Just Shut up and Listen

No, not you; I would never talk to you like that. I was answering the question posed by yesterday’s post: what is my head trying to tell me? And the answer is, shut up and listen. Stop doing the usual stuff, stop thinking the usual thoughts and listen to what I’m telling you.

That’s all pretty clear, though when you do start to listen it’s a bit like trying to decipher the voices of the sea or to hear a message in the static of a non-digital radio. OK, you say, here I am listening. So what have you got for me? And the answer is a prolonged chhhhhhcccchhhhhhhhhhhhh

hhhhzzssczxcszxxchzxchzxchzxhczhxczhxczhxchzxchzxhczhxczh

xchxzchzxhczhczhxchzxc

zzzziggazig-ahhhhh!

Oh god, now I’ve gone and reminded myself of the Spice Girls. Bleaurgh.

But you get the picture – or rather, you don’t. Sometimes you have to listen but not-listen; to give a sort of sideways or slantways attention to what your brain is trying to tell you. Phillip Pullman describes this brilliantly in His Dark Materials when the knife-bearer teaches Will how to use the subtle knife; it’s a kind of attention without concentration – or what we think of as concentration which is a willed screwing-up of the mind like pinning a butterfly to a card. This type of concentration is looser, it’s trying without trying, harder to achieve in one way but easier in another way. It is a flow.

I’ve talked about all this in earlier posts on yoga concentration and meditation, but it’s a lesson you have to learn over and over again, deepening it every time.

So after all that I watched Patrick Melrose. I recommend this but not last thing at night as it’s deeply disturbing. It’s currently streaming on NowTV, effortlessly.

Kirk out

Additional: OH has just pointed out that in a similar way to a computer, the mind works on the GIGO principle: garbage in, garbage out. Therefore if you want to produce good writing, you should read good books. And watch good TV.

Like Patrick Melrose.

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