An imitation home

You can buy a yellow jumper in Marks and Sparks
A padded jacket but no cover for a heart
You get imitation leather,you get imitation wool
You can go out shopping till your head is full

There’s a polyester nightdress,there ‘re plastic boots
Don’t wear a holster , the police might shoot
Getting into bed with your cute nylon sheets
Your lover is electric but very discreet

Imitation cashmere, imitation food
A roast beef dinner for one sounds lewd
Imitation chocolate,imitation fur
Imitation politics and uncombed hair

An imitation Royal,a funeral to share
Imitation music,imitation care
Don’t fall down if you’re out alone
An imitation human rings an imitation home

As the red sun dies

The glare of yellow street lamps on the snow
The thick green hedge where cats curled up to die
The ice and frost above, the worms below.

The tarmaced road,the sidewalks, seem to glow
No pleasure comes from neon lights so high
Oh, stare of yellow street lamps on the snow

As the red sun dies, our blood won’t flow
Take an aspirin, calm’s a good ally
The ice and frost above, the soul below

Bare my feet and numb are all my toes
My socks are holed.I’m darned if I know why
Oh, glare of yellow street lamps on the snow

My nails are thick like monsters’ fearsome claws
Podiatry is hard to get,I’ve tried
The ice and frost above, the souls sleep slow

The world is puzzled, minds are all awry
There’s nothing in a shop but rot to buy
The glare of yellow street lights on the snow
The ice and frost above, the dead below.

Damned brain!

We suffer the ill fortune of   a brain
A mind that gives attention to ourself
We think and think and then we think again

It makes us into islands,not the main
And does it coldly, cruelly by its stealth
We think and think and then we think again

How this hyperactive mind gives pain
Causes sadness and decline in health.
We curse misfortune, thinking and our brain

Surely we must tell ourselves quite plain
Monologues internal tend to bolt
We think and think and then we think again

How we love to suffer and find fault
How treacherously we hurl  ourselves to guilt
We suffer the misfortune of  a brain
We think and think unless our mind is tamed


In my soul, the nerves are very long
I feel your pain,my own and everyone’s
Why must artists suffer as they sing?

On the wall their watercolours hang
From disordered blotches patterns spring
In my mind, the thoughts are very long

Of our hearts, we need them to expand
To see and make our visions can’t be wrong
Why must artists suffer as they sing?

We use our minds, we use our eyes and hands
Critics’ cruelty gives us mighty stings
In my mind, the threads are very long

On the sea shore,treasure lies in sand
Gulls soar squawking over seaborn fronds
Why do artists stutter as they sing?

To this earth we shall not freeze or cling
By the sea edge, shells laugh in the wind
In our flesh, the nerves are fine yet strong
Artists suffer but they make their songs

Love made lace

Look,I am on earth, with love endeared
My birth was registered in copper plate
Mother,father,love made lace by fear

Mother smiles yet as I suck she tears
Who shall I become, what is my fate
Look,I am on earth, oh love so dear

Father should be strong, for he must steer
Yet soon he will be gone, for heaven late
Mother,father,love made lace by fear

After that our tiny boat would veer
Mother weeps and mourns,nowhere is safe
Look,I am on earth, was love too dear?

In the paper on the wall, elves sneer
Mother cries because I break a plate
Mother,father,love made lace by fear

Here is Jesus on his cross,side pierced
Where will he lie now, has he no grave?
Look,we are on earth,was love too dear?

By the bed, ghosts wander through his place
Mother sleeps a little,then she wakes
Look,I am on earth, their love endured
Mother,father, sad love weeps your tear

Trying to glimpse another through their veil.

I lingered in ambiguity like a bride
Who fears  disclosing that her face is fake
And while we’re on the subject, I take pride
In mixing water colours  from the lake

Ambiguous  in intentions we don’t know
We send out signals full of world slass news
If this rebounds  an artist might then show
Our vision centres  on our point of view

Seventeen types of clarity are mine
Fifteen from my  mind and two from pride
From this glass I make a view divine
Though Sunday someone said they thought I lied.

Ambiguously enchanted, given bail
We try to glimpse another through their veil




open to or having several possible meanings or interpretations; equivocal:an ambiguous answer.Linguistics. (of an expression) exhibiting constructional homonymity; having two or more structural descriptions, as the sequence Flying planes can be dangerous.of doubtful or uncertain nature; difficult to comprehend, distinguish, or classify:a rock of ambiguous character.lacking clearness or definiteness; obscure; indistinct:an ambiguous shape; an 

What is abstract?

een ontic and epistemic uses of the word. 

Ontic Senses of ‘Abstract’

a. Non-spatio-temporal.  The prevalent sense of ‘abstract’ in the Anglosphere is:  not located in space or in time.  Candidates for abstract status in this sense: sets, numbers, propositions, unexemplified universals.  The set of prime numbers less than 10 is nowhere to be found in space for the simple reason that it is not in space.    If you say it is, then tell me where it is. The same holds for all sets as sets are understood in set theory.   (My chess set is not a set in this sense.)  Nor are sets in time, although this is less clear: one could argue that they, or rather some of them, are omnitemporal, that they exist at every time. That {1, 3, 5, 7, 9} should exist at some times but not others smacks of absurdity, but it doesn’t sound absurd to say that this set  exists at all times. 

This wrinkle notwithstanding, sets are among the candidates for abstract status in the (a) sense.

The same goes for numbers.  They are non-spatio-temporal.

If you understand a proposition to be the Fregean sense of a declarative sentence from which all indexical elements, including tenses of verbs, have been extruded, then propositions so understood are candidates for abstract status in sense (a).

Suppose perfect justice is a universal and suppose there is no God. Then perfect justice is an unexemplified universal.  If there are unexemplified universals, then they are abstract in the (a) sense.

This (a) criterion implies that God is an abstract object.  For God, as classically conceived, is not in space or in time, and this despite the divine omnipresence.  But surely there is a huge different between God who acts, even if, as impassible, he cannot be acted upon, and sets, numbers, propositions and the like that are incapable of either acting or being acted upon.  And so we are led to a second understanding of ‘abstract’ as that which is:

b. Causally inert.  Much of what is abstract in the (a) sense will be causally inert and thus abstract in the (b) sense.  And vice versa.  My cat can bite me, but the set having him as its sole member cannot bite me.  Nor can I bite this singleton or toss it across the room, as I can the cat.  Sets are abstract  in that they cannot act or be acted upon.  A less robust way of putting it:  Sets cannot be the terms of causal relations.  This formulation is neutral on the question whether causation involves agency in any sense. 

Statistics for the older person

Stan fell asleep in front of the roaring fire.Emile lay across his lap.Emile was so limp he looked like a wet towel casually over the old man’s knees.It was Stan’s birthday but no party had been arranged.He was struck that Mary had not baked a cake..nor even bought one at the Co-op.
That was no surprise really as he did all the cooking including Bakewell tarts and Xmas cake,He was a versatile man who could also mend old radios and fix clocks that were stuck one time….usually th wrong one!
He also spent quite a lot of time giving statistics lessons to pensioners and kissinf his blonde  mistress,Anne who lived next door.
He decided that being so near her was a big advantage, given his age.
Suddenly he was awakened by chuckles and giggles,
There were Mary and Anne holding a big iced cake and a pot of tea.The doorbell rang and in came all Stan’s friends from his Art class.Mary produced sandwiches and pork pies,sausage rolls and potato cakes.
How did you do this ?,he enquired
We did it all in Anne’s oven.She has two so it was quite easy.
Mary was not jealous of Anne for Mary would rather read Principia Mathematica than go to bed with Stan.
Apparently she was mildly autistic but she was happy doing maths as many of her co-workers had the same syndrome.
She did have one daughter whom she had found hidden in a gooseberry bush in the garden.This was enough for Stan as he was 92.
But luckily he did have a good gold plated pension of £390.09 per month.
Everyone was having a fabulous time until Anne tried to light the candles on the cake.No matches could be found.
Ring 999, Stan called childishly.Mary obeyed and soon the ambulance drew up.
In ran Dave the   trisexual paramedic.
Is it your chair? he enquired wildly?
No,it’s this cake.We can’t light the candles on it.Shall we douse it in petrol? We have a jerry can full of it in the spare room.
That is very dangerous, he shouted.
Well,we are old now and need the car badly.Risk assessment gave us evens on the odds.
Dave produced a silver lighter and lit the candles.Then he conducted them all as they sang,
”Happy Birthday” to Stan.
Stan managed to blow out 90 candles before passing out on the rug.
Well,at least he didn’t break the chair,Mary said philosophically.
I wish he had,said Dave. I’ve got some superglue here.
Well,we do have a wardrobe that’s falling apart.would you like to mend it?
Sure ,he replied gratefully.This is why we have the NHS!
We are here for you 24/7
Or come to A and E if you get a mouth ulcer or a cold sore.No problem is too small!
Stan came to on the rug with Emile beside him.He gazed deeply into the cat’s green eyes.
I think I’ve fallen in love with you,he informed Emile.
Will you sleep with me and let Mary have your basket.?
Are we engaged,said Emile?
Definitely, said Stan.I’ll get you a golden collar with diamonds on it.
When shall we be married?
As soon as it’s legal,Stan answered honestly.
In the meantime,we’ll have to live in sin.
Then he fell asleep again with Emile in his arms.
What a lovely picture, cried the ladies.
Look at this.What a happy sight.
What love,what devotion.
How strange,what a commotion.
They’re in love,what emotion.
Don’t tell the Pope,we need caution.

Illegitimate and born in desert grey.

So you are gone  who once declared your love
For that phantasm conjured in your mind
For onto me you brought down from above
A torment bitter and   some words unkind.

Used to  friendship from within your books
You did not understand that I was real
Irritation grew as you did look;
You threw your poisoned  arrows  at my heel.

What once you loved then you began to hate
If not perfect then intolerable I must be
And then you cursed me with this  sorry fate
Our child was born and him you’ll never see.

Illegitimate and born in desert grey.
I carried him alone from death’s dark way.

Love will need no trick

In my despair I felt that I was stuck
Paralysed by  grief and guilt I failed
By the end I had tried every trick

From prayer unthought to deeps of logic black
My  life, my engine ,juddered off the  rails
I hated God and of “his” Church was  sick

Starving  and alone I was in shock
The death of one I loved   had made me frail
By the end I had tried every trick

I felt  love’s arms around me,  death to block
I knew   this goodness,  why else would I wail?
I   thought I hated God  but Love had struck

Warm and golden light  that  did me hold
Where are you now when refugees  die cold?
Kind despair  that  made me long time sit

By the end I knew  Love needs no trick

The lost too

I can’t love you
without loving the whole world too.
I can’t open my heart
unless everyone can be part

Wait for me
I’m not afraid.
Wait for me.
I may be delayed.

I see you in my mind
Smiling, sad and kind.
I can’t love you
Unless I love the lost too.

Give me your hands
Outstretched across the  strands
We’re all one.
Love has begun

Mary self diagnoses

Hello, mother, cried Emile as Mary came through the front door.
What’s happened
The doctor was not wearing a mask and she says I have to go out and play Bingo
That seems odd.
Mary made them both pilchard sandwiches topped with vanilla ice cream.And wondere what was wrong with her
Suddenly she realised the pain had a curious intensity, like she had felt in her teeth /jaw just before an angina attack

Out came the GNT spray which she aimed under her tongue,using Guy’s Hospital method
Wow,said Emile.That looks weird.Can I have some?
Emile, it is what bombs are made of.It could kill a cat
In a few minutes the pain was gone and Mary felt relieved though angry
In ran Annie in pink leisure clothes and green Mary Jane shoes
I like your shoes,Mary said.Where did you get them?
I found then at the back of the wardrobe
I think I shall look in my wardrobe, though some shoes I had kept for best disintegrated
I was having tea with Dorothy.I looked down and saw lots of black spots on her carpet.It was the soles of my shoes.She was very kind and just got her dus
t pan and brush
I think we should wear the things we love now, not save them for some imaginary future,Annie murmured like a pike that has just seen Ted Hughes in its dreams
Guess what I have bought,Mary cried
A new mug?
No, a coat the colour of dark grey stone wallss
I don’t like the sound of that.Shall we call Dave?
No, it’s ok,I am pleased I can sit on walls in the winter
You are easily pleased,Annie informed her.Most women want new kitchens, Le Creuset pots, clothe s and shoes
I have enough,Mary responded.

But who defines what is enough? When I went for an interview for Uni it was on a Tuesday.I wore my only blouse on Sunday so I wore it again though the collar was dirty and my cardigan made by Mother was not a success as the button band was not the right length as it twisted
I went over the Pennines by train in the worst winter ever and arrived for my interview with no money for a sandwich for my lunch
The men interviewing mte asked why I wanted to do maths
I said,I want to do research.I had already discovered something myself though later I saw Pascal had discovered it.He had better notation which helps
They burst out laughing and slapped their thighs.At least they didn’t sexually abuse me

I had never seen men with manicured hands before
How did you feel?
In those days I didn’t feel,Mary told Annie.I wish I were like that now
At least they accepted you,Annie whispered.Let’s not bring up the past
It seems to come up by itself
And so say all of us

Descartes split the mind and body—a-distant-mirror.html#:~:text=A%20truly%20post%2DCartesian%20theory,premises%20and%20their%20psychological%20foundations.

On a personal level, Wittgenstein’s philosophical efforts reflect a struggle to disentangle his identity from the confusing, mystifying language of his original family.  He had been brainwashed, so to speak, under the usurping pressure of his father’s self-centered universe.  Hermann Wittgenstein was an epistemological tyrant, defining reality for all those who sought to be connected to him.  This philosopher’s thinking, therefore, can be viewed as a self-deprogramming enterprise, ultimately directed toward the possibility of liberating himself from the paternal agenda and claiming his own place in this world.

     Wittgenstein’s first book, the only one published during his lifetime, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1921/2001), is an effort to clarify the relationship between the words of our language and what he called the “states of affairs” appearing in the world we perceive.   Two specific assertion appear in this book, ones we believe are charged with personal significance:

 “There is no such thing as the subject…”

“ The subject does not belong to the world…” (1922, p. 69)

   On a philosophical level, this reminds us that we ought not to objectify the first person singular: the ‘I’ is not an item in the world.  We are being told that the experiencing subject is not a content of the world we perceive; it is instead what he spoke of as a ‘limit’ of this world, a standpoint from which what we call “world” and all its contents appear.

     If we lift the statements out of their ordinary philosophical context, and think about the personal, life-historical meaning they might contain, an epistemological rebellion on Wittgenstein’s part appears, one mounted against the powerful father who tried to be the all-defining director of his son’s existence.    The son is saying:

 “’I’ am not a thing belonging to your world, not anything anyone can define or control.  My being lies outside the insanity of your self-absorption.  Above all, know this: ‘I’ am not an item in the inventory of your possessions, to be made use of as you please!”

     The pull of the father’s usurping authority, though, must have continued to be very strong, presenting an ever-present danger of falling back under his control and becoming once again the obedient extension of an irresistible will.  This is not just a matter of a child fighting back against a parent who is strict and controlling.  Wittgenstein’s separating himself from his father was a matter of rescuing his very being as someone independently real.   A crisis occurred in his young life in which he saw that continuing to walk on the road laid out for him by his father would be to become permanently itemized on the list of his father’s many possessions.   It would be to embrace annihilation.

     A sign of the felt danger of returning to the obliterating conformity of his youth appears in a feature of Wittgenstein’s life that his biographers have noted but not fully understood.  It was his incapacity to dissimulate, to lie, to conceal the truth because of the claim of whatever circumstance he was in.  If he did move toward some concealment, which happened exceedingly rarely, he was thrown into a crisis of wanting to immediately kill himself.    Our understanding of this inability to lie is that presenting anything other than what he felt and knew to be true posed the danger of a re-engulfment by the falseness of an identity based on the need to be accepted rather than on his own spontaneous intentionality and authenticity.   If the only possibility was that of a false life, then his only option would have been death.  

     The philosopher enforced his emancipation from enslavement by cutting off relations with his father, and he refused even to accept his very substantial inheritance after the father finally died.  Wittgenstein saw taking the money as sacrificing a very precarious sense of personal existence.  The heart and soul of this man’s madness lies in the danger of annihilation that haunted him throughout his life.  His philosophy we can thus view as a search for an answer to this ontological vulnerability. 

     His writings, for the most part, consist in aphoristic meditations focusing on language.   He gives us trains of thought that attempt to expose various confusions into which we fall, arguing that many – perhaps all – of the classic problems of philosophy arise as secondary manifestations of these linguistic confusions.   Wittgenstein engages himself, and his readers, in dialogues subjecting specific examples of how we speak and think to relentless reflection and analysis.  In the process of these conversations, a profound critique of the whole Cartesian tradition emerges, a dismantling of metaphysical conceptions and distinctions that otherwise enwrap our thinking and imprison us within structures of unconscious confusion.  Central in this transforming inquiry are understandings of human existence in terms of ‘mind,’ seen as a ‘thinking thing,’ an actual entity with an inside that looks out on a world from which it is essentially estranged.   Such an idea, once posited, leads inexorably to a dualism: one begins to wonder how the entity ‘mind’ strangely, mysteriously connects to another entity, ‘body.’  He makes compelling arguments that specific linguistic confusions based on the human tendency to turn nouns into substantives lie at the root of such otherwise unfounded ideas.  In Wittgenstein’s universe, there are no ‘minds’ that have interiors, no intrapsychic spaces in which ideas and feelings float about in some “queer medium,” no mysteries we need to be fascinated by regarding how the mental entity and its supposed contents relate to the physical object we call the body.  Longstanding traditions in metaphysics are accordingly undercut and the terrain of philosophy is opened up to new and clarifying ways of exploring our existence. Well-known arguments against the coherence of solipsism as a philosophical position and also against the possibility of an individual ‘private language’ definitively refute the idea that it makes any sense to think of a human life in terms of an isolated ‘I,’ or ego.   He was a post-Cartesian philosopher par excellence.

     Wittgenstein sometimes viewed his scrutinizing of our linguistic expressions and associated patterns of thought as a form of ‘therapy,’ performed upon philosophy and society.   It is our view that this therapy he offered to our civilization mirrored precisely the personal effort described earlier, in which his life goal was to free himself from the entangling confusions, invalidations, and annihilations pervading the family system of his youth.   In this respect he succeeded in connecting uniquely personal issues to important currents and needs of the larger culture.  His philosophical journey therefore allowed him to find a meaning for his life beyond the narrow orbit of his father’s deadly narcissism and helped him avoid the tragic fate of his brothers.

     Let us turn now to one of Wittgenstein’s (1953) most important specific ideas: that of a so-called language game.   It is an elusive term that he never formally defined in his various dialogues, so one has to note how he used it in various contexts and extract a meaning.   Of course one of his most well-known formulations is that “the meaning is the use,” and exists nowhere else, which is a distinctively post-Cartesian view of semantics.

     We think of a Wittgensteinian language game as a set of words and phrases, along with their customary usages, that form a quasi-organic system, such that when one uses one or two elements in the system one is catapulted into the whole, subject to its implicit rules, in some respects trapped within its horizons of possible discourse.   The German word for this is Sprachspiel, and the word obviously derives from spielen: to play.  A language game, in whatever sphere of our lives it becomes manifest, encloses us within a finite system of elements and possibilities, and subjects us to rules we knowingly or unknowingly tend to follow.  Such a structure literally “plays” with our minds, shaping and directing our experiences according to preformed pathways and constraining them within pre-established boundaries.  Wittgenstein wanted us to become aware of these systems in which we are all embedded, and this would be part of his therapy for our whole culture.  The goal is one of ushering in a greater clarity about what we think and who and what we are, illuminating what he spoke of as our “complicated form of life.”

     The primal language game of this man’s personal history was the communication system in his early family, which designated his existence – and those of his doomed brothers – as playthings, almost like chess pieces belonging to the father’s controlling agendas and properties.  A clear perception of the mystifications and usurping invalidations of his early family world would obviously be of assistance in this man’s attempts to find his own way.   He tried mightily in his philosophical reflections to release his discipline and the world at large from its “bewitchment” by language, even as he was able to free himself only very tenuously from the spell cast by his father.

 Kierkegaard, S. (1834-1842) The Journals of Soren Kierkegaard. Excerpted in Bretall, R. (Ed.) A Kierkegaard Anthology, Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1946.

 Wittgenstein, L. (1922) Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. London and New York: Routledge, 1974.

 Wittgenstein, L. (1953) Philosophical Investigations. New York: Macmillan

Mary in trouble

When Mary awoke, she felt the pain in her ear was worse.
I think must have an ear infection, she said to Annie while she was beating the doormat
on the wall to get the dust out.
Maybe you should stop cleaning and housework.You are releasing lots of dirt into the air
You are right,Mary replied.It’s just what Mother used to do
But did she have a hoover?
No, we had a Ewbank.
Get a cordless cleaner and it will suck the dust out for you
Thanks,Annie.I think I will go to the Urgent Care Centre.I don’t want an abscess in my ear to explode,as it were.
I’m sorry I can’t come but they have restrictions about how many visitors go in
Mary called a cab.Soon she was in the almost empty hospital.How much she would have liked a companion.Still, there is always God, wherever he has moved to.
A young woman with thick frizzy fair hair called her in and said that she was a GP
Mary was thinking how much better her pale lips would look with some lipstick
As for her clothes, it is best to remain silent.I suppose doctors can’t afford to go to M & S nowadays
Mary thought.
There is some wax in your ear, the doctor told Mary in a cruel manner
That’s good.I need a candle,Mary said inventively
Then the maskless doctor stood in front of Mary and peered into her mouth.
Shee pushed Mary’s crutch away and announced, there is nothing wrong with you
You must go out and make new connections, do things, go to Dances, play Bingo
Get up and walk, she advised , Jesus remarked in the Gospel l,though he also asked the cripple to take up his bed yet there were no beds left in the hospital
Oh,dear Mary said I am not wired myself as yet.My body is running on sunshine.
Do you think I should offer my supine body to the lonely old men living in the big houses near here?
I’m afraid I shall have to charge them.Do you have any free room with an elecric socket that I might use? And we’ll need a bed
The beds are all full, the doctor replied
Good grief, how many people are in these beds? Do they share?
Don’t ask me.It’s my coffee break, the young lady cried
Mary struggled up and went outside to call a cab
At least it’s been a change of scene yet as the cab drove her home, the pain began to get worse.
Is Mary going to make it?

To be concluded shortly
Funeral arrangements by the Coop. if needed