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Monthly Archives: October 2012

I’m suffering at the moment. First an identity crisis, and secondy a cold. So I grew a beard. I went to do a gig in Edinburgh in July, and the guy at the stage door told me to report to the Stage Manager. I was the only poet doing stuff as part of a burlesque variety show.

So I got to the SM, and she said; “You must be the comedian…” so I replied – in as poetly a fashion as I could muster – “How so?” and she; “Because you look funny.”

It’s not looking funny that it’s about though, is it? Unless you’re Lee Evans or Jim Carrey. It’s about words. Getting people’s bodies to respond without even touching them – the involuntary breathing spasms and convulsions of laughter – nice trick, if you can do it.

The gasps, the groans, the moans, the writhing and wriggling.

Like Meg Ryan in ‘When Harry met Sally’. Or Gurdjieff, who, allegedly, could make women orgasm merely by looking at them.

So, to get recognised as a ‘poet’, I grew a beard. But my wife insists I shave it off. She says it tickles her inner thighs.

I’ve got this thing about fur anyway. Wherever it grows naturally, I reckon we should leave it there. Anything else is both unhealthy and dishonest. So it’s probably a good hedge against getting a cold. And a good bush could protect you from a whole bunch of other transmissible infections.

But to get back to the words. They can get you into a lot of trouble. Especially if you’re called Pussy Riot. I know it’s possible to make loadsamoney out of words. I heard EL James became a multi-millionaire almost overnight through BDSM.

I thought BDSM stood for ‘Bloody Digital Social Media’, so, of course, I signed up for Twitter straight away, and I’m now on my way to becoming a fully qualified twat.

It’s how I’m going to reach the Global Village and make the sort of cash I can spend in the Universal City. But there’s a problem right away. Like our lovely Mr Cameron; thinking LOL stands for Lots of Love. You’ve got to learn the argot. The jargon.

Everywhere you go there are language barriers. Don’t get me wrong: there are no more fascinating people than nerds and geeks. I used to spend my life travelling from country to country four weeks out of five, going to exotic foreign places and staying in mostly identical hotel rooms, eating mostly identical food and getting monotonous constipation and dehydration from all the airmiles I was collecting. Business class is full of people with piles. Of Haemorrhoids. Policy wonks.

And nobody can fill the time better than an obsessive enthusiast, who knows far more than you’d ever want to know about something you could never be interested in, even if you had all your limbs amputated after a plane crash.

There you can get real word problems. Between Italy and Spain, I travelled Iberia instead of Alitalia, and was asked about my breakfast preferences. Still thinking Italian, I asked for ‘pane e burro’, which is fine in Italy, if you’re into bread and butter, but a burro in Spanish is entirely different from mantequilla, which so far as I remember, is the Spanish word for butter. Unless it’s one of those combs you put in your hair. The stewardess was apologetic;

“I’m thorry, thir, but we don’t carry donkeys on short-haul flights.”

Nerds and geeks have their own specialised language relating to their specialty (we used to say ‘speciality’ but Yankee is taking over the global lingo, Gringo!) which is partly why, if you are a global jet-setter, travelling the world alone, you end up listening to them in bars talking about the terminology of planespotting or whatever floats their boat. If that’s not a mixed metaphor. Flies their plane? Whatever! And, up to a point, it can be quite educational. (Note to self: write piece about planing flies.)

Then, when you get bored, talking to ex-pats, you decide to stop shouting in English and try to learn a little of the local language.

They often protest that English is hard to learn, with the way we can pronounce the letters ‘ough’ as in cough; through; slough; slough; ought and so on. OK, so, I admit English is a bit of a mouthful, which brings me to the French for vagina, which is ‘le vagin’.

The French have something of a reputation for being good at sex, unlike the Brits, who are supposed to enjoy spanking – a reputation not enhanced by 50 Shades of Grey being by a British woman – but ‘le vagin’ is a masculine word. What’s all this with words having a gender? Don’t the French care whose vagin it is?

And the French even express national prejudices through their words, never mind gender confusion. What we call a ‘French letter’, they call a ‘Capot Anglais’ which translates as an English hood. They get everything backwards. What we call the EC, they call the CE. And just be very careful if somebody in Normandy offers you CIDA. They haven’t forgotten Waterloo. And it’s not made from apples.

Acronyms are such a problem. Remember the Bloody Digital Social Media? Well I decided to join our local BDSM group, and went along to a ‘Munch’, which is a sort of social gathering in which they talk about BDSM, but don’t actually do any. A bit like going to writing workshops. I was talking to this woman about the whole thing, (you know), and she told me that what I needed was CBT. Being well-educated, as – doubtless – you can tell, I asked; “Why do you think I need Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?” and it turned out that she was propositioning me for a session of Cock and Ball Torture.

When I’d managed to extinguish the soles of my shoes, I had the opportunity for what Wordsworth so aptly dubbed; ‘emotion recollected in tranquility’ and reflected on what I’d learned at the Munch. Apart from whom to avoid on future occasions. In written communications, subs (no, not an advance on salary, nor an underwater boat) are required to address their Doms as Sir, with a capital ‘S’ or ‘Master’, also with the upper case letter, which should be applied to all personal pronouns, appurtenances and characteristics – like in the King James version of the Bible, and they should always use lower case in alluding to their ‘subby’ selves, which, previously I’d thought was a device used only by ee cummings, whose excuse was a stuck shift key on his typewriter. That was a machine used for imitating the printed word before the PC and Laptop and… well you know the rest.

Funnily enough, the conventions of BDSM require that dominant people of the male gender use the title Dom, spelled; ‘D-O-M’ in common with Dominican Monks. Possibly the only thing they do have in common with Dominican Monks. And female dominant persons use the orthography; ‘D-O-M-M-E’ after the French.

Which is ironic, since the image of the French is that – along with the Belgians – they are the traditional victims of cruelty in Europe, and the Germans are their foil as the wicked oppressors. Which can’t be right, since the Marquis de Sade was French, whereas Leopold Von Sacher Masoch was Kraut… sorry – Boche… erm… German.

I just hope there are no Nazis reading this.

Back to the French. And the Capot. And my cold.

Having a cold screws up your singing voice. Even the Bee-gees would have to cancel out. Which is what a guitar capo is for.

It’s not a hood, nor a contraceptive device. You put it on to make it possible to reach higher notes. On the guitar. It comes from the Italian. It means ‘Top’. Not in the BDSM sense. Remember the ‘Godfather’? Yeah… top!

The full name is ‘Capo d’Astra’ which means ‘Top to the Stars’ which would be a rather extreme instruction in BDSM, and certainly wouldn’t include a ‘safe-word’.

Any non-guitarists who’ve ever picked up a bit of sheet music (Debussy and Bizet used to sheet music) will have seen the instruction; ‘Da Capo’ occasionally. It doesn’t mean reach for the capo, but simply ‘back to da top’, or, in Hollywood terms, ‘Play it again Sam’.

Being a dilettante, which means I can’t stick to one thing and be good at it, I do ‘mediocre’ in writing, sculpture and music. So whilst (infra-did word, I’m told) I’ve got a cold, I’ll stick to doing Tom Waits covers.

And writing mediocre blog entries.

Lust, according to Saint Augustine, is an overindulgence, but to love and be loved is what he has sought for his entire life. Saint Augustine says the only one who can love you truly and fully is God, because love with a human only allows for flaws such as “jealousy, suspicion, fear, anger, and contention.” According to Saint Augustine, to love God is “to attain the peace which is yours.” (Saint Augustine’s Confessions)


Quoted from an article on ‘Love’ on Princeton University Website.


Lust is simply a natural drive, like the need for warmth, shelter, food and water.   Psychologically, the sex drive – libido – can be stronger than the hunger for food.  But it is not intrinsically an overindulgence


The problem with the suppression of sex by the major religions; Christianity, Judaism, Islam and Sikhism, is that the rules were set by men who sought socially to engineer conditions in which women become the ‘property’ of men, and men are supposed to be assured of the paternity of all their children, so that they see it as worthwhile to invest their effort to provide for their upbringing. 


The natural impulses of both men and women are to enjoy sexual relationships with as many people as possible, in order to ensure the survival of their genes to the next generation.  As women are always assured that the children they bear will carry their own genes, the selection and retention of the father is not as important as it is for men, who tend to seek to invest only in the children they are convinced are their own.


This has resulted in social models of ‘love’ which are based upon men having exclusive sexual access to their woman or – in the case of polygamous religions – women.  The virtuous idea of ‘courtly chivalrous love’, featuring exclusive pair bonding, mutual sexual fidelity, and lifelong companionship, is a taught behaviour which forms part of the social conventions of civilisations led by men.


Matriarchies and polyandrous societies are rare.  The type of ‘love’ to which St Augustine was alluding is certainly not the same as any type of love as understood between human beings.  It is certainly not sexual erotic love (although cases of religious extremists having erotic fixations on the deity are not unknown) nor is it the kind of Platonic relationship that might exist between human mutual admirers, sometimes distinguished by the Greek description of Philos as opposed to Eros.  Nor is St Augustine’s love of God akin to Storge which is the type of love the Greeks believed typified parental love for children, which is characterised by unconditional tolerance of however the beloved might behave. Storge is a bit like the other Greek concept of love; Agape, which describes, amongst other ideas, the kind of non-sexual bonds which can exist between married couples.


The notion of the love of God is an interesting phenomenon.  If your belief is based upon a concept of a deity or deities which is or are in some way similar to human personalities, then it is reasonable to project a theory that to love the deity results in a reciprocal love of the deity for those who love the deity. 


Clearly these kinds of religion act as a sort of comforter for believers, who can imagine that – even if the world appears to be entirely hostile towards them, they are not ‘alone’ and that at least the deity loves them.  These religions often act as  kind of spiritual insurance policy, in which the reward for a life well lived will be paid-out after the believer dies, and attains some form of post-mortem consciousness.  In it’s simplest form it is the promise that the ‘virtuous’ will go to heaven, and the sinful will go to hell.  Often the representations of each are based on physical pleasure or pain, so that a religious martyr might be promised the sexual love of multiple virgins when  they arrive in heaven, whereas a sinner might be threatened with everlasting genital torture.  It seems that visions of heaven often incorporate freedoms to behave in ways that would be considered sinful if they were enjoyed before death.


St Augustine was said to have asked God to make him virtuous, but added – being keen on enjoying a wide variety of ‘sins’ -‘not yet’.


Spirituality is not limited to paths which require belief in a deity which in any way resembles humanity, and some belief systems can be said to be ‘mystical’ in that they merely acknowledge the existence of some unified force within all universes which is unknowable, and beyond full human ability totally to understand.  Unlike most deities, this ‘force’ incorporates all that is both positive and negative in existence, and includes as a part of itself, every natural phenomenon of the universes, and human individuals themselves.


Given that spiritual pathways are used by people to come to terms with both the joys and pains of existence, and to try to identify a way of living that is best for themselves as individuals, there are often distinctions made between the ‘left hand’ (or sinister) pathways and the ‘right’ (both as a descriptor of relative direction and of that which is correct or true).


Broadly, to chose to explore potentially destructive phenomena is to choose the ‘dark’ or ‘left’ approach, and the ‘light’ or ‘right’ path is often approached by employing a kind of ‘enlightened self-interest’ and seeking to live in accordance with those things one can observe as being ‘creative’ or positive.


The kind of extreme sexual behaviour often considered to be ‘debauched’ which can lead to damaging other people, or causing other people to be provoked to damage the protagonists, can be seen as belonging to the ‘dark side’, and is usually proscribed by people who seek to be ‘righteous’, however it is possible to see lust as a positive force, and to include it validly as an act of worship for the unified force which drives the universe.


Most of the ‘good’ reasons why sex is commonly kept under strict control by organised religions are simply practical ‘bathroom’ issues of health and safety.  Obviously the sexual transmission of diseases is a problem in any society concerned with the health of all its members, and the possessiveness of men often leads to violence, injury and murder when women are permitted total sexual freedom.  Interestingly, in the few matriarchies that exist around the world, sexual promiscuity of women is not considered to be sinful, and probably causes less problems than the consumption of pork and shellfish would cause if regularly eaten in hot countries without refrigeration technologies – the practical reasons for the dietary laws of Judaism and Islam.


It is entirely sensible to see sex as a positive and natural part of the creative forces in the universes, and hence a perfectly valid aspect of life to celebrate as part of a life of ‘worship’, just as one might celebrate food – enjoying it, but not to the excess which leads to obesity, morbidity and mortality.


In my own opinion, the most sublime religious experience is shared orgasm between male and female, as a transcendence of self – humanity being far more than either gender alone, and as an expression of the origin of human life, as our only relationship with everything that comprises the universes of which we are a part, and the only way to ‘experience the love of God’.


To believe that we are loved by a benevolent and caring personality is, in my opinion, merely a comforting act of self-delusion, and leaves us liable to many other sophistries which result in us behaving in ways which are destructive to each other and those aspects of the universe which lie within our sphere of influence.  Sex can be highly moral, including unbridled promiscuity.  Our immoralities concern destruction of our planet and its environs through warfare, greedy exploitation of natural resources and other species through technology and lack of a balanced approach which not only threatens other parts of creation, but humanity ourselves.  That’s where we have over-indulged, and accelerated climate change and potential pandemics are only symptoms of how unbalanced we are.  God will not save any of us; if the balance overtips, we’ll be as beloved by God as were the dinosaurs.