(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’. Here’s the link to this recording anyway:     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


   
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