Sunday, 19 November 2017

Runs and Trills: Two of the best Rossini tenor voices - Luigi Alva and Richard Conrad

Luigi Alva's performance of Ecco Ridente from the best of all comic operas - The Barber of Seville - is my favourite of those I have heard; and it occurs in a truly wonderful filmed version conducted by Abbado and with an unsurpassed Teresa Berganza as Rosina and Herman Prey as Figaro.

Alva has a sweet tone, effortless agility and actually separates the notes in the 'runs' (rapid scales) - although sometimes as the cost of aspirating a little between them. He also has an 'ardent' quality that suits the role of the Count (in disguise), and he does a decent acting job - although nowhere near as good as those true masters of this difficult art: Berganza and Prey:

 However, getting back to Ecco Ridente - I have come across this performance by Richard Conrad:

Like Alva - Conrad also has a lovely, sweet flexible voice. Conrad's performance lacks 'drama' and he does not fully separate the notes in the run - however; his use of trills as decorations (a trill is the rapid alternation between two notes) is astonishingly good.

Indeed, I have never heard any tenor who comes near to Conrad in his control of the trill: it is extremely rare for any singer to be able to do it, and much rarer in men than women (at least, with modern vocal production techniques - the fact that trills were written for men in the Bel Canto era suggests that the ability was commoner in the past).

In fact the only other really convincing trill I have heard from a male singer was John McCormack in this Handel aria:

Unsurprisingly, McCormack and Conrad have the same basic type of voice - similar strengths and limitations; and I think this is the case for all singers, and indeed all people - are strengths are the other side of the coin of constraints: and this is why it is good to have many singers (and people...)!

There is no perfection in singing - not least because the single most important aspect of singing is tone; which is natural infinitely subtle and unfakeable; becuase it is expressive of the person, of the inner self. All great voices are expressive of distinctive personalities.

At the bottom line, we want singers of beautiful and affecting tone - we want to be moved by singing: and other technical aspects must be fitted-in around tone as best as maybe.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

What did Jesus Do?

Firstly - according to John's gospel - Christ made this world; within the context of God's creation Christ made this world we inhabit.

Then later, as Jesus, he was born-into this world which he had made; and lived as a Man.

As fully divine, Jesus lived his entire life in truth. He was a perfect Man because he was fully divine, and therefore always had direct knowledge of that created-reality he encountered and always lived and acted in accordance with that perfect knowledge of created-reality.

Therefore, even as he lived as a Man, Jesus also participated directly in the divine reality which he had created.

As a Man; Jesus's life unfolded in linear sequence and from his individual perspective (just as life unfolds for each of us); but as his life unfolded Jesus always knew what he needed to know, when he needed to know it; he always knew exactly what to do, and he always did it. And (therefore) this was always Good.

The knowledge that the above is true, is the faith a Christian needs. (Faith is knowledge, not belief.)

Such faith should-not and cannot be forced-upon anybody (not by coercion nor by 'evidence'); each must achieve such understanding from-himself.

The perfection of Jesus's life is the necessary datum.

(What that perfection means, how to understand and explain that perfection of life - comprehend the nature of its goodness, is of course subject to human partiality of knowledge: an on-going project for each of us, which extends beyond the door of death.)

Friday, 17 November 2017

Barriers to primary thinking and final participation

What are the barriers that tend to prevent us from living in primary thinking and achieving final participation?

The answer is partly interference from modern culture - partly its unprecedented number and pervasiveness of distractions, but mainly its materialist, anti-spiritual, anti-religious metaphysics. This means that any inklings a person may have of the reality of primary thinking, or experiences of final participation, will typically be interpreted in subjective terms - and therefore as an ephemeral, unreal product of wishful thinking.

But another factor is that primary thinking requires consciousness; it is not merely a matter of 'instinct'; therefore we cannot 'relax' into it, but must attain it purposively and actively. The typical spiritual guidance tends to recommend a passive process along the lines of the sixties mantra of 'turn on, tune in, drop out'- or a meditation practice which is negative and aiming at assimilation with the divine, rather than a conscious participation.

On top of these, there is the near-totalitarian dominance of modern culture; especially, in recent decades, via the mass media and social media; on top of the shallowness and mutual exploitativeness of most social interaction in an age where public discourse is actively hedonic or crushingly bureaucratic.

The combination - in the wider context of generalised Christian apostasy - can be interpreted as a triumph of purposive evil; in other words, that demonic powers are largely in control of the world, especially via the most powerful and influential global (especially Western) institutions. And, once this spiritual fact is sensed (and perhaps especially when it is consciously recognised) it may create a variety of counter-productive reactions.

For example the response may be despair in face of such (apparently) overwhelming power. Despair is rightly described as a sin - because it is a denial of the hope (and promise) of Jesus, and a surrender to evil.

Or, a realisation of the scale and nature of evil may alternatively lead to the mistake of 'fighting' evil on its own ground, and with the enemies own weapons (such as mass media propaganda, or political organisation).

Whereas the proper response is to recognise the presence of evil in our own hearts, and to regard our own soul as the proper battle ground; and to 'fight' on the divine grounds of ultimate universal reality - in other words, by primary thinking to participate in God's work of creation.

This is exactly what the vast apparatus of evil is trying to prevent us from doing - for them, almost anything else is preferable to you or I doing this.

Even one single solitary individual person attaining final participation via primary thinking for any length of time; represents a colossal set-back to the agenda of evil. Furthermore is is an ongoing defeat of whose origin they are not aware, and cannot become aware - because it is intrinsically Good and its level of operations is invisible to, far above and beyond the possibility of demonic perception.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Was William Blake a proto-revolutionary-socialist? Umm... No!

But how did such a massively, bizarrely, obviously false idea gain such wide currency? Over at Albion Awakening I suggest it was (as so often) a matter of metaphysics...

Most difficult opera aria ever? Possente Spirto from Monteverdi's Orfeo (1607)

This is pretty much the first surviving opera - certainly the earliest to retain a place in the performing and recording repertoire - however, at its centre is an 'impossible aria' for the lead character Orfeo.

What makes Possente Spirto impossible is that there are extremely long and sustained musical phrases, which ought to be sung without taking a breath - and therefore must be done at a reasonably quick tempo; also if performed too slowly the music loses cohesion, and becomes dull.

However, embedded within these long phrases are decorations - runs (short notes, going up and/or down the scale) and repeated notes (sometimes called Monteverdi 'trills', but not really so, because a trill is a rapid alternation of two notes). These decorations are extremely difficult to articulate at the necessary speed, to differentiate each individual note clearly from the notes on either side.

And especially the machine-gun-like rapid-fire repetition of single notes (i.e. that 'Monteverdi trill') is something which singers are nowadays simply never required to do  - and hardly any singers can get anywhere near to achieving it; but instead just slur over the repetitions; with a great reduction in the dramatic power.

Here the aria is done by Anthony Rolfe Johnson in a very highly-regarded performance (with probably the best modern conductor of this music) which you can follow on the score; however - if you do this - you can see quite clearly that ARJ is just-not singing all the notes of the rapid passages - nor is he separating the rapid repeated notes.

The nearest any singer gets to articulating all of the written notes was probably Nigel Rogers; who (I once heard him say in a radio interview) needed to study some kind of Eastern folk singing tradition (I can't recall which) in order to develop a technique that is alien to the operatic or choral tradition.

Rogers voice was neither loud, nor (to my ear) was it particularly sweet-toned - however, by attacking the rapid decorations (with an almost hair-raising effectiveness!), he achieves a dramatic quality (in the right way) which is overall more effective than his many later rivals.

Judge for yourself:

Anyway - this first great tenor aria is perhaps the only one that is also impossible; at any rate it seems very unlikely that there will ever (ever again?) be a tenor who has all the qualities of tone, power and agility necessary to sing Possente Spirto as well as it might potentially be sung.

Thoughts on thinking: thought during a migraine

The Owen Barfield Blog continues to grow - with 33 cumulative reposts since it began just a few weeks ago.

Today's post there is a particular favourite insight, or confirmation, that I recently had during the lucid period of a severe migraine under-treatment:

The conviction that primary thinking of the real self is identical with Owen Barfield's Final Participation.

Which is to say that such thinking is intrinsically true, creative and loving.

Such is a brief and partial glimpse of what it is to be a god - that is, to become (for a time) fully what were are from the beginning of Creation destined to become: Sons and Daughters of God.

(But, in the meantime, we still have much to experience and to learn; which is why such experiences are - necessarily, because by intent - infrequent and incomplete.)

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

The Compleat Lecturer- 3: Lecture theatre size and design - now published in Oxford Magazine

The Compleat Lecturer- III: Lecture theatre size and design

Bruce Charlton

Oxford Magazine. 2017; No. 389 (Fifth Week, Michaelmas Term): 11-12

A perennial question is the ratio of teacher and students in a class: one teacher to how many students? How large a lecture class can effectively, or optimally, be taught at once?

I would argue that for specifically educational purposes (as contrasted with entertainment, or mental stimulation) there is something like an absolute maximum size for teaching lectures; which size depends upon how good a lecturer, how well-designed the lecture theatre, and how motivated and disciplined are the students.

For average situations, this maximum is about two hundred – and numbers in excess of this (e.g. those sitting far away) will probably be getting very little from the lecture while – by their disengagement, and inattention – be damaging the experience of the rest. With too-large lectures, only some smaller proportion of the class will truly be engaged and actively-learning: this situation constitutes a type of fake teaching, because it pretends to something it cannot deliver.

At one time I mostly lectured in a steeply-raked, two-tier Victorian-built theatre that sat about 250, and yet the lectures ‘worked’, because none of the audience were very far away from the lecturer (the balcony seating jutted forward over the lower seats), so despite the numbers there were good acoustics and sight-lines. Furthermore, the large classes were usually of cohesive, highly intelligent and motivated groups (e.g. medical or dental students) - keen and able to learn.

But that was an ideal situation; not readily transferable to other circumstances such as sub-optimal lecture theatres, and mixed-subject classes including less-motivated, less competent students. As a broad generalisation, applicable to most lectures (by most lecturers to most classes) the ratio ought to be no more than about one-to-a-hundred; that is the lecture theatre should not usually be larger than a hundred seats (assuming that the genuine intent is that all students present may be engaged in active classroom learning).

A hundred students in a class is actually a very large number; and keeping classes down to this size (and only as big as this, in a reasonably well-designed venue) would not be regarded as an onerous constraint by any serious educational institution… however (by what they actually do, rather than what they say) sadly few institutions really are serious about education.

So there is often pressure to push above even this maximum class size; for example by using audio-visual amplification technology to address many hundreds of students in vast, or multiple-simultaneous, venues… These, I can only regard as pseudo-lectures; and they have little to do with a serious attempt to provide real education.

At most, such situations may attain the level of those ‘dictation-transcription’ lecture of the Medieval universities; in which both lecturer and audience have ‘engaged autopilot’. But in an era of abundant, accessible and good quality textbooks, such exercises are largely redundant; and insofar as far too many modern lectures conform to this description, then this probably accounts for the generally poor reputation of the lecture method.

In fact, if modern students have only attended ‘PowerPoint’-style presentations to audiences numbered in their hundreds; in which the proceedings occur in the dark, making note-taking impossible; surrounded by people on laptops and mobile phones, browsing the internet and social messaging; the invisible teacher merely an amplified, disembodied and un-localised voice reading-off the slides; and the entire substantive content available in lecture handouts or on the internet - then these students have, in fact, never actually experienced a real lecture.

Such unfortunate students are being palmed-off with a dishonest simulacrum of what lectures can and ought to be.

The size of audience that can effectively be lectured-to partly depends on the specific venue. Indeed, lecture theatre design is very important – and many (probably most) lecture theatres are significantly (sometimes grossly) unfit for purpose.

For small classes, the specifics of a lecture theatre are relatively less important – since everyone can see and hear what is happening; but as the size of the class increases, the design becomes more and more important; until with large classes (above about 100) only the very best-designed lecture theatres are adequate.

It is necessary that the audience in a lecture be in audio-visual contact with the lecturer. In general, the closer the physical proximity of lecturer and audience, the better. For big classes this means that the lecture theatre must have a steep rake; that is, steeply-sloped seats (as in a traditional theatre – some Medieval lecture theatres were positively vertiginous in this respect!); so that all students are close enough that they can clearly hear and see the lecturer and any visuals, because the sight-line is above the heads of the students sitting in front.

Another aspect of sight-lines is that all members of the audience need to be able to maintain ‘eye contact’ with the lecturer. This implies the lecture theatre should be well lit, with plenty of bright lights especially at the front where the lecturer and writing boards are located. In sum, the level of brightness in a lecture theatres should be more like a bright kitchen (500 Lux) than a gloomy bedroom (50 Lux). As well as encouraging eye contact, and maintaining alertness, bright lighting also enables lecture notes to be created more effectively.

Naturally, the benefits of a bright environment also mean that the ‘house lights’ (illuminating the audience) should be kept-on for most of the lecture – with the whole room lit such that everybody can see everybody else. The practice of showing slides on a screen in a dark room should be kept to a minimum (when it is not possible to eliminate slides altogether).

As well as sight-lines, the lecture theatre acoustics must be good; including an absence of background noises and external noises (e.g. from traffic, builders, or conversations from students passing outside). Sound-proofing is necessary both to avoid distraction, and in order that all students present can easily hear what is being said without artificial means of amplification.

The use of microphones may sometimes be unavoidable for some lecturers and some venues (even I have occasionally been forced into this by laryngitis – although I have trained myself to ‘project’ the voice like a stage actor). But microphones should be discouraged and the usage of amplification regarded as exceptional - since electronic reproduction interposes a psychological barrier between lecturer and audience. (For example, most amplification systems do not localise the voice to the exact place from which the lecturer is speaking – which creates an alienating dislocation.)

Of the other ‘sensory’ factors, the most important – and most neglected - is ventilation. Lecture theatres simply must have an ample flow of cool air – because a warm, stuffy, humid lecture theatre may become soporific such as to render a lecture futile. Therefore it is better for the lecture theatre to be a bit too cold than too hot; and too draughty than too stuffy. After all, in extremis the lecturer and students can always wear an extra layer!

Furthermore, and vitally; taking lectures seriously means building enough lecture theatres of the necessary size, and designing them to be effective environments for learning. There is no need to ‘reinvent the wheel’ – colleges should simply find and copy the best examples of lecture theatre design (which are often the oldest). Any motivated lecturer or serious student will be able to say which are the best lecture theatres - unmotivated lecturers and non-attending or unserious students should have no say in the matter!

The Jerusalem Suite - by John Fitzgerald

John Fitzgerald has posted one of his wonderful essay-fictions at Albion Awakening. Here is a taster:


...I was right about that. Jerusalem was a joy to sing. It really was. Our raw but eager voices boomed, echoed and rebounded around the Hall, bringing (for myself at least) a marked sense of release, of vast spaces - inner and outer - opening up.

The melody's dignified, gently rousing lilt soothed and settled my mind while triggering a powerful longing for a depth and quality of being - both individual and collective - which I suddenly and starkly realised I'd wished for more than anything else throughout my young life but had so far only partially experienced, if at all.

Blake's fantastic words - the molten lava of his language - 'countenance divine', 'clouded hills', 'burning gold' - had a poetic and spiritual potency which I had encountered in only a very few places - the Narnia books mainly, plus Roger Lancelyn Green's retellings of Greek, Norse, Egyptian and Arthurian legends.

Mrs. Elms, to be fair, had told a few good stories in this mould too. She was from the West Country and had often held forth about Joseph of Arimathea and how he'd brought the Holy Grail to Glastonbury and planted his staff on Wearyall Hill, bringing forth the miraculous thorn tree which flowers every year on Christmas Day. All these tales played a pivotal role in my life, giving me that mythic, archetypal sustenance which the somewhat desacralised, post-Vatican II Catholicism of my youth believed the world no longer needed.

I was ready for Jerusalem, in other words, and when we sang it that morning it felt like I was coming home - to myself, to God, and to my friends - to that wider mystery I had always dimly perceived and had reached out for through both my reading and my yearning for camaraderie - a double-edged quest for a 'Round Table', if you like - all through my time at St. Catherine's.

'I will not cease from mental fight,' we sang, and the sun smashed through the windows, transforming the Hall into a golden bowl of warmth and light. I've always had a vivid imagination, it's true, but I swear at that moment I heard a voice in my ear. An old man's voice. Foreign. East European or Middle-Eastern. 'Before you leave this school,' it said, 'you will see the Holy Grail.'

I was so shocked that I missed the next line - 'nor shall my sword sleep in my hand' - but made sure I was back on track for the last two - 'till we have built Jerusalem, in England's green and pleasant land.'

It felt, all of a sudden, like a matter of life and death that I should sing those two lines loud and well. If someone had asked me why, I could only have replied, 'the old man expects it of me.' But who that old man was and why he had spoken to me, I had no idea at all

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

What we cannot do and What we must do

My understanding of what needs to be done combined with what can be done is crystallising around the insight that the necessary change is up-to individuals; and that the hope of group-action seems more-and-more like a fantasy which is serving as an inner-excuse to delay each of us from taking individual action.

The spiritual and religious awakening of The West cannot be forced - it needs to be active, conscious, deliberate; and this active stance must be from the choices of free individuals.

It seems to me that all powerful and influential groups and institutions are now overall and by leadership intention on the side of evil (evil meaning destruction of the Good: the true, beautiful and virtuous).

The mainstream channels of communication have long been closed to opponents of Leftism; but now the alternative media and personal social media accounts are being incrementally harassed, blocked and closed-down under the 'fake news' or 'anti-extremism'. or 'conspiracy theory' rationales.

Furthermore, all groups which pursue a Christian agenda - or indeed any policy opposed to the New Leftism of totalitarian bureaucracy excused by the sexual revolution, antiracism, and the class war - is now actively been sought-out and attacked without restraint.

In the past year the line has been crossed from media firestorms, personal ruin and sackings, into the billionaire-sponsored and police-protected and media-promoted, planned-violence of 'antifa' and similar SJW goons and thugs...


My point here is Good can only happen if we, as free individuals, set about doing it in our own autonomous, conscious, active and divine thinking; nothing else will suffice - and under current circumstances there is no excuse for delay because alternatives are absent...

Read the whole thing at Albion Awakening...


Monday, 13 November 2017

PC Insanity: Defining the nature of psychosis in atheistic Leftism

Leftism (in its modern Western form of the New Left/ Political Correctness of Social Justice Warriors) is essentially atheism - hence strictly insane.

I shall term it PC insanity.

Atheism leads (inevitably, albeit by stages, incrementally) to a species of insanity - and it is important to understand the nature of this endemic madness.

Atheism leads to insanity because it entails a denial and rejection of that which is intrinsic to Man: an awareness of the divine and universal. Hence there is an assertion of existential isolation - consequently futility. Despair and a suicidal self-hatred is the outcome.

However, on the way to this outcome there is the PC insanity, a pervasive psychosis, that we see all around us. Political Correctness is not identical with any specific psychosis known to mainstream psychiatry - but has elements of all four of the primary types: schizophrenia, mania, melancholia (depression) and the delusional disorders.

With schizophrenia PC insanity shares 'paranoia' - i.e. delusional self-awareness, persecutory ideas and the belief that everything is about 'me'; also an underlying existential fear.

With mania PC insanity shares aggression, irritability, interfering querulousness, extreme (but brittle) grandiosity and pride, indiscriminate and fickle physical lust; and a frantic and distractible energy.

With melancholia PC insanity shares guilt, despair and the yearning for escape into suicide (in the belief that death is the end of all consciousness).

With the delusional disorders (e.g. delusional jealousy, persecution, erotomania) PC insanity exhibits resentment and projection: attributing to others that which is most powerfully experienced and feared in oneself; and sometimes 'dysmorphic' somatic delusions of bodily abnormality - the fixed and false belief that something is physically 'wrong' that needs to be surgically 'corrected'.

Please do not imagine I am joking about this! The modern mainstream West really is insane, and this is reflected in widespread beliefs and behaviours that truly are delusional in their nature, conviction and intensity.

Fortunately PC insanity is curable. And the treatment is available to anybody and everybody, free of charge. And is instantaneously effective (although it may take a considerable time, perhaps longer than a mortal lifetime, to make a full recovery).

But the cure is available only from a single provider, who has a monopoly on production and distribution: His name (make a note of it) is Jesus Christ.

The divine behind the everyday


This was one of William Arkle's most frequent themes - an ordinary, everyday scene of a breakfast tea set, but illuminated by divinity. For me it captures the 'holiday' feeling of (potentially) any morning in which we awake with a proper understanding and attitude to Life. 

It also reminds me of the delicious Foreword to A Geography of Consciousness (1974), which I believe to be a collaboration between Arkle and Colin Wilson:

Imagine that you open your eyes in a dark bedroom. You know it is morning outside, because you can see the cracks of light at the edge of the heavy curtains; it looks like a cold, grey light, and you suspect it is raining. You think of the things you have to do when you get up, and they all seem dreary.

Finally you yawn, cross to the window, and draw the curtains.

Sunlight streams in, marvellously warm!

You open the window, and the air smells warm and fresh. The feeling of dreariness vanishes. It is replaced by an eager desire to get your breakfast and get outside.

A moment before, your consciousness has been 'hanging back', like a dog that doesn't want to go outside on a cold day. Now it is straining at the lead, pulling you forward.

What was it like to Be Jesus?

 Walk with me by Greg Olsen

In trying to imagine what Jesus felt as he lived his life; it comes to me that he experienced it as a Man does (and should).

In particular, Jesus did not know what would happen until it was happening. However (unlike you and I) when it was happening - when Jesus was actually in the situation - he always knew exactly what to do: he knew and did the right thing.

Yet, until that moment, nobody could have said what 'the right thing' was - indeed, Jesus himself could not have said it: he needed to live it to know it.

This was an unique ability of Jesus. He recognised these moments, not by prediction nor by prophecy but as they arose - in general, he recognised the prophecies were happening (certainly he could not have said in advance-detail how the prophecies were going-to-be fulfilled).

Unlike ourselves; for Jesus life was Not trial-and-error. Yet neither did Jesus know his path before he trod it: rather, his path unfolded under his feet as he walked...

For example, and perhaps the most significant example; it seems that Jesus did not fully know why he was here nor exactly what he had to do, until it was done - until 'it is finished'; at which point he died.

This was to live in perfect faith. Not to live by unconscious instinct, neither to 'manufacture' a life of rules worked-out in theory beforehand; but knowing precisely what to do, exactly when it needed to be done - knowing this sometimes from within, and sometimes by asking in prayer.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Airbrushing the Russian Revolution

Is the Russian Revolution itself being subjected to the same airbrushing fate as Trotsky and co?
Now you see them, then you don't...

So, the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution - probably the greatest disaster in the history of humanity - certainly of the past century; has slid-by over the past few days and the media response has been - (all-but) silence.

The current younger generation know essentially nothing about the Russian Revolution - certainly they don't realise that in terms of human death, leave aside intensity and duration of deliberately-inflicted suffering, it was incomparably the worst regime in history.

Not least because the USSR was so extravagently praised and promoted by so many powerful and prestigious people in Britain, France, Italy, Germany the US and elsewhere - and so widely and devastatingly emulated in further communist revolutions worldwide.

Plus it led directly to the reactions of Italian fascism and German National Socialism - hence (among other things) to World War II. No communism: No fascism. No Lenin: no Hitler.

Consequently, because the Russian Revolution led to such a huge amount of evil, my expectation was of a massive celebration - especially from the mainstream Western mass media (especially from the BBC).

But that didn't happen - which seems to suggest that that the evil Global Establishment has decided that the best strategy is to continue to pretend that communism never happened; or at least to keep the whole thing vague and dull and distant.

If They want to 'airbrush' the Russian Revolution from history - then the least that Christians can to is the opposite: keep reminding people about Soviet Communism: including what was quantitatively by far the most vicious and sustained persecution and extermination of Christians in the history of the faith.

Hardly anybody knows about this - and fewer are interested - and the communists did not keep records of their dirty work, as the Nazis did; but the faithful remnant of the Orthodox church - and Solzhenitsyn - collected a great deal of data.

The Russian Revolution is a very big thing to try and shove down the memory hole; but in this current media/ distraction-addicted era, to obliterate from consciousness the biggest and baddest event of the twentieth century is all in a day's work.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

The right approach to marriage is the right approach to Life (Truth, Reality)

Marriage is not passive - however, being in love is a passive experience - it is spontaneous, overwhelms us, sweeps us along. And that is a good thing - an ideal thing - so far as it goes...

Marriage (a thing of mature adults, maker of mature adults) needs to be active, the husband and wife need to make an effort - they need to be conscious of what is happening, what are the options - and they need to make choices. Presumably some choices will be made wrong, need to be identified and repented, and so on.

But it is clear that a loving marriage is not sustainable nor will love grow if the husband and wife do not take an active part, are not motivated.

A marriage is a microcosm of Life; because ultimately Life is about love, and about the relationships between entities - men, women, angels (the premortals and the dead), God the Father, and Jesus Christ - for example.

Truth and Reality are a part-of, embedded-in, derived-from this network of relationships - they are not abstractions. They are more like a 'meeting of minds' (and a meeting of bodies) than anything else.

We need both to be in love, and to be deliberately motivated toward love.

'Life's like that'. 

We can't be passive in married love, nor in Life; but both need elements of being overwhelmed by impinging reality. We can't merely be active in married love, nor in Life - we are not 'given' marriage and we cannot construct a marriage or the world entirely from our own minds.

(This is good, because we are meant to become free - free in our chosen, loving, eternal 'collaboration' with God's creation.)

It's quite simple really! In Love and in Life we are given half what we need, and the other half we must provide: reality, Life, Truth and Reality are the product. They are not present until both halves are brought together - in the activity we call thinking.

Thinking is necessary to (adult, mature, divine) Love and Life, both.

Friday, 10 November 2017

That deadly passivity fantasy

I suggest that there is a prevalent fantasy that anything valid is something that we will be compelled to believe; that we will be swept-along by reality, willy-nilly, like-it-or-not...

That a true religion or ideology is one where will be forced (by overpowering conviction) to be good, happy, fulfilled.

And that we should believe nothing less than this; that the real truth is non-optional and enforces itself - pushing aside all agency, all freedom.

We feel that we ought to be helpless in the face of reality - that we do not need-to meet reality halfway; because if it was really-real then we would not need to make any effort or choice. To deliberate, discern and choose to acknowledge truth is seen as dishonest self-manipulation.

This fantasy is encouraged, and is deadly - because Man's destiny is to become ever-more conscious, free, agent and divine - which means we must remain autonomous, active, clear-headed and knowingly-detached.

That which is good can only be chosen, from the depth of our true self.

And if we absolutely insist on passivity in-face-of truth, then we insist upon evil: and, of course, that is precisely what we are getting...

Why is Jesus inexplicable? Even/ especially to Christians? Because he is, like all persons, unsystematic...

Christians, from the Apostle Paul onwards, have always had the problem of trying to explain Jesus - especially what he did and why.

In other words the problem of trying to fit Jesus into a system.

We do this for not better reason than this is what we do; or for a host of 'bad' (or at least temporary, expedient) reasons to do with 'running society' - all of which seem to conflict with Jesus in some very fundamental, deeply-worrying sense.

But Jesus was a person, and when it comes to people (or at least, refers to any actual person whom we love) we don't try to fit them into a system that explains what they are 'really' doing, or what they are really 'for'. Rather, we recognise that persons come before systems; and systems are merely fitted-around people for secondary, temporary and expedient reasons - and these reasons are indeed often bad reasons; reasons that end-up with us regarding persons as mere cogs, subordinate-to and in-service-of the system.

The decision is stark - either we see Jesus as primary, or the systematic explanation of  'what Jesus did' as primary. And the proper answer ought to be obvious, once the matter has been lucidly stated.

The Gospel of John (my core source) gives us a Jesus who is a man, deep, utterly consistent yet absolutely unpredictable - judging each 'case' correctly, yet not according to system. A Jesus so unsystematic that he will not even reject the totality of a system (such as the Hebrew Law) because that would be merely to fall-into yet another system.

Jesus is fully divine, as well as a Man, hence he discerns, evaluates, judges from that divine self; above which nothing stands, because that divine self knows more than any system.

This is the nature of true judgement. It is not a means to an already-known end, neither is it subjective nor arbitrary - true judgement is a knowing of the reality of the situation, hence knowing what - specifically and exactly - should be done in this exact instance. And this true judgement is true morality.

Jesus is presented as exemplifying this - the example of Jesus is to show us the nature of correct discernment, true judgement, true morality (and not to provide us with yet-another-system to shackle, distort and usurp knowledge of the truth).

Jesus - across the gospel - is asking us to accept him, personally (not some system), as the primary reality, and the bottom line.

And knowing Jesus is not, never has been, an abstraction, because as well as God he is a person, an eternal person, who (since his resurrection and ascension) remains always in-this-world as well as 'not of this world'. 

And we can know a person. A person is something we can know.

Thursday, 9 November 2017

What to do about The News?

Clearly The News is one of the primary mediators of evil in the world; but what to do about it?

Obviously we should not 'believe' The News; and should try to avoid exposure to it - but we cannot avoid it, it is forced upon on and literally demands a response. If we do not believe it, then what do we believe instead?

Simple negation or reversal would be ludicrous and counter-productive (on the basis that the most dangerous lies are veined with truth - contradiction of The News would be merely to exchange one falsehood for another). Another trap is to 'decode' the news, using a balance of sources, or 'alternative media' sources. This is just another loop back-into News obsession and enslavement - obsessive and addictive News-engagement disguised by 'trying to get to the bottom' of a 'story'...

A first step is to recognise that those who produce The News have 1001 tricks to manipulate us, and so long as we rely upon News we cannot outwit The News. Since we do not know the 'real' answers underneath the manifold deceptions of The News, and cannot find relevant information except via the media itself, even the attempt to find 'the real answer' increases the domination of The News.

Yet, if we don't believe The News, what do we believe? What 'alternative source' can there be which is untainted?

Churches are no use; because they are tainted as well - and as long as they comment on The News in public discourse they also rely on The News; the churches are drawn-into the problem and become part of it - The News gets woven-into the church teachings, into prayer, into priorities...

The News is public communication, and what opposes The News is intuition: private knowing. Direct knowledge of ultimate reality - which is, in principle, universally accessible; but accessible only by intuitive thinking of our Real (which is divine) Self.

But typical modern Man lacks access to intuition - because his mind has been filled with automatic cognitive processes such that his real Self is inactive; and because modern Man denies the reality of the divine, and his fundamental assumptions therefore regard intuition as necessarily a subjective delusion rather than direct knowing.

Consequently, even when modern Man knows in his heart that The News is wrong (a common feeling, perhaps), and even when he knows what is real and true - this state-of-knowing is ignored and indeed suppressed; because of its provenance in (presumed) mere-subjectivity and wishful-thinking. 

The location of News in public discourse leads to the requirement that we communicate about it; and the discourse is poisoned with lies, evil perspectives and covert materialist assumptions. One who speaks from intuition, and who tries to justify and defend intuition using the resources of public discourse, will find in doing-so he is weaving and strengthening one or other element of corruption.

So - we encounter News, we are compelled to respond in some way, we can neither believe nor automatically-contradict; yet we cannot be selective and interpret without accepting corruption...

The answer is to interpret from our own intuitive and direct knowing, and be honest about the provenance of our direct knowing - to state our conclusions, but not to engage in trying to defend or convince.

Of course this speaking-from-intuition is a conversation-stopper; but when it comes to News, that is necessary. And of course, it seems crazy or simple-minded - but that too is unavoidable: evil is held-in-place by expediency.

We must do the inexpedient for the sake of our salvation and spiritual development. And in doing so there is a chance - but no guarantee - that we may point others at the same intuited truths we have come to know.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

The importance of polarity in Your metaphysics

Samuel Taylor Coleridge 1772-1834

The Owen Barfield Blog continues to grow swiftly - two posts today; one of which is about a topic I would recommend to almost everyone: polarity.

Because this is an idea about the fundamental nature of reality, polarity is not easy to get-ahold-of. But, equally, because it is an idea about the fundamental nature of reality, once grasped it 'changes everything'. You will realise to what extent, and for thousands of years, unjustified assumptions have led to insoluble pseudo-problems, and confidence-sapping incoherence.

In a sense, in putting forward polarity, ST Coleridge was pre-equipping Western Civilisation with the weapon it needed to resist exactly what has since destroyed it: anti-Christian, secular Leftism. 

But polarity is more than that: it is what is needed to rationalise, and explain to ourselves, the next and destined step in the historical development of human consciousness - of our self-awareness in relation to reality.

So polarity is about as important as anything in philosophy - yet it is terribly hard to communicate; indeed it cannot be communicated. The best that can be done is to point people in the direction that they should be searching, and to encourage them to find-out in the only way possible: for themselves.

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

What is the meaning of The Spiritual?

It is difficult - I would say impossible - satisfactorily to define The Spiritual, except as a 'diagnosis of exclusion'.

In other words, the spiritual is that which is not material;

or, the spiritual is the immaterial.

This was, indeed, the definition of spiritual suggested by Owen Barfield (after are careful examination of the history of language); and while it is correct, it is not fully satisfactory - because the definition of 'the material' has been fluid through time, in a way that shows the reality of the spiritual as being (more or less)

that which contemporary modern culture regards as unreal.

For example - mathematics was, at one time, regarded as spiritual, mystical - and Mathematicians were if not theists (believers in a personal God) then at least deists (believers in an impersonal creating-deity). This was the case for many - perhaps all - of the great early scientists such as Newton. However, the development of modernity included mathematics within science, and excluded all non-scientific uses and functions of mathematics to the realm of pseudo-science or 'superstition'.

A more recent example is quantum theory. As Barfield remarks, this branch of physics has many spooky and immaterial aspects which would normally have made it a spiritual subject; however, it has been included in mainstream science and any consideration of the general implications of quantum theory for human life have been ruled-out and (as with mathematics) consigned to the realm of pseudo-science and ignorant superstition.

In sum; mathematics and quantum theory are now regarded as de facto material...

Continued at Albion Awakening

Life outside The System?

In 1986 I read a book by Don Cupitt called Life Lines - which purports to provide a complete typology, a map, of possible spiritual lives. It failed to do so, because its assumptions were wholly reductionist, materialist and positivist.

(The book's, the author's assumption were indeed, covertly typical of modern intellectuals, and perhaps especially those like Cupitt engaged in what they suppose to be Radical Theology; in that for them the bottom line of reality - that which was assumed but not argued-for - was the Leftist agenda. In other words; the moral concerns and impulses of then-current-Leftism are the only assumptions that are Not subverted - everything else is up-for-grabs.) 

Life Lines was, indeed, a typical 'postmodern' book of that era - critiqueing The System, but - because its critique was based on System assumptions, in-the-end arguing that it was incoherent to suppose that there was anything but The System - there could be no escape, no opt-out - because there was nowhere (no coherent thought-space) to opt-out-into...

At any rate, this was a work representative of the assumptions and mood among mainstream humanities intellectuals over recent generations.

Its error was that it excluded the divine; and the divine is that place and space which is outside The System. That which is divine in Man is beyond The System; and that is why and how we can (almost all of us) be dissatisfied by The System - because we do not always-and-inevitably view The System from inside-it; instead we are able (and sometimes compelled) to view The System from outside - when we are thinking from our Real Self, which is our divine self.

So it is neither unusual nor paradoxical to view The System from outside, to dwell outside The System, to yearn for a better life outside The System.

No matter how large, complex, pervasive The System becomes; we know what it is like to live differently. Of course, for much/ most of the time we are being propagandised, exploited, pandered, numbed and compelled by The System. But - unless we choose otherwise - we know with intuitive and experiential certainty - that there is more.

The role and function of modern intellectuals such as Don Cupitt and the other mainstream Postmodernists (such as Derrida, Foucault, Rorty, and the hegemonic theorists of liberalism, feminism, antiracism, postcolonialism etc.) has been to persuade us that what we know by intuition and experience is actually delusional. That the only reality is The System, and it is incoherent, ignorant, exploitative to assert otherwise.

The surface plausibility of this idea comes from the fact that The System controls communication and interpretation - so any writer, artist, musician (etc.) can (and will) be interpreted within-system - at least by 'authoritiative' and mass communications. The System assumes it is everything, and everything considered by The System thereby becomes a part of it.

As usual, the fault lies in metaphysics - postmodernists were/ are merely restating their own assumptions; they make assumptions, forget them, then rediscover them wherever they look - and take this as evidence proving their original (forgotten) assumptions...

Meanwhile, we - each of us - know differently. What is needed is (merely) a metaphysics that explains the validity of what we already-know.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Noble rendition of "O du, mein holder Abendstern" (Wagner aria)

A truly gorgeous aria from Tannhauser, which shows that (in his early years, when the mood took him) Wagner could be a great melodist. Here played beautifully by the Vienna Opera House band and sung by Tom Krause - one of the best baritones of his era: a performance noble, focused, lyrical and powerful; which caused horripilation, then loosening of the tear ducts...