Clump of trees behind church marks Desborough Castle,
a mediaeval “ringwork” or small fortress built on a site that
has probably been occupied since the Bronze Age.
Firstly, I blog because blogging is a literary form. I feel a call, like a young nun who takes the veil; but my call is to write. It doesn’t mean I’m good at it (though practice naturally helps) any more than a nun necessarily feels the call to perfection. The calling is to do, not to “achieve excellence”. Ten years ago “excellence” was still the favourite word in mission statements. Fortunately it has faded away, only to be replaced now by “passion”. On a can of San Miguel beer, there's the slogan “Passion beyond Reason”. A few years ago, a judge might use this phrase to condemn someone to an institution for the criminally insane. Now, it's aspirational.
It's true that I aspire to literature. Blogging offers instant self-publishing with the possibility of one or more readers. I would settle for one, but am fortunate to have attracted (for the time being) several readers. Thank you! Your encouragement has made a wonderful difference. You have generated a conversation and injected your wisdom.
I'm attempting a kind of science. It has different rules from the conventional Western science of impersonality, repeatability, evidence, proof. It’s extremely personal. I am both scientist and laboratory. Instead of proof, there is honesty. Instead of evidence, there is the existence of sensation and feeling and idea that resonates, as if reminding us of a truth long forgotten. I freely move in the direction that I am going, not from any intellectual plan but from a kind of magnetic pull, which takes me to “places I never dreamed of”.
Whilst walking through a wood, I aspire not to “help the world” but to go in quest of the smells of childhood. This is my mammalian nature: the sights and sounds are important but the most evocative are the smells, as if they encode some long-lost treasure. In fact to review my troubled childhood from the viewpoint of an animal, who had not yet learned to be “human” in the way I have now learned, is to make sense of my life. In trying to grow up, I lost the animal. In re-finding it along these wild Chiltern trails, I’m as joyful as a puppy in the same circumstances.
I found a squashed cock pheasant along the ancient Toweridge Lane, some of which is a narrow footpath through the woods. The maggots were so lively that the carcase actually moved as I watched. It was on a seldom-driven section of road so they could feast undisturbed on the bird's torso and also its juices which had stained a wide area of the tarmac. I was not revolted by their wriggling, for on these excursions I leave the squeamishness of urban man and reconnect to a more primitive specimen, homo habilis perhaps, who knows? I was delighted to see that Nature has such an efficient cleanup squad.
Another thing I note, apart from an alertness of external senses that rivals childhood experience, is the feeling in my own body. Sometimes it takes 45 minutes of steady walking before pure sensuality suffuses my limbs, and a special rhythm is established. Scientists from a different viewpoint and in a different kind of language speak of endorphins.
Thinking of scientists and their pronouncements I realise that I too am engaged in research. In walking, I'm not just leaving the town, but taking temporary leave of civilisation to revisit my individual and phylogenetic past, in a therapeutic and pregnant solitude.
It's a different kind of scientific method, in which I follow my nose. I gaze at a flock of sheep, one of whom gazes back, its nostrils dilating in a search for some truth encoded in my scent, comparing it in sheep-memory against all the scents of humans it has ever encountered. It's a moment of recognition, at least from my side, that the sheep and I are on parallel tracks!
My scientific method is (1) to pursue my desire. This does not lead, as fellow-blogger jlhart7 suggested, to an inordinate craving which can only be quenched with Buddhist practice. No! Desire is a way of knowledge. (2) to adopt no borrowed belief, but trust in my own metaphors and interpretations. (3) To pay all dues to my loved ones, to society, to laws, to common decency, but beyond that to be free as a “savage” untouched by the missionary’s zeal. (4) To mistrust and abhor the intellect's dry sawdust when it is not connected to my animal brain.
This blog is but a draft or a sketch or a cartoon of ideas which one day may go into a book.
Just as pure science has many useful applications, so it may be with these researches: for example in the field of disability management. Till a year ago I had mobility problems due to illness, not serious or lifelong like those suffered by many, but enough to understand the impact. In England much has been done to unfetter the disabled from social shackles, but not always enough to permit full reconnection with one’s animal nature. There is so much more that could be said, so many teeming ideas, but I will stop here for today.