Posted in 100TPC, The BeZine

SUNNYSIDE UP: Meditation on “The BeZine” from the edge eternity!

One Lifetime After Another

one day, you’ll see, i’ll come back to hobnob
with ravens, to fly with the crows at the moment
of apple blossoms and the scent of magnolia ~
look for me winging among the white geese
in their practical formation, migrating to be here,
to keep house for you by the river …

i’ll be home in time for the bees in their slow heavy
search for nectar, when the grass unfurls, nib tipped ~
you’ll sense me as soft and fresh as a rose,
as gentle as a breeze of butterfly wings . . .

i’ll return to honor daisies in the depths of innocence,
i’ll be the raindrops rising dew-like on your brow ~
you’ll see me sliding happily down a comely jacaranda,
as feral as the wind circling the crape myrtle, you’ll
find me waiting, a small gray dove in the dovecot,
loving you, one lifetime after another.

– Jamie Dedes



I was diagnosed with interstitial lung disease twenty-one years ago. I was given two years to live. Thanks to loving family support and excellent state-of-the-art medical care, I’m still alive and kicking. As the disease continues its progression, however, my activities have become increasing constrained. Over the past two years I’ve slowed down dramatically. I am holding the Zine back from fulfilling its wide promise. I find it hard to keep up with obligations and to honor my own ambitions and the prodigious talents and boundless ideas of my colleagues. The long-standing lung issues have evolved into respiratory and heart failure. Other challenges to productivity have popped their disconcerting heads. These include pulmonary hypertension and a rare blood cancer, uncurable but manageable. There is, however, good news.

I’ve had years none of us expected I’d have, years to enjoy my family, my friends, lots of music, reading and writing. I got to see my world-class son married. I’ve been able to spend time getting to know my beautiful multi-talented daughter-in-law and to visit with my cousin Dan when he came home to the States after years of living abroad. Daniel (now Fr. Daniel S. Sormani, C.S.Sp) and I grew up together. He is more like a brother to me than a cousin. Ultimately, I had the pleasure of forming an arts for peace community.

I began blogging in 2008 (The Poet by Day) and in 2011 I founded Into the Bardo with San Francisco Bay Area Poet Ann Emerson and Rob Rossel, a therapist and nature writer. Ann had a rare bone cancer and Rob faced cardiovascular problems. Our intention was to chronical living with dying. My friends preceded me into the bardo after just three years. I had to ponder what to do next.



The Original Zine Team Partners

This post is dedicated to them.

Ann Emerson, San Francisco Bay Area Poet
Therapist and Nature Writer, Rob Rossell


I decided to broaden the scope of the blog, to create a platform for the global expression of peaceable minds, diverse perspectives and cultural understanding. This was a conscious effort to create a virtual space where we could find the commonalities across borders and learn that our differences are so often benign, not threatening. I found talented high-minded folks and a team slowly emerged. We grew from three members to twelve and a subscription base of a few hundred to one that is over 20,000.

We expanded our outreach joining with Washington State Methodist Minister, the Rev. Terri Stewart, and Beguine Again, our sister site. We became a larger presence via Twitter (thanks to Terri Stewart), a Facebook Page (The Bardo Group Bequines), and two Facebook Groups: The BeZine 100TPC (that is, 100,000 Poets and Friends for Change) and The BeZine Arts and Humanities Page. The idea behind the former is to share good news, the “best practices” that are happening all over the world and can be inspiration for initiatives in other areas. The idea behind the arts and humanities page is to give people a place to share the wide range of arts we all engage with or practice and to underscore the fact that “The BeZine” is not just or even primarily a poetry site. We welcome and encourage all types of creative expression.

I have led this effort since 2011 as manager, editor, and recruiter, but it is now time for me to bequeath this grace-filled platform into the hands of the rest of The Zine Team. Some of the support we get from team-members is quiet. You may not be aware of these stalwart and mostly behind-the-scene visionaries. Hence here is a list of the Zine team members.

John Anstie
Naomi Baltuck
Anjum Wasim Dar
Michael Dickel (Now Managing Editor, 100TPC Master of Ceremonies)
Priscilla Gallaso (has moved on but not until after making significant contributions)
Ruth Jewel
Chrysty Darby Hendrick
Joseph Hesch
Charles W. Martin
Lana Phillips
Corina Ravenscraft
Terri Stewart (Cloaked Monk, Zine Canoness, Beguine Again founder)
Kella Hanna Wayne
Michael Watson

WHAT WOULD HAVE BEEN MY NEXT SUGGESTED BIG EFFORT?: The BeZine Educational Blog-Radio Shows:

  • Team-member Naomi Baltuck is our resident storyteller and also works for LBGTQ understanding and rights. She’d be the perfect person to do a show and introduce other storytellers to our audience and perhaps provide guidance and encouragement for those whose ambitions include this art.
  • Team-member and the Zine’s Canoness, the Rev. Terri Stewart, initiated and runs a program for incarcerated youth. She could bring more information to us on these children and perhaps encourage the start-up of other efforts elsewhere in the U.S. and wherever in the world youth incarceration needs addressing.
  • Team-member John Anstie is a singer and poet. Music is important to him. He works with the Sheffield Music Hub as a volunteer. He’s a bass singer in Fox Valley Voices and Hallmark of Harmony. If he was amenable to the idea, I’d like to see him bring together a small panel of musicians and composers to discuss the place of music in our lives.
  • Corina Ravenscraft works in several areas that engage, but animal rights is certainly of key importance as is art as avocation. If willing, she’d do beautifully with a couple such shows. (By the way, Corina’s running the Zine banner art contest this year. Check it out. Info HERE. Cash awards.)
  • Michael Dickel, a poet, writer, artist and educator teaches English and poetry. I’d love to see him do a show on poetry writing, especially one providing youth guidance.
  • There are so many people for whom English is not a first language but who love writing in English. Anjum Wasim Dar is the perfect person to interview and discuss the rewards and challenges of such should she choose to do so. Many of the Zine’s contributing writers have this in common with her.
  • Who better than Mbizo Chirasha to draw together other writers and poets for a discussion of the new colonialism of Africa?
  • And who better to handle a panel discussion on surviving life with disabilities and chronic illness than Kella Hanna-Wayne?
  • Many of our contributors run organizations that are working for the good in their communities: clothing closets, food banks, soup kitchens, after-school programs, boys-and-girls club activities and on and on. So much good is being done.

And how about a Zine anthology? The sales might help with the maintenance of this site and its activities as well as promoting and acknowledging our talented contributors.

I’d have loved to be involved in helping to bring such work to the fore. What do you think? Share your thoughts and preferences in the comments section below. Enthusiasm is encouragement. Maybe the team will decide to move forward on these ideas. It’s up to them, of course. They probably have some other and better ideas themselves. One way or another, whatever The Zine Team decides to do, it will be magnificent. Guaranteed.

With love from the edge of eternity,
Jamie Dedes
The BeZine Founding Editor, Editor Emerita

Posted in Culture/History, General Interest, Internet, John Anstie, poem, poetry, Resist

Sharing, a poem by John Anstie

Googol’s simply everywhere, Mamazon’s exclusive.
Big numbers likely would impress, were they not so intrusive,

but then those folk, who insidiously degrade our hard won grace,
are constantly, annoyingly, always in our face.

When the grass can grow untainted, and multiply in foison
and healthy sustenance prevails without the need for poison

it’ll be because we can commute opinion for the better
turn greed to need across the globe with immunity unfettered

but there’ll be no hope for freedom on the highways of the net
until some point in future time, if we’re not forced to forget

that much of our entitlement, accustomed as we are,
will fall into the purses of all those who would be tzar.

The truth would like to catch ‘em out for being so damned brash
yet if we give up easily, we’ll all be turned to ash.

© 2020 John Anstie

Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, General Interest, John Anstie

Waiting for God, Oh Happy Days

How long is it since I set out on a quest, my
life’s mission, it seems like an age since I
realised my first ambition to own a car, to
drink a pint, legally, but not at the same time,
obviously! Each step was like—I imagine—
a fix of drugs, the only thing that I ever wanted,
that brings the ultimate pleasure that cannot
possibly be surpassed by anything but another
fix of something newer, stronger, more in
keeping with my current mores, my present,
my expectation, my self-image when was it
that I was introduced to Status, that fickle friend,
who always taunts me, the little demon, who
also seems to be up to their neck in sand and
knows so much about me, too much, and
strangely seems to have acquired me, as a
chattel without so much as ‘by your leave’, but
Ego and I are old friends, even though I didn’t
know, it turns out he’s also known my new
friend, Status, for longer than I, partners in crime
it seems, strange how small and large the World
is and that feeling I’m not in control, but damn!
who had the audacity to tell me I’m not in control,
of course I am fully in control of my thoughts and
actions are completely my own invention, all my
own, I know who I am, what I want, where I’m
going so don’t tell me I’m not in control, my
friends all like me, for who I am, or are they
really a reflection of my own missions, ambitions
and do I support them against their enemies, who
they perceive, think, guess, assume I am against
… before another me arrived stage left, with
thoughts that are different from anything I had ever
espoused, before this moment all I ever wanted
was the next portion of life served up at a price.

Now, whilst ego may still be important, the only
status we need is to be alive, to live, all else is
immaterial. So, where is God? Where is salvation
for these sorry souls, faced with their mortality?
Then there was Samuel, who wrote of him, or
someone, who sounds like him, about people,
who wait forever, for a pot of gold, for a favour,
apparently owed, for an expectation assumed,
an entitlement thought to be a right, to enable a
mission, want, desire, dream, right of passage,
an explanation of it all … then I realised I didn’t
have a clue … what we were waiting for.

Now … this

© 2020, John Anstie

 

[Author’s note: We should never wait. We should absolutely not wait. Life is not going to be served up on a plate for us. I now know I’ve spent far too much of my life waiting for something that I was lead to expect would happen, something that would change my life for the better, that would magically transform me into the person I longed to be, or thought I longed to be, thought that I should be, according to the expectations I had grown up to believe I should have for myself, or that someone else had for me, that was apparently the key to success and happiness. And so it seemed to be … until, that is, I began to realise that I am, like every being, a unique organic entity, with a unique set of abilities and aptitudes. Then I started to believe I could make things happen for myself and stopped allowing myself to be influenced by the expectations of others, especially the (soon to be considered pariahs of modern materialistic society!) the marketing and advertising people, who want to make us believe in the idealised person we think we’d like to be, so as to persuade us to buy that nectar of the Gods, that machine that will revolutionise our life, that technology that will give us ultimate power of knowledge, those things that will make us the more attractive, that will pave the way to financial success, wealth, power and influence, simply by buying into their purveyance. How frail is the ego. How flawed is our search for status. How fragile is life and how much of a leveller is the Corona virus that will not select its victims according to status, but according the fact we are all organic beings. We are all humans, in need of purpose, compassion and love.]

Two plays by Samuel Beckett, “Waiting for Godot” and “Happy Days,” are the original influence for this text.

Posted in history, John Anstie, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry

Lost Gardeners

Northern Summerhouse garden at the Lost Gardens of Heligan courtesy of Heinz-Dirk Luckhardt CC BY-SA 3.0

There was such colour and bustle
where now reflective calm.

In the thunderbox room
nearby the melon yard
haunting echoes of silent voices

once green fingers that pressed
a trigger for King and country
gently call from an early grave,
who once scattered humus here.

They shed tears for weeds
that stained the fresh leaves
of Spring, unfolding, unseen

cold frames of mouth-blown glass,
warmed the summer fare
that meant so much to those
who dug one last trench

so many lost at such a cost
shovelling cold organic mud
to sow the seeds of future green
in very unmilitary drills

and who would say what
could have been had peace
been thoughtfully nurtured
like the fruits of this place.

Inundated by nature’s mission
their names forever bleeding
from these crumbling walls

so few in the flesh of then
left much in the earth of now.

© 2019 John Anstie

[A visit to the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, in the United Kingdom, revealed to me a very poignant story of its gardeners, 16 out of 22 of whom lost their lives in the First World War; of the gardens, which subsequently fell into ruin until the 1990’s when a descendant of the original owners set about restoring them to become one of the UK’s most popular botanical gardens. The scene is set around the ‘thunderbox’ room where they would carve the names in the walls as they sat and the very peaceful garden adjacent to it, where you can feel the history of this particular part of the gardens, which had almost completely succumbed to nature’s will. This intoxicating mixture history and place was powerful enough to compel me to write this in their memory].

Posted in The BeZine

Guidelines and Inspiration for Submissions to the December issue of “The BeZine,” by John Anstie

Editor’s Note:  The deadline for submissions to the December issue is November 15.  Forward submission to bardogroup@gmail.com.  Submissions via comments or Facebook will not be considered.  Details HERE.


“How do you perceive that word, spirit? How do you measure it? What sort of entity is it? What value is it to living things? What value is it to human beings, who are perhaps most responsible for its consequences? The answers appear to be as numerous as its definitions …

Spirit – noun
1. the principle of conscious life; the vital principle in humans, animating the body or mediating between body and soul.
2. the incorporeal part of humans: present in spirit though absent in body.
3. the soul regarded as separating from the body at death.
4. conscious, incorporeal being, as opposed to matter: the world of spirit.
5. a supernatural, incorporeal being, especially one inhabiting a place, object, etc., or having a particular character: evil spirits.
6. a fairy, sprite, or elf.
7. an angel or demon.
8. an attitude or principle that inspires, animates, or pervades thought, feeling, or action: the spirit of reform.
9. (initial capital letter) the divine influence as an agency working in the human heart.
10.a divine, inspiring, or animating being or influence. Num. 11:25; Is. 32:15.
11.(initial capital letter) the third person of the Trinity; Holy Spirit.
12.the soul or heart as the seat of feelings or sentiments, or as prompting to action: a man of broken spirit.
13.spirits, feelings or mood with regard to exaltation or depression: low spirits; good spirits.
14.excellent disposition or attitude in terms of vigor, courage, firmness of intent, etc.; mettle: That’s the spirit!
15.temper or disposition: meek in spirit.
16.an individual as characterized by a given attitude, disposition, character, action, etc.: A few brave spirits remained to face the danger.
17.the dominant tendency or character of anything: the spirit of the age.
18.vigorous sense of membership in a group: college spirit.
19.the general meaning or intent of a statement, document, etc. (opposed to letter ): the spirit of the law.
20.Chemistry. the essence or active principle of a substance as extracted in liquid form, especially by distillation.
21.Often, spirits. a strong distilled alcoholic liquor.
22.Chiefly British, alcohol.
23.Pharmacology. a solution in alcohol of an essential or volatile principle; essence.
24.any of certain subtle fluids formerly supposed to permeate the body.
25.the Spirit, God.

The spirit is incorporeal. It is not bound by mind, body, ‘fact’ and opinion. It is beyond simple definition. can it be beyond commercial value? I do hope so, and is it perhaps beyond measurement. For me, it is part of the individual human ‘heart’, the non-physical heart. It is that part of a human body that echos throughout our universe long after the body is dead and perhaps even long after life on Earth is extinguished.

It is called upon, like the artist’s muse, so often when the mind and body are under stress, under pressure that it cannot sustain for too long; when conflict and threat to livelihoods and even life itself, sharpens the mind. It can come into its own, when ego, pride and prejudice are dispensing their know desires for individual, selfish survival; when individuals begin to fear the loss of their survival and start thrashing about and fighting for their gene pool; when the search for truth is no longer possible by simple logic, ‘reasoning’, science, well articulated, but biased speeches … this is when we have our greatest need to resort to the spirit. Whether that spirit is your God, or an established religious faith and and its set of scriptures, prescriptions for the easement of stress and improvement of self, or whether it is music, poetry or the writings of great minds, or simply great visual art, it is, from my perspective, all very valid. Humans need a spiritual guide, wither it’s external or internal. Without this, the wayward spirit can lead us further from the truth. When our spirit is strong, we can conquer the World.

May we all be able to poem, paint and play until our hearts are healed, to help us further pursue the quest for truth, through the spirit.

P.S. You may like to consider the future of digital technology in art. Can you envisage A.I. (artificial intelligence) being as capable as the human spirit in the part it plays in its creative inspiration for art?

© 2019, John Anstie / Lead for the December 2019 “The BeZine,” Volume 6, Issue 4, themed “A Life of the Spirit”

JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British writer, poet and musician –  a multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Singer, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer”. He has participated in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union as well as a being a ‘spoken-voice’ participant in Roger Allen Baut’s excellent ‘Blue Sky Highway‘ radio broadcasts. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011. He is also a member of The Poetry Society (UK).

Recent publications are anthologies resulting from online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group (Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.

Posted in Poets/Writers, TheBeZine

Introducing John Anstie, lead for the December issue of “The BeZine,” theme “Life of the Spirit”

copyright – The BeZine

John Anstie is the lead for the next issue of The BeZine,  which is open for submission to its December issue through November 15. The theme is “Life of the Spirit.” Submission to bardogroup@gmail.com Please read our submission guidelines. Meanwhile, I invite you visit John’s site and get to know this fine musician, poet, grandfather, trainer of dogs for the blind, and so much more. In short, a renaissance man.



You can read an interview with John HERE.

The Chalice, a poem by John Anstie

The Chalice

Dear Earth, you are a sacred aqueous Isle
in a dark and endless sea of universe.
You may never reveal your strategy.
We may be  bound  by  genetic code
to the presupposing chemical destiny
of one great astrophysical master plan
for all living things. We, who represent
your malaise,  your chronic infestation;
we,  like a fleeting itch in your long life,
will never comprehend it.  But, in truth
you know too well  that  we can never
understand more  than one percent
of all there is to know. You contain
the knowledge that is beyond us.
We are but a rash on your skin.

One day, we know you will
raze all of our delusions,
prepare us for the day
when a blinding light
will  inoculate  you
and inform us  of
a moment when
extant humans
will, at last be
prepared to
distinguish
the  l i e s
f r o m
truth
and

so
we
a r e
m e r e
a t o m i c
p  a  r  t  i  c  l  e  s
inside   a   temporal   chalice

© 2014 John Anstie
All rights reserved

Posted in Environment/Deep Ecology/Climate Change

The Chalice, a poem by John Anstie

Dear Earth, you are a sacred aqueous Isle
in a dark and endless sea of universe.
You may never reveal your strategy.
We may be  bound  by  genetic code
to the presupposing chemical destiny
of one great astrophysical master plan
for all living things. We, who represent
your malaise,  your chronic infestation;
we,  like a fleeting itch in your long life,
will never comprehend it.  But, in truth
you know too well  that  we can never
understand more  than one percent
of all there is to know. You contain
the knowledge that is beyond us.
We are but a rash on your skin.

One day, we know you will
raze all of our delusions,
prepare us for the day
when a blinding light
will  inoculate  you
and inform us  of
a moment when
extant humans
will, at last be
prepared to
distinguish
the  l i e s
f r o m
truth
and

so
we
a r e
m e r e
a t o m i c
p  a  r  t  i  c  l  e  s
inside   a   temporal   chalice

© 2014 John Anstie
All rights reserved

Posted in Environment/Deep Ecology/Climate Change, General Interest

The Honeymoon’s Over, a poem by John Anstie

Spring’s promise of high summer
has passed, the lush greens gone,
and now less vibrant. Parched.
Stale somehow. Disappointing.

The promise so much sweeter
than reality; the heady warmth;
sun filled days and mirage haze
the balmy heat, hot naked nights.

We should enjoy this time, by rights
but if it brings us closer to the fall;
the Autumn of our life, if that is all
then can we not enjoy the cooling

promised winter chill, another world,
its yielding to the blacks and whites
mysterious greys, the icy haze,
the freezing hibernation, preserving.

But no. An earlier Spring, that comes
too soon, and sooner still the melting
Arctic ice. One day, there’ll be no more
dreaming of a summer honeymoon.

© 2017 John Anstie
All rights reserved

Posted in Music

Hallmark of Harmony, a premier men’s barbershop, a cappella chorus

c Hallmark of Harmony, 2019

“We are back up in Sheffield now after one of the best weekends in this chorus’ history. We’ve been absolutely overwhelmed with the messages of love and support that we have received over the last couple of days. The British barbershop community is a truly wonderful thing and we are so proud to be part of it. There are far too many groups and individuals to thank but to everyone that has helped us on our journey, to everyone who stopped one of our members at convention to say congratulations and to everyone that has taken the time to send us a message since the weekend; we are eternally grateful and hugely humbled.” Hallmark of Harmony



We’re proud of and absolutely delighted for our friend and member of The BeZine core team, John Anstie (My Poetry Library and 42), and his friends and colleagues in Sheffield’s Hallmark of Harmony (HH) , a premier men’s barbershop, a cappella chorus in Britain.

Hallmark of Harmony logo (posted under Fair Use)

As part of a British Association of of Barbershop Singers 2019 Chorus of Champions Competition, HH just achieved best score of 83.2% under the musical direction of Tim Briggs.

John Anstie

Here is a sampling of HH in action. If you are viewing this from an email subscription, you’ll probably need to link through to the site to view the entire post. John is the gentleman on your left, second row, with hand over heart. The Hallmark of Harmony website is HERE.

Posted in John Anstie, Poems/Poetry

New Year

Same Rivers, New Waters …

Last year passed the golden glove
You know, the one with a fist of iron.
She wanted no more of it. Nor I.
Those glossy, glittering, glistening,
shining products of a golden age
had lost their sheen and the age of
growth and worshipping at the alter of
God. Demands. Profit. … is so last year.

Meanwhile, in the town, at Star Books,
reading over our tax-free coffee,
batting ideas on who could pay the bill
and how you make your money work,
if only we had some …

Consumption was her daily bread
and the disease that strangled
generations, who died of terminal debt.

The improper death of innocents,
but where is their misplaced virtue.
Are they free of blame … still free?
May be no more, and yet we must
pay due heed to plant the seed of hope.
To fight for nourishment forgone.
It might have been the will of the people,
but, for folk who step into the same rivers,

ever newer waters flow …

© 2019 John Anstie

JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British writer, poet and musician –  a multi-talented gentleman self-described, at various times as a ” Husband, Family man, Grandfather, Father, Son, Brother, sort of Musician, Singer, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, AppleMac user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer”. He has (variously) participated in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and as a player in New World Creative Union as well as a being a ‘spoken-voice’ participant in Roger Allen Baut’s excellent ‘Blue Sky Highway‘ radio broadcasts. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011.

Recent publications are anthologies resulting from online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group (Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.

Posted in Music, Musicians

HEADS-UP SHEFFIELD and surrounding area: John Rutter’s “Requiem” coming to your area

“The chamber choir, for which I sing, along with two other local choirs (Stannington Mixed and Thurgoland Community Choir) and the talented Inyerface Arts musicians and soloists, are performing John Rutter’s Requiem as the core of a concert on Saturday, 27th May at the magnificent Victoria Hall in Sheffield. It would be very much appreciated it if you were able to share this amongst your friends, who might enjoy an amazing choral experience … Thank you.” John Anstie (My Poetry Library), is a singer, musician, poet and a member of The BeZine core team.

Posted in John Anstie, Poems/Poetry

SILENCING OF THE LAMBS, a poem by British poet and Renaissance man, John Anstie

 

img_2357

Silencing The Lambs

Lo a thin veneer
divides the good from the bad
you know what you are

ruling precedent
with blind consensus will yield
a dumbing of the sheep

and who was it said
only the meek inherit
this is not the time

this is not the time
for humility and lambs
must stand up and grow

maybe there was life
once upon a distant time
when we were wise

when we were wise
before the window led to
pleonexia

yield to avarice
and the common cause ends in
weakened hearts and souls

weakened hearts and souls
lost in things and will be found
only as we die

only as we die
can we find truth and renew
a desire for life

a desire for life
but not material things
will need great courage

we’ll need great courage
whilst tyranny is seeking
obedient lambs

by silencing the lambs
sociopathy will win
and life will perish

… but will life perish?
Maybe, maybe not. Dare we
sit and wait and see?

– John Anstie

© 2017, poem and portrait, John Anstie, All rights reserved

John Anstie
John Anstie

JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British singer, musician, poet and contributing writer to The BeZine. John self-describes as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Singer, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer”.

John has participated in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union as well as a being a ‘spoken-voice’ participant in Roger Allen Baut’s excellent ‘Blue Sky Highway’ radio broadcasts. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011. He is also a member of The Poetry Society (UK).

product_thumbnail-3-phpRecent publications are anthologies resulting from online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group (Petrichor Rising*). The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears in The d’Verse Anthology:Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

*The proceeds from Petrichor Rising go to UNICEF. The back story on this book and its poets is featured in Pretricor Rising and how the Twitterverse Birthed friendships that in Turn Birthed a Poetry Collection.

Posted in General Interest, Music, Peace & Justice

The Armed Man: A Mass for Peace

It cannot be forgotten why this piece of music was written at the turn of the millennium, at the end of a century dominated by the most destructive of wars. We are also in the midst of the centenary commemorating the first of those wars, WW1. Composer Karl Jenkins intention was to embrace all faiths and religions of the world. These aims are very much in keeping with those of the Bardo Group Bequines  … reminding us of our need to rise above the polarisation of politics and religion across the world.

This video is one of thirteen. You can access the other movements on YouTube.

– John Anstie

Posted in 000 Poets, 100, Bardo News, General Interest, justice, Musicians, poem, Terri Stewart, The BeZine

Conversations on Poverty and Homelessness (Part 1) – The BeZine, 100,000 Poets for Change

On our 2015 Facebook Page for 100,000 Poets for Change, we’ve been discussing poverty and homelessness.  I’m sharing some of the conversation here.  If you’d like to join us on Facebook, please let us know.  All are welcome. For the September 2015 issue of The BeZine, we’ll be exploring poverty and on September 26, we’ll hold our virtual event and we invite reader participation.  Instructions will be in our blog that day.  Links to everyone’s work will be collected and posted as a Page and also incorporated into a PDF that will be archived at 100,000 Poets (writers, artists, photographers, musicians and friends) for Change; i.e., peace and sustainability. 

This portion of the discussion was begun by Terri Stewart (Beguine Again) with this video:

Among the responses:

Michael Dickel (Fragments of Michael Dickel):

“If you want change, let me throw it at you as hard as I can at your dirty face…”

Let me throw justice at you, let it hit your face
and wake us up. Let me throw opportunity at you,
let it hit your face and give us a chance.
Let me throw change at you, change in the world,
change creating justice and freedom,
change creating opportunity, real change
for all. Let me throw democracy at you, let it
hit us in the face so hard that it cracks open
and spills out into the land, everywhere, change—
real democracy, real hope, real opportunity.
Let me throw change and the stinking, rotten
carcass of consumer capitalism and greed at
those so privileged and shallow as to think white
teeth are more important than your humanity.
And then, god help me, let me find love
and compassion to throw as hard as I can
into our faces, into our lives, into the hearts
of us all, of us all standing here watching
in voyeuristic pleasures of despair.

– Michael Dickel

Corina Ravenscraft (Dragon’s Dreams):

“I want to shake all of those people who wrote those mean things and ask them what happened to their compassion? I want to ask them if their judgment makes them feel better about themselves and what they would do if they ever found themselves in such dire circumstances.”

John Anstie (My Poetry Library):

“Yes indeed, Corina, maybe no compassion, but where also is their insight?”

Please share YOUR thoughts below. Thank you!

The August issue of The BeZine will be published online on August 15.  The theme for August is music. 

Posted in 000 Poets, Artists and Activists for Change, Essay, General Interest, John Anstie, meditative, Mortality, Musicians, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry

Politics, Treachery and… a Rose – Part 2

If you read part 1, then you will have become aware of certain things: my sometimes rather glum outlook on life and (more particularly) the photographs, which don’t seem to fit the subject. Here is another, hopefully more palatable side of me as well as an explanation of the photographs …

View from The Cary Inn, Babbacombe ... and the Roses
View from The Cary Inn, Babbacombe … and the roses

My wife and I had taken a holiday break in Torquay and, during an overcast, but warm summer’s day, we included a very special Birthday lunch for my wife – gifted and arranged by our daughter and her husband – on the ‘Captain’s Table at The Cary Arms, (‘Inn on The Beach’) at Babbacombe in Devon. In a moment, as we sat relaxing digesting our meal, the simplest, most natural thing happened, which most, including myself, would normally have brushed off, quite literally, and forgotten within seconds. However, on this occasion for some reason, it sowed a seed, which, along with several subsequent prompts, including from other blogs that I read, germinated a series of thoughts that resulted in this blog post … and a poem.

One of several menus at the Carey Arms ... this the most amusing one!
One of several menus at the Carey Arms … this is the most amusing!

It was a small petal – a deep vermilion rose petal – that arrived from somewhere and landed on the left hand sleeve of my folded arms. For a moment, I just looked at it, admired it for what it really was and allowed my thoughts to focus, for some reason known only to my right brain, on what had happened in the human world during the short life of the rose from which it had come. What war, human misery and treachery had occurred in that short time; but also what good had been done; what valiant efforts to keep the peace in war-torn countries of the world; what individual moments of heroism and courage had been demonstrated by a soldier, activist, newshound, medic or aid worker somewhere out there in this dangerous world.

The terraced borders at The Cary Arms are very well tended, including plenty of roses, all of which were in full bloom that warm June day. My thoughts on this event incubated for a short period, after which, early one Saturday morning, they evolved into this poem – a Shakespearean sonnet – entitled … well what else could I call it, but “Rose Petal“..?

This poem is invested with so much that is significant to me; I hope also to you.

Rose Petal

You came to me from rose vermilion red;
so rude and flushed with health you seemed to be.
I was surprised when I discerned instead
your disposition was no longer free;
that, whilst you were so moist and soft, I then
with sadness realised your life was spent;
that you had chosen me for your amen
between your zenith and your final rent.

What price for love you had to pay, and stain
upon your beauteous journey through short life,
so full of human tragedy and pain;
so savaged by our ugliness and strife.

And yet, you gift us your perfume unkempt
and beauty, which our hideousness preempts.

(This was one of seven of John’s poems, which were published by Aquillrelle in the anthology “Petrichor Rising” in August 2013)

Essay and poem © 2011 John Anstie

Photographs © 2011 John Anstie

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This post is a part of our participation in 100,000 Poets – and Musicians, Artists and Activists –  for Change. Details HERE. Our theme is Peace and Justice.We invite you to participate in this global event by linking in your work with ours. We’ll be collecting all the links in a commemorative page shortly after we close this project on October 3. You may use Mister Linky below or include your link in the comments section. Thank you! John_in_Pose_Half_Face3

JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British writer and poet, a contributing editor here at Bardo, and multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Singer, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer”. He has participated in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union as well as a being a ‘spoken-voice’ participant in Roger Allen Baut’s excellent ‘Blue Sky Highway‘ radio broadcasts. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011. He is also a member of The Poetry Society (UK).

*****

product_thumbnail-3.php

51w-rH34dTL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_John has also been involved in the recent publication of two anthologies that are the result of online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group, for which he produced and edited their anthology, “Petrichor* Risingin 2013. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.

 

Posted in 000 Poets, Artists and Activists for Change, Essay, General Interest, John Anstie, justice, Meditation, Mortality, Musicians, Peace & Justice, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry

Politics, Treachery and… a Rose – Part 1

[Current world events have conspired to remind me recently about a post that I wrote over three years ago. My experience to date, at that time, had demonstrated to me that I don’t have complete control over the processes that steer me through life. Nobody does, however much we would like to think we do. It is also apposite that the worrying and sinister developments in talks between the European Union and the USA about what is called the TTIP (Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership) have rather vindicated the concerns that I expressed three years ago. It may also be appropriate to mention that the theme of this essay just happens to align, I think quite well, with Corina’s last piece – “Wilful Ignorance and Some Food for Thought” as well as Jamie’s “Earthlings, Making The Compassionate Connection” ].

Since my retirement, I’ve had more time not only to reflect but also review, research and interrogate life’s processes and relate them to what’s going on ‘out there’. I’ve woken up and opened my eyes. I admit, from time to time, that I’ve allowed my mind to become infected by pessimistic thoughts, which have conspired to worsen my mood, with a concomitant fear for the futures of my children and grandchildren in a world with an increasing population, increasing greed for its limited resources, self-interest, political and corporate corruption, treachery and tyranny!

In my less cynical moments, I like to call this ‘life’s rich tapestry’ and all the more interesting for it. So not all is bad; there is still hope.

Babbacombe and the Carey Arms from Oddicombe (© 2011 John Anstie)
Babbacombe and the Carey Arms from Oddicombe (© 2011 John Anstie)

We are all self-interested, to a greater or lesser degree; we are all selfish and greedy from time to time; and, given the opportunity, I dare say there are many of us, who would be tempted to take advantage of privilege and power, if we had it in sufficient measure! I hope that I would not be one of these, but how can I say so with certainty? It is only the truly arrogant, who are unable to see how fragile and vulnerable we all are! But it takes a certain type of personality to be capable of merciless and ruthless exploitation and treachery; to be bereft of conscience – I am reminded of the ‘Morlocks’ in H G Wells’ chilling vision of the world in “The Time Machine“, published late in the 19th Century.

These personalities display all the characteristics of damaged minds that can exploit beyond a simple local selfish motive; even beyond a desire to build and run a large, successful organisation – be it commercial, charitable or social one. I’m talking here of international, corporate power mongering; a desire to exploit and control whole populations, with the end game being investment solely in the interests of a minority elite. It has happened throughout the history of the human race. It continues today, but that doesn’t make it right.

In the face of all this, it is sometimes encouraging to know that there are still some very courageous, inspiring as well as philosophically and intellectually ennobled people in the world, people with huge integrity as well as faith, who are capable of giving us great strength as well as hope for the future of humanity. They come in all shapes and sizes and you find them in the most unexpected places, not least amongst some of the free spirits that are to be found here in ‘Blogosphere’. They can be anybody, from wealthy philanthropists like the social thinker and reformer, John Ruskin, on the one hand, to the totally charitable, nay saintly, who dedicate their lives to the cause of the underprivileged, to help the truly needy of the world, whose selfish human motive seems to have been subordinated and whose spiritual conscience transcends all that is material; here I think of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

The Captain's Table nearby poetic inspiration...
The Captain’s Table nearby poetic inspiration…

Whilst we each fight our own battles to survive and thrive, to overcome whatever obstacles there may be in our competition for the world’s resources, as well as our own sanity, I am constantly reminded that there is also a vast array, a rich vein of powerful and beautiful natural phenomena that have the unquenchable capacity to ennoble our own minds, to elevate our spirits. I am speaking of the natural world; the flora, fauna and insectoids, some of which existed long before homo sapiens marched onto the scene with our unique set of biological characteristics that have enabled us to rule, dominate and change all that we see. But – and I say this with some trepidation, because I know it is controversial in some quarters – we are still animals; animals with an extraordinary ability for creative and innovative endeavour, but animals nonetheless. Look what happens, as we turn on our television screens almost every day, when law and order breaks down or when people get hungry or angry [evidence the London Riots in 2011], and tell me human beings are only capable of civilised behaviour… the fact that we are, well, hopefully a vast majority of us, capable of civilised behaviour, listening to your conscience and, above all, giving air to our compassion, is a cause for optimism; a cause for us never, and I mean never to give up the fight to maintain democracy and intelligently to vanquish those who represent the worst side of human nature (ibid) and the greatest threat to our freedoms.

Although the natural world cannot help us directly in this quest, it is in this vein that I come to the crux. Something occurred to me that I would not normally have expected, not even given my ability for creative thought. This … happening … somehow focussed my attention and led me, in that moment, to become intensely mindful.

This experience will be revealed in Part 2:

https://thebezine.com/2014/09/30/politics-treachery-and-a-rose-part-2/.

Essay (© 2014) and photographs (© 2011) John Anstie

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This post is a part of our participation in 100,000 Poets – and Musicians, Artists and Activists –  for Change. Details HERE. Our theme is Peace and Justice.We invite you to participate in this global event by linking in your work with ours. We’ll be collecting all the links in a commemorative page shortly after we close this project on October 3. You may use Mister Linky below or include your link in the comments section. Thank you!

John_in_Pose_Half_Face3

JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British writer and poet, a contributing editor here at Bardo, and multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Singer, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer”. He has participated in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union as well as a being a ‘spoken-voice’ participant in Roger Allen Baut’s excellent ‘Blue Sky Highway‘ radio broadcasts. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011. He is also a member of The Poetry Society (UK).

*****

product_thumbnail-3.php

51w-rH34dTL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_John has also been involved in the recent publication of two anthologies that are the result of online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group, for which he produced and edited their anthology, “Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.

 

Posted in General Interest, John Anstie, meditative, poem, Poems/Poetry, poetry, religious practice

… Chalice

Dear Earth, you are a sacred aqueous Isle
in a dark and endless sea of universe.
You may never reveal your strategy.
We may be  bound  by  genetic code
to the presupposing chemical destiny
of one great astrophysical master plan
for all living things. We, who represent
your malaise,  your chronic infestation;
we,  like a fleeting itch in your long life,
will never comprehend it.  But, in truth
you know too well  that  we can never
understand more  than one percent
of all there is to know. You contain
the knowledge that is beyond us.
We are like a rash on your skin.

One day, we know you will
raze all of our delusions,
prepare us for the day
when a blinding light
will  inoculate  you
and inform us  of
a moment when
extant humans
will, at last be
prepared to
distinguish
the  l i e s
f r o m
truth
and

if so
are
w e
m e r e
a t o m i c
p a r t i c l e s
inside a temporal chalice?

© 2014 John Anstie

[ The chalice comes in many iconic forms, none more so than the Holy Chalice, or Holy Grail, said to have been used to dispense its sacred content at the Last Supper. Whether the above title prompts this as your first thought or whether it is the ‘poisoned’ variety, it is for you to decide how you interpret its meaning. You can then preface the title, ‘Chalice’, with the missing word.  It has to be said that the above shape represents a chalice with proportions that are rather slim compared to the traditionally chubby looking vessel, which better defines the name. Perhaps this is a good thing, making it as easier to read, like the narrow columns of a newspaper, perhaps ..? ]

John_in_Pose_Half_Face3

JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British writer and poet, a contributing editor here at Bardo, and multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Singer, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer”. He has participated in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union as well as a being a ‘spoken-voice’ participant in Roger Allen Baut’s excellent ‘Blue Sky Highway‘ radio broadcasts. John has been blogging since the beginning of 2011. He is also a member of The Poetry Society (UK).

*****

product_thumbnail-3.php

51w-rH34dTL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_John has also been involved in the recent publication of two anthologies that are the result of online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group, for which he produced and edited their anthology, “Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.

Posted in Essay, Film/Documentaries/Reviews, General Interest, John Anstie, Nature

Enthusiasm and Optimism vs Entropy … Part 2

As the title of this post suggests, as referred to in Part 1 of this essay, it is not only about entropy and thermodynamics, but is also about enthusiasm for and optimism about life. It is, therefore, about human endeavour, from the smallest and least significant to the most admirable and life changing endeavours ever achieved by the human race. Whatever your accomplishments, however great or small they are, or however great or small a part you play in greater achievements, they still represent progress in both time and towards order and, according to Newton’s second law of physics, this tells us that matter can neither be created nor destroyed; it can only be converted from one form to another. Therefore, each breath we draw, each word we speak, each action we take, is never lost; it remains as a small quantum of energy, an echo of which will exist forever, somewhere in the cosmos.

I just love the mere thought of this concept, let alone that it could actually be true.

The other principle put forth by astrophysicists, which seems to be irrefutable, is that time is irreversible. Professor Cox referred to this as the arrow of time, always pointing and moving in one direction, never going back. He does give lip service to the possibility that this cannot be said to be true with absolute certainty, but that it is extremely unlikely or, in statistical terminology, there is a very low probability that time will reverse. So it must also be with human enterprise, in whatever field of endeavour it may be, there is need for us to accept that we will always move forwards, never backwards; onwards and, preferably, upwards in our understanding of life, our world and the universe. Otherwise, there is a tendency toward disorder, mentally, physically and maybe spiritually too. We can read about the past, we can look at pictures of it and we can learn from it, but we live for the future.

Trying to persuade a teenager to tidy their bedroom is impossible without a carrot; and even then it is still difficult. Maybe they could be persuaded by the thought of ‘black dwarves’ imploding and evaporating into nothingness as a consequence of not keeping their bedrooms in order and halting the ‘tendency toward disorder’. May be, may be not! But our every move, motivation and impulse is driven by the march of time as well as this tendency in our everyday lives – let alone what is happening in the world at large – toward disorder, whether that disorder has natural or man-made causes. But I don’t think we should feel any less relaxed about the march of time than we would otherwise feel. On the contrary, I suggest, as a result of this thesis, this comparison with the enormity of the universe, that, provided we can get our minds round the huge timescales, we should allow its perspective to comfort us: that there is no panic or rush. As much as we can sometimes enjoy the moment, life is really a journey into the future. Technically, we cannot stand still; we have to accept that even standing still and enjoying the moment is, still, moving and progressing into the future. It is deeply ingrained in our being.

So, I suppose it depends on whether we are an optimist or a pessimist, an enthusiast or less eager, as to whether we find it easier or harder to push the outside of the envelope and re-order the disorder in our lives. But push we must. There is an enduring lesson that I take from this particular perspective. When I compare the huge amount of time that will have elapsed between the beginning and ending of the universe to the minuscule timescale of our own existence on Earth, our own small little part of the world, which is an even smaller (by a trillion, trillion, trillion, etc orders of magnitude) than the great big cosmos, then the feeling I am left with is that we have plenty of time. Did you know that, since our forebears first evolved on our earth, in Africa about two and a half million years ago, our own solar system has revolved around the galaxy (the ‘Milky Way’) by only one percent of a complete orbit of the galaxy; and the galaxy itself is only one of billions in the universe. So, hey, if things didn’t quite go to plan today, whatever; “am I bovvered’ as Catherine Tate would say!

I’m not sure to whom the quotation is attributed, but Professor Brian Cox, in the process of concluding the first episode, said that “Life is the means by which the cosmos understands itself.” Obvious on one level, but extraordinarily significant on another. There might be other, similar life in another solar system in our own galaxy or in another galaxy farther away, but we are unlikely to find out if they do exist. We truly cannot know even the probability of the human race co-existing along with another civilisation, somewhere else in the universe, because – as Vlad, The Astrophysicist tells us – the enormous distances and time scale that the universe represents, make this probability extremely low. This being the case – in spite of an imperfect world, which sometimes seems to be broken – perhaps we should stop trying to escape from our Mother Earth, stop trying to dream the impossible (or improbable) dream, and start trying to fix what we have broken; stop breaking what we have left.

Copyright 2012 John Anstie
Supermoon over Torquay [Copyright 2012 John Anstie]

To be the remarkable, intellectual, innovative and industrious animals that we are, where we are right now, is still very special and continues to give me hope that we can reverse the destruction of our very small part of the universe, that is our Mother Earth.  I hope that, in spite of sometimes awesome uncertainty and the depressing way in which some members of the human race behave towards her (not forgetting the entropy, of course), you will agree that we do still have the capability to meet our future together on this planet with optimism and enthusiasm?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

John_in_Pose_Half_Face3

JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British writer and poet, a contributing editor here at Bardo, and multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Singer, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer”. He has participated in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union as well as a being a ‘spoken-voice’ participant in Roger Allen Baut’s excellent ‘Blue Sky Highway‘ radio broadcasts. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011. He is also a member of The Poetry Society (UK).

*****

product_thumbnail-3.php

51w-rH34dTL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_John has also been involved in the recent publication of two anthologies that are the result of online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group, for which he produced and edited their anthology, “Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.

 

Posted in Essay, John Anstie

Enthusiasm and Optimism vs Entropy … Part 1

In the wee small hours of one morning, three years ago, I had one of those elusive moments of clarity; in fact, one of those moments so aptly described by Kona Macphee on the introduction of her excellent blog site in December 2010. Apart from the lack of sleep, this was a consequence of watching a documentary about the universe – always guaranteed to stir my brain into action – combined with thinking, as I am wont to do with my recently discovered propensity for getting in touch with my literate side, about the human condition, our general outlook on life and how we deal with it; pessimism and a lack of eagerness on the one hand; optimism and enthusiasm on the other. It is a perspective, in other words, but one that fills me, not only with hope, but also with wonder, especially when you view that perspective in the dramatic light of the universe. This essay seems also to tie my thoughts in rather well with those, recently published on Terri Stewart’s excellent and stimulating ‘Begin Again‘ blog, of J R Cowles in his mind-blowing essay on Schroedinger’s Cat.

Copyright 2012 John Anstie
Moon in Blue over Whitwell Moor [Copyright 2012 John Anstie]

I am talking about BBC2 television’s documentary, the ‘Wonders of the Universe’. Episode one was shown in March 2011. It is presented by Professor Brian Cox, who somehow manages to demonstrate, well, at least convince us, that, just as the universe had its beginning – the so-called ‘Big Bang’ – about 13.7 Billion years ago, so it is predicted that it will have an ending, albeit rather a long time hence! He concluded this, the first episode, with an extraordinary perspective on time and of how we can come to terms, not only with how long the universe has existed already (ibid) but also with the mind-boggling amount of time it has left to exist – before all matter contracts into ‘Black Dwarves’, which then dissolve into non-matter; suffice to say there was an awesome count of zero’s on the end of the number he quoted (trillion, trillion, trillion several times, in years!). Then, as if to dash our hopes to fears of the nearness of the end of the world, presenting this documentary, as he does, with an element of drama that would lightly grace the screening of a roller-caster Hollywood thriller at your local cinema, he then explained that life in the universe, that is effectively our life here on earth, was represented by an extremely small fraction (with an awesome number of zero’s on the bottom line this time) of a percent of that total time. But worry not, dear readers, because we still have an estimated one billion (thousand million) years to go before our own sun begins to die, by expanding and enveloping the planets in our solar system!

So, in spite, or rather, because of the awesome scale of all of this, there is a great deal of optimism that should be felt as a result, but not necessarily for the most obvious reasons. I know some people have great difficulty coming to terms with the results of scientific research into the evolution of the cosmos, and some I know actually cannot accept the concepts (I refer you again to Schroedinger’s Cat and the overarching principle that nothing is ever absolutely one hundred percent certain), which relate to its make up and that are propounded by scientists, that seem to deny that the universe, or at least the earth, had a genesis and was therefore created. These alternative views need to be respected; I would go on to propose that the two views are not actually mutually exclusive, but this discussion will have to wait for another time.

Out of the three core subjects, Maths, Physics and Chemistry, I always remember enjoying physics most of all. It was perhaps the more visible nature of most of its disciplines, that appealed; understanding the principles of heat, light, sound, electricity, magnetism, gravity, force, energy and all the experiments that were done to test and prove the theories. During the latter stages of my further scientific and engineering education, I also had to study that branch of physics, which was known as thermodynamics. I found this subject very tedious, but on reflection this was mainly due to the horrible mathematics that were inevitably required to define and measure its principles; and maths wasn’t my favourite discipline! The one principle, or rather variable, which is in fact fundamental to the second law of thermodynamics, which I have always retained in my memory, is ‘entropy’. Ent-what? I hear you ask! Well, the description of entropy I was taught is that it is a measure of the “tendency toward disorder”.

Brian Cox introduced entropy by going to a disused diamond mine in the desert of Southern Namibia, which was abandoned over fifty years ago, the remains of which is a picture of decaying buildings, which are in the process of gradually being taken over by the desert’s sand and dissolving into nature. He illustrated the principle of entropy by comparing a simple pile of sand with a sand castle, which he made in a good old square shaped seaside sand bucket. The former, pile of sand, he described as having “maximum entropy” because there were an almost infinite number of ways it could be re-ordered without significantly changing its shape or structure. In other words, it was very ‘disordered’. The shaped sand castle, on the other hand, with its flat sides and four little corner castellations, had a very defined and specific shape and structure; it was very ‘ordered’. The second law of thermodynamics basically states that the quality of matter deteriorates gradually over time; likewise, usable energy, which is inevitably used for productivity, growth and repair, is converted into unusable energy; hence the tendency toward disorder. So too the sand castle, left to the natural forces of the desert, over (a relatively short) time, it will revert to a pile of sand.

You may well by now be asking what I am getting at! You may be shouting at your screen: “get to the point”! This assumes, of course, that you haven’t already given up on me! Well, there is most certainly a point, which I will tell you in Part 2.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

John_in_Pose_Half_Face3

JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British writer and poet, a contributing editor here at Bardo, and multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Singer, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer”. He has participated in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union as well as a being a ‘spoken-voice’ participant in Roger Allen Baut’s excellent ‘Blue Sky Highway‘ radio broadcasts. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011. He is also a member of The Poetry Society (UK).

*****

product_thumbnail-3.php

51w-rH34dTL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_John has also been involved in the recent publication of two anthologies that are the result of online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group, for which he produced and edited their anthology, “Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.

 

Posted in Essay, General Interest, John Anstie

John Stuart Mill – On the freedom of the individual

We are facing more threats to human freedoms than most of us can imagine, in an age of social mobility and easy worldwide communication. These threats come from, on the one hand, extremism, in all its forms, which is mostly visible because of a wide news coverage. On the other hand, a more subtle threat has, for a few decades now, been passing underneath our radar, because it is, more worryingly still, not being given any time by the main stream media – a fact, which I find utterly demoralising and disturbing, when we consider the implications and potential impact of these multinational corporation driven ‘free trade’ agreements, which represent nothing if not a new era of tyranny – corporate tyranny – which, if signed by the European Union, is likely to enable the enhancement of already excessive corporate power, which will not only degrade our hard won democracy, but will also enable large corporations to sue national governments if they pass legislation that adversely affects their commercial interests, at the expence of the taxpayer! (see the 38 Degrees missive and this revealing video).

I would like to take a breather from all of this to give this another perspective and offer you a voice from history, that is John Stuart Mill’s view on the liberty and freedom of the individual.

“The sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection. That the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not sufficient warrant. He cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinion of others, to do so would be wise, or even right…The only part of the conduct of anyone, for which he is amenable to society, is that which concerns others. In the part which merely concerns him, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.”

Whilst his nineteenth century language is a little convoluted and archaic, the message is clear enough and sums up the crucial need for our individual freedoms. As ever was the case at any time in history, it is still true today that there are some very clever and powerful people in this world, who are hell bent on control of the most crucial resources on Mother Earth and therefore on a great majority of the world’s population. That we should respond with all the force of the massive voice and resources we currently have at our finger tips in the internet and the world wide web, is without question; that we appear not to be doing so at the moment, is not without question. In fact, it is this apparent lack of awareness, this lack of response from around the world that is the most worrying of all!

Please tell me I’m wrong about this.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

John_in_Pose_Half_Face3

JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British writer and poet, a contributing editor here at Bardo, and multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Singer, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer”. He has participated in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union as well as a being a ‘spoken-voice’ participant in Roger Allen Baut’s excellent ‘Blue Sky Highway‘ radio broadcasts. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011. He is also a member of The Poetry Society (UK).

*****

product_thumbnail-3.php

51w-rH34dTL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_John has also been involved in the recent publication of two anthologies that are the result of online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group, for which he produced and edited their anthology, “Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.