Sunday, 25 May 2014

A response to Daniel Hannan's recent Oxford Union speech entitled "Socialism Does NOT Work"

If there's anything the planet doesn't need, it's six billion more cars and dishwashers. The State is inherently coercive, as is any kind of power structure. Corporations are like mini North Koreas; they have dress-codes, tell you what you can and can't do and say, and if you step out of line, you face punishment or dismissal. Many hundreds of years ago, people were relatively autonomous. Every family and community had free access to land, which was provided to them by nature, enabling them to be self-sufficient. Then along came Kings with their hired thugs, who appropriated all the land, and began to charge the peasants rent for the privilege of living and farming on the land that was stolen from them. Not much as changed since then. Individual autonomy will always be limited as long as we are forced to choose between State-tyranny and private-tyranny.

By Mountain Forehead

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Live Your Life Without Regrets

The following list was contributed by Shannon L. Alder, author and therapist who has 17 years of experience working with hospice patients holding conversations at the end of their lives.

1. I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life other people expected of me.

2. I wish I took time to be with my children more when they were growing up.

3. I wish I had the courage to express my feelings, without the fear of being rejected or unpopular.

4. I wish I would have stayed in touch with friends and family.

5. I wish I would have forgiven someone when I had the chance.

6. I wish I would have told the people I loved the most how important they are to me.

7. I wish I would have had more confidence and tried more things, instead of being afraid of looking like a fool.

8. I wish I would have done more to make an impact in this world.

9. I wish I would have experienced more, instead of settling for a boring life filled with routine, mediocrity and apathy.

10. I wish I would have pursued my talents and gifts.

By North Utsire

Universal Intentions

Sensei Wasyl Kolesnikov, 7th Dan

It was an intense Aikido training session. Students from all parts of the country (and beyond) wandered wearily around the warm and humid dojo, finally freed from the discipline of concentrated mental control. They belonged to the Kolesnikov School of Mind & Body Development Association (KSMBDA). Despite the Ukrainian origin of the name, and the exotic nature of the mind- body art he had exclusively developed, Sensei Wasyl Kolesnikov was from Oldham and had a deep Northern accent. He was a true martial arts Master; spiritually powerful and weighty like an ancient Oak. Some students sighed heavily, and wafted themselves with obi (belts) of all colours, lazily lapping from side to side. A number of 5 or 6 were kneeling in Zazen, meditating in a row on the mats, a soothing tonic to purify the mind. Suddenly from high above them, one of the beams which hung ominously above their heads began to crumble; at first plaster falling like snow, then rapidly whole lumps of concrete the size of an arm or head, crashing down in a cloud of dust. The meditators and astonished students gawped in dumfounded silence, when, as the dust rotated and glistened in the sunlight, Sensei uttered with unfailing resonance and certainty: 

“The Universe did not mean for you to die in that moment”

After a pause, many laughed with relief. But those of us who knew Sensei and practiced with him regularly, knew he was deadly serious.

Ai Ki Do

Later in the car, my training partner and I sat in silence, still numb from the incredible scene we had just witnessed. “I hope Sensei has got some good insurance”, he said. 

By North Utsire

Grow the Revolution!

Edible City (2014) is a jaunty fast-paced journey through the Local Good Food movement that's taking root in the San Francisco Bay Area, across the nation and around the world. It is a feature-length documentary film that tells the stories of extraordinary people who are digging their hands into the dirt, working to transform their communities and doing something truly revolutionary: growing local Good Food systems that are socially just, environmentally sound, and economically resilient.

Introducing a diverse cast of extraordinary and eccentric characters who are challenging the paradigm of our broken food system, Edible City digs into their unique perspectives and transformative work, finding hopeful solutions to monumental problems. Inspirational, down-to-earth and a little bit quirky, Edible City captures the spirit of a movement that's making real change and doing something truly revolutionary: growing the model for a healthy, sustainable local food system.

By North Utsire

The Natural Way of Farming

This is a section taken from The One Straw Revolution, a book by the inspirational Masanobu Fukuoka. It is taken from a chapter entitled “Four Principles of Natural Farming”.

Make your way carefully through these fields. Dragonflies and moths fly up in a flurry. Honeybees buzz from blossom to blossom. Part the leaves and you will see insects, spiders, frogs, lizards, and many other small animals bustling about in the cool shade. Moles and earthworms burrow beneath the surface.

This is a balanced rice field ecosystem. Insect and plant communities maintain a stable relationship here. It is not uncommon for a plant disease to sweep through this area, leaving the crops in these fields unaffected.

And now look over at the neighbour’s field for a moment. The weeds have all been wiped out by herbicides and cultivation. The soil animals and insects have been exterminated by poison. The soil has been burned clean of organic matter and micro organisms by chemical fertilisers. In the summer you see farmers at work in the fields, wearing gas masks and long rubber gloves. These rice fields, which have been farmed continuously for over 1500 years, have now been laid waste by the exploitative farming practices of a single generation.

The Four Principles

The first is NO CULTIVATION, that is no ploughing or turning of the soil. For centuries, farmers have assumed that the plough is essential for growing crops. However, non cultivation is fundamental to natural farming. The earth cultivates itself naturally by means of penetration of plant roots and the activity of micro organisms, small animals and earthworms.

The second is NO CHEMICAL FERTILISER or PREPARED COMPOST.[1] People interfere with nature, and, try as they may, they cannot heal the resulting wounds. Their careless farming practices drain the soil of essential nutrients and the result is yearly depletion of the land. If left to itself, the soil maintains its fertility naturally, in accordance with the orderly cycle of plant and animal life.

The third is NO WEEDING BY TILLAGE OR HERBICIDES. Weeds play their part in building soil fertility and in balancing the biological community. As a fundamental principle, weeds should be controlled, not eliminated. Straw mulch, a ground cover of white clover interplanted with the crops, and temporary flooding provide effective weed control in my fields.

The fourth is NO DEPENDENCE ON CHEMICALS.[2] From the time that weak plants developed as a result of such unnatural practices as ploughing and fertilising, disease and insect imbalance became a great problem in agriculture. Nature, left alone, is in perfect balance. Harmful insects and plant diseases are always present, but do not occur in nature to such an extent which requires the use of poisonous chemicals. The sensible approach to disease and insect control is to grow sturdy crops in a healthy environment [Note: these same principles are applicable in natural medicine].

[1] For fertiliser, Mr Fukuoka grows a leguminous ground cover of white clover, returns the threshed straw to the fields, and adds a little poultry manure (poultry roam free in fields).

[2] Mr Fukuoka grows his grain crops without chemicals of any kind. On some orchard trees, he occasionally uses a machine oil emulsion for the control of insect scales. He uses no persistent or broad spectrum poisons, and has no pesticide ‘program’.

By North Utsire

GMO Artwork

By North Utsire

A World Without Monsanto

Nothing exemplifies more the epistemological abuse of "science" for political advantage and profit than the aggressively destructive practices of this corporation.

There's nothing they are leaving untouched: the mustard, the okra, the bringe oil, the rice, the cauliflower. Once they have established the norm: that seed can be owned as their property, royalties can be collected. We will depend on them for every seed we grow of every crop we grow. If they control seed, they control food, they know it – it's strategic. It's more powerful than bombs. It's more powerful than guns.

This is the best way to control the populations of the world. The story starts in the White House, where Monsanto often got its way by exerting disproportionate influence over policymakers via the “revolving door”. One example is Michael Taylor, who worked for Monsanto as an attorney before being appointed as deputy commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1991. While at the FDA, the authority that deals with all US food approvals, Taylor made crucial decisions that led to the approval of GE foods and crops. Then he returned to Monsanto, becoming the company’s vice president for public policy.

Thanks to these intimate links between Monsanto and government agencies, the US adopted GE foods and crops without proper testing, without consumer labeling and in spite of serious questions hanging over their safety. Not coincidentally, Monsanto supplies 90 percent of the GE seeds used by the US market.

Monsanto’s long arm stretched so far that, in the early nineties, the US Food and Drugs Agency even ignored warnings of their own scientists, who were cautioning that GE crops could cause negative health effects. Other tactics the company uses to stifle concerns about their products include misleading advertising, bribery and concealing scientific evidence.

Text: Top Documentary Films

GM Watch
Combat Monsanto
Millions Against Monsanto
Institute for Responsible Technology
Is Monsanto the World's Most Evil Corporation?

By North Utsire

Seeds of Death/ Seeds of Freedom

Every single independent study conducted on the impact of genetically modified food shows that it damages organs, it causes infertility, it causes immune system failure, it causes holes in the GI tract, and it causes multiple organ system failure. The whole concept of genetically modified organisms is throwing a monkey wrench in the life on this planet.

The reason why they have 170 million acres of genetically engineered corn, soybeans, cotton, canola oil and sugar beets in the United States is because it doesn't have to be labeled. The first genetically modified animal, the salmon, may soon be approved for human consumption and there has not been sufficient animal health testing, human health testing, or environmental impact testing of these new transgenic fish.

Basically, they take agriculture and build an industrial model which doesn't fit nature. So instead of changing our agricultural model to accommodate what is natural, they're changing nature to accommodate the industrial model. If you have an organic corn crop that sits next to a genetically engineered corn field and it happens to tassel at the same time and happens to be downwind, you're going to get your crop contaminated. If the rest of the food supply is contaminated, then the genie's out of the bottle and it's maybe physically impossible to turn the situation around. In the genetic engineering revolution, these seeds are now patented property of one corporation, called Monsanto.

We are heading downhill at a rapid rate of speed toward our own extinction. The use of GM in agriculture is a risk that is simply not worth taking. Any scientist that looks into the research or the lack of research, on the safety of genetically engineered food comes to the conclusion that these foods should not be on the market. They need another decade or two of research.

Monsanto is the company that told us that PCBs were safe. They were convicted of actually poisoning people in their town next to the PCB factory, and fined $700 million. They told us that Agent Orange was safe. They told us that DDT was safe, and now they're in charge of telling us if their own genetically modified foods are safe because the FDA doesn't require a single safety study. They leave it to Monsanto.

Monsanto's job is to make money for the investor. Unfortunately, that becomes the highest priority thought in their minds. Make money, make money, make money. They're not actually making products to make health, they're making money, so they tend to overlook the health consequences. That is a ridiculous approach to the problem.

There should be some responsibility being assumed by the producer, that when they're producing food, they have a really good assurance that it's a good quality product. That should be the highest priority thing. Then if they can make money with that, fine and dandy. Unfortunately, it's usually the other way around. People in this sort of business are looking for opportunities to make money first priority, and then in this case maybe letting somebody else worry about the health consequences. Maybe even the public. We have it upside down.

Seeds of Freedom charts the story of seed from its roots at the heart of traditional, diversity rich farming systems across the world, to being transformed into a powerful commodity, used to monopolise the global food system. The film highlights the extent to which the industrial agricultural system, and genetically modified (GM) seeds in particular, has impacted on the enormous agro-biodiversity evolved by farmers and communities around the world, since the beginning of agriculture.

Seeds of Freedom seeks to challenge the mantra that large-scale, industrial agriculture is the only means by which we can feed the world, promoted by the pro-GM lobby. In tracking the story of seed it becomes clear how corporate agenda has driven the take over of seed in order to make vast profit and control of the food global system. The documentary was produced by The Gaia Foundation and the African Biodiversity Network, in collaboration with MELCA Ethiopia, Navdanya International and GRAIN.

Text: Top Documentary Films

By North Utsire

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

T'ai Chi Chuan & The Spiritual Community Guide

More leaves from The Spiritual Community Guide:

By North Utsire

Nature in Black & White

Photographers unknown.
By North Utsire

The Body in Black & White

From The Body: Photoworks of the Human Form by William A. Ewing (1994)

John Coplans
Self Portrait, 1984
Gelatin Silver Print

David Buckland
Torso III, 1979
Platinum Print

The Atrium: The Desbonnet Method, c1912
Modern Silver Print

Edmond Desbonnet (1867 – 1953) was a French academic and photographer who championed physical culture. He made physical education fashionable in belle époque France through the publication of fitness journals and by opening a chain of exercise clubs.

By North Utsire


Inspiring videos about juicing above! After watching Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead however, I couldn't help feeling that a great deal had been left out of the movie for someone wanting to follow a juicing path. This is potentially dangerous. Going for 60 days is quite alright if you are relatively young and healthy without cardiac complications; and in naturopathic terms it is fairly easy to clear skin conditions (especially of the autoimmune type). Many of the metabolic obstacles to weight loss and healing weren't discussed at all which left me somewhat cynical of the "juicing book" and the "media and PR" which surround Joe Cross.

Contrast that approach with Dan McDonald, who has been quietly leading people to health for years on his Youtube channel the liferegenerator. I like his style; funny, eclectic, volumes of individualised advice and a wider naturopathic perspective leading into a raw food lifestyle. It seems to him healing people is not about money... it is about Love.

By North Utsire

Monday, 19 May 2014

Was eden ahbez the First Hippy?

We have discussed some of the origins of the hippy movement in the romantic poetry of Yeats, the political and artistic yearnings of William Morris, and the lifestyle “cranks” which George Orwell referred to so disparagingly. The existence of a nature- centered libertarianism has no doubt been with us as long as there have been artistic human beings. As a counterpoise to increasing industrialization and alienation of modern culture, however, there were notable individuals who eschewed a life in chains, and sought personal and creative freedom in nature long before there were beatniks and longhairs protesting about the war in Vietnam. Eden Ahbez was one such forerunner.

To put ahbez in context, Gordon Kennedy (author of Children of the Sun)and Kody Ryan in their article Hippie Roots and the Perennial Subculture, says:

Hippiedom is really just a perennial sub-culture…as old as the first humans that ever walked upright.…That’s why hippies will never go away…because they’ve always been here anyway. 

George Alexander Aberle, known as eden ahbez (15 April 1908 – 4 March 1995), was an American songwriter and recording artist of the 1940s to 1960s, whose lifestyle in California was influential on the hippy movement. He was known to friends simply as ahbe.

Living a bucolic life from at least the 1940s, he traveled in sandals and wore shoulder-length hair and beard, and white robes. He camped out below the first L in the Hollywood Sign above Los Angeles and studied Oriental mysticism. He slept outdoors with his family and ate vegetables, fruits, and nuts. He claimed to live on three dollars per week.

In 1941, he arrived in Los Angeles and began playing piano in the Eutropheon, a small health food store and raw food restaurant on Laurel Canyon Boulevard. The cafe was owned by John and Vera Richter, German immigrants who followed a Naturmensch and Lebensreform philosophy influenced by the Wandervogel movement in Germany. He was a vegetarian. He recalled once telling a policeman: I look crazy but I'm not. And the funny thing is that other people don't look crazy but they are.

Naturmensch followers, known as "Nature Boys" and who included Robert "Gypsy Boots" Bootzin, wore long hair and beards and ate only raw fruits and vegetables. During this period, ahbe adopted the name "eden ahbez," choosing to spell his name with lower-case letters, claiming that only the words God and Infinity were worthy of capitalization. He is also said to have desired the A and Z (alpha and omega), the beginning and the end, in his surname. During this period, he married Anna Jacobsen and had a son.

Wandervogel is the name adopted by a popular movement of German youth groups from 1896 onward. The name can be translated as rambling, hiking, or wandering bird (differing in meaning from "Zugvogel" or migratory bird) and the ethos is to shake off the restrictions of society and get back to nature and freedom. Some authors have seen the ethos and activities of the Wandervogel as an influence on later social movements, in particular the hippy movement which developed in the USA during the 1960s.

In a rotten irony, eden died on 4 March 1995, of injuries sustained in a car accident, at the age of 86.

by North Utsire

H.R.Giger: "I am afraid of my visions"

For a man of extraordinary genius and grotesquely exotic visions, falling down stairs was such an ordinary way to go.

North Utsire

Ravi Shankar: Raga Jog (1956)

From the album Three Ragas.
By North Utsire

Jimmy Smith: Root Down (1972)

Jimmy Smith lets rip on the B3 Hammond organ. Worldpress had this guy down as their 'dude of the month' or whatever they call it. Which led to a search. Which led to this album...

By North Utsire

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Frédéric Chopin: Sex and Death

In 1836, at a party hosted by Liszt's mistress Marie d'Agoult, Chopin met the French author George Sand (whose real name was the far more evocative Aurore Dudevant). He initially felt an aversion to Sand, and wrote, "What an unattractive person la Sand is. Is she really a woman?" However, by early 1837, Chopin’s relationship with fiancée Maria Wodzińska was floundering. Maria's mother had made it clear to Chopin in correspondence that a marriage with her daughter was unlikely to proceed. It is thought that she was influenced by his poor health and possibly also by rumours about his associations with women such as d'Agoult and Sand. Chopin finally placed the letters from Maria and her mother in a package on which he wrote, in Polish, "My tragedy".

Sand, in a letter to Grzymała of June 1838, admitted strong feelings for the composer and debated whether to abandon a current affair in order to begin a relationship with Chopin; she asked Grzymała to assess Chopin's relationship with Maria Wodzińska, without realising that the affair, at least from Maria's side, was over.

In June 1837 Chopin had made an incognito visit to London in the company of the piano manufacturer Camille Pleyel where he played at a musical soirée at the house of James Broadwood. Returning to Paris, his association with Sand began in earnest, and by the end of June 1838 they had become lovers. Sand, who was six years older than the composer, and who had had a series of lovers, wrote at this time: "I must say I was confused and amazed at the effect this little creature had on me ... I have still not recovered from my astonishment, and if I were a proud person I should be feeling humiliated at having been carried away ..." The two spent a miserable winter on Majorca (8 November 1838 to 13 February 1839), where, together with Sand's two children, they had journeyed in the hope of improving the health of Chopin and Sand's 15-year-old son Maurice, and also to escape the threats of Sand's former lover Félicien Mallefille. However, after discovering that the couple were not married, the deeply religious people of Majorca became inhospitable, making accommodation difficult to find; this compelled the group to take lodgings in a former Carthusian monastery in Valldemossa which gave little shelter from the cold winter weather.

George Sand by Nadar: 1864

On 3 December, Chopin complained about his bad health and the incompetence of the doctors in Majorca: "Three doctors have visited me ... The first said I was dead; the second said I was dying; and the third said I was about to die." Chopin was diagnosed with tuberculosis and treated for it in accordance with contemporary practice, including bloodletting and purging. Tuberculosis figured in his death certificate, despite the alleged absence of typical organ changes.

The hypothesis that Chopin suffered from cystic fibrosis was first presented by O’Shea in 1987. It has been supported and popularized by physicians from the Medical University of Poznań. Arguments for cystic fibrosis as the chief cause of Chopin’s complaints are: the onset of the condition in early childhood, possible familial occurrence (Emilia), gastrointestinal symptoms, intolerance of fat-rich meals, recurrent infections of the lower respiratory tract, also suppurative, with exacerbations in winter, recurrent infections of the upper respiratory tract (laryngitis, sinusitis), barrel chest (visible in some photographs and caricatures), low tolerance of physical exercise, an episode of heatstroke (more frequent in cystic fibrosis), caries (more pronounced in this disease), and putative infertility. Chopin had no children.

Photograph of Chopin by Bisson, c. 1849
Info: Wiki
By North Utsire

Monday, 12 May 2014

Hanna's Gypsy Escapade

On the run from CIA thugs, and newly spewed out from the Finnish wilderness, Hanna stows away with an unwitting British family and enjoys a relatively normal night by the campfire amongst the gypsies. Directed in 2011 by Joe Wright, Hanna contains prominent fairy tale elements, and stars Saoirse Ronan as the title character.

By North Utsire

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Edmund Dulac

By North Utsire

The Fomorians

In Irish mythology, the Fomoire (or Fomorians) are a semi-divine race said to have inhabited Ireland in ancient times. They may have once been believed to be the beings who preceded the gods, similar to the Greek Titans. It has been suggested that they represent the gods of chaos and wild nature, as opposed to the Tuatha Dé Danann who represent the gods of human civilization. Alternatively, they may represent the gods of a proposed pre-Goidelic population of Ireland.

The coming of the Fomor was terrible. They were multitudinous as grains of sand; multitudinous as waves in a sea-storm. A wind of death went before them and darkness covered them. The Tuatha De Danaan drew brightness to themselves and went into the battle… [but] there was no brightness on the Tuatha De Danaan when they drew themselves out of the conflict: they were wounded and weary, and Airmid, Diancecht, and Miach, went among them with herbs of healing. It was vexation of spirit to look on the grievousness of their wounds.

Image: John Duncan (1912)
Quote: Ella Young; The Celtic Wonder Tales (1910)

By North Utsire

Black Eye Beanburgers

Getting the texture of bean burgers is of paramount importance, provided you don’t want to break your jaw on it or have the opposite problem of sucking it through your teeth. To avoid using the conventional breadcrumbs and eggs as binders (which always seem colonically incongruent when looking at the bean burger as a health food), I have used potato flakes and corn/ gram flour, or as an alternative, oat bran.

2 x 400g tins Black Eye Beans
(or any other bean variety you like)

Alternatively use 1 cup quinoa or millet & water.

Empty the tins into a pan and simmer for 15- 20 minutes to soften whilst getting on with prep below. Once the beans are ready, drain them and mash until of the desired texture (smooth or chunky, it’s up to you).

1 Sweet red Pepper, chopped finely
1 Med bunch Coriander, chopped finely
Large handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped

1tsp chilli powder
1 tsp garam masala
¾ tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper

Juice of ½ lemon

Chop the vegetables and mix with the seasonings in a large bowl. You could substitute any number of ingredients, including:

Green peppers
Baby spinach, chopped
Sweet corn
Green beans, chopped
Grated carrot, etc.
1 tsp Cumin seeds
1 medium onion, chopped (or shallots)
3- 4 garlic cloves, chopped finely

Olive Oil (1 Tbsp)

Fry the ingredients until browned and aromatic. Add to the large bowl.
1 Tbsp Peanut Butter or Tahini (optional)
4 Tbsp potato flakes
3 Tbsp Corn or Gram Flour

Peanut butter = thickener
Potato flakes = absorbs water
Flour = binding

You can also use Wholewheat Flour or Oat Bran in place of Corn Flour, but might need to change quantities.

Add the ingredients to the bowl, ensuring a good texture is obtained, and shape handfuls of the mixture into patties.

Yoghurt, Lime juice
Chilli Sauce
Tomatoes, cucumber, etc.

Fry or oven bake the patties and serve with pittas, or wholemeal buns, or on a bed of salad or cous cous. Add any garnish you prefer.

Makes 6 burgers. 
By North Utsire

Goethe on Nature

"God can be worshipped in no more beautiful way than by the spontaneous welling up from one’s breast of mutual converse with Nature".

"Man in his misguidance has powerfully interfered with nature. He has devastated the forests, and thereby even changed the atmospheric conditions and the climate. Some species of plants and animals have become entirely extinct through man, although they were essential in the economy of Nature. Everywhere the purity of the air is affected by smoke and the like, and the rivers are defiled. These and other things are serious encroachments upon Nature, which men nowadays entirely overlook but which are of the greatest importance, and at once show their evil effect not only upon plants but upon animals as well, the latter not having the endurance and power of resistance of man".

Text: Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
Image: Goethe by Andy Warhol (1982)

By North Utsire

Robert Tressell: The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

“Poverty is not caused by men and women getting married; it's not caused by machinery; it's not caused by "over-production"; it's not caused by drink or laziness; and it's not caused by "over-population". It's caused by Private Monopoly. That is the present system. They have monopolized everything that it is possible to monopolize; they have got the whole earth, the minerals in the earth and the streams that water the earth. The only reason they have not monopolized the daylight and the air is that it is not possible to do it. If it were possible to construct huge gasometers and to draw together and compress within them the whole of the atmosphere, it would have been done long ago, and we should have been compelled to work for them in order to get money to buy air to breathe. And if that seemingly impossible thing were accomplished tomorrow, you would see thousands of people dying for want of air - or of the money to buy it - even as now thousands are dying for want of the other necessities of life. You would see people going about gasping for breath, and telling each other that the likes of them could not expect to have air to breathe unless the had the money to pay for it. Most of you here, for instance, would think and say so. Even as you think at present that it's right for so few people to own the Earth, the Minerals and the Water, which are all just as necessary as is the air. In exactly the same spirit as you now say: "It's Their Land," "It's Their Water," "It's Their Coal," "It's Their Iron," so you would say "It's Their Air," "These are their gasometers, and what right have the likes of us to expect them to allow us to breathe for nothing?" And even while he is doing this the air monopolist will be preaching sermons on the Brotherhood of Man; he will be dispensing advice on "Christian Duty" in the Sunday magazines; he will give utterance to numerous more or less moral maxims for the guidance of the young. And meantime, all around, people will be dying for want of some of the air that he will have bottled up in his gasometers. And when you are all dragging out a miserable existence, gasping for breath or dying for want of air, if one of your number suggests smashing a hole in the side of one of the gasometers, you will all fall upon him in the name of law and order, and after doing your best to tear him limb from limb, you'll drag him, covered with blood, in triumph to the nearest Police Station and deliver him up to "justice" in the hope of being given a few half-pounds of air for your trouble.”

Robert Tressell: The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists

By North Utsire

Monday, 5 May 2014

Dead Can Dance: The Ubiquitous Mr. Lovegrove

Into the Labyrinth is the sixth album recorded by the Dead Can Dance duo Lisa Gerrard and Brendan Perry in 1993. It marked a strong shift from the previous albums, putting ethnic music influences at the forefront as would be the case in the later albums. It was their first album completed on their own without the aid of guest musicians, and their first album to have a major-label release in the U.S. It featured the single "The Ubiquitous Mr Lovegrove". Perry described him as his alter ego, "the abstract relationship of myself and woman". This song was played during the strip club scene in the 1995 Sean Penn film The Crossing Guard. It is also the title of a 1965 Secret Agent episode.

By North Utsire

Vangelis and Demis Roussos: Tales Of The Future

This music from the 1982 Blade Runner soundtrack, is probably the best thing Demis Roussos ever did. Or Vangelis for that matter. The original soundtrack release was delayed for over a decade despite the music being well-received by fans and critically acclaimed—nominated in 1983 for a BAFTA and Golden Globe as best original score. Also, there was the promise of a soundtrack album from Polydor Records in the film's end titles. The 1989 compilation themes included some tracks from the film, but it was not until 1992, with the release of Scott's Director's Cut, that the score saw an official release. Better late than never.

By North Utsire

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Werner Herzog: The Wild Blue Yonder (2005)

From deep space to the deep ocean, Werner Herzog’s FIPRESCI prize winning film is a documentary style sci- fi fantasy which is a weightlessly enjoyable voyage. It extensively uses archival footage from NASA's  STS-34 Space Shuttle mission in 1989 and Henry Kaiser's diving expedition in Antarctica for the National Science Foundation. The cello music of Ernst Reijseger, paired with Senegalese vocalist Mola Sylla, is blended with the Tenore Cuncordu de Orosei to effect one of the most relaxing and uplifting films I have seen in a long time. Like an Attenborough documentary, but with narration from a pissed off alien (Brad Dourif, Gríma Wormtongue of LOTR fame).

By North Utsire

Ozric Tentacles: Dissolution (1989)

Ozric Tentacles - Dissolution (The Clouds Disperse) from the album "Pungent Effulgent" (1989). This was their first track from their first album. I cannot think of a better start. From about 1:40 this tune goes mental.

- Ed Wynne / guitar, synthesizer
- Merv Pepler / drums
- Roly Wynne / bass
- Joie Hinton / synthesizer, sampling
- John Egan / flute, voice
- Paul Hankin / percussion

Potted history of the Ozrics from Wikipedia:

A campfire at the Stonehenge Free Festival in 1983 witnessed the birth of Ozric Tentacles. It was there that composer and band leader Ed Wynne (guitar & keyboards), and brother Roly Wynne (bass), who were performing in a group known at the time as ‘Bolshem People’, along with drummer Nick 'Tig' Van Gelder (Jamiroquai), stumbled upon keyboardist Joie Hinton. After a session of warming their bones and discussing imaginary breakfast cereals, the group went to perform an impromptu late jam session. Over the course of what became an epic six hour performance, an audience member inquired as to the name of the band. Randomly thinking back to the group’s former conversation, visions of ridiculous mythical mueslis entered Ed’s mind, and consequently he replied; “Ozric Tentacles”. (…Good job too, since some of the previous alternatives had been “Desmond Whisps”, “Gilbert Chunks” and “Malcolm Segments”). From that very first jam session, a musical compatibility was evoked that has since been a trademark of the Ozric Tentacles. It's a signature blend of hippy aesthetics and raver electronics with spiraling guitars, textured waves of keyboards, midi, samplers, and super-groovy bass and drum rhythms. Before long the band was laughing in dismay, as requests came piling in from people who were looking for more music by “Ozric Tentacles”, or “The Ozrics”, (as they had become more commonly known). The band swiftly claimed their place as a staple of the UK's burgeoning festival scene, and are now credited as one of the influential musical linchpins of the scene's re-emergence, becoming particularly associated with the Glastonbury Festival, and their handmade series of cassette releases, sold at gigs and via a fan club.

By North Utsire

Matching Mole on Rockenstock (1972)

Matching Mole was an English progressive rock band associated with the Canterbury scene. Robert Wyatt formed the band in October 1971 after he left Soft Machine and recorded his first solo album The End of an Ear. Here Matching Mole perform "Gloria Gloom"(Bill MacCormick) and "Part of the Dance"(Phil Miller), live on the French TV program "Rockenstock" in 1972. Matching Mole band members comprised:

Robert Wyatt - Drums, Vocals
Phil Miller - Guitar
Bill MacCormick - Bass
Dave MacRae - Keyboards

By North Utsire

Friday, 2 May 2014

The All Seeing Eye

The Guggenheim

With the news that teachers are increasingly being surveilled in the classroom, it is worth noting how the structure of many new build academies is based on an eighteenth century prison designer Jeremy Bentham.

Bentham first proposed the idea of the Panopticon in 1791. The concept of the design is to allow a single watchman to observe all the inmates of an institution without them being able to tell whether they are being watched or not. The fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched or not means that all inmates must act as though they are watched at all times, effectively controlling their own behaviour constantly. The name is also a reference to Panoptes from Greek mythology; he was a giant with a hundred eyes and thus was known to be a very effective watchman. This is the principle behind CCTV and IT surveillance, sometimes called the Information Panopticon. Which reminds me of the time I worked in a call centre and had to use the following codes when I logged off the phone system during work time:

01 For an allowed break
02 For Call Work
03 For a piss
04 For a shit
05 Because I watched Falling Down last night and want to do something about it.

Bentham always conceived the Panopticon principle as being beneficial to the design of a variety of institutions where surveillance was important, including hospitals, schools, workhouses, and lunatic asylums, as well as prisons. In particular, he developed it in his ideas for a "chrestomathic" school (one devoted to useful learning), in which teaching was to be undertaken by senior pupils on the monitorial principle, under the overall supervision of the Master and for a pauper “industry-house” (workhouse). Thus the human touch of "teachers" or "prison wardens" becomes a much reduced necessity. The lasting psychological effects on academy children (who incidentally are not even allowed outside to play in one Panopticon school) remains to be seen.

Here is a montage of academy and prison designs all mixed up. At first glance they are indistinguishable. And the last word is left to Foucault.

By North Utsire