Blade runner is the movie based on the novel by Phillip K Dick, âDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheepâ
Rutger Hauer plays Roy Batty â an android, with a limited lifespan,(he dies in the scene above), but who nevertheless possesses emotion and self-awareness â Hauerâs role made him a cult icon.
I remember walking towards Hauer in a backstreet in London, some years ago. He was magneticâŚbig and tall, with piercing ice-blue eyes. I thought he was like a giant, brutal Paul NewmanâŚperfect casting.
Synthetic life is now upon us. Only yesterday the press proclaimed the creation of an artificial reproducing cellâŚartificial DNA, typed on a computer and inserted into the hollowed out shell of a bacteriaâŚ
Is it right or wrong? Is it simply inevitable that science will finally be able to create life â intelligent, self-aware life â from scratch?
Or does possible distaste depend on a localized GodâŚwho does Godâs work
What aboutÂ a universal âGodâ which includes ourselves and everything â plants, animals, rocks âÂ even âsyntheticâ lifeâ.
If we are part of that âAllâ, does that allow us to âplayâ God?
I think humanity will inevitably create synthetic living creatures from the living cells that scientists have just begun to create. We have always made images of ourselves and our fellow creatures â perhaps reaching for theÂ immortality that Rutger Hauerâs Android desired.
Will they go to Heaven when they die? Will they re-incarnate?
Or will they just be the children of a lesser god?*
*Children of a Lesser God is the title of a play by Mark Medoff
I’ve just woken from a dream. I seldom remember my dreams, although I’m sort of aware that there is another world I return to each night. This particular chink in the wall, showed me a dream of devastation and loss.
I’ve been up for 2 hours and I can’t sleep although I want a simple oblivion before the coming day.
It’s difficult to focus at the moment, but the Red Chakra purrs a warming vibration.
Sometimes the heights of blue and violet are too intense and the frequency of their astral song is beyond my hearing.
I am not ready for Heaven
When I was in my 20’s, I had a great time, potholing (caving) in the Yorkshire Dales. Time off work from my job as a cave-guide, would find me sliding and slithering as I worked my way underground, often in spaces so small that it was impossible to get through without taking off my protective helmet and its lifesaving headlamp and sliding them along in front of me.
I often used to wonder what would happen if the bulb failed – I never went caving alone – but I knew one or two foolhardy types, who would disappear off by themselves, beyond the back of the show-cave and along passages and underground streams that led to the centre of Ingleborough mountain – and I don’t remember them ever taking spare bulbs.
I can remember myself and another guide, pausing for a rest in a narrow slit in the limestone only about 18" high, but wide enough to go off in many (wrong) directions - and switching off our lights. The blackness was absolute. The total lack of light fascinated me and my eyes felt as if they were standing out of their sockets as they strained hopelessly to find a glimmer of the vibration we perceive as ‘light’.
Light can only exist and be perceived, if the energy source/transmitter is present and the receiving visual mechanism and its link to the brain is in working order and operating at the correct frequency. If the receiver is none functional, light as a personal experience within our five senses is therefore an impossibility - although there are cases of people with the ability to see through skin tissue.
If the sun were to extinguish and if the energy of all the other molten and volatile planets and stars that emit the vibrations of light and heat were to dissipate and fade, there would be no source and therefore no transmitter - then again, there would be no ‘me’ or ‘you’ either – at least in this dimension.
In the evenings, after I had taken the last party of tourists around the natural stalactite and stalagmite formations and returned from my own cave-explorations, I would walk home through the dark forest at the base of the mountain, towards the village. I would usually stop at some point and stand silently amongst the trees. On moon and starless nights, I would again find myself in almost total darkness, until my eyes became attuned enough to pick up the faintest glimmer of light around me - a glimmer that did not exist underground.
Slowly my surroundings would start to become apparent. The outline of trees and rocks would form from the blackness and gradually I would be able to see enough of the path to be able to walk through the forest, without slipping and falling down the slope to my left, into the stream that flowed from the mountain and from the entrance to the cave in which I worked.
As I trudged home, usually alone as my companion was staying in a semi-derelict cottage near the cavern, I would stop and listen carefully. Gradually my ears would pick up the small rustling sounds of unknown animals in the darkness – and the giggling and gurgling of the forest spirits. Of course it was the sound of the stream (I thought) as it flowed over rocks and boulders - but it did sound like words and muffled laughter. It was easy to imagine the malevolent *boggarts as they clustered in the dark and to almost hear their whispered secrets.
Some people will see a fairy at the bottom of their garden, another will see a flower - the energy-cluster is the same. The fact that one person sees the energy-cluster as a Bluebell and another person sees it as Tinkerbell, does nothing to disprove the existence of the energy-cluster itself - it only goes to acknowledge an initial perception and the many variations of comprehension that may follow.
I’d love you to go to Robin Easton’s blog Naked in Eden - she has a beautiful video of a stream and equally beautiful thoughts for the New Year.
Happy New Year h
*boggart ~ ‘In the folklore of North-West England, boggarts live under bridges on dangerous sharp bends on roads, and it is considered bad luck for drivers not to offer their polite greetings as they cross.’ ~ Wikipedia.
They also live in the limestone caves in the area. “Boggart’s Roaring Hole” is a pothole on the flanks of Ingleborough Mountain, from which mysterious and frightening sounds can sometimes be heard. ~ h.
image at head of post from Wikimedia Commons - click on photo for link21 comments
Many people will acknowledge Heaven as a state of afterlife with celestial trees, fields rivers and sunlight in the company of Angels; but avoid a similar three-dimensional perception of Hell as a place of flames and darkness, inhabited by clove-footed demons and tortured souls.
One perception cannot live without the other. A Heaven of green fields and blessed sunlight together with the sounds of joy and laughter, cannot be part of our three-dimensional comprehension of the spiritual world, unless we also acknowledge the existence of a Hell of molten rocks and lava and the wailing despair of souls lost in the sulphuric darkness.
Look downward and focus on the centre of the earth.
Now recite the Lord’s Prayer.
What are your thoughts and feelings after doing the exercise? (or declining)
Before I explain, do the video-test below…(it takes around half a minute)
(do the test first and no looking down for the answer - stop scrolling)
Did you get a surprise?
If you can miss ‘that’ in the middle of a basketball game - can you be sure you didn’t miss the Angel sitting opposite you in the restaurant - or the theatre, or the train station, or simply when you were thinking about other things…
Sometimes we only see what we want to, (or are conditioned to)…see
I saw the vid’ initially in ‘Lilly’s Life’ ~ Lilly is a fantastic writer - She is so funny, witty, bright…go there
I said I’d use it one day Lilly
ps: Click on Obama to hear about rainforests and other (none moonwalking) bears14 comments
When my friend Robin Easton asked for support to save the Great Bear rainforest, I knew I had to go right to the top…..well Virtually.
Please send a “one click” message to the government of British Columbia, urging them to keep their promise to the world. There is no letter writing, only clicking and 2 minutes of your time.
The scenic route would be to go to Robin’s blog, read more about the petition and click from there:
If you are in a hurry, then go straight to the petition site…
We owe it to the world and to our future generations.7 comments
Do you like jigsaw puzzles?
Maybe I’m wrong, but there seem to be less jigsaw puzzles in the shops than when I was a boy. I can remember going through a phase when I kept getting puzzles with more and more pieces - and then, just to make things more difficult - turning the pieces upside down and putting the whole thing together sight unseen.
Of course, there’s nothing worse than a jigsaw puzzle with a piece missing, or one that doesn’t quite seem to fit…
Piece 1. ~ The Spirit Guide
I don’t like flying. Actually I love it when the plane has taken off and I’m in the air (did you discover that you could control your flight direction in my last blog post). It’s just that I feel so out of control. I know that statistically it is the safest form of travel - but I still have a feeling of foreboding for days before a flight.
We were due to fly over to Killarney and I was starting to get my pre-flight nerves, so it came as some consolation to hear the spiritual medium at church, tell me that the spirit of a man, a "known" man was going to help me. The medium couldn’t tell me who he was, or had been when he was alive, but she did say that he looked very much like me. I thought at once about George Bernard Shaw and also James Joyce. But I wasn’t at all convinced…
Piece 2. ~ Ann and David
…Later we were all having our usual cup of tea, when Ann, a member of the congregation, asked me if I would read something at a dedication service she and the Rev. Eileen were arranging for her son David who had died at the age of nineteen, eight years previously. Ann explained that David had been beaten to death at the roadside. What a terrible thing for a mother to endure; her only son murdered, leaving her with her memories and grief. Ann explained that David had been a bit of a tearaway, but with “a heart of gold and a wonderful smile.” As Ann continued, her love for David poured out of her. She was planning the service to reassure him that he could ‘go on’ and that she wanted him to understand that she could cope with the rest of her earthly life.
“I don’t want him to worry anymore. He will have lots to do and I want him to feel that he can go and get on with his own destiny and not hang around, worrying about me.”
Piece 3. Death and Danger
I drove the Rev. Eileen home and as we approached her front door, a group of teenagers were picking on a young boy. The boy, who must have been around David’s age, looked frightened and their violence made me think that David’s fate was about to be re-enacted right in front of us. Fortunately the group dispersed -, but death can come so quickly.
Once inside, we sat down with a cup of tea, silently observed by a small group of Irish figurines on the mantelpiece. “They really live” said Eileen. Eight pairs of twinkling eyes looked back. I was due to go to Ireland in a week and I felt uneasy about the flight. “Keep me safe in Killarney” I thought.
Piece 4. The Poem
I then told Eileen about my conversation with Ann. Suddenly prompted by the sight of the Irish figurines, I realized that I would not be able to read at the service because I would be in Killarney on that day. Eileen looked disappointed. We sat in silence for a little while, and then I heard myself say “I could write a poem for her.” Eileen smiled.
Piece 5. The Vision
So the matter was settled, although I had no idea what I would write. I did however; relate to Eileen a visual hallucination that had happened to me a couple of nights previously, which in want for a better term, I could only describe as a ‘Vision’. Up to then I had always viewed the term ‘Vision’ as a rather biblical and romantic way of describing the output of a vivid imagination. This was mainly because I had not had one. I now know that a vision, once received, is unmistakable and cannot be confused with a normal visual-mental image, or a dream. This particular vision turned out to relate directly to Ann and David, although that was not clear to me then, as Eileen and I sat with her husband Ken, who had pottered downstairs to join us:
I was lying in bed, when the normal pattern of shapes, colours and stars that I (and possibly everyone else) see projected onto the back of my eyelids, slowly gained depth. I seemed to be floating in outer space and gazing at the infinity of the universe. The image was so real that I became a little frightened, but at the same time, intrigued at what might happen. I found could still wriggle my fingers and toes and therefore I assumed I was not dreaming - in any case it all seemed so real.
Then the infinity of stars dissolved and I found myself floating through a passage, toward a sunlit garden in the grounds of a beautiful mansion. The colours were unbelievable, like nothing I had seen before. Although I find it hard to believe in a heaven of gardens, flowers and mansions, I was sure that if such a heaven existed, I was indeed seeing it. At this point I was so enthralled with what I was seeing and so aware that I was not controlling the vision as in my normal imagination, that I opened my eyes and found I was simply lying on my bed in my dimly lit room. I was delighted to find that when I closed my eyes again, the vision was still there.
Then around the corner of the passage, came a black and white dog. The dog looked at me intently and then slowly the vision of the garden, the mansion, the “guardian” dog and the wonderful colours faded back into the starlit universe, which itself became again the patterns behind my eyelids.
Piece 6. ~ The Poet
The next day I woke with a favourite line from a poem by Dylan Thomas, running through my head:
“the ball I threw whilst playing in the park has not yet reached the ground”
Dylan Thomas was the first poet I had encountered when I was around sixteen years of age, and the line that repeated again and again in my mind as I made my morning coffee came from “Should Lanterns Shine.” David had experienced such a short life and the idea that the ball was still flying through the air, seemed to underline this. Sipping my coffee, I considered that sending Dylan’s poem to Ann might be sufficient.
Piece 7. ~ A Poem for David
It was at this point that the poem I was to eventually write that day, started to form - seemingly of its own accord. We were opening at the Grand Theatre in Wolverhampton that evening and as I drove to the venue, thoughts words and phrases bounced through my head. Ann wanted something “young” to read; David had died eight years ago, so in a sense he had been re-born into the spirit realm at the moment of his death. Ann wanted David to “go on” and learn. Thoughts of my own first day at school and how I wanted to go home for tea and cuddles and how excited I was to see my mother waiting for me at the school gates replayed in my head. The thoughts and images kept coming during the sound-check and the preparatory staging for the evening’s opening night and I became more and more impatient to get the poem down on paper.
Eventually all the pre-show preparations were complete and I was able to go across the road from the stage door, to the local “Naff-Caff” a fantastic and dying English tradition, where steak-pie, lamb chops, egg chips and beans and the like, can be obtained for under a fiver, including a slice of bread and butter and a large cup of tea (so much better and cheaper than double burger “Whoppers” “Tortilla Wraps” and the rest of the new generation of fast food plastic digestive nightmares that are overtaking our simple and surprisingly nutritious – but totally un-trendy private enterprises.
After sausage egg and chips and still drinking my tea, I wrote David’s poem down in one rapid burst. The words came through me as if from somewhere else. Looking at the poem, completed in around twenty minutes, with so few corrections, I was stunned at the depth of meaning within it, even if the style was rather naïve. I had written it as if I was Ann. As I wrote, I had become Ann and David, my mother and myself. However, even though the poem was finished, I felt compelled to add Dylan’s line at the end. I also felt it was “ok” to change it to “The ball you threw whilst playing in the park, has not yet reached the ground.” I thanked Dylan Thomas in my mind, for whatever part he had played in guiding, or at least inspiring me.
Piece 8. ~ The Dog
The following Sunday, I met Ann. She was delighted with the poem and I was starting to explain that it had seemed to come through me, as if I had been guided, when my attention was drawn to a black and white dog, sitting at the feet of Christine, a medium and a member of the congregation - it was the dog I had seen in my vision of the wonderful garden.
After the service I asked Helen, another member of our church, if she knew the name of the dog that had been sitting at Christine’s feet that afternoon. Her reply sent a shiver of excitement right through my body, “Dylan” she said
“As in Dylan Thomas.”
Piece 9. ~ The Bomb Scare
Landing in Dublin a week later, on route to Killarney, there was a bomb-scare, in which I became involved and which hit the front pages of National newspapers – I remembered the Irish figurines and my feeling of impending danger.
Piece 10. ~ The Poet and the Dog
One evening in Killarney, near the end of Act 1, a title I had seen years before, “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog” flashed through my mind. In the dressing room during the interval, Spencer the Company Manager, Russell “the Baker” and Richard “the Cowboy” helped me look up the title on the Internet. This is what we found:
"Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog" – An autobiographical collection of short stories, prose and Poetry by Dylan Thomas.
All of the above happened around eighteen months ago and I decided last weekend to write the whole thing up as a spiritual investigation, a jigsaw puzzle if you like. All of the pieces seemed to fit well and I didn’t even consider piece 1. and the ‘known’ spirit guide - in fact my original first piece was piece 2…
…until I started to read the excellent accounts of the life of Dylan Thomas on the website of BBC Wales.
Piece 11. ~James Joyce
Dylan Thomas had called his collection of poems and short stories "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Dog, after Joyce’s semi-autobiographical work, "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" This made me think of what is now piece 1., the ‘known’ spirit who was going to help me.
But the medium had said that the spirit had looked like me, and James Joyce, apart from being rather thin, bore no resemblance. So I read on…
Piece 12. ~ Augustus John
…James Joyce had been painted by an artist called Augustus John. Joyce it seems had complained that John’s drawings of him had failed to represent accurately the lower part of his face…
…Augustus John had also sketched Dylan Thomas, as well as introducing him to (and having an affair with) Caitlin Thomas, Dylan’s wife.
So was Augustus John, the ‘known’ spirit and the final piece in the jigsaw puzzle?
Today we’re going on an expedition. Remember to prepare yourself well - a glass of wine (or something stronger) might be a good idea. Whatever else you do, try to give yourself enough time to get into the whole journey…don’t just set off for two minutes or so. Give your treck between five and ten minutes (hence the red wine)
…when you return jot down a few words, making sure your impressions are spontaneous and genuine (and no looking at anyone’s work and cheating before you’ve done your own)
Ok…When you’re ready, click on the photograph.
(Make sure your sound is up)
Later, you might like to visit the lady below. She discovered the journey first
don’t lose your way10 comments
The theatre tour this year has been very arduous and the weekly change of venue, has found the company and myself, zig zagging up and down and across the country - Glasgow, Bournemouth, Ireland, Newcastle-upon-Tyne - of all the aspects of my profession, travelling is the part I would miss the least.
Touring requires both stamina and also a strong sense of a personal centre to cope, not only with different theatres, but also with the wanderers life-style of different "digs" and various accommodations each week.
Last year I was able to get home, at least for Sundays, but this year I am lucky if I see my home twice a month - and then only for a day or part of it.
This has also meant that my usual regular visits to Spiritualist Church have been interrupted. Perhaps oddly, I think that this may not be such a bad thing. During the first two years after Christina passed away, the church became my centre and my support, but I know in my heart that my centre should be within myself and not external, no matter how comforting that external support may be.
Neverthless, I was able to visit my friends at church, on the Sunday before we all flew to Belfast three weeks ago. The visiting medium was an elderly charismatic lady, who I immediately felt drawn towards and who, in her ‘messages’ to the congregation, turned to me and announced that there was a gentleman with her in spirit, who was here to help me.
Now I have received many messages through spiritual mediums, all encouraging me to write. The reason I have four blogs and a website, is solely through my experiences and contact from ‘beyond’. Yet I remain (and maybe always will) a sceptic when it comes to the existence and the nature of the spirit world.
The message was encouraging however, in that it seemed to be the same as all the others over the past three years. The medium described my spiritual helper as being:
’surrounded by books’
I suppose it was natural for me to assume that the ‘help’ would be with my writing…
Northern Ireland and Belfast has changed enormously since my first visit in 1980. At that time, the ‘troubles’ were at a high and everyone was affected by them. I expect there was some risk in being there at the time, especially being English, but the Irish are such a warm spontaneous people, that I seldom felt in any danger.
It was in this climate of unrest, that an eccentric professor of Modern History, became a leading figure in the continuance and development of the performing arts in Belfast.
My first impression was that I had met Fagin from Oliver Twist, in fact the character as played by Ron Moody in the film and stage musical version, could have been his twin brother, this likeness together with a total disregard for his own appearance, increased with time, until our last meeting in 1989.
Photo: Chris Hill
Last meetings grow with increasing years, but I was still a relatively young man, when Michael treated me to a banquet of a meal in the theatre restaurant. I can remember roast pork on a spit, roast potatoes covered in herbs and peas that tasted like they had just come straight from the pod. All that and a really beautiful bottle of vintage red wine. I was frankly overawed with the man; there is no other word to describe the disheveled academic other than ‘erudite’.
There is a natural gap or difference between the English and the Celts of Ireland, Wales and Scotland, that political correctness tends to avoid, but which is fascinating when traced right back to it’s origins, at the time of the Teutonic/Nordic invasions. So the unlikely success of Michael’s tenure as Artistic Director of the Grand Opera House and the affection with which he was regarded owed as much to his uncompromising aura of ‘Educated Englishman’ as it did to the natural Celtic appreciation and understanding of a man driven by the convictions of his heart.
At a time when British Actors Equity was advising theatre companies not to go to strife-torn Northern Ireland, Michael was persuading managements in England, Scotland and Europe, to send their productions over to Northern Ireland and to the Opera House. The current success and reputation of the Opera House is due in no small part to the shambling Professor Barnes.
Our current visit was the first in over three years and I noticed a painting of Michael in the ‘Green Room’ that seemed to be new - there was no indication that he had died, but I had a distinct feeling that he had passed on. The painting fascinated me and each day I spent some time, looking at the posture and expression of the man I remembered so well.
Everyone has good days and bad days and the first Thursday of our visit was one of the latter. I have a love/hate relationship with my work and on that particular day, I felt that I never wanted to see the inside of a theatre again, or choreograph, or act, or for that matter, dance again.
At one point during the dismal day, I passed through the Green Room and said firmly and loudly to the painting:
"Michael, I know you’ve passed on - What am I going to do with my life?"
Michael looked down from the wall, with an expression I remembered so well.
Belfast has now been transformed from a war-torn city, full of British soldiers, barbed wire, armoured tanks and constant searches and check-points, into a bustling city with shops, stores and a shortage of cabs on a Saturday night. After unsuccessfully trying for around half an hour the following Saturday, I was eventually successful in ‘bagging’ on of the busy drivers. My driver turned out to be from the Philippines.
Cab drivers, the world over, are natural conversationalists. I have in the past (now to my regret) cut short the first expected question of "What do you do?" opting instead for silence and thinking time. Since my Stonehenge transformation however, I have turned over a new leaf and in fact started off the chatter by asking my driver, how he came to be living and working in Belfast. It turned out that his wife was a nurse in a local old-peoples home and that he had come over to join her. His ability with the English language had not improved in relation to his smooth driving however and the conversation was slow - until I told him that I was working at the Opera House.
"You know Michael Barnes then?"
How on earth did a taxi driver from the Philippines know about Michael?
"My wife nursed him just before he died. He used to get out of bed, put on his dressing gown and dance with her"
"He just loved to dance"
and then I remembered the medium at church and the message of help…
Yes Michael, I’ve got the message
"I’ll keep dancing"
As Thomas is my patron saint, the doubts inevitably crept in. As I passed by the painting each day, I became less convinced that I had actually received a message from beyond - a spiritual medium, a message of help, a Phillipino cab driver’s wife who danced around hospital beds with Michael, only weeks before he died. It all made a lovely story - but maybe also a lovely illusion.
Like Thomas, I needed more proof…
The cost of hotels and guest-house accommodation has soared in Belfast, but I had managed to find a local woman on the theatre ‘digs-list’ who was delighted to let me stay in her spare bedroom for a nominal rent - except that, as she was having a conservatory built at the back of her house, there would be a lot of noise from the workmen - and there was!
On the final Friday, I pottered downstairs to make a cup of tea and found myself in a long conversation about Irish comedians as opposed to English ones. The whole thing developed delightfully into a Celtic-English contest, as to who could come up with the most names and the most memorable jokes. I must have done well, as one of the workmen suddenly said
"Do you work in the theatre then?"
When I affirmed that I did, his reply could have come straight from the mouth of the medium at the beginning of the story, or indeed from Michael himself:
"I worked for Michael Barnes, just before he went into the nursing home. I put up lots of bookshelves for him. He was surrounded by books you see. The whole house was full of them and he only had space for one chair in his living room because he was…
…surrounded by books."
I passed by Michael’s picture the following day and I swear he smiled at me…
(but maybe it was just a trick of the light)
Michael Barnes, OBE, arts administrator, was born on October 31, 1932. He died on May 14, 2008, aged 75
Thank you to
- If you’d like to find out about the lady on the bench, please click on the photograph and all will be revealed.