the overview effect

...In savikalpa samadhi the mind is conscious only of the Spirit within; it is not conscious of the exterior world. The body is in a trancelike state, but the consciousness is fully perceptive of its blissful experience within....
Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, founder of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, has compared the experience of seeing the earth from space, also known as the overview effect, to savikalpa samadhi.

(via Wikipedia)



Today is indeed a dark day for journalism. Three members of Al Jazeera english have been trialled and sentenced to more than 7 years each in Egypt, for "endangering Egypt's national security."

Read more in the Guardian and follow the discussion on twitter.

This news reminded me mainly of two things. The documentary 'War Photographer' on the inspirational photographer James Nachtwey, and this TED lecture from journalist Janine di Giovanni 'What I saw in the war'.




seeds of freedom

permaculture as fuck

I've recently completed a certificate in permaculture design. I'd like to say it's changed my life, but in all honesty, it hasn't.

What the course did do for me, was confirm a lot of things I had already been thinking. In my work we're constantly battling against corporate control of natural resources, big greedy businesses using up more than their fare share, and an increasingly more powerful corporate lobby. I knew these were bad things, and I knew that there were other ways. Living in a boat, then a caravan, I understood that choices to live on the edges of society were possible. But I didn't realise just how important those edges are.

In permaculture the edges are the most important bits. Where living things thrive, where experiments go right and wrong, and where new things begin.

Here is a film some lovely people from my home town made about some permaculture guy (who, after a quick google, seems to be pretty on it.) Nice work team. 


secret books in eden

"But Tom got into a book, crawled and grovelled between the covers, tunneled in like a mole among the thoughts, and came up with the book all over his face and hands."

- John Steinbeck, East of Eden

frack off

I'm not going to go into a huge rant about fracking, complaining about the environmental and human impacts of drilling down and squirting a load of undisclosed chemicals into the ground to try and shake up some underground gas to attempt to harness, in the process polluting water sources and creating small earthquakes.

Just watch this film if you haven't already, and then keep your eyes and ears open because it's already happening in the UK. If you're in Bristol (like me) hit up Frack free Bristol, or send some support to the Barton Moss protesters up in Manchester, or visit the Frack-Off map to find out if your area is at risk.
(probably is)

The Selfish Giant

When I was wee I was in a play about the Selfish Giant that my junior school headmaster Mr Mills wrote (songs and everything). In the play I had a penchant for being a narrator - and in this case, the narrator was Oscar Wilde personified. I wore a cravat under a black velvet dinner jacket and a top hat with a gold tipped cane. 

 This film has nothing do with that, but it is so, so beautiful.

black family

And here is my very handsome grandaddy Robert Black. With my equally handsome Nanna Agnes. Agnes was a secretary in Belfast. I never got to meet my Granda on this side, and very briefly knew my Nanna. This makes me incredibly sad, because if they are anything like my dad and his twin sister, I believe I would have loved them very very much. 

East of Eden

"Sometimes a kind of glory lights up the mind of a man. It happens to nearly everyone. You can feel it growing or preparing like a fuse burning toward dynamite. It is a feeling in the stomach, a delight of the nerves, of the forearms. The skin tastes the air, and every deep drawn breath is sweet. Its beginning has the pleasure of a deep stretching yawn. It flashes in the brain and the whole world glows outside your eyes. A man may have lived all of his life in the gray, and the land and trees of him dark and somber. The events, even the important ones, may have trooped by faceless and pale. And then - the glory - so that a cricket song sweetens his ears, the smell of the earth rises chanting to his nose, and dappling light under a tree blesses his eyes. Then a man pours outward, a torrent of him, and yet he is not diminished by the quality and number of his glories. It is a lonely thing but it relates us to the world. It is the mother of all creativeness and it sets each man separate from all other men. 

 I don't know how it will be in the years to come. There are monstrous changes taking place in the world, forces shaping a future whose face we do not know. Some of these forces seem evil to us, perhaps not in themselves but because their tendency is to eliminate other things we hold good. It is true that two men can lift a bigger stone than one man. A group can build automobiles quicker and better than one man, and bread from a huge factory is cheaper and more uniform. When our food and clothing and housing all are born in the complication of mass production, mass method is bound to get into our thinking and eliminate all other thinking. In our time mass or collective production has entered our economics, our politics, and even our religion, so that some nations have substituted the idea collective for the idea of God. This in my time is the danger. There is great tension in the world, tension toward a breaking point, and men are unhappy and confused.

 At such a time it seems natural and good to me to ask myself these questions. What do I believe in? What must I fight for and what must I fight against?"

John Steinbeck, East of Eden, pub. 1952


My grandfather, and great grandfather, used to work in the shipyards of Belfast Docks working on the boilers. My grandfather sailed the titanic on it's maiden-maiden voyage from Belfast to Liverpool. Luckily he popped off then. My great grandfather however did not have such luck. He died at sea, washed ashore on Halloween in Bangor, Wales.

 In turn, my dad grew up in the tenements by the dockside. He took me there once. Maybe this is why I love boats so much. 

h/t my brother Joel for the amazing stop motion below.