Sunday, September 21, 2014

Stillness in frenesy.

Crowd scenes

It is a cinematic standard, a lone figure, caught up in a chaotic crowd, moving in the other direction...

It is the noise of Twitter streams, thundering down the valley, while we cling onto a branch struggling, for dear life, not to be swept away to drown.

It is the noise of hardly understood French in an echoing restaurant.

As the evening continues, the speed of banter accelerates, the volume increases, the people around the table speaking...or is it yelling simultaneously?

It is the crowd of unknown people at a conference, a party, a disco, a market,  apparently all following well-tread paths to meet up with their friends, colleagues, partners, loves, accomplices,  while you are left to gape dimly from the wings, dumb to their well-rehearsed performance.

It is the gap separating cultures, separating generations, unwilling or unable to adjust to the noise, to the speed, to the mode of communication, to the language, to the music, to the ways of performing identity, to the ways of making sense.

How shall we be connected together my friends? How shall we learn to respect silence, to respect noise? 

How shall we reach out to save the drowning soul? How shall we realise we are the drowning soul? 

How shall we dissassemble our cliques, our countries, our clubs, to let in new blood?

How shall we see we are part of a whole? How shall we pause to make sense in this chaos...together?

Silent Movie Stars

How did the Silent Movie Stars react to the arrival of the talkies?

Chaplin aside, many would sink bitterly without trace, unable to adapt to a new medium.

For a time, the two genres would live on side by side, until the public voted with their tickets for their preferred entertainment.

How should we preserve the silent master-pieces of another age?

A Gold Rush 

How do pioneers respond to the arrival of a Gold Rush mob ?

Comfortable in their virgin wilderness, the first settlers respond grumpily to the influx of new adventurers who are hungrier, perhaps more desperate for unearthing that rare nugget.

The old-timers mutter amongst themselves, reluctantly pack their belongings and slip away to escape the harranging crowd, that ragged, uncouth rabble.

A place of worship

An Anglican lower-church clergyman is cinematically transported to Harlem, to a Harlem gospel church.

He kneels, takes out his book of Common Prayer , sighs and starts to indulge in silent contemplation.

Deep in prayer, blissfully caught up in his quiet-time, he is suddently blasted off his lowly hassock by a congregation of full-hearted charismatic soul.

A library reading room

There is a feeling of quiet communion in a cathedralesque library reading room.  We are together, we feel connection, we feel peace to study, to savour knowledge...together.

Is there still a place for quiet refuge, for the unsaid, apparently unacted, bond of being one with learning?

A bustling coffee shop

Unexpected encounters, noisily shared ideas, banter, jokes, excited movement, clustering, grouping, whispering, guffaws of laughter. 

We are in the heart of a city, at the hub of intellectual energy, of serendipity, of innovation.

A global village?

Brave new world, shrunk to manageable proportions. 

Web 2.0, a participative promise of prosumer paradise.  

We are caught up in the glory, or might it be mirage, of global-reach. 

Whose artificial limbs are we using? 

Will those limbs be ripped away from us the moment we learn to run faster on our own?

A whole world, becomes a click away. 

What shall be our message? Where shall we speak?

Connnecting courses

It's all so straight-forward, connecting courses. 

We have a  simple bundle of hashtags, a familiar friending on Facebook, a conversation circle on a Google hangout, a glossy website.  

OMG we all feel that longing to be closer. We revel in an illusion of harmony.

Closer to what? Closer for who?

Will we introduce rave-parties into temples of contemplation, money peddlers into temples of worship? 

Will we have to fight to be heard in the town square, while facing up to a mob going in the other direction? 

Will we fight for the right to be badged with a hashtag? 

Will we be the pioneers overwhelmed by the prospectors? 

Town planning?

Shall we set out plans for private dwelling, for public assembly, for drinking and dancing? 

Whose plans should we adopt? To what extent will our voices be respected? 

Down to earth

I am taken back to images of dulling routine, swimming, or is it drowning in water. 

Shall we glory at our lot on Youtube?  

Accept your lot, love your enemy,as yourself... 

Angry thrashing of a drowning man

Is it enough to accept? Is this really water? Is this water not contained in somebody's aquarium?

I am not ready to swallow the bait whole. 

Why don't we thrash this out together?

Shall we not imagine new spaces in which to express our diversity, our laughter, our soul, our belonging, our learning, our connection? 

Lost in a jungle

It would appear, for the moment, that we are lost together in a jungle, where all recognisable calls are cause for reassurance.

Beware the wolves.


  1. So beautiful, Simon, and the example of the silent movies is ABSOLUTE GENIUS that will stay with me forever, I think!
    On the one hand, there is value to "silent movies", right? It's worth preserving; it's OK to be silently reading together in libraries, right?
    On the other hand, is it a bygone era?
    (I don't think we're there yet with the internet, but it was interesting reading the post and not knowing for sure which direction you were going with those statements - not sure you knew either? It felt like a "banging around in my head" kind of post and I could feel the ideas in it banging around in mine... gosh, your NEURAL connections are hitting mine!)

    1. Yes Maha, we don't know where we are going. I didn't know how quite to deal with these issues so as to be inclusive, so as to be accepting and yet to yell my rage at those who would 'Jerusalem'.

      However, scary a forest can appear, I am brought back to the films of Terence Malick where wonder is still there to witness.

      I am proud to have such brave companions with whom I can safely admit to being lost, to flail in space.

  2. Those who would rebuild 'Jerusalem' in their image. That should read.

  3. As long as no one burns down the jungle or chops down its trees, I like it, even if danger may lurk. I can be as silent as I need to, or as loud, to keep the wolves at bay.

    I agree with Maha about the banging-around-in-the-head nature of this, part of what I love about your writing is the [seeming??] stream-of-consciousness.

    One of my calls is for reciprocity - people who post should also read and comment! The connections are thereby exponentially increased. And though I am more of a quality not quantity person, the more chances you have to find the hidden gems, the better. You are both gems, hidden or not.

    1. Indeed we must preserve our forest of ignorance.