Sunday, February 26, 2006
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 8 - Don't just walk on by
Sunday, February 19, 2006
Friday, February 17, 2006
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 7 - Use rechargeable batteries where feasible
A word of caution, though - always buy the recommended charger with branded batteries!
Monday, February 06, 2006
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 6 - Perform a random act of kindness
a man was on a beach and in the distance he sees a another man doing something. As he gets closer he sees that the man is throwing something into the sea.
When he gets closer he asks the man " what are you doing?" the man points out thousands of starfish on the beach. " do you see these starfish? if they remain on the beach then they will die"
The first man then says "but there are so many, how can you make a difference?"
The second man picks up a starfish and flings it into the sea and says " I made a difference to that one"
A random act of kindness, no matter how small can make a difference. Be a starfish thrower.
Needs no further comment...
Saturday, February 04, 2006
Being keen on both maps and London, I was delighted to find this reworking of Simon Patterson's 'The Great Bear', Harry Beck's iconic Tube map used to chart various musical styles prevalent over the last century. Of course there are loads of omissions - it's not intended to be taken too seriously. The comments on the original blog entry demonstrate that there are still plenty of first-rate idiots out there. Class!
See/download the whole map here.
Friday, February 03, 2006
I vacillate between seeing this as a derelict docklands warehouse structure and a tropical jungle. But the light is most certainly of the early portion of the day: I rather fancy a term used by John Foxx in the song 'Touch and go' (from waaay back in the late '70s) - "shatter light".
Heavy use of my beloved 'fan' variation in Apophysis.
Wednesday, February 01, 2006
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 5 - Get creative!
Monday, January 23, 2006
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 4 - Use television properly
Thursday, January 19, 2006
My entry for melonlogic's own contest , Apophysis images inspired by, or tying in with, the lyrics of a song, in this case The Cure's 'Trust'.
The interpretation: this is a song of despair, lamenting the inability to trust. I always think that a bouquet of flowers sometimes betrays a breach of trust (traditionally the guilty husband returning home from the mistress, bearing this symbol of his own guilt). However, no flowers here, the bare twigs signify winter, itself symbolising the icy impasse in the relationship. And the whole is shot with blue...
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
The Generation Game
"Ooh, it's hard with all this shopping", she began. "Still, it's cheap at Jack's - do you go there?"
"No, there's nothing there I tend to buy."
First pause, brief but troubled, the beginnings of old machinery long-rusted being hauled ungratefully into action once agian. "But they sell all sorts there: meat, fish, sweets..."
Ah, she thought this list a sufficient clincher, and the dangling ellipsis seemed to invite agreement with its universal applicability.
"I don't eat any of those."
Now the troubled look darkened further, the pause was fully five seconds duration, and the machinery began to grind almost audibly. "No meat?"
Another lengthy pause. "What do you eat then..." - a slight pause - "health foods?"
My turn for a considered pause. "Healthy foods", I countered.
"Well I suppose I should, having diabetes..."
"I have that too", I ventured,
"Ooh, it's hard isn't it, having diabetes."
"Well, I've not really found it too bad so far, I'm only in the early stages..."
The darkened look had turned to almost complete panic by now. Thankfully, the bus arrived, and, each differently relieved, bade the other farewell.
We may as well have been speaking in different tongues, so far removed from each other were our worlds. Perhaps next time, she'll think twice. Then again...
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 3 - Give up your 'News' addiction!
Monday, January 09, 2006
Not the latest subatomic model of the physical world, but rather cosmic strings, postulated remnants of the early universe - see here for more details.
The path to the light is inviting, soft and inevitable...
My submission for the weekly themed challenge 'Dense fractals' - almost total coverage, but if it doesn't qualify...
Title relates to the use of the Julia variation, and the appearance of the workings of some ancient timepiece. Flam3 with density estimation (sadly, this no longer works for me, so it's back to native rendering soon).
...the worn and tatty fabrick of material existence to a glimpse of the unity underlying all is one of Art's many important functions.
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 2 - Learn to say "No" constructively
Sunday, January 01, 2006
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 1 - Be happy!
A happy person is a general wellspring of goodness, so spread warmth, brush aside doom-and-gloom and begin to change the world around you!
Monday, December 19, 2005
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 52 - Expand your mind
Substance, setting, set...
The chosen substance was the psilocybin-containing mushroom stropharia cubensis, much beloved of the brothers McKenna. Available to purchase via spore-laden dried compost bricks, this effectively circumnavigates the grey legal area surrounding these innocent/potent fungi. I had decided to take them raw and fresh for the best effect. Research on Erowid indicated that anything from 2 - 20 mushrooms was considered normal. A fortuitous blind spot prevented me from noting the word 'small' or remembering the recommended weight dosage of 5 - 50g. So I consumed four fair-sized specimens plus one attached baby. My guess, from weighing the remaining specimens, is that I was around 35 - 45g in dosage! I'd wanted a medium dose as I generally have a high tolerance to substances, but probably would have aimed lower if I'd been more careful. Oh, well... Difficult to eat raw, I tried one then chose to chop the remainder, mix with chopped kalamata olives and a little vinaigrette and the mini-salad was quite delicious!
Perhaps the morning after a large pub-crawl was not theoretically ideal, but everything else was right so I just went for it. Eschewed the customary fry-up for a small bowl of porridge, the coffee for green tea. Read a little of 'The Invisible Landscape'. The weather was ice-cold, but bright. Waited till my partner had completed her morning tasks and set a fire. Lit an incense stick geared towards meditation and played a CD of whale sounds set in gentle ambient electronic music.
In a way, this could be traced back to the whole gradual orientation towards a spiritual quest, but I shall start with what I consider the first real signal. One afternoon walk, we passed a couple of recently trampled fly agaric mushrooms. I was tempted to pick the caps for drying, but my partner expressed misgivings so I left them. Shortly after, I developed a headache, something I very rarely suffer from. So I set out to locate a source of psilocybin mushrooms. When they eventually arrived, I had an unexpected bonus of a second spore brick! The first flush was sporadic, but they shot up quickly. I captured them on camera. On an impulse, I loaded a filter set and applied the first one - the result is shown, clearly giving the 'green light'. So all this gave confidence that the experience would be good, and this 'set' - mindset - is so vital to any such experience. Finally, just before consumption, I set the mood by a small act of generosity.
After feeling a kind of odd light-headedness immediately after consumption, little happened for about 20 minutes. Then the smoke from the incense seemed particularly beautiful, like watching the birth and growth of a universe. Mushroom motifs appeared in the smoke. Then purples and blues became almost unbearably intense, and the fireplace tiles seemed to bulge. Looking at the large spiral design above the fireplace introduced the next round of visuals - the texture of the paint became pronounced then seemed to resolve into a kind of alphabet, which began dancing around the spiral. The whole then began to look very odd indeed, alien. A shift of perspective towards the window and I had the phrase 'candy store' float through my thoughts. It was like being a child let loose in a sweet shop, and there was a kind of '60s feeling. There was also a feeling of having been here before, either in substance or dreams. The first trip to the bathroom was very strange, it was a kingdom of ice, not actively hostile but indifferent. The walls bulged and the tiles began resolving into geometric vistas. My partner suggested a turn round the garden to see what the outside world was like. The sky was huge, and the relationship between objects strange, like old black and white 3D films made for viewing with red/green glasses. It was Alice in Wonderland, but it was cold and there was a hint of incipient danger, so I chose to return inside. Once more by the fire, the logs were silvery with beautiful patterns, and glowed around fractal arabesques. Behind, there was a kind of corridor of a wonderful sumptuous regency green, and the addition of new logs hardly seemed to disturb the view. Different music was essayed - classical remained rather aloof from the proceedings, dance seemed to provoke a visible unease, so it was back to the whales which had really begun to orchestrate the whole experience. Whilst the open-eye visuals were obviously attractive, there came a time when it seemed necessary to shut the eyes to go deeper. Here were more geometric vistas of white embossed tiles, stretching to infinity, pure white admitting cycles of colour slowly. I began to try to grasp at concepts but everything became slippery. Past and future were without meaning, here there was no time. Scenes from what would once have been described the recent past appeared as snapshots on paper, and lazily spiralled away. I was nothing, and I was everything at once. I was without identity, pure experience, experiencing itself, captured by the refrain which kept returning - "Who is it who is doing the experiencing?" I was witnessing the act of creation, the Implicate Order explicating itself in a kaleidoscopic living 3-way fractal basin boundary. I tried to grasp the concepts of 'before the trip' and 'after the trip', but they meant nothing, there was only the trip, this was the universe finally becoming self-aware, it had already happened and this was it, 2012 would never come, this was all there was now, I, who was having the trip, was no more, I was somewhere beyond time with everyone who has ever tripped, an image of Lennon floated past, how would I ever get out? I uttered the words "seamless reintegration" or some such, but I still couldn't believe it, I contained all possible futures, so nothing mattered, I understood truly the meaning of the word 'entheogen'. Reality became possible by surprising it before it slipped away, then it felt like an incoming tide, gently lapping at the shores of the trip, and then it reversed, the trip was a receding tide, leaving behind warm waves of unreality. Finally, I was able by an act of will to fully re-ground myself. I was ready - it had been the most profound experience of my life, but very demanding.
I seemed to exit fairly suddenly from such intensity, so I tried a little cannabis to extend the effects - mild, but nothing special. Alcohol, on the other hand, had a surprisingly large effect, causing ghost recurrences of the feeling of coming down, a kind of see-sawing of consciousness. I was left with a curious token of the trip - on removing my loosened neckwear and placing it on some books on a table, my hand encountered a small hard object. It was a strange dried dark-coloured bean, too small for red kidney, too large for aduki, and slightly mouldy-looking. This also seemed oddly familiar.
I had wanted to experience a decent trip, not just a few strange visuals, but this most definitely exceeded expectations. I have a feeling that something had guided me to this and ensured that I got just the right dose. It may be argued that all my experiences were just wish-fulfilment as they confirmed what I was already thinking. All I can say is that nothing prepares one for the actual experience of timelessness, or of actual universal unity, or of, effectively, being God. Nothing. Thoughts and words are a child's pencil-sketch of the great oil painting. Did my wish for experience provide that experience, or is it something independent? Does it matter? I'm not entirely sure, but what I am sure of is that, in the words of the Bard, "there are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamed of in your philosophy, Horatio."
Monday, December 12, 2005
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 51 - Avoiding Christmas hell IV: quality, not quantity
So, you like giving presents and it's not a burden: probably, then, you already know this, but consider quality over quantity. I don't mean spend a fortune, rather one or two well-chosen gifts will hit the spot more than trying to fulfill some kind of numerical quota you've inadvertently set yourself. It's the old "less is more" thing - sometimes, a creative gift (i.e. home-made) can say a great deal more about how much you care than just splashing out. What counts, though, is really knowing the recipient, and their interests and preferences. So make your gift really count rather than it being a knee-jerk to the accepted imperatives - you never know, it might really make a difference!
Sunday, December 04, 2005
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 50 - Avoiding Christmas hell III: stay in tune with the season's spirit and keep death off the menu
My Christmas dinner
Alternative suggestions from my website
December Recipe of the Month
Recipezaar - vegan Christmas dishes
Recipezaar - vegan Christmas main courses
Recipezaar - another suitable Christmas main course
Vegetarian AllRecipes.com - Christmas dishes
Sunday, November 27, 2005
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 49 - Avoiding Christmas hell II: spend it only with those you really want to!
Saturday, November 26, 2005
It's all happening...
Monday, November 21, 2005
My entry for the Apophysis weekly theme challenge (non-black backgrounds). I cannot produce art to order, but as I have a suitable candidate waiting in the wings, then I'm delighted to submit this one.
White background, 2 transforms, 3 variations (linear, spherical and fan). Rendered with flam3 2.7b1 using default density estimation settings - this is the reason for the 'selective focus' look, it is NOT the application of any post-effects. Had to leave the picture full size as too much detail was lost on reduction.
I see the aftermath of some terrible carnage in a sewer-like tunnel - what do YOU see?
Sunday, November 20, 2005
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 48 - Avoiding Christmas hell I: beating the consumerist trap
As an alternative, some non-commercial gift ideas from buynothingchristmas.org.
Monday, November 14, 2005
Sunday, November 13, 2005
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 47 - Get in touch with Nature
Sunday, November 06, 2005
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 46 - Recycling: the other R-words
Light playing on water drops, dust or ice crystals in the atmosphere produces a host of visual spectacles - rainbows, halos, glories, coronas and many more. Some can be seen almost every day or so, some are once in a lifetime sights. Find out where to see them and how they form. Then seek and enjoy them outdoors.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 45 - Don't be a fashion victim
Saturday, October 29, 2005
So you want to be an Apophysisist?
Apophysis official site
Apophysis latest beta version
Apophysis resources at deviantART
The Fractal Farm
Tuesday, October 25, 2005
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 44 - Take up a new interest/hobby/project
Saturday, October 22, 2005
Sunday, October 16, 2005
Future sense and the search for the soul
If we consider our 5 basic modes of sensory input, they hardly constitute comprehensive coverage of the myriad possibilities of experiencing phenomena, yet they have evolved to fulfil our basic requirements and provide us with a means to 'get by' in the physical world.
To further digress, I'm interested in the possibility of using some of our current senses in the manner in which we use others. As an example, I've tried what might be termed 'light music', not undemanding tunes but music composed only of light. I conjecture that as virtual reality technology further develops, it will be possible to experience a kind of touch-music, via controlled use of an all-over body-suit designed to stimulate the nerves in our skin. This could even be extended to symphonies of smell and taste with the correct technology, certainly once nanotechnology is more fully realised. I'm imagining an unobtrusive nasal insertion that releases controlled waves of molecules in sufficient concentration to be detected by our crude olfactory sense.
But I wonder whether we will ever be able to interface with instruments capable of sensing, say, electrical fields and experience them in some way? Perhaps to integrate with sight data so that we can turn on the option of 'seeing' electrical fields present around objects. Again, this is only another form of sense data, and therefore belongs to the phenomenal world.
So finally, we return to what can be our only experience of the noumenal world, that of the, for want of a more precise term, psychical landscape. Experience of the noumenal can only occur when the experiencer directly undergoes the experience, with no mediation which inevitably leads to the problem of interpretation. This now calls to discussion what is meant by the 'I', the self, that experiences. In everyday life, 'I' refers to the biological entity/thought process/self-awareness combo. Here, 'I' can only be the self-awareness part of this trinity of what constitutes a person. Perhaps this, stripped of the layers of intellect and body, is the soul?
I believe that certain psychoactive compounds are able to, at least partially, unshackle what our senses and intellect have constrained, to open, in Huxley's phrase (borrowed from Blake), the "doors of perception" and allow us to 'see' so much more of the psychic landscape such that both sense data and 'otherworldly' perceptions can sit comfortably side-by-side in a new 'panception' of so much more than what we now see.
Perhaps one day, or so I'd like to think, such experimentation with consciousness will be a routine aspect of a more enlightened lifestyle, freed forever from the slavery of work. But until then, it's left to the few brave psychonauts to risk the disapprobation of the establishment in order to research the very tools that threaten to undermine it. Go to it, and keep alive the hope of a better way!
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 43 - Don't take the kids to McDonald's
Sunday, October 09, 2005
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 42 - Install long-life light-bulbs
Monday, October 03, 2005
Books: new Poem of the Month.
Drink: Drink of the Month has a seasonal touch with Sourz Apple Liqueur.
Food: new Recipe of the Month - Ful medames, a staple of the Middle East.
Fractals: new Fractal of the Month.
Garden: new Garden Tip and a further chapter in the major project of the year, 'A Year at Padley Wood' - this month, it's Early Autumn.
Links: this month, Spotlight on (usually a site new to me, but could be an old favourite):
The true spirit of the Internet: an online encyclopoedia that remains an ongoing project, forged by collaboration of many (thousands of?) individuals, and completely free. For those unfamiliar, a 'wiki' (derived from the Hawaiian 'wiki wiki' meaning 'quick') is an editable (in situ) website.
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 41 - Invest in a 'Bag for Life'
52 Weeks to Make the World a Better Place: Week 40 - Reduce food air miles: cook seasonally
Friday, September 23, 2005
Last night, as I returned home after shopping after work, the light was beginning to change and I forbore my customary read to observe the way from the bus. It had been a wonderful cusp-of-the-season evening that had even suffused the quotidian and guilt-ridden act of supermarket shopping with the apricot luminance of the westering sun.
Now, as we headed into open countryside, the eastern sky had turned that full and limpid shade of thick grey-blue that only occurs on such evenings. The farm buildings captured the remains of the salmon-grey light and coruscated almost painfully to the eye. Thoughts and feelings seemed to float, easily juxtaposed without conflict. We passed the lay-by where, early on a perfect May morning last year, returning from a disastrous night's clubbing, I had sadly observed my friend needing his next fix of crack, unable to drive the remaining four miles without, and where, in a pointless gesture of solidarity, I grimly took my own.
But the bus had moved on: a village pub, so welcoming with its outside coloured lights, and further yet, a young man of ordinary appearance caught the bus and sat down gratefully. Something within me seemed to try to reach out and get into his head, to be him and understand his current hopes and fears. Another running for the bus, between stops, and parting from his girl at the same time. The driver, mock-angry, "Come on, I haven't got all night", but he stopped anyway. The blue light in the bus echoed more brightly the intensifying colour of the sky outside.
By the time I alighted, the darkness was beginning to assert itself, but the walk down the lane continued the magick. My soul was brim-full-to-bursting, and if correctly struck would have, as Douglas Adams so aptly described, "chimed". The final words of Umberto Eco's 'Foucault's Pendulum', as the narrator sits at the window of a Piemontese farmhouse watching the dawn light, awaiting his fate, recurred with a particular resonance: "It's so beautiful."
Then the comfort of reaching home on such an evening, the welcoming light of inside.
* * * * * * *
It was amazing too, this morning: the sky a ridge-and-furrow of pink and pale turquoise, the feeling of magick, never quite absent since last night, returning in a glorious refrain.
Proust would have made a long and exquisite vintage of all this; I have attempted an alchemical distillation of the experiential to a shot of verbose eau-de-vie. We should all treasure such moments, such journeys of our consciousness guided by the phenomenal, the merely contingent: there are few enough in a lifetime.