Saturday, May 21, 2011

FEATURE 83 - Anna Calvi

Been a slow grower this one, but I'm becoming quite captivated. Her voice is sometimes has the stridency of a Siouxie, as bellowing as Florence Welsh, and as mournful as Souad Massi, but all with a richer more operatic tone. The songs have grand touches here and there of Bowie, Morrisey or Nick Cave, but are altogether more grand for being embellished by the velvet throttle of that voice. The passionate flames of Spanish flamenco flicker, not just in her dress sense, but through her soulful guitar playing. She should team up and do a duet with Marc Almond. If she can make or find her audience, this woman could be big.

FEATURE 82 - Unfolding Of The Lotus

Here is a link to the Windhorse scrapbook blog, with a brief report in pictures of the Wesak mornings event.

windhorse:scrapbook: 2011 ARCHIVE - Unfolding Of The Lotus - Wesak Cele...: "Though this was only our second Windhorse Wesak Celebration, it has quickly become a substantial annual event that brings the Buddhists in t..."

DIARY 139 - The Fluctuations Of Sraddha

The last few weeks have been full on, all consuming ones, mostly preparing, planning or setting up for Wesak. Waiting to fully kick off the plans for Unfolding Of The Lotus, holding them mentally in a pending tray, strayed into being hard to bare at times. I'm beginning to recognise a pattern to situations where the execution of plans is delayed or becomes protracted. I become strained emotionally, easily overwhelmed, slightly tetchy, and a weary fatalism, if not apathy, emerges. Something similar to this happened with the length of time the Show Of Hands Project took to complete.

The preparations for the CALM & Wesak events, unfortunately took place at a time when I've experienced an undermining doubt concerning the effectiveness of my connection with Going For Refuge To The Three Jewels. Emotionally its been a tightrope I've walked. One minute, planning, for the benefit of others, this huge expression of sraddha in the significance of Buddha's Enlightenment, whilst having days where I was dowsed in depression at finding myself profoundly disconnected and distant from that sraddha and significance. In retrospect I'm experiencing this differently. This divisiveness feels incorrectly perceived - as if it was a smoke screen, and not about what was on the surface at all. The level of time and spiritual commitment required to pull Wesak off was indicative of more than a stoical persistence. Perversely, the fact that it did aggravate, provoke or exacerbate the levels of doubt, points towards a strong sraddha, not a weak one. As if an unanswered question was mistakenly given to the voice of a gremlin, instead of a guru.

Both the CALM Project and Unfolding Of The Lotus went extremely well. I've had very positive feedback about them, that I need to remember well, when my confidence lapses about whether folk really appreciate what I'm doing. I know there's always likely to be some carping, envious, if not jealous comments behind closed doors. I am, after all, in the very privileged position of being able to put my creative energies into these aesthetic projects. Not many people can do that as part of their job remit. So I can see how what I do could become a bone of contention for some - why me and not them?

All I can say, is that I found devising and putting on CALM & Wesak ultimately enjoyable and immensely satisfying by virtue of the fact that both rituals were executed collectively. At times even I was surprised by how moving or simply FAB the end result was. Any ritual can bring the collective zeitgeist of the Bodhicitta into being, and this then moves, inspires and leads it. My role in this? I'm just a bus conductor, I tell people when to get on and off.

FEATURE 81 - Kathy Kirby

I remember Kathy Kirby being a regular on the Billy Cotton Band Show on a Saturday night. My Mother hated her, mostly for her blaring vocal style, and the lip gloss. Was there lip gloss before Kirby? It lent a certain quivering shimmering quality to her mouth warbling.

In this early sixties clip, she sings her Bop Shoo Wop version of, Doris Day's - Secret Love. She bore one thing in common with Ms Day, she was a gay icon. Kirby's dress sense, with outfits often dripping with pearl drops or diamante, was theatrical. It sort of went with the vocal histrionics - lets go really really over the top here!

Kirby's decline from the seventies onwards, was, in retrospect, inevitable. With the arrival of singer songwriters, people lost interest in that manufactured sixties style of intense singing. All the major British singers of that period - Dusty - Sandie Shaw - Cilla - either went into enforced retirement, never to re-emerge, or diversified into TV or fashion. Kirby, defrauded of her money by her manager, went into a sad hearted obscurity.

But here she is in her hey day, walking precariously down the steep ramp of a TV set, unable to walk or dance properly, or move her arms more than a shrugs distance from her hips. 'What ever you do Miss Kirby keep it minimal, or you'll fall flat on your face in front of millions of viewers.'

Sunday, May 08, 2011

DIARY 138 - Paralysis & Imperfection

I've been busy, always busy. So busy, you'd not be wrong in thinking I'm still diverting my attention away from those less manageable thoughts and feelings I mentioned in my last diary posting. Staying positive and holding these off, is a full time occupation. I have moments when I just loose heart, or want to rebel or let go of this self-imposed constraint. With two Creating A Lotus Mandala events, and a mornings celebration of Wesak to prepare for, I am busy, far too busy, to allow myself to dwell on these things yet. These seemingly irresolvable things, mmm....must rush.

The CALM events, are a bit of a first, at least for me. I've never executed a creative project collectively before. I'm finding that these are taking more, not less, strategic planning. There is the usual devising how something will look, followed by working out how on earth this might be executed by 20-30 people. How do you make something easy for people, not only to engage with, but also to feel at ease with their differing levels of skills and confidence? This week, everyone was cutting out the stencils, next week its the spraying into position. All done within a Buddhist ritual framework. The first part went well, so I'm feeling more confident that next week will also be fine.

The ritual was structured around the
Dedication Ceremony. It was loose and rough around the edges, and that was OK, almost how it should be. That seemed to be what helped it work. This has led me to reflect on planning, as a way I reduce the chance of chaotic, unpredictable elements disrupting the desired result. Despite careful planning, the raw, un-mediated, the unexpected will inevitable erupt into it. I've almost come to expect, even relish its arising, because these raw, rougher elements seem to be what bring a ritual to life, and bring life to life too. At some point me and my desire to be in full control, has to step out of the way. A ritual needs to have space for these 'soulful' earthy anarchic elements to be present, it can't just be forcibly strained through a spiritual Buddhist sieve. The desire for a perfect ritual intercourse or transcendent climax, can simply end up castrating it, produce a premature ejaculation, or worse a still born child. To over extend the sexual metaphor, but you get my drift.

Modern life experience is excessively mediated through a desire for order and control, and this is also present in me too. Imagining that by taking charge of forming the experience, the happier, safer and more satisfied I will be with the result. But this pursuit of the perfect artifice, can merely make my life feel constrained and dull. Managing experience, prevents one from being fully with it in the moment, and less alive to it. Hence I can find anxiety about anarchy breaking out, paralyses me for days before an event. Its all so unnecessary, but I appear unable to do much to change it at present. The fear of being bitten by my experience, remains almost worse than the actual bite.