Saturday, November 26, 2011

TEDxSF - Louie Schwartzberg - Gratitude

This video was sent to me by Janice (thankyou) - the images and the words speak for themselves - watch it : > )

Friday, November 25, 2011

Bianca Ryan - America's Got Talent

I found this video on utube as I took a break from report writing. If you can put to one side all the blah blah blah and hype of these type of shows I think there is something here that is really wonderful - a young person with their whole life ahead of them and obviously wonderfully talented - I think that's great.

I have to say this performance begs some pretty big questions regarding the nature versus nurture argument. This girl is only 11 years old and yet here is a voice almost fully formed - she opens her mouth and belts it out - mature, deep, solid performance - amazing.

California Dreamin - Mamas & The Papas

This is fast becoming a list of 'Not Kiwi Songs' - but as I was looking on utube for old Kiwi songs that I could remember I came across as you do on utube, the rest of the world.

I remember this song so well - golden harmonies and great melody and I always liked the breathy flute riff - - it has a spirit of those far off days of 'make love not war, let it all hang out, flower power, hippie days.' (bell bottom trousers and paisley shirts AND white boots OMG )

This song (circa 1966) reminds me of 'borrowing' my older brothers black suede winkle picker shoes and going off to dances at St Chads in Christchurch (46 years ago).

Looking at the Mamas and Papas perform its clear that fashion sense has moved on - but somehow the music remains timeless - simple, clear, harmony and melody, evocative and enduring - Utube - what a Memory Lane.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Eva Cassidy - Fields Of Gold

This isn't a Kiwi song but that doesn't matter it is worth a place in my pantheon of great songs. There are other songs of hers on utube to be listened to but this is one of the best. She also does a good rendition of Louis Armstrongs 'What A Wonderful World'.

This is perhaps one of the most wonderfully beautiful voices - It is Eva Cassidy singing Stings song "Fields of Gold" - Many, many people commenting on this song on Utube say that they want it played at their funeral. I would like it to be sung at mine.

There are two curious (to me) and sobering facts about Eva Cassidy. The first is that my life embraces this young life - I was born in 1951 - her life was (1963 - 1996) and it is now nearly 2012 - That fact I find, curious, sobering and somewhat intolerable. The second is that there are many young, talented and short lived lives among us - If each of us is a spark from a huge bonfire, some burn high and incandescently bright, high up by the stars. Then in a twinkling of the eye they are gone - Eva was such a one - and the world is richer for her life and poorer for her death.

One commentator stated:

" I just discovered this brilliant woman. I'm sad to learn she died in 1996 of cancer and the world discovered her talent after her death. I'm not a man who easily becomes emotional, especially when listening to songs but, there's something in this woman's voice and her selection of songs that melts me and I find myself a bit choked up. I thought I was emotionally numb to this world until I heard this woman sing. Thank you Eva Cassidy. I wish I knew of you before"

Like many people I have understood that music exposes our souls to meaning, a meaning that goes beyond ordinary language - if it is a gift to reveal this meaning, with a naked flame that scorches the heart and soul, then Eva Cassidy certainly had that gift.

"Eva Marie Cassidy (February 2, 1963 November 2, 1996) was an American vocalist known for her interpretations of jazz, blues, folk, gospel, country and pop classics. In 1992 she released her first album, The Other Side, a set of duets with go-go musician Chuck Brown, followed by a live solo album, Live at Blues Alley in 1996. Although she had been honored by the Washington Area Music Association, she was virtually unknown outside her native Washington, DC when she died of melanoma in 1996." z

Welcome Home - Dave Dobbyn

.......... and here is the other great Kiwi Song that I mentioned on the previous post ....... come to think about it (and I have) there are a huge number of really good Kiwi Songs ........ I will continue with this song posting theme........ watch this space.

'Welcome Home' is a song by New Zealand singer/songwriter, Dave Dobbyn. The chorus is gorgeous: 'Welcome home from the bottom of our hearts/from the bottom of our hearts ... So welcome home, see I made a space for you now.' It is a song sung in response to a racist incident, in which a far right group suggested Chinese migrants were no longer welcome in New Zealand.

WELCOME HOME - Dave Dobbyn

Tonight I am feeling for you
under the state of a strange land

you have sacrificed much to be here
‘there but for grace…’ as I offer my hand
welcome home, i bid you welcome,
i bid you welcome
welcome home
from the bottom of my heart

out here on the edge

the empire is fading by the day
and the world is so weary in war
maybe we’ll find that new way

so welcome home, see i made a space for you now
welcome home from the bottom of our heart
welcome home from the bottom of our hearts
keep it coming now - keep it coming now
you’ll find most of us here with our hearts wide open
keep it coming now - keep on coming now
keep it coming now - keep on coming now

there’s a woman with her hands trembling - haere mai
and she sings with a mountain’s memory - haere mai

there’s a cloud the full length of these isles
just playing chase with the sun and it’s black and it’s white
and it’s wild
all the colours are one
so welcome home, i bid you welcome, I bid you welcome
welcome home from the bottom of our hearts
welcome home, see i made a space for you now
welcome home from the bottom of our hearts

from the bottom of our hearts

Finn Brothers - "Won't Give In"

There are a lot of great Kiwi songs for the asking - Two of the best are 'Welcome Home' by Dave Dobbyn and this one by the brothers Neil and Tim Finn - ' Won't Give In'.


You call me up and I'll say a few words
But I'll try not to speak too long
Please to be kind and I'll try to explain
I'll probably get it all wrong
What does it mean when you promise someone
That no matter how hard or whatever may come

It means that I won't give in, won't give in, won't give in
'Cause everyone I love is here
Say it once, just say it, and disappear

Once in a while I return to the fold
With people I call my own
Even if time is just a flicker of light
And we all have to die alone
What does it mean when you belong to someone
When you're born with a name, when you carry it on

It means that I won't give in, won't give in, won't give in
'Cause everyone I love is here
All at once, and I'll show you how to get here

Come on now, come on now, can you feel it, I can see it in ya
Come on now, come on now, reveal it, turn around won't ya
The right time, the right place, right now, turn around

A chance is made, a chance is lost, I carry myself to the edge of the earth

It means that I won't give in, won't give in, won't give in
'Cause everyone I love is here
Say it once, just say it, and disappear

Monday, November 21, 2011

Once a Blogger always a Blogger : > )

This was my very first Blogpost, posted on Monday June 9th 2008 - there has been a lot of water under the bridge since then. I thought that as I haven't Blogged for a while I might celebrate my return in a small way by reposting the first of my, to date, 227 postings.

""For most of my life I have spent a lot of time thinking and reading about the existential questions. Who am I? Where did I come from? Where am I going? Is there life after death? What does the word God mean? What is ultimate reality? what is the nature of consciousness? - the questions are endless. The answers are partial, and scratching the existential itch continues unabated.

The photograph above is of a sculpture by the early twentieth century artist Marcel Duchamp. To me it symbolises the conundrum of existence. What is the meaning of what we see here? These are familiar things, a stool and a bicycle wheel. Placed in their own contexts of riding on and sitting on we can make sense of these objects. When juxtaposed in an incongruent way we are puzzled and confused. They remind me of other incongruousness. Young innocence and painful death. The good dying young. The fullness and richness of life ending in death. The pain of love. Evil so often seeming to triumph. Injustice and suffering. What does it all mean?

My life up to this point in time has been a very rich and meaningful one; full of happiness as well as suffering just like most people. But the ultimate questions remain. What have you learnt? what are some of your partial answers?

What have I learned since this first posting? - In some areas more than I can possibly say here, but in terms of ultimate things, I think the descriptions of the transcendent reality we quest for, the answers to all our questions are beyond human language. I also think that if the answers could be put into language we human beings do not have a brain that is capable of understanding these answers.

So how do we approach these questions? How do we find meaning for our lives? I feel that it is possible to approach transcendental experience through the safe discipline of Meditation, to gather understandings beyond language through the Arts and through experience of the natural world (especially sailing : > ) - But ultimately the best and deepest way to experience meaning that goes beyond language is through love - Love in all its manifestations of giving, and in all its sacrifice.

"God is Love" so the saying goes - I feel that's the best definition of the word 'God' I have experienced to date - Love attends to both the Logos and the Mythos of our natures - Love enables a marriage between our rational intellects and the creativeness that exists at the boundary of our non rational dreaming selves, and transcendent reality - that love is both a feeling and a commitment.

Psychology portrays love as a cognitive phenomenon with a social cause. It is said to have three components in the book of psychology: Intimacy, Commitment, and Passion. Also, in an ancient proverb love is defined as a high form of tolerance within a context of compatibility - can't disagree with any of that.


Living Authentically and Self Actualization

I have been looking at some old blog postings of mine from a few years ago. This old posting seems to have relevance at this time.

I have been reading about the American, humanistic psychologist Abraham Maslow. It is to Maslow that the term 'Peak Experience' is associated. What I find interesting about Maslow and other psychologists of the pioneering era of the early to middle 20th century is that although there were often fundamentals that they disagreed on there was much that they held in common. They agreed on the concept of authenticity, of living ones own life, not the life that is an expectation of ones parents or of societies. Furthermore, when taking on the persona of some role within society they agreed that it is important to make that role your own in your own unique and creative way.

Finding your own 'centre' and 'truth' and living outwards from this centre is far more healthy and life enhancing for the individual than being on the periphery of someone else's centre and trying to emulate or live someone else's truth. Of course making the distinction between the worth of 'role models', modeling our truth on others and developing our own truth within our own life story is a delicate balance and one we all find a slippery log to walk on at times, but attitude and intention and knowledge helps us along the way.

C. G. Jung the great psychoanalyst would fly into great rages if he ever witnessed other people emulating him in speech, mannerisms or in any way whatsoever. He believed that the process of individuation was a process where we all grow into our own truth and potential, to be all that we can be and that that wholeness is absolutely unique.

Maslow like Jung and others saw the sacredness of the individual and the need for individual growth, but he advanced his theory from a different perspective. In 1954 he published a book called "Motivation and Personality" which is seen as one of the major psychological achievements of the 1950s. In contrast to the approaches of Jung and Freud who studied human weakness and neurosis he focused on healthy, exceptional, high achieving individuals.

Maslow's theory of needs has self - actualization as the highest level of human experience, the highest level of spiritual intelligence.
Maslow discovered that self actualised people have a more efficient perception of reality, have better hunches and intuitive powers, more mystic experience, more peak experience, better awareness of connections and relationships, higher values and ethics based on principles rather than conventions, greater knowledge and wisdom and inclusive views on philosophy and religion.
"They see themselves as human beings who transcend the values of their culture and become world citizens"
The way to achieve this self actualisation is the road that many spiritual, psychological writers and advisers point to:

"Your inner voices, Maslow believed, are extremely weak, extremely subtle and delicate, where you have to dig to find them... One of the necessary methods in the search for identity, the search for self, the search for spontaneity and for naturalness is a matter of closing your eyes, cutting down the noise, turning off the thoughts, putting away all busyness, just relaxing in a kind of Taoistic and receptive fashion... The technique here is to just wait to see what happens, what comes to mind...... forget about the outside world and its noises and begin to hear these small delicate impulse voices from within."

So in relation to the photo in this post the point is that if you want to be a pirate, don't be a pale imitation of Blackbeard or some other grizzled swash buckler on the Spanish main -- choose your own colours, design your own flag, build your own galleon, and teach your own parrot your own particular words of piratical slang and cussing.

So, for my part, to go forward, to live authentically, to solve some of the big problems of how to live my life I need to take heed of many of these concepts spoken of by wiser heads than me - especially I need to listen to the words about the inner voice, stop analysing, stop ticking boxes, - shut up and listen, listen to the small inner voice and hope to find the authentic path which is either the path I am following, or a new path - whatever the outcome it will all be part of the same larger journey - the road less travelled? or the safe and familiar way?

But how do we decide what to do at any given time? I think now that 'What' we decide to do is a function of all our past decisions - The authenticity of our life is the result of having made authentic decisions, (despite the pain these may cause sometimes) to produce our own human growth - so the idea of crossroads in our lives becomes a paradox, there are crossroads - we do choose a direction - but at the same time the direction we take is a function of all that has come before - life weaves us out of both the small and the big decisions we make - so when we listen to the small inner voice we need to listen very carefully indeed.