May 31, 2004
MYSTERY NEARLY EXPLAINED: ENTOPTIC
the comments I got on this subject were interesting but the
closest to a solution was from Fred of fragments
from floyd who mentioned the fundus.
I searched Google and discovered optometrist Terry
Mendoza's very informative site about sight and sent
him an e-mail with my query. I got a prompt and helpful reply,
part of which I quote below, for the benefit of anyone else
who has a tiny cinema behind their eyelids.
But first, examine
this picture of the Fundus Oculi (image courtesy M.N.
Watts, The City University) and then look again at my
drawing of the whirly thingy. Not a bad match between the
blood vessels and my diagram, eh? Here's Terry Mendoza speaking:
phenomenon you describe is one of a family of
such 'visions' termed entoptic phenomena. The
first thing I should caution is that pressing
on the eyeball is not a good thing to do as if
there is a fragile area of retina this could
be sufficient to start a retinal tear (detachment).
Stimulation of the retina gives rise to electrical
signals being sent to the brain which are interpreted
as light, or arrangements of light. Usually the
retina is stimulated by light falling on its
photoreceptors, but in the phenomenon you describe,
the pressure on the eyeball is distorting the
underlying retina. This stretching of the retina
is what gives rise to simple patterns of light."
Terry also gave
me two great links: Visual
Basic and Entoptic
Images which describe the phenomenon and relate it, as
some of the commenters here did, to hallucinogenic and other
types of visions and archetypal patterns. This is all fascinating
and I will look into it further but part of my mystery is
still not solved: the examples illustrated and described
do not ressemble those images I've seen which are not patterns,
but realistic faces, figures, etc. A recent one - I know
nobody will believe this but I swear I didn't invent it-
was a small yellow rectangle with ragged edges, in the middle
of which was handwritten the word "you". How could
this be produced by a stretching of the retina? I accept
the entoptic explanation but there's got to be more to it.
One thing occurs
to me: "Stimulation
of the retina gives rise to electrical signals being sent
to the brain" - could it also work the
other way round? Signals from the brain being sent to
the retina? I will stop here and go to sleep and see
if dreams provide any new information. Many thanks to
Terry Mendoza and to all of you for your input.
May 28, 2004
THINGS YOU'VE ALWAYS
WANTED TO KNOW BUT DIDN'T ASK ME
I am number
44 (today) on a list compiled
Diva of the most linked UK weblogs and I know it's completely
meaningless but nevertheless gives me a small glow of satisfaction
that a one-year old cartoon is on such a list at all. The
fact that Belle
de Jour is currently No.1 has woken my dormant competitive
instinct and I'd be really chuffed to knock her/him off that
pedestal. Everybody but me has had something to say about
BdJ and it's time I added my rant to this irrelevant bloggossip.
Whoever the real BdJ is, that blog's DNA can be found in Cosmopolitan and
other How To Treat Men As Sex Objects As Well As Being Feminine and
Cute And Able To Discuss the Arts glossy magazines; and in Sex
and the City that daring investigation into women who lunch and deeply
debate...hey, this is really ground-breaking...dicks and cunts and vibrators while
at the same time wearing designer wardrobes and giving/receiving blowjobs and
hunting for the Perfect Designer Soulmate...hey, wow, are we empowered or
what? That's where Belle de Jour is coming from, to coin another cliché,
and the literary pretension is yet another layer of gloss on the nail polish.
Her Call Girl Life is Pretty
Woman Hollywood-style designer label antiseptic prostitution and yes,
the style sells like hotcakes. So what? Any woman who's had.....(fill in
the number of sex partners)... could tell you more observant, funnier,
sadder, sleazier, sexier, less self-centered tales. (No, I'm not going to
do it). As for prostitution as lifestyle, maybe all the girls from Eastern
Europe who are being er, recruited, into that career could be persuaded to
blog about it? From the trenches, as it were.
May 26, 2004
THINGS ARE LOOKING
UP, YES THEY ARE
of photo from Michael Moore's website)
was going to lay off politics for a while but this isn't politics, it's
sheer exhilaration that Michael
Moore won the Palme d'Or at Cannes for Fahrenheit
9/11. When it gets American distribution, and it surely will,
watch the sparks fly. Here's a quote from the Washington
here isn't Moore's political animosity or ticklish wit.
It's the well-argued, heartfelt power of his persuasion.
Even though there are many things here that we have already
learned, Moore puts it all together. It's a look back
that feels like a new gaze forward. The movie points
to social and financial connections between the Bush
family and wealthy Saudis, including the royal family,
Prince Bandar (the Saudi ambassador to Washington) and
the bin Laden family. It shows startling footage taken
by camera crews who were embedded with the American forces
in Iraq. And it spends time with such people as Lila
Lipscomb, a Michigan mother who changes from patriotic
support for the Bush administration to heartbroken despair
after she loses a son to the war. There are so many powerful
moments to point to, all for different reasons: the visceral
terror of a household in Baghdad, as young American soldiers
break in to arrest someone; the candid testimony of American
soldiers who express their disgust at the situation there;
interviews in Michigan with impoverished African Americans,
a social group that has been a breadbasket for U.S. Army
recruitment. To watch this movie yourself is to realize
with dawning appreciation that the director of "Bowling
for Columbine" has finally learned to put his movie where
his mouth is.
May 25, 2004
MYSTERY: CAN YOU SOLVE IT?
I'm already breaking
my blogging abstinence rule but listen: this is either total
trivia or a revolutionary Nobel-prize-in-the-hand revelation.
Remember, you read it here first.
Put your hands over your eyes so that your fingers
cover your closed lids and press down on your eyeballs gently. No light
should be getting in. Now, what do you see, if anything?
Write it down. Ask everyone you know to do the same. Tell me in comments,
post it on your blogs, start a meme. We need lots and lots of answers to
a) I'm some sort of freak, or
b) this is a normal phenomenon and, if so,
c) WHAT DOES IT MEAN?
tried it many, many times and it doesn't always happen but when it does,
this is what I see:
A sort of cartwheel made of light spins round and round in wide wobbly circles,
generally anti-clockwise. The diagram I've drawn is only a rough approximation
- the actual thing is more blurry. Then, usually on the bottom right of my
field of vision, tiny pictures start appearing and dissolving. They are often
negatives, light on dark, and always sharp but strange, surreal,mostly faces
or figures. Sometimes they're still pictures, sometimes moving. It's like
being inside a tiny cinema. I look at these images with
tightly closed eyes and I don't
understand what I'm seeing. They're not related
to my surroundings, they don't ressemble anyone I know or anything I've ever
seen. I'm not imagining or inventing but actually looking at them. The
pictures are so fascinating that it's hard to go back to normal open-eyed
I am completely sober and not on any drugs, medical or recreational. I am
a rational, down to earth person, as you may have noticed, and I do not believe
in little green aliens or large green monsters (apart from the human variety).
I do not have visions and have never done astral travelling. The only eccentric
beliefs I have are belief in God, love, and
peace on earth. So you can trust me when I tell you that what I've described
above is fact, not fiction, and I have to know if other people see something
similar behind their eyelids. What are these pictures? Are they stored inside
my brain? Are they memories? Is my brain creating them as I watch? How come
I can see them though my eyes are closed?
there an ophthalmologist in the house? Neurologist? Brain
surgeon? Optician? Shaman?
May 24, 2004
A LITTLE HELP FROM AND TO FRIENDS
A very pleasant Saturday afternoon visit from Steven
Green of worldwidewebly famous Plep,
that lovingly selected and daily updated collection of mind-expanding and
eye-opening links. I shamelessly picked his well-stocked brain and he was
generous enough to let me do so, to the extent of sitting down at the Mac
with me and applying his professional techpertise to finding the specific
sequence of arcane words and symbols that finally allowed Yaron's
website and Flying
Sugar Press to fly away from my cozy nest into his own domain. I urge
all of you art appreciators and creators to link to it so that it gets the
wide recognition it deserves and won't be lost in vast, teeming and lonely
And don't miss Dem's original
new strips and wonderful graphic novel-in-progress which I am extremely jealous
of, in view of the fact that mine is not so much in progress as out to lunch.
Well I can't do everything. God is leaving
messages on my answering machine all the time asking me to call back. Why
can't he understand I'm too busy struggling with blog dependency issues?
Go sample the intriguing curry now being served at Joe's
cinema: I predict that this budding auteur/director will one day put Quentin
Tarantula in the shade where he belongs. And Dick's inspired
reminiscing - the latest about his schooldays - puts many household name
writers in the shade. What talent lurks here on my blogroll and beyond! If
I don't give each one the fulsome and frequent praise they deserve it's not
indifference but envy. No it's not, I really love them all. It's just that
I'm so busy with, er....
May 22, 2004
ADDICTED TO BLOGGING?
My name is Augustine
and I am an addict, a blogging addict. I dream at night of
things I have blogged, should blog or did not blog. I ruminate
on comments that have been made or have not been made on
my blog or that I might make or will make in other blogs.
I check my stats more than once a day. More than twice a
day. Allright, I check my stats a lot. I also check my Technorati
rati quite a lot. I read the newspapers and feel guilty that
I am not blogging about the news because nobody will know
what's going on in the world if I don't blog about it. It's
my duty to blog about all the injustice and lies and horror
because if people don't read it in my blog then they won't
know it's happening. It's also my duty to blog about the
meaning of life and everything because if it's not in my
blog then where are people going to find out? It's also my
duty to translate my every passing thought and observation
and experience into bloggish because if I don't then, well,
then I'm not a good and frequent blogger and nobody will
visit me. I get withdrawal symptoms if I am away from my
screen for more than a day even when I'm not blogging - I
tap my fingers aimlessly on tables or armchairs and look
pale and withdrawn. Enough already. I have decided to go
into rehab. But since there are not, as yet, rehab clinics
for blogaddicts, I have drawn up my own rehabilitation regime.
Feel free to adapt it to your own needs.
1. Blog only once
a week, choose a day (haven't decided which day yet).
2. Check stats only once a week (you cannot be serious??)
3. Visit fave blogs/new blogs only once a week (not the same day
I do my blog)
4. Blog only about what I'm good at - eg interviewing God etc.
5. Spend more quality time with real life.
Before I start my
cure, I have a message for George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Ariel
Sharon and all those who, under whatever flag or pretext
or ideology or lie or fanaticism or blindness, are driving
the world to ruin:
NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO NO !!!!!!!!!!
Below from Aron
IN GAZA, 200+ HOME DEMOLITIONS BY ISRAELI ARMY AS PALESTINIANS
AND ISRAELIS RISE UP IN PROTEST, BUSH SUPPORTS WAR CRIMES
IN GAZA. This week, Israelis and Palestinians have taken
to the streets en masse to protest the Israeli army's
destruction and killing in Gaza -- so on whose behalf
does Bush support Israel's war crimes? "
And from The
Guardian, May 22:
"A US sergeant
who left the battlefield in Iraq because of moral objections
to the war was found guilty of desertion at a court martial
yesterday. He could be sentenced to imprisonment for
up to a year. Camilo Mejia had argued that he left his
unit as a matter of conscience after six months during
which he witnessed shootings of Iraqi civilians, including
children. But an eight-member jury drawn from officers
and enlisted soldiers, including six who had served in
Iraq, found him guilty of desertion."
And this is
worth reading concerning Nick Berg's death.
May 16, 2004
BREL ON STUPIDITY
AND ME ON GROWING A LYCHEE
The anger that so
many of us all over the world are feeling and, as bloggers,
expressing online is different from the normal ranting that
humans are prone to. There seems to be a new and growing
collective consciousness that stupidity is no longer acceptable
as the guiding principle in world affairs and in our lives.
This morning, unbidden, a few words from a long-forgotten song by the genius
Brel popped into my head. I googled and found the complete
lyrics to "L'Air de la Bêtise" ("Stupidity's
Song") and I've rough-translated part of it below because it is so relevant.
The official site for Jacques Brel is here ,
there are pictures here and
if any of you have never heard Brel sing, I suggest that you beg, borrow,
buy or download his entire repertoire because nearly all his songs are masterpieces
and that's no exaggeration. Btw, he didn't sing in English - it's worth learning
French just to understand his lyrics.
de la Bêtise" words & music
by Jacques Brel
des gens sans inquiétude
Mère de ceux que l'on dit forts
Mère des saintes habitudes
Princesse des gens sans remords
Salut à toi Dame Bêtise
Toi dont le règne est méconnu
Salut à toi Dame Bêtise
Mais dis-le moi: Comment fais-tu
Pour avoir tant d'amants
Et tant de fiancés,
Tant de représentants
Et tant de prisonniers
Pour tisser de tes mains
Tant de malentendus
Et faire croire au crétin
Que nous sommes vaincus
of those without anxiety
Mother of those said to be strong
Mother of sanctified habits
Princess of those without remorse
Hail to you Dame Stupidity
You whose realm is little known
Hail to you Dame Stupidity
But tell me: how do you manage
To have so many lovers
So many betrotheds
So many representatives
And so many prisoners?
To weave with your hands
So much misunderstanding
And to persuade the idiots
That we are finished?
here, on a more positive note, is the miracle
of a baby lychee growing
from a seed I saved and recently planted.
Have you ever eaten
a fresh lychee? Far superior to the canned version served
for dessert in all Chinese restaurants. The rough, warty
skin conceals a fruit of such exquisite sweetness and sensuality
that eating and handling one should be X-rated. Interestingly,
lychees are traditionally associated with romance in China,
where the lychee originates, because an emperor's concubine
liked them so much that he had relays of horses carrying
them for hundreds of miles to satisfy her craving. I wouldn't
mind a repeat of that performance for my delectation.
Watching this wonderful
creature emerging on my kitchen windowsill I marvel at how
little it needs to achieve its glory - a bit of soil, light
and water, that's it. So many people on earth strive and
struggle and despair their lives away yet we could all be
at peace with only a bit of soil, water, and light...outer
May 13, 2004
SEEN IN LONDON BAR
Last night was the
night 40 or 50 bloggers met - or didn't meet - in the basement
of the International Bar off Trafalgar Square. The walls
were Inferno Red, lighting minimal, noise maximal and food
almost gone by the time I arrived at 8:30. I was delayed
because at the last minute I decided to make a Blaugustine
badge: printed blue lettering on a red background stuck to
an old "I am nearly famous" badge. This
turned out to be entirely invisible in the red mist. But
stickers had been thoughtfully provided on which bloggers
wrote their names or aliases. Unfortunately I couldn't read
them because people, on the whole, are much taller than I
am and it's silly to stand on tiptoe to read their lapels.
The truth is that I am not a great live (as in"non-virtual") networker.
To be a successful Live Networker you must have at least two of the following:
height, hutzpah, charisma, a good memory, lots of acquaintances, a bottomless
supply of small talk, and a mastery of the art of selling yourself without
appearing to do so. Fame, gorgeousness and genius are also a big help in
working a room. Now, I may have one of these qualities but certainly not
two. So I prefer to do my networking hidden behind my computer screen.
the same, I was glad to meet two people I knew only from their blogs:
the idiosyncratically insightful and innovative Ming (Flemming
Funch) and the delightfully informative Annie
Mole, whose blog makes even London Underground's miseries seem
fun. I had brief shouting conversations with both of them and I'm
not sure what any of us said but it was nice to see them in the real
world anyway. I shouted with three or four other friendly bloggers
and will look up their sites when I can find the cards they gave
me. I'm sorry for not listing more names but it's all a bit blurred,
not due to alcohol consumption - I only had two beers and was home
in time to catch Newsnight.
camera flashes were pointed in my direction a few times and I want to warn
you that if you should happen to see photos anywhere on the net purporting
to be of me DO NOT BELIEVE THEM!
It's bad enough being trapped behind the remarkably unphotogenic countenance
of Natalie without having to endure the ordeal of mistaken identity. I
demanded that N provide a snapshot of herself taken in the mirror this
morning so as to prove that she stayed home and was not with me last night.
She was only half awake when this was shot which accounts for the half-closed
eyelids. Behind her is the same half-finished painting which appeared in
a previous photo of her studio. The best thing in this photo is the reflection
around the edges of the mirror.
May 12, 2004
CAN THERE BE TRAINING
CAMPS FOR GOODNESS?
The latest horror
news: a video of the revenge beheading of a kidnapped American
civilian. (See Joel's eloquent
post on The Death of Nick Berg).
We know that horror begets horror, violence begets violence
and terror begets more terror but, oblivious to the chain
of cause and effect, self-righteous voices are now screaming: "Barbarians!"
Yes, such actions are barbaric. Yes they are monstrous. Yes they are evil.
But let all those who are screaming:"Barbarians!" look inside their
own hearts and minds and let he who is incapable of barbarism cast the first
Whenever evil acts
are discovered to have been perpetrated by people perceived
as Good, there is an assumption that the offenders were either
ordered by their superiors to perform such acts, or led astray
by bad companions, or that they believed their actions served
a higher purpose.
When evil acts are perpetrated by those perceived to be intrinsically evil,
their actions are not speculated about: they are Evil, and that's that.
In the first instance, the culprits are seen as essentially good but capable
of committing wrong actions under certain circumstances.
In the second case, the culprits are seen as essentially bad and acting in
evil ways because that's what they do.
Isn't there a third
Since it has been proved that human beings can be conditioned to perform
evil, can it not also be proved that they can be conditioned to do good,
and to refuse to do evil?
At 1:20 AM last
Saturday (May 8) on Channel 4 here in London there was a
very interesting and frightening documentary called "The
Truth About Killing". One of the things which most
impressed and appalled me was the army training camp somewhere
in America where the mayhem of war and violence is super-realistically
simulated in order to de-sensitize soldiers to the horrors
of the real thing.
It made me think:
Why couldn't camps be created where situations of conflict are likewise realistically
simulated but people are trained to go in and resolve them by peaceful and
rational means? And where they learn to reject being coerced into acting
in evil ways, under any circumstances.
I know that non-violence
training has existed for a long time and that peace-making
and conflict resolution groups are active in many places.
Could they all come together in a global effort to set up
training centres in every country, every town and village
on the planet? Centres where the good in human nature is
held up as our strength rather than our weakness. Where the
good is nurtured, challenged, brought face to face with situations
in which it must confront evil with goodness, rather than
with evil. Is this an impossible dream?
May 6, 2004
preview of Yaron's new website made by Natalie
May 1, 2004
Natalie was commissioned last year to design and build a website for an artist
friend, Yaron Livay. It has taken her far too long and, frankly,
I was getting a bit fed up with all the fussing and fiddling with
this work and the neglecting of me. So I put my foot down and said
that if she didn't finish the job in the next few days, I would simply
walk out. That pulled her up sharpish and lo and behold, a series
of sleepless nights have done the trick and the website for Yaron,
brilliant artist printmaker, is finally ready.
I have given N permission to preview it on our site so that we can see how
it looks and if it works. It can then be transferred to another hosting server
and start its own life in cyberspace.
Update: Yaron's site is being transferred to his
own server. I'll post the URL when
The Joker-- Linocut by
Didn't Bush and
Blair and their supporters say words like these not long
ago in their impassioned defense of their War on Terror?
Didn't they say that we are the good guys, the civilized,
the ones who uphold moral values - decency, democracy, humanity
and all those other fine and righteous things? Didn't they
also say, and doesn't some of the media often repeat, that
the bad guys are uncivilized barbarians?
This page will not be fouled with the dirty pictures of American military
personnel abusing Iraqi prisoners but if anyone has yet to see them they
are here and
here is a full report in
the New Yorker. David Hoffman - always sane, balanced and compassionate -
has further links at Humanity
Check . What is even more shocking than the actions of those particular
male and female soldiers who were sent to Iraq to 'fight for civilization'
are the inane, obscene grins on their faces, grins that say "Hey, we're
just having some fun!" In defense of their actions it has been claimed
that they did not receive proper training on how to deal with prisoners. Proper
training?? And these are adults, brought up in the land of the free,
the brave, the good and the civilized. Are they saying that, without proper
training, everyone would have done the same in those circumstances?
Guardian there are reports that British troops in Iraq have also been
involved in torture of prisoners and detainees. Of course not all American,
British or other coalition soldiers behave this way and it is because of
the conscience and courage of some that such despicable actions come to light.
Eventually, maybe it will be recognized that those individuals who dare to
blow the whistle and who refuse to participate in anti-human actions are
the real heroes, the truly civilized.
Read this enlightening
article by Naomi Klein: Mutiny is the only way
out of Iraq's inferno.