(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

  6 Responses to “5. Parklands and ISHVAL – ‘Going Nowhere .. Fast!’.”

  1. Hi Bob,

    Very difficult to ‘see’ (actually read) what you were writing which is a very good sign, as you must be doing something right and close to the edge. Certainly something is a bit nervous of me reading it.

    This leather book/folder that you write in fountain pen into, wouldn’t be A4 black and quite thick by any chance ?

    “you will realize a profit of some kind” could use the relationship of profit to non prophet or prophet to non-profit.

    Could add in something about “suddenly thinking you know everything and then realising you know nothing, but that’s the case with everything. Also as IT evolves too even when you do know everything you wake up the next morning and realise you don’t. If you stand back and back and back you realise at the last minute that what is needed for and change programme is a qualified manager”.

    I will try and read it again (without interruptions) but looks good.

    May need to look at how it comes across to different nationalities (eg American – good luck with that one, eg ass! the english version is arse).

    At the bit just after “Just gimme the facts!” it is a bit confusing as to what is going on (you may have a clearer picture in your mind but it was a bit confusing to the reader as to what was being got at so maybe a note here would help).

    thanks Nick

    • Hi Nick
      Wow! That was quick!

      An interesting first paragraph of yours here. Why do you think this post was instrumental in making you nervous? Was it that it had a solipsistic slant, or that one of its major subject areas was ‘greed’? … I’d like to know more here please, if you’re up to it.

      With regard to that book size. First of all how on earth did you know that I use a fountain pen? … As to the size of the exercise books I use, in sorry to say that they’re more A6 (and smaller), although I do have a fondness for ‘leather bound’, I must admit!

      As to your use of the word ‘prophet’ with ‘profit’, I’m afraid that this particular technique re ‘words’ doesn’t work, (or if it does then only very rarely) for me. That’s probably because I’m very familiar with Jungian ideas regarding ‘Association’, so I can’t avoid automatically seeing this as your ‘clang reaction’ to the word ‘profit’, and as it’s use here being due, not to accessing any ‘Field’ say, but more to do with the contents of your personal unconscious. I should also perhaps mention here that Eugene’s approach to the letters of the alphabet never did much for me either. Although I would say that it seemed to work for him very well. But again, I would view this, not as some kind of ‘accessing the field’ thing, or an intimate resonance with the ‘proto-sounds of the universe’ or something like that, but as his own, highly developed, ‘memory palace’. So … ‘no comment’ from me here, I’m afraid! … Unless, that is, you’d care to elaborate further…

      A ‘qualified manager’ … I’m intrigued! … It’s a great idea in principle but it does assume that you would know one when you met one. And in part, I have tried in this post at least, to be radical here and claim that you would not in fact recognize one. Perhaps though it might be the case that a ‘qualified manager’ would pick you as a learner! But if that were the case, I would also have to add that you would have no idea at all as to their reasons for doing so.

      ‘Ass’ …’Arse’ …. You got me! … I changed ‘arse’ to ‘ass’ a couple of hours before I uploaded the post – perhaps because, having lived in the US now for over three years, I’m becoming acclimatized. …I am interested in this phenomena as well by the way… for instance I never thought I’d be comfortable using the word ‘Kid’ for ‘child’ – in fact I was on the record as being very uncomfortable with the use of this word …. However, I do use it now! But I tell myself it’s because, if I use the word ‘children’ it makes the Yanks uncomfortable!

      As to the part after ‘Gimme the facts’ – I am trying here to present an approach to learning by someone who passively accepts an authority figure ‘out there’, to the extent that they will insist that this figure is the ‘real deal’, the ‘shining light in my life’, etc. However these people also very often become adept at manufacturing scenarios where, although they seem to be completely genuine in their appreciation of the teachings, they simultaneously bemoan their own lack of understanding here which has the affect of endlessly delaying any practical involvement because of the manufacturing of endless questions – this endless delaying, I maintain, being the real purpose here.

      Hopefully we can get into these things more when I get the Forum up and running

      Bob

      • Hi Bob,

        Its not making me nervous but it is certainly making someone/thing nervous (but hey that’s life, taste of your own medicine and all that). Mind you it could be something else thats going on, who knows.

        Interested if you have been in the US for a while now if you can sense a change in yourself (ie have you noticed an influence of the US conciousness effecting you ?).

        You could also use the ‘secret box’ approach (you know the one Hollywood use to keep the audience going, They want to know whats in the box and during the whole thing you tell them without them knowing.

        Got to go. Need to send you some ‘stuff’ fo you have an e-mail

        Cheers Nick

  2. Sorry about that, sorted now.

    No it wasn;t the solipsistic emphasis that was an issue solipsistic issues are overcome by levels of conciousness (part of part, all in All in ALL etc). No it will be something odd, had one book that I had to read last month and it turned out to be the fact that the guy who wrote it was wearing sunglasses on the back cover and nobody could ‘see’ him.

    Qualified manager – on one level is one that has received formal training in methods and combined with numerous successful and failed projects and programmes small and massive and is familiar with the techniques etc. AND on the other level someone who writes things down as they do things, aware of what they are doing, and nobody knows who they are or what they are doing there. and at the end asks why were they there anyway its all fine.. Got to go

    Cheers Nick

    • Hi Nick
      There’s far too much disparate content for me in your comments here to reply to you in the way that I would like. So I’d prefer to leave doing so until I’ve got my proposed Forum up and running in a month or two … Is that’s OK with you?

      However – email would be good in the meantime 🙂

      I’m at
      archive.query@email.com

      Bob

      • Hi Bob,

        Sorry about that I will try and collate the comments together a bit more for you, and I will read the script frm the start again. I was trying to do too many things at once today and was just blasting comments out (otherwise IT backs up, like a to do list of requests).

        Would very much appreciate a quick overview of yourself so I can phrase my suggestions in the right way.

        I was definitly directed to what you are doing on the website (I thought it would be someone else there but clearly reading what you are writing it is definitly you), so I suspect I have to help you in some way.

        I have read through some of Eugene’s work and it delas mostly with the spiritual level rather than the mental too and also its a bit ambiguios in many places and doesn;t deal with the conepts of conciousness which is ok for the time it was written. Would have liked to have sat in on the meetings and seminas though.

        thanks Nick

        ps Happy to answer any questions

        I have sent thios note to the e-mail you gave but with gmail.com hope thats correct as the other one failed.

 
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