online: 25 june 2002

24 june 2002 a midsummer night

19:59: Midsummer night and my sister Jennifer's birthday. I've always thought of it as the best day in the year - more to do with life and freedom than superstition or belief or obedience...

...and just before I wrote that a damaged-looking crow half fell out of a bush beside me, began to walk closer, and then waddled away out of sight.

As I travelled back by train from the Heath I saw a man with a wideawake look and a calm face of great antiquity, - he seemed to me to be noticing everything with understanding, not comparison or judgement. A fine model, I feel, for how any of us may now appreciate the world and our circumstances - which so often seem ill-formed or unfortunate or full of wrongness, and easy to criticise - and perhaps to misjudge.

And as I looked away from him, not wanting to stare, I kept seeing the pinkish red sun appearing very briefly between tall buildings as the train carried us across the path of the sunset beneath a pale blue and cloudless sky.

As we approached the little station where I get off I could see huge new forms appearing in the landscape, or cityscape: long walls and blocks of reinforced concrete which are the first signs of the new bridges, stations and railtracks that are being constructed here as a terminus for the channel tunnel at what was the nineteenth century marvel of St. Pancras station.

How few of us, I felt, are in a position to understand or to know and to feel part of this vast work, this modification of nature, this change in our circumstance... only the engineers and the construction workers, and they may see only their own parts in it and may also lack an adequate understanding of what has happening, almost spontaneously, to realise the implications and consequences of decisions, several decades ago, to unify Europe and to go ahead with the tunnel, despite immense costs and great difficulties which may or may not have been forseen...

...yes, I so strongly wish that all such works of importance, our public life, the marvels of our collective ability, were far more widely shared and understood and felt to be our own and not just the impositions of the few who make money out of the rest of us. I think it's time to change course - to admit everyone into the public process and to realise what we are doing. All of us, whether or not we consent or take part or understand under the present way of doing things - in private organisations and secret meetings and the exclusive professions - the ways of the past.

And what are the new ways, we may ask (and that is a question I really do feel able to answer - having struggled all my life against the old way and for the new - though with little success, as yet)?

It is simply this: to remove the old organisations, the 'business', the 'committee', the 'office', the 'school', the 'government', the 'bank', the 'media'... all those familiar forms that nearly everyone still takes to be the only ways to act collectively... and to replace them with continuous redesign of our social forms and methods as we attempt new ways of living as the most active parts of nature - the new connective world that we have presently lost faith in because of the dreadful results of holding on to the old ways that do not fit the new kinds of people, so much more extensive and connective, as well as more numerous, and the new kinds of media, or self-extended nervous systems, that we are now becoming...

...but it is now two minutes to midnight, on midsummer's eve, so let us assume just for once, that anything is possible if enough of us can imagine it, and can enact, the new world as our reality, as our presence, changing into forms we never knew... and leaving our identities behind us.

On my way to the station this evening I saw some words painted on a taxi-cab that made me angry:

Reading further I learnt that this is not the name of some imaginative use of the internet to transmit new thinking to and from everyone - it is just the name of a closed organisation devoted to sales promotion. 'Ideas', that almost divine word at the base of western thinking, that of Plato, diminished and made empty of inspiration by its equating with selling and advertising. That is how nearly all of the new thinking of our own time, new art, new culture, is now 'dumbed down' or otherwise tied to business goals and to the exploitation of each other. There is no new culture worth the name, only diminishment, lack of quality, self-hatred and no more joy...

But try to understand, thinks that silent man with an ancient face, this commercial way that you hate may be the only way for people now, having got this far into the Faustian dilemma, the misconceptions and miscarriages of a culture of force in a situation of connectiveness and multiplicity. Its useless to complain or even to imagine - it is time for you, and for any others who think they see the way, to make it evident, to invent new ways of collective navigation and self-creation, of sharing what has been for so long decided unilaterally and then imposed by these misuses of new media that make you and me so angry...

...and with that the night gets darker as our ideas become dreams again, and as we sleep, and as even the walls begin to speak, amid a midsummer resolve to make changes in our own minds before or instead of attempting to change each other:
In this same interlude it doth befall
That I, one Snout by name, present a wall;
And such a wall as I would have you think
That had in it a crannied hole, or chink,
Through which the lovers, Pyramus and Thisbe,
Did whisper often, very secretly.
This loam, his rough-cast, and this stone doth show
That I am that same wall; the truth is so:
And this the cranny is, right and sinister,
Through which the fearful lovers are to whisper.
(William Shakespeare, Midsummer Night's Dream, act V, scene 1 lines 154-163 (which I had to memorise, and still do, for a school play).

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© 2002 john chris jones

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