Before continuing on…

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

From ‘Fieldnotes for Armageddon’ by Bob Hardy


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

Eugene Halliday – from his talk ‘Magic’


Notes from a conversation with Zero Mahlowe  (2007)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To be continued…

Bob Hardy

30th September 2013


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:

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

Here’s the link:

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


(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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