Now I’ve ‘mastered’ the technology I’m hoping to send my family a regular newsletter. I suppose it’s to compensate for my reluctance to make ‘phone calls.
In ‘The Roots of Coincidence’ – Arthur Koestler’s last book before he died ten years or so ago, he said that, if we could harness the energy behind coincidence, it would be more powerful than nuclear. He researched an array of examples making sure that the sources were reliable. One concerned an elderly woman who went to her local police station to report her missing hand-bag. The officer on duty said that he was Constable Robinson. He gave her his ‘phone number and told her to keep in touch.
A few days later she found her hand-bag and called the number Robinson had given her. Robinson at that time was on nights and had spotted a light on in a factory. He found the light in an office and was about to switch it off when the phone rang. Surprised, he picked up.
‘Oh, hello … is that Constable Robinson?’
‘It’s Mrs Brown … just to let you know that I’ve found my handbag … silly of me … it was in the garage.’
‘But how did you get this number?’
‘It’s the number you gave me.’
‘But I’m in a factory on the edge of town. You must have dialled a wrong number.’
Talking of Arthur Koestler he founded at Edinburgh University the Arthur Koestler Centre for the Paranormal and in September I’ll be joining their one year on-line course into the paranormal. I suppose degrees will be on line eventually.
Talking of Edinburgh Mum and I spent a weekend recently in North Berwick and we went to the National Gallery of Modern Art. I’d heard about an extraordinary exhibit of lifelike figures and asked an attendant where it was. ‘Room 10’, he said. When I got there, I saw a nude young woman on a pedestal crouching in what could be an asana … stretching to touch her toes. At first I thought she must be real … a model? Performance Art? I wanted to touch her skin to see how realistic it was. Suddenly I realised I was in the eye-line of a couple I hadn’t noticed and apologised as I moved round the figure. She was incredibly realistic in every detail. As I rounded her, I looked again at the couple. They hadn’t moved. They were sculptures too. ‘American Tourists’, it said. I mentioned my mistake to the attendant. ‘Yes’, he said, ‘you’re not the first! When I get a bit bored, I stand next to them. When there are people looking at us, I just clear my throat. You should see their faces!’
The wheel has come full circle. Trompe l’oeil (deceive the eye) is the art form whereby the artist aims to create something that could be taken as real. According to Pliny, the ancient Greek painter, Zeuxis, painted grapes which birds tried to peck. It has become unfashionable since the arrival of the camera meant that art couldn’t compete in terms of realism and artists took to creating art that was beautiful and significant in its own right. The Super-realism I saw in Edinburgh was a feat of engineering … not of Art.
North Berwick now has a fabulous Seabird Centre with interactive facilities such as a live screen with joystick so you can scan the rocks and islands to find close-ups of puffins and gannets without interfering with them.
I haven’t mentioned my book for some time. The Literary Consultancy told me that I was a victim of my title Something for Everyone in that it doesn’t conform to any category and publishers and booksellers simply wouldn’t know where to place it. I’ve decided to do a re-write featuring only the psychospiritual autobiography and the artwork and send it to specialists Duncan Baird. I’ve retitled it Life and Soul.
As I reflect on our first stay in India, I’m saddened by the realisation that, whereas westerners can benefit from their spirituality, the emerging generation of Indians are hungry for our materialism. I was reminded of this at the sight of our ubiquitous ads for various tanning agents at the same time as skin lightening agents are all the rage among those born with tans. I noticed in India that the iconic features of young men and women in television ads and hoardings were much paler than those of the Indian in the street. Could it be that in a couple of generations Indians will be buying tanning unguents?
The other day I got home from Waitrose and realised I’d left my list in the wire frame on the trolley. I often add notes to a shopping list – stuff for the book, the novel, the learning journal, thoughts with no particular destination – and I couldn’t help wondering if the next customer might have read something unexpected. It gave me an idea … I’m so hungry for readers that I’ll write poems, thoughts, and artwork on to cards and stick them into the wire list fitting on supermarket trolleys. I’ve been wondering whether to sign them with a nom de plume … ‘Trolley Talk’? ‘Supermarket Signals’? Ideas welcome. Love, Dad/John.