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.

Sunday 10 December 2023

THE POWER OF PERSONAL HYGENE

 Martin Jensen, author of How to Get What You Want, gives you the lowdown on his personal life.

 


Why do little ducklings walk softly? Because they can’t walk hardly.

To be serious, animals that have lost their mums fixate on people who try to look after them. 

Ducklings, even baby hippos, will follow you around.

When I was five, I developed an infection behind my right ear. My mum put flour on it to dry it and told me to always wash behind my ears. She told me this in the street on her way to wash bottles for the war effort. Eighty-one years later, it is as if I see the scene now.

And at age 86, I still wash behind my ears. Like a duckling or baby hippo, the act she imprinted on me is essential. If I don’t wash behind my ears, it feels wrong. And to do it brings me comfort. I imagine that my long dead mum would be amazed at this result but there it is.

Another thing I do compulsively, is have an eyebath. Each morning, in the shower, before washing behind my ears, I prime my small plastic eyebath with a trickle of salt. Then, when I’ve cleaned my eyelids with soap, I apply the eyebath to each eye in turn, blinking, of course, so the saline contacts the eye.

At 86, my eyes are not good and have been easily infected. Not now. On my last visit to the ophthalmologist, I told him my habit. He sighed and said, ‘I’m not sure you can buy eyebaths anymore.’ Next day, I ransacked two Chemist Warehouse stores and left about fifteen eyebaths at the desk for him.

At night, after a hard night snoring in front of the boob tube, my eyelids feel gritty. Do I use eyedrops? Not always. I lick my finger and rub them over the closed lids. It gives almost instant relief. Saliva is partly antiseptic and does the job. It’s not for nothing we have the expression ‘licking your wounds’. If saliva is good enough for cats and dogs, it’s fine.

Another thing I never miss is flossing my teeth. At 86, I have lost two teeth, but would have lost more without this habit. I’ve made a flossing device with two prongs to hold the floss. There is a wooden handle attached with two long screws surmounted by wingnuts, one on either side. One holds the spindle with the floss. (You just gut the floss container and fish it out.) The other secures two brass washers that clamp the end of the floss in place. I have made a dozen of these contraptions and have one in several rooms of the house. Another in the car glovebox. Another in my overnight bag. And I have donated more to friends and family. They make flossing extremely easy and reduce the cost to almost nothing.

Finally, as I squat on the toilet (if you sit on it you’re a  fool) it brings my toes conveniently near my hands. This makes it easy to grab a nailfile and roughen the nails of my feet. Then I brush them with antifungal solution. The lacquer is dry before I step into the shower.

I have now divulged the minutia of my self-maintenance regime.

There is more, of course. Lifting weights, bike riding, walking, but you don’t need instructions for that. Except to say that if you lift weights when you are 20, you can improve your fitness 10 per cent. But if you start lifting weights after 75, you can improve your fitness 30 per cent. So if you want to die fit, get a press bench.

Then there’s diet. More veg. Less meat. And a morning teaspoon of brewer’s yeast, which contains every trace element known.

Go, and do thou likewise.

And remember that growing old is the only way to live a long time.

You can read Martin's Books on Buzzword.

Sunday 2 July 2023

IS IT POSSIBLE TO TOUCH, TO SENSE, THE UNFORMED?

John Alexandra's second book is a manual for doing just that. It leads the seeker progressively from utter rationality to the arcane. Here is a review by D. S. Mills:

This book is as practical as it is profound. An uncompromising investigation of the world and our inner selves. It begins with an exposition of contemporary thought — scientific, philosophical and spiritual. And demonstrates that these three ways of knowledge are fundamentally flawed.

Then it examines the perceiver. And deconstructs everything we believe about ourselves. It demonstrates that objectively, we don't exist. That all our thoughts, opinions, convictions, passions, regrets, recriminations, the whole panorama of what we call our personalities is simply a series of conditioned reactions based on fear. And that, unless we realize that we are nonentities, nothing more is possible.

To quote from the introduction: "Many so-called gurus declare that we are already everything — God. This assertion is as mindless as saying that we don't exist at all. Yet both are true. And false. Because reality is with us always and we are attempting to find what always was, and always will, exist.

What you and the cosmos consist of can eventually be sensed — but at a level of perception that mind, body and emotions can't grasp. The problem is to make these parts passive while remaining acutely alert.
Simple and extraordinarily difficult as all profundities are.
It requires total attention.
To remain in the space before thought.
To be aware of yourself.
To be."


The second half of the book opens the frontiers of insight, assisted by copious quotes from gurus and spiritual masters. There is no compromising here. The doors of perception, the text explains, only open after the entire psychology has been abandoned, and only physiological life remains. The aspirant must die too himself, totally and completely. The book even shows how to do this. But the path is steep and I suspect that few seekers will have courage enough to tread it. Because it requires total sincerity and utter self-negation.

This is a serious study suitable only for those sincere enough to risk everything in the quest - a practical manual on approaching Reality. Its triumph is that it makes sense, and reconciles, both outer and inner worlds.

Available now from Buzzword.

Monday 26 June 2023

TALES OF BALLARAT - A LITERARY TOUR-DE-FORCE

Clinton Smith, at the age of 85, has finally completed his magnum opus - a story anthology about his home town of Ballarat. He's been revising these same tales for sixty years, so they have to be almost perfect. In fact they were almost perfect years ago as various stories in the collection have won ten literary awards. 

Clint says, 'I spent my childhood in the elegant provincial city of Ballarat and wrote my first story about the region in my 20s. Eventually I wrote thirteen more. Although they later won awards and appeared in magazines and anthologies, I kept revising the same tales for the next 60 years.'


 What really goes on behind the scenes in a country town? These thirteen brilliantly crafted short stories expose the lives behind the facades.
This collection of inter-related tales dates from the 1960's and is set in and around  Ballarat, Victoria. It takes us behind the masks of people related to that town with an intensity and depth that strips them bare.

Stories in this anthology have won ten literary awards: two Victorian Fellowship of Australian Writers Awards, four NSW FAW Awards, a Moomba Award, an Alan Marshal Shire of Eltham Award, a Shoalhaven COE Award and a Lane Cove Library Literary Commendation. The writer has also won the inaugural Mary Drake Award, a Bicentennial Literary Award for short fiction and an FAW award for a screenplay. 

The critics agree:

"Work of impressive quality. Each story skilfully manipulates language and form to convey the central theme: 'the world behind what we take as reality'. A pleasure and education to read."
      Lynk

"Beautiful writing."
      Judge: Lane Cove Literary Award

""This unusual collection maintains a very high standard indeed. These are tales of extraordinary depth and insight, consummately written and profound."
      Commissioning Editor, Buzzword Books 

Clint says, 'Each story is a cry - an attempt to make the reader feel.'

Read about THIS BOOK now.


Monday 9 January 2023

RHAPSODY ON A MONORHYME

Clint Smith, not to be outdone by Martin Jensen's recent parody of immortal verse, contributes this anomaly - an ingenious piece of doggerel with a single rhyme. It's titled SUMMERY.

 

Fluttering fronds in baking glare.
Mindless insects drill the air.
Panting dog with shedding hair.
Sprinkler spurting everywhere.
Sips of warm vin ordinaire.
Melting slice of Camembert.
Basking boy with stupid stare,
Dandruff in his matted hair.
Bawling baby, bottom bare,
Powder on its derriere.
Lurking leech on garden chair
Crawls inside Mum’s underwear.
Daughter, tragic, doctrinaire,
Raves that life is plain unfair.
Grandad, senile, unaware,
Bowels and brain in disrepair,
Soils himself and starts to swear.
No one wants to help or care.
Which incites me to declare:
None but the brave observes despair.

 

Sunday 16 October 2022

COLERIDGE REVISITED

Our resident humorist, Martin Jensen contributes this bon mot:

I don't write verse but, on reading a biography of Coleridge before bed, I dozed and later awoke from an opium-induced slumber with these few, immortal, pellucid lines of apt alliteration etched in my brain:

 

In Malibu

Did Lucy-lu

A perky palindrome review

While Alf, her hapless handiman

Resprayed her rusted caravan

Then reinforced her ottoman  

And fixed a faulty flue.

 

Thank you!
Thank you very much! 

Saturday 3 September 2022

POPULATION - THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

Gina Stoner ventilates the taboo subject of eponential population growth:

Despite world population increasing fourfold in the last 100 years - what used to be termed exponential growth — the fact is never mentioned. In fact, the media's careful exclusion of this topic smells more of conspiracy than neglect.
    Everything else is on the table.
    Climate change, yes.
    Pollution, yes.
    Lack of biodiversity and extinctions of species, yes.
    Lack of recourses, yes.
    Decimation of forests, wetlands, wilderness areas, yes.
    But when it comes to addressing the root cause of these problems, governments, corporations, the media, the woke establishment and the plethora of fanatical do-gooders are astonishingly coy about the topic, let alone economical with the truth.
    Corporations don’t want population mentioned because they require more units of consumption. Governments don’t want it mentioned because they are funded and lobbied by corporations. So they permit more economic refugees, fund more child-care centres, tolerate women who refuse to work and have children to live off the benefits.
    Even authoritarian states refuse to sterilize their populations. China is allegedly applying it to their Moslem inhabitants, but this is a strategic culling, not a comprehensive campaign.
    And while we cut down the Amazon, burn forests in Java, fill turtles with plastic waste, decimate the habitats of rhinos, tigers, elephants… world population increases at 2.6 people each second.
    Although 60 million of us die each year, 140 million are born. Half of all people to exist on this minuscule planet have arrived in the last 2000 years.
    In the 1700s, the human population was 600 million.
    In 2020 it was 7.8 billion.
    It is now growing at a rate of 83 million a year.
    Yes, we bleat about climate change (the euphemism for global warming — a term that proved too difficult to prove). But we never mention the cause. That there are now so many of us polluting the planet that when all competing species are eaten we may be reduced to consuming ourselves.
    In medieval times, the population was curbed by wars, famine, plagues and limited medical knowledge. But we have become adept at self-preservation and these restrictions are no longer enough.
    As we can't be cured or even culled, the only hope is that Atlas will shrug.
    Eventually, things will revert. If the bugs don't get us, or nuclear winter, something else will knock us off. In the vast timeline of the planet, humanity is just a spark. We will go the way of the dinosaurs and another of natures experiments will begin.


You can read Gina's inspirational book, TALKS WITH AL, on Buzzword.

Saturday 30 April 2022

THE MAN WITH NO PLAN

 Read this short story by John Alexandra, and despair!

 

For a moment, he came alive. He knew nothing but the chill of his skin and the life and death of his breath.
    He breathed in and took life from air. He breathed out and everything stopped. Thought. Expectations. Hope. Ambition. Fear. Regrets. He breathed out into nothingness, nothing. Died to himself and became.
    Each outbreath drove a gossamer energy through his body. Chest. Gut. Legs. He let it flow. And presently there came warmth - like a fire in the belly, which he saw with an inner look.
    It drew him, soothed, solaced, fed.
    Then he found he wanted nothing - just to remain with the warmth. The cosmic calm, renewed with every breath.
    But soon he was distracted. By thought. Reactions. Moods. And forgot about it. Forgot his birthright in a trice. Identified again with outer life. The primal bliss, discarded, drained away.
    He no longer lived, felt alive.
    He became a series of reactions. The mediocrity he found comfort in. The familiar fog of existing that deadened perception. Effortless. Automatic. Disguised as progress, competence, activity.
    Again he sleepwalked through his life - a well-dressed, responsible zombie.
    That night, in bed, he reviewed his day. And saw that, although everything was done well enough, he was absent from the process - never 'there'. He did not remember locking the door when he went out, where he put his keys, his glasses. Whether he'd turned off the stove. Yet he locked the door, found his glasses and keys and turned the stove properly off. But it was done in a dream. There was no attention at all. He acted from habit, automatically. He did not exist as it was done.
    He determined, next day, to be attentive. He made a plan. He'd start off with a simple task. He'd be mindful each time he touched a switch.
    As he drank his coffee next morning, he remembered he'd switched on the electric jug but while he switched it on, he was occupied with a program on the radio - the radio he'd switched on before he'd switched on the jug. The radio he'd been listening to at the time he shaved. Then he recalled that he'd also switched on his electric shaver.
    So, before he left for work, he decided to switch on something intentionally. He switched the hall light on and off, trying to be aware that he was doing it. For an instant, life became more vivid. As though everything stopped and presence flowed.
    Then he started his car automatically and switched the radio on in the same way.
    In bed that night, when he recalled it, he realized that he was a reaction to events - a person in a waking dream.      
    Then he forgot his plan, his good intentions, for weeks.
    But he functioned well enough. Everything got done. Inattentive he might be but it was the comfortable way to exist. A dull, familiar drifting that required no effort at all.
    And soon his resolve to wake up became just a waking dream. Another thought.