Jin-ku #1: 13/9/18

Jin-ku is my own invention. It is an adaptation of the haiku form: the traditional Japanese poem that is comprised of 17 syllables in three lines of five, seven, five.

In haiku, one tradition is to tell without telling (a Zen-sounding phrase, and haiku are influenced by Zen), especially in relation to the natural world. There are so few words to express what you want to say, but this restriction is transformed in the challenge and the beauty of alluding to a season or natural event obliquely, sparsely, carefully and with great focus. It may be wasteful in such a short poetic form to use the word ‘summer’, when you can write about the blackcurrants that only fruit in summer.

Here is a haiku by the Japanese master of the form, Matsuo Basho (1644-1694):

In the twilight rain

these brilliant-hued hibiscus —

A lovely sunset.

So what is a jin-ku?

A jin-ku is even more restrictive than a haiku. (It is important that the ‘jin’ is strongly pronounced.) ‘Jin’ is the Kurdish word for ‘woman’. ‘Ku’ is a slang word for ‘friend’. ‘Jin’ resonates strongly with me as a feminist, as Kurdish women are leading the way for women in the Middle East. See my earlier post on the revolution in northern Syria.

To make friends of women means, not to oppress them, and to become as self-aware as possible about strains of patriarchy that exist within us even as the most enlightened of men and women.

The jin-ku form is comprised of only 13 syllables. 13 because all the haiku masters were men. They had the relative freedom of expression of 17 syllables, whereas the women of their time are relatively obscured. Thus by ’13’ -also representing the 13 moons of the year; the banished natural rhythms of Earth and of women; that number made ‘unlucky’ by patriarchy -women, gender rebels and male allies can show that beauty in poetic form can flower under even stricter conditions than the haiku.

Just as women have been forced to express their truth in highly restricted circumstances throughout much of history, so the highly restricted jin-ku form can bear the most telling and profound fruit, and be a site of poetic resistance to patriarchy.

Women, gender rebels and male allies are free to write jin-ku, but a jin-ku (the singular and the plural use the same description) to be truly a jin-ku must:

  1. allude to patriarchy and / or the liberation and self-governance of women
  2. continuing the tradition of haiku, be rooted in nature

The 13 syllables can be divided into various forms. This is something to play around with. In my first public jin-ku, I have gone for a 5,7,3 structure:

By the wild river

still reaches God machines’ noise 

-drown Him here

If you would like to write some jin-ku and send them to me, I will publish them here on my blog on the 13th of the month. I reserve the right to offer editorial suggestion before publishing.

I hope that together we can build a tradition of jin-ku that will one day overtake and supersede the haiku tradition that has been dominated by men.

Fighting #2: Teach girls to fight

I am a peaceful person. Nevertheless, I am realistic about possible future unfolding scenarios, that will be driven by anthropogenic climate change, peak fossil fuels, human population growth and global biodiversity loss. I am just beginning to explore the possibilities and the options, but I have to admit that the likelihood of significant hardship -for everyone- on a level not seen since WWII, to me seems high.

I am deeply peaceful (let me say it again.) Nevertheless there are certain physical self-defensive practices it would be prudent to get familiar with. I mess around with hitting punch-bags, and I have a good spatial awareness. I don’t know what good this will do me or how far I will go with this.

I am also well aware of the patriarchy inherent to modern global civilisation. I am very aware of the global gender power imbalance, the global gender pay gap, and the prevalence of violence and sexual harassment and assault against women, globally, (read these statistics compiled by the United Nations).

All of this was far from my mind as I played rough-and-tumble with my beautiful three year-old niece this morning. As she screamed and giggled with delight, we engaged in a dancing wrestle, with her for the most part being thrown and rolled around my body, until a moment where I ‘gave in’ with her wrestling me to the ground.

The sheer joy of this child, the unobstructed eruptions of pleasure and laughter. As she bumped into me and ran around me and grabbed hold of me forcefully, there was clearly no thought of aggression or harm, but there was a playful understanding that we were opponents…

The second part of this post can only be read on request, by the right people. I do not wish to promote violence as a way of life, and I believe that when all of my proposed Fighting posts are read together, they could help make some individuals very dangerous, if they read me in the wrong way. Only those who can convince me of their good attitude will be allowed to read the full Fighting posts.

genderwild mystic; diary #5

It’s queer that I’m even here. But I’m grateful that I am.

The second key practice of this mystic is gratitude. I’m listening to The Kinks as I write this, because to me they’re Queer.

Gratefulness for the threads of karma that make up this being, whether they are threads that the whole of me purports to love, or to disdain. Because truly, I have no self. I am but a bundle of threads. There are threads of patriarchal conditioning, threads which I try to be as aware of as I can. The more I practice mindfulness, then the less these dangerous influences are a blur. There are threads of individualism, of the rebel. Although the age of the Father is still strong, the age of the rebellious gender rebel ‘son’ is getting stronger alongside.

And now we have the true age of the gender rebel ‘daughter’. This is the age of environmental consciousness which is really the age of (gender)Queer. The age of Queer is now in bloom. In order to safeguard the future of human life on Earth, we need to realise our interdependency and build community more urgently than ever before. The age of the gender rebel daughter, of (gender)Queer, is the age of climate change, peak oil, and global capitalist civilisation reaching its limits. Panic at the disco!

The new global community can only be Queer because it is an unprecedented emergent form of global society. An unprecedented form of global society will require and also give rise to an unprecedented global consciousness. I call this Queer because the historical male-female identities and relations inherent in the current global civilisation-in-crisis, have led us to this point of needing something more virile, in a genderqueer way, to transcend them.

Queer is transcendent, and so must we all be, through the turbulence of the coming decades, to something evolved on the other side where all our old violent concepts of ‘male’ and ‘female’ are redundant. Nevertheless, to reach the Green Garden, in our genderwildness, for now, whether male, female, or neither or inbetween, singing to the moon we must overcome all divisions to reside in the greater She.

genderwild mystic; diary #3

The first practice is sexual restraint, but it could be any kind of restraint. The first practice is self-discipline, will-power, and the directed uncovering of Will; Will is what we move towards when we unfetter from past unloving conditioning. Will is what we move towards when we are shown Unconditional Positive Regard (UPR), or Love. We may have to rely on ourselves to show ourselves this Love.

I have worried for years around setting myself disciplines of behaviour; so-called spiritual disciplines as well as disciplines of work. It’s a familiar story to many I know; the setting of a high bar; unrealistic expectations, and the self-recriminations when we fail. But more recently I have realised that the essence of discipline, of will-power, is something that is best viewed as a continual moment-to-moment practice. Self-control is not all about having a solid morning routine. It is the will-power to do the right thing, from moment to moment, in every waking moment.

As a personal practice, total sexual restraint is very useful for me right now. The importance is in accepting my urges with Love; neither acting on them nor repressing them. Repression and denial lead to toxicity, violence and death. With the acceptance of Love, or UPR, in tandem with the will-power of restraint, my Will is uncovered. I was addicted to sex, and addiction is a block to both Love and Will. Addiction is a block to the unfolding universe.

My gender-rebel / genderwild identity is strengthened by practising restraint. I see both will-power and the greater Will as ‘male’: as exactly one equal half of the divine, or put another way, one equal half of the observable universe. Since the Big Bang or whatever was before it, everything is part of the same momentum. We are all part of the same momentum. I would characterise this momentum as ‘male’. Perhaps what the universe expands into, that which potentially drew out the Big Bang, could be characterised as ‘female’?

It seems to me that the worthy cause of the exposure and destruction of patriarchy has become confused by a misunderstanding of the essential benignness and neutrality of maleness. Maleness is not patriarchy, unless you choose to construct it in that way; we all construct these concepts a little differently.

For me at least, as a gender rebel or genderqueer or genderwild person, I think that it is healthy for all people, whether male, female, both, neither, or somewhere inbetween, to strengthen whichever identity they adopt or construct, with a healthy balance of will-power and Love. Queer as well as feminist identities, I feel, would be grounded and strengthened by reclaiming a balanced ‘male’ and ‘female’ basis of personal action (you can call it spiritual or you can call it scientific, depending on whether your religion is atheism or something else.)

I understand that maleness and femaleness are ultimately constructs, so call ‘male’ female and ‘female’ male if you like. The point is, a balance between discipline, or directed action, or momentum; and Love, or UPR, or compassionate acceptance, is a healthy thing. I make a plea here for gender balance, grounded in these arbitrary concepts, for health and convenience, and in order to reclaim and disentangle what can be usefully seen as ‘male’ from what is patriarchal. Will-power is not patriarchal until it becomes will-power over someone.

How I Got Here: An Ecopreneur’s Story; Permaculture, Business and Mental Health Integrated Process #1

Hello! Let’s introduce some music into this blog -or it will dry up completely! Here is an old gothic song by Type O Negative, paying homage to my origins amongst the wilds of Scotland. I am the perennial Green Man.  Permaculture must always begin with wilderness! The wild non-human society of the whole of Earth is the mother of human society; and that umbilical chord is meant never to be broken.

This is a post all about my lifepath (the short version!) and how this bears on my current perception of myself as a practising ‘activist ecopreneur’ in the realms of mental health, business and Permaculture. I want to INSPIRE other folk who at heart want to try a similar path, folk who have a lot of drive if only they would uncover it and stop listening to the voices in society that would have them follow a conventional career path, to serve conventional masters. That is, those entrenched institutions of corporate capitalism, patriarchy and kyriarchy that would appear to reward coercion and greed. We must rebel against those! Resistance is everything!

This post may seem like a very self-absorbed exercise, but I feel that to properly know oneself, including one’s whole history in its socio-cultural (including political) context, is necessary for the wisdom required by the aspiring positive changemaker (that’s me). Permaculture -at least according to Graham Bell– requires that we individually and collectively track our impact on the Earth’s resources as far as possible. Coming to terms with my history will enable this. I will explore this further in future posts. I also want to build up trust with my readers; I want you to know me pretty well; and if you want, to learn from my victories and ‘mistakes’ i.e. learning experiences.

My first community breakdown, the first of many, (but of course, I am a modern person) happened when I was three years’ old and I was torn away from my early playgroup friends (Craig, Caroline, Kirsten) for the sake of my father’s career. From Scotland to the southwest of England. It was not his fault. Market forces prevailed. It was and still is, a rich man’s world, of course. It’s all about the money.

dark side of moon

My father left the family home when I was six, not to return (although I would see him fairly regularly.) This remains the central wound of my life. However it is a wound that has taught me a great deal about the makeup of society; about gender roles, capitalism and marriage; about patriarchy and class. Moreover, this initial wound has spurred me on to a deep interest in the creation of a sustainable human society. There was a delay of a few decades before the wound was really focused into this positive drive for global harmony. Meanwhile, and not necessarily through any fault of my father’s, I missed out on being fathered. It was perhaps an ideal and elevated version of ‘the father’ when I would think, ‘Wish You Were Here’.

I didn’t know anything about mental health, business or Permaculture for the first 20 years of my life; well, not very consciously or coherently. However, I did learn how to write. Off and on since primary school age I have loved to write. I have also found an affinity with musical expression since aged three, mainly using the family piano.. Add to that an enjoyment of drama from aged 11 onwards; so I’ve always been highly creative and expressive. I’ve only begun to properly focus my creativity and expression recently; now in my late thirties. The Epic Tomorrows blog is partly a manifestation of all those years of creativity, re-focused. I have every faith that this could be a stairway to heaven.

I went to university mainly because everyone said I should. I had a pretty difficult time although I made a good friend, since lost to me. After two years I suffered a ‘mental breakdown’ and left without a degree. For want of more explanatory words, I was ‘anxious’, ‘depressed’ and ‘paranoid’. This was the drug-induced breakdown of my spurious ‘self’. Looking back, it was something that needed to happen. The violence and suddenness of it was unnecessary (blame the criminalised drug trade) but I certainly needed psychic ‘rearrangement’ in order to grow as a human being relative to a complex modern society; relative to the context of my upbringing. The violence and suddenness of a lot of the music I listened to was also unnecessary, but I still hold a place for the energy and righteous anger of heavy metal! It’s in my roots.

roots

After my breakdown I was soon taking anti-depressants and anti-psychotics at the suggestion of the medical establishment. I was on these for a few years. Psychiatric medication is a very subtle issue on which I don’t want to be misunderstood. Let me put it like this: I strongly believe, from the research I have done, that although the medication superficially allowed me to move forward in life, on a deeper level it not only left the causes of my dis-ease unaddressed, but allowed underlying causes to be compounded and worsened by neglect. Nowadays, neuroscientists and psychiatrists at the top of their professions will admit that there is no known neurochemical cause of mental illness. This is despite public belief to the contrary, influenced by years of marketing by pharmaceutical companies. For an excellent and very well-researched expose of all psychiatric medications, please read this book Anatomy of an Epidemic. In short, the drugs don’t work, but I’m still very much alive.

-Which is more than I can say for some of the residents I worked with in a 12-bedded unit for adults living with ‘mental health issues’; knocked out by medication and the negative affirmations of psychiatrists-

-After I returned to Somerset from university, it took me a couple of years to get on my feet again. But something very beautiful happened. My deep suffering led to my feeling great empathy for other human beings for the first time; I wanted to help anyone and everyone who had ever suffered from mental ill-health. My own heart and mind were also helped enormously by taking up meditation in my mid-20’s. This helped me wean myself off psychiatric medication. My heart became a little firework. The problem was, in the mainstream mental health services, I was working in a system that on an institutional level didn’t care enough for the true causes and cures of mental dis-ease. After a few years, I left my mental health work, disillusioned.

To cut a longer story shorter, for the purposes of this post, I then started to volunteer on land-based projects; conservation projects, woodlands and smallholdings; gaining an understanding of land-based living and ecological sustainability issues. My attraction to these projects was partly their beneficial effect on my mental health, and I soon came to see, although I have only been able to fully express this recently, that mental health and the ecological sustainability of human culture as a whole, are fundamentally linked. I started to learn,  mercy, mercy me! about the ethics and principles of Permaculture (permanent culture) and how these could be applied to society in general; not just to sustainable food growing systems, which are the origin and specialisation of Permaculture.

During a few years where I lived on a low impact woodland project, mostly without electricity, in my own very individual way I developed a theoretical framework of ‘Permaculture’ (very loosely formed) with which I found it was useful to address all the ills of the world -including mental ill-health- in a coherent, sustainability-focused way. I developed strong political views during this time also, seeing the ‘neoliberal’ patriarchal corporate capitalist paradigm as the conglomerate evil monster of unsustainability that must be killed at all costs.

monster

 

All you good good people! It is only in the last three years or so that I have realised that capitalism, at least for the few decades to come, can be part of the solution, as well as the problem. In order to redistribute wealth for social and environmental justice (not to mention mental health!), change political and economic systems and weaken the power of the over-powerful institution of the nation state, there is a strong case for the rise of ethical, political, independent entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs whose aim it is with their businesses to re-embed human beings in their landscapes and create a globally sustainable human culture, necessarily involving challenges to those in government, local or central, as well as challenges to large corporations. Who said you can’t be an activist and an entrepreneur at the same time? I have now come to the view that more than ever we need those individuals who are critical of corporate capitalism in theory, to stop their hypocrisy of working for corporate giants and be more creative in how they make a living. This is the path I have chosen to follow, although in my case I was never working for a corporation (except perhaps the NHS).

In my own case, a fair degree of desperation and frustration have gone into my drive and aspiration to be an entrepreneur. I almost don’t know what else to do; but the ethics explained above and the integrity of my lifepath leading naturally into this new direction, still hold true. Nowadays, my mental health is a subtle subject (as any human being’s should be). I still suffer from certain extremes at times, addiction and instability. I still get kind of blue and I still need time out.

In modern times, mental health and well-being can best be expressed in terms of social and environmental sustainability; in other words, we need to ask ourselves, how are our emotional and mind states socially and environmentally defined, and how do they contribute to the larger narratives of our lives in the contexts of sustainable and unsustainable elements of modern global society?

Essentially, I am a writer first and an entrepreneur if I’m lucky. If one doesn’t follow from the other, at least I hope you get something from my writing. As for what’s to come, ah um…just…get ready!

christmas tree