I’ve added a new link to my Pickings from the Internet link-list (you can also access it via the menu at the top of the page) – This most recent addition is to the Psychedelic Press Journal blogsite, to an interesting article from 2013 by Jack Hunter. In this link list I am attempting to gather…more…
Yule 2011 I was lucky enough to be given an e-book reader. After switching it on and frustratingly browsing some e-book distributor websites I chose to download George Orwell’s 1984. There are complicated reasons for this choice, not the least of which that the last time I read 1984 from cover to cover was early september 2001. I was actually reading about the Ministry of Peace at the exact moment that I heard about the twin towers, it seemed as if the face of Osama Bin Laden had been forever superimposed over the goat-like features of Goldstein – Orwell’s archetypal terrorist scapegoat. Winston Smith’s job in the ministry of Truth is to re-edit historical documents in prescribed ways in order to justify and uphold the shifting pragmatic views and actions of a monolithic state. For me the book is a study of social control through the control of information, the manipulation of minds through the manipulation of accepted reality – propaganda, censorship and outright lies as strategies to maintain the position of those in power. I have for sometime now viewed the rise of the e-book as a form of Orwellian censorship...read more…
Unfortunately I have been forced to suspend further blog postings in The Wall of Girls Blog-sequence as I have been sent on a DWP Work Programme. This means I shall be expected to attend a full-time two week course until I find a job. Please watch out for further posting, which hopefully will resume soon.
In the meantime, please occupy yourselves with these thoughts on life on the dole, which were written between 1997 and 2001.
Please also don’t forget the online serialisation of my first novel
Thee Twisted Times ov Bella Basura
This autumn just passed I spent a glorious few weeks getting to know my new housemates. In particular, Phil The Man from Uranus – avant garde musician, film-maker, performance artist and all-round Renaissance-Man. One of the projects we worked on together over one weekend was a music video for The Loved Drones single Cosmique Memories.
Later in November, our house were hosts to the band when they played The Cornerhouse in Cambridge as part of their UK tour. The Loved Drones are a seven person anglo-belgian band who play charmingly crafted pop songs, tightly and exuberantly together. Spending time with the band was an amiable pleasure, and seeing them perform Cosmique Memories live was a real delight for me, I did gleam with the light and beauty of my own personal cosmic memories for several days afterwards.
The Loved Drones are: Pretorus Sorel, Claire Wilcox, Brian Carney, Georges Pompidou, Pascal Schyns, Marc Wathieu and Jerome Danthinne.
Les Aventures Sous La Mer are: Jake and Phil Mfu.
Click this link to see:
Cosmique Memories video by Phil Mfu and Bella Basura.
The first week of December has now become widely accepted as National Mistletoe Week, a week of education and celebration about the plant Mistletoe. It is no surprise then that Jean Dark’s short piece “How to See Mistletoe” has been published in the 2012 Earth Pathways Diary as the text for this week, the first week of December.
It also feels apt at this point in time to republish this blog posting from February this year, called Walks With Mistletoe.
Mistletoe is a plant of deep winter, in that as an evergreen it is most easily seen when it’s deciduous host trees are bare of leaves, so the next few months are crucial if you want to see mistletoe. Spotting mistletoe in summer with trees in full leaf is a much more of challenging prospect…more...
Steve Moore’s Somnium is a rare and affecting novel where all is not as it seems…finally completed five years ago, drawn from decades of detailed personal dream diaries, the book was published by Mark Pilkington’s Strange Attractor Press …the plot-line is a compelling mobius strip, without formal chapters. As layers of story within story, dream within dream, book within book are built up and burnished, the hard outlines between author, writer and fictional character meld and coalesce…for me, Moore’s prose is exquisite and alluring, swelling with subtlety and suggestion, and it will bear repeated reading.
“May not the stars be plucked and set into a sparkling crown? The tails of comets wove into a scarf that trails all sequinated through the sky?” (from Somnium by Steve Moore)
I say, the curling smoke-ring arabesques of dream-webs may be retted, carded and spun into black thread words on the white virgin sheets of a book. Only to unfurl and unravel again, speechlessly settling inside the moonlight of my imagination. Steve Moore’s novel tells me this much, at least, is possible.
A full version of Jean Dark’s review of Somnium by Steve Moore is printed in the latest copy of Pentacle Magazine.
Other Book reviews by Jean Dark may be found here
13th August 2012
I am still asking myself how it was that I came to be just at the junction of Mill Road and the Ring Road, just at that time, on that particular stormy summer Saturday evening. I don’t yet have a credible answer, but I do know what I saw.
Admittedly, I had only an hour before eaten the last of my supply of “Dick’s Special-Recipe Chocolate Truffles”. Dick had been left me three months by this time, but I had continued to make them for myself, in accordance with his specific and time-honoured recipe, a batch or so a week. It was a Saturday in July, height of the tourist season, and I had been strenuously avoiding the over-crowded city centre all day. In particular, the “Summer In The City Weekend” in Pisser’s Park organised to coincide with the parading of the Olympic Torch across the UK, something else I had been pathologically ignoring. For a few brief nonchalant seconds my thoughts returned to my shopping list – chocolate, icing sugar, brandy, cocoa-powder.
Then I began to think about the Olympic Torch and what it signified. Fire carried from Mount Olympus where the Greek Gods lived, borne down in a reed-quill and handed over to mankind. The Gift of Fire, no less. The torch-bearer was Prometheus, bringing the fire of the gods down in a torch of peace to enlighten all men. Had I ever seen Dick as a Promethean figure during our dull many-years-together?
Prometheus, whose mother was written about by Shakespeare, The Tempest I think. I might have that wrong. Prometheus, who instead of being rewarded by humankind, was punished by the gods for stealing this valuable resource. Prometheus, who was chained to a rock off the coast of Malta and seagulls, or were they crows? Anyway, carrion and vomit-eating raptors, or maybe pigeons, tore out his liver, from daybreak to nightfall they pecked at his guts. And as he slept his liver re-grew itself, so that every morning he woke to the sound of his own disembowelment, and lived through another day-long agony of wallowing and sobbing through his own ripped up entrails, and all over again the next day and each day after. I think perhaps I did sometimes see something of a Prometheus in Dick.
This torch carrying hype I’ve been hiding from all day was starting to look interesting. I remembered reading a London Psycho-geographical Society pamphlet back in the late 1990s comparing the London Marathon to the Roman spring rite of Floriala. Likewise the Olympic Torch Parade was beginning to appear as a re-enactment of another pagan myth. A ritualised performance depicting a mythological event and thus transmitting the cultural memes of pagan polytheistic past.
The control of fire is a cultural myth marking an important milestone in the evolution of the human species. I thought about the physical and social benefits of fire and concluded that fire is the beginning of community, because people will always gather to exchange news and stories around an open fire.
I scan the advance warning of road closures in the local paper, brushing aside the cat litter, I trail the route on the map with the tip of my finger. A slip road off the bypass feeds the torch-bearers straight into the Ring Road, covering a quarter of its circle in the NE quadrant to where Perne Road jack-knives at right angles into Mill Road, running the full length along to the party at Pisser’s Park.
I decide on the spur of the moment that if they’re re-enacting pagan myths just up the road, I really ought to cycle out and go have a look. So I put on my shoes, put a bottle of water and a sandwich in my bag, fed the cats and left the house. I had the shopping list in my pocket – chocolate, cocoa, icing sugar and brandy. According to the local paper the route passes the big-sainsburys so my mission was to get to the supermarket before they closed all the roads off and then have a gawp at the pagan re-enactment on my way back home. I had no intention of struggling with crowds at Pisser’s Park, so a trip to the big-sainsburys seemed like the best way to see the fire of the gods and get my shopping in at the same time.
There were no roads closed off yet, and the traffic was still flowing at a snail’s pace as I reached the Ring Road. Groups of people were all walking in the same direction, towards the big-sainsburys, many were carrying union flags, some were sort of chanting and could feel energy rising as we all moved slowly along the Ring Road towards the place where the torch would be passing. There was a strange unfamiliar folk-song ringing in my head and to block it out I ran over the conversation I’d had just after eating the truffle. We’d talked about 2012 and all the cock-eyed variations of its significance we’d come across this week. My friend said December 20th 2012 was a mid-point, a peak in psychic evolution, and for months either side of that date human consciousness would be slowly evolving person by person “Who’s to say we’ve not already evolved and are experiencing altered psychic states at this very moment”. “I wouldn’t know” I said and reminded him that the common guestimates extrapolated from the Mayan Calendar were possibly 70,000 years out, according to some new calculations on the internet.
As I near the junction and I think I’m going to make it to the big-sainsburys the police move in, closing off the road. The crowd ambles and weaves off the pavement forming a human barrier. The traffic stops, but rather than car-free silence I hear hootings and cheers of glee as motorcycle outrider cops blare horns and wave at the jubilant spectators. But I can’t see a lot because I’m short. All I can see are the backs of taller people strung out in front of me. Standing way back by the traffic lights, I can see a little up the road, where white vans and buses crawl sluggishly past the big-sainsburys, accompanied by cheering and waving. It looks like it’s going to be a long weary wait.
After the motorcycle cops came some white vans, then a white single decker bus saying “Relay Team Support” on its destination board. People in sports-style leisure-wear lean out from the open door and wave. The crowd goes wild and for the first time I notice a large logo, depicting something like a floating eyeball freed from its bloody socket, pasted on one of the blacked out windows of the bus.
It goes a bit hazy after this; I see red lorries, with people in red t-shirts and baseball caps, dancing energetically to airport muzak, a white lorry with a ginormous telly on the side, beaming out bizarre advert images and trade names, incidental scenes from Blade Runner impinge on my consciousness, people in white t-shirts and baseball caps dance energetically. I see the ripped-out-eyeball logo on blacked bus windows again and again. Another white bus goes past, this one says “nowhere” on its destination board. I hold back an uncanny urge to shout out “But the Emperor’s wearing NO CLOTHES”
As I stood waiting to get to the big-sainsburys on the Ring Road it all began to become clear. This whole shebang was a psychic energy-harvesting enterprise put on by sponsoring corporations. I remembered a Radio One roadshow I had gone to accidentally in my teens and shuddered. And I remembered a terrifying story I had been told about coca cola’s political intrigues, that would make a good short story in itself sometime. But mainly I saw that this bright pagan rite had been turned into a heavy trudging sermon, a dull criminological thesis on the pacifying effects of corporate sponsorship in matters of crowd-control. My friend, who lives further up on Mill Road, said he heard a voice yelling through a megaphone “This is your chance to shine. Shine. Shine. Shine” as the parade went by. I don’t know what he means, I thought they were shouting “Work. Consume. Die”.
The parade dragged on. More motorcycle cops, more hooting, more “support” buses. Then suddenly I saw the crowd turn their heads as one, as if following a passing flaming torch. Except there was no flame. I was there and I didn’t see any flame. True, something passed, a stick, maybe two inches above the crowd, who turned their heads in unison to watch as if a phallic fire wand, after circling the curvaceous Ring Road boundaries of the recumbent city, thrust all bright and flaming upright into the crowd-throbbing vulva of Mill Road. I saw the crowd, the cops, the heroes and white vans with disgorged-eyeball logos, but I did not see no flame. It simply wasn’t there.
The police immediately opened the road, the crowd dispersed, talking loudly with children shrieking and the traffic bore down again, nose-to-tailing it around the Ring Road.
The lad on the checkout at the big-sainsburys said it was the slowest Saturday he’d ever sat through. Nobody was buying today, what with the flame and all that. But I had to tell him, really there was no flame. There was no flame at all.
(From The Tales of Grandmother Punk by Bella Basura 2012)
I am Bella Basura.
I am long in the tooth and been about a bit, I have a personal interest in magic and altered states of consciousness. I am compiling a collection of books about drugs, my drug library.
I am a self-guided nature-centred wiccan-style pagan, I call myself a hedgewitch. I once spent two years following a monthly pathworking study of the major arcana, the tarot ‘trumps’. In my time I have dabbled or deeper in herbalism, writing, pathworking, theatre, divination, hash truffles, writing, earth mysteries, moon worship, ancient burial mounds, conspiracy theories, bookbinding and writing. I have a more than nodding acquaintance with Hekate.
I have been concerned with writing under a variety of psuedonyms since 1991, when I took part in a year-long DSS Enterprise Allowance scheme as a self-employed author and poet. My proposal was to write a novella about a man who woke up one morning and found he’d turned into a beetle. I actually spent a large part of that year grubbing around Holland and Spain, gathering research for the character Doc Gordon Tripp, the terrible psychedelic agony aunt of Camberwell, who is strictly self-published A5 stapled pamphlet stylee.
During the 90’s I devoured magazines and journals by the small publishers which seemed so active and plentiful back then. I particularly sought out any Tom Vague, HEAD magazine, Rapid Eye Movement and the Unlimited Dream Company stuff. My favourite bookshops were Compendium in Camden and The Inner Bookshop in Oxford. I was in awe of London’s Atlantis. I devoted a lot of time and energy to producing pamphlets of my own, which I saw as a possible source of beer money. I tried to persuade others to print my writings too. Eventually I studied bookbinding to enable myself to print, bind and distribute, a novel I’d written which nobody else wanted published.
Writing as Bella Basura I have had pieces printed in CamFIN, Headpress journal, DreamFlesh 1, Silver Wheel Journals and Cambridge Creates anthology. I have written, printed bound and distributed two self-published novels. Elsewhere I have described Bella as “an entity, a process, a state of consciousness, that has allowed the manifestation, in ink on paper, of an alternative and fictional reality since 1995”. I dream that one day I will find out about the deadline for the next Strange Attractor Journal before it’s passed.
Under other pseudonyms (or do I mean psychonyms) I have contributed to: Silver Wheel Journal, Earth Pathways Diary, 3rd Stone, Northern Earth Magazine and Pentacle. Numerous local pagan community magazines, such as Eastern Spirit, Dragonswood, Pan’s People, Free Pagan Press and Cambridge Pagan Circle have printed my reviews and pieces in the name of Jean Dark.
From 2004 onwards I ran Libra Aries Bookshop in Cambridge.
Our aims were to provide an outlet for small press publications in East Anglia, to act as a local alternative information point and as a venue for talks, workshops and events. Our numerous projects met with some levels of success, but not in cash-terms. At the end of a financially-troubled six year lease we closed Libra Aries Bookshop in June 2010.
In March 2012 Libra Aries Books ceased permanently to trade, due to personal disagreements.
The highlight of my bookbinding endeavours came last year when I was paid to hand-sew a couple of dozen copies of a never-before published sex-magic ritual, very left hand path, and that one of these copies was later sold to Jimmy Page (of Led Zeppelin for anyone old enough to care).
I haven’t had a telly for 15 years.
I have fear of technology. I was born in the 1960s, and sometimes even the toaster looks new-fangled.
(Spanish for wait, I hope)