All the World’s a Therapist

The Virtue of Therapy-getting away with anything.

All the World’s a Therapist! ( and men and women good cash cows…)

My last post drew attention to the Kogi- walkers, planters, weavers in and of the spiritual. Devoid of evangelism, without ego-bound ‘creativity’ or seemingly free will, they live to nearly a hundred and leave no footprints. They are saving our world. They live to do that, by showing how it can and should be done. An embryo Eden, still extant.

Here is ‘our’ Westernised version ( but only as I have encountered it!)

Hijacking the Bandwagon.

As I have spent much of life thinking on ‘Things Spiritual/ Ways of Redemption’, should I be taking a lance to the windmill? Certainly unwise, but suddenly irresistible. I am fed up with claimants to virtue by virtue of what it is they do for a (sometimes rather good) living .

Saving the Planet?
Saving the Planet?

Don’t get me wrong. Nobody is more concerned with the state of Humankind  than I am, few have spent more time wringing their hands and wondering what might be done. My inbox is swamped with guided meditations, special offer retreats, two for one quartz obelisks, dire injuctions that if I fail to act on Mercury’s recessions or its conjunctions with my Aries Avatar I shall rue not spending $39.99 to harness its influence, as well as daily invitations to join the Company of the Saved for a modest monthly Direct Debit.

You all know what I mean, and maybe you have all ‘unsubscribed’ from this avalanche of promises.

Sipping the bitter
Sipping the bitter

But I intend to get up close and personal to the virtuous, and pick apart the bitter kernel that I invariably discover when I have sipped the initial nectar. I am easily tempted because susceptible. I know wherein discipline lies, I am hooked on the need for daily meditation since I do not really function well without it; and I also recognise that MUCH MORE should be done. I flirt with becoming a Trappist and reading deep books, and eating dry crusts. I recognise the insidious velvet seduction of red wine (but at the end of a day I usually succumb). I long to regain the ability to manage the lotus position. I wish I could like plunkety or synthetic ‘spatial music’ but  if I’m honest I do better with infectious rhythm, and letting rip with what’s left of an old woman’s arthritic knees.

Right now my concentration has been provoked by the stream of the virtuous that have been my tenants. I sound like a jaundiced capitalist who has failed to benefit from the contact with chiffon scarves and hennaed hands. The lack of benefits is certainly true. They have tended to move in the opposite direction.

Let me set the scene. I have a rather nice cowshed that began with stalls, deep runnels and a lot of dried manure, as well as the identities of its inhabitants ‘Marigold, Clementina, Buttercup, Kicker, and Huppity’ chalked on their appointed places. I never met any of them but they seemed to have left their gentle, doe-eyed, cud–chewing resignation in their wake. The place is peace personified. You could slice peace and wrap it for Christmas.

110

It was not considered fit for humans ( no cavity walls, no insulation, ankle-turning death trap) so I wrapped it round with a sort of orangery made of reclaimed chapel windows, left holes for vines to inch within and drip grapes,( inviting the Mediterranean to take up occupation in Somerset and ignore the winter), paved the floor with black and white tiles ( read concrete faked to look like marble) and waited for the artists to arrive.

They never did. Even impoverished artists want ‘en suite’ with coffee making ‘facilities’.

So now , instead, I have tenants who claim to be the ‘artists of the spirit’. They are therapists, and each is dedicated to the salvation of Mankind. I have nothing against saving Mankind. I have had a shot at that myself, but only by asking Mankind to think again. Given my deficiencies ( touched on above) I am in no position to make any claims to virtue, so I stick to thinking.  Thinking is seldom part of therapy; blind allegiance, abandoning inhibitions, rituals, soothing massage, reflexology, T’ai Chi, Ayurveda, Zen, Reiki, you name it, all are the Pathways to Paradise ( as are Jihad, Decapitation, and bombing the wrong kind of Muslim). Now before you get hot under the collar at the linking of these let me say that the thing they have in common is the belief that virtue accompanies all of them. When you are virtuous by default you can get away with anything.

Let me paint some portraits of the varieties of virtue that have been my lot to encounter in my peaceful cowshed ( which does have a habit of being considered ideal for therapy and move over Madam, if you please.)

Chiropodist_
There was the earnest couple, who could not manage the rent, but she was beautiful with large eyes and he had a habit of putting his hands in a prayerful attitude. They only needed it for six months recovery from stress. They were certain that somehow I could find it in my heart to waive the rent. No? How unfeeling! They worked with PEOPLE in need of COMPASSION. Yes they charged but not nearly enough to pay rent. I would accumulate good Karma instead.

(I hope to do that unassisted).

Then there was the married pair who were moving to Somerset from the ‘unspeakable’ metropolis of London, and the cowshed would be perfect for his (unfortunately necessary) commute and her massage and reflexology therapy in the spare bedroom with its own access and its view across the fields. Perfect. If they should ever find that pregnancy happened they would have to think again but that was unlikely. Four months later their unspeakable flat was sold, at double its purchase price and the five bedroom house in the unspeakable metropolis was ready to receive a nanny and the birth of the child. Ta, very much. Tootle-pip.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Then there were the 2012ers. They only needed it for two months, November and December until Planet Niburu necessitated the rescue of their coterie of elderly followers ( each had paid a few thousand) to be taken ( special delivery) off Planet Earth to seed the NEW CIVILIZATION from which would spring the hope of a better MANKIND. When Planet Niburu failed in its business they set fire to the cowshed by glueing the boiler’s safety over-ride and turning it to maximum and departing. Luckily the boiler screamed for help. I saved it with a fire blanket and an OFF. If global conflagration does not oblige I guess DIY is the only option. ( It was their final gift to the Landlady-who-did-not-believe in milking the gullible.)

Now there is the young couple who came to offer dance and movement therapy but who find it difficult to get out of bed before noon, and are horrified that there are tractors in the country. They had no idea and I should have told them that tractors start early. It disturbs their ‘lie-in’s’ which is why they came. In fact I deliberately with-held this critical information, and deceived them. I have to confess I also with-held the information that the earth circles the sun. I suppose twenty eight year olds can’t be expected to know everything.

A Cloud With A Silver Lining?
A Cloud With A Silver Lining?

Right now we have an Angelic Practitioner ( I thought angelic practitioners were mostly ephemeral and pretty choosy) who came to write a book on a wholly original approach to healing. She is never at home but her collection of angels, gold and silver, glass and plaster, are complemented by a litter of butterflies clinging to curtains, fluttering over lamps, and alters of stone (sacred spaces)warding off the evil eye in every doorway. The simple place of peace ( Feng Shui-ed? avec objets) looks like a Chapel of Rest in an undertaker’s office. Now I don’t know how one writes a book on an iphone, I have never tried it, but I am sure it will be a masterpiece.

Would I be contravening the discrimination laws by advertising

CONVERTED COWSHED TO LET. No therapists, healers, ‘practitioners’ (undefined) do-ers of good, people of unearned virtue need apply. The saintly are unwelcome, the enlightened will need to offer proof. Hewers of wood and drawers of water are welcome. If you work for a living even better. You are in with a chance.

P.S. Motor Bikers in leather may remove their helmets and we’ll talk. Cyclists in plastic pointy hats ride on…far too much weighty virtue to risk it?

Maybe I should go join the Kogi? Seriously tempting!

Attributions

Planet Earth By خالد منتصف (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

“George Elgar Hicks – A Cloud With A Silver Lining” by George Elgar Hicks (1824–1914) – http://www.worldgallery.co.uk/giclee-print/A-Cloud-With-A-Silver-Lining-1890-215954.html. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons –

Chiropodist (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons V0016743 A chiropodist treating a patient’s foot, a crowd of people
Credit: Wellcome Library, London. Wellcome Images images@wellcome.ac.uk
http://wellcomeimages.org

House in London David Hawgood [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The Kogi and the Mamos- The Lost City – La Cuidad Perdido

This film is an imperative to watch and to share! The last Eden ( the Sierra Nevada- the heart of the world) in the care of the Kogi, beautiful beautiful people with a message for ‘Younger Brother’ -Us! Difficult even begin to deal with the admiration or the terror of its implications. Here is active mysticism integrated with a highly sensitive society of extraordinary beauty. Perhaps others have already encountered them. I never had, until today.

Life at a Gallop- Blurred?

Life at a Gallop

Letter to my Sixteen Year Self.

This post was inspired by Shelley Sackier’s post to herself at sixteen which got me seriously thinking. I thought I would try it. It brought up some interesting points. If only I’d looked at this earlier!

spike

Dear Spike,
Do you remember the nickname given you by your uncle? It fits you perfectly. At sixteen you bristle at everything, and in these days a spike is the forerunner of what will become a filing system: That thing on a desk on which unpaid bills, unanswered letters, unsent receipts, and reminders of possible but not immediate importance are secured. In short, notes to self. Memory stored and accessible. You never forget a thing, ever. You quote insults in the original, mimic accents with accuracy, flash back epithets, and hook out hypocrisy with dispatch. Heartless you seem but you are having fun just trying on clothes in a cupboard. Chess champion? Jive queen? Debating Society Champion? Student of the Talmud? Writer of SERIOUS criticism? Solemn political agitator? Mostly Rider-at-top-speed.

You, Spike, are becoming a rapier, preparing to do battle with the world, and sharpening a blade on any whetstone that appears. You feel that unless you prepare for the battle ahead you will succumb. To what will you succumb? Who or what is out for blood?

I have found a memory-as-metaphor amongst that ragbag of memories and it will do. Very succinct, and economical. Your life to come, already pre-determined and in rehearsal.

Do you remember that hunt when you had no mount and someone said they had a horse going spare? You mounted a thoroughbred and at the first bugle it was off making for the horizon. If you had stopped to ask about the beautiful Arab called Pomeroy you might have discovered you were on a race horse, that only knew to race once out of the gate. To bring it back you circled the whole field (going sedately at a collective canter) three times until some desperate whipper-in caught the reins and brought you back to a quivering halt in a lather and with blistered hands. The Master was Most Displeased. Very bad hunt manners!

After Pomeroy realised he was not supposed to win, but to lose to all those cumbersome shires he spooked at a river and threw you onto a rock and broke your wrist. You were led back to the meet in a splint by the doctor. What ignominy. He gave you a shiny white plaster cast to take home to your mother. That was when you were ten and you seem to have learned nothing from it at all. You know, it is okay to look a gift horse in the mouth, and to ride to hounds and not over them! You should try it. It is called the ‘field’ and it has rules.

racing-horse

Pity I never told you this earlier but would you have listened? Probably not, Spike. Listening was never a skill you mastered.

I could warn you. I wish I could. You will go on circling the field at a gallop and only getting thrown will stop you. Will exhilaration be enough? I hope so.

Pelted with Petals? Or Stoned to Death?

Pelted with Petals? Or Stoned to Death?

Stings and Arrow of Outrageous Fortune
Stings and Arrow of Outrageous Fortune

This may be the beginning of something. It is too soon to tell.

If you visit regularly you may have noticed a long silence. Truth is despair has bitten deep, not the summer despair that lifts hair, or dries the laundry, but the piercing knife of despondency. The mistake may lie in reading the paper, a habit resumed while waiting for the tricksy muse, who has taken itself off on a leave of absence, and is probably wind surfing off Marbella.

This morning there was death in Yemen with hospitals barren of remedy, Kurds against Kalashnikovs in Turkey; Putin on the Path of War and Ukraine begging for U52s. Refugees in Kos begging for kos ( food where I come from), or papers, or better both; Cameron was fiddling in Europe on consent to withhold benefits ( what ARE those exactly?) and a bearded Sandal tipped to win and make better friends with Hamas or Hezbollah in this land with that reputation for sanity!

Why would anybody write? Spitting against the wind just seems unintelligent. So I stopped.Then I did a bit of meditating and the muse sidled in and stuck out a tongue. So I wrote a poem. You can have it if you like…

Words- They Are the Poet’s Fault.

Those who blow word-winds
as easily as paring a pencil,
have never sucked the lead of life…

So they say.

If you had drunk the deep of grief
you would not cascade
a bright loquacious literature.

You would slide silent through pine in the night wood
whittling the matchstick moon
sliver shiver a slow-sleep dawn…

to ignite a blaze.

Had you loved and lost, longed, or watched skies burn,
had a mother bent with labour,
a child with legs thin as a crow’s cry

you would stay quiet, though your eyes would speak.

The currency of clever sounds
is the splashing of a weathered tap
where water is not harvested

in the cellar of the house best left.

To make explicit hangs a carcass for dismembering,
a cleaver phrase glistens,
tendons of a life extinguished hang in the air,

coagulate words drip to the floor’.

See? That’s about it for now.

I have also read a couple of restorative books that have nudged out despair and are claiming the right to be heard. Whispering. Maybe next time I’ll bequeath them to you?

Rose_is_a_Rose

St Sebastian [CC BY 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Rose By Melbelle (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Review of Go Set a Watchman- Harper Lee

An individual ‘take’ on ‘Go Set a Watchman’ and writing as an aid to growing up.

Go Set a Watchman- Harper Lee

Go set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth…

In the midst of the current and tempestuous outcry I intend to dive right in. I do not want to wait until the water grows placid and the angers are expended or turn, as they might, to a consensus of disappointment.

I will try to explain why I found the book mesmerising. For you to understand I need you to know where I come from, so that you can decide whether my opinions have any relevance for you. It may temper your judgement. I grew up in that most reviled racist country, South Africa, where my grandfather seemed a kind of Atticus Finch, only he nursed the ambition to undermine the justification for racism ( the image of Africans still immersed in innocent childhood, unready for the world) with his dogged dedication to African education. He was determined to make them ready. If you are interested I wrote about him earlier HERE.  He started at six in the morning and we never saw him except for meals.

I was at a school where our priest was Trevor Huddleston, the man who was remembered by Mandela for raising his hat to a black woman, cleaning on her knees. So my childhood was spent not unlike that of Scout. My heroes were those brave and determined to defy the prevalent racist attitudes. It did not stop them employing cooks and cleaners ( and getting cross with them) or inviting black Professors to dine. If you are colour-blind then other distinctions determine decisions and the company you keep.

I have lived with Mockingbird all my life, as the perfect novel integrating the personal with the political, the pinnacle of the moral absolute, as well as the most evocative account of my own childhood. My second mother Milly was Calpurnia, and Jem the brother I longed for.  One of my daughters is called Jem for that reason. So why am I not indignant that Watchman strips away that perfect Atticus and renders him mortal, complex, and ambivalent?

It is a different time and the time for me to grow up too. Along with this book. Black and white are no longer the absolutes they were. Once dilution happens grey is the new black, and the new white. I cannot say very much without introducing spoilers for the reader in the context of the book, except in general terms. Scout’s need to confront the shining knight of her now frail, but no less loving, a father is also my need to re-evaluate my own innocence. When you are imprisoned by prejudice and fighting to honour your own ‘Watchman’ things are kept simple; they have to be.

I don’t want to summarize the book, or quote what will distort surprise. It is a journey best not described.

I do not think Watchman as perfect a construction as Mockingbird, it is not an outer story of event, but an inner one towards the messy limits imposed by Scout’s outgrown needs of her father at just the point when what HE needs is her.

It is still rare to read deeply psychological novels that deal with the damage that can be done by children to their parents, or the recognition in a parent that only time will endow the qualities they hoped to impart, while time is running out.

I cannot help feeling that Harper Lee regains her own Watchman by this publication. I refuse to find significant all the conjectures surrounding its publication. Those will be forgotten and do not matter.

It must be difficult to write the most regaled novel of the century, to be richly rewarded financially without expressing your misgivings, your qualifying caveats, and do so by restoring both Atticus and Scout to humanity. ‘ Leave me be wontcha

I truly salute her courage, not to want to die before re-stating her independence and restoring the noble Atticus to pre-eminent and frail humanity by stripping away the image imposed upon him.

If the public is not adult enough to grow up but wants to retain only black and white and the simple lines of easy virtue they have not begun to understand either of the books, or this compassionate author. Yes there are the odd grammatical infelicities, and occasional clumsy constructions that a less respectful editor would have ironed out. Few books flow immaculate from the pen, for me, in this case, I applaud them. It means Harper Lee is still one of us. I feel rejuvenated by her small and unimportant faults.

That brings me to what will provide the next post: an examination of this injunction of what a writer owes their reader. This has become the new conformity. Behave as you are expected to behave, write what we expect to read.

It is  deadly, and it kills the desire to write at all. Books are gifts, not obligations, and words and ideas are dangerous. We must fight to keep them so. We owe readers nothing but the gift of ourselves. I have just remembered that, and Watchman’s influence may see me through, as Mockingbird once did.

My Calpurnia with Windy my dog
My Calpurnia with Windy my dog

Oyez .Same Jury: Second Summary: Defense Closing Speech before the Verdict. Please pay attention.

The Trial of Involution. Final Defense Speech before the Verdict.

Counsel for the Defense. ( Closing Speech) 

The Jury by John Morgan.jpg
The Jury by John Morgan” by painted by John Morgan, uploaded to Wikipedia (en) by SwampyankThe Jury by John Morgan.jpg in Wikipedia (English). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

I thank my learned friend for making my speech to you much easier. His Reason, it would seem, is merely the surface of reliance upon traditional authority, Professors with a vested interest in suppression ( like Alister Hardy and Professor Anon) are unwilling to consider an author untainted by their own influence and running free. Rein her in, is the essence of it.

He fails to mention those, like Konrad Lorenz and Arthur Koestler, who supported the scientific hypothesis ab initio, (and who were dismissed by these later and more arrogant witnesses) or those encountering the Author, like Canon Milford,whose enquiry was both modest and thoughtful and informed by their own long deliberations on parallel ideas in Teilhard de Chardin. Clearly so called Reason has tipping points of view. Yet you are called upon to put full weight upon it!

But I am not going to argue with Reason. Unlike the author who does that throughout the book through the voice of Soul, I am well aware that, in any challenging encounter with reason, only reason itself is re-enforced, but not truth. This book was written to undermine the strength of Reason, so why would I assist Reason to regain the throne?

What I appeal to is something different entirely: Instinct.

Instinct and your own psychological experiences of life and relationships.These are the questions I would like you to ask yourselves.

This book has come to trial with the consent of the Author. Why would an author consent to the potential destruction of a book she has spent a lifetime researching and writing?

Why would she invite the testimony of those bent upon ridiculing it?

Why were the witnesses summoned to support it; the Rev TG; Arthur Koestler; Konrad Lorenz and Canon Milford struck not so much by the intellectual claims of the work, but the self critical and doubtful questions of the author. Is calling them here in public not further evidence of those qualities they all referred to?

Are those the qualities of fanaticism, self-aggrandizement or delusion? Is there any evidence that the book prevailed upon her better nature and distorted it?

Or is what she said— that she would like to hear an honest verdict by a disinterested Jury, exactly and precisely BECAUSE of self doubt? She believed she had something of value to offer. She spent the best part of a life acquiring the requisite vocabulary. Of course the indifference must occasion her to question…yes…even her own sanity!

The Author has little life left. Given that, her choices are simple. Give up pushing a weight up a hill like Sisyphus and let it slide inevitably into oblivion or, (and this is the importance of this Jury decision), be encouraged to continue looking for an occasional reader whose life might, just might, be changed by the work?

You may think that a verdict of guilty would relieve her of her burden. In one way you would be right, (for the years remaining). It would, however, be a relief paid for by laying waste a meaningless life already spent, seventy odd years. Think about that.

The book itself refers to many notable people who died before the value of their contribution was ever recognised. The author knew the risks in the very subject matter she chose. She must have been well prepared for both ignominy and anonymity.

Why then has she brought the book to trial?

Could it be that after all that it required, including accusations of insanity, and incarceration in a mental hospital that she still retains a small flame of belief in its merits?

Not for her, but for the world heading for hell at a gallop? Who else is it for? Now?There is no glory to be had from a belated limping existence.

My learned friend has urged you to rely on Reason. I now ask reason to submit to deeper reason, psychological truth. It does not accumulate, it ‘divines’. It sees the whole, not the parts.

The Author’s testimony referred to the very strength of being anonymous, with nothing to lose but her life, no reputation, no standing, just the time and discipline to make a difference.

The book may be superficially guilty of the charges brought against it, but only judged against the weighing of established precepts, those heavy weights forged by vested interest, jealousy, self-preservation. Or the books already successful? The approved ‘genres’ with Dewey numbers? Are those the weights by which weightless inspiration can be measured? Or finding a new continent across the ice-flow, consciousness not yet mapped?

This book may not reach many, but I urge you to give it the wings of your approval to let it try. Shelley it was who said ‘Poets and philosophers are the unacknowledged legislators of the world.’ For him that legislation was the battle against revolution and oppression.He saw no gulf between poetry and politics, this book likewise sees no gulf between poetry and hard science. That gulf only exists in other minds. Those intent upon its relegation.

There is, as we have surely seen, oppression in the barring of the unorthodox opinion by the institutions of science. We heard of her demolition by the Epiphany Philosophers in Cambridge. The book is full of such instances; its rosary is threaded (and shredded) on them.

Courtroom Drawing Beineke Library Wikimedia Commons

Poetry and philosophy’s legislation is engraved upon freedom, the freedom to be susceptible to the muscle of metaphor, to engage emotionally but that does not imply irrationally. Rationality has not proved adequate or even sufficient a guide, as the world about us amply shows.

To quote Adrienne Rich* But when poetry lays its hand on our shoulder we are, to an almost physical degree, touched and moved. The imagination’s roads open before us, giving the lie to that brute dictum, “There is no alternative”.

This poetic history of Western thought might just ease a few into an alternative road, a new comprehension of how we arrived at the dominance of rationality and materialism, and why we are so embedded in the suck of its safety. Like a quagmire it seems to support our weight while we inexorably slowly sink.

Involution-An Odyssey does not destroy the material world, merely reveals its porous and transient nature, one that makes it permeable to thought. That alone is worth a punt, wouldn’t you say? A new kind of creative thought is hardly an invitation to extremism!

There is always that in poetry which will not be grasped, which cannot be described, which survives our ardent attention, our critical theories, our late-night arguments…’

So do not rely upon the dismissal of Professor Anon who said he could not grasp this work.  Grasping a butterfly invariably kills it.

Let your deliberations rest upon instinct instead, and watch it fly.

I invite you to dismiss all charges and find the book ‘Not Guilty’.

Judge. I urge the Jury to take time to consider these closing statements, and return, when you are ready, to deliver your verdict in the boxes provided.

All Rise.

Court in Session
Court in Session

* the distinguished medallist for her contribution to American Letters (an article in the Guardian)

Oyez Oyez…Last call for the Jury in the Trial of Involution. Closing Arguments: 1 Prosecution

The closing arguments in the trial of Involution. Jury called.

Court in Session
Court in Session

All Rise

Counsel for the Prosecution.

Ladies and Gentlemen of the Jury. You have enjoyed a prolonged recess since the last witness in which to read the book on trial. Before I urge your verdict I must remind you that readers have varied reactions to books. You are not required to assess whether it is a good or bad book but whether it merited forty five years of dominating the author and whether anyone else should give it comparative importance. It is a singular work, unable to be evaluated against others. In that sense you are called upon to judge its adventurous masquerade and its claim to authenticity. Just because it looks like a book, and quacks like a book, is it, in fact, a book? Is it fiction or non fiction? Poetry or science? One book or two? Science or art?

Where would a librarian shelve it? Under Philosophy? Literature? History? New Age? Evolution? While she is making up her mind I suggest we persuade the author to cover (with nice brown velvet) the remaining copies of the doorstop Magnum opus as literally that. Doorstops. In two hundred years they will provide archaeologists with speculation. They were to ward off the evil eye? Contain the secret doctrine of the Gods? Clean boots? Enough; you get my drift…

With all that in mind  it is now my painful duty to persuade you to find it guilty of the charges against it. To refresh you may revisit the sessions from the beginning

The Jury by John Morgan.jpg
The Jury by John Morgan” by painted by John Morgan, uploaded to Wikipedia (en) by SwampyankThe Jury by John Morgan.jpg in Wikipedia (English). Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Apart from brief reminders of the evidence against it, and the authority of the witnesses whose testimony you have heard, my appeal to you is the appeal of reason, against the sentiment you are likely to hear from my learned friend.

If you recall, the book itself relies upon one spokesman Reason, pitted against the whispering claims of Soul. Let’s just examine what that means, and why I appeal to you to let Reason guide your deliberations.

Look at the world we live in! The irrational, so called extremes of religious fanaticism are taking us to the brink of destruction. I am not suggesting this book contributes directly to that irrationality; what I am suggesting is the seeds of danger that any reliance on sentiment carries with it.

This work is an appeal to permit, no, to give prominence to the universal longing for love, and in doing so it relegates the slow and substantial achievements of reason by supplanting them with a suggestion that they THEMSELVES were guided by the irrational: the dreams, the incoherence of inspiration by genius; genius in love with ideas, or contemplation. As though the methodical painstaking history of science can be dissolved simply in the fizzy water of a new hypothesis!

While I do not deny the role of inspiration in forging great leaps of understanding what has to be achieved—and this is THE ESSENTIAL POINT—is the anchoring of inspiration to a language understood by the mass of mankind. It is the interpretation of inspiration that is the measure of its value. Dreams are personal; expressing them forces the examination of their wider relevance.

Has this book succeeded in that?

It has signally failed to do so. You have heard Professor Hardy claim it is ‘unscientific’ and essentially ‘baloney’ ( his word), you have heard Professor Anon claim it ‘slips away from being grasped’. Even the sympathetic priest the Rev TG admitted it was turning ‘everything on its head’ ( Darwin upside down.) These men are the gatekeepers in the world of rational discourse. I urge you to give heed to their views.

I would go further and invite a wider consideration. Have any of you, before this Trial encountered this Book? Heard about it? Read a review? If not, why is that? You would think the media might have run with ‘Old Woman has Big Idea’. Why didn’t they? Okay the author may not look like Madonna or have Random House behind her but you would have expected some excitement, given what she proposes?

Is it because the opinion of the world of potential readers have better things to do than struggle with something calling itself ‘symphonic prose’ to put forward an alternative THEORY OF EVERYTHING written by a NOBODY? If it was half as important to the market of ideas as it has been to the diligent author, we should have heard of it.

However sympathetic you may feel about the struggles of the Author, dominated by a deluded sense of mission I ask you to set that aside in evaluating the merits of a book seeking not merely paper to print it, trees to die in its cause, but vying for attention.

There are rational, logical, graspable books written by rational men, and yes, some of them echo elements contained within this work. If you want poetry read Dante or Milton, if you want science read Dawkins, if you want speculation read Ervin Laszlo. So let us remove this book of confusing baloney from the shelves and let those rational alternatives be more easily found. Do not mistake the few scintillating reviews by ordinary readers, thirsty for a belief in the irrational, or longing to perceive that Western Science has betrayed its promises, deflect the argument.

One of those said ‘It just feels right…’ Well, I am sure that the man who took a hammer to his mother-in-law would say exactly the same. In fact it probably felt the only thing to do at the time.

This is a test case about a market flooded with books. What we are here addressing is whether the time has come to evaluate books claiming importance that threaten the solid achievements of academic prowess, with suggestions of dubious merit, a pot-pourri, an aromatherapy, as valueless as fantasy. If you want fantasy read Harry Potter or Terry Pratchett. They do not call themselves science and are much more diverting.

It is easy at a time of crisis to suggest almost any hair-brained alternative and get away with it!

I am asking you to throw out the solid anchor of Reason and find this work guilty of all charges against it, a deluded and scientifically unproven hypothesis about the encoding of memory; inappropriate language; ill judged timing, and certainly the last, an inhumane indifference to the consequences to the author of single-handedly taking on the wall of scientific opposition and total indifference.

Her arguments may look ingenious, her scientific facts seemingly persuasive, but nobody can say anything about her qualifications for such facts or arguments. That is why we have institutions to impart rigour and peer reviews to examine that rigour. This author has not been refined in such fires of analysis. Even she is not sure, or she would not be here!

Exonerate her and you will condemn others with delusions of importance to lives spent in fruitless pursuit.

Any other verdict would simply encourage the benighted author to continue, and give encouragement to others to do likewise. You heard the author appearing as a hostile witness in this case. Why was that? Because she was as anxious as I am in seeing the book set aside and being relieved of its burden of obligation.

I urge you all to be prepared to be unpopular and find the book guilty. Such a verdict would be an act of courage. Thank you.

Jury box cropped.jpg
Jury box cropped” by Ken Lund from Reno, NV, USA – Cropped from the original, Pershing County Courthouse Jury Box. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

.Judge. We will take a short adjournment before the Defense Counsel’s closing speech. Please return at the same time tomorrow.

All Rise

Court in Session
Court in Session

* the distinguished medallist for her contribution to American Letters ( 2006)