Tuesday, 8 March 2016

low growth

Am I experiencing low growth? My income is low, my assets decreasing, my future prospects dim. Does it hurt? Do I mind? In short no. I have never been happier. Or, less uncomfortable, anxious, stressed. I like not growing. Am I vegetating? I don't feel / think so. I feel richer, safer, happier. I am uncertain about our future, my future, but happy with that unknowing. See https://soundcloud.com/weeklyeconomicspodcast/the-end-of-growth?&utm_medium=email&utm_source=nefoundation&utm_content=2&utm_campaign=wep_0803&source=wep_0803

Tuesday, 29 December 2015

On God

References: Iris Murdoch, Metaphysics as a guide to Morals et al, Paul Davies The Fifth Element (check), . . . .

God is the set of all sets, the sum total of everything (and of no-thing, to be defined / discussed below). It has no attributes, as yet, other than its totality - it is just everything that is, every particle, every thought, every feeling, every living (or dead?) inidividual. All energy, all matter, all potential, all action, all cause and effect.

So defined, God has some of the attributes usually associated with it - omni-presence, omni-science (since it includes all thoughts, perceptions, awarenesses everywhere), omni-potence (since it is all actions, all events). Whether it has will or intention to be discussed below.

This definition does not presume identity, coherence or direction.

In what sense can God be regarded as a person?

I think Spinoza said this already.

Eros and agape

Eros as desire, agape as attraction - in mathematics a well of attraction. Eros, not simply a negative rolling down the hill into the well of attraction, but a positive desire to head for the well of attraction. Both eros and agape drive the evolution of the cosmos (all-that-is)

Eros resides in the entity / organism / individual

Agape resides in the cosmos as a whole

Why / in what way is the cosmos (and therefore God) a coherent unity)? Paul Davies - the boostrap theory for the singularity. The appearance of difference. The descent(?) from potential energy to the heat death of the cosmos.

Thursday, 10 December 2015

Sometimes dreams are true

Maybe . . .

A few years ago, something  she always worried about (it happened to her mother) started to happen to her. She was frightened and lonely and much too proud to want to share her real deep down fears with anyone. Added to which, the effects were affecting her responses and behaviour, and her ability to think about what was or might be happening and what to do for the best. He became increasingly confused, angry, and upset, at her sudden mood changes, outbursts of unreasonable or incomprehensible anger, and she could see that. He was having problems himself, of self esteem, with his business, with her and their relationship, and although he tried to be philosophical and accepting, lurched towards drink and denial. She began to see the situation was hopeless. She did not want to descend into dribbling incoherence, or worse, with him, and when she remembered that she loved him, did not want to drag him down with her. She concocted a plot - to drive him away, but not to tell him why, because she knew he would not leave her for that reason, that that was what he had signed up for, in sickness and in health. And she felt it would be kinder, to force him out.

So he left, and she began to regret it almost immediately, convinced he would kill himself, and then sent him money so that at least he might survive for a while, long enough perhaps to find his feet. He did not understand, and kept pursuing her, badgering her, trying somehow to persuade her that things (which he did not understand) were not as they were. And she, wretched and confused, wanting him, in some way, but knowing that could not, must not, be, pushed and pulled. And all the while the rot crept on.

Eventually, affect ceased. She did and said things almost by rote, because she felt they were required; a postcard, a letter, birthday and Christmas cards and poems, but felt each day, each week, each month, less able to summon the feelings the letters and cards were meant to convey.  She talked of the old, good times they had shared, all the while knowing there was no future, they could do no more. He grew irritated and sad, that she said so many empty things, while meaning and wanting something more (he felt). And each time they met, the distance grew wider, the gulf deeper, until only anger or rage was powerful enough to jump the gap, which only made it wider still.

Finally, one day, he understood, and wept. Because he loved her, and meant to care for her, and did not know how to reach out his hand, and hold hers, and be good to her.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Thought for the day

My lack is my salvation. I wrote this on my Facebook page and here on May 2nd, 2014. I'd had an insight that my very shortage of practically everything (I was then trying to live on between 5 and 8 euros a day) was in a way both a liberation, and a protection for me, a way of forcing a kind of asceticism on myself that I am otherwise too weak willed, or weak minded, too willing to be distracted by things I can pay for, to seriously undertake. Now I am even poorer (financially). I have £1 in my bank account and nil in my pocket. I have no tobacco, nothing to drink, enough food for a few days. I have a comfortable bed. I am warm and dry. If I want to go anywhere, I can cycle, or walk. And I know, if I did have any money, the first thing I would want to do is buy tobacco, or alcohol, or both. Which is why, if I do get any money, after buying myself some good food, I will use what's left to pay off those people who have been kind enough to lend me money over the past few months.

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Down and out in Naxos and Corfu

Eleven months to the day, date and hour since I had first passed her in the wolf light of early dawn, I got off the ferry in Corfu. I had descended from a mountain in Naxos a few days before, where I had been pleasantly marooned for five months without access to electricity, running water or people, other than my landlord and host, a man called Hodge.
I was met at the bus station in Corfu Town by my new owner, or boss, and hauled off to her hotel, the Villa Magdalena, some twelve kilometres away, in the centre of the island. She kindly allowed me two hours rest before putting me to work with a gang of Greeks, Albanians and Glenn, another English refugee, preparing the hotel for the arrival of a group of forty or so Germans the following day. This explained why she had been so keen for me to come at once, although she did not explain this on the ‘phone. After a blissfully hot shower, my first in several months, I presented myself for work. I cannot remember when we stopped that day, but it was certainly late in the evening. We resumed at seven the following morning. I continued to work eighteen hour days for the next fortnight until the Germans left. A baptism of fire into the life of an unpaid volunteer in the hospitality business. Once the Albanians had left and the Germans arrived four of us remained to cook, feed, clean up and man the bar.
One evening I got rather drunk (I was possibly also exhausted) and compounded my felony by swearing in front of the guests and falling over one of them, who was unfortunately “rolly” (German for wheel chair) bound. For some reason my owner did not sack me.
I had left Naxos in a hurry. I’d spent my last days in Naxos City, a.k.a. Sodom and Gomorrah, and each day I inevitably spent a little more of the pittance left after eleven months. I had just enough cash to buy a ferry ticket and a small bottle of water. I disembarked in Athens with €1.50 in my pocket. I was able to touch an old work mate for a loan - he had a whip round in his office for me.
This is not an unusual situation in Greece. In January I was helping Mikhailis redecorate his house in return for a mattress and a meal, usually lentil soup and bread, and some krasi from his taverna. I asked him to lend me €10 to buy some tobacco. He declined, explaining that he had no cash until the end of the month, when he received his pension. Meanwhile he was surviving on tick from local shops and the remaining stock at his taverna, closed for the winter. I realised I knew no one on Naxos who had any money. I posted a jokey reference to this on FaceBook. A Greek American friend spotted it, and immediately offered to sub me. I subsequently heard he had done the same for Mikhaili and possibly others. He had to return to the US to apply for Greek citizenship, so he could continue to live on Naxos, and promptly had his bank accounts frozen by the IRS over some misunderstanding about his tax. The Naxos cash crisis deepened.
When I arrived on Naxos I had a wodge of money, thanks to a loan from my wife who had precipitated my departure for Greece by throwing me out of her house. For a while I cheerfully extracted cash from ATMs, assuming something Micawber-like would turn up. It didn’t, but I survived anyway. At first I had great difficulty spending the money – every time I offered a bar, taverna or shop a €50, the only notes the ATMs dished out, the retailer would run off frantically looking for change. Things perked up later, when the Germans and Scandinavians arrived and injected their cash into the Naxian economy. Once they leave, Naxians revert to tick from their friends, and the food everyone grows on their plots of land. The rest of the Cyclades disparagingly refers to Naxians as “farmers”, but at least they are not in total hock to the tourist industry for their survival. They grow four crops of potatoes a year.
Shortly after my arrival on Corfu our German guests gave us a €500 note. They wanted to make sure they could keep eating and drinking. My fellow Englander had been doing the washing up all morning and the note had got rather damp in his pocket. He fished it out with a very wet hand and gave it to Magda. Far from being delighted with the rather pretty pale lilac note, she had a total tizzy. Do €500 notes dissolve? Melt? Magda dragged me off to town (one of my jobs is to sit in her illegally parked car while she does errands) and took the note into not one but two banks to have it checked. I began to understand her distress. If the note was fake, or even damaged, she would be unable to spend it. It was the first time in my life I had seen so much money represented by a single note. In England banks refuse to accept euro notes larger than €100 because of fear of fraud. Earlier, I’d had a problem trying to use a €10 note to pay for a sandwich and a beer. It had a tiny tear on one edge, and the shop assistant refused to accept it. Her boss reluctantly agreed she could. I had only just been handed it, as change, like some hot potato.
And the other reason for her unenthusiastic reception of the note was that it was already spent. She got rid of it in the space of a half hour, drip feeding various creditors just enough to keep them happy for a few more days. She is running her business on credit cards and paying 22% interest on what she owes them. She is in a permanent state of near hysteria. I feel for her as, until I left England, I had been playing much the same game.
This is the opposite of a cash economy. I feel very much at home.

“Where are you from?”

It’s almost like talking about the weather.
An obvious opener, in a hotel full of young persons travelling, but I find it difficult to answer. Or rather, I’m reluctant to answer it. Just as I was reluctant on Naxos to agree that I was English, and would usually say I’m half Scots, half Irish (and deny Granny, who was a Lancashire mill girl, but really became Scots by adoption, living out her days in Beauly near Inverness).
The question, or its answer, sort of implies that, wherever it is, that’s where I’ll be going back to. And it pigeon-holes or labels me in a way that I don’t wish to be labelled. If I really was “from Scotland” I’d be delighted to tell them. But I could just as easily say, I’m from Eiserlohn, where I was born, and whose location, oddly, I only have the vaguest idea about. Perhaps I should visit. Or Listowel, in Kerry, which is where my FaceBook page says is my home town, the one constant as I grew up. I’m not “from” Wormingford, or Coggeshall, or Ampleforth – they’re just places where I lived for a while. Where I always felt like an alien, an interloper, a visitor, just passing through. But here I call home, without thinking, in the most innocent of contexts – writing a list of things to do when I go to England (not “back” to England) and ending with “Monday 7th July, fly home” and don’t even notice until later. Yet I have no actual “home”, no spiti – a bed somewhere, a meal from someone, for a while. But if I was sitting on a mountain in Greece, with a campfire, a bottle of krasi, and my sheet of plastic for a tent, it would feel more like home to me than any of these places. Perhaps because I chose it, or it chose me, or my “higher power” led me to it, seemingly by a series of accidents.
So what is it that makes me feel I belong here, in a way I’ve never felt anywhere else, apart possibly from Loch Spelve on Mull, or Hope in Sutherland, which I would have loved to call home.
The light. The heat. The Greeks. How I wish I could speak to them, as one of them. The fruit. The trees. The rocks. The mountains and the sea. The sea. The flowers. The ramshaklecality of it all, bodged and half finished. The talk. The shouting. The quiet. The cymballing of the goats and sheep. The magic. The madness. The way it won’t let you walk away from this present moment, its intensity and aliveness, that neither past or future has any weight, compared to the electricity of now, the intensity of it all, the assault on the senses. Only it’s not an assault, it’s a seduction, a caress. I’m in love with Ellaada, and most people I meet seem to feel the same way.
So to answer, “I’m from here”, is not a lie, not a presumption, not precious or pretentious – it’s the literal truth.