I don’t know if there’s such a thing as predictivity: I know predictability isn’t what I want, because that’s something that you can predict – whereas I mean when an entity – human or otherwise – is able to able to predict something. So when, for example, I think about voting in the Referendum, I know that the relevant arguments are being driven by people who can predict things, and who on the basis of their predictions will tell me how to vote. And, by the way, having listened to all – well, some – of the predictuve and other stuff, I’ve now decided how I’m going to be voting. I’ll divulge at the end of this blog…..

But in the meantime, hurrah it’s time for haymaking! How does one know when this happy time has come round again? Well, various people have various markers, like how many swallows you can put your foot on as you stride across the grass (I may have got that wrong), or how many slugs are devouring your cauliflowers, and so on. My marker is when I start to see stretches of poisoned herbage at the gates of various rural properties.

Of course I know and admire that tidying-up instinct, so much a part of the north-east make-up; I know it kicks in as soon as the grass gets long and people can’t stop themselves reaching for the Roundup or whatever poison is deemed most suitable to drive back the menace of wild plants at the roadside and along the walls of buildings. What I find a bit odd, considering this commendable desire to be tidy, is how people appear to be satisfied with the twisted, contorted, sickly green and pale-dun spectres of once-living things that now haunt their gateways. I suppose the ideal of neatness overrides aesthetic considerations and such an obvious signal as blasted greenery tells a person’s neighbours that here at least is someone who cares about not letting Nature have things all her own way.

Some, of course, go for the grass-cutting option, so at least one can’t accuse them of being devoid of any aesthetic sense, but I wonder more and more how did we get by in days before power-mowers and herbicides if we were upstanding householders or farmers who wanted the neighbourhood to know that at least the entrance to our holding was kept in its Sunday best throughout the summer. Scything? I suppose: and then the trick would be to show how beautifully cropped we could have our verges looking with nothing more than a sharp blade and a bit of basic skill, how short and how fine – and I suppose the shorter and finer they were the more time it made it look like we had on our hands, therefore the less we were having to struggle against the overwhelming tides of summer jobs, therefore the more affluent we must be, and for a farmer at least the message of affluence is crucial to commercial success. So I suppose the message of the well-trimmed verge outside the farm-gate would be “yes, we’re doing all right, we’ve got time to keep things nice”. In that case, the poisoned-ground look favoured by some probably sends the message: “no, we don’t care how things look, but thieves, vagrants, weeds and loafers – this is the treatment you can expect here, mate.”

There was a time when local authorities set great store by cutting all the roadside verges two, three or more times a summer. I presume the fact that they’re lucky to get it done once in some places now means that local authorities are feeling the pressure and the pinch and are unable to post the desired message of affluence by trumpeting their ability to keep wild Nature under control. At the risk of sounding like a loafer,  I might as well add that I find the uncut verges around us a lot easier on the eye and more uplifting for the spirit, even when one does occasionally have to dive into the jungle, prickles, stings and all, to survive the passage of a vehicle driven by someone for whom Time is Money.

As a well-brought-up sort of chap I’ve always liked the neatness of a patch of tended grass, don’t get me wrong; but I do find that, the more of the long un-tended herbage I see, the more a like it that way. You should see Coldhome! I still do get hot and bothered by the cross-grained brown skeletons of last years’ docken-stems, which offend my aesthetic sense amidst the lush green growth and are a damned nuisance for the scythe, but against that – and assuming I don’t actually need to do any scything on that particular piece of ground – I don’t have much heart for cutting short their magnificence when in full flower and when the autumn comes the dry seed-heads clearly provide a bit of fun for finches and other light-bodied creatures. So I guess they’re a necessary nuisance, a bit like politicians.

Anyway, as to predictivity. What a crop of grass there is this year! Which means there may be a good hay harvest to come – ah, but the sun is by no means bound by contract to shine….. Blossom too, everyone’s noticed this year: apple-blossom, mayblossom, broom, and now the Queen Anne’s Lace, which sent me off to dig out a poem I have about that, seeing as I haven’t been adding much to my literary pages of late; but like everything else in my life that I actually look for (screwdrivers, clothes-pegs, candles – booze is an exception – headtorches, music scores, books) it was the one poem I couldn’t find in my still mouldering heap.

Back to predictivity. You frequently hear sage comments by country worthies when you get a spring of extra-heavy blossom or a summer of extra-heavy wild fruit or indeed of hay, about what the phenomenon “means”: ie, generally something along the lines of how hard the next winter is going to be. But I don’t believe plants, or any wild things, or even tame ones, are actually much good at prediction: they’re simply reacting to what happened before, in this case a benign winter and not too much cold winds this spring.

So I think I’m going to spend the rest of the summer in a similar blissful ignorance. And when the autumn comes (as I predict it will) I’m going to vote, reactively, for whichever guys have behaved better while promulgating their particular campaign. If neither side behaves very well, I shall vote for neither. As my support for Scottish Independence has always been because I’m a devolutionist not a nationalist, I don’t particularly mind how the vote goes as I think either way it may advance the cause of Devolution a little. But who I choose to send a kiss to had better have won my respect, and they won’t do that by shouting at me, or each other.



Filed under Writing

11 responses to “Predictivity

  1. This seems to me to go to the old philosophical chestnut of, “Which is true – Free Will, or Pre-Determination.”

    I have read many books on the subject. They don’t get anywhere because the question is both closed and false. Like the again oft quoted example of a closed false question, “When did you stop beating your wife?”

    Neither is true. You never beat her, so you never stopped.

    Similarly there is in truth neither free will nor predetermination.

    As in truth the cosmos is one undivided whole, there can be no free will, only the illusion of individual free will. The cosmos has will. The individual does not. More accurately the individual has the option of either going along with the will of the cosmos, and being happy, or resisting it and suffering. It is not really even a case of going along with the will of the cosmos – rather it is uniting with that will.

    This does not mean that the future is pre-determined. Or that there is a plan or blueprint in the mind of the cosmos. The cosmos is so intelligent in itself that it does not need a plan. It knows from moment to moment what the optimal next step is, and creates the next moment accordingly. The optimal path from moment to moment follows a pattern. This pattern is the pattern of the cosmos always moving toward revealing more and more of itself. The moment following this one will always be in the direction of more of the truth being revealed. Even the cosmic mind itself does not know what it is going to do next.

    • charlesashton

      It struck me recently that Calvin’s ugly old doctrine of Predestination – at least as it was taken up in Scotland – was probably a modern perversion of an ancient Celtic version of this philosophy. I was never very sure how Calvinism took root so readily in Scotland, but this may be an explanation. Perhaps “ugly” and “perversion” are unfair. In fact – maybe it’s time for a reinstatement of Calvinism. Abi is coming to visit us this week with her new dog, which is called Calvin: could this be a sign?

  2. name

    Does that mean you are a British or UK nationalist , but not a Scottish Nationalist?

    • charlesashton

      what I’d like to be is an anarchist, but that sounds a bit bold and daring for someone as shy and retiring as me. So I say devolutionist instead. A nation is a unit of organisation, and the less it can throw its weight around the better, and while I suppose we’re stuck with nations for the time being, to call myself any kind of nationalist would suggest a level of enthusiasm which I don’t have.

  3. tamrabam

    my grass is very long. It is getting longer because the retailer predicted (wrongly) that sending me any random part would fix my broken lawnmower. I too am getting to like the unkempt natural look of my garden, although the boundaries may soon be unclear. I predict I will vote Yes for Independence. That is one prediction that I am certain of unless a bus intervenes in the run up!

    • charlesashton

      Ah Tom, but it mightn’t be a bus… It could be the toilet door getting stuck, like in the song about the three old ladies. It could be that one of your kids accidentally flips the calendar to the wrong month and you mistake polling day…. Life’s so full of uncertainties, I sometimes think staying in bed’s got to be the best option: somebody else’ll see to all the stuff….

  4. I’ve got no affinity with Calvinism in any form Charles. To say it is ugly and perverted is accurate. Some may find that insulting I suppose. The Calvinists maybe … But that reminds me of the great Sufi teacher Idries Shah. People would often complain that Shah was being insulting. Shah maintained that he was just stating facts.

    A living Sufi teacher, Faisal Muqaddam, recently made an interesting “error”. He quoted Descartes as, “I doubt therefore I am”.

    Another funny quote is “Every ISM becomes a WASM”.

    But before we can have true anarchism, even, we would have to practice some kind of Sufism. If we define Sufism as a completing and purifying of the true human self, and it’s alignment with the cosmic mind. In other words before we can arrive at a state where no government is necessary, true anarchism, we will have to learn to govern ourselves as individuals. Not through the brutal and ugly Calvinistic “morals”, but through true alignment with objective reality. That is the spiritual reality taught through such variations of Sufism as Buddhism, Taoism, or Freemasonry.

    For the present, as you say, we are stuck with the nation state system of government. As man either does not know how to govern himself, or he is unwilling to try. He is stuck in the false choice of either dominate or be dominated.

    In the case of the referendum the facts are these –

    To vote no is to want to remain part of the British state.

    The British state is a form of fascism. It implements the cruel and brutal policies of fascism in the present, not just in its imperialist past. Supremacy of banking kleptocrats, illegal and immoral wars, etc.

    That’s why I will be voting yes.

    Although pre determination is not a fact, it is true that nature and events in the world follow patterns. So it is likely that the British will continue to be fascists for the foreseeable future. I think it very likely that the English nation itself will want to break away from the British, and form a more humane society. Of course I can’t predict that the English, the Welsh, or the Scottish nation will not also be fascist in their ideals. But I know that Britishness is just another name for fascism. And if we get away from the British ideals and the British government we will at least have the opportunity to build a fair, equitable, and humane society. Given the state of man at present, anarchism or self government is not an option as the next step. Putting people before money is an option, if we can separate ourselves as a nation from the idealism of the British. The British idealism is defined in short as putting money before people. If you call it fascism, corporatism, monetarism, or whatever else describes it.

    For myself I am not a nationalist of any kind. Certainly I can’t be seen as a Scottish Nationalist – I am English. Ideally the referendum is not about ethnic nationalism anyway, although I don’t doubt that for some people that will be their motivation. Ideally it is about the self determination of a group of people whose voting tendencies clearly demonstrate a more humane attitude than do the voting tendencies in the south east of England.

    In time, as man evolves, nationalism will become another WASM. As long as we don’t give in to believing Descartes or Calvin. As long as we realise we are spiritual beings. True human beings.

    Then let us pray that come it may,
    (As come it will for a’ that,)
    That Sense and Worth, o’er a’ the earth,
    Shall bear the gree, an’ a’ that.
    For a’ that, an’ a’ that,
    It’s coming yet for a’ that,
    That Man to Man, the world o’er,
    Shall brothers be for a’ that.

    Part of the national song of Scotland that I wholeheartedly agree with. Of course Margaret Thatcher quoted Francis of Assisi – so there are plenty of hypocrites around. Alex Salmond is no Margaret Thatcher however. And anyway, I will very likely be voting for green candidates after independence. And I will then have some possibility of those green candidates going into office and implementing land reform, banking reform etc. We could have a local currency … My ideals for the future here go much further than those stated my the SNP …

  5. charlesashton

    Accepted, Roy! My insight (if so it be!) about Calvinism was simply something that occurred to me recently as a possible explanation for how Scotland became such a seriously miserable place after the Reformation. It was, I suppose, a sort of angry backlash – a long time coming – against the Roman hegemony which destroyed not only Celtic Christianity, but Celtic Christianity’s easygoing relationship with Celtic “paganism”. As I suspect this latter took in certain beliefs about “fate” and a world-view that treated our existence on earth as to some extent an illusion, an all-denying perversion like Calvanism was possibly not wholly unexpected.

    • Roy

      Unfortunately even some very modern researchers still teach that our existence is illusory. It is a valid experience they are relating, but it is a transitory part of the path. They need to move on, there is plenty to read to help them to move. What they are doing is teaching before they are ready. They mean well, and it is understandable because the experience of illusion is a powerful one. They have reached the void. But they have not realised that the void is full. It gets very paradoxical at that stage.
      Celtic Christianity seemed to work fine. I think they were a continuance of paganism. The pagans were expecting the Christ man to appear. He was one of them in fact. A member of their brotherhood. Christianity got nastily twisted when Rome took it over. It turned into “Churchianity”.
      I could be counted among the modern day pagans myself. I practise their inner rituals and am a member of the Scottish Pagan Federation. We are having a festival at a quiet place near Insch in July. I can send you the details if you would like to attend. We have drumming, kids workshops, metals smelting, music and dance. Highly recommended. Roy.

    • Roy

      There are also stalls at the festival with art work, clothing etc for sale.

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