The Promise

Channel 4’s ‘The Promise’ was an amazing film, very long and shown in four parts totalling about 7 hours in total. Starting with the Nazi Holocaust depicted by the horror of British soldiers discovering the Belsen concentration camp, it showed how the State of Israel was born thru violence which continues to the present day.

This brave film utilized a dual storyline alternating between the 1940s when Palestine was administered by the British till the establishment of Israel, and a modern-day story. The link was a diary read by the grand-daughter of a British soldier who was in Palestine in the three years between the Second World War and the establishment of the State of Israel.

The film took us from sympathy with the Jewish plight after the horror of the Holocaust, thru the violent terrorism of the Jewish Irgun group to the suicide bombings of the Palestinian Hamas. On the way we witnessed the uncomfortable sight of British soldiers rounding up early Jewish immigrants, some with Nazi concentration camp numbers tattooed on their arms, and putting them in British detention camps. Also the voice of a woman on a Zionist radio station calling the British occupation forces ‘Nazis’, and when Irgun terrorists were hung by the British authorities, Irgun executed British soldiers in reprisal.

The modern-day story showed the inhumanity shown by some Jewish Israelis to their Palestinian neighbors, and of course how the Palestinians lost homes and lands to the Israeli settlers.

The film depicted violence by all parties in this tragedy – the Zionists, the Palestinians and the British. In the final episode, however, we see the British soldier, once sympathetic to the idea of a Jewish homeland, writing that Israel was a state born in violence and meting out cruelty to its Palestinian neighbors. Not only its neighbors, he might have added, but to the former Palestinian residents of homes and land stolen off them by the Israeli settlers.

The message I got from this film was that the establishment of a Jewish homeland on land stolen from Palestinians was a great mistake, that the British failed in their mission to protect the Palestinians and eventually abandoned them to their fate. Of course a UN declaration supporting the establishment of the state of Israel gave Britain little option but to withdraw, and what wasn’t stated in the film was that the British had promised the Jews a homeland in Palestine decades earlier.

The real message of this film was that people are just people whatever race or religion they belong to, and if we fail to recognize that atrocities occur on all sides. Even a terrible thing like the Nazi Holocaust couldn’t justify stealing land and homes from completely innocent Palestinians, let alone erecting walls and treating them like second-class citizens in modern day Israel/Palestine.

Indeed it would have made more sense to establish a Jewish homeland in the countries responsible for the Holocaust, namely in Germany/Austria and those countries like Britain and the USA that were reluctant to accept Jewish refugees en masse immediately before the Holocaust. Or indeed in those countries with plenty of land to spare in which to establish a homeland such as the USA, Australia or even the Soviet Union, rather than in tiny Palestine.

However the very idea of a homeland based on race and religion is very questionable, since it implies anyone of a different race or religion is excluded, has less rights or is at least regarded as a second-class citizen. Also Jews were not the only victims of the Nazi Holocaust: gipsies, gays and the physically and mentally handicapped were also victims, but none of these groups got homelands, only the Jewish and Communist victims got these.

Also, many of the Israeli settlers came from places like Britain and USA where there never was a Holocaust, so as also came across in the film, the modern State of Israel with its affluent Jewish homes sits very uncomfortably with the squalor of the Palestinian homes nearby in this tragic land. The whole Israeli thing smacks of old-fashioned settler colonialism, with middle-class Americans, British and others who have never suffered persecution just grabbing land and homes from people abroad they regard as their inferiors.

The whole lesson of the film for me was that the Jewish people, having suffered so from the Nazis and others, ought to have learnt to treat other races with a lot more understanding and compassion. Ethnic cleansing, wherever it occurs, is not a pleasant thing and causes untold suffering and misery.

It is not, of course, only Israelis who are responsible for ethnic cleansing and grabbing land and homes formerly belonging to another race. It has happened elsewhere in the world, not least nearby Cyprus where my father comes from, both Greek and Turkish communities being guilty of expelling members of the other community from their homes and land by the use of violence and terror.

The solution in Cyprus has inevitably been a two-state one, albeit that the Turkish state is still unrecognized by any country but Turkey. The solution in Israel/Palestine must now be a two-state solution, with Palestine universally recognized as a truly independent state.

None of these two-state ‘solutions’ is ideal because people of different races and creeds should be able to live together in a secular state which does not differentiate or give preference to one race/creed over another. However at least with officially recognized fully independent states no race or creed is denied a homeland where they can feel relatively safe.

It is, of course, an irony that Jews are less safe in Israel than probably anywhere else in the world, but that is what happens when people just use violence to grab land and homes from others. Not to mention the undeniable and quite obvious fact that it would be physically impossible for all the Jews in the world to claim the ‘right of return’ proclaimed by Israel (citing ancient religious scriptures by unknown authors that this land was promised to them by God).

The only way all the Jewish people could be settled in a Greater Israel would be by that country continually expanding and creating more  living room by invading and occupying all its neighboring lands. This together with the idea of a ‘chosen race’ sits very uncomfortably with the Nazi notion of an Aryan ‘master race’ needing more ‘lebensraum’ (living room) by invading all its neighbors to create a greater Germany or Third Reich and treating other races with cruelty and very much as ‘untermenschen’ or as sub-human.

I wonder if  The Promise will be shown on Israeli TV?

Out and About in London

An update on things I’ve been doing lately. On January 30th was the annual 2Is coffee bar reunion/British rock’n’roll heritage gig now at the Borderline venue near Charing Cross Road. I arrived during the performance of Terry Wayne, which was very good, and met my former Drama Coach, Bea Scott, at her first Tales From The Woods gig (apart from my 65th birthday party last year), and other ‘Woodies’ as we are known. Next on the bill was Graham Fenton, who I’ve been following since the 1970s when he led groups called The Hellraisers, The Houseshakers and the hit-making Matchbox (Rockabilly Rebel, etc.). He hardly seems to have aged at all (like Sandy Ford of the Flyin’ Saucers group. How do they do it?) Graham, as usual, gave a great performance backed by the excellent Tales From The Woods houseband with Brian Clark on drums, and the brilliant lead guitarist John Spencely.

Then we were treated to the wild rock’n’roll pianist/singer Roy Young backed by his own band including two saxophonists, one of whom being Howie Casey. John Spencely stood in for Roy Young’s regular lead guitarist who was indisposed. How often does one hear songs like Little Richard’s ‘Bama Lama Bama Loo’, ‘Hey Hey Hey’ or ‘She’s Got It’ nowadays, even on the rock’n’roll circuit or from Mr Penniman himself? Roy also treated us to some Larry Williams and Jerry Lee Lewis numbers, among others. A thoroughly enjoyable evening.

Earlier in February I saw the film ‘Hereafter’ starring Matt Damon and reviewed in an earlier blog. Later I went with my friend Chris to see ‘Black Swan’, a surrealist film about a ballet dancer in Tchaikovsky’s ‘Swan Lake’. It has received great reviews and acclamations, but it was not really my sort of film since I have no interest in ballet, and I was very confused by the  surrealism. The main character hallucinates, and I missed the entire point of the film’s ending not realizing that she had, in fact, fatally injured herself. In fact this part of the storyline made no sense to me whatsoever, since she danced while mortally injured with no difficulty and not a trace of blood from the fatal wound until the ballet was over.

Last week I went with Chris again to see ‘Million Dollar Quartet’, the Broadway musical now transferred to the West End about the historic occasion when Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Jerry Lee Lewis sung mainly gospel songs together in the legendary Sun Studio at 709 Union Avenue, Memphis and Sam Phillips, the owner, caught much of it on tape. There was a certain amount of poetic license, such as ‘Great Balls of Fire’ being sung before it had even been written let alone recorded, and Jerry Lee sitting at the piano thruout, when in fact on the actual occasion it was Elvis at the piano most of the time.

It was, however, a very entertaining show which the nearly full theater at this preview appreciated, clapping along to the music. One elderly usher was even dancing but restrained himself from ripping out the seats in a nostalgic re-enactment of when Bill Haley visited our shores in the 1950s, or when his movie ‘Rock Around The Clock’ was shown in cinemas.

There was a storyline as well as the musical numbers, mainly about how Sam Phillips was unable to keep most of his discoveries because the label was so small and couldn’t promote them properly, or even distribute their recordings efficiently. Of the 4 artists in the Million Dollar Quartet, only Jerry Lee remained at the label for any length of time after this unique occasion, Elvis having already left the label for RCA.

Last Friday was the monthly gang meet-up of the Woodies, this time at The Plough public house near the British Museum, then on to a nearby Greek restaurant where most of us had the enormous meze. Too much for most of us to eat at a very reasonable price.

Next Tuesday I’m going with Chris to see ‘Woody Sez’, about another ‘Woody’, namely Woody Guthrie, and featuring his songs. This is at the Arts Theatre very near the Noel Coward Theatre where M$Q is playing.

Earlier that day I have an outing with the Senior Service group of another organization I belong to with a meal out in the West End.

So quite an eventful time at the moment, and towards the end of March on the weekend of my 66th birthday I will see Roy Young and his band again along with Bill Haley’s daughter Gina, and a Bill Haley tribute group called Phil Haley and the Comments, plus many other groups and singers at the Shake Rattle & Roll Weekender at the Vauxhall Holiday Park in Great Yarmouth. Will also meet up with my friends Derek and Peter who live in nearby Norwich.

So after a few weeks before/after Christmas with not much doing (apart from the annual Woodies post-Xmas meet-up/meal in December which was fantastic – The Carvery at the Strand Palace Hotel, all for only £19!), I’ve had quite a few things going on the past few weeks.

Banks of Marble

 

I was listening to American Leftie Pete Seeger singing ‘Banks of Marble’ yesterday. It was a video clip from YouTube, and had images of various workers who were poor and starving while the money they earned was piling up in the bank vaults in the form of silver and gold ingots. The original words of the final chorus go as follows:

But the banks are made of marble

With a guard at every door

And the vaults are filled with silver

That the workers sweated for

This is indeed still true today, for whatever real wealth is stored in bank vaults some worker somewhere has sweated to earn. Unearned income is not real wealth since it does not represent any real goods or services; it is simply inflationary, increasing the amount of paper or plastic money chasing the same number of goods and services. Only labor can produce real wealth and value.

However, the images of poor workers in America, including a miner who’d lost his legs, hardly resonate with most workers in the developed capitalist countries today. They would, however, resonate with grossly underpaid workers, including children, working in sweat-shops and call centers in the underdeveloped countries of Asia and elsewhere.

Globalization has meant vast multinationals have increasingly moved manufacturing and services like call centers to non-unionized, cheap labor markets in the underdeveloped countries, at the same time causing workers in the developed countries to become unemployed.

In the developed capitalist countries, however, there are safety nets in the form of social security benefits. Also there is the credit culture whereby people live on bank loans and use credit cards, all income they have not yet earned and so it too is inflationary.

This means few workers in the advanced capitalist countries reach the low levels of poverty known before the Second World War because, initially at least, they can secure goods and services on credit. The crunch comes when they build up debts and interest which they can’t repay. Interest, of course, is also unearned income which adds to the inflationary spiral. The banks are not even providing a genuine service since the money is not theirs in the first place to lend, and in the second place they are doing no real service to give people loans and credit which just gets them into more debt, and is in any case inflationary.

We all know the trouble the banks worldwide have got into because of this policy of encouraging people to accept loans and live on credit. When people can’t pay back even the original debts, let alone the interest, the banks are in deep trouble.

So the words of the old song are still essentially true, it’s just that the banks have realized that instead of just storing the workers’ wealth in their vaults they can lend back to the workers money which has been stolen from their wage packets, plus honestly earned money which people have left in the banks for safe keeping (ha, that’s a laugh!), and charge interest for lending this money which does not belong to the banks in the first place.

All this lending of money and living on credit is not only very inflationary, it is ruining economies all round the world as banks and other companies go bankrupt or have to be rescued with public money from governments. Governments themselves have vast national debts. The whole capitalist system is thus very unstable because there really is no substitute for good, honest labor, the only thing, as Karl Marx pointed out 150 or so years ago, which can create real value.

Banks and the other financial institutions like insurance companies, building societies, etc. just store the fruits of the workers’ labor. They steal a lot of it to pay vastly inflated salaries and bonuses to their directors, and charge interest for loans and credit representing money which does not even belong to them.

The answer is very simple: take all banks and financial institutions into public ownership, use the money invested to keep taxes low and fund public services for everyone, and stop all loans and credit to private individuals. It is one of the first, essential steps in establishing Socialism with its ethic: ‘to each according to their work’ or indeed Communism with its more idealistic creed: ‘from each according to their ability, to each according to their need’ rather than Capitalism’s motto: ‘to each according to what they can grab, steal or borrow and in the process cause inflation and de-stabilize and wreck the whole economy.’

 

The Strange World of Spirit

The afterlife is a difficult thing for many people to accept because it seems to go against common sense. We see people, animals and plants die and their remains either decay, are burnt or in the case of animals and plants mostly, are eaten. In the natural food chain there is little wastage, as one species feeds on another lower down in the chain.

It seems like a cruel case of the fittest survive and the weak perish, but each species has some form of protection from predators. Just the other day I was sent a link to a wonderful deep-sea video which showed how creatures living down in the depths can blend completely into their surroundings making them invisible to predators.

That all this intricate and clever design, including the very specific functions of the various organs of the body such as the eyes, the ears, the heart and lungs, can have come about purely by accident helped by natural selection is, to me, untenable. As unlikely as a million monkeys typing on a million keyboards for millions of years producing the complete works of Shakespeare in English.

So taking the fashionable, so-called ‘intelligent’ line that everything came about accidentally and when we die that’s it doesn’t actually stand up to common sense at all, unless you don’t think too deeply about such things. Who or what designed all the animal defenses, who designed the various complicated organs of the body? If they came about just by accident, where are all the TV sets, cars, etc. which also just came about by accident and natural selection? The idea is quite ludicrous of course.

Those who have delved deeply into the subject know that Spirit is behind the design of everything in this world. Some call it God, Allah, Jehovah, the Great Spirit. The non-religious have used terms like the ‘i-ther’ or intelligent ether,  conscious energy or thought energy. Scientists know that energy cannot be either created nor destroyed, it can only be transformed into something else. This is the clue to why we are indeed eternal beings, as are all living things. We are all essentially part of this conscious energy which has always existed in some form or other and always will.

Mediums and channelers have known for a long time that there are many different dimensions, usually called Spiritual planes, spheres or levels. The one closest to our own Universe (often referred to by Spiritualists as the Earth plane) has many similarities with the world with which we are familiar. On this Spiritual plane, sometimes called Level 3, we appear to have physical bodies very like those we had on Earth in our prime, and we can even recreate things we were fond of on Earth such as homes we lived in and objects we loved.  If we still have cravings for food, we can even eat if we want to.

‘What utter nonsense!’ the skeptic will cry. 

‘Do we defecate as well? Do we kill Spirit animals for food? What absolute tosh!’

To understand this Spirit plane next to our own, which is entirely illusory, we have to first understand our own Universe, which as Quantum Physicists know is also an elaborate illusion. Quantum Physics looks at the sub-atomic structure of matter, and it is a proven fact that this is a very strange world indeed. Not only can sub-atomic particles appear in more than one place at once, maybe millions of miles apart, they can communicate with each other instantaneously, contravening Einstein’s Law of Relativity and the limitation of the Speed of Light. The sub-atomic particles disappear altogether when there is no conscious observer. Without a conscious observer the sub-atomic particles revert to waves of probability or wave function.

In other words, it seems matter can only exist when there is a conscious observer. The quantum ‘waves of probability’, therefore, appear to be basic thought forms – the building material of matter. It requires a conscious observer or mind to organize these waves of energy into sub-atomic particles and assemble them into apparently solid objects, which of course in reality aren’t solid at all. Everything, even in our apparently solid, physical Universe, including ourselves, is an illusion. We are living in a virtual reality world created by Mind, Thought or Consciousness which, obviously, must exist separately from matter such as the living brain.

Therefore in the next Spiritual plane most of us go to on dying it really is not so amazing that things can be created by pure thought. Operating on a higher and less dense frequency or vibration than our own Universe, it is not just sub-atomic particles which can be created by a conscious mind or observer. Complete objects can also be created by pure thought.

I’ve just heard, from one of Leslie Flint’s Direct Voice recordings, of a woodworker who continues to fashion objects out of wood on the next Spiritual plane. Of course he has no need to do this, he could create the objects by sheer thought power, but he enjoys working with wood and creating things with his hands. The next Spiritual plane is one where we adjust. Of course we don’t need to make things with our hands, we don’t need to eat, we don’t even need physical bodies of any kind.

We are pure Spirit or Conscious Energy and therefore need nothing physical at all. But it would be too much of a shock to move straight from this physical Universe to a purely metaphysical existence, where we exist as pure thought energy in an environment with no physical objects at all. We have to slowly evolve to this type of existence.

So back to the question of whether we need to eat, defecate, etc. on the next Spiritual plane, and the answer is clearly ‘no, we don’t.’  We certainly don’t kill animals for food, but since everything can be created by thought, so can meat, vegetables or anything else we feel we need. As things can be created by thought, they can also be made to disappear, so there’s no need to defecate. Anything consumed will simply disappear once eaten. Similarly we don’t really need what on Earth are vital organs like the heart and lungs. The physical bodies we have in the next world are purely because we are used to them here, and so others newly arriving can recognize us.

However, we all have an astral body here on Earth. It is, in fact, the blueprint for the physical body we live in here. It has been proved that illnesses and disorders manifest in our aura or astral body before they appear in the physical body. Soviet scientists discovered this second body of all living things and dubbed it the ‘bioplasma body’. Not only did illnesses, etc. show up in it before they appeared in the physical body, but this bioplasma body could survive damage to the physical body.

Out of the body and near-death experiences prove beyond doubt that we must have some kind of astral/bioplasma body or means of sensing our surroundings quite separate from our physical body and its organs which facilitate our five senses here on Earth. People clinically dead on operating tables and elsewhere have separated from their physical bodies and been able to accurately see, hear and report back on events occurring in their immediate surroundings while dead or unconscious. Even things happening in the next room or outside the building. Blind people have also reported seeing things while outside their physical bodies during an OOBE/NDE and have accurately described them.

So we all have an astral body, and this is the blueprint for our physical body. When we die we continue to live in this astral body on the next Spiritual plane for as long as we need to. Just as our physical body changes beyond recognition from the cradle to old age, so the astral or Spirit body can alter its appearance at will. This is why people seeing Spirits in this world, or who have  had an NDE and seen them in the next world, often describe them as looking as they did in their prime on Earth. Old people can revert to looking as they did in their 20s or 30s, or can appear as old people complete with deformities (which normally disappear in the Spirit body). They show themselves in the form we are most likely to recognize them.

So the next Spirit plane could be described as the ‘sphere of desire’ or the ‘sphere of adjustment’. We may exist there for hundreds or thousands of Earth years, or for much less Earthly time.

(Time is itself an illusion, so doesn’t have much meaning on the Spiritual planes. Even Einstein recognized that Time is merely the fourth dimension of our physical Universe and can alter according to the speed at which we travel; that it is all relative to the observer.)

Eventually we will move to higher Spirtual planes or dimensions which operate at a much higher frequency than our own Universe. The highest of these dimensions will be entirely devoid of anything resembling matter, all that exists there is pure Conscious Energy or Spirit. However between that dimension and the one we are currently living in are many, many levels, and we have to go through them one at a time in order to progress and adjust to each stage.

So, to sum up, the Spirit world or level to which most of us go to on transition is largely illusory and therefore very strange, but then so is our own  world. Both are virtual realities created by Thought, the only difference being this Universe is much denser and on a lower frequency than the dimensions or planes above it.

Thursday Group visit Museum of London

The Thursday group of older Woodies met at Old Street station in the rain today and walked to Whitecross Street, an old haunt of mine near the Barbican. We lunched in a fish and chip establishment, then walked thru the Barbican complex to the museum. I’d been before but some time ago, and last year’s visit by this group was postponed because they were refurbishing the museum.

I went ahead of most of the group inside the museum as I’m not really that interested in old axes and flints, skeletons and pieces of broken pottery. When you’re an old ruin yourself and you live amongst them it makes a change to see something a bit more complete and serviceable.

So I moved quickly thru the Roman and medieval eras to the Victorian and 20th/21st Century ones. These areas I found most interesting, especially the reproduction of old shops, including a barber shop. The old-style Woolworths with its counter compartments and red and white labels (predating the red and yellow ones even) had been removed, but there were plenty of other things to see.

In the 20th Century area there were some notable gaps. A corner devoted to the Suffragette movement, but nothing (except one peace/CND sign) for the big anti-nuclear and peace movement of the latter part of the century.

The Festival of Britain was featured with a reproduction of the Skylon and some slides. Such a pity as I could have supplied the museum with a mint copy of the Festival of Britain brochure had the flat of two friends of mine not been cleared out by professional house clearers just last year.

In fact the 1950s were very poorly represented. A few dresses/suits, one skiffle book featuring The Vipers and some children’s programs on an old TV set. Not a mention of rock’n’roll and its stars or of Teddy boys, which were a part of the London scene. This is, after all, where Jerry Lee Lewis’s promising career took a nosedive in 1958. Also where fans mobbed Bill Haley’s train when it arrived at Waterloo station.

Instead they moved quickly on to the 1960s with Beatlemania type exhibits and a quotation from a politician who claimed teenage phenomena like Mods and Rockers only came about because of the abolition of National Service. He did not explain why Teddy boy gangs roamed parts of London and other cities in the 1950s, when National Service was still in force.

All-in-all an interesting museum, but I’d have liked to have seen more about the modern city. The effect of the Green Belt after the Second World War for instance, about Metroland before the War and the contraction of the London Underground system which used to reach far flung places like Aylesbury and Verney Junction in Buckinghamshire and Ongar in Essex.

I did take some time to study the huge aerial photo-map of Greater London and its surroundings in the lobby. Most interesting to see how places like Hoddesdon, Watford and Hemel Hempstead in Hertfordshire, Dartford in Kent and Woking in Surrey are now definitely part of the London conurbation. Despite the Green Belt, these towns are all now linked to London by ribbon development. A fate places like St Albans, Hatfield and Welwyn Garden City, among others, only avoid by a few fields separating them.

The developments in Central London were also poorly represented, such as The Shard now being constructed at London Bridge and other planned new skyscrapers. Instead there was a futuristic section devoted to London after a disastrous flood with a shanty town in Hyde Park and around Buckingham Palace, and windmills in a flooded Piccadilly Circus.

This museum could have more exhibits and representations of 20th/21st Century London, and needs to be combined with a visit to the London Transport museum in Covent Garden to get a fuller picture of the city in recent times.

I was fascinated, however, to learn that London, called Londinium by the Romans, was renamed Lundenberg by the Vikings, which sounds very Germanic (or Danish I guess). I’m still trying to get used to Leningrad reverting to St Petersburg, and wondering why they preferred the Germanic name to Petrograd, the Russian name of the city before Lenin’s death. As far as London is concerned I hope the name doesn’t change again, though its boundaries may well do so.

Places like Croydon, Romford, Bromley, Richmond, Sutton, Barnet and Orpington have long been just suburbs of London and now places like Hoddesdon, Woking, Watford and Dartford might have to get used to the same status. They should all be proud to be part of the sprawling metropolis which is London. Places like Southend-on-Sea, Medway Towns, Slough and Windsor only have the Green Belt to deprive them of this honor, or save them from this fate, whichever way you like to look at it! Meanwhile inner suburbs like Clapham Junction where I live insist on calling themselves ‘towns’ when they are, in fact, merely suburbs or shopping centers.

London as a metropolis has been in danger of losing its identity as a city since Thatcher abolished the GLC. The GLA which eventually replaced it has not managed to regain the Greater London identity since so much authority has since been devolved to the various London boroughs.

But London is a real city with a big and thriving center, unlike Los Angeles for instance which has been described as a collection of suburbs in search of a city.

‘Hereafter’ the movie

I’ve been awaiting this movie for some time since first hearing about Clint Eastwood’s project, produced by Steven Spielburg and starring Matt Damon.

Having seen it today I will try to review it while fresh in my mind. It doesn’t go too deeply into the subject matter of communication with the afterlife, yet some of the things portrayed will resonate more with Spiritualists/Survivalists and other afterlife researchers than with the layperson.

For instance there is a brief depiction of an attempt at ITC /EVP (Instrumental Transcommunication or Electrical Voice Phenomena) which is treated light-heartedly as one of the more cranky aspects, along with religious fanatics of one kind or another. This is unfair as ITC/EVP has produced some astounding scientific evidence, and many are recording  voices from the afterlife, albeit without funding from the scientific establishment hence the slow progress. Some ITC/EVP devices only worked when a channeler/medium was operating it, but other methods seem to work with anybody using the right procedures.

The film was rather slow, with three separate stories which interconnect in a rather contrived way at the end. I found the happy ending rather too over-sentimental and nothing really to do with the main storyline. However several important points were made in the film.

One was how the whole subject of the afterlife and communication with it is taboo in medical and orthodox scientific circles. This was referred to as the ‘Conspiracy of Silence’. A bit of an exaggeration as there is plenty to be found on the Internet and on various TV programs, in books, etc. However without doubt in medical and orthodox scientific circles there is a conspiracy of silence and of ignoring such matters.

There are several reasons for this. One is the false assumption that intelligent people must give no credence to the idea of an afterlife. Another, relevant to the medical profession, is that all mention of death is taboo, along with anything which could be interpreted as endorsing a religious belief in the afterlife. The film mentioned the very accurate observation that staff of hospices, for instance, are very aware of visions, etc. seen by those near death, but keep such things to themselves. They evidently feel it could offend atheists, agnostics, religious people and the medical profession itself to talk about such things, even when on occasions the visions have also apparently been witnessed by staff in the hospices concerned.

The subject is taboo for orthodox scientists because accepting the afterlife would upset many of the current accepted theories, and this would badly affect their research funding. Indeed the main reason why scientific study of afterlife communication makes relatively slow progress is this inability to obtain funding from within the orthodox scientific establishment. So scientists who do investigate have to largely fund their own research, and the Internet is an invaluable tool for publicizing their findings.

The film also showed that there are good and bad mediums and channelers. One woman medium in the film performing in front of a group got the initial letter right of the deceased’s first name, but was clearly guessing the rest (incorrectly) by making false assumptions. When a young boy accepted the initial as being that of a deceased male, she just assumed it must be an older person, possibly his father since he was obviously quite upset. In fact it was his twin brother. This is typical of mediums who guess and make assumptions. Interpretation of spirit communications is not easy.

I know of one case, related by one of the late Leslie Flint’s Direct Voice spirits which he channeled, in which a medium on being given the image of the ladder from which he fell to his death relays to his widow in the audience that she saw ‘the ladder of success’.  A good medium would only give what he or she saw or heard, and would not make assumptions.

The visions of the afterlife in the film were blurry, and some of the problems encountered by mediums/channelers were brought out but rather exaggerated. The leading character, played by Matt Damon, describing it as a ‘curse’ rather than a ‘gift’. The gift certainly needs to be controlled, and a good medium will be careful about relaying sensitive information. This is depicted in the film when Damon relays to a female sitter that her father apologized for sexually abusing her, and she finds this too hard to take and breaks off all contact with Damon, with whom a romatic relationship was developing.

A woman journalist who has a near-death experience and writes a book about it is at first condemned by her employers, and has to fight to get her book published.

So I would say this is a good attempt at dealing with the subject of the afterlife in a non-sensational manner. No ghosts or poltergeist-type activity, but perhaps a little too low-key and downbeat. For instance, when the little boy finally gets a positive contact with his deceased twin via the Damon character, he is told he is now on his own. An incident when his deceased brother saved him from the London Tube bombings is described as ‘the last time’ his brother would look out for him, and he was also told not to wear his twin brother’s baseball cap. Both these messages are most unlikely, since spirits close to us stay close, and would usually be pleased if we were wearing something which once belonged to them.

Damon then tells the boy he has no idea where his twin brother is, which is also inaccurate. Any good medium would be able to give much more comforting reassurance that the loved ones of most people are very close in the Spiritual realms, sometimes described as ‘in the next room’. In a universe invisible to most of us because it vibrates at a slightly higher rate.

All this is compatible with Quantum Physics which also postulates various dimensions or universes in the same space, but invisible to us because they are on different frequencies.

So a brave attempt at a non-sensational film about the ‘hereafter’ but I’d have liked a little more meat and less pessimism on behalf of the leading Damon character George who saw the whole psychic gift he had as just a ‘curse’.

Living Language

English is a living language, so meanings change, spellings change, new words are invented and old ones discarded or disused.

Meanings that have changed in living memory include ‘cool’, ‘gay’ and ‘fit’. While retaining their old meanings, they are increasingly used in their newer context. I guess this is fine, though it still grates with me when weedy, sickly looking youths and girls are described as ‘fit’, but the same could be said for miserable looking homosexuals described as being ‘gay’. Only I’m more used to that expression since it was used by the gay community in that context long before it came into general usage.

What does annoy me is when nouns are adopted as verbs then made into a non-existent noun when there is already a perfectly good noun already available. Some verbs and nouns have long been interchangeable – thus we have things like ‘walk’, ‘chair’, ‘table’, etc. which can be either used as verbs or nouns. However more recently we have monstrosities like to ‘restructure’ meaning to ‘reorganize’ or possibly to ‘reconstruct’. This leads also to clumsy new nouns like  ‘restructuring’ in place of ‘reorganization’ or ‘reconstruction’ usually in the context of an organization.

Spelling in the English language has always been weird and wonderful, and has changed a lot over the years. Many of the spellings considered to be American are in fact older British spellings and are still approved by the Oxford English Dictionary, in fact even preferred in many cases. Some of these Webster spellings have been adopted in English-speaking places like Australia (Australian Labor Party being one example). Increasingly they are accepted as alternative British spellings due to the influence of the Internet and computer software, which invariably use spellings like ‘Favorites’ and ‘Center’. I’m all in favor of this, believing it should be a matter of personal choice how we spell words which have several valid spellings in the English-speaking world.

So next time I see a sickly, weedy looking homosexual guy who always has a scowl on his face, is always moaning and looks as if he’ll drop dead from exhaustion any minute I’ll try to think of him as being ‘fit’ and ‘gay’ despite appearances to the contrary!