Anniversary Circles

R_jewish_cemetery_prenzlauer_berg_berlin_25_august_2010

Today one year ago was my last day of employment as a university lecturer. I’m still, slowly, adjusting to the change; but never, for one split second, have I regretted my decision to leave.

Funny, but that past beckoned back to me today, from two* separate communications. I said ‘no’ to both. Nothing personal, but those aren’t places I can go to any more.

Bridge + petrol + blue touchpaper + matches. 

Not a proper post, I know & apologise for that, but yet something I wanted to write down in some kind of public arena. 

*make that three .. curiouser & curiouser … 

Shades of Discrimination

Ever more it matters to me to discriminate. But when I approach discrimination in the sense I believe I mean, the word drags along a thick, ugly shadow. Look carefully – with discrimination – and you see that discrimination bears two clusters of meaning, which are more or less the opposite of each other.

The discrimination that matters to me is the ability to discern subtle differences, to navigate a universe of slight yet significant variations.  The word comes into English in the 1640s from the Latin discrimen: ‘interval, distinction, difference.’ Continue reading “Shades of Discrimination”

Navigation Zones

I keep thinking about a scene in one of my favourite films, Andrey Tarkovsky’s Stalker *. Stalker is set in a contaminated, post-apocalyptic world that has given rise to a mysterious, off-limits landscape called the Zone. The Stalker leads the Writer and the Professor on a clandestine journey into the Zone, because it contains a room that is reputed to make any visitor’s dearest wish come true.

In the scene in question, the Stalker is explaining the mechanics of the Zone to the Writer and the Professor. It’s a sentient, unpredictable, constantly-changing place, he says, “a complicated system of traps … all deadly.” A safe path for one journey will be treacherous and impassable on another. The Stalker asserts that the Zone moves according to whoever passes through it: “it is what we’ve made it with our condition.” He also believes, but is not sure, that it lets pass those “who have lost all hope”. Continue reading “Navigation Zones”

Considering Flow

A year ago I took a course in basic black and white photography, to learn how to develop and print by hand. Skills all the more special to me because they’re edging towards obsolescence. The emphasis of the course was mostly technical – and very clear and thorough it was  – but our tutor would also weave in digressions about different philosophical approaches to photography. He’d present these in the form of either/ or choices, but never passed judgement on one as superior to the other. Just different ways of taking pictures – or ‘making pictures’, as we learned to say on the course.  Continue reading “Considering Flow”

As Many Worlds As

A few days ago I was sitting in my local park in Berlin, underneath the oak tree. All of a sudden I overheard a man’s voice, speaking English:

“You are your presence in the world. There is no single world in which everyone is present”

The gift of these words connected immediately with a thought I often kick idly around (which isn’t the same as thinking it through):

“Although we talk about multiculturalism, diversity and pluralism, we’re only at the outer edge of beginning truly to learn how to understand, accept and coexist with people who are radically other than ourselves.” Continue reading “As Many Worlds As”