Music used to mean something!

Music used to mean something!

I grew up in an age when music was at the forefront of everything. The lyrics and sounds were studied and analysed, expressed deep feelings and were the instigators of social change. Music meant something.

For my friends and me, music was the very centre of our culture. When we met it was what we talked about, discussed and listened to together. Our music was no background sound, no mere beat to dance to; it wasn’t just about love, relationships and bust-ups. It had great depth. There was philosophy, social change, racism, sexism, war, politics and death. Music led the great changes in society as young people embraced a different vision for the future. (Of course, we did love, dance and have fun too!)

The sixties, for my friends and me, was a time of great optimism and change. We were opposed to the establishment with its warmongering inequality, build-in racism and misogyny and its greedy, money-grabbing elite. We wanted something better, something more meaningful, something with greater moral integrity. These were the days of the anti-war movement, civil rights movement, the burgeoning Green movement, women’s lib and the sexual revolution. We thought we were building a new world based on different values; better values. We really thought we could build a society outside of this mainstream conservative hell. We wanted out of the mad race for money and status. We wanted a happier, more fulfilling all-embracing life. Music was integral.

We were wrong. The establishment had all the power and fought back. They bought Rock Music, bought off our heroes, and sanitised it.

My, how I miss those days, sitting around the record player sharing a new disc and a joint, intensely discussing just what the likes of Bob Dylan, Buffy St Marie, Roy Harper, Captain Beefheart and Phil Ochs meant. Fired up on understanding – studying the lyric sheet, reading the cover, while immersed in the sounds.

Music was unifying, a vehicle of change and dissent. Music was central to life. It informed, permeated and reflected. It magnified ideas, emotions and philosophy. Music was our breath. Music nourished the brain.

Are the young people out there doing what we used to do? Are they fired up on idealism? Are there new Roy Harpers, Bob Dylans and Captain Beefhearts producing deep, meaningful music?

Is the establishment in danger?

Poetry – Long Ago

Long Ago

Long ago,

                Man fought man,

                                Face to face

                                                With sword and spear.

Bravery and strength

                Skill and tactics,

                                Were the things

                                                To fear.

Now, a young skinny wimp

                A thousand miles away,

                                Guides a drone,

                                                Presses a button

And you’ve had your day.

Opher – 3.4.2022

Once we had a need for strong, brave, macho men; now they’re an embarrassment, a threat and a nuisance.

Nowadays we need intelligence, not brawn, empathy and compassion not violence.

In a modern world there is no room for the violent. We don’t need them; they’re obsolete!

The Gordian Fetish – A Sci-Fi novel – in the alien zoo with the human specimens!

The Gordian Fetish

 

How important is consciousness?

How rare is it in the universe?

It is incredibly rare but not many people here on Earth seem to care about that …

But the Gordian’s do – they value it – they seek it out and look to protect it. They have an institute funded by their government that is geared to the conservation of endangered alien sentient beings.

Unfortunately a new Gordian leader has come along who believes in austerity. He is threatening to close the institute.

Humans are sentient and have a modicum of intelligence. They can hardly be termed endangered though. There are 4000 billion of them. But they are incredibly interesting. They have sex. They also have politics and religion. They pretend to be clever and civilised but they are nowhere near as clever and civilised as they think they are.

Most Gordian’s are intrigued by humans. They find sex astounding and humans cute. Being cute and having sex might just be their saving graces.

Extract

Chapter 1 – The beginning

For the love of Heaven! Zag shouted, throwing his four manipulators in the air in exasperation. We can put in about the rest of the stuff later on. Of course research and study are important and eventually the rest of the bloody universe. Of course having lots of interesting specimens is important. But right now we have a sodding inspection and the Inspection Committee won’t give a bugger about all of that. They just want to shut us down. Can’t you see that? Only paperwork can save us now!

I suggest we have a tea break, Lat proposed testily. The other two committee members vigorously nodded their cranial carapaces and clapped their manipulators in agreement.

No! Zag said sternly in his most authoritative voice, asserting himself and putting them firmly in their place. The clapping came to an abrupt halt. Not until we have finally agreed on this damn mission statement.

Zag took a big sigh, forced himself to calm down, changed tack and looked round at his three fellow colleagues pleadingly – to no avail. It was evident from their petulant scowls that they could not see anything as simple as that. They were tainted with idealistic fervor. They’d rather sink with their principles intact that swim with them compromised.

He searched around one more time for some simple way of explaining things to make them see the importance of the task in hand. They simply weren’t getting it. But this is our one fundamental purpose – our mission statement. One bloody thing. That is all. One bloody statement – one crucial essence of purpose. Can’t you understand that?

Their blank expressions said it all.

Zag turned blue with pent-up rage, supernumery protuberances began to burst out over his head and body with their characteristic – and embarrassing – popping sound. Zag hoped it wasn’t that noticeable.

His colleagues, in characteristic Gordian politeness, were pretending not to notice, but they all continued to look at Zag with an air of resignation and sour resentment that certainly did not help matters, or do anything for his disposition.

The committee had been in session for three weeks now – a whole, unprecedented three weeks, twenty one flaming days, without so much as a break, not even a lousy toilet break. It was true that a Gordian’s metabolism could put up with such insults but it was far from desirable and did little to ameliorate the disposition of the reluctant participants. But Zag saw it as a necessary evil. There was work to be done. In just under three months’ time they had been promised a full inspection and everyone knew what that meant. President Bog had introduced the new austerity measures and was looking to cut to the bone. He considered arts, science and most other things, including aliens, especially aliens, frivolous and unnecessary. The cards were on the table for the Gordian Institute for Extra-terrestrial Research and Conservation, or GIERC, as it was generally known. Bog was not renowned for his love of anything other than business and the bottom line, and aliens were definitely not profitable enough. Besides, they were ugly and revolting. In his book they were worse than Gordian ballet – and Gordian ballet was renowned for inducing catatonia and suicide. The future for the institute looked dire.

But Zag, the assistant Director, was determined not to go down without a fight. Despite his present fury – directed at Director Zor who, as usual, was nowhere to be seen, because he was off gallivanting around the galaxy as per bloody usual, he remained passionate about the place. Zag cherished the institute with all his heart and truly believed that the work they performed was inspirational and exceedingly important in the confines of such an increasingly uncaring universe. Without the institute’s efforts thousands of alien species would now be extinct. To his great satisfaction they had, against all the odds, successfully reintroduced a great array of alien life back into the wild. Then there were the educational benefits to consider. Generations of young Gordians had their empathic glands fully charged through a single visit to the institute. They learned to value the range of alien life out there and see them as fellow sentient beings, not mere objects to be exploited, or lesser creatures destined to disappear for ever. Aliens were important. They had feelings too. Thanks to the Institute many youngsters took that message on board. There was hope. While the institute existed there was hope.

In Zag’s opinion Bog was a philistine, a monster of the first order. He represented all that was retrograde and soulless. The world he wanted to create was as grey and boring as Briscow’s synthsoup – and Briscow’s synthsoup made distilled water taste positively tangy.

It was true that the planet had a few financial problems but it did not have to be one long decline into economic madness and uncaring exploitation – did it? There were better ways. The Institute for Extra-terrestrial Research and Conservation clearly demonstrated that and was, in Zag’s eyes, the last bastion of civilisation. If it was the last thing he did Zag intended to ensure that their crucial work continued and that the cretinous Bog did not get his way and close it down. Despite his anger at the irresponsibility of Zor, he was resolute to do all in his power to keep the place open. To that end he had brought the committee together to review and update their policy books. Everyone knew that paperwork was the key to success. When the inspection team arrived he meant to present them with a set of documents that were not only first class but would demonstrate quite clearly the essential nature of their work and its value to Gordian society. No self-respecting inspection team could argue with that, could they?

The major obstacle to achieving this laudable aim seemed to be the committee itself. Individually they were all as passionate and committed as Zag. The problem was that none of them agreed on how to go about achieving their aims. Indeed, deciding on the actual aims was nigh on impossible. Every one of them held a different vision that they sought to promote. No two of them shared a view and none of them were prepared to compromise. In that respect it was a fairly typical committee.

Dut and Lat were utterly impossible. Zag could not fault their spirit or intent but they were so irrational that it drove him crazy. They both wanted to take the work of the institute out of the confines of the galaxy to the universe beyond. Their ideas were so far-reaching and grandiose that they did not have an ice-ball in hell’s chance of success. Every time they opened their mouths it was some other ridiculous plan to take their work to some distant far-flung backwater tucked away in the middle of some megallanic cloud that could never, in a billion bloody Sundays, gain funding or achieve anything worthwhile, just because there was a rumour of some weird bunch of aliens who were on the point of dying out. As far as Zag was concerned Dut and Lat were out with the fairies. He was already drawing up plans in his mind to have them elsewhere when the inspection team arrived. If the chief inspector got one whiff of those two then he reasoned that the game was up.

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The Pornography Wars – by Ron Forsythe

Ron Forsythe – taking Sci-fi to new levels!!

The Pornography Wars takes political satire and social comment (with a liberal dash of humour) into a new dimension.
Sex is the essence of everything.
Is human history contrived by aliens?
Are we in a film set for an alien pornographic soap opera?
Is all human culture nothing more than an alien psych-master’s program?
What happens when the aliens argue over the future of pornography on their tridee sets?
What is going to happen to the future of human beings?

A Short Story – The elephant in the room

The elephant in the room

Glen and Mikaela were hunters. There was nothing they liked better than shooting big animals. They had a collection of guns that could have serviced a small army. Killing was their passion.

Money was no obstacle. Mikaela ran a big company and Glen was an attorney. They had no children and so poured all their energies into their sport. They would enjoy pawing over maps, thumbing through brochures and planning their next trip. The focus was always a rare exotic beast that they could add to their collection.

Their trophy room was an enormous extension they had added to the back of their mansion. The walls were lined with heads, glass cabinets displayed tusks, horns, antlers, tails and paws while the floors was covered in skins. Pride of place were the stuffed animals.

Glen and Mikaela impressed their friends with a fearsome grizzly bear, a snarling panther and a roaring bull elephant. All arranged in lifelike poses to cause a stir with newcomers!

Not for them the rigours of a hunt. Having decided on location and prey they booked into a luxury hotel, organised a local hide, sat inside at dusk on their soft cushions and shot anything that took their fancy. If the animals were lucky it was a clean shot. If not neither Glen nor Mikaela could be asked to track the wounded beasts down to finish them off.

If they wanted a specimen for their collection they always avoided a head shot that might spoil the display.

Jack was also a hunter. Raised in the bush he was old school. He loved the wildlife and respected the animals. For him hunting was a game of skill and courage, requiring knowledge and expertise – to track, to know the habits of your prey and have the courage to stand your ground in the face of a charging beast.

Jack had hunted this particular prey for over a year and now he sensed that the time was near. Dusk had settled. He knew the habits well. The animals would be returning from the water hole. He settled in the bush, upwind and waited.

Slowly raising his rifle he sighted carefully, expertly squeezing the trigger with a smooth motion. His first shot ripped through the guts, mangling the liver. His second was aimed precisely at the subclavian artery. He knew his biology well.

Loading another bullet he cautiously approached, watching carefully. There was nothing more dangerous than a wounded beast.

He stood over them, kicked their rifles out of reach and stared down. The bullets had done their job.  He could see that they would both bleed out.

‘I could have gone for a head shot,’ Jack drawled. ‘Like you could have done with that bull elephant you shot last year. But I wanted you to have the full experience of a hunt.’

He looked from one to the other, noting the agony and terror, then, shouldering his weapon he slipped back into the undergrowth.

500 words – 24.1.2022

Poetry – The Death of Democracy

The Death of Democracy

So on this New Year’s Day

I’ll raise a cup to democracy

And drink to its death.

For the whole idea

Was strangled

Ere it could ever draw a breath.

Even as the midwives struggled

To get the babe to breathe

There were those who lurked,

In shadows, seeking to deceive.

For in the grubby grasp of fake news

Where the media holds sway.

Those who own that message

Control who has a say.

With cunning, guile and transparency

They throw lies into the fray

To ensure that in this day and age

It’s them that gets their way!

When money talks

It buys the truth

That everybody believes.

Those who own the media

Set out the case

For the robber thieves.

Democracy never stood a chance –

Fingers tightened round its throat.

Now we watch the bloated bankers

Sit around and gloat.

Without the truth there is no chance

For wise choices to be made.

The wealthy used their gold

And the assassins were all paid.

Opher – 1.1.2020

Well my first poem of a new decade proved to be a bit dark.

I cannot help thinking that we are all being manipulated and lied to by the media. The wealthy own the papers and control TV and radio too. They run the world for profit. Their motives are transparent.

If you are not given the facts you cannot make an informed decision.

If you are consistently lied to you may start to believe what you are told.

Fake news is undermining the entire fabric of our society.

Real news is called fake by populist leaders.

Experts are side-lined and conveniently ignored.

Profit is the key word.

How can you have a free election when people are being blatantly lied to and manipulated?

How can any democracy work when the elite control the media?

Democracy does not stand a chance until we have unbiased news!!

Poetry – The Nuclear Dynamo

The Nuclear Dynamo

There’s a nuclear dynamo

                That runs the stars;

A vibration that

                Throbs through infinity.

It’s a flow of energy

                That pours from

                                A zillion suns;

A connect

                That conjoins

                                You and me.

Opher – 23.12.2018

While being an antitheist I still like to think of mystical connections that science has not yet grappled with. So much is unknown.

I like to think of a zeitgeist, a mystical connection between us.

I like to think of consciousness being something more that biochemistry.

I like to think of a cosmic vibration connecting us all.

Perhaps it is mere whimsy?