Pink & Green: For Love, & for Eco-care, & for People-care, & for equal rights everywhere…

Made this yin-yang meme today (using MS Paint & Word), triggered by the latest Australian Greens kerfuffle… (Green is not Pink, Pink is not Green, but unless they embrace each other so, I see little hope for either, or for any of us & our descendants).

pg yinyang meme

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WORDS & MATTER / & NO MATTER (a gleaning, from 1988(?), & a meme, from today

words matter meme.jpg

wordsmat.wor
WORDS & MATTER
& NO MATTER

Words are things, as material things are things; words can be objects, of our thoughts or our actions, as can material things, but whatever matter is, words are not matter. You could say, like numbers, but numbers are also words, a certain kind or class of words. Like thoughts, then? Thoughts are immaterial, but in a different way: every thought is, unique, it passes through the mind and is gone, if it comes again, as a memory, it is part of a new thought, or if you think the same thought at a different time and recognize it, it’s still another thought though its content seems the same. And thoughts are composed of words. You might have a non-verbal thought, but you mightn’t call it a thought, and when you do you use words. Thoughts also involve action, and so material things like electricity and chemicals in the brain are part of the process of thinking.

Words are like works of art, though also not like them. People say words are signs, but they can be more than signs, and can also not be signs. Every word was once invented by someone, whether as a sign or something else, and that invention is always a creation like a work of art. And if you say you don’t use works of art as you do words, think again, because there’s a sense in which you do, and artworks do too when they quote other artworks.

But you don’t ordinarily just contemplate a word like you do an artwork, and that’s the major difference: the artwork was created for contemplation, the word was generally intended for communication. And when a word was created for contemplation, it was no longer just a word, it was an artwork, a poem, or a mantra, which are other immaterial things in the world apart from words, but are also dependent on words. Even the most non-verbal humanly produced artifact, even if created by a deaf-mute never exposed to words who produces it by imitation, was once thought of and planned and brought to execution and public sharing by the mediation of words. And to this day no artist who is not spoken and written about in words can expect to be known as an artist.

So what is not material in our reality is dependent on words for our recognition and our relating to it. Words themselves do not invent all that is immaterial: the musician composes or plays, the sculptor and painter make forms and like the poet but without words, images; the dancer dances. What matter words?

But then, all that is material in our reality we relate to through words. Or the words are the accompaniment to the music of our perceptions and sensations and emotions, we use the words to organize or to believe we organize these experiences. What do words matter?

The words we have, and the ways we have of putting words together create the parameters of the reality we can relate to and the ways we have of relating to it. In optics, it is apparently known that because of the lattice-work of blood-vessels that veils our sight, we actually see perhaps 5% of what there is to be seen, and we put together a whole picture with our imaginations, and we believe that picture is what is there to be seen. That may be what we do with what we think we know through words.

The word is neither the written sign or the spoken sound. We write it, we speak it, but what we write is not it. We can’t use it up. It? I write its sign, you read its sign, but where is it?

The word, all the words there are so far, all those I know and those I don’t know, some of which I might learn and some of which never, are always “there”, and also “here” in my mind as long as I’ll be around. The words are untouched by my use of them, I think, but that needn’t be so. Perhaps I work a subtle change in the scent of each.

As words, all words are equal. There seems to be no single word that is radically primal, so one could say that all words, and the very existence of words and such, derive from it. If there is or ever was a language that began out of someone simultaneously speaking and inventing a single word and someone else hearing it and understanding it as what it was, that word is unknown. There are radical words, that a number of words may derive from. Like in English you have words made from radicals with prefixes or suffixes. Have you ever thought of all the words that are made by putting prefixes before -cept or -ceive or -ception, or before -vert or -verse or -version?

No matter, words matter.

From 1987: “OKK” [Some poetry gleaned while Collating Smatterings of Memoirings (2)]

Thirty years ago, give or take a couple of months, I wrote these lines, with their exaggerated miscalculations of the speed of what was already then known to be happening . . .
Sydney’s still here, so are the other places, so far so good, thank goodness, but also so far not so good with regard to what’s still happening  …

okk meme

Some poetry gleaned while Collating Smatterings of Memoirings (2) / From 1987: GOOD BE WITH YOU …

When I imagined, made, & posted the ‘for / the good of all /& for / the goodness in all’ this morning, I had no memory at all of this piece (of which there is more in the file I copied this from)!

GOODBEWITHYOU

for / the good of all /& for / the goodness in all

4thegood meme

(& check out the Categories & Tags I’ve listed below)

What this came from: while (in bed before sleep) remembering two of a set of four lines I learned from an erstwhile mentor, E.J. Gold (via his books) & during an early period in this bed in this room in the hills outside Mullum (we moved here in 2002) & used to repeat before sleep: “For the sake of all beings everywhere”, & “To relieve the suffering of the Absolute”, these lines came.

& what do I know? well, while I can’t say I believe that silently sending one’s good-willing energy “out there” can make a difference, as some people say prayers can, I also can’t say I believe that it can’t — & it certainly can’t do any harm. & it makes me feel good… & that’s good too…

Grenfell Tower, June, 2017: a poem by Ben Okri

grenfell
[copied (without permission) from Financial Times, June 23, 2017]

It was like a burnt matchbox in the sky.
It was black and long and burnt in the sky.
You saw it through the flowering stump of trees.
You saw it beyond the ochre spire of the church.
You saw it in the tears of those who survived.
You saw it through the rage of those who survived.
You saw it past the posters of those who had burnt to ashes.
You saw it past the posters of those who jumped to their deaths.
You saw it through the TV images of flames through windows
Running up the aluminium cladding
You saw it in print images of flames bursting out from the roof.
You heard it in the voices loud in the streets.
You heard it in the cries in the air howling for justice.
You heard it in the pubs the streets the basements the digs.
You heard it in the wailing of women and the silent scream
Of orphans wandering the streets
You saw it in your baby who couldn’t sleep at night
Spooked by the ghosts that wander the area still trying
To escape the fires that came at them black and choking.
You saw it in your dreams of the dead asking if living
Had no meaning being poor in a land
Where the poor die in flames without warning.
But when you saw it with your eyes it seemed what the eyes
Saw did not make sense cannot make sense will not make sense.
You saw it there in the sky, tall and black and burnt.
You counted the windows and counted the floors
And saw the sickly yellow of the half burnt cladding
And what you saw could only be seen in nightmare.
Like a war-zone come to the depths of a fashionable borough.
Like a war-zone planted here in the city.
To see with the eyes that which one only sees
In nightmares turns the day to night, turns the world upside down.

Those who were living now are dead
Those who were breathing are from the living earth fled.
If you want to see how the poor die, come see Grenfell Tower.
See the tower, and let a world-changing dream flower.

Residents of the area call it the crematorium.
It has revealed the undercurrents of our age.
The poor who thought voting for the rich would save them.
The poor who believed all that the papers said.
The poor who listened with their fears.
The poor who live in their rooms and dream for their kids.
The poor are you and I, you in your garden of flowers,
In your house of books, who gaze from afar
At a destiny that draws near with another name.
Sometimes it takes an image to wake up a nation
From its secret shame. And here it is every name
Of someone burnt to death, on the stairs or in their room,
Who had no idea what they died for, or how they were betrayed.
They did not die when they died; their deaths happened long
Before. It happened in the minds of people who never saw
Them. It happened in the profit margins. It happened
In the laws. They died because money could be saved and made.

Those who are living now are dead
Those who were breathing are from the living earth fled.
If you want to see how the poor die, come see Grenfell Tower
See the tower, and let a world-changing dream flower.

They called the tower ugly; they named it an eyesore.
All around the beautiful people in their beautiful houses
Didn’t want the ugly tower to ruin their house prices.
Ten million was spent to encase the tower in cladding.
Had it ever been tested before except on this eyesore,
Had it ever been tested for fire, been tried in a blaze?
But it made the tower look pretty, yes it made the tower look pretty.
But in twenty four storeys, not a single sprinkler.
In twenty four storeys not a single alarm that worked.
In twenty four storeys not a single fire escape,
Only a single stairwell designed in hell, waiting
For an inferno. That’s the story of our times.
Make it pretty on the outside, but a death trap
On the inside. Make the hollow sound nice, make
The empty look nice. That’s all they will see,
How it looks, how it sounds, not how it really is, unseen.
But if you really look you can see it, if you really listen
You can hear it. You’ve got to look beneath the cladding.
There’s cladding everywhere. Political cladding,
Economic cladding, intellectual cladding — things that look good
But have no centre, have no heart, only moral padding.
They say the words but the words are hollow.
They make the gestures and the gestures are shallow.
Their bodies come to the burnt tower but their souls don’t follow.

Those who were living are now dead
Those who were breathing are from the living earth fled.
If you want to see how the poor die, come see Grenfell Tower
See the tower, and let a world-changing deed flower.

The voices here must speak for the dead.
Speak for the dead. Speak for the dead.
See their pictures line the walls. Poverty is its own
Colour, its own race. They were Muslim and Christian,
Black and white and colours in between. They were young
And old and beautiful and middle aged. There were girls
In their best dresses with hearts open to the future.
There was an old man with his grandchildren;
There was Amaya Tuccu, three years old,
Burnt to ashes before she could see the lies of the world.
There are names who were living beings who dreamt
Of fame or contentment or education or love
Who are now ashes in a burnt out shell of cynicism.
There were two Italians, lovely and young,
Who in the inferno were on their mobile phone to friends
While the smoke of profits suffocated their voices.
There was the baby thrown from many storeys high
By a mother who knew otherwise he would die.
There were those who jumped from their windows
And those who died because they were told to stay
In their burning rooms. There was the little girl on fire
Seen diving out from the twentieth floor. Need I say more.

Those who are living are now dead
Those who were breathing are from the living earth fled.
If you want to see how the poor die, come see Grenfell Tower.
See the tower, and let a world-changing deed flower.

Always there’s that discrepancy
Between what happens and what we are told.
The official figures were stuck at thirty.
Truth in the world is rarer than gold.
Bodies brought out in the dark
Bodies still in the dark.
Dark the smoke and dark the head.
Those who were living are now dead.
And while the tower flamed they were tripping
Over bodies at the stairs
Because it was pitch black.
And those that survived
Sleep like refugees on the floor
Of a sports centre.
And like creatures scared of the dark,
A figure from on high flits by,
Speaking to the police and brave firefighters,
But avoiding the victims,
Whose hearts must be brimming with dread.
Those who were breathing are from the living earth fled.

But if you go to Grenfell Tower, if you can pull
Yourselves from your tennis games and your perfect dinners
If you go there while the black skeleton of that living tower
Still stands unreal in the air, a warning for similar towers to fear,
You will breathe the air thick with grief
With women spontaneously weeping
And children wandering around stunned
And men secretly wiping a tear from the eye
And people unbelieving staring at this sinister form in the sky
You will see the trees with their leaves green and clean
And will inhale the incense meant
To cleanse the air of unhappiness
You will see banks of flowers
And white paper walls sobbing with words
And candles burning for the blessing of the dead
You will see the true meaning of community
Food shared and stories told and volunteers everywhere
You will breathe the air of incinerators
Mixed with the essence of flower.
If you want to see how the poor die, come see Grenfell Tower.

Make sense of these figures if you will
For the spirit lives where truth cannot kill.
Ten million spent on the falsely clad
In a fire where hundreds lost all they had.
Five million offered in relief
Ought to make a nation alter its belief.
An image gives life and an image kills.
The heart reveals itself beyond political skills.
In this age of austerity
The poor die for others’ prosperity.
Nurseries and libraries fade from the land.
A strange time is shaping on the strand.
A sword of fate hangs over the deafness of power.
See the tower, and let a new world-changing thought flower.

Ben Okri and Deborah Levy are organising a writers’ event in London to raise funds for the survivors of the fire and relatives of the victims. We [FT] will inform FTWeekend readers of the details in due course.