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BIOG –

 

I don’t have much memory of when I was a kid – one memory that stays with me is that I didn’t like listening to the football results for the League Tables being read out after the BBC evening news on a Saturday. There was something about it that I found particularly depressing. The football results came on just before Doctor Who. Maybe they still do. Doctor Who I enjoyed but the business that came before it I didn’t. ‘OK so you didn’t like football’ you may say, but there was more to it than just that. It wasn’t that ‘I didn’t like it’, it was that it made me feel bad in a deep-down kind of a way. It was sinister! I went to an all-boys school in Maidstone in Kent in England and this made me feel bad too – in pretty much the same way! School was sinister too! I returned to Maidstone recently after a long exile and the experience of seeing the same old buses going up and down the streets brought back that same old depressed feeling to me. I had forgotten all about it. I’d never realized I felt that bad about my schooldays in Maidstone!

 

 

The thing is that I don’t think I really knew at the time that I felt bad. It was just normal. I wasn’t processing it. You’re not supposed to process stuff when you’re a kid. Very slowly however, over the course of my adult life, the type of a bad feeling that I am talking about here started to make more sense to me. Processing was setting in. This was an immensely slow kind of  thing and until recently I probably wouldn’t have had the language to articulate it very clearly. If I had to come up with some sort of language now however (which obviously I do if I am to write this biog!) then I would say that I felt bad because I was being defined, because I was being put in a box. Watching Doctor Who as a kid didn’t put me in a box (or define reality for me) but listening to the football results did. Going to school in Maidstone definitely did! Not that the school in question was particularly bad or anything (although maybe it was!) – it was just a matter of the difficulty I had in ‘fitting in’. I never did feel that I fitted in – I still don’t!

 

 

I’m not suggesting that this is necessarily an unusual kind of thing, that I was unique or anything, but – looking back – I do think that I was extra vulnerable to this defining type thing. Other people didn’t seem to be affected in the same way. Most people were – I would say – entirely oblivious and seemed to get on just fine! People don’t generally seem to talk about such feelings in connection with school or sport – they might talk in this way in relation to other types of situation (abuse or bullying for example), but not in connection with everyday harmless kind of stuff like sport or school. People like sport! I am aware that a lot of people like school too…

 

 

The point of me saying all of this is to ‘illustrate my central thesis’. My central thesis might be summed up by saying that all of the stuff that I found so oppressive and depressing was oppressive and depressing because it was a ‘false reality’ that blocked out the light from the ‘true reality’ (which is a somewhat awkward sentence construction but never mind). The ‘depressing stuff’ is what I would now call the positive reality, the defined reality, the socially-constructed reality.

 

 

Looking back therefore, I can say that the ‘positive reality’ didn’t agree with me. It still doesn’t, for that matter! On the other hand all of the stuff that didn’t oppress my spirit, all the stuff that didn’t make me feel bad inside (all the stuff that seemed to show me something great about life, something exciting and worthwhile about life) I would say was part of the negative  or undefined reality. If it wasn’t for the messages issuing from the negative reality I really don’t know what the point of it all would be! I can only be thankful that the ‘negative messages’ of which I speak came my way (instead of all the wretchedly pestilential positive ones that we are all buried constantly  buried under). The thought of living immersed totally in the positive world – as if it were the only world there was, as if it were ‘a worthwhile thing in itself’ – appalls me beyond measure. The very thought of it makes me shudder – I can’t think of a greater horror!

 

 

And yet despite all this invective, I know that we all have to live in the positive reality (the consensus social reality) to some extent or other. How can we not? I must admit that I tried quite hard not to – I dropped out of a course in chemistry and biology in London University after the first term at the age of 19 and somehow ended up becoming a member of the squatting community in South London (Bonnington Sq, Brixton and the South Lambeth Rd, to be exact). I didn’t have to deal with conventional society then (apart from signing on once a week at Brixton dole office, that is!) The first ‘negative influence’ in my life was science fiction (which I read as a teenager in large quantities). Science fiction seemed to me to be about breaking definitions, not reinforcing them. As Philip K Dick says, ‘There is always one level of the conspiracy beyond the one you know about!’  If you think you know what’s going on you’re an idiot, in other words! Science fiction I found lifted me out of ‘the world of the known’ – this may sound like ‘escapism’ but to my mind it isn’t since the world of the known was never real in the first place. The world of the known is the conspiracy. The second negative influence was as I have said the alternative culture I found in the South London of the eighties – for the first time in my life I was meeting people who had not the slightest interest in defining me (or defining the reality they automatically thought I should be living in). The thing about the alternative scene that I found myself in was that what constituted ‘reality’ was a hell of a lot ‘looser’, a hell of a lot more ‘open-ended’ than that promoted by mainstream society. Someone introduced me to Robert Anton Wilson, the glorious prophet of ‘Maybe Logic’ and ‘Quantum Psychology’. This was not something I could ever have learned about in university! I was also given books written by Alan Watts, another awesome luminary never spoken of in mainstream culture.

 

 

These days (and I’ve missed out rather a lot here!) the negative influence comes more from within than without. I have learned not to define my own reality quite as much as I used to and there is a relief in this! I work in Ireland in a psychiatric hospital as an occupational therapist and I run groups on mindfulness and creative writing. I am in a relationship with the love of my life Martina who teaches mindfulness to school children and stressed-out university students. My interests include writing science fiction short stories and hanging around aimlessly in public places. I occasionally run workshops and give talks on the topics covered in this website. Also occasionally, I travel back to Maidstone to see my dad…

 

 

ABOUT#2

 

This website is intended as a sort of grateful nod to all those influences, signals, messages etc in my life that I would consider to have had a negative effect on me. Looking back, I can see how extraordinarily helpful they were to me, particularly given the fact we are all drowning in a veritable sea of ‘philosophically positive’ messages – which have the character of seeming initially helpful whilst ultimately being completely entrapping. This way of talking about ‘philosophically positive messages’ is more than just a little bit reminiscent of Philip K Dick’s notion of kipple, which the urban dictionary defines as ‘the sinister type of rubbish which simply builds up without any human intervention’; ‘Eventually’, according to the entry on this subject, ‘the entire world will have moved to a state of kipplization’. Information about kipple may be considered to be a philosophically negative influence in the sense that it makes it more likely that we might move in the direction of de-kipplization…

 

 

Expressing gratitude to negative influences doesn’t of course sound in any way right to us! A ‘negative influence’ sounds like an influence that makes people do bad things, like inhaling solvents, shouting obscenities on the street and vandalizing children’s playgrounds. A ‘negative message’ sounds like those messages that say you are a useless person, that you’re never going to amount to anything, and that everyone hates you. But what I’m talking about here is ‘negative’ in the philosophical sense of the term. A philosophically negative message doesn’t say “You are a crap person” or “The world is a crap place” – that is just somebody discharging their emotional pain. Clearly, that isn’t very inspirational. A philosophically negative message operates by showing up – in a cheerful or perhaps humorous way – what is phoney in ourselves and the world.

 

 

It turns out – according to the negative philosophers – that it is all phoney. The whole ‘positive’ world is a put-up job. Philosophically speaking, a positive world is a world made up of constructs – a world which is itself a construct. Constructs are fine just as long as we know they are constructs, if however they are foisted upon us as being ‘the one and only way for things to be’ then that is something else entirely. In that case, what we are talking about is brainwashing or conditioning or indoctrination or something like that. Negative philosophy – known throughout the ages as the Via Negativa, the negative way – has as its mission therefore the de-programming of the conditioned mind, the de-cluttering of all the unnecessary and restrictive ‘malware’ that is taking up space in our brains. The negative way doesn’t attack the malign software, like a man with one belief might angrily attack a man with a different belief – it simply shows the conditioning up for what it is, in a cheerful and non-aggressive sort of a manner. After all, it has no axe to grind, no agenda to promote. If it did have an axe to grind, then it wouldn’t be the negative way at all – it would just be yet another aggressive ‘positive voice’, another virulent meme, in a world that is full of them.

 

 

All of the material on this site, apart from the videos, is my own, with links and references to the sources that have (negatively) influenced me over the years. These sources include names such as Carl Jung, Alan Watts, Robert Anton Wilson, Colin Wilson, Ram Dass, Krishnamurti, G.I. Gurdjieff, P.D. Ouspensky, J. G. Bennett, Wei Wu Wei, James Carse, Robert de Ropp, Itzhak Bentov, Joseph Campbell, Richard Bach, Chogyam Trungpa, Pema Chodron, David Bohm, Anthony de Mello, Eckhart Tolle, E.F. Schumacher, Philip K Dick, Carlos Castaneda…

 

 

I have some more ‘therapy-based’ articles on Intrinsicspace.me, a mix of older and new material on radicaluncertainty.com and a collection of random short stories on nullworlds.com









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  • simon

    Thank you for writing. You blow my mind with every new text you make.
    I wish you many more inspirations in your writing.
    Simon

    April 21, 2014 at 4:56 pm Reply

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