Writing as catharsis

The voice of a dead man

Posted in Uncategorized by Lachlan R. Dale on October 4, 2015

Somewhere in Nepal

I select a song on the stereo and slip into its movements.

The pace is slow and deliberate. An ethereal voice, suspended in reverb, hovers above slow, grinding of the drums. Guitars strike occasional, unhurried chords, rising only to decay once more.

Then the realisation strikes me: I am listening to the voice of a dead man. A shiver runs down my spine as the track continues to unfold, burrowing deep into the earth amongst peat of pain and grief. The full realisation of it’s futility grips me completely.

This man practiced his art as catharsis. The tragedy is that, for him, it wasn’t quite enough. I am honoured to be able share and absorb the music he left behind.

Despite what many existentialists have said, the greatest threat to humankind lies not in the void and vacuum of nihilism; it is of death by a thousand cuts. Too easily are we consumed by pettiness. Too often we build barriers up not only against strangers, but also those we love.

We all struggle alike, fumbling for meaning and purpose, or merely struggling for survival. We crave brief moments of solitude where the roar of the world and noise of our minds are silenced for an instant. To this end we pray, drink, fuck, smoke, and retreat.

We seal ourselves off inside psychological cages of our own creation. This is what we truly need to overcome, for if we could only drop the illusion of separateness created out of fear and ego, we would finally be able to recognise each other for what we truly are: brothers and sisters who struggle the same.

The veil has dropped for me in this brief moment. Even now my psyche scrambles to reassemble it’s defences: the insidious delusion that the preservation of the self necessarily excludes all others.

The finest moment of our species will come when we rid ourselves of this delusion for good; to recognise and love not only each other, but the entire universe in all it’s unfathomable mystery.

For now we can but try not to be consumed by our own pettiness.

May we all get better together.

(26/10/2014)

I am still writing often

Posted in Uncategorized by Lachlan R. Dale on May 30, 2015

Hello friends,

I am dropping by to inform you that I am still writing, and writing often – just not on this particular site.

For the moment my focus has shifted from philosophical introspection, to an attempt to engage with the outside world.

I will return to these pages for more personal exposition some day, but for now the best places to keep track of my regular entanglement with words is over at my new website, at this Facebook page, or via my Twitter.

I have begun to write a book about my travels in Myanmar, but more about that some other time.

Love,

– Lachlan.

I have a new website

Posted in Uncategorized by Lachlan R. Dale on March 24, 2015

Friends, I now have a new home on the web: lachlanrdale.com

I’ve been trying to write on a wider range of topics, and slowly inch towards my goal of writing for respectable publications.

Philosophic musings and book reviews will still feature, alongside pieces on politics and music.

Check it out. I hope you enjoy. xx

– Lachlan.

A stream of consciousness piece on writing, politics, self-delusion and George Orwell’s essays

Posted in Uncategorized by Lachlan R. Dale on April 12, 2014

I can’t help but feel a little dulled. Of late I have been entertaining no philosophic contemplation – not that I can notice in any case. Perhaps my mind is dutifully working away at a sub-conscious level to lash together different aspects of my experience and learning; or perhaps I am simply not engaging in existential musing – what I consider to be the highest form of reflection possible.

So why the silence? Well, let’s start with the question: what ideas have I been filling myself with?

Twice this year I have read John Gray’s The Silence of Animals. It was a somewhat strange book, oozing negativity and cynicism. It’s basic premise is this: “remember, fool, that we are but animals.” Of course this seems like a completely natural and valid perspective to reinforce; mankind as a species tends to delude itself into thinking it something more than an animal; more than organic matter; more than a product of this universe. The only true reason we have to think otherwise is sheer egoism, a rejection and fear of being ‘merely’ another lifeform on earth.

For me this is clearly an absurd idea, and one that starts to stir within me a feeling of contempt. I see so much evil in egoism – in a failure to identify with other human beings, other animals, and other forms of life. We would all dearly love the believe we have been given divine stewardship over the earth – and that if we destroy it, scorch it’s face, or poison it, that a) we have permission to do so, for it is there for us to use, and b) somehow that isn’t the end of the game of life on earth. Such ignorance is pathetic.

You can sense a similar undertone in all human affairs – politics in particular. Politics is a messy affair; it’s never easy to reconcile idealism or morality with politics. Perhaps one problem is there are simply too many minds, ego and universes that have to sync up for appropriate political change. Still, it is worth noting that our current political system places little to no stress on the rights of animals, on environment concerns, on the exploitation of third world labour, on the finite resource of fossil fuels – and certainly no one is entertaining any sort of revolution that would see our economy less obsessed with economic growth, and more focused on providing meaning and fulfilment in life within a sustainable society.

The above leaves me no doubt; I have been thinking of politics lately. It’s a sickening business, and I have no heart for it. I’ve seen politicians engage in the most brazen abuses – and yet they pay nothing for it. It is true all over the world; most politicians dare not call judgement upon another country, lest their own dirty secrets be made known. If all politicians were to be held to account by all others (rather than exploited or manipulated for political purposes), well, where that leave our vested interests? 

If anything, I wish I could isolate myself further from politics. The issues are petty. The events uninspiring. Unfortunately I experience a tension with this thought; that of the duty of civic engagement; cynicism and withdrawal from politics is a luxury, and one that is entirely self serving. It is in this begrudging manner that I attempt to engage, as if it were a rock that I must roll up again forever.

I’ve also begun reading some George Orwell. I recently finished his Down and Out in Paris and London, which, while interesting in short bursts, ultimately gave me little to ponder. I have moved now to a collection of his essays, and already I have been floored by the progression in his writing style. These essays are supremely powerful and affecting; his portraits of small events like a hanging in Burma tend to reveal so much about the psychology of mankind, and of the injustice we wreak. At this early stage, I find his form inspiring; and I hope that it might encourage me to write more words of my own.

I have faced a long standing problem; that while I enjoy writing occasionally, that I do not have a more meaningful outlet for my words. Philosophic musings likely entertain only myself. My distaste for politics poisons any enthusiasm I would have commentating on recent events – the space itself is one of polarisation, pettiness and open hostility; hardly the sort of high-minded discussion that I seek.

I would love to write and publish more regular entries. Book reviews have engaged my mind, but I still have further work to do to develop my style and concept. Perhaps this collection of Orwell’s essays holds the key.

Escape

Posted in Uncategorized by Lachlan R. Dale on September 22, 2013

Escape

Three weeks ago I returned from my trip to the Megalon Valley. My goal was fairly simple; to attempt to regain the inner peace and stillness that has been so painfully absent most this year.

Thankfully that peace was forthcoming. I spent a few days pondering the disintegration of my last relationship; on what the effects were on my psyche; on slowly dissecting the major events of the last few years; on trying once more to define myself in the absence of the reflective gaze of a significant other. I gave myself time to properly analyse the end of that period of my life, and thus provided myself closure. I worked to find a meta-context to which to place the events of this year. I reconsidered some of my long-standing aims; suspecting at least a few were a compensation rather than desirable in essence.

I sat on the grass under the sun and stared at ancient cliffs. I let my mind wander. I variously emptied and filled my mind with the impossibly-beautiful surroundings. I listened to birds. I drew. I took my time cooking. And, of course, I played guitar.

As my psychological crisis began to fade, I shifted my focus from contemplation to construction and set about recording the acoustic material which has taken up the majority of my creative efforts this year. These recordings represent difficult experiences; in moments of depressive paralysis I would reach for my guitar and play along to these songs; they acted as a balm to help slowly but surely soothe my mind.

I went into the mountains with around six completed songs and a few rough ideas. I left with eleven recorded. My friends loaned me some nice gear – an American Telecaster, a 70s Vibrolux, a vintage Fender Reverb Tank, another nice tube pre-amp – and I had the time to experiment and slowly lay down my ideas.

I left that perfect cottage in a state of calm, relaxation and acceptance I have never felt so deeply before in my life. I truly believe within that short time I was able to make considerable progress over the course of that week, and I have taken much back with me.

I feel changed; more at peace; more at ease; the tension between my shoulders has vanished, and my life has once more opened up before me. I feel as though I possess more energy than ever before. I can still feel the afterglow of contentment – and take no small amount of solace in the fact such deep stillness is less than seven days away from the roar and noise of my life.

(My acoustic material will likely see release in the next few months)