Saturday, January 30, 2016

Being positive can occasionally backfire

I have learned from experience that our inner state often determines our experiences, so we can definitely change our lives for the better on the outside by first changing ourselves for the better on the inside.

I have given examples of how we can be our own worst enemies and distress signals can attract predators (24).

We benefit from being calm and positive; good feelings often boost our immune systems and act as a protection - except when it all backfires, as happened to me recently, although in a very small way.
I went to collect something that I had ordered and paid for online. I had visited this store many times in the past, and always found the service fast and good, even at Christmas.

On this occasion, I stood at the collection desk and waited and waited for someone to come. I could see that the place was busy. Many people were waiting to order and pay at the other desks. I got the impression that I was being overlooked deliberately; I guessed that taking more money takes priority over dealing with people who have already paid.

I reminded myself that it was warm inside and that I was not in a hurry. I knew it was important not to sound angry or self-pitying, so when someone eventually came to help, instead of saying anything about being ignored, I just said calmly and pleasantly that I had been wondering whether I had gone invisible as no one had come for a long time.

The young man immediately said, “That’s because you look so contented”.

I was stunned, but it made sense. They probably learn to recognise the sort of people who will get angry and make scenes or go online and post complaints and bad reviews.

I have learned to save it for the big one and not get upset by minor inconveniences; I was pleased to get such positive feedback for my attempts to improve my inner state.

I found a very interesting statement about contentment in a book by a writer who is mostly forgotten now, but who is a great person of interest to me:

I have seen the world; I have travelled far, and have met many famous men and women, kings and queens, senators, poets and philosophers, my experience has been wide and varied, so that I am not altogether without authority for what I say, and I assure you that the Satan of whom you are able to speak with compassion, can never trouble the peace of a pure and contented soul. Like consorts with like, a fallen angel seeks the equally fallen, and the devil, if there be one, becomes the companion of those only who take pleasure in his teaching and society. Legends say he is afraid of a crucifix, but if he is afraid of anything I should say it must be of that 'sweet content' concerning which your country's Shakespeare sings, and which is a better defence against evil than the church or the prayers of the clergy!

From The Sorrows of Satan by Marie Corelli

This makes sense, and may be true in many cases, but it too can backfire as Satan may see such people as a challenge, and there may be greater credit, more job satisfaction and a better return on investment in sabotaging their lives and luring or tormenting them over to the dark side than is the case with the easy marks and lawful prey. 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Suicide or sacrifice at the Coq d’Argent?

Today, for the first time, a picture was published of the young man who ten days ago fell to his death from the terrace of a notorious rooftop restaurant in the City of London.

He is the sixth person to have committed suicide by jumping from the roof. The first case was in 2007; the two most recent incidents happened despite the installation of high security barriers.

This tragic case has reminded me of some things I learned on the previous occasion.

The exclusive Coq d’Argent, address No. 1 Poultry, occupies part of a site bought by property developer Peter Palumbo, a friend of Princess Diana.

The whole area was previously occupied by old buildings in the ‘Victorian Wedding Cake’ style, and Palumbo was obsessed with getting hold of the site and replacing "those wretched buildings" with something in the Post-modern style, designed by an architect of his choice.  He had to fight a 25-year battle to get hold of the site and obtain planning permission for his new buildings. It seems a very strange obsession. He no longer owns the site.

The Coq d’Argent restaurant has been described as cursed. 

Perhaps influences from the past are still around. For centuries, the site was used as an ancient burial ground where hundreds of corpses of affluent Londoners were buried in shallow graves.  A Roman Temple – to Mithras - was discovered close to the site.

Or could it be something to do with the design and symbolism of this ugly and sinister-looking pink and yellow building?

As can be seen in the pictures, the restaurant is striking in appearance, from above in particular. It appeared in the James Bond-themed film sequence for the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony that featured the Queen. In the film, diners at Coq d’Argent can be seen waving to a helicopter which supposedly contains Her Majesty and James Bond actor Daniel Craig, who fly over the restaurant on their way to the Olympic Stadium in Stratford where ‘the Queen‘ parachutes in.

Why are people drawn to takes their lives at that particular place? Could it have been designed as a sacrificial temple? 

Monday, January 18, 2016

Today is the 80th Anniversary of Rudyard Kipling’s death

Rudyard Kipling died on January 18th 1936, in hospital in London, not long after his 70th birthday. Incidentally, January 18th is also the date on which Kipling got married – in 1892.

He might have lived longer if the source of his suffering and illness had been correctly diagnosed and suitably treated much earlier.
I was amused to read that Rudyard Kipling's death was prematurely reported in a magazine to which he immediately wrote, "I've just read that I am dead. Don't forget to delete me from your list of subscribers."

King George V, who was also born in 1865 and who was a personal friend of Kipling’s, died two days later, on 20th January 1936. He too might have lived longer, but perhaps by a few hours only, if he had not received a certain treatment: his death was deliberately speeded up with a lethal injection from his doctor, so that the announcement could appear in the morning papers.

It was George V who made the first ever royal Christmas speech, which was broadcast on the radio in 1932. I was interested to learn recently that it was Kipling who composed the script for the personal message that King George delivered on Christmas Day to all his peoples throughout the Empire.

Kipling, who was a member of the War Graves Commission, also prepared on an important speech for King George to make when visiting war graves in France and Belgium.

They both lived through the First World War; perhaps it is for the best that they didn’t live to see WWII.

When Kipling died, his best work was far behind him and his reputation was in decline.  Yet books about the man, the writer and the political thinker are still in demand. The following extract is from a review of an award-winning book published in 2002 that does much to restore Kipling’s standing:

The Elizabeth Longford Historical Biography prize has been awarded to David Gilmour's superbly revisionist work The Long Recessional: The Imperial Life of Rudyard Kipling, which triumphantly succeeds in rescuing Kipling's reputation as a significant political thinker

Gilmour points out how often his subject was proved right in many, if not most, of his predictions. Kipling predicted the Boers would establish apartheid if they were allowed to; as early as the mid-1890s, he warned that the Kaiser would unleash an aggressive world war; he said that communal genocide in the Punjab would accompany any over-hasty transfer of power in India; and he denounced the appeasement of Adolf Hitler. It is a noble, but by no means exhaustive, list.

Of course, it is as the finest phrase-maker since Shakespeare that Kipling will be remembered; many of the phrases we associate with the First World War and its commemoration were his.”

The entire review can be read here.

I wonder how many more books about Rudyard Kipling will be written between now and the 100th anniversary in 2036.

Rudyard Kipling with King George V

Rudyard Kipling memorial service at Westminster Abbey, London 1936

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Life on Planet Earth: why is it so awful?

This world seems to some of us a terrible place to have to live in. Life often resembles a long prison sentence with torture thrown in. To thinking and aware people, the majority of the human race may seem pretty horrible; we may not come out too well if we evaluate ourselves and our own lives either.

There is a fine line between being realistic and being negative and defeatist. It is positive to face reality and ask whether the dice are loaded against us and so we and our efforts to make our lives and the world a better place are doomed and we are just emptying our resources into a bottomless pit. Why is life on Planet Earth so painful, damaging, dangerous and disillusioning for many of us?

People have speculated about this for millennia, and many philosophies and ideologies, not to mention spin doctors for various religions, offer explanations for why this should be. The proponents of these theories make a good case for them, although some advocates present speculation as established fact and others appear to be trying to defend the indefensible.

Here are a few summaries of some intriguing theories:

·  The earth is one big lunatic asylum. We could certainly be forgiven for thinking so!

·      The earth is a quarantine area, isolated to protect the rest of the Solar System from being infected with our evils – sins such as selfishness, ambition and greed. I first came across this one in C. S. Lewis’s Out of the Silent Planet.

·    The earth is a prison planet, a holding area for the scum of the galaxy. It is like an unpoliced, no-go area. We are all doing time here, and we deserve what we get. This is almost comforting in a way: better deserved suffering than undeserved.

·   The earth is one big remedial school, where we all have many lessons to learn before we are fit for purpose. The pupils are in classes where they will learn lessons suitable for their developmental levels, and some people are here as teachers, reporters or inspectors. This would explain why the human race as a whole never seems to learn from experience: it is always a new intake as the graduates have incarnated elsewhere. To me, this theory covers some of it but not everything. It is not paranoid enough for my liking, and it is possible to be too positive and gloss over inconvenient truths.

·      This world is, quite literally, Hell. It was created and is ruled over by Satan. I first learned about this one when reading about the beliefs of the Cathars. Some of them thought that bringing children into this world was wrong. The idea that it is cruel and selfish, evil even, to bring children into this world to suffer resonates with me.

·  The human race is fallen: we came from the angels but have turned to evil.

·    The human race is still very animalistic: we evolved from ape-like creatures and have a long way to go.

Monday, January 4, 2016

Mr Standfast: John Buchan nails a problem

I was much more interested in the exciting action and adventure than the philosophising when I first read John Buchan’s books; now it is the subtle elements that hold my attention. 

Something I read in Mr Standfast recently really hit home this time around: it is a soul-baring speech made by the character Launcelot Wake.

'I see more than other people see,' he went on, 'and I feel more. That's the curse on me. You're a happy man and you get things done, because you only see one side of a case, one thing at a time. How would you like it if a thousand strings were always tugging at you, if you saw that every course meant the sacrifice of lovely and desirable things, or even the shattering of what you know to be unreplaceable? I'm the kind of stuff poets are made of, but I haven't the poet's gift, so I stagger about the world left-handed and game-legged ... I'm not as good a man as you, Hannay, who have never thought out anything in your life. My time in the Labour battalion taught me something. I knew that with all my fine aspirations I wasn't as true a man as fellows whose talk was silly oaths and who didn't care a tinker's curse about their soul… I'd give all I have to be an ordinary cog in the wheel, instead of a confounded outsider who finds fault with the machinery ...'

“I'm the kind of stuff poets are made of, but I haven't the poet's gift…”

This goes right to the heart of the matter; it is the essence of the problem that some people have.