Author Topic: Notes towards a new anti-war 'epic' ...  (Read 69696 times)

Phil Talbot

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Notes towards a new anti-war 'epic' ...
« on: May 28, 2023, 04:15:22 AM »
Focussing in on Dunkirk - but not the 'Dunkirk Spirit' British 'nationalistic' kitsch sort of stuff. Instead, a 'rescue' attempt/effort, not a 'triumph' ...
« Last Edit: May 28, 2023, 04:16:59 AM by Phil Talbot »

Phil Talbot

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Re: Notes towards a new anti-war 'epic' ...
« Reply #1 on: May 28, 2023, 12:54:51 PM »

Robert Hewison, Too Much, p301:

' ... the romanticism of the war years showed ... that people were searching for some kind of healing and reintegrating myth, "a myth", as John Lehmann put it, in 1944, "in which we in England felt we were about to recapture for one moment of astonishing intensity, in 1940, when everything seemed to be falling into place"

and what happened in 1940?

... a real threat of 'absolute' defeat - The End - avoided ...

and nb, unifying effects of shared external 'enemy' ... whatever the internal differences, common acceptance of need to see off external threat ... brings us together ...

... what separates 'us' from each other is seen as less than what separates 'us' from 'them' ...

+nb primitive nationalism ... and blood rites ... 'our blood' ... 'their blood' ... nations 'forged' in blood-letting rituals ...

All Nationalism involves some sort of 'blood letting'.

Gruesome quotes from/by Franz Fanon, etc, about 'slashing the hands that control us', etc

... shedding the blood of the 'other' ... killing the occupying power ... or preventing the foreigners from occupying 'our' land ..,

Phil Talbot

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Re: Notes towards a new anti-war 'epic' ...
« Reply #2 on: May 28, 2023, 03:39:53 PM »
Maurice Bowra [Homer, London, 1972, 80ff] - quoted in J.V. Luce, Homer and the Heroic Age, Futura p/b, 1979, p52 - suggests three possible reasons for people, or nations, being led to view their past as 'heroic':
1. when conquered [they] 'console themselves for lost grandeur by exalting the past to spread glory';
2. when leaving homeland for some new home overseas a people 'keeps touch with its past by glorifying it in legends';
3. when 'a political system disintegrates, and success and dominion give place to dissolution and decay'.
Britain and the 'heroic' age?
Dunkirk Myth?
Sense that, post-WW2, 'success and dominion' gave place to 'dissolution and decay' - or, at least, gradual decline into 'mediocrity'.
Dunkirk [& Battle of Britain] as last act of Britain's 'heroic age' - after which national imperialistic 'energy' used up; 'Dunkirk spirit' died; slow 'decline' [or 'civilization'?] ... expansion ends ... contraction begins ... contraction ends ... expansion begins ...
'Hard Power'? 'Soft Power'?
« Last Edit: December 26, 2023, 12:26:51 AM by Phil Talbot »

Phil Talbot

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Re: Notes towards a new anti-war 'epic' ...
« Reply #3 on: June 24, 2023, 08:59:43 PM »
cross-chan[n]ell small boats filled with people: asylum/freedom-seekers ... or ... economic migrants ... ?

Phil Talbot

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Re: Notes towards a new anti-war 'epic' ...
« Reply #4 on: July 17, 2023, 03:06:18 PM »
'... bring the troops home ...' [... end the overseas military 'adventures' ...]

Phil Talbot

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Re: Notes towards a new anti-war 'epic' ...
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2023, 01:14:46 PM »
ErichMariaRemarque: 'This book is to be neither an accusation nor a confession, and, least of all an adventure, for death is not an adventure to those who stand face to face with it. It will try simply to tell of a generation of people who, even though they may have escaped its shells, were destroyed by the war.'

Phil Talbot

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Re: Notes towards a new anti-war 'epic' ...
« Reply #6 on: October 07, 2023, 04:10:22 PM »
I/i was 'conceived' [of] during the CubanMissileCrisis [1962/3] ... so i/I never had much of a FUTURE ...

Phil Talbot

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Re: Notes towards a new anti-war 'epic' ...
« Reply #7 on: October 07, 2023, 04:39:03 PM »
I/i['off my head' (get it?!]] crash-landed on this planet 1962/3 ... & then ...

Phil Talbot

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Re: Notes towards a new anti-war 'epic' ...
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2023, 11:53:13 AM »
... so it looked like\as if Hamas had [PRE-]plann’d a relatively small-scale 'local' attack ... but ... once the ‘apartheid barriers' were breached ... lads from the otherwise 'occupied'/'oppressed' territory (it was like/as if a ‘pressure cooker valve’ being ‘released’ ...) decided to join in ... result was ... [read 'news'] ...
« Last Edit: October 28, 2023, 04:01:01 PM by Phil Talbot »

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Re: Notes towards a new anti-war 'epic' ...
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2023, 03:54:39 PM »
Repetition is a Form of Change  philtal_uk
(38/M/Tyneside,UK)  1/9/02 [= 9 January 2002] 7:48 pm
You can't read the same message twice - you change, it changes.

You cannot read the same message twice - you change, it changes.

Aristotle, Rhetoric.
'It is difficult to punctuate Heraclitus's writing because it is unclear whether a word goes with what follows it or with what goes before it. Eg, at the very beginning of his treatise, he says:
"of this account which holds forever men prove uncomprehending".
It is unclear what "forever" goes with.'

the same is present living and dead awake and asleep young and old for the latter change and are the former and the former change and are the latter
disconnections combinations wholes and not wholes concurring differing concordant discordant from all things one and from one all things
changing it rests and resting it changes
we step and do not step into the same rivers
we are and we are not
It is wise to listen, not to me, but to the words. The words say: 'All things are one.'

Although the words stay the same, they seem to change.

Though the words stay the same, they seem to change.

New Member  philtal_uk
(38/M/Tyneside,UK)  1/9/02 8:27 pm
Hello ... pleased to meet you all - albeit marginally ... in a place on the edge of things that have no end and which is central and marginal and everywhere between at the same time and ...

Love Philip. 

The Society of Heraclitus  philtal_uk
(38/M/Tyneside,UK)  1/9/02 8:36 pm
Although separated and virtual strangers, we walk and talk together and blend in thoughts, emotions and feelings and find missing parts in others and giving missing parts to others and we take upon us, together and alone, the mystery of things - all things strange familiar simple complex mixed singular high low bitter sweet sorrowful joyful ... and although it can seem like meaningless nonsense it does eventually resolve itself into a sort of sense.
Does it make a difference ...?  philtal_uk
(38/M/Tyneside,UK)  1/12/02 10:06 am
Does it make a difference whether this message is read or not read?
The act of writing it has brought some difference
(change)to the universe - and who can say what consequences that will have? (Tiny, trivial seeming acts can [perhaps occasionally, perhaps often, perhaps always] have wide-ranging consequences.)
Readings would further complicate matters - and responses even more so. 
Plotinus on Heraclitus  philtal_uk
(38/M/Tyneside,UK)  1/19/02 9:07 am
Plotinus [Enneads]:
Heraclitus who, by example, urges us to inquire into limitless matters, posits necessary exchanges from opposites and talks of paths up and down and around and
"changing it rests"
"it is weariness for the same to labour freely and to be ruled"
and he leaves us to conjecture and omits to make his argument clear and to reach conclusions, perhaps because he realised that we should inquire for ourselves as he himself inquired

Reality is complex, messy, not clear-cut.
So the way(s) into greater understanding of it cannot be simple, tidy, unambiguous.
Heraclitus rambles through the borderlands between coherence and incoherence.
Strange stuff emerges from that marginal zone.
Lifting the veil ... opening the doors of perception ... and all that.
It can be done - and doesn't require drugs.
But it is (perhaps) a mistake to imagine that what is revealed when the veil is lifted is more real than what is perceptible when it is still in place.
Reality is (most likely) multi-layered - all in all.
No level of reality is likely to be more real than any other

... and when you think you've got it sussed, then is the time for caution ... scepticism ... humility ... that way you go on learning ... or developing ... or just changing ...
Of reality we know nothing firmly ... it changes.
It seems unwise to speculate at random about the widest matters. But what esle can we do?
(1) Wander disconnectedly in discourse, talk, writing.
(2) Walk for pleasure and with pleasure, with or without a definite route, and with or without a clear destination

Flame and Vortex.
Both flame and vortex are example of dissipative structures - the maintenance of which require a continuous input of energy, and the effect of which is to dissipate that energy.
In a vortex, the energy is the potential engery of the water, which is dissipated as the water falls.
In a flame, the energy from chemical reactions is dissipated as heat.
As soon as the energy stops, the form disappear.

Shifting sands. Seething seas. Swirling skies.
Sea sounds. Synaesthesia. See sounds.

Of reality we know nothing firmly.
It changes.

... changing waterways churn on while I ramble on ...
The Society of Heraclitus  philtal_uk
(38/M/Tyneside,UK)  1/9/02 8:36 pm
Although separated and virtual strangers, we walk and talk together and blend in thoughts, emotions and feelings and find missing parts in others and giving missing parts to others and we take upon us, together and alone, the mystery of things - all things strange familiar simple complex mixed singular high low bitter sweet sorrowful joyful ... and although it can seem like meaningless nonsense it does eventually resolve itself into a sort of sense.
Re: The Society of Heraclitus  philtal_uk
(38/M/Tyneside,UK)  1/19/02 9:45 am
With few exceptions (perhaps none), every person experiences conscience, self-respect, remorse, empathy, shame, humility, moral outrage, etc - to varying degrees, at various times and places.
Out of this grows what seems to be a worldwide morality, including notions of altruism, justice, compassion, mercy ... even redemption.
Unfortunately, small-scale personal familiarities, and a limited sense of common interest, narrow the range of moral sentiments - making them selective: applied to 'us' but not to 'them'.
People give trust to strangers only with great effort.
True compassion, applied to all humans (recognised as fully human - and of 'us'), is in short supply.
Re: The Society of Heraclitus  philtal_uk
(38/M/Tyneside,UK)  1/19/02 9:52 am
... meeting as an anonymous strangers in lonely crowds ... throwing love around ... and it changes ... and perhaps it grows ... and perhaps it blooms ... tomorrow ... or tomorrow ... or tomorrow ...

Leonardo's Heraclitean Vision  philtal_uk
(38/M/Tyneside,UK)  2/2/02 9:29 am
Leonardo: 'Everything proceeds from everything else and everything becomes everything else and everything can be turned into everything else.'

[If you look for long enough, everything might be seen in a young woman's smile ... or an old man's frown.]
Re: Leonardo's Heraclitean Vision  philtal_uk
(38/M/Tyneside,UK)  2/6/02 7:29 am
The artist can call into being the essences of animals of all kinds, of plants, fruits, landscapes, rolling plains, crumbling mountains, fearful and terrible places which strike terror into the spectator; and again pleasant places, sweet and delightful with meadows of many-coloured flowers bent by the gentle motion of the wind, which turns back to look at them as it floats on; and then rivers falling from high mountains and the force of great floods, ruins which drive down with them up-rooted plants mixed with rocks, roots, earth, and foam and wash away to its ruins all that comes in their path; and then the stormy sea, striving and wrestling with the winds which fight against it, raising itself up in superb waves, which fall in ruins as the wind strikes at their roots.


Drafts ...

Names change ... labels change ...
Or, as the existentialist (concluding naturally, she believed) put it: 'Time passes, people change.'
True enough.
All in all ... it changes ... but the essence of it all remains the same ...

The quaker, the catholic, the anglican [words meaning many things (and not necessarily indicating faiths), while also being merely nominal signifiers of particular, relatively insignificant, individualized human beings] wandered in and out of relative obscurity, and each others' and other people's lives, and noticed a few things that nobody had ever noticed before, and never would again, and missed many other matters that they might have noticed, but didn't.
While the voices sometimes sang in their ears, saying that this was maybe all folly.

'Six hands at an open door...'
There might have been more, and the names might have been different, and ...
The time might not have yet come ...
Or it might have been and gone ...
Or, next time, after a reshuffle, it might all be different ...

One name might have been Zed ... who was a typically British delightfully mixed up mess ... iridescent, polyglottic, cosmopolitan ... a free-wheeling wild daisy ... daisy ... on an old-fashioned upright English bicycle ... riding to the unifying international news agency building through a changing London docklands on an island of sorts (which was nominally a home for dogs) and near the time centre at Greenwich ... and nearby lived mostly ignored people who would not recognise her as a fellow English rose because their own blooming possibilities had been neglected ... (and not far away in time and place, under a futuristic light railway bridge,  a multicultural ideas spreading news agent was murdered by ethnic nationalists with closed minds who couldn't escape from their past prejudices) ... Z was a far from unnecessary letter ...

Another might have been M  ... a sharp-tongued, snub-nosed Scottish socratic ... passionate and compassionate ... much concerned about The Issues ... who liked dialectics in non-standard dialects ... and complained that talking to him could be like talking to herself ... and who wrote letters with reverse strip-teases in them ... she sat in bed writing to him and put on an extra jumper and extra socks and ... well he was cold-seeming ... and he had once sat on a bed with her when she was wearing a partly transparent nightie and he had pretended very carefully not to see through it ...

Or there might have been another A ... a very sophisticated Irish named (and double-barrelled) self-styled working class lass ... who encouraged him to go with the flow with kind words and curving flowing limb motions ... and who walked alongside him in a slightly absurd part-falling manner (which might have had something to do with the vaguely ridiculous thick-souled shoes she was wearing) ... but with her, as with others, there seemed to be a mountainous obstacle course in the space between them  ... which even a veteran rambler could not find a route through .. or around ... and perhaps it was better to maintain a distance between ... 

And ...
You get the odd glimpse of the infinite complexity of it all ... but then you lose it ... and you go on with your small-scale guess-work ...

So ...
Call them what you will ... ally, catty, philly ... or make them up as you go along ... angels, imps, aliens ...  or (as it actually seems to go) rearrange bits of the previously existing into new patterns ...

They travelled.
Chilly awakenings under canvas. Buses that never turned up. Dreary, slow, often-stopping local trains. The dizzy kaleidoscope of landscapes and ruins. Cities that changed before their eyes as they stopped to stare for an instant. Seascapes and skyscapes. Ships coming in not laden with gold. Flowing patterns of lives in motion in a world in motion, with the increasing density of everyday experience seeming to render all experiences increasingly transient and superficial.


Each found places there were satisfactory for a while, then unsatisfactory.
So they went to other places - or to spaces between things that, for a while at least, they could call their own.

And then one day, or it might have been many days, they seemed to find themselves among people clutching gods of sorts that they did not quite believe in any more, or which, one way or another, or in several (even many) ways did not satisfy all their needs of belief.
It seemed to be a time of general and particular confusion ... or of reconsideration ... or of reviews  ... out of which a new synthesis of older ways of thinking might emerge.

If the hypothesis of a fully transcendent creator implanting motion in the system of extended bodies were judged no long(er) sustainable, then it would seem an instrinsic characteristic of the extended or spatial world that everything within it is constituted of particular proportions of motion and rest - which suggests that motion must be essential to and inseparable from the nature and constitution of extended things. The proportions of motion and rest within the system as a whole must be constant, since there could be no external cause to explain any change in the system; but within the subordinate parts of the system the proportions of motion and rest are constantly changing in the interaction of these parts among each other.

Spin spin spin out the ever-changing (and ever so easy to misrepresent and misinterpret) system of Spinoza, or something like it.

Minds in turmoil, how they longed to embrace simples. Many times they rushed towards them, desperate to hold on to solid forms. Many times they fluttered through clutching fingers, sifting away, like shadows, dissolving like dreams, and each time the griefs cut to the hearts sharper, and they cried out incoherent words, which winged into the darkness.

Now down they came to the water's edge, streaming tears ... drops of sea-stuff returning to the world-wide waterway.

Rumour has it that if you throw a cup of water into the sea and return a decade or so later to scoop up a fresh cup of water from the same (which is not of course the same) bit of the sea, then, despite all the churning and mixing that has occurred in the sea over the decade or so, the cup will contain some molecules of the water you threw into the sea at the earlier time. It seems unlikely, but statistical probabilities suggest it - there are more molecules of water in a cup (whatever its size) than there are cups (or the equivalent volume) in the sea.

'I don't know what to say.'
'No words. No words. Hush.'

Sea sounds. See changes.

So we made for the outer limits, where the worldwide waterway seemed to flow towards its end - though of course it was an illusion. Some said it was where the Cimmerians previously had their homes, a realm shrouded in mist and cloud, where the sun could never flash rays through the murk. Others said it was a just a small northern town in the middle of winter.

Wandering on, bedlam melodies wandering through our minds ...

... we get by and keep on keeping on with a little help from our friends all is on little loves and small acts of kindness and big hugs pulling mussels from shells and pulling muscles in other words squeeze me you know how to do that Annie and get your gun she's passed it's a miracle her paint's all over town and Alison my aim is true I know this world is killing you and her and him and me and OK I was just Cathy's clown on a hillside desolate will nature make a man of me yet visions of swastikas two new pence to have a go and fall wanking to the floor and frigging in the rigging while there are footsteps on the dancefloor the next time I'll be true I heard on the grapevine that rumour had it that I just called to say I love you thank you for giving me the best day of my life and thank you for calling inquiries while I got stuck in the moment records stick stuck records bells on our fingers ask not whom we toll them for we shall have music wherever we go on go on go on at last the go on show at last but not the end there is no end to wandering I would go out tonight but I have not got a thing to wear but don't you forget about me as you walk on by if you see me walking down the street walk on walk on by with love in your heart and take a walk on the wild side and you just know that bitch won't fuck again but say it ain't so Joe say it Joe eh Joe Hey Joe where are you going with that gun in your hand excuse me while I take another face from the ancient gallery and kiss the sky often mistaken for kiss this guy kiss me kiss me you know how to please me yeah yeah kiss me in the milky twilight you wear that dress and I will wear those shoes and she was last seen the last time I ever saw her face wearing stop me stop me if you've heard this one before hey hey hey what's going on we're sailing off the edge of the world living like Fu Manchu there's nothing else to do maybe baby we know where we are going once in a lifetime on the road to nowhere or funky town or kook city and live life from a window just taking in the view all around the world looking for you and you just stayed in your room that day that day when we took off our clothes and you were crying and the stupid things you said and I said we were birds of paradise and you saw the whole of the moon pink pink pink moon no matter where I roam I will return to my British roses before the sky closes on them and open on others and no one will ever take me from she and she been a long time been a long time been a lonely lonely lonely long time under the northern skies waiting and wondering and wandering on for more life in a northern town wandering on and maybe tomorow maybe someday we'll get by ...

... jigsaw feeling ... has me reeling ... which may be lurching desperately ... or which may be a kind of dancing.

What triangles ...
The solitary sage of Walden (or there or there abouts - or some other place of concorde) pointed out that triangles of extraordinary size were set up when two people by chance (as it might seem) separated by many earthly miles looked at the same distant star at the same earthly instant ...

What polygons of unthinkable complexity are formed when the consciousnesses of three or more (billions maybe) are linked up deeply for a single instant.

And each individual consciousness is limitless ... set off at any instant in any direction in any individual mind, and you'll never reach an end to the association networks ...

Beyond the outlines ... barely experienced, poorly remembered ... fragmentary details ... the bewildering spread of the simple seeming event ...

Figures in a blended inscape and outscape ...

Cathy and her clown walked together near the water's edge. Blurs from some perspectives, dots, or even less from others. Viewed from some places and times they become recognizable human forms, though mostly in outline, devoid of many details. Further perspective shifts reveal complexitity upon completity. It is possible to conceive of a multiverse perspective ... all possible perspectives at the same instant.

Two little people on a coastal walk in a small town, on the margins, but at the centre of things ... So it is with all: any point, any person, any event, is central and marginal and everywhere in between.

She is small and short-stepping. He is tall and long-striding. The long and the short of it. Big he who is not so big and small she who is not so small. They do not seem well matched. Their mortions are not very synchronized-seeming, as she is too fond of pointing out for his comfort (and hers perhaps too). She walks close to him, often bumping into him rather clumsily. Mostly she talks, he listens. A deluge of words. Waves crashing on to the shore. Her voice rises in pitch and and increases in tempo as she continues. She seems anxious to get things said, while she still has the chance, while there is still time.

They walk in no particular direction, to nowhere in particular. Separate random walks are taking place, which, since they are walking together, in however an unsynchronised and clumsy and bumping manner, become a shared walk. They walk on the edge of land and sea, near a pub called the Water's Edge. Human naming systems help to make a sort of sense of things, providing reference points and an order of sorts.

They seem on the edge of things, in a marginal zone, a place of transition. and they are nearing the edge of their time together. Soon they'll separate, perhaps forever. So it seems she has to get her words said. She talks of people on the edge of things, marginalised people, known as the underclass for want of a  more human label, whom she's encountered in the early stages of her training as a probation officer. It seems important to her to let him know of what she has witnessed. He's a bit puzzled by that. She's leaving him behind, but wants to fill his mind with her thoughts and experiences. She's planting trace memories perhaps.

Another way of seeing it ... on the shores of the cosmic ocean a strangely beautiful well-matched asymetric couple mess things up.

(This much seems true: new life comes from asymmetry - the evidence is all around. Fear death by symmetry - when all the complex, messy slightly disordered asymmetrical unities break up, and 'it' becomes a spread of equally distanced particle fragments drifting ever further apart.)

Random walks

The myriad contingencies of a short walk in a small town.

But when you consider them with an open mind everything can seem to connect and every part seems integral to the whole.

Sitting in my small town room, given strange powever by technologies, the workings of which I do not understand and never will, I seem to travel far, and seem to perceive many things.

Common culture. It is in us all. Flowing through us all and being transformed by us all.

All in all.

All things might be written in a single book of love, of which creation is the scattered leaves.

Organisations can form in the underground [and they can be forces for good - not terrorist networks], and they can communicate in undertones, and without the constituent parts having much  conscious awareness that they are a part of a larger whole.

Birds flock together at appropriate times, but probably are not much aware that they are flocking.

Perhaps we are often acted upon by organising forces beyond our understanding.

This long watch, which dog-like he kept ... Soon the long wished for signs might relieve his passive toils ... beacons gleaming through long recurring nights ... Beacons .. which might only be cigarettes ... These walls could recall strange things .. and much else...
Like a shrunken leaf ... that is not really dying ... all recycles .. flows .. changes ... feebly feeling  ... like a dream that walks by day ... the persuasive breath of memories involuntarily recalled ... mostly stirring the heart with songs .. sometimes sensed as beautiful .. sometimes not ...

Like shapes in dreams he wandered through the years, seeming random, planless, his forethought in chains ...

But the vision of the birds might yet work its end into bliss ...

But contraries might yet blast darkly first...

This way the part-time seer hymned, dubiously mixing doom and bliss, dark mingling with light ... and much confusion and obscurity ...
Sharing with the way-haunting birds, which seemed to signal something ... he was responding to the strains .. which could not be merely sounds .. there had to be some meaning, some purpose in everything ... the singings sounded of sorrows and glad days ... and of good times that might yet shame the bad.

Meanwhile ... a most unpleasant surprise was in store for the platonic prick ...
...just as the likely lass began yawning as he was telling her all sorts of amusing stories that had happend to him at different times and places, and even referring once to the Greek cynical philospher Diogenes, the weird sister appeared from one of the back rooms. Whether she had torn herself away from a cold collation, or from the little green drawing room, where some postgraduates' conversation had become more alarming to her, whether she had come of her own free will, or whether she had been thrown out of her previous environment in embarrassing circumstances, which she might or might not later reveal ... whatever the cause or collection of part-causes that had brought her from some other place to this place, she apeared to be cheerful and in the best of spirits. And she was holding on to ther arm of the devil's advocate, or one who was assuming that role, for the time being, and in the particular circumstances in which they now all found themselves. Yet he appeared unhappy. Maybe she had been dragging him along with her (and even perhaps attempting to pull him to the floor) for some time. Whatever the cause, assuming there was one, the poor putter-of-the-case-against certainly seemed discomforted, for he kept attempting to turn around, while his eyebrows beetled in all directions, and his eyes seemed to be searching for a way to excape from this amicable arm-in-arm promenade with the weird sister.
It was, indeed, quite an intolerable situation. The platonic prick saw no ther way out of it than to gulp down quickly, with forced convivialtiy, two cups of coffee, with were, of course, laced with red wine, while he kept on telling the most unlikely stories. The devil's advocate became ever more disconcerted, but still could find no way of excape. The weird sister laughed and scowled at the fun of it all. The kindly quaker remained, as often, seemingly calmly silent.

Bridge buildings ...

Ally and philly were sitting together in a bar, which might have been called The Bridge (but that was actually another place, another time) and she began openly to speak her mind to him for once ... The wonderful flow of words enters him and fills him and swells him, and the words change her in his mind ... she'll never seem the same again. After an hour or two, he feels obliged to say something about himself, but when he attempts to interrupt her word-flow, she says, 'No ... I'll speak' ... and the wonderful warming and expansive words continue to come out of her, and to close the space between them, and to fill him with a her glow, which he will never forget, even though, for various reasons, they do not see much of each other afterwards.

She was possibly the least malicious person he had ever met, but ally was the one person to speak negative things about catty into his ears - telling him that catty 'was just not worth it' and that he 'could do better than that woman'. And when he thought feelingly about it then, and for a long time afterwards, he saw multiple possible meanings in what she said ... but he could not accept the proposition that any human being was 'just not worth it', because all are worth it, or else all are worth nothing ... and maybe that was just quibbling ... but ... that was the way it was with him.

Years later, (this year in fact) pally ally cropped up in India and Pakistan (this is no fiction) at a time of tension, when some feared the possibility of a nuclear war.  She was part of a leading world stateman's 'travelling entourage' (her words) ... to most a unnoticed face in a crowd ... but to the platonic prick she was a symbol of peace  ... she carried love with her and no hatred that he could imagine. And oddly enough (or not) tensions on the Indian sub-continent reduced afterwards, and the threat of nuclear war faded. Of course many others were involved. The key seemed to be: not the 'great' men's [there were, alas, still too few 'great' women on the world's stage] words and deeds ... nor even the charms (which were considerable) of his known female peace symbol ... but all those millions of little loves of little lives of mostly kindly mostly decent people who didn't actually want to slaughter others, or to be slaughtered themselves - maybe they all worked together, without quite knowing it, to calm things down.

Meanwhile, the curious cat cared so much about the marginalized people whom she worked with (and for) that it once (or more) almost broke her. She saw hellish visions of 'bottomless pits of need and deprivation' ...
And there can seem to be no end to the suffering in the private hells of even an affluent society.
But even with such dispriting thoughts in mind to discourage her, she returned to work and did little things to help people and to fill up the void bit by bit.

In the near past that was a long time ago cat wrote many letters to phil and complained that he never wrote enough to her ... it was a complaint that mixed fairness with unfairness, as most do ...
In her letters, as far as he could remember, she only ever quoted him one line of poetry, from Tennyson's Ulysses:
   '... I am a part of all that I have met ... '
As she might or might not have gone on to point out, the reverse it also true:
    ... All that I have met is a part of me ...

The surprising thing was that while Cat and Al studied much the same subject in much the same place at much the same time, and wandered more or less contemporaneously in much the same streets of at least two other cities ... and had much in common ... and must have crossed paths occasionally ... and had even perhaps caused each other some hurt of sorts, via their connections through Phil ... they never fully met (unless a trick was missed) .. which is something a shame, because they had much good to share with each other ...

It can seem like nonsense, but it does eventually resolve itself into a sort of sense ...

All this was a long time ago. But what is a long time? The long and the short of it all. Big he who was not so big and small shes who were not so small. I remember little but much. I forget much but little. And I would do it again but in different ways. Repetition is a form of change. Nothing is the same twice, so nothing is the same ever. Say hello, wave goodbye. Wave goobye, say hello. In every meeting, the image of birth, a sort of coming together. In every parting, the image of death, a sort of falling apart. I never knew you well enough, you never knew me well enough. So it goes. Undertanding of other people is, like all understanding, never good enough. On it goes. On we go. Finding out more. Making new patterns, remembering and forgetting, building up and breaking down. Say hello, wave goodbye. Kiss and hug if you want to, do not kiss and hug if you do not want to. Something was taking its course, that much is certain, if no more. Whether we follow a course to birth or to death is uncertain. And that uncertainty clouds the issue of whether we act freely or follow courses determined for us. But there does seem to be free will on the local human scale. At any possible world junction there are many, perhaps limitless, possibilities open to us, and every instant brings us to a new possible world junction, when a small act of choice can make a huge difference. But if, whatever choices we make, the overall course of things is towards a break up of all unities, and so towards oblivion for all, then individual destinies seem trivial. If it is not to be futile, then we must find courses that lead somewhere, to some betterment, some resolution, some harmony, some development, or just some continuation. Maybe it comes down to faith, but that might just be wishful thinking.  But you never know - and maybe there's hope in uncertainty. No one, the pessimists or the optimists, really knows.  Humans are perhaps just too limited in understanding, and probably, however developed they become, always will be. That is the way it seems to be and maybe will remain. And so one cannot escape from the voices singing that this might be all just folly. But then folly is not the same as futility. And folly is at least amusing and out of amusement might come a more profound kind of comedy, which is a movement towards harmony, and when the motion is towards harmony then perhaps the easier it becomes to make approaches towards some ideal harmonic state - even if it is never reached. And actually achieving complete harmony might not even be desirable, because that might be the end of it all - after which no more for worse or for better.

It seems foolish to speculate at random about the widest matters ... but what else can you do?

« Last Edit: December 20, 2023, 11:16:01 AM by Phil Talbot »

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Re: Notes towards a new anti-war 'epic' ...
« Reply #10 on: October 28, 2023, 03:46:01 PM »
 I was ‘war(e)y’ of  any(-)one (...2...3...) who was/is two/2/too ‘sure’ of THEMselves ... so ... I ‘shut the FUCKup’ .,, until next ‘summer’ .., p.x...
« Last Edit: October 28, 2023, 03:52:03 PM by Phil Talbot »

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Re: Notes towards a new anti-war 'epic' ...
« Reply #11 on: November 08, 2023, 06:54:50 PM »
& I/i ‘want’ (would like) to write a L[etter] to Sus[zanne]anFudge ... but i\I do not know a ‘polite’ form of address for her [+ I know she and Dave/David formed life-long Partenership{s)]… 
« Last Edit: November 08, 2023, 06:59:56 PM by Phil Talbot »

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Re: Notes towards a new anti-war 'epic' ...
« Reply #12 on: November 09, 2023, 07:05:07 AM »
4Susan.1. EdgarAllanPoe,ThePurloinedLetter: ‘... For one hour at least we had maintained a profound silence; while each, to any casual observer, might have seemed intently and exclusively occupied with the curling eddies of smoke that oppressed the atmosphere of the chamber. ...’

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Re: Notes towards a new anti-war 'epic' ...
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2023, 11:20:31 AM »
From:  "philtal_uk" <philtal_uk@y...>
Date:  Sat Jul 6, 2002  2:59 am
Subject:  Re: There are always alternative ways ...


There are always other ways …
... the way of EmpoDOcles, for example...
[… get a vicarious thrill as you watch him fling himself into the
volcano for your entertainment and/or instruction … (it might only
have been a legend of course - philosophers tend to die quietly [but
happily?] in their beds)…]

Adapting Empedocles [whose thoughts seemed to have got blocked by too
much symmetry] … to achieve slightly more positive resolutions …

I will tell two tales that together are one tale.

At one time it grew to be one out of many.

At another time it divided to be many out of one.

There is a double becoming of perishable things and a double ceasing.

Comings together bring one generation into being and destroy it.

They grow up and are scattered as things become divided.

Things never cease changing places: at one time they are uniting in
one through the attraction of love; at another time they are
separating by the repulsion of hate.

They live and die because it is their nature to grow into one out of
many and to become many once more when the one is divided.

But as they never cease changing places, they are ever unchanging as
they move around the patterns of existence.

Love and hate, seeming almost equal in strength and influence, live
among and interact with the elements, making many one and one many.

But love seems to have a slight edge of/O’er Hate.

Love can be contemplated with the mind as a thing implanted in the
natures of mortal creatures.

Love makes the ideas of union and the actions bringing harmony.

Love has many names, joy among them, yet is often difficult to

Love and hate seem almost equal and of the same age.

Each has different characteristics and its own peculiar nature.

One gains in strength when its time comes round, but victory is never

Joy turns to sorrow and turns again to joy.

Love and hate ebb and flow in their individual influences, but never

They flow through one another, and in many ways require one another.

They create and destroy and destroy and create and one is not
entirely possible without the other.

... But then … when I look into myself (and I have, perhaps, looked
inwards more carefully than many) and then look outwards again … and
then blend inscape and outscape … I find much love … and I do not
find much hate … and I do not find myself very unusual in the
relative proportions of love and hate that I carry - most love more
than they hate …

… so what on Earth has gone wrong in our worldly arrangements?…
… is it that the wild passionates (who imagine that the capacity to
love is not fully developed unless the capacity to hate is fully
developed also) have had too much influence over the centuries? …
… is it that reason is undervalued? (working in partnership with
emotion and physicality, reason is warm and humane - only in
isolation, or when a slave to the passions, is reason cold and
… is it that too many have 'simply' not thought-and-felt enough in
combination ('pure' thought, in isolation, is monstrous - coldly
rational - …'pure' feeling, in isolation, is monstrous - explosively
irrational - …
…there are, of course, many other possible 'explanations'....
From:  "philtal_uk" <philtal_uk@y...>
Date:  Sat Jul 6, 2002  3:02 am
Subject:  Re: There are always alternative ways ...

... flowing back to Heraclitus ...
... fluxfluxflux freely adapts the fragments ...
[... and freely gives away the adaptations - what foolishness for
fluxfluxflux to give away words for free ... but then they were not
owned ... only borrowed ... and shared (with or without compounded
interest) ...]
... no doubt originals are distorted in the process ...
... and that was not what he originally intended to do ...
... but it just sort of just happened anyway ...

It is wise to listen, not to me, but to the words.

Recognise what the words say: all things are one.

Though the words are true forever, they seem to change.

All things happen in accordance with the words, but people seem as if
they had no experience of the truths the words contain.

When they first hear the words, people are as unable to understand as
they were before they had heard them.

People make trials of the words in their talk, thoughts, feelings and
actions. The judgements are often not sound.

Many people seem barely to know what they are doing when awake, and
they, and others, forget real world events as quickly as they forget

Many hear but do not listen, as if they were absent when present

The senses are bad witnesses if the mind does not contemplate the

Many people only vaguely notice their own experiences.

Many are taught, but few truly learn, though many believe they do.

If you do not know how to listen, you do not know how to speak.

If you do not expect the unexpected you will not find it, because it
is elusive and difficult.

Treasure-hunters move a large amount of material to find a little.

Nature hides its truths.

Complex truths are simple when recognised, but not all simples are

The complex truth of falsehood lies in its deceptive simplicity.

The truth has many forms of expression: an action may reveal as much
as a speech; a raving street-shout may reveal as much as a refined

Direct experience should be prized above all other sources.

There are many untrustworthy witnesses speaking in support of
disputed points.

The senses are the most exact witnesses.

Knowledge of many facts is not equivalent to understanding: many know
much but understand little.

Wisdom goes beyond mere knowledge of many things.

Wisdom is one thing, as everything is one.

The search for wisdom is the search for understanding as to how all
things connect into one thing.

Everyone who can perceive perceives the same world, but in different
ways, and what is perceived seems ever changing.

Transformations seem constant and never ending.

Every dawn appears to bring a new sun.

When asleep, all are equal.

The sleep of reason brings forth monsters, but so does the sleep of
emotion - neither should sleep, and neither should dominate.

The waking share one common world.

Sleepers might be thought isolated, but the parts of dreams are
borrowed from the common world.

The sleeper, whose vision has been put out, retains light from the
common world.

The waking person regains light, but retains thedarkness of sleep.

Sleepers are the fellow workers of the waking.

Consciousness cannot be measured.

A journey beginning with a motion in any direction will not take you
to the limits of consciousness.

Thales foretold an eclipse, but not because he had special gifts: the
knowledge behind his forethinking was available to all.

The teacher seemed to know many things, but he did not know that day
and night are one.

All things are one thing taking many shapes.

Colder becomes warmer becomes colder.

What is wet dries and what is dry becomes wet.

It scatters and it gathers.

It advances and it retreats.

You cannot swim twice into the same water course: fresh waters are
ever flowing through the water course and you are never the same

All waterways connect into a single waterway.

The person who longs for the end of change (which is often
destructive and painful) desires the end of everything - without
change all things end.

What seems to be at variance agrees with itself.

There are attunements of apparent opposites, but the harmonies are
not simple.

It seems unwise to conjecture at random about the greatest things -
but what else can we do?

What is valued depends on needs.

Most creatures do not value gold.

There is delight to be found in the mire.

Couples are wholes that are never quite whole: they are drawn
together and pulled apart, harmonious and discordant, together and

One is made up of many things.

All things issues from one.

Changing perspectives change value judgements.

Mortals are immortals and immortals are mortals: one lives the
other's death; one dies the others' death.

The way up and the way down are the same ways.

A circle with a beginning and end would not be a circle - what we see
as circles are not.

The drunk is prone to tripping and losing direction, but so is the
sober person.

Formers become latters and latters become formers.

The living become the dead, the sleepers become the waking, the idle
become the active, the young become the old, we are and we are not.

Time is an inconstant motion.

We step and do not step into the same rivers.

It rests by changing.

They are born to live and die, and they leave children behind to live
and die.

Consciousness is common to all, but no two consciousnesses are

The words are common to all, but many live as if they alone owned the

We are often estranged from the things we have most contact with.

The wisest human has little wisdom.

The least wise human is wiser than the wisest ape.

Imagine you got all you desired: what would you desire then?

Imagine you knew everything: what would you do with your knowledge?

Sickness seems to make health pleasant, and so: evil, good; hunger,
plenty; tiredness, rest. But who would not want to live in a world
without sickness, evil, hunger, tiredness?

Many matters must be left to majority decisions, but the majority is
not right forever, just temporarily decisive.

One many be right and ten thousand wrong.

One day can seem just like another, but never is.

Character is fate - but can be changed.

Many mysteries are not (perhaps) really very mysterious

Much that passes for secret knowledge … is not very knowledgeable …
or very secret …

Expect after death … (possibly) … such things as were never wished
for or expected ... [... what do you 'justly deserve'? ... what is
your 'living legacy'? ...] ...

It is wise to listen, not to me, but to the words.


Date: Thu, 18 Jul 2002 11:38:17 -0000
From:  "tcqz" <>
To: "philtal_uk" <>
Subject: great books reading


I suppose you still remember someone called Tsien who once posed a
question in heraclitussociety. You had very strong impression on me
for your innumerous random thoughts on the net. Now I'm writing to
you because I recently created a new Yahoo group on Great Books

I would much appreciate your kind participation should you find it to
your liking. You may read for yourself the description page on the
web, just want to add that I keep the group restricted so that it
could remain spam-free, further, I will deliberately make it small:
no more than 10 members at any given time so that the talking be
conducted in a friendly atmosphere without the worry of an avalanche
of emails in a short duration.

Just one small request, if you decide to join, pls only post message
germane to the discussion, not your random thoughts per se, this is
not meant to discourage your posting, just due repect to the group

OK, hopefully see you soon. In any way, thanks for your attention on




From:  "philtal_uk" <philtal_uk@y...>
Date:  Fri Jul 26, 2002  3:05 pm
Subject:  Hello

Hello to you all ...
I joined journeyoftheclassics after an invitation from Tsien, who
knows me from another group.
I think the group is an excellent idea. In an age of very diverse -
and often confusing - cultural reference points, the classics
(especially those available in widely circulated and relatively cheap
editions) provide staging points from which to get one's bearings.
Tsien knows my habits of digressing rather widely when I write, and
asked me to stick closely to the threads off discussions in this
group. I promise to you all that when I contribute I will do just
Good reading.
With love Philip.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2023, 03:21:30 PM by Phil Talbot »

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Re: Notes towards a new anti-war 'epic' ...
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2023, 02:56:21 PM »
In state-terrorism, the full force of national governments - and their
corporate allies - is threatened and sometimes used against weaker
groups and individuals.
In non-state-terrorism, mostly small groups of people operating outside
normal political frameworks threaten and sometimes do violent acts.
« Last Edit: November 10, 2023, 03:26:48 PM by Phil Talbot »