Dear Friends

DF 38 - Rapture, conflict, astrophysics & a competition

July 2005

Dear Friends,

Every day of my life I discover
Someone murdering my sisters and brothers
In the name of some god or another
What do you know?

These are the words in the bridge of a song called 'Before Time Began' which is to be found on the new Deep Purple album 'Rapture of the Deep'.

It is not unusual for soldiers of opposing forces to claim that 'god is on my side'. Those same combatants and perhaps more significantly their commanders will also declare that 'there is only one god'.

With the greatest 'respect' to all of them I cannot reconcile those contradictory and self-serving phrases.

In a spiritual sense, I need two things in order to feel good. I need a sense of purpose and a sense of belonging. Whether it is the same for everybody I do not know because the complexity of human nature passes all understanding.

Since the Second World War that ended sixty years ago we have witnessed some amazing horrors, spread right across the spectrum of organised mayhem. Ethnic Cleansing, Holy Wars, Tribal Massacres, Suicide Bombing, Wholesale Slaughter, Pyrrhic Victories, Sectarian Violence, Institutional Torture, Vendettas with forgotten beginnings, Racial Hatred; even a Cold War, with its lunatic threat of Mutually Assured Destruction - that somewhat bland definition of automatically triggered nuclear responses. The plan was to efficiently blow what was left to smithereens, presumably after the entire human race had been already vaporised - really! How silly was that?

And all in the name of Fascism, Communism, Democracy, Greed or Religion - each with its infinite subdivisions - or Any Other Ideology that fancies itself as a contender. These righteous machines are driven by Zealots, Dictators, Warlords, Fundamentalists, Bureaucrats and Megalomaniacs etc.

Then of course there is the problem of survival for those who have 'lost' their homeland and are unloved by anyone, they are called Refugees.

We send tents, money, medicine, food and sympathy from a distance - the impression I get is that it is normally only the tents that arrive as an entire shipment.

But, are refugees merely an obvious by-product of the true meaning behind all this fighting, could it be to do with evolution? 'Survival of the fittest' is the most common phrase associated with Charles Darwin's thinking - he who almost dared not publish his works for fear of the church. Does that mean we have to savage each other in order to establish physical superiority; and if so - as seems likely - then what about our need for intellectual supremacy?

Our brains have got us so far, but at varying speeds. So we find ourselves in a crowded world, stepping ever more upon each others' sensibilities, with little or no room to manoeuvre. But all this is going on whilst each of us still needs to feel part of something and have a reason for living. However those very somethings and those very reasons will inevitably drive us to war, to hate to death those who stand against us. And so it would seem that even a diversity of thinking is fertile ground for conflict.

Look closely at our society in England - even the name 'England' is frowned upon by those who would have us regionally sorted, as some Politically Warped way of forgetting who we are and what we've done, in order that their way of thinking may prevail. We know about the North-South Divide and the Class System, they have been satirised often. Now we have the Metropolitans spreading their influence beyond the Suburbans - for so long an object of mockery; I know because I was one - into the Countryside, where the Rural way of life has been largely unchanged for a very long time. But much as the Country Folk dislike going to Town - when they want to see a proper museum - because of the smell and the attitude, the City Boys don't like what they see in the Shires - when they need a holiday - because of the smell and the attitude.

I can follow this path of reduction down to neighbours, families and eventually myself and my inner turmoil and contradictions. I'm sure it goes much further than that in all directions, but here is the main idea.

There has never been a moment of stasis in our existence. Something or someone must prevail, so perhaps we should not be surprised at what dominates our history books.

We have adapted very well since we became bipedal, since Homo erectus. War, famine and disease have kept us in check so far but it seems that those culling measures and the many forms of natural selection are going to struggle in the future. If we continue to expand at the current - seemingly exponential - rate then it won't be long before we reach critical mass or terminal velocity, to borrow phrases from proper science.

But survival is important to humans, so how do we teach ourselves to slow down or even go into reverse for a bit? I don't think that is possible, at least not within the time available. Our resources are depleted and we're still breeding like rabbits - or should I say ostriches - look at the population forecasts and tremble.

Of course it won't affect me will it!

Well actually it will affect me; it does affect me as I have a vested interest. Since I was a kid the future on a grand scale has been a matter of importance buried so deep inside that I couldn't even shape a question, never mind postulate an answer. But as I have discovered, sometimes the answer comes before the question.

It dawned on me.

Various members of my immediate circle of family and friends who have died are travelling with me through this life of mine. I don't know whether it happened because they exerted an influence upon me or whether I was impressed with their personality and took a part of it on board. All I do know is that a strong bond was made that seems manifest in my consciousness, Stronger now than the feeling I had for example when my father died (Wordog - Gunga Din). Although I felt his spirit enter me immediately after kissing his forehead in the morgue, I couldn't work out why I hadn't known something when he died the night before, alone in his car by the roadside.

It needed the symbolism of the kiss to crystallise the situation and set the process in motion. From then on I looked at life in a different way and wondered at how each generation handed down unknown ancestors - each of whom in turn brought along important little scraps of their own accumulated selves - to its antecedents. Whether instincts are part of our genetic history or another imprint altogether is the question.

And so it goes on, and where will it end?

We spend a lot of time studying the unknown and relatively little time researching those things that we take for granted. How is it that a mother will clutch her heart as her son falls dead on a distant battlefield? How do I know what you're thinking? How can we sense danger? Are premonitions inevitable - given the odds of a correct guess?

How little we know about such things and how rarely they are discussed in a constructive way.

A 'spiritualist' is generally thought to be associated with cranks and weird sects. Although to me the idea of puzzling over the wonderful intricacies of the human soul just means following the same line of thought that all religions pursue, although individual thought in this area has been demonised over the millennia.

So far as I know, no surgeon - whilst deep into the brain or heart with a cutting tool - has ever called 'Eureka, I have discovered the human soul!' No, that particular discovery was made ages ago by religious leaders, and our enquiring minds have been stifled or redirected ever since.

Part of me - the part of me that is becoming more dominant as I rationalise the hypothesis - is exploring the reality of human mutation into a metaphysical state. I imagine some of us changing into a sentient energy force - just without these funny things we call bodies. Like caterpillars mutate into butterflies, because caterpillars can't fly.

We might hover around our traditional home base for a while until we have learned to handle ourselves and then whiz off to pastures new.

We do not have enough time to travel the Universe in any other way. Certainly those little tin machines - spaceships - are getting further and further away from our significant rock, but oh so slowly.

Yet I can think myself to distant galaxies in an instant.

There - it is possible to travel faster than light after all, but you have to dump the load.

Heading in another direction there is the Big Bang and all that interesting talk by 'theoretical' physicists about the 'fact' that nothing existed before the moment of creation. If I can grasp something like the true meaning of infinity and eternity, and then consider the beginning of anything, I will know that something came before it.

Thinking of our Universe in finite terms is like saying the Earth is flat. Infinity means forever, not like Earthbound parallel lines (no such thing as parallel lines), that can exist - for practical purposes - as far as the page will allow; or as far as we know and a bit beyond.

It seems obvious that our Universe is not a singular event.

If we become disembodied, travelling light, with a fresh and common sense of purpose, would we talk amongst ourselves in our new spiritual collectives on the journey beyond, or would we still be having our little squabbles and murders in the constant struggle for supremacy?

It is human nature after all.

From 'The Times' Thursday 14th July, 2005

Providing a piano in a bar (in England) or allowing a musician to strum his guitar in the back room of a private club without a license will become a criminal offence under the new live music law.

Musicians are opposing what they describe as the 'criminalisation of live music' under the Licensing Act, due to come into force in November 2005. The maximum penalty for anyone breaching the rules will be a 20,000 (twenty thousand) pound fine and six months in prison.

Spontaneous singing on any street within the M25 (London's outer ring road - the equivalent of Paris' peripherique) is to be banned from January 2006. Whistling is now a criminal act, backdated to 1990 - several retired postmen have been arrested and remanded in custody, awaiting trial.

Blackbirds, Thrushes and Nightingales are to remain mute outside the mating season and even then must apply for trilling permits from the petty Hitler at their local town hall. All other birds must remain silent from henceforth except for Owls who may hoot for an hour after dusk. Woodpecking is strictly forbidden.

Dancing is now compulsory for all citizens between the ages of three and ninety one; to be performed weekly, unaccompanied by music and only in groups of more than ten in properly licensed premises. Unlikely individual movements by any member of the public must be reported to the DOA (Dance Observation Authority) at the nearest town hall. Failure to do so will result in a charge of conspiracy to dance. Upon conviction this brings a penalty of shackling to a recycling bin - effectively six months, as that is the normal time it takes the council to clear the bins.

Which parts of the previous five paragraphs are unbelievable?

Each of the best three respondents to that, or any of the above, will receive signed copies of 'Rapture of the Deep' and 'Gillan's Inn' as well as a pair of tickets and backstage passes for a DP concert of their choice. Usual rules apply.


Ian Gillan

Copyright © Ian Gillan 2005

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