Archive for January, 2007

Movers and shakers

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

19 April 2006

If you’re a mover and shaker in any field you are going to come into conflict with others. It’s inevitable. The reason is change. By definition you are moving things around, shaking things up which means change for those who were happy with the way things were.

And people hate change.

Today I had to stand my ground with a business bully and do some moving and shaking of my own. This client walked in off the street many many months ago and commissioned some artwork for a project he was wanting to develop. I did the work for him and allowed him extended credit largely due to his plausible explanations that he was involved with some grant scheme which forbade him paying any sub contractors until the scheme had been ratified. Basically, I had to wait for the grant to come through before I got paid (yes I know it’s his problem and not mine – but hey, I’m a nice guy).

The result was that I had been far too lenient with him and he now took me for a soft touch. Eventually, when his extended credit started to be measured in years, I figured it was time to make a stand. When I argued my case – which was perfectly reasonable to a reasonable person – he started to come out with excuses, explanations and accusations which made no sense. I don’t know if you have ever been in that kind of surreal situation where you know you are being reasonable and the person you are negotiating with seems to be talking to someone else, who you do not know, about an issue you know nothing about. It becomes frightening because ordinarily you deal with the known. When you come across the unknown you have to be wary in case there is danger of some kind. A man thinking in an alien way is dangerous because he becomes unpredictable.

I was nonplussed at this stage; you cannot reason with an unreasonable person. I carefully considered my options therefore and decided that whilst there was still the possibility of seeing some money I would go along with his delusion, automatically agree with his reasoning of why I should be ‘fined’ for not doing what he demanded of me and gratefully take whatever money he grudgingly decided to pay me. After I had made sure his cheque had cleared I could discard this unquestioning compliance I had adopted and reconsider my options.

As it happened, I got an email from the people handling the grant (so it was true), asking me if I had been paid as they could not release the money to him until all sub contractors had been fully paid. Well, I don’t know how stupid he thought I was but anyone with any business sense could see what I was going to do. If he needed that last bit of cooperation from me does he think I’m going to willingly provide it after being treated in such a cavalier manner and whilst a part of the debt is still owing? Of course not. And so I had the unpleasantness of having to ruthlessly negotiate the remaining debt of the invoice with him. Which I did. And it was very unpleasant.

So movers and shakers need an iron resolve and an elephant like hide to ignore the resentment. It is no wonder so many inadvertent movers and shakers (due to some discovery they make or information they unwittingly possess) struggle to maintain their sanity in the furore they inevitably precipitate. I now have a renewed respect for such men as Giordano Bruno and Charles Darwin who knew what they were letting themselves in for.

What is a blog?

Monday, January 15th, 2007

Tuesday 11th April 2006

I’m still trying to get my head around this Blog thing – what is it? what does it do? does it make any money? I think I’m saddled with an outdated worldview governed by economic profit and loss laws. This is ironic really as I wanted to write a book some time ago but I wanted to write a book that was unclassifiable; part autobiography, part philosophy, part cartoon book.. I could imagine the frustration of the librarian attempting to fit it into just one genre.

But of course it would have been a book, at the very least it could have been classified as that – a book, and so it would belong in a library. What I actually should have embraced was the internet and the Blog.. that is unclassifiable. I can put photos on there, cartoons, video clips, artworks; I could even go back to past entries and change them (like all official histories). I’m not sure anyone really knows what a Blog is supposed to be or do.

Here’s a good joke though, which illustrates the power of habitual thinking, my wife was telling me some Blogs have even been turned into books.

Isn’t this a bit like converting a boat into a bridge?

The day of the black sun

Friday, January 12th, 2007

I wrote this on the date mentioned with the intention of posting it on my blog as soon as I had one (from idea to reality, ten months, hmmm…) Well, I have one now so the forthcoming entries will be ‘old’ ones until I get up to date.

Wednesday 29th March 2006

This seemed like an auspicious day to start my blog, it being the day of the black sun. I am in Antalya, Turkey to witness the total eclipse of the sun. Some people talk of this event as if it was a religious experience. Perhaps I came with too many expectations or maybe I have reached a certain level of equanimity after fifty years on this planet but I felt it was, well.. all right. It is after all just a shadow crossing the earth, on a cosmic scale granted, but a shadow nonetheless.

Actually far greater fun was had after the event. A group of us retired to the poolside to have a few beers and exult in the relief that it had been a clear day and the sight was unimpeded by cloud. A lively discussion ensued where I put forward my many theories about life, the internet and consciousness which I argued was the beginning of all things. Someone then asked me what I meant by consciousness and I had to consider my response.

At breakfast I had the answer for him. I concluded thus;
Consciousness is a continuum like most things. We would not say an ant had consciousness because as far as we can observe it is programmed to respond to certain stimuli. An individual ant doesn’t do its own thing. A dog however we might say has a basic consciousness as it appears to display basic emotions – fear, affection, sadness. It could be argued that this is a more sophisticated responding to stimuli but more importantly, as far as we can tell, the dog has no sense of self. It is this sense of self which defines higher consciousness and is enjoyed by humans alone. It is inextricably linked with language as it is language that allows us to have anecdotal memories and reinforces the concept of ‘I’. As soon as we can articulate this concept we separate ourselves from the rest of the universe and we are doomed to die alone. This is the price we pay for higher consciousness. And it is this sense of self which produces the urge to create art; artifacts state ‘I did this”. No other species has art and culture. Maybe art is a palliative for the pain of separation; an attempt to reconnect with the universe. Art is a manifestation of our creativity and it is our creativity which demonstrates our higher consciousness. So a proof of higher consciousness is any creative act which has no function with regard to that organisms survival.

(As a postscript to this, recent research has revealed that Elephants have a concept of self. A cross was painted on the forehead of an elephant and then the elephant was shown a mirror. The elephant was curious about the cross painted on its head and touched it with its trunk. This demonstrated that the elephant knew the mirror was showing a reflection of itself ergo it had a concept of ‘I’. This would explain some of the behavior of the elephants, such as fondling the bones of their relatives. Such an activity serves no purpose in terms of survival strategies but as a statement of consciousness, as a creative act, it makes sense.)