Wednesday, 19 October 2011

ww2 Aircrew training - the eternal questions

The seventh entry in my father's wartime journal which suggests we need to put hope in God for answers to recover from the desperate situation of being at war. Previous posts include:

Entry 7 - January 20th

Living as we do, in these difficult times from day to day, it is exceedingly difficult to express concisely our more intimate thoughts on divine relations. There is also the feeling that our true spiritual development has been rudely interrupted by the shattering of our former environment. Nevertheless, in this undeveloped state we seem to be in closer contact with spiritual affairs.

Hitherto life in this emergency has been devoid of meaning and completely empty. Our spirit confined to the narrow realms of our body has no real outlet for expression. We all have high ideals, great ambitions, cherish beauty and dream of love, but our ideals are dissipated, our ambitions broken, beauty banished and dreams fade at dawn. This world is corrupt and lecherous, it destroys the most humble of our hopes and leaves us with nothing save the ashes of despair.

Thus frustrated, humiliated and disillusioned there is one only to whom we can turn and He is God. Perhaps man has flattered himself by imagining that he was made after God's own image. I have neither the desire or the requisite knowledge to even express an opinion, but I know that I have within me something that is immortal and gives me, as it does to everyone, my own individuality.

I hold no brief for any established form or creed of religion. Cant, hypocrisy and symbolism have destroyed the fundamental true beliefs and today there exists but an empty, hollow mockery of worship, the blind leading the blind. We need no advocate to plead our cause, we need no mediator to approach God for our very life, our existence is a living prayer and suppliant for help, guidance and assistance.

To those who may survive there is only one course open to them. That is, to supercede our present system by a scheme of things that will provide posterity, not only with material freedom and expression but spiritual expression as well. We are no longer fighting for our King, our country, our Empire or our capitalists, but we are fighting for a people, we are fighting for humanity. We are striving for spiritual expression. It is a fight to establish a basis for a new renaissance, a creation of an island of sanity, a rock on which we may build a new living edifice to honour God.

For us, however, there is nothing left to live for. We have given up our jobs, our homes, our freedom and now we are prepared to sacrifice even our lives in the sacred cause of humanity. So today I can view the machinations of my body with complete detachment. I can achieve nothing. Collectively and individually we are failures but there is still hope!

Tomorrow we live. Shedding this earthly shell which has surrounded, enmeshed and frustrated us, we shall survive and emerge into a sphere of happiness having, at last, attained our full individual, spiritual expression. For God shall wipe all tears from our eyes and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor sadness, neither shall there be any more pain, for the former things have passed away!

In the light of this, death can hold no terrors for us, it is our deliverance and the salvation of humanity. We know that whatever may mar our memory here it cannot sear our souls. There is no fear however much our bodies may wish to evade the issue. Tomorrow, we too, shall live.

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

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Saturday, 15 October 2011

Peter Gabriel talks New Blood orchestra

Peter Gabriel gives an overview of his recently released orchestral project, New Blood, and gives insight into the extensive creative process involved. I was privileged to attend the Hammersmith Apollo for the recording of the DVD, which I reviewed here. Have only been able to listen the previews because the deluxe edition I've ordered includes the DVD which has a release date of 24th October whilst the CD came out on 10th October - the extra wait is proving a tad trying...


Monday, 10 October 2011

ww2 training 1941 - what is the meaning of life?

The fifth entry in my father's wartime journal which questions our very existence. Previous posts include:
Entry 5 - January 12th

After a very enjoyable weekend in Oxford we have returned to service life. A thought left undeveloped or expanded in the streets of Oxford has recurred, it is namely, what are human beings, what is the reason for their existence? What is the meaning of life?

It seems a very empty and worthless existence to plod wearily through this scheme of things, in our allotted places, for nearly seventy years and then finish. Why should men have ambition? What is power worth? Which, when obtained, has to be left after our short course has been run. Why should we have evolved throughout aeons of time a complicated and intricate system of legislative and executive government and now arrived no nearer the seat of universal happiness?

Why do we live? If it is that we are here to prepare ourselves for an eternity with or without God, why do we trouble to procreate our species? Is there any value to life? It is an involved and colossal question. It involves, perhaps, the admission that up to the present time the whole human race can be accounted as a drastic and unfortunate failure and, in our past and in our future, if the present state of affairs is allowed to continue, there is not one ray of hope or illuminated feature that has, in any way, ameliorated or alleviated the race as an indivisible whole.

But, if other men have failed, why should we? Standing as we do on the brink of the dark abyss of annihilation, it is up to us to, at least, attempt to formulate some sound theory as to the purpose of live and to achieve a basis whereby we can conform to those standards of life.

It would appear, to a reasoning man, that the purpose of life would be to achieve happiness. Happiness, however, is a very loose term. Happiness, perhaps, might be found more often in a garret than in a palace and yet I doubt whether we can achieve universal happiness by getting everyone in a garret.

What, then, does happiness consist of? Man's life probably falls into three spheres: his work, his leisure and his pro-generation. Firstly, therefore, man must be allowed full expression of his genius, or talents, in whatever direction his genius, or talent, tends to take. Secondly his leisure, or recreation, must be considered; artistically, spiritually and physically. He must be allowed sufficient time to devote to his leisure and given the capability for full, fundamental enjoyment. Thirdly comes his family responsibilities, to which, naturally enough, a certain amount of time has to be devoted.

Superficially it might appear that these spheres are, largely and to a greater extent, dovetailed together. Nowadays, or even in the past, it would appear that a young man's leisure is almost wholeheartedly taken up in the process of biological selection. Admittedly it is so but only from a sense of frustration and the attempt to kill two birds with one stone.

I prefer to face facts and from them I draw these inexorable conclusions which are: that man's life today has to be fundamentally re-organised and subdivided so that the full amount of true happiness can be obtained, symbolical to Adam Smith's avocation of the division of labour being the means of obtaining wealth.

Thus having shaped in our mind the purpose of life and generalised on the means to achieve how are we to bring them into effect? And when they are brought to pass, what is the sum total of our achievement?

Douglas George Banks 1920 – 1989 written in 1941

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Thursday, 6 October 2011

Steve Jobs - just one more thing...

The genius of simplicity. Graphic created by Jonathan Mak Long, a 19-year-old designer living in Hong Kong, found right here. Thoughts and prayers for his very private family and close friends...

YouTube video of Steve Jobs' inspirational speech to Stanford University graduates in 2005.

Apple's own tribute.