Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Like Water, Like Light — A Contemplation on Freedom

I'd like to share a lovely thought I had this Christmas morning. Merry Christmas all!

There is an economic idea, wonderful in theory, that the free movement of money and people and goods and ideas is in the best interests of everyone. But in practice human beings and the things they want are not like water. When we enter a cup, we do not "become the cup" as Bruce Lee wisely recommends us. We have culture, and home, and it's impossible to ask for freedom from others when we are not ourselves free. And even in cases where we would like to be free, we are discrete units and we have a natural resistance to movement and change. A good image to have is of a traffic jam. Even if the road ahead of the first car is empty, it takes a while until the last car can get going. How to adjust for this? Is it possible to "be like water" and so regain our freedom?

The solution to the traffic jam problem would be if cars could hold on to each other like carriages in a train. Paradoxically, it is through a lack of freedom that discrete units can best realise their freedom. The important thing is to be able to bind ourselves in the direction we wish to be going. The freedom to bind to a future intention actually gives freedom of movement instead of taking it away. Connections to family, friends and society as a whole makes us continuous beings. The traffic jam is a product of modernity and discreteness. But of course we are both.

It's fascinating to think that even at the smallest scale, light particles/waves are both discrete and continuous simultaneously. Perhaps when light is behaving like a wave in the twin-slit experiment, the interference pattern it creates is in some sense caused by interferences of intention? When the intention is observed, light behaves like a particle and the interference resolves itself one way or the other. If light is a symbol of absolute freedom, then what can we learn from it?

... One would imagine light to be forgetful of where it's been or where it's going. But there is a phenomenon called quantum entanglement which means two photons can be at opposite ends of a galaxy, but they still maintain the other within themselves.

A friend of mine posted today "a free spirit is someone who lives by their own wishes and is unconstrained by society". I would like to be a free spirit, but would define it differently (inspired by Nietzsche): "A free spirit is one who has the resilience of an ass, the courage of a lion, the innocence of a child, yet doesn't fight the world but flies in the tailwind of eternity."

Does a free spirit ever think they are free? I know that I'm not free, very far from it, but I have the aspiration nonetheless. In order to realise freedom, I think we need to acknowledge that we are not free, how in a limited sense we are the result of our whole life up to now, but also we are completely free in this moment to change a tiny bit, and bit by bit to become more free. To be like light, to be like water.

And that means to be willing to surrender to the universe, to let go of conflicting intentions within ourselves, to let those conflicts resolve themselves by themselves. And when we have clarity of intention and the way becomes clear, to bring the future into the present and hold firm to that intention to take us where we want to go. And wherever we go, like light, to remember our friends, even on the opposite side of the universe.

Photo: 'Waves in the Sunrise' (2009) by —okei

Monday, 23 December 2013

Emmanuel Pahud & Christian Rivet

I have been dreaming a lot of the sea recently, of my father, of old friends, of long conversations and good company.

It was good to make those dreams real and (apart from the sea) to meet many of them once again these past few days, and perhaps some more in coming days.

Below is an 11 second video I took at Wigmore Hall by the virtuoso flute player Emmanuel Pahud accompanied by Christian Rivet on guitar. They were excellent! I went with my father and one of my earliest friends from schooldays.

It was an eclectic performance varying from the excitement of Piazzolla's tango music to the very modern as if a baby were playing with the instruments, along the way the dulcet tones of Handel and the slavonic dances of Bartok.

This is a full version of the above from a different recording which was played as an encore:
Ibert — Entr'Acte

Finally, a live recording from Pahud's YouTube channel which he also played tonight.
Bartok — Pe Loc