Category Archives: David’s Posts

Mars Beat

I don’t know whether an “Our” music, that Mikel is speaking about in his last blog, is possible for a culture or a country anymore. For that to happen there would have to be a kind of musical isolation in which there was a limited amount of outside input. Same as with the evolution of species. And because modern Australia is a young country I suspect the chance for a uniquely Australian form of music (outside of the ancient Aboriginal music mentioned) probably passed by with the advent of the radio. Radio introduced crossover on a big, international scale. Television and the Internet have only increased that crossover. Hybridisation is, I suspect, with us for good. In every context, not just music. At least until the first, brave human pioneers  colonise another planet far from home.  In fact based on the fact that Australia is quite other worldly (in a lot of the photos I’ve seen anyway) Mars Beat may yet prove to be the first truly Australian genre.

But aside from all of that, I don’t personally think that the creation of new, unique genres matters that much. If they happen they happen by accident anyway. What really matters is that people continue to create new things. Because we have to. That means that great creative new music can and will still be made.  And if the person making that music is Australian, it will always have an Australian taste, if the art is coming from an honest place.

Mikel’s blog reminded me of a song I used to love by Midnight Oil called Beds Are Burning. I just listened to it, and it moved me even more than when I first heard it. Partly because it is a fantastic song, partly because it speaks some powerful truth,  and partly because it took me back to a different time in my life. It was also a sad reminder of how slowly change comes. It takes more than simply the desire for it to happen, or the recognition that it needs to happen. It requires us (in my case, me!) to do something.

So I’m greatful for those Aussie boys for putting passionate, convicting words to a sweet pop/rock melody and a primal beat. A force of nature emerging from the outback like a giant, diesel truck from a heat haze . Top of the Rocks plugged into Alice Springs. It connected with me.

David

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A Little Story

It’s an odd thing perspective. I just walked into a room and saw two boys sitting in front of a TV and chatting. An innocuous thing really. A modern picture. Not a particularly interesting one. Normal. Dull even.  Except that in this instant it made me very upset. I turned the TV off. Spoke some words. And the boys left the room.

And that’s the story.

Of course there is a whole other, big story behind that short sequence of events. A story of people living with other people. But to be honest, that big story is pretty much irrelevant. No, scratch that. It should be pretty irrelevant to my reaction in the little story. In the little story nothing bad was happening. Nobody had died. Nobody was being hurt. Two boys were watching TV. And the only person getting upset was me.

If I told you the  big story you might well have some sympathy with my reaction. But I don’t think that is the point.

The point is that I’m an adult, and like every human being ever born I have a finite length of time left on this earth. I owe it to myself to not get upset about two boys watching TV. I owe it to them too.

David

Yours sincerely, Mr Angry!

A big welcome to Alma who has just written her first blog for It’s A Small Word. A very honest and personal introduction. So much easier to get to know each other when we make ourselves a little bit vulnerable I think.

I personally GET Alma’s confession regarding the way in which she reads too much into all the signals (or lack of signals) that other people give off. I have to say that pattern of thinking has governed far too much of my life too. It can, and has been, truly debilitating. And it still does affect me sometimes, but thankfully that mostly only happens now at moments when I’m run down and over tired. These days there are times when I positively relish being misunderstood, and maybe even making a point of not explaining myself. It’s a kind of tactic. Looking those fears in the face and saying “Do your worst!” Usually the worst is a tiny fraction of what I imagined.

Just recently I wrote an “angry old man” style letter to the local newspaper here in Campbeltown. There is a hill near us called Ben Gullion, and some friends of mine are in a band called Gullion.  On the walk up Ben Gullion there is an information board and it mentions a dance, a lemonade and a boat that were named after the hill. But not the band! In my letter I complained that my friends’ band weren’t mentioned on the board. It was  written totally tongue in cheek.  As a joke. But of course some people (including my wife initially) thought it was a serious letter. In the past this would have sent me into total recluse mode. Actually in the past I would have never written the letter, I would have only thought it. Now, although it felt slightly uncomfortable for a short while to be “misunderstood” I can actually laugh about it. Also their ARE benefits to people believing that you will fire off an angry letter if push comes to shove. Don’t mess with Moi!

I  tell that story not to say “get over yourself” Alma, but just to encourage you with the thought that thought patterns, which can seem to be an inherent part to our personalities, can be overcome. I’m sure you believe that too. As always with this kind of thing, it’s all about taking baby steps.

So it’s fantastic that you faced up to the fear and got back in touch with your friends. It was no doubt a case of “why did I leave it so long?” Ha! We human beans are funny creatures.

Je Suis Gay!

On Saturday just gone I spent a part of the afternoon following the coverage of the vote count for the approval of gay marriage in the Republic of Ireland. Happily they voted in favour by a margin of 62% to 38%, and became the first country to make this a matter of law by popular vote.

I don’t actually think  that people should ever be allowed to vote against  the idea of two consenting adults of the same sex having the same relationship choices as two consenting adults of differing sexes. Never-the-less that was the only constitutional choice in Ireland, and it was a big deal that the vote happened, and that a good majority supported the gay community. I found it very emotional to hear the stories of individuals, and to see how much it meant to gay folk to have this very practical and joyous sign of unity, which is now out there on public record.

The truth seems to be that most people, when push comes to shove, want other people to be able to live their lives in the way they choose. That is an incredibly uplifting thing to see in a country like Ireland where, until fairly recently, the Catholic church had a massive influence over what people thought about pretty much everything. Even though there is still a substantial amount of persecution of gay individuals and communities world wide, often stoked and emboldened by some version of “God doesn’t like it” theology, the Irish experience gives hope and lights a beacon for change.

It is easy to think that the obvious justness of the gay equality movement demonstrates that anybody in oppositition to it must be an intolerant, bigotted, anti-human human being. However, I know from personal experience how difficult it is to escape a certain mindset that is often fed to a person along with their mother’s milk. Trust me, if you are brought up with a holy book in which God says something is wrong and that, chances are, there are some kind of eternal punishments connected to ignoring that, it can take a long while, if ever, before you start looking at the issue objectively.

But happily these days I’m born again. And I do proudly proclaim: Je Suis Gay! I hope you are too.

David Fee

Life Is A Sprint, Not A Marathon

I’ve probably mentioned…I say probably, because I repeat myself, usually have an inkling that I have done so, but can’t quite remember where, or in what context…that I am shortly to run a 10 kilometre race, in celebration of my imminent fiftyness. I’m running it next Sunday in fact. It is likely to be the last race of it’s kind that I do. Although I do have a slight urge to try my one and only Triathlon to celebrate turning sixty. We’ll have to wait and see.

However, in my curious, but hopefully less than obsessive search for a way to stay fit in my middle and later ages, I have come to a slightly counter intuitive conclusion; when it comes to staying as young as is genetically and physically possible, life is a sprint, not a marathon.

Apparently, and please don’t quote me on this, we have two sorts of muscles, roughly speaking. Slow-twitch muscles and fast-twitch muscles. The former help us with endurance, and the latter help us to do things faster and more intensely. It may come as no surprise to know that the muscles that are in most danger as we get older are the fast twitch variety. They tend to deplete as our bodies age.

But that’s really only a part of the story. Because they don’t have to deplete. It’s just that as we get older we  tend to stop running fast or trying to lift things that take too much effort. The fact is (I have on good authority) that if we keep occasionally (every few days) having a few runs (or swims or cycles) for a short period of time, as fast as we can, then we can at the very least maintain our fast twitch muscles. And even cause them to get bigger.

Well, true or not true, it’s the reason, why, as I’ve probably also mentioned, I’m starting to run fast every now and then. It’s certainly making me feel younger.

So, yes, that’s me in the distance on the beach scaring the seagulls. Not Usain Bolt.

David Fee

If I Was King of the World

In the UK we’ve just had a country wide Election. We, in our divinely inspired wisdom, operate a first past the post system. So, in each region, only the person with the most votes gets to be king. Your party could have people coming second everywhere, but get no representation whatsoever. Which means that the party I supported, on this occasion, benefitted. They got 56 seats in our new parliment for 1.4 million votes. Two other parties got an equal amount of votes in one case, and double the amount in another, but only one seat each. So I don’t believe that our particular form of democracy is very democratic.

On the other hand, I’m not living in an ISIS heartland somewhere in Iraq or Syria. I’m not at risk of getting beheaded for simply being gay, or because I had the indecency to be raped, or because I wasn’t prepared to marry a 45 year old man at the tender age of 9, or because I believed in the wrong God or no God.

Perspective eh? Not sure whether to feel grateful, or guilty, or…to ask myself what I would do about it all if I was the king of the world.

If I was king of the world?

Well those are the kind of scenarios we dream up when we feel hopeless about everything. It’s an almost pointless exercise which can only ever make us feel the enormous distance between where we are and where we would like to be. Like buying a lottery ticket.

More important for sure is what I do today to make a difference. And I happen to think that the freedom I have, and the opportunities that exist, mean I have a duty to do something which makes the world a better place. That could be literally anything. And I suspect the simplest things we do are the best. As the Book I got brought up with says: Love (look after, care for) your neighbour like you love (look after, care for) yourself. But what does all that mean?

Well, I think that I, like you, will just have to use my imagination.

David

Touch Me

Apologies for missing a week. I’m just going to jump in off the back of what Mikel said in his last but one blog “Embodiment and Philosophy”. I like it when Mikel starts talking philosophy coz he has a way of saying things that seem to put a framework of coherent thought around stuff that I’m feeling but can’t express so clearly. And I’m pretty much in agreement with him really.  We are still very much physical beings and  everything that we can imagine, dream, relate, communicate, create, express, or hope….has to be connected to that reality.

Some people like to think that the physical side of being human is becoming of less value. A fella I respect remarked in his recent blog, words to the effect that “geography is dead”. His thought being that because of the internet, and our increasing interconnectedness, our physical location was pretty much irrelevant. I know what he means. But I disagree. Bodies are us because they are how we first establish connection. My most cherished sense is Touch, because it is the only one that  human beings cannot experience alone. Without a physical location, without geography, who needs a physical body. I am incredibly inspired by the fact that we can talk to each other over the miles, without any physical contact, and engage in something that we can genuinely call Relationship. But if there was no possibility of being able to sit in a room with you, look into your eyes, give you a hug, or a comforting pat on the back, or give you a kiss, or shake your hand, or simply just enjoy the way you look…without the possibility of any of that, I don’t think any of our more nebulous forms of communication and creation could even begin to exist or have meaning.

I think we (Human Beans) have made marvelous advances, very rapidly.  I am not a Luddite who wants to turn back the clock to some Golden Age where CyberSpace was a trillion light years away, a comforting fire kept the wolves at bay, and all the stars had first names and personalities. But I think that we could easily fritter away all our advances if we forget our bodies, and the physical spaces we live in, our neighbours, and the communities that we can actually walk through.

I don’t believe that will happen though. I’m encouraged to think that the next step forward for us humble homo sapiens will be to esblish better connections of physical community. I sense, with my prophetic cyber antenae, that there is a growing movement to keep it real and that people are starting to reassess and appreciate the importance of where they live. In fact, it’s fair to say that many people never forgot…if only because their reality involves a more direct and urgent need to simply survive. But for those of us who have been lucky enough to have the luxury of living our lives, to a large extent, online, I’m hopeful that we can start properly talking to each other again… eye to eye, in the street, on the tube.  Even in our homes!

I think communities that we choose for and remake, will be better than the ones that we had no choice about. Less insular this time, because we are all seeing a bigger world out there through the medium of our neon screens, our clicking mice, and our touchpad dreams. ‘Least that’s what I think when I’m in touch with my inner hippy.

Maybe our future does involve (I suspect that the scifi is a bit more possible than we might like to imagine)  being downloaded on to some kind of human hard drive, leaving our bodies behind like a husk. But not yet. I like to think we’ve still got a lot of use for them.

David

ps I’ve just released my first song in Dutch (as opposed to my usual offerings in Klingon). It’s a children’s lullaby called Droom Je Al   I’d be happy if you gave it a listen, and fell asleep while doing so.

A Reason To Be Good

I woke up from an horrific dream a few nights ago. The kind that makes a person question their own mental stability for at least a few moments after waking. It got me thinking though, in the dark hours, about our concepts of right and wrong. And specifically about how we discover, justify, encourage, and explain our personal sense of morality. It is related, in many ways, to our recent discussions about honesty.

Tenyson described a natural world that was “red in tooth and claw”. In other words a world where the instinct was survival at whatever cost. And it is hard to look closely at the natural world and not find ourselves horrified sometimes by the way in which creatures have evolved (or been created if you prefer) to inflict pain and suffering upon each other in order to aid there own survival.

I personally think that our morality, our sense of right and wrong, has evolved out of that world as a legitimate, effective, and improved method of of enabling our own survival in a way which goes beyond the bounds of purely physical “staying alive” into something that we might describe more as “being alive”. And it is still developing.

I appreciate that some people believe that God has created us as moral creatures, seperate from nature in that respect, and I’m not wanting to try and persuade anyone to think differently in that regard. But I do think, whether we believe in an inherent morality, which is a part of a greater design, or in an evolved sense of right and wrong, that we cannot simply state our own morality and say “this is how it is”. We have a duty to give good reasons for our stated “rights” and “wrongs”?

None of us has the right to say (or do we?): “You should do this just because I (or God) says so”. So I’m interested in exploring our Reason’s To Be Good. It’s definitely not as straight forward as it seems on the surface, but it is perhaps one of the most important tasks we have as human beings.

Because if we aren’t able to explain to ourselves and our communities a positive, life affirming morality which makes the world a better place to live,  then we can be sure that someone will come and fill the vacuum to impose their own morality. And like the purely survival orientated morality of many animals, that morality may be one that has it’s own justifications for causing pain and suffering, whether physical or psychological, to other people. And history shows that it is often too late to start complaining about that after the event.

I don’t believe that “Good”, even after we have been able to adequately describe what that is, is an inevitability. I think it’s a choice, and it deserves our best attention. We should be motivated to pursue it. But why?

David Fee

The Context of Honesty

Abner: “One of the unarguable values that society tells us to have is honesty”.

Unarguable? That sounds like a challenge to me Abner.

I think context is everything. On Facebook and Twitter, for instance, honesty is very much prevalent in a scenario where many people feel “safe” to release the darker baggage of their inner psyches. Often in very nasty ways. I know that online I have sometimes, often late at night, after red wine, been a lot more explicit, direct, and honest than I would be in any other context. To the point of personal embarrassment and/or shame on occasion. I don’t think society values this kind of honesty. I think there is a general recognition that blurting out all of our critical impulses is, like a puddle of hangover sick, not an attractive personal feature. Online conversation is one context in which honesty is often endured rather than valued.

I know from personal experience that honesty is not always valued in smaller communities, in which people live much closer, interlinked lives, and in which it is perhaps more important that conflict is minimised. Explosions in small spaces always cause more damage. As a result it is often harder to take a stand against authority figures in a small village or town. It is less likely for people to make a complaint about somebody’s work. Maybe they are a part of your family, or the family of a friend. People would often rather gossip about someone’s failings than confront them. This is why it is often incomers who bring about change  in such places. Incomers are less sensitive to the social niceties of selective honesty, and therefore more prepared to rock the boat.

Our own home community seems on the surface, and in support of Abner’s claim, to value honesty. We are quite a large  family (though variably so) by modern standards, with a lot of coming and going. There is a fair bit of noise and disagreement when everybody is about. My wife is Dutch and by culture very direct. I have a natural urge to want to know what people really think, and a personal instinct to be emotionally honest. We have boys who have grown up with these genes and this environment, and foster children who have a lot of “stuff” that they need to get out in one way or another.

As a result our home life can be quite combustible, to the point of discomfort for some. My son and daughter-in-law are living with us at the moment. She finds the arguments quite stressful at times (although she comes from a big family herself). To be honest I find the arguments quite stressful sometimes as well, but the search for truth, or “realness” often trounces the desire for peace. We probably live on the borderline of workable home life conditions sometimes. It makes for a creative and interesting environment, but we couldn’t go much further in the direction of “honesty” without everything falling apart I suspect. Our honesty is more like a kind of collateral spillage, endured as part of the narrative of our own homes culture, rather than a positively valued quality in it’s own right.

So it is true to say that soceity does value something other than complete and total honesty a lot of the time. Personally, although I have always thought that I  did value it, I have become aware of how often: I don’t say what I think to protect someone; or  exagerate what I think in order to flatter; sometimes I remain quiet when I should be brave enough to speak; I have sometimes thought angry thoughts and not expressed them in order to protect myself; I have felt hatred and not shouted it out; I have seen a wrong and not stopped it.

In all of these instances I am the kind of hypocrite that Abner described.  I would suggest that sometimes this is a good thing, sometime not. Though I’m not sure that “hypocrite” is the right word, even though I understand why it was used.

But here’s a final example of a kind of honesty that I think should be valued by soceity and cherished by us as individuals. I remember being told by an older, wiser man, many years ago, that I had done a certain something with a bad attitude. He didn’t complain about what I had done. Only about the attitude with which I had done it. And he was right. And I thanked him. And I still value that kind of honesty, though it is very rare, which is prepared, out of love, to go deeper and risk rejection to help a fellow human being become a better human being.

David Fee

I Wrote Something. Nobody Died.

I enjoyed reading the last two “Confessions Of A Word Dry Writer” by Mikel and Abner. There was so much that I could personally identify with to be honest, and you both made me feel better about my own battles in the arid regions of the Wordless Desert. Also it is nice to know that Abner is still alive 😉

Yes, I no smiley’s should never infiltrate the pages of a self respecting blogger. But I love the little fellas. As the old proverb puts it: “an emoticon says more than a thousand tears”. In the absence of body language I am happy to take any help going, in the rush to find a shortcut to effective, non-deadly, communication.

I agree with Mikel though in his take on the issue of writer’s block. Everything, and I hope I am paraphrasing you correctly here Mikel ( 😉 ) comes back to our fear of death. Ach, I know you said a little bit more than that, and I love the way you do express yourself with the written word. So don’t stop doing it you crazy, Ozzie, beach bum (it’s OK, that’s how I address Mikel in our private conversations too). And thanks for doing it on these pages.

Same for you Abner. The biggest tip I picked up from the Bath Songwriting course where I first met you was that the best thing the writer can do when they’ve written a song that doesn’t become an immediate world wide hit is to write another song. And I’ve been following that advice ever since. Especially the part about not writing a world wide hit. Because to be honest, I don’t want to have an excuse to stop. I do know what you mean though about the doubt that hangs over the creator when he looks at his or her creation and wonders whether it is worthy to reveal to the world, or indeed to anybody. I don’t think that ever goes away to be honest.

My own tactic is to simply ignore it by getting habitual about putting my creations out there. It helps that I’m not paid to do this. In fact that is a distinct advantage. This is a tremendous place to ignore the fear and experiment. There really is nothing to lose. The worst that can happen is that people don’t bother to read us. In the meantime, and I speak for myself here rather than any of the other authors, I can use this platform to learn how to write. I’m quite aware that some of my words say it better than others. But, again as Abner suggests, perhaps better not to judge which particular ones are going to have an impact in the life of any reader who happens to pass by. Good intentions, brave action, and creative instincts can go a long way.

And to our other bloggers, please don’t let being absent become a habit. “I’ve been busy, but I’m still alive” would still constitute a blog as far as I’m concerned. No seriously, if you are finding it hard to write, simply commit to writing a sentence or two every week. Something achievable. With a little bit of will it’s possible to  get highly creative in a couple of sentences.

Don’t be too proud. Tweets aren’t only for Twitter.

David Fee

ps. If any readers, from wherever, would like to join us in a writing capacity for this world wide blogathon please feel free to get in touch.

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