online: 5 july 2004
4 july: 30th anniversary of my resignation from mechanically organised life
modified: 4,5,7 july 2004, 25, 26, 28 march, 8 april 2005

3 july 2004 is there a theory of all this?

the clear parts of what follows are in olive

the parts as yet unclear are in gray until i re-write them!

15:14 Utopia reads the digital diary entry of 1 july 2004... she cannot detect a clear idea in this seemingly endless diary of physical events, thoughts and supposed actions... they are fascinating to read but so what, she thinks?... Where is the grand panorama?*

So she asks the writer to explain the theory of what he is writing. Does he have one, she asks, and to what actions does it point? Isn't it time for some clarity?

...and do you have practical proposals, or definite plans? adds Numeroso.

The writer says he needs time to think.

Numeroso nods encouragingly, Unesco takes out his electronic notepad... and Utopia doesn't speak.

Hm (write the fingers) this could be a critical moment, let him think before answering...

Yes, he says, perhaps I do have a theory that I have never put into words. So I will try to do that now... but this is not my way of setting about things - I prefer to begin with the physical details and to look for a pattern in them. That's what I think I do, anyway...

The others say nothing. They are not going to let him off the hook.

Tell us why you write the diary, writes Numeroso, do you have an unspoken purpose?

The writer smiles. Well, yes I do, he writes (not knowing yet what words will come next)... my purpose in writing the diary is ... to share my perceptions with others, not as pre-thought theories but as a never-ending flow of ideas and experiences - and as mixed-up-with-each-other as I can make them... I don't want this diary to be pure theory, or unexplained events - but the interaction of these.... I suppose what I am saying now is itself a theory of reunion between theory and practice, he says, again smiling..

I didn't ask for a theory of how you write, says Utopia, but of what you write about. There seems to me to be a clear picture, somewhere in your mind, that informs what you write - but you never tell us what it is. What are the thoughts behind the digital diary, the ideas that enable you to write it in this interesting but inexplicable way about nature-and-artifice, the weather, birds, insects, people, the city, and anything that happens when you are out walking.

I don't think I can say, says the writer, but if you come with me on today's walk you can see me at it and perhaps that will enable us to infer the theory you seek, if there is one. Let's go!

18:10 Outdoor cafe. I've been sitting here eating a cake while waiting for my imaginary companions to show up. Perhaps they're still walking across the heath - I came by bus. There are younger people here today as there is a concert by the lake this evening. Wind and clouds and sun, and soon music, on a cool evening in England. I don't detect any theory, or even any conscious purpose as I write this - only a way of looking about until something catches my attention... and then a pause before the words seem to arrive from nowhere and to form sentences that I didn't plan or intend...

...There are fewer people here now - they stopped serving teas at 6 o'clock... Now I feel I am sitting in a play in which each group of people is surely experiencing some emotion, profound or trivial, familiar or unexpected, in amongst the polite conventions of the ceremony of afternoon tea - as in a play by Anton Chekhov** or a novel by Henry James***.

But I don't write about individual emotions - I'm thinking more of what it is we share in this life that we increasingly invent and create together, consciously or otherwise, on this earth and in our thoughts... What I'm trying to do is to share a certain way of perceiving that is more resisted than discussed by anyone I know or meet or am in touch with by internet. There is something happening in the world to which most of us are blinded (by our occupations and our self-interests and such) and that is what I'm trying to make public. Yes, that's it, that's my purpose if not my theory.

Utopia arrives alone. Numeroso and Unesco will be here soon, she says. I show her what I have written and as she reads it I enjoy looking at her.

Please don't watch me like that, she says, it stops me reading.

So instead I watch a small child interacting with a woman who is attending to her and there is a man with them who seems to be reading. And then I look up at some vapour trails in the sky, and at the same time I see the particles in my right eye seeming to float among the clouds...

At last she looks up. I like it, of course, she says, and I can see what you call your purpose - to describe a view of the world that no one talks about. It's quite unknown, but you, fortunately, can see it... When I asked

'what is your theory?'
that is perhaps what I meant, what is it you see, and think, that enables you to write those digital diary entries - and the other things that you do? Tell me now...

(unfinished - the handheld computer became over-full and I had to continue on paper - yet to be transcribed, or continued another day... perhaps this will become part of the education of everyone?)

eight months later

25 march 2005 (transcribing from those notes on paper)

I'll try again to answer your question, Utopia.

She says nothing and looks away, as if to let me re-enter my thoughts... but i had to start walking fast to reach the toilet - (this is what i noted on the way there, and inside it):

why did i present myself, jcj, as a fiction too? What did i envisage that was so good about it?... what can i actually learn from this 1st incident?... perhaps Utopia sees some way to describe what i am doing?... No, make it what i (and everyone) can learn!
[A good clue is that (though many visit) no one discusses what i write, not even those closest... not that i recall...]

I paused again at the seat overlooking a wooded valley:

Interesting!! Persist! This is very nice to read, far more so than i expected - and it's very clear re 'purpose'. Next thing to attempt (via a new question from Utopia) is to bring out 'what's missing', 'not discussed' and to let Utopia and Numeroso discuss it! (which will call for complete frankness i expect)

Pausing again on seat in West Meadow:

...if there is a theory there is no need to write it (but) it's essential to integrate theory/practice - lose the distinction and 'just live'!
(i suspect i can formalise the re-learning of that via conversation - Utopia, Numeroso and Unesco - together they will exceed what each can think or do alone.)

At the station:

What of my emotions re U and N, even UN... ? I suspect they will grow and the (this?) theory will vanish as ordinary living (takes over) - as in 'the future of breathing'... where the more intimate patterns of love take over from 'the larger patterns' of ecology, etc. ****

*I remember Arturo Montagu, of Buenos Aries, asking this question at the end of a year-long course that I organised in the 1960s at Manchester University. 'Where is the grand panoram?', he asked. I was surprised then, as now, at people's need for such a thing and also at my inability to invent one!...

...and after I had written Design Methods (1970), Stafford Beer (who reviewed it for the publishers) said it needed an overview, so I was obliged to write one. It became an extra chapter (Ch. 5) and now it is a part of the book I like to quote if asked to lecture on the subject. I found it difficult to write but I am glad Stafford Beer made me invent it!

**I was thinking of the opening scene of Uncle Vanya which I have re-written with Anton Chekhov himself in it!

***And I was remembering the opening sentence of The Portrait of a Lady by Henry James:

Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.

11.25 26 march 2005:

But now, next morning (before a late breakfast and after re-reading all this) i realise that the education of myself is indeed continuing... so i pause (in the manner of F M Alexander, his Alexic pauses) for myself and the others to regain poise or balance before action... and for the education of everyone to resume in the shared reality of this moment!

[what of a project note (such as Henry James wrote before writing The Ambassadors) - or can the above BE such a note? - and can this be the destination, at last, of and after my resignation (in 1974)?... yes yes!]

[though in its present form this explanation is more confusing than helpful - so perhaps the next thing is to write the fiction of which this is the theory... and perhaps also the content? ]

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