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Posts tagged ‘reality’

Rummaging For Reality at the Hayes Conference Centre, Swanwick

Here I am, a psychological suspense writer,  at a conference for psychotherapists, healers, counsellors and creative people – and together with them  I am rummaging for reality.

This is  very brief post in a spare hour before I go off to a workshop this afternoon. But already I feel I am working my way towards a new clarity and insight both into this life and into my new novel.  One came this morning. It was very simple: only these words: “We are exploring different parts of the same reality at different stages of our lives.”

A few days before coming on this conference I was doing some of my own rummaging, through a file of newspaper clips which I’ve kept for about 3 decades now – just to see what jumped out at me in my current situation, a new work-in-progress before me.

 

And it was an article from the Sunday Times 10/5/92 written by the novelist Wendy Perriam called ‘Heaven Can Wait’. It was subtitled Do bad Catholics make good writers? And considered the fact that many great writers – e.g. Greene, Joyce, Spark, Waugh, O’Brien and Lodge – either lapsed, or struggling with their faith, poured out words as once they poured out prayers.

In this article Wendy Perriam says many things which touch me profoundly, despite the fact that I am not a Catholic, present or lapsed. I’ll quote just one point here, which I resonate with, and which shone out at me from my ‘rummaging’:

 

‘A sense of religion does give a depth and resonance to fiction, and if our characters have immortal souls, they’re surely more important, more valuable to their creator, than if they’re regarded as mere accumulations of vibrating molecules.’

Hopefully I may have some more insights from my rummaging to share with you in next week’s post!

 

Supernatural Power versus Rationalism: Sorcerers and Sceptics at Warwick Words Summer Festival 2014

Last night  I went to a fascinating discussion between two authors at the final event of the Warwick Words summer festival. The talk was held in the beautiful 15th century Great Hall of the Lord Leycester Hospital, Warwick.

Andrew Taylor and Ian Mathie (photo credit warwickwords.co.uk)

Andrew Taylor and Ian Mathie (photo credit warwickwords.co.uk)

Ian Mathie, author of Sorcerers and Orange Peel, spoke about his travels in remote African communities over many years and his experiences of spiritual power among the witchdoctors, some of which he believed could not be explained in rational terms. He was being challenged by the sceptical James Andrew Taylor, biographer, former TV journalist and author of Walking Wounded, an acclaimed biography of poet Vernon Scannell.

Each author gave his point of view upon the existence of the paranormal and the supernatural, then the debate was thrown open to the audience. I was interested to note that several among those who spoke from the audience had extensive experience of Africa, and that the general feeling among them seemed to be open-minded/sympathetic towards Ian Mathie’s point of view. I had expected many more sceptics. One questioner asked “What is reality?”

Andrew Taylor said reality was what he could experience with his senses. Then the questioner pointed out that our view of reality changes all the time; our reality in 2014 would have been considered unbelievable one hundred years ago; microscopic reality is unknown to the majority of us; and we are unable to say what new “realities” may become commonplace to those who live a hundred years in the future, that we now consider impossible.

Andrew Taylor made three intriguing points. He said:

1)  he would only consider something to be “reality” if it was repeatable in laboratory conditions.

2) he considered “magic” to be lazy; the way things are achieved in the “real” world is far more complex  and interesting.

3)  everything Ian Mathie had witnessed in traditional communities in Africa, which appeared to be achieved by supernatural power, he would say is all down to “the power of suggestion”.

I later asked Ian Mathie whether he saw anything equivalent to “the local witchdoctor” or “wise man/woman” anywhere in our contemporary English society.

He said no – and this is because most of us in our western culture have such a reductionist, rationalist outlook upon the world, that we are not open to such supernatural power.

I too have been drawn to Africa in a number of ways over the years, mostly through books, without ever having visited the continent; and I learned that Ian Mathie had met Laurens Van Der Post, as I too have done. See my blog post on Van Der Post here.

In my forthcoming psycho-spiritual suspense novel A Passionate Spirit:

1)   one of my principal characters wields such supernatural power – in the heart of a contemporary English community.

2)  the test of the reality of her power is met; she repeats her apparently supernatural acts over and over again.

3)  her power is not taken seriously by those who we might consider most likely to be alert to it – in our society.

If you are interested in these things –  the existence of supernatural/spiritual power, versus the rationalist outlook of our Western society – or have experiences or views about it, I invite your comments.

 

 

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