Chiselling Tablets

Staloluokta, Lappland
Staloluokta in Sapmi in 2011, 90km from the road and 200km from the shops. Sapmi, the land of the Sami people, is known to many of us as Lappland, northern Sweden

Today I reached a point where it was down to thinking up the final humdinger of a paragraph for my forthcoming book ‘Shining Land’. It’s nearly there.

The great thing about this book, my eleventh, is that I’ve given a lot of time and consideration to every thought and proposition while lodged in the cosmological cocoon of my bed, looking out over the fields and woods at the jackdaws, swallows and buzzards.

With plenty of timespace to think. The book is all about time, space and consciousness. It’s going to annoy the hell out of some sceptics and rationalists, not least during this triumphal period of all-embracing Science.

Now I must review the whole 100,000 word manuscript again, submit it to two ‘expert readers’ to check through the ideas, compile the online appendices, enter the illustrations and maps into the manuscript, and it’s done. Phew. The book will come out, regardless, in digital format: the main issue is whether it comes out in print (the costliest and most complex option).

Then it’s two months of sitting around, kinda fallow, thumb twiddling, wondering what to do with myself. The creative vacuum creeps up afterwards. It does give time and space for things I ignored before, and for dwelling on nothing in particular.

Writing books is a self-imposed lockdown – most of the time an anti-social activity but now transcovidated into responsible self-isolation and social distancing. I’m doing the same thing as before but not, this time, anti-socially. Apparently. These twists of judgement are always strange for Aspies to get our heads around.

I’ve been on lockdown since mid-November, when diagnosed with myeloma. Approaching six months. So there was little change when Covid slunk in like a voracious Neptunian mist, taking over everyone’s lives and tenuous sense of reality. I just carried on – out of my head on chemotherapy and steroids.

It gets a bit boring, this lockdown, even though I have stuff I can get on with, in my slowly ponderous six-hours-per-day, wiped out, struggling way, stumbling around like a 96 year old. I’ve been on my own quite a lot throughout life and get a bit fed up of myself, my own cooking, my repetitive, stuck Virgo patterns and ossified daily methodologies. Why people want to prolong their lives and achieve immortality beats me. But then, ‘You were a strange little child’, my mother once said, and ‘You’re not like the child I brought up’.

Tomorrow, I am appearing on an Indian social psychologists’ online conference on the overall social effects of Covid, giving them a prescribed ten minutes on the psychodynamics of accelerated social-cultural change. Me, a global health expert, hobnobbing with people bearing doctorates…

This is one of the unexpected outcomes of having cancer. Lots of things have changed. Here’s one. People who want to hear me are now predominantly in Africa, the Middle East and Asia, not Europe and America. Growing for years, suddenly it shifted critically, recently. My last book Possibilities 2050 I wrote with them in mind. I made it available for free, so that expense and availability would not be barriers. They can read it on their mobiles, and it uses little bandwidth. Now I’m hearing from really interesting folk in Gambia, Malawi, Uganda, and Afghanistan, Iran, Turkey, Bangladesh, Tuvalu and Cuba. Magic.

What I like most about this is that, if I’m delivering something people really find useful, it draws something out of me. I’m quite accustomed to being part of something that ought to be much bigger than it is, but it’s good having people gladly soaking up this stuff – and making it their own, doing it their way. Fuck the royalties and getting famous – I just want to get on with what I’m here for before I no longer am here.

These people are not emulating the West; they’re overtaking us. They’re the world’s future and the majority are under 30. Many ideas coming from the back-alleys and the underground in the West have become useful to them. They’ve seen the impositional side of us but there are fertile outpourings from the unofficial culture in the West that are invaluable too. Permaculture being one. Talking stick. Herbalism. Astrology. Holism. Homoeopathy. Anything interesting, stimulating and new.

We Westerners need to listen up. Our majority culture has become sclerotic, stuck in a groove, constrained by its vested interests and comfortaable habits. Yet it has much of value. Especially a lot of the things we haven’t given enough attention to. We were too busy making money, or trying to.

We still want to be the leaders, the teachers. The mission to civilise is still alive and well, as is the hypocrisy. No, we’re the minority and being outclassed. Declining without appropriate grace. But most of us are goodguys and mean well – that’s our asset.

It’s time for us to rejoin the human race. Exceptionalism no longer works. Wanting to be the leaders blocks the flow. Lecturing obstructs hearing.

Yet, as a cancer experiencer, I’m so fortunate to be undergoing treatment here in UK. I have access to the best of conventional and holistic medicine, healers and advisers, people praying and reiki-ing me too, and I’m grateful for that.

I’ve offered myself for research and observation, having had some of the best results seen for years. But no, no interest. Oh well, it saves me being poked, prodded and sent to London!

The Management has recently been doing a little fixing. Normal service is unlikely to be resumed. Apologies for the disruption. Please recycle all used containers and clear up your litter after you.

God bless everyone. Palden.