online: 6 june 2004
modified: 6 june 2004

5 june 2004 what is real?

20:37 I'm sitting on a seat with this inscription:
in loving memory of our dear auntie from her family

the most touching and the most egoless I've seen here. There are no names or dates given.

Before me there are three large trees below and beyond which I can see the city illuminated by the yellowish light of the setting sun.

The grass between me and the trees has grown tall, it's seeds are already light brown, and in the distance, beyond the lit up tower blocks and the London Eye*, is a wall of blue-grey smog, ominous, whereas to the west the air is clear, the sky light blue, and the thin clouds are pinkish white.

And above my head are about 50 small insects which go away for about 10 seconds if I wave my hand amongst them. And there are several large mosquitos that are attracted by the warmth of my skin and blood.

A woman and a man stop and we talk about our enjoyment of the heath. '...and you don't meet any people' the woman says and then wishes me a very good evening. The man says little but makes affable noises.

The mosquito has just bitten my ear - but it's too pleasant sitting here to let it drive me off.

The sun has moved behind cloud and the city is no longer illuminated in golden light - it's looking smoggy and grey. The many trees now look more prominent than the buildings - which makes it seem more like a forest than a city. And soon, when the lights come on, it will I suppose look like an industrial fairyland. The brutality and indifference of city life does not show at this distance, whatever the lighting.

Later. As I edit this I hear a broadcast celebrating D-day, the invasion of German occupied France over the beaches of Normandy. Some historians are describing the consequences of a supposed failure of this invasion. Their main conclusion is that the USSR (with even greater loss of life than the tens of millions they suffered) would have defeated Germany almost alone but that the Western allies would have dropped the atom bomb on Berlin instead of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - perhaps to prevent post-war Europe becoming communist as well as to end the war.

That is the kind of thought, cynical and political rather than idealistic, that does not come to mind when I am writing on the heath. I'm writing this bit indoors.

Some would say it's more real and should not be kept out of these descriptions of how things are and of how they may change. But I feel a traitor to my better judgement, to my sense of truth, when I adopt this supposed realism, with its assumption that goodness, rightness, beauty and all such qualities of people and things at their best are illusions, to be dropped in emergencies...

...My own thoughts about D-day and its possible failure are quite different: I envisage all people, in Germany, in Italy, in Russia, in France, in Britain, in the USA, in Japan and the other countries fighting that war (given effective direct democracy) could and would say no to such wars and to killing each other to win territory for 'the state'...

To avoid any more such wars, we must now live without nation states, without authoritarian governments, without armies and weapons of mass destruction. And we must accept the high cost, in giving away territory, money, specialised roles, and all forms of power. There is, I think, is no other way that does not lead to technocratic disaster - the gross misuse of nature and of ourselves as part of it. And I think the way to find it is not by squashing idealism but by acknowledging the reality of both thoughts and objects.

This is not to suppress the realism that makes actions possible - it is to accept the greater reality of the ideas that enable us to change the circumstances and culture in which we live - in this self-changing universe of which we are a perceiving part.

Abstraction, abstraction, but where is the concreteness?

Each one of us is both. Don't be tempted destroy (by relying on only one of them)!

*The London Eye looks like an enlarged bicycle wheel, about as high as a skyscraper. It takes half and hour for each viewing compartment to travel round its circumference. People can step on and off the slow-moving wheel without it stopping. It was designed by David Marks and Julia Barfield, architects.

(these pages are designed to be read with the window set to two-thirds of the screen width)

what's new


digital diary archive

© 2002, 2003 john chris jones

You may transmit this text to anyone for any non-commercial purpose if you include the copyright line and this notice and if you respect the copyright of quotations.

If you wish to reproduce any of this text commercially please send a copyright permission request to jcj at