Currently reading no.2

I like to find time to pursue something akin to ‘Continued Professional Development’ with my interest in poetry. Hence this post, which is perhaps more of a ‘Continued Poetry Development’. The book I’m reading today is The Lost Works of William Carlos Williams by Robert J. Cirasa.(also subtitled as ‘The Volumes of Collected Poetry as Lyrical Sequences’). I’ve got two reasons for this, firstly anything that mentions lyrical and poetry grabs my attention because of my own creative leaning, and secondly, in his autobiography William Carlos Williams said, “The longer I lived in my place, among the details of my life, the more I realised that these isolated observations and experiences needed pulling together to gain profundity.”

There is, I think, poetry even inside that quote, I mean how gorgeous is the inward looking concept of living among the details of one’s life? The very way of thinking in those worded terms seems to negotiate to that ‘other layer’ which all good poetry seems to possess. It says a lot about him I think, especially how he wrote in a small-detail way. Profundity seems to be something I also occasionally try to negotiate almost without realising it. (the concept of trying to be profound seems saturated with ego somehow, oops!) Perhaps my efforts are more like a journey though through my own self awareness. Maybe my own attempts at profundity is a way of sharing myself, I think it is probably, a passing-on of something. It would be nice to think my kids read my ‘profundity’ one day, although I’d probably have to throw in a free holiday to get them to read my poetry.

I digress, what matters is that reading books like this puts me a bit closer to the man, the poet and what he gave out to the world, his “details of my life”, his way of seeing. And that can only help my own growth and love of writing and reading poetry. I’ll give the last word on this post to the man himself, a quote from the book:

“It is a flower through which the wind
combs the whitened grass and a black dog

with yellow legs stands eating from a
garbage barrel. One petal goes eight blocks.

That’s only an extracted few lines of course, but I just love that sentence “One petal goes eight blocks”. It subconsciously connects me to the concept of a journey, and all living things are on a journey and within each journey are many other journeys. I do find even that short sentence lyrical. The word ‘petal’ is the only two syllable word in that sentence and in a creative writing sense, and a musical one too, I seem to focus on that word, it seems to gain strength from itself sitting within the monosyllabic rest.

So, there we are, me and my book, a rare find in a second hand bookshop with a bell that tinkles when you open the door, another lyrical note on my poetry journey. Nine quid well spent I reckon.

Cheers all…Neil

Currently reading

Poems of the Second World War..
edited by Dennis Butts& Victor Selwyn.

In particular the poem The Shelter (extract) by Wilfrid Gibson.

Why?
I love the lyrical language that opens the poem and which continues to unravel the story contained therein, a cameo of life at that time.

‘In the air-raid shelter of the Underground
Stretched on the narrow wire racks ranged around
The walls, like corpses in a catacomb
With brows and cheeks cadaverous in the light…’

What follows in the poem is a lyrical narrative containing a story that is a hugely compassionate boy-meets-girl theme that rises above the ordinary due to the circumstances of it all. The poem is both a poem, a narrative prose and also a signpost to what may matter in life philosophically, all at the same time weaving a spell on me as a reader.

On the opposite page to the poem is a full page black and white photograph of people in the air-raid shelter right in keeping with the theme which strengthens my enjoyment and appreciation of the poem’s setting, but of course you don’t need it to enjoy this lovely poetry.

Enjoy…Neil William Holland aka Soloneili, the poet in the car.

International Exhibition

I’m very fortunate to have this poem ‘The Ghosts Of Who We Are’ included in an exhibition currently open in Leicester, UK at the Phoenix Art Centre in The Cube Digital Gallery located there. If you are interested in sound enhanced poetry, the whole thing is well worth exploring.

On the evening of 10th April 2014 I attended a discussion at the location where I met some amazing and talented people for which I will be ever grateful, and in particular to Curators Mark Goodwin and Brian Lewis of Longbarrow press. Here is a further link to more material

http://strangealliances.wordpress.com/2014/04/13/mark-goodwin-and-brian-lewis-on-poems-places-soundscapes/

If you are interested in experiencing a truly international range of spoken word, poetry, video and sound then I highly recommend a visit. The facilities are excellent, parking is next door and a cafeteria is on hand. Marvellous.
Inspired by the exhibition and armed with my portable recorder I ventured into Leicester city centre that same day, made some field recordings and created this additional poem. Clicking on the title of the poem will bring up the words and some observations.
I hope you enjoy…

SONY DSC

SONY DSC
SONY DSC

A New Poem

TREE OF DREAMS…………..by Neil William Holland a.k.a. Soloneili

The sway of the tip of the tall lime tree shows the way to the singer of the song.
Fine free notes play long and short from the tiniest bird the eye could see.
The sway of the tip of the tall lime tree conducts the melody.
I stand at the foot of the tall lime tree ear turned skyward wistfully
wishing I could sing from the tip of the tree such a warm and haunting melody.

When I am a fisherman away at sea I dream of such haunting melody.
The sway of the mast on the lilting sea is the tip of the tall lime tree.
As the sun goes down and the song grows loud I dream on the lilting sea
and hold on to the sound of the little bird I see on the tip of the tall lime tree.

…………………………………………………………………….

This poem is actually based on a real and very tall Lime tree that grows by the River Dovey in Wales. After writing and aiming for a lyrical and melodic straight-poem I explored my interest in Celtic culture which attracts me due to its powerful mystical and spiritual connotations. Fascinated by the process of combining sound and words I experimented and began to pursue the poem rendered in a dream-like context. There is a strong ‘nature’ element in Celtic culture. I actually recorded a bird singing from the very tip of the lime tree before writing the poem and et voila, here is the collective result which I feel conveys what I set out to achieve conceptually, a slightly darkish but beguiling work that embraces the spirit. Hope you enjoy it too…….Neil.

ps, if the poem doesn’t play you can still listen by clicking on the word ‘soundcloud’ within the widget.

Whales, a Poetry Reading

There is a strange but compelling attraction to Whales for me. I don’t really know why only that it is there and very strong too. It feels like an emotional bond of some sort and I am struck by the way they do not set out to attack people, in spite of much persecution by people. It’s as though they are wiser. Maybe they are the custodians of something. I’m sure the scientist and biologist will give me the cold explanations of their presence, place and purpose, but it will never shake my belief that there is something very special about whales, something intangible. I hope you enjoy this poetry with sound. It is my own poem read by me and the music is my own playing and composition. What I’ve tried to do is impart to the piece something of what I feel. Enjoy and best wishes….Neil
I’ve called the poem Thermoclines

Thermoclines a poem by Neil William Holland. a.k.a. Soloneili

What am I following,
this pull call pull of something higher?
Rising and bellowing
thermoclines mellowing
deep subsonic viscous noise,
resonating through rib-cages,
grasping aortas,
whale song.
Blues, Minkes, Orcas.

The Works Canteen

……….

The Works Canteen………a poem by Neil William Holland

They’ve closed the works canteen,
replaced it with a vending machine.
Is that mean or what?
Antidisestablishmentarianism, that’s what we’ve got.
The canteen is the church of the people
where views and opinions tower like a steeple
above the mundane drudgery of conveyor belts
and packing cases, lathes and clocked-on faces
all churning and gurning their daily grind.
Never mind, the management say.
Well, we all know if they had their way
longer hours and less pay would be the norm,
and that’s how unions were born
by workers getting together, in canteens!
Workers fed up and at the end of their tether
who stood up to be counted, demanded to be seen
and the very heart of this movement beats in the works canteen.
Well, they’ve closed it
and now a Kit Kat is C4,
a packet of crisps the button before
and already it’s so worn you can’t make it out.
In this day and age no-one gives you nowt
and now you can’t even meet over a cuppa to talk about it.
So excuse me if I don’t wish the boss a Merry Christmas,
he’s unapproachable, distant and aloof
and I for one hope the reindeer miss his roof
but just in case Dear Santa,
give him a sour lemon,
and address the gift tag to Mr Mean.
He’s the Christmas pudding who’s closed the works canteen.

Birdnesting


Bird-nesting.

Nowadays we know better.
In those days it was simply the matter
of fact way in which we spent summer,
bird-nesting.
My older brother and his mates
taught me the ways,
although now I do know better.

In those days we would gather and hide
beneath trees at the sides
and in the corners of fields.
My older brother would climb up
disappearing into the leaves
then climb down with an egg.
Not in his hand nor in his pocket,
but cradled in his mouth.

Only one egg was ever taken from any nest,
and in its place a pebble laid to rest.
He would use hawthorn to make a hole
at each end of the egg, one larger than the other.
My brother would blow through the smaller hole
and the contents would be emptied.

The emptied egg was placed in a cardboard box
half full of cotton wool.
We would gather, secretive friends
partly wild in our ways,
marvelling at the marbling
on the shell.
Nowadays I do know better.

Blackbird, robin, thrush, wren, whatever?
My brother and his mates
knew their names in Latin to the letter.
We were all a natural part of the countryside,
but nowadays I’m sure we know we should know better.
………………………………….

A poem by Neil William Holland, a.k.a. Soloneili…thepoetinthecar

Hope you enjoy.

Noah

Hello, this is a poem I wrote and recorded about one of my grandchildren. I hope you enjoy.

Noah

In the hierarchy of sound
I place the ticking
of my late grandmother’s clock
as middle C.
The purring of Sooty
her black cat sits
somewhere below,
Its meow sits considerably higher,
as do all the sounds of Noah,
my grandson
now three months old.

Asleep on the smokey rag rug
the crackling pops and whistles
of the coal fire reassure,
as do the buttons, buckles, and RAF wings
I play with in their cream coloured tin.
I effortlessly slide from my childhood
to Noah’s as he lies listening.

I have no ticking clock for him.
Only my low grandfather voice,
and my burning desire to ensure
his life is full of music and me,
desperate to be his middle C,
wishing for him,
a world of beautiful polyphony.

poem by Neil William Holland. a.k.a. Soloneili

Music, in touch with God?

Music. In Touch With God?

As I am a poet these days, and I am one who marries words to sound and music, I thought it was now time to share this previously unpublished article which I wrote in 2007. It’s over 6000 words so I’ve warned you, (don’t be a wuss), but hopefully you will get sucked in and my ultimate goal is to place it in my category Thoughts On Poetry so that it has a life of its own. It has in a way been a genie in a bottle in some respects because it has been stuck, imprisoned, on my hard drive.

Before you read this I ask you to bear in mind two things.

Firstly, I recently read an article about time travel, the subject of it was a book by Ronald L. Mallet, professor of Physics at Connecticut University. The New Scientist Magazine commented that none of the known laws of physics forbids time travel! Professor Mallet felt that by using light as a form of energy, a vortex in space-time could be made, and it could be entered and exited at an earlier period in time. However, if the light-energy was switched on and left running for three months, you could only return to the moment when it was switched on. Even so, the thought is staggering. The concept is challenging and incredible, but the theory is there. The famous Stephen Hawking, author of A Brief History Of Time, feels that ‘chronology protection conjecture’ may see ‘quantum affects’ conspire to prevent time travel. It doesn’t matter that you don’t understand the terminology.

That such eminent and intelligent people are seriously and openly exploring the potential reality of time travel is ‘Music’ to my ears. It is music to my ears because some of the thoughts I developed myself about the subject of music. have stretched my own imagination, and are also irreversibly anchored in conceptual science, and personal experience.

“I think it, I can’t almost believe it, but I feel it, so I want to share it.” (me)

Of course I’m not a physicist, just a layman, but I can reason and explore within my limitations and allow for such limitations. With that in mind I want to share some thoughts and observations with you, and raise some questions too, about music. What follows is not an article about ‘Time-travel’ as mentioned above, but it is about allowing one’s self to think outside the box, to travel not forward or backward, but laterally and expansively in order to explore.

Secondly. When I started to cultivate these thoughts and observations, and because of illness, cancer, I genuinely thought I was going to die in a relatively short time span. This was my motivation, my own imminent mortality. I wasn’t on a casual journey of ‘thinking’, this dark new journey was crucial, and central, to a need to bring my life to a meaningful conclusion. I needed to ‘tidy up’ some questions for myself, deep and searching questions.

So here we go.

The scientist with an open mind will, say, “I would like to believe in God, but how can I, when I want scientific proof on all things. I know of the provable world, but I’m then asked to make God an exception? I would like to meet God, to see him in person.” The religious scholar will say, “God is all around you, God is with you, by your side and all you have to do is take his hand”. The atheist will say, “There is no God, only man’s intellectual supremacy over all other species and Darwin’s theory of evolution accounts for where we are now. Humankinds’ need for a God is merely that, a need, born from fear of the unknown, and a confusion about the word faith, in relation to an inbuilt desire to obtain reassurance from hope.”

When I had a cancer diagnosis at forty nine years of age I found myself having to face up to my own mortality. I had a sense of urgency to know answers about things I’d never dwelled upon before. I realised I knew nothing about myself really, who I was, what I was, what had been the purpose of my life? I found myself thinking of the terms ‘soul’ and ‘spirit’. What was their meaning, what is the difference, are they a reality, or is it just hokum? Where will I go when I die, what will happen after death, will anything happen? I considered seeing a priest, even though I never went to church. Somehow though, I knew I had to reason things out for myself, or I would never totally accept what I was told. It had to make sense to the satisfaction of my own logic, my own intellectual reasoning. I had to gather the evidence for myself, put the case to myself and deliver a verdict for myself. I knew that I would never truly be satisfied with any answer that was merely the conclusion of a third party, no ‘someone else says so‘, therefore it is.

What will it feel like to be dead I asked myself? Then I realised that it will feel like nothing at all. No awareness, no concept of being alive, no thinking, no feeling, just an eternity of ceasing to exist in the way with which I was familiar, after all, I have experienced being unconscious in my lifetime. Am I just going to leave it at that I asked?

I found myself reading philosophy, searching for answers. I thought about religion, and Christian perspectives, Buddhism too. I found myself developing an open mind, removing barriers to my thinking. I decided that I would search for ‘wisdom’.
I would look for wisdom in any source. Wisdom has ancient connotations born of truthfulness. Before writing was invented wisdom was passed down through the words and stories of elders. These days we have so many ways of preserving wisdom. One search of the phenomena we call the internet will expose myriads of wise teachings. The answers to my questions were surely out there, ancient wisdom has survived has it not, and surely wisdom is still being proffered and reasoned even now by the great intellectuals and thinkers of our modern times. Would I acquire my answers in this way?

No! Actually, I couldn’t find the answers. Whatever I read merely prompted more questions about the reasoning and validity of the authors and the sources I examined. There seemed no limit to the questions appearing inside my mind. I had an entire inner universe of questions without the answers. Slowly but surely I began to accept that inside me was a universe perhaps bigger than the one outside.

If questions that appeared inside my mind, were units of measurement comparable with the distances between stars, then my inner universe stretched at least as equally in distance to the greatest extremities of our external universe. I began to ponder the concept in cosmic terms. Inside my mind was a limitless cosmos, as limitless as the outer cosmos we all know. I realised that conceptually, perhaps we are only at the foothills of knowledge, not near the peak, however advanced we think we are. I could explore inwardly, easily as much as I could outwardly.

I could think about the world outside myself for the duration of a whole lifetime and never scratch the surface of it’s potential, from the atom to the edge of space and the beginning of time. From the theory of Darwin to the implications of religion. I could embark upon a journey of thinking, exploring, probing, questioning, examining, scrutinising and marvelling. Ranging for example, from a tree beside a lake, to a black hole, anything.

Could I though, ever find the answers to my questions out there, outside myself, on this quest? Who am I? What am I? What is my purpose?

I could think about the world ‘inside’ myself for the duration of a whole lifetime and never scratch the surface. Why do I think? Why do I like cheese? Why do I love certain colours? What relationship do I have with my body, my heartbeat? Can I look inside myself and see a soul? Can I see my spirit? How well do I know myself? Have I got the time to know myself? Is there a dimension to me that is none biological? None physical? What connects inside me with art? What makes me like certain poetry? What makes me love people? How can I be kind? What is kindness? What is selflessness? What is sincerity? What is wrong? Is there such a thing as a wrong thought? Is there a right thought? Why does music affect me? Inside myself I can visit a tree beside a lake, or visit a black-hole, anything. Nothing is unimaginable. Am I a form of black-hole where external space ends and internal space begins? Are we all like this?

Here I was, contemplating my own death, my conclusion, my full stop, my impermanence, my briefness.

In my occupation I was all too familiar with death. Sad, tragic, cruel, accidental, savage, or simply natural death, young, old, and every age in between. Now though, it was my own.

Through my own thinking and reasoning I began to feel as though I was some kind of portal connecting the outer cosmos and an inner cosmos, and my mind could choose to explore out or in. Inside, yes inside, I could visit places where I found people I loved, smells I liked, objects I treasured. Inside I discovered I could have an inner space that was just for me, not shared with anyone else, and I could visit it whenever I liked, be with who or whatever I liked. Visit great artists, poets and authors long since physically dead, but very much alive in my inner space through their work, their pictures, their poems. I could sit besides great composers and share their music, relive their lives through knowledge I’d digested from information stored in the outer cosmos, located in the library we call planet earth.

Yet I could also choose to be in the outer cosmos, located on this earth in the physical world, see many things, watch and listen to musicians I liked, wonder about their music and marvel at the affect upon me. Visit theatres, watch films, share life with people I liked and loved. Feel the wind and the rain, or the warmth of the sun, feel sea spray upon my face, smell flowers. My experiences in the outer cosmos, the real world, were enhanced by my experiences inside my inner world, my inner cosmos, and both were mutually reciprocal, mutually beneficial. I reasoned that to have self awareness, is to have consciousness.

In answer to my self imposed questions I determined that I was a consciousness, housed inside a biological vessel that had helped me to develop into the consciousness I am today. I can exist without many parts of my body and organs, but without my consciousness I cannot exist, I do not exist, I am not me. My body is my ship that my consciousness sails upon, but I am my consciousness. Science and current knowledge can keep failing organs going, even replace organs completely, even interchange crucial body parts and organs of another human with my body, but it cannot replace my consciousness.

When a person is declared brain dead, science can keep the body functioning, but not the consciousness. The consciousness is unique, it develops from birth and constantly changes, grows and becomes fertile and limitless. It’s easy at this point to think in terms of how we normally perceive this. It’s the brain that is dead, not functioning, there is no consciousness. It’s simply a biological mechanical failure. The brain no longer works biologically and that is simply that if you like! Well, that’s the view of some.

My own reasoning is that it’s a matter of perception, a matter of conceptual thinking.
I have seen many brains at post mortems, I’ve lost count. What I do know is that if a person dies of a heart attack for example, and the blood stops flowing to the brain, it ceases to function and the person is declared dead (hence the brain-dead tests before switching off life support) .

You can be left physically with the brain, and the entire body, but without the consciousness you do not have the person.

We can lawfully dispose of a body and the non functioning brain when someone is declared dead, but we can never collect the consciousness, its is not physical, it is an abstract, it can’t be touched, and no one really knows what happens to it, only that the brain no longer seems to have it. You cannot pick it up. Theory suggests it only exists as long as the brain exists, but that does not explain micro-cellular memory, the much reported sudden adoption of donor characteristics that have been reported following organ and limb transplants. Micro-cells make up our whole self, are in everything of us. Could consciousness be a ‘latent’ thing? As in it still exists somehow, but in a latent form somewhere until activated via a physical body. It pays to consider the reports of people who have died and been brought back to life only to later describe seeing themselves on the operating table! An objective rationale must surely accept that mankind does not yet know and understand everything.

Some theory suggests that our consciousness and ancestral history is embedded in our tiniest cells and that we don’t just think with the brain, but rather that thinking is the product of much greater connection. Losing a limb may disturb us, disturb our conscious equilibrium, depress us. Receiving damage to our brain may affect our conscious abilities. Nonetheless, we are, I reason, our consciousness. A person is their consciousness, it’s who we are, not the body in isolation, parts of the body are disposable, but not the consciousness, no one can take a consciousness from a body, they may render a body unconscious, inactive, but no one can collect consciousness. If you think of the consciousness in terms of being an energy, then that energy is who we are. If we can ever find a way to duplicate the material of the brain, could we then move a step nearer to separating consciousness from the body? Interesting thought!

Is it not possible then, to expand our conceptual thinking, and embrace the idea that the energy we are (no one disputes that we process electrical signals, impulses, in our thinking), is simply a component of the cosmos? Energy is the currency of the cosmos, and it exists in myriads of different forms. I have been present at exhumations of buried bodies at different stages of decomposition. I assure you that what physically sprang from the cosmos, returns to the cosmos, in our case via the earth in both literal terms and planetary terms. . Our physical being decomposes just as the leaves on the ground decompose. It is possible to preserve a body, but not in a functioning way without the functioning brain, unless of course it’s a consequence of a life support system, the person is unconscious and revival of their consciousness is a prospect! There is almost no point in preserving a body without the consciousness, unless it’s for transplant reasons. There is however, every reason for preserving consciousness, because that is the person. That ‘energy’ is the person.

Who am I? I am me. I am energy. I am simply the consciousness I am. My parents stuck a label on me and called me Neil, but I’m not Neil. Neither are you your name. That is a label chosen for you. You did not choose it, but of course you can choose your own label if you want to as you get older, but it will still just be a label nonetheless! I depend on my functioning brain, and my biological vessel, but I am my consciousness. I feed my body because I depend upon it, I exercise it and I care for it. I need it to function because I depend on it. I don’t always need all of it. I am an existence with a consciousness that someone labelled Neil. It’s all a matter of conceptual thinking.

In my lifetime, information and experiences have poured into me. As my body has developed so has my consciousness expanded, the very thing I am. I have absorbed information at an alarming rate and experiences on a continual basis. The energy I am has created an internal ‘big bang’ and I have an inner universe. As the consciousness I am, I can think and reason without limitation. There is no limit to my inner universe, my inner cosmos. At this moment in time I can no more reach the limits of my internal self, than I can reach the limits of the outer universe, the tangible physical one. I have developed remarkable ways of communicating with the outside world via something called senses and I utilise my physical vessel in which I am housed.

Moving On.

Even though my body may die, and I can no longer reason in real-time, I can previously lay my consciousness down for others to consider, contemplate, challenge or enjoy, via books, paintings, language, video, and many other ways.

Specifically, I can transpose my consciousness into abstract form called music. I can explore my inner universe and consider it musically. Through music I can allow you to read my mind to a degree. We can communicate on a deeply inner level. There are no limitations in my internal self, my consciousness. I can touch you with my music. I can express myself in sound, and arrange sounds in my consciousness for you. I can visualise a sound-experience and transpose it into an organised sound of my choice that is commonly labelled as music. I can take something of my inner self, and notate it, then it can be converted into physical sound by instrumentation. The instrumentation will vibrate the air. The vibrations will travel through the air and reach your physical body, your vessel. They will enter your ear canal and vibrate a physical part of your inner ear. Then receptors attached to your inner ear will convert it to energy, a signal, and that ‘energy’ will enter your energy, merge with your consciousness, and you will be able to experience my own consciousness, the energy I am! Thought transference?

Is this a biological thing? Is this simply a mechanical thing? Is this simply a scientific thing? Or is energy connecting with energy, consciousness connecting with consciousness? Is there a far deeper and ancient communication involved through this thing called music? Something that has it’s roots in things we have not yet discovered or understand? Have you inherited an ancient cosmic pulse, a code, that sits inside your inner universe waiting for a another code to arrive in the form of music? Is there something contained within music that resonates in beautiful synchronicity with our respective inner universes, where we have subconsciously prepared fertile inner ‘seed-beds’, or where we have inherited a conductive, sympathetic and receptive musical decoder, that we need for the energy we are. We may have advanced science on a molecular level, and we may have discovered DNA, but what if we have yet to discover some additional coding that is invisibly carried along with DNA, as though at a molecular level our genes act like an as yet undiscovered magnetic force which carries or attracts cosmic coding in a form we are not yet aware of?

We cannot choose to like music, we either do or we don’t. We are either receptive to it or we aren’t. In an abstract sense, is it more the case that music we like chooses us?

In the science of cosmology we listen scientifically to the cosmos, not for air waves in a physical sense, but we ‘listen’ for things nonetheless. We look for codes, for organised signals, for signs of intelligent life. Are we listening for the ‘music’ of the cosmos? Organised codes? Codes arranged intelligently? Codes of creativity?

I believe I now know who I am. I am all said and done, energy, just like any other form of energy that our scientific cosmologists are listening for and looking to identify and interpret. Life is impermanent for all living things and before I was conceived physically, I was just latent energy contained within the sperm and eggs of my parents, and it was the same for them, and for my children too. Is all energy connected though, in cosmic terms, and created from other energy to live a consciousness, a life, which in turn contributes to the life of the cosmos, and our earth, our humankind is essentially a very important component of a functioning cosmos. A cosmos that is not an inert thing, but active in ways we do not know. Like the seas and the tide are active, but in a way we do know.

Music is called the universal language. Is there more truth in that than we realise? Is it actually the language of the universe? Is divinity and God, fact or fiction, or is any religion simply a code of ethics by which to live, shaped by wise men and women, and which ensures social harmony if the respective religious path is followed? Or is there a pulse in life that is contained within the minds of men and women, inside their inner universe in code? A pulse that echoes in code throughout the cosmos and beyond. I am happy to call the consciousness that I am, a ‘soul’. I am happy and content to consider that my consciousness, my soul, is connected in a spiritual way to a greater level of consciousness, an energy on another level, that we may consider to be God. I am happy to consider that there is positive energy and negative energy, and that the positive energy I generate connects and finds it’s home with God.

When I think of the many experiences I’ve had that bring joy and delight to my inner self, the consciousness, the soul that is me, sound is invariably part of it. My child’s first breath and cry, bird song, wind on a mountain top, a ship horn in the fog, conversation, and so much more, I reflect on the fundamental importance that sound occupies in my world. I reflect upon the way that sound arranged into music can enter my inner self and how inexplicably I can be drawn to empathise and warm to the consciousness of another human being. I may not be able to read another’s mind, but others are able to place something of theirs inside mine.

My consciousness is able to hear their ‘music’ long after it has stopped playing, and I can recall and regenerate it using my voice, or by whistling, or even by tapping. The ‘code’ implanted and received is so strong that I want to keep it. I can visualise it and it can shape my thoughts and send me on inner journeys and dreams inside my inner self. I am a consciousness that is continually experiencing things and music plays such a major part of it. Some may ask where this all fits in the case of deafness? Well, dance, movement, choirs for the deaf, vision, signing in harmony, and feel, and touch, and rhythm still can play such a major role in the inner self of a deaf person.. Still this ‘universal language’ of music persists. Still there are components, rhythms and patterns, that could be interpreted as a code, even for deaf people.

Is music a man-made form of expression? Or is it a means of outpouring something buried deep within the consciousness we are. Are we driven to perpetuate this cosmic code. It would seem that human kind must make music, always.

Edgar Degas, the artist, once said “Art is not what you see, but what you make others see”. It doesn’t matter that he was referring to paintings, the arts are all broadly forms of the transmission of thoughts from the consciousness of others. That quote is equally applicable to music. How many times has a song writer been asked to explain what lyrics mean, only for them to respond with the observation that they mean what they mean to the individual, and if the composer or songwriter details their original conceptual ideas, it may stop the song from working for the listener on the level that was to that listener’s liking. The one they had built upon the song relative to their own theory of the world as it is for them. We are all unique in that way.

When a musician, a composer, a singer-songwriter, finishes a work, and then launches it into the world, essentially, unless it has been commercially and deliberately created to target a fashion, they are sending part of their deepest inner self into the public domain. They are sharing something of themselves, and hoping that it resonates with others, hoping that we ‘see’ something because of what they did. This must work on the deepest of levels within us. Vincent Van Gough once said “I dream my painting, then I paint my dream”. We see his inner self in his painting. We are put in touch with the composers inner self through their music.

Inside their music then, are the contents they selected from within their most personal of spaces, their inner universe. The contents are lined up and assembled in the form of a song or piece of instrumental music. When things are assembled and constructed in a universal language, they must contain a code. There must be a pattern within or it could not be understood and recognised as music. The surface language is easy to identify in terms of code, via notation and mathematical musical formula, but the surface language, the sheet music and lyrics, are simply a derivative of an assembly of thoughts in the composers consciousness.

We cannot see that conceptual starting point in the life of a piece of music, but it is there, and as the composer internally assembles the work, he must do so in an organised fashion. Does the composer acquire the conceptual components randomly, externally, or is the composer steered by subconscious coding that already exists in the inner self. If so, where does such coding come from.

In nature, as soon as an animal is born, it is equipped with programmed instinctual code that makes it lie still in the grass for safety. It doesn’t have to be shown, it’s programmed. Do humans inherit subconscious coding that empathises with timing, beat, rhythm, and all the other components of music? Is such coding hidden unseen inside music, acting upon our own inherited coding? It’s clear that a composer would not think in my terms, but never the less, it is feasible. Look how often music runs in families. I know full well that many explanations for that could be offered, but who is to say they are right and I am wrong. Who is to argue, that ancient and primordial cosmic coding born of things we don’t understand, is not embedded within us all, in varying form, and perpetuated in music.

When a piece of music, a song, can come calling and pick me up as if I was on a magic carpet, and transport me to far off places and connect me with emotions and memories, dreams and sensations, how does it all work?

Look at what I’ve written. Music has made me think! Something inside the world of music has stimulated me to explore my inner self with regard to it.
When I had the cancer diagnosis I found music hard to handle, such was the power of it, its capability to affect my emotions. For a long time, some few years, I turned away from music, it was simply too painful. After time had elapsed though, I heard some music by chance, Agnus Dei, and that was all it took to once more restore my musicality. Now I even create music, something I’ve never done before. Even though I can’t read music or play and instrument, I use a computer to fulfil the desire, the drive to create music. Since first writing this article I now explore music and sound in combination with poetry, another of life’s mysteries.

Remember, earlier in this article, I asked those questions about myself. I embarked upon a journey of self discovery. Where did it lead? Well, it led to the answers in here, the thing you are reading now, and to the involvement of music (and sound) in my life in a far greater way than ever before.

It’s as though I’ve collected music along with my answers. Music seems to have been very much an abstract part of my answers.

I didn’t choose it. It chose me. I am in touch with music like never before, it’s a pleasure and a reward, a delight and a compulsion. I am more at peace with my inner self, I am comfortable with my spiritual self and I comfortably feel a sense of spirituality about my existence.

Each night when I sleep I cease to be my consciousness, we all do, and then it re awakens the next morning. For a few hours my awareness and consciousness is subdued . My consciousness is replaced with an altered state of consciousness, my ability to ‘experience’ is suspended, in sleep I return to the same conscious potential that I was at conception, just potential energy, potential thought, an inert part of the cosmic pool. I exist physically and subconsciously, but I am no longer consciously part of the cosmos. I have no fear of that. In that respect when my consciousness permanently ceases I will have nothing to fear, because it’s a feeling I’ve become accustomed to each night and each night I am prepared for it.

I now accept my impermanence. I accept the impermanence of my physical body. I am me within that body, and my consciousness wants to be filled with experiences. What other direction is there for a consciousness to take, other than to absorb experiences? To be creative is to create an experience. In doing so I grow internally and my inner universe, my inner cosmos, expands. It’s all a matter of perception. Furthermore I realise that I cannot experience everything that is on offer, I must be selective. Even if I live to an average age before death, I must choose my experiences. Some things will happen to me, whether I choose it or not, because of the randomness of existence. Some of my time will have to be set aside to deal with these occurrences. There really is a limited time for all of us. What matters then is how I fill the time when I am able to choose what I want to be involved with, what I want to experience.

Consider then, how fundamental music seems to be to all human life. I happen to believe that the meaning of life, the quest, is a quest for personal happiness. To be happy is the meaning of life. My own search has uncovered this answer, and I believe it to be true, my logic accepts it flawlessly. I am not a Buddhist, but I first found a signpost to this conclusion in words by the Dalai Lama. I have scrutinised them, and I agree with them. Positive energy, positive thinking, wellbeing, peace, are all beneficial to the human existence. It seems we all have an inbuilt drive for happiness, peace, and a feeling of harmony with life and fellow human beings. Is this a hidden code for survival, the secret of perpetuity.

Our role is survival and survival of the species. We at least need to attract and find a mate, to re-create. We all then, need to find at least a degree of harmony. Yet apart from reproduction of the species, we find a need for harmony within ourselves, singularly. The outer universe we know seems to contain huge amounts of linked structure, and perhaps some randomness. The inner universe of my consciousness appears similar. I need order of thinking to exist daily, but there is some randomness in my ability to think. The one single great difference, is that I can have complete randomness in my inner universe, more so than the outer physical universe. In my inner universe there is no order if I choose there to be none, and I have absolute control over the order I create, the order I choose. Is the reality of the cosmos that there are different dimensions which do not comply with the science we know at present?

How strong is our desire for harmony with things? We seek peace sitting beneath shady trees on riverbanks, we seek peace by finding solitude where we can somehow merge with nature, be more at one with life. people meditate to find a different state of mind, a peace, harmonious oneness. Altered states of feeling, pleasant and positive feeling can be sought in many ways, but music seems so important in this role. Music seems to interact with us on many different levels. Sometimes it’s pure entertainment and not interacting with us on a very deep level at all, perhaps just rhythmically, but other times it is incredibly deep as an experience. Music is also like a mirror, it reflects the way we live. We can live our lives Presto or Moderato. Our personality can be Fortissimo! There are so many interchangeable metaphors within life and music. Music though, has to emerge from the consciousness of men and women. Within that consciousness each man and women has an inner universe. There has to be some degree of spontaneity in the beginning of the creative process within that inner universe, the stage before the intellect organises the spontaneity into structured and connected thought, creativity.

What ‘triggers’ that spontaneity? How divorced from cosmology and cosmic creation is that germination of spontaneity? Is there a lingering and fundamental connection with the laws of the universe? Are we looking for the edge of space and the beginning of time far out to the cosmic horizon, when we should simply be looking inwardly for the answer? Astronomers talk about finding the source of the big-bang and looking into the face of God. Is it really more the case that we can already look inside ourselves and see the face of God, inside our own inner universe? Is this the source of our desire to create, to create music? Is music the language of God? Is the order we seek to enable our answers, already present in our desire to create music. Does music contain a code? Is this information as fundamental to our existence as breathing? It seems to be. Why?

Is there a point where divine creation and science meet? Where spirituality and soulfulness merge with science, in harmony? Is creation itself perpetuated constantly? Is the ability to create music, a perpetual encoded reminder that creation comes from spontaneity and positive energy? Is this the reason why we like music, and it is so fundamental to us?

Just like the musician needs to tune an instrument so that it sounds harmonious, is it also the case that we need to keep tuning ourselves to stay in harmony with life, for our consciousness to be positive. I believe we do, and it seems entirely logical to think that way. Is a code for helping us to stay in tune contained inside music? Is there a fundamental relationship?

I believe the answer is yes. It has this fundamental role to play its part in the well being of human kind. Are codes we don’t yet understand buried deep within our DNA? I believe they are, it’s entirely logical to me, alongside other codes we do not yet understand. Of course there are many bodies of scientific theory involving anthropology, psychology, cosmology, astronomy and many more, that will all offer explanations for where we are with music as a species, but I didn’t work their answers out for myself, and I, considering my looming mortality, had a need to find out for myself what I am, who I am, and what is my purpose.

So here I am. Music helps to keep me in tune with life. My consciousness responds to the consciousness of others, musicians and composers. Something they impart within their music strikes a harmonious resonance within myself. I respond more warmly to some than to others, and it’s never the case where I simply decide to like a piece of music, it seems to like me, and finds a welcoming home inside my subconscious, my inner universe. I cannot over-rule my instinctual response to music. There must be something deep inside the artist, that I share an empathy with inside my inner self, and it is transmitted from the composer, contained within the music, and finds a welcome-mat inside my own inner universe, all without the aid of a conscious decision from me. My encounter with cancer caused me to ask questions about my self, especially about spirituality and my place in the grand scheme of things. As I pursued my quest for deeply personal answers I found myself engaging with music more and more, until at this point in my life it is at it’s highest level ever. The answers and music seem entwined.

There are occasions, now and then, when music, artist, composer, location company, ambience, context and me, come together, and I am overwhelmed with an inner experience that is so affecting at the deepest level, so warm in it’s entirety, so tranquil in it’s merging with my inner self, that I am literally swept off my feet, and a feeling comes over my whole being that I can only describe as a sense of completeness, a oneness, a tranquillity of heart and mind.

I am bound to feel, not think and reason, but to feel a feeling, that I can only describe as spiritual, where the warmth of something, God perhaps, seems to touch my heart. I can look at the stars and almost look back down from the stars and see my place in the cosmos, a unique place. Is there another dimension, a place we can all access but for which we need a key, a code? Is the code part of our make-up, deeply implanted? Divinely, or scientifically, primordially? Does it become implanted inside music?

All I do know, is the journey I’ve taken and the conclusions I have reached for myself. The infinity that is music as we know it, must be for the experts to examine and then further our knowledge. An expert I am not, just a man who thought he was about to leave the existence he knew, and needed to think about it, and look for answers.

Somewhere along the way music became very much involved in those answers at a very conceptual and basic level. I once read about a person who had gone to a concert in Italy, and the whole experience generated a feeling inside them that they described as if they had been touched by the hand of God. Who am I to argue with that?

Music. In touch with God! Yes! Why not?

Neil William Holland a.k.a. Soloneili. 28th July 2007 (updated 15th Feb 2013)

Footnote. 1.

The quotes from artists used by me, I found on the front of boxes containing art materials in a newsagents shop.
The world and the universe really does want us to learn. The clues are there.

Footnote 2.

After writing this piece, I wandered into a charity shop, A good hunting ground of mine for poetry books. I happened upon a book. It was ninety nine pence to purchase second hand. I opened the front and read the following quote. I reprint it here exactly as it is laid out in the book.

“He looked at his own Soul
With a Telescope. What seemed
all irregular, he saw and shewed to be beautiful
Constellations: and he added
to the Consciousness hidden
worlds within worlds.”

COLERIDGE, Notebooks

The book was titled, “C. G. JUNG. Memories, Dreams, and Reflections.” I have yet to read it, but I will. It seems like life wants to talk to us if only we will listen. I thought twice about including that quote, in case the reader thinks that I read the book first, and then wrote this article. Not so, my account to you is just that, mine. That point is fundamentally important to me, to my integrity. The need to find the answers to my own questions, for my self, was the whole point of the remainder of my being, and still is. When I read the quote above, I knew I must include it, for it makes me wonder how many other people have explored what lies within us, and what answers they have found.

I Fish For Seatrout In The Dead Of Night

Another poem I wrote based on personal knowledge. Standing on one’s own in a river to fish, then letting the darkness fall through its various stages until its final and complete blackness envelopes you, is a sobering and thoughtful experience. It is the way to catch the ultra shy seatrout, but one’s world certainly transforms with even the slightest rustle or splash. Whilst waiting for the fish the world is transformed and blurs between reality and reflection. I hope you enjoy this audio poem. Best wishes. Neil