Friday, 23 February 2018


"As long as some poets and thinkers and filmmakers write or make films also if not exclusively for angels, it is inaccurate to say that no angels exist -- indeed angels exist more as addressees of poetry, thinking, and filmmaking than as addressees of the exoteric prayers of religious people."
     -- Jalal Toufic

Having grown up in the West, where the established worldview says 'its just us and the animals, beneath an endless black sky', the ontologies of Tibetan Buddhism are breathtaking. The notion of 'deity' in all its various manifestations is one of the most philosophically challenging concepts I have ever had to deal with. Deities out ahead; deities in the subtle channels of one's nervous system; one's own self as a deity. Deities as operating system and instant download and para-architecture. The spaciousness of the mind as deity; one's deepest fears as deity.

For three years my interactions with people will be kept to a minimum, but each day I will be spending hours in the company of what I like to call The Invisibles. The Tibetan tradition says it is through ritual conduct that one has relationships with deities. Recitational speech, visualisations, mudra - these are the ritualised forms of speaking, seeing and acting that enable us to be in the presence of The Invisibles. That enable us to re-presence ourselves.

"The unseen and arrived is interlaced with the seen and the delayed, the blur is precisely this oscillation between 'what is' but does not yet have a name, and 'what might become' because we can give it a name in advance of its arrival."

That quote is from "The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty", a massive treatise detailing the arrival of planetary-scale computing. Computers - with all their speed and frictionlessness, their shape-shifting plenitude and their super-quiet sidestepping of the 'off' button - are probably the nearest thing that secular culture has to 'deity'. Three years of talking to computing's fairy godmother is going to make the return in 2021 very interesting.


  1. Emily Howard, a remarkable composer who is also a computer scientist, is writing an opera, To see the Invisible, for Aldeburgh this summer.

    "Condemned for a ‘crime of coldness’ by an authoritarian regime, The Invisible is cast adrift from society. All human interaction is outlawed. This life of isolation leads to strange, vicarious thrills and painful inner torment. Yet, as the lonely exile draws to a close, it is not coldness but perilous empathy with a fellow Invisible that risks the cycle of exclusion beginning all over again…

    Emily Howard’s new opera, based on a short story by renowned American sci-fi writer Robert Silverberg, is a claustrophobic study of isolation; a dark satire on social conventions; and a stark reminder of our cruelty to outsiders. Howard’s music embraces extremes – the eerie beauty of The Invisible’s secluded psychological spaces set against the perpetual motion of the World of Warmth."

  2. Hey, Mr Richard thanks for this. It sounds really interesting. I am presently in homeless mode but will look into it in more detail during my next house sit in a week or so.