online: 8 november 2005
modified: 6 november 2005

4 november 2005 local joys and global problems

13:46 Highest seat overlooking the Vale of Health and with view over southeast London... A windy day... A double pine needle falls on the screen as i write... Few leaves have as yet dropped but wintry weather is forecast for the next few days. Today it's still warm for the time of year.

I feel that this is the moment when i begin to accept my new location as home and these longer and less familiar walks as my now enlarged habitat, among different people from those who walk on the southern slopes of the heath. So now to continue.

added memories, 6th november:

Just before that walk i tried to encourage myself by listing positive and negative aspects of this location and could think of 16 positive and only 4 negative ones!

I note now my recent joy at finding (by chance process) John Cage's music Roaratorio and Etudes Australes and James Pritchett's informed writing* about these and about Cage's last pieces (the 'number pieces'). These listenings and readings encourage me as does nothing else.

My surprise and pleasure at finding that one of the suburban houses i pass on the way to the heath is a residence of the embassy of Equatorial Guinea... It is surely good to find that the exclusive world of diplomacy is not totally confined to the most expensive districts near the city centre.

As i walked across the so familiar paths of the southern heath, i stopped to watch a grounded bumble bee who was walking slowly on ground where he or she is likely to be trodden on. At first s/he resisted my attempts to direct s/he into the grass but eventually s/he seemed to settle under a fallen leaf... Is conscious 'doing good' as resisted (and unwise?) with insects as it is with people, i wonder?

At a cafe that supplies newspapers to customers i was a little shocked to read a pull-out section of The Independent, written by Jonathan Porrit**, entitled 'How Capitalism can Save the World'... later i bought a copy for myself but at the station there was an abandoned copy of the supplement under the seat. I read it more carefully hoping to find some inspiring new writing about climate change and what, if anything, can be done about it - but what i read was mostly fashionable abstract words and phrases*** that seemed to me more like parts of the problem than solutions to it... He seems to be saying, that 'only capitalism itself can solve the problems it has created'... Could he be right?

He is saying or implying that only the extension of middle class consumerism, (and the professional blindness that goes with it) can overcome the consequences of these things. I doubt it. Surely some new perception altogether is necessary now, in this crisis. We have to change our culture, that is our nature!

And, as i read that abandoned copy of the supplement (already become litter), a ladybird-in-November walked on the surface of the paper, sensitive to the warm weather but perhaps as blind to what is really happening as we all are!

* James Pritchett, The Music of John Cage, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge and New York, 1993, paperback edition 1996.

** Jonathan Porrit - one-time leader of the Green Party in the UK and now a respected advisor on ecological matters. The supplement was a preview of his book Capitalism as if the World Matters, Earthscan, London, 2005.

*** (phrases like 'the world looked on aghast', 'filled our television screens', 'disaster hardened professionals', 'the cataclysmical horror of any one natural disaster', 'the science ... is rock solid', 'capitalism, dependent as it is upon the accellerating liquidation of the natural capital'... this does not sound to me like new thinking. He is seeking a solution that involves no economic discomfort, or self-change.

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