Bob Hamilton's Blog: Earthdreaming

May 7, 2011

Limbo

It's over a month now since I last posted an entry to this blog. I suppose that reflects being caught in a state of limbo. I've had a couple of wonderful and delightfully quirky reviews of Earthdream from members here whom I now consider to be friends. I've been convinced by them that there is a readership here for my book, albeit quite a small one. I ask a lot of the reader I think ... possibly too much? This is what I am still unsure about. Is the difficulty in the writing itself, or is it more about the unusual structure and breadth of the subject matter that makes it a tough read for a lot of people? For those who take on the challenge there does seem to be considerable reward, which encourages me to believe that this venture is worth pursuing. Actually, I can't really avoid pursuing it because I pledged to do that in the book, and too much time has already passed. I have to start honouring that contract I made!

There have been distractions too. I've been enjoying the best April weather experienced in England since records began over 300 years ago. Day after day of blue skies, not necessarily that warm at times, but remarkably dry and with long spells of virtually unbroken sunshine. This is unprecedented. April is a month of showers. There's usually one nice day at the beginning of the month and people get all excited at the prospect of summer starting early, but I always respond by saying that we'll see snow before the end of the month, and despite the scoffs I'm invariably proved correct. But not this year.

I've been getting out into the Yorkshire Dales on my bike, exploring my favourite little roads, visiting places not seen since last summer and discovering a few new ones as well. I can't remember my 'backyard' ever looking so beautiful. I've been prompted to wax lyrical about it on my more general blog with a couple of posts: Springtime Revolutions and Ton up in the Dales. The bluebells peaked so early that I missed seeing them at their best, but I tried to capture the beauty of our local ancient woodland in Maytime Miracle. The sheer fecundity of nature has been breathtaking. Global warming? Bring it on!

Living in this stunningly picturesque and immensely privileged little corner of the world it is all too easy to forget the fragility of the planetary ecosystem into which we are all connected. A small reminder of that has come about through the opposite extremes of weather that have prevailed in the US Midwest in April, which has been subject to terrible flooding and severe tornadoes, with many lives being lost. Our globe is warming, and the upshot of that increase in energy is more extreme weather. But that is really the least of it.

I'm currently reading The Post Carbon Reader: Managing the 21st Century's Sustainability Crises, which has reopened my eyes, wider than ever before, to the scale of the problems we have created and are now facing going into the future. It is an emotionally intense read. Overwhelming on the one hand, but inspirational on the other. I've been swinging between despair and hope, one moment pessimistic, the next optimistic. That's because all the fundamental global problems we face today do actually have solutions, but they require an effort from individual people which needs to be fostered by a political will. And it is that political will which is missing - because we people of the democratic world are not collectively shouting loud enough at our political leaders to take responsibility.

In the final chapter of Earthdream (The Mythology of Survival) I concluded by writing ...

I picture the Earth as a raft, afloat in a great black sea. For too long we have hacked and torn away at the timbers of our raft to fuel our insatiable appetite for 'things'. The superstructure is breaking up. Holes are appearing. Our raft is beginning to leak. Water is coming in. We clearly need to change our pattern of living. We have to start conserving the essential timbers that form the very body of our world. That world is not infinitely exploitable. We cannot carry on destroying the fabric of our own life-support system. Now, it happens that the solution is quite straightforward, and really not that painful. We just have to accept the need to lead a simpler, more creative, less consumptive way of life. And a more committed way of life. We each need to spend just a little of our time each day baling the water out from our raft. This is our global responsibility.

But we are not yet taking this responsibility upon ourselves. We are continuing to strip the superstructure of our raft to fuel our material progress, and at an ever faster rate. And very few people are bothering to help bale. We somehow persuade ourselves that our individual effort will make so little difference as to be worthless. There is so much water, and our individual buckets are so small. Baling would be a waste of time. Wouldn't it? We decide that we have more important things to do with our time. Like watching television. And so our raft carries on letting in ever more water, through ever more holes.

The analogy is terrifyingly close to the reality. The seas are rising on us. Our great cities are threatened with a submarinal future. Does this bring us to our senses? No. We are too inured to apathy. Too entrenched in our traditional ways. Too snugly embraced in the comfort of our boredom. Too much in love with our material vanities. With the water around our feet, and rising, we are still to be found hacking and tearing away at the timbers of our raft. The very real fear is that we will awake from our insanity too late. We will open our eyes to find the water around our necks. Our raft will be sinking. Or perhaps the water will only be around our knees. The holes would still be irreparable, but we might have a chance of survival. If we wanted to survive that is. Survival on these terms wouldn't amount to a whole lot of fun. We would be required to spend the best part of each day just baling to keep the raft afloat, and you can imagine all the squabbles that would break out over that. It's a wretched prospect.

Yet, as things stand today, this is just the kind of dystopian future that we are going to be leaving for our children. I can hear their voices. Angry voices. Resentful voices. "They were insane," I hear them cry. "They knew so much; how come they understood so little, how come they had so little vision?" I hear voices of despair. "How could they have sat by and let this happen?" I hear voices of hatred. "How could they have raped their own mother?"


That was 20 years ago. Nothing has changed except that we are all now far more aware of the fact that our raft is sinking. But it's still only an abstract awareness. It's still something we choose to ignore. I've been as guilty as anyone. I've really been stuck in limbo for very much longer than just this last month.
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Published on May 07, 2011 06:50

April 1, 2011

The Goodreads Experience

The more time I spend on this web site, the more amazing it seems to me: that this simple concept, implemented with such wonderful attention to detail and design, can create so many possibilities. It's been said here before, repeatedly I'm sure, that there is a danger of spending so much time just browsing the site for books that there's no time left for the real business of actually reading books. It's a genuinely serious problem. This is a thoroughly addictive experience.

I'm in the business of writing this kind of software myself and I'm simply blown away with the work that's been done here. From the very clean and elegant design - with the most immaculate use of fonts - right through to the very clever functionality, this site, for me, is the best implementation of its kind I've seen anywhere on the internet. I would dearly love to be working as a developer here. There are just so many neat things that can be done with all these ratings and links. It's a fabulously rich network of data. I'd love to get my hands on it!

Just as it's hard now to imagine how we ever kept in touch with people and organised our lives before the mobile phone, it is difficult for me now to work out how I ever found the books I wanted to read before goodreads came along! I feel almost ashamed to admit that there are classic books which I had never even heard of before I came across them here, but which are now on my to-read shelf. Serendipity has thrown up many books for me to read over the years but I can't help feel that there are many She's missed (or for which I've missed the signs!). She has never had such rich fields to furrow as these on goodreads. If there is a book out there with your name on it, so to speak, then spend some time on this site and you will surely come across it.

Indeed, it's so easy to stumble across an interesting book, so easy to be seduced by the beautiful presentation, the ratings and reviews, so easy to click on that button to add it to your shelf, that before you know what's happened you are staring at a towering pile of books. There is this sense of not wanting to miss out on the chance of reading any book that piques your curiosity. You don't want to lose that connection you've made. But there are just so many books out there that I want to read that I can foresee myself easily getting overwhelmed at the sight of them all stacking up on this virtual shelf. It serves as a rather poignant reminder of my mortality, that I'm never going to have enough time to read all the books I want to read. Mind you, that's always been the case. Nothing has changed in that respect, it's just that goodreads reminds you of the fact every time you log in!

A friend on this site helped me out with this problem. She has almost two hundred books set to-read - which is nothing I now realise compared to some (one person I came across recently having over 50,000 books marked as such!) - and simply regards them as a resource for her journey. The right book will be there at hand to be picked at the right time. I rather liked that way of framing it and I've adopted that philosophy for myself. I still think there is a need to be reasonably selective, though, and I'm trying to restrict myself to books that I can't imagine not reading at some point in my life. Perhaps goodreads should help us out by implementing some sort of realistic load factor for our shelves such that they start to buckle under the weight past a certain point, perhaps even collapsing if you try to add too many books!

For me, the most wonderful thing about this site is the simple ability to take a favourite book and then see who else is enthusiastic about it. You can then see what else that reader has enjoyed - because, of course, there is a good chance that you're on the same book wavelength and will also like those same books. It's a fantastic way to make serendipitous discoveries. It's also just fantastic fun, reminding me of when I used to browse second-hand book stores looking for nothing in particular but ever open to a book calling out at me. Goodreads is giving me a chance to relive that experience from the comfort of my own home, enabling that phenomenon of having a book jump out of the page demanding to be read.

I must be honest here and admit that I often find myself browsing reader's bookshelves for no better reason than simple human curiosity. Now, whenever I visit someone's house for the first time I always find myself gravitating towards their bookshelves, often somewhat furtively. I love to see what books people own, but this has always been a slightly guilty pleasure for me - perhaps because of some deeply-rooted reserve (the curse of being English) around seeing so much revealed of someone's inner life. The books we acquire are nothing less than an outer narrative of our inner life. Each set of books will be unique. They tell, for every one of us, a very personal story. I consider my books to be a window upon my soul indeed. From my passions to my peccadilloes, everything about me is revealed in the books I own and that have informed my life. I've only entered a small portion of my book collection so far, but I intend to put them all up there for the world to see - with perhaps the exception of a couple of embarrassments. I think it is wise to keep one little corner of your soul from prying eyes!

I'm grateful then that a majority of readers here are generous enough to leave their front doors open to me. It really is an astonishing privilege to be able to just walk through that open door and spend as long as I like browsing a book collection. Complete strangers bare their soul to me! But even though it's entirely anonymous, and I've clearly been given tacit permission, I still feel like a voyeur. I'm still a little furtive in my browsing. I can't help but regard it as just a touch clandestine. I'd rather not be caught!

As well as using this site as a reader I have also started using it as an author, which you will understand if you've been following this blog. If the reader experience has been marvelous, then the writer experience has been magical! It's very early days yet, but I'm beginning to make connections to readers here, receiving feedback and, most importantly of all, learning to honour my voice properly for the very first time. I'm beginning to feel like a writer.

Today I put 10 copies of Earthdream in the post to the winners of the Giveaway which kick-started this whole experience for me. They are all women, with a seemingly diverse set of interests. It's like being given a completely random sample to have read my book. For some, I suspect, they will never have picked up anything quite like it to read before. I really hope they will enter into the spirit of things and try to engage with the writing. Perhaps my book does only speak to a relatively few people, or perhaps it has a much wider audience than I think and it's just a matter of getting it into people's hands at the right time. I guess I'll find out soon enough. I have to admit that I'm a little anxious, but also rather excited. The whole goodreads experience is becoming one of the richest in my entire life.
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Published on April 01, 2011 17:42 Tags: goodreads

March 23, 2011

Myth and Magic

I've just finished reading The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht. I've had to fight hard with myself not to rush and finish this book too quickly. It is breathtakingly well written. I've been repeatedly going back and re-reading passages to enjoy again the sublime beauty of the prose. The stories within the main story are layered and folded into each other in the cleverest way, myth and magic interwoven with the brutal realities of war. It's a story very much about storytelling, but also about the aspects of stories that cannot be told, perhaps the most important aspects of all - those that are rightly left to the imagination. Great stories linger in the mind more through what is left untold. They leave us open to wonder.

And The Tiger's Wife is indeed a wondrous story. It took me out of myself like no other book has for a very long while, transporting me to a whole different world. I feel like I want to thrust copies into the hands of complete strangers - to simply share the joy I've experienced reading it. In my opinion, it really is that good ... so if you've not read it yet go and buy yourself a copy and let me know what you think. Trust me!!

After my last blog post on Serendipity it seems appropriate to relate the route by which I came to read this book. It was firstly on the back of a review that I read in the Metro, the free daily paper which I occasionally read on the train into work. And it is very occasionally now, for if I'm not biking in, my head is straight into a book. This was possibly the only time I've picked up the paper in the last month. I think it was because I had just finished a chapter and was almost home so didn't want to start another. That night, without any intention to read it anytime soon, I added it to my To-Read shelf. A few days later, browsing Goodreads, I stumbled across it again and read a few reviews. Despite already having a number of books on the go, I felt this almost irresistible impulse to get a copy. I almost always wait until a book comes out in paperback, but this compulsion overrode that. A couple of clicks, and a few hours later I get an e-mail telling me it's been dispatched from Amazon. It's waiting for me when I arrive home from the office the next evening.

I can easily rationalise how I come to have a copy of The Tiger's Wife here in my hands. There is a strong buzz around the book at the moment which I was almost bound to pick up on, and I've always been drawn toward Magical Realism as a genre. There was an immediate appeal to me, especially at this stage of my new journey. That's all very logical, but there is still this part of me that wants to believe there is more to it. I want this magical book to have been brought to me in a magical way. And this, in a way, is a central theme of the book. The main character, Natalia, is a modern doctor with a rational world view, trying to fight superstition with reason, yet she still wants magic in her life and cannot let go of the possibility. We never really discover whether she finds it or not. And that is the main point really. We are left wondering in the story, just as we are in life.

If I was brought to this book in space and time for a reason then it must have been to remind me of how important this theme is within Earthdream. We live in a world that seems at one level to have been abstracted away completely from our animalistic origins, but not far beneath the surface superstition still holds significant sway. Magic will not go away because at some fundamental level we need it. It seems to find ways of seeping into our lives. The trouble, as I see it, is that we have no agreed framework for understanding the magical dimension of our lives. It inevitably gets interpreted in all manner of irrational ways. Earthdream can be looked upon as a synthesis of ideas which might help us to embrace myth and magic in a rational, more authentic way. It is also argues for why this is actually important in the first place. It's not about explantion, but about mystery and the imagination, and opening our eyes to wonder.
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Published on March 23, 2011 13:09

March 12, 2011

Serendipity and Synchronicity

I've always enjoyed a close affinity with Serendipity, both the word itself and the idea it embraces: defined as "the occurrence and development of events by chance in a happy or beneficial way", or from the OED as "the faculty of making happy and unexpected discoveries by accident". It is considered to be one of the hardest words to translate from English into other languages. It's also become remarkably popular. It appears in the top ten of a number of different favourite word lists. I'm clearly not alone in feeling this affinity with Serendipity. I think there are some superficial reasons for this, but also some deeper ones.

On the surface, the sharing of its first two syllables with serene gives it a kind of calm and peaceful connotation, while the ending gives it a playful quality. It's a rather warm and cuddly word in sound and shape. But the source of its popularity surely goes much deeper. An encounter with the serendipitous is a magical experience! The demands of living in the modern world have largely snuffed out any magical, mystical dimension to life, so Serendipity seems to provide a tenuous thread linking us in to something bigger than our individual separate lives. It hints at a connectedness to a deeper reality - a kind of wiring into the bigger pattern of events. Everyone can take something out of Serendipity. It can be construed in so many ways, for some as the work of God, for others perhaps as the unfolding of the Zeitgeist from the universal to the personal. Each person will have their own private understanding. Just about the only thing I feel sure about is that very few people will dismiss Serendipity, in their heart, as just the result of pure coincidence ... which, of course, is exactly what it is, isn't it? Just a quirk of simple, uncomplicated coincidence.

Which brings me to Synchronicity, this second favourite word of mine: defined as "the simultaneous occurrence of events that appear significantly related but have no discernible causal connection". In this sense I take Synchronicity to be more than pure coincidence. This definition hints at a deeper causal connection to coincidental events, one operating beneath the level of the discerning, thinking mind. Perhaps this is why Synchronicity holds such a strong fascination for us. These kind of deep coincidences are to be found at the heart of the plots of so many great novels. We may no longer so obviously and unambiguously see coincidences as messages, but when we stumble across a coincidence in our lives there is still some part of us that inevitably gets pulled in to search for its meaning.

Whether it be at a conscious or an unconscious level, there is a deeply felt human desire to see patterns in nature. It is something the human brain is very good at, almost too good indeed. We can see pictures in a fire, shapes in the clouds. We can see things that are not really there. From a scientific viewpoint it is natural to argue that we will always be able to pluck order out of chaos in this way, to create form out of formlessness, to crystallise coincidence from the random substrate of the world we live in. It's a mathematical inevitability. But then you experience two events coming together, the timing and portent of which seems so utterly improbable, and you cannot help yourself asking the question: is coincidence simply the natural probabilistic outcome of so much possibility in the world, or is it Synchronicity, a manifestation of some deeper, sub-conscious, non-material underpinning to the totality of our experience?

Ask me at one moment and I will answer with Reason and tell you that it is just down to the mathematics of complexity. Ask me at another and I will answer with Intuition and be tempted to tell you that, as Jung postulated, it is the result of us all being networked at an unconscious level into the one and the same source. I vacillate between these two positions on a continuous basis. Because of my scientific background I am far more comfortable stating the former. But my raw emotional experience of the world does not allow me to dismiss the latter.

I can see clearly now that this specific dialectic lies at the heart of my book. It encapsulates very clearly the tension we have to resolve between the rational and emotional sides of our nature. I try to discuss the issue in my own head but there is always this problem of communication. The language each side uses is so different that there seems to be no opportunity for any meaningful exchange. Neither can find a form of expression that makes sense to the other. It's exasperating!

In Earthdream I try, very tentatively, to explore how these two paradigms can live together, set against the context of our life here on Earth, and the mess we seem to be making of it. Serendipity, as the experience of Synchronicity, is where perhaps we can most obviously feel the intersection of these two worlds of perception. But it's never black and white. And I can never bring the whole picture fully into focus. I believe we are destined, as human beings, to never be able to resolve this blurred image of reality into sharpness. Both ways of looking at the world are needed to get the best possible picture, but it will only ever be a partial view.

If I disengage my mathematical brain then I start to see Serendipity as a guide, and I try to read the messages that are brought to me. I start to believe that we can tune into the Universe in this way. Serendipity becomes a regular companion rather than just an occasional but always wonderful visitor. This is what I have begun to notice this last few weeks as I've started this journey and opened my eyes to the world again. This is what I feel now. But later, once I get back into work mode, debugging the code I wrote last week, it is more than likely that I'll read this back and think it's all a load of nonsense. It would be much easier to live in just one side of my head ... but that would make for a much less interesting life!
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Published on March 12, 2011 07:20

March 2, 2011

Influences

I've started the process of adding the books that most influenced my own writing. It's going to take me a while because it's very hard to resist dipping in and starting to read them again. These are books that I have had sitting on my shelves for 20 years without being disturbed. That's a long time, but when I start flicking through the pages, all sorts of memories are stirred up which seem incredibly fresh. It's strange how time always has this dual quality where events seem simultaneously close and distant.

So, I've added A Guide for the Perplexed tonight. I do remember being very perplexed when I was led to this book. I guess that's what drew me to the title in the first place. I was already aware of Small is Beautiful so Schumacher was a familiar name. I was very taken with his notion of philosophical map-making. I don't think I had quite fully realised before that I was lacking such a map. It helped me to understand why I felt somewhat lost in my life. This passage is still poignant:

The first principle of the philosophical map-makers seemed to be 'If in doubt, leave it out,' or put it into a museum. It occurred to me, however, that the question of what constitutes proof was a very subtle and difficult one. Would it not be wiser to turn the principle into its opposite and say, 'If in doubt, show it prominently'? After all, matters that are beyond doubt are, in a sense, dead; they do not constitute a challenge to the living.

This was a kind of watershed for me. Previously, I was only interested in the certainties of life, that which can be known. I was at my happiest working out a mathematical proof or constructing a computer program to solve a well-defined problem. From this point onwards I became fascinated with the far richer world of that which isn't known, and quite possibly can never be known.

I think Schumacher's message can best be summarised by saying that in life we each have to create our own philosophical map. We are not going to get given one. He very much inspired me to go out and create a map of my own. It is this adventure that I try to retrace in Earthdream. I guess I thought - and still do - that what I learnt along the way might be of help to others trying to create their own maps.
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Published on March 02, 2011 14:46

February 28, 2011

Capturing an audience

I've had a weekend away from the computer (for the most part at least). I've decided that this is important for my well-being. I still thoroughly enjoy my work developing software, but it's easy to spend way too much time staring at the computer screen. I got some domestic jobs out of the way on Saturday and competed in a cycling event yesterday. It was good to be able to clear a bit of space in my head.

One of the biggest problems with this book of mine is how to capture people's interest in the first place. It tackles the big questions of life but it doesn't really provide any simple answers. A description of what Earthdream is about is likely to deter most people from reading it. We tend to stick to the familiar. And I have to admit that I'm really no different. I gravitate towards familiar authors and subjects, picking books to read which align with my philosophy of life. With Earthdream providing a critique of our predominant religious, scientific and economic mythologies, I'm at risk of alienating just about everybody with this book! But that's not really true, especially in respect to science and religion, where I think I actually do a pretty good job of revealing the wonder in both, when stripped of their ideological trappings.

The strange thing is that I think most of us are aware, at some level, of the absurdity of our current situation. The metaphysical map we are offered by our culture does not provide for any kind of helpful pointer which says, "You are here". It's such a fundamental problem that we simply refuse to let it enter our conscious awareness. There is a kind of tacit agreement not to question it at all. This is what I seek to challenge, the complacency as much as anything else. It seems to me like it's quite a big deal this. Why is it that nobody seems to care very much? I do feel like I'm a lone voice in a very large and noisy crowd right now! It's not surprising perhaps that I've sat on my ideas for the last 20 years.
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Published on February 28, 2011 11:05

February 22, 2011

So ... what's your book about?

I was at a party at the weekend and got talking to someone new, answering questions about my life, when suddenly I dropped it into the conversation that I had once taken some time out to write a book. This is unusual for me these days. So, the normal questions immediately followed, to which I answered, "Yes, it was published", and "Right ... what is it about indeed ... hmm ... that's actually quite difficult ... umm". Well, I blew it! Fluffed my non-existent lines. To be fair to myself, there were extenuating circumstances in that I was tired after working virtually all weekend, and it was very noisy, and I'd also had a bit to drink, but that's no excuse really. I do have to be able to answer this question. It's becoming embarassing.

Before writing any kind of review then I think it makes sense that I'm able to come up with a good response, and I'm going to blog here my efforts. It should help serve to focus the mind. Here goes ...

Earthdream is my account of a search for a new mythology, a new way of looking at the world that might ultimately lead humankind toward maintaining a sustainable presence on our planet. Modern society is informed by a strange and incoherent mix of mythologies, a blend of both old and new. They no longer serve us particularly well. I ask the reader to follow me as I try to dismantle the foundations of our existing mythologies, before tracing an outline of what I hope might appear in their place. It can only be a sketch because a new mythology has to be lived, acted out, experienced, made real in the world collectively by people working together, sharing a common set of values. In this sense, Earthdream is a kind of call to arms, challenging the reader to help create this new mythology.

There are not even a handful of people finding their way here to this blog at the moment, but I still feel a considerable sense of trepidation about this post. How does that sound? Rather pretentious? Too idealistic? Does it make any sense? I honestly don't know. I really would like some feedback!
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Published on February 22, 2011 11:04

February 18, 2011

Reading

This blog is more like a private diary at the moment, but I'm going to carry on posting as if there is actually an audience out there. I'm hoping that I can attract some attention to my book, and this is really to document the process, whether it be successful or not.

My profession is software development, something I've done pretty much continuously since university, except for the time I took out to write Earthdream. For the most part I've always enjoyed this big chunk of my life, and I'm rather proud of the product I'm working on at the moment, which is in the area of public health. The trouble is that programming tends to take over your entire brain. The rational side easily dominates and leads Reason to suffocate one's more delicate Intuition! This is the way it's been for a good few years now, working too many hours to get my small software company off the ground.

But with the help of a very talented and enthusiastic team of young people it is beginning to fly now, and the burden no longer sits so heavily on my shoulders alone. This year I've begun to use my bike to cycle either to or from work, and instead of sitting on the train working on the laptop, I've taken to reading. What a joy it's been. For logistical reasons, so I don't have to carry a pack on the bike (my route is very hilly so there is an incentive to travel as light as possible!), I've currently got several books on the go, keeping a reserve at home and at the office so I'm never without something to read. I'm rather enjoying this experience of dipping in and out of a number of books simultaneously. It helps that they are all quite different.

Enjoying my reading so much has I think played a big part in wanting to see Earthdream being read again. It's message is just as relevant as ever. I really want to know if my book is able to convey that message in a meaningful way. I may end up having to face the fact that it isn't, that it gets lost in simply too many words and ideas. If I'm honest, that is my fear. But I need to find out one way or the other. I can report that I've made a start writing my review ... but it's slow going at the moment.
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Published on February 18, 2011 10:44

February 15, 2011

Review

I had a couple of reviews for Earthdream when it was first published, both pretty good really, but there is no trace of them on the internet, and I've lost track of them too. There is just one review revealed by Google, but it is actually in the shape of an academic paper, Earthdream: A critical interpretation, by a Venezuelan academic, Hernán López-Garay, and appearing in the journal Systemic Practice and Action Research (downloadable for the modest sum of 34 Euros!). I still have the note from my publisher which was attached to a photocopy he sent me, saying "Here's something pretty far out, a post-modernist review of Earthdream. See if you can make any sense of it". I remember feeling somewhat perplexed at this notion of having been deconstructed. It was all very fascinating, but in a way it served to distance me from my own writing.

So I've been floating the idea of writing my own review, if for no other reason than to try to engage with my own words again, to try to reduce this distance that I've felt, to kind of re-own my book. I think the passage of 20 years possibly confers sufficient objectivity to be able to do this. The author of Earthdream does actually feel like an altogether different person from the one writing these words now.

But, tentatively embracing this idea, I have to admit that I don't really know where to begin. Possibly the main reason why my book sunk without trace is that it cannot easily be categorised. It sits firmly on no single shelf; instead, it finds a rather slim hold on all manner of different shelves: philosophy, religion, science, psychology, spirituality, new-age, economics, environmentalism. It's always given me a problem this, to the extent that for many years I've been in the closet as an author. I've rather feared mentioning this side of my life because it always invites that inevitable question ... so what's your book about?

I need to be able to answer that ... succinctly. Certainly in less than the 10,000 words of López-Garay's paper! And in somewhat more approachable language. It's going to be quite a challenge, one I've avoided for way too long.
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Published on February 15, 2011 14:04

February 11, 2011

Anonymous Connections

I googled myself today, in relation to Earthdream, and found some rather wonderful connections to the world. If I'm honest I suppose I was a little disappointed that there weren't more references out there to my book, but it has to be remembered that it was published all of 20 years ago, and didn't, sadly, end up in the hands of too many people. However, amongst a select few it certainly seems to have made an impression. I'm even listed as someone's favourite author. That's quite extraordinary if I think about it. Perhaps I shouldn't!

The listing that brought the biggest smile to my face is a post on an odd web site by someone going under the alias of SpaceMonkey. He writes "A later work I found very interesting so much so that it is the most dog eared and annotated I have is Earthdream by Robert Hamilton". I've not really thought of myself as an author for many years now, but perhaps this little random line, plucked from the gazillion web pages indexed by Google, grants me that right in more than just name. I wonder if SpaceMonkey will ever find his or her way to this blog entry. I love it that your copy of my book has been that well thumbed, and that you've made such copious notes in it. I'd love to send you another! Thank you then SM, and a certain KF, for making me feel like a writer again. I need to absorb this feeling now. I want to let it soak in. I feel very privileged at this moment to have made these connections to two people I do not know. I guess that's why so many people aspire to write. It's special.
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Published on February 11, 2011 11:37

Earthdreaming

Bob  Hamilton
To have no dream is to have no vision. And to have no vision is to have no future.
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