This was intended to be the final blog-post in which I would be attempting to provide information regarding my various attempts to ‘Work’ with what I believe to be one or two of the major concepts that are contained in Eugene Halliday’s various talks and writings – the majority of which are freely available for downloading from the Eugene Halliday Archiveand also here, at Eugene Halliday Texts and Transcripts 

And this is, indeed, my ‘final post’… However it has become so ridiculously long – and it has also proved to be such a lengthy process to both write and edit, that I have now decided to divide it into at least a couple of more easier to manage ‘chunks’… otherwise I’m never going to get it posted…


The previous posts in this blog contain very little biographical information about me – indeed, many of what I like to believe are major factors here are not even mentioned. For example: by the time I was 20 years-old I had already ‘been round the world’ (as we used to say in the Merchant Navy); that my wife and I have been together now for 58 years (since we were fifteen years old). It tells you nothing about our children, or our grandchildren; or give any details of where in the world we have lived at various times – or for how long; it tells you next to nothing about what my formal qualifications are; or how it was that I made a living; … etc… etc…

And I’d say that you’d have to be really unaware, if you’ve failed to consider just how much we are all shaped by our actual ‘being in the world’ (as Heidegger might have put it). Our physicality: big; small; fat; thin; spotty; ugly; bum too big; etc. etc. etc. Our intelligence: from those impressive academic qualifications we might have earned ourselves, to the trouble we might have experienced in our attempts to master the art of ‘joined-up’ writing, etc. Our emotional make-up: Having a good cry at the end of our 10th viewing of ‘The Sound Of Music’, to being indifferent to the goings-on of others in the guise of ‘minding our own business or ‘don’t like to pry’, etc.etc. Our relationships; our geographical location(s); our day-to-day experiences etc…

In fact, after trying to deal with all the ‘day-to-day’ stuff, I would guess that the location of most folk’s (so to speak) ‘spiritual dimension’ will almost certainly be ephemeral here – at least when it comes to the actual living out of their real lives. And will, at very best, be positioned somewhere near the border of all the rest of that stuff going on in there – if they were to be really honest about themselves that is…

And here’s an easy question for you, so that you can check out if ‘this might mean you’ … : “In what areas of your life are you absolutely certain that you placed your ‘spiritual’ well-being before any other consideration?”… …  I know! … I can already hear you saying, “Well exactly how long have you got!” … and, “Where would you like me to start!” …

But, by the way..  if you imagine your answer here should necessarily contain any details at all of how it was that you went about attempting to bring some peace and order into your life… Well – from my perspective at least – you’d be dead wrong.

And my decision not to go into any in-depth autobiographical detail in this blog should be taken by you as an indication that I have deliberately chosen to present the material here (that is, the details of my interaction with Eugene Halliday’s material) in the very particular way that I, in fact, have…

However, let me stress that I am certainly of the opinion that one can far more quickly learn about the affect on the lives of people who claim that they have been profoundly influenced by some body of ideas or other (particularly if they claim that these ideas are of a strong ethical bent) by simply observing how it is that they manage their relationships; where they decided to live; the way in which they run their ‘everyday lives’; and how it is that they manage both themselves, and the person that they are intent on presenting to the world – that’s the one that they would like us all to believe they really are. 🙂 …  But, as I say, I’ve just not provided any in-depth information like this about me here in this blog unless I believed it was absolutely necessary.

And as you obviously can’t do any of this ‘observing’ of me, even if you wanted to – you might well be tempted to ask, “So what exactly is this ‘particular way’ of mine, that I mention above?” .. Well – to put it bluntly – that’s for you to figure out … But, in this particular post at least, I could claim that whatever it is, here it is concerned with the way in which I construct, and Work, with what I refer to as a ‘system(s)’.


Eugene Halliday maintained that ‘A system is [only ever] a saviour for a time’..

Most people that I have discussed this definition of his with, appear to have focused on that word ‘Saviour’ here (for reasons that were never very clear to me) .. In my case though, it was that subordinate clause, ‘for a time’, that I very quickly came to focus upon … Initially, I suppose, because – although systems are so necessary to me – I am continuously aware of the imposition(s) that they place upon me …

But, from the valuable perspective that I did manage to gain from this definition of Eugene Halliday’s, I came to experience any particular system that I chose to interact with as being (necessarily) bounded by the time-process   … Which is to say, I became aware that there was a definite point in the future when it was possible that I would be freed from it… This being the point at which I had done enough Work with it ..


In order to have any hope of being successful at Working with any particular system, I also believe it is important that you must commit beforehand to what Eugene Halliday refers to as a  ‘governing concept’ (such as, ‘All that there is, is Sentient Power.’).. which should not be confused with a ‘motto’ or a ‘slogan’…

Why commit to a ‘governing concept’? Well you will then have a way of ‘quality controlling’ the consequences of your decisions here.. It functions rather like a compass (at least it does in my little corner of the world) and is the best way that I have discovered for sticking with the ‘correct context’. Particularly as the viewpoint I am striving to maintain there is always in danger of slipping about uncontrollably the minute that I lose concentration…

And it’s also OK to make use of different governing concepts for different systems – just as long as you stick to the one that you have chosen, once you’ve chosen it. …


This idea of Eugene Halliday’s of a ‘Governing Concept’ … It can be a very tricky thing, and in my experience great care must be exercised in formulating them…

Take ‘God is Love.’ for example … Very nice and all that … But if this is a governing concept that you have decided to use, it is important to bear in mind (‘crucial to bear in mind’ might be better) that this short sentence has an entirely different meaning from, ‘Love is God.’  …

To believe that they are ‘the same thing’ is to misunderstand that the word ‘is’ here signifies equivalence, as opposed to it being deterministic…

So, in the case of understanding the word ‘is’ here as signifying an equivalence, it would obviously not matter then which way round you put the first and last words here, because this sentence will mean the same thing either way (‘God is love’ would mean exactly the same thing as ‘Love is God’); rather than seeing that the word ‘is’ here as a determinant – in which case ‘love’ is merely one of God’s characteristics, and thus ‘love’ and ‘God’ do not mean the same thing here…

So it is important to remember, that if you don’t take the trouble initially, to be absolutely sure as to what it is that your ‘governing concept’ means to you,  you can soon land yourself in all sorts of trouble.

As in fact can be seen here in this (surely) not very complex three-word sentence.


‘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)


This last post of mine does ‘go on quite a bit’ though I’m afraid – even more than the others. But as it is also far more ‘fragmented’ than usual I can tell you that this is actually a lot more like the ‘real’ me. That is, it’s the one you would both ‘observe’ out there in the world, and also ‘in here’ in the privacy of ‘my mind’ – particularly when it comes to the manner in which I go about attempting to process ideas and formulate concepts …


I have never experienced any of my attempts at formulating even a relatively simple concept that I believed, or intuited, was going to be really important to me, as merely some sort of ‘stroll in the park’ .. Actually, these attempts of mine have always seemed to me to have been far more like trying to collect together the scattered pieces of a jig-saw puzzle; intuitively deciding that I have subsequently managed to find them all (or most of them – at least to be going on with): and then attempting to construct the meaningful picture that I just knew was there in the first place…. without the help of the picture on the lid…

Regrettably though, I am often prone to picking up the same piece time after time. And as a direct consequence of doing so, I – more often than not – will eventually become far too frustrated for my own good – because I just can’t seem to figure out where it’s supposed to go! …

The relatively lengthy process of preparing all the posts for this blog has been something of a similar experience for me… But I should also quickly add, that doing so has provided me with a (yet another) valuable exercise.…

And if you also manage to get something useful out of all this? … Well, that’s entirely your affair..


And whether others who have decided to engage in solving their own puzzle down here are doing so by for example (and making use of the same metaphor): ‘Thinking’ – that is, by examining each piece very carefully, and then deciding, after much deliberation and careful consideration, that it goes ‘there’; ‘Sensation’ this is, that this piece is, or is not, the same color as that one, or that it is, or is not, the right shape to fit in there; ‘Intuition’ – that is, “I just know that piece goes there,”  etc. etc.  is not really all that interesting to me – at least in any hierarchical sense… That is, I don’t view any particular method (or deliberated approach) as being necessarily ‘superior’ to any other here – although I am inclined to examine other methods in search of useful tips.   …So it’s ‘horses for courses’ for me then, you might say.

And thus, I don’t value one method over another then.. “If it Works, it Works” …

And how it is that you freely chose to arrive at your ‘destination’ is primarily your affair I would say… Indeed, you might find the metaphor of ‘a journey’ of absolutely no use to you here whatsoever..

The only thing I would add here is that, however you chose to go about Working, ‘Time is of the essence’ – no matter how you decide to go about things..


Over the past couple of years I have come to privately view this blog of mine as a sort of ‘Pata-Blog’ .

“And what is that exactly?” you might ask… Well it means that this blog is an account of sorts, of some of my imaginary solutions to some of my  imaginary problems (particularly the intellectual ones).

Or – another way that I might put it – It’s my attempt to elaborate upon the metaphysics of what I believe are a number of personally experienced synchronicities.

NOTE: The founder of Pataphysics, a Frenchman by the name of Alfred Jarry, claimed that “Pataphysics is ‘The science of the particular’…(A)nd so it does not, therefore, study the rules governing the general recurrence of a periodic incident (the expected case), so much as study the games governing the special occurrence of a sporadic accident (the unexpected case)… Pataphysics is then, above all, the science of the particular – despite the common opinion that the only science is that of the general.” …

And if all that hasn’t put you off entirely ….


“The power of self deception is great in the case of all men, but I incline to think that it is greatest in the case of a popular official such as a Bishop, who never hears anything but his own voice, and the sycophantic acclamations which it evokes.”

Herbert Henry Henson
From ‘Retrospective On An  Unimportant Life”


What did I keep on doing when I found myself face-to-face – yet again – with one of those fundamental personal problems of mine that I didn’t ever seem able to quite get a handle on?  

Well, I came to see (at the point when I realized what was going on here) that I had very carefully constructed my life such that, when this situation did arise (and I came to realize that it did so very frequently), then l was very quickly able to put myself in the position of ‘discovering’ yet ‘another’, (that is to say a ‘different’) problem – and one that was not necessarily trivial either! …

But importantly, this ‘other’ problem was one that I believed I could get a handle on …

And so I could then keep on telling myself that I was … justifiably … “Simply far too busy at the moment doing really important stuff”… but that, “I would get right onto that other big problem, the very next time that it reared its ugly head.” … … (Repeat endlessly)…

Did this realization re my fallen state mean that I was now in a position to finally, once and for all, put a stop to all this self-deception? … Of course it didn’t!!! 

‘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)


“What will they tell you is really going on? … ‘In the now’… Right this minute? … Well!… That would be whatever they happen to believe is going on right now.. Which of course they are liable to completely deny was going on in the very next moment… Now claiming – just as fervently – that they find that they no longer believe it! …

However! … Don’t mistake these changes in belief to be an indication that they have necessarily become more insightful…Regrettably all that this change usually means, is that they have simply discarded one dimly understood view, or fashionable facile ideology, for yet another.”


“… Most of them here are vain to the point of absurdity….(He pauses to listen)  What is ‘vanity’? … It’s a word we use to describe their ability to live almost continually in some imaginary future or other… A future in which they picture themselves as being somehow indispensable!”


(A)nd this ‘humanity’ of theirs, that some of them are so fond of going on about? … Well the degree to which they possess any – and most of them don’t – can of course only be gauged by their interaction with others… By their ‘relationships’, as they call them…

And the interesting part about these relationships of theirs is the way that they will, initially, spent most of their time and energy clawing their way up that ladder to make damn sure that they are ‘in the right profession’ or ‘living in the right area’… and so ‘Meeting the right people .. people like me’ then. So that they can enjoy ‘proper’ relationships …(He pauses an snorts with laughter) …  With cardboard mirror images of themselves! 

Many of those who have a desire to live, what they and interested members of the audience like to fantasize, is a ‘spiritual life’ will scurry off to some ‘retreat’ as they like to call these places, usually located in some rural backwater or other, in order to, “Live very, very, simply … somewhere nice, with others of like mind.” Often dressing up in some sort of ‘simple’ uniform or other, or entirely in white  …With the result that, in no time at all, they will be wandering around convinced that the world, “Isn’t such a bad place after all,” and that other people, “Aren’t really that bad once you get to really know them.”

But their conclusions here … their subsequent behavior here … is hardly surprising is it? (He pauses to listen).. And it can be really irritating… Particularly when it then comes to the manner in which they presume to then dish out advice to ‘needy others’ down here…. And there are literally hundreds of millions of those, who are for example, starving in East Africa; or who live in a war-zone in the Middle-East; or find themselves at the wrong end of things, simply by being born into a slave-state such as India …

But then, most ‘civilized beings’ here are brim-full with all sorts of ‘helpful advice’ for those who are ‘less fortunate’ than themselves out there… Provided of course that their toilets are still flushing; they have clean water coming out of their taps; the car is full of petrol; and there is plenty of food available in the shops…(He pauses to listen)

Well… And if it does all suddenly – for one reason or another – start to ‘Go South’, as they might put it down here? … Then almost all of them will – overnight, and almost certainly – ‘simply’ revert to type…”

Fragment(s) from “Field Notes for Armageddon” by Bob Hardy


If you were to ask me to summarize my various attempts at engaging with specific concepts of  Eugene Halliday’s, or anyone else’s, for that matter… (An activity by the way, that I would only ever attempt to engage in if I believed that it would help me to answer those questions that seem to have been with me for as long as I can remember)… I would tell you that, in order to answer you satisfactorily, I would have to elaborate upon my various attempts at Working.. But – in my case at least – this is an activity that doesn’t really lend itself to “summarizing”.   .…

However, if you continued to press me here then I would say, that at the very least, my approach has always been most definitely, ‘heuristic’…. That is to say, I tend to sketch out a ‘course of action’ – which I then refer to as a ‘system’…

And it was only ever my subsequent belief in the practicality of any one of these particular ‘systems’ (in Eugene Halliday’s sense of the word) that would induce me to at least attempt to then go on to make use of it …

So there is no simple ‘blind-faith’ for me here, either in the construction of, or in the decision to make use of, one these systems then.

I should also add here that this somewhat pedantic and cautious approach of mine here has come about, because I believe the process of deliberating about any system that I do decide to implement is such an essential initial component of Working, that I want to be as clear as I believe I possibly can be, before I commit myself to it ..

So I certainly would never take on board a concept simply because the person relaying it to me had a reputation with others for trotting out ‘important truths’ – whoever they were, and whatever it was… As Pontius Pilate so eloquently put it, “Who gives a f**k about ‘the nature of truth’? … I’m trying to manage a particularly unruly, smelly, disgusting, backward, and relatively minor Roman province here!”


But the fact that my initial approach to any system that I make use of is always ‘heuristic’, doesn’t really tell you anything about the ‘actual matter’ of any of these systems of mine… Like, for example, the ‘how’, or the ‘why’ here… Or anything about ‘the background’ …Does it?


And, to further complicate matters here,  I would also have to tell you that whether it were possible for some hypothetical system or other – be that one which attempts to make practical use of Eugene Halliday’s concepts (or anyone else’s for that matter) – to function as some sort of ‘panacea’. Which is to say it would be a system that claimed it could ‘do the business’ in all instances, by maintaining  – for example, that ‘We’re all living in a Matrix-like virtual-reality simulacrum’ or ‘All you need is love’, or something else that will conveniently fit onto a car-bumper sticker, or that will make a really fetching tattoo  – is not something I’ve really given all that much serious thought to… At least not since the mid-1980’s.

Also, the research that I conducted during the latter half of the first decade of the present millennium into a number of those who claimed to have spent a major part of their lives intent on discovering such a system (one that they claimed involved Eugene Halliday’s concepts) has led me firmly to the conclusion that they clearly never managed to find it.. And that if they did claim they had, then – at least from my perspective – they were at best, merely deluding themselves… Although perhaps I should very quickly add here that a very small number of them here who did appear to be able to regurgitate a great deal of Eugene Halliday’s material with reasonable accuracy… But to what actual purpose these efforts served them, when it came to them living out their own lives, was something that I was never satisfactorily able to discover… Clue: “All the world’s a stage…”

And I would also have to add here that – importantly for me at least –  I don’t happen to believe in concepts such as ‘The philosophers stone’, or ‘The diamond body’, or even ‘My eternal soul’ – because these concepts don’t make that much sense to me at all (I have never been able to realistically ‘ground’  any of the explanations on offer here)… Although I will admit that I have found the elaboration of concepts such as these to have been intensely interesting, at various times in my life….

By the way, this view of mine also applies to important concepts of Eugene Halliday’s, such as  ‘All that there is, is sentient power’, or that ‘Love’ is ‘working for the development of the potential in all being’… Which is to say that – in my opinion – these concepts are all well and good … But only up to a point…

Thus, it is in the areas of ‘inquiry’ and ‘explanation’, rather than those of ‘definitive’ and ‘conclusive’, that I tend to situate most of Eugene Halliday’s concepts..


So – for me at least –  it’s any system that is serving my purpose for the time being then  …. And “When it no longer ‘does the business,” you might be tempted to ask? .. Well, then I ditch it…

And if I subsequently discovered that I was going in the wrong direction as a direct result of one of my decisions here? … Well, primarily – and most importantly I believe – I’m more than happy with the idea that this would be my sole responsibility, as I was clearly the one who had initially freely chosen to take it on board…

But I would also claim the good news here is that, as a direct consequence of my behavior (as a direct consequence of my pursuit of this particular course of action, that is) I will now have in my possession a pattern of embodied experiences that could provide the substance of a really valuable lesson… One that I could now reflect upon… and one that has the real possibility of revealing something really useful about myself, to myself… Should I have the courage (or be bothered) to do so, that is…

 So I now also have to reveal to you then, that from my point of view, engaging in Work – even if it’s the ‘wrong’ Work – will always be potentially capable of producing a positive result… And thus, that any attempt to Work – at least as far as I’m concerned – is capable of producing … in actual fact … and  in reality …  a ‘win-win’ scenario! …

…. Magic!

But this perspective of mine here re Work, I would agree, could possibly – at least initially – be very confusing to others .. And this I believe, is because Work is nearly always imagined to be a process wherein one is attempting to ‘do’ something (“We ‘do’ our ‘Encounter Group’ session on Monday evenings.”; “I do my Yoga exercises every day.”; I always read a passage from the Bible before I go to sleep.”: “I practice the banjo every morning for at least half-an-hour,” etc.) – the end result (the essential motive here) nearly always seems to me to something like, “Aren’t I wonderful! … Clever me! … I know lots about this … I am doing that now!”; These activities constitute the accomplishment of tasks in my world (“Well done me!”), and are not examples of Working then, which is a process whereby one is attempting to ‘become’ something…  A different aim entirely … 🙂 …

I would say then that the only thing I’m really interested in, or the only criteria I will use here in any attempt to evaluate others re their claims to be Working (which is a situation that I have very, very, rarely ever got to with others) is just how able they are becoming at … ‘doing’ …. themselves..


And why is it that I attempt to Work? … Well it provides a definitive proof for me that I have ‘purpose’ … Ergo, “There is ‘purpose’ in the Universe.” … … …  But, please note, I’m not claiming here that, “The Universe has (a) purpose,” because I have no idea what that might mean. Only that, “I have a purpose.” … … “Sufficient onto the day,” and all that …  🙂 ..


But anyway, to repeat once again, “(T)he fact that my initial approach to any system that I make use of is always ‘heuristic’, doesn’t really tell you anything about the ‘actual matter’ of any of these systems of mine. Like, for example, the ‘how’, or the ‘why’ here… Or anything about ‘the background’ …Does it?

So now, here’s a something about that…. After the commercial break.


Eugene Halliday had a very neat way of defining ‘stupid’ behavior, which was to the effect that, “For the stupid, everything is dictated to solely by  circumstance (sic).”

So he obviously isn’t claiming that everything stupid people do will necessarily appear to others as stupid. But rather that, as there is no reflexive decision-making process actually taking place here (but only ever a reaction) the perceived consequences (as far as any observer would judge them that is) could in fact ‘go either way’.

That is … then … that any behavior (together with the consequent result of that behavior) … that is itself under consideration, might come to be viewed – from the point of view of an external observer at least – as either dumb, or smart.

And although any particular consequence of behaving stupidly (from this perspective at least) might appear to some observer or other to be, in fact, ‘really’ intelligent…That judgment is only ever ‘The luck of the draw’, as it were… Which is weird when you try to get your head round it. 

‘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)


What sorts of things have to be in place before I’m satisfied that a particular system is worth using? … Do I have a definite way of going about discovering/constructing systems, that is? …  …  Well the short answer to that is, “Yes, I do.”  But even so, I do always find it a very difficult thing to do – in fact it can take me years.

It’s rather like trying to formulate that ‘right question’. A task that – no matter how long it takes – I, thankfully, seem to be relentlessly able to stick to.

And, as a consequence, I have come to believe that if I am successful in my formulation(s) here, then the answer that I seek will, quite often now, be ‘just around the corner’… Or, at very least, this question of mine that I have struggled to formulate will be experienced by me as a ‘light in the darkness’ that I can now use to move forward here, should I choose to do so.

So it isn’t so much that I go about constructing a system in order to do something; but more like clarifying to myself what it is that has to be done.

To put that a little more mysteriously perhaps. One of the major purposes of Working for me is that it will reveal to me those particular questions that have, up to now, been obscured by all my previous answers..  


Anyway, the first bit of my system building is – I would say – relatively simple, and I could argue that it is also the most important to grasp… So if you’re remotely interested in what I maintain it is that I’m trying to accomplish, here’s something a little more concrete about that.


Initially at least, I tend to ‘dither’ (See below) because I don’t have any hard-and-fast concrete methodology for formulating systems… I like to keep my options open, you might say..

What I definitely ‘do’ though, is to worry  away at something particular (and this could go on for years) until I get to ‘see where it is’ – that is, where it is appearing in my life. ..

I will then take the odd peep at it – sometimes by recalling one of these ‘appearances’, but more often now as time goes on, by ‘catching myself’ in one of these situations, either ‘part of the way through’ (“Hey, you’re doing that again!”), or as I ‘incline’ into it. Catching this ‘inclination’ at the moment that it arises in me now becomes the ‘tipping point’ here. That is, it is the point where it is now possible for me to experience these occurrences ‘in the now’ (that is reflexively), and so I can move onto the next stage..

Importantly though, I can become so pleased with myself at this point, that I will now fall back into a reactive state, and then attempt to move on here too quickly. And as a direct result of doing so, I am almost certain to miss, or disregard, important features… … Failed again then!

And also, at some point after this, if things are going well in that I can maintain that reflexive state a bit more frequently, I now experience a change of pace in my desire to increase the frequency of my attempts to Work here… And I will start to obsess about it, such that it will now begin to consume a great deal of my time – even interfering (and sometimes radically) with other aspects of my day-to-day life … Another trip-up that has to be avoided then.

And, as I say, I don’t experience these later stages of Working as impositions necessarily, often they make me feel like flying. But, again, this is a state in which I am also in danger of missing important features – because I’m now ‘enjoying myself’ so much.. Us musical types call this state ‘the rush’ … 🙂 .. And this is another illusion here – or another ‘temptation’ for me if you like

But here’s the important bit. At some point during this process (and I have various ways of attempting to move it along here)  I will start to realize that a particular word, or group of words, is of really major importance to me here…And I will subsequently  begin to examine this word (or these words) from every angle…

One of the ways that I do this – and I think it’s possibly the most important aspect of what I do here initially – is that I will attempt to incorporate this word(s) into my everyday speech; into my various descriptions to myself and my attitudes, my emotions, and my social behavior, etc, until I feel I have obtained a substantial meaning for this word(s) that I now experience as belonging to me… A meaning that I can now instantly – and with little effort – relate to. And if I subsequently bring up this word in consciousness, it will now have a rich ‘bank’ of associations that I can easily ‘see’ with very little effort, and that I can now use to create patterns that can potentially bring me to places that I want to go to, and that will then go on to become richer and richer in their useful detail….This is actually what a ‘spell’ is by the way…

(It’s OK if you don’t agree with me about that … but – take it from me – that’s what a ‘Spell’ actually is. And it is why, if you don’t keep on top of them, by making use of them continually, you can very quickly get rusty) …

Then I can move back to that initial ‘worry’ of mine and I can now see it from the perspective of this word(s) with a great deal more (and with an increasing) clarity.

The metaphor I use for this process is that of a ‘journey’. And my task is one of attempting to move forward… But what I’m doing isn’t really a ‘journey’ – like, say, going to the Isle of Man for my summer holidays… It’s sort of like the same way that alchemists knew that there wasn’t really a two-headed green lion; or a couple of ravens; or the odd member of royalty, etc. etc. hanging around in that old jam-jar that they were using to conduct their various experiments in. (But you might be surprised to discover just how many modern ‘New-Age’ chumps actually think there really were ‘things going on in there’) … These symbolic images (as opposed to, say, chemical signs) were simply useful metaphors, and so, regrettably perhaps, there were no real dragons etc. in there – even if you base your views here on such authoritative texts as ‘Lord of The Rings’ ‘or the ‘Harry Potter’ books: even if you’ve gone to all the trouble of having an Orc tattoo placed around your bicep … … (As an aside here though, I for one would be over the moon if there really were dragons, and all that other stuff!) … So … anyway … I have to continually bear in mind that really I’m not going anywhere, but that (ideally if I can manage it) I’m only ever ‘Here: Now’ ….


But, to get on with it.. The ‘initial important word’ for me here – at least where it concerns the explanation that I want to present in this post concerning my approach to formulating a system, is one that I have to experience with an ‘in the now’ definitive state of a positive quality or (if it makes it easier to understand) the experiencing of a very positive state of “Yes!” ‘…

And that word is ‘invest’

I will first of all sketchily map out a dialectical base-line … Because this approach gives me a definite direction to go in; a definite experience of being orientated, that is..

And this line then, in this particular case, is bounded at one end, by the word ‘invest’ …

And I now begin to examine the degree to which I experience myself ‘investing’ here, up until the point where I begin to experience a state where I want to  ‘divest’…which first appears as a vague state of ‘No!’ that will get stronger, until it results in action on my part.

The limit of the application of the term ‘System” then (in Eugene Halliday’s sense of this term) but only from this one perspective, is bounded dialectically here by the meaning (note – not ‘the definition of’ or ‘the etymological root’ or ‘phonic definitions of the various sounds that I might claim are connected to the English spelling of these words) that I give to these two words.

And so (and I think obviously) you should now be able to see clearly that you cannot use any part of this system of mine yourself, until you do the necessary Work here.. And simply telling yourself and others that, “I understand this stuff you know,” (which is actually a misuse of the term ‘understand’) or any other such sterile clap-trap, will actually not help you here at all!..In fact it will probably prevent you from going anywhere … And not God, not Jesus, not Mohammad, not Buddha etc et al , can take this step for you … Because … well… where would the fun be in that for them? … Only you are able to initiate a process, and then subsequently involve yourself in it, such that it will give your life any meaning down here.. And no one, or no thing, can force you to do so…. Interesting though, you can appear to convincingly ‘fake it’ as far as others (and more interestingly perhaps, yourself) are concerned  .. And you might be surprised to learn that I have met a goodly few who actually do just that…. And, even more mysterious here, some of these don’t have the faintest idea that this is what they are really up to.

Anyway – having satisfied myself that I am now in the right starting place here – from this particular perspective at least – I tell myself that “I’ve managed to nail it at last!”..  and will then immediately take the next Sunday off.


‘To dither’ (OED – To vacillate, to act indecisively, to waver between different opinions or courses of action). What a wonderfully appropriate verb to use in describing so much of what goes on down here.. ‘dithering’…

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


Here’s a personal metaphor of mine that I use to further understand what ‘the limits of the application of the term ‘system’ (in Eugene Halliday’s sense of that term) might mean for me….

An old fashioned treadle sewing machine can be viewed as a Dynamic System. In that you can take it all apart, and reasonably figure out how it all works. So much so, that you can even become a sewing machine repair man, and know ‘everything that there is to know about mechanical sewing machines’… Going on to confidently claim that you can totally predict their behavior; and that you’ve never been stumped by any of your repair jobs….

‘The Weather’ is also a dynamic system. However it is more properly referred to as  an Emergent System, which means that you can’t take it apart bit by bit (you can’t take a thunder-storm apart). But you can become a meteorologist and so collect data (i.e. Various dynamic parameters concerning a particular weather pattern – such as humidity, wind velocity, etc).

And even if you weren’t a meteorologist, if I pointed to an isolated cloud in an almost cloudless sky, and then asked you to point to were you think it’s going to be in ten seconds time, you could do so with reasonable accuracy.. In this case you are what is referred to as an ‘idiot’ – which is Latin for someone who is a member of ‘the rank and file’ and not really ‘in the know’ like ‘the experts’ here.. But you are capable of ‘getting a vague idea of the big picture’.

However a weather system is chaotic, which means (non-technically) that you can’t predict with anything approaching certainty what it’s going to be like in a couple of days (or even a couple of hours in many cases), no matter how much information (data) you have been able to collect…. Even though, the day after today, you could confidently tell us all with almost total certainty, why it was that we had that sudden rainstorm yesterday… A rainstorm that for some reason or other you somehow failed to predict the week before, or even the day before …

IMPORTANT NOTE HERE: By the way, for folks like me – if you’re interested – I view an academic field such as  ‘Economics’  as a particular form of emergent system. And to me it also has a great deal in common with ‘Astrology’ – which I refer to particularly as a ‘pseudo-emergent system’… So ‘Economics’ is not an emergent system like ‘The Weather’ to me then, it’s more like a ‘pseudo-emergent system’… That is, even though, as in the case of Astrology, a great deal of extremely accurate geometrical calculation is required; and in the case of Economics an in-depth understanding of both statistical analysis and calculus is required; nevertheless they are both, at best, only ever ‘sort of” good at telling us all why something turned out the way it did, after the event. And even different ‘experts” (or ‘schools’, as those who have invested a great deal here are fond of calling them)  in either field will often violently disagree as to the cause of some major feature or other (which I always thought would send a great big alarm-bell off in everyone’s head, just like it does in mine); and they also will invariably miss really big things that are going to happen in their futures – such as atomic bombs going off (in the case of Astrologers); or world financial melt-downs (in the case of Economists)… None the less, many people will still cling to their various ‘predictions’ as if they were gospel. … (And again that should tell us all something basic about people … 🙂 …) … …. Although, to make things really complicated here, rabid fans of both of these ‘disciplines’ that claim some ability to be able to predict the future, will always insist that someone in their gang did predict lots of this stuff – but that they were subsequently ignored or mis-understood… Reminding me of those soccer fans who can always explain why it was that their favorite team lost 25-nil in terms that seem to suggest that they were actually, far and away, the better team ‘really’..

FURTHER NOTE HERE: If you are unlucky though, or you persist in hanging about with the wrong crowd, you will invariably get some witchy-poo, or wizard, or other shaman type, who will claim something here along the lines of, “What about that prediction of  Nostradamus’s  where he says there will be “A great big bang over there”; or (even worse) some sacred scripture that says, “I am come! The destroyer of worlds.” … And in these cases, you will have to make your own mind up about the particular appropriateness in any particular instance of this ‘evidence’… But from my perspective, if your decision here is to ‘sit on the fence’, this is going to tell me far more about how your head works, than it does about the accuracy of what you consider to be the ‘evidence’.


Anyway… to carry on about my decision-making process here…. As a direct consequence of the above way of viewing systems (a perspective that I don’t believe Eugene Halliday particularly appreciated by the way) I have to first of all decide what the system is for.


So I will now – to show you what I mean here –  imagine that I have constructed two systems. One that is designed to:
a). Improve my chess skills
b). Help me to develop my musical improvisational skills….

I will now attempt to describe why viewing systems that I am imagining here (that I am going  to attempt to Work with) as ‘Dynamic’ or ‘Emergent’ provides another means to me of situating them in some sort of ‘space’. That is, not on some ‘dialectical base-line’ – as was the case with the two words Invest/Divest.



Punter One: “I hear you’re only losing half the money on the horses that you used to … Punter Two (enthusiastically) : “Yes! … And that’s because I’m using a new system!”


System a)  To improve my chess skills. 

NOTE: I would also, importantly, initially refer to this system a) here, as ‘ritualistic’… A word that constitutes yet another dialectical pole of a pair of designators that I usually make use of in order to further identify – and thus give meaning to – the particular characteristics that serve to structure any system that I am in the process of constructing… Characteristics that I will almost always be attempting to clarify to myself before I attempt to begin Working here…  However, I will not be supplying any further details about this word here, because it is not really essential to this present explanation of mine.

To soldier on then… This system a) is constructed primarily of a couple of rather rigid ‘rules’ – thus making it a bounded (or constricted) system for me. Meaning that I will view it as almost completely mechanical – and therefore ‘deterministic’

To supply some particular detail here, the first thing that I would do is memorize  the ‘rules governing the game of chess’. And the second thing that I would do is study these rules ‘in act’ – by analyzing sequences of moves that have been used successfully by Chess Masters in previous major tournaments…

Nothing remarkable at all about this approach then.

But it is important for you to bear in mind here that this system is being used by me only to ‘improve’ my chess skills, and not to become, say, a future Grand Master, or anything ridiculous like that. 

This difference however, does show you that the way in which you initially ‘label’ any system you intend to use (the words that you chose to involve in the title you give it – as with my use of the word ‘improve’ here)  is also of immense importance… And you really do need to exercise a great deal of care in doing so, because if you are sloppy at this point, and you haven’t exercised enough care when laying down your foundation, you can very soon get yourself tied up in all sorts of knots, which will result in you almost certainly marching off in the wrong direction.

So this system is ‘dynamic’ for me then…  But do you see that it’s entirely possible that if I were to relate all this to someone else, they would claim that I am stretching the meaning  of ‘dynamic’ here – at least as far as they are concerned? … For instance, they might say, “Whatever you do, you will never really know what move your opponent is actually going to make next.” To which I would reply, “That is a trivial objection. My opponent will always be confined to a finite set of rules – which is the reason why any Grand Master can now be beaten by a machine that can run the appropriate computer program… And anyway, you have misunderstood the whole point of my system here – I am not trying to predict my opponents moves. Rather, I am attempting to make my ‘return move’ wholly deterministic – a different aim entirely!”   …

But however anyone else wants to view any particular system that I am making use of is normally OK with me anyway, because – in practical terms -Working has an essential major (though not entirely)  hermeneutical component… And it is so full of risks anyway, that any approach to it has to be completely the responsibility – both in its conception and the subsequent engagement in – of the person freely committing themselves to it… The level to which I would actually formulate a text to explain my choice of system to others is my own private concern – and I am not in the habit of investing any more effort in this direction than my aim warrants… If I Work with a system by, in part, using my intuition, and so not necessarily engaging in thinking, or verbalizing, then this is what I will do. And I will very rarely go ‘back to check’ because I don’t have to. My intuitive function works fine for me, and I have grown to trust it… Although it obviously does let me down from time to time – particularly if my actions are conditioned by, say, too much ambition – but these occasions are not frequent enough for me to lose faith in it.

So then, if any particular person prefers to only engage in endless debates about the merits (or perceived lack of merits) of any particular system, then that’s their business as far as I’m concerned. But it’s not an activity that I have much use for… I am only interested in the ‘use value’ of any system. Particularly as I already understand that it is always possible for some observer or other to point out the (rather obvious) limits of any deterministic system anyway. And actually I am more than capable of doing that for myself, thank you..  What is important though is why they would chose do so. And in my experience that’s usually so they can show me what a ‘smart-arse’ they are…

But – on the bright side here – if I do decide to make use of a particular system (even if I have constructed it so that it appears to be completely deterministic) … then, even so, it’s me that gets to have all the fun here.

System b). Help me to develop my musical improvisational skills….

This system I would view as an ’emergent’ ….

There are however, any number of deterministic dynamic parameters contained in it that might be worthwhile for you to ponder…. These would include, for example: The way that you twiddle your fingers when you play – that is, your ‘lousy; reasonable; or excellent technique’; Your degree of understanding re ‘Music Theory’ – “I’m extremely fluent in the use of ‘chromatic substitution’…”: Your preference for a ‘melodic’, over a strictly ‘chord/scale’ based line here; etc. etc…

However, in my book at least, there must always be a profound sense in which there will often be places when you will be ‘improvising’, where you have no idea what the next musical phrase that you play is going to be …

And also it is important to realize that any system which claims to aid improvisational technique will always contain suggestions such as, ‘play with a hard swing feel’ or ‘play with a ‘blues feel’..’ – which any competent musician will interpret in their own particular unique way.. … A way that, even to a particular listener here who is familiar with this particular musician’s ‘style’, will have no way of predicting… But very soon after our musician begins to play, our listener here will be liable to say, “Oh! That’s so-and-so … I can tell by the way that she ……..(Fill in blank)..”

If I claim that this system is ’emergent’, does that mean then that I am claiming you can, sort-of ‘improvise infinitely’ then? … Well, no I’m not, because one of the parameters of creative playing is ‘style’… That is, the better that you become at improvising, the more that you will come to ‘sound only like yourself’ …

And as you gain some skill in making use of this system, so you will be conscious that you are having definite practical results here…

You will also find that there are two dialectical poles that you will can situate yourself between in order to Work as you move forward  ..

At one end you will be bound by an approach where you are mechanically just ‘running the changes’ – the point at which you are merely playing up and down appropriate scales that you have simply memorized – usually accompanied by you pursing your lips, or wearing a rather constipated look on your face to indicate (you imagine) that you possess some sort of ‘sensitivity’ here; and at the other end you will be attempting to ‘play free’ – often accompanying this attempt of yours with diverse body twitchings, which you imagine will demonstrate that you are now ‘out of it’ and thus ‘free of it’… …  I will just mention here that ‘playing free’ demands far more self-discipline than most people (including myself) are capable of mustering, and it isn’t at all about playing just anything that you ‘like’ or ‘want to’ or ‘feel’… which any competent musician can fake for half a minute or so. Playing ‘free’ is far more complex than that, and depends on an in-depth ‘in-the-now’ …’grasp’ (notice that’s a ‘not-free’ word 🙂 … ) of what it is that you are attempting to be ‘free’ from.

So then, as regards the ‘matter’ of any emergent system…. There must be some essential characteristic to its aim that is indefinable linguistically then… And that (using this particular example of an emergent system here) can only be demonstrated musically, in ‘itself’ – in act. That is, in the doing ….. experientially …such that it is only after it is played that the attempt can be made to analyze it, or pondered over it, by others… Which then allows teachers like me to answer questions such as, “What did she do then at the beginning of that next chorus?” … And to which I might reply by saying something along the lines of, “Well, you see, if you wind the tape back to the beginning of that chorus, you can now clearly hear that she played ‘outside’ for two bars; continued on modally, up until the point that she modulated up that minor third…” etc. etc… But there was no way that I could ever have predicted, actually, what she was going to do there, even if I had been present at the actual performance… However, you should be able to appreciate that my subsequent analysis is completely ‘deterministic’ anyway (And also has something importantly to do with ‘abstracting’ – another important word in all this – but, like that word ‘ritualistic’, not one I will be going to go into here right now either 🙂 …)

NOTE: I tend to think of those techniques which might aid me in my  attempt to understand the ‘What’ of a system, as rather like weapons that aid me to ‘fight the good fight’ … That is, very handy to have around – but still only ever an aid that I must still actively engage with; and so not some sort of ‘automatic solution to everything’.


A further analogy of mine now re Emergent Systems, that might help throw some more light on things for the non-musical buffs … That of dancing.

Although there are rules: perhaps a special way of dressing; perhaps a particular piece, or a special form of music must be played; perhaps you do (or don’t) have to dance with a partner; perhaps, initially at least, you must memorize (internalize) an intricate set of dance steps, by committing them to ‘muscle memory’….etc

Even if you do manage all of the above (and maybe even more), none of what you do is going to necessarily guarantee that you will ever turn out to be a good dancer. … Although you will probably become extremely competent.

However, in the event that you do turn out to be a good dancer, then it could be claimed of you, by others, that when you dance you are merely doing all those things that you were taught, or that you have taught yourself.

However you could also now maintain that, ” I don’t really use any of that stuff now… At least not ‘like that’ anyway.”

… And if anyone were to insist that you tell them what exactly it is you are doing by asking you’, “Just what were you doing just then?” You would certainly be justified in replying – and would also be providing them with a complete answer – if you replied, “I don’t really know… To tell you the truth… I was …  just … dancing.”


To claim that you do make use of a system, means to me that you can at least attempt explain what it is that you might mean here by grounding any explanation you give in a number of  uniquely personal anecdotes..

Attempting to construct personal texts (written or verbal) here then, usually by making (obvious) use of ‘language’..

However, you can also do so by, for example, using some form of graphic medium – say a drawing or painting… In which case the importance of ‘interpretation’ here becomes a lot clearer… As does the question of whether or not any observer here is merely ‘reacting to’ as opposed to ‘reflecting upon’ your efforts.

Ultimately this means (at least as far as I’m concerned) that there  are no ‘Universal meanings’; no ‘one size fits all’ then.. And so attempts at exhaustively explaining a concept such as ‘Working with this system’ are doomed to failure – because there will always (thankfully) be something left out; or some perspective illuminated by this explanation that is somehow distorted… etc. etc. … Which is the reason why poets are never satisfied with their creations… If you’re interested.

However if you are Working, and you meet someone else who is also Working .. You always instantly know.

Useful to always bear in mind here – the meaning Eugene Halliday’s gives to that term ‘stupid’…

‘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)


“So – when they’re busy telling me what they think it’s really going on down here? …What it is the substance of what they actually tell me, do you mean? …..(He pauses to listen). Well, in the main, they are attempting to describing observations that arise from a system that they’ve clobbered together from their own extremely limited experiences together with their contemplations of … their whimsical musings over … various ‘News Items’ from the popular press that have managed to take their fancy… (He pauses to listen)… Well the first question I would ask myself re these various ‘explanations’ of theirs is, “Does this person actually believe that they really know what’s going on ‘all the way down’ here.  That is, do they imagine … or sincerely believe… that they ‘have an answer for everything’… Is their system ‘dynamic’ then… Which would then of course make them materialists… Which is something that they might probably be the first to deny… And in which case – in my view – I would say that they would be deluding themselves… …  Or do they see this system of theirs as ’emergent’ – in which case what use do they think it is to them? … How do they factor the consequences of this view of theirs into their journey through life? Are they happy with this lack of absolute certainty…. Or am I, once again, listening to yet another loud-mouthed plonker.” …(He pauses to laugh).

Fragment from “Field Notes for Armageddon” by Bob Hardy


I don’t want to complicate things in this first part unnecessarily, but I should tell you that if you are  Working with ANY system, then you are engaging in ACT OF ABSTRACTION … In that you have chosen to treat part of the emergent system that I believe we all really are (our ‘life’ if you like) as a dynamic system…You are behaving towards it as if it were composed of parts.

But I would also add that I would be sympathetic to the idea here that the situation you have chosen to Work with must be very important to you, otherwise you wouldn’t have felt the need to abstract it, in order to examine it, and to perhaps change it…

The only word of advice I would perhaps add from my own experiences here, is that you should watch out for any hubris flying about… Because it might be that this really important problem, that you obviously believe you do have is only important to you. And that someone else might view a problem like this in their lives as trivial…  …

And it’s important for your authentic self to understand that this problem you are now intent on probing here, might not be a consequence of this hurricane that you like to believe you have now innocently found yourself  to be in the middle of; but could also be the result of you simply hanging about inertically in the same place for far too long – until this problem of yours has automatically (deterministically) manifested itself… But actually it really started with that butterfly flapping its wings in China… At which point it would have been far easier for you to tackle… But you couldn’t be bothered at the time could you? … Or you will tell everyone that you have been far too busy with some other ‘important problem’ of yours.


And by the way, that problem which is so important to you – and that you now find has to abstracted from your life and systematized by you, in order for you to properly examine it… or at least to make some attempt at dealing with it … Be sure to remember to put it back where it properly belongs when you’ve finished making use of it…. 🙂

End of Part One


To (hopefully) be continued… Soon  🙂

Bob Hardy

11th July 2016

Portland, Oregon, USA



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