I came to realize that my passive … What shall I call it?  … ‘Ingestings’ … of the meaning of most of those words that I happened to be reading or listening to during any one ‘sitting’, took place so quickly that the process was – to all intents and purposes – instantaneous; and also, that the very complexity of the process itself was extremely difficult for me to observe ‘in the moment’.…

Furthermore, I now see that this is only half of the problem. Because I have come to understand that the inertic qualities of those ‘passive meanings’ that I ingested (probably because I ‘just fancied’ the ideas that they encouraged) actually served to reinforce my difficulties here….. That is – those ‘passive, ingested, meanings’  become a series of further obstacles that I had, in effect, imposed upon myself .

… And, as these latest, self-imposed, ‘passive’ components of my thinking processes simply clouded,  reinforced, and distorted, attempts by me to perceive the world with any clarity – so, ultimately then, they only served to further restrict my ‘free will’….

It is essential, therefore, that I at least attempt to take responsibility here for my inability to move forward…. That is, if things are ever really going to change for me. … But I am, first of all, going to have to admit that for the majority of the time at least, I have been going round in circles … … …  Surprise, surprise!

So … What to do? …

Any attempt by me to mediate these affects – even partially – seems to require an enormous amount of work on my part, such that making any real progress here doesn’t appear to be worth the effort involved …

However, I am encouraged, when I recall the following example of how this – in part at least – ‘self-imposed, conditioned, state’ that I know myself to be in, can be almost instantaneously illuminated – and so ‘loosened’ somewhat – by humor … And in the ‘space’ thus created for this brief moment, I get a glimpse my real ‘Self’, now almost entirely obscured behind that culturally inflated image I originally constructed simply to make it easier for me to navigate my way around others , but that now – for the most part – experiences the world in my  stead … … in my virtual absence  ….

Consider the following well-known ‘chestnut’… This is a piece of popular prose that is trotted out by many of those who fancy themselves to be ‘on the path’, in order to present themselves to others, as ‘deep’. … Those unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of these (thankfully brief) recitations, will almost invariably nod their heads sagely, and with that requisite stereotypically pained, and pseudo-reflective, grimace, mutter something about, “The profundity of it all … “

‘The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
 Moves on: nor all your Piety nor Wit
 Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
 Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it’
                                                        Omar Khayyam

Like many others that I have met, I appear to have conditioned myself to react towards material like this with a ‘pre-programmed’ reverence… A reverence that is, for my part at least, by and large bogus – but which I have fallen into the habit of identifying with … …

 … Anyway … Having previously ‘ingested’ this rhyme, together with all the cultural baggage that goes along with it. Imagine my delight, when – in this particular instance at least – the spell was shattered, and I was able to jettison my pseudo-admiration here, and (more importantly), be aware of myself ‘in the moment’ doing just that – as I witnessed a far more profound ‘version’ of this piece by ‘Eric and Ernie’ (no less), in one of their many ‘Ernie the Playwright’ sketches …..

Ernie: ‘The moving finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: …..
Eric: …… And writes another bit!’
                                                ‘The Morcombe and Wise Show’
                                                  (British TV Comedy series)


Never mind the letters contained in the written word.  What about the spaces?

God is now here

God is nowhere

 Never mind the letters, or the spaces either! What about the position on the page? …  …  Here, it is claimed (by some experts in the field at least) is the best-known shortest sentence in all of  ‘English Literature’….  It’s the beginning of Chapter One of Herman Melville’s ‘Moby Dick’ (or ‘The Whale’) … and its purpose is to introduce us to the ‘narrator’ of this tale:

 ‘Call me Ishmael.’

 But what would you make of this same sentence, if you found it on your desktop like this? 

Call me Ishmael



 ‘Random Dribblings from the Twilight World of the Undead’
by Bob Hardy
A series of fragments from Bob Hardy’s notebooks – from the late-1970’s to date.


… And Now It’s Your Turn

If you are interested in working with Eugene’s Halliday’s material, I’d like to suggest that you begin by listening to the recording of  his talk, ‘Words’.

See ‘how you get on with it’. It might be that you find that you can only understand parts of it; or that you don’t see the point of any of it; or you might feel frustrated because Eugene Halliday has made assumptions regarding familiarity with some of his other concepts, and so doesn’t bother to clarify them here – probably because those present at this talk were already familiar with them. … … So – where it concerns this talk – What is ‘missing’ in it for you? … What needs clarifying? … Is this how things in the world seem to you? .. Do you find yourself radically disagreeing with what Eugene Halliday is saying here? …. Is it all just ‘too confusing’ for you? … etc.

You can download an audio-file of this recording from the Eugene Halliday Archive Site, in the ‘Liverpool Archive Material’ section.

Here’s the link:  http://www.eugenehallidayarchive.info/audio_liv.htm

You can also download a transcription of this talk from Josh Hennessy’s site.

Here’s the link:  http://www.eugene-halliday.net/download_transcripts.htm

If you have any problems gaining access to this material at either of these two sites, you can contact me, regarding problems with the Archive here; or contact Josh, regarding problems with the transcripts here,  and we’ll do our best to get you sorted out

Here’s some additional, relevant, material from Eugene Hallday’s writings that you might like to bear in mind:

That words are built up of letters does not mean that the individual letters individually and separately are prior to the words or that which they signify. Words begin as sounds arising from the complex psychic states which move into expression in an expulsion of breath. The feeling assessment precedes the emotional expression which expels the breath and articulates it as words.  We do not define words by the letters which constitute them, but we define the words and the letters from the state of being which gave them utterance.

Before I write a word I hear it. Before I hear it, I do not know what it is, what it is going to be. It is a primary datum, a ‘given’ in my consciousness. Where it comes from is not defined, but that undefined has power to define, and does define the words that are heard and writ­ten. One is so used to accepting words ‘given’ in consciousness, and to accepting them as ideas or thoughts, that one tends to go straight to their sig­nificance, their reference value, and to forget that the words are there from the moment of their being ‘given’. We tend to think that our thinking is other than our mental ‘word-manipulating’.

Here’s another one:

A thing is said to be defined when its limits are detectable … When we define a word we are indicating the limit of its application. This is most important to understand. We do not define things with our words; the things are, if they exist, already defined by the fact of their existence. What we define when we define a word, is the limits of its application

… All things, situations and events which exist for our consciousness are defined by their existence. One of the groups of elements in our consciousness we call ‘words’. A word is an element in our consciousness which we use to order other elements. A word is a sound or sign other than itself. By a word we indicate on what elements of consciousness we shall concentrate our attention. The word orders the content of consciousness, and possibly of unconsciousness also.

I would add here that simply researching the definition and etymological root of words, will not magically  ‘move them over’ from the ‘passive’ area of your linguistic abilities, to your shiny, new, ‘active’ area. …. Because, if this were the case, we might find that we were forced to include – in the list of those people who possessed an ‘active’ language – those who were very good at ‘The Times’ crossword, for example …. and that would obviously be really dumb …  …. Even so, I did find this approach to be a perfect starting point for me, so  that’s why I’m suggesting it here … That … and the fact that I obviously, therefore, have no practical experience of starting anywhere else! … Plus, at the moment I am not aware of any accounts of others where it concerns their ‘starting point’ here – what concepts of his that they began with etc. … Although I have met a few others who clearly believe that they did start working with Eugene Halliday’s ideas some time ago and that they are now ‘somewhere along’ here … wherever they imagine that is ….

I believe that this method definitely improved my vocabulary skills (and I am sure that it will improve yours), but I also discovered that it was no guarantee for any necessary increase in my ‘active’ vocabulary … so I’m also guessing here that it won’t necessarily improve yours… Indeed, I believe that for this to happen, something else … vital … needs to be added to the mix… Mysterious alchemy indeed!!!

… Later with that though.

‘Inside the Eugene Halliday Archive’ Forum.

In case you may want to discuss your reactions to, or your ideas arising from, working with the talk suggested here – or with any other material of Eugene Halliday’s that I will be suggesting in the future, I have set up an area to do just this in the Blog Forum.

This forum is accessed by clicking on the tab that is located directly underneath the header picture which you will find at the top of this page.

To contribute to this forum, however, you must be a subscriber to this blog.

Josh Hennessy has agreed to act as a moderator for this ‘Discussion Area’

I will submit a post for this particular talk on the Forum, simply in order to get the ball rolling, and you are welcome to join in …..

To be continued ……..

Bob Hardy

October 2012

  2 Responses to “8. Words – Part 1 (….The Devil in the Detail)”

  1. So really what you are trying to say, in saying, is that you are your own worst enemy. Which is good, as how else are you going to find such an accomplished, and adptive opponent to evolve against. Better the devil you know than the one you don’t.

    • Hi Nick,
      Thanks for the comment
      Actually, I like to think I’m my own ‘best’ enemy 🙂 … Let’s face it. Who else is there? …. Really? …. But as to who it is that’s has ‘got the jump’ on who in the moment? Well, that’s another thing entirely!.. Sometimes I seem to be flowing really well, and then out of nowhere I find myself on my back, on the floor… and no energy … and then I just have to wait…

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