Vis Viva – Chapter 2 No Man

“No man is an iland intire of it’ selfe:
Every man is a peece of the continent;”


John Donne, Meditation XVII from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions.

So then what happened to this organism called Eric and why is he writing this, his own personal Chautauqua? His motives for this are not clear. Nor yet are his natures for there are many of these. All that he has told me is that there is in him a pressing need to express, to find a way to describe what was and is a most interesting path through life and onwards.

“It all started with Jason Bourne.” He tells me this is as good a point as any, from which to start. When Jason, after he realises the nature of what he has gotten himself into, refuses to submit to the programme he is forced, trained as an assassin and begins his missions. When asked to kill a man in front of his children something of the David Webb in him resurfaces, he botches the mission and is nearly killed as a result. He is then quite literally adrift on the sea of life not knowing who or what he is, with but a few clues to his past and a fog of amnesia surrounding him. He goes back to look at all the places and the people he once knew, trying to piece together what has happened.

Metaphor then is what it says on the tin, it is a transfer by linguistic connivance; a transfer from another reality or world into this one. It presupposes that this one is common. Of course it isn’t, yet it might be. In the use of metaphor Eric reckons that one can get a flavour or a taste of what he is trying to say and hint at the depths of the other worlds’ journey to Annwn in search of Awen, the inspiration of the vis viva. The breath which breathes life into all things, the breath that comes on the four winds and the moods they bear with them upon their shoulders, sometimes lightly and sometimes not. The Chautauqua then, is the search for a personal sense of Jesus, that sense of the divine potential incarnate in us all; where we are our own personal saviour, a sangraal quest for our inner being; the sense of at-one-ment with the world around us and perhaps the non mundane.

Eric came upon something quite by accident when he was a young man, caught up in all the hedonism of student life. It was a series of books starting for him with “The Journey to Ixtlan” written by Carlos Castaneda and so he heard of this thing called “the Warrior’s path”. He was rather taken by this series of books and read them all with a zeal, he was later to become famous for. When he talked about them with his flat mates it was rather clear that he had taken them seriously and they hadn’t. Something funny was going on and that year he was rather ill with many fevers. But he could not pretend he hadn’t heard, because he had. He did not know what he had heard but it was, something.

He got his degree and went on to study for a Ph.D. in chemical physics or “pissing about with lasers” as he liked to call it. The solitude of dark laboratories, expensive toys and the beauty of pure, coherent light, brought him much joy. After a while he twigged that he was pretty good at all this, he understood the theories and could make a laser sing. When he stood up to talk about his work, people listened, they even published his papers in scientific journals, what a hoot!

Later, when Eric went back to his school in Gloucestershire and walked around the sports fields, where he had snuck out during “lock up” to watch the fireworks of Guy Fawke’s night, made dangerous, secret, trips “out of bounds” for walnuts and ran and ran and ran. How many times had he done rounds as punishment? How great was that slip-slap-slip of his feet in rhythm with his breath. This was where it all began; one of his Jason Bourne moments, and it was at the hand of a well meaning man who in one sentence and in one act changed a life.

Eric had not settled in boarding school, his school work was messy and erratic reflecting his inner turmoil and his struggles to survive. Finally now at the age of 12 he sat his common entrance examination, though for him it was really another mock as he was due to be in the scholarship class next year. And there it was, on the English paper; write an essay inspired by any of the following. He chose:

“No man is an iland intire of it’ selfe:
Every man is a peece of the continent;”


John Donne, Meditation XVII from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions.


There it was his first quay off, off from the day to day and into the palace of dreams, it was the febrile stuff of a doorway into his inner world, shimmering, veil like, in the wind of his existence. There is someone else, after all, who had something of him.

Eric for once let it all go; he expressed all his inner loneliness drifting in a coracle from that Cape Town harbour, abandoned under the stars of the Southern Cross and without hope, until there, on the horizon was the first light of day. The master marked his essay and wrote of the poetry in Eric’s soul on his report card and then he did it. He read it out in assembly.

No man would write like that would they? After all the bullying on his sexuality, that was it, proof and in front of the whole school. There it was, never, never, never let it go again. How very attractive the science classes were after that. How easily he gained marks and passed the exams.

Eric says that it was a life that had two potentialities severed by a choice that was not really his, circumstance made it and his parents were now happy. His Nan though, was so proud of that comment, a poet in the family! When Eric saw the report card quite recently he could still smell the ink, a dark vivid blue, Parker’s Quink, written with a sloping italic nib. He experienced the same fear as he had done thirty years before. Eric had been here, here with the musty thin report book, charting his progress. He had held that book many, many times. Now though he could read between the lines, written by the teachers, having written many such things himself.

This was a node in his life, one of many. That world so precious and private to him had been taken out and with the best intentions, thrashed in public. Eric began to blend and here the chameleon was truly born. The twin Gods of should and ought began to take their hold on his psyche and he became the best sportsman he could be and the best scientist. He still did languages but kept them tight on a rein. He needed the marks for his exams.

Still and even on days like today when the rain caresses the ground he can remember the other country where people can be who they are; and all those water bottle windows gazed through; day dreaming in the foothills of that other country; the one that seems so far yet so close. And, again the window ledge is just wide enough to sit on, waiting for his parents who never came to rescue him. They weren’t of that other country so how could they possibly know what it was like. Nor was anyone it would appear.


I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love:
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.


I Vow to Thee My Country, Sir Cecil A. Spring-Rice, 1918.


And that search for the other country was to continue for many years to come, always resident and poignant in his heart. Ready and fresh in his dreams yet as secret and as encrypted as it was possible to be. Buried deep within the layers of ice, the ice of a thousand tears cried in a silence of a song unsung and unspoken. No one knew what he thought and that gave him a sense of power. There, no one could harm him. There he was safe and he didn’t have to trust anyone.

When they let him read the lessons and the prayers he was very happy. Deep within him then the sense of the sacred was sanctuary and he did not mind that the others had their parents with them and that his were five thousand miles away. He and all the other expat boys got to ring the bells too!


Seigneur, faites de moi un instrument de Votre paix.
Là où il y a de la haine, que je mette l’amour.
Là où il y a l’offense, que je mette le pardon.
Là où il y a la discorde, que je mette l’union.
Là où il y a l’erreur, que je mette la vérité.
Là où il y a le doute, que je mette la foi.
Là où il y a le désespoir, que je mette l’espérance.
Là où il y a les ténèbres, que je mette Votre lumière.
Là où il y a la tristesse, que je mette la joie.

Ô Maître, que je ne cherche pas tant à être consolé qu’à consoler, à être compris qu’à comprendre, à être aimé qu’à aimer, car c’est en donnant qu’on reçoit, c’est en s’oubliant qu’on trouve, c’est en pardonnant qu’on est pardonné, c’est en mourant qu’on ressuscite à l’éternelle vie.

Par Saint François d’Assise


Later in life it was another rose that sneaked into his life and turned partially in the mortice to release the first seeds of an efflorescence that was to take him deep into Annwn and Awen; there again to offer him the proof that he was different and yet ultimately, the same.

Eric tells me that until you have been touched by the fingers of death there is no real concept of life. That you cannot begin to conceive life itself and that living is more of a going through the motions of existence. There is no fecundity in living and the organism which is the vehicle remains only partially awake, until the organising indwelling thing catches the breath of the vis viva and is inspired. Before this can happen the form side of life needs tended. The weeds and brambles that adorn the island of existence are pruned and hacked back; all that is unwanted is bagged up and taken to the re-cycling centre. Only then can the form side of life settle in the sea of floating things and allow creativity to stream forth un-abated. And it is the fingers of death that encourage the danse macabre of transformation, for it is only in the theatre of death that man can see his true script for this, his sojourn on the stage, where he is player for us all.

Eric says that he is lucky in that death has touched him three times now, and that the archetype of le mort should be welcome as it brings with it true change, for only then can man touch the very outer limits of his potential and truly, dance the edge. It is the universe’s way of showing the glory of incarnation and if we chose to see it, the pettiness of our doings and the darkness, which is so very often of our own making.

That island is crammed full with stuff, thoughts, should and ought. Filled with words that are not ours, choc-a-bloc with ideas put there by others, aspirations and ideals that have precious little to do with you; a veritable Shinjuku station at rush hour in time lapse photography where wave after wave of gripes and moans chant the koans of consumerism; the must have and the “if only” of the realms of the hungry ghosts.

“You know that people are rarely truly silent.” He says.

“True silence is what people fear the most. There and then, is the no-thing-ness of existence and it is primordial. It is before and will be after us and that is where the creative power of the void can be found, echoing out the very first sound into the darkness of manifestation; a single word which breaks the silence. It is this connectivity with the in-finite that man fears, insisting that it is only he and his island. He is lost in the sea of life, that he is one and has already separated from the zero.”

Eric likes to call the organising thing that animates the form the power within, as all the other words are now second hand. He distinguishes between the power within and the power without for clarity only. They are all part of the same awareness. He says that this distinction is a hangover from his sense of individuating identity and helps keep him sane, allowing him to tell all the stories that other people like so that they don’t panic or think him odd.

He says we all have a power within and it is the vis viva that animates this potential within us so that it incarnates. The one life chooses an aspect of awareness to materialise into form. This manifestation has an impact, it slows things down so that awareness becomes dream-like and foggy. It is just that so many people like the dream so much they aren’t willing to stop the world and wake up in the dream. The matrix of existence is so full of clamour and glamour that it straps people into a sense of reality that isn’t really there in the sea of the floating things. The folly of permanence and the arrow of time exclude the magic of being; after all we are all counter entropic beings are we not?

The incarnate matrix of existence has its stories and rules, by focusing intent upon their maintenance the world conspires to limit the potentialities to physical plane function whilst the organism and its thoughts keep the power within at bay with the brouhaha of social interaction and the relentless mind numbing noise of mass media and marketing. The voice of the power within remains unheard and talked over by the internal dialogue, often externalised, that convinces itself, at least partially, that the world of illusion is all that there is. This then is the sleight of hand that tells us we should be interested in what Manchester United are doing and whether of not Jennifer Anniston has found Mr Right; a sleight of hand that distracts us from perhaps our true purpose which is maybe, just maybe understanding the meaning behind why the vis viva animated the power within to incarnate so as to gain knowledge through physical plane existence and the challenges inherent in that.

Eric says that the irony is we dreamed this world into being yet most of us don’t even remember doing it and insist that this dream is real. Eric says that people have told him that he is a pretty powerful dreamer and he has no evidence to prove otherwise. He knows that for ten years of his life he did his very best to kill all of his dreams, he numbed them with chemicals and beer so that they would not speak to him at night. He says that coma is a good way to do this. The power within was wise to this and set him up with that visit to Negril, it had been silenced for too long and the sleeper must awaken. Eric didn’t realise it but he was in for a pretty rough ride after that.

Destiny Swims

Ahh, but the dice cannot read their own spots.

Bijaz the Dwarf {Frank Herbert}

———————————————————

What ligatures of destiny,

And tendons of fate

Pull me yet, this day?

 

What autobahns of future,

And roads so present

Lead direct, into nowhere?

 

Which vast oceans of time,

And foreign seas of seconds

Still tumble sandy down?

 

Where do cosmic spaces

And claustrophobic cupboards

Meet at the crossroads?

 

Which rennet remnants

And milky memories

Make mouse-hole cheeses?

 

What deaf blind days

And myopic Mondays

Make weak the weeks ahead?

 

Which magnum chilled on ice

And bucketed at table

Will uncork a purpose?

 

Will the spiral dog teeth

And tousled fly swats

Ever end this cycle tale?

 

Which shepherd warning sun

And blood red dawn

Will open portal wide?

 

What rabbit-run cave of fern

And delicate deer path

Click the shutter up?

 

Which limpid forest pool,

And sublime mirror calm

Suck me, vortex in?

 

What saucy void of starts

And magnetic mass

Draw me salmon home?

 

Which dulcet voice demanding

And whispering my ear

Will conch call me on?

 

What un-inked fanfares

And clefts of Soul

Will treble again my strokes?

 

 

What ligatures of destiny,

And tendons of fate

Pull me yet, this day?

Eric’s Oboe

Quink writes all

the quirks of fate

inscribed on paper

to hang on the wall

 

tracing paper

with graphite smiles

busy rubbing

brasses in the crypt

 

turning the score

to find another page

from which to play

the reed is split

 

only harsh the

many tunes of fate

dealt by the Croupier

“Faites vos jeux”

 

unready the world

for likes of me

wandering forests

in the rain

 

there are not ears

nor enough compassion

amongst experts,

to hurdle vanity

 

the page wears thin

as the music fades

haunting, now distant

on history’s sails

 

time to pack up

the oboe and walk

with moccasin feet

once more

 

soft into the dream

gentle dreaming

back into Annwn,

where I belong

Waiting for Annwn

Hiding beyond the tangible edges

a secret ninja writes runic beginning

borne by the postman’s bat like wings

as fate impregnates the future’s concubine

 

The winged feet of Hermes

pitter patter in the nursery

to resolve the racemate

on one hand this, on the other that

 

The silent swish of parachutes

harbingers of some noumenon

full of swirling nativity

for which there is no crib sheet

 

The monkey puzzle tree

ever enigmatic clothed in stealth

that no radar might ping it coming

a creative Creole dish now simmering

 

Steaming slowly from out the fissure

of days yet to find dawn

the Dragon’s breath it breathes

its misty nascent magic on the land

 

The spectre rides pterodactyls

the pigeons of the past

with a pod of secrets coded

which no cipher can

 

The hush of Awen exhales

acorns of potential

scrambled in the eggs

which need first to break

 

The omelette of tomorrow

yet unfolded in its pan

which the pipers play

too far from ears

 

The pregnancy of now

has not taken full hold

the purpose ectopic

what chance the embryonic path?     

 

An incoming alphabet of letters swirl

in the tea ceremony

to the beat of a bristle brush

stretched on the rack of Raku glaze

 

The unbearable wait of pendant

hangs head bowing heavy

around the neck of how

and of what and of where

 

The sergeant cries incoming

into all the shell like ears

all hairs stand at attention

creased sharp between the shoulder blades

 

Formless yet still shaping

a first hint of substance

itches itself out the prime

and scratches scale to weigh the order

 

The swings and roundabouts

turn wind in the playground

waiting for the break

through all the children’s laughter

 

Hiding beyond the tangible edges

a secret ninja writes runic beginnings

borne by the postman’s bat like wings

as fate impregnates the future’s concubine

Silent Forest

Turning left off the beaten path

following a deer run

through the ochre ferns

legs whiplash washed in passing

 

Voices and barks fade

as the hush starts to envelop

dripping wringing cloth damp

the mossy beards contemplate

 

The very time drop of tears

 

Squirrels scratch chalk boards

scurrying heaven wards

away from the intruder

 

Sat now oaken stumped

clearing the clarified butter

of thoughts to spread

upon the loaven slices of, silence

 

Freshly baked aromas

 

Cobweb calm and pine

amongst the scented rugs

laid wall to wall

and coned off from the world

 

Hern the hunter, pauses

proud and watchful

over the portal to Annwn

his domain

 

His eyes a quiver of questions

 

In the silent forest

the heartbeat slows largo down

breath bewitches a mist

on the cool canvas here

 

Sitting ancient hours long

the forest watches

its newest son

waiting for his belonging

 

Time stands statue still

 

Hern gives his knowing nod

and again, the forest lives

He is welcome here

He is home….