Buzzword Books - unusual, intriguing, intelligent, perceptive

Here, you'll find musings from our authors and staff. We don't promise daily updates. Just posts worth your time.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Busking around Australia - for nix!


Check out this book now

In 1984, Jon Jessie decided he could do it - busk around OZ for nothing more than he earned on the street. And, after a shaky start, he was on his way. Thirty years later, he's still at it. A hoot!

Jon Jessie decided to busk his way around Oz, living entirely on what he earned.
And the miracle is he succeeded. In 1984, he went up the East Coast of the country, then decided to go inland and try to get right around for nothing.


That first busking session in Kings Cross, Sydney on 4th April 1984, began an alternative lifestyle that was to last more than 30 years. Even now, in his seventies, he still sings with his guitar to passers-by. And hopes for another few years yet!

Listen to two of the Jon Jesse compositions which occurred during this epic journey:. Busking in Sydney 
Helscha How We Waited 


Read about his first session here:  

My First Ever Busking Session
I took the escalator up from the station to Darlinghurst Road. It was three years since I last went up these moving stairs and then I'd only been here as a tourist. Then, there had been no anxiety or unsureness. I'd looked forward to an interesting evening just like all the other millions of tourists that flock each year to this Little Paris of Australia, where watching prostitutes standing before shop doorways was the name of the game!

  But now, it was with a completely different feeling that I came to the top—and I looked different as well. I wore a checked shirt, over which lay a blue velvet waistcoat which my mother had made and I was wearing black corduroy trousers with my lovely black hat on my head. On my feet were red socks and blue artistic- looking leather shoes and I hoped that I looked a proper busker. I turned left and headed for the spot I had chosen to do my first ever busking session.

  It was on the other side of the road about a hundred metres along where a side street went down a hill. But the closer I got, the more the resistance in me built up. “Stop it! Put that out of your head! Think of Mike! Remember what he said!” I urged myself, “Don't think about it, do it! Don't think about it, do it!” This I now kept repeating to myself until I reached my spot and put my guitar case down,, opened it, took out my guitar, put it over my shoulder and put my capo in place, all with “Don't think about it, do it! Don't think about it, do it!”

  Now turn yourself around towards the road, I told myself, straighten up and sing!
  I'd already chosen to begin with an up-beat song from Elvis Presley. Good old Elvis, he knew how! I hit into my guitar and pushed out the opening line: “Won't you wear my ring around your neck …..” I was doing it, I was!

  I really was doing it, after all these years! I might now be 43 years old, but that hadn't stopped me. Elation overwhelmed me. But keep on going, I told myself, just keep going! Don't stop for at least half an hour! So started my first busking session and, straight away, I made my first mistake. I'd hardly sung a couple of lines when I noticed nearby a swaying drunk. He smiled at me and, foolishly, I smiled back at him. That was it. Suddenly we were old pals and he'd come and sing along with me like good friends do!

  He staggered over to me and his alcoholised breath was excruciating!

  "Damn, what should I do now?" I thought, and I've only just started!

  Go away you bugger! But in his intoxicated state he saw it that pals naturally stay together and had to help me with my performance! With his head next to mine it was unbearable.
  You stupid idiot, you were nice to him so now he won't go away! I cursed and tried to move away from his breath. We ended up going around in a circle. I cursed again that I'd caused this to happen right at the beginning of my first busking attempt. Christ, go away, won't you!

  That would have been the first and last busking session of my life, had my Fairy Godmother not come along and saved me! She appeared in the form of a thirty year old woman accompanying her friend—who was in such a bad state that she had to be dragged along. Both were pretty high but my saviour knew what she was doing.

  After watching and listening to me for some seconds with an amused smile, she took pity on me. She let her friend slither to the floor, looked into my eyes with a hearty laugh and then went behind the drunk. She put her hands on his shoulders, twisted him away and guided him to the middle of the road where she walked him along for some way before giving him a hearty shove. I prayed that he wouldn't turn around and come back and he didn't.

  "Thanks so much for your help!” I shouted at her as she returned to pick up her friend.
  “Think nothing of it, Luv! I could see yer needed some 'elp!” she shouted back and left, helping her drugged companion over the road and down an alley.
  With relief I carried on. Now I had peace for a while and began to get used to this new activity. The money wasn't coming in fast but some coins had landed in my case which helped.

  I'd been there about half an hour when across the road, moving this way and that, I noticed a woman heading toward me. Her body was hunched and, the way she hung her head, stuck forward going from side to side, she seemed like a worn out version of E.T. As she got close to me she made a kind of butterfly flit towards me. Then, a yard from my face, she hovered, vibrating in little quivers.

  For long seconds she stared at me with wide eyes and suddenly cried, “Wheeee,” threw her arms out wide and zigzagged off.

  “Now, that's what I call hi,” I thought as I stood there singing, “real hippy happy hi!”.

  I continued with my set. My, was busking hard work! In a way it was a bit like being a teacher. You had to be fully concentrated and had to know your stuff.

  I ended up singing for an hour and a quarter and although there was no fortune in my guitar case, it felt like one to me. I felt great, why, that ought to be enough money to keep me for a whole day!

  In fact, my singing from 8.30 until 9.45pm had left me more than content, I was elated! Because I'd done it! Yes, I really had, at long, long, last.

  As I walked back towards the station, I wondered if maybe I'd started too soon. Well, I would find that out the next time. But I was now looking at everything in a different way, as a participator rather than an observer. I'd entered the world of the busker—and needed time to come back down to normality. As I reached the station and the escalator started to carry me down, I knew what an advance I'd just made. This feeling of fulfilment was justified, I had every reason to be pleased with myself. It was 11.30pm when I got back home. I was tired but over the moon. As the brightness of the living room engulfed me I saw four interested faces peering at me.

  “Well, how did it go?”
  “How much did you make?”
  “Well, did you do it then?” came rushing out at me.
  “Yep, I did it!” I said gleefully with outstretched arms.
  “For how long then?” someone asked.
  “About an hour and a quarter.”
  “And how much did you make?” my son Mark asked again.
  I took out my pouch and let coins fall on the table. They amounted to $9.56.
  “Hey, not bad for the first time!” one gasped as I sat and recounted the evenings experience.

  They were as impressed as I was. Because, after so many years of turning away, I'd finally pushed myself through and done it. All I had to do now was to keep on going and, with time, it would get easier and easier and I would get better and better. That was now my aim. Yes, tomorrow night I'd go again.

Visit the book page on Buzzword here.
 
 

Sunday, 28 May 2017

OVERTRAINING SHORTENS YOUR LIFE

Martin Jensen, author of How to Keep Fit Without Exercise ( the lazy man's guide to keeping in shape), lays it on the line. Physical activity is fine—in moderation. But running a half marathon every week is not.

 

Mild and consistent exercise can safeguard against hypertension, obesity, heart disease, diabetes mellitus, cancer, osteoporosis, age related muscle wastage, cognitive decline and depression. 

But overdo it and you are in trouble.


The intensity of effort needed for health benefits is probably around 20 kJ per minute and significant benefits require a regimen using 4000 kJ a week.  This translates into 30/45 minutes of mild to moderate exercise per day.


Beyond this limit problems begin. Because exercise increases energy consumption which increases oxidative phosphorylation which generates free radicals not only from phosphorylation but also from extra catecholamine release, prostanoid metabolism, xanthine oxidase and NAD(P)H oxidase activity. In short, exercise increases free-radical production.


If you are an exercise binger or consistently overtrain, you can take anti-oxidant supplements - but don't expect them to do any more than slightly allay the damage. In fact, at high doses, anti-oxidants become pro-oxidant. In other words, they increase oxidization.


So beware. 


A study in women who exercised with varying intensity from 30 minutes to 60 minutes a day proves instructive. Health benefits were apparent in the 30 minute group.  But more exercise didn't help. In the 60 minute a day group, the increased benefit/fitness was marginal.


So you don't have to spend hours in the gym or run marathons. You simply need to move occasionally. And, if living long and dying fit is your aim, there are certain other basics:


Less food (including less sugar and meat). And more vegetables in the diet.
Enough sleep.
A cause or an abiding interest.
A positive outlook.
Little stress. (Try meditation or mindfullness.)
Good companions.


Sensible and simple. But can you live that way? Why not try.
Or do you prefer to die young and have a good-looking corpse? 


Read about How to Keep Fit Without Exercise on Buzzword.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

The Nature of God



'Why,' say those troubled by religion, 'is God such a shit? Why does he permit suffering - cancer, war, paedophiles, painful deaths, corruption, poverty...?'  John Alexandra, author of The Wisdom of Being, examines myths and assertions about the Deity and concludes that, 'god' does not act. It simply IS.


First, why a god and creation at all?


According to Shri Anirvan, all life is born from the Void. From the original Void comes the urge for self-expression—'the thrill of joy breaking through into the irradiance of creation'.

He said that the passivity of the Immutable and the activity of the Demiurge are but two phases of the same reality. He explains that the Vedic seers saw reality as a whole—'a process of gradual illumination occurring in some ineffable neutral being of universal extension and infinite potentiality.'

He said, 'Even Brahman cannot keep for himself what he creates. Everything springs from him and at once flows out. Ten million gods or laws take possession of it.'

Here is a Zen perspective from
D. T. Suzuki:

'Probably God was curious to know himself and created man and is trying to satisfy his curiosity through man.

'Being comes into being only when it is conscious of itself. As long as God is content with himself, he is non-existent. He must be awakened to something that is not himself when he is God.

'God is God when God is not God—yet what is not God must be in himself, too. And this—what is not himself—is his own thought or consciousness. With this consciousness, he departs from himself and at the same time returns to himself. You can say that Thought is Being and that Being has its basis in itself. You must say that Being is Being because of Thought, which is to say that Being is Being because Being is not Being.'

He clarifies this abstruseness by concluding: 'The world starts only when there is a mind that appreciates—a mind critically conscious of itself.'

According to Ramana Maharshi, God, like the sun, does not have the least volition. He said that God does not know anything because his nature is the ever real whole—other than which nothing exists to be known. That he has neither will nor desire. That he never acts—just is.

He said, 'There is no meaning in attributing responsibility and motive to the One before it becomes many!'

Shri Ramakrishna
echoes the concept of an inchoate unformed entity. He said, 'It is immovable, actionless, unattached—without qualities or attributes—between existence and non-existence. It has form, is also formless and beyond both. Unlimited.

'Why should the universe be unreal? It is God himself who has become the universe and all living beings. The world is illusion. Brahman alone is real. The world is of the nature of magic. The magician is real but the magic unreal.'

Ouspensky talked of 'the absolute, the all—infinite, indivisible, one whole, primordial with full unity, will, consciousness.' And his teacher, Gurdjieff, constructed this invocation:
God the Holy. God the Mighty. God the Immortal.
God all. God nothing.

Unimaginable light. Unimaginable darkness.

Gurdjieff pointed out that the Void, the Unmanifest, is supreme Being. Unity. One. But that creation steps this state down. When the first worlds are formed, a mechanical element enters in. And the further the impulse gets from the source, the more automatic the process becomes—no longer subject to the guiding will of the Unformed. And, to reverse the situation, the One would have to destroy all the intervening creation.

Now listen to Meister Eckhart, the celebrated 14th century mystic:

'He is non-loving—being above love and affection.

'God is neither a being nor intelligence and he does not 'know' this or that. God is free of everything and therefore he IS everything.

'Being is God. The One at rest within itself, receiving nothing from without. The cause that has no cause.

'God is Being. Time does not exist because god, that Being, is not in time.

'...therefore I am my own first cause, both of my eternal Being and of my temporal being. To this end I was born, and by virtue of my birth being eternal, I shall never die. ...What I am as a temporal creature is to die and come to nothingness, for it came with time and, with time, will pass away. In my eternal birth however, everything was begotten. I was my own first cause as well as the first cause of everything else. If I had not willed it, neither I nor the world would have come to be. If I had not been, there would be no god. There is, however, no need to understand this.'


If  the Unmanifest is Being, how do we approach it?

The Old Testament's Yahweh, announced that I AM THAT I AM. And suggested, 'Be still and know that I AM (god).'

According to Eckhart, 'Nothing in all creation is so like God as stillness,' and said, 'life cannot be perfected until it has returned to its secret source, where life is Being,' and advised '...gather together all your senses and power, all your reason and memory. These must be directed into your ground where your treasure lies hidden. Know also that to find this treasure, you must eschew all other activity and reach a place of unknowing within.' He advises us to '...sink eternally from negation to negation in the One.'

That, 'The Kingdom of God is for none but the thoroughly dead.'

Krishnamurti, said, 'In the 'now' there is nothing. Nothingness is supreme intelligence. Learn to die to yourself completely.'

Near the end of his life was advising: 'It is only out of nothingness that creation takes place. You must be completely naked, empty, alone to see the reality. Be in a state of negation. Die to the known. See directly, without the thought.'


These sages point out that the
only way to reach the formless, the Unmanifest, is incarnation. To know 'god' we have to resemble it, join it, become it.

Then, as Eckhart said, '...in bursting forth, I discover that God and I are one. ... the unmoved mover who moves all things. Here then a god may find no place in man, for by his poverty, that man achieves the being that was always his and shall remain his eternally.'

Jacob Bohme knew this well:

'But the soul's will, in this firelike urge, must ceaselessly sink itself in this nothing.

'When you leave all creaturehood, when you become a no-thing to all nature and creature, then you are in the eternal one—in God himself.

'It is a treasure above all earthly treasures to be possesses of the light of God and Nature operating in their spheres and to have both the Eye of Time and the Eye of Eternity at once open together, and yet not interfering with each other.

'Alas, how hard it is for the will to sink into nothing, to attract nothing, to imagine nothing. Let it be granted that it is so. Is it not surely worth thy while and all thou canst ever do?'

A final passage from the Diamond Sutra: 'Oh, let nowhere abide and generate the Mind.'

 And this:

‘God must act and pour himself into us when we are ready. In other words, when we are totally empty of self and creatures. So stand still and do not waver from your emptiness.

‘Therefore, discard the form and be joined to the formless essence. For the spiritual comfort of God is very subtle. Only the hand that erases can write the true thing.’  (Eckhart)

Perhaps one day, for one second, we may be empty, dead, impartial enough for the Unmanifest to flow in and drench us with its force.

You can find The Wisdom of Being on Buzzword Books. 

Monday, 13 March 2017

Idiot sailor tackles the Bahamas

Inspired by a personal tragedy and plain dumbness, this intrepid fool and neophyte sailor set off from Florida to the Bahamas - and found that things don't automatically go right. Read his account here:

They say that after a personal tragedy, you should wait a year before making any big or important decisions. The wisdom of this is both obvious and self evident. That being said, three days after my wife died, I decided to: quit my job, sell my car, sell my house, give away all my stuff, buy a sailboat and sail the carribbean for a year.

I would become a "Sailorman".

For the next month I pondered this decision deeply. By which I mean I didn't think about it at all. I was too busy being desperately unhappy, missing my wife, and trying to think of a reason to continue what looked to be a long bleak lonely life. Eventually I began to once more consider this vaguely formed idea to head for the "Islands in the Stream", and I immediately leapt into action. I grabbed a beer from the fridge, popped a DVD into the player, and plopped down on my recliner. I would watch a movie and then think about the future. The movie was a musical called “Mama Mia”, and as I sat there rocking out to ABBA cover songs I realized something; There was a dude in this movie that sailed his boat around the world to exotic places, and then wrote books about them!!!

It was fate, destiny, kismet, some other word that means something similar but that I don’t remember! I could do what he did. I mean, he was a man, I was a man. He was a writer; I wanted to be a writer. He had a sailboat; I could probably get a sailboat.

Only two things stood between me and the realization of my dream. I wasn’t sure I could write (or even spell), and I was completely sure I couldn’t sail a boat.

This book is not about sailing, although I do sail (poorly). It's a book about a clueless dweeb, who dreams of trying to accomplish something that he is not trained for, is constitutionally built to fail at, and is so abjectly terrified of, he cries himself to sleep thinking about it.   Him, not me, real men don’t cry. They whimper softly, then fart from the effort of holding in the sobs.

In The first seven sailing days on my boat I: got a concussion, ran aground breaking my $4000.00 rudder, caught a flesh eating disease, almost losing my foot and my life, had my identity stolen, sprang a leak and began sinking, was rammed by a multi-millionaire in a huge yacht, was almost run down by a humongous cruise ship in the gulf stream between Florida and the Bahamas, and got a blister.

After that, it got a little hairy.

I wrote this "Diary" as a series of E-Mails to family, and friends I met as I traveled. I am told that they would often take them to bars with other friends, or just have a party. Read them aloud, and laugh their asses off.

Because disaster can be really funny, when it happens to someone else. 


(90,700 words)Check out this new book here

Child molestation, mayhem and murder

True crime relating to children - detailed, searing, forensic, incredible and totally researched.

Introducing one of our newest and most disturbing books - Suffer Little Children - cases of child molestation - a record of man's inhumanity to man.

The stories covered in the collection range from historical to very recent. There is a chapter about the 18th Century torture-murderer Elizabeth Brownrigg, the racist 1955 slaying of Emmett Till and the 1965 Alice Crimmins case.

Other cases include the “Burn Boy” case of David Rothenberg, the famous Polly Klaas case, the murder of child actress Judith Barsi, the molestations committed by “Father” John Geoghan, the torturing to death of Sylvia Likens, the 2011 water-deprivation murder of 10-year-old Jonathan James.

And there's the 1973 case of Poor Little Rich Boy, Jean Paul Getty III, grandson of the wealthiest man on earth.

Denise Noe is relentless in her research and most of the stories appearing here have been previously published. Finally, they are presented together, collated into an ebook. Highly recommended.  (78,000 words.)

To find this book on Buzzword Books - click here.



Sunday, 15 January 2017

WHAT CAN I REALLY KNOW?



John Alexandra, author of The Wisdom of Being, tells it like it is. What can I really say I know? And what is the difference between knowledge and being?

I know, for instance, that I exist. And, apparently, so does everything around me. Including the endless, staggering profusion of galaxies that reduces my existential self to less than nothing.

However, it usually doesn't occur to me that this infinity extends in two directions. To the microscopic creatures that live in and crawl over me, to the individual cells of my body, the viruses afflicting me, the load of bacteria in my gut, the colonies on my eyelids.

In other words, I rarely if ever comprehend that I am a miniature universe—perhaps a mirror reflection of the immensity engulfing me.

Then, beyond this microcosm, a further infinity dances—the still incomprehensible mystery of particle physics.

So what, after all, do I know when even the greatest minds are stumped and can't, for example, locate most of the matter of the universe?

I know that I am here?

But what is 'I'?

A tree is here, but, deconstructed, becomes a collection of leaves, an accumulation of cells, a chemical combination, a seed that becomes a tree which seeds again and dies.

Anything reduced to its components vanishes into nothing.

Am I any different?

If I observe my psychology, I find a collection of emotional reactions which in turn prompt associative thoughts and physical tensions. Each potentiates the other. My so-called personality is simply this random collection running in habitual groves, entirely without supervision.

As such, I am an automaton. There is no 'I' to monitor this process—this pinball cavalcade.

Just like the tree, if my psychology is deconstructed, it becomes little more than a process. My 'I' is fictional—self-delusion.

So what can 'I' know when there is no I in my mechanism at all?

Which brings me closer to the truth of myself. I know nothing. Except, at times, vaguely, that 'I' am here.
But even this 'here' is uncertain.
In the midst of my multiform reactions—external and internal—am I aware even for an instant that I am surrounded by a body with sensations?

Are you aware, for instance, now, of the impressions coming from your left foot? Perhaps, of a moment, now that you are reminded. But then the sensation is gone. Because you are back thinking about it. Thinking your life away. Back in your busy head, a function of random thought which has no consistency or weight.

I know nothing. Least of all myself.

Now let's change the question.

What is this universe, that I am apparently a miniscule part of, for? Why is it here? Why does it exist? Why does anything exist?

And, as I am here, to what purpose? Is there something I am expected to do? And, if so, why is my lifespan so trivial? What on earth can be accomplished in a fleeting 75 years?

And does this limitless miracle I inhabit have a purpose? Or is it all just insensate clockwork—a vast, empty, terrifying process?

What, after all, can I know? Why think about such things?

Certainly, we'll never find answers by 'taking thought', because thought is a mechanistic process—an agitation of the mind.

So, if I'm really serious, I need a finer tool for observation.

As Jacob Bohme put it: 'If thou canst for a while but cease from all thy thinking and willing, then....the eternal hearing, speaking and seeing will be revealed in thee.'
Is it true? Or simply the ravings of a medieval mystic?

The answer to all questions comes when we abandon our habitual linear thinking and enter the arena of Being.

If I can abandon myself entirely—equivalent to psychological death—something new appears. The energy, previously consumed by my churning, reactions to life, is freed. Free attention. Suddenly, I begin to BE.

Some call this shift entering the NOW. I no longer think in the old way. Thought becomes a watchfulness that does nothing but observe. A finer energy infuses me that resolves all contradictions.

All questions are resolved at that moment. Suddenly, I have everything I need. Nothing is absent, wished, required. I simply, inclusively, AM. But not I. Because there is only one thing, not two.

Of course, next moment, the vision is lost and I am back in the process of myself.

But if I can find the door to this once, I can find it again.

What remains—is offered—is to open the life to this quest. Or, in other words, to this inner tuning, alignment, listening. To the unmistakeable, revolutionary certainty of becoming.

But I can't do it. 'Doing' is the old. A process in time.

And the NOW is not in time at all! NOW stops time.

Therefore, all I can 'do' is BE.

As the Zen sage Baso put it:
Miraculous deeds and acts of wonder.
I carry water. I fetch kindling.

In short, I join the universe. And fulfil my destiny and purpose.


You can find The Wisdom of Being on Buzzword.

 

Saturday, 29 October 2016

THE POET SPEAKS - AGAIN

David Farnsworth, poet and traveller, records some more observations about this curious world.

Mt Macedon, Recollected, Early Spring
A couple of maidens and I were
sussing out a walk from the
Tea Rooms Car Park and the Camel's Hump.

I have mostly unpleasant memories
of camels. There was Cable Beach where
our camel was not well.

It stumbled when walking through a
dry creek bed. My partner was not small.
I was behind her. "I can't see a thing!"

Then there was a camel tethered
half-way up a hill in Northern China
hoping some of the 50,000 visitors

would accept an invitation to have
their photograph taken while on its back.
But I prevaricate.

The air was chill. Snow flurries
covered my furry hat, clung to my
beard, while frozen snow drifts crunchd.

The path was wet. The local leeches
hadn't seen this much blood on the move
since the last kangaroo.

One small leech latched on but found
my blood too alcoholic. Why would you
risk cirrhosis on such a small liver?

It dropped off the pace. I found
a drunkard further on, attached to my
ankle, horribly bloated.

Always carry salt on bush walks.
"So stretcht out huge in length the
Arch-fiend lay."

I demolished her between two rocks.
My life's blood flowed out of her.
It twitched.

Scarcely knowing tother leg from twitch
I made it to the Hump. How pleasant
the view! How sweet the water in rock cavities!

24/ 02/ 16


Zarbys

What a great restaurant. The jimmy
Woodsers occupy a tall bar stool,
the bar-flies cluster as the bar.

Mine Host keeps the wretches happy.
"It's his playground," he tells me. The
waitresses are all care, polishing

the water glasses until they shine. Then the
plastic covered menus get the treatment.
This is a seriously good bistro/bar.

Where else can you get an incredible
pasta dish and seriously good wine
for $15.00?

24/ 02/ 16


The Main Street Woodend

We're in an environmentally friendly town.
Hessian bags are de rigeur. Shops offer
gifts from your worst nightmare

Aficionados buy metal parrots and
old wares that their great-grand
mothers may have discarded years ago.

The junk goes into the car, it goes
onto the roof. At Home they have
serious problems deciding where it all should go.

24/ 02/ 16