......................The 2003 Dialogues


PROFILE (spoof - ostensibly by Rod):

As a full-time and well-practiced slacker, Phil Clarke's commitment to loafing has been exemplary for most of his 54 years. His experience in this is both varied and extensive, and in recent years has grown to include beach-combing, aimless wandering and even more idling about. He hated school as a kid and as an adult - if he can be said to have reached that level of development - and would like to see schools abolished altogether. Never knowing what he wanted to do in life, nor how to fathom what life was supposed to be for… in short, never really knowing anything much… Phil has been searching, wavering and dithering since the age of 5 (when he first witnessed the horrors of school). His most notable successes have been to achieve absolutely nothing, to have got nowhere, and to have avoided any kind of status or position that would traditionally be considered favourable. Since his early years, he has nurtured a keen aversion to all authority and systems of control, including hierarchies, ritualistic procedures and practices, and people who just like to dominate. Occasional tendentious scribblings form just one of Phil's several recalcitrant activities which he is prone to foist on unwitting victims at any opportunity… reader beware! His affinity for the Bohemian lifestyle and for wild deserted beaches where there is absolutely nothing to do, while being within reach of all modern comforts, is what drew him to Hastings where he has now cheerfully loafed for the past decade.

April 2003




Phil: Well, ummm…. Thanks Rod!

Rod: You're welcome, Phil.

P: Sure…. er… Is that really the best you could do?

R: What's wrong with it? You can't deny its accuracy.

P: Well… maybe not. But there's loads missing.

R: What do you expect in one measly page? Give me the space and I could write a book.

P: I'd rather you didn't. But you created the site; why so little space?

R: Started it. I didn't create it - otherwise I'd have created a massive memory. I'm working on that now, so you can get writing some better stories than 'The Bohemian'.

P: What's wrong with 'The Bohemian'? If you can do better then you write one.

R: It's weird. And OK, I will. I've had this idea. I even know the title.

P: Yawn… what is it then.

R: Wait till I get the new BIGGER site up.

P: Oh, go on, tell us.

R: First you tell the subject of your next 'subversive page'.

P: I'm going to paste what I sent to the local MP just before they attacked Iraq.

R: Bor…ing!

P: You don't have to read it.

R: Is it really subversive?

P: The government or what I sent?

R: What you sent, of course.

P: I just expose some other source of subversion. In this case, as usual, the government - or the ever-present dreaded Establishment. It's not 'party' political. I'm never subversive.

R: You never subversive? What kind of a joke is that?

P: Depends which side you're on. Anyhow, what's your title?

R: It has a clever double meaning.

P: I can't bear the suspense.

R: Changing the subject, what did you think of the colour shots?

P: The ones you took in Bournemouth last autumn with your super-duper electronic camera? Not bad. Makes me look a bit old and haggard though.

R: Someone who viewed the site said to me, 'Nice seascapes. Shame about that prick who got in the way.'

P: You get that site up and I'll get writing. OK.

R: I'm working on it.



Phil: So it's Super-Slacker now? How do you square that with all the effort I'm putting into this site?

Rod: What effort? You'd have to get loads more visitors to impress me. Admit it, the writing's just not gripping.

P: I'm changing the story to a less weird one - your favourite. If it was up to me I'd have the weirdest story possible every time - and some boring political stuff to annoy people.

R: And be the least visited site on the net?

P: Sure, why not? There's no dough in it.

R: Sounds to me like you're cooking up a reason to slack. Is there any time in your life when you've tried not to slack?

P: I'll give you a summary from before I started work:

R: So you have actually worked?

P: Sure, I've worked. Not hard - except the first few years after escaping the dreaded compulsory day-prison. I was 15 then, or 14 if you count the truanting: most of that last year was extremely well spent. Wouldn't get away with it now probably, but that was a truly glorious summer. I'll never forget it. We had this old punt; went miles on those long balmy days of '64 - real tranquillity - while all those other poor obedient sods were sweating it out in boring classrooms under the tyrannical heel of authority and a thousand petty rules - specifically designed to drive a kid nuts. My only regret is that I didn't escape sooner. Then - horrors - I had to get a JOB. Could have been worse, but within five years I'd landed a comfortable little niche in a lab in Cambridge, lounging and larking with a bunch of eccentric academics.

R: Slacking, in other words.

P: To an extent maybe… But suitably inspired, in '73 I returned to what I'd put on hold since the age of 5 - a dose of full-time REAL 'education'.

R: More slacking.

P: It was a tough course. Then four years later, dread of dreads, I once more had to get a job. I'll skip a year here, and return to it sometime. But, thus began the decade when I worked for this big TV outfit at White City - the one you're very familiar with.

R: Beats me how you landed that one, but what do you mean: worked? Just because you got paid for loafing - feet up in front of rows of TVs for ten years - doesn't mean you weren't. In fact, most afternoons you left your booking to a trainee and either sloped off down the Bush or on more than one occasion was found sunning yourself in Wormhalt Park.

P: I liked Wormhalt Park. And I'll tell you how I landed that JOB if you want to know - I never told you about that, did I? I'll shove an account of it on the next scheduled update.

R: That'll be a laugh.

P: I was intrigued myself - I even made notes… why are you looking at me like that?

R: I'll reserve judgment. But then you resigned and sloped off abroad.

P: I needed a change. But that involved a bit of effort.

R: What, driving or drifting idly around the US and a few other easy places before returning to put your feet up for another decade? If all that isn't slacking, then tell me what is.

P: What about the courses I took?

R: Those four years back in the 70s? Four years dozing in lecture rooms, then regurgitating a mere fraction in a few hours of exams. Call that work?

P: The point is Rod, what's the sense in spending your life slaving at some meaningless job only to look back when you're 60 or 70 and say: 'What the hell have I done with all those years?'

R: It's a living?

P: Call that living? Why not do something worthwhile, something inspiring, exciting, fulfilling?

R: Like what?

P: There's loads of things… Travelling?

R: Where's the income in it?

P: That's why I opted first for the TV job. You can't imagine how gruelling it was having to watch all those trite sit-coms and other garbage that filled the airwaves in those days - and still does (now more than ever).

R: I can.

P: Well, you can. You work there. But most people wouldn't have a clue. It's what they do to escape - from one hell to another. The one they watch on TV is so obnoxious that beside it their own situation, however duff, seems positively favourable. So they accept their lot without complaint - or any thought of uprising against the 'system'. In other words, it's all a form of propaganda.

R: They don't see it that way. And besides, it's not all game shows and soaps…Think, though, what if everyone followed your example of slacking: supermarkets would be closed-up, trains wouldn't run, TV would go blank, electricity would stop - where would you be without a computer?

P: I'd do a bit more beach-combing. But there's batteries.

R: Who's going to make the computer in the first place? Or run the places that make batteries or anything?

P: It would all have to be automated. People should work now to make that possible. In fact, even that wouldn't be necessary if someone mass-produced a half-decent robot.

R: Technology's not up to it… yet.

P: It's only the software that isn't.

R: Probably true. Write a story on it.

P: 'Robots Save the World' - we could live on couches like the rulers of ancient Greece and order our slave robots about. But there is a story of mine: it's called 'Alex'. A shame Pythagorarse didn't put his mind to discovering electricity; we might have had some really amazing stuff by now - and far more advanced than my Alex, probably.

R: Pythagor-as.

P: Be honest, though, wouldn't you love to never to have to work again? You could sell your flat…

R: Then where would I live?

P: You'd have to rent somewhere. Better than working. At least, you'd be free.

R: Where though? And what would I do?

P: Anywhere and nothing…

R: So that's the position is it: waste your life at some lousy job or be stuck wondering where to go and what to do?

P: That's it. Be a slave, or be master of your own life. Now, if you had a passion for something, or a special skill, well, then you could enjoy being slave to that. Nothing lousy there.

R: This pointless conversation isn't getting the site updated.

P: True. I'll see to it now… glad you didn't mention the word 'rebel' again…

R: Thanks for the reminder. We can discuss that next time.

P: Oh, sod… Recorder Stop!



Rod: In our last dialogue you failed to mention a particular year in the late 70s.

Phil: I hoped you hadn't noticed. Look at it this way: if you were a renowned pacifist and had worked a year in an arms factory, would you want to broadcast the fact?

R: So you're a hypocrite.

P: OK, so I worked in the education system for a year. Can you imagine it, a teacher more seditious than the kids? I let someone I trusted persuade me. They said things had improved beyond recognition. How naïve I was: the system, of course - as ever - reeked like a rotting inferno… And I should make a correction. Last issue when I mentioned REAL 'education', I was referring to good gripping formal education - hence the inverted commas. The word 'real' was a mistake; it suggests the kind of informal 'social' edification that without realising it I actually learned vast amounts of at school - ie, of how decrepit the system is: precisely the opposite of what was intended.

R: Is that how you now justify declaring yourself an anarchist?

P: I suppose I'm something of a hypocrite there too. But read the following two quotes from Chomsky. To me, they state the obvious. Anyone who spared a thought for the issue might have said them:

"I was attracted to anarchism as a young teenager, as soon as I began to think about the world beyond a pretty narrow range, and haven't seen much reason to revise those early attitudes since. I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom. That includes political power, ownership and management, relations among men and women, parents and children, our control over the fate of future generations (the basic moral imperative behind the environmental movement, in my view), and much else. Naturally, this means a challenge to the huge institutions of coercion and control: the state, the unaccountable private tyrannies that control most of the domestic and international economy, and so on. But not only these. That is what I have always understood to be the essence of anarchism: the conviction that the burden of proof has to be placed on authority, and that it should be dismantled if that burden cannot be met. Sometimes the burden can be met. If I'm taking a walk with my grandchildren and they dart out into a busy street, I will use not only authority but also physical coercion to stop them. The act should be challenged, but I think it can readily meet the challenge. And there are other cases; life is a complex affair, we understand very little about humans and society, and grand pronouncements are generally more a source of harm than of benefit. But the perspective is a valid one, I think, and can lead us quite a long way."

"The general intellectual culture, as you know, associates 'anarchism' with chaos, violence, bombs, disruption, and so on. So people are often surprised when I speak positively of anarchism and identify myself with leading traditions within it. All misrepresentation is a nuisance. Much of it can be traced back to structures of power that have an interest in preventing understanding, for pretty obvious reasons. But my impression is that among the general public, the basic ideas seem reasonable when the clouds are cleared away. Of course, when we turn to specific matters -- say, the nature of families, or how an economy would work in a society that is more free and just -- questions and controversy arise. But that is as it should be… "

R: Most people would be horrified to think of anarchy as positive.

P: That shows how successfully those 'structures of power' have distorted and tarnished the word. But I've sensed everything in those quotes since I was a small kid. Chomsky is one of the most celebrated intellectual geniuses of our time - it seems to me almost unimaginable that I, ignorant and inexperienced I, should have by default precisely the same perspective as someone like Chomsky. And I use his words because they are unambiguous and concise. Instead of uncritically devouring endless spoon-fed propaganda, people need to think more - we should open our minds to these important truths. This is just one of many distorted aspects of the world that we ought to know about, thoroughly; there are many others. Note what I say about Twain's work in the autobiographical story 'The Job' which I wrote a few years ago - and which I dare say looks pretty corny now.

R: Put it up anyway. I like it.

P: Even that lively youthful arrogance and flowery language?

R: If you removed it, the piece would lose authenticity.

P: Someone I showed it to at the time described it as pretentious pap.

R: Probably it is, but it contains a few insights too.

P: Next issue, I choose - and no more old stuff.

R: Agreed - and less politics.

P: If you say so.

Rod: OK, now, the stories in the next three issues are your choice. But what does this issue's story say for slacking or anarchism?

Phil: I wrote it fairly recently. I guess it shows how easy it is to get caught up in circumstances and lose track of reality. If Simon in the story had been a slacker he'd have given up early on. If he'd been an anarchist he would have rebelled against the absurd rules and conditions and then been chucked out. Either way, he'd have avoided the dilemma that made his life pretty unpleasant for a while.

R: And he'd have missed the ecstasies too. And the big lesson.

P: That's the key. It's the ecstasies that kept him. He wanted more and more, like those insane billionaires who are never satisfied.

R: But if anything similar happened again, he'd be wise to it.

P: Precisely. Simon was just a kid. It was a completely new experience. Unlike most of us, though, he woke out of his dream, so next time he'll enjoy the game without the torment. He might even enjoy the torment, the anticipation, the challenge.

R: But now the stakes are lowered, the game has lost its edge.

P: To an extent. But imagine a roller-coaster. Your first ride scares you witless; you think you're going to die. When it stops you're overjoyed to be still in one piece. During your tenth ride some part of your brain still thinks you might crash, so when it stops, you again sense that joy.

R: Eventually, though, you'd become oblivious to the risk.

P: Which means, generalising, that you'd be tired of life. Such an effect is telling you to radically change your game - maybe to no game at all.

R: No game? So if people spent their lives in a hammock, so to speak, where there's no challenges, no pressures, no dilemmas… then what?

P: I can relate to that well, as you know. But there'd be no Hitler or Stalin, nor Bush or Blair. Wars would be history. People wouldn't go around murdering one another - no-one would want the bother. And no one would join an army, or design and build weapons…

R: And no one would grow wheat or potatoes. No one would invent new computers or antibiotics…

P That's not necessarily true. A laid-back plodder, people who are gentle and placid, can do those kinds of things.

R: They tend to be pliable, though, because doing what you're told can be an easy way out. And you need dynamic people to run businesses, people who are creative and have flair, inspire enthusiasm, get things moving.

P: Yeah, to start wars, to create a market for cars, and for aeroplanes and fuel and which is destroying the atmosphere. Imagine 80 million barrels of oil (or whatever it is) each day giving up its fumes to the atmosphere. You'd need an exhaust pipe the size of the English Channel. It reminds me of those old moated castles where they shat on one side and drew drinking water from the other - then wondered why they got ill and died.

R: They had a well for drinking water.

P: That's exactly the sort of smart-arse evasive answer the oil chiefs would give. Just look at this little clip from a newspaper article by a guy called Anthony Hubbard:

A business corporation, says philosopher Noam Chomsky, is a tyranny. "That's always been well understood," he says in his matter-of-fact way, as though he were stating the obvious. Among human institutions, he continues, it's hard to find one whose internal structure is more tyrannical. "Orders come from the top down. At the bottom you can sort of rent yourself out to it if you're lucky. At middle level you take orders from above and hand them on down below. You know what to call that in the political domain?" What Chomsky calls it is fascism.


R: I thought you weren't going to mention politics again.

P: Yeah, for a while. Sorry. But it wouldn't be me otherwise. The truth is though, that slacking and anarchy are highly political. And if all businesses are a miniature version of fascism, then where does that leave us?

R: I suppose you'll use that to justify slacking.

P: Certainly. Who wants to live under the Iron Heel (as Jack London called it)? But where's this big new site you were creating?

R: Not as simple as I thought. I'll have it up soon though.

P: If you want the truth, I'd been hoping you couldn't do it. The effort to keep this little domain filled and regularly renewed is more than I'd anticipated. I'm working on stuff for several issues ahead, but I'm beginning to wonder how long I'll be able to keep on top of it.

R: I have total faith...

P: Appreciated. Wish I could share it.

R: Faith - that you're not a total slacker. But just look how many visitors we're getting to the site.

P: I'm amazed. How, though, do you know they're not guided here inappropriately and as soon as they realise, redirect their search?

R: That may be so. Except I know several people who enjoy reading it.

P: That's certainly warming. And I know about three.

R: Don't be such a pessimist. There could be as many as 300 people anxiously awaiting the next issue, and when it's up they read every word and wish there was more.

P: It's possible, I suppose. But I'm not a pessimist, not even politically. And if only you read this site Rod, then as far as I'm concerned it's worthwhile. Anyhow, I like writing tendentious dialogues and articles, and zany trash like the sensational 'Speed Capsule'.

R: Trash? First rate drama, you mean. As you know, I've had a sneak preview.

P: We should let our victims… I mean visitors… judge that.

R: Believe me, there are people who really enjoy this site…

P: One or two perhaps. Bound to be one or two.

R: And some of them, like me, are not entirely persuaded by your pronouncements on slacking and anarchism. But they like it all the same and maybe are half convinced.

P: I'm not trying to convince anyone. Merely pointing out a few facts. What people do with those facts is up to them. If they disagree or see faults, I'd love to be enlightened. I like to think I'm right, who doesn't? But I can't be right all the time. When someone proves me wrong I'm delighted - I've learned something new.

R: Maybe I'll find someone with an alternative site that advocates fascism, obedience and relentless effort; and with dynamic stories.

P: 'The Speed Capsule' is dynamic. Loads of action in that.

R: I look forward to the final version. But now to 'The Fabulous Fruit Machine'....



Rod: So what's the slacking or anarchy message in this issue's story?

Phil: I'm making diversions this time. For one thing, the story is too long for one issue, so I've split it in two: Part 1 now and Part 2 in issue 6. I really prefer several short items, so I'll try not to do that again. I'm also including a few expletives to enhance dialogue - no offence, I hope. I don't aim to do that again either. And there are one or two significant points: for instance, the adventure is potentially a far more educational experience than a day in school is likely to be. And several important observations emerge when the kids reflect on their experience at the end of Part 2.

R: What made you decide to write this story?

P: Ever since I was a small kid I've been fascinated by the idea of having my own flying saucer and whizzing around the planet and into space and going anywhere I like within a few hours at most. There'd be a zapper, of course, a kind of infinitely powerful laser beam and I'd have zapped all the military facilities in the world, then all the billionaires and the places where their wealth is constantly creamed from people who sweat their lives away in factories and offices and so on around the world.

R: Suppressed wanderlust. Suppressed aggression. Suppressed envy. Expressed through impossible fantasies. A good approach.

P: You're speaking of the seven-year-old. True, I couldn't have articulated precisely what I had in mind for destruction then. But as I recall, what I've just said is about right.

R: So you wouldn't want a flying saucer now?

P: Na. Couldn't be bothered with it. Imagine being cooped up in a thing like that - even if it was massive. Much better to let the world go by and wander around fields, every now and then crashing onto the grass and taking a doze. What goes on elsewhere is unlikely to interfere with that in my lifetime.

R: You see, you're just as selfish as the billionaires and oil chiefs you criticise. They don't care what happens to the world, the atmosphere after they're dead either.

P: But I'm not causing any damage. And I don't have the power to stop them. If I didn't accept what I can't change I'd be constantly annoyed and hassled. What would be the point in that? I'm a slacker, after all.

R: There are things you could help to change. Things you don't approve of. You could join some outfit like Greenpeace.

P: I'd just be a pest. I'd get in people's way. And such organisations only seem to put a bit of a brake on what the corporate giants do. They don't stop anything much - not usually. Look at how air travel is increasing. What are they doing about that? Air travel should be stopped immediately except for what's absolutely vital - which military aircraft most definitely are not.

R: Then join the corporate system and undermine it from within.

P: I'm not capable of that either. To accomplish anything really worthwhile it's necessary to attain a fairly senior position. To achieve that one has to conform for many years and commit all kinds of sins - by which time one is so corrupted that without a sudden inner transformation, change is virtually impossible. And what use is just one person who happens to see the light? They'd just get pensioned off. It would need thousands of anarchists in very senior positions, at least.

R: So we're doomed - or subsequent generations are - to one day having to clear-up (if that's possible) the problems we're creating now.

P: Precisely. And there's nothing you or I can do about it. The inertia is like a flywheel that's under the control of the big corporate system, and is increasing in speed all the time. The situation looks hopeless.

R: But you've always said you're an optimist.

P: One has to be. I think something will happen to arrest the situation. Whether that can happen before it's too late is another question.

R: And what do you reckon could possibly arrest the situation?

P: I'll tell you in the next issue. We've run out of space. What's the chances of getting a bigger site? Still working on it, I guess?

R: I'll clarify that next time too. But right now I'm going to read Part 1 of this amazing story of yours…

(This issue began with an offer to email on request any former transcripts)

Rod: A charitable gesture, for one so occupied.

Phil: To email a pasted attachment? No sweat. In any case, as you'll see, no-one will request anything. I'll reveal in Issue 7 the extent of the deluge.

R: You do that.

P: If the site had massive memory, everything could be permanently available. I could just add stuff as it was born…

R: I'm still working on it. We're not all slackers. Some of us have to work for a living.

P: Everyone's a potential slacker. And almost everyone slacks in something or other, or for some of the time. But I reckon most people don't understand what it means to be a slacker, what it involves. For instance, a lot of people do what they 'have' to do first and what they prefer to do afterwards. And when they've done what they 'have' to do, they find there's no time to do what they prefer - or they're too tired. I, on the other hand, do the reverse. This means I always get to do what I prefer - ie, slack.

R: Why put 'have' in commas?

P: Because it's an ostensible 'have'. They think something 'has' to be done when often it doesn't.

P: And what happens when bills don't get paid, washing-up gets left, hoovering is neglected, and shopping isn't done?

P: Somehow, everything seems to get sorted. The whole point of slacking is to Live - capital L. This means that unwanted chores, obligations, responsibilities… have to be minimised. Take washing up. If you don't have a machine, do it straight away and it's a cinch - especially if there's no fat - and always leave it to dry. A little thought and shopping/bill-paying can be done on the net or else incidentally - when returning from a walk. Hoovering - grit your teeth and do a brief whip round, but only when and where it's needed. You can do a thorough job once a month, say, as can most cleaning. I usually clean things in passing; that is, some bit of the kitchen while I'm waiting for the kettle to boil, or a bit of the bathroom after my morning swill. Tidy as you pass and the place stays fine almost effortlessly. Other than that, never do today what can be left till tomorrow - because tomorrow it may not need doing, or by then someone else'll have done it. Common sense is an enormous asset here. Look ahead and assess the consequences of leaving things. Often there'll be none. If you're not a slacker already, you'll be astonished at how much effort you waste doing unnecessary things, and how much time you'll have for slacking once you change perspective and prioritise. You'll be amazed at how many things can be left with no adverse results. More things than you'd think are better left anyway. Also, never volunteer. Have two or three 'obligations' up your sleeve to chuck at anyone who tries to volunteer you. Again, use common sense. And never be ashamed of slacking. Be ashamed of doing things that don't need doing. You'll feel liberated and fulfilled when you have loads of slacking time to do what you want, preferably nothing much. Stand and stare, as Kipling suggested - at lawns and trees etc. Or meander along the sea front… somewhere restful with fresh air and some peace. In town, cemeteries are great for poignant or droll tombstone inscriptions, wild grasses and birdsong - and for inspiring deep reinvigorating thoughts. Remember: time happens only once, life is short, and what matters to you now will seem absurdly irrelevant when you're in sight of The Big Sleep - as Chandler called it. What right has anyone to impinge on, or to tell you how to use, your precious time? Don't be bullied. Assert yourself - you might even enlighten others about your newfound slacking mode.

R: Blimey! You're not short on instruction. What about obligations to family, friends…? You'll just alienate everyone.

P: If you chose to - exit gracefully, and always play fair. Otherwise you'll have a conscience problem, which might spoil that wonderful slacking. You don't want your mind plagued with doubts and regrets. We all have unwanted obligations to kids or elderly relatives and so on. These should be honoured if possible.



P (cont'): But slacking needs to be high priority instead of low where most people put it. If you belong to that 5% of the population who are not bound by the shackles of conscience then you'll probably find slacking impossible anyway. It is just such reptilians - a term Carl Sagan used (see 'The Dragons of Eden' 1977 - ref ‘Causes of War’) - who bustle endlessly to control and/or rip-off the other 95% of us.

R: What about rich people who pay servants? Aren't they slackers?

P: There's probably a few million wealthy layabouts in the UK who live in luxury off rents or dividends, or both. Many are professional slackers who know very well how to live. They have horses and play polo, organise events - that kind of thing; a few write, paint, travel… Some of them actually run businesses hands-on. But, unlike most of us, they can do and have what they please. Everything is effectively free to the millionaire. It is they who are draining the rest of us. They employ the reptilians to run everything for them - Corporate managers and directors, stockbrokers, politicians… all blackguards who take a handsome share in the spoils.

R: That reminds me: you were going to tell us what you thought could be done to arrest the explosion in pollution, exploitation, greed… in short, corporate control, that's rushing the planet towards oblivion. Remember?

P: The problem quite simply is that those greed-powered reptilians are motivated only by the prospect of increasing their wealth and grip.

R: Go on then; what can be done about it? And be practical.

P: All right. A number of things - and they can happen together. First, we create conditions that increase people's distrust of whoever seeks or gains power, any power: a teacher, a company director or an MP, whatever. Next, the behaviour of people in authority should be constantly questioned and challenged. No-one should accept irrational or irresponsible use of power at any level. Every expression of power must be entirely justifiable. There are websites that address the truths frequently kept from us by the usual media: Znet, Media Lens, Informationclearinghouse, Schnews… etc. These are mostly political - as is much of Chomsky's site which also examines other issues concerning the abuse of power. But kids especially should be informed of these things at the earliest moment. How else can they grow-up knowing that authority is corrupting and highly suspect, always to be questioned, to be made accountable. This will help them keep a check on their own misuse of power. It might seem paradoxical that a teacher or parent should tell their charges of the dubious moral legitimacy of their own position, but if they are honest that's what they'll do, even if it does appear to undermine their authority. The fact is, it would not weaken the validity of their moral authority at all - rather, it would strengthen it. People who wield power irresponsibly lose trust and respect - except from those who are equally irresponsible. And their main weapon is intimidation, so most people are scared to oppose them. But they have weapons of all kinds, the effectiveness of which depends on their position. Remember in Issue 3 when I quoted Chomsky? Here's a reminder:

"I think it only makes sense to seek out and identify structures of authority, hierarchy, and domination in every aspect of life, and to challenge them; unless a justification for them can be given, they are illegitimate, and should be dismantled, to increase the scope of human freedom. That includes political power, ownership and management, relations among men and women, parents and children, our control over the fate of future generations (the basic moral imperative behind the environmental movement, in my view), and much else. Naturally, this means a challenge to the huge institutions of coercion and control: the state, the unaccountable private tyrannies that control most of the domestic and international economy, and so on. But not only these."

So that's a start. Just as kids with certain qualities can be assisted and guided appropriately, so can that devious 5% be guided so their energies are aimed at harmless pursuits, instead of what they do now: either become criminals or clamber up some corporate or other hierarchy - which, from a moral point of view, is usually even more criminal. That way they're less likely to risk the liberty of the remaining 95% of us - as they're doing now all through society.

R: But what can be done to have immediate effect?

P: We must all challenge authority when we believe it oversteps rational or fair justification. And refuse to be intimidated - much can be done anonymously.

R: This is hardly slacking. Surely, it's precisely because of slacking that the majority have allowed the few to take control.

P: The wrong kind of slacking. You wouldn't sit doing nothing if someone started bashing you on the head with a frying pan. The few have infringed the slacking rights of the majority. But now we're out of web-space…

(At this point 'The Space Capsule - part 2’ was uploaded)



Phil: A bit late, sorry - obligations!

R: Slacking?

P: Not this time, I assure you. Anyhow, for this Issue, and maybe the next Issue or two, I'm going to digress slightly from the core of what this site's fundamentally about, and look at some peripheral topics.

Rod: Not more sci-fi then?

P: People who don't like sci-fi will lose interest. I'll definitely return to it though. There's quite a lot more to be said from that aspect. For instance, Carl Sagan's 'Contact' was a remarkable book for many reasons. I don't propose to examine it, certainly not in any detail, but it provides one example of how sci-fi can elucidate matters that might otherwise present difficulties. The film, incidentally, was ultra-duff.

R: Agreed.

P: I think what follows leads naturally on from what's been discussed so far. As you know, I'm not in the least religious, not in any conventional sense: from as far back as I can remember I've been an irredeemable atheist. I don't believe in God, ghosts or anything of the sort. Yet there's no avoiding the fact that life, planet Earth, the Universe etc, are impressive phenomena; at least they are to me. Since we're alive, witnessing it all, conscious of it - especially that - I think we ought to confront the problem of how we should use our brief presence here. It's a perennial dilemma. A few years ago, I decided to look into a particular route which appeared to promise some answers to what life really means and how we might best use it.

R: Life doesn't mean anything. It just IS.

P: Right. But as human beings, we've evolved an ability to rise above our 'animal' programming. If we fail to acknowledge this then I think we could be accused of betraying ourselves. You might compare the situation with someone in reach of a drink who prefers to remain thirsty than to make the effort to reach out.

R: It's a bit of a paradox for a self-confessed slacker to seek such diversions.

P: Not at all. You may as well ask: Why bother to visit the Tate or read 'Crime and Punishment' or listen to Mozart. Sure, if you're content to blindly conform and play along with whatever circumstances you're landed with, fine; even if it's to live as a recluse in a hut in the mountains of Tibet, which some extremely wise people have done. Perhaps they're right. Some of us may end up doing something like that. But we, here, start from a different base. And what I'm intending to do is describe how I looked into one aspect of all this. True, I didn't start from scratch - being a born slacker, I began with what other people had already done - people who, I believed, were asking the same kind of questions as me. Since this was possible without significantly intruding on my slacking time or for that matter on other areas of everyday life, I thought: Well, why not? Nothing to lose; everything to gain.

R: And what, precisely, did you gain?

P: That will emerge, I hope, in the following autobiographical account. It describes the strange period in my life when these problems first began to occur to me.

R: What triggered that?

P: I'll explain that first of all in the account. But I think my curiosity began several years earlier, soon after I'd stumbled on Hesse's work. My background is like a kind of logical construction. An early grounding in ethics was superseded at about age 12 by science, which I stayed with until, very belatedly, I came to politics at about 25. Then, and even more belatedly at about 35, when I began reading Hesse, this current arena began to present itself. I soon moved on to Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Camus, Jung… and others such as Gurdjieff and Ouspensky. All have made one sort of impact or another on the way I think. Some of these I intend to discuss in more detail in future - with your approval, if you don't think I might bore the pants off too many people.

R: If they're as good as the item you did on Hesse then excellent.

P: I can't promise that. Hesse's work formed perhaps the greatest influence on my evolution of thought. And despite the implication in what follows that Colin Wilson is yet another hero of mine, I should mention that there are many instances in his work that strike me as surprisingly naïve and unfitting for an author who has produced a great deal of indisputably outstanding work. Even so, I have found it extremely edifying. I'm equally indebted to the 'Course' (see 'Side-Glance'). Although I criticise it unreservedly, I Like Colin's work, it also led me to other authors, related matters and so forth that I would otherwise have been unlikely to stumble upon.



Phil: Before Rod turns-up I'd like to introduce you surfers to a pal of mine called Oreth. Surfers, Oreth; Oreth, Surfers.

Oreth: Hi.

P: Is that all you've got to say?

O: What do you want me to say?

P: How about telling us how you acquired that silly name of yours.

O: What do you mean: silly?

P: Unusual then.

O: Why don't you write some more garbage for that silly website of yours that Rod cooked up. You've had quite a few visitors compared with what I expected. And last Issue you referred to several of Wilson's works without explaining them.

P: No-one's sent an email to complain.

O: Then when I look at all the quality sites on just about every subject imaginable, not least on Hesse, Gurdjieff, Ouspensky and Wilson, it makes your feeble effort look so pathetically trite that I wonder why anyone bothers with it.

P: I can't deny that what I do is amateur. Maybe people can relate better to a lighter, less professional approach. Maybe they can identify with me and the kinds of things I discuss more than with those dedicated sites. They probably recognise that most of my stuff is actually questioning and searching rather than dogma. I said last Issue that people like reading what they agree with, but they also like to read things that challenge them to think and wonder - so long as it's well argued. That way we get to learn more about how we think. The most valuable outcome of an argument is to be forced, whether you like it or not, to revise your opinion.

O: It's more likely that people are gloating over your incompetence. Every Issue has a few errors, if only typographical. And who doesn't secretly enjoy watching someone make a prick of themselves - especially someone they know, or knew?

P: Well, so what? I'm quite aware of what I'm doing and I'm not concerned in the least if I get a reputation for intellectual naïveté. After all, what's anyone going to do about it? They're free to ignore me.

O: If some overseeing bignut was writing a 'life report' on you it would probably say, like the judgment on Charrière's 'Papillon': "Just another wasted life."

P: But they're not. And if they were, who'd read it? And I don't think it's wasted; quite the opposite, I'd say, when I look at what most people do with their lives. Besides, in 30 or 40 years' (probably sooner) I won't be around anymore to act the prick or anything else. In just over a year from now I'll have been living in this house for a whole decade. And like previous decades it's flashed past like some marginally appealing film full of inconsequential trivia, yet it's been OK in a mediocre sort of way; I don't feel any sense of regret. My only complaint is not being able to mediocre contentedly along for a couple of centuries more instead of a measly two or three brief decades or so… Here's Rod.

Rod: What are you two going on about?

O: He's complaining that he hasn't got a couple of centuries left to mediocre along. He's lucky he wasn't born a mouse or a spider.

P: And unlucky not to be a parrot or a tortoise.

R: Aren't we supposed to be living in the moment? But I'm waiting for that story you told me about.

P: The 'Mrs jolly' one?

R: That's it.

P: I'll do that first then. And before concluding 'Side-Glance' I'll explain some of Colin's work and you'll see why I found it more engaging than 'Practical Philosophy' - which I'd naively believed was to be an unbiased investigation into empirically sound wisdoms taken from the great thinkers of the past.

O: Once you realised that why did you continue with it?

P: To glean what I could. At least the 'Course' unwittingly encouraged me to look elsewhere, especially into what they sidelined.

O: So what have you concluded?

R: But we want to see his route: 'The path counts more than the destination.'

P: Perhaps without a route the conclusion lacks impact. I can't remember much detail of Tolstoy's route in his 'A Confession', yet the destination remains clear in my mind.

O: What did he conclude?

P: Basically, that the abyss is always there, right at our feet. But we don't have to stare into it. Far better to gaze up into the subliminal radiance that abounds and dwell of that instead. I think Nietzsche made a shrewd observation when he said: 'Whoever stares too long into the abyss ends up falling into it.'

R: Let's get back to that story.

P: Good…. Because we're out of space.

R: In another dimension?

P: Maybe that as well…


Recalling perspectives from other times and places can be extremely refreshing. Imagine how you saw the street you lived in as a kid and compare that with how it feels now, or would feel if you were there. Try getting back to that perspective for new places and see if there's a closer relation between these two perspectives. You can flip from one to the other - like with the well-known simple drawing of a short flight of steps which looks the right way up whichever way you turn it. Or maybe there are numerous perspectives. Which is the nearest to reality? If you're ill or for some reason elated, new perspectives will be evoked. Maybe the most real is when we truly detach ourselves from all thoughts - if that's possible - and just take-in everything from the situation/location we're in at that moment.

Rod: OK. OK. You’re late this Issue!

Phil: I really was slacking this time. What else with this weather? Some days I've been in the sea half-a-dozen times.

R: And you didn't think about your site visitors?

P: I did, but then one has to get the priorities right. This site advocates slacking as number one priority. What else is life for? By slacking I don't mean doing sod-all, as I've said, but rather doing what you feel like doing in the unique, never-to-be-repeated moment of time that you're in. This is precisely the attitude we should take. We owe it to ourselves. But again, this doesn't mean avoiding crucial actions you prefer not to carry out. It's a matter of common sense. In the past many of us seem to have just blindly accepted that doing what we want instead of what we're told (or what is expected of us by others) should be accompanied by a sense of guilt. This, of course, is the kind of pressure the Establishment encourages. And it's this that we should resist and reverse: Ie, we should feel guilt if we refuse ourselves decent unencumbered slacking time, or if we spend time doing something we'd rather not do that we know to be pointless, just for the sake of appearances or to please some prickhead who happens to be a step above in whatever hierarchy that ensnares us. We have to learn to manage such busybodies and put them in their place: a place of powerlessness, or of ridicule for their irrational and uninvited interference in the lives of others.

Oreth: You're preaching to the converted.

P: OK. So what did you make of Issue 8 then?

O: All that intellectual Wilson stuff might be good for the left-brain, even if it isn't that clear - for instance: when should we take a broad view, and when a fine-focus? - but apart from being distracting, it actually does nothing for the right-brain; and isn't that the part you're supposed to be addressing?

R: That's true enough; but you're ignoring the advice. Instead of just giving intellectual attention and idly absorbing it into your left-brain, you have to act on what it says. There's no shortage of suggestions.

P: Don't be too hard on him Rod; remember, this site's primarily for aspiring slackers. As with all slacking: to get the most out of it one has to free the mind; contentment - or detachment - is a prerequisite. That can be achieved by the 'exercise' or some kind of meditation, or simply by feeling reasonably comfortable about your present situation - ie, not being preoccupied or having anything problematic in your life that's going to distract you while you're slacking. One can always look at the broad view: ie, what difference will what's bothering me make in a hundred years' time?

R: But to achieve that you'd need to take precisely the advice that Oreth isn't taking.

O: Who said I wasn't?

P: Not me, because you are in a way - we all are - since what you feed into the left-brain will eventually sink into the right. And that's when it really begins to take effect and mean something. But you have to keep feeding it in. Learning a creative skill is the same: keep practicing, and one day you'll suddenly realise a leap has been made. If you keep on - which if it's not a purely physical skill, could involve merely thinking about it - there'll be other leaps. Like with most things, learning actually never stops. For some reason, though, it happens in leaps. You can practice assiduously away for ages and nothing seems to be happening; then suddenly, astonishingly, you can do it. This is what I was referring to last Issue when I said: something that's difficult to learn ultimately gains an 'important' label in your subconscious and therefore inspires high levels of energy, whereas something easy is labelled 'unimportant' and therefore inspires little if any energy - so we're apt to feel bored or tired by such activities. And it's no good slaving away at something you really don't like - unless you know it'll lead to something.

R: This is weird stuff coming from a slacker. But where precisely should we start?

P: Would you like me to repeat the essence of what I said last Issue - and then develop it up to the evolutionary connection?

R: I guess this is one of those topics that can stand repetition.

P: OK…



Rod: What's this?

Phil: I'd like to get back to my favourite subject.

R: I thought that was slacking.

P: It is, basically, with anarchy a close second. But for the first time in human history we are within sight of a time when we'll have the technology to ensure a permanent utopia.

R: Bunkum. What about those primitive lethal elements in our midst: that problematic dominant 5%, the billionaires - who create mass poverty (ie, where else do those billions come from if not the poorest) - those who operate and sustain the big corporate and government machines that are destroying any hope of a true civilisation?

P: There are movements afoot that will topple those forces. The menacing and disastrous faces of corporatism are becoming increasingly recognised and despised. And that's global. Not long ago most people had no idea; they felt little if any hostility towards such things - except maybe in the form of their own employer. Also recently, most people have come to realise that democracy is a myth, at least in the UK and the US. It's now obvious that whatever government we elect they behave essentially the same, and differ only in the nature of the marginal trivia they tinker with. True, if Al Gore had moved into the White House instead of Bush then Sept 11th wouldn't have happened. Everyone knows that. But who could have predicted that a Labour PM would squirm and lie in order to satisfy his lust for war (and power) - a war in which 100,000 civilians were murdered with cluster bombs and depleted uranium etc, and 30,000 conscripts massacred with daisycutters and MOABs. Have you seen those things explode?

R: But these western brutes who claim to represent us reign supreme; and they're getting more powerful. Even Thatcher was reluctant to go to war; and that was against an invading force. The Falklands, remember? The military persuaded her so they could boost their budgets and status and so on. But now things are worse, not better.

P: So it seems. But since I'm an optimist I can see there's definitely a developing effort to fight the menace. Iraqis will never give in to Western domination, just as we would never give in to Arab domination if they invaded this country. Can you see us - however repressive our government - welcoming an invasion by a different culture, and one as brutal as the US has shown itself to be? (Just look at Vietnam: the napalming of thousands of villages; then the killing fields of Cambodia; and the recent atrocities the US committed in Afghanistan: gunning down captured Taliban soldiers, or locking them in trucks and driving till they died from heat exhaustion and thirst…)

R: Precisely. That proves my point. The atrocities in Iraq will worsen. Instead of getting out, the US and UK will react with more force. Entirely counterproductive on the face of it, but they'll label every act of resistance, every retaliation, as 'terrorism' and use it as an excuse to increase their brutality. See the hypocrisy: they dropped thousands of bombs which killed thousands of people, yet they gasp with horror when some little bomblet kills a couple of their soldiers.

P: Remember, though, that the US public actually voted for Gore. Isn't that cause for optimism?

R: And then stood by while Bush waltzed into Office.

P: Bush and Blair will be remembered only for their iniquities. Both are on their way to oblivion.

R: We'll see. For the moment, the corporate giants have snatched power and with their pal Blair, they're blitzing the world. If they can't own it they blitz it.

P: And every time they try to plunder Iraqi oil, someone'll blow-up the pipelines.

R: Wouldn't you?

P: Of course, but all these horrors of US/UK power are stopping us enjoying life. Let's get back to Science Fiction, for a while at least.

R: OK.

P: And for the next Issue I might have an appropriate little sci-fi story. I've already written it but it needs some work. I know 'sci-fi' and 'science fiction' are not strictly the same, the former being more fantasy based. But to encompass it all, I'll refer to it as sci-fi for convenience. And in this Issue I'll describe how I got into reading sci-fi and how it influenced my thinking.

R: Does that mean more biographical stuff?

P: One site-reader told me that biographical details enhance a piece of non-fiction. But before I continue I must acknowledge the source of excellent pictures in the last Issue - the ones of Scotland. I should have mentioned this before, but they were taken by a friend who now lives in Melbourne, and were recently digitally enhanced - and beautifully done - by another friend who was present when they were taken and who kindly sent them to me and said he didn't mind me putting them on the site.

So now to my romance with sci-fi, and in particular a glimpse at the work of one of the most remarkable and prolific science and science fiction writers ever - Isaac Asimov :

End of 24.8.03

Rod: So next Issue you're going to attempt a robot story? (see: 'Alex')

Phil: Right. And no plagiarism (nor even nicking ideas) like I did in the last two Issues from Wilson's work.

R: You made clear, though, that you were doing that.

P: I always would. I only did it to get certain points across, and by using a combination of Wilson's words and my own I was able to explain (I hope) more concisely than by using quotes.

R: When are we going to get back to slacking and anarchy?

P: There's plenty of both in next week's Sci-Fi story - I only trust I can make it suitably palatable. You'd be surprised how tacky a first draft can be, and full of irrelevant technical detail that would bore anyone not deeply into sci-fi. I don't want anything to obscure the premise, which is essentially a question: How utopia might be achieved, and how would we cope with an enforced version of utopia - as we presently perceive it?

R: A big subject.

P: The fact is that wealth/poverty, politics/war, status/hierarchy etc, would all become history. That would be inevitable. Work would also be a thing of the past.

R: What would everyone do?

P: The same as liberated rich people now. Except there'd be far more opportunities than most people could even begin to imagine. I expect if you could go back a century and show Jules Verne, say, what we can do now even he would be astounded and impressed.

R: And horrified.

P: That too. So I wonder how we'd regard circumstances a century ahead if we could take a look?

R: We can only guess.

P: That's precisely what I've done in my story. I just hope I can make it an enjoyable read.

R: I'll leave you to it. Where's Oreth today?

P: Holiday.....


Rod: What you were saying last Issue about consciousness doesn't make sense. (ie, this refers to a discussion which was part of the 'Asimov' essay). You compared the consciousness of cells with the prospect of consciousness for components in non-organic thinking machines, but the cells in my leg aren't conscious, at least not in the way my brain is.

Phil: I was just musing. But there's some value in what you say. Maybe the process of consciousness has nothing to do with whether the medium is organic or otherwise. The question can only be answered by advanced deductive reasoning, or by devising an ingenious empirical test on a synthetic unit - neither of which we are even near to. Perhaps the problem is of the same order as the search for a unifying principle of the universe that includes gravity, space, time, quantum theory…etc. all in one tidy package.

R: About this robot story, 'Alex'. Is it optimistic?

P: Yes and no. You'll have to read it. Unfortunately there's not enough site-space to address all the issues I'd have liked to, nor to discuss the ones I have addressed to the extent I'd have liked. For example, perhaps because it would need to be examined in some depth, I've completely avoided one of the most important aspects: ie, sex. But in a world with little animosity, where politics and money have no place, where war, crime and competition are unknown, then relationships of all kinds inevitably take on a new significance. Probably along with the absence of fear and distrust, inhibitions would be radically diminished. There would probably be little if any call for robotic substitutes - as one might imagine.

R: It's a nice thought, though. But no politics or money? Is that possible?

P: And nothing environmentally harmful either.

R: Sheer fantasy.

P: Maybe. But look for a moment at the present world situation. The US have invaded about 20 countries in the last half-century, and they're still at it. Their whole international agenda (and domestic, for that matter) is based on greed and a lust for power. Nearly always, the dominant, the power-seekers, the greedy - at least in the West - rise to positions of control. Their game is one of grab. Now supposing that changed…

R: Impossible.

P: It's happening in Venezuela, Brazil... But just supposing that after the shock of 9/11, the US had taken the opposite route. Instead of spending $400bn per annum negatively on defence, they spent that positively on aid, say, for infrastructure in unstable and needy countries, and put huge efforts and resources into improving relations with what they see as hostile regimes. Well, wouldn't the world salute them? And what's more everyone else would join in. Whole populations who now are vehemently anti-US would enthusiastically applaud them and rush to join the crusade.

R: But Iraq, for instance, has $2trillion worth of oil, and Israel - which seems to be a whole race of relentlessly dominant types - would object.

P: Let them object. And let those US corporate empires that control the US admin now, let them wail and squirm. To hell with them. The oil shouldn't be burned anyway. I've read that 75 million barrels are burned every day. At $30 a barrel, that's $2.25bn a day - or >$820bn a year. A $60 a barrel it's more than £1.6-trillion. Compare that with the US arms budget just mentioned. As for the pollution that causes…

R: Colossal.

P: Right. So money should be ploughed into alternatives. But the oil multinationals run the White House, which runs the UK, essentially, as well as many other countries. Notice that no-one has contradicted what Michael Meacher said a few days ago - about the WTC attacks being self-inflicted.

R: They criticised him though.

P: Of course. But he only listed known facts that have been in the public domain for months, if not years. When the US and UK talk about democracy for the middle east, they mean the same kind they have in the US and UK, which is not democracy at all, but a sham which maintains the status quo. Virtually every day the news contains evidence for this - the sham is so effective that even the tightly controlled establishment media that we're all exposed to rarely bothers to hide or dilute it - indeed it is part of it, a key part. The whole thing is a massive ongoing deception. For more objective news and analyses one has to read websites like Z-net: http://www.zmag.org/ZNET.htm

R: Let's get back to robotics. Why do you suppose Bill Gates with all his $billions doesn't invest in developing a practical universal robot? It's only a matter of software after all.

P: Maybe he's looked into it. Maybe some kind of breakthrough is needed. If so, he could be working on that. If he was the Victor Gollancz of software he'd have done it anyway, regardless of potential profitability. Someone's bound to produce something serviceable eventually. It's just a question of when. Imagine buying for the price of a car, say, an impeccable domestic servant that never sleeps or tires? It can't be that far in the future.

R: So let's see what you, for one, have drummed-up for the future then: ('Alex')



Oreth: Late again - and by two days this time!

Phil: I've been very tied up. Even if I am a slacker, I hate missing a promised deadline. Notice that I always include the approximate sign: ~.

O: Not good enough. Amazingly there are people out there waiting for the new Issue. How they tolerate the incompetence and arrogance is a mystery to me, but failing to update on time shows nothing but contempt.

P: It's definitely not intended. Last week I had to visit my mum who was unwell, then on Thursday evening I drove from there down to Rod's so that on Friday we could attend John Pilger's showing of his latest film at the National Film Theatre on the South Bank. We were lucky. In the morning, after walking from Waterloo along the South Bank to Tower Bridge (past David Blaine in his glass cage) then across the bridge, we bumped into a Youngs beer promotion and went on a free pub crawl. Then we took a bus to the Science Museum before going by tube to the theatre. John Pilger's film 'Breaking the Silence - Truth and Lies in the War on Terror' was shown on ITV at 22.50 last night (Monday 22nd Sept 2003).

O: You should have put this Issue up on Sunday to tell us. Was it any good?

P: In places outstanding. There seem to be just a handful of individuals who hold the world to ransom. Pilger gets to interview some of them and expose their stupendous ruthlessness and ignorance. The hypocrisy and lies are astounding. One must realise that the political system in the US, and in the UK (which is entirely subservient to the US), is designed to allow a few (at present repulsive monsters who relish in genocide and unrivalled plunder) to take control of everything. Understandably, Pilger goes for the top. He doesn't tackle UK politicians or officials; which I think is unfortunate. They appear less extreme, but they're fundamentally the same. But consider: what is the very worst thing a government can do? Massacre and repress people? Confiscate their possessions, their heritage? Having murdered tens of thousands in Afghanistan, and re-initiated the heroin trade which the Taliban had virtually stopped and which is essential to the US economy (see Mike Ruppert's 'The truth and Lies of 9/11' - ie: http://www.fromthewilderness.com/index.html ), this genocide and imminent pillage is precisely where the US and UK are in Iraq. More than 100,000 have been murdered there, and only a few days ago the US announced that any enterprise who wishes to exploit Iraq for all they can get (except minerals - which are the exclusive property of the US) will be welcomed. In short, it's a plunderer's dream.

O: We get enough of all this in the media. And if that's biased then there's loads of alternative analyses on the net. Even though I've been away lately I've read the site, and last Issue's robot story was boring. Can't we have a change from Sci-fi and politics?

P: I'd hoped to get back to the main topics of Slacking and Anarchy, but since I've also been away a lot lately and haven't written anything new, I'm putting-up a couple of painfully inadequate short pieces I wrote a while ago: first Dostoyevsky, then Kafka. Just a glimpse I'm afraid. Hopefully it'll make a refreshing change while I create some more appropriate material.