swans – mind/body/light/sound (1995)

Throw your mind away
Fall into the sea
There’s nothing solid here
Dissolve your body today
There’s a sun in the sky
We’re in the atmosphere
Throw yourself in the sea
There’s nothing solid down here
Mind/body/light/sound
Mindless, bodyless, soundless light
This ordinary night
This ordinary day
They’re twisted out of shape
Then they disintegrate
Cool water runs through the ground
The ocean blends with the air
Throw yourself in the fire
There’s nothing solid around here
Mind/body/light/sound
Mindless, bodyless, soundless light
The world was over today
The time is already gone
Throw your mind in the sea
Eternity doesn’t last very long
There’s some people on earth
They live in separate minds
Dissolve your body today,
There is no more outside
Mind/body/light/sound
Mindless, bodyless, soundless light

jiddu krishnamurti on observing ourselves in space and time

“When the observer is the observed, and the observer has always acted as though the observed is something different from himself, then he could act. But, when he realises that the observer IS the observed, all action ceases on his part… and, therefore, all effort.  And therefore there is no fear at all. This requires a great deal of inward inquiry, inward observation, step by step without coming to any conclusion.

“Why do you choose; what is the necessity of choice? If you see something very clearly (as we just now saw what freedom implied, and that the mind is only free when it can see the total) … when you see that clearly, there is no choice. It’s only the confused mind that chooses. Awareness takes place only when there is no choice, or when you are aware of all the conflicting choices, all the conflicting desires, the strains… Just to observe all this movement of contradiction… and, knowing that the observer is the observed, that therefore in that process there is no choice at all, but only watching what IS.

“And that’s entirely different from concentration. Awareness brings a quality of attention in which there is neither the observer nor the observed. When you really attend, completely attend, like now, if you are really listening, there is neither the listener nor the speaker. And that state of attention brings about an extraordinary  sense of freshness, a quality of newness to the mind…”

scientist – dematerialise

Off Scientist Meets the Space Invaders (Greensleeves Records, 1981), produced by Mikey “Roots” Scott & Linval Thompson. The recording was done at Channel One Studios backed by the Roots Radics, and mixed at King Tubby’s. The recording was by Stanley “Barnabas” Bryan, Anthony “Crucial Bunny” Graham and Maxwell “Maxie” Livington Smith. The cover artwork is by Tony McDermott.

thoughts on meaningful work, 14 november 2012, 5:38 a.m.

What follows is something I wanted to blog from Turkey in November but was unable to due to lack of an internet connection at the time. I woke up very early one morning, typed it into my phone’s notes app, half asleep, and promptly forgot about it. The incredibly tedious work I am currently doing (editing an MSc thesis on anthropometric measurements for office chairs) reminded me of its existence. So, two months later, here it is.

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Arif Cerit with the farm dogs, Shanslar (Lucky) and Beyaz (White), at Pastoral Vadi. Photo: Rosemary Lombard.

Last night I had a profound conversation, in my bad Turkish and his bad English, with Arif Cerit, a guy who lives at Pastoral Vadi, the organic/permaculture farm near Fethiye in South-Western Turkey which I am visiting – working in exchange for food and a bed. It’s a very comfortable bed, in a neat, well-appointed cottage designed and built of cob (straw and mud) five years ago by Ahmet Kizen, an architect passionate about sustainable living and ecotourism who bought this farm 14 years ago and opened it to visitors about 7 years back. No maintenance has been necessary since the cottage was built, I’m told. The thick walls keep it cool during the day and surprisingly warm at night.

So, back to what I wanted to blog about, which has resonated for me with my friend P‘s latest gier on Facebook, which involves a sort of Dada/absurdist attempt to animalise interactions. Having been away and in limited contact with everyone, I haven’t had a chance to ask him more about it, but, basically, instead of clicking “like”, he types animal noises. “Baaa, baaa”, mostly. For me it draws attention to the essentially animal nature of human interaction, which we have become unconscious of and detached from, as we live large swathes of our lives online, “denatured”, unquestioning.  “Like” has become a capricious yet ubiquitous form of social capital. Facebook’s shady manipulation of this currency of late has triggered consternation and outrage. They’ve put in place algorithms that restrict the “organic” (terms such as “organic” and “viral” in the world of virtual memes are interesting in their ironic detachment!) reach of posts on the network, requiring one to pay (“real” money) to secure an audience greater than an arbitrary sliver of the profiles to whom one is connected… Just when I thought it was because I only had a sliver of die-hards who actually enjoyed what I post anymore, I realised that most of my Facebook friends no longer see my updates in their news feeds. What a relief (?). The virtual landscape increasingly resembles a targeted marketing environment more than it does a communal hangout, a place for exchanging ideas and thoughts, as it used to. Now it’s mostly about Profit. By monetising the prominence of posts, equal access is effectively being stifled. Concomitantly, freedom of association and meaningful interaction are withering.

That’s another aside, or, rather, more context. ANYWAY. So, what I gleaned from my conversation with big, friendly Arif was that he had been a taxi driver with a fleet of cars in the west coast city of Izmir for 21 years, before dropping everything and moving here to the farm. He sold his business, gave the money to his brothers and left it all behind.

He says that the city is a big jungle, very dark, very dense, very dangerous, full of artifice and chemical poisons. People are a species of animal, he says, like all animals… In cities you have to be a predator to do well. If you are not a predator, you have to live your life very small, like a rat, to survive. Your mind is very important, he says. The chasing after money and things that you need to do to live in the city takes up all your time and your thoughts. Money is a cancer. TV is the morphine you need to kill the pain at the end of the day: the pain of your mind being eaten away.

Out here on the farm, life is real, he says. There is space, there is ground, and air, and the smell of greenness. Animals who are not predators can live happily, widely, openly, productively.

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Processing pomegranates by hand to make nar ekshili sos (pomegranate reduction). Photo: Rosemary Lombard

Sticky, crimson pomegranate juice is running down my arms and dripping off my elbows. I’m stained with the joy of manual labour. It’s so satisfying, this repetitive bashing of crates and crates of halved fruit to knock out the arils, then the squeezing in a bag to extract the juice, which is then boiled over a fire for ten hours to reduce it to a dark, tart syrup, then strained through muslin into bottles.  It’s slow-going, messy, tiring work. I have blisters, purple palms. But, at the end of each day, I can see the results of my time spent. It’s nothing like the virtual world of work I mostly inhabit, where I shut down my computer and a sense of the hours and hours I have spent shunting pixels around evaporates.

For so long now, my life has felt paper-thin, no, thinner, as if I barely cast even a shadow of influence in the world, and I realise now that it is largely because of the intangible nature of the work I have been doing, which mostly involves cleaning, tidying and correcting other people’s writing, or recording their work, or facilitating their conversations… It’s all work towards actualising goals that I have deemed worthwhile; nonetheless, these are goals which are not my own. I have tried to frame them as my own, tried to see my part in the whole as indispensable, my purpose as contiguous with that of the projects’, my place as “a tiny cog in the great wheel of evolution” – that was how Billy Wilder put it, writing the words of Ninotchka played by Greta Garbo in Ernst Lubitsch’s wonderful 1939 satire of the same name.

Alas, my heart just hasn’t been convinced. I haven’t been able to shake this unbearable sense of lightness, of the unnecessary breaths I’m taking, of the lack of any other humans who truly require or desire my existence, irreplaceably, here on Earth. All this needs to change if I am to remain sane when I get back. Living with a heavenly purpose is too far beyond me. I’d be satisfied to have done with consumption, thanks. I started this blog in an attempt to make something indelible of the ephemeral. I need to do more. I’m starving.

“If I had an orchard, I’d work till I was sore.” ~ Fleet Foxes – “Helplessness Blues“.

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Sweet! A break to drink some freshly-squeezed pomegranate juice. Photo: Rosemary Lombard

Ş

apples

snow white poison appleLife will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.

 Louise Erdrich (The Painted Drum)

lipstiffie

Facebook status update, this evening:

Storyboarding is strangely interesting when it gives a view into how different nation-states construct and respond to sales stereotypes. I’m doing a lipstick ad for actual French people from Paris right now, and it is noticeably stripped of that subtext one inevitably finds in American or South African ads that says, “Don’t worry, she’s not dangerous and what she really wants is to be your submissive little wifey.” This ad would freeze the testicles off a Sarf-Effriken jock, even though all it’s about is glamour.

It’s odd, because it is all about women achieving an aesthetic perfection so intense they are geisha-like objects of contemplation, yet the glamour is also tangibly an end in itself which doesn’t necessarily include men. It’s not like we don’t already know this, but it brought to my attention that South African culture which considers itself sophisticated is not only colonial but downright rural. Sexuality is confined to breeding, like farmyard-style.

Comments:

Lynne: Sounds like fun for a change! X are you gonna buy the lipstick? X

Lizza: Being briefed for a storyboard doesn’t necessarily go as far as anyone telling me what the product is! This time I needed to be told what it looked like, but I didn’t get the brand. Probably a load of bollocks. For all I know this could be the French version of Sarie magazine – I really wouldn’t be able to spot the difference.

maya deren/alexander hammid – meshes of the afternoon

Meshes of the Afternoon (1943) is a short experimental film directed by wife and husband team, Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid. The film’s narrative is circular, and repeats a number of psychologically symbolic images, including a flower on a long driveway, a key falling, a door unlocked, a knife in a loaf of bread, a mysterious Grim Reaper-like cloaked figure with a mirror for a face, a phone off the hook and an ocean. Through creative editing, distinct camera angles, and slow motion, this surrealist film depicts a world in which it is more and more difficult to catch reality.

“This film is concerned with the interior experiences of an individual. It does not record an event which could be witnessed by other persons. Rather, it reproduces the way in which the subconscious of an individual will develop, interpret and elaborate an apparently simple and casual incident into a critical emotional experience.”
— Maya Deren on Meshes of the Afternoon, from DVD release Maya Deren: Experimental Films 1943–58.

The film was originally silent – the soundtrack, by Deren’s third husband, Teiji Ito, was only added in 1959.

audre lorde on the erotic

The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognised feeling…

Of course, women so empowered are dangerous. So we are taught to separate the erotic from most vital areas of our lives other than sex…

The principal horror of any system which defines the good in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, or which defines human need to exclusion of the psychic and emotional components of that need — the principal horror of such a system is that it robs our work of its erotic value, its erotic power and life appeal and fulfilment. Such a system reduces work to a travesty of necessities, a duty by which we earn bread or oblivion for ourselves and those we love. But this is tantamount to blinding a painter and then telling her to improve her work, and to enjoy the act of painting. It is not only next to impossible, it is also profoundly cruel.

. . . [O]nce we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of. Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives…

During World War II, we bought sealed plastic packets of white, uncolored margarine, with a tiny, intense pellet of yellow coloring perched like a topaz just inside the clear skin of the bag. We would leave the margarine out for a while to soften, and then we would pinch the little pellet to break it inside the bag, releasing the rich yellowness into the soft pale mass of margarine. Then, taking it carefully between our fingers, we would knead it gently back and forth, over and over, until the color had spread throughout the whole pound bag of margarine, thoroughly coloring it.

I find the erotic such a kernel within myself. When released from its intense and constrained pellet, it flows through and colors my life with a kind of energy that heightens and sensitizes and strengthens all my experience.

Lorde, Audre. “Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power.” Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches. Freedom, CA: Crossing Press, 1984. 53-59.

tale of tales (skazka skazok)

Astoundingly beautiful animation masterpiece by Yuri Norstein (USSR,1979, 28 min).

From Wikipedia:

Tale of Tales, like Tarkovsky’s Mirror, attempts to structure itself like a human memory. Memories are not recalled in neat chronological order; instead, they are recalled by the association of one thing with another, which means that any attempt to put memory on film cannot be told like a conventional narrative. The film is thus made up of a series of related sequences whose scenes are interspersed between each other. One of the primary themes involves war, with particular emphasis on the enormous losses the Soviet Union suffered on the Eastern Front during World War II. Several recurring characters and their interactions make up a large part of the film, such as the poet, the little girl and the bull, the little boy and the crows, the dancers and the soldiers, and especially the little grey wolf (Russian: се́ренький волчо́к, syeryenkiy volchok). Another symbol connecting nearly all of these different themes are green apples (which may symbolise life, hope, or potential).

Yuriy Norshteyn wrote in Iskusstvo Kino magazine that the film is “about simple concepts that give you the strength to live.”

seaside towns they forgot to bomb

14 September 2005 – 01:59

Aah, Sea Point. Maybe it’s just the pheromones, or the exhaust fumes, or the soupy mist of oil from cheap takeaways, or the blinking lights, relentless through the fishy smog… Maybe it’s the conglomeration of them all… The whole place reeks of overtiredness.

Main Road, Sea Point. Photo: Rosemary Lombard

Main Road, Sea Point. Photo: Rosemary Lombard

Know how the Durban beach front feels at night? All sodium glare and humid candyfloss and hooting and “Rayban” pushers, stumbling over sprawling elephantiasis limbs; cabbagey piss and rotting elephantiasis limbs underfoot at every turn, elephantiasis limbs EVERYWHERE?

Or the water slides in Muizenberg? Ice-cream sticks and rusty fish guts and cocoa butter thick in your nostrils? Shrivelled, orange bikini grans and stubbed toes and burnt children scrambling back up, over and over, getting their money’s worth, with fresh snot to add to the circulated stream? Kinda like that.

Like a casino, or a circus, or the school parking lot half an hour before the last night of the end-of-year play. Just like that. The cement, the tar etched with residues of action, the erratic paths of people hopscotching between the pavement’s wet patches of unknown origin, beat-up cabs snaking through the gutters, cruising for someone going somewhere, doing something… you never can be certain what.

There’s an interminable vacancy in all the hyperactivity, a loneliness. A sense that most of what’s done is probably being done to keep up appearances, because it’s in the script. In bar toilets, in sighing lifts and entrance lobbies of peeling flats, people wait, unexpectantly, for something undisclosed… The sour gaggles of Jewish crones… The sweet fags in the coin-op laundrette… The salty dog walkers on the promenade… The makwerekwere… The goosefleshed trannie under the stop sign… LCD Jesus loves you, 01:31, 8°C.

It’s a frustrating place, a titillating place for anyone with even a pinch of the voyeur in them. You never know if today will be your chance to be privy to that something, to overhear the deal… Well, it’s hardly likely to be above board, is it? You daren’t blink in case you miss it, yet you virtually never get to see the loops close, experience the denouement. And your imagination goes crazy.

Oy vey, it’s a schande. Happeningness rubs your nose in it, but, from a distance, it’s too pungent, too slippery to pry open cleanly… You know your conjecture’s amusing but empty.

Romanticism breeds covetousness, even of the sordid. So, you’ve read Burroughs, Bukowski, Genet, Sade. Ballard, Palahniuk, Sartre… Your own illicit missions never feel as archetypal.

It’s like being hopelessly in love, but not being in ’40s Casablanca, you know? Like rainbow soap bubbles popping on your tongue… The bath gets cold before you stop being too distracted by the froth to immerse yourself fully.

jarvis cocker – sheffield sex city (lyrics)

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Sea Point Main Road, 7 January 2013. Photograph: Rosemary Lombard

the city is a woman, bigger than any other…

…the sun rose from behind the gasometers at six-thirty a.m.
crept through the gap in your curtains
and caressed your bare feet poking from beneath the floral sheets.
i watched it flaking bits of varnish from your nails
trying to work its way up under the sheets.
even the sun’s on heat today;
the whole city getting stiff in the building heat.

now i’m trying hard to meet her but the fares went up at seven
she is somewhere in the city, somewhere watching television
watching people being stupid, doing things she can’t believe in
love won’t last ’til next installment
ten o’ clock on tuesday evening
the world is going on outside, the night is gaping open wide
the wardrobe and the chest of drawers are telling her to go outdoors
he should have been here by this time, he said that he’d be here by nine
that guy is such a prick sometimes, i don’t know why you bother, really.

oh babe oh i’m sorry
but i had to make love to every crack in the pavement and the shop doorways
and the puddles of rain that reflected your face in my eyes.
the day didn’t go too well.
too many chocolates and cigarettes.
i kept thinking of you and almost walking into lamp-posts.
why’s it so hot?
the air coming up to boil; rubbing up against walls and lamp-posts trying to get rid of it.
old women clack their tongues in the shade of crumbling concrete bus shelters.
dogs doing it in central reservations and causing multiple pile-ups in the centre of town.
i didn’t want to come here in the first place
but i’ve been sentenced to three years in the housing benefit waiting room.
i must have lost your number in the all-night garage
and now i’m wandering up and down your street, calling your name, in the rain
whilst my shoes turn to sodden cardboard.
where are you? (where are you?)
where are you? (where are you?)

i’m still trying hard to meet you, but it doesn’t look like happening
‘cos the city’s out to get me if i won’t sleep with her this evening
though her buildings are impressive and her cul-de-sacs amazing
she’s had too many lovers and i know you’re out there waiting
and now she’s getting into bed; he’s had his chance now it’s too late
the carpet’s screaming for her soul, the darkness wants to eat her whole
tonight must be the night it ends
tomorrow she will call her friends and go out on her own somewhere
who needs this shit anyway?
and listen, i wandered the streets the whole night crying, trying to pick up your scent
writing messages on walls and the puddles of rain reflected your face in my eyes.
we finally made it on a hill-top at four a.m.
the whole city is your jewellery-box; a million twinkling yellow street lights.
reach out and take what you want; you can have it all.
gee it’s so hot tonight!
i didn’t think we were gonna make it.
it was so bad during the day, but now i’m snug
and warm under an eiderdown sky.
all the things we saw:
everyone on park hill came in unison at four-thirteen a.m.
and the whole block fell down.
the tobacconist caught fire, and everyone in the street died of lung cancer.

danni diana on bogus muthi (and ad agencies)

A year or so ago, some colleagues of mine did a campaign for a film called Night Drive, which was a slashy, schlocky horror that centred on the body-parts-for-muthi trade. The campaign handed out a couple hundred pamphlets, in the style of those ridiculous pamphlets that offer penis enlargement, bad luck cure, womb cleaning etc that we see littered around town every day. The pamphlets offered money for body parts, and linked to a website that detailed the “doctor’s” cash-for-organs trade in more detail. The people who received the pamphlets went ape-shit, calls were made to the national media, everyone was pranked and much outrage ensued. The campaign was slammed by the Department of Health for trivialising a “Serious Problem”, and was pulled, effective immediately, complete with apology from the ad agency in question, and a promise to conduct an “internal disciplinary procedure”.

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Pamphlet collected in Durban by Rosemary Lombard, 2009

My question is, what exactly is being done about this serious problem? Why do people get up in arms about a cash-for-body-parts hoax, but think its OK (and hilarious) for there to be pamphlets offering safe abortions, womb cleaning, AIDS cures and a whole manner of sexual health treatment that is not only bogus, but seriously harmful to those who pursue it. What effort is being made by the Department of Health to shut down these “doctors”? Most disturbing is the discriminatory gender ideas at the root of these so called treatments. Muthi to “make lover have sex with you”, and treatment for women for, among other things “cleaner vaginas, more willingness to have sex.”

These charlatan muthi men make a mockery of traditional healing, and the pamphlets and posters not only mislead the poor, vulnerable and uneducated, but reinforce negative stereotypes about traditional healing and the communities that take advantage of them. Is any work being done to address this “Serious Problem”, or do people only care so long as the content of said media panders to savage stereotypes of murderous muthi men lurking in the shadows to chop your heart out?

Pamphlet collected in Durban by Rosemary Lombard, 2009

Pamphlet collected in Durban by Rosemary Lombard, 2009

treading through an untrimmed memory

Tran Nguyen - Treading Through An Untrimmed Memory

Tran Nguyen – Treading Through An Untrimmed Memory

Tran Nguyen is a Georgia-based artist. Born in Vietnam and raised in the States, she received a BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design in 2009. She is fascinated with creating visuals that can be used as a psycho-therapeutic support vehicle, treading the mind’s surreal dreamscape. Her paintings are created with a delicate quality using color pencil and thin glazes of acrylic on paper. Tran’s oeuvre has been exhibited with galleries in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, London, and Barcelona. “ I find interest in illustrating the universal emotions we come across in everyday living — emotions that are tucked away, deep inside our psyches.”

Her blog is HERE.

tindersticks – city sickness (1993)

“Our first film. This Way Up had money to make a video, we wanted to make something more like a film. We were told about Jarvis and Steve from Pulp, who were making films with Martin Wallace. We made it during the summer of ’93. Dickon’s not in it because he was in Mexico as part of his studies. It was good fun and hard work, driving around in our Ford Cortina, Jarvis squashed on the passenger seat floor. Sidonie, Stuart’s daughter, is the baby. It was the start of a long and joyful relationship with Martin Wallace, who’s become a wonderful friend.”

anne michaels – phantom limbs (excerpt)

So much of the city
is our bodies. Places in us
old light still slants through to.
Places that no longer exist but are full of feeling,
like phantom limbs.

Even the city carries ruins in its heart.
Longs to be touched in places
only it remembers…

(from The Weight of Oranges / Miner’s Pond. McClelland & Stewart, 1997. p.86)

this is what democracy looks like

My cousin Paul Davey is a Zimbabwean-born photographer, writer and graphic designer living in London. Growing deathly bored with commercial shoots, he found renewed inspiration by getting onto the capital’s streets and shooting 40 000 protest photos last year. He put them into the book This Is What Democracy Looks Like – a chant frequently heard at protests – resulting in a lively collection of images of people, protests and events from 2012 in London, particularly the Occupy movement.

It’s essentially a book of portraits, portraying the often eccentric, artistic and highly intelligent protestors, and it offers a glimpse – usually not shown by mainstream media – of who they are, what they believe and the events they are caught up in, as they try to change the world in which they live.

Civic protest is definitely alive and kicking in good ol’ Blighty, and the reader will gain some insight into how their system attempts to control uprisings. Our South African police could learn a thing or two from the British bobbies – for instance, they employ a technique called ‘kettling’ in which they surround the crowd of dissenters, with the police linking arms, and contain the protestors until their bladders are full and their steam cools off.

Paul also interviewed many of the people he shot; you can read the interviews on http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/paul-davey/. Here is a sample, from a man known as Dom.

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First Name: “Commonly Known as Dom”

Age: 37-ish

How long have you been in the camp? I first visited St Paul’s four days into their process.

What were you doing before you joined the Occupy movement? I was trying to live outside the system of control. I was living in the wild in the hills of Wales. I came here to Babylon from nature. Three years ago I was doing a law degree, but left that. It was the system and I didn’t want to be part of it.

Are you a full time resident in the camp?
No. I’m not resident of anywhere I park my body. I live outside the system of control, outside of the others’ world.

Do you have a specialist role in the camp?
I speak my truth.

What compelled you to become an Occupier? Staying in the ‘now’ brought me here.

How will you as an individual make a difference? By sharing my knowledge, because knowledge has value and [through knowledge] becoming rich in friends.

Who is your Enemy Number One? The Tavistock Institute and Common Purpose.

Who do you admire? Everyone. Everyone has something that makes them special.

Why? We can all learn from each other. If only we could all see each other as teachers.

What is the best part of being in Occupy? To expose Occupy for what it is. Exposing the orchestration.

What is the worst part?
Occupy is a leaderless movement but there is a hidden hierarchy trying to control others. It is like a [government] social experiment.

Is Occypy making a noticeable difference? No. It is not here for that. It’s a social manipulation experiment.

Why? It has Common Purpose facilitators and Tavistock Institute workshops.

Anything else?
The donation money was going the Climate Camp. The legal team, which claims to represent all of us, is self appointed. In fact all the leadership is self appointed.

To purchase the book This is What Democracy Looks Like visit http://www.blurb.co.uk/bookstore/detail/3901497

face of democracy