couple of green metal filing cabinets.

He is dressed conventionally in a wrinkled, shabby-looking cheap suit, and is siting on a revolving chair behind a cheap desk, on the top of which is an open file. There is a large, black, old-fashioned telephone to one side of the desk, and he is holding the handset up to his ear and mouth…

He appears to listen intently for a few moments, before finally looking up and frowning.. He begins to speak).

…No, no! … What I’m telling you, is that we have not yet discovered any sure-fire way of guaranteeing that they will understand any of the clues that have been left lying around down here… Most of the time they simply just don’t ‘get it’ at all! … (He pauses) In fact, most of the time they just don’t seem to ‘get anything’ at all! (He laughs) … And in some instances they will arrive at a conclusion that is so bizarre – (He breaks off suddenly and looks up as if searching for inspiration) …. I’m telling you – you just couldn’t make it up! (He laughs loudly, and then listens intently for a few moment before continuing)…  

Well, as I say, not very many of them have the faintest idea …. But there are a group of beings down here that the rest of them like to refer to as ‘Artists’ … And sometimes, the ones that they call ‘Poets’ do attempt to create ‘more serious’ works. Often making use of – for some unaccountable reason – specific metaphors … For example, English-speaking poets are very fond of inserting the names of various Greek or Roman gods – such as Zeus, Apollo, Juno, Mars, Aphrodite, Hermes, Mercury, and Venus etc, into their poems to give them a touch of dignity; or Hindu Ishvaras – like Krishna, Rama, Shakti, Shiva and Kali, to add that little dash of ‘exotica’ here … A convention that they probably like to imagine automatically confers some degree of ‘special insight’, or ‘heightened realism’ in situations that they have come to believe are really important … … Such as an account of some famous battle or other where they – yet again – slaughter one another in great numbers; or descriptions of what they imagine are ‘heightened states’; or of what it is that happens to them when they inevitably die; … or other such scenarios …

Anyway, one of their … what they call ‘geniuses’ in this particular field of ‘poetry’ … a field that actually just seems to me to be a fancy way of labeling the creative output of someone who is struggling to present the truth as they see it…(He pauses)

..Well, if you ask me, ‘telling the truth’ is a discipline that – unfortunately – most of them do not happen to be particularly good at. (He pauses)… Which probably explains why they tend to see those who attempt to do so as somehow … special … I suppose! (He pauses and listens intently again) 

Well no! … I don’t really know how it is that so very many of them have managed to get themselves in this mess either! (He pause and smiles) You tell me!…(He leans back in his chair before continuing) ….

Anyway, to get back to what I was going to tell you about …. I have to say that much of what this particular ‘poet’ of theirs has created is very … insightful ….But he does get so wrapped up in trying to keep the style of the thing going, that he manages to make at least one real howler…

But, on the positive side, I would say that this particular example does demonstrate very nicely what it is that we’re actually up against down here … (He leans forward, pauses, and passes his hand over his face as if thinking, before continuing)

This particular poet’s name was Dante Alighieri, and he was around approximately seven hundred of their years ago – about 1300 AD their time … just before their ‘Black Death’ …. You remember that….

Anyway, (He waves his free hand and arm dismissively) he was a native of Florence, Tuscany, in what they now call Italy, just at the beginning of what the local tribes in the greater area to the North and West of this particular locale later referred to as their ‘Renaissance Period’ ….And he wrote, amongst other things. something the he called ‘The Divine Comedy’ … (He pauses as if listening) Yes … I know! What a ‘spot on’ title that is !

… This ‘Divine Comedy’ was in three parts, and the first part was called the ‘Inferno’ – which is Italian for ‘Hell’ … And look! …I’ll repeat that I personally regard Dante’s imagery  – his vision of things if you like – how he ‘sees’ all this – as amazing!… And, that in my view, this piece of writing is, in the main … and generally speaking … an extremely interesting piece of work …

But, as I say, he does make this extraordinary howler… which is in Canto III of this ‘Inferno’ – where he describes coming across a cave in a wood, over which are written the following words …”Lasciate ogne speranza, voi ch’intrate” … which translates as,” All hope abandon, ye who enter in!”  … (He pauses as if listening) ..

Well of course we know what he saw … But … just wait til I tell you what he thought he saw! …

He makes this entrance out to be the one you go through when you’re on the way to what they call ‘Hell’… And, once again by the way, his descriptions of what is going on in that place they like to imagine is ‘down there’ makes for very interesting reading… In fact at their stage of development at that time, I would say ‘ten out of ten’ for effort (He pauses, continuing on in a slightly louder voice)

But of course he’s got it completely wrong!!  …Because, had he stopped to think about it, he would have quickly realized that no one here could ever be induced to abandon their ‘crutch of hope’ until they were absolutely convinced that they will no longer need it!! … And maybe not even then!!  (He pauses to listen, before giving a short, snort-like laugh) …

Exactly!! Of course!! … It was the exit from Hell that he’s seen in his vision! … And – if he but knew it – this is actually the entrance to the other place!!… In fact, if you look at the etching that one of their later graphic artists – Dore – produced of this scene, you can see it shining through all the gloom! … (He pauses again, and the lights begin to fade as he finishes speaking swinging round in his chair to crouch over the phone)

I’ll say it again .. And I really do mean it! … You couldn’t make this stuff up if you tried! .. It’s things like this that make it almost worthwhile being down here! (Black-out as we hear the sound of the phone being placed back on the cradle) …”

 

Dante's Inferno - 'Abandon all hope ye who enter here'.

From ‘Fieldnotes for Armageddon’ by Bob Hardy

 

Now we must also remember another thing… Every being has come on earth for the express purpose of learning what it means to be a human being. We come here to learn.. and we’ve got no time for anything else.

Eugene Halliday – from his talk ‘Magic’

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Notes from a conversation with Zero Mahlowe  (2007)

All that there is …  is Sentient Power… Modalities of Sentient Power are: Power to contemplate – to think; Power to feel – to experience; Power to act – to will; Power as matter – substance.

We ask the following three questions about anything: Why? .. How? .. What?

‘Why’ is a  Psychological Question.  ‘How’ is a Mechanical Question.  ‘What’ is a Substantial Question.

‘Why’ is concerned with motive, or purpose.   ‘How’ is concerned with process, or means.   ‘What’ is concerned with the benefit, or end result.

 Why do we wish to realize a given purpose? … For some benefit.

How can we realize this purpose? … By ‘such and such’ means.

What is this benefit that we wish to realize? … A particular state of consciousness.

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What we term ‘Human Evolution’ can be viewed as a movement of ‘Sentient Power’; as cosmic intelligence positing within itself ‘pluralizations’ or ‘beings’.

Each one of these posited beings has a purpose; which is that it will eventually be able to function consciously, deliberately, and by act of will freely from within itself – such that it will eventually be absolutely self-determinant, and absolutely reflexive … And when this has occurred, it will constitute an end to its evolution.

Various individual human beings, in the recent past, have been further along this evolutionary path than others, and so they can serve to provide us with an indication of future possibilities for human beings. For us in Europe, we can see this in the recent emergence of certain schools of psychology; in various accounts of ‘how it really is’ – generally subsumed under the broad umbrella of ‘mysticism’; certain schools of philosophy – particularly Existentialism and Phenomenology; in the rise of Quantum Physics as the ‘explanation’ for matter; and in the implications arising from the rapid rise of ‘virtual communities’ via instantaneous global communication on the Internet .. etc.

All these constitute, in the end, the various states of consciousness that are experienced by particular beings. These states can be viewed as attempts on the part of an evolving cosmos to precipitate itself into various states of individuation - a consequence of ‘grasping itself to itself’ – in order to create a plurality of conscious beings. 

The only way to arrive at any heightened awareness of the existence of this processes itself, is ‘to come to be what one really is’ … And the only way to do this, is by the – usually difficult and painful – process of ‘Working’.       

From ‘NOCTURNAL EMISSIONS’
‘Random Dribbling from the Twilight World of the Undead’
by Bob Hardy
(A series of fragments from Bob Hardy’s notebooks – from the late-1970′s to date)

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Although I’ve always enjoyed both listening to, and reading Eugene Halliday’s material; for a long time now my major purpose in doing this has been to use it solely as an aid to Working.

Thus, engaging in some form of consensus here (something that most of the others I have met – who claim to have had, either some kind of relationship to Eugene Halliday, or some ‘understanding’ of his ideas – appear to consider to be of prime importance) is of relatively little concern to me….A viewpoint of mine that might seem odd at first, particularly if I also add here that, ultimately, I am not particularly concerned as to whether or not Eugene Halliday would have agreed with any of the conclusions that I have drawn from my interaction with his material – or in anyone else’s opinions or conclusions here necessarily, for that matter…

Working can have very little, even perhaps nothing, to do with ‘agreeing’ …Working is about coming to ‘know; ‘or ‘see’; or ‘experience’  yourself … who you really are; and is not at all about what it is that you would like to ‘know’; or ‘see’; or ‘experience’ here  …

One of the common over-riding major obstacles to any attempt at Working, is the inability to make the decision that you will – ‘right now’ – attempt to move on… A state of affairs that, in my experience anyway, is usually the result of being unable to convince yourself that you now understanding some thing (or some situation) well enough for you to risk using it to ‘stand firmly on’ yourself – without being overly fearful that everything, as a consequence, will all somehow collapse around your ears (although this is what will happen eventually anyway … … … … I’m jus’ sayin’)..

If you do hang around though, this situation will very often – in fact more often than not – further devolve into a pointless discussion (with either yourself, or others) – in which all that you seem to be doing is endlessly dithering over a series of trivial intellectual objections that somehow keep cropping up … The real purpose of which is, of course, to keep you firmly where you are, with ‘your head up your own behind’..

This is a situation that I would say that you will just have to ‘get over’ – and I can only stress that, in my case, I am continually attempting to make sense of all this only in order to move forward… So the idea that there is a particular body of ideas; or a state of being; or a physical activity, that constitutes – in some bizarre and overriding way – how to do all this ‘properly’, or as ‘the only correct method’, is not something that I have ever been able to grasp – although I would maintain (if I am going to stick to the metaphor of ‘a journey’ here) that everyone engaged in this Working must eventually arrive at the same destination….

Another common pitfall here is to make a decision that you are going to be one of ‘God’s little helpers’ in all this – you know, to be ‘really useful’ here if you can … and present yourself as someone who is ‘sticking around’ in order to help others here in their journey…(You really do want to move forward of course, but you’ve made the ‘selfless’ decision that you’re going to be the ‘last one off the ship to climb into the lifeboat’ … Because that’s the ‘noble thing to do’ .. Isn’t it?)…  A contrived scenario of yours which now gets you very nicely out of the problem of attempting to get up off your own behind, and actually demonstrate the far more difficult problem of moving forward the odd micro-inch yourself…

If it helps, here’s another way of looking at this … It’s a bit like the difference between actively seeking to develop an appreciation for gourmet food, by investing heavily in the process of seeking out – and then frequenting – certain restaurants; as against, not only learning to cook this food yourself, but also developing the ability to concoct new recipes.

Metaphorically then, you could say that for me, Eugene Halliday’s body of Work functions as a light; or series of beacons, or markers, which indicate a direction for me that I might be able to take… A direction that could hopefully result in me moving forward (as opposed to moving sideways, or even backwards)…. But that the selection for any of the clothes that I chose to wear; the things I take with me; those other beings I chose to travel with; the way that I experience this journey (and consequently relate to it); or the various means that I employ in order to navigate the terrain – these are all my sole responsibility. And any consequences arising from my freely engaged-in choices here are to be born, solely, by me. …

My experiencing of Eugene Halliday’s material as ‘effect’ then, is the production of this ‘affect’ in me – of a belief that if I engage with this material further, it will assist in moving me forward…. So, although I do believe that a sense of gratitude is most definitely in order here, this position of mine does not support any notion to the effect that the purpose of engaging with Eugene Halliday’s material is merely to somehow eventually emerge here as – at best – some sort of ‘intellectual doppelganger’, or ‘Halliday-ian apologist’; or that his Work constitutes some sort of lacuna, and that what I’m doing here is somehow filling in the odd blank – as it were..

Anything else therefore, that might go on as a result of engaging with Eugene Halliday’s material becomes, in this final analysis, irrelevant … Thus, over a period of time, coming (perhaps) to be addicted to – what you like to believe is – ‘enjoyment’ in all this, would mean – from my perspective at least  – that you have squandered any profit you may potentially have been able to realize in doing so; and will now, instead, be either content to remain exactly where you are (in order to further ‘enjoy’ yourself) or, more alarmingly, now be moving backwards …. It’s like claiming that Christ ‘really enjoyed’ the decision he made to lug that cross around those twelve stations, before being nailed to it by a bunch of Romans … (Apologies if I went a bit deep on you there) …

This way of my ‘being in the world’ I have found very difficult to describe to others (and quite  impossible to ‘pass on’)… Such that, in my experience, I would have to say that you are either ‘like this’ or you aren’t … And, by the way, although I’m quite happy with this state of affairs, I would stress that I don’t view it as – in any way – particularly desirable or advantageous … and I certainly don’t view it as in some way ‘an essential requirement’ for others in all this… I just happen to experience my ‘being’ positively in this way  – at least for part of the time :-) … The few others who I like to think I’m sharing this journey with, are nothing at all like me … And indeed … would probably be deeply insulted if anyone suggested to them that they were.. (Hard to believe, I know, but there it is) …

But I do hope (although, in the past, I have paid far to much attention as to whether or not it is the case) that other(s) in the relationships that I have engaged in here will benefit also …  However, it did eventually dawn on me that ‘being concerned for others’ here made it very easy for me to justify not Working .. (“Too busy pretending to be ‘Mr Wonderful’…”)…  And I did come to realize that – once having committed myself – I have a tendency to ‘stick around’ in a relationship or a situation here, desperately attempting to ‘fit square pegs into round holes’ as it were, even though I might be being told by others (and if I bothered to stop for a moment, would see it clearly for myself) that this particular situation has long ceased to ‘go anywhere’; has long ceased to be of any practical use to any of those involved – particularly me! ….

On the other hand, for example, although I have found that much of what I have been engaged in during the past couple of years has turned out to be excruciatingly difficult for me deal with – in the end it I can see that I have learnt a great deal about myself from this exercise … So… I would have to say that there’s also an element of ‘you never can tell until you’ve tried it’ here!…

[NOTE: By the way, 'Sacrifice' (in what I take to be Eugene Halliday's use of this word at least) in the situation(s) that I have attempted to outline immediately above is a different matter entirely... Something you might like to check out for yourself though - by making use of the 'Search' facility of Josh Hennesey's transcription site, located a click away, here]

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So then, is Eugene Halliday in some way essential in all this?…  Well…Where it concerns you, that’s not for me to say  … But where it concerns me? … My answer would be a qualified, ”Yes!” … In the sense that I made a decision to engage in, and Work with this material some time ago; and that in having done so, I am aware that this would obviously limit me – as this decision of mine served to define and fix (or locate) me metaphorically, in this specific area.

This decision of mine – that I believe I freely committed to – can have a serious down-side for others who might try it, particularly if they are inclined to be neurotic, and somewhat insecure – and so liable to be more obsessed about matters of self-worth, than of making progress…

Because, although it can be relatively easy for them to appreciate that they are being helped by someone like Eugene Halliday. Due to the nature of the ‘transference’, and the matter of ‘projecting’ (processes that are normal, and to be expected, in this situation) – they will tend to cling to the comfort afforded to them by the social situation that they now find themselves in, and thus it becomes almost impossible for them to move on … And they will, instead, rotate endlessly around the object of their desire in this relationship of theirs (in this case Eugene Halliday)…. This result is usually accompanied by some justification or other – perhaps the claim that they don’t know quite what to do (yet), and that they’re not ready; or that they believe that they have already somehow ‘arrived’ – and are now convinced that ‘moving on’ is not what the game is about…

And even if you don’t fall into this pitfall, one of the first things that you must attempt to understand (perhaps ‘intuit’ or ‘have faith in’ might be better) is that if you decide to Work (although you have always and everywhere been capable of doing so) part of what can happen to you – especially when you begin – is that it will seem to you that almost everything, and everyone you are in relation with, appears to be conspiring to prevent you… …  Just so you know …

So, hopefully, it will now be a little clearer for you to understand, that for me, going away on retreats; maintaining a special diet; engaging in various practices such as yoga; martial arts; marathon running; painting and drawing; astrology; homeopathy and other New Age pursuits; writing poetry; playing music; studying (either academically, or privately); becoming an expert in anything from Anthropology to Zoology; writing dictionaries, or constructing Etymologies; becoming proficient in a variety of languages; etc. etc… None of these activities – in and of themselves – are necessary for any attempt by you at Working … and that further, these activities do not in and of themselves (and indeed could not), necessarily constitute examples of Working… Because, if it were the case that these forms of activity did constitute Working itself, then there would be millions of people out there who would be doing just that… And – as someone who would claim to have ‘been round the block’ a couple of times – I like to think I would probably have noticed that there were far more ‘out there’ than the handful here that I have actually come across …

Regrettably for me then, being surrounded by any number of beings who are all engaged in these various situations and occupations, and who – it could be claimed by others – are Working then … has not been my experience here …at all! … …

[NOTE: But I do believe that the question, "Who is, or who is not, Working?" is one that is far more complicated than this; and that any answer given will risk presenting those attempting to provide one (and I would most definitely include myself here) as being, in some measure at least, hubristic - or, at least, of being in continual, immanent danger of being so .... So .. be sure you appreciate then, that - in the situation(s) alluded to by me in the above few paragraph at least - this is only the conclusion, experientially, that I have reached... And I am not maintaining - at all - that this should, or would, be your conclusion in the same situation(s)]

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I’m going to begin the final bit of this post by repeating that it is possible (in principle at least) for anyone to Work in any situation whatsoever that they happen to find themselves in … And that once all the preconceptions have been cleared away – which, unfortunately, is a process that can (in my particular instance at least) take decades – the actual technique to be used is very straightforward… You might even call it ‘simple’ :-)

As I mentioned in my previous post, I would now like to start introducing Eugene Halliday’s Work itself here, with a view to facilitating some discussion about it on this blog’s forum.

Here then, is a short piece of his that was first published in the parish magazine of ‘St Michaels and All Angels’ in February of 1969. There is now a copy of this available for viewing, and downloading, from Josh Hessnessy’s site here …. Click on ‘Written Work’ in the Menu bar at the top of the page and you’ll find it there…. Incidentally the pdf version available for downloading here also includes a scan of the original article.

To make things even easier for you, I’ve also recorded an audio version of this essay which I have tagged for iTunes … Now – although I’d be the first to admit that my effort here is not exactly ‘Richard Burton reads Dylan Thomas’ – nonetheless I hope that  it will still ‘do the trick’ for you – if, say, you want to ponder on this essay when you’re ‘out and about’ in your car… Anyway here it is: The Idea of Sin by Eugene Halliday – read by Bob Hardy  To download this audio file to your computer, simply right click on this link and select ‘Save Link As’; or you can just click on this link in the normal way and it will then play on your computer (but you might have to wait a minute or so for it to load in).

If you’re relatively new to all this, I would suggest that you attempt, first of all, to pay close attention to your initial feeling-tone here. That is – to the degree of ‘yes’ or ‘no’ that you are experiencing – as this constitutes both the ‘polarity’, and the intensity, of your reaction; and also to your subsequent analysis of this reaction. Be conscious that you are attempting to use your own terminology here. Strive for self-clarity; for the development of your own ‘active language’ – either spoken or written – and which hopefully, from now on, you will be attempting to refine continuously.

NOTE: I have already mentioned before on a number of occasions that it is possible for your attempts here to consist of some other form of expression  (or ‘text’) … Not a written or verbal account then, but perhaps a drawing, or a painting … or even a little dance … etc ..

Any viewpoints of yours that do eventually emerge; and any conclusions that you draw; etc, etc; should then be involved into some form of praxis by you, if at all possible … Otherwise what you have created here will ultimately turn out to be just another burden at best; or a particularly well-thought-out opinion of yours on ‘The Idea of Sin’ that you cannot prevent voicing to others whenever the opportunity presents itself … Or – perhaps a little more distressingly – this group of ideas that you imagine you now ‘understand’ (because you have concentrated on them) will simply fade from memory… The rule here then being ‘Use it or lose it’ – as it were …. …. (But I would say that you shouldn’t be too concerned about this last part for the moment….. Not just yet anyway … :-) …)

The idea is not to just ‘understand’ the essay – that is, to ‘have’ it, or ‘possess’ it … (although this is part of it – in the beginning at least). … Your major concern here is to appreciate what your relationship is to it; how you were affected by it (by the process of recalling it for now perhaps, if you can’t do this ‘in the moment’ yet) and not just simply ‘what it means’ (as this phrase is understood in  common speech).

If you’re having difficulty understanding what I mean in this last bit… This might help a little…

If you are reading something that is in your native language – unless it is constructed entirely of a technical language – there will always be parts of it that you will (let us use this word for now) ‘understand’… So – if you read something like, “On rotating the ‘calamaleno spring’, the ‘whiz-banger’ should now start to vibrate,” … although you mightn’t have the fainest idea what a ‘calamaleno spring’ or a ‘whiz-banger’ is, you do know what the rest of the words signify … However the Swahilli phrase ‘Kufunga mlango’ would be completely incomprehensible to you – even though it translates into English as, ‘Shut that door’…

Your depth of understanding is not what is important here  … Halliday’s, ‘The Idea of Sin’, can easily be understood by two different persons in two different ways; indeed, it’s possible for one person to understand it in two different ways! … What you are trying to do primarily in this exercise, is to drag into the full light of consciousness, all the other stuff that’s going on inside you when you are confronted with this text … And the first step here is to realize (probably to your complete amazement) that there are all sorts of ‘other things’ going on ‘in there’…

So striving to understand this essay isn’t what we are ‘actively doing’ … What you’re doing is attempting to develop methods of WorkingAnd no matter what smart ideas you believe you have come across here – what ‘insights’ you believe you’ve gained – if this is all that’s going on, then you’re not Working… And this can be the case even if the results of your endeavors here resulted in you winning the Nobel Prize – because you can deliver ‘the very last word’ on ‘sin, sinners, and sinning’; or that you find yourself siting on a platform next to the Dalai Lama, availing ‘one and all’ of your deep wisdom… … I would bet that you will – almost certainly – still be fast asleep here, and further, that there is more than a good chance you have never actually been awake … ever…. :-(

Things to try to be aware of in the moment – What comes up in you just from being presented with a title like this? ….  Is there any intellectual content in it: Is there any emotional content in it?: Is there any urge to act? (There will be all three by the way – but at this stage you might not be aware of this)…

When describing this state to yourself, attempt to create as much interest in it as you can … It doesn’t matter what this interest is.. In fact it doesn’t even matter what place in the essay you start with – just strive to ‘engage’ with the text – do not attempt to just ‘watch yourself ‘ (whatever that’s supposed to mean) … Get yourself a bit sweaty if you have to, but you must involve (that’s something quite different from ‘observing’) yourself… Because it is only this interest of yours in yourself (and nothing else) that will generate the energy required to precipitate you into any creativity here… If you’re successful, you will then produce something (no matter how trivial you believe it is) that will be in some way unique to you… And this process that you have actively and consciously engaged in, is what will make you an Artist – just like Mr Halliday … Maybe a fledgling one for the moment – as far as the world, and maybe even you, are concerned at least – but none the less, a real one.

And if you’ve ‘done this right’, you should feel some real sense of accomplishment and possibly excitement here – because you find you’re ‘enjoying’ (if I might use that word) the exhilaration of relating to something, and not just of ‘trying to think of something clever’ here, in order to impress others…

Maybe – at first – you will be a little protective of what you’ve achieved, and perhaps a little too sensitive to criticism, but you must learn to accept this – not everyone will think you’re efforts here are wonderful… And anyway, very shortly you won’t care about that, even if you decide to write down your experiences in something like a blog, and almost no one reads it.. Because although you must Work in the open in the world (that’s just how it is) what you will be seen to be doing – to almost everyone who imagines that they are observing you -  is not what you are really (good word that) doing … at all!! It might even seem profoundly obscure and somehow ‘special’; or perhaps even ‘secret’, and ‘arcane’ to others …  A situation that can result in you never having a minute to yourself if you’re not careful, as these others will be continually ‘earnestly’ wanting you to explain just ‘how you do it’ – every ‘nut and bolt’ – if they can get you to;  or get you to give them advice, or attempt to give you advice; or perhaps even argue with you about all this …

Simply put :-) … All that you are actually doing, is engaging in the process of revealing yourself to yourself; and striving for ever-more efficient ways of supplying structure and feedback here to yourself… So, as a consequence of attempting to do so as efficiently as possible then, you should strive to press into service here, anything whatever that is available and that you can use – at any one time – in order to ‘keep you at it’…

If someone else happens to find your approach useful, in their own attempts at moving forward, then so be it … But – because of the way things fundamentally are here – you can have no control over this .. You can force no-one here … And you cannot do this for them – even if you, or they, wanted you to… It can only be done alone … Having a friend along here will help – but you will only ever earn one of these if you’ve ‘put the time and effort in’…

So, in the end then…if it helps … you could say perhaps that, “Working has a lot in common with dying.”…

I will be posting something on the Forum about this essay of Eugene Halliday’s towards the end of next month, and I would be delighted if anyone reading this blog decides that they would like to join in…

To be continued…

Bob Hardy

30th September 2013

 

Hello viewers…

This particular posting is rather long, and as it’s also somewhat involved, I’ve split it up into sections using these things – ◊◊◊◊

Anyway, here the first bit.

I would, first of all, like to tell you something about Josh Hennessey’s site, which is located here

This site will – it is hoped – eventually contain transcripts of all of Eugene Halliday’s talks, and also all of his written material, in the form of freely downloadable digital files.

However, the most important feature of this site for me is its on-line ‘Search’ facility, which will now make it possible to locate any particular word or phrase used by Eugene Halliday, in any of the files of his talks or writings that are presently housed on this site…

[For instance, placing the word ‘Lucifer’ in the ‘Search’ box will - at the present time - give you no less than 17 separate locations where Eugene Halliday makes use of it. A further example - the word ‘sentient’ is presently to be found in 68 locations].

So then, there will be, hopefully in the not too distant future, a way for those who are serious about studying Eugene Halliday’s ideas, to cross-reference his use of any particular word or phrase over the whole range of his talks and essays. A facility that will, I believe, considerably reduce the problems that might arise from the acceptance of a too simple; or one-sided; or ‘conveniently’ selective; or aphoristic ‘cherry-picking’, approach, to these ideas.

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When you’re interested – God’s interested

                                                                                         Eugene Halliday

 

I also feel that it is now time for me to write something about the events that took place round about the time – in 2004 – that I began my attempt to provide ‘one and all’ with a ‘Eugene Halliday Archive’… I believe this account is of interest here because – some 20 or so years after Eugene Halliday’s death (which was when I first began this project) – it was by no means clear, at least to me, whether or not some sort of selection process had been put in place (by person or persons unknown) that was determining just who should, and who should not, have access to this material. This situation was (and should still be) I maintain, a cause for genuine concern, at least until all this material is unequivocally available to all, without any restrictions whatsoever.

Broadly speaking, this situation centered around various attempts by a number of people to act, in some way or other, as ‘gatekeepers’ here. The major problem I had with this was that I could not actually get to the bottom of just how it had come about that the people – who were now claiming to be in charge here – had actually pulled this off. And frankly, at the time, what I did discover about all this seemed, to me, to be more than just a bit shady …

Before I start though, I will admit that – from what I’ve written immediately below at least – it’s fairly obvious that in the beginning, I hadn’t really thought this thing through…. And I’ll just repeat here – once again – that you are, of course, completely free to supply your own interpretations to my account here … But, on the bright side – and if nothing else – this account of mine might tell you something about ‘human nature’… even if it’s only about mine….

This section of the post then, is an attempt by me to relate: why I did it; what at the time I was sure the outcome of my doing so would be; and finally, what it was that actually happened … instead.

So, if there’s anyone out there – nine years on – who might still be wondering, “But what was in this for him?” … Here, once and for all, is the answer to that question, ‘straight from the horse’s mouth’.

I’ll begin by mentioning that, when I first began this project in 2004, Eugene Halliday had already been dead for almost twenty years… So I hope, dear reader, it is blindingly obvious to you that it was not as if I had ‘made my move here, before the corpse was even cold’ … as it were.

Some eight years or so previously (during the mid-1990’s – and particularly after the death of David Mahlowe) I could find next to nothing that led me to believe that Eugene Halliday was, in the near future, going to be anything other than a fading memory in the minds of a group of people who were in the main, more or less, ‘half-way through the last lap on their journey through life’ …(if I can put it that way)… And I would add here, that I can see nothing that has been put in place since, by those concerned, that addresses this problem.

Numbers here then, were dwindling  … (and still are) … and at an increasing rate…

Those that I did come across (between the late 1990’s up until the early 2000’s) and who were claiming in some way or other to be promoting, or basing their own efforts on, Eugene Halliday’s ideas, did not appear to be doing so at all, in my opinion ….

I was – beginning at around that time – concerned (and indeed I still am) that the opportunity to present Eugene Halliday’s ideas in an ‘unadulterated form’ to the public-at-large, while these ideas were still of some contemporary relevance, would simply be missed. … Either because of an innate desire to control access to this material by a gang of self-appointed ‘worthies’ (who appeared to me not have the faintest idea as to what it was that this material represented); or out of a self-centered desire to gain some sort of social standing by re-presenting various de-contextualized fragments of Eugene Halliday’s work, in order to legitimize some hybrid form of European-ized ‘oriental exotica’; or to shore-up the shallow sentimentality – in one form or other – of trendy, fashionable, New Ageism….

To put this ‘in a nutshell’ (!) …. If I could preserve Eugene Halliday’s material in it’s unadulterated form in some sort of archive – one that was freely available to all – then I believed that it wouldn’t really matter what the loonies out there got up to after that …

Crucial to my approach here, was that I believed Eugene Halliday’s ideas would either ‘grab’ the individual enquirer, or they would not… And thus, anyone’s initial response to this material then – as I saw it – was constituted along the lines of a simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’…

I had figured out long ago that the appropriation of the Work of people such as Eugene Halliday (for just about any purpose whatsoever) was, to all intents and purposes, unavoidable…. Material like this will always attract more than its fair share of  ‘Seekers after Arcane Wisdom’ – for good, or for bad…. And so I took the unilateral decision to ‘go it alone’ here, and start something myself. Focusing on the idea, that even if it helped only half-a-dozen or so people, then perhaps this was simply a consequence of the nature of things  …

I should also add that, in my particular case (and I really have no clear idea why), there was one significant aspect to this response of mine – which came about as a result of being exposed to Eugene Halliday’s ideas – that was of direct relevance to this whole ‘Archive’ project. And this was that I was conscious of a definite and pressing obligation to make some sort of concerted effort here and ‘pass on’ to others the opportunity to both hear, and read about, these ideas.

…. But how to go about this? … … Clearly, I needed a plan…

The wealth of original source material that I had at my disposal – in the form of so many of Eugene Halliday’s recorded talks and essays – seemed to make the solution to this problem relatively simple. Particularly as I believed no requirement would be required on my part (or on anyone else’s for that matter) to provide additional elaborate ‘interpretations’ of this material; or even for me to claim that I necessarily understood this material in the way that Eugene Halliday intended  …

I believed that all I was required to to do here was to simply make this material available via the Internet, and that it would then, as a direct consequence,  just ‘speak for itself’ …

This outcome appealed to me very strongly … and it still does … And to put this another way – it is like the experience of ‘rhythm’ to me – you either ‘get it’ or ‘you don’t’ ….(you can of course deliberately ‘fake it’ – particularly if the people that you chose to mix with ‘aint got it’ either… and as long as you always take care to avoid the company of those that do ‘have it’, as much as you possibly can)….

All rather obvious really… Or so I thought at the time…

In doing all this, I believed that I would then have discharged any obligation that I felt I was under here. And further, that my project was (I believed then) so self-evidently simple in its actual execution, that my motives here could not possibly be mistaken for anything other than they actually, and obviously, were.

I would make my archive as ‘severely functional’ as I could – basing the design of my site on Eugene Halliday’s ‘sheet of white paper’ (an idea that he used over and over again in his many talks, but that no one has actually picked up on – at least as far as the layout of my site was concerned).

There was also to be a complete absence of any claims by either myself, or anyone else, to be an authority here… And I would still maintain that – at the time – you would really have had to be an imbecile if you believed otherwise… Particularly as this archive site contained – at least for the first eight years of its existence (that is, up until 21012) – nothing else except the above said files of Eugene Halliday’s material, together with a contact email address for site visitors who might be experiencing problems with any downloading…

Anyway, after I had created this archive site, my fond hope was that I would then simply sit back, and wait for the deluge of interest (which I was sure it was going to create) to simply wash over me…. There would then begin a wonderfully fruitful period of my life, in which I would engage in a veritable cornucopia of productive discourses with those numerous kindred spirits – that I was so sure must be ‘out there’ … somewhere…

My thinking here was also, in part at least, based on the fact that – considering the subject matter of much of Eugene Halliday’s work – surely the only people who would bother to get in touch with me here were (at least initially) those who had spent the 20 or so years since the man’s death pondering over his ideas…

And I further imagined – that as a consequence of this said pondering – these people would have many interesting things to convey to me, regarding their personal life-experiences… Life-experiences involving any number of the subjects that Eugene Halliday had both spoken, and written about … Including, for example: ‘Love (defined as ‘Working for the potential of all being’); ‘Reflexive Self-Consciousness’; ‘Tacit Conspiracies’; ‘Truth’; ‘Sentient Power’; ‘etc. etc. etc. … … How it was that these ideas had ‘played out’ in their own lives then … as it were…

That’s what I expected, anyway….

Because surely, this was what the essence of Eugene Halliday’s Work was about … Wasn’t it? …

And I thought all this was really obvious….

But many of those who did contact me ‘way back then’ clearly thought otherwise, and that I must instead, somehow be ‘up to something’… A reaction which, at the time, told me a great deal more about these people than they perhaps realized …either at that time, or indeed since…

So, sadly, I must now go on to tell you that a significant percentage of the initial email responses that I did in fact receive (some nine or so years ago) caught me completely off-guard…. As the focus of attention here was not – as I imagined it would be – on Eugene Halliday’s ideas, but rather on just who should have access to this material, and who should not.

Among the more bizarre communications demanding that I ‘cease and desist’ here, was a letter that – it was claimed – had been ‘channeled’ from the (dead) Eugene himself (it was even ‘signed’ by him!!)… And, my particular favorite – a warning that unbridled access to recordings by Eugene Halliday could be dangerous for the uninitiated listener, as ‘His Master’s Voice’ (apparently) contained ‘dangerous vibrations’ … There was also one particularly slimy ‘appeal to reason’ – an appeal that almost, but not quite, masked the writers own personal ambitions here ….  I ‘kid you not’ folks! …

Others here were overwhelmingly hostile… The most virulent being those containing commands to ‘take this material off the internet immediately, because it didn’t belong to me’… Which I will freely admit is very obviously true…. But that’s not the point here though … Is it? … What is far more pertinent to statements over ‘ownership’ here, is that those issuing these commands appeared to believe that, somehow, this material had come to belong to them! …

I have to say that I found (and still do) the notion that anyone could somehow claim to ‘own’ the ideas of Eugene Halliday ridiculous: or the idea that some self-appointed guardian, or group of people, had decided that these ideas needed to be, somehow, ‘safe-guarded’ …. …. In case of what exactly? … In case it fell into the hands of a covert group of neo-Nazi’s from Wythenshawe – who then used it to seize control of a chapter of the Women’s Institute in South Cheshire?  … Or something like that?…

The next group of negative emails were from a number of people who claimed (and indeed, some who still do) – and who had also somehow managed to convince as many hapless others as they could – that they were empowered by some sort of ‘process’ (be this process quasi-legal; or via some supernatural agency; or by having been a ‘friend’ of the ‘master’ and ‘sat at his feet’) to now be responsible for – what shall I call it – the exclusive dissemination of Eugene Halliday’s various creative outputs. …

The remainder of these emails – and there were (thankfully) a considerable number of these – were, by and large, positive in their (unsolicited) opinion of my efforts here – which was very encouraging. …So ‘Many Thanks’ to these people …

But not one email that I received at that time concerned itself with what it was that Eugene Halliday’s material was actually ‘about’…. And, aside from the fact that I appeared to had got my prediction as to the reaction to my efforts from a grateful public, by and large, completely wrong  – I began to find this state of affairs to be intensely interesting..,.

What on earth was going on here? …

You will now (hopefully) at least begin to appreciate why, at the time, I found all this to be acutely disappointing … even mildly depressing…

I had somehow (because I hadn’t really thought about it too deeply at all) convinced myself that those who were claiming to have embraced the basic ideas of Eugene Halliday would, at this late date, now be moving forward by actively engaging in – what I perceived as – his major ‘themes’. These would certainly include then: the breaking down their own inertic patterns of behavior, and ideas; or the repeated attempt to dis-affirm their own self-wills, and rather instead, the striving to always ‘affirm the good’…

And further, that by relating accounts of their various efforts here to each other, they would have created a genuine (non-hierarchical) sense of community. And even if these accounts consisted – in the main – of an admittance that none of those involved here were getting quite as far, quite as quickly, as was first imagined, and that none of this was quite as easy (or as ‘simple’) as it might at first have seemed it was going to be… None-the-less, all this could, at the very least, be a very good method for keeping the level of hubris, that is always flying about in these circumstances, under some sort of control; and also serve to mediate, what was clearly an innate compulsion on the part of many here to ‘be in charge of things’….

To provide a ‘mutual support system’ then … ….

I imagined that something like this would have been going on …somewhere …..

But alas! What I seemed to have landed myself in the middle of instead, was a bunch of ‘experts’’ who were all – on the contrary – simply intent on  ‘enjoying life’; or – more alarmingly, as far as I was concerned – appeared to perceive no real dichotomy between: the ideas of Eugene Halliday; those of some German guy in a white suit, who had recently moved to Canada, and was doing very well from his book and DVD sales; or the practice of some fashionable variety of ‘calming exercise’ – which was usually relabeled, and subsequently presented by one self-appointed ‘teacher’ or other, as ‘really being’ some form of an ‘ancient mystical (usually) Indian practice – A bizarre, hybrid ‘half rice-half chips’ version as it were, that they went on to peddle to an unsuspecting public as ‘the genuine article’…    …

And so then, as far as these ‘followers of Mr Halliday’ were concerned  ….It seemed to me that, instead of having problems attempting to understand – via a serious study of his creative output – just what all this ‘might be about’, and then involving this newly acquired understanding in various forms of praxis …  ‘Au contraire’ … it was all just … very … … peachy.

Which left me ‘right outside of the loop’ here. Because, from what it was that I understood Eugene Halliday to be advising me to do here in order to move forward, I was finding, practically, to be – at the very least – extremely difficult and demanding … and in some areas of my life, downright impossible.

But, as I say, the negative response to both the Archive, together with my subsequent experiences with others here, soon began to fascinate me… and I started to be intensely interested in the whole performance that was taking place here ‘right before my very eyes’ …

Because it very quickly dawned on me that this sort of behavior – that is, the attempt to control the dissemination of someone else’s ideas (particularly if these ideas were of a ‘spiritual’ nature) by some self-appointed group or other; or to de-contextualize this material and so ‘water it down’, such that it could now be marketed as a desirable and pleasant experience, was typical of man’s cultural experience(s) concerning (what others are pleased to call) ‘The Major Religions’ (and probably the overwhelming number of ‘Minor Religions’ too)… [That said, there are obviously other ‘cultural experiences’ here that are not nearly as ‘pleasant’ – but these, I would maintain, are still merely ‘the other side of the coin’]…

Monitoring all this then, provided me with all sorts of insights into what it was that might really have happened to the teachings of those others who had also ‘fought the Good Fight’ during our remoter (and recent) historical past…  At least in principle.

But on the positive side here, a close friend of mine pointed out to me that when I began in 2004 – perhaps for the very first time in recorded history – it was now possible for interested parties, without the mediation of any ‘self-appointed authority’, to conduct their own researches here. And to also be able to discuss their subsequent conclusions freely with whomever they chose… Thus developing their own personal approaches to the concepts of people such as Eugene Halliday, in complete freedom….

Interested parties could then decide for themselves whether or not those who claimed to be Working with Eugene Halliday’s ideas were actually doing so, in their opinion – by ‘simply’ checking any claims that were being made here with the actual source material  ….

And I have to say that I found this particular perspective on all this very appealing. Because I saw that it had the immediate advantage of providing me with a method of quickly ‘checking out’ whether or not any person that I was engaging with ‘in the moment’ here, had actually done any Work. Or had simply been attracted to these ideas for one nefarious reason or another; and that their enthusiasm was probably just some vacuous reaction of theirs at the time, and nothing – or very little – more ….

But could this new way of proceeding really be any better, or any worse, than what had been in place here for the past couple of thousand years?

Well, as I see it, even if it were the case that many here would still ultimately ‘mess it all up’ for themselves – a conclusion to all this that, I believe, is inevitable for all of us [And, "Yes!" That would also include Eugene Halliday] …All of these attempts to ‘go forward’ I believe – in the end – boil down to understanding, as well as you are able, the degree to which you have indeed ‘messed up’. Together with the belief – the strength of which comes about as a direct consequence of this very striving – that you might actually be forgiven for doing so… (I see that I might just have turned into ‘Baffling Bob’ again here, and gone all mysterious on you  … Sorry)  …

Many do live in hope… And perhaps – during the present aeon – the Zeitgeist is in the process of changing so rapidly, that man’s present traditional ‘hallowed institutions’ might, indeed, now be ‘on the way out’ … And that ‘something else’ might be coming in to take its place …. (I know … I just went mysterious on you there again for a moment)…

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My involvement with Eugene Halliday’s ideas has always stemmed from a belief that there was a decidedly practical slant to them…. And I always banked heavily on a conviction that I would surely … eventually … become so inspired by these ideas of his, that they might even succeed in getting me to off the couch, and into doing something positive…..

With regard to any advice from others about Working with Eugene Halliday’s material, there is only one requirement that I believe is essential here, and that is: this advice must have been embodied by those giving it.

And my own advice to you here? (!) … Do not to be concerned about putting questions – to those who are attempting to pass on Eugene Halliday’s ideas to you – about their own personal experience(s) here, where it concerned the attempt by them to embody these ideas that they now claim to ‘understand’ and seem to want to ‘pass on’ to you: And also press them to tell you about just how it was that they went about this… And what was it exactly that happened to them as a consequence…..

Don’t be deflected either, by any sugary, sickly, conspiratorial ‘sagely pieces of advice’ trotted out by some self-styled ‘guru’ or other, to the effect that you should not, “be afraid to gain your own insights here,” or something like that… Because you surely already know this – if you bother to think about it… It’s just obvious isn’t it? … Just keep insisting, “Yes! But what is it exactly that you have actually done here yourself?”

You can easily tell if these people are talking from fragments of Eugene Halliday’s Work that they’ve attempted to commit to memory – because they will usually dry up very quickly; or they will attempt to bring a fragment of an idea from another area – such as ‘Indian metaphysics’, or mention the odd philosopher (usually Plato) – but only ever in passing… And your lasting impression will be that whole thing never managed to ‘go anywhere’ ….

You are, in fact, listening here to – what Eugene Halliday refers to as – ‘con-fusion’ (The ideas being presented to you have been melted together – in the heat of that desire to impress you, on the part of the person speaking here) … Their intention here is to convince you (and tragically, often themselves) that they actually ‘know something about all this’… But the end result here is always the same… Everyone present ends up with a faint, polite smile on their faces … And a few hours afterwards (or earlier, more often) almost everything they heard has faded from memory…

On the other hand, if the person giving the talk has embodied these ideas, on being asked your question here they will almost immediately – and confidently – attempt to reply… And you will normally now be aware of an almost unbridled enthusiasm – as they relay those very real, and crucially important, events from their life to you … And you will remember this.

Can you understand that they are not talking from memory here, but are talking instead ‘from themselves’. (I appreciate that this might be ‘difficult to get’ if you don’t – in some way – already know what I mean)… And so they will usually  be able to waffle on here for some reasonable time… There will be a little confusion perhaps – but this will be clearly experienced by you as a result of their enthusiasm’  … and you will have a definite sense that you have just been told something ‘real’ … Or – as Eugene Halliday would have it – you will have a definite sense that you have just been told something that made a difference to them

And you don’t need to develop that much sensitivity to feel this… But beware, because you might – if the talker has had a bit of practice here – be put into a passive state, just because you are being so superbly entertained…

Others here will have no scruples whatsoever about appropriating someone else’s experiences, and then relaying on to you these (pseudo) accounts as their own … They can even come to believe (tragically) that these events have actually happened to them (Weird huh?), like a certain kind of actor, who comes to wear their stage personae in their everyday daily life, as well as during their performances on the stage ….

All of which isn’t really much use to you if you’ve gone along to hear something that you have been told will ‘move you forward’ here.. (Although you could always treat your attendance at one of these meetings as an exercise for ‘being here now’).

Listening to those who are relaying ideas purely from memory  – or that are ‘coming just from the head’ if you prefer – is not going to help you. Indeed those who make a practice of this are probably instead, attempting to draw you in into their ‘sphere of influence’ by making use of one form or other of ‘The Tacit Conspiracy’… or, to put it that more dramatically, ‘psychic vampirism’ … and when you’ve been sucked dry, they will simply move on to someone else.

Most of the time this sort of behavior is reasonably easy to spot – because, if you’re paying attention (by watching your own reactions to all this here ‘in the now’ – like your supposed to) there will be too many instances of ‘the dots not quite joining up’ (because the person doing the talking has forgotten ‘this bit’ or ‘that bit’)  …

So, do be careful … This is a difficult game you want to play… Always be on the alert for danger signals… Such as a faint whiff of sulphur …

If some of this last bit sounds polemical  – ‘a bit over the top’ as it were – you might like to bear in mind that I have lived for the past five years or so, in Portland, Oregon, which is the New Age capital of the world … And I am, literally, surrounded by an army of yoga teachers; martial arts instructors; hypnotherapists; Buddhist monks; tarot card readers; acupuncturists; astrologers; regression therapists; wellness centers; zumba sessions; practitioners of Wicca, druidism, rosicrucianism; gnosticism etc. etc.; tatoo and piercing parlors; ‘medical marihuana’ dispensaries; Lesbian choirs; nude bicycle riding festivals; etc. et al,.. (to say nothing of the normal American ‘store-front’ churches; gang activity; and drive-by shootings; etc. etc)…..

And almost everyone I have met who is ‘doing this stuff’ here, shares one characteristic in common. Which is that they are all busy attempting to pedal information that they have clearly memorized from someone, or somewhere, else…

I do have to say though that I love it … And if I were asked to provide my own brief,  post-card description of Portland, it would be along the lines of, “Portland is  a ‘Spiritual Disneyland’ where people come to live in order to practice a variety of post-modern, ‘hyper-religious activities’” … … Perfect then for that ultimate ‘Celestial Pick-n-Mix’ … and to watch people ‘embracing the truth in all religions’ as it happens …

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How I manage to pull it off.

The one, sure-fire way of Working with ‘Eugene Halliday’s ideas is to posit yourself as an object, and then generate intense interest in yourself as an ‘object of study’ – until you become the most interesting object in the universe ….

But you must – while doing this – strive as much as you are able to always be ruthlessly honest with yourself, and with what it is that you discover about yourself here …

And – if you are even going to hope to begin to do any Work that is – having discovered just how far below your own very exacting standards you are, you must, in truth, then attempt the very difficult task of actually loving yourself. …

This is why (if you don’t want to find yourself in the position of wasting masses of valuable time) it is of premier importance to always ask those you meet along the way, and that you suspect might actually be really serious about doing some Work, about themselves – as soon as you can …

Luckily for me, I have only ever come across a few people who appeared to me to actually be doing any Work, as I see it anyway…  [Perhaps I should change my deodorant?]…

Eugene Halliday in his talks and essays provides, at the very least, many practical ideas about how one should go about this Working … But this does not minimize the fact – in any way – that it is you, and you ‘alone’ (good word that), who has to actually do every single bit of this Work…

So that then, if I do claim to understand any part of all this, this simply means that I have attempted to involve that particular aspect of Working into some form of praxis – and can now speak of it out of my experience… Which is not the same thing at all as me talking about it, simply because I have come to present myself to others as someone who ‘knows what Eugene Halliday’s ideas mean’ …

From ‘NOCTURNAL EMISSIONS’
‘Random Dribbling from the Twilight World of the Undead’
by Bob Hardy
(A series of fragments from Bob Hardy’s notebooks – from the late-1970′s to date)

Here’s a couple of much better ways of putting this last bit:

To create as some painters might, with a palette of concepts instead of colors, systems of internal consistency, logical expressiveness, or even architectonic beauty, is not the office of philosophy, though such activities might prove to be a valuable exercise in preparing oneself for that function; which is to examine into and discover the rationale and reason d’etre of this world, of this scheme, in which our histories and indeed we ourselves as well as our philosophies all occur. The bona fide aim of philosophy to discover the world in which we live, think, feel, sense, dream, and philosophize, has been too often neglected in attempts to justify the intellectual stencil which some system or school wished to place triumphantly over the world, at the expense of omitting a whole host of fundamental experiences and testimony ….

From ‘Illumination on Jacob Boehme in the Work of Dionysius Andreas Freher‘ by Charles A Muses (New York. 1951)

It is through direct experience that we come to know ourselves. It is through full engagement in life that all our senses, feelings, and thoughts come into play. Doing is knowing – what we do we come to know, and what we come to know is stored in our brains as our baseline of learning. We can talk about swimming, read books on the subject and learn strokes on dry land – but until we get into the water, we have no direct experience of swimming. So it is with life: until we do, we do not know.

From ‘The Drama Within: Psychodrama and Experiential Therapy’ by Tian Dayton. (Florida 1994).

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And now … on to those ‘Emotions’…

NOTE: A crucially important component of Eugene Halliday’s material was, I believe, his various ideas on the ‘Four-Part Man’. But it is blatantly obvious … surely … that simply ‘understanding’ the couple of thousand words that he actually wrote on this subject does not constitute an end in itself …  So if it is the case that you’re simply inclined to say that you ‘know’ about Halliday’s ‘Four-part man’ because you’ve just read the text, then I would be inclined to believe that you have no real idea about what it is that he was on about here.

I believe that the ultimate purpose of Eugene Halliday essay here, was to get the reader to attempt to experience, in the now, these ‘four parts’ for themselves. And that, like everything else that Eugene Halliday produced for others, this ‘idea’ constitutes on aspect of his material that assists in the task of Working on ones-self….

If you agree with me here, it should be simple for you then to view my ideas below concerning ‘The emotions’, as being connected with the ideas contained in Eugene Halliday’s ideas on the ‘Feeling body’, at least…

To begin this part ‘proper’ then ….

… So …. Here I am, attempting to systematize various ideas that center around ‘The Emotions’ in order to assist me to – as it where – ‘find out just who I am’…. And I would say that some ability at least, to  – as Eugene Halliday’s puts it – ‘Be here in the ‘now’, will prove to be more than useful here; as also will be a reasonable grasp of the of his ideas that are contained in the essays, ‘Five Things To Do’ and ‘ Four-Part Man’.

This exploration of mine involved a fairly rigorous exploration of what it was that ‘emotions’ might be, and was split into two major areas. The first of these was concerned with descriptions of emotional states. And this exploration I found to be, in principle at least, relatively easy to make headway with. As (in my little world anyway) any creative text whatsoever (any painting; music; writing; etc) is constitutive of these descriptions… In other words, that is what they ‘really are’ to me….

 The second area, involved various explanations as to what it is that emotions ‘are’, was however, far more trickier for me.

 [NOTE: That ‘first major area’ of mine (involving the descriptive aspect of ‘emotions’) I would prefer to leave to you (at least for the time being), and instead I’ll go straight into a little more detail here about the ‘explanatory’ aspect of this system of mine].

 … In doing research into any particular subject, I’m inclined to make lists (due, in major part I believe, to my particular psychology). I then delve into a particular ‘item’ on my list until I believe I have ‘gotten what I wanted’ from it…. I then ‘move on’ to another item on my list… And I will repeat this process until I come to believe that I eventually have what it is I need in order to move on…

 Sometimes though, I might just get fed up with the whole thing, and simply ditch it… Sulk for a bit … And then try something else.

 My approach re ‘explanations’ here is centered – in the main – around the material produced at the three major symposiums on ‘Feelings and Emotions’ that have taken place in the West since 1928 – beginning with The Wittenberg Symposium (Clark University 1928); followed by the Mooseheart Symposium (Illinois 1948); and finally the Amsterdam Symposium (Amsterdam 2001). To this material I would add ideas from the field of Analytical Psychology, including (obviously) the ‘Collected Works of Carl Gustav Jung’  … (I do make use of a lot more material actually – but these examples are typical.. And so they  should give you a good idea of what it is that I do here).

By the way, I do not Work with the material that I introduce into this system of mine with a view to becoming an ‘expert’, or a ‘teacher’, in this particular field (in this instance, that would be the field of ‘feelings or emotions); rather, I use this material to provide me with as rich a perspective on this subject as I am able to grasp… So the matter of my agreement or disagreement here with my ‘research’ material is not of primary importance to me…. It’s a bit like studying for that first degree – you read what your tutor gives you to read and then turn out a paper to show that you understand them …

It is far more the case with me that I simply need ‘a place to stand on’ in order to ‘look around’ – before eventually (hopefully) ‘moving forward’ …

I’ll now ‘cut to the chase’ then, and provide you with this list of mine.

Clearly some of the topics here contradict each other, but that’s OK, because – as I say – I try to work within as wide a field of the subject-material that I’m looking into, as I am able.

I now select the particular topic(s) on my list that I ‘fancy’ the most – as these will usually be the ones that I can assimilate the easiest – and I then try to move on ‘up my list’ to the ones that I don’t really fancy at all … Until I either exhaust all the topics on my list or – more usually – give up, at some point along the way.

I have elaborated on two of the items in my list below (numbers 1 and 6) as I feel that these can best serve here to demonstrate – in part at least – the actual inter-action by me with material contained in the Eugene Halliday Archive… (At least where it concerns my ‘thinking about it’). And also, perhaps, how it is that I might personally develop these major areas of mine…

 1.    ‘Emotions’ don’t exist.

This position might seem to be in conflict with the project here – but actually it doesn’t.

The bad news here is that you need to read ‘The Concept of Mind’ by the British philosopher, Gilbert Ryle (it’s a bit like reading Wittgenstein, only the jokes are better) – particularly where it concerns Ryle’s very own concept of the ‘Category Mistake’.

The part of this concept in Ryle’s book to ponder on (or at least the part that I pondered on) is the example he gives of some ‘foreigner’ or other (like an American, say) watching a cricket match, and who doesn’t really have a clue as to what it is that’s going on here.

The batsmen, bowlers, and fielders are all pointed out to our visitor, and their various functions are explained satisfactorily, such that our visitor now understands them.

 But our visitor then says something to the effect that, “Well gee! I can see the batsman, the bowlers, and the fielders – and I understand all that – but where’s this ‘team-spirit’ that you Limeys keep going on about?”

There are a number of ways of thinking about this… The way I proceed here is to imagine that our visitor simply removes (in his, or her, mind) everything that has been explained to them that is not this ‘team spirit’… And, at some point, I imagine that our visitor will eventually be left with nothing to imagine. At which time they will exclaim something to the effect that, “There’s no team spirit here than I can see!” … or something like that.

However – because we Limeys do maintain that there is such a thing as ‘team spirit’ – this result must somehow be incorrect. And it is this error that constitutes, for Ryle, the above-mentioned ‘Category Mistake’. (Batsmen; bowlers; fielders; umpires, etc. then, do not belong in the same ‘category’ as ‘team spirit’ for him).

[NOTE: A version of this reductive approach is, I maintain, also used by the philosopher Daniel Dennett in his book ‘Consciousness Explained’ – where I believe it would go under the fancy academic label of ‘Eliminative Materialism’…].

By discussing ‘emotions’ in certain ways, it is possible – because the person speaking had made a ‘category mistake’ then – to maintain that there is no such thing as ‘the emotions’. …

By the way …In my view, this way of looking at emotion demonstrates – yet again – the crucial need to develop ones own active language. ‘

2.  Emotions are distinct things – in and of themselves

3.  You only experience emotions when you’re thinking or doing something physical.

4.  Your body changes continually, and so your emotion change continually.

5.  Emotions emanate from the unconscious, and are only ‘experienced’ when they ‘break through’ into consciousness.

6.    Emotions are ‘energy’.

This view of the emotions would be very much in line with, what I would claim, is one of Eugene Halliday’s central concepts – which is that ‘All that there is, is Sentient Power’.

The dynamic aspect of energy – a dynamic created by a ‘difference in potential’, such that this energy can subsequently ‘flow between’ these differences – can thus be held in order to ‘explain’ conscious affect – and thus to explain the emotions.

‘Energetic tension’ in this case then, is more properly viewed as a ‘metaphysical’ idea, and not as a ‘scientific’ one.

Paul Bousfield, in his book ‘Pleasure and Pain’ (London, 1926), puts forward this idea by suggesting that pain (which is – broadly speaking – constitutive of Eugene Halliday’s, “No!”) is the conscious affect that accompanies this tension; and that pleasure (Eugene Halliday’s “Yes!”) is the result of its neutralization.

The beginnings of this homeostatic view of the human beings is (you might like to know) pre-Socratic … Anaxagorus maintaining that sensation depended upon irritation by opposites – which amounts to the same sort of thing.

So, if man is conceived of by Eugene Halliday as ‘Sentient Power’ (but as ‘circumscribed’ – and thus cut off from the ‘whole’ field of Sentient Power by this act of circumscription) then it now becomes reasonable, on this view, to say that any dynamic changes inside this circumscribed area that are produced, either internally (by thinking say) or from sensations that emanate from without, we will subsequently experience as ‘emotions’.

‘Science’ will evaluate this energy from without (by observing a being’s various ‘activities’ and then evaluating them) while the being itself will – by experiencing this ’energy flow’ from within, and by the development in itself of an aesthetic appreciation – reveal the ‘nature’ of this energy, by producing various ‘texts’ (philosophies; poetry; music; art; discourse; etc.).

Just how this ‘energy’ produces all this ‘internal stuff’ though, is the big question. But it would obviously require some form of collation between what is meant by ‘energy’ and ‘consciousness’, at least. …And unfortunately this also still leaves us with the problem of explaining how consciousness (as energy) behaves in ways that energy, in other forms (mechanical or electrical, for example) doesn’t.

However, if we view energy, in some way, as an immaterial abstract (which is how French natural philosophers of the time viewed Newton’s ideas of ‘energy’, ‘force’, and  ‘action at a distance’ – even going so far as to accuse him of introducing ‘supernatural’ ideas here), then it becomes a metaphysical hypothesis…. Which – you might like to know – A.N, Whitehead also put forward, in his lecture ‘Nature Alive’,

“The key notion from which such a construction should start is that the energetic activity considered in physics is the emotional intensity entertained in life.” (‘Modes of Thought’ (Lecture 8) – Cambridge.

Here’s a transcript of the whole lecture, if you want to read it - Whitehead 1938 -Nature Alive (Blog) )

Sentient Power’s ability to experience itself (in the case of ‘sentient beings’, this would be ‘emotionally’) I would argue, is the cornerstone of Eugene Halliday’s monistic ontology. For him, emotions are here, a subjective experience of the flow (or as he puts it, ‘vibrations’) of this universal ‘energy’, and which he refers to as ‘Sentient Power’.

‘Emotions’ then, could – on this account at least –  be said to occur as a result of some sort of ‘discharge’.

But we have not really removed a central problem to this viewpoint. Because, if we are maintaining that this ‘energy’ can be mechanical; chemical; neural; and even psychical, in nature, then we must account for its transformation (or ‘conversion’ might be more in keeping here) from one state to the other. Because we are, in affect, asserting here that – at a certain level, emotions becomes affects, and this greater degree of ‘energy’ will resonate with the ‘thinking’ body to produce mental affects (thoughts and ideas etc.); and also perhaps with the ‘conative’ body to produce physical affects (sexual arousal etc.).

So the problem here now becomes …”How exactly is it that the carrot I’ve just eaten changes into the  ‘emotional state’ I’m now experiencing whist watching this old Elvis Presley movie?” …Or, in another example … “How is my ‘mental activity’ (energy behaving as thoughts about various nasty things, say) ‘converted’ into the ‘emotion of  fear’?” …

And so on…..

7.  Emotions are actually what we are, and the thinking we engage in and the things we do with our physical bodies only arise as a result of this experiencing of these ‘emotions’.

8.  Emotions are ‘located in the brain’.

9.  Emotions are a consequence of ‘blood chemistry’.

10.  Emotions are the consequence of a stimulus and are thus ‘situation dependent’.

11.  Emotions are subject-object dependent. Emotions then are a consequence of the world as objectively posited by you, and so they aren’t ‘really there’.

12.  Emotions are a consequence of an earlier evolutionary auto-response, such as flight-fight etc.

13.  Emotions are those experiences that we can represent in language – less language then, means fewer emotions.

14. Emotions are the means by which the organism produces conflict within itself, in order to produce a course of action which resolves that conflict.

15.  Emotion is a disorder, a pressure from within that produces agitation and irresolution

16. Emotion is the force behind the creative act – the work of art having, at its root, a desire to resolve a pair of opposites, by synthesizing them and ultimately transcending them in the ‘work of art’ produced as a direct consequence.

POSTSCRIPT: Hopefully the material I’ve presented in the section immediately above has given you a better idea of how I might work with Eugene Halliday’s material; and how I might then subsequently attempt to incorporate the results, either into my own material, or into the material of others… I should stress here by the way, that I am not suggesting this method should be used by others….  Whatever ‘Works’ for you, is the rule here.

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Here are some notes of mine from one of my various notebooks that will, hopefully, set up the next section of this post.

If, from out of our own free will, we come to confer existence on some agency – that is, on some person, or some thing, or some body of ideas – such that we have now endowed that agency with a sustained potency. Then, even though we might subsequently like to believe that we can exercise power over it; sadly, it will more often be the case that it will exercise power over us

Beings will almost invariably reveal their true selves, when they have come to possess the real object(s) of their will – although I would now better refer to these as, ‘The object(s) of their desire’….

 At this point though, if you have developed the necessary ability through Working, it is now possible to see these beings as they really are – in and of themselves. Without the need for formulating any judgments; or of any ‘considering’, or ‘deciding’ on your part… You just ‘look’ and you can ‘see’…

 Unfortunately, I have found that this does not necessarily make it any easier to socially interact with these beings; or to formulate what it is that you see. Any more than your ‘seeing’ here makes the decision on your part as to your subsequent way of proceeding any easier….

But – ‘just seeing things the way that they are’ can help to strengthen your resolve to continue with your attempts to move forward … Should you decide that this is what you will to do.

From ‘NOCTURNAL EMISSIONS’
‘Random Dribbling from the Twilight World of the Undead’
by Bob Hardy
(A series of fragments from Bob Hardy’s notebooks – from the late-1970′s to date)

 

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(Scene: Lights fade up to reveal a theatrical ‘black box’ on the back wall of which is a sign that reads  ‘University Theater Club’ …

There are a few large black boxes dotted around the stage area on which are placed a number of coffee mugs; ‘working-on’ scripts and pens; and an assortment of sweaters and personal belongings; etc.

The impression to be created here is that of a bounded ‘working space’. The lighting can be random – except for those lights directed to the front of mid-stage and that serve to illuminate both him and the high stool on which he is perched.

 He is dressed casually (although perhaps a little too neatly) in an all-black outfit, which includes a turtle-neck fitted sweater. He has silver-grey hair, which is combed back and caught in a band at the back of his head in the form of a pony-tail. This pony-tail covers to some extent his bald spot, which we can just get to see from time. He has a darker, thin mustache, on his top lip, and also sports a small goatee beard.

He is holding a script on which we can just make out the title – ‘Romeo and Juliette’ by William Shakespeare.

 The impression he gives is that of being a (slightly hammy) director – in that his movements and manner are somewhat over-theatrical, and also vaguely androgynous.

He is in the process of addressing – what we cannot see, but we take to be – are  a number of his theater students. He begins to speak).

 We will begin by examining the role of the main characters here – that of the young lovers, ‘Romeo and Juliet’ – in an effort to appreciate a little more of how it is that this process of ‘performance’ plays out down here…. (He leafs through his script – as if examining it) … Because – as I’m sure those of you who have been posted here would agree – ‘All the world is.. most definitely .. a stage’ (He looks up and beams) As ‘the man himself’ so famously wrote. (He smiles, somewhat condescendingly, before continuing) ..

So let us now go on to examine what we maintain, are some of those ‘expected outcomes’ here… That is, at least as far as our average, reasonably informed theatergoer is concerned.

First of all, I would say that we could be fairly sure that those attending a performance of this play as members of the audience would be certain that our two major characters are both very young, and also very much in love with one another… And that they are also very eager to consummate their relationship…a.s.a.p! (He smiles with a faint leer) …. And that without our audience believing … or, at the very least, during the course of our performance – coming to believe that this is the case … (He looks up and smiles before exclaiming) … Then this play just wouldn’t work at all (He puts down his script and looks out earnestly)…. Would it?

That is to say …You can put this work by Shakespeare into any setting you that like …. Be that setting traditional…. contemporary … avant-guard ….. But if Romeo isn’t desperate to ‘have’ Juliet … And if she isn’t just as desperate to ‘let him’ (He pauses for effect) ‘have her’ … Then it just won’t ‘get off the ground’!

 Remember…. What we are attempting to understand here is what bearing this experience of being actors, and of being members of an audience – the one they refer to here collectively as ‘Theater’ – has on things down here … And on what they are pleased to call, their ‘real lives’….(He looks up, pauses, and grins broadly) Whatever it is that they imagine they are!

But, “Which is which?”… “Which is ‘theater’; and which is ‘real? you might – at some point in your observations of their behavior -  find yourself asking …(He pauses and sounds slightly conspiratorial)

And I feel it is a good time here to take the opportunity, and remind you that this is the reason why – while we’re all down here at least – we must wear our make-up  (He raises his voice suddenly and exclaims) at all times!… (He pauses over-dramatically and smiles, before continuing).

But our major advantage here is that – for the overwhelming majority of them down here at least – there seems to be an almost pathological inability to attend… to anything … To actually…  listen. …To focus … on what is going on….(He pauses)

But ‘attend’ to what?… ‘Listen’ to whom?” … you might ask (He looks ‘past’ his students and directly out into the audience ‘proper’, smiling broadly) ….

Why obviously … To themselves, of course! (He lowers his head somewhat again, before continuing)

Capture their attention, and they will … almost invariably … go into a passive state of one form or another… And… incredibly … many will still actually believe…  that they are, instead, ‘actively involved’ …That they are not ‘asleep’ at all… But are… on the contrary … ‘wide awake’! (He half rises off his stool and looks out at his audience in mock disbelief… as if asking a question).

(He sits down once again and picks up his script). Anyway… let’s try to use the characters in this play here… and attempt to throw some light on all this. (He continues to speak while examining his notes… He looks up quickly and says, rather sharply) … And No! … Sometimes I don’t know why we bother with all this either! (He begins to speak earnestly as if he has now begun ‘lecturing proper’)…Your assignment for this section of the module will be to write a short dissertation of about eight thousand words or so… But don’t worry … I’ll provide you with the outline of what it is that I want from you at the end of this unit.

Let’s get on now and examine the two actors playing these two roles…. And let’s call these actors Rolf and June for convenience (He puts his script notes down and looks up intently) And let’s say something about their private lives… (He pauses) I’m going to give you a list of scenarios … and take you through them all briefly to give you the general idea…(He picks up his script and begins)

Here’s the list then (He pauses, looking up from his script and gazing into the distance as if concentrating, before beginning to speak dramatically).

Scenario one: Rolf and June used to be married … to each other… But now they hate the sight of each other. They have just gone through an extremely nasty divorce…. They are both superb, dedicated actors (He pauses dramatically before continuing).

Scenario two: One of these two – Rolf and June – is madly in love with the other but no matter what they do, they cannot seem get the object of their affections to ‘notice them’  …. They are both superb, dedicated actors (He pauses dramatically before continuing).

Scenario three: One of these two – Rolf and June – is madly in love with the other but is married to someone else and has a young child, and is desperate to keep this state of affairs hidden in the hope that it will ‘blow over’ …. They are both superb, dedicated actors (He pauses dramatically before continuing).

Scenario four: One of these two – Rolf and June – is madly in love with the other but no matter what they do, they cannot get the object of their affections to ‘notice them’. However, the object of their affection does know, but is not interested …. They are both superb, dedicated actors (He pauses dramatically before continuing).

Scenario five: One of these two – Rolf and June – is madly in love with the other but no matter what they do, they cannot get the object of their affections to ‘notice them’. However, the object of their affection does know but is not interested ….Because they are gay but haven’t yet ‘come out’ – because they are in denial …. They are both superb, dedicated actors (He pauses dramatically before continuing).

Scenario six: Rolf and June are a ‘couple’… They have been seeing each other for some time now, but both suspect that the other is cheating on them – with their best friend… And so they engage in continual innuendo… They are both superb, dedicated actors (He pauses dramatically before continuing).

Scenario seven: Rolf has always been gay, and June has always been a lesbian – neither of them has every engaged in – or has ever had any desire to engage in – straight sex. … They are both superb actors (Once again he pauses dramatically before continuing) ….

Scenario eight: Rolf and June are crazy about each other, so much so that they just can’t leave each other alone…. (He pauses dramatically before exclaiming dramatically) They are both lousy actors. (He pauses once again, and puts his script down before continuing)

 OK! That should give you the general idea here …. Here are the questions… What would you mean here if you were to say to someone, something to the effect that, “I’ve just seen Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’… It was a really good/bad performance”?.. Or what do you mean if you go on to say something like, “Of course they didn’t really mean it – because they were only acting after all.”…. Which of the above scenarios do you think would ‘work; or do you think all of them would ‘work’? … Do you think any of them wouldn’t work? … Why? … What would you say ‘acting’ consists in? …. Describe someone you know who you would say definitely never ‘acts’ – and why it is that you believe this to be the case; or, why you believe that everyone is always acting .. or why you think that everyone always – at some time – acts …

( As he begins asking the above questions, the lights and sound start to fade slowly, until we cannot hear or see anything)

POSTSCRIPT: The piece above is still in the form of a rough draft, and is one that I put together in an attempt to explore the dynamics between: the emotions that are actively and objectively produced by role-playing, but within some form of scenario – this would be our actor here giving his ‘seminar’ on actors and acting; the consequential production of deliberate – and, if you think about it – fairly predictable emotional states in the (unseen) students that we assume are attending this seminar, and who believe that they will go on to produce their ‘interpretations’ about what is going on from their own – as it were – largely ‘uninfluenced’ positions ; in the ‘theater audience proper’; and finally in ‘you’, the reader of this piece…

It helps me to examine the interplay of emotional states, and to perceive them as more complex (which they are always becoming – because they are always as complex as you are capable of dealing with) if I view the various components here as being ‘fugue-like’. In this particular case for example, the emotional state produced by the major character could be viewed as the ‘exposition’; the students who – because they are deliberately positioned by me as being ‘passive’ here – provide a virtual ‘development’ (‘in absentia’ as it were) – by virtue of the fact that they are required to supply a dissertation that would effectively serve that purpose; and finally, a theater audience (or you the reader) who would each supply their own private ‘recapitulation’, in the form of their (and your) own privileged understanding here – based on the viewing, or reading, of this piece …. And then of course … there’s me – the writer…

However, I will admit, that perhaps I haven’t yet exactly made that point clear here… But I am Working on it.

The initial idea seemed reasonably simple for me to put in place. But the consequences that I keep coming up with created severe problems for me in the subsequent writing of it… Because the piece kept collapsing into one conclusion or other that I was either not happy with at all, or was so unprepared for that I couldn’t come to grips with; or that kept opening up, in me, into the propagation of a multitude of  ‘alternative endings’…

[Shakespeare does a superb version of this (in a different way of course) in 'Hamlet' .. Particularly with his 'poison in the ear' bit ... But I'm guessing that you already knew that...  Didn't you]..

One positive outcome for me here, however – and the most productive aspect of it for me up to now – was that as consequence of my conscious self-reflection of the process here ‘in toto’, I came to be aware of a great deal of  ‘meaning’ that centered around the two words ‘authentic’ and ‘genuine’ …. But once again ….. I’m afraid you’ll either get that; or you won’t…

Like I say, I’m still working on this (!)

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Finally, here’s another chance for anyone out there who is interested in working with Eugene Halliday’s ideas, to join in on the blog forum here.

… One of the initial problems faced by anyone attempting to understand the writings of someone like Eugene Halliday is that – in many cases at least – these writings presuppose each other. That is to say, they exist in a web of ‘referential inter-textuality’. Which means that, as a consequence, you have to be familiar with all the major ideas that are contained in each of his essays, before you can really understand any one of these essays in any depth.

This, I believe, is why many I have spoken with about Eugene Halliday prefer listening to the ideas contained in his talks, rather than engaging with those contained in his writings… But I have to say that I don’t think this really works most of the time – because when I question these people about what it is that they have gleaned from one of these talks, the overwhelming majority of them appear – to me at least – to have simply only ‘sort of’ dimly remembered one or two, by and large, disjointed fragments.

What I think is going on here, is that these people just find the talks more ‘enjoyable’ (more ‘entertaining’) than the writings, because they are not as dense, or nearly as demanding … Which is fine as far as it goes I suppose, but it doesn’t really seem to get them very far.

On the other hand, I would say that the harder you engage with Eugene Halliday’s writings, the more meaning you will get back from them. But I appreciate that these written presentations of his ideas can be very dense, and that they contain very few wasted works.

A further complication here is that I believe Eugene Halliday did not write a ‘magnum opus’; but that he only ever wrote essays and articles. However these do – in my opinion – all ‘link-up’ to individually comprise the chapters of one large book… Although I would also maintain that it is a book he never ‘finished’ [but as I don't believe that 'finishing it' was ever his purpose here anyway, this is not of any relevance really].

Luckily though, there is an enormous volume of Eugene Halliday’s written work that was published in the parish magazine of St Michael and All Angels, and many of these do not require (that much) previous familiarity with his major ideas. They are all reasonably short…. And I’ve picked one here that I would like to start a thread on the forum about. It is – I would claim – somewhat extraordinary!  The title of it is ‘The Idea of Sin’ … and it first saw the light of day in February of 1969.

In my view, this short essay is extremely thought-provoking (to say the least), and in fact I would even go so far as to say that it isn’t ‘peachy’ at all … [And indeed, I experience a great deal of Eugene’s writings in this way - but have met very few others who agree with me].

So I’m interested in what anyone out there might have to say about this short piece. It’s not on Josh’s archive yet -  but I have produced a ‘working-on’ scanned copy of it as a pdf here if you are interested in joining in … or even if you’d just like to read it.

I would be really interested in any comments you would like to post on the forum here regarding this piece…

So I will be started a Forum thread in the very near future for this very purpose …And I would also like to tell you that as well as being available for ‘Sinning’, I will also be discussing one or two other taboo topics there, in the near future…

So if you’re interested…do take a peek now and then … if you can make the time …

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I should also tell you that I might not be posting for the next couple of months  – as I will, instead, be bumming around Europe… But then again. I might!… … So …

‘À tout’ … … Then!

Bob Hardy

30th July, 2013

 

At the risk of repeating myself … …

The purpose of this blog is to provide an account of my own interactions with Eugene Halliday’s various talks and writings.

 So… This attempt by me is not an ‘explanation’ of what I think it was that Eugene Halliday meant, when he said ‘this’, or when he wrote of ‘that’ …. It is, rather, an attempt by me to clarify – as well as I am able  - how this material influenced my efforts to arrive (if only in part) at ‘satisfactory replies’ to a series of discrete ‘inquiries’ that were of major importance to me (and might not necessarily have been of importance to anyone else)…. And, subsequently, to incorporate anything I believed could be of use to me here, into both my ‘active language’, and in the formulation of various praxes…

For the next couple of posts at least then, I will continue on from my previous post (13. ‘Feelings’) and attempt to describe my interaction(s) with these talks and writings, by considering Eugene Halliday’s material as effect, and therefore – as a direct consequence then – of its subsequent affect upon me.

… Although Eugene Halliday’s various talks and writings obviously contained ideas and information that were of varying degrees of interest and ‘importance’ (imagined or otherwise) to me; they were also productive of an emotional affect in me… However, this emotional affect was not nearly as easy for me to be as conscious of, ‘in-the-moment’, as that kaleidoscope of reactive ‘brilliant ideas’ which would invariably begin to spontaneously swirl around in my head, the moment that I began to focus my attention on what it was that I was presently listening to, or reading.

The particular ‘affects’, that were experienced by me ”in-the-moment’ here (when I made any attempt to focus on Eugene Halliday’s material, in whatever form) would, I believe, arise as a direct consequence of a number of factors here. These included : the point that I had arrived at on my ‘life-journey’ at that particular time; the earnestness which I brought to bear in my attempts to move forward with this ‘journey’ of mine at that specific time; Eugene Halliday’s actual ‘presence’, as it was experienced by me at that particular time; and the very nature of his subject material, as I perceived it at that particular time…

But I eventually came to realize that it was my attempts ‘in-the-moment’ to focus on the emotional aspect of my interaction with Eugene Halliday’s material that was crucially important for me here… As this was the catalyst that both enabled me to experience a sense of moving forward – and at the same time led me into believing that I had actually done some Work…

It was then, the satiation of a particular appetite in me – supplied by my state of understanding, and not just by the matter of my understanding – that I had to focus on  … An’ in-the-moment task’ that also served to make me even more cautious of that ever-present possibility of my being deluded… As a ‘state of delusion’ can easily bring about (and usually much more quickly and pleasurably) this satiation – but of another appetite entirely!…

I believe that there is always freedom of choice for me here, which is to either ‘just’ surrender to one of my various delusions – the usual purpose of which is to provide myself with a relatively easier route to feeling good about myself in the things that I do; or to be as honest with myself as I could, and attempt instead to satisfy my appetite for my (self-imposed) ‘love of truth’ – a much harder route, and one that, more often than not, required me to accept some thing(s) about myself that weren’t particularly wonderful … 

The decision here was (and always is) for me alone to realize. And so, in order to strengthen my resolve here, it became crucial for me to believe that grasping this emerging viewpoint of attempting to be conscious of my emotional states in-the-moment with regard to the study of Eugene Halliday’s material would actively assist in producing those changes within me that would be of significant help in moving me forward…And thus I had to somehow endow his material with authentic value, and not with just some vague, sycophantic  ‘appreciation’.. Or – to put it another way – this value that I gave it, had to be a real one for me…. Because if it wasn’t real for me, then nothing was going to happen.

It wasn’t just my reflextion in-the-moment of these emotional states only that I had to realize were important, but also how I subsequently – upon reflexion – defined the meaning of them, using – if possible – my acquired active language to-date . A language that seemed to me to be evolving spontaneously, as it involved itself in the various process(es) going on within me here….

As you have no doubt already spotted, all this is extremely difficult for me to articulate – as this process of explaining what is involved here is not at all the same thing as my merely having to describe it… (Try to explain exactly what it is that you are doing when you ‘walk’, or what it is that you do when you ‘breath’ – as opposed to, say, merely describing what walking, or breathing, ‘is’ – and you might experience something like this difficulty of mine here for yourself) … …

Cultivating a cohesive approach here then, or of even being able to ponder over this process in some constructive way, has really been the most illusive thing for me to bring into any focus… And it is also certainly the most difficult to articulate to another – although, funnily enough, if I do discuss this subject with someone who has also actually been engaged in any experientially similar activities, the attempt by me to articulate my experiences here becomes, very quickly, (relatively) easier for me….

And deciding that you are now ‘going to get to know yourself’, brings the question of your involvement here with others – your various relationships, new or old, that is – into much sharper focus. And although I would agree with the idea that it is only natural to seek the company of others who are engaged in a similar quest here, the problems created by these relationships – because they are predicated on this particular aspect of your life – are very real, and very dangerous… Indeed, in my experience, the very next thing that will happen in your life after you have decided that you are going to ‘improve yourself’ will be that some ‘thing or other’ will immediately seek to prevent you doing so (call these various oppositions that you now experience ‘Things Demonic’ if this idea serves to focus your attention on this problem, or if you prefer to view this quest of yours using somewhat traditional Western metaphors and allegories – I don’t personally label them quite like this, but it’s an allegorical perspective that I have no problem understanding, and so it certainly helps me in my discussions, vis-a-vis this problem with, and about, others here)..

A question you could ask yourself here which might get you to see this is, “Will I experience any resistance to this noble endeavor of mine to ‘move forward and get to know myself’ as some sort of excruciatingly difficult and uncomfortable test – where I’m being tortured, or I have to sweat and strain, or I suddenly see myself as some kind of ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ monster … and it’s all very dramatic and overpowering … Or will it rather be the case, that every time I decide that I need to take another step, I’m overcome with this overwhelming desire to make a cup of tea or coffee, sit on the couch, open a packet of digestive biscuits,  and then watch that ‘very important’ program that I recorded last night.”…

So will it now be that you find yourself joining yet another ‘wonderful’ new group that you ‘just happen’ to have ‘discovered’ (yoga, theosophist, ‘new age’, or whatever – it doesn’t really matter) who – you find yourself now believing – know lots and lots about ‘all this’, and indeed have an ‘ancient tradition’ (usually ‘sacred’ or ‘secret’) going back thousands of years (and so they must ‘really’ know what it’s ‘all about’ then) and who are ‘in touch’ with ‘something or other’, and that you are, in future, going to ‘be doing’ this traveling of yours with  … And it’s all ‘so wonderful’, because you feel far more safe and secure (like ‘coming home’) now… (Now that you’ve been shown the ‘real path’, that is) … And – even better – that you’re now, finally, at last, ‘with like minds’ … And of course if anything screws up here, you will just tell yourself that it was probably because you’ve either misunderstood some of the ‘essential’ stuff (you just ‘missed it’ as it were) – as there does seem to an awful lot that you need to know here, and much of it uses words in ways that you’re not familiar with, or have never heard before, or are in a foreign obscure language; … or that you’ve ‘just simply’ made a mistake and joined the wrong group (again), and it was perfectly reasonable for you to have to ‘stick with it’ for some time at least, but now you’ve ‘realized’ that it wasn’t for you after-all…This was then an ‘understandable’ mistake – you believe – and, with regrets of course, you will simply now have to ‘move on’….

Well, of course, you won’t be ‘moving on’ at all – you’ll simply continue, at best, to ‘slip sideways’…  As those ‘groups’ that you join – and the consequent relationships that you form in these groups – almost certainly constitute just another, but far subtler, aspect of your very own original problem…

But …I know … in your case … “It’s different!” … Isn’t it? … …..Well…  No it (almost certainly) isn’t … At least in my experience of all this, I’m afraid …

This problem constitutes a different, and difficult, complex subject in itself -  and hopefully I will get to it in more detail in a later posting …. But before I do leave it, here’s a quote in the meantime that might help to throw further light on the subject.

Yet .. anxiety … is not the only barrier to an acceptance of new and novel circumstances. Their is also our sense of threat from our inability to comprehend them, since we are too firmly attached to the old consciousness structure. Seen from the old standpoint, the new seems suprarealistic or supernatural; and, in fact, with reference to the old consciousness structure, the new not only appears to transcend and supersede the old reality but actually does so. We are then left with what seems to us to be the only alternative; we try to adapt or assimilate the new into the old, at the expense of course of the integrity and verity of the new. It is such attempts at explaining the new on the basis of the old, using old concepts, rather than allowing the new to stand out in its originality against the old background, that give rise to the misunderstandings, misinterpretations, and objections.

From Chaper 3 of ‘The Ever Present Origin’
by Jean Gebser (trans. by Noel Barstad)
Published by Ohio University Press 1989

You might say that this problem is – in part at least – about storing new wine in old wine-skins; or of realizing that the ‘rock’ you took so much care in selecting for that foundation of yours, will inevitably – and sooner rather than later – turn to sand … Because that’s what rocks do… It’s where that sand you’re always so concerned about comes from … It in ‘the very nature of these things’ … And so it just ‘goes with the gig’ … … … As us hipsters like to say ..

…Anyway … To continue on here …

 (Lights fade-up to reveal what appears to be a small office, complete with filing cabinets etc. - circa 1960′s. He is facing us, seated behind a desk, dressed in a conventional suit complete with white shirt and tie; and is speaking into a black, old-fashioned, telephone handset, which is connected – via a thick curly lead – to the base that we can clearly see on his desk. He appears to be somewhat exasperated with his conversation, and we get the distinct impression that he is reporting to a senior, and is having some difficulty in clarifying his situation)..

Look … The way you’re seeing all this … It’s not really helping me ….. I …(He pauses to listen)

Look, I know that it’s… … Look! I know…. (He is almost shouting now)..Look! …(He lowers his voice) I know it’s obvious – at least to us it is! … But it isn’t to them… They just don’t seem to… ‘Get … it’!… At all!…

You can explain it to them, over, and over, and over, again …And sometimes you almost believe that they understand what it is you’ve just told them… They’ll even give you good feedback occasionally!…Or – what is even more baffling – appear at times to make an actual contribution!… 

But, in the end, no matter what I try… And I do appreciate your suggestions here … They still just don’t …’Get it’… …Which makes all this very difficult …

As soon as they hear something, or read something, or see something that … ‘captures’ … their attention – and ‘captures’ really is the right word here, particularly if the situation that they find themselves in strikes a numinous chord – then… ‘Off they go’!! ….

So, if they believe they’re engaged in something that is – what they like to call – ‘spiritual’ …And NO!… I don’t really know what they mean by that either! … Or ‘religious’ … which is a word that they seem to use to talk about patterns of social behavior that some of them like to indulge in; and that is supposed to demonstrate their ‘godliness’… Whatever that’s supposed to be! …Then I have to stop .. and start the dance with them – from the beginning – all over again..

And so its a case of, “Let’s rewind the music again people, and this time let’s all really try to remember not to rush.” …… Talk about ‘two left feet’! …(He pauses)

I know! .. I agree! … It IS crazy! (He is almost shouting again) … …

(He once again lowers the tone of his voice) Anyway, as I say, the minute their attention is captured in this way … ‘Down they fall’…(He takes out a handkerchief and wipes his brow with it, before replacing it in his jacket pocket)

It would never occur to them, to simply ask themselves, “What is actually going on here?” … Because they have become so completely enthralled by the way that they now ‘feel’, it has, once again, become almost impossible to reach them……(He stops, and appears to be listening closely)

Well, for instance  … If they’re attending a talk given by one of their ‘gurus’ … The question that they should so obviously all be asking themselves – “What is it that is happening now to this person while they are speaking to us?” – never even seems to occur to them! … It is always, and ever, only about themselves…  Such that, if I were to ask them immediately afterwards, “What then, is becoming here?” I don’t think they’d understand me at all!…The best I could expect is that they’d probably look down at the floor, shuffle their feet a bit, look decidedly uncomfortable and say something like, “What do you mean?”… and then mutter something about me being far too  ’obscure’, while obviously all feeling very exposed …  Or something like that!

I keep telling them, “Just because you imagine that you have met someone who believes that they can tell you ‘the way it is down here’ … this belief of yours doesn’t mean that they can do so – because how would you know if they could? …And secondly, that even if these ‘gurus’ do ‘know’, this doesn’t mean that they are somehow different, in some fundamental way, from you… It isn’t as if they are beings who ‘know something’ or who are ‘doing something’…. else!… something ‘other’ … Something so ‘fundamentally other’ … that you couldn’t do it!… What the … Hell … use … on ‘earth‘ (He laughs quickly in a resigned manner) would that be to you?” …(His voice has dropped considerably and he now starts to sound somewhat resigned and depressed) 

Why we have been consigned to go through all this adversity with them, is beyond me…

Why don’t we just simply give them what it is that they imagine they want? …  Then things would – very rapidly – come to a head down here …..And then all of us who have found it necessary to become involved here will be done with this… At last!… (He looks up from the desk, and stares out into the audience, and just before slamming down the phone, shouts) Finally! (Fade to black)…

From ‘Field-notes for Armageddon’ by Bob Hardy

 

NOTE: Unlike other subjects I’ve taken a profound interest in over the last 40 years or so, and that have been fairly straightforward (although they’ve all usually presented me with at least some degree of difficulty) the subject area of what I like to refer to as ‘Feelings and Emotions’, has been by far the trickiest …

Nonetheless, I would maintain that this topic underpinned everything that Eugene Halliday both spoke of, or wrote about – certainly as far as this blog is concerned.

I have found that focusing on the feeling tone of Eugene Haliday’s presentation of his material (and also of my reaction to it) to have been a particularly fruitful vantage point for me to perceive patterns in what it was that Eugene Halliday was mainly ‘on about’. This viewpoint also, of course, obviously informed me about the subject of ‘feelings and emotions’ itself  ….

But, if it seems -from what I have written in this post – that I believe this subject to have now become somehow ‘manageable’ for me, and that I’ve at last succeeded in presenting my results in a causal, linear manner – this is purely accidental… As grasping the essence of this subject – in the sense that it could be ‘nailed down’ – is, I believe, impossible … in principle..

 So understand then, that what I offer below (which I appreciate might be experienced by you as fragmented, or as ‘skipping about a bit’) is merely ‘the tip of the iceberg’ (well more like ‘a few snow-flakes’) …. But I have had to make a start here somewhere…

And as my interest, and my consequent investigations, into the subject of ‘feelings and emotions’ has – for a very long time now – constituted a significant part of my approach to both my view of the person of Eugene Halliday as a cultural phenomena, and that also informs my position vis-à-vis his researchable ‘output’, it might now be possible (after some thirteen previous postings of mine) for you to appreciate that a major focal point for me in the very early stages of this game here was, ”What was it that was happening to Eugene Halliday himself, while he was engaged in this Work of his?” … Together with the (far more selfish on my part) question, “If I come to understand this process of his, then will this understanding provide me with some sort of ‘map’ to help me with my journey?” … (As opposed to, ”What interesting stuff was he trotting out to entertain his audience with, that I can appropriate in order to trot it out myself at some future date to others; and so perhaps succeed in sounding as if I might know what’s going on here?”) …

 

My own technique for observing what it is that’s taking place in my ‘interior space’ does not make use of Eugene Halliday’s suggested mnemonics such as ‘Be Here Now’, or ‘The observer is not the observed’, as I find these phrases to be too awkward for my taste (they make me feel a bit like I’m pretending to be Christopher Lee in some film adaptation or other of a Dennis Wheatley, or Stephen King, novel).. However, as I like to believe that I understand – to some degree at least – the detailed exposition that Eugene Halliday gives regarding the use of this technique in his essay ‘Reflexive Self-Consciousness, I have, as a consequence, had no problem in formulating my own mnemonic(s) here – in my pursuit of this ability to be able to reflect (in part at least) upon my own ‘being-in-the-world-in-the-moment’, as it were…

These mnemonics of mine make a somewhat fluid use of the following related group of words – “What’s Happening Now?” … “Oh! What’s happening now.” … “Crumbs! What’s happening now.” …  ”Good Heavens! What’s happening now?” ….”Crikey! What’s happening now!”… “Flipping Heck! What’s happening now?”… and so on, ‘up the scale,’ to the really difficult stuff (I’ll leave you to work out the remainder of this sequence for yourself – as my own personal set of preferred expletives might not be to your taste)…

The examination of my various emotional states then, becomes more difficult with the increasing intensity of these states, and, as a direct consequence, my attempts at ‘riding out the storm’ – when they do threaten to overwhelm me – becomes more and more desperate, until the task finally becomes impossible … Maybe someone else would claim that it’s different for them, and that they have found – in practicing this technique over the years – that all this has become somewhat easier … But telling me that wouldn’t really help me here …Would it? …  … And I wouldn’t believe them anyway…

To continue on here, I must make two things very clear. As far as I’m concerned:

1) For an emotional state to exist, there must either be someone who is experiencing it; or who has, in the past, experienced it.

2) Every emotional state is capable of being described in some form of ‘text’ (spoken; written; danced; painted; etc.) That is, there are no experienced emotional states that cannot either in-the-moment, or subsequently – potentially at least – be described, using some form of ‘text’…

And please take the trouble here to ponder for a moment on what it is that I might mean by the word ‘describe’; and so appreciate that a ‘description’ is not the same thing at all as an ‘explanation’.

An essential component of my belief system is that emotional awareness is something we all possess: a commonality that presents us with the potential to offer support to one-another, because we can appreciate – if not from our own experiences, then at least by using our imagination – what it is that might be ‘going on’ with someone else, when their life ‘takes a turn’, either for the better, or for the worse…

It’s from my observation of these emotional states in others, and an inbuilt realization that I can potentially experience these same emotional states in my own life – states of depression, anxiety, fear, anger, lust, shame, happiness, compassion, sympathy, obsession, love, etc. – that has allowed me to recognize that the overwhelming majority of us are indeed ‘all in the same boat down here’…

I don’t believe that this ability to recognize these states in others comes about merely as a consequence of some sort of cultural, or religious, ‘programming’… And thus, this natural ability then – both in my experiences of these states, and in my reflection on the experiences of them in others – I take to be an essential component of what it is that ‘I am’ … of what ‘we are’… It just ‘goes with the territory’ you might say, and forms an essential part of what it is that we all do – of what it is that makes us ‘human’….But I should also add here that this ‘inbuilt realization’, I claim here that we all possess, says nothing about any subsequent course of action which might take place as a consequence of these states… This, as I see it, would concern the ethical, or moral judgments of these states  – which is another matter entirely.

And further, when I reflect on those philosophical, theological, and cultural etc. interests that I have pursued throughout my life, I can see that – without this sharing – the contents of these various subjects would have been meaningless to me.

I believe that we are all the authors of the emotions that we experience; and that these emotional states are at the very root of these experiences… And so, if we can lay claim to anything in our lives that ‘belongs to us’, it is to these unique emotional experiences of ours, because they are – as nothing else in our lives are – ‘authentic’.

Without our emotional experiences, there would be no ground for empathy; or – via the intellect, and active imagination – any genuine ‘concern’ for the state of others. For even though you might never have shared someone else’s particular experience(s), you can still imagine what these experiences might ‘be like’, and thus, as a result, display compassion (even if you do not experience any actual degree of empathy)… A response on your part that I believe unfortunately however, may or may not be genuine – as, in my experience, this ‘compassion’ can easily be faked; whereas ‘empathy’ cannot…

This means then that I reject the idea that it is possible for some higher being to ‘just’ simply empathize with my condition, although I can allow that they might ‘just’ manifest compassion – but only in the same way that I might experience compassion when I, say, recognize the squelchy-crunchy sound of that snail’s shell I have just stepped on, on my way out to work, and that I had failed to notice  … (“Oh dear! …I am sorry…I do feel really bad about that.” … ‘Bad’, that is, for about the two seconds that it takes me to get into my car and move on … A response that I view as more of a socially programmed convention, than anything else)…

On the negative side here then, this ‘sharing of our emotional lives’ can often explain how it is possible for someone to gain power over – and consequently manipulate – others… For a quick mind can – particularly if it is one which intuits that if it intimates an understanding of another being’s emotional state, then it can gain a great deal of real power in any future relationship here … On the positive side, there might perhaps be some ‘genuine understanding’ here, but this is regrettably placed in the service of a willfully-seeking desire to control the resulting relationship, and thus of exploiting the other’s vulnerability, as it were…

Even so, whatever any particular person’s social station in life happens to be, we are – all of us, at least in principle – capable of appreciating this life we have ‘together’…. Rich man; poor man; beggar man; thief, are all capable of experiencing a performance at the theater; a movie; a music recital; a joke, etc. in very similar ways… If only for the fact that, if they couldn’t, then these events could not be promoted in the way that they are, or to the extent that they are …

As far as I’m concerned here, it is this essential fact about you – and only this – that enables you to claim that you share in the humanity of others, whatever your material, social, or intellectual etc. status, or position, happens to be. And so, to be ‘emotional’ then, is what I see that makes us all quintessentially human… But – and here’s the ‘Million Dollar Question’ – “Just what are these ‘emotions’?“

That they are seen as an ‘out-pouring’, or ‘out-moving’, of ‘feeling’ (or whatever) … is etymologically obvious … But there is all the difference in the world between ‘motion’ as ‘loco-motion’ (a movement out from your ‘feeling center’ and ‘into your body’, as it were) and a ‘motion’ that constitutes some modification or alteration of your state (from one emotional state to another)… Indeed, Aristotle had already worked that out ‘way back when’… (If you’d like to take a ‘time out’ here to do some research in this area by the way, that’s OK… Try his ‘Nicomachean Ethics’) … And the position in a belief that we are ‘moved’ or ‘propelled’ by our emotions – that is, in this simple ‘outpouring’ idea – I see largely as supportive of a mechanical, or materialistic, and thus largely deterministic, view… However, the ‘change of state’ view of emotions is, for me, a far more fruitful, interesting, and contemporary psychological viewpoint, leading me to a (version of) phenomenology that is not ‘merely mechanical’, and that, indeed, informs my own ideas on ‘freedom of choice’…. But I appreciate that, for the moment at least, this position of mine would take some justifying on my part ……

We might put this question re, “What are emotions?” another way. And that is, “When we are doing something (when we make music; draw a picture; act; talk to one another; attempt to acquire a new skill; study for an academic qualification; engage in sexual activity; etc.), what happens to us?” … Is it somehow that we ‘become’ something, by ‘identifying with’ the emotion? … And so our answer here then would seem to be, that to express our emotions is to somehow ‘give in’ to them…

Or is it that we overcome them, and so sublimate them, in order to produce something ‘from them’?

And further, if we are to view ‘what happens’ to us as having prominently to do with our ‘emotions’, then do we have these emotions – that is, are they mine – or is it rather the case that no matter how deeply they are ‘felt’, we are nonetheless firmly in the grip of them – and thus that these emotions possess us; that they ‘come in’ to us, and so inhabit us; and that we, rather, become ‘theirs’…

This latter view, by the way, would be right at home from the dawn of recorded history up until at least the Enlightenment. During which time you – as a person – would have been either home to the ‘gods’ (or ‘God’), or had been invaded by ‘demons’ (with the unfortunate social consequences that go along with this particular ‘world-view’)…. And, in this scenario then, our question re ‘emotions’ would, during that period of history at least, have been, “What does this god/demon want here with me?” and not, “What do I want here?”

NOTE: If you’re having trouble getting to grips with this idea, try reflecting on one of your dream states (the particular dream of yours that you chose here is of no importance)… Do you experience this dream state of yours as ‘being somewhere’? .. Are you – as it were – ‘still you’, but now you’re an inhabitant in this ‘dream-place’, no matter how bizarre? …That is, you experience yourself as being in a definite ‘geographical location’ (on a ship; up a mountain; in a desert) – …And do you ‘meet others here’ …. Well, this sense that you are ‘somewhere’, is what I’m trying to describe here, when I say that your emotional states ‘take you to a definite somewhere’ … All this is, of course, complicated by the fact that  the ‘quality’ of this state (happy; sad; lust; fear; etc.) very often also makes use of a ‘location’ metaphor’ (‘Fields of delight’; rivers of ecstasy; ‘clouds of depression’;  etc.)…  …

… I do hope the above note hasn’t confused you even further …. ….. Anyway….. ‘Moving quickly on’ …

We often find that we (re)act ‘in the moment’ also, because responding from our emotional states can so easily be immediate – just because it is these states that fundamentally constitute our moment-to-moment awareness…. From this perspective then, I believe that they are also the connection between my instinctive animal nature and my primary will; and that they also provide the raw material for the exercise of my ability to reflect cognitively on ‘what the hell is going on here’. … (I am making use of one of Eugene Halliday’s meanings for ‘Will’ here, “…(T)he Will should be used only for pre-initiation … Will is unconditioned.”)… unfortunately this presents me with being required to perform something of a balancing act, in that I must (almost but not quite) ‘identify’ with the emotion in question, in order to ‘view’ it. And this situation could, very easily, simply overwhelm me…

For me to adequately reflect on these matters, I found that I needed the concept of the ‘unconscious’ to explain to me why these emotions ‘get the better of me’; together with the concept of ‘consciousness’ to explain how I might enter into a dialogue with these emotions and so, subsequently, formulate them – in order to arrive at some measure of understanding here – and to consequently, perhaps, allow me some degree of control over them, and so of my ‘being’…. Because it is only through these emotions that I believe I can gain any understanding of what the world is ‘about’; that gives the world any ‘meaning’; and that makes any relationship to it possible…. Even though there is always an ever-present element of danger involved (precipitation into rage, or sublime delight, or even into ‘mental illnesses’ – such as depression, or paranoia, for instance).

But let me add here that I have no idea if there is really any such a thing as the ‘conscious’ or the ‘unconscious’…. I merely make use of these concepts (and concepts like them) to ‘move me along’ on my journey…. And when it might happen, perhaps after decades, that they no longer do so, I will have no problem in discarding them … with perhaps some measure of gratitude, but also with absolutely no regrets …

So then, cultivating techniques in order to dis-engage from the world by ‘controlling’ my emotional flow, I view as attempts to inhibit the possibility of me discovering who I am, and even more alarming, of ‘plastering over’ myself with (yet another) layer of delusion, in an attempt to present myself to another – and so then delude both of us – into believing that this marionette that I have manufactured and that you see here is, “‘The way that I really am’… Honest-to-God!”…. A ‘construct’ that consists almost entirely of those characteristics that I would like to see reflected in your perception of me, making my motive here then, narcissistic idolatry … as it is a ‘construct’ that requires I continually remember the components of its image, so that I might endlessly re-constitute it, in order to continually re-present it to the world…. An unwholesome form of ‘worship’ then… (A word that Eugene Halliday defined very nicely as ‘continual remembrance’)… So … Real problems with this for me I’m afraid…

The metaphor I use to describe the attempt at deliberately inhibiting and controlling my emotional flow is that of siting behind the steering wheel of a car, with the engine in top gear and the feet on both the accelerator and brake at the same time… There is an appearance of being motionless – in that there is no forward movement – but there is now in imminent danger of the whole thing shaking apart, or even blowing up.. A  situation of – as I like to say, “Going nowhere…Fast!”… And which is really quite dangerous…

The contents of this present post have their root in my interpretation of a number of concepts (including a significant number of Eugene Halliday’s), and constitute my observations of both myself and my objective world, when viewed from the perspective gained by me from contemplating (what I take to constitute the content of) these various concepts.

The pieces in red below consists of an edited selection from my notebooks (from the late 1970’s to date) that contain some of my thoughts on Eugene Halliday’s Work, and which are, I believe, of some relevance here.

Notes towards Working with Eugene Halliday’s concept of  a ‘System’ as,  ‘A savior for a time’.

 I have found that this myth/metaphor of ‘the journey’ seems to apply very nicely to the way in which I experience what the hell it is that I’m doing with all this stuff… And that the stages of this journey of mine (and also of those other beings that I have met on the way) form the various chapters of this personal myth of mine. 

And so I have come to realize that it is important for me to record my own ‘as-lived’ account of all this as honestly as I can then…. Because I have learned, through experience, that it is not enough for me to simply seek to acquire more knowledge, or information, of something or other here…. In practice, for this material to be of any real value to me, I must somehow actively locate it – and then fix it – in the framework of my own lived experience; in my own personal time and space, as it were… And the extent to which I have deluded myself in my efforts here can be measured by the degree to which I am able to accurately recall my authentic past (as opposed to a version of that past which I would have ‘preferred’ – and which constitutes the ‘edited’ version of it that I always recount to others)… And as any account of this ‘past’ of mine that I seek to iluminate is, primarily, a linguistic account; then this is yet another crucial reason for the acquisition of an ‘active language’ 

But it is imperative here that I bear in mind, this myth of mine - this ‘journey’ I’m attempting to describe – is not really a ‘journey’ at all… My use of those metaphors – such as ‘journey’; ‘distance’; obstacles; ‘being ‘lost”; etc. etc. – are merely extremely useful ways of assisting me in my attempts at conceptualizing, evaluating, and ‘explaining’ , to both myself, and occasionally  to others, in language – a process taking place that is ‘uniquely itself’… and is not ‘like’ anything else at all really.

A ‘myth’, for me, is a form of story-telling that – to function as it is supposed to function in the individual – must in some real way, be about that individual…. Myths then, are definitely not risqué stories about the various goings-on of ‘the gods’ or other fictional characters, that various ‘self-appointed authorities’ subsequently ‘interpret’ using the latest, fashionable, ‘New-Age’ techniques …. As in: “That’s really a ‘Hero-figure-masculine-phallic-castration-incest’ myth in contemporary guise –  and not just simply a tale involving a beaver, a bath of Mazola oil, and a stealth bomber.”; or, “That story fragment ‘really’ forms part an ‘Earth-Mother’ saga  – although the uninitiated might think that it’s simple about a bit of lark which took place just inside a storage facility on the outskirts of Maidenhead.” … etc. etc. [yawn, yawn] ……. Would it were all really that easy… But then again, we all have to make a living I suppose…

I experience this journey as one in which I am, more often than not, traversing a completely unpredictable terrain – although I do get the occasional ‘coasting’ period (But I suspect this is merely to lull me into a sense of false security).. It might then, be easy going for part of the way; there might be mountains to climb; rivers to cross; sand-dunes to clamber over; waterlogged areas to wade through; etc. etc… And, as a result, I have become less and less concerned with being too particular about what it is that I am prepared to use ‘in the moment’ that will, I believe, move me forward here… Although I find that I must be totally committed to whatever it is that I am making use of at any one particular time  … Even though I might find that I – quite suddenly – will have to completely abandon it…

Volunteers who fondly imagine that they would like to become, or who indeed insist that they in fact are, ‘Fellow Travelers’ on this journey of mine, are another thing entirely…  I like to believe that I’m very reliable when I ‘cut a deal’ with others here, and I really do strive to be as clear as possible as to what I believe the outcomes can reasonably be expected to be – at least from my end… But my actual experiences here (and perhaps it is simply because I’ve never been able to clarify my own position in all this well enough to others) has taught me that it is far more usually the case that the majority of these others – usually because they have completely misunderstood what it is that ‘I’m about’ – will end up inevitably lowering the goalpost, or moving the starting line, or unilaterally changing the rules.…

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I have had to learn the hard way (and I have to confess that I still haven’t really learnt my lesson – although my wife has been attempting to advise me about this penchant of mine for decades) that it is extremely dangerous to cut deal with ‘devils’ – however minor; and however reasonable their subsequent defense of their own behavior might seem to be… 

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Important note to myself: This is a serious game …There is no rehearsal… This is IT… I have but one ‘go’ at it, and that’s all… There is no ‘return match’ .. no ‘reincarnation’ … What I do, ‘here and now’, constitutes – in the end – all that I am ever going to do with this life of mine… And when my death inevitably arrives, I believe there will then be a moment when it will clearly be seen by me that there were absolutely no excuses at all for any of the choices that I made in my life, or for any of my behavior here … Not that believing this really helps me all that much now…

This then is the scenario in which I need my ‘system’ to function. This is my ‘real world’; the one that I experience, and that I must deal with … And so clearly, my approach here must – to some extent at the very  least – be ‘fluid’ … As Eugene Halliday has it, only ever , ‘A Savior … for a time’.

In order for me to at least believe that I know what I’m doing, from moment to moment, with my ‘System’, I have had to take a closer look at a group of these related words that I see as clustering around the word ‘theory’. A word that often seems to be applied to – what might be more accurately described as – a ‘speculation’; or a ‘notion’; or a ‘model’… Anyway, here’s my ‘take’ on these words.

 I use ‘theory’ to refer to those ideas and concepts that I relate together to form principles, which I then use to produce reasonably systematic statements about either a particular subject of interest to me, or of an experience of mine, and that serves to illuminate these somewhat …

 A ‘notion’ is like a ‘hunch’ for me…. I might intuit that there will be some connection between two experiences or ideas, but this ‘maintaining the possibility here’ is not the same as producing a theory … Although these ‘notions’ may be later incorporated into some theory or other of mine – if the end result that is arrived at as a consequence of applying these ‘notions’ coincides with the same basic principles as the theory in question, that is…

But until then, I would rather call what I am doing here ‘speculation’. And this is a situation that will remain in this state until the principles I maintain are present here can be involved in some form of praxis of mine, or can at least be examined empirically, or concretely, by me… I should also add that my ‘notions’ usually take the form of metaphors – as these usually function quite well in getting me a little deeper into a particular subject.

Here’s an example: I like to think of my various emotions as the different colored inks that are contained in something like a set of children’s felt-tipped drawing pens; then my brain is the pen itself (the physical thing); and my mind is the hand that produces those ‘texts’ (acting with ‘intentionality’). These texts can, subsequently, be presented to my consciousness as a simple awareness, all the way up to a complex mentation… This ‘notion/metaphor’ ‘doesn’t really work’ if I think about it deeply at all – but it does serve to get me ‘into the right area’, and from this it is now possible that I might come up with something really useful…. So (obviously) although it’s very scrappy, and has ‘loads of holes’ in it, none the less I can Work with it – always provided I bear in mind that I mustn’t ‘fall for it’ (identify with it) that is…

I use ‘model’, when I believe I’m someway towards constructing a theory. My model partially ‘represents’, and uses those systematic statements that I’m constructing to describe various relationships that I’m perceiving. But my ‘model’ is always incomplete by its very nature… If  I were to believe that my model had somehow become complete, then it would no longer be a model – as it would now be identical with ‘the thing itself’, and so would be indistinguishable from it – which is impossible … (By the way, the statements by me that, “I completely understand,” something – is, I believe, also impossible)…

A ‘model’ then, helps me to construct a theory, which will then tell me not only what ‘parts’ of my model are incomplete, but also the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of those parts I’ve worked on, and possibly how they inter-relate. … I then use Eugene Halliday’s concept of a ‘system’ to link various theories together … Before finally Working on them – by  attempting to complete them still further; and, more importantly, adapting them into some form of praxis.

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Where do these ‘models’ of mine (for what it is that we essentially are) come from? … I have to accept that they are formed in the main by the Zeitgeist, or ‘Aionic forces’ …The seventeenth century emphasized mechanics (Newton and Descartes), which gave rise in the nineteenth century to, for example, the view that the best way to look at the world was based on forces, fields, energy, and resistance. This model was behind the ideas of pioneers such as Freud – who used this paradigm as the scientific basis for his theory of regression (which was appropriated by Eugene Halliday, in my view, to formulate the practical basis of what he referred to as, ‘engram work’), and Henri Berson, with his conscious field; his ‘élan vital’…

But this was not the only model that was about then, by any means… That branch of philosophy known as Phenomenology, coming out of German Idealism, and that gave rise to Romanticism, and Existentialism would also produce its own (quite different) vision..

I believe that we are now moving into an era where ‘what we are’ can be modeled more completely by incorporating metaphors based upon the ‘computer model’ – with its sub-routines; feedback loops; virtual realities; ability to provide relatively simple graphic representations of complex mathematical ideas etc. etc. etc..”

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The basic problem seems to me to have always revolved around dualism and idealism. On the one hand, the world is material in nature, and if there is any mystery here then it simply a consequence of our ignorance, and that is all. But then this Zeitgeist dictates that we accept certain types of evidence over other types – with the notably recent paradigm (in the West at least) being that of the causal nature of events.

 However, it is a matter of historical record that our epistemologies do evolve. But this evolution does not solve the problem that – in any given era – we still place more reliance on certain types of evidence than upon other types.

 If these models really succeed in reflecting current, contemporary, human values, then (as a direct consequence of this success) these models are difficult to shine any light upon, because they clearly do just seem to be, ‘the way it really is’.

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As the ideas that I work with iterate and bifurcate, I find I am having to deal with more and more diverse subjects.  Thus, questions concerning the nature of ‘consciousness’, and the necessity for a ‘system’ etc., all seem to arise quite naturally from my initial investigation into – what I fondly imagined were – ‘just’ my emotions… 

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 A ‘system’ must be formulated (or re-formulated) by me, to be of any real use to me…That is, I cannot just ‘take on’ someone else’s system…

In order for the involution/evolution of this system of mine to progress, I must actively involve the primary components of my perception, (that is, input received by me via my ‘five senses’); my experience of degrees of feeling; and those aesthetic evaluations which constitute my ‘recognition’ of my emotional states…. However i still view this system of mine as being – by and large – a construct of my mentational processes…

A fancy term for this system of mine then, might be to call it a ‘Cognitive Structure’, because this label would at least highlight the fact that it is, primarily, a system of representations in language, and is therefore essentially one that I can ‘play about with’ – with a view to transforming the elements contained within it… Hence the crucial importance here then, of developing my own ‘active language’.

These systems of mine then, I view as being products of my mind… Unlike, say, the ‘system’ of control that seems to be in place to preside over the regulation of organs such as my kidneys, for example… The smooth running of which must, as a consequence then, be continually tweaked by my brain ‘alone’. As my ‘conscious mind’ is apparently not required here. ..And so ‘I don’t ever actually ‘know’ that ‘I’m’ doing it!’ … This is fine by me by the way, as I’d probably screw the whole thing up if I did try to interfere here and attempt to become involved in ‘managing’ these essential bodily functions of mine… Because, let’s face it, I am so very easily distracted, and thus any interference by ‘the real me’ here would inevitably prove to be fatal … 

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As to ‘consciousness’ itself. It’s not something that I’m really all that interested in. That is to say, its not of any real pressing importance to me what consciousness is. I happen to believe that it is phenomenologically and ontologically unique. And thus, all attempts to explain it as being ‘like’ a ‘something else’ (as something that we all ‘understand better’) are doomed from the outset. … Because I have never been able to think of anything else that consciousness is remotely similar to … 

It is interesting for me to speculate, that the position taken by the contemporary philosopher Daniel Dennett re ‘consciousness’ may have arisen simple because of the temptation on his part to deny – what I claim is – consciousness’s uniqueness… And so then, for him – because consciousness isn’t ‘like something else’ (and so cannot then in principle, be ‘explained’) – ‘consciousness’ therefore, ‘doesn’t exist’…

In my view, the position, in part at least, that Dennett takes up regarding a view of ‘consciousness’ – which is predicated on what he refers to as, ‘The Multiple-Drafts Model’ – makes use of precisely the same sort of argument… That is – that consciousness isn’t like ‘this‘; it’s like ‘that‘..

And although I am in full agreement with Dennett’s demolishing of those models of consciousness that have been presented to us in the past and that he disagrees with – because he does prove, to my satisfaction at least, that these accounts all invariably do proceed by (and so seek to find their justification in) this analogy – I see his book  (‘Consiousness Explained’ ) as rather, an extremely complex and well argued example of, what Eugene Halliday both talks of and writes about regarding, ‘(T)he limit(s) of the application of term(s)’… The ‘term’ (in Dennett’s  exploration if it) being ‘Consciousness’.

 

From ‘NOCTURNAL EMISSIONS’
‘Random Dribbling from the Twilight World of the Undead’
by Bob Hardy
(A series of fragments from Bob Hardy’s notebooks – from the late-1970′s to date)

I believe that Eugene Halliday’s many talks can be viewed from the point of view of, what I might call here, ‘The Emotional Life’… And, if you would like to ‘have a go’ at interacting with his material yourself from this perspective then, I would suggest that, instead of simply attempting to absorb information (definitions and ideas), you try to observe what it is that is happening in you while you listen to one of his talks; or even better, what it is that you believe is happening to Eugene Halliday while he is speaking… You might be pleasantly (or even unpleasantly) surprised….

You might now also try reading the collection of short essays written by Eugene Halliday, that was first published under the title of ‘Essays On God’ (the work of his friend, David Mahlowe). I cannot give you any information as to whether or not there was any editing of this material by David – except where it concerns the last four parts of this publication – their collective title being ‘God Is Not Dead’. These were originally printed in the parish magazine of ‘St Michael and All Angels Church’ (located in Manchester, UK) between March and June of 1980, and are – as far as I am able to tell – ‘as written’ by Eugene Halliday himself..

This collection of essays is available for viewing – and also for free downloading as pdf files – from Josh Hennessy’s excellent site, which is located a mere key-click away  … …   here

 Friendship is born at the moment one person says to another, “What? You too? I thought I was the only one.”

C. S. Lewis

To be continued….

Bob Hardy

May 30 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE: I was very busy doing other stuff during most of April, so, instead of trying to rush things, I thought it best if I posted the much shorter than usual piece below …

 

I have no doubt that Eugene Halliday was first and foremost a Christian, and consequently, that the majority of the subjects he wrote about were from this perspective.

From 1969 until 1986 (the year before his death) approximately 200 of his short essays – consisting of around 3,000 words each (and thus totaling well over half-a–million words) first saw the light of day in the pages of the monthly parish magazine of  ‘St Michaels and All Angels Church’, located in the North West of England – in what was at that time, ‘Manchester 23’.

Here is a complete (dated) list of these essays, prepared recently by Joan and Ron Ford Eugene Halliday for St Michael’s (1969-1986)

It might also be worth noting here that, earlier on in the 1950’s, Eugene Halliday also had a number of his essays published in two other local church magazines,  ‘The Cavendish Magazine’, and ‘The Healing Quarterly.’

I believe that one of Eugene Halliday’s major concerns was what I might call, the ‘spiritual dilemma’ of contemporary Western European man. And with this in mind I would like to suggest that you take the time to read Eugene Halliday’s ‘The Conquest of Anxiety’… This is available as a freely downloadable pdf file from Josh Henessy’s excellent site. Just go to the ‘Written Work’ section accessible via the Menu Bar located along the top of his site.

Josh’s Eugene Halliday transcriptions site  

Eugene Halliday devised his own unique exercise – one that I took an active part in over a number of years, between the late 1970’s and early 1980’s – and that I would claim was based on a decidedly European symbolism.

This is my own (somewhat sketchy for the time being) description of this exercise…  ‘My own’, because I’ve never heard, or seen, it described like this by anyone else. Indeed some of the descriptions I’ve heard bandied about by others who claim to have ‘been on this exercise’ themselves, makes me doubt whether we were attempting to do the same thing.

I also remember that the number of people who could work at any one time with this exercise was thirteen, but that never – at least during the time that I attended – was there any more than about eight people actively involved.

The participants, essentially, invoked a (variety of) emotional states, using their ‘active imagination’ (Eugene Halliday referred to this use of active imagination as ‘letting’).These emotional states were dependent upon the nature of the particular exercise in question. This was first decided upon, before being subsequently more precisely formulated, and finally pronounced aloud verbally, by the group. Individual members of the group then assumed particular aspects of this formulation by attempting to actively participate in it dynamically .

Thus, this exercise was not about ‘emptying the self’ if you will, but rather more about ‘filling the self’… This seemed to me to be a technique that was completely beyond the ability of many of those who were willing to take part. In my opinion, the majority of those present seemed unable to come to grips with the essential technique of ‘letting go’ – and as a result there was usually a great deal of ‘active conjecturing’ taking place, as opposed to  ‘active imagination’… Regrettably, the success of the exercise was dependant on the fact that no-one taking part was ‘faking it’.

For me the over-riding experience was similar to listening to someone playing from a written piece of music that – although the person playing it may have indeed written themselves in the (recent) past – claimed was being improvised ‘on the spur of the moment’. Although I would add, in their defense, that those taking part did appear to have convinced themselves – and so in fact believed  - that they were indeed improvising..

This exercise was, in my view, originally designed by Eugene Halliday to allow those taking part to experience a range of their own emotional states in a controlled scenario through the technique of improvising, using active imagination; while at the same time allowing them to simultaneously observe the range of emotional states emanating from those others taking part… The rough idea being to resolve this situation ‘in the moment’, and subsequently to – what I would describe as – ‘distill the essence of it’…

However,  although the majority of the various attempts at these exercises that I took part in over the years I would say were failures, they did provide me with yet another excellent version of – what Eugene Halliday referred to (and wrote about) –  ‘The Tacit Conspiracy’…(Also available on Josh Hennessy’s site, if you’re interested)

I have included a brief description of this exercise here, because I maintain that it’s easy to see ‘The Conquest of Anxiety’ is intimately connected with it – if you’re sufficiently ‘along the way’ here, that is… View this as a ‘little test’ from me then … If you like …

… Back to my birthday party…

 

To be continued…

Bob Hardy

30th April  2013

 

One interesting aspect of observing changes in my experiences of any particular ‘state of being’, is the manner in which my cognitive behavior is able to modify these states in subtle ways that can slip right past me….

For instance, I have recently realized that if I’m in a state of ignorance about something (and I would also go so far as to claim that this state of ignorance also contributed to my physical state – that is, to my present material orientation towards my objective reality in some fundamental way)… and I realize that I am in this state of ignorance; then although I might now still actually know nothing more about the subject in question, I no longer experience this state of ignorance in the same way that I experienced it before I realized that I was ignorant  …. ….. And even though I still don’t know any more about the subject in question (this absence of understanding here being due to this ignorance of mine)…. I also experience this subject  in a different way   … Which I think is a really, really, weird.

From ‘NOCTURNAL EMISSIONS’
‘Random Dribbling from the Twilight World of the Undead’
by Bob Hardy
(A series of fragments from Bob Hardy’s notebooks – from the late-1970′s to date)

The illusion that having mental limitations places us under…
is one of having no mental limitations. 

NOTE: I use the word ‘idea’ to refer to that cognitive component of a particular ‘form/function’ I’m Working with…. That is, when I’m just ’having a think’ about it.

 I use the word ‘concept’ to refer to that cognitive component of the ‘form/function’ of an experiential situation I have embarked upon. That is, something I’m actually doing (or I’ve decided I’m going to do) and that might contain any number of related ideas.

 So, I’m liable to say things like: “But it’s only a bit of an idea at the moment,” or; “I really believed I had a great concept going there, but I just couldn’t seem to get it to work.”

… And I’ll sometimes use ‘idea’ and ‘concept’ in the same sentence.

The main purpose of this blog is to provide an account of my interaction with a number of Eugene Halliday’s ideas that are contained in the many audio and text files – freely available for you to download here from the Eugene Halliday archive

To help you with your own investigations into this material, I would suggest that you visit Josh Hennesey’s excellent site here. This contains an ever-increasing number of transcripts of Eugene Halliday’s audio and text files, and, more importantly, all these files are ‘searchable’… Simply click on the word SEARCH – located in the Menu bar at the top of each page of Josh’s site – and then type in the word or phrase that you’re looking for in the space provided…[Typing in the word ‘feeling’, for instance, will – at the present time - provide you with about 67 detailed examples of Eugene Halliday’s use of this word].

Anyway … back to the topic in hand…

The subject of ‘feeling’ is, for me, an extremely complex one. Not least of all because of the common usage that many of the words I involve here signify to others.

Fortunately, the idea of Eugene Halliday’s that, ‘If you change the form [of something] you change the function’ – which I first came across in the mid-late 1970’s – became of real assistance to me in any Work that I was attempting to engage in here … And I began to take as much care as I could in constructing the particular pattern of words I would use to Work on embodying any ideas that I believed were really important to me where it concerned this subject of ‘feeling’ …

This was far trickier to pull-off than I first imagined, not because the ideas that began to form in me were that hard to accept, but because – of all the subjects I had ever taken an interest in Working with – this has been the one were the vocabulary involved has been the most troublesome…

My attempts at discussing the ideas of others here only tended to irritate the hell out of most of them. Because I would keep interrupting them, and insisting that they told me what it was that they ‘meant’ when they used certain words – as I realized that I didn’t really understand what they were talking about (and more importantly, I had an overwhelming suspicion that they didn’t either)…

NOTE:  What is written below has come about as a consequence of investigations into my own integument, and my subsequent observations of the behavior of others.  … So, while I can tell you that this perspective ‘works for me’, I cannot of course say anything about it ‘working for you’…

And – once again – if you are going to contact me about these ideas, please do not simply tell me what your opinion is here.

… What I am interested in reading about are accounts of your own approach to this subject of feeling. Particularly if it differs significantly from mine, and also, provided that you supply a (sketchy will do) first-hand account of the subsequent experiential consequences of this approach of yours…

To continue … This attempt at discussions with others about this subject of feeling had a very interesting side affect. In that I came to realize that, while I could eventually come to ‘see’ an idea that I had been working on – and could even write a short essay on it if I had to – when it came to explaining this idea to others, the ‘pace’ at which I was able to resurrect it slowed down considerably, altering my natural speech patterns so much so that I would begin to stammer… But, even so, whatever these ‘side-affects’ of Working were for me, I now measured my progress with any particular group of ideas – be they Eugene Halliday’s, or whoever – by the words that I believed I had now clarified and, to some extent at least, could include in my ‘active language’ vocabulary.

I was not really able to appreciate what was going on here until I began to teach professionally in the mid 1990’s … With the result that I am now quite certain that ‘holding forth’ on any particular subject has absolutely nothing to do with, say, ‘getting in touch with’, or ‘being in’, the ‘field’…. A commonly held view as to what it was that Eugene Halliday was doing when he gave one of his talks, by those who fancy they are ‘in the know’ here… Although, apart from saying something to effect that he was, “In touch with the field,” there seemed to be an almost total lack of any other information here from the overwhelming majority of those who maintained that this was the case (other than to accompanying this statement with some variety or other of ‘knowing look’ – presumably intended to indicate that something unfathomable was going on here … Which, I would tend to agree, was – but on their part, and not Eugene Halliday’s)… Having said that, I am a big fan of ‘being inspired’ … a state that I believe Eugene Halliday certainly was in, from time to time …But I see that as a completely different process…

… Like I say, it’s complicated…

Anyway, as a consequence – after some 35 years or of Working on various ideas and concepts in an attempt to further my understanding of ‘feeling’, I have come to appreciate that many words are commonly substituted for each other here in some way (particularly in common speech) such as, for instance: ‘awareness’; ‘sentience’; ‘feeling’; ‘consciousness’; ‘perception’; ‘sensation’; ‘emotion’; ‘reaction’, etc. etc. But that, in a Working situation, if these words are separated out and considered individually, they are capable of supplying a great deal of clarity (at least to me) where it concerns the need for a basic understanding of (what I believe is an approach by Eugene Halliday to) the problem of ‘being’ itself… However, if I’m just having a chat with someone, I do find myself sliding into ‘common usage’ very easily, and this does tend to complicate matters somewhat …

This account of mine here is not meant to (necessarily) tell you ‘exactly where I’m at’ at the present time with ‘feeling’… (And I certainly hope you haven’t gained that impression from my previous posts with regards to my present position on ‘active language’), and so what I will attempt to do now is tell you what my ‘starting position’ was with respect to my understanding of ‘feeling’, back in the late 1970’s, and then attempt to move forward slowly from there if I can…

However, I’m reasonably sure already that I won’t be able to make it to the present day, because I can already see that some understanding, and sooner rather than later, of what I believe is another of Eugene Halliday’s most important concepts – and that’s  ‘Sentient Power’ – will be required here ….

But back to ‘feeling’ … I first became interested in the theoretical ideas of C G Jung’s Analytical (or Depth) Psychology sometime during the late 1960’s (when I was in my late 20’s), so much so that I had read his Collected Works by the time that I first went to Tan-Y-Garth in the mid-late 1970’s… Consequently, I was well used to viewing things from the perspective of many of the concepts contained in Jung’s typological and topographical schemes… These would include a view of the psyche that included the physical body; the two ‘attitudes’ – ‘introversion’ and ‘extrovertion’; and the four functions of ‘thinking’ and ‘feeling’ (rational), ‘sensation’ and ‘intuition’ (irrational)…and – although not so important here, at least for the moment – Jung’s concept of ‘The Archetypes’ …. [If you want to know more about all this in a general sense by the way, then I suggest that you get hold of a copy of ‘Lectures on Jung’s Typology’ by Marie-Louise von Franz and James Hillman; and ‘Complex/Archetype/Symbol by Jolande Jacobi.)

So I will just say a little here about feelings being ‘rational’ (because this view seems to trouble the most people) … and what that meant to me back in the late 1970’s ….. and - to a large extent - still does.

Essentially, the ‘feeling’ function is the evaluative function.

States of being - such as anger; happiness; sadness, frustration; etc - are not ‘feelings’, - they are ‘emotions’ … (‘feeling’ and ‘emotion’ are two different words, with two [obviously] different forms, and that therefore properly perform two different functions)…

Simply put, ‘emotions’ (in the only situation where I would maintain that they have any ‘meaning’ to an experiencing subject, and that is, where they arise in human beings) require the mediation of language (and thus cognition) to ‘come to be’…. So that your own personally experienced list of emotions are the labels (in the form of words) that you use in naming (and perhaps also describing – either vaguely, or in some considerable detail) these various feeling ‘states’ of yours that you have, to some degree at least, become aware of, or have experienced.  To make this a little clearer, I’m not saying that our animal chums cannot act nervously or be fearful etc. etc.; what I’m saying is they cannot do so in any ‘meaningful’ way; and that further, because animals are not reflexive, they are not capable in principle of doing any Work … …. But then I don’t happen to believe that the overwhelming majority of people can be bothered to do any either … :-D

Having experienced various emotional states, we can all, potentially at least, subsequently describe the content(s) of these states to each other. Including perhaps the reasons why we are in them (“I’m very angry with you because you ….etc.”)… and eventually even develop our own complex aesthetic here… Such that we can indicate in speech – sometimes to a remarkable degree – exactly how happy, or sad, or angry, etc. we are, and why… even poetically, in a way that is denied the warthog; albatross; haddock; dug-beetle; Antirrhinum; etc et al… Although I have to admit that there is nothing more cringe-provoking for me than reading someone’s attempts at presenting their various ‘thoughts’ on the human condition in a way that seeks to seduce us into believing that these are derived from the author’s authentic experiences, although I am not saying that these accounts couldn’t be genuine, …. (Clue: ‘authentic’ and ‘genuine’ are two different words)…

Most importantly here, for me, then – emotions require cognitive input, but feelings don’t…

The degree to which we are happy, or sad, or angry etc. (that is, the ‘how much’ of the particular emotion) constitutes the feeling content of these states… And, crucial here, is that you are always immediately aware of your degree of feeling, without the mediation of either any mental or physical content …

If you are devoid of language, and consumed with rage, you are only able to express this emotional state of yours through your physical body – by making noises, facial expressions, body movements etc. – as any mother who is nursing a very hungry small baby will be able to tell you from first-hand experience; and also that dog owner, whose left leg – for some unaccountable reason – has become the center of a great deal of amorous activity on the part of Woofter, the family cocker-spaniel …A very interesting phenomena this latter one, as it can be used to illustrate the emergence of emotional states from instinctive states, and on up into the articulation of these states in language, from the relatively simple, and non-reflexive way in the case of lower primates etc., to the bewildering complexity of human speech … But my major point here is that there is no possibility of either the baby, or Woofter, reflecting on these states that they find themselves in, at least in the sense that beings who have acquired language skills are potentially able to… To repeat then – expressing an emotion other than through the body  – that is, with the cognitive function – requires ‘language’, or if you prefer, the production of texts, to do so…

Having once acquired language skills, it should be relatively easy for you to now appreciate why I maintain that you would never find yourself saying something like, “You know, I judged myself to be (or thought I was) in a state of profound melancholy last night, but actually I was ecstatically happy! … Silly me!” Or, “I was very, very, angry with you, but actually I found out later on that I wasn’t … I was only mildly angry with you.” … (Although you could say something like, “You thought I was very angry before! … Well you were wrong! … Because this is me when I am very angry!!!”… [Sound of crockery being smashed])…

So, your pronouncements about your emotional state – that is, the words you use to describe, or justify, or condemn, etc. it, has nothing to do with the certainty of your immediate actual experience of the intensity (value) of it….

I am not saying here that you cannot inhibit your emotional state, and indeed this can be a consequence of many things – your morality for instance; or your ability to engage in various fancied ‘spiritual techniques’. But any pronouncements here are still structured components of your ‘thinking’ (rational, logical, ‘spiritual’, fashionable, or otherwise) and play no part in any awareness of it, in the sense that you do not need this self-definition of your emotional state before you become aware of the intensity (or quality) of it.

Feeling does not require the mediation of language… That is, it does not require a cognitive component in order to ‘be’. You are aware of your feeling state immediately, and you are never wrong as to its value. But ‘value’ here only means ‘amount’ (or, as I prefer, ‘degree’). And this degree is situated somewhere along the axis from total rejection to total acceptance… Many ‘followers’ of Eugene Halliday I have spoken with about this appear to me to confuse this ‘positioning of feeling’ with what they believe he meant by “Yes-ing” and “No-ing” (In case you hadn’t noticed, ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ are two words by the way, and are thus components of your mentation, and not of your feeling) …

Animals clearly have ‘feelings’ (degree of response) but an Italian dog will not say, “Bellissimo!” to itself if you give it a chocolate biscuit, any more than a Rochdale Lurcher will say, “Ta very much Chuck!” in the same circumstance …. They will however ‘feel about’ the situation….  (But whether your pet slug, Ambrose, does, I’m not so sure….Although it can display reactive behavior)

And, as with any group of words used to elaborate upon a central concept (emotion) in order to, say, produce some kind of aesthetic, these concepts can easily become confused…. But please note that your ‘feeling states’ (or for that matter your ‘emotions’) are never, in themselves, confused, and they are thus rational – although emotions can become conflated if a particular situation results in you experiencing rapid swings from, say, ‘pleasure’ to ‘disgust’ during a relatively incrementally short period of time… I’ll leave it to you [and your relationship with Woofter] to come up with your own examples here.

This situation is further complicated when using common speech, as in sentences such as, “I felt really angry,” which implies that ‘anger’ is a ‘feeling state’…. It’s not… It’s an ‘emotional’ state…

So let me try now to explain how you might move forward here … Ask yourself the following question (and I’m not suggesting at all that your views here should be the same as mine)…., “Are my feelings rational or irrational?” … If you’ve thought about this at all, then you should be able to answer this question at some length without becoming hopelessly confused (and again, your approach here might be totally different from mine) … Now ask yourself, “Are my emotions rational or irrational?” and if your answer seems to be the same as your answer to the first question, then I hope you can see that you don’t in fact know the answer to either of these questions – because you do not understand that they are fundamentally different …

But recognize here also, that anyone can rattle on about a subject that they ‘know something about’, often at some length, from material that they have gleaned from others. And this can include, not only esoteric material, but material  (the subject matter of which would come under the general heading of ‘Psychology’) such as feelings and emotions. And this can often leave you believing that these people are, at the very least, knowledgeable here. But Working on those two questions I gave you above has very little to do with being smart, or trotting out something you’ve appropriated from someone else, or quoting the Bible etc…. and everything to do with your attempt to ‘know yourself’ – a pursuit which I have come to believe almost no one I have ever met attempts in their whole lives…. But then maybe I’ve always hung around with the wrong people … Capisce?….

Try to devise ways of attempting to perceive if those you engage in conversation with about these subjects speak from their own experiences (or ‘centers’) … If you decide that they don’t, then all you are going to get at very best is (yet more) information (which may or may not be useful)… But you will get no material which comes from them actually Working – as this material is qualitatively different … And if I can assure you of anything, it’s that, if you Work on yourself, at some point in all this it becomes relatively easily to spot when someone else is … How you handle your relationships when you can do so is, of course, your business… I will tell you though that dealing with those who imagine they are Working is very difficult  for me … but that I try to use this situation to do some Work myself … If that helps.

Cognitive effort, where it concerns Working then, is about developing concepts that mirror – if only for that part of the journey you are struggling with at the present time – your internal states… These attempts at description might not be as accurate as they could be, but this doesn’t necessarily mean that they are vaguer, or weaker… It simply means that, in this particular instance, you’ve missed the mark (clue there :-))

 And finally, you can study as many religious, scientific, artistic, philosophical subjects as you like – but if your motive for doing so is anything other than ‘knowing yourself’, then –  as I see it – you’re (still) ‘going nowhere’ …

In closing, here’s an example from one of my notebooks of a methodology I make use of when attempting to remember stuff – and that’s humor… More often than not in the form of ‘blue’ jokes… This is because I find I can remember it easier [and so, I believe, could Woofter, if he possessed language] – so be warned … Here’s a relatively mild one anyway from one of my notebooks that nailed, very nicely for me, one of the uses of the word ‘feeling’ in common speech.. The word is used here to describe sense data…

You can try and create a version of this joke by using words such as ‘I had a sensation of’ in place of ‘felt like’ … I don’t think that being more accurate with the words used here works as well… But that only gives me some ideas about the inertial properties of common speech… But don’t let me stop you trying…

…. Give it a go and ‘See how you feel’…

Two Welsh women, Mrs Jones and Mrs Williams were having a heated argument about Mrs Jones’ husband.

Mrs Jones:  “Mrs Williams! … I’ve got a bone to pick with you! I hear in the village that you’ve been going round telling all the girls that my husband, David, has got a wart on his ‘John Thomas’!”

Mrs Williams: “Mrs Jones!! … I said no such thing!! … … I did not say that your husband David had a wart on his ‘John Thomas’.  …. ….. I said it felt like a wart! ”

From ‘NOCTURNAL EMISSIONS’
‘Random Dribbling from the Twilight World of the Undead’
by Bob Hardy
(A series of fragments from Bob Hardy’s notebooks – from the late-1970′s to date)

Woof!! Woof!!

To be continued ……

Bob Hardy

March 31st 2013

 

Intro:

Over the course of the last couple of months – and with the assistance of a number of comments and emails from various people – it has gradually dawned on me that visitors to this blog might not be … ‘getting’ … these various accounts of my interactions with Eugene Halliday’s material in quite the way that I had intended. … So then – in an attempt to clarify things here if I can – here are one or two points that you might like to bear in mind for the future… … As you ‘read on’ … So to speak…

Most notably:
a). I may have subsequently modified my understanding of a particular concept(s) of Eugene Halliday’s, that I initially took on board sometime during the 1970′s and ’80′s. Such that the account that I give here of my understanding ‘back then’, is nothing like my understanding of this particular concept(s) now.

b). That I might have found myself at some earlier date rejecting a particular concept of Eugene Halliday’s. But as a direct consequence of doing so, I immediately began working on developing my own ideas here… And although these ideas of mine may have been antithetical to Eugene Halliday’s – nonetheless they still owed their genesis directly to that (original) concept(s) of his….Indeed, I had already begun to appreciate ‘way back then’, that without this initial impetus from him, I might never have engaged with these concepts at all. … So whether I agreed with him or not, Eugene Halliday still did something for me here. An intention of his that I believe he elaborates upon at some length in his essay written during the 1940′s – ‘Defense of the Devil’ …(And before moving on, an interesting point that you might like to consider here is, “And what was it that other people did for Eugene Halliday …?”)

The primary purpose of this blog then is to describe these, and other processes of mine, by recounting – as best I can – how it was that I proceeded through some of the material contained in the Eugene Halliday Archive. This purpose also governs, in the main, the position I would prefer to take here regarding any discussion of Eugene Halliday’s ideas or concepts – either on the Forum, or in the Comments Section of this blog…

So, before moving on from the subject of ‘Words’, and onto ‘Feeling’ (as I fully intended to do at the end of last month), I have decided that it would be a good idea if I provided you with a couple of examples illustrating my present relationship to this whole ‘activate language’ thing… And although these examples could hardly be said to be exhaustive  - that is, I hope you don’t think that this is all I have to say on the subject – they might help to shed further light here…

Shortly… The problem I’m having at the moment with my attempts to clarify my position regarding ‘active language’ here, is centered around a lack of (let us call it) ‘differentiation’ in the use of (amongst others) the following particular terms: ‘meaning’; ‘definition’; and ‘understanding’….. (This would be a lack of differentiation on your part here by the way, and not on mine … Although having just written that, I do immediately see that it appears to make me out to be somewhat hubristic) …. To continue … ‘Meaning’; ‘definition’; and ‘understanding’ are – ipso facto – three completely different words, because they (obviously) each have three different, written, and spoken, forms …. And thus – at least according to my take on Eugene Halliday about this - they must therefore perform three different functions…. So … This being the case … I can now put my little problem here this way:-

If you take my use of the word ‘meaning’ to be, say, the same as your use of the word ‘definition’ …then ‘we two’ are going to be in all sorts of trouble where it concerns any attempt by us to communicate with each other here… Aren’t we?  … Such that we will probably just end up talking past each other … That is – I will fondly imagine that I’ve ‘said’ one thing, and you’ll maintain that I’ve ‘said’ something else….. ‘Non comprende’ in other words….

So, here below are a couple of examples centered around my particular ‘Work Experiences’ with the word ‘meaning’. And thus, as a consequence of these experiences, how this word ‘meaning’ functions (in part) for me now  …. Hopefully perhaps, after reading these examples then, you will understand a little more about what it is that I’ve been prattling on about in this blog – in part at least – up to now…

I am fine, by the way, that your experience with this word ‘meaning’ involved you in completely different experiences, as it surely must have … And indeed, I would be very interested to hear from you about these experiences of yours…. Hopefully though, you will not be overcome with the urge to send me your ‘ideas’ about what it is that you ‘think’ the word ‘meaning’ might possess… Because – as I might have mentioned before – I am not that interested in hearing about ‘just’ your ideas … I want to know how you arrived at these ideas experientially.. and how you subsequently ‘balanced’ yourself …

To repeat then, I would be absolutely delighted to hear from anyone out there in blog-land who has actually had any authentic experiences here….(Clue: ‘authentic’ experiences are not the same thing as ‘genuine’ experiences).

I have put together the pieces below – in part at least – from entries in the many and various notebooks that I have somehow managed to accumulate over the years – and I really do have lots of them, but that’s probably because I always start my entries in them by using my best handwriting for the first few pages – employing a brand new pen purchased solely for that purpose… Then – for some reason which I’ve never quite been able to fathom – I will scrawl stuff in the next few pages using a blobby biro, with the result that I’m only able to decipher half of this material at a later date… Finally, I will make a hurried note  (which I will recall at some later date as being crucial to my future development, but which, regrettably, I have now somehow completely forgotten) – somewhere in the final third of this notebook, with what appears to be an H500 (or even harder) pencil – the line of which is so faint that I cannot subsequently decipher anything of it at all, but which I cannot now erase without making a hole in the paper … … I then find myself – and sooner rather than later – impelled to buy myself another new notebook … Going on to repeat the above process … over, and over … and over, again….  ’Nox profunda’, as they used to say ….

A¹: The Meaning of Objects.

Let me say right away that I like my choice of title for this section … It reminds me of a sort of ‘surrealist manifesto’ thing. … Rather like ‘The Exquisite Corpse’ ….

All of a sudden, as if a surgical hand of destiny had operated on a long-standing blindness with immediate and sensational results, I lift my gaze from my anonymous life to see the clear recognition of how I live. And I see that everything I’ve done, thought, or been, is a species of delusion or madness… I’m amazed by what I’ve managed not to see… I marvel at all that I was and that I now see I’m not.
                                                         The Book of Disquiet – Fernando Pessoa

Sometime during my mid-fifties – and as a consequence of what many might view as an incredible stroke of luck – I was given the opportunity of ‘retraining’  for the job market…For free …. (A situation that very nearly ‘did me in’ as it happened… And that, amongst other things, resulted in me becoming the apparent victim of a bizarre strain of what I can only describe as ‘lycanthropy’, for short periods … But that’s another story) …

Out of the blue, my line-manager at ‘The Wirral Metropolitan College’ (which was where I was working at that time as a part-time lecturer) offered to get the college to pay for my university fees, should I want to ‘bump up my qualifications’ and go for an MA… (“They must have had more money than sense,” as my sainted, maternal grandmother might have put it)…

Being the pig I am (and using the old Liverpool maxim ‘If they’re free, I’ll have two’), I embarked, simultaneously, upon not one, but two, three-year courses (Education with Manchester University, and Music at Liverpool University) eventually receiving two pieces of very nicely embossed paper, on which were printed my shiny new, impressive ‘qualifications’. These were immediately prominently featured in the first two pages of a fake-leather-bound folder that we were all required to clobber together during this period, and which laughingly constituted what ‘the powers that be’ liked to referred to as your ‘C.V.’.. And…as much of what was in there – up to that time at least – resembled nothing so much as a collection of antique Hoover guarantees … I will admit that… OK… I was rather taken with my shiny new qualifications…But only ‘in a mercenary way’, as Dame Edna might have put it….

Had they still been alive, my achievements here were something that my parents would have been proud of (in the way that all of us parents usually are). And it was this aspect of my newly acquired scholarly status that kept presenting itself to me, whenever I thought of my splendid achievements here … something like nostalgic regret …. In a nutshell, I had became conscious of the fact that, “My dad (and my mum) would have been proud of me.”

My father had worked in a precision engineering company, and such was the nature of his job that he was required to wear a suit, complete with collar and a tie, under a white laboratory coat – very similar to the one that the actor Peter Cushing used to don whist playing Dr Frankenstein in those old Hammer Horror movies…

Anyway, my dad had been dead for some fifteen years, and my mum had been dead for about six years when I received my  ’presentation award ceremony letter’ from Liverpool University … I had no intention of actually going to be ‘presented’ because – as I have already said – I only wanted the official pieces of paper to stick in my CV.. But my wife, Jean, pointed out that, “It would be a nice thing to do, because your mum and dad would have wanted you to.” … So I compromised… and agreed to have my photograph taken…

I had very few of my mother and father’s belongings, but for some reason, I had kept my dad’s tie … The one that I remember he wore to work.. It was a blue plaid affair – made of a sort of wool material…. The sort of thing you could buy in any decent high-street tailors….

Anyway, I decided to wear my dad’s tie (around the collar of that brand-new white shirt I found that I had to buy) when I went along to the appropriate university department in order to pose for my official (rip-off) photograph – wearing the specially-hired (at the session) for-the-session standard mortar-board, complete with fake-fur-lined gown: standing in front of an impressive array of fake books, and holding a rolled-up piece of blank parchment complete with a fetching strip of silk (matching the above fake fur) which had been wound around it, and then tied with an impressive bow, and that was presumably intended to represent my new ‘degree’…. (There’s ‘one born every minute’ isn’t there?) …

When I think of ‘dad’s tie’ now – all this (and a great deal more) ‘comes up’ in me… It’s what it ‘means’ to me.

On the elaboration of my thoughts here regarding this extraordinarily interesting phenomena, see ‘B section’ below … After you’ve read  of course …

A²:  …But what does this particular concept really mean?

I’m now going to attempt here to ‘marry up’ – that is, as far as ‘my very own, personal, belongs-to-me, meaning’ is concerned – a concept of Eugene Halliday’s; something from the writings of Jacob Boehme; … and the Eskimos ..

NOTE TO THE READER HERE: I can read a very thick book from cover to cover, and get absolutely nothing from it. … And have in fact done so, on numerous occasions ….

My usual way of processing texts, is to read through them as quickly as I can and wait for part of it to ‘stand out’…. You can think of this process as something like waiting for a portion of the text that you are reading to become, spontaneously, ‘virtually highlighted’ – if it helps you..

This way of engaging with texts will often result in me being completely unable to tell the curious, casual enquirer what the particular book I have now just finished reading, was ‘about’  … But if, on the other hand, they ask me “What did I get from it?”, and a part of it had been ‘virtually highlighted’ – then I am able to give them my ‘take’ (on that part at least) without much effort … and often at great length… Which usually sees them backing off (particularly if they’ve read the book themselves) and muttering something like, “Mmmm, I would never have got that from it,” followed very quickly by, “Well! … Must be off !”

You must also understand here that I have no way of knowing beforehand, if and when this ‘virtual highlighting’ will manifest itself. But I can tell you that the possibility of its appearance is the only reason why it is that I engage with any text of any kind since I can remember – that is, even when I was a teenager… …  I might engage with a text I’m not drawn to if I’m asked to do so – as a favor by someone who is important to me for example – but if no ‘virtual highlighting’ appears, then I can find this to be an excruciatingly uncomfortable experience …..Weird…hey?…

Anyway, to continue on here…..

One of the problems I have with any authoritative religious text is – what I like to refer to as – ‘The Eskimo (and Various Other Peoples of the Frozen North) Conundrum’ … Basically this problem centers around the attempted transmission of any information that makes use of culturally-based customs, metaphors, or simpler ‘folk wisdom’ (parables and the like)… Such as those accounts that originate in areas where there is lots of sand; very little rain; the sun never stops shining; there are vineyards and olive groves; people slop about in sandals and loin-cloths; houses are made of stone; locusts are a problem because they eat those crops that the farmers have just spent most of the year cultivating; there’s often a scarcity of water, and they have a lot of problems over who owns ‘that well’ or ‘this oasis’; dead bodies will putrefy in a day or two; they submit themselves to any number of random, bizarre, dietary restrictions; some of the inhabitants have to cover themselves from head to foot in black, leaving holes only for the eyes; For real fun they like to get everyone together now an again and stone somebody to death – usually a woman, and usually for having sex without permission, (it’s almost always about sex) and because God told one of his ‘special earthly representatives’ that this was what He (notice that’s ‘He’ and not ‘She’ by the way) wanted them all to do; or that hundreds of millions of them are still, even today, condemned to suffer a pernicious form of slavery as ‘untouchables’, because of something they apparently did before they were born (which is a really neat trick to pull – if you can get people to swallow it that is… … “Please drink the Kool-Aid!”). But whose ‘sacred religion’ still has a very special place in the hearts of Westerners (usually with more money than sense – and particularly ‘celebrities’) because they are so very nice to cows… etc. etc.

Now… to folks who live in a place where, for a great deal of the time, everything is ‘white-on-white-in-white’; it’s mostly cloudy; there are often blizzards, or at least howling freezing winds for days on end; they only get to see the sun for five minutes a day for a significant percentage of the year; houses are made of snow, or reindeer hide; they stand for hours holding a spear, covered in animal fur, over tiny holes in the ice, waiting to catch some unwary seal (another mammal not frequently alluded to in those standard ‘authoritative texts’ either – at least as far as I’ve been able to discover); dead things hang about for millennia; they have no problem in chewing on hooves, scales, and drinking warm blood; they have never seen a grape or an olive (or a ‘farmer’ for that matter) in their lives; they have more than enough water; they keep company with walruses; a significant number of them wouldn’t be seen dead drinking wine – preferring instead to down shots of neat spirit; they like to Sauna together naked, then jump into freezing water, before downing a few of the aforementioned shots, and then spank each other with bundles of fresh branches … And they are ‘animists’ as well – That is, they believe that animals have spirits, and so they thank them, after killing them for food. etc. etc. (What would Irenaeus have made of that?)

Thus, talking about the Roman Empire; the Holy Land; having to build the pyramids; virgin births; ‘wise men from the East’; burning bushes that talk; The Angel of Death; facing South and bowing down five times a day; dying and being ‘resurrected’, or having your own planet to populate; traveling hundreds of miles overnight on a winged horse; telling them that when you die you get forty acres, a mule, and seventy-two virgins; etc. etc. will signify absolutely nothing …Nada …. Zilch …to this second group of human beings… And it is also questionable if any ‘well-meaning’ ‘peddler of the Good News’ here would be doing them a favor particularly, by letting them ‘in on the truth’, either…

(Scene: He is sitting on a pile of animal skins, dressed in traditional North American Inuit clothing, in the center of what appears to be an igloo. The entrance to which is somewhere off to stage-right, and through which we can occasionally hear the howling of the wind as a flurry of snow blows in. This is happening as the scene begins. The yellow, smokey, light, which is coming from a number of oil-filled lanterns situated around an area in the center of the stage fade-up from black-out ….. He shouts impatiently).

“Shut that door!”…

(He appears to be talking in an extremely animated manner to an unknown number of  people who are seated just outside of the area illuminated by the lamps)…..

“You mean … no more fun with those bundles of fresh branches then? …

Tell you what! … I think we’ll just ‘pass’ on this whole business of wearing hair-shirts; cutting the end of your baby boy’s weenie off; dressing the women from head to foot in black; throwing the headman’s wives alive onto his funeral pyre while they’re still alive; worrying about plagues of …(We hear the howling of the wind and see a flurry of snow again. He shouts, and immediately afterwards, he shakes his head, and quickly smooths his black long greasy hair back with his hand) …. Shut… that… door!”… 

(He continues)

…And then standing up to your waist in a river while you’re holding someone’s head under the water, to – what did you call it? …. ‘Babtize them?” .. Well if you tried that here you’d both be dead in two minutes …But then, I suppose, you’d go straight to – what did you call it – ‘Heaven’! (He roars with laughter)

…And what did that other guy say? … You sit out there under the stars for hours on end and .. How’s that again? – ‘Meditate’ …so that you eventually become …enlightened? (He looks extremely quizzical) ….What? ….. (He turns round ninety degrees or so, and points – appartly at one of the people beyond the light) And what did you two say was written in this this ‘Book of Mormon’ thing, about you’re not supposed to drink alcohol, or drink – what did you call it – caff…een? …(He pauses).. or (He frowns unbelievingly) … hot drinks !! ….

Look! … This has been all very entertaining… But it’s my turn to get the sauna ready for this evening’s fun… So I’m afraid you’ll all have to go ….(He stands up and makes a shoo-ing motion with his arms and hands. We hear movement and the shuffling of feet. The igloo door opens and we hear the whine of the wind and see a flurry of snow billowing in again) … Shut the door on your way out, would you please! …. And do watch out for polar bears… …. What are they?  … Well if one of them spots you, you’ll soon find out … …No…It doesn’t look anything like a ‘camel’ ……. Bye!” …. …. (He shouts) … Shut that door! ….

(He sits down and and continues to address someone beyond the circle of light) Would you get that lot? …Notice there were no women amongst them except for those two – what did they call themselves? …. ‘Jehova’s Witnesses’  … They were a right bundle of laughs, weren’t they? …..

Couldn’t make head nor tail of anything any of them were saying …. Mind you, one of the guys with the little cap on the back of his head said that he did quite like liver – but that he didn’t fancy eating it raw….(He looks puzzled for a moment) … So what does he do with it then? …Boil it? (He roars with laughter)…. …. And what’s a chicken?..

(He fiddles with the wick on one of the lanterns) … Seems like they’re all obsessed with rules to me …(Flurry of wind and swirling of snow. He shouts at the top of his voice) … Shut!… That!…Bloody! …. Door!!!…..

Well! … Better be off to get the fire going!…. Lots of steam and hot air … (He chuckles to himself again). But the useful kind … That’s what we need…..(He stands up,pulls his hood over his hair, and picks up his harpoon. The igloo door opens again and we hear the howling of the wind and see another flurry of snow. He shouts again) … Shut! … That! …(He continues in a quieter voice, talking half to himself)  Oh, forget it! …  I was going out anyway (He moves out of the circle of light, the sound of the wind rises, the flurries of snow becomes thicker and blow further into the igloo towards center stage, as the lanterns fade to black-out)….

From ‘Fieldnotes for Armageddon’ by Bob Hardy

What’s going on here? …And far more importantly to me … What’s wrong with this picture? …It is questions such as these that have bothered me for far longer, and much more, than, “What happens to us when we die,” or, “Is there, or is there not, a ‘God’” ….

Earlier on in my life, the affect on me of all religious stories was, frankly, to confuse me …. I didn’t get them at all… Although I was interested…And I did go to Sunday School every Sunday, and sing in the church choir until I was about twelve, so it wasn’t like I was a heathen … But it was as if I was covered with a kind of ‘religious water-repellent’ and none of the stories touched me… I could remember information without any trouble (the story of Christ’s life, for instance) but it didn’t mean anything to me … And I was also worried because that whole, ‘He died for our sins’ thing was incomprehensible to me – I just couldn’t find any point of entry… I didn’t feel as if I was ‘covered in sin’ or that I needed ‘saving’ particularly.. …The only ‘religious-type’ text that I connected with it at all during this period was the children’s version of Bunyan’s ‘Pilgrim’s Progress’ (the title of which is ‘Little Pilgrim’s Progress’, written by Helen Taylor) that I’d read before I was ten, and had enjoyed very much (I still have a copy actually)…It made a very deep impression on me … But the message in the book didn’t seem to be too ‘puritanical’, at least not to me; and I was fine with the degree of striving involved, in order for the young pilgrim to complete his journey… I seemed to ‘get’ the morality of it without any problem. …And somehow it seemed to clarify part of what I sensed the whole thing was about …(But I was only nine or so at the time – when all said and done)…

Delving into other ‘religions’ in my mid-teens only made this whole situation worse.. Because – absent the cultural connection, and unlike a lot of what was going on with other people of my age at the time – these stories all seemed to me to be even more implausible than my own. … I couldn’t even take the majority of them seriously enough to disagree with them… Let’s put it that way!… And the platitudes of various ‘gurus’ etc. from the ‘mysterious and mystical’ sub-continent of India later on in the mid-sixties just sounded to me like an endless recycling of the sort of sentimental stuff that you find scripted on the inside of birthday greetings, and Christmas cards…

What to do then? …. Well, the light started to go on for me when I came across the following words of St. Thomas Aquinas … “In order that the happiness of the saints may be more delightful to them and that they may render more copious thanks to God for it, they are allowed to see perfectly the sufferings of the damned.” … After reading this particularly nasty piece of ‘inspired writing’, it hit me that,  as far as I could see, much of what was being claimed by men, about what it was that God, life, and ‘the purpose of it all’, etc. could be viewed as was – when you got down to it – just an involved series of rewards and punishments… Such that, for instance, the wealthy ‘got theirs’ during this (earlier) earthly existence, while the rest of poverty-stricken humanity, ‘got theirs’ in something referred to a the ‘afterlife.” – A sort of weird (and very convenient) ‘payback’ arrangement…. Anyway, whatever it was, it appeared to me to have a profoundly materialistic foundation –  for all it’s prattling-on about morality and ethics…Because, in the end, the promise here always seemed to be the same, “Believe this – and there’ll be something in it for you.” … And at that point in my journey … thankfully … I was able to leave all this behind….Because that just didn’t seem to be at all what it was ‘all about’ to me ….I didn’t like the whole idea – particularly where it concerned the ‘special deals’ that seemed to be on offer …’Saint-hood’, ‘prayers for the dead’, rewards for ‘going to church’ and that sort of thing…

But if I was going to stop bothering with all that… I couldn’t say ‘drop it all’ because it wasn’t like I’d ever ‘picked it up’… What was it that I going to ‘carry with me’ in its stead then?… What was of use here?…. This now became my new pressing concern…. Because I still had all those damned questions of mine rattling round in my head…

But on the positive side, I was now a whole lot ‘cooler’ about the ‘believe systems’ of others…. and in fact I still don’t get involved in ‘debates’ about ‘science v religion’, even today, if I can possibly avoid it – because I think it’s a classic example of people ‘talking past each other’ frankly – and a more fitting pursuit for a couple of smart-arsed ale-house lawyers…

So, as I say, I was to put my acceptance of any belief system that was being offered ‘out there’, on the back burner – for the time being at least… But that still didn’t mean that I wasn’t a very enthusiastic searcher.. And, looking back, I see that it was strange that I didn’t feel any impatience about immediately finding any ‘solid ground’ here – because that is very unusual for me… I felt instead, that somehow that I was still going to get there (and I still do)…. Wherever ‘there’ is, of course…

Anyway …I began to see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel, sometime in the early 1980′s when, through a couple recorded talks (see below) I came across the writings of Jacob Boehme… I soon saw any number of ‘Virtual Highlights’ in his stuff ( too many actually)… But I will admit that I couldn’t see an ‘over-all picture’ in his writings – at least not for a very long time …However, I did sense that – for all the obscurity of his texts – I was finally ‘in the right area’….

[If you don't know who Jacob Boehme is, then you can check him out for yourself here by listening to these three (in my opinion) excellent audio recordings of introductory lecture on various aspects of Boehme's thought, given by two friends of Eugene Halliday's - David Mahlowe; and Donald Lord. You can then go on to download every single one of Jacob Boehme's books from the Internet, for free, if you would like to learn more..

The Seven Spirits Of Jacob Boehme - David Mahlowe

The Four Complexions of Jacob Boehme - David Mahlowe

Jacob Boehme's Election of Grace - Donald Lord

Eugene Halliday studied Boehme extensively, and he also made copious notes on many of Boehme's ideas... Here are two very short examples for you to look over.

Eugene Halliday - Boehme Seven Properties

Eugene Halliday - Boehme Centre and Circumference

 

Anyway, it was Jacob Boehme's inspired writings, such as these couple of paragraphs from Chapter 6 of his Three-Fold Life of Man (also contained in Chapter 10, of W. Scott Palmer's excellent (in my view) Anthology - The Confessions of Jacob Boehme) that played a large part in solving the above 'Eskimo' problem for me;

19. The law of God, and also the way to life, is written in our hearts: It lieth in no man's supposition and knowing, nor in any historical opinion, but in a good will and well­doing. The will leadeth us to God, or to the devil; it availeth not whether thou hast the name of a Christian, salvation doth not consist therein.

20. A Heathen and a Turk is as near to God, as thou, who art under the name of Christ: if thou bringest forth a false ungodly will in thy deeds [lead a wicked life], thou art as much without God, as a Heathen that hath no desire nor will to God.

21. And if a Turk seek God with earnestness, though he walk in blindness, yet he is of the number of those that are children without under­standing; and he reacheth to God with the children which do not yet know what they speak: for it lieth not in the knowing, but in the will [purpose and resolution].

… And now it’s time to add a pinch Eugene Halliday:-

[Note: please bear in mind here that 'is', is the Present Simple tense (third person) of the verb 'to be'...]

The first phrase I can attribute to Eugene Halliday that had any lasting affect on me was, “All that there is, is Sentient Power’…Which I actually heard first from Ken Ratcliffe.  (By the way, when dealing with ‘Working’, I will not be using acronyms such as, for example, ‘SP’ for Sentient Power; or ‘short-hand’ versions of words, such as, for example, ‘resec’, for reflexive-self-consciousnes, in this blog if I can possibly avoid it. Because, frankly, the practice depresses me) .. Anyway this concept of Eugene Halliday’s – which I view as very  simple – was to provide me with a great deal of support over the years…. Not because I understood it particularly, but because it became a ‘governing concept’ (more about them later) of mine with very little help from me…. I must point out here that ‘Sentient Power’ is not the same thing at all as ‘Absolute Sentient Power’ (Can you spot the difference?) … In the latter case, those who are fond of using this phrase invariably add, “Which is the same as ‘God’,” or, “What we mean when we say ‘God’, “… Which actually isn’t what I mean … So I’m just going to stick with, “All that there is, is Sentient Power.”… (If you don’t mind)..

I take this to mean exactly what it says, by the way… That is, every facet of being (of ‘is-ness’) such as awareness; feeling; emotions; sensations; consciousness; material existence etc…. ‘are all’ … or, ‘have their being’ … or, ‘take their rise from’ … or, ‘are aspects of’… or, ‘IS’ …this Sentient Power…  Thus, it follows from this that I too am, in some sense (which I will go into in a later post) Sentient Power… As indeed are you … and also that steaming dog turd just outside your front door…

This viewpoint, by the way, now had the affect of making one of my ‘very important questions’ much simpler to articulate. To wit – “What is Sentient Power ‘up to’, here … now?”…

Well – to cut straight to the chase here – Sentient Power ‘loves’… And, once again, to quote Eugene Halliday, “The word [love] means ‘laboring for the development of the potentialities of being’.”

Thus, ‘Peoples of the North’ have the ability (being aspects of Sentient Power themselves – because that’s all there ‘is’, remember) can – without the mediation of anyone in the particular - ‘labor for the development of the potentialities of being’…Because that’s what Sentient Power does…Whenever it possibly can…

Which all just seems ‘right’ to me. And also - for use as an initial point of departure at least – provides one way of structuring this whole business of ‘being here’, ‘from the ground up’ as it were…. Anything that can help to dispense with the idea that there are ‘essential people’ necessary for the rest of us to ‘get the message here’, such as: The Pope; The Archbishop of Canterbury; the Head Rabbi; The Chief Mula, The Dali Llama; Billy Graham; Jim Jones; Bhagwan Shree Rajbeesh; Eckhart Tolle; New Age gurus; etc, makes me feel a whole lot better, when I attempt to contemplate the ‘meaning’ of ‘purpose’ here … Because, as I’m Sentient Power (just as ‘everything’ and even – Eugene Halliday would argue – ‘everythink’ is) I can always, in every moment – if I reflect on the situation that I find myself in – chose to ‘labor for the development of the potentialities of being’… or not….. I have to confess though, that were it concerns my own efforts here, in this world, to date, while I am always aware that this is possible for me to do, most of the time I chose not to…

No other particular human being appears to be essential for me here….  Although – to varying degrees – there have been people who have entered may life and have assisted me in this process ..And indeed, as they say… ‘That’s what friends are for’… (No… Better still, I would say, ‘That’s what friends are.”)…. But it’s not like you are in a permanent state of panic, attempting to  keep your options open until you make contact with that ‘special person’ …

This ‘meaning’ of mine that I have outlined here is obviously not an etymological or definitional thing … and if you ‘don’t get it’ then there’s nothing much that I can do about that… But this is what it ‘means’ to me… And I can now add that it’s centered around my experiences, or my interactions with, aspects of Sentient Power… and also that it’s about ‘Being Here Now’ … It’s not about ‘secret knowledge’, or being in the company (from time to time) of someone that you fantasize is ‘on a higher level than you’, or is ‘an avator’, or ‘enlightened’ (How the hell would you know anyway, by the way?)… It’s about ‘balance’ …. If it has to be about anything, that is. …

And, in my case at least, the result of acquiring (in part at least) an active language, will not necessarily assist in transforming me into something ‘better’. From being, say, something like a caterpillar (clinging frantically to the earth), into something like a butterfly (fluttering delicately above the petunias) for example … But it might – rather – help me to be transformed from something like a ‘tadpole’ (a rather insignificant, silent, and slimy thing) into a ‘frog’ (an even bigger, wrigglier, far noisier, and much slimier thing) …

“Ribbit … Ribbit…”

Bridge: “No, you can’t have my meaning! … Get your own!”

“Men content themselves with the same words as other people use, as if the very sound necessary carried the same meaning.” – John Locke

In the case of (the ‘tie’ thing), I think it’s fairly obvious that my account here is not a ‘definition’ of the material object – ‘my father’s tie’; neither does it present an understanding of this object…. What it does rather, is provide an account of my relationship to this object. And it is this relationship that constitutes the substance of (or ‘the matter of’), what I refer to as, the ‘meaning’ of ‘my father’s tie’.

It is this sense that I take to be this object’s (my father’s tie) primary ‘meaning’… As a consequence then, I would argue that, without my ‘being’ in the world, or – to put this another way – without this particular aspect of Sentient Power (that constitutes me) existing, this other particular aspect of Sentient Power (that constitutes my father’s tie) could never have come to possess this ‘meaning’….

An outcome that I view as extremely cool….

If I now work backwards from this position, I can see that I had a major problem from the beginning with this word ‘meaning’ when I insisted on focussing on it as a single word (as I might do, say, with any single one of the words contained in this particular post)… I have no problem agreeing with a particular authoritative version of the definition of any word (in my case the OED)…. But, in the case of the word ‘meaning’ –  although I seemed to know what I ‘meant’ here – I  couldn’t tie this ‘meaning’ of mine down when I attempted to do so…. And I had the same lack of success even with words that you might think were ‘easy’ – such as ‘marriage’ or ‘parent’ … Because it was becoming clear to me that the ‘meaning’ (in the general, common sense, use) of these words could be taken to be almost anything… And as, in the majority of ‘helpful’ conversations – where it concerned ‘normal enquiry’ that is – the overwhelming desire here by most of those taking part is the attempt to appear clever, or informed (or, if they’re smart, ‘sincere’) by simply ‘reacting’ to what it was that someone else said (under the guise of supplying ‘input’ – a version of speaking as part of a group that is often [mistakenly] referred to as ‘brainstorming’ by the ignorant), it was next to impossible to get to any ‘meaning’ in the sense that I am using the term here…Although there might be a great deal of ‘information’ flying about…

It seemed to me that in these cases I was always attempting to ‘force things’…And although I like to believe that I was able to come up with some ‘very good ideas’ here, I would – more than likely  - forget these in a very short time … But in the case of the example above (of my ‘meaning’ for ‘my father’s tie’) I don’t have to remember anything … I just look at this object, or I imagine myself looking at this object, and I then ‘see’ what the ‘meaning’ of  it ‘is’…. It reveals itself… by itself … before me…I don’t have to ‘try to remember’ … And because of this, I now believe that I will never ‘forget’ this meaning – simply because I don’t have to try and remember it in the first place…

I will say that I actually had better luck in my attempts to get to the bottom of what ‘meaning’ was, with relatively complex concepts – such as the one in …Before I figured out a way to work with single ‘words’ (or, more exactly, ‘nouns’ first) – even to a limited degree…

The inspiration for associating ‘meaning’ with objects in the ‘objective world’ (such as the tie) came about rather slowly.. And I actually got my first hint when I was working with the group of words; ‘sign’; ‘icon’; … and ‘symbol’… It was ‘symbol’ that gave me my first clue, because I realized that it was impossible for the ‘meaning’ of a symbol to be discovered from its definition… But that you can always  define a sign – in fact you have to (‘This picture of a red raised hand ‘means’ Halt.”). And as a consequence of this I consciously attempted to remember to use a word such as, ‘indicates’, instead of  ’means’ here, when talking about signs ….

In the case of an icon, it ‘represents’…. For example -”The imagery in this mural is from the Russian Orthodox Church, and it is an iconic representation of St. Michael.”)… So it is possible, simply by researching here, to discover what an icon is primarily representative of.. Such that, if you’re asked what it is that a particular icon ‘means’ (where I would now say ‘represents’), by simply supplying the correct information, you will do the trick.

Finally, there are any number of ways then of appearing to be able to interpret symbols. For instance you can simply commit to memory accounts of  the ‘meaning’ of a symbol that others have experienced when ‘working’ with them and have subseqently ‘written up’… You can then easily present these accounts as your own … (I have found this a very common, and very sad, occurrence)… But I eventually came to see ‘meaning’ as the crucial component in the interpretation and consequent understanding of any symbolism …

I would maintian then, that ‘symbols’ cannot be defined. But this is not to say that a particular dogmatic interpretation cannot be ‘learnt by rote’ (hence ‘schools’ of astrology)…. However, the ‘meaning’ of symbols, at least in the sense that I ‘mean’ it, cannot be learnt… It can only come from the experiential ‘you’… And I can see that this is complicated by the fact that there is a difference between the common ‘meaning’ of a symbol in the ‘public domain’ (such as the imagery of Tarot Cards) and the hermeneutic personal ‘meaning’ of an object (or image) that has been acquired by you due entirely to a personal relationship….

Re the ‘tie account’ then … This  meaning was actively put here by me.This is the meaning that this particular object has for me – out of all those objects that have ever existed in the past; that do exist now; and that will exist in the future … The tie represents (or symbolizes) this experience of mine.. As the alchemists might have put this – it ‘fixes’ this experience of mine … But this tie is not symbolic in this way for you … This meaning is completely hidden from you… It would be impossible in principle for you to ‘get this’ meaning of mine from simply studying that tie. Because my relationship with it is unique, and is what gives it this ‘meaning’…

However, I can share this ‘meaning’ with you, (A sort of ‘The Fellowship of Tie’ thing if you like) particularly if you told me of some object out there that represented (to you) some aspect of this account of mine, in some way that you could verbalize, and that you believed you resonated with….

This is a social phenomena that serves to give some purpose to this ‘living’ business for me. Because through the possibility of this sharing of ‘meaning’ with others, we can establish ‘real’ relationships – ‘Sentient Power meets Sentient Power’ if you like.  But this does demand that you have ‘got yourself out there’ and ‘done a bit’ … Because you can’t experience your life ‘second hand’ – through someone else’s account… Although you can appropriate someone else’s account and then attempt to pass it off as your own; or manufacture one of your own from the comfort of your ‘retreat’ ( you could lie about one and so present yourself as someone you’re not; or be sly about it, and present yourself in such a way that others infer things about your life that are false )…

So that now, after pondering on this ‘tie thing’ for a long time, I can split all the objects ‘out there’ into two groups: a group that will contain those objects that, through the course of my life, became ‘meaningful’ to me – a limited group of objects obviously, because I only live for a finite time; and all the rest of the objects ‘out there (which might constitute an infinity of objects, for all I care).. And this way of looking at this situation says something to me about the word, ‘Mercy’ … …. But I’ll stop there for now on this, because I don’t want to go all mysterious on you again ….

‘Tie’ also has an OED ‘definition/etymology’ of course, and there is probably a lot that is said ‘in the public domain’ about the word ‘tie’. But all this, however, has nothing to do with it’s ‘meaning’ for me …

And finally of course, for many people, the word ‘tie’ might never possess any particular ‘meaning’ at all – even if they wear one every day of their lives…and that’s OK too, of course… ‘Horses for courses’ as they say …

In the case of experiences such as (The Eskimo thing). I would initially be troubled by a particular scenario to begin with. In this case it would be something like, “How would a group of people from one environment (the ‘Middle-East’), communicate ideas to a group of people who live in a completely different environment (the ‘Frozen North’), if the explanatory material they use had become dogmatized and so relied almost exclusively upon experiences arising from interactions with particular regional, local, cultural, and environmental, experiences?”

Then, I would be aware that there were a number of crucial concepts that supplied a ‘meaningful answer’ for me here that appeared to come form material produced by two distinctly separate human beings from two completely separate eras; ideas, I would say then, that are not obviously connected… I would then realize that all this was quite mysterious, and that the chance of it occurring to others in exactly this way (even if they posed the ‘same kind’ of question) was somewhat remote….

The material that I have synthesized here, in my example, that comes from Boehme and Halliday does, I believe, reside entirely in the realm of this experiential ‘meaning’ created by me….But it could very easily be appropriated by someone else who – for the best of intentions – wished to formulate my question in more ‘formal terms’ and, using the substance of the answer that satisfied my search for my ‘meaning’ here – rearrange it, such that they supplied a ‘clearer version’ to ‘the greater public’ as it were. … My point here? … I believe that, in this case, this material would be passive (although perhaps ‘informative and presented in a very acceptable and entertaining manner’) – and there would be every chance that it would soon be forgotten by both the presenter and the audience here….

I know of a number of people who appear to believe that they can ‘acquire/appropriate/learn’ the ‘Work’ of others, simply by studying these ‘closely’ (often by presenting themselves as a suitably ‘humble enquirer’ in an attempt to manufacture an acceptable face, for what is – essentially – thievery; or at best a form of self-serving appropriation; or – to put it more traditionally – covetousness), and then attempting to ‘pass on’ this acquired information by ‘giving talks’ … I’ll just say here that I do not believe this approach ‘works’ – at least in any appreciably effective way; and that further, if it ever was the case that it did, then the implications are horrendous …It will, at best, possibly provide those doing so with ‘a reputation’, or with a way to ‘earn a living’ … I suppose.

In my case though – as the question came to me ‘unformulated’ as it were – that is, I had to struggle in order to clarify what the hell it was that was bothering me – I don’t ‘remember it’… It’s there whenever I want it in the form of an experience…. It is no longer merely just (more) information…

The experience of acquiring ‘meaning’ then, is as if there is now always a path for me that I have forged for myself, to a destination that I can always now perceive – and the resurrection (a lovely word) of this ‘meaning’ by me then, would constitute the time it would take me for me to describe this journey either to myself, or to others…

…These re-tellings of mine might turn out to be somewhat different from the initial account I have given in and A² above … (Actually, I believe that if any further account of  A¹ and A² by me is going to have any life in it – it has to be different) …

A³: Tell Me a Story

What then of people who pass on accounts of ‘meaning’ – but not from an experiential perspective.? …. This, to me, is what we allow teachers to do.

The best teachers seem to include their own authentic experiential accounts in any dissemination of information (their ‘subject of expertise’ as it were) whenever possible. … But, as meaning becomes less and less important in this dissemination, so we can move further towards ‘pure information’ – towards ‘logic’ (but please, not necessarily, towards ‘rationality’)….

Perhaps, at the ‘collective experiential end’ of the scale, the best examples of teaching techniques would be those involving the transmission of ideas, regarding morality etc. that are contained in folk tales and parables, where the teacher ties these stories into a significant contemporary event; and at the other end of the scale, the material contained in subjects such as mathematics…

One of the reasons for the adulation of ‘spiritual teachers’ (if I can call them that) is that the listener assumes that much of what is being said is experiential, when in fact it is not… And it is crucially important when becoming aware that you might be falling under the influence of someone else (for whatever reason) to spend as much time as you possibly can in ignoring what they are saying, and attending very closely to what it is that they actually do. …. This method of filtering out rubbish works both ways incidentally – in that ‘real’ teachers will select their pupils…. And it can often be the case that someone you need to listen to (or relate to, might be better) will present themselves as somewhat ‘undesirable’ – as this will effectively filter out those ‘seekers after truth’ who are merely looking for a diversion, or a social situation that is ‘enjoyable’ …. Important also to bear in mind here, in my opinion, is that you can ‘mistake the messenger for the message’ very, very easily.

 

Coda.

If we spoke only from our ‘meaning’, most of us would say a lot less….

When I hear speech that I believe is emanating from meaning – in the sense that I have tried to illustrate in the above post – I experience what I call ‘empathy’: a ‘standing with, or ‘next to’…And, in my case at least, this is nothing like my experience of ‘compassion’…

Ne marche pas derrière moi, je ne te guiderai peut-être pas.
Ne marche pas devant moi, je ne suivrai peut-être pas.
Marche juste à côté de moi et sois mon ami.”

“Don’t walk behind me; I may not lead.
Don’t walk in front of me; I may not follow.
Just walk beside me and be my friend.”
                                                           Albert Camus

Zugabe

This post could need quite a bit of proofing and some editing – which I try to get to as I can  … This is because I’m globe-trotting at the moment – and will be moving about somewhat for the next five or six weeks… So apologies in advance if the material here seems to ramble about even more than usual…

 

To be continued …

 

Bob Hardy

28th February  2013

 

[Joseph] claimed to be not only God, Christ, and the Holy Ghost, but other important personages as well. … Joseph claimed to have been all over the world … He went on to say that he was governor of Illinois
Were you governor of Illinois, or God?
“God … and I was also the governor of Illinois”
You were both”
“Yes!…I have to make my living you know.”

From  ’The Three Christs of Ypsilanti’ by Milton Rokeach

 

There! …
There is no cave, it is gone
But where did it go?
I cannot find me….
Where am I?
… Lost!

From a poem by a schizophrenic patient – ‘Psychiatry Quarterly’-Vol XXX

____________________________

Not surprisingly – Yet More Stuff on Words…(mostly silent)

“..(He looks around) … I could ask you all that old chestnut, ‘What is the sound of one hand clapping?’ …I suppose … (He pauses, looking vaguely irritated, folds one arm across his chest,and  lifts the first finger of his other hand to his lips as he does so, as if deep in thought) 

(He removes the finger from his lips and continues) But to tell you the truth … I’m not really all that interested in hearing any of your answers…(He gives a resigned shrug)… Because … Well … I just know that I’ve heard them all before…

(He spins around suddenly, walking quickly downstage before addressing the audience in a much more enthusiastic voice) … But you know what?… (He grins widely, gestures animatedly, extends his arms, and almost shouting, repeats) You know what? … I would be very interested indeed! …. Fascinated in fact!… To hear any thoughts that you might care to offer up here… Where it concerns that far more vexing question (he quickly lowers his voice, sounding almost apologetic) at least as far as I’m concerned …(he pauses, his grin vanishes, and he pushes out his neck aggressively, before asking, loudly and quizzically) … … ”What, exactly, is the sound of two hands clapping!”…(He stands motionless. Once again he is at the front of stage with his arms extended . Fade to blackout)

From ‘Fieldnotes for Armageddon’ by Bob Hardy

The last couple of posts focused, in the main, on the subject of the ‘spoken word’ –  a form of ‘organized sound’ that we commonly refer to as ‘language’ (or ‘parole’ if you prefer), plus suggestions by me as to what audio-files from the ‘Eugene Halliday’s Archive’ that you might like to start with. Obviously there’s a lot more in Eugene Halliday’s approach to the subject of language than the ideas contained in these two talks. But as one of the major purposes of this blog is the attempt by me to describe my particular, over-all, approach to Eugene Halliday’s material, I won’t be staying on any one particular topic for too long – at least not at this stage… So I’m now going to move on to the subject of the ‘written word’ – where it pertains to ‘active’ and ‘passive’ forms of language, that is ….

Which brings me rather nicely to subject of ‘the production of précis’ …

The suggestions by Eugene Halliday re the writing of ‘précis’ are contained in his ‘Rules for Ishval Members’ (Rules 2 – 6 inclusive), created by him sometime around 1966…  I have written something about these rules in my early blog posts… Anyway, here are these rules again:-

2. Each member shall, with due regard to ISHVAL’S purpose, and according to his capacity, undertake to convert his passive vocabulary into an active one, firstly by dictionary research into the etymology of his existing vocabulary, subsequently by extending this vocabulary as far as possible.

3. Each member shall, according to his capacity, modify his proced­ures of thought, feeling, will and action, in conformity with the new understanding arising from the conversion of his passive vo­cabulary into ever wider fields of significance.

4. Each member shall periodically offer to his fellow members the fruits of his studies and be prepared on request of the Chief Officers to précis these studies for the general benefit of members, and to lecture upon or discuss his findings and, conclusions.

5. Each member shall contribute, according to his capacity, to the general extension of the Institute’s work in whatever field it may find an application.

6. Each member, according to his capacity, shall study the basic scriptures of world religions, and the major writings of phil­osophers and scientists and artists, and  recognise  the value of making précis of these.

Did Eugene Halliday produce any précis himself? … Well until relatively recently, I had no idea whether or not he had. But then in 2006, quite by chance, I discovered that – over an extended period that must surely have spanned decades – he had produced an astonishing number of them …covering a variety of diverse subjects: science, art, religion, ethics, philosophy… There was even one on ‘The Tarot’…And if you had no real knowledge of the actual source material he had been working with, you could easily mistake these précis of Eugene Halliday’s for original works. … I believe that very few people were even aware of their existence, or – even if they did – what these documents actually were (that is, what was ‘going on’ here)… Indeed, at the present time, I still have no idea really, just how many people have seen these documents for themselves – or if, in fact, anyone else has …  Luckily though, I did manage to get the opportunity to look through a great many of them, and I can tell you that a considerable number were over four hundred pages long… I eventually scanned a dozen or so of them – not only as examples of Eugene Halliday’s ‘Work’ for my own research, but also because I had a gut feeling at the time, that these notebooks would never see the light of day, and would simply ‘disappear’ for lack of direction on the part of those responsible here. Regrettably, some twenty-five years after Eugene Halliday’s death, my understanding here is that these documents have still not been made available – even for limited viewing. … So here are my scanned copies of ten of these notebooks.

My purpose in making these scans available is twofold. First it is to demonstrate that, in my view, the degree to which Eugene Halliday was capable of applying himself to this task was considerable; and two, to clarify, once and for all, that he did not receive information in the areas of (for example) science, religion, art, philosophy etc. via some sort of ‘supernatural osmosis’ or ‘cosmic-information-field-transfer’; or because he was ‘an avatar, or ‘a chosen one’; or that he traveled to some ‘astral place of learning’ in a ‘trance’; or something equally ridiculous …. But rather, that he did it  - like any normal human being would do it – by getting up off his behind and applying himself … And that he cultivated this ability of his to do so, by methodically laboring at it for a significantly greater percentage of his waking life – across a period that must have spanned decades – than most folk are willing to devote to anything, even for a few days… However, although I would be the first to agree that this ability of his was remarkable, the use of this technique is certainly not that unusual – at least to the extent that some folk might claim… What was unusual perhaps, was the depth of insight that this ‘Work’ – which he labored at all his life – subsequently provided him with.

After examining these notebooks of Eugene Halliday’s I would advise you to spend some time in contemplating just how long it might have taken him to produce even one decent sized volume; realize that there were very many of these notebooks produced by him over the years; and then go on to consider that this activity represented only one aspect of his ‘Work’…. And finally, go on to realize that there is nothing supernatural about this ability at all….Incidentally, in my opinion, it would surely be a truly cruel thing to suggest to others that they ‘do as you have done’ if it wasn’t possible for them to do so, in principle at least, … due to the ‘fact’ (say) that you were in receipt of some kind of ‘special’, one-off, ‘celestial dispensation’ here … … Would it? … On the other hand, if you were at something of a disadvantage in life to start with (say you were … I dunno … severely disabled for example) then your advice here would surely shame at least one or two of those people who were forever claiming to be ‘followers of your teachings’ into attempting to do as you suggested… You might like to think about that when you have a spare moment or two … I appreciate though, that for most of the time at least, and for some reason which you can’t get ‘get your teeth into’, you’re ‘doing something else’, or ‘simply ‘just ‘too busy’ at the moment’ … ‘What a life’, hey? …

These précis were hand-written by Eugene Halliday; each notebook page being roughly the size of a unlined postcard, and written on both sides (which he has usually numbered)  …. I would say that he made use of a black biro. However, it is possible that he may have used an ink pen – but I couldn’t be sure. These pages were subsequently bound together by hand, using needle and thread, and over most of them, a cover was then glued. (I have also scanned these covers).

What was the source material of these précis … Well, I would suggest here – if you’re interested that is – that you can do this part of the research for yourself… I will give you two of them though, to get you started. The ‘Zen’ précis is from a Suzuki book; and the ‘Sorcery’ précis is from a series of books by Carlos Castaneda about the Yaqui shaman, Don Juan (notably the second book in this series)… There are also two smaller notebooks here – ‘The Body’ and ‘Modern Physics’ – and about the source material of these, I have no idea. … However, the subject material contained in the latter of these two notebooks is similar in content to other books for the non-scientist – such as Gary Zukav’s ‘The Dancing Wu Li Masters’ (1979), or Frijof Capra’s ‘The Tao of Physics’ (1977) ….

Anyway, here they are…. By the way, some of these files are small, but one or two – such as ‘Islam’ (wouldn’t you just know it!) – are much bigger:

Précis – Eugene Halliday – Zen

Précis – Eugene Halliday – Sorcery

Précis – Eugene Halliday – The Body

Précis – Eugene Halliday – Modern Physics

Précis – Eugene Halliday – The Basics of Judaism

Précis – Eugene Halliday – Soul

Précis – Eugene Halliday – Pseudo-Denys

Précis – Eugene Halliday – Karlfried Von Durkheim

Précis – Eugene Halliday – Hierarchy

Précis – Eugene Halliday – Islam

The amount of work involved in producing each of these notebooks is obviously considerable. But, even so, let me again make it clear here that I do not see this very ‘sensible’ piece of advice from Eugene Halliday – re the the study, and consequent production of a précis, of some particular subject or other – to be anything more than sound common sense. Particularly as it would not be unusual at all for any diligent student to have incorporated this approach to learning into their studying regime… Although, in my opinion, Eugene Halliday brings far more rigor to the task in hand than your average student (at least more than I ever did!)  … And thus, while this technique might be a component – even an essential one – in the task of ‘Working’ – it is by no means, in my view, the most important one….

Of premier importance to me also, was the realization (actually more of a ‘dawning revelation’) that the contents of Eugene Halliday’s précis material were not really of any use to me personally, particularly when it came to my own efforts at ‘Working’ … With the result that I now maintain it is not actually possible, in principle, to appropriate the fruits of anyone else’s ‘Work’ in order to increase the vocabulary of one’s own ‘active language’…. No matter how reasonable, or attractive, or ‘harmless’, that this idea might seem at the time…Although, obviously, your own clarification of a body of particular ideas can be achieved by reading, or hearing, someone else’s approach to the subject, particularly if the subject concerned is an already well-established academic discipline …. Which is really how we all personally decide whether or not that teacher of ours – ‘way back when’ – was ‘any good’ … Don’t we? … At least as far as our own ‘learning curve’ goes.

Indeed, I now view Eugene Halliay’s précis material in the same the way that I view the practice regimes of musicians, or the training schedules of athletes…  And while I would agree that it is encouraging to know that someone else out there has ‘gone the distance’, I don’t believe that studying Eugene Halliday’s own précis material will really do much more than that – at least not for individuals like me…

And where it concerns your own attempts at studying, and the production of précis material then?  ….Well … If you are interested in a particular subject, and if the manner in which you go about studying it is ‘agreeable’ to you. That is, you respond positively to the teaching-style of the teacher; the text-book(s) that you are required to read are written in an approachable way as far as you’re concerned; the technical words that you need to acquire are being presented to you at an assimilatable rate; and if you have been ‘taking’, or making, copious notes throughout the whole of this learning process, then you are going to ‘learn something’… obviously!… But none of this, of itself, automatically constitutes ‘Working’…

And if you give all this any serious thought at all, that should become obvious to you…. Because you will surely have met many people in your life who have engaged in this sort of activity … So you should be able to say how many of them strike you as – in any way – ‘enlightened’ … Or to look at this in another area – there have been a myriad ‘Yoga groups’ dotted around the country now for fifty-plus or so years now, with a collective membership numbering hundreds of thousands (if not millions)  - How many of those members that you have met strike you as enlightened beings, particularly? … Thousands… A few hundred … Scores … Dozens … A handful … One or two … … … None? …

Practicing techniques in order to be able to ‘cope’ with modern life; being a lot calmer; claiming to be ‘in control’ of things; being ‘in touch with your body’; waving your arms and legs about; etc. is all well and good, but it usually has little or nothing to do with ‘Working’ … Think about someone you might know who has studied philosophy, or theology, or medicine, or law, or physics, or a martial art; or who ‘works out’; or swims every day; or who has embarked upon some life-long specialized feeding regime. Do these people strike you – as a consequence of engaging in these activities to whatever degree – as knowing a great deal more about what is ‘going on here in this life’ than you do? That is, simply as a consequence of engaging in these activities? ..Because if you do, then you will have no problem in agreeing here that, “Those people over there clearly know what it’s all about, because they study arithmetic, the alphabet, ancient history; practice amateur boxing; never bathe; … and only eat beans.” … If, on the other hand, you would like to protest that this suggestion of mine here is, “Ridiculous!” , then what component(s) of other peoples activities is it exactly that you would label “The way to enlightenment’, and, as a consequence, earnestly seek to emulate? …. Do tell! ….

In my case, I soon realized that producing précis material (making copious notes about various subjects) wasn’t really doing that much for me. In fact I was becoming somewhat ‘bloated’ with all this studying .. And I started to believe strongly that I needed to step back a little from this whole ‘précis idea’, and attempt to view this activity as just a component of what it was that Eugene Halliday might be ‘doing’, or at least, had ‘done’ … And so I gave up on the idea that we all had to attempt to become ‘The Brain of Britain’ here, or someone like that …

I spent a long time pondering over this whole business… And this eventually produced more insights into my realization that the task I appeared to be compelled to engage in (like it or not) – including the problem of conceptualizing, in a clearer fashion, those questions of mine that I wanted answering, such that  I would be able to ‘beaver away at all this a bit better’ – appeared to be a completely different task from the one that (almost) everyone else I spoke to here appeared (to me at least) to be attempting to engage in … Admittedly, the initial experience that I had of all this – like everyone else who appeared to have enthusiastically ‘taken it up’ way back when – was that it all seemed to be very straightforward; reasonably clear enough to comprehend… and also extremely attractive (Oh dear!) …  But I quickly found, in my case anyway, that the whole thing soon became extremely illusive, slippery, and very ‘deep’ … And also incredibly irritating … at least for a great deal of the time! …

Luckily though, I eventually came to realize that the most important insight I needed to cultivate when attempting to acquire an ‘active’ language was not to simply begin studying ‘willy-nilly’ – making précis as I ‘went along’ as it were – but to, first of all, reach a position where I believed it was a lot clearer for me to see what this ‘active’ language, that I was attempting to acquire, might be…. This viewpoint had to also include an understanding of how this ‘active language’ might differ from the language that ‘knowledgable folk’ use to disseminate information to others… Because I didn’t believe now that Eugene Halliday was simply advising members (in these rules of his) to ‘know what they’re talking about before they open their mouths,’. Because I saw that many people could do this – particularly if they confined their utterances to their own particular ‘area of expertise’ … I say ‘luckily’ here, but it still took me a very long time to make any measurable progress …. and I’m still working at it ….

So – if I were to say here that the most important thing I came to view as crucial to the acquisition of an ‘active language’ was not necessarily an understanding of those texts that I was being advised to study – an understanding that was perhaps brought about with the assistance of my ‘précis production here (but, then again, maybe not) – but of far more importance here was my relationship to these texts. Because it is this relationship that constitutes any meaning that they might have for me….

This is why we don’t believe we are witnessing the ‘Second Coming’, when we see a seven-year-old lad from Tennessee on the TV, who can recite the Bible from start to finish, and then pull out any quotation asked for – on request – for an encore…. Because (I would suggest to you) he doesn’t seem to have the ‘correct relationship’ to these texts …

I will also add here, if you like, that I broadly support the idea that there is no privileged reading of any text, only the reader’s interpretation of it – and that we reap whatever benefits are due to us, purely from our attempts at ‘Working’ with it – that is, to embody it – by the process of engaging with it – in order to do just this ‘relating’ to it.

In my view then, this ‘précis technique’ of Eugene Halliday’s – where it concerns attempts to acquire an ‘active language’ – forms only a part of the system that he put in place in order to develop his own, increasing, self-reflexion. And so then, I am saying here, in effect, that I don’t believe Eugene Halliday was a ‘fully self-reflexive being’, but that he was continually attempting to ‘work on it’… The major difference I see between him and most others then? … He had ‘worked’ and they hadn’t … ‘Iz all’ …..

I believe that the essence of an ‘active language’ comes solely from its ‘experiential nature’ –  and it is only this experiential aspect which endows any being’s ‘active language’ with its unique, and particular, perspective on any particular subject… The realization of mine as to what the root of what ‘meaning’ was actually all about was crucially important to me …because I saw that it was the root of why it is that, underneath it all – and to quote my maternal grand-mother – “We’re all the same .. only different.”

‘Meaning’, from my perspective then, only emerges as a result of this ‘Working’ and, as a consequence therefore, a person’s ‘active language’ actually is them … it constitutes them … And it is not just some random body of information that they have taken a fancy to lugging around, unpacking it for display at opportune moments to hapless bystanders: a segment of their ‘personality’ or persona – as a component of ‘who it is that they like to think they are; and that they want to convince others that they are’ – then… Think here of your ‘fashionable atheist’… “liberal Westerner’ … ‘new-ager’ ‘…’yoga teacher’ … etc. etc.

So you won’t be all that surprised if I tell you that I eventually ended up deviating (considerably) from  Eugene Halliday’s  suggested, straightforward, methodology – the one that’s contained in those ‘Rules for Ishval Members’ that is …And began delving a little deeper into what it was that he actually wrote about, and spoke about….

This being the case, I will now attempt to explain the system that I ended up adopting – in part at least – and also my reasons for doing so … If I can, that is.

The first thing I would advise you to consider here, is whether or not the basic subject material that you have decided to currently ‘work’ on is already familiar to you at all. Because if it is, then your reactions to it will almost certainly be different to those reactions that you experience when you attempt to ‘Work’ with a subject that is new to you … My advice here? … Begin with a subject that you already know something about.

Why? … Well, my reason for suggesting this approach to ‘Working’, is that you will almost certainly find it relatively easy to immediately engage with this subject-matter personally, because you will already possess pre-formed opinions about it. And, consequently, you will feel an urge to express these, particularly if you disagree at some point with the ideas contained in the subject you have presently  decided to study … Crucially here for me, I maintain that these opinions you hold about this subject already constitute a part (or component if you prefer) of your being – because these opinions of yours possess ‘form’  (see previous posts of mine here for my meaning of this word)… But the chances are, that, for the moment, these ‘forms’ of yours will not contain much ‘active language’, and will probably, instead, be constructed from a clobbered-together bunch of prejudices; half-baked ideas; fashionable ideologies; sentimental junk; and topped-off with a sprinkling of dimly understood relevant technical terms….

Fortunately for you – at least as far as my way of looking at all this is concerned – this situation is exactly the one that you want… Simply because these opinions of yours carry an emotional charge… And it is these emotional charges of yours that we are really interested in here .. and that we really have to examine, evaluate, describe, and understand…

And look … If the subject being ‘Worked’ on already interests you, such that you might already know something (or even a great deal) about it. Can we take it ‘as read’, that by the end of this process you will know more – at least intellectually – about it, simply as a matter of course…. You can call this acquisition of any new ‘knowledge’ here ‘a bonus’ – if it makes you feel any better… ….To put this in another way – your muscles will be ‘toned up’ by the act of chopping up a large tree for firewood, although your intention was probably simply to ensure that you could keep warm… So then here, you could be said to have received a ‘bonus’ by virtue of the fact that you are, as a consequence of this activity, now ‘fitter’. And that this result was not something that was initially factored-in by you…(Yet another cheesy metaphor by me there… What a writer!) …

So … the idea here is to deliberately ‘bring up those emotional charges that are associated with your opinions’. Give them ‘free reign’, have ‘a bit of a rant’ if you like, use ‘active imagination’ if this will do the trick here – rather than focusing on attempting to ‘understand’ the particular subject’s intellectual content. But – and this is most important – you must keep a record of these responses of yours, describing your emotional responses…(I eventually used an audio-recorder for this, because I found I couldn’t understand ‘my own’ handwriting, when I came to interpret my own written attempts   … Creepy, hey?)

To start then, you might (sometime after you come ‘come down off the ceiling’ and have ‘settled down’ that is) like to attempt to consider a paragraph or so of the original text that you are working on, together with your recording of your reaction/response to it, and try to figure out why you were behaving in the way that you were …Because, although you can claim that the ideas contained in the subject under study, and also even (perhaps) those ideas you already hold here, did not actually originate with you; you cannot claim the same where it concerns your emotional responses –  these belong entirely to ‘you’… Unless that is, of course, you can construct a taxonomy here that satisfactorily explains why these emotional irruptions you experience are not, in fact, ‘yours’….

So – and more disturbingly now perhaps – however you chose to view these emotional responses then, they must surely still ‘inhabit the same building’ that you do. That is, they reside in your body (or being, or whatever term you prefer to use here – I use ‘psyche’, which for me includes the physical body). And that perhaps you might come to see that they influence – far more than you have been aware of up until now – your patterns of behavior…. And if that wasn’t bad enough, I should also warn you that these ‘psychic states’ you will experience here are also extremely contagious – so much so, that even your dog, or your cat, can be affected by them … (I’m not so sure about ‘Amanda the goldfish’ though…).

In my opinion, Eugene Halliday was referring to these patterns when he was using the late nineteenth century term, ‘engrams’, I prefer to use the later term, ‘complexes’.

The preamble to ‘Working’ proper, is, in my opinion, to labor at an understanding of those engrams/complexes that were constellated in your childhood – and this applies to those people whose childhoods were ‘a walk in the park’, just as surely as it applies to those people whose childhoods were the ‘stuff of nightmares’. These patterns are relatively easy to appreciate (which is why regression therapy is so popular) – but understand here that perceiving these early emgram/complexes does not, in itself, constitute ‘work’, although it does constitute, in part, the beginnings of some sort of ‘self-knowledge’. Which, while it is an essential component to all this, is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the main concern here. It might help if you see this  aspect of ‘self-knowledge’ as (here comes another cheesy metaphor) ’cleaning out the cellar’ and ‘renovating the attic’…. Many people are quite content to finish here and, in fact, consider it to be ‘quite an achievement’. … But you don’t have to experience this particular feeling of self-knowledge very long to realize that – where it concerns you future behavior – it hasn’t necessarily improved things at all! … Indeed, with the removal of  this childhood pattern, which normally might have functioned for you as a crutch, or self-excuse, many go on here and blunder about even worse, becoming even more screwed up. …

But I never said that all this was going to be easy… I said it was ‘simple’ … But I also reminded you that ‘Simple does not mean easy’.

So anyway, if you’re still with me here …. Keep on repeating this process until such time as you can begin to see the pattern(s) that your responses make – as much as you are able to, that is… You will find that these patterns exhibit a definite ‘personality’ … a ‘structure’ … That they are in fact ‘beings’ …Just like you! …Your very own ‘little family’ in fact! …. And you will, finally, begin to recognize them….You might even decide to give them names, such as ‘Naughty Adrien’ ….or ‘Beohetmethemoth’ ….and imagine them looking like, say, a half-man/half-sardine …. or something.

 … The idea here then in studying texts, is that one should really attempt to ‘engage’ with them; to react to them … And I’m not just talking here about getting a ‘bad vibe’ either. You could be so entranced with the person supplying the material here (the one you find yourself  listening to, or reading) that you could be in an almost permanent state of ecstasy  - brought about, say, by both your delight in your ‘understanding of the material’, and in the ‘clarity’ of the ideas being expressed…. While, at the same time, being possessed of an irresistible urge to … How shall I put it? …’Acquiesce’….(Take that any way you like)

And this particular process – this separating out of the ‘cognitive’ from the ‘feeling’ (or ‘male’ from the ‘female’ – if you prefer a more esoteric, trendy, terminology) is – in my experience at least – extremely tricky and slippery, difficult, and sometimes even down-right dangerous thing to attempt to do …. Moreover, the degree of difficulty that is experienced emotionally – as frustration, anger, despair, pleasure, surrender, etc. – I also find to be very exhausting … And, in fact, I would even go so far as to say that, “If you don’t find this activity exhausting, then you must be doing it wrong!”…

My experience here was that the ‘happy, happy, joy, joy’ reactions were, far and away, the most dangerous for me ‘psychically’ ..Because I didn’t realize for a long time that this reaction simply prevented me from going any deeper – and so I didn’t experience this ‘positivity’ as a problem here for some considerable time …

To put all this another way, and perhaps to try and finally nail it for you… The ‘quality’ (good or bad; positive or negative: or however you want to refer to it) of your reaction is irrelevant to this exercise . The only things you are attempting to focus on here, and that is of any real importance to you, are both the states that you are experiencing here, and your subsequent attempts at evaluating them….

I find this exercise very hard to ‘pull-off’ myself – because everything that is not productive of lots of praise and encouraging taps on the head immediately; or that I can’t manage to do excellently, and without effort – exhausting … But you might also like to know details about one of my own special, secret, techniques for dealing with the affects of these serious, negative psychic attacks… And that is, to engage in -what I like to refer to as – ‘ritualistic-rest-period activities’…. Among the fetish objects essential to me here in this actively are, packets of digestive biscuits, and also copious amounts of tea … and it helps things along immensely here if one trains oneself to repeat (almost – but not quite) silently, the mantra ‘Zzzzzz’  (but only on the ‘out-breath’) for at least half an hour or so  - or at least until one is dragged back into the ‘World of Maya’ by the vengeful, malicious, voice of that ‘keeper of your conscience’, who appears to be insisting that, “You know it’s your turn to wash the dishes tonight, so why haven’t you done them yet?”; or by the salacious, dulcet, tones of some succubus (or incubus if they all happen to be too busy), tempting you unmercifully with the offer of (yet) another cup of tea…..More advanced techniques of mine here include having a game of Tetrus ‘running in the background’ on my computer at all times – but this assumes that you are now an advanced student here, and are familiar with a variety of dimly understood hermeneutic texts, such as, ‘Manual For Windows – Version 99 (or whatever)’, and also rigorously trained in the cautious use of sources of cosmic energy, such as ‘the mains socket’ – So it’s not for the faint-hearted, or for those of you who are in receipt of any form of free public transport… (As I say, “There are metaphors …. and then there are my metaphors.”)… …

Meanwhile …

Our initial starting point then, was to consider words from an intellectual perspective – their definitions and their histories (etymologies). And I hope I’ve made it reasonably clear to you that not only is this what every reasonable person might ordinarily do when they come across a word that don’t ‘understand’ and that has ‘tweaked their interest’; but also that this information will tell you little or nothing about the ‘meaning’ of a particular word …’Meaning’ is instead, metaphorically, situated ‘in the critical space’ between you, and what it is that the word represents… ‘Meaning’ then is your unique, particular, ‘relationship’ to a word… And its major feature – or the one that we now need to focus on here if you prefer – is it’s ‘feeling tone’…. Understand now though, that even after doing this, we have by no means finished examining what an ‘active language’ might be..

… Anyway,enough of all that. Here’s that piece of Eugene Halliday’s writing on the subject of words – first presented as nine short essays in the 1970′s, under the collective title of ‘Words of Power’     Words of Power

Here’s Ken Ratcliffe’s audio recording of the same material  Words Of Power (1 of 4)  Words Of Power (2 of 4)  Words Of Power (3 of 4)  Words Of Power (4 of 4) if you would also like to experience the added pleasure of listening to it while you’re skateboarding to work, or whatever else it is that you get up to when you’re wearing your ear-phones.

It starts with Eugene’s ideas on words themselves, and he goes on to write about their relationship to ‘power’ (‘they produce responses’ etc.) … There’s a very interesting bit (for me) on non-lingusitic forms of ‘texts’ .. Words are considered positively and negatively as to their affect… There is an examination of many words from this perspective of his; such as the meaning of ‘inertia’, ‘love’, etc … There is a piece on ‘words of powerlessness’ …. All this material is – refreshingly for me – presented from a Western philosophical, ideological, and ‘spiritual’ perspective… And there’s no ‘phonetics’ involved … (‘Oh, deep joy!’)…

This approach to ‘words’ that Eugene uses here is a lot more concise and useful for me then; and I found it far more practical as a tool in getting to understand more about what this ‘active language’ might be – particularly from the point of view of praxis – than any of his recorded material… And so, as a consequence, I tend to interpret much of his audio material from the viewpoint he expresses here in these nine essays … And if he moves too far away from this perspective in his talks, then I interpret this as him coming to the ‘edge’ of , or ‘demonstrating where’, the ‘limit of the application of  those terms’, that he happens to be speaking about at that particular moment, lie …

So, in his talks then, I experience Eugene Halliday as exploring his own linguistic ‘unedited space’ and revealing what it is that happens to him (to those like me, that is, who experience what it is that he is ‘doing’ like this) when he has reached the parameters of any particular concept… That is, the practical way in which he moves on to another concept (‘change the form of a word, change its function; change the words, change the concept’) in order to move forward… Any movement (forward) that Eugene Halliday achieves here, I believe, constitutes a successful attempt by him to objectify (to himself ) – within the confines of an ‘active’ language – that all there is, is ‘Sentient Power’. ….

I do realize that I could be accused here of attempting to tell everyone what this ‘Work’ of Eugene Halliday’s – that I experience him as striving to accomplish – was actually about for him. … But that’s my problem isn’t it? … It works for me, and really that’s the only reason why I’m doing all this … And, just so you don’t waste your own precious time here, and if you hadn’t caught on already – I am definitely not seeking endorsements from others in this matter…

Remember though – that I fully appreciate your experiences might be completely different from mine here, and if that is so, then I would be very interested to hear from you about your own experiences – those that you actually had, when you took these ideas on board, and attempted to put them into affect. What we might call your ‘consequential ideas’ perhaps…You can post them on the blog forum here; or contact me privately at archive query@gmail.com if you’d rather.

I’m going to leave the study of texts re ‘Words’ here now, for the time being at least, because I believe that you will only understand what I’ve been on about here if you ‘Work’ with this material yourself. And that this will – in my experience – take you some time……

Oh Yeah.. You might like to know if I have any special reason for  my continual use, throughout these posts, of this word ‘Work’ or ‘Working’?… Well, yes there is, because – as I like to put it - it reminds me that, “It is only when you cease ‘Working’ that you can be said to have failed.” And looking at it this way ‘keeps me at it’….That being said though, it should also be clearly understood here that I also have no doubt I am still, of course, going to die – anyway.   … (I didn’t want you to think I had some ‘magic reason’ for doing all this; one that might have got your ‘hopes up’ unnecessarily, that is)….

Finally …  ’And  now for something completely different’ …

I hope that it’s reasonably obvious by now (but I will point it out here anyway) that I did not engage with any of these ideas of Eugene Halliday’s ‘in isolation’ as it were….But that I was also, simultaneously, examining other concepts of his (and those of many others, I should add)… Including, what Eugene Halliday refers to as – ‘Sentient Power’. A concept that I see as the starting point of his approach to the eventual possible meaning of a more familar contemporary term – ‘consciousness’…. But, to say something about this interaction of mine in the next post here, I will have to start with both my perception of his approach to, and also (you’ve guessed already, haven’t you?) my subsequent problems with – Eugene Halliday’s repeated use of the ‘F’ word … … … … … ‘Feeling’.

To be continued………….

Bob Hardy

January 2013

 

Words are principles of order: ‘W-ORD’ is the entity that orders.

Eugene Halliday

The tendency is, not to work on what we have, but to want to know more, and more, and more, about bigger metaphysical problems – because it relieves us of the necessity for immediate work on ourselves.

 Eugene Halliday

You should think of the sentence, not as something you get by putting words together, but think of the words as what you get if you take the sentence apart…. The meaning of the word is the contribution it makes to the meaning of the whole sentence. - An idea attributed to Gottlob Frege by the America philosopher John Searle

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I take ‘Work’ to be about ‘Doing’ …

So that, for example, even though you might believe that you are sincerely attracted to the concepts of people like Eugene Halliday, so much so, that you ‘study’ the works of these people regularly – even going so far as attempting to commit those ideas that have really attracted your attention to memory (in order, you imagine, to ‘understand’ them better) – you have not, in my opinion, been engaged in ’Work’. … Any more than attempting to calm those see-sawing emotional states that you suffer from qualifies as ‘Work’ … Laudable though these activities might seem to you, or indeed to others who claim to be ‘in the know’ about these matters (for what I believe, are fairly obvious reasons).

 No … The way I see it, you have to get your hands dirty … But I do appreciate that you might disagree with me here.

Furthermore, if you do decide that you are going to do some ‘Work’, and then perhaps continue on, later, to describe your experiences – even if you only attempt to describe them to yourself – this should not give you too much cause for self-congratulation either. Because the chances are that you will almost certainly seek to present your accomplishments in a more favorable light than they actually deserve…. ‘Gilding the lily’ you might say….

That being said, formulating your attempts at ‘working’ may – if you ‘do this right’ that is – possibly even increase your active vocabulary…. But I wouldn’t say that it definitely does so … and even if it did … don’t expect the earth to move..

If you’re not sure what I mean here by involving yourself with these ideas, just ask yourself, “If I’d never heard of (for example) Eugene Halliday, what difference do I believe it would make to me now?”..

Your answer might be something along the lines of, “I feel a bit better about the whole dying thing,” or that, “I’m not nearly as guilt-ridden about everything, as I was when I was a staunch, practicing, Irish-Catholic,” or, “I wouldn’t have met nearly as many ‘interesting’ people.” – or, “I would never have taken up Professional Wrestling,” or “His ideas really gave me some very useful tools to help me with the task of ‘knowing myself’,” or, “I dunno really,” or something along those lines… But whatever your answer is here, try to be honest … And try to resist the temptation to exaggerate if you can possibly avoid it … Because the desire to exaggerate to yourself here is a sure sign that someone else in the building is running the show for you… And, in my opinion, this elementary problem is one of the first and – sad to say – major barriers, that the beginner must overcome if they are to make any initial progress here …

I haven’t actually ever heard anyone give a detailed account of the affect on them of working with Eugene Halliday’s ideas – at least in the way that I believe this needs to be done…. Although this doesn’t mean that they haven’t done so at some point…It’s just that I’ve never actually heard them…. I have of course talked to any number of people who are only too happy to tell me that they are, “interested in his ideas,” or that he was, “a wonderful and special human being,” … But that’s not the same thing at all … Is it?

To this end then, the piece below (that I have considerably edited for its inclusion in this blog), which was first put together by me sometime around 1995 – when it formed the basis of my approach to teaching a basic introduction to improvisation – is offered here as an example of what I take to mean, in part at least, ‘working’ with, and ‘working on’ these ideas.

It grew out of  – in the main – my protracted musings over Eugene Halliday’s ideas re active and passive forms of language (see my previous posts here for more information) over the previous fifteen years or so; together with various thoughts on the philosophical idea of ‘Intentionality’, contained in the work of John Searle, and (to a lesser extent) Daniel Dennett.(See Searle’s book ‘Intentionality’, and Dennett’s book ‘The Intentional Stance’, if you would like to delve further here).

The focus of this material is centered around, what might be meant by, the term ‘improvising’.

This material was designed by me to be delivered to students who were 18 years-old and older, and also to ‘mature students’. And while some previous musical experience was necessary in order for them to enroll on this particular course, I have edited my notes here in this post, so that this experience is not necessary for any understanding here by non-musicians  – although I do use one or two (very minor) ‘technical’ words later on – but again, understanding these is not essential here.

One of the major problems in teaching any subject to the beginner, is that of finding a suitable place to start from – some ‘common ground’ – something that they are already familiar with … (“My understanding is that you are here, and I am going to attempt to help you to get to there, if I can.”)

It is, on the other hand, relatively easy to begin, by simply impressing the new student with just how smart you are; or by loading them down with a lot of (useless) theory in such a way that, even though, by the end of all their studies with you they still can’t improvise, they can now (regrettably) join-in with that legion of ‘experts’ out there who are far more intent on relating their opinions and ‘explanations’ on this subject to anyone unlucky enough to be in the vicinity, than actually demonstrating this ability to improvise themselves.

Of course, had the student focussed on the right question here (‘kept their eye on the ball’ if you like) they would not have subsequently found themselves having had their arrival at some attainable (for them) goal, not only now somehow, magically, and indefinitely, deferred; but also of now finding it almost impossible to be receptive to any further practical advice on the subject, because they have become so ‘full to the brim’ with stuff, that anything which might help here is immediately drowned out by the sound of their own, continuous, internal, chattering ..

The question they should have been focused on?…. “All this is very nice, but am I actually getting any better at this improvising thing?” ….

And – by the way – the only question that any responsible teacher should be asking themselves here? …”What did the learner learn?”(to quote the vernacular).

As someone who took this latter question very seriously, I found myself in the position of having to come up with metaphors and allegories that actually worked for my students, as opposed to, say, having to continually justify the fact that, while I was sure that the material I was delivering was ‘true’, and ‘very good’, (in my opinion that is), it just wasn’t ‘doing the business’. … (“Very poor level of student intake this year,” etc. etc.).

The material below forms the outline of what I ended up delivering…. Let me repeat here that my expressed intention was simply to get my students off on a firm footing, by providing them with material that allowed them to approach some initial experiental understanding of this subject ….And my only reason for continuing to use this approach was that it worked for me during the twelve or so years that it formed (in part) the substance of my introductory unit for this module. …

The students found this material very easy to work with, and to subsequently expand upon – which was really the whole idea … They ‘got it’ immediately …and would often voice their amazement at the fact that something, which now seemed rather obvious to them, hadn’t been explained to them, using something like this approach, before! Of course, later on ‘down the line’ (so to speak) they discovered a down-side to all this, in that they realized they might not have the necessary discipline to get any further here – but, having swallowed the bait by admitting to themselves that they now knew how to proceed – they couldn’t delude themselves into believing that they had a decent excuse for not doing so … Which – I would add in passing – over the years, often resulted in some really bizarre behavior on the part of one or two of them … Something which I also believe is also blatantly obvious to observe in a significant number of those people who have ‘taken an interest’ (so to speak) in the ideas of folk such as Eugene Halliday.

Here’s the basic approach then. The idea here (which I would suggest is ‘easy’) is to get students to reflect upon aspects of their own use of, current, spoken language, and from this position, by conjecture, to consider if musical creativity (which is what improvisation essentially is – in part at least) might be practically viewed in the same way.

For convenience, I’ll use a ‘male subject’ in my example below.

I begin by saying that we are going to consider what we might mean, in general, by the use of the term ‘improvising’. I would not ask for a definition here, or define the word for the group, or give them any etymological information. We would just collectively throw ideas around for a few minutes (ostensively for me to get some ‘feel’ for ‘where they were at’ on the subject) the usual outcome here being that ‘improvising’ had something to do with ‘embellishing’, or ‘improving’ even … or of just ‘sort of making stuff up that fitted’. This latter approach might also include some rudimentary theoretical stuff from the odd student. (“You have to fit the correct scale(s) to the right chords.”) etc.

I would them tell them that I would like to start here by asking them to think about ‘improvising’ in a way that I would guess they had never considered before …

I would tell them all to imagine that it’s mid-afternoon and they are out walking on their own, down a major street in town that is part of a bus route. There were the usual numbers of people about: the weather is pleasant enough; and in fact, everything is quite normal.

An attractive young lady in her late teens/early twenties is walking towards you, and as she draws near, she says something to you… You have never seen her before, and you had no idea whatsoever that you were going to be stopped by her…. In fact, you were so busy mulling over a minor problem  (what club you were going to go to that night) that you hadn’t even noticed her, and so you were taken by surprise when she said, “Excuse me?”

This had the affect of making you stop (and perhaps smile helpfully).

Before you have time to say reply, she continues, “Could you tell me where I can get a bus into town please?” ..

OK. … That’s the set-up…. It’s now the turn of the students, in the main, to do the talking, which is far better than having me rabbit at them for the next hour or so, in order to demonstrate how smart I think I am.

I get the ball rolling here by asking the group a number of questions. But I would begin by asking the students to think about this first one during the coming week.

When you are asked to reflect upon your responses to being questioned by others – about anything at at all – would you say that these responses of yours are all similar in some fundamental way – irrespective of how complex the question is – and that perhaps if you examined these responses of yours, they might tell you something about your fundamental character? … If so, how would you describe this ‘usual response’ of yours? (Inhibited; confident; hesitant; fearful; etc).

I would then quickly go on the put questions. such as the following ones, to the class:-

Always assuming you are going to reply to this young lady, what language would you answer her in?…Why?

If you had done a couple of years French at High School, would you have a go at answering her in that language, because, say, you quite fancied her, and you wanted to impress her?

Would you just give her a ‘normal’ reply – but attempt to imitate a popular film star’s voice while you were doing so?

Do you find, that in order to answer any question at all, you first of all have to go through all the words in your vocabulary, and then select the appropriate ones – carefully checking the definitions and etymologies of these words first, then putting them in the correct order ‘in your mind’  before delivering this answer? … Do you think that’s a really dumb idea? … .If not, why not?

Would you reply with a string of nonsense words because, say, you didn’t know what the correct answer was, but you ‘felt’ impelled to say something .. anything in fact?

Would you attempt to keep a conversation going? … Why? … If ‘Yes’, how would you go about it.

If you couldn’t answer the particular question that she asked you, would you substitute the answer to a different, but far more difficult question, that you did know the answer to? …Why not?

Do you think it would be possible for you to spontaneously answer this question in a language that you, up to then, knew absolutely nothing about? …Why?

What would you do if she had asked you in a language that you didn’t understand?

What would you do if she said, “Excuse me?” in a pronounced foreign accent, and then handed you a piece of paper on which was written ‘I do not speak English. I need to get the bus into town. Can you help me please?’

In working with that last question I would point out to the students, that it is possible here to introduce a ‘group concept’ of interaction/improvisation, by asking them to consider, that if they didn’t know the answer to the young lady’s question here, would they be happy to rope in the next person coming down the road, in the hope that this new person might be able to help, and would they then stick around to add support – because perhaps this new, more complex, situation had quite taken their fancy? … If a few more people joined in here, how do they see themselves fitting in? Would they want to be ‘in charge’ of this group? Do students believe that, as this group enlarged, some members would want to organize it, while others would just want to hang round at the back – not wanting to ‘get involved too much’ etc…. How would the flow of information be managed? …Who by? … Would you all suddenly stop and elect a spokes-person …. Why? …. Does thinking about this new situation start to ‘stress you out’? …. Why? … etc. etc.” If the students wanted to explore this scenario some more, I would tell them that this is a far more complex situation, but that I already planned to discuss it in the next unit of this module.

….. Hopefully the reader here  ‘gets the idea’… (Let me know if you don’t).

There’s a good few more questions you can use here, but the ones above should give you the idea…

At this point, it is relatively easy to get the student to appreciate that, even though they had no idea what it was that I was going to suggest to them here; no idea that it would involve some sort of ‘scenario’ to them in which they were required to speak; and that they had no idea what the subject of any speaking by them was going to be about until immediately after they were asked the question by this young lady; none the less they could see that they would have no problem responding instantly – even if they had never been in this particular situation before in their lives.

Students also readily intuited that there seemed to be a great deal of similarity between what they were required to do in this scenario, and how they would react to the problem of improvising – when called upon to do so – in a musical situation that they ‘were potentially equipped’ to take part in, should they wish to do so. That of, say, playing a guitar solo over a repetitive sequence – such as a simple twelve-bar blues pattern – with musicians that they had never worked with before..

I would then continue on, by suggesting that they tie aspects of this discussion into their ideas on ‘improvising’ – that is, in what they think this might now involve – with an attempt at an actual musical improvisation on their part – by using ‘The Blues’ as a basis, a common popular music form with a musical structure that almost everyone in the West can recognize the sound of.

I would tell them that, because they are already familiar with the sound of the twelve-bar blues, they already know – to some extent at least – what it is they are going to hear. Just as when they exchange social pleasantries with someone they have never met before, they know roughly what it is they are going to hear.

The particular way in which we speak, the sound of our voices, the way we use dynamics (load and soft), the way we mechanically repeat certain phrases, our local dialects or accents, all have direct correlations to improvising music. These components adding ‘individuality’ or ‘style’, and allowing us to recognize individual speakers/performers.

In order to communicate, we need to have a vocabulary, which we are continually adding to by the very act of engaging in social relationships, and not necessarily by deliberately attempting to remember ‘lists’ of words, or studying one or two words at great length – which is something that we might have done a lot of when we were ‘beginners’, as when we were still small children (the endless, “What’s that?” … “What’s that?” that infants engage in) or when we were attempting to learn a foreign language in school.

In my personal experience, we do a lot of our language acquiring ‘organically’ – simply by the act of  engaging in social relationships, or by watching TV, or by reading – and we do this from an extremely early age ..

To continue on here …. Consider the following. If you go to a music college today you will probably be taught to play along with this ‘the twelve-bar blues’, as a method of getting you to acquire this ability to ‘improvise’.

The way this is done is to teach you a little bit of theory – which would probably include some basic harmony (the simple chords and chord progression); melody (using something that contemporary music teachers have seen fit to  label the ‘blues scale’ usually), along with the ability to recognize, and respond to in a simple way, a simple mono-rhythm (usually a ‘blues shuffle’).

This material will be put together (‘conceptualized’ if you like) in the form of a ‘backing tape’, or computer audio file, which consists of a recording of this twelve bar blues pattern – minus any ‘improvised solos’ of course – repeated ad nausium.

So there you are with your backing tape – a simple twelve bar sequence, consisting of three chords played on a guitar or keyboard, together with this simple, arpegiated, chord sequence as a bass line, and a shuffle rhythm from the drums. … As this backing track is played over and over, you are supposed to play notes from that simple blues scale you have been practicing (or other scales depending upon how ‘advanced’ you are) on your instrument – this effort of yours here constituting your ‘solo’ ….

This approach is the most popular way of teaching ‘blues improvisation’ today, particularly to those musicians who don’t actually want to play the blues – but would like to know how to suggest that they do, by adding a little ‘bluesy flavor’ to their playing now and again … (You might like to think about this last bit by the way, as, in my view, it’s far more important to the bigger picture than you might first imagine).

So …According to, say, your guitar tutor anyway, that’s how you do it. … And you are also told that if you listen to any top-draw blues player (B B King say) you can use this system that you have learnt here in order to ‘analyze’ their solos (“In this part of his solo, what he is playing is this fragment of this scale, with some embellishment …etc.”).

However, there are one or two other major problems with this way of looking at things. For example:-

1)    Almost all of the great blues players (those from whom todays players look to for inspiration and also to steal licks from) that were around from roughly the turn of the last century until the late 1950′s would have had no idea what you were talking about when you said ‘blues scale’. So.. clearly, on our understanding of ‘what’s going on’ here – that is, from our confident pronouncement of our (‘relative’) ‘truth’ on ‘how one actually plays the blues’ – these musicians  didn’t ‘really’ know what they were doing… Which, I would maintain, is clearly stupid!…

2)    The second problem? Sir James Galway, an Northern-Irish laddie, who is a genius on the flute and has performed with, amongst others, The Berlin Philharmonic, is on film attempting to improvise over one of these backing tracks, and his attempts are embarrassingly bad !! … But .. We are certain that Sir James clearly ‘knows’ exactly what to do .. We believe also, that he has a phenomenal technique, and also, that – when it comes to performing with an orchestra – the man can ‘read fly-shit’ (to quote the vernacular)…  But, none the less, he finds that he can’t do this very simple, basic, ‘play-along’ thing .. In fact he admits that he can’t, during the course of this film. …And that isn’t really very satisfactory either, in our ‘scheme’ of things …at least for me it isn’t.

I’ll leave this here now, because this is where I would leave it with my students …except to finally ask them if they felt any easier about their understanding of ‘improvisation’ … Which is the same question I’d like to leave you with…

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Here are one or two more reflections of mine on the idea of an ‘active language’ that you might, perhaps, find helpful …

How do you decide if someone you are listening to ‘possesses’ an ‘active language’? …

Let us say that you are sitting and listening to someone who is speaking about ‘matters esoteric’ and that you find what is being said is incomprehensible …even fanciful, and silly, to you … But the people sitting on either side of you find this same material revelatory and empowering. (You find this out because you talk to them about it afterwards, say).

How do you explain this? …Does the question,”Who is right here?” have any meaning? …How? … How would you process the answers from these other people here? … Would your answer here be conditioned by any practical experiences of yours as to what the concept of a ‘passive/active language might ‘mean’ to you? …. If so, what sorts of experiences might these be?

How do you decide then? … Would your answer here factor in: your degree of interest in the subject matter; the fact that what was said made you feel good; that you found yourself agreeing with what was being said… etc.

What would you think of a situation where someone insists that they had been listening to someone who possesses a really extensive ‘active’ language that has resulted in them going home, selling all their belongings, including the house, and then giving all the money to the Salvation Army. … Would your reaction be any different if they had sold everything etc. and then given the cash to the British People’s Fascist Party? ….

And the last one … Do you find yourself desperately, and automatically, looking for a meaningful, smart-assed answer, whenever you are asked questions like the ones above? …

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In closing here, I’d like to give you an example of how I have approached ‘working’ on one aspect, of one particular word … I must tell you though, that I find the process extremely difficult to put into writing … However, I’m going to have a go it at here anyway… but you’ll have to bear with me ..

What I experience as someone else’s ‘active language is only ‘active” if it gets me off the couch and into doing something which takes me further along that path that I fancy I’ve committed myself to traveling along – improve my ‘being-potential’ if you like.

This experience must knock me off balance just enough, so that I can get enough energy from it to impel me forward a fraction – too much energy and I’ll just get confused; to little and I’ll be full of good intentions, but never quite get round to doing anything. And what Eugene Halliday refers to as the ‘three parts of [my] being’ (thinking, feeling, and willing) must remain as co-ordinated as I can manage… All this doesn’t happen to me that often by the way – but often enough to keep me ‘at it’, over the long haul….

So, I maintain that, if the affect of hearing someone speak to you does not develop your ‘being-potential’, then – in my view – the experience you have had, may well have been … ‘interesting’ … ‘pleasant’ … ‘enjoyable’, even … but the only criteria for you here, in cases like this will have been: a). How ‘interesting’ or ‘enjoyable’ …etc… was it? (“Most uplifting.” …”Food for thought there!” … “Moved me to tears!” …  etc …”) ‘, or b). How much of this experience you can remember that, at the time, seemed to be ‘smart’ or ‘helpful’ or ‘meaningful’ enough, such that you can relay it to others at a later date …Which will bolster the image, that both you and they have, that you are ‘someone in the know’…

Anyway, here’s an example of how I have worked, in part at least, on the particular word ‘form’.

‘Form’ is a word that Eugene Halliday made use of frequently…. I’ll miss out the part where I do the dictionary and etymological thing – other than to tell you that I do my ‘looking up’ here (and have done for a long time) using a digital version of the ‘Complete Oxford Dictionary’; a task that usually takes me all of about five minutes…and, I have to admit, doesn’t really seem to help me here…. Also, discovering that the word ‘form’ can be related to other words such as ‘shape’, or ‘to strike’, doesn’t get me moving either. Because, although I might find this information interesting in its own way I suppose, it is after all, hardly surprising – to me at least – that other ‘peoples of the world’ have their own word for ‘form’…. And anyway, it’s not as if anyone is claiming that the word ‘form’ is related say, to the word ‘lawn-mower’ – which I would really find interesting!…. Unfortunately then, as far as I’m concerned, considering these additional words only seems to provide me with (more) ‘information’ ….(“Hey! … ‘Information’ ….That’s a word that’s connected to ‘form’! … …  Look everybody!! … ‘Inform’ is ‘in-form’ ..I must remember that … It could be ….really useful … information …(?) …”). … ….

So, I use something else that Eugene Halliday said about words to keep me on track here; which was to the effect that, “If you change a word, then you change the form; and if you change the form, then you change the function.” … A nugget of wisdom that I fancy I can use…  And so, as a consequence, it’s strictly ‘one word at a time’ for me then.

Anyway, to make a start here …When I’m attempting to ‘work’ on a word, in order to make it more ‘active’ than it previously was, I do not first ‘think’ about the word itself too deeply – unless I am merely attempting to memorize information, or trying to do something strictly cerebral - such as trying to solve a mathematical problem, or the ‘Times’ crossword.

By far the most important consideration for me in developing any word  - such that it becomes an ‘active’ component in my vocabulary – is in the process of their actual initial selection by me… To this end then, I have the following little rule – It is only those words I use that I am satisfied can adequately describe my own experiences, which can subsequently become components of my own, personal, ‘active vocabulary’ … To put it another way, I attempt to add to my active vocabulary by considering only those relevant words that, as far as I am able, mirror, and illuminate, the ‘meaning’ of my experiences. … Because, I repeat, it is only these experiences of mine that can provide the substance (the ‘matter’) of those significant words (which I have used in this task) that can go on (perhaps) to become an ‘active’ component in my own vocabulary.

So it is not the ‘form’ of ‘words’ per se that, of themselves, produce (or pad-out) my ‘experiences’  - as this process of word assimilation can just as easily be used by me to manufacture mere opinions – or, more probably, wind… But it is only my experiences themselves that have the potential to produce those ‘active’ words; words that then ‘pin’ these experiences of mine in language… Or … You can only really talk ‘actively’ about those things that you have some experience of.

So I would maintain that the ‘meaning’ of ‘Form’ – where this word concerns my ‘active’ language then –  is my attempt to select those words that satisfactorily mirror my experience(s). Without experience then, I believe words are empty of ‘meaning’, but they will obviously still possess dictionary definitions and also etymologies, and they can still evoke  emotions, and still have the ability to inform – because groups of words produce concepts, and these can supply a being with ‘information’ – sometimes useful information – and this information can fly about inside a being, all over the place, and produce all sorts of interesting affects – but more often than not, it does nothing of the kind – it simply inflates what I refer to as the Persona (a component of what I refer to as the Ego).

‘Form’ from this aspect (hermeneutically) then, is ‘ the overall generic term I use for that collection of words (words order power) that illuminates the meaning of my experience(s) in language’, and it is not a word I use to describe ‘the shape of a triangle’ or anything like that …(I would not personally say,”‘the form of a triangle,” by the way, as the use of the word ‘form’ here seems to me to be ‘a bit over the top’) ..

The most interesting part of this subsequently for me though, is what now happens when I now hear the word ‘form’ being used by another person. Because I find that it’s now possible for me to quickly become aware of whether or not this word is grounded in this particular speaker’s experience(s); or if it is simply being used in an attempt to impress me, or supply some information.. If this is the case, the of course what is being said here can still be ‘true’, and might also prove to be useful.

‘Active language’ then, on this account, begins with experience. But as it is far more often the case that what is being said, is being said using ‘passive language’, what is experienced by the listener is, at best, ‘informed’ opinion, which is relatively easy to obtain by studying the work of others (an obvious example here would be the reading of a text book)  -  you only have to listen to any ‘expert’ to experience this, and for me this is qualitatively different from listening to  ’active’ language.

The positive side of this way of looking at the acquisition of an ‘active language’, as far as I’m concerned? …

I realized a long time ago (because I find it obvious) that I am a being of limited experiences… Thus, from my viewpoint then, my ‘active’ language, will (thankfully) be limited to these experiences … The idea then of, say, attempting to become a ‘polymath’ or ‘renaissance man’ is not one that I find useful here  … and I prefer to leave projects like these to those who like competing in pub quizzes…

… I admit that it is possible to know a lot about a great deal …. but it is also blindingly obvious to me that it is also possible (and far more usual) to know absolutely nothing about one’s self… And this latter task is, I would argue -  in my case, certainly – the only valid reason for ‘being here’ … It’s ‘the only game in town’, you might say.

—————————————-

… Once again – it’s Your Turn…

In my last two posting, I first suggested that you might listen to Eugene Halliday’s talk ’Words’ (recorded in Liverpool during the 1960′s), and then ’Vocabulary’ (recorded some 10 – 20 years later, at an ISHVAL meeting)

I did post something on the blog Forum  re my own ‘interactions’ with ‘Words’ as promised, but I did not do so with the second suggested talk (‘Vocabulary’)… However, I will try to get around to this in the near future if I have time …

Anyway, here’s the third recording I’d like to suggest to you – it’s the final one regarding ‘active and passive forms of language’ from me here for the present, and it’s title is ‘The Value of Words’.

Like the first talk that I suggested you listen to, this one was also recorded in Liverpool during the 1960′s….

You can download an audio-file of this recording from the Eugene Halliday Archive Site. It is contained in the ‘Liverpool Archive Material’ section. Here’s the link:  Eugene Halliday Archive – Liverpool Audio Files

You can also download a transcription of this talk from Josh Hennessy’s site. Here’s the link:  Eugene Halliday – Transcripts of Talks

Next month I’ll be suggesting that you read something of Eugene Halliday’s on the subject of words

 

To be continued …..

Bob Hardy

December, 2012

 

“A particular offensive variant of the trickster shadow .. occurs when the man casts himself as the woman’s initiator, whereas in fact she is initiating him.”

Nathan Schwartz-Salant
 

Faust: “So still I seek the force, the reason governing life’s flow; and not just its external show.”

Devil:  “The governing force? The reason? Some things cannot be known; they are beyond your reach even when shown.”

Faust:  “Why should that be so?”

Devil:  “They lie outside the boundaries that words can address; and man can only know those thoughts which language can express.”

Faust: “What? Do you mean that words are greater yet than man?”

Devil: “Indeed they are.”

Faust: “Then what of longing, affection, pain or grief. I can’t describe these, yet I know they are in my breast. What are they?”

Devil: “Without substance, as mist is.”

Faust: “In that case man is only air as well.  [reads] What has made me thirst then to be instructed in those things that are more than thirst allows?”

Devil: “Your thirst is artificial, fostered by the arrogance in you. So look no further than all your human brothers do: sleep, eat, drink, and let that be sufficient.”

Faust: “Liar and foul traitor, where are the pulse and core of nature you promised to reveal? Where?”

Devil: “Faustus you lack the wit to see them in every blade of grass.”

From the script of the English translation of the 20th century
Czechoslovakian puppeteer-film animator Jan Svankmeyer’s
adaptation of the German play ‘Faust’, by Goethe….which
was a reworking of Christopher Marlowe’s English version
of a popular 16th century Central-European puppet-play .. !

 ___________________

 

What on earth have we all been up to?

For many Brits, from the late 1800′s of the fin-de-siècle and, I would say, up until the beginning of the Second World War at least, a belief in either vulgar ‘spiritualism’ (if you were a member of the lower orders and attended the odd seance or tarot reading for ‘a bit of a giggle’); or in a more refined ‘mysticism’, or the ‘occult’ (if you were higher up the pecking order and so might be a member of one of those ‘select orders’ such as ‘The Golden Dawn’), was (almost) mandatory.

Indeed, for much of this time, the ‘West’ – a culture that prided itself on being well into the ‘Enlightened’ phase of its development (the odd World War and occasional financial disaster not withstanding) – was a place where the imagination of its citizens could still indulge itself by day-dreaming about romantic fictions, like the ‘lost’ ancient mythical kingdoms of Atlantis and Lemuria, that were being promoted by self-styled ‘experts’ such as the American clairvoyant, Edgar Case; as well as roaming across large areas of a world that were still home to ‘primitive’, or ‘natural’, cultures – the inhabitants of which were apparently – according to those ‘in the know’ at least – still in touch with the ‘world beyond’.

These geographical areas included: ‘Darkest Africa’, with its ‘nature spirits’, malaria, ‘lost cities’, and cannibalism; Tibet, a country whose male citizens (at least) all appeared to be, either members of ‘The Himalayan Mountaineering Club’, or of some gigantic, mysterious, priest-hood – and let’s not forget the ‘Yeti’; the Australian outback, with its unique and exotic wild-life, its Aborigines with their unintelligible mythological ‘dream-time’, and later, Rolf Harris’s wobble-board; the desert of the nomadic Beduin, home to all things Ancient Egyptian, and of equally ancient sexually transmitted diseases;  the American ‘Untamed, West’ of the Red Indian, whose deceased tribal chiefs and powerful Medicine Men were employed by the ‘spiritual mediums’ of early-mid twentieth century Britain as ‘guides’ (with names like ‘White Cloud’), who apparently had ‘crossed over’, and so were now able to function as intermediaries  … (“Knock twice for Auntie Mabel.”) … I often wonder what eventually became of these unfortunate Native Americans. Did they all move on to ‘prairies new’ in order to hunt the celestial buffalo perhaps? … Or was it that they had simply become an embarrassment, or (heaven forbid) merely unfashionable?

During the period immediately following the Second World War (a period known as the ‘Cold War’) we witnessed the emergence of a belief in ‘superior evolved beings’ – usually sexless, and benign, or malevolent, take your pick – from other worlds. Most of them seemed to have been, from ‘first-hand accounts’ extremely ‘evolved mentally’ – which unfortunately, from the descriptions given, make them all look as if they were suffering simultaneously from, dwarfism; hydrocephalus; and a very bad case of ‘shrivel-dick’… Why it was assumed that advanced evolution would result in beings who eventually all looking like Daleks is beyond me ….    Along with this extra-terrestial stuff came the inevitable partner in this crime, ‘the UFO phenomena’, that thankfully, since the mass ownership of video cameras and smart phones, have all but disappeared…. On the other hand, at precisely the same time, our sworn enemies on the other side of the Iron-Curtain were desperately attempting to develop the psionic abilities of hapless members of its proletariat, and (of course) place these ‘abilities’ on a firm materialistic footing… None of all that Western, degenerate, esoteric rubbish - foisted on the helpless masses by a degenerate, running-dog, capitalistic elite - for the Politburo!

In the 1950′s a young man by the name of Cyril Henry Hoskins, from Plymton, Devon, UK – known to one and all as Lobsang Rampa – selected Tibet as his mise-en-scene and wrote a number of best selling paper-backs – with titles such as ‘The Third Eye’ -  containing various ‘accounts’ of Astral travel and of other ‘occult powers, possessed by the mysterious priests who inhabited those monasteries referred to somewhere in the above paragraphs .. His last book in this series, he claims, was dictated to him by his cat … Which, if nothing else, illustrates the distinct advantage over our feline friends that natural selection gave us. Human beings with hands that featured opposable thumbs allowing us to hold a pen, and so actually write the damn thing ..

This was followed in the 1960’s by, for example, the writings of Peruvian-born Carlos Castaneda, who, while still a student at UCLA, used his various accounts of the American South-West (notably Arizona) together with his notes on the ‘teachings’ of a Yaqui shaman by the name of Don Juan (a man who really seems to have known how to ‘role a joint’) to write a number of best sellers… Castaneda eventually received his PhD in Anthropology (no less) for these efforts.

The early 1970′s saw the wider UK  public embracing all things ‘martially artistic’ with the arrival in 1972 of Kung Fu, an American TV series that was imported into the UK, and starred David Carradine as the Shaolin monk Kwai Chang Caine, a kung Fu expert who was tutored by blind ‘Master Po’ (I was forever referring to him as ‘Blind Pew’ – which shows you where my head was at). The commencment of this series also coincided, roughly, with Bruce Lee’s arrival as a major player on the international movie scene – it was Lee incidentally who appears to have been the one who originally pitched the story outline for Kung Fu  to American TV executives before he hit the big-time …  

And while the ‘Martial Arts’, in and of themselves, are clearly not ‘spiritual’ (try getting your head round the fact that many Chinese Emperors preferred to employ Buddhist monks as their ‘heavies’, or ‘Imperial Guards’)  they did eventually get lumbered with some pretty weird stuff, particularly in the West – such as a way to become ‘non-violent’.. which always seemed a somewhat roundabout, and profoundly suspicious way, of going about this to me…i would have thought taking up knitting, or sky-diving would have been more appropriate here …. I will also mention that this was also the period when Richard Hittleman’s ‘Yoga’ series also hit the big time in the UK (but I’ve covered that in an earlier post).

And what about the rash of ‘alien abduction’ accounts we were subjected to – most of which included an extremely absorbing, micro-detailed, account of ‘anal probing’? … Accounts that seemed to proliferate rapidly via what I like to refer to as the, “I know somebody, who met somebody, who’s mother overheard somebody claiming etc. method”… This version of ‘mysterious happenings’ was very popular in the late 1980′s (and on into the 1990′s)…. Around about the same time that movies such as ‘Close Encounters..’, and TV series like ‘The X Files’ were extremely popular …and let’s not forget ‘Roswell’…or those mysterious ‘crop circles’ …

If we move forward into the second millennium, we can still find masses of this material being produced – from the accounts of ‘Indigo Children’; to the seemingly endless pseudo-science plagues we have been the victims of for the past few decades – many based upon a profound (and for jaded individuals like me – unintentionally hilarious) mis-representation of Quantum Mechanics. (“Yes, but how do you know there isn’t ‘somewhere’ where two plus two doesn’t equal four?” … … Ooooooh!)

And this is merely scratching the surface …

For me, it is psychological forces, rather than supernatural forces (which in my opinion are an archaic fiction) that are the prime movers here. But this doesn’t mean that I have accepted an all-the-way-down-rationalist-scientific epistemology that claims to refer to some ‘objective reality out there’, and that can, in principle, be ‘known’ by a subject, who, by ‘logical reasoning’ can express this reality simply by using words, which they have subsequently structured in order to provide themselves with the ontological basis that subsequently informs their epistemic beliefs… even if the words they use form the vocabulary of an extremely, difficult to acquire, specialized language, such as mathematics.

 So, as I say then …. I am not a ‘hard objectivist’ ….

What I see the scientific community doing, is positing their own version of an ‘objective reality’ as a form of dogmatic ‘certainty’ … because they have discovered that viewing existence in this way confers a high degree of predictability over those material events that they, as a consequence, now insist really, truly, truly, exist ‘out there’.

Such that … if I ‘buy into’ this particular scenario, that is … even though I now appear to have the advantage of being democratically perceived as one of the experiencing subjects here (which, I do admit, in principle at least, appears to have gotten rid of those problems that the authoritarian-hierarchical-religious/class-system approach we have all suffered under in the West for the past millennium or so, brought with it) – none the less still leaves me with my original problem … The problem that – although this is now ‘all very nice’ – regrettably I still do not experience myself as (at long last) having finally ‘arrived’ anywhere, or of being at the ‘foundation’ of anything … at least in the way that those pushing this stuff on me insist I now should be – although I do think it’s a great idea! ….

Rather, I experience myself as being even more firmly the prisoner of language, and of living in – an admittedly benign version of – Orwell’s ’1984′ … So that I now, more than ever, ‘suspect’ that it is this language, of itself, that has produced this illusion (a subject very dear to my heart) that there is a stable, central identity (me) ‘in here’ which functions as a receptacle – a ‘finishing post’ if you will – for the accumulation of all this scientific ‘knowledge’ that it is claimed is quite definitely discoverable ‘out there’, through the  imposition on me, of a disciplined, subjective, systematized ‘representation’ by me, of this ‘objective reality’…. A wonderful example of DIY.

And that it is only by way of me blindly accepting that this process is able – in principle at least so I’m told – to construct the ‘Absolute Truth’ … (which actually … even if this were the case … is something I am certain that I am not personally equipped to deal with) which gives me this experience of any relative ‘certainty’ here, along the way… (By the way – a free word of advice – using words like ‘certainty’ nearly always turns out to be a lousy idea.)….

 … As one great Irishman was won’t to put it then, you could say that, “It’s the way I tell ‘em!” – whoever this authoritative ‘I’ happens to be, at any one particular moment.

The actual view that I have of myself must admit then, that even though there are forces emanating from ‘out there’ (culture, customs, language etc.) that are pivotal to the construction of this ‘me’, these ‘forces’ do not appear (to ‘me’) to constitute any ‘universal truth(s)’…. But they are, rather, ‘simply’ relative truths …. More usefully viewed by me as power relationships … And that these are acting upon me as the ‘subject’ in all this.

So that then, a further component in the ever-present problem of ‘Working’ – as far as I can see, from this perspective at least – involves resisting, or reaffirming, or denying, or transforming, these relationships, through the exercise of (what I am pleased to refer to as) my free will.

Further, I seriously doubt that life would be bearable without some small area (at the very least) of ‘no-man’s land’ … an area that ‘comes to be’ as a direct consequence of this experience of ‘being’ that I have… An experience that is patched together from my very own pot-puree of relative truths, and which then constitutes my own personal side of the border of this ‘no-man’s land’ – this unresolved ‘distance’ between what it is that constitutes ‘the real’, and my experiences of it….

This ‘no-man’s land’ is a place where what I refer to as, ‘the soft-focus that characterizes this critical area’, makes its appearance. … A place that thankfully serves to mediate the affects of experiencing more than I am able to handle of ‘what is really going on’, but that, even so, I still find myself struggling against, whenever I  try to shrink it’s ‘size’ down still further – in my attempts to discover ‘deeper, truths’ … An attempt by me that only ever sees me experiencing ‘reality’ as something that is actively resisting these efforts of mine to ‘perceive it’, or ‘to come to grips with’ it …

 … But this struggle of mine is far more bearable to me than having to deal with the various versions of ‘the true picture’ that so many others out there appear to be either completely obsessed with, or worse, are determined to shove down the throats of the rest of us ….A version of events they desperately insist (and often. in the historical  past, by employing violence to do so; but more recently  by what I am pleased to refer to as a ‘smiley slime-ball’ approach) they are all ‘so certain’ is actually ‘going on out there’… … 

…. Talk about a ‘Tacit Conspiracy’! …

—————————————————–

From ‘NOCTURNAL EMISSIONS’
‘Random Dribblings from the Twilight World of the Undead’
by Bob Hardy
A series of Fragments from Bob Hardy’s notebooks – from the late-1970′s to date
 

… And Now It’s Your Turn … Again!

In my last posting, I suggested you might start with Eugene Halliday’s talk ’Words’. This was recorded in Liverpool during the 1960′s, and I should mention here that the title of it – as with all the talks from that period – was not selected by Eugene Halliday.

The restoration of the source material that constitutes most of this section of the Archive  - which is available for free downloading from the Liverpool section of the Eugene Halliday archive -  was done by Ken Ratcliffe’s son-in-law, Richard Milligan, who, I understand, also selected the titles for many of these restored recordings.

Some 10 – 20 years later, at an ISHVAL meeting, Eugene gave the talk that I would like to suggest you listen to this month –   ‘Vocabulary’. I would add here that Eugene Halliday was almost certainly  involved in selecting this title, or at least of giving his approval to it.

On listening to this talk you might, for example, like to consider whether or not you find the that those major ideas which Eugene Halliday presents here, are consistent with those ideas that he presented in his early talk ‘Words’ .

As with the recording of ‘Words’ that I suggested you listen to in last month post, I will continue describing my own ‘interactions’ with this recording of ‘Vocabulary’, in the Forum section of this blog, sometime during December .

 

To be continued …..

Bob Hardy

November 2012

 

I came to realize that my passive … What shall I call it?  … ‘Ingestings’ … of the meaning of most of those words that I happened to be reading or listening to during any one ‘sitting’, took place so quickly that the process was – to all intents and purposes – instantaneous; and also, that the very complexity of the process itself was extremely difficult for me to observe ‘in the moment’.…

Furthermore, I now see that this is only half of the problem. Because I have come to understand that the inertic qualities of those ‘passive meanings’ that I ingested (probably because I ‘just fancied’ the ideas that they encouraged) actually served to reinforce my difficulties here….. That is – those ‘passive, ingested, meanings’  become a series of further obstacles that I had, in effect, imposed upon myself .

… And, as these latest, self-imposed, ‘passive’ components of my thinking processes simply clouded,  reinforced, and distorted, attempts by me to perceive the world with any clarity – so, ultimately then, they only served to further restrict my ‘free will’….

It is essential, therefore, that I at least attempt to take responsibility here for my inability to move forward…. That is, if things are ever really going to change for me. … But I am, first of all, going to have to admit that for the majority of the time at least, I have been going round in circles … … …  Surprise, surprise!

So … What to do? …

Any attempt by me to mediate these affects – even partially – seems to require an enormous amount of work on my part, such that making any real progress here doesn’t appear to be worth the effort involved …

However, I am encouraged, when I recall the following example of how this – in part at least – ‘self-imposed, conditioned, state’ that I know myself to be in, can be almost instantaneously illuminated – and so ‘loosened’ somewhat – by humor … And in the ‘space’ thus created for this brief moment, I get a glimpse my real ‘Self’, now almost entirely obscured behind that culturally inflated image I originally constructed simply to make it easier for me to navigate my way around others , but that now – for the most part – experiences the world in my  stead … … in my virtual absence  ….

Consider the following well-known ‘chestnut’… This is a piece of popular prose that is trotted out by many of those who fancy themselves to be ‘on the path’, in order to present themselves to others, as ‘deep’. … Those unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of these (thankfully brief) recitations, will almost invariably nod their heads sagely, and with that requisite stereotypically pained, and pseudo-reflective, grimace, mutter something about, “The profundity of it all … “

‘The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
 Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
 Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
 Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it’
                                                        Omar Khayyam

Like many others that I have met, I appear to have conditioned myself to react towards material like this with a ‘pre-programmed’ reverence… A reverence that is, for my part at least, by and large bogus – but which I have fallen into the habit of identifying with … …

 … Anyway … Having previously ‘ingested’ this rhyme, together with all the cultural baggage that goes along with it. Imagine my delight, when – in this particular instance at least – the spell was shattered, and I was able to jettison my pseudo-admiration here, and (more importantly), be aware of myself ’in the moment’ doing just that – as I witnessed a far more profound ‘version’ of this piece by ‘Eric and Ernie’ (no less), in one of their many ‘Ernie the Playwright’ sketches …..

Ernie: ‘The moving finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: …..
 
Eric: …… And writes another bit!’
                                                ‘The Morcombe and Wise Show’
                                                  (British TV Comedy series)

———————————

Never mind the letters contained in the written word.  What about the spaces?

God is now here

God is nowhere

 Never mind the letters, or the spaces either! What about the position on the page? …  …  Here, it is claimed (by some experts in the field at least) is the best-known shortest sentence in all of  ‘English Literature’….  It’s the beginning of Chapter One of Herman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’ (or ‘The Whale’) … and its purpose is to introduce us to the ‘narrator’ of this tale:

 ’Call me Ishmael.’

 But what would you make of this same sentence, if you found it on your desktop like this? 

Call me Ishmael

 

—————————————————–

From ‘NOCTURNAL EMISSIONS’
 ‘Random Dribblings from the Twilight World of the Undead’
by Bob Hardy
A series of fragments from Bob Hardy’s notebooks – from the late-1970′s to date.

 

… And Now It’s Your Turn

If you are interested in working with Eugene’s Halliday’s material, I’d like to suggest that you begin by listening to the recording of  his talk, ‘Words’.

See ‘how you get on with it’. It might be that you find that you can only understand parts of it; or that you don’t see the point of any of it; or you might feel frustrated because Eugene Halliday has made assumptions regarding familiarity with some of his other concepts, and so doesn’t bother to clarify them here – probably because those present at this talk were already familiar with them. … … So – where it concerns this talk – What is ‘missing’ in it for you? … What needs clarifying? … Is this how things in the world seem to you? .. Do you find yourself radically disagreeing with what Eugene Halliday is saying here? …. Is it all just ‘too confusing’ for you? … etc.

You can download an audio-file of this recording from the Eugene Halliday Archive Site, in the ‘Liverpool Archive Material’ section.

Here’s the link:  Eugene Halliday Archive – Liverpool Audio Files

You can also download a transcription of this talk from Josh Hennessy’s site.

Here’s the link:  Eugene Halliday – Transcripts of Talks

If you have any problems gaining access to this material at either of these two sites, you can contact me, regarding problems with the Archive here; or contact Josh, regarding problems with the transcripts here,  and we’ll do our best to get you sorted out

Here’s some additional, relevant, material from Eugene Hallday’s writings that you might like to bear in mind:

That words are built up of letters does not mean that the individual letters individually and separately are prior to the words or that which they signify. Words begin as sounds arising from the complex psychic states which move into expression in an expulsion of breath. The feeling assessment precedes the emotional expression which expels the breath and articulates it as words.  We do not define words by the letters which constitute them, but we define the words and the letters from the state of being which gave them utterance.

Before I write a word I hear it. Before I hear it, I do not know what it is, what it is going to be. It is a primary datum, a ‘given’ in my consciousness. Where it comes from is not defined, but that undefined has power to define, and does define the words that are heard and writ­ten. One is so used to accepting words ‘given’ in consciousness, and to accepting them as ideas or thoughts, that one tends to go straight to their sig­nificance, their reference value, and to forget that the words are there from the moment of their being ‘given’. We tend to think that our thinking is other than our mental ‘word-manipulating’.

Here’s another one:

A thing is said to be defined when its limits are detectable … When we define a word we are indicating the limit of its application. This is most important to understand. We do not define things with our words; the things are, if they exist, already defined by the fact of their existence. What we define when we define a word, is the limits of its application

… All things, situations and events which exist for our consciousness are defined by their existence. One of the groups of elements in our consciousness we call ‘words’. A word is an element in our consciousness which we use to order other elements. A word is a sound or sign other than itself. By a word we indicate on what elements of consciousness we shall concentrate our attention. The word orders the content of consciousness, and possibly of unconsciousness also.

I would add here that simply researching the definition and etymological root of words, will not magically  ’move them over’ from the ‘passive’ area of your linguistic abilities, to your shiny, new, ‘active’ area. …. Because, if this were the case, we might find that we were forced to include – in the list of those people who possessed an ‘active’ language – those who were very good at ‘The Times’ crossword, for example …. and that would obviously be really dumb …  …. Even so, I did find this approach to be a perfect starting point for me, so  that’s why I’m suggesting it here … That … and the fact that I obviously, therefore, have no practical experience of starting anywhere else! … Plus, at the moment I am not aware of any accounts of others where it concerns their ‘starting point’ here – what concepts of his that they began with etc. … Although I have met a few others who clearly believe that they did start working with Eugene Halliday’s ideas some time ago and that they are now ‘somewhere along’ here … wherever they imagine that is ….

I believe that this method definitely improved my vocabulary skills (and I am sure that it will improve yours), but I also discovered that it was no guarantee for any necessary increase in my ‘active’ vocabulary … so I’m also guessing here that it won’t necessarily improve yours… Indeed, I believe that for this to happen, something else … vital … needs to be added to the mix… Mysterious alchemy indeed!!!

… Later with that though.

‘Inside the Eugene Halliday Archive’ Forum.

In case you may want to discuss your reactions to, or your ideas arising from, working with the talk suggested here – or with any other material of Eugene Halliday’s that I will be suggesting in the future, I have set up an area to do just this in the Blog Forum.

This forum is accessed by clicking on the tab that is located directly underneath the header picture which you will find at the top of this page.

To contribute to this forum, however, you must be a subscriber to this blog.

Josh Hennessy has agreed to act as a moderator for this ‘Discussion Area’

I will submit a post for this particular talk on the Forum, simply in order to get the ball rolling, and you are welcome to join in …..

To be continued ……..

Bob Hardy

October 2012

 
‘Interlude.’

 (This short piece should take no more than approximately five minutes.

 Scene: A slow fade-up reveals part of a military briefing room, the backdrop representing one of the room’s walls, the top half of which is painted a cream color, and the bottom half ‘bottle green’. This wall includes a door, a large window, and a dozen or so clothes-hooks on which are hanging six old-fashioned, military-style, caps. There is also a large, official looking, poster pasted onto the wall portraying the image of a young man’s head, wearing one of the military-style caps. He is smiling, with his mouth partly open. Directly underneath this image, in bold letters, are printed the words, ‘KEEP TALKING!’ .

From time to time, throughout the scene, we hear a number of explosions; sporadic gunfire; and vague yelling. We can also see occasional flashes through the window, which serve to further light up the scene.

 Just in front of this wall is an old fashioned large portable blackboard on which is written, in white chalk, the heading WOPUnder this, in slightly smaller letters, are the words - Words Order Power.

 Directly under this heading, in cursive script, are the following instructions:

 ‘Listen closely to the recording, and transcribe – in your regulation notebooks – this month’s list of words, together with both their respective spellings, and their authorized definitions.

 You must memorize these words, and then practice using them ‘in situ’ - before presenting a verbal account of your experiences to your group at the end of the current period.’

 There is a table in front of the blackboard, on which is standing a old-fashioned, large, military-style radio, through which we can hear Him reciting the following list of words – together with their respective spellings and definitions.

His voice sounds metallic, and from time to time the signal itself crackles and fades, before returning to full volume.  He begins reciting the list a few seconds after the fade-up is completed).

  • Acosmist: A-C-O-S-M-I-S-T – One who denies the existence of the universe or its distinctness from God.
  • Adhocracy: A-D-H-O-C-R-A-C-Y – Bureaucracy characterized by inconsistency and lack of planning.
  •  Adiabolist: A-D-I-A-B-O-L-I-S – One who does not believe in the existence of a Devil.
  • Adoxography: A-D-O-X-O-G-R-A-P-H-Y – Erudite writing about an unimportant subject.
  •  Aeolist: A-E-O-L-I-S-T – A pretender to inspiration or spiritual regeneration.
  •  Afflatus: A-F-F-L-A-T-U-S -The miraculous communication of supernatural knowledge; creative power of divine origin.
  •  Agathocacological: A-G-A-T-H-O-C-A-C-O-L-O-G-I-C-A-L – Composed of both good and evil.
  •  Agiotage: A-G-I-O-T-A-G – Speculation on the stock market.
  •  Agogic: A-G-O-G-I-C – Pertaining to the making of wax models.
  •  Agrapha: A-G-R-A-P-H-A – The collective name for phrases which are often quoted, and attributed to Jesus – who never actually said them.
  •  Altiloquent: A-N-T-I-L-O-Q-U-E-N-T – using high or pompous language.
  •  Amphigory: A-M-P-H-I-G-O-R-Y – A poem that seems profound but is really complete nonsense.
  •  Anonymuncule: A-N-O-N-Y-M-U-N-C-U-L-E – a petty anonymous writer.
  •  Anthropolatry: A-N-T-H-R-O-P-O-L-A-T-R-Y – Man-worship; the giving of divine honors to a human being.
  •  Apodyopsis A-P-O-D-Y-O-P-S-I-S – The act of mentally undressing someone.
  •  Aporia: A-P-O-R-I – The feeling you have when you can’t solve a problem
  •  Auriate: A-U-R-I-A-T-E – Pertaining to the fancy, or flowery, words used by poets
  •  Autodidact: A-U-T-O-D-I-D-A-C-T  – A person who has taught themselves
  •  Autology: A-U-T-O-L-O-G-Y – The study of oneself
  •  Autovoxiphillia A-U-T-O-V-O-X-I-P-H-I-L-L-I-A – Love of one’s own voice

 (There is a pause before the playback of this list begins once again) …

  •  Acosmist: A-C-O-S-M-I-S-T – One who denies the existence of the universe or its distinctness from God.
  • Adhocracy: A-D-H-O-C-R-A-C-Y – Bureaucracy characterized by inconsistency and lack of planning. … … .

 (As the list begins again, the scene gradually fades to black-out)

 From ‘Field-notes for Armageddon’ by Bob Hardy

Menu du Jour (Menu of the Day).

 Soupe de Mots (Word Soup).

 Just to remind visitors here: this blog contains accounts of my various attempts at interacting with some of Eugene Halliday’s concepts over the past 35 years or so. These concepts are contained in files of the various audio recording of his talks, and also in his writings; these are freely downloadable from the Eugene Halliday Archive….(For more information, please go to the ‘About’ page of this blog)  … I have found a number of Eugene Halliday’s concepts extremely important and useful to me, and many more of his ideas thought-provoking enough to engage me in subjects I believe I would not have considered examining had I not been introduced to them through his ideas .. .And I repeat, once again, that in my view Eugene Halliday was a remarkable, extraordinary, human being … and nothing more…

Note: To bear in mind here … My sense of the meaning of the verb, ‘to believe’, is ‘to live as if’. (After Eugene Halliday, and, to some extent, Austin Osman Spare).

Hopefully you will now be consciously aware – to some degree at least – that spoken language can not only provide you with information (facts; data; form; ideas; concepts, etc) but can also profoundly influence (and thus, possibly, control) your emotional states… Which, I suggest, should give you some cause for concern..!

I want to make my position very clear here, ‘speech acts’ will, at the very least, always produce changes in the listener’s emotional states.

In my experience, the individual will not usually be consciously (rationally) aware of this affect ‘in the moment’ (unless they have made a deliberate attempt to do so, by, for example, practicing techniques in order to acquire this ability), and so they will always be in a relatively passive state here – even if they are a participant in the particular dialogue in question.

But this state of affairs doesn’t necessarily mean that the other person speaking here has an ‘active’ language either. Rather, it is far more probable that they are both victims of the particular emotional state that they happen to find themselves in at the time … Although both are very likely to insist (perhaps vehemently in some cases), if questioned,  that they are in fact, “Completely in charge, and fully aware of what is going on, thank you!” …

I think it is far more likely though, that what they actually are, is ‘fully engaged’ – which is not the same thing at all, in my experience.

To put this situation ‘in the vernacular’, as it were: It’s not so much that they can’t wake up; it’s more the case that they don’t realize that they’re asleep….

In the specific case of my own experiences with this exercise, the ability to be aware of my own emotional ‘trajectory’ when attending to another person’s spoken language, took a lot of practice. … In fact, even when I had ‘decided’ that I was going to practice this exercise, it was a week or two before I could remember to do so at all – even very occasionally…. Never mind attempting to ‘have a go at doing it properly’… And even when I did manage to initiate any practice regime here, I would, almost immediately, fall flat on my face …  This state of affairs seemed to drag on for ages, but I eventually did manage to get the hang of it, and I would maintain that I am now a whole lot better at it .. Although I do have to monitor my social interactions even now, that is, if I want to ‘keep my awareness going’ for any appreciable length of time…(I am something of a ‘loner’ … But quite good at covering the fact up)… I still seem to get ‘wound up’ though, if I’m not careful … …Hard to believe that, I know, but there it is…

Of course, I found the task of monitoring my emotional states alone relatively easy to do, as I could practice this by sitting comfortably in a prepared environment with no distractions (such as the odd phone-call) to interrupt me; or in the time between going to bed and falling sleep. But I soon stopped using this approach to make progress, because it didn’t seem to be that useful to me in my day-to-day life. … And, more importantly, practicing in this way presented me with the temptation not  to ‘engage’, as, for me, one of the side-affects of doing this particular exercise was that I was very quickly developing the ability to become ‘detached’ … Not a good place to be in my case, I believe.

In practice, even in ‘real life’ situations’, you should very quickly experience some minor degree of control here – although you will not have any success at all if what is being said to you is having such a marked affect on you that you are unable to maintain your focus (you become too emotionally involved) – a condition that Eugene might describe as ‘identifying with the stimulus’.

And I should also tell you that this ‘awareness’ you’re attempting to introduce here will immediately become an active component of the experience itself – and, as a direct consequence therefore, will fundamentally alter the nature of this experience. (This ‘awareness’ you are consciously attempting to introduce here behaves rather like a  ‘catalyst’ – to use Eugene’s terminology).

My own technique here involved trying to filter out the ‘sense’ of what someone was saying to me if I could, and instead attempt to focus on other aspects of what I was hearing (changes in volume; changes in tone; changes in timbre; and the fluctuating change in the pace of the discourse).

NOTE: The question as to whether or not the person that you are listening to, in this scenario, might also be, somehow, passive (acting under the influence of their own changing emotional states) is not the issue here. But the short answer here is, that in the overwhelming majority of cases at least, “Yes, they probably will be” … There are, however, major, and very important, exceptions to this…. But that’s for a later post  :-)

Why did I decide to do this exercise? … Because in the ‘here and now’ I was becoming increasingly aware that these aspects of spoken language were of major significance in producing continuous emotional changes in me, and that it was essential for me to gain some degree of control here – if I was ever going to move on, that is. … I needed to become more ‘self’ conscious (that’s ‘self’ with a small ‘s’ by the way) - might be another way of putting it.

One positive aspect of this practice was that I found this growing awareness of the parameters of my own … ‘integument’ … here quite liberating… Although I couldn’t help suspecting that, somehow, there was a voyeuristic element to all this …

I am also maintaining here, that even if what is being said to you is, by and large, incomprehensible (so, in some sense, lacking formal content as far as you’re concerned) you could, none the less, still be experiencing (for example) profound irritation on the one hand: or a ‘warm fuzzy glow’ on the other.

…Another great way to practice observing this change of state in yourself, is to listen to someone speaking in a foreign language. (How many times have you heard someone say, for instance, that, “French sounded ‘sexy’”, or that, “German sounded ‘harsh’”?)

You can also practice your awareness of the power of the spoken word to profoundly influence you in ways that you are not consciously aware of in the moment, by comparing your reaction when listening to old people speak, to your reaction when listening to young people speak… That is, are you (perhaps before anything is said) affected by the speaker’s age? (Do you tend to feel, for instance, somewhat dismissive if the person supplying information to you is in their early teens but are more inclined to believe someone if they possess a more confident, mature, voice). How about gender? Do you find yourself reacting differently to the same information given to you by a male, and by a female. … How about when listening to someone from a different social background (that is, of course, assuming that you still haven’t yet managed free yourself from this form of, somewhat archaic, cultural conditioning) …

Finally, try listening and watching foreign films, and then notice, for example, how pleased with yourself you become when you’ve convinced yourself that you have, “Managed to figure out what they are saying to each other,” even though you will freely admit that you, “didn’t really understand a word!”

Looking at how language ‘operates’ in this way, might also help you to understand how it is that many of those people who enjoy watching ‘TV Scientist-Celebrities’ – those who are skilled in making use of simple metaphors to describe a complex subject such as Quantum Physics; but where it would be reasonable to expect a significant level of mathematical ‘know-how’ in order to understand any in-depth explanation (rather than a simple description) – can delude themselves into believing that they now, somehow, have far more of an appreciation of  the subject than is actually the case!

It is, I believe, relatively easy to check if you have a reasonable, elementary, grasp of a particular subject (say for example: ‘Religious Studies’, or ‘Art Appreciation’; or ‘Science’; or ‘General Philosophy’). And that is, to download copies of last year’s state exam papers (say, the relevant GCSE ‘O’ level papers) and have a go at answering the questions yourself. … And, as I’m sure you would expect any suitably engaged, 16 year-old, schoolboy or schoolgirl of average intelligence to be able to answer these questions, you clearly have a straightforward, ideal way, of seeing if you measure up to your own standards here  … And if you find that you don’t … Well ….Maybe you should think again about your level of understanding …..

From this very common example can you appreciate why I maintain – that for the overwhelming majority of people at least – the ‘feeling’ of knowing has a much stronger influence on their belief systems than the ‘knowing’ of knowing?. … And, as a consequence, that if you can manipulate their emotional experiences, you can get them to do practically everything. Think of being persuaded to become a member of the staff in a WWII concentration camp; or of being Swedish, and wandering around Newcastle, dressed as a Buddhist monk … Or, if you believe you’re immune from this sort of conditioning, imagine your reaction if the Dali Lama turning up for a TV interview wearing a leather biker jacket, T-shirt, jeans, cowboy boots, and shades … (Well of course he wouldn’t, would he? … Because he’s already got his own special uniform).

Consequently, a part of what I am doing here, is describing how it is that experiencing the results of these exercises for yourself will allow you to properly understand that dragging your normal, everyday, experiences (and not some artificial, contrived situation) into consciousness, is the only real way that you can move forward here…

In my own case, I have always found it far more difficult to monitor my  emotional states when I am speaking normally with others (as I tend to ‘engage’ very quickly) than when I was teaching, or when I was performing – where I found it relatively easier, because I think these scenarios are both, in some sense, artificial, controlled, contrived, and in part ritualistic…

So – ‘work’ towards the ability to focus upon the awareness of the emotional contents of your everyday  conversations …

OK … What’s next? ….

Well … what you now have to do, is to make a concerted attempt to reintroduce that formal, intellectual, component of speech-communication that you were only just, in the previous exercises, attempting to filter out !! .. The purpose of this? … To develop the ability to focus on two things at the same time…

Well… … …  ’Sort of’, anyway…

I have to tell you now, I don’t believe that focussing on two things at once can be done in the ‘here and now’ …Rather, what you have to do is develop the ability to very rapidly switch between focussing on your awareness of any intellectual content that you are picking up, and on your awareness of how you feel about it.

In my experience, anyone can retrospectively review their ‘feelings’ towards a recent situation, and so provide an answer to the question, “How did you feel about that?” But I would not personally recommend this approach, as I have, almost always, found that the answer given will invariably have been heavily edited and revised by the person’s ‘persona’, to bring it in line with the manner in which they wish to be socially perceived. (By the way, I am using the term ‘persona’ here in its Jungian sense). What we must do here instead, is attempt to provide an answer to the above question immediately, in the ‘here and now’ – this answer will almost certainly be somewhat different … ‘funkier’ …you might say. … I would also add here, that any retrospective account will, almost certainly, only serve to reinforce those very negative aspects of personality that actually need working on; and that the person doing this revision is therefore, as it were, merely digging themselves into a deeper pit.

The ability to be aware of oneself ‘in the moment’ is a technique that I maintain Eugene Halliday provided his own instructions for developing, particularly in his essay, ‘Reflexive Self-Consciousness’, and I will be dealing with my ‘take’ on this essay in a future post…  I would mention here though, that my understanding of ‘Reflexive Self-Consciousness’ appears to me to be completely different, in both meaning and purpose, to most of the material that I have come across from others on this particular subject,  …. Anyway, that’s for a later posting.

The idea of  ‘passive’ and an ‘active’ forms of language has been around for a very long time by the way. The art of rhetoric was known to the Ancient Greeks, with perhaps Aristotle’s view – that it was the ability to develop an affective technique in ‘persuading others’ – which is the most familiar today. … But I have to admit here that this any in-depth study of this subject might have ‘slipped under my radar’ if it hadn’t been for, what I see as, the central position given to the understanding of this technique by Eugene Halliday … and also to have been able to observe him at first-hand exercising his obvious (to me) undoubted skill in employing it.

That said, perhaps the clearest (and I have to say the ‘creepiest’) contemporary example in modern literature for me, of this attempt to develop ‘active’ and ‘passive’ forms of language, is given in George Orwell’s ’1984′, with its ‘Big Brother’ personality cult; ‘Thoughtcrimes’; and ‘Newspeak’ (a description of which, by Orwell, is contained in the ‘appendix’ of his novel)… But researching any accounts of, for example: ‘brainwashing techniques’; ‘indoctrination’; or an understanding of the formation of cults, such as ‘Scientology’; or (from a psychological perspective) the mechanism of ‘repression’ – from the viewpoint of ‘active’ and ‘passive’ forms of language, should all provide a wealth of useful background information here, if you care to research this subject further.

By the way, just because you might be becoming more aware that ‘speech acts’ contain ideas and concepts, doesn’t necessarily mean that you will understand these ideas and concepts; any more that being aware of changes in your emotional landscape means that these changes are, say, undesirable … The intention here is just to practice being aware that attending to a ‘speech act’ means that these two components of that ‘speech act’ are now present in you.  So it’s not so much about what the ‘actual’ contents of these ‘speech acts’ are then – it’s purely about your awareness here. That is, your conscious apprehension of that fact.

Anyway … It is of course entirely up to you how much work you do with Eugene’s concepts of ‘active’ and ‘passive’ forms of language; or how you personally view any attempts you might make here….But if you would like to discuss any of your own practical experiences arising from your attempts to work in this area, I would be happy to do so on the forum section of this blog.

Finally, for this post at least…Back to ‘Yes’ and ‘No’.

From your own perspective, and where it concerns your understanding of Eugene Halliday’s concepts of the ‘passive’ and ‘active’ forms of language, what do you make of the following two video clips? … …. … I understand from someone who lived with Eugene Halliday for over 20 years, that he was in the habit of watching TV from time to time; and that he would comment on the programs in ways that would make those watching with him almost believe that they were watching something else! … Can you ‘unpack’ your experiences when watching these two clips, and offer an explanation as to what is going on that gets you past the obvious, common, interpretation(s) ..

‘Take Your Pick’ – The Yes/No Interlude

“It’s A Long Distance ….”

‘Hubble bubble, toil and trouble’

To be continued …………

Bob Hardy

September 2012

 

 

(Scene: We see him, conventionally dressed, standing in front of a large presentation-screen. Onto this screen, from time to time – and with the aid of a remote control that he is holding in his right hand – he projects files from his laptop, which we can see on a small table situated to the left of the screen. When he wishes to change the file, he gesticulates extravagantly with his right hand. He addresses his audience through a modern wireless microphone, the end of which we can just make out to the side of his mouth. To the right of the screen is a large comfortable looking armchair that looks completely out of place, on which we can see a large book. As he talks to his ‘audience’ he walks continually from stage left to stage right. He makes use of both his hands and arms a great deal during his presentation, but his movements are clumsy. He turns to face the audience and begins speaking).

I find it interesting so many of you believe that the oldest commodity in the world is ‘sex’. … (He pauses and looks around)

So, you must obviously then – as a consequence – believe the oldest profession in the world is that of the ‘prostitute’… (He pauses once again) and that the oldest …. ‘professional ….positions’ – if I might call them that (He smiles) – must be that of the ‘pimp’ and the ‘whore’ … (He clicks his computer remote, and on the screen we see the image of a provocatively dressed young woman, standing next to a gaudily dressed older man. He is sporting a pencil-thin mustache, sideburns, and greased, combed-back, straight, black hair. They are both standing in an ornate doorway, which is bathed in red light. Raunchy music quickly fades up, and then down again. He continues speaking).

If … ‘hooking’ (He smiles to himself) isn’t the world’s oldest profession, and ‘sex’ isn’t the oldest commodity … Then, “What is?” You might ask…

Well that would have to be … and ‘be’, rather obviously in my experience … ‘knowledge’,

Thus, the ‘oldest profession’ is not that of the ‘prostitute’, but is rather, that of the ”Facilitator of Knowledge’ … And your earliest professionals were not the ‘pimp’ and the ‘whore’, but the ”wise-man’ and ‘high priestess’;  the ‘wizard’ and the ‘witch’; the ‘shaman’ and the ‘sorceress’ … the ‘teacher’, ‘trainer’, ‘adviser’, ‘tutor’, ‘guide’, ‘expert’, ‘coach’, ‘mentor’ …  (He clicks his switch and we see the photo of an old-fashioned English public-school teacher, holding a cane, and wearing a mortar-board and gown, standing in front of a black-board on which he is writing with a piece of white chalk. We hear the sound of English choral music, which fades as he continues)….

Which is, I suppose, the profession in which I would have to include myself  …. (He smiles reassuringly, and gives a bow)…And … you know … I’m really quite happy with that … label. … (He smiles again, but rather condescendingly).

Indeed, you might be interested to hear that not only have I read, but I have also completely (He pauses, and looks upwards, searching for the word) … ’digested’ … the contents of every single book that has ever been written! …(He pauses, and nods energetically, and enthusiastically, before moving downstage to address the actual theater audience in a confidential manner)

… And also the contents of every single book that has yet to be written! … But I won’t telling them that (He nods his head towards his invisible lecture-hall audience) …We don’t want to scare them! …Yet! …. Do we? … (He turns to address his ‘lecture audience’ once more)

You might also be surprised to learn that you can turn just about anything at all into a commodity! … If you think about it in the ‘right terms’, that is! ….

And it is surely fairly obvious that ‘sex’ can be turned into a commodity! … If only because one of the major problems in life – at least for an army of hapless males ‘out there’ – has been in trying to figure out ways of how to ‘get themselves some’!..

Further, I would also suggest that this particular problem provides as good a reason as any to kick-start the beginnings of – what we are now pleased to call – the human attributes of, ‘thinking’, or of ‘being clever’, or even, of being ‘creative’ …

Because, in order to ‘get some’, you had to figure out a means of knowing ‘how to’! …Even if the only methodologies you could come up with – way back when – were what we would now consider to be somewhat …. inappropriate … Such as kidnapping, or rape, for instance.

So … anyway … here you are, with this pressing need to know just how to go about ‘knowing how’..

I should tell you right now, that this little difficulty of yours was tremendously important ‘down here’. In fact you could say that it was responsible for getting the whole … ‘ball rolling’ …Because your query, “Tell me please. How do I get some?” not only gave rise to a ‘questioner’ – that is, in this case, to ‘you’. … But also, simultaneously, gave rise to beings, who now appear – in your eyes at least – to function as ‘answerers’, or ‘experts in this field’ …

And these ‘liberators’? … Well, they were only too happy to release you from your ‘prison of ignorance’ here, by ...(He stops still for a moment and rubs his chin as if searching for the right words, looks up with a start, knowingly, and then continues) … By bringing ‘light to bear’ on the subject ‘in hand’ (He grins at the audience) and so provide you with exactly what it is that you need to know, that is – with ‘inform-ation’… ….

For a ‘small consideration’ of course! … Which might take the form of a request for something as simple as permission to be allowed to wear a special hat; or to be furnished with three free square meals per day; or to be a provided with a suitable ‘companion’ of one’s choice, to help ‘warm up’ those cold nights!…

This was, I maintain – fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at these things – also the start of a damned sight more here … But I won’t be going into that right now…

Our first ‘mentor’ here then, would have been the first being to realize that ‘Knowledge is Power’, and that power over others can be acquired by ‘letting it be known’ how this knowledge can be had.

The means of providing this ‘knowledge’ can take many forms, and the manner of its ‘delivery’ – so to speak – provides an important part of, what you must admit, is a very neat little trick. …  “Read this very expensive and obscure, ancient book, written in an extinct language, that needs to be interpreted by ‘one who knows’”… “Travel to the dwelling place of this very special person, who lives in this place that is very difficult to get to, and be sure to formulate your questions as precisely as you can” … “Perform this special magic Yantra, using this very secret – and expensive – Mantra,” etc.etc. …

My particular, special, all -time favorite method here? … … “Hey babe! … Yes, you! … Fancy a bite of this apple?” ……

But if you do succumb to these …. enticements … these little …. temptations …. What do you think happens to you then? Do you imagine that, after taking a small bite of the metaphorical apple, you immediately, as a consequence, now ‘know’ how to tie every single knot in the ‘Scouts Handbook’? … Or, that after availing yourself of a larger helping, there has now, somehow or other, been downloaded into your ‘mind’, the entire contents of Wikipedia … Or that, if you grit your teeth and ‘swallow the lot’, as they say – including the core – you will now, somehow, completely understand your ‘significant other’ … (He looks at the audience quizzically) … Eh? (He looks irritated and somewhat exasperated). ….No! Not at all, ‘my lovelies’! …That’s not what happens!

What happens, is that you become simultaneously acutely aware of what this ‘knowing’ is about, and so now you’re filled with terror – not only because you  dimly realize that there are an infinity of ‘things that can be known’ – if I could put it like that for now…but also, the probable extent of your complete lack in this department…. Which all serves to fill you with despair.

You will now either: attempt to dull this realization with ‘riotous living’; or you will become filled with an insatiable desire to acquire even more ‘knowledge’, and so ‘fill the gap’.

Consequently there is now a real danger that, depending on your appetite for this ‘knowledge’, you can be persuaded to do almost anything to get it! ….

Something else you might like to ponder here … Once you ‘know’ what you want – ‘getting laid’ for instance – this ‘want’ of yours – ‘desire’ would be a better word here really – can now clearly be seen in your eyes by someone who is already ‘in the know’ here – at least where it concerns this ‘particular want’ of yours…. Call this a ‘gift’ that ‘goes with the job’ if you like….

With the result that there is now the distinct possibility that you will ‘conveniently’ find yourself in any number of situations where: a ‘deal’ can clearly be struck’; a ‘pact’ can readily be made; or a ‘bargain’ can be suitably ‘sniffed out’ (He clicks his remote and we see a Gustave Dore print from Goethe’s ‘Faust’, of Mephistopheles talking Faust into committing himself to the infernal pact. Sombre Orchestral music by Gounod is playing in the background. He continues talking).

In fact, it appears that the clearer you are about what it is you want to know, the easier it is for some ‘supplier’ to close the deal. ….

The medium of exchange? …Well that depends…. But whatever this medium of exchange happens to be, it’s only real purpose here is to bear concrete witness to the fact that a movement – or flow, if you prefer – of power has taken place.

Because the only consequences that are of any real importance here are – as a contemporary student of the Philosophy of Language might put it – ‘the conditions of satisfaction’ and ‘the direction of fit’…..Or, to put it in less technical language – ‘did you get what you believed you wanted’, and ‘was the ‘supplier’ paid in full’? … … And, most importantly, which one of you was it that actually made the profit here! (He clicks his remote and we see the video-clip of a finger pushing the ‘total’ button on an old-fashioned till, the till opening with the ring of a bell, and then the sound of coins jingling together as the hand withdraws both  coins and notes from the till, and subsequently handing them over the counter. He continues). 

A commodity can often be acquired just by performing a simple ritual – rituals are only regimented forms of investment anyway – such as, for example, pronouncing the following words – in the right setting of course – “With this ring I thee wed.”… ….

The payment here? … Well, let me see, “First there’s the engagement ring … Then there’s the wedding ring … And finally, there’s the suffer … ring!” (He roars with laughter) ….

The significant point here, is that you wouldn’t be able to ‘cut’ any deal at all, if you were unable to formulate what it was that you wanted. …. So you, first of all, need to possess the ability to construct these formulations. (He clicks the remote and we see a short clip of an old fashioned mechanical calculator with its many cog-wheels turning. We hear ‘program music’ fade up and down in the background. He continues)

And for that you need ‘rules’ that can produce results, or, as I prefer to hear them called, ‘Laws’ …..  As one of you down here so succinctly put it … “First ‘The Law’…. and then ‘Sin’.” (He roars with laughter again, almost choking)

Oh dear! … Am I starting to get too serious here? … Too near the mark for your liking? … Tell you what! … How about a story then? … Eh? (He moves over to the right of the screen, and sits down on the armchair).

Are you sitting comfortably… Then I’ll begin …

First of all, can I say that it fairly obvious to me that there are a lot of clever people here … I’d go even further … I see that many of you display ‘above-average intelligence’…. And I imagine that a few of you, at least, would be very interesting to talk to …

Indeed, I’d say the amount of knowledge that you have all managed to collect over the centuries, and that you now have made available to ‘one and all’, world-wide, today, is truly staggering! …. (He sits back in his chair as if considering his next remark, and then leans forward).

But would I say that, as a consequence of all this ‘hoarding’, you were …. ‘wise’? …(He roars with laughter, repeatedly bending backwards and forwards on the armchair as he does so, before struggling to speak). Dear me! … Oh, dear me! No! … …Wise? … … …

Being ‘wise’ isn’t having a treasure-trove of knowledge ‘in your head’, which you can subsequently dispense to others, in order, say, to ‘help’ them’ …  It is, rather, a word that is properly used to describe a relationship that you have …

‘Wisdom’ is ‘Sophia’ and she is not ‘something in your mind’… She is ‘something else’ altogether! … (He sits still, as we begin to hear the sound of a solo piano fading-up in the background).

There’s a very old story about this young lady that might help me to describe all this to you in a clearer light ….

Are we sitting comfortably? (He looks around) … Then I’ll begin! (He sits back, and begins to read from the large book, the title of which we can now clearly see,is ‘Monthly Chats’. The piano music fades).

Once upon a time, long ago, there was a young beautiful young girl. This beautiful young girl’s name was Sophia.

Sophia did something very naughty, and because she didn’t want to be found out she ran away from home.

Eventually she found herself stranded in Ancient Egypt. (He clicks the remote at his laptop, and on the screen we can now see the figure of a young woman, wearing a Greek toga, surrounded by desert, in front of an Egyptian pyramid, and standing next to a camel. In the background we can see a number of suspicious-looking men),

She is abducted, and, as a result, becomes the property of a group of unscrupulous men, who, after ravishing her, force her into prostitution….

And so now, here she is, working out of an unsavory down-town Alexandrian bar and forced to ‘turn tricks’ – as we like to call it today. (He turns to his laptop and gestures with his remote. The screen changes to show the same young lady, standing in the same door-way that we saw in a previous picture. Only now, over this door-way, a sign is hanging, on which is written the words ‘Thoth’s Tavern’ together with the painting of the figure of a man with the head of an Ibis. Our young lady is standing in the door-way, dressed in a skimpy, see-through, short toga, next to the same gaudily dressed young man, with the same pencil-thin mustache, sideburns, and greased, combed-back, straight, black hair, but who now has the head of dog-faced baboon).

In her despair, she cries out for help …

Enter our young hero, who has been sent down to earth to rescue Sophia, (He clicks the remote once again, and we now see a conventional, contemporary, messianic figure, with arms outstretched, hovering just above the ground. This figure has long, blond, wavy hair, a neatly trimmed full beard, piercing blue eyes, and is wearing a white robe).

However, our erstwhile hero is having a hard time, because, as a consequence of drinking buckets of Egyptian home-brew, he is now suffering from amnesia … And not only has he forgotten that he’s supposed to be a hero, but he’s also forgotten who it is that he’s supposed to rescue….

So, for the moment at least, here he is, still indulging himself in heavy drinking, fooling around, engaging in drunken brawling, and all that other good stuff. …

Anyway, one night he happens to stumble into ‘Thoth’s Tavern’, whereupon he sees Sophia in her wretched state, and immediately falls in love with her. The result of this is that, in a flash, he recalls who, and what, he is.

Our hero immediately tears into Sophia’s oppressors, and completely demolishes them –  so freeing her. (He clicks the remote and we see a video clip of the famous Charlie Chaplin ‘Custard-pie fight-cum-brawl’ – complete with frantic piano music. He continues) ….

They make good their escape, and ascend once more back to where they originally  came from. (He clicks the remote again, and we now see a clip from a 1930′s Flash Gordon movie, showing Flash’s space-ship heading up through the clouds. At the same time we hear very scratchy accompanying music) ….

To keep this short, I’ll just add that they get married, and live happily ever after…..(He clicks the remote again and we see a clip of the bride and groom staring into each others eyes and smiling, to the sound of triumphant wedding music. As we hear the final chord the video clip does a slow fade).

Look….I’ve cut a few corners in this story, and changed it a little here and there to suit the modern palate, but I think you all get the idea. …(He gets up from the chair and puts the book back down).

First of all … before I tell you the point of this ‘story’, you must appreciate that you can only ever possess, at best, what you’re prepared to pay for …Most of the time you won’t even get that….

And one of the biggest mistakes you can ever make is to claim that you, or someone you know, ‘possesses’ … Wisdom.

You can’t do that!… You can’t ‘possess’ Wisdom! ….

I’ll repeat that … it’s very, very, very,  important. … You can never ‘possess’ Wisdom’ … … (He moves downstage to the footlights before saying, very clearly) … You can only ever  ‘Love Wisdom’. ….

‘Wisdom’ is freely given, and it is cherished by those who become, as a consequence of receiving this gift, ‘wise’. …

Thus, if you come to be ‘wise’….It will only be because you were truly ‘loving’….

If you ‘believe’ – that is, if you ‘live your life as if it were true’ – that you actually ‘possess’ wisdom, then what you are guilty of doing is turning Sophia into a whore. … into an object, like any other object – such as an idea, or a concept – that you can now attempt to trade for as many of those other things that you happen to desire … That you wish to possess…. For instance: for notoriety; for celebrity; for wealth; for political power; to be seen as ‘doing good’; etc etc. 

And what does doing that make you? …. It makes you a ‘pimp’ … or a ‘madam’! …

And because Wisdom is always freely given, this means that, at any moment, there is always the nagging possibility that ‘Facilitators of Knowledge’, like you and me could find ourselves redundant …. ‘Out of business!’ ……’On the dole!’ …”Hovering around the letter-box waiting for our ‘welfare cheque’ to arrive’! … ….What a bummer! ….(He clicks his remote, and we now see a black and white still of Vladimir and Estrogen, the two tramps from ‘Waiting for Godot’, standing next to the tree, on which is hanging a large red apple. They are both smiling).

On the bright side though …. We’ll probably be waiting for that to happen to us for a very, very, long time…

I, for one, can’t ever see it happening!….. (He stands completely still for a long pause).

Well? Shall we go? ….

Yes, let’s go. …. (He remains completely still on stage during a very prolonged  fade to blackout – except for a small solo spotlight which continues to illuminate the red apple on the screen)

From ‘Field-notes for Armageddon’ by Bob Hardy.

Eugene Halliday ‘In the flesh’ (continued). 

 The first time I saw Eugene Halliday speak ‘in person’ was in Parkland’s ‘theater space’  at one of the regular monthly Sunday-night meetings of Ishval. I turned around in my seat just in time to see him coming through the entrance doorway, descend the flight of stairs – that went past the seated audience – onto the floor space immediately in front of the stage, then up onto the  raised stage itself, before finally sitting down.

During this ‘entrance’, Eugene Halliday was physically supported by David Mahlowe, whose help was obviously needed  here.

At that time, I knew nothing at all of the fact that Eugene Halliday suffered from a physical disability, or (obviously) of the  cause, or extent, of this disability.

But, from a number of individual accounts I have heard since, I would say that, at some time during his early teens, Eugene Halliday contracted, what I believe to have been, poliomyelitis,  which left him with extensive damage to the whole of the left side of his body. Such that, not only had he completely lost the use of his left arm and leg, but he had also sustained a speach impediment which, although it was barely noticeable in those recordings made of his talks in the 1960′s,  can be clearly heard in subsequent recordings made during the mid 1980′s, up until his death in 1987.

Eugene Halliday’s disability is central to my understanding of him as a human being. As I maintain that, as a consequence of this disability, it became a matter of necessity for him to establish, and subsequently maintain, a continuous, conscious, dialogue with his own body, in order to exercise the degree of control it had become necessary for him to employ, simply in order to function here. And as a direct consequence of this, he also acquired a unique, experiential, understanding of its inter-function, and complex interrelation with, both his ‘feeling’ and ‘thinking’. His subsequent ability to co-ordinate these functions to the extraordinary degree that he was able to so, is obvious – to me at least. So I won’t be wasting any of my time here by elaborating on it … Only to stress that it informs my opinion as to the legitimacy of any claim regarding the valorizing of any one person’s favorite physical pursuit as being something that Eugene Halliday specifically recommend we should all do  … I would recommend that instead, you follow his example, but caution that, “It aint what you do, it’s the way that you do it’.

This ‘first hand’ experience, that I believe Eugene Halliday went through, I see as informing much of his earlier writings; and it also explains to me his connection with the ‘Healing Ministry’ during the 1950′s, a period in his life when he also produced a number of significant ideas. it also explains to me his uncanny ability to empathize – that is, he was, as a result of working on his own internal states, able to ‘see others’, and so put himself in their place.

Why would all this have to be of such importance to me? Well … Because once I was able to focus on Eugene Halliday as a typical human being, it was very relatively easy for me to filter out all the mystical jumbo-jumbo that was (regretably), and still is, floating around ‘out there’ about the man. Instead I appreciated – where I was able – what a truly remarkable man he had ‘made himself to be’ despite his initial obvious initial, severe, disadvantages. …. Which served to give me some encouragement here, as it put me in the position where any claim by me that I was ‘having a hard time with all this’ made me sound like a spineless, whinging, wimp.

I’m going to leave this now…But here are (some of) my notes on one particular aspect of this subject – if you’re interested. Process: knowledge + understanding; describe + explain

“We tried to talk it over, but the words got in the way.”

(It’s all in the words … But then again, maybe it isn’t).

 I have mentioned, in a number of earlier posts, Eugene Halliday’s ‘suggestion’ from his Rules of Ishval, concerning the converting of one’s ‘passive’ language into an ‘active’ language.

This recommendation of Eugene Halliday’s constitutes, for me, the most important piece of advice that he gave, as it provided me with a methodology for arriving at some understanding, at least, of the concepts contained in his various writings and  talks.

Thus, the contemplation of my own language, and the subsequent attempts by me to activate as much of it as I have been able, has governed entirely (I now see) my degree of success (or failure) here.

According to Eugene’s recommendations in the original ‘Rules of Ishval’ it might appear that, by the judicious use of a dictionary, together with an etymological reference book, we can convert something he refers to as our ‘passive language’ into our ‘active language’. Please note, that he does not go into any specific details here as to what a ‘passive’ or ‘active’ language might consist in.

I could add here that this recommendation of his sounds simple enough, in fact, what could be easier? But the trouble is – that as it stands – it doesn’t work! …. Not for me anyway.

Having said that, I believe that almost anyone would still be better off as a result of trying out this exercise, even if they do not succeed in converting their ‘passive language’ into an ‘active’ one. And I would also add that, if you have tried out these particular rules as an exercise yourself, you will likely come to appreciate that there is indeed, a great deal more involved here.

Perhaps the most important aspect of these rules is the suggestion that this ‘active language’ is to be subsequently employed in the task of précis·ing major writings on the subjects of art; science; religion; etc etc. But I believe that, if you attempt to do so, this ‘definition-cum-etymological’ approach to language will soon land you in the following, paradoxical, situation.

After doing the required ‘definition/etymology’ background research for any particular word of our choice, you soon find that you have created another, far more complex problem regarding the definitions and etymologies of those words that have gone into making up this definition…. That is, how are you now going to proceed with those words that are contained in this (required) definition that are also ( still) components of your ‘passive’ language?”

In trying to figure a way out of this problem, I thought it might be a good idea to adopt some form of ‘reductionist’ or ‘minimalist’ approach here. Such that I should not first attempt to ‘activate’ words that might have merely captured my attention – such as, ‘form’; ‘antelope’; ‘function’; ‘fornicate’; ‘lawnmower’; ‘truth’; ‘truss’; ‘sawdust; ‘beauty’; ‘marmite’, for instance – but instead, I should seek out words that – for the sake of quickly describing them here – are  ‘sort of’ simpler, or ‘more basic’ – almost ‘proto-words’, if you like …. The serious problem I now had though – and had for a considerable length of time afterwards – was that of coming up with (even) one of these ‘proto-words’..

From the late 1970′s, until the late 1980′s then, I was aware that this was a huge barrier for me here. But I ‘kept at it’ because I didn’t see how I could really get any further until I’d cleared this up.

My feeling here was that there was something about all this that I still wasn’t ‘getting’ … although I suspected that what it was that I wasn’t ‘getting’ was right there under my nose; and that somehow I already knew all that I needed to know here to move forward. But that this information was in some other ‘area’, and I just couldn’t ‘see it’ from the point of view of my attempt at activating my own language skills. But this belief that I would find it, served to keep me searching for ways out of this dilemma, and this problem was always hovering there at the edge of my consciousness.

I suppose I could put a positive slant on this ‘little hiccup of mine’ and claim that perhaps I was simply learning to acquire ‘patience’  …. But it would be more correct, probably, to come right out with it, and admit that, in the main, I was just stumbling about …

Anyway, I did eventually get that break-through …but I have to admit that it did seem to come my way quite by chance…

Sometime during the late 80’s-early ‘90’s when I was working in Vienna – a city I was reasonably familiar with – my wife, Jean, and I took the opportunity to visit an exhibition that featured the work of the German Artist, Joseph Beuys.

One of the exhibits on display, was what Beuys referred to as, an ‘Audio Sculptutial’. This work was recorded by him in 1968, and consisted of almost sixty-five minutes of him speaking the words, “Ja, Ja, ja, Ne, Ne, Ne.” ..

The setting for this ‘Audio Sculptutial’ work, was a small, empty, room, in the corner of which was a medium-sized commercial audio-tape player (rather like a Ghetto Blaster).

Jean and I stood in the open doorway of the room and listened to the recording.

[NOTE: Regarding these two words 'Yes' and 'No'. To save you the trouble of looking up their dictionary definition, and also their etymological roots, I have reproduced  this information here. It is taken from the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’  and ‘Origins’ by Eric Partridge .

YES . Definition: A word used to express an affirmative reply to a question, statement, command, etc. Etymology: Yea archaic for yes, comes, through ME ye or ya. Etc..

NO. Definition: word used to express a negative reply to a question, request, etc., or to introduce a correction of an erroneous opinion or assumption on the part of another person. Etymology: ME derives from OE .]

Not to labour the point, there doesn’t seem to be that much to either the definitions, or the etymologies, of  these ‘two little words’. …

Anyway … To get on with the tale …

As I listened to this ‘Audio Sculptutial’ of Beuys’, it hit me that what I was hearing was an example of that proto ‘active language’ that I had been searching for. Something was happening to me as I listened to the recording, that was a direct consequence of attending to Beuys’ voice …. I was being manipulated by his use of the words ‘Ja’ and ‘Ne’… But I was simultaneously immediately aware also, that the information contained in the actual words themselves – devoid of their mode of utterance that is – was next to nothing.

The central idea regarding ‘active language’ that I was to initially ‘work’ on for a considerable time afterwards, revolved around the experience that hearing ‘active’ language invoked in me…. I suddenly realized that there was a component in language that could be completely divorced from any particular semantic content, and (very much later) it also dawned on me that this component was contained only in the spoken form..

To illuminate this idea with an obvious example here – It is possible to be emotionally affected by listening to someone speak in a foreign language, even if you have no idea what the words themselves signify … Obviously you could get the ‘meaning’ completely wrong, but that is not the point I’m making here  – which is that you can be ‘passive’ (even in this instance) in your ‘reception’ anyway. …. That is, you can be manipulated emotionally.

I fully appreciate, by the way, that this is rather obvious. But, for me, so were many of the profound things that Eugene Halliday spoke of….  The trouble is that, even if they are ‘obvious’ ,  these ‘obvious’ ideas still have to be present in your consciousness before you can claim that they are ‘obvious’ … And as you can only ‘work’ with these ‘obvious’ contents of consciousness when you focus on them, they have to be there at the ‘opportune moment’. …

Which is why being ‘reactive’ never works here. Saying, “I already know that!” or “That’s obvious!” only serves to ‘switch the light off’, with the result that there is now no possibility of going further here at this time, and also that this idea has now already been in some real way ‘minimized’ as unimportant, or rather trivial, with the probable outcome that it will never be worked upon …

‘It’s all in the timing’ you might say.

Of course, I was later to shift my ‘working’ perspective here, as I contemplated this event in my life over the coming … well, decade or so actually … and I will elaborate on this later in the next post. But before continuing …. why don’t you have a listen to the recording yourself?

The important thing to focus on here is to be continuously aware of how your interior state is changing during the course of listening to the playback of this recording.

Those of you who can  sit for hours attending to your breathing, will obviously find this exercise ‘a walk in the park’.     Ja Ja Ja, Ne Ne Ne.

I have not been able to find any word(s) that have helped me to understand Eugene Halliday’s concept of an ‘active/passive’ language  that are more ‘basic’ to the whole field of ‘language’ than ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ ..

Some input from me here. …It wasn’t that my mind wasn’t ‘wandering’ when I listened to this recording – because it did! What was far more interesting to me here was that, although there was no obvious way I could connect these two words ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ to the thoughts that would arise as I listened to them, I realized that the emotive tone used by Beuys here was directly responsible for their appearance …… Deep, eh?

But, over and above anything else here, the most important aspect of this experience, by far, was that I found it relatively easy to reflect on this whole process as it was happening to me in ‘the here and now’, in such a way that the Ram Das phrase ‘Be Here Now’ took on a completely different – and more importantly – clear, experiential, element, which served to authenticate this whole process for me.

I could clearly perceive the part played by the artist in his use of active language; his control of my passive involvement as a consequence of my listening (of my ‘attending’, if you prefer); and the fact that unbidden thoughts were appearing (I was not ‘thinking’ about anything while I was listening).

The way in which his tone of voice  affected my positive and negative states was also reasonably easy to qualify and evaluate.

I believed that, where it concerned active and passive forms of language, I was, at last, onto something here, . The problem now, was to formulate, or systematize, this experience of mine into some mode of praxis, so that I could take all this further.

I was really excited by this discovery of mine … I believed it had (finally) opened a door for me, and that I could now develop an experiential position with respect to both the ‘affect’ and ‘effect’ of my vocabulary, and thus with the development of that ‘active’ language … At last! …..

…..And they all lived happily ever after…

Well now ….The above account of mine is the nice, tidy, lovey, censored, chummy-chummy, version of my interaction with this ‘revelation’ that I had in Vienna, over the following couple of decades – and so in one sense, at least, I could claim that it is ‘true’…. And anyway, the above account does, I hope, make that experience of mine somewhat easier to grasp.

But, actually, what did actually happen afterwards was nowhere near as tidy as that. Because, of course, in reality – come the next day … in downtown Vienna -. I had all but forgotten about my momentous revelation of the previous day. … And had gotten right back to having fun, playing’ the blues … and being in my more usual frame of mind at that time – which resembled a kind of  ’selective amnesia’ ….

Such was my propensity for self-delusion though, that I believed I was now really, truly ‘on the way’ here … although I had in fact – so to speak – only just managed to open the door  … and had then. almost immediately, managed to trip up on the front step  …(Is it just me, or is that metaphor slightly better than my other efforts),..

So, where it concerned my discovery of the previous day, it was still, for the overwhelming majority of the time afterwards, simply ‘business as usual’ …In fact, for all the good that this ‘revelatory experience’ did me at the time, I might just as well have woken up the next day with no memory of anything … suffering from a hangover … in  Ancient Egypt!…

But at least now, I was finally ‘in the right area’… …And on reflection, unlike those ‘switched on’ episodes of a second or two that I had occasionally experienced after listening to one to Eugene Halliday’s talks ‘in person’ back in the early 1980′s. … ‘Down the line’ here in the early 1990′s, I was now experiencing ‘being awake’ for …Oh, I don’t know … maybe ten seconds at a time …. (Perhaps a little less, if  I were to be strictly honest with myself, though) …

So these ‘awake’ periods were, although marginally more frequent, still few and far between … But I was completely under the delusion that they were lasting much longer than they actually were, and that I was having for more of them than I actually was ….which, you can understand, complicated things ..

… Oh! What a angled web …. etc ….

I will carry on with this ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ thing in the next post …

Gripping stuff, hey? …

To be continued ……..  

Bob Hardy

August, 2012


 

(The stage is blacked-out. We hear a man singing and humming the chorus of a late-1960′s pop song. The lights fade-up to reveal the interior of an office. The singer is seated, center stage, at a over-sized desk-cum-lectern, the top of which is empty, except for an ornate. square, glass ink-well full of black ink, in front of which is a very large, old fashioned, quill penHe is wearing pince-nez spectacles, black-and-white oxford-style shoes, an old-fashioned, Dickensian black suit, a white shirt with an exaggerated stiff wing-collar, underneath which is a slightly over-sized, black, floppy bow-tie.)

But where do you go to my lovely
When you’re  mm .. mm in mm .. mm

(He looks up, as if seeing the sudience for the first time, before continuing on in a slightly louder voice)

Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head …

(From time to time he writes in a large and expensive looking leather-bound book. As the scene opens he is holding this book up in front of his face, as if reading it. On the front cover we can clearly see, in bold, capital, letters, the words, ‘MONTHLY CHATS’. He puts the book down and picks up the quill-pen, which he will  from now on, when he writes in this book, frequently, and aggressively, dip into the ink-well.

All his movements are exaggerated, and in-between short periods of writing frantically, he stops to look up and begins talking loudly to himself – as if working out verbally what it is that he will write next. We can hear him clearly. 

Paragraph breaks in the script indicate that he has resumed his writing for the moment – unless stage directions indicate otherwise. 

He begins to speak, in a slightly condescending tone of voice).

I do so love some of those old ’60′s songs! … Don’t you?  …. I mean they’re so . . . . pretentious! … …. A bit like the ’60′s themselves really…But, to be fair, there did seem to be so much more going on back then, didn’t there? … So much more … happening! … And the future — it looked so-o … rosy! …Didn’t it? (He begins singing and humming to himself again, and briefly resumes writing)

But where do you go to my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed

M mmm mmm mm ……..”

And just where do you go to my lovely? … … Or I should say, “My lovelies?” (He laughs)…. Well, of course, you don’t ever go anywhere … really … do you? … It just  seems ..to you .. that you do! (He taps the desk with his pen) 

Because, actually … you are, in fact, permanently … … that is to say ‘only ever ‘… right here ‘under your own noses’  – so to speak … Aren’t you?… Or perhaps it would be pertinent – in this case at least – to say, ‘OVER your own noses!’ (He laughs, suddenly, very loudly, and almost loses his spectacles).

And that makes for yet another one of those really scary ideas that it doesn’t do for you to ponder over for too long. Doesn’t it? …One that’s inclined to make you fidget nervously, and mutter things like, “Well … Er… … Anyway!….,” – before doing your best to forget about the whole thing as quickly as possible … … Until the next time – that is!

I seem to remember it was a Greek fellow ….What was his name now? …. ‘Gorgeous’ Gorgias! .. Ye-es!…. That’s it! …. He came up with this same idea about two and half thousand years ago. … What did he call it now? …(He puts his finger to his mouth and looks upwards as if concentrating) … ‘Solipsism’!! …That was it! … You’re locked-up, all alone, inside what you believe is your head, and there’s no way to prove that you aren’t just ‘imagining’ all the stuff, including all the people, that are ‘out there’ …

And I can assure you, that no one ‘way-back then’ liked discussing this idea either!  … But to be fair, I do have to admit that – as an idea – it is definitely something of a ‘show stopper’!… ….

That’s because, in one sense … deep down … you already suspect that there isn’t anywhere ‘to go to my lovelies’ …. Not really! …Is there? .. You’re stuck where you are, so to speak! … And that makes you very nervous …  Because you might now have to start admitting to yourself that wherever ‘it‘ actually is … you’ve already … arrived …You’re already ‘there‘! …. … Or … if it’s the case that you’re not sure at all where ‘there‘ actually is, you’re quite sure you are … definitely … at least … ‘somewhere … or other’. … And, wherever else you might be,  it’s  certainly  not ‘out there‘! … … … Eh?

You’re even inclined to agree that you might be some kind of prisoner in fact – ‘locked-up inside your own head’ … wouldn’t you?  …. (He stares ahead vacantly for a moment, before quickly resuming in his agitated, exaggerated, manner)

And if you start to think about all this business too much …. you might find yourself becoming so traumatized by the whole idea, that it starts to become unbearable, and consequently you find that – like it or not – you’re just going to have to try to do something about it, and make ‘in here’ a suitable place ‘to be’.… And sooner, rather than later! …

So you now attempt to improve your situation ‘in here’ by – if I can put this metaphorically for you … ‘Organizing the attic’… or ‘Throwing away the trash’ … ‘Cleaning the den up a bit’ … or perhaps ‘Tickling up the spare room’ and ’Rattling those pots and pans’; … or maybe ‘Trimming down the library’ …. and even ‘Weeding the garden’, before deciding that you really must ‘Re-vamp the basement!’…… (He pauses for a moment, as if out of breath). Yes indeed! … If you start to look at your situation  this way, then it definitely is ‘in here‘ that’s your real problem … isn’t it? …  And not ‘out there‘ at all! ….So come on then! …. For heaven’s sake! …Let’s ‘go to it’, ‘get at it’ … and start to ‘sort the place out’! … … That’s the spirit! …(He leans forward and pretends to frantically dust and polish the surface of his desk for a moment or two, before flinging himself across it and almost losing his spectacles again. He lies completely still for a moment, as if completely exhausted, eventually looking up again, before continuing).

On the other hand though – sadly – it’s just as easy to convince yourself that you really do have lots of things that you ‘simply must do’ ….but that you definitely have to do them ‘out there‘ instead … and not ‘in here’ at all!…

And let’s admit right away that ‘doing stuff’ out there’ has the advantage that it can be so much more …diverting! …. It can also add a great deal of ‘real enjoyment’ to your life, can’t it? …. All that moving around! …. Peering at things! … Indeed, these are the sorts of activities that seem to make life ‘worthwhile’ … almost … aren’t they? …

But the problem is that, in order to try to be a ‘go-getter’ in the big wide world ‘out there‘ … in the attempt, it’s more than likely that you’ll become a slave to those never-ending, interminable, meetings and discussions that never seem to ever really go anywhere …And you’ll also find yourself involved in the forging and breaking of innumerable alliances and relationships that you somehow continually keep drifting into … And what about those same monotonous day to day worries, over, and over, and over again! … Grinding you down! …

(He puts on an exagerated sad expression). Oh dear, oh dear … poor you! ….

On the plus side though, getting involved ‘out there’ … ‘Getting your hands dirty’, as you like to call it – can also sometimes turn out to be useful…. Because if you do attempt to apply yourself to all those tasks ‘out there’, then you quite often have to learn mountains of ‘useful’ stuff – and so it’s possible … perhaps … that you might even end up remembering some of it! … Such that you become ‘a person to take notice of’… Somebody with ‘an armory of facts and figures at their fingertips’, that can subsequently be ‘trotted out’ at will, to impress the neighbors with …

And if you really ‘apply yourself’? … Well, the sky’s the limit isn’t it? … Indeed, it’s entirely possible that you might even be invited to assume the mantle of the ‘local expert’ … The ‘know-it-all’! …. Our very own ‘wise-man’!…(He moves out from the desk and begins to pace up and down)

You know the sort of person I’m talking about, I’m sure! … He has a ‘bit of a reputation’ …He’s everyone’s favorite ‘Ale-House Lawyer’ … He’s the ‘ever-ready, willing, and able’, benevolent dispenser of ‘good advice’ and ‘sound common sense’. …and reckoned to be a ‘true friend’ to ‘one and all’ … Forever telling everybody and anybody, what it is that they should all be doing ’out there’!….

I can hear him now … “Go on then! …. Of you go and you get stuck in!…Make a name for yourself! …I don’t mind … Really! ….  I’ll just stay here and hold your coat!” ……. 

Be the ‘expert’ … That’s it! …  … It’s so much more rewarding! … And when it becomes obvious, – even to you – that it’s well past the time for you to get up off your behind and do some actual work on yourself for a change, you can stick your chest out and say, “I know! …I really should ….  But as you all surely must have noticed by now, I have sacrificed all my time down here for the selfless task of ‘administering to you – my flock … My precious ‘charges’.'” …..(He grins, and looks directly out, addressing the audience)  …  

Sorry to say … but that’s not going to ‘cut the mustard’ for you at all! (He looks over his left shoulder and shouts)…. Next!!  (He sits down again and sticks the end of the pen in his mouth for a moment, then dips it in the ink, before holding it over the book while he  resumes talking).

And working the other side of the fence ‘out here’, by placing yourself at the receiving end of someone else’s  ’good advice…Putting your faith and your future in the hands of another? … Well my lovelies! …(He pretends to take a deep breath, and continues to speak without pausing). I’m sorry to have to inform you, that this approach is no automatic guarantee of success here either! … Even if this ‘guru’ – that you imagine it’s been your blessed good fortune to ‘happened upon’ – did come ‘highly recommended’, and on ‘the best authority’. And that your success at ingratiating yourself here involved you in a great deal of effort to somehow wangle yourself a ‘special invite’, which, as a result, led you to believe that you had, at last, become the deserving member of some enlightened band of worthies – ‘The Elect’. The defining characteristic of which was that they had all somehow deluded themselves into believing that they possessed exclusive access to what they were pleased to label – ‘The Truth’…(He falls forward, as if out of breath, almost banging his head on the desk and losing his spectacles in the process, before continuing at a more normal pace).

Because  you soon discover that you can also easily delay things here, by simply continuing to come up with an endless series of ‘reasonable objections’ or ‘sincere questions’, whenever you start to feel that you might actually be required to do something….And, of course, you’ve still always got that ‘ace up your sleeve’ – the option to simply ‘blame the messenger’! So that it will always seem, to the casual observer at least, that your failure to ‘move on’ here is always someone else’s fault; and this, you protest, is really the only reason why you haven’t got off your behind yet. … “Honestly!:”   … 

But this lack of real progress on your part is hardly surprising, is it?  Particularly as you’ve been investing most of your energy into figuring out ways of  blaming other people … or faulting the treatment … Or – if you’re really good at all this –  of eating vast quantities of ‘humble pie’ by ‘admitting’ your inability to understand what’s going on here (“I’m so ‘not worthy’!…But I’m really trying!”) …In the vain hope that you will somehow be given a ‘free pass’ …because of your humility and  ’sincere faith’ here.

But interestingly, however ‘badly’ you’re faring, you somehow always manage to ‘land on your feet’ ….. Now .. I wonder how on earth you manage to pull that little trick off? ….Let me guess (He pretends to answer his own question) “Who? … Little ol’ me? … I’m just lucky, I guess!” (He leers at the audience)

I know! … I know! … I do appreciate that you do so mean to get started! … But you want to be absolutely sure that you know what to do before you do it, don’t you?. …. “Hey! … That’s reasonable isn’t it?”… None of that ‘leap of faith’ business for you … “Just gimme the facts!” …

And then …..Tut, tut! …. “Oh dear! … It’s too late! …Never mind! … I did so want to get started here, but it just wasn’t to be!… Although, you must agree, I did … sincerely … try my very best! ” (He grins, and looks directly out, addressing the audience) ….. Sorry! .. …  That won’t work either! …(He looks over his left shoulder and shouts) Next!! 

What shall we do then? … What to do! … What to do! … Oh! What shall we do?  …(He stands up) …..

Well … I do have to admit that it appears you were only presented with a very limited choice of options here….. So if I could give you, perhaps, a flavor of how I see, and hear, all this …. It might help you to understand your situation somewhat.  …… …. Perhaps! (He grins) …. But please appreciate that it’s one thing for me to describe something like this to someone like you, and another thing entirely to explain it! … … That being understood, nonetheless we shall try … … My lovelies! (He moves out to the side of his desk)

 First things first! … In order for beings like you to become involved in anything at all, whatever it is you decide to do, you need to be convinced that – if you ‘apply yourself properly’ – you will realize a profit of some kind …. For our purposes here, it doesn’t matter what particular form this profit might take. It only matters here you understand that you will only ever attempt to do anything at all if it will secure you an apparent gain of some sort ….Like. for instance… (He gesticulates wildly as if searching for something to say)….Like a place in heaven! (He roars with laughter’ almost choking himself, and struggling once again to keep his spectacles in place)…. But whatever form this gain might take, it will obviously be an ‘increase in power’ for you … of some kind at least.

So …. Off you go! …Your options for moving forward here are, you believe – for the moment – that you can acquire this power either by ‘sorting yourself out’ ‘in here‘; or by absorbing information ’out there‘ in such a way that you eventually ‘sincerely understand all things’ and thus will be ‘illuminated’; or alternatively, by dishing out your own brand of ‘special illumination’ ‘out there’ that you have ‘selflessly acquired for the benefit of  others, in the fond belief that this will turn you into some sort of ‘Spiritual Aid’ (or whatever) and this will thus garnish you with a significant number of ‘bonus points’  …

The trouble is, as you’ve discovered, you soon find that whichever of these alternatives you pursue … and however diligently  … you never seem to manage to get very far!… …(He wrings his hands and paces a little).

And in fact, your suspect that, not only have your actions here not seen you realize that profit you were striving so desperately to acquire, but rather instead, they appear (on the surface at least) to  have resulted in a considerable loss on your part …. In that you find you have squandered a great deal of your precious time for almost nothing … And this baffles you, because, when you began, you were so sure that you were committing your limited resources to realize – what you were so certain at the time was going to result in – an apparent gain…. (He peers out at the audience with a theatrically sad expression on his face, draws a large polka-dotted handkerchief from his trouser pocket, and blows his nose loudly, almost losing his spectacles again in the process) … 

Would you like me to tell you what’s going on here? … What  the direct cause of this ‘loss’ of yours is? ….What it is that is really going on?…(He pauses dramatically for affect, standing still, and then says, suddenly) 

All this is quite simply a direct consequences of  your greed …. And nothing else! … ‘Greed’ being simply this inability of yours to profit from, what you believed at the time would certainly constitute, your apparent gain!

Try to appreciate that you can have a greed for not being greedy, and that you can even develop a greed for acting generously … Feel youreself doing that …. Because everything that you apparently ‘acquire’…. That is, everything you are attracted to – even down to your ‘significant other’ ….. you seek to acquire simply in order to empower you! … And the fact that these ‘gains’ don’t empower you, just means that you’ve been greedy!

And there are so many of these … things … that you want! … Aren’t there? …..Material objects; various physical skills; aesthetic sensibilities; knowledge; relationships; control of other people’s time and energy; to be useful to others … The list just goes on and on! …

When you can see, and hear, all this as I do, there’s a possibility – but not a certainty, by any means – that you can at least appreciate what it is that you have actually been indulging in for so long …

And then you might come to view your behavior as possessing a sort of  ….cosmic humor . …. as being somewhat ridiculous … Mightn’t you? …You might come to see yourself as rather stupid in fact!

And you can then appreciate that this greed of yours is in fact a consequence of your stupidity … But – and this is where it becomes really mysterious – you can also appreciate that you are stupid solely because of your greed! . …And that’s a bit of a bummer, isn’t it? ….

But don’t worry my lovelies, at least  you’ve reached the point now where you might, at last, begin to realize, that what you are doing for most of your time down here, is going around, and around, and around ….. as if you had your head stuck up your own ass! … (He almost chokes with  laughter, nearly dislodging his  spectacles again)…. 

Your greedy because you’re stupid, and you’re stupid because you’re greedy! … …. Magic!(He sits down again and picks up his pen once more and becomes very serious)

But don’t imagine for one moment that just because you can now see yourself behaving stupidly … because of your appetite for these particular interests of yours … that these interests in themselves were necessarily intended only for stupid people! ….

I am trying to show you all this because I know that you see and hear the same things that I see and hear… The contents of consciousness are essentially the same for all reflexive beings … for the sane and the insane alike. …But also understand that everything that happens here,  in this game that we play ….whatever it is we do … depends entirely upon the attitude and strength of that consciousness – for each and every being involved! (He puts down his pen)

So, if I might presume to give you a word of advice. … (He puts his hand to the side of his mouth, as if talking to the audience in secret) Not a problem for me .. because I’m almost certain that you won’t act upon it ….

Commit yourself totally to looking and listening first, before you decide what course of action to take  … Then acquire definite ‘attitudes’ … Your own particular way of looking at things. …Develop some ‘character’  …Build yourself a backbone ….

Work on acquiring the biggest ego that you can. So that when you finally surrender … (and, if you only but knew, that’s really the whole purpose of all this) … you will actually have something of your own to ‘bring to the table’ here.  … A real profit of some kind; something that might even generate a little interest ….Something valuable to you … for you to ‘give up’ … For you to sacrifice! … (He picks up his pen and pauses, before speaking once more) … ….

(He pauses and cocks a hand to his ear) What’s that you say? …”Is this, then, what you might call, ‘Self-knowledge’”… … Do I hear you ask? …. ….. 

No, no, no! …Not at all! … That … is a completely different animal, my lovely! ….. (He looks over his left shoulder and shouts)… Next!

(He puts down the pen, stands up, and starts to sing again, while moving slowly towards the footlights at the front and center of the stage)

“I know where you go to my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed …”

(He stands still. He seems to have suddenly become very tired. His shoulders droop and he lowers his head. When he looks up, his whole demeanor is now much calmer, and he begins to speak again, using a slightly more reassuring tone).  You know, whenever I gaze upon the images of the faces you conjure up in your mind of those people that you revere  … (Slightly louder) ….It really is amazing .. But they always seem to look like me! … Or, if not like me, then like a very close relative of mine! (His voice goes suddenly quiet)….And you know … I have never been able to decide whether I find that flattering (He pauses)…. or intensely offensive! (He laughs, and then suddenly stands up very straight, spreads his arms wide, lifts up his head , and sings  the last two lines of the song with gusto) 

“I know the thoughts that surround yoo – ooo – ooo – ooo!..”

(He clicks his heels together, bows stiffly to the audience, and sings the last line – staccato) 

“CAUSE.. I.. CAN.. LOOK.. INSIDE.. YOUR.. HEAD!”

( Stage – Immediate  full black-out)

SONG: Where Do You Go To (My Lovely)
Words and music by Peter Sarstedt © EMI Music Publishing 1969 

From ‘Field-notes for Armageddon’ by Bob Hardy

Prologue 

 ”For the stupid, everything depends upon circumstances” - Eugene Halliday.

I’m going to start here by fast-forwarding to the mid-1990′s, which was round about when I decided that it was about time to come off the road, stop enjoying myself so much, and attempt to get myself a proper job.

To that end I embarked upon a few years of, what is laughingly referred to as, ‘re-training,’ and in the process got myself a teaching degree (amongst other things) - a task that involved a great deal of reading up on, and pondering over, the teaching process – and particularly, in my case at least, where this process concerns, what is referred to in the profession as, the ‘needs’ of  the ‘Adult Learner’…

One of the more common situations that teachers of ‘Further and Adult Education’ very often come across, arises as a direct consequence of the uninformed opinion that prospective learners somehow clobber together regarding their particular ‘subject of interest’, and into which they are now about to (hopefully) invest both their hard-earned cash, together with a significant portion of their valuable leisure time.

The learner’s understanding of the contents of this prospective ‘subject of interest’ (an interest that quite often borders on an obsession)  is then, regrettably – at least initially, and for the most part – almost entirely imaginary.

Also, the realization of the degree of difficulty that will actually be involved in attempting to assimilate the real contents of this ‘subject of interest’, will be deliberately minimized. And our learner will, more often than not – at least initially – tend to override any vague misgivings, or even serious doubts, that they might have here, by simultaneously attempting to maintain an unbridled, over-enthousiastic, and clearly unsustainable interest, while all the time insisting that they do possess ‘what it takes’ to see them safely through to completion. ….

Well – as our learner here has largely imagined that they ‘sort-of know’ the over-all contents of their subject of choice before they start; and also, incidentally, that they have, as a simple matter of course, understood the respective roles and motives of both themselves and their teacher in this enterprise, their confidence is hardly surprising…. Is it?

Another fairly common obstacle the learner might also have to face when they begin applying themselves to their ‘studies’, and which they are, more often than not, particularly vulnerable to, is that of being mesmerized by (what is referred to in the teaching profession as) a ‘charismatic teacher’.

This mode of subject delivery (charismatic teaching) more often than not produces a distinctly unhealthy learning environment, in which the  personality of the ‘teacher’ rapidly achieves more significance in our learner’s scheme of things than the ideas and concepts contained in the actual subject material itself.

Indeed, when this is the case, often the most trivial, half-understood, fragments of some idea or other, will magically be transformed into ‘informed opinion’, to be trotted out at every available opportunity by the hapless learner in an attempt by them to convince others (and, more tragically, themselves) that they ‘really understand what’s going on here’. Usually by prefacing whatever it is that they feel compelled to say with the name of the teacher, followed by the words, ‘”said to me,” followed by some kind of – usually mangled, but thankfully extremely short – homily.

Further, more often than not, even though this somewhat unseemly stampede to join the ranks of ‘those in the know’ here is never quite realized by the learner, both parties involved (learner and teacher that is) somehow manage to simultaneously, and instinctively, develop the necessary skills required for avoiding anyone and anything that might ‘rock the boat’ here in this regard….. By the way, in my opinion this relationship is a wonderful, and somewhat exotic, example of  what Eugene Halliday referred to as, ‘The Tacit Conspiracy’.

And as, in the field of ‘Adult Learning (or, as it is sometimes referred to, ‘Learning for Life (!)’) the system that has been put in place here is structured in such a way that neither the facilitator of the subject content (the teacher) or the recipient (the learner) is under any real requirement to complete the process satisfactorily … things here can plod on endlessly … sometimes, even longer…..

This was, in retrospect (in part at least) the situation I now see that I was in when I first went to Parklands in 1979. Although, at the time, I had no idea that this was the case…. But that’s no excuse, is it?

I believed then, in fact, that I was ‘doing the right thing’, and was ‘moving forward here’; that I was ‘traveling in the right direction’, as it were. ….

Well it was obvious that I was  …. Wasn’t I?…

Well actually, no.

If I had been able to take stock of my position at that time, and able to focus on what Eugene Halliday was continually suggesting had to be done, then I would have realized that I had, in fact, absorbed next to nothing of the material of his that I already had in my possession! I had at least a dozen or so of his essays, together with a significant number of his recordings from his Liverpool talks. So why didn’t I work with them, before I went off to gather more – if it really was my expressed purpose to realize, what I perceived to be, an obvious ‘apparent gain’? …

My maternal grandmother could have told me. She would simply have said, “Your eyes are bigger than your belly!”

But I don’t believe that my actions here can be put down exclusively to greed. …and I would have to admit that there was also a good deal of my own stupidity involved here!

I was, at that time, in the habit of collecting, and subsequently working through, what many might consider massive amounts of ‘relevant material’ simply in order to clarify one small point that I was obsessing over in some particular subject or other that had ‘taken my fancy’, and which usually had precious little to do with any aspect of my personal development. So even here, in 1979, if I was to claim that I was being ‘positive’ or ‘engaged’ by going to Ishval, this ‘being positive’ would only concern my sincere attempts to gather information’. which – as I realized (but only a long time later) was not the purpose of all this at all!

Regrettably though, I would say that, at that time, I believed I was, “quite happy with the way I was progressing, thank you!” …although you might get me to admit that, “I might need a little adjustment ‘here and there’ perhaps… A spot of ‘fine tuning’ maybe,” … But, as I say, in the main……. I was  just fine!

How do I now picture what I believe was going on then? ……Read on!

Here was I in that ‘Garden of Eden’ busy tending to ‘in here’, completely unaware that it was also home to any number of other ‘inhabitants’ (some of whom were distinctly shady) who were only too pleased to let me ‘get on with it’, and have as many ‘meaningful experiences’ as I wished…. That is, they were happy to ‘keep shtum’ and doze away in the sunshine,  always providing of course, that ‘I’ didn’t attempt to ‘rock the boat’ …

(I suspect that the last paragraph here might be a bit too metaphorical – but it will have to do, for the time being at least)

Luckily though, by 1979 (when I was about 36) I had already realized that I wasn’t getting to where I wanted to be in other areas of my life, and as a consequence I had already begun a serious examination of my ‘learning techniques’ – which I was being forced to realize were just not ‘doing the business’ for me.

I was, in fact, becoming quite desperate, and had reached the stage where I was prepared to pay almost any price in order to ‘make headway’. Luckily for me, this natural single-mindedness of mine was to be a tremendous help  in providing a ‘center’ for a great deal of material – a significant proportion of which (but not all by any means) came from Eugene Halliday. And I was at last beginning an instinctive attempt to construct various primitive systems to assist me here, which provided boundaries inside which I could begin to formulate some minimal forms of praxis.

The situation that I would be launching myself deliberately into by mid-1983 (which involved the next 12 years of living abroad) also provided me with a much more efficient way of handling the compulsion to acquire information. As the self-imposed restriction to only collect information in order to assist me  in acquiring a particular technique, or to help structure a social praxis, meant that, without actually realizing it, I was acquiring as an extremely focused way of gathering, controlling, and monitoring my ‘gains’ – both apparent or authentic. …Or, in a nutshell, I was beginning to ‘Cut out the crap’, and become far more efficient – marginally at least ….But. on reflection, I would have to admit that this whole process was agonizingly slow …’Turgid’ might be better ….

So … Not so much greed here as before (glad to say) … but still plenty of stupidity.

I also quickly discovered that there was no ‘deferred payment scheme’ available, if I was to be serious about going forward here. Every single, solitary, minute gain had to be paid for, ‘up front’ .. immediately.

Luckily for me, and with no real effort on my part, I found that I seemed to have enough energy to spend on all of this… The problem was that this energy seemed to be shaded with a somewhat primitive purpose of its own, with the result that I had a great deal of difficulty controlling it! … Which is putting it mildly!!!  And as a consequence I would (as I like to call it) ’leak’ all over the place…. … …  Surprise, surprise!!

So I would have to say that my attempts to control things here (to develop that center in myself) would, during the subsequent 15 years or so, prove to be an extremely rocky ride, as various other beings ‘in the building’ (which is another overall term I like to use to describe this state of being of mine) took exception to my ‘cutting them out of the picture’ and would lie in wait to ambush me – in an attempt to commander all the energy flying about –  and ‘twist my arm’, by tormenting me with ideas of how to indulge myself in all sorts of goodies …What a life!

That’s my excuse anyway …

Working with Eugene Halliday’s material then would only start to make some, intermittent, kind of sense to me after more than a decade – which would be around 1989…. But during all this the time leading up to this I had no sense that I wasn’t making much progress at all. It wasn’t like I was hanging round holding my head in my hands and feeling suicidal. Far from it!… But I would say that, where it concerned my ability to ‘Work’, I had, at best, simply been ‘marking time’.

But to get back to Eugene Halliday and my attendance at his talks at Parklands.  What on earth was it that I imagined I was going to get from seeing him ‘in person’? … Would ‘it’ (whatever ‘it’ was) all somehow be ‘easier’? … Would I experience some sort of magic, in the flesh, resonance, where it concerned my assimilation of his ideas? … Would there be some magical transfer of ‘the truth’ by occult osmosis? … A ‘touch the hem of his garment’ sort of thing?. ….

As I have never believed that anything like this was ever possible, or that in the future could be possible, the answer to these questions is a definite negative.  …. But that begs the question still … Which is, “So what then did I expect?”

As I hadn’t formulated that question at the time (that is, I didn’t interrogate myself as to my reasons for attending Ishval) the answer, I’m afraid, is going to be a bit woolly. But I would say that I went to Parklands in 1979 because it wasn’t apparent to me what Eugene Halliday was ‘doing’ when I heard him speaking on those recordings of his talks…. (I didn’t have the same problem with his writings, by the way).  It did not seem to me that these talks were ‘prepared’, but I did not believe that they ‘just came out of thin air’ either….. So I wanted to see what it was that he ‘did’… I wanted to see him ‘in action’ ….

I thought that doing so would make a ‘difference’ I suppose. … And I now believe that what in fact I had to learn was that it didn’t … That there was no magic trick …  That it was the ‘same old, same old’ in fact …And that Eugene Halliday was not handing out ‘free lunches’, and suggesting ‘short cuts’  here, although many of those who I spoke to about his ‘Work’ clearly believed he was.

The attitude of others to Eugene Halliday’s material, by the way, was a big problem for me – at least when it came to my attendance at Ishval – and it would be the major reason why I eventually stopped going … Because I decided that if I was serious about my intention to move forward, I would have to do something else…far more radical than simply engaging in what were, in reality, pseudo-social activities that the participants had somehow persuaded themselves were ‘meaningful’, ‘mysterious’, and ‘mystical’.

My appreciation of just what it was that Eugene Halliday was ‘doing’, was first of all that he was doing it right in front of my eyes. But what that was is very difficult for me to try to explain to others.. However, in case you think I’m just blagging you about this – I’ll have a go.. …

What is it that I would now say, in part, that he was doing? … I would say that he was attempting to make a monumental task appear to be a little more palatable to anyone who professed an interest in taking it on. And that he was also fully aware that his success rate here would be very near to zero …And that this was OK with him because he really knew that this is the way it really is. … …. That’s some of how I see it, anyway.

I could say, I suppose, that as far as I was concerned back then, going to Parklands was ‘harmless enough’, and that there were certainly ‘activities’ I engaged in there which proved to be of genuine use to me, but I was only able to see why much later on – an definitely not at that time.

But that’s how complete and seductive my illusion was at that time that I was somehow ‘Working’. … My illusion that I was ‘doing something substantial’ … When – and only decades later – it became clear to me that I’d been doing very little at all! … Because I simply wasn’t able to do anything at that time!… And I have only been able to come to terms with these ‘wasted years of mine’ here, by eventually seeing all this as a part of a necessary process for me. Something essential that I had to go through, if I was serious at all about my own … ‘evolution’ – shall we call it.

This ‘Parklands’ period constituted for me then – but not at all in the way I had expected – an extremely valuable experience. One that would later be of tremendous use to me – but only at the right time.

The ‘remedy’ here was, as it invariably always was, ‘simple, but (definitely) not easy’. … All the pieces necessary for  me to begin ‘working’ were already in place. These were: my desire for power; my greed; and my stupidity. … Or, to put it another way, this was my very own personal mountain of crap …And all I had to do was begin digging …(Oh, these dreadful metaphors!)

And what essential skills did I need to acquire in order to move me on here?  …Just the ability to watch, and to listen, properly.  A piece of advice that my wife, Jean, had already given me … a long time before I’d even heard of Eugene Halliday …. But that’s real love for you!

Anyway … On with the tale!

Going Nowhere Fast – Parklands and Ishval

At the time of my first visit to Parklands I knew next to nothing about the ‘set-up’ there (or, if anyone had told me what it was, I hadn’t taken any notice, or I had simply forgotten). I only knew that ‘Parklands’ was the name of house somewhere near Manchester, and that Eugene gave monthly talks for the regularly organized monthly meeting of the ISHVAL membership, and this usually took place on the last Sunday of each month (at that time I thought that Eugene was the speaker at all of these Sunday meetings, which in fact wasn’t the case).

I learnt later (because I asked a number of people) that sometime around 1966, Eugene Halliday, together with his second wife Margret (who I understood from Ken was an invalid) had moved into Parklands, together with David and Zero Mahlowe, who had agreed to help them both. But I can’t remember exactly who told me this, or when. Although I was working with David Mahlowe  by 1980, so I must surely have known by then that he, at least, lived at Parklands.

David’s wife, Zero, was to give me detailed information about this period, but this would have been a lot later – around 2006 .

My understanding up until the time that I first visited ‘Parklands’ in 1979 was that, before ISHVAL at least, Eugene Halliday had spoken predominantly  to small groups of people – perhaps 20 or  so (although I didn’t know it to be a matter of fact). That he began giving these talks at his home in Manchester to interested people – who, at that time I imagine, would have been referred to as ‘Bohemians’ – sometime during the beginning of the 1940′s (maybe even earlier). That he continued giving these talks through the late 1950′s and into the early 1960′s; that he took a summer break and went to the Isle of Man where he would also give talks on the beach. That this later period came to include (weekly?) visits to Liverpool in order to talk to a small regular group – the IHS – at the home(s) of Ken Ratcliffe, who recruited this IHS  membership, and also organized the meetings, and who had previously lived in Manchester, where Eugene lived; and from listening to recordings of these Liverpool meetings, that this small group, at least, enjoyed (importantly in my view), some degree, of a one-to-one interaction with Eugene himself – where it concerned the subject(s) under discussion at any one particular meeting.

This impression of mine came, by and large, from listening to the recording of those talks at Liverpool; from information supplied by Ken; and also from the manner in which I interpreted the approach Eugene had adopted in some of his writings, such as ‘The Hippy Love Philosophy’ (here’s a copy folks) Eugene Halliday – The Hippy Love Philosophy and ‘The Zodiascope’ (here ’tis) The Zodiascope – Eugene Halliday I felt that the general ambience at these meetings was, by and large, both sincere and ‘comfortable’, with an ‘austere warmth’ to the proceedings – although I  felt that there was a certain detatched authoritarian aura emanating from Eugene himself.

It was this impression of mine that is probably the main reason why I was so hugely disappointed with my visits to Parklands to hear Eugene give his ISHVAL talk. The ambience at Parklands was, for me, nothing at all like this. Instead it seemed to me to be overly formal, with many of those present in the audience not appearing, to me at least, to be really ‘getting it’.

I can still vividly remember my first impression of the interior of Parklands, with its Art Deco ‘fixtures and fittings’. But this was not because I was impressed by them (although I was), but for an entirely different, and far more personal, reason….

The decor at Parklands rekindled early childhood memories in me of visits to my maternal grandparents’ house in Liverpool, and of sitting in their living room, leafing through a large souvenir brochure from the late 1930′s, produced to commemorate the maiden voyage of one of Cunard White Star Line’s ‘Queens’ (I can’t remember now if it was the ‘Mary’ or the ‘Elizabeth’) that had been presented to my grandfather. Within this brochure’s heavily embossed golden covers were full-page photographs of the interior of this magnificent vessel, together with many fold-out smaller photos of the furnishings, which were crafted in that same Art Deco style.

I was fascinated by the images in this book as a small boy, and I must have poured over them for hours. Indeed now, even after some sixty years have passed, I can still experience an echo of the numinous feeling I experienced then, whenever I now examine the grain in a piece of walnut veneer; or the markings on a slab of green striped agate; or if I study the imagery contained in a Symbolist painting.

So my experience of attending an Ishval meeting at Parklands in 1979 – I realized even at the time – was colored somewhat by this childhood experience of mine.

The original architectural design of Parklands included a ballroom space, and when Eugene et all moved in, this had been converted (with the help of Alan Roberts, I understand) into an auditorium – complete with proscenium, mahogany stage, and lighting system.

As Parklands was some thirty five miles or so from where I lived I usually got a lift there, and as a consequence travelled with three other ‘chaps’ (although sometimes my wife, Jean, would come along also, if we could find a babysitter).

The conversations that took place in the car when we were returning home from these talks were interesting in that, although everyone was at pains to point out just how wonderful and illuminating the talk we had just attended was,  it became clear that very little of it had been actually remembered! And this was only an hour or so after the end of the talk!

The conversation would usually go something like this,……………..

“Hey! Wasn’t that great tonight?”

“Yes, I agree …. I don’t know how he does it!” ….”I felt he was talking directly to me!” … “He was answering questions for me that were there in my head!” …. etc.

“Do you remember what he talked about tonight?”

“Yes! He started of by [this would be a phrase or even a single word, delivered here with much confidence and enthusiasm] , and then went on to [This would more often than not, be a couple of sentences which would quickly peter out, becoming more and more disjointed in the process]——-“

Very quickly the excited chatter faded away, to be replaced by an uncomfortable silence, punctuated by ‘Umms’ and ‘Errs’, as we all strove to recall what it was that Eugene Halliday had actually talked about, and that we all clearly  were at great pains to claim was so revelatory and important to us….All except for one of us that is… He would rapidly go through all the major points of the hour-plus talk!

How did he do this? … Simple! ….He had taken notes, and was reading them out to the rest of us!

That this was slightly bizarre behavior did not seem to register with him at all! … And obviously it was impossible, in this particular circumstance, to know if he actually ‘knew’ anything … If you see what I mean.

So I decided to ‘ambush him’ during our jouney to next month’s talk. And to that end, I devised the following ‘little test’. I also wasn’t sure if there might not have been another process at work. A sort of ‘unconscious digestive process’ (an idea that I later discovered the Ishval crowd was particularly fond of – but alas has never really appealed to me), and that we might discover, say one month later, that the information contained in the previous month’s talk had in fact been duly processed ‘somewhere’, and was now freely available to us for regurgitation. (My advice here – file that idea in the same box that you file Father Christmas).

Anyway – back to my ‘little test’…

“Do you remember that last time we went?” (That’s me talking to the other three passengers – and trying to be as casual as possible).

“Yes.” (Chorus)

“Can you remember what the talk was about?” “

I would ‘join in’ here and contribute first – to get the ball rolling as it were. And we would subsequently all contribute a simple senctence or two in reply here, but that was it! … Then it was back to the ‘umming and arring’, I’m afraid!

…. But now the original three hapless nitwits were joined by a fourth – the one who had read the substance of the last talk from his notes …..

This practical, experiential situation, was a fundamental component in my understanding of any number of important words, including ‘memory’, ‘knowing’, ‘learning’ (for example). And on many occasions since  I was to contemplate this particular situation – and also, what I have since come to realize, were masses of similar, parallel, situations.

How were the rest of the 150 or so members of the audience at Parklands doing with this material, I began to wonder? ……….(No prizes for your  guess as to my answer to this question here, I’m afraid).

The central important issue here for me became not ‘what Eugene Halliday said’ or ‘how wonderful those who attended his talks maintained Eugene Halliday was’. It had become far simpler than that. The only issue to me, of any importance here had become, “What did the learner learn?”  Followed by, “What were we, the audience, supposed to do as a consequence?”; and ‘How to explain all this?” ….

Finally, in this post, “How were these talks ‘stage-managed’.” (I should point out here that – that by 1979 – I had accumulated a great deal of professional experience in this area, so I was more than able to spot a stage-managed ‘entrance’)) …

Well, the audience at these meetings would all be seated comfortably before the talk began, at which point Eugene would make his entrance from the back of the theater, down the steps of the central isle, passing the rows of seated audience members as he did so, onto the stage.

Here’s a photos of the entrance to the theater taken from the theater floor; and also one of the stage itself.

Parklands Theater – Entrance and Steps

Parklands Theater – Stage

Eugene Halliday had to lean very heavily on David Mahlowe’s right shoulder in order to do this because, I realized with a tremendous shock, he was quite severely disabled. .. And until I saw him ‘in the flesh’ this first time, I had no idea that this was the case! ..

Why I didn’t know about this disability before, I do not know – but it immediately cleared up a number of questions for me, including the fact that I always believed that I could detect a slight speech impediment.

Over the years I have heard any number of bizzare theories as to how this disability came about, the most common one circulating amongst the Ishval attendees was frankly downright creepy, as it seemed to me at least, to claim that it was a ‘supernatural’ event

In my opinion, after hearing various accounts of Eugene Halliday’s life that – it was claimed by those who told me – came originally from the man himself, concerning the period immediately following the onset of his disability (which I understand was sometime during his early teenage years) it sounds to me like he was the victim of a severe bout of Polio, a viral infectious disease. This was still quite common even when I was a young child in the late 1940′s and early 1950′s, and the sight, during that period, of children wearing leg-calipers was not unusual at all.

During the intervening three decades or so since I first saw Eugene Halliday, I have come to realize just how central to my particular understanding of him this dissability was…Particularly how I perceived the way that he completely understood there was a great deal of power to be acquired, simply from learning  to develop the ability to be acutely aware of our own processes (physical, mental, and feeling) – and which I believe began in Eugene Halliday with the practical imperative to develop conscious control of his own damaged body motor-functions.

In the next post I’d like to take a breather, and try to describe in a little more detail some ideas that I came to regarding: the acquisition of an ‘active’ vocabulary; and a little of how that informed my viewpoint of what Eugene Halliday was ‘doing’ when he gave a talk….and maybe a few other bits and bobs …’ Til then …

To be continued ……….

Bob Hardy

July, 2012

 

… “All the world’s a stage” then? …. Is that what you think? …. Well, it might seem that way to you – but it doesn’t to me!… ….

… I have to admit though … I like the Bard’s take on things a whole lot better than that Greek story about the cave … and the fire … and the shadows on the wall….  and  how what was really going on (including all the good stuff), was going on ‘behind your back’ … And to top it all, how you were chained to a wall so that you couldn’t just turn around and take a peep! …(He moves towards the middle of the room, pushes up his jacket sleeves, holds his hands up with an exaggerated flourish towards the light-bulb hanging from the ceiling, and produces, in rapid succession on the far wall, the shadow of a dog’s head, followed by a duck, then a rabbit, and finally a man with a cigarette in his mouth) … Makes you all out to be a bunch of second rate ‘Peeping Toms’ … if you ask me! ….. (He pauses and looks thoughtful for a moment) … But like they say, “If the cap fits,” … I suppose! (He looks over, smiles thinly, and shrugs).

And that whole ‘cave’ bit … Don’t you find that it’s got a really depressing ‘we are not worthy’ feel about it?  .. 

But then, a lot of you down here really do enjoy going in for all that ‘humble pie’ stuff, don’t you?… Or, at least, you like to pretend you do! …. … I just cannot, for the life of me, understand why you believe it does you any good! … Personally, I find all that ‘diverse cringing and groveling’ you go in for – your ‘religious practices’, as you like to call them – intensely irritating … (He scowls, and stares ahead vacantly for a moment with a solemn  expression on his face as if lost in his own thoughts, before suddenly jerking his head up and smiling broadly)… But I digress!.. …

I’d say – if you’re the least bit interested -that I see the way things are down here as being much more like one of your ‘Blockbuster Movies’! … The ‘Big Picture’!… Or ‘The Main Feature’!  (He laughs loudly)

… Although, now I come to think of it, ‘Multi-Part Serial cum B-Movie’ would probably be more like it …

You know the sort of thing! …  ”Don’t miss our ‘three-score and ten’, thrilling, fun-packed, all-action, cliff-hanging, episodes! ….  … Will our hero escape certain death at the hands of the evil villain? … Will he rescue our beautiful heroine? … Will he have time to save the world before dinner? … … Don’t miss our next exciting thrill-packed episode!!!… Coming shortly to a cinema near you!”….

(He stops suddenly, before carrying on in a slightly less enthusiastic manner)… Although of course, ‘thrill-packed’ – for the majority of you taking part down here at least – is probably stretching it a bit!… (He folds his arms and, looking reflective, puts a finger to his lips, and pauses for a moment, before muttering almost to himself) … … A bunch of extras in a third-rate ‘soap’ would probably be a lot more accurate …(He stops again for a moment before suddenly exclaiming) …Whatever! … ….Anyway …looking at things in this way highlights, very nicely, one of those little pranks that so many of you are fond of getting up to, from time to time,  down here,  …  

You see … although, most of the time, you can’t be bothered to ‘get it together’  anyway, and you don’t usually begin taking notice of anything at all until well after it’s half-way through – you still just can’t resist clobbering together your own prequel … Your very own seamless version of events! … Something that pads-out your ideas about all the earlier stuff you missed out on … That you just didn’t ‘get’, the first time round …

Not content with that, this fabrication of yours – which you quickly convince yourself is completely accurate down to the smallest detail – is then foisted upon anyone unfortunate enough to ask you your views on what it is that you think ‘life and everything’ is all about …. You, of course, can’t wait to tell them that you know … because you’ve convinced yourself that you’ve seen it all clearly!

More often than not though, these ‘theories’ of yours are usually just a poorly clobbered together, largely erroneous, personally biased, series of pseudo-events and half-truths that you have deluded yourself into believing now constitute an accurate chronicle of events – even though you have only just (that is, very recently) made most of it up! (He laughs and gestures disbelievingly, shaking his head slowly) ….

You then compound this problem, by insisting on referring to this cock-eyed version of events of yours, as your ‘sincere beliefs’ … Mainly because you imagine that this label somehow confers some kind of automatic, additional, authenticating kudos, on both you and your ideas….

But even you will have to admit that this belief of yours has been produced with at least some – what we might call here – ‘hind-sight’ on your part … (He laughs) Which brings us back – in a manner of speaking – to our ‘Greek cave’ story! … Regrettably though, this ‘hind-sight’ of yours does not constitute a particular instance of you having  ’looked behind you’ to see ‘what was really going on’, but is, instead, yet another example of you ‘seeing what it was that you wanted to see’! … … What we like to refer to as a ‘projection’ – and which, of course, makes you the ‘projector’ here! ….

Luckily for you though, this ‘belief’ of yours can also be quickly discarded when you get tired of it (or more usually, when it becomes unfashionable) by simply exclaiming (using the appropriate tone of voice), “Oh dear me, no! … I don’t believe that now! … I know that I used to … But I don’t any more!” …. Which of course now clears the decks for you to present ‘one and all’ with your very latest – but unfortunately for you, equally batty – brand new set of  beliefs ….

…. But, credit where its due! …I have to say that I find all your antics here incredibly entertaining! … And particularly so, if you managed to convince others of your ‘beliefs’ …

And if you really do manage to get your ideas across… That is, if somehow they prove to have real ‘mass-appeal’ … Well! You might even hit the jackpot, and get to start a new World Movement….  You know!… A new religion … or even a new World War! … Which in my book should certainly get you nominated for an Oscar – at the very least! (He puts his hands behind his back and begins to pace up and down, gesticulating in an enthusiastic manner).

… Get lots of the ‘right people’ on board to begin with! … That’s the thing! …  What you need to start with is an ‘exclusive’! … Divide people up into an ‘us and them’ … You can just invent the ‘them’ if you like – but do remember to keep the plot reasonably simple… You don’t want to give people too much thinking to do! … ‘Believers and non-believers’ – that’s it! … Tell people that what your doing ‘isn’t for everybody’ …. Give all the believers badges, secret names, and various positions! …Make them feel special! … Create a hierarchy!…(He laughs suddenly). Hey! Even I’ve got one of those! …. Give it all a touch of  ’je ne sais quoi’! … Then it will be relatively easy for you to get your ‘little flock’ to make all kinds of value judgments about all those ‘others’ who, you maintain, disagree with ‘our’ version of events …That’ll serve to make ‘us’ all feel so much more worthy and important! …(He begins to shout) .. Onward and upward! … Storm the ‘Pearly Gates’! … (He stops abruptly and becomes motionless, speaking quietly to himself) … Ooops! … Steady on now! … Calm down! … (He moves to the chair and sits down, rests his elbows on his thighs, and clasps his hands together, before continued in a normal voice)

And having a story about the the ‘why and wherefore’ of everything is such a comfort isn’t it? ….

On the other hand though, it can be an incredible ‘downer’ … I know!  … Because you might  all now end up believing that everything has been ‘written down’ from the beginning- it’s all been decided from the year ‘dot’ … And so now there’s just no escaping one’s fate  …. But at least  now you ‘believers’ do have a kind of ‘cosmic purpose’ – in some sense at least, I imagine  … Don’t you? … (He smiles encouragingly)

At the very least, you and your fellow believers can now all claim to be ‘going’ somewhere – even if now it’s only for what seems, on reflection, to be a rather short, micro-managed, somewhat pointless, stroll! … and at least take some comfort in the idea that ‘someone up there’ is ‘minding the store’ so to speak, which does serve to give all this some kind of meaning…If you like that sort of thing….

And this has the advantage that you now have someone who can tell you all what to do; a ‘Director’ – as it were… Who already knows every single thing that’s going to happen to you … Including all the possible ‘why’s and wherefore’s’ … the complete deck-of-cards … the whole shebang …. before it all happens! …. So – it makes life easy – now you just have to ‘do as you’re told’, and ‘no excuses’! …

But Hey! Don’t let’s knock that! … For many of you, I know that this is a far more preferable  story than what you imagine would be the sheer, stark terror of ‘no purpose at all’, … or  … it’s all ‘just for the fun of it’ … as it were! …..

Whatever is really going on down here though … for my part – full credit where it’s due! … … Your antics make for such wonderfully entertaining viewing … even though I say it myself! … I wouldn’t have missed a single moment for the whole world!! … Indeed, I’m proud to say that I don’t believe I’ve missed a solitary second now for  …. (He smiles to himself) ….sometimes it seems like … …. simply ages and ages!

If it’s like a movie, then who gets to write all the stuff? … Well! You’d probably accuse me of trying to ‘mess with your head’ if I told you that, actually, it was you …. So I won’t say ‘you’ then… I’ll just say ‘It’ … instead ….

And you can call ‘It’ almost any thing you like …. (He begins walking away slowly) … “A rose by any other name” ..  … (He stops suddenly in mid-step) … Now who wrote that? …. …

 From ‘Field-notes for Armageddon’ by Bob Hardy

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Setting The Scene - ‘Parklands’ and ISHVAL (Prologue).

This particular period – the one immediately before going to Parklands for the first time – has been really difficult for me to put together here.

I could simply have related an account of my first visit to Parklands when I went to listen to Eugene Halliday give one of his ISHVAL talks, adding my impressions as I went along. But I don’t think that would be of much use here. So instead, I’ve divided this post into two parts.

In ‘Part 1′, I have attempted to recall what I thought about ISHVAL before I actually visited ‘Parklands’; and in ‘Part 2′ I’ve described, in part, an outline of my method, and also my perspective on, those ‘Rules of membership for ISHVAL’ written by Eugene Halliday, that I first saw as important for me at that time, and which I have worked with ever since – together with a number of subsequent ‘thoughts arising’.

Part 1.

One of the real problems I had throughout the period when I attended ISHVAL meetings (from late 1979 until early 1984) – and even later, when I began working on the archive in 2004 – was that I never really  understood what it was that ISHVAL was about!

As I knew that ISHVAL had been registered as a charity since 1966, I imagine that you might find my lack of understanding here surprising, particularly as I attended many of ISHVAL’s monthly talks, and also took part in one of its particular activities for a number of years.

So I am going to attempt to explain the ‘why and wherefore’ of this before continuing with an actual account(s) of my attendances.

I’ll begin by answering the following question, “Up until late 1979, when I first stepped foot in ‘Parklands’, what did I know about, and think of, ISHVAL?”

Well, to tell the truth, I hadn’t much thought about it at all at that time! .. I knew that the word ISHVAL was an acronym for ‘The Institute for the Study of Hierological Values’: I was a bit vague about the word ‘Hierological’; I had been told that Eugene Halliday gave regular monthly ‘talks’ there; and that ISHVAL had a membership (but I did not know, back then in 1979, how to join – and, in fact, I have never been able to find out since).

I also assumed that, as ISHVAL contained the word ‘Institute’ – and as that word enjoys a somewhat restricted legal, official use as a title – then the law relating to the use of the word ‘Institute’ would clearly apply here, as my understanding was that ISHVAL was, in fact, an ‘official body’. I made some notes on this use of the word ‘Institute’ in this context some time ago, and  I’ve included them here.

ISHVAL’S use of the title ‘INSTITUTE’

Far more significantly at that time though, I discovered that a number of Rules had been provided for the membership of ISHVAL by Eugene Halliday. Although the ‘recommendation’ after the last rule (number eight) was rather disconcerting – at least as far as I was concerned…

How did I know about these rules before I had ever been to ISHVAL? … Well, Ken Ratcliffe provided me with a copy of them before I actually went there. …. Here they are:

RULES OF THE INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF HIEROLOGICAL VALUES.

 1. Each member shall, according to his capacity, make clear to himself the purpose of ISHVAL, that is, the study of hierological values.

 2. Each member shall, with due regard to ISHVAL’S purpose, and according to his capacity, undertake to convert his passive vocabulary into an active one, firstly by dictionary research into the etymology of his existing vocabulary, subsequently by extending this vocabulary as far as possible.

 3. Each member shall, according to his capacity, modify his procedures of thought, feeling, will and action, in conformity with the new understanding arising from the conversion of his passive vocabulary into ever wider fields of significance.

 4. Each member shall periodically offer to his fellow members the fruits of his studies and be prepared on request of the Chief Officers to précis these studies for the general benefit of members, and to lecture upon or discuss his findings and, conclusions.

 5. Each member shall contribute, according to his capacity, to the general extension of the Institute’s work in whatever field it may find an application.

 6. Each member, according to his capacity, shall study the basic scriptures of world religions, and the major writings of philosophers and scientists and artists, and recognise the value of making précis of these.

 7. Each member shall aim to coordinate and harmonise the results of his studies with those of all other members, and to see in every other member another expression and vehicle of ISHVAL’S purpose.

 8. All members shall, according to their capacity, undertake to cooperate on special study projects which by their nature be beyond the powers of any single member of sub-group of members.

 Thes rules were formulated and agreed upon at a meeting of members held on 29th. January 1967. The meeting decided that the rules should be accompanied by this recommendation – “These rules are not obligatory but are recommendations for preferences.”

I thought at the time that these rules of membership were reasonably clear, and as a consequence I made a number of – what I still consider to be – innocent, and reasonable, assumptions. Notably, that anyone claiming to be a member of ISHVAL would obviously be extremely familiar with these rules, and that they would also – so I also reasonably believed – be attempting to carry them out.

These rules were, I understood, composed by Eugene himself, and I have included here a copy of what I believe to be the first completed draft – together with what also appears to be an earlier copy, one that includes a number of hand-written alterations. I have also included a copy of Gerhard Noahkes’ notes taken at a talk given at ISHVAL on the 29th January 1967, which appears to have included a presentation (given, I assume, by Eugene Halliday himself) of these rules.

Rules of Ishval (scans)

During the 32 years since I first set foot in Parklands (1979), I have never heard these ‘rules’ being discussed, or even mentioned, by others … Which, I feel, is surely unusual?

Indeed, when I brought the matter of ‘The Rules of Ishval’ up at a ‘Friends of Ishval Meeting’ some time after 2004 it seemed to me that most of those present had never even seen, or heard, of them (I provided photocopies of these rules).  Although one enterprising person present at this meeting was very quick to point out the part where it states that, “These rules are not obligatory but are recommendations for preferences.” ….  …!

Presenting my impressions re the attitude of others here – that is, where it concerns recommendations made in writing by Eugene Halliday for those who attended ISHVAL – is not one of the purposes of this blog. So I will simply state here that, in my view, no amount of obsequious sycophantism can make up for actually doing some real ‘Work’ …  and I will leave it at that..

My own involvement with ISHVAL as a charity? Well, I did not in 1979, and still do not now in 2012, understand either the ‘Aims’ or ‘Purpose’ of Ishval’  … Although I did attempt some understanding here, and put together one or two notes on the subject for that purpose.

Aims and Purpose of Ishval – some notes

I would like to add that I was also particularly drawn to a paragraph in a Covenant made by Freemans Ltd to ISHVAL, and dated December 1966, which reads:

“Hierogical means pertaining to the values contained in the traditions of all peoples: in art, religion, philosophy, and science. Ishval is primarily concerned in studying the orientation of these traditions towards Christian values. (Italics mine)

You can make of that what you will!

Anyway, I simply did what I always do in situations like this. I worked with what I could use.

The rules that captured my attention?  They would be: a slightly amended rule number 2; rule number 3; and number 6.

2. Each member shall (………) according to his capacity, undertake to convert his passive vocabulary into an active one, firstly by dictionary research into the etymology of his existing vocabulary, subsequently by extending this vocabulary as far as possible.

3. Each member shall, according to his capacity, modify his procedures of thought, feeling, will and action, in conformity with the new understanding arising from the conversion of his passive vocabulary into ever wider fields of significance.

6. Each member, according to his capacity, shall study the basic scriptures of world religions, and the major writings of philosophers and scientists and artists, and recognise the value of making précis of these.

These three ‘pieces of ‘personal advice’ from Eugene Halliday’ (because this is how I soon came to view them) have proved to be immensely valuable to me, in providing a methodology for much that I have attempted to understand here since. And I cannot stress how important the concept of Working to convert one’s passive language into an active language, has become to me.

I think it is also important to point out that Eugene Halliday did give a couple of talks at ISHVAL meetings that relate to the question of what ISHVAL is. These include:

        • Hierology
        • On Ishval

You can get freely downloadable copies of these from the The Eugene Halliday Archive and freely downloadable transcripts of these two talks from Eugene Halliday – Transcripts of Talks

Part 2. (Some thoughts on ‘Active Language’)

As my purpose in writing this blog is primarily an attempt on my part to help others who are interested in working with the material contained in Eugene Halliday’s archive material, I have taken this opportunity, to provide below, some information regarding my approach to, and thoughts on, his concept of an ‘active language’.

Let me say right away that the the concept of an ‘active’ and ‘passive’ form of language includes a (admittedly, rather obvious) dynamic, in that, when being used by two people in a discussion involving any one particular subject, your ‘active language’ here, may be ‘passive’ to my ‘active language’ here. Or – to put it another way – if this is the case. then I know more (or appear to know more) about the particular subject under discussion than you do. Although this might not always, in and of itself, be what others would consider the ‘correct’ outcome here, as there might be a number of other important factors at work. Including, for example, the fact that I may hold a superior social position to you, or that I might simply be your boss at work. In which case it might appear to others, on the surface at least, that my vocabulary is more ‘active’ than yours’- or, to put it another way,  my utterances might ‘carry more (cultural or social) weight’ than yours here, and so ‘win the day’.

It might also be useful to you here, to also consider expletives from the point of view of ‘active’ and ‘passive’ language use. Because these are used, by and large. to add ‘power’ to what is being said. I would also add here, that as most expletives are sexual in nature, I am sure you can work out for yourselves how this aspect of power can be appropriated through the medium of the sign or symbol (in this case language), and put to other uses ‘elsewhere’.

I fully appreciate that obtaining consensus as to the definition(s) of any word(s) is obviously important. This, after all, is why we have the OED. This consensus demonstrates, not only that it is possible for words to possess such universally agreed upon definitions, but it also demonstrates ‘the arbitrariness of the sign’ (a concept in Semiotics that is well worth investigating here). The etymology of a word on the other hand, is also of importance, in that it provides a historical trajectory of a particular word’s usage, and also how that word’s collective and cultural meaning can morph, evolve, and sometimes (more alarmingly) devolve, over time.

Work on familiarizing yourself with Eugene Halliday’s approach to the formulation of his various ideas and concepts, by listening to his talks, and focussing – not only on the subject of any particular talk – but also on trying to develop a feel for his particular use of language.

This approach, I believe, will eventually give you a real understanding of what he means by ‘active language’ – which, contrary to what others here might tell you, is not acquired simply by looking up the definition of various words in a dictionary, and doing some research into their etymology.

When you feel that Eugene Halliday is ‘speaking’ to you, even though he is talking to a number of people at the time, you are experiencing his ‘active language’. Try to focus on this experience of yours simply as an experience, and try to figure out what it is that is going on ‘in you’, rather than in what the words ‘mean out there’.

You can obviously research what these words ‘mean out there’, by simply looking into their definitions and etymology yourself. And I would imagine that you might be prompted to do this by saying something to yourself along the lines of, “What did he say there? I don’t know what that word means.” (which is the usual way of saying, “I don’t know what the dictionary definition of this word is.”).

But begin to appreciate that this ‘looking up’ of words is, by and large, just a form of intellectual activity – and represents only one component in any understanding here.

I should also mention that the experience of hearing anyone making use of their particular ‘active language’ is essentially the same for all listeners. And I would describe this experience as an overwhelming sense of ‘truthfulness’ in what is being said. However, be warned that this ‘truthfulness’ is by no means guaranteed!

I have also observed what I believe are a number of stereotypical responses by a variety of people (who I will now refer to as ‘listeners’, or ‘the listener’, here) when coming into contact with someone who makes deliberate use of an ‘active language’, and I will now attempt to describe one or two of these responses below.

Unfortunately, a quite common result here is that the listener becomes addicted to the ‘active language’ of one particular person, with the result that this person can assume some sort of ‘supreme authority’ over the listener’s life, and, as a consequence, it becomes possible that this person will also be viewed by the listener as possessing extraordinary (or even magical) powers. Eventually this person may even assume almost total control, or, willing or not – be made responsible for the manner in which the listener functions, particularly the way in which the listener now believes that they ‘think’ – although, interestingly enough, the listener may be completely unaware that this has happened!

‘Special’ these people might well be – and the listener might well find themselves to be truly inspired by them, and that’s OK.

But, whatever else it is that the listener believes this person can do, what this person certainly cannot do is initiate some sort of ‘magical transfer of understanding’ from them to the listener, without any expenditure of  effort on the listener’s part.

This burst of ‘inspiration’ that the listener feels, and which I believe can be very real and extremely valuable, will, regrettably, certainly fade – and sooner rather than later! Which can result in the listener now requiring another ‘fix’ here.

This habit of ‘listening’ can become so important to the listeners life, that they may now attempt to move from being reasonably satisfied with listening to recordings, or from hearing the person speak ‘live’, to attempting to manufacture a situation where they can gain ‘private access’ to that person, usually by presenting themselves as ‘having specific problems, or really pertinent questions’ that require ‘special answers and/or individual consideration’. And if the person ‘in charge’ encourages this kind of behavior?  Then let the listener here be wary!

This is my (short-hand) take on the essential dynamics here, “A person with an ‘active language’ has done some ‘Work’ – a person with a ‘passive language hasn’t.”

This situation will not change, no matter what the person with the ‘active language’ does. It will only ever change when the listener decides, by an act of free will, that it is going to change. Unfortunately, this will involve the listener in a monumental amount of painstaking ‘Work’ – a requirement from them that they will have often already intuited is required, and that, as a consequence, now leads them to construct various scenarios in which they ‘decide’ that the situation as it now stands is, for the moment at least, fine – and that they will ‘really’ get round to ‘doing something positive here’ at a later date.

Tragically though, it is quite often only after a great deal of time has elapsed (sometimes even decades) that the penny might really drop. Usually though, in this case, there is now so much inertia present in the situation that there is no longer enough free energy available to affect any release here. It feels to the listener, that doing so will somehow negate the whole meaning of their lives. This is not true, but real help will now be needed here if anything positive is going to be done.

If the listener is not very careful here then, not only will they find themselves going one step forward, quickly followed by two steps back, but they will also find it increasingly difficult to extradite themselves from this situation, because they now believe that they have invested  so much of their ‘valuable’ time, and what they imagine is ‘real’ effort here….and this serves to keep them endlessly ‘in the loop’.

But, lets face it, if it is the case that they haven’t done any ‘Work’ here, then they can’t really claim to have ‘invested’ anything, can they? What has really been happening to them is that they have been superbly entertained, and as a consequence of this they became addicted to the ‘program’, and are merely ardant ‘fan’(-atic)s.

It might be prudent here to bear in mind another piece of excellent advice that Eugene Halliday was very fond of  - “Nothing for nothing, and very little for a half-penny.”

You might like get some further background on this phenomena by doing some research into  ’Transference’ and ‘Counter-Transference’ – an extremely common, and well understood, part of the psychotherapeutic process.

Tragically, my experience in talking to others who have ‘fallen under the influence’ of Eugene Halliday’s ‘active language’ is that, although they seem to me to clearly understand very little of what he said, they somehow believe that, even if they don’t, that this is all somehow fine! … And as long as they were able to ‘bask in the sunshine’ of his presence, this was ‘surely’ sufficient, and so they seemed to be content! … I would like to make it very clear here, that I view this sort of relationship as distinctly unwholesome, and also extremely dangerous!

My own understanding, which has come from a great deal of study and reflection on what Eugene Halliday has to say about language and its use, is that it is personal meaning, and personal meaning alone, that constitutes the active component of any word you use. If you do not know what you mean by a word (although you might have memorized its definition, and researched its etymology), then that word is merely a passive component of your speech – that is, it carries little, or no power, or conviction. So, it is essential that you, first of all, know what it is that you mean when using a particular word – and it is not at all essential, at this stage at least, to know what Eugene Halliday means when he uses the same word.

I also maintain that it is futile to attempt to ‘learn’ Eugene Halliday’s ‘active language’, which I believe constitutes part of his ‘essential self’ and is something that he ‘Worked’ on to refine, continuously, throughout his life. And i firmly believe that it cannot, in principle, be somehow appropriated, such that it could become your ‘active language’ too.

In my experience, you must only attempt any understanding of beings like Eugene Halliday through your own understanding, otherwise you are in real danger of becoming swamped. There is absolutely no substitute for ‘Working’ to generate your own ‘active language’.

It was Eugene Halliday’s command of an ‘active’ language that, in my view, was the reason why so many people felt – even when they didn’t really understand what it was that he was saying – that he was speaking directly to them ‘from the heart’…. …  And, you know, you really need to think about that.

To be continued ………..

Bob  Hardy

June, 2012

 

NOTE: The short piece below is taken from the Appendix of ‘Field-notes for Armageddon’, where it serves as a plain English guide to assist the actor portraying the character ‘Trish. [In the actual performance itself, 'Trish  speaks with a pronounced North-West English accent, and employs local  idiosyncratic patterns of speech]. 

(Scene: An office space. ’Trish is working alone, inside a small office booth. She is sitting in front of a computer, and is wearing a headset, complete with microphone. On her desk is a flask of coffee, and a packet of sandwiches. Her handbag is on the floor, and in it we can just see the top half of two knitting needles protruding from some unfinished knitting. From the general background noise, we can infer that she is surrounded by a number of similar booths). 

(‘Trish begins speaking in a hushed, theatrical, whisper, her voice returning to normal in a moment or two) Marg! … Marg! … It’s me! ….’Trish! ….. ‘Hello stranger’ yourself! … … … … No! … I don’t think much of us working on different shifts either…

Anyway … there’s no calls logged-in at the minute… Not much happening tonight… All my regulars must be down at the pub! (She gives a short shrill laugh)… So I thought I’d give you all my news  … It feels like we haven’t had a good gab for ages! …. Must be two months or so – at least!….. (There’s a longish pause while ‘Trish listens to Marg. As she does so, she opens her pack of sandwiches, and pours herself a drink from her coffee flask)

 Yes I am! ….. Oh it’s really fab!….  It’s one of those Senior Citizen’s Courses down at the college…. Yeah, that’s right, it’s free if you’re a pensioner….. And I really love it! … It’s one of the few thing about being over 60 that I can really say I like!  … …. ….

 Anyhow, the course I’m doing is called, ‘Religions Of The World’ … … You know how I’m always saying I should go back to church! … … I haven’t been to confession now for years … Sometimes I feel real guilty! …. …  And I quite like this new Pope ….. …. …. What? … …. …

No. … It’s only twelve weeks long, and at the end of it you have to write something about what Gerad, our teacher, has been telling us all about… Then he marks it for you, and gives you a grade …. ….. Hopefully it’ll be a good one! (She giggles) ….

Gerad? …It’s German I think ….No he isn’t!… You cheeky thing! …. …Well … … He is nice I suppose! … … … In his 40′s I’d say…

What am I going to write about? …. …. Well I’m not sure a hundred percent yet … ….. But I’m going to call it ‘Journeys’, I think.

My idea is that Jesus …. Buddha ….. Mohammed  …. In my opinion they all started their life somewhere nice and safe, and ended up in the middle of loads of trouble … ….

Jesus was from a small village called Nazareth … … and he ended up in the middle of  Jerusalem – which hadn’t long been conquered by the Romans, and was full of hairy soldiers …. He went there just to try to get people to behave better … and he goes and gets himself crucified! ….

Buddha … … Well he was born a prince, and he lived in a palace with everything he wanted …. and one day he just upped and left … Ended up walking round India. … No money … Nothing – except the clothes he stood up in … and a begging bowl … Imagine that! … After being a prince! …Giving it all up just to try to help people understand their lives…

And Mohammed … Well, when he was a young man he was married to a rich widow much older than himself. I think they bought and sold carpets  … Anyway … he gave all that up to make all the Arab tribes stop worshipping stone idols … And when he’d done that, he took them all off on a holy war to spread the word … and nearly conquered the flipping world! …. Very dangerous … and he could so easily have got himself killed for his trouble… ….

Anyway, these three started off by living somewhere safe … Something strange happened to them … and they decided to get into something … somewhere else … that was very dangerous…..Do you see what I mean Marg? … …

Gerad says that the ‘strange thing’ that happened to these three … was that they all had a ‘special’ experience …and that Gerad says is called ‘transformative’.

And he says you can get some idea of what this ‘transforming’ is about, if you imagine what it was like for human beings the first time that they tasted meat that had accidentally fallen into a fire…. They got something that tasted completely different from the taste that they were used to .. And it was much better … not like raw meat at all! … And that they could never have imagined – just in their minds like –  that it was going to taste like it did … just because it had been in the fire ….  … To them, it was like something had actually come into the meat from outside it  … 

They probably explained it to themselves though, by saying that this new taste came from the fire like magic – from ‘the spirit of the fire’ maybe…  … Or something like that ….. Anyway!! … …’Transformation’ is sort of like that….

On the other side … there’s lots of people today who are trying to be religious, or want to be holy. … They either join some group or other; or dress up in fancy clothes; or get into something foreign and ‘mysterious’.  But it seems to me that all they really want to do is be different, and just get away from all the trouble that they tell everybody is going on … The wars, and the climate, and the population, and everything… Which, most of the time, isn’t really trouble at all for them particularly. … But these people still want to run away from it all … It’s like they don’t want to deal with what’s really going on now – even though they’re responsible – like all the rest of us – for the mess we’re all in…. It’s like they’re running away … Traveling in the wrong direction, y’know? … It’s like they’re trying to get away from it all … ….To hide …

What Marg? … ….

…..Well, one of the things we call these places is ‘Retreats’. … Isn’t it Marg?… … …

Anyway, Gerad says that these people who are running away, and all that, might well be having experiences… …And so, OK then! …And this means that they might well have changed a little bit. …But Gerad says that being changed isn’t at all the same thing as being transformed!

Seeds change into plants, but plants were already there …In the seed … So like … seeds just sort of turn into what it is that they’re supposed to turn into under the circumstances.   Gerad called that ‘linear change’ …  

So if they’re a seed that has plenty of sun and water, then they grow; but if they’re in a very dry, dark, place then they don’t do very well at all! . …But whatever they do, they can still only change into what they’re supposed to be .. …. Like, whatever else happens to them, apple seeds don’t suddenly turn into pear trees ….Do you see what he means Marg? ….

And also … In the year, when your birthday comes round on the same day, you’re changing just because you’re getting older, and that’s like what Gerad calls ‘cyclic change’…. The Seasons, and all like that.

Anyway…Gerad says everybody and everything changes anyway, whether they like it or not  … We grow older, and lose our teeth  …but very few of us are transformed  … I know what he means …. but I can’t really put it into words yet … …

Anyway, I think some people are going in completely the wrong direction, when they’ve convinced themselves that they’re going in the right direction – just because there’s been a change! …. That’s my idea anyway! …

Oh hell! … Sorry Marg! … Must dash … There’s an incoming call … It’s a client, and I’d better answer quick!… I’ll have to try and keep him on the line for more than the usual two or three minutes as well … I’m way behind with my score for this shift… … Oh hell! … Here’s the friggin’ supervisor now … I’ll have to get off quick… I’ll try to call you back later …. …Bye! …Love you too-oo!

(‘Trish quickly switches through to her client, and begins to speak with an affected ‘girlie’ voice) …. ….. …..Hi there! …. This is “Naughty Schoolgirls On-Line’!…. My name’s Tabitha! (she giggles). … And what would you like to talk about … You naughty boy!  … … … “

 From ‘Field-notes for Armageddon’ by Bob Hardy

Setting The Scene – Part 3 

This post covers the remaining period (from the mid-1970′s until sometime in late 1979) during which my wife Jean, our friend Martin, and myself would travel, once a week, from Merseyside, to Tan-Y-Garth Hall in North Wales.

Our purpose here was to take part in an informal discussion group that was hosted by Ken Ratcliffe. The major purpose of these weekly sessions (which did not follow one another in any systematic way) was to examine various ideas of Eugene Halliday’s. Thus, I had reached a point where I was now discussing a number of Eugene Halliday’s ideas with other interested parties….

However, it seemed to me that none of those involved here really understood these ideas in any integrated way. And our discussions appeared to always remain strictly at the level of intellectual inquiry – usually focusing on what ‘such-and-such a contemporary scenario’ might look like from the point of view of ‘such and such an idea’ of Eugene’s.

Even so, being presented with the opportunity to structure my own thoughts here was an extremely valuable experience for me. Because, by talking over various concepts of Eugene’s with others (such as those contained in the ‘The Four-Part Man, or ‘The Tacit Conspiracy’ for example), I had the opportunity to verbalize my own reactions and organize my own thoughts here.  And as a direct result of  (what I like to think of anyway) as this progress, there were now a few areas of Eugene’s material where I thought I was beginning to discern some sort of vague, over-all, cohesive structure – but this feeling was really far more like a strong ‘hunch’ …

I realize now that what I was also searching for was, more or less, a ‘point of entry’ … “How was one to get started here with all this material? …Where, and what, was  ’Chapter One’, or the ’Introduction’, here? … And if ‘this’, or ‘that’, was the place to begin … Why was it?”…

My recollection of these discussion sessions is reasonably clear to me, even now. However, if I simply attempt to relate what took place there to you, I don’t think this would really clarify things. But perhaps if did so allegorically, you might get a better sense of the over-all picture. …

Discussing Eugene’s ideas at these meetings was like being presented with a big ball of string, which we would all, collectively, attempt to examine, by first taking hold of the end that happened to be sticking out, and then carefully unravelling it, while attempting to describe it. Only to discover that, after a few feet or so, this piece suddenly came to an end. … But, “No problem!”,  …. Because we could see that there was now a new end sticking out, and so we took hold of that, and off we went again…. Only to find that the same thing kept happening repeatedly… (Think Zen here …. and “How long is a piece of string?”).

It was relatively simple to examine (or study in detail) the individual pieces of string themselves, and they were usually very interesting, but I did not seem to be able to connect them together in any satisfactory way. ….

However, I felt strongly, even then, that all these separate pieces were somehow joined together in some fundamental sense, but I couldn’t yet see how …

So, for the moment then, these ideas were all separate. But at least they had all been collected together into one place (into this one big ball of string as it were) – which was something ….

These ‘discussion sessions’ normally took up the major part of our mid-week evening’s activities. But during the time that was left (for what you might call then, the ‘second half’ of the evening) we would all head upstairs, to the ‘Meditation Room’, in order to do a spot of, what Ken referred to, as ‘Yoga’.

Please bear in mind that my sole purpose in traveling to Tan-Y-Garth was to take advantage of the opportunity being offered there by Ken Ratcliffe to discuss these ideas, and so I wasn’t interested in anything that did not, to me, have a clear connection to either Eugene Halliday’s talks, or to his writings.

First though, and in an effort to shed some light here on my view of ‘Yoga’ in general, and also to provide some background material (at least for this post) I will recount here one of the many ‘experiences’ that I had been indulging in, some good few years before my involvement with Ken et al at Tan-Y-Garth…..

…… It’s the early 1970′s, and it’s a mid-Sunday afternoon. I’m at home, lying down on my bed, on my side, and staring at the edge of my copy of Cervantes’ ‘Don Quixote’ (illustrations by Picasso) which just happened to be lying on the top of my bed-side cabinet.

I am staring at the edge of this book (the longer edge directly opposite the spine) which was colored with small green and red blobs – rather like an old fashioned ledger book.

As I stared at these dots, they suddenly ‘lined up’, and presented me with a colored, pixilated, frieze of Don Quixote on horseback, complete with lance – somewhat similar to Picasso’s famous black and white cartoon illustrations of this figure.

To make matters even weirder, this freeze then began to move slowly along the side of the edge of the book  - each individual figure of Don Quixote (plus horse and lance) slowly disappearing around the edge at the right end of the book, just as another identical figure came around the left end of the edge of the book to take its place!

This was all fine with me, because I knew exactly what was happening… I was hallucinating…

About half an hour previously I had ‘dropped’ a tab of ‘acid’ (LSD), and – in the vernacular of that time – I was now embarking on a ‘trip’.

I will not describe any of my ‘tripping’ episodes in any detail here, as there is already enough available literature on the subject, and my experience(s) were, I would say, typical.

I ‘tripped’ quite a few times during this period, I always ‘tripped’ alone, and I always found the experience to be unique and extraordinary. But after about a year or so, I suddenly stopped ‘dropping acid’ regularly, and, in fact, I very rarely used psychedelics at all after that period. …. The last time was well over 25 years ago  …. Why did I stop? …. Well I couldn’t really say, and indeed, it’s something that I have often wondered about from time to time since, myself! …

Why am I relating all this to you here? …. Because my own experiences of ‘altered states of conscious’ would obviously inform my evaluation of other people’s claims to have experienced ‘altered states of consciousness’.

As far as I am concerned here, I had no doubt at all, even at that time, that whatever it was that I was experiencing was as a direct consequence of my ingesting Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD), and that this radical change in my own particular ‘perception of reality’ was a consequence of the physical state of my organism during that time, and was not some (quasi) mystical ‘stand-alone’ ‘transcendental’ experience.

Thus, I did not view these ‘trips’ of mine as ‘opening a doorway to other realities’; or believe that I had miraculously ‘travelled to another realm’; or that I was  ‘accessing hitherto un-accessed ‘centers’ in my body’, or that I was ‘flying about outside of my body’, or anything remotely like that (although these are some of the states I imagined I was experiencing under the influence of LSD) … I was – even when ‘tripping’ (except for one notably extremely negative experience I had) – always aware that I was deluded, and that I was under the influence of a drug. … Nonetheless, I have to say that I enjoyed these ‘experiences’ of mine immensely, and I would even go as far as to say that they were …’groovy’.

More importantly, although these experiences did provide ‘research material’ about what ‘I was’, they did not – in and of themselves – answer any of those damned questions of mine (see previous post) in any fundamental way. Nor did I discover that I could now, for instance, suddenly speak fluent Chinese; or that I had grown a couple of inches overnight; or that I could now play the trombone without prior practice; or that I now knew the name of that winning horse at Lingfield in the 2.30 race tomorrow; or that I knew who I was; or what I was; or where I was; etc. etc. Any more than that sentimental drunk who, after hanging their arm around your shoulder, and slobbering loudly and incoherently in your ear about how much they have always, “really liked you”, has suddenly become permanently transformed into a more empathetic human being, simply as a consequence of downing ten pints of Guinness.

These experiences, however, did go a long way to structure my understanding of any claims that were being made for any ‘altered states of consciousness’ by others, be these ‘altered states’ the result of taking various ‘drugs’, or ‘self-induced’ in other ways - and at that time particularly, these ‘others’ seemed to include almost ‘everyone and his dog’.

So then, I had no problem admitting, in one of these states at least, that it was easy to hold the belief, “We’re all connected, man”. And that this connectedness was, “The way it really was, all the time, if only we could always experience it like this.” That is, presumably, even when we inevitably returned to our everyday (and for the present at least) wretched, and miserable state, when we ‘came down’ – as we liked to call it.

Interesting though (and conclusively for me), those I have spoken to about their use of LSD (and there’s been quite a few over the intervening years) , and who have experienced a near-psychotic ‘bad’ ‘trip’ (and yes, I’ve had one of those too) have never claimed that this ‘bad trip’ was actually ‘the way it really was’… Indeed they all seemed absolutely certain (and grateful) that, as far as it concerns this one particular ‘journey’ of theirs anyway, it definitely was not ‘the way it really was’!  …..

But – and speaking again from my own experience – surely the major reason that these ‘bad trips’ were so ‘bad’, is precisely because, at the time you are experiencing them at least, you really do believe that they’re real, and this nightmare you’re in is, in fact, ‘the way it really is’…. And that this is, surely, the only reason why the experience of a ‘bad trip’ is so terrifying! ….

The point I’m attempting to make here? ….. Well, if you maintain that your ‘bad’ experience was one that you claimed later was actually ‘not real’. Why would you claim, or believe, that any other ‘altered state of consciousness’ was real? … Well, the answer here is surely simple and obvious enough – it’s because you liked it…. it made you feel good …

In my opinion though, it is those negative experiences, and not all the ‘nice’ ones, that need to be focussed on here in order to provide any real explanation for this whole business of ‘altered states’ …..

 By the way, people in the grip of these negative states for long periods, or in some cases permanently, are the ones that society, more often than not, labels ‘insane’ – because what these people claim that they are actually experiencing, the rest of us are very sure is, in reality, a ‘delusion’ …

In some non-Western cultures, however, these people are still often seen as ‘being possessed’ by spirits – indeed you can often read various contemporary accounts, in your daily newspapers, of this taking place in locations such as ‘Darkest London’,   … And we also, in our recent historical past, also used to believe that this was the case – and so we would do stuff to these people … like burning them alive……. ….  It’s a funny old world, isn’t it? …

By the way, if you’re interested further in this subject, and you fancy reading up on a some contemporary background information here, I can recommend these two (reasonably recent) excellent anthropological studies:

  • In Sorcery’s Shadow – by Paul Stoller and Cheryl Olkes. 1987 (It’s about sorcerers in the Republic of Niger)
  • Net of Magic. Wonders and Deceptions in India – by Lee Siegel. 1991 (It’s about magicians, and other various charlatans, in India)

As far as I’m concerned then, any ‘altered states’ of consciousness, whatever their nature (‘good’ or ‘bad’) – induced by any method of altering the physical state of the body – are delusions. … And I certainly do not hold the view that ‘trippers’ or ‘meditators’ experience some variety or other of a ‘transcendental vision’. …

More importantly, on the practical side, I did not experience the inducing of any ‘altered state’ here as assisting me towards any real understanding of what I believed was the complex inter-weaving, by Eugene Halliday, of those concepts that were contained in his recordings and essays …Although I had no trouble seeing that some ‘altered state’ or other could delude me into feeling OK about not understanding them! … But that was not what I wanted …

But to get back to events at Tan-Y-Garth for a moment … And to those meditations sessions that the discussion group were engaged in during the second part of the evening..

What we did essentially, was to sit with our legs crossed in the darkened room while Ken spoke to us, using his ‘yoga-teacher-speak’ voice. He would ask us to calm our breathing by counting (I think it was up to six, but I couldn’t be certain) while drawing an ‘in-breath’ (through the nose), hold this breath (while counting six) and then let out our ‘out-breath’ (through the mouth) while counting six again. The idea being, if I understood  all this correctly, that doing this would eventually calm our minds – essentially because we were not now following any of our thoughts, (“Just let them all go”).

Unsurprisingly, or so I thought, after ten minutes or so of doing this, we had all, indeed, ‘calmed down’ somewhat…. So much so, that one young man, who was always present at these sessions (at least when I was there) would almost invariably ‘nod off’ and begin to snore quietly … before eventually gently keeling over.

After calming us all down, Ken might then ask us to, say, imagine we had placed all our negative ideas and attitudes in a ball, and then picture ourselves throwing this ball to the other end of the universe (or something, essentially incomprehensible, like that).

I found it impossible to take any of this seriously. And I certainly didn’t experience what we were doing here as, in any way, ‘yoking’ or ‘joining back’ to the ‘supreme spirit’, or whatever else anyone here told me that the word ‘Yoga’, was ‘supposed’ to mean. …. But that’s not to say that others didn’t believe that this is what they were experiencing, I am just saying that it just didn’t do anything like that for me ….

More importantly, as I say, I could not see what on earth any of this ‘meditating’ had to do, at all, with what I had heard Eugene Halliday talking about in his recordings, or had written about in his essays.

I must once again also stress here that my only interest in going to Tan-Y-Garth was to network with anyone at all who maintained that they were working with Eugene Halliday ideas, and that I had no interest whatsoever in ‘Yoga’ per se.

… To make matters even more confusing, Ken Ratcliffe didn’t even attempt to connect what he was ‘leading’ the discussion group through in his Meditation Room to anything involving Eugene Halliday’s ‘Work’ – other than to vaguely suggest that, in some way, this ‘calming ourselves’ we were engaging in upstairs, would somehow assist us in our understanding of those rather difficult ideas we were struggling with downstairs.

However, my view of the subject of ‘Yoga’ was now about to change somewhat. …

I discovered that Eugene Halliday had written some very interesting things on the subject of  ’meditation’ (and more particularly – as far as I was concerned – on ‘contemplation’)…. And that he also wrote about the subject  from a perspective that I had no difficulty in appreciating, as it was completely in line with both my cultural, and religious, backgrounds (I was born in Liverpool, UK, in 1943, and I was christened ‘Church of England’). …

A pamphlet, written by Eugene Halliday, (and that was, I believe, the first one produced by the IHS) some 20 or so years earlier, contained – along with an essay giving a brief outline of the IHS’s purpose, and a list of future pamphlets that the society was planning to publish (printed on the last page) – a set of meditation exercises that were written especially for the IHS by Eugene Halliday himself, at the request of Ken Ratcliffe. …

Anyway, here’s the pamphlet – it’s a largish file, so it might take a minute or two to open on your computer.

IHS Pamphlet – Brief Resume of IHS purpose plus Meditations + Appendices

I was surprised to discover that none of the exercises contained in this pamphlet were being used by Ken in  those ‘meditation session’s’ that he conducted with our discussion group. … Although there were pamphlets available at the Hall during that time, in which Ken had reproduced one or two of these exercises … So why, I wondered weren’t we doing them?…. I’ve given my own opinion about this, later on in this post …

Even more significantly in my opinion, in mid-1973 (which is a few years after Ken moved from Liverpool to Tan-Y-Garth) I discovered that Eugene Halliday had written a series of fourteen essays for the St Michael’s Parish Magazine, Manchester, the title of every essay being  ‘Christian Yoga’ (followed by ‘Part 1′, and continuing, in monthly installments, up to ‘Part’ 14). ….And here it is …

Christian Yoga by Eugene Halliday

These ‘Christian Yoga’ essays were collected together and published as part of an IHS book, the title of which was ‘Yoga’. This book was in three parts. The first part was a reprint of Eugene Halliday’s essay, ‘Reflexive Self-Consciousness’ which Ken writes of, in his introduction to this book, as “deal(ing) with the rationale of the purpose of yoga”; the second, “a number of exercises for application”, which are described as “the Eight Stages of Hindu Yoga”; and the third is the complete ‘Christian Yoga’, about which Ken writes, “shows a very close parallel between Hindu and Christian Yoga” (really?), and which (for reasons which he does not clarify here) he changes the title of, to “Yoga in the Western Tradition”. … !!… ?

Here it is anyway…

YOGA (IHS)

Today, it is the ideas that are contained in two publications of Eugene Halliday’s (above) that inform any understanding I would claim to have regarding what it is that ‘Yoga’, as praxis, was – at least as far as Eugene Halliday was concerned. And I also see these ideas here as fitting in with many of his other major ideas that were contained in  his essays.

I am fully aware that Eugene Halliday has commented upon, or elaborated upon (sometimes in some detail) any number of diverse subjects, including various forms of ‘Yoga’ practice, but I do that believe at all, that it follows he recommends we engage in,  or even that he necessarily endorsed, these practices.

My main point in what follows, is that, in order to claim that you are influenced by Eugene Halliday – where it concerns your own practice of what you might, for some reason or other, wish to refer to as ‘Yoga’ – then the meditations, and also the contemplation exercises, contained in these two publications of his, are the ones that you would (very obviously in my opinion)  surely be practicing.

NOTE: In my view, it is important, at least when attempting to discuss the ideas and concepts of people such as Eugene Halliday, that you first pay them the courtesy of distinguishing between those comments (even detailed ones) that they are liable to make (and indeed often do so) on any number of subjects; and their rigorous attempts to express a far more complex, carefully considered, perspective of theirs on a particular subject – and which they have taken the trouble to make available to other interested parties, in the form of a detailed essay. 

To continue here. A cursory glance through these two publications should show, what I see at least is, the very clear position that Eugene Halliday takes with regard to ‘Yoga’ as a form of praxis.

Amongst the many topics contained in these two publications are:

  • The meaning of the word ‘Yoga’
  • The central importance of the teacher Jesus Christ
  • Introspection
  • God
  • Will
  • Love
  • What ‘meditation’ is
  • What ‘contemplation’ is
  • The ‘four-fold’ nature of the universe
  • Meditation on the circle and the cross
  • Meditation on the ‘Holy Trinity’
  • Meditation on the ‘six-pointed’ star
  • Breathing, posture, and ‘Creative Imagination’
  • The world, and holding a world view
  • The cosmic view
  • Identification
  • Understanding
  • The ‘Great Identification’ – becoming one with Jesus Christ
  • etc; etc; etc.

There is a great deal more in these two publications, but I believe that I’ve made my point here.

Thus – and I believe that this is surely blatantly obvious – anyone claiming to teach Yoga as a form of praxis from the perspective of Eugene Halliday’s ideas; or claiming to have ‘sat at the foot of Eugene Halliday’ and thus, by inference, having some intimate personal connection both with the man, and his ideas here  (and this would obviously include Ken Ratcliffe) , must obviously then, be fully conversant with both the ideas, and also the exercises, contained in these two, not very large, or difficult to understand, publications - at the very least. … And that these would, of necessity, surely inform, and thus subsequently come to structure, the central teachings of what it was that these ‘Yoga followers of Eugene Halliday’ claimed they were now, as a consequence were ‘passing on’ …… (Because, if this is not what they are ‘passing on, what then is the substance of what these ‘followers of Eugene Halliday  maintain that they  are ‘passing on’).

However, if all that these ‘yoga teachers’ wanted to do was the ‘keep fit’ stuff, or the ‘feel good’ stuff, or promote some hybrid, do-it-yourself, method that they had somehow clobbered together themselves, then obviously this would not apply…. …. But, if that were the case, why then would they take the trouble to claim that what they were doing ‘came’ from Eugene Halliday’s teachings? … Well, I think the answer to that is also obvious. … There is an impressive body of work that Eugene Halliday has produced which would serve to valorize these ‘teachers’ own claims here …… Any students of these ‘teachers’ (who probably know next to nothing about esoteric subjects anyway) , could then be easily seduced into believing the following – “Eugene Halliday obviously knows an awful lot about esoteric subjects; our ‘yoga teacher’ claims to have ‘sat at Eugene Halliday’s feet’; therefore our ‘yoga teacher’ must also know an awful lot about esoteric subjects.” ………

In addition, I would also fully expect that anyone claiming to be a teacher here (as opposed to say an ‘expert’ – that is, someone who contents themselves with gathering together a potpourri of Eugene Hallidy’s ideas, simply in order to regurgitate them at some later date as ‘information’, in order to show us all how smart they are) would, at the very least, be able to discuss, and describe in detail, personal accounts of the success or failure of their own particular attempts to embody these particular exercises of Eugene Halliday’s.  And finally, that their (future) students would be in no doubt that the ‘Yoga’ that they were being taught had a pronouned Christian bias…..And I believe that all this is blindingly obvious …

You should perhaps also consider here, that inducing internal states by the process of  contemplating various symbols is always a dodgy business – particularly if you have surrendered your autonomy regarding the interpretation of these symbols to someone else. …  Symbols, by their very nature, are not signs, and so do not have any fixed definitions …. Interpreting them by oneself (in my experience at least) can often be exhausting work…. But relying on someone else’s explanation or meaning here, regarding what it is that these symbols represent, can be even more dodgy. … Because the process of believing what you are being told by others here is far more connected to that ‘sniffing out’, which goes to make up a significant component of your intuitive process (your ‘gut feeling’ about that person), than with any rational decision-making process.

… Be that as it may, as far as I was concerned at least, at this stage of the game in late 1970, I was going with my intuition. And  it informed me that attempting to absorb Eugene Halliday’s ideas here was the ‘way to go’. Hence my willingness to accept his interpretation(s) of the symbols contained in these two publications.

But, as a word of warning here, I should also add that anyone who is really like me (that is, who does rely a great deal upon their intuition) quickly learns that what it is that one ‘intuites’ is often polluted by self-will, greed, and downright laziness.

Thus, just because things ‘come to me’, does not mean that they are always ‘Good’ or ‘True’…. It’s not that simple at all …. It’s often the case that I would also be inclined to go along with my ‘intuition’ (by first, perhaps, ‘tweaking it’ a little) if it simply happened to suit me at the time, or because I quite fancied going to where I imagined it was going to take me …

You should also factor in here that any number of prolonged physical activities will invariably, quite normally, induce changes in cognitive and/or feeling states (try ‘sexual activity’ here for instance). These states are obviously internal to the experiencer, and essentially this experiencer is the only being that is really able to authenticate any description of these states (that is, answer questions such as’ “How was that then?”). … But, if the experiencer allows someone else to introduce these states into them, and subsequently allows this person to then also define these states, they have allowed this person to assume real power over them. ….. For the ladies, this will almost invariably means that, sooner or later, if the person concerned is a male, they will attempt to avail themselves of the contents of your refrigerator … or even get you to wash and iron their underwear …  …..

Crucially for me, my own early experimenting with ‘altered states of consciousness’ had made me realize, with something of a shock, that what I was actually experiencing in the normal day-to-day world, from moment to moment, was a continually altering state of consciousness!  … And that this was a rather obvious fact when  I bothered to think about it …. Most of the time though, these changes of state were subtle, (thus even more  ’normal’)…. But even if this change was sudden (as when I was, say, startled by a loud bang) I found that I almost invariably immediately identified with it, and so ‘didn’t notice’ that my conscious state had altered – it was ‘just me’ and it was ‘just the way it was’…. I also realized that (when I thought about all this from time to time) although I could see that other’s were also clearly ‘jumping around’ from state to state, and moment to moment also, that they couldn’t experience themselves in this way either …. They couldn’t see themselves ‘doing it’ … it was just ‘them’ … being ‘them’…

It vaguely occurred to me that something was ‘stuck’ to this ever-changing consciousness from moment to moment, which raised the delicious possibility that perhaps it was possible to become ‘unstuck’…. Did this then have anything to do with one of my ‘questions’ viz., “What am I … really?” ….. I viewed this realization, for me, as real progress here, and it also helped me later on in my understanding of what ‘Work’ might be about, and what Eugene’s meant (perhaps) by the word ‘identification’…. But I couldn’t put this concept to any productive use for decades yet …. although I was able to gab about it, with the best of them, to anyone who was interested; and also to realize it is some vague, non-practical, way just before sleeping, say  …

Clearly though, I still had far to much ‘housekeeping’ to do here, before I retired to practice contemplating my naval . … …And anyway, at that time, all this ‘feel good’ stuff smelt far to much to me like a vaguely unwholesome addiction … (something else I also knew a teeny bit about) …..

To be fair though… (What!) ….. What I did observe, was that many people did definitely change as a result of practicing these various ‘yogic’ exercises –  that is, they often now had, as a result, better ‘coping skills’.

So that, if say, they were inclined to panic at the thought of flying. By concentrating on their breathing after strapping on their safety belt, they could now control this panic (like a sort of ‘damage limitation control’).

However, underneath this calm exterior, they were still actually, irrationally, really, terrified of flying, but this was not now being expressed. So, although I would say that they had ‘changed’ – in that they had worked on themselves to realize an already existing potential within themselves, and thus now had some control here, they had not been ‘transformed’  - that is, they had not become someone (like me, say) who ‘just didn’t’ experience unreasonable panic that could manifest itself simply at the very thought of flying …. This process I now see as the balancing of a ‘negative latent disposition’ (which I would now say is a state that is always waiting for an opportunity ‘to come to be’) by the process of mastering techniques that control this latent disposition  …

… And this very idea … the fact that this ‘negative latent disposition’ was somehow always ‘there’ (even if not expressed) was another important ‘find’ for me…. Much later on, this idea became very useful in understanding a number of other significant concepts contained in Eugene Halliday’s material … and also in Jacob Boehme’s (who?) writings as well…. even.

So, for myself then, while I can see the value of ‘yoga’ as a therapeutic tool, I was (and still am) only interested in attempting to discover how ‘transforming’ could be accomplished, as I am already OK with the ‘changing’ thing … And, I actually don’t think it’s all that difficult to do …but that does rather depend of course – to some extent at least – on what it is you want to change ….

… But to get back to things at Tan-Y-Garth the 1970′s …..and my view of what was now going on there – where it concerned Ken’s attempts to keep the place going …

I should mention here (if I haven’t already) that the major business of Tan-Y-Garth, introduced by Ken not long after he moved there, was the provision of a suitable ‘meeting place’ (or ‘retreat’ if you like; or even ‘Ashram’ if you prefer) at weekends, for what I would loosely call ‘Yoga groups’, drawn from all over the UK. And that these ‘week-ends’ obviously had a significantly larger attendance than our small mid-week discussion group.

But where did this sudden demand for ‘Yoga teachers’ come from, back then in the late 1960′s, or early 1970′s, you might ask? Why this sudden stampede by myriads of people who were more than willing to part with their hard earned cash, in order to engage in stuff like sitting in a room somewhere, breathing, and counting from one to six (or whatever) etc. for hours? …

‘Yoga’ was a pursuit, or activity if you prefer, that had started to become increasingly popular in the UK with the public at large (especially those of student age) around 1965 – which is when the Beatles began their flirtation with ‘Transcendental Meditation’; but, more particularly, since the broadcasting in 1970 on UK ITV, of Richard Hittleman’s ‘Yoga For Health’ – which is when, I would argue, that the ‘Yoga’ business really started to pick up steam.

‘Yoga For Health’, was an American TV show that had been imported into the UK sometime during the year of 1970, when it immediately became a huge hit with the ‘young mums’ of that time …. I should also add that it was also quite popular with any number of ‘young lads’ also, who enjoyed watching a couple of Mr Hittleman’s very attractive nubile young female ‘assistants’, dressed in leotards, demonstrating various ‘yogic positions’ (or ‘asanas, as they like to call them in the Yoga business)… out there in sunny California … in the sun … under the palm trees … next to the swimming pool.

It was often referred to as ‘keep fit yoga’, and sometimes as ‘Hatha Yoga’ – the latter label conveniently serving to give it a somewhat pseudo-spiritual flavor (for gullible Westerners) by ‘yoking’ it to some (largely imagined) form of exotic, vaguely erotic, Indian, ‘spiritual’ practice. …. It has, since that time, in fact become an extremely lucrative, nation-wide, low initial-outlay, business: and also an extremely popular (and therefore academically interesting to me) aspect of ‘popular culture’. … As Frank Zappa might have put it, “What do you need to do to be a Yoga teacher? … You just need to say, “I’m a Yoga teacher.” … “!

By the time we get to the 1970′s then, the whole business of ‘Yoga’ had become a paradise for ‘do-it-yourself, self-appointed, spiritual experts’, the overwhelming majority of whom had never even heard of Eugene Halliday (so mentioning his name would not have done any good here, anyway).

Ideally though, what you needed to do though in order to authentically validate your ‘yoga teacher’ status, was to claim that some ‘Guru’ from India had taught you all the tricks…. That, and perhaps the ability to sprinkle your ‘lessons’ with the odd Sanskrit word (in order to suggest to your punters that you might perhaps ‘speak the language’) is also a very useful card to play in this game…. (Yet another excruciatingly irritating affectation, as far as I’m concerned)…

It would seem to me though, the only subjects that many of these ‘authentic Indian ‘Guru’s’ appeared to have any real interest in was: possessing a Swiss bank account; owning a fleet of Rolls Royce cars; real estate; and, what my New Orleans musician colleagues covertly referred to as, ‘poontang’.

Even so, somehow (and this was mind-boggling) these con-men still managed to amass huge numbers of ‘followers’ – which, somehow, always seemed to include an endless supply of adoring ladies. … Like a sort of  ’spiritual’ version of Barry Manilow  ….

But then, also during that time, large numbers of people in the UK believed that some guy from Israel, who went by the name of Uri Geller, could bend forks and spoons with his mind ….So I suppose that the events here are really not all that surprising…

The most significant component here in all this for me however, was that Ken had also by that time discovered the recordings of social scientist, Richard Alpert. Alpert, a one time Harvard professor, had, in the company of Timothy Leary and Ralph Metzner, consumed copious amounts of LSD back then in the late 1960′s- early 1970′s. These three gentlemen had even written a book together on the subject called, ‘The Psychedelic Experience: A Manuel Based On The Tibetan Book of the Dead’. And, “Yes,” I have read it (in fact I still have a copy). Anyway, Richard Alpert subsequently went off to India, met his own guru, apparently suddenly stopped dropping acid, returned to the USA, changed his name to Baba Ram Dass, and, in 1971, solo-authored a hippy best-seller  (which I also still have a copy of) – the title of which was, ‘Remember, Be Here Now’ …….. (By the way, does that phrase ‘Be Here Now’ sound kind of familiar to anyone here?)… Ram Dass then put out various long-playing recordings, and it is these that Ken subsequently got hold of.

To me, Ram Dass’s approach (and you’ll have to do your own research here if you want to know what that is) definitely wasn’t Eugene Halliday’s approach. But I do believe it was the model for Ken’s, now predominantly, ‘Yogic’ activities, during these weekend ‘retreats’. And this also explained, as far as I was concerned, his approach to those ‘meditation exercises’ with our discussion group.

But, to get back to those ‘week-ends’ at Tan-Y-Garth. … When Jean and I attended them, we viewed them as a reasonably priced, if somewhat austere, form of restful break. Separate dormitories for the sexes were the rule, (How all my gay chums would have loved that!). However, I suppose you could argue that sexual abstinence would make this whole weekend mini-experience ‘more spiritual’. But from my jaded, worldly, negative, point of view, this rule was probably a consequence of the fact that the Hall only had a few double rooms (or bathrooms for that matter) and that using two great big rooms was a good way of getting round the problem … and are much easier to look after  … But that’s just me ….

Anyway, when we did occasionally attend the odd week-end at Tan-Y-Garth (usually to show our support, and make up the numbers), as it was impossible for us to spend any quality time together in bed (see para immediately above), I, instead, spent most of the time talking with Ken, or Richard, or hanging around in the kitchen with Bar, drinking tea, and smoking cigarettes. I would, sooner or later though, invariably spot Ken, complete with beard and pony-tail, wandering about the Hall and grounds, often wearing a long, monk-like, robe.

The major task of those living at Tan-Y-Garth Hall then, in my book, was really – whether Ken liked to admit it or not  - the problem of producing enough of a cash-flow to pay the overheads on the place, and so keep it ticking over.

A great deal of hard work was put into making these week-end meetings at Tan-Y-Garth the success that they became. The overwhelming bulk of this work being carried out by Ken’s wife, Barbara, who, along with their daughter, Janet, and son-in-law, Richard Milligan, were to be kept fully employed for 20 or so years, in the distinctly non-yogic tasks of cooking, washing the bed linen, and housekeeping etc. for their week-end visitors.

On those week-ends where folks would be invited to come out to what those at the Hall still like to refer to as, a ‘working week-end’ (which was essentially how they got volunteers to clean up the place, do a spot of ‘gardening’, or, if they were handy, do some renovating) I never once saw Ken with a brush in his hand, or with his fingers in the rich Welsh earth ….. and funnily enough, neither has anyone else I have asked who was there around that time … …

… I don’t think I would be stretching it here, if I said that during these week-ends, Ken was more than happy to play at being a ‘guru’…. Regrettably, many people fell for it as well ….

Leaving events at Tan-Y-Garth aside for the moment, how did my own experiences here of ‘altered states’ inform my view of the outbreak of ‘Yoga Clubs’ all over the UK. The numbers of which have been steadily growing since the end of the 1960′s/beginning of the 1970′s.

Well, and more antagonistically (which shouldn’t surprised you by now) my perspective on self-induced changes in conscious states, whether through the act of taking drugs or by using a more natural approach by, say, regulating the breathing, informs most of my attitude to what most folks are pleased to call ‘Yoga’. … To put it as straightforwardly as I can – I do not believe that, as a consequence here, these devotees are ‘yoking’ or ‘joining back’ to what they are pleased to imagine is the ‘supreme spirit’ (or something like that), but that they are victims of their own delusions, and are also usually encouraged in this belief of theirs by their ‘guru’….. To quote a Liverpool maxim here, which might help, ‘Once a mug, always a mug’.

You might like to conduct a little independent research on the subject of ‘False Gurus and Siddhis’ here. Here’s a sample quote on the subject, selected at random, from the KathaVarta.com blog:

“The Universe is full of false preceptors. Overtly clever, they surround themselves with selfish pleasures and bestow their ‘grandiose’ teachings upon the unwary. Prematurely publicizing themselves, intent upon reaching some spiritual climax, they constantly sacrifice the Truth and deviate from the real spiritual path. What they really offer the Universe is their own confusion.”

However, regarding ‘contemplation’ (and not ‘meditation’) as Eugene Halliday describes the practice at least. As this has always been a strictly solitary pursuit for me – I can confidently assert that it definitely does not qualify as a week-end social activity. So I never really ‘came under the influence of anyone’, or ‘sat at the feet of anyone’ here. I simply focused on attempting to understand Eugene Halliday’s ideas, rather than just attempting to remember them verbatim … and I stayed with any methodology that appeared to help me here.

It might be pertinent here to also point out that, certainly up until 1966 (when he had reached his mid-50′s) Eugene Halliday spoke, in the main, to relatively small groups of people, and his ‘overheads’ (if in fact there were any worth talking about) were negligible. Thus, this was all very easily managed by him. …. I now view these opportunities of his to speak to others as being seen by him simply as different situations in which to ‘Work’, and not as an opportunity for him to indulge in anything else …. And far more significantly, I have been unable to uncover any single instance where Eugene Halliday conducted a ‘Yoga’ session … And that includes testimony from someone who lived in the same house as the man for over twenty-five years … (More of this in a late post)….

This ‘Work’, I came to see much later, was the real task that Eugene Halliday was recommending that we all freely and willingly engage in – as much as we were able. But it is extremely demanding, and requires the participation of the whole being. … Unfortunately, results cannot be achieved here by simply just moving to a different geographical location; or by changing one’s name; or by wearing any special set of clothing; or by growing a beard; or by letting ones hair grow; or by following a special diet; or ‘studying’ for a ‘yoga diploma’  - none of which is really all that difficult, is it? …

I believe that the whole idea is to eventually be able to ‘Work’ (as one is able) anywhere that one finds oneself,  in the ‘here and now’. And if you’re wondering how difficult that might be, think, “Downtown Kabul, Saturday night, after the pubs let out,” – and not after you climb into whatever uniform it is that you’ve decide to wear; or run your comb through whatever body-hair style(s) you’ve decided to adopt; or handed out your business card to inform everyone what it is that you’ve now decided to call yourself; or had a large helping of whatever ‘special’ diet you’ve decided to follow, before finally, waving your ‘certificate of authentication’ about, for interested parties to peruse at their leisure.

As Zero Mahlowe so succinctly put it to me, some twenty-five or so years later, “No matter where Eugene found himself, Eugene simply did … what Eugene always did!”

… Anyway, it was now 1979 … I felt that it was time to move on … So, I’ll now try to sum up here  …. ….

The purpose of joining the discussion group was to assist me in my attempt to clarify and ‘connect together’ (by grasping their governing concepts) various ideas of Eugene Halliday’s, in such a way that these formed a homogenous body of ideas. (Much later … after asking, “So what?”…  the significance of ‘embodying’ these ideas would become the over-riding, dominant, concern here for me).

Regarding those ‘meditating sessions’ of Ken’s? … Well, he seemed to me, to be purposefully advancing the idea that we should somehow all be attempting to deliberately empty our mind of any ‘thoughts’, in order to produce states of ‘calm’ (or whatever). And having done so, we should then introduce some ‘image’ or other into our ‘minds’ in order to produce some form of ‘positive’ emotional state. I saw him, eventually, as attempting to turn himself into ‘The UK’s answer to Ram Dass’ … And I felt that this approach was inappropriate here,  in that it did not help me in my attempts to relate to, and so understand, Eugene Halliday’s material.

Ken certainly did not seem to be encouraging any ‘actively dynamic’ approach here to me…. And as I intuited that the presence of an ‘active dynamic’ was the only necessary, fundamental, essential  ingredient here at this time, perhaps you can now understand why I was so sure that these ‘meditation’ exercises of his would not help me….Definitely not at this stage anyway. …

Indeed, I did not believe that they helped Ken Ratcliffe to further his understanding of these ideas of Eugene’s either…. And I saw him as someone who was, at that time, still obviously trying desperately to integrate these ideas into his being –  some 25 plus years after he had met the man. ….To be blunt, in my opinion, these ‘meditations’ of Ken’s were actually counter-productive to this aim here. ….

So, for my part at least, this ‘meditation’ was a big ‘No-No’ … at least until I had completed this very necessary stage in my life that I was at …. And I am, now, actually thankful for all my angst, turmoil, surprise, and sometimes, incredible frustration, back then, because without them, I would have had nothing at my disposal to help me here….

… I wouldn’t say then, that this prolonged experience (‘process’ might be a better word) that I was going through  was at all a ‘stroll in the park’ for me, and that I was having a particularly pleasant experience back then…Worthwhile? … … Perhaps … … Rewarding? … Yes … But for a lot of the time at least  (and it did go on for a very long time after I had left Tan-Y-Garth) … not pleasant at all. …

… You might simply like to view all this then, as a necessary component of  my ‘Nigredo’ (if I might go all mysterious on you for a moment) … But you’d have to know a lot about other stuff here to appreciate what that actually means … Anyway I’ve ‘put it out there’ for those of you who might ‘get it’, as it summarizes things quite nicely here …

A word of caution … This process is definitely not something that I would recommend to those of you who are looking to engage in some pursuit or other that ‘increases your enjoyment of life’ … or anyrhing like that …

… On the positive side, after discussing Eugene Halliday ideas with Ken and others,  I could now put ‘bits and pieces’ of these ideas to practical use. That is, I could ‘read’ the world through a couple of these ideas … from time to time. …  And when it came to those one or two subjects that I had a definite interest in, I was delighted to find that I could now put a number of Eugene Halliday’s ideas to a great deal of practical use here. …. But I felt that I still hadn’t really any real grasp of how to ‘Work’. … And I felt that there was still a great deal of confusion here for me, that I must clear up before I could move forward. ….

I will once again stress that Ken was of real help to me here, and that I enjoyed his company very much. But I also believed that the necessity of holding on to Tan-Y-Garth was taking him in the wrong direction … So  I decided that I must move on if I was to get any further here in what it was, I imagined at that time, I was attempting to accomplish.

Did Eugene Halliday create any more exercises to assist in the process of learning to ‘Work’? … Yes, he certainly did …  But I’ll be posting detailed information about what that was, and how to do it, in a later post … as I didn’t find out about it myself until sometime after attended Ishval meetings at Parklands.

I’ll just say here that this exercise of his was extremely dynamic in nature, and that it involved a group activity, and that those taking part had to be totally committed for it to work effectively. … I was to work with it myself for some time … But I have kept quiet about it until now, because, in my opinion, there’s been so much rubbish talked about it by any number of people who also claimed to have tried it, that I felt it was pointless for me to become involved, as this would only serve to complicate the subject further….

I have been told that this particular important exercise of Eugene Halliday’s has been banned at Tan-Y-Garth by the person now controlling things there. But that’s hardly surprising, as I also understand that she has not had any experience of practicing this exercise herself. (I understand that she was, formally, yet another one of those ‘yoga’ teachers)…. But – as to practicing this exercise … far more interestingly … neither had Ken Ratcliffe. ….

While I had been attending sessions at Tan-Y-Garth, Eugene Halliday had been delivering his monthly talks (on and off) at ‘Parklands’ since about 1966. These talks formed part of the regular ‘goings on’ of ISHVAL. This vaguely mysteriously sounding word was in fact an acronym for (yet another) registered charity – ‘The Institute for the Study of Hierological Values’ – of which Eugene was its Chairman.

‘Parklands’ had been purchased. and subsequently immediately placed at the disposal of ISHVAL, by Mr and Mrs Fred and Yvonne Freeman, through their Freeman Family Trust. I should also add here that Fred Freeman was ISHVAL’S President from its inception in 1966; and also that Eugene Halliday would have been 55 years old, or there abouts, at that time.

Martin decided to write to Eugene to ask if we might attend his Ishval talks at Parklands. Ken was fine with the idea, and said that the next time he went to Ishval, he would give us a ‘recommend’.

Letter to Martin from Eugene (1979)

Soon after, Jean and I, and Martin, were to attend our first ‘in the flesh’ Eugene Halliday talk’…

So things now seemed to be moving along again. … But nothing that had happened up until now was sufficient to prepare me for ‘Ishval’ and ‘Parklands’ …. and to say that I was somewhat unprepared, would be putting it mildly … …. To say the least!

Postscript. 

Martin and I last visited Tan-Y-Garth some twelve years later, in 1991…. This was the year before Ken Ratcliffe died. He had, by this time, suffered a couple of strokes, and he seemed confused and tired to me. His wife, Barbara had died of cancer some time earlier, as had his eldest daughter Janet…. His son-in-law Richard had ‘been let go’ by those who were now clearly intent on taking over things at the Hall … … … … It was all very sad …

To be continued ……..

Bob Hardy

May, 2012

 

 

 

 

 
  • ” … You are so right! …

(He moves forward and stops with his legs slightly apart, raises both his arms, and moves his hands forward, as if to emphasize his agreement. His tone is warm and confident). Clearly, you do have to take this essential ‘first step’, now that you have decided, finally, that it really is time for you to venture forth upon this all-important ‘journey of a 1,000 miles’ of yours.

(He lowers his arms to his sides and leans forward slightly. He smiles, and speaks quietly). But understand  … there are no guarantees at all that you’ll be heading off in the right direction!

(His smile quickly turns to a frown. He looks quizzical, and begins to pace, slowly at first, becoming more and more animated) Your decision to embark on, what you imagine, is  this crucial and life-changing journey of yours, is an exciting thing to do…As far as you’re concerned anyway! 

And the more you day-dream about it …. You know! … Making all those meticulous preparations in your head!… All that (He gestures and pokes the air with his finger)planning! … Thenthe greater your expectations are going to be. … And all this will only serve to make this whole enterprise of yours even more important to you – and even more thrilling!

But see … all that you’re really doing here is providing yourself with a focus – an object if you will – for your desire … You’re just ‘getting high’ in other words…

(He looks over with a wry expression on his face) Sorry! ….

(His voice becomes serious, and he speaks with a slightly more authoritative tone). Your desire seeks only the thrill of more desire, and will move itself indiscriminately towards anything you come up with that might keep it in being. … Consequently, every time that you eventually do ‘arrive’, although you might get what you believed it was that you wanted – you’ll find that, in fact, you’ve somehow lost what it was that you already had! …(He shrugs his shoulders). Which – even though you might not have realized it as such – was merely the thrill and excitement you felt from all of that hot, sticky, desire you were wallowing in! …

And … even more alarming! – Upon your ‘arrival’, you will very quickly discover that you have lost interest in what you imagined was the whole damned purpose of this ‘trip’ of yours in the first place! …

By the way, ‘loss of interest’ here just means that you’ve now run out of energy … and so of course, ‘down you plummet!’…(He looks around, and continues in an inquiring manner) I believe this condition is what you refer to here sometimes, as ‘being depressed’…

Anyway! … Let’s simply say that you will now find yourself in a position where you just ‘can’t get it up’ anymore, (He gets up from the chair) and so you now desperately start to look around for some new diversion to stimulate you. (He looks around frantically, this way and that, as if searching for something. He stops still, and stares intently into the the corner of the room. grins delightedly, and rushes over towards the corner)  Only to repeat this cycle! … Over … and over … and over … and over … again!…. Until! … … (He starts to stagger and quickly falls to his knees) …Eventually! … (He lies on his back shuddering) … You die! (He lifts his legs up, holds them there for a moment, and drops them to the ground with a loud bang)….  … Ta-ta-ta-rah!!!… … (He lies on his back and pretends to be blowing a trumpet)

(He rises to his feet, dusts himself quickly down, and leans on the side of the chair) So my friend, can you now appreciate … like me … that experiencing this ‘thrill of desiring’ was all that you were really after in the first place… and you continually deceived yourself into believing that you were actually searching for something else … Something …. ‘Precious’, or perhaps, … ‘Meaningful’? (He laughs, and sits down). …

 All those possibilitiesout there that you haven’t experienced yet! ….. It’s all so … very exciting isn’t it? …Which is why it’s relatively easy to get all of you down here to go dashing about, all over the place, time and time again!

(He leans forward, and whispers) I’ll let you into a little secret my friend. Your ‘life’ down here isn’t one damn thing after another. It’s far worse than that! (Louder) Your life down here is the same damn thing, over and over again! (He roars with laughter).

(He wipes his eyes) But hey! There’s no need for you to get all upset  … Because now that you do know how it all works here, obviously you don’t have to actually take any more of those ‘first steps’ ever again!  …. (He stares at the floor for a moment, then jerks upright and smiles broadly) … No more of all that frantic dashing around! ….. (He begins to march this way and that, with an exaggerated Nazi ‘goose-step’)  … You can just imagine yourself taking those journeys instead! …. ‘Do it all yourself’ – ‘in the privacy of your own head’ – as it were! … It’ll be just as exciting! ….

And hey!  No one else is really all that interested anyway. So they won’t even notice! They’re all far too busy down here trying to find new ways of fanning the flames of their own desire ….

(He stops suddenly and looks thoughtful for a moment. A faint grin appears on his face, and he speaks to himself quietly) …. Mmm! .. I like that …’fanning the flames’ ….. I must remember to keep it in … …..

(He smiles warmly again and continues speaking normally) So … don’t worry! … I promise you! … In the end, no one will know if you had any real intention of ever actually going anywhere.  … …

(He walks off, and says softly) …Not even you!

(He pauses, and repeats quietly to himself, in a  slow , deliberate, voice, before moving on) …Not .. even .. you! 

From, ’Field-notes For Armageddon’, by Bob Hardy

 

Setting The Scene – Part 2

One of the problems I’m having here already, is ‘telling it the way it really was’ thirty-five plus years ago, because my account is being continually influenced by my present viewpoint. But, for the time being at least, I am just going to have to be ‘ok with that’ (and so will you) otherwise I’m not going to get any further here. I should also add that – looking at those past events now – it is obvious to me that I didn’t really know what I was doing back then.  But at that time, I really thought I did ..

What sorts of people, in my opinion at least, become interested in the things that Eugene Halliday spoke and wrote about? Well, I see them falling into two major groups. The first group has an interest in subjects such as: psi phenomena – telepathy, etc; psychic phenomena – contacting the dead, etc.; ‘matters esoteric’ – astral travel, etc; and ‘things that can’t be explained by science generally’; and I would also include here those who have a morbid fear of death. And although I don’t belong to this group, I do appreciate how they come to listen to, and read, Eugene Halliday’s material, because I have always had an interest in these subjects myself. To give you just a few brief examples, as a teenager I was fascinated by the writings of Charles Forte and his skepticism re ‘the scientific method’ (I still have my copy of ‘The Books of Charles Forte’); I was an avid reader of Science Fiction from the age of about 14 (and had one of the biggest collections in the UK by 1970, with many first editions (Oh, how I wish I had them now!); I read many ‘non-mainstream’ books at that time, such as ‘An Experiment With Time’ by J. W. Dunn and ‘Flying Saucers Have Landed; by George Adamski as a teenager; during my late teens I bought my own copy of the Condon Report (‘The Blue Book’), published in the early 1950′s, the infamous American Air Force report on UFO’s; I read semi-academic stuff by authors such as Carlos Castaneda; I have had a forty plus year interest in C G Jung’s Analytical Psychology which first prompted my continuing interest in Gnosticism and Alchemy; etc. etc. And, in case you think I might now have left all this stuff behind me, my last Kindle purchase (in March of 2012) was Phillip K Dick’s ‘Exegesis’ …. So yeah! It isn’t like I don’t know what it’s like to have these interests, but understand that I do view all of this material skeptically – but that’s how I view almost everything else! And I should also add that I am acutely aware of the power and control that self-styled experts in these areas (particularly where it concerns the more esoteric subjects here) can so easily assume over the more gullible and vulnerable members of society, often with tragic results.

But having these interests myself, to some degree at least, was not at all why I was (and still am) interested in the ‘Work’ of Eugene Halliday!

So I’m in the other group then, and that’s not so easy to describe. But I will try, by attempting to tell you here how this all started for me …

For as long as I can remember, a number of really pressing questions have always been uppermost in my mind. However, it’s not like these questions presented themselves to me as politely articulated inquiries, or emerged gradually. They have always seemed to me to have been muttering away autonomously ‘in the back of my mind’ there, and they are all connected thematically.

Broadly speaking, they are “What am I?; What am I doing here?; Where am I?”; “Who are all these other people?”, and are accompanied by a vague feeling that, “This has all been some sort of dreadful mistake.”

There is one other question however, that you could add to those above, and it’s the one I believe that all of us are presented with – all the time – voiced or unvoiced. And that’s, “What is going on right now, and what should I do about it?”.

The attempt to provide the answer to this particular question can involve, on the one hand, delving into subjects  such as Religion and Metaphysics, and on the other, Science and Engineering (to say nothing of the Arts), and is exquisitely formulated to get us caught up in anything that’s going on ‘out there’ that takes our fancy, from Word Wars and Global Politics, to problems involving attempts to lose weight, or tackle premature baldness. It is – if you will – the one question we are all continuously being presented with, whether we are consciously aware of it or not. And so events, either sent ‘from above’, or seen merely as the consequences of Darwinian evolution, do appear to have conspired to place human beings at least, in a position to explore  their own existential search for ‘meaning’ from moment to moment.

How these questions – and my responses to them – have ‘evolved’ over the years would be extremely difficult for me to describe right now. But to give you some idea, a question such as, “What is ‘in-ness’, and ‘out-ness’?”  evolved quite naturally in my case from ‘Where am I?”, in that it was not asked of me by anyone else. This question was formulated from ‘out of myself’, and I also experienced it as ‘coming to me at the right time’. So that, along with its appearance, I also had the distinct impression that it was also now possible for me to come up with some kind of answer to it….

If I happen to meet a ‘fellow enquirer’ in the same situation as me, we seem to be able to recognize each other almost immediately; and we also know when someone else is ‘faking’ these questions. I mean here that, although many might say that they find these questions ‘really interesting’, they are clearly only of passing interest here – a diversion in the moment, and nothing more than that.

The urgency of requiring some sort of answers to these pressing questions did appear to diminish later in life somewhat, as I become more and more embroiled in the ‘game of life’. So much so, in fact, that I sometimes forgot about them entirely for short periods.  But, sooner, rather than later, they would come back to haunt me again.

However, there is a kind of ‘upside’ to this, in that this relentless existential ‘prodding’ seemed to come with an abundance of free energy that I could use to help me here. Some saw this in me as an unseemly ‘manic enthusiasm’, and would find it extremely unsettling when I ‘turned up the wick’ from time to time, although others appeared to enjoy the spectacle.

A ‘downside’ to all this (which I also experienced very early on) was that if I did attempt to ‘avoid the quest’, then the ‘free energy’ I was blessed with would very soon tangle me up in all sorts of trouble.

By the way, please don’t imagine that I believe all this makes me somehow superior. It’s just the way it is, and I’m simply pointing out here that you either do have these questions gnawing away at you, or you don’t – which is rather obvious if you care to think about it for a moment….  And also, I hope I haven’t given you the impression that in earnestly seeking answers to these questions, I’ve necessarily discovered any!

The reason why some of us do, or don’t, have these questions in us in this way, is another matter entirely …. And, yes, I am well aware that the answer here could simply be that we’re insane!

By the way, if you don’t have these questions ‘in you’, or, to put that another way, if you are not, in some fundamental sense, these questions themselves, then the few paragraphs I’ve written above here, won’t really have made that much sense to you…

….Finally, I feel I should also tell you that there are also a number of other things that happen to me that other people might find odd. But, for the moment at least, I don’t have any intention of writing about them here..

That being said … On with the tale. …

I first heard of Eugene Halliday sometime during the mid-1970′s, when Martin Mathieson, a close friend of mine, gave me a number of audio-cassette of Eugene’s talks that were recorded, sometime between the late 1950′s and the mid 1960′s, at meetings of the ‘The International Hermeneutic Society’ (IHS) which were held at the Liverpool home of Ken (he changed the spelling to Khen) and Barbara (she changed the spelling to Bhar) Ratcliffe. Eugene Halliday was, at that time, the IHS President, and Ken Ratcliffe was the IHS Secretary.

Shortly after giving me these cassettes, Martin took me and my wife, Jean, to ‘Tan-Y-Garth Hall’, a large house in North Wales. This Hall was the new home of the IHS, which, since October of 1971, had become an officially registered charity.

By this time, Eugene Halliday appears to have severed his official connection to the IHS, and also, interestingly enough, sometime during this early period, the IHS had morphed into the IHS(V) or IHS(VAL) – ‘The International Hermeneutic Society (Validations)’. It is also important to point out that, from the time that Tan-Y-Garth became the ‘headquarters’ of the IHS in 1971, until his death in 1987 (some 15 years later), Eugene Halliday never stepped foot in the place, although he could have done so at any time – a state of affairs that I still, to this day, find interesting.

I have no idea where the (V) here came from by the way – but during the next decade or so, I could not help but notice that these same letters kept cropping up elsewhere: IHS(V) or IHS(VAL); and ISHVAL; closely followed by the very mysterious SIHVAL – The Society for the Investigation of Human Values – registered as a charity in September of 1972, and more commonly referred to by folks ‘in the know’ (who lived in South Cheshire, UK, and made use of it) as ‘Toft Hall’, and which seems to have been, bye and large, what was known at that time, as a local ‘convalescent home’. (More of that in a later post. perhaps).

Ken Ratcliffe presided over an informal mid-week discussion group at Tan-Y-Garth, the major purpose of which (during the time I attended at least) was to discuss some of Eugene (or Gene – as Ken called him) Halliday’s concepts.

Ken made it very clear during the time I attended these talks that what he was doing here was simply attempting to work with Eugene Halliday’s ideas, and he certainly was not claiming that he had, in some way, already absorbed them.

There were never more than half-a-dozen or so people maximum attending this mid-week group, and although it appeared to me that one or two of them were clearly ‘traveling on the other coach’, this didn’t seem to matter too much (but telling you this here should dispel any suspicion you might harbor that I imagined we were all engaged in some sort of ‘Brains of Britain’ thing).

Attempting any discussion of Eugene Halliday’s ideas, as I see it, would reasonably  suppose that those doing so had some sort of ‘passing acquaintance’ with them at least, which in my case was a consequence of listening to recordings of his talks, and also reading some of his essays. Indeed this form of ‘studying’ was the approach that Ken appeared to me to be using at Tan-Y-Garth – in that he listened to the tapes, read the essays, and tried to remember the stuff.

So, during the time that I attended these meeting, in my opinion, Ken wasn’t ‘bringing up these ideas from himself’. In fact, often he was clearly having just as much difficulty getting them ‘straight, in his head’, as everyone else. And although he had a great deal more information available (from his close personal connection with Eugene Halliday for 20 years or so, and also his continuous striving to remember this material), it was obvious that these ideas and concepts that we were discussing were not his – and that what he was doing, at these group meetings at least, was musing over them out loud, and using the rest of us as a sounding-board, as it were.

That was fine with me, as I did have a good memory then, and remembering this stuff wasn’t that difficult for me. So I did spend  a few years here just discussing Eugene’s concepts with both Ken and the group, and I consider this time to have been extremely formative and important to any understanding I imagine I now have of this material.

I had not yet focused on the idea of embodying these ideas at this time – because I would not have had the faintest inkling of what that might have meant. And It was only after listening to Ken’s accounts of Eugene’s advice to him it began to dawn on me, that without this practical (embodying) side, no real progress was ever going to be made. But, as I say, this was not at all obvious to me in the beginning – that is, when I first began listening to the tapes, and reading the essays.

Although this situation, by and large, was to continue for the next decade or so, at the time though (luckily for me) none of this mattered, and I was (and still am) simply grateful to Ken for the opportunity to have been able to discuss these ideas in some depth with anybody at all. I should also perhaps make it clear that I believe I benefited from my visits to Tan-Y-Garth and taking part in these discussions, far more than my later visits to ‘Parklands’ – where I had many opportunities to listen to Eugene talking in person, and to do other stuff as well.

So, to recap briefly. As far as my impressions at this time were concerned, after listening to a number of Eugene Halliday’s recorded talks, and having read a few of his essays, I had become very interested at the way in which he explained: who we were; what we were doing here; how we got here; who these other people were; etc. I was now talking about these ideas with others who also claimed to be interested in them (but, unfortunately, not for the same reasons that I believed I was).

I must admit that my attitude to what it was that others were doing here did irritate me at the time. As it did seem fairly obvious to me that many of them were desperately looking for ‘someone’ in their lives – someone to ‘follow’ as it were – and who, in the main, also favored the current, trendy, emerging ‘New Age-ish’, approach to life. I, on the other hand, wasn’t looking for ‘anyone’ particularly; or any group of people to socially interact with.

This perspective of mine on what it was these people were ‘up to’, set the pattern for any further discussions I was to have with almost everyone else involved here for the next five or six years – and was ultimately the main reason why I had no problem ‘moving on’ in 1984.

But let me make it absolutely clear here that I had no sense at all Eugene Halliday himself was promoting ideas and concepts that endorsed, or were even sympathetic to, current, trendy, ‘spiritual’ enquiries involving ‘mysterious’ topics such as: ufo’s; crop circles; spirit beings from another planet; previous lives; Yaqui Indian sorcerers; astral travel; divination; transcendental meditation/contemporary ‘yoga’; quack medicine; ‘special’ diets; mysterious oriental practices; etc. etc. Quite the reverse in fact.

Indeed I was relieved to find someone who clearly wasn’t resorting to all that fashionable nonsense. But who, rather, seemed to believe (as I did) that the very fact of ‘being’ itself was ‘magical’ enough and worth investigating – without the introduction of any smoke and mirrors, or trickery and mumbo-jumbo, to ‘spice it up a bit’; and who was presenting an interesting, helpful, and self-affirming area of study and contemplation.

Eugene Halliday did, of course, use contemporary metaphors and mise-en-scènes to illustrate his ideas, and I’m fine with that – because I don’t see how else you could get these ideas across, unless perhaps you produce them in an exclusively academic setting – which would defeat his whole purpose here, in my view.

So I  vacillated between being really grateful that I had come across this material, and being intensely irritated with many of those that I was having to come in contact with!

It was fortunate for me though that I stuck with it, because this aspect of group relationships, and the dynamics it produced began to fascinate me, eventually more so even than just thinking about Eugene Halliday’s concepts themselves. And I would say that the study of the behavior of various disparate social groups, ‘read through’  Eugene Halliday’s concepts, would eventually provide me with far more material about the nature of the human condition (vis-a-vis those ‘questions’ of mine) than simply the contemplation of Eugene Halliday’s concepts ‘in abstraction’, as it were. But this was all to come about at some considerable time in the future.

To continue here though …. I was also lucky enough to have a number of lengthy private conversations with Ken during the few years that I was regularly attending Tan-Y-Garth. Perhaps this was because I had spent a few years at sea, but I couldn’t really say for sure. Anyway, I always felt that he was ‘on the level’ with me, and I agree with those others I have spoken with who knew him from his time in Liverpool, that he was definitely a ‘man’s man’, who also appreciated a ‘well-turned ankle’.

I also soon found out that, luckily for Ken, his son-in-law, Richard, (who had married his daughter, Janet) was professionally qualified to restore, and archive, the many recordings of Eugene Halliday’s talks that had taken place at Ken and Barbara’s home in Liverpool, and which were, at that time, in a real mess, as Ken (so Richard told me) had never bothered to give them titles, or ever attempted to rewind any of the tapes he had listened to (they were quarter-inch reel-to-reel) And I have absolutely no doubt whatsoever (as I was also qualified in this area) that without Richard’s dedicated work (which took him decades by the way) this material would never have been preserved.

As well as I can recall it, Ken told me that he had met Eugene Halliday just after the war, when he was living in Manchester.  As he was about to marry his wife-to-be, Barbara (called ‘Bar’ by one and all) at the registry office, he discovered that he needed a ‘Best-Man-cum-witness’ for their wedding. He asked Gene, who he told me lived in a flat in the same house, if he would do the job. Gene agreed, and they subsequently became friends.

Ken had served in WWII – in the Fleet Air Arm I think – and he told me that he was wounded at Dunkirk – strafed by machine gun fire from a German fighter plane while attempting to sail a dingy across the English Channel.

As a consequence he was sent to South Africa to recuperate, and he told me that this was when he first became interested in Yoga.

He also told me that the first book he ever read on the subject of Yoga was this one (I’ve provided a link to it here if you’re interested) - The Hindu-Yogi Science Of Breath by Yogi Ramacharaka 

I don’t know when he actually read it, but significantly though, his copy (which I now have in my possession) was pressed in 1960, so obviously he read this particular edition after this date. The author’s name ‘Yogi Ramacharaka’ is a pseudonym for William Walker Atkinson who, as you’ve probably guessed, was neither a ‘Yogi’ (whatever that actually might be) or Indian – he was American.

I also understood from Ken, that even before the war, he had been interested in Charles Atlas’s system of Dynamic Tension, and in Body Culture in general.

It is clear that Ken and Gene were close friends after the war, so much so, that Ken and Bar’s two daughters, Janet, and Shelagh Ratcliffe (who, when representing England as a swimmer, won silver and bronze medals at the 1970 Commonwealth Games) also referred to Eugene Halliday as ‘(Uncle) Gene’.

Indeed, Eugene appeared to be known as Gene to one-and-all at this time, including his second wife, Margret. The habit of referring to him as (the more formal) ‘Eugene’ apparently began quite late in his life; and I understood, from Zero Mahlowe, that she was the first person to regularly call him Eugene – because she said that she didn’t really like the name ‘Gene’!

Ken also told me that he and Gene would go over on the ferry to the Isle of Man during the summer season, where they would sell casts of miniature painted models that Gene had carved in soft stone, using a filed-down, sharpened, six inch nail. From this original model, a rubber mold would be made, then plaster copies would be cast. Friends of theirs, who I understood lived in (or perhaps near) the large house where Eugene lived in Manchester would paint them. During this period, Ken and Gene would also both head up to Blackpool, where they would also sell these figures on the famous ‘Golden Mile’. Ken also told me that Gene was also in the habit of  giving ‘talks’ to groups of people ‘on the beach’ at the IOM.

I’ve videoed a short clip of four of Eugene’s models that I have in my possession – here it is. Eugene Halliday – Models I have no idea how many he actually produced. Personally, I find them valuable, as they provide me with a glimpse of  the ‘flesh and blood’ Eugene Halliday.

Ken said that, when gathering a crowd at these British North-English holiday resorts  he would also do some card tricks to entertain them, and on one occasion, at a ‘Tan-Y-Garth weekend I attended, he demonstrated a few ‘passes’ to me using a standard deck of cards. And although he was clearly a bit rusty, he obviously knew what he was doing.

Ken made no secret of the fact that he was continually studying Eugene’s material (that is, the written and recorded material). And because, I believe, of their close association for what was a significant length of time, this must surely have allowed Ken to ask Eugene for any amount of practical advice. Thus I believe that the advice Ken passed on to me (and almost certainly to others) about how to interact with some of Eugene’s ideas, came originally from the man himself. Here are a few early examples of exercises that  Ken gave me:

  1. Concerning words. Attempt to introduce new words into your vocabulary. First select a word and then research it’s definition and etymology. Use this word in as many different situations as you can during the coming week and then come back to the group and present some sort of account.
  2. Concerning general awareness. Attempt to remain aware of parts of your body while engaged in conversation. For instance, no matter how stimulated you become, try to remain aware of the soles of your feet against the floor, or if you’re sitting down, of your back against the chair.
  3. Also concerning general awareness. Upon retiring to bed, make yourself aware of your body. Start with the soles of the feet and move up to the crown of your head. After a few weeks or so of practicing this, you should find you are able to ‘traverse’ the length of your body and heighten your awareness of it very quickly, at any time, and anywhere.
  4. When walking down any road, try to retain as much information regarding the interiors of the houses you are passing – particularly if you are engaged in conversation with someone at the time.

Ken gave me quite a few more of these practical exercises later, and this ‘grounding approach’ (if I can put it that way) to working with Eugene’s ideas was to became an essential part of all this to me. And everything I have attempted in this area since, has had a physical component.

Of all the people I ever came across who claimed to be working with Eugene Halliday’s ideas, Ken’s approach here was the most convincing – to me at least.

Making this experiential, practical, aspect of Eugene Halliday’s ‘Work’ an essential component for yourself is also an efficient way of discovering if someone else who claims an interest in Eugene’s ideas is doing anything more than just trying to impress you with little bits and pieces of his stuff that they have managed to remember. You can, very quickly, ‘cut through all the rubbish’ though by simply asking, “So what were the practical, experiential, consequences of your understanding of this concept of Eugene Halliday’s, that you claim is so important to you?”  This question can often save you being the victim of hours of interminable sermonizing; pointless half-baked exterpolizing; or being forced to listen to endless de-contextualized ‘aphorisms’ (my particular ‘pet hate’). Just ask the question’ “So what?”, as soon as you can.

The significant writings that Ken would center his discussions on, during the time I was going to Tan-Y-Garth at least, were (I have provided links to this material here) Truth   The Four-Part Man   The Tacit Conspiracy (Eugene’s ‘take’ on the sexes).   Reflexive Self-Consciousness , and ideas that centered around ‘Sentient Power’.  The Pursuit of Power  is a good introduction to his thoughts on ‘power’ itself.

Ken also recorded a reading of what was, in my opinion, one of Eugene’s most important introductory writings, and is a great place to start any consideration of his ‘take on things’. Here’s the text –  Five Things To Do  and here’s the reading - Five Things To Do (audio). You can hear Ken acknowledging his debt to his friend Gene as he reads – what he refers to as – ‘an introduction to Hermenuitics’.

Amongst the many recorded talks that I found most relevant, where it concerned ‘power’ at least, was ‘Energy’, which is a reasonable first tape to listen to. Here’s the audio file and transcript of that talk Energy   Energy (transcript) . [I'll be going over my own interaction with any linked material I post here in more detail later on by the way].

However, even then, my perception of Eugene Halliday’s ‘work’ was that there was an over-all ‘shape’ to it: that it all seemed to emanate from the same place. Such that, if you could get there yourself, you could view all this ‘stuff’ in one go, as it were. So, instead of wanting to ‘do a Eugene Halliday’, by absorbing as much of his tapes and writings verbatim somehow (which, even then, I believed was a silly thing to attempt; impossible to do in principle, and so, doomed from the outset), I wanted to, somehow, get to ‘that place’ myself, and then ‘all would be revealed’… …

Simple, hey? …. But I had no idea how to get there at that time… And also, as someone here famously said, “Simple does not mean easy!”…

On the down side during this time, Ken – along with a significant number of other folk I spoke with who claimed to know Eugene at that time  - told me that Eugene had predicted something really nasty would be going on by 1984, which, ‘those in the know’ here, interpreted as being a major conflict – along the lines of  World War III.

1984 was almost ten year in the future at that time, and this ‘bad vibe’ was, I believe (as did others I have spoken to about this), a significant component in Ken’s decision to move away from (Swinging) Liverpool … bury himself in the middle of nowhere, in North Wales … and take up residence in a very large house … with a very large vegetable garden … and very large, thick, stone walls.

As someone who never bought into the whole ‘Ban the Bomb’ thing, or ever believed, back with others in the 1960′ and 70′s, that we were all on the brink of a nuclear armageddon  - I viewed these negative ‘vibes’ with some skepticism. (Although Everton did manage to win the FA cup in 1984 – but I don’t suppose Eugene meant that). …

The only dissenting personal voice I ever came across, regarding this whole 1984 thing, was Zero Mahlowe’s, who told me, when I asked her about it in 2006, that Eugene did not specifically say that there would be a Third Word War in 1984 – only that the world would be (as she put it) “Significantly out of balance.” But she offered me no extended perspective on what she thought Eugene might have meant here.

Be that as it may, I have no doubt that many others at that time thought Eugene Halliday was of the opinion –  from at least the late 1960′s – that in 1984, a traditional military ‘nasty event’ was ‘on the cards’ (to put it in the vernacular). Consider this final paragraph from SIHV’s brochure from the 1970′s (that mysterious ‘Society for the Investigation of Human Values’ that I mentioned above).

Should it be that World War III were not avoidable, then the salvation of Human Hearted Intelligence will be required. If such a conflict should develop it is probable that there would be pockets of people remaining and it is essential that these people relate Humanely and Intelligently with the recognition of Human Solidarity throughout the world.

I have nothing whatsoever against the sentiments here, but they do seem a little over the top for the brochure of an organization that was, essentially, running a convalescent home.

I’m not concerned here about this (assumed mistake) re Eugene Halliday’s supposed ‘predictive abilities’ either. But, I do happen to believe that divination is impossible, - in the sense that ‘occultists’ use the term anyway - and that the motives for claiming one can do so are often reprehensible in my opinion…If you don’t know what I mean here, think Jim Jones, Jonestown, Guyana, 1978, and ‘The People’s Temple’. …

The over-riding need for a sizable percentage of those who take an interest in Eugene Halliday’s ‘Work’ to ‘bolt on’ a supernatural element is something that I believe he was always clearly aware of, but could do little to prevent. I also believe he was equally aware that this perspective is freely chosen by those people who engage in this sort of thing; and that he saw it as something that these people had to ‘go through’ themselves, and not something he could, necessarily, simply persuade them about, one way or the other. Regrettably then, this aspect of Eugene Halliday’s ‘Work’ seems to ‘go with the territory’, and one just has to put up with it.

It’s not my intention here to deliberately extend this section even further, but I feel I should point out here that by 1984, the world was in the middle of a full-blown AIDS pandemic – and it has killed tens of millions of people since (after a peak of around 2,000,000 per-year in 2004, deaths by AIDS are still up there around 1.8 million-per-year mark) – and it still is.

Personally I would say that AIDS would qualify as something ‘really, really, really, really, nasty going on’. Far more so than those endless military conflicts that seem to have been doing the rounds since the time of Adam and Eve… … But a ‘plague’?…

In the ‘ Swinging 60′s and post-60′s ‘, with its endless, ‘Summers of Love’, a sexually transmitted disease was not at all the thing that its members – who were far too busy proclaiming that they had finally smashed the chains of their ‘Victorian misogynistic heritage’ – wanted to ponder over …  Anyway, most ‘doom merchants’ at that time were far too busy anxiously ‘watching the skies’ for nuclear missiles, to bother ‘glancing down’ and perhaps notice that things were starting to go amiss ‘below the belt’.  … But then, as the old Liverpool maxim would have it, ‘Never try to educate a mug’.

Essential components of any normal learning process are skepticism and disagreement, and anyone here should feel completely free to analyze and explore any misgivings they might have, and not be made to feel constrained, or that they’re ‘rocking the boat’ for others. Everyone makes mistakes, including Eugene Halliday. And a passively accepting, totally acquiescing, group of people, who have clustered around a person they have deluded themselves into believing is some sort of ‘all-knowing’ leader-cum-’father figure’ is simply one more example of a pathetic cult – a variety of organization that, regrettably, has, and will always, be with us.

Anyway …. back to the story. …. I see now that I had become addicted to poking at those damned questions of mine (it was like having a pebble in my shoe all the time) and I was able to ‘pick-up’ stuff that contained pertinent material. But I wasn’t too interested in the ‘medium’ really – in that I didn’t really care who’s ideas they were – I was only interested in the ‘message’. And I was also confident  that, even if this ‘message’ was buried under a mountain of prima materia , I could dig it out.

At this stage of the game then, my impression of Eugene Halliday as a ‘flesh and blood human being’ was constructed almost entirely from my listening to him speaking on recordings of his talks, and my reading of his various essays (‘serialized’; short, and extended). Importantly, there were an awful lot of these talks and a significant number of essays.

It was also very obvious that the people I had met who had been ‘exposed’ to this material had obviously been very stimulated by it. However, it also seemed to me also that the overwhelming majority here did not appear to me to have any clear idea at all about any over-all structure to Eugene Halliday’s perception of things, or even about the major concepts contained in  this material.

The fact that Eugene Halliday gave talks in Liverpool, to what appeared to be a small group of people in Ken’s front room, also fleshed-in my mental portrait of him a little. And there was also that ‘background-sort-of-biographical-filling-in’ from Ken, that centered around trips to various sea-side resorts in order to ‘make a few bob’, that I also found interesting, etc.

I had no idea, at that time, that, even as early as the late 1940′s (or perhaps even earlier), Eugene Halliday had been giving talks to a group of people in the kitchen of his home in Manchester, or that he was extremely active in the (distinctly Christian) Healing Ministry of the Congregationalist Church during the late 1950′s, writing for both the Cavandish Review and the Healing Quarterly (which is when ‘The Four-Part Man’ and other important early essays of his were first published). Or that he was introducing his own methods of alleviating the mental problems afflicting many young men who had suffered CSR from their experiences during WWII (and also civilians suffering from depression who didn’t fancy having to take mountains of pills, or having their brains zapped by Electroconvulsive therapy) – and that he was doing this, essentially, by just talking with them!

Factoring in this material would take me a great deal of time later, in fact I did not start to attempt any understanding of this part of his life until fairly recently (around 2004).

As I say, looking back, I see I was far more interested in the ‘message’ here, than the ‘messenger’. And Eugene Halliday was, at that time to me,  somone who was very, very, smart and seemed to know a great deal about a lot of interesting subjects. This view of him would metamorphose considerably as I soldiered on, until eventually it became very clear to me that things were never what they seemed to be here.

The only thing I would add here re my thoughts at that time, was that Eugene/Gene sounded to me  as if he had a slight speech impediment, and this intrigued me, as no one else ever mentioned it to me, not, at least, at that time – so I didn’t either. And anyway, it was no ’big deal’ to me ….. not then anyway. However, later on, it became of central importance to my personal view of Eugene Halliday’s own journey, even if, from the mid-seventies, up until the present day, I have never heard anyone else endorse this view-point of mine.

I came to view Eugene Halliday’s physicality as THE essential component to focus upon, at least if I were to  arrive at an (even facile) understanding of what it was that made him tick’…

To be continued …

Bob Hardy

April, 2012.

 

“Look! …(He pauses, and begins to smile)

If it’s just that you don’t know .. but you know that you don’t know .. then that’s OK! …

Because, at the very worst, this means (as far as situations like these go at least) that you’re only an idiot … And ‘worse case scenario’? … Well! … Some smart-ass might attempt to embarrass you  … But that’s all really …

And understand, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with being an idiot … It’s just a Latin word that the Romans used for ‘the common man’, ‘the man in the street’, or ’your average American’ … (He laughs, and flashes a broad smile – which quickly fades).

So then, what is the real problem … with what it is that you’ve been ‘up to’ during your time here? (Pause)

Well … I can tell you that it was those acts of deliberately lying to yourself that separated you from reality in this particular way …. And as you can never be forced to lie to yourself, so then it’s you alone that has to take the full responsibility for any consequences arising from those falsehoods you’ve freely chosen to introduce into your life here … … (He pauses and then begins to frown)

And in this game, if you have deluded yourself into believing that you do actually know, and then you go around ‘putting it out there’, there’s a distinct possibility that some people here in this mad-house will start to believe that you really do! … And that makes you stupid! … And being stupid is not at all like being an idiot. …In fact, it’s a major problem … Because, in the wrong circumstances, behaving stupidly down here can be very, very, dangerous for all concerned … and, more to the point … especially for you! … …

So… if you’ve been ‘following me’ here at all my friend, you should have figured out for yourself by now that ‘the only real question in town’ you should be asking yourself is, “Just what is it, in this moment, right now, that I do need to know?” …(pause)

Now! … Surely that’s simple enough? … Even for you! …(He turns away, stares intently into the mirror and re-arranges his hair, before abruptly turning back and smiling broadly once again).

 … Eh?”

From, ‘Field-notes For Armageddon’, by Bob Hardy

Setting The Scene ….

Long before I had ever heard of Eugene Halliday, I was actively interested in many of the subjects that he wrote about in his numerous essays, or spoke of in the various recordings of his talks, and it will be from this perspective that I will be providing information in these postings (where necessary), about my relationship to Eugene Halliday’s archived material.

I consider this material to constitute the most important aspect of his creative output (or ‘body of work’), and I will be referring to it, throughout this blog, as his ‘Work’ …

What is the essential nature of this ’Work’? … Well that, for the moment at least anyway, is the ‘Million Dollar Question’ …

In this first post, I will not be ‘starting at the beginning’ as it were, but rather at a point where I can write something immediately about my personal experiences vis-a-vis my interactions with this ‘Work’. In this particular instance, it will be my experience of listening, early on during the mid 1970′s, to one of his many recorded ‘talks’.

The first time that I attended one of Eugene Halliday’s talks ‘in person’ was sometime during the late 1970′s. This was at ‘Parklands’, a large, late nineteenth century house located in Bowden, a village that now forms part of the Greater Manchester area of South Cheshire. It is situated some thirty-five or so miles from Wallasey, Merseyside, which was where I was then living with my wife and two small children, having moved there a few years earlier from Liverpool (where I was born, in 1943) and had indeed lived for much of the first 30 or so years of my life.

My initial reaction to Eugene Halliday’s ideas – which I was introduced to in the form of copies of his essays, and recordings of his talks – took place a few years before I heard him actually speak ‘in the flesh’. And it was during this initial period that I quickly formed the distinct impression that here was someone who appeared to be attempting to provide answers to many of those questions that I was really interested in; to a significant number of questions that I had not yet clearly formulated; and also to questions that I’m sure I would never have ever thought of!

I trust you can see then, at least from the point of view of my experiences here, why I quickly came to the conclusion that Eugene Halliday was a truly remarkable human being, and indeed I still do believe this to be the case. But I must make it clear here, that I have never viewed him (or any other human being for that matter) as anything more than this.

So, what was I experiencing when I listened to a recording of one of Eugene Halliday’s talks during this initial period? Well, it wasn’t like I had magically found ‘the answers’ to all  of my questions, and that now all I had to do was, ‘glance over The Master’s shoulder’ while he waffled away, ticking the preferred ‘answer/idea-box’ of my choice at my leisure, as it were.

Rather, my experience when listening to one of these recorded talks was more like this:

“… Wow! … That’s great! … …. …. Oh! .. I didn’t really understand that bit – but never mind! … … Interesting! … … … My! I’d never have even thought of THAT (but it’s obvious now that he’s pointed it out and you look at it from this point of view)… …Mmm! – Now that’s good! … … Oh! I didn’t really understand that bit (so I’ll come back to it later)… Yes! … I like that! … … … Now I must try to remember THAT bit! … … … “

[Repeat some, or all, of these reactions - or something very like them - for the duration of the tape].

It took me a (very) long time to realize that I was passively experiencing a series of transient random emotional affects, ranging from delight to puzzlement, rather than being actively involved in the growth of any developmental concept(s) that resulted from working with some particular pattern of ideas that I had perceived were contained in these recordings. … To put it another way, most of the time during this initial period, I now see that I was being ‘excited’, rather than ‘informed’.

Having (eventually) realized what was going on here, I then had to attempt to distill any practical possibilities that I intuited were contained in these ideas; jettison all the fantasizing that had been going on (by admiting that much of what I intuited, while ‘true,’ as far as I could understand at least, was not for me – at that specific period of my life anyway); and then proceed to the far more difficult stage of actually doing some ‘Work’ here myself.

I should point out that this reaction of mine, even during this relatively early stage of attempting to engage with Eugene Halliday’s spoken material, was not at all like the reaction I experienced when studying his essays. Here, I was much more able to engage with the subject material, and indeed found it relatively easy to follow his ‘train of thought’. However, although it was somewhat easier to grasp ‘the bigger picture’ in this written format, I was, more often than not, simply overwhelmed! … And also, although practical involvement with any concepts that I took from these written ideas were, as a consequence, much easier to formulate per se, being invariably more complex, they were usually far too difficult to implement!

This situation, which was to continue by and large until 1984, was further complicated by the fact that the overwhelming majority of those others I was meeting with who claimed that they were ‘working with Eugene Halliday’s ideas’ (if I can put it that way), and who then went on to describe their various experiences here, did not appear to me to be having anything remotely like the experiences that I was having; and also, that the various accounts of any interpretation offered by them of these ideas during this time – while often fascinating to me (but not, I think, for the reasons they imagined) – were more often than not, essentially incomprehensible – as far as I was concerned at least.

From 1984 to 1995, I worked almost exclusively outside the UK, and as a consequence, my wife and I lived in Germany for the whole of this period. We returned to the UK (and our home in Wallasey) in early 1995.

This ten year period turned out to be something of a hiatus for me, as it provided me with an ideal ‘contemplative space’ to consider at length what the previous ten years or so might have been all about – particularly where it concerned my perception of myself, and what it was that I had been doing; my perception of others, and what it was that they had been doing; and my perception of what the true nature of ‘Work’ might be for me. Indeed, I began to realize during this period that it would only be possible for me to (finally) begin the task of actually ‘Working’ myself, after I had sorted these problems  out  …

To be continued…

Bob Hardy

March, 2012.

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