“In my experience, inspiration is not something that finds you, or offers itself to you, nor for that matter is faith. Inspiration and faith are similar in so far as they both ask something of us. They each require real and constant practical application. For me, inspiration comes only when I practice certain things regularly and rigorously. I must commit fully to the task in hand, sit down each day, pick up my pencil (actually it is a medium black or blue Bic Biro) and get to work. It is not exactly toiling down the coal mines, but it is labour enough, and I undertake it through the good times and the bad, through the dry periods and the periods of abundance, and I keep on going regardless of my successes or failures. Inspiration comes because I put in the work.”Nick Cave, The Red Hand Files (06.10.22)
What Inspiration Asks of Us
There’s Enough Time for Everything if …
“There is time enough for everything in the course of the day if you do but one thing once; but there is not time enough in the year if you will do two things at a time.”Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield
Vivifying The Way with Your Body and Life
“A Ch’an master once wrote that the wise enshrine the miraculous bones of the ancients within themselves; that is, they do not regard teachings of ways to enlightenment as an external body of knowledge or information to be possessed as an acquisition or believed or revered as inflexible dogma, but rather apply it as far as possible to themselves and their situations, vivifying the way of enlightenment with their own bodies and lives, not just in their thoughts. It is therefore a matter of course that new Buddhist literature has been produced; for the Buddhist canon is not closed, as long as people continue the search for enlightenment.”Thomas Cleary, introduction to his translation of The Blue Cliff Record
You Don’t Always Have to Find a Solution
“When you allow for uncertainty, then you don’t always have to find solutions. You can live through a problem until it’s not a problem anymore. Instead of seeing things as problems, you see the life you are living. You can live your way into the answers. This is different from standing outside of your life and throwing stones at your problems from a safe distance.”John Tarrant Roshi, “Why Play with Koans?“
Promises, Promises, Promises
On the day Liz Truss was elected head of the Conservative party and new Prime Minister of the UK a thunderstorm knocked out TV signals in the North West. In olden times some might have taken this as a sign of ill favour from the gods. When the storm abated Sky News was following Liz’s motorcade through London to Downing Street where she would deliver a carefully prepared speech to the media and her party waiting to applaud her arrival.
Like her predecessors Liz’s inaugural speech as PM was designed to appease both public demand, as represented (imperfectly) through the media and party demand, as represented through the majority Conservative vote. She promised many things, as she must, e.g. high-paying jobs (ha!), opportunities for those who deserve them (meritocracy anyone?), and a resolution to our cost of living crisis, but anyone who has lived long enough will know there’s always a discrepancy in politics between what is promised and what is done.
Time will tell, but we’ve heard it all before.
Observe Your Heart
“Everyone should carefully observe which way his heart draws him, and then choose that way with all his strength.”Hasidic Saying
More Than Our Jobs
“Even if work is pleasant, it will still usually confine us to a prescribed and delimited role within the economic system, silencing those parts of ourselves that do not serve our allotted position in the capitalist process of production. The term role itself, ‘borrowed from the domain of the theatre, suggests that the existence foisted upon people by society is identical neither with people as they are in themselves nor with all that they could be’ (Adorno, 2001: 187)”David Frayne, The Refusal of Work, p.65
He Who Fights …
“He who fights, can lose. He who doesn’t fight, has already lost.”Bertolt Brecht
The Great Enemy of Freedom
“In a society in which nearly everybody is dominated by somebody else’s mind or by a disembodied mind, it becomes increasingly difficult to learn the truth about the activities of governments and corporations, about the quality or value of products, or about the health of one’s own place and economy.
In such a society, also, our private economies will depend less and less upon the private ownership of real, usable property, and more and more upon property that is institutional and abstract, beyond individual control, such as money, insurance policies, certificates of deposit, stocks, and shares. And as our private economies become more abstract, the mutual, free helps and pleasures of family and community life will be supplanted by a kind of displaced or placeless citizenship and by commerce with impersonal and self-interested suppliers.
Thus, although we are not slaves in name, and cannot be carried to market and sold as somebody else’s legal chattels, we are free only within narrow limits. For all our talk about liberation and personal autonomy, there are few choices that we are free to make[.]
The great enemy of freedom is the alignment of political power with wealth. This alignment destroys the commonwealth – that is, the natural wealth of localities and the local economies of household, neighborhood, and community – and so destroys democracy, of which the commonwealth is the foundation and practical means.”Wendell Berry, The Art of The Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
The Right Sensation
“Pleasure is the pleasure of the powers that create a truth that cannot be arrived at by reason alone, a truth that the poet recognizes by sensation. The morality of the poet’s radiant and productive atmosphere is the morality of the right sensation.”Wallace Stevens