Interview with Alexander Zoltai.

Perception and Redefining Reality in each Individual

This year I intend to write posts on the gulf between Perception and Reality, and how this shapes books, and how we read them, and how we seek to find readers in the melee of false perceptions, pre-conceived , limited, both pre- and proscribed. Almost every writer starts out with an idea of what they want to accomplish. What intervenes, what compromises they make, what barriers they encounter, are the subjects of a blog emphasizing the gulf between perception ( their own or that of others, or the market for ideas) and the reality of a deep sense of identity.

To kick the first high ball into this arena I have asked Alexander M Zoltai to give his responses to some questions that will be related to this theme and its difficulties. Alexander runs a generous blog—exploring Reading, Writing, and Publishing—called Notes from an Alien.  That’s also the title of one of his books—recounting the struggles of three planets to find lasting peace; which, in itself, presupposes he has wrestled with much of this issue.

I shall call these interview posts.

Minding the Gap

Alexander in Focused Conversation
Alexander in Focused Conversation

 Alexander, what is the most important (to you) activity you engage in on this planet?

Well, Philippa, being nearly 69 years old, part of my most important activity is to stop doing certain things that could shorten my time left on earth…

But, my Work or Mission is to help fellow members of the Human Family realize our Oneness—not just some fuzzy, warm brother/sisterhood; but, solid, lived Oneness, which embraces and depends on honoring differences—Unity in Diversity.

How did you arrive at the point which defined that as your priority? (Notes from an Alien would suggest you feel you have something of value to convey. What is it?)

I’ve spent over 26 years studying what I consider the basic principles of Oneness, accompanied by a great load of struggle to live the principles. My source material was the Writings of the Bahá’í Faith.

As far as Notes from An Alien is concerned, that short novel took eleven of those years to be birthed (there were about four false starts) and is my major contribution toward helping folks, by portraying the struggle for Peace, which can only be attained once Unity is firmly established.

Most people have the idea that Peace comes first, then Unity can prevail.

Yet, how can even two people have Peace unless they find some common point of Unity?

What difficulties do you encounter in the exercise of that unique vision/mission and how do you solve those? What survival mechanisms help?

One difficulty has already been mentioned—helping people overcome the false idea that a patch-work peace can somehow lead to unity.

The other difficulty—what might be better called a challenge—is to promote Notes from An Alien so more folks can experience how Unity leads to Peace.

And, that challenge has a supportive challenge—blog five times a week about Writing, Reading, and Publishing and hope folks notice the offer of a free copy of the book in the side-bar (naturally, they can also buy the book, if they must…).

I also have my blogging platform pushing links of my posts out to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus—I long ago gave up trying to “engage” folks in those venues…

And, since Notes from An Alien isn’t a particularly genre-type book, I’m hard at work on another novel in the same universe as Notes—something that will potentially attract more “mainstream” readers and lead them back to Notes

As far as survival mechanisms, I have to say that staying in the work is a great aid—persistence to provide meaningful and helpful blog posts and getting the second book in the series finished.

Beyond that, prayer is very important to me…

What are the rewards of pursuing your Mission?

I don’t focus on rewards, except those experienced while doing the work.

Yet, perhaps one “reward” of pursuing these goals is that I’m constantly cleaning the dust off the mirror of my soul…

Have you distilled what you have learned in some kind of personal philosophy, and if so could you outline its essential qualities?

I didn’t have to distill a philosophy since the Bahá’í Faith has over 300 books that cover every contingency of what it will take for humanity to finally reach it’s Golden Age—an Age of undisturbed Global Peace.

And, lest folks think I’m just a parrot for some religion, I should state that all the years leading to my finding this source material were a constant and multidisciplinary investigation of philosophy, psychology, literature, and what is called the occult.

Also, one of the root principles of my Faith is The Independent Search for Truth—no borrowed tenets, no inherited rules—individual thought and personal responsibility.

I feel I should list a few of the other essential principles that must be put into action for Peace on Earth:

* The abandonment of all forms of prejudice

* Assurance to women of full equality of opportunity with men

* Recognition of the unity and relativity of religious truth

* The elimination of extremes of poverty and wealth

* The realization of universal education

* The establishment of a global commonwealth of nations

* Recognition that true religion is in harmony with reason and the pursuit of scientific knowledge

I’ve shown most of those principles in action in Notes from An Alien and will do it again in my next book…

How easily do you find fellow travellers in sympathy with your philosophy? What draws people to you? Or what do they avoid?

I’ve found many people who can sympathize with some of the principles I attempt to live by; but most people have problems with a few of them, or feel some other plan would work better, or are so battle-fatigued from living in our current culture they don’t care…

And, since I spend most of my time in my small cave-apartment, not many people have a chance to be “drawn to me”—though, many are drawn to my blog…

Avoidance by others? Usually when I bring up the “hard” stuff, like we’re really more alike than we’re different from each other…

Are there things you regret? Or might have done differently? If so what and how?

No regrets are left—my actions before I fully woke up to my Mission were a sort of scortched-earth-policy—regrets burned as bridges were consumed—me walking away into my Valuable Years

To what extent do you see yourself as a product of your upbringing or early life ( either conforming or repudiating?) Did it ‘set the stage’ for what followed, and in what ways?

I was a total and horribly mixed product of my minister-parents and the prevailing society.And, even in my attempts to repudiate my upbringing and its social warping, I was ensnared in both…

Since I feel one of the most dangerous psychological activities is to look back and say, “If only I’d______.”, there is nothing I could have done differently, even the corrective measures I took once I found a rational Plan…

As a writer, what do you hope a reader will get from reading your books?

Perhaps a small glimmer of hope for Humanity—a spark that won’t die and might lead to a blazing determination to help…

What do you look for when you choose a book to read?

These days, it’s what can massage my mind in ways that will help me write the next book.In general, I seek good fiction—one might call it literary—with real characters living-out some form of Mission

If you had limitless influence how would you use it?

I would use it by giving it away…

Is there anything else you would like to add about this topic or yourself?

One thing. I think far too many people haven’t realized the truth about religion—hence, the common, “I’m spiritual, not religious.”. I think the reason for ignorance about religion is that folks take at face value what the believers in various religions tell them it is.

History shows clearly that every Messenger has had their Message distorted by the believers—one reason there have been so many Messengers…

Still, humanity has slowly grown up and is fast approaching its maturity—though, I doubt I’ll live long enough to see it from the perspective of this physical world…

Please provide links to your books ( with brief introductions) and to your website.

My blog is at: http://notesfromanalien.com/
Folks can get a free copy of my books, too.

Poetry: http://notesfromanalien.com/poetry/ — Is Your Soul In Here? A Poet’s Struggle with God.

Fantasy: http://notesfromanalien.com/friday-fantasy/ — 31 Tales of Mystery & Wonder.

Notes from An Alien: http://notesfromanalien.com/about-our-book/ — A Message for Earth — Three Worlds’ Transition from Greed and Superstition to Lasting Tranquility and Peace.

Thank you so much Alexander for agreeing to be interviewed, and also for all you do for authors on the lonely road. I am interested in your belief that humanity is approaching maturity and all this strife maybe the pangs of a new birth, and the resistance to it is fighting its final death rattle. I hope you are right. 

 

 

Divorce Pending-Damage Done. Remember Scotland?

Divorce Pending-Damage Done.

Scarred chalk-The Bastion of this Sceptred Isle.
Scarred chalk-The Bastion of this Sceptred Isle.

For a week an irritable restlessness, an inability to write anything, and little belief that writing has much value amidst the jihads of various kinds! Scotland may get its own Caliphate through the vote, the pretence of democracy which enlists adolescents to beleaguer their grandparents, and promise the earth. Did nobody explain that being ‘in love’ is not loving, that grass is always greener from a distance?

Memory is the richest resource we have. Even memories of disagreement which bind us with shared scars.

Marriage is mostly dull tedium, slow change; a love affair with liberty invariably destructive of all those offspring dependent on constancy. The damage is already done whichever way it goes. No unwilling partner is ever rehabilitated, nor trustworthy.

What has Scotland to do with it? Why do I care, so incoherently? My Scottish grandfather and Irish grandmother were no part of my childhood, and it is not my blood that sings out. It is so many more important things. Mainly a love for the identity of Britain, what I thought it stood for, which I once tried to express.

Sworn Statement

I remember British before I ever came.
It held out not so much a hand
as a perfumed sheltering skirt.

Libraries of promises told me it was so;
so kind, so empathetic…good laws kept
below the plimsoll line of progress, and never shook their fists.

Red-robed institutions and the wigs of learned men
in processions or procedures, stood up stoutly to defend
like a robin a single spade, abandoned to the rain.

Centuries had assumed much the same kind of thing.
Honour never easily perturbed by loud waving sticks,
or shouting, or new planted beds of change.

That picture merely skeletal like an architect token tree;
profile of swinging twigs on which whole flocks might feed…
The glory came with foliage, later season, quiet street,

rows of modest gables, the certain corner-store.
The Pakistani, hollow eyed, exhausted and polite,
his jet-eyed child a-clamour still at ten o’clock at night.

Inevitably Cathedrals, Warden Harding in the apse…
Overwhelmed by tearful vespers by half a few intoned
in a mediaeval choir with its candle cloistered lights,

its susurration of sandal, bowing tonsured pates…
Out into the winter fog hugging near the lamps,
the smoking billboard publican stamping frozen feet.

I fell in love with promises, smacked into full-tilt
round the corners of a heedless unintentional search, believed
Britain was for everyone, somewhere, Harry and St George

Or so, for years, it seemed.

Could I have been mistaken as little as thirty years back?
Could deception hold its nerve from Land’s End to John o’ Groats?
Grey matter finds it hard to shift something weightless as faith…

There was a certain…certainty? Officer, I can’t tell you anymore
I only notice now its gone, this Island has been robbed.

T'other end. More beautiful, but protected from the south. Together proved invincible.
T’other end. More beautiful, but protected from the south. Together proved invincible.

THROWING GRAVEL AT GLASS

THROWING GRAVEL AT GLASS. An Immigrant’s Growing Impression of the ‘Mother Country’ (Originally published in The Recusant)

This piece is resurrected in response to an invitation offered today to ‘keep getting it down’. A new friend invited me to list five interesting things about myself, and another (older- in both senses) friend said that my poetry is written for poets, and he would have me write more accessibly for everyone. All my new South African friends might understand this even more. So here goes.

 

'And Elgar wrote it down'
‘And Elgar wrote it down’

You speak our language well enough. Try to be exact.
Talk first of where you come from, what place, what climate of sun,
corn of rattling monotony, or rows of sweating pineapple; were you near a beach?

Let us begin at the beginning.

The drum of Africa rolls incessant, a barrel under the feet. It failed to stop for getting born…
We caught a wind off the Kalahari, which snagged us on barbed wire, the shred  of a shirt flapping before we hastened on; pioneers are travelling folk, we uitspan where we find ourselves, and mostly for one night…

Very well. What manner of people suckled you? Taught you to walk? Gave you your prayers at sunset, or maybe brushed your teeth?

Some wore socks and veldschoen, banded khaki hats… kept dried peaches in the pocket, corralled a farm on  horseback-, often chewed sweet grass…the labour filed in kaalvoet from distant smoking kraals with babies on their backs and calloused dirty feet. Their rivers flowed over boulders, and washing dried on rock. They walked like ants with purpose, carried heads of firewood, and swept the hills with song…

Your people are known to be obstinate, perhaps I’m being harsh. I realise it wasn’t easy. Did you ever go to school?

I opened up the ant spires, and paced the baobab girth. I saw elephants drunk on  maroolas, and hyenas bloody jawed. My horse and I in the mountains alone took  turns to cast our shadows…the sort of thing you asked?

I had hoped for something else; the merest suggestion of books. I really want to understand you. I am not trying to be perverse.

Oh books, that’s very easy. Books were candle light, and whizz-bangs, and ghosts in the shadows flickering; leather smelt of sweat. Books were made of promises, improvements in design. Damp Keats eventually caught fire, and hectic Percy     Bysshe…lit sparks of inspiration, and subtle Austen flavoured fish…but books were about England, there was African life to live…

I thought you said you were thirsty, and that was why you came. What had fed that appetite, identify the hunger? It’s tethered you here for a reason…It seems reasonable to ask.

Now here we come to the doring bush, the wag’n bietjie thorn. It was you who persuaded us we never could belong. Not unless we learned to hold our crude and wagging tongue. So I came for your opinions, and your moderated views, tempered by your literature, I would learn them if it killed me, and it very nearly has…

There was nothing that you valued? Nothing that enriched? Subtle converse  taught you no refinements, brought forth nothing new? Could we have had this conversation if you’d never put on shoes?

Is this a conversation? I had not realised that. We talk to one another. It isn’t the same thing. Yes I learned your language, and I worshipped it at first. I believed it  would oil my power to show you other things; the glory of the sugar bright stars, thrown by razor wind, the need to pelt down sand dunes and shout injustice to the sky.. oh yes I leaned refinement, let’s call it constipation and have done…

Now who’s being harsh? Was there nothing that you loved? Nothing that explained your blood, or informed your letters home? Did you take no pictures, or  stop before a view…Surely there was something…

That’s the point you dimwit, it was all face value so. I found your country perfect, exactly as expected, not a hair astray. There was a quota of eccentrics, and I loved them, every one. There was always mist on the Malvern Hills and Elgar wrote it down. London was Threadneedle Street, and Horseguards all stood still. It lived up to all its promises, and I gulped it like spring water, and thought that I’d come home. You wrapped me up in literature; words and place, one piece. It’s taken my life to unwrap it, and find instead its vacuum heart, and nothing to write back…

What about the politics you hated, we sheltered you from those…

Oh yes, you’re right, I quite forgot; the constant surveillance, the neighbours who informed, the ninety day detentions, the summary arrests, the banning of so many things, speech among the first…Sorry I’m getting distracted; were those the things   you meant? 

You draw a false analogy, we don’t do it the same way, your comparisons are facile, nobody here protests. We accept when things are necessary, and we have after all the freedom of our Press…

To spin you like a marionette, too giddy to take heed of the swirling fascist state. Compulsory tolerance is your poison coated pill… you swallow without tasting…At least we knew we were pariahs, and not just because we smoked..

Come come you exaggerate, it really isn’t done. The essential rule you never learned is what makes us what we are; never to speak loudly…or criticise with emphasis or most of all, enthuse. Let me give you some advice, it will serve you everywhere, curtail your indignation, it sits so very ill, make a joke of outrage, keep it well to heel…

Ag ja, my outrage is exhausted, like a cur behind a wagon, snapping at the flies. I know I have nowhere to stand, and nothing left to say. Your literature has tamed me like a mangy lion penned. You are all so very certain about such little things.

On the Eve of Dissolution.
On the Eve of Dissolution.

 

 

 

 

 

The Caduceus Review of Involution

This Review has just appeared in Caduceus Magazine (88) This is a stimulating quarterly offering very diverse articles on Spirituality, Consciousness, Ecology and Healing. It is possible to subscribe to the printed or on-line edition or buy a single copy.

INVOLUTION- An Odyssey Reconciling Science to God
Philippa Rees
CollaborArt Books 2013 Pb 427pp (£17.99/ebook £4.99
ISBN 978 0957500204
Reviewed by David Lorimer

Philippa Rees is a polymath brought up in South Africa who studied literature, science and theology and who has brought these strands together with her own experience in this brilliant epic poem telling the story of the Western Odyssey of the mind with parallel explanations in 150 pages of notes.

She has been working on this theory of involution for many years and was in correspondence with Authur Koestler, Konrad Lorenz and E.F.Schumacher in the 70’s. The nine Cantos of blank verse- a dialogue between Reason and Soul…..read more on Scribd