Monday, December 26, 2011

The Summer of our Discontent

The dishevelled figure—wrapped in felted bath robe—mutters like the stuttering splash of rotten guttering
Poised to stagger from his jungle of mildewed sheep-skins and irrelevant documentation. Here he is again.
But carbon-steel pocket knife—honed like the devil—is prepared: chromium leopard’s claw under moon.
The vituperate vagrant sits: eyes slanting into horizons of stained canvas and wood bark matured in silt
Wearied with compound comparisons – exclusively re-shuffling themselves from self-restricted decks.
He said little—but what there was—was more than sufficient for lacklustre polygamous yarns,
‘Tales of honour’ won and lost by fantastic figures shrouded in the safety of the murmured word.
It became self-evident that reality should spill like fermented blood into the ear’s excitable oxygen
But shabby department-of-the-interior cannot play for higher stakes than endeavouring to persevere.

Effluvium of egalitarian etiquette effects attempts limp erections in the silhouette of flaking lime-plaster
But nothing is explicated—nothing is said or sung—and nobody listens to the words they’ve never heard.
The wise have nothing to offer to attenuated pygmies groping blind in the ordure of rationalisation
The wise could feel for their sorrow – could wish to make a difference to their stunted rheumatic science.
But damn! The trees here are essentially good! They populate the valley like a gathering of old friends
Trees flex muscular knuckles in earth—brace knees and ligaments against rock—ease arms into the sky.
Moss luxuriates a slow soft breath of sweet silent moisture—raiment of reclusive rain—against the mist.
Birds carve sky – bending north into green tunnels of land summoned by the primal green of unseen force.
Barbaric clamour of rooks rivet adjacent dusk—menacing glory notwithstanding—shining, shining, shining.

If a mensch were here to be found – ground would swell from the core of Earth, flush with presentiments,
Festivals of fire would ignite torrid sanctity in acorned oaks: chestnut riding boots at the easy canter.
If shamans were still to be found, they’d notice the marvellous wild – and sing in words of graven gravel,
They’d compose songs of warm hearted welcome in the dialect of wind, rain, fog, and lowering cloud,
They’d raddle drums, and oil guns – reclining in the brave perfume of old leather and supple doe skin.
Then rain would fall in silken sheets in search of surfaces - conversing in a language of glimmering grey.
If inconsequential eccentrics were here, they’d take deep draughts of each element in streams of aching fire
They’d laugh the night of lunar spectrums – glamorous nocturnal vault coloured by a hundred thousand bats
They’d sing in valiant viaggiatory voices sparkling the salubrious star-field of each moment’s incendiary lust.

But pollarded human grove of hope and fear never comes close to reality of stone and earth – wind and rain
The wise gaze in puzzlement – incredulous as curmudgeonly bedraggled scullions attempt to eat chicken feathers.
The tribal chief is a gangling fellow who greets all comers with the ganglion of sly bravado of frozen fortitude
His common-law wives and urchins range the hills in search of food – returning with cold stiff fingers and sad stories.
But look! Autumn broods a mighty blast of air! Covens of sky-clad ladies spread their violet spectrum in the night!
Do not wait for leaf-mould to ravage your senses! There are combustible fragrances of peach coloured light!
Gallop—screaming into gales of unexpected rapture—with nothing in your hands but the weaponry of wonder!
Ravage trivial verbiage—flatulence of ox-headed coxcombs—and burn the sour lugubrious wreckage of arrogance!
Premonitions of glory arriven! Transform this Summer of our discontent’ into lucid tangs of luminous frost.


1st of January 2003

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About Doc Togden (Ngakpa Chögyam)

As the caption on the author-designed cover of Doc Togden's (Ngakpa Chögyam) upcoming collection of poetry ravings of a mild mannered maniac reads:

Tantra is Art - and a tantrika explores the sense-fields through the Arts. This work paints with the cadences of language - because the poet is both a painter and musician. He marvels at existence whilst lampooning the prevalent sociopathy of spirituality. As semantic Jazz - linguistic density jives with space, taking readers into realms where linear logic is only one possible vector amongst many. Comedy and tragedy dance, provoking a cascade of surreal impressions that change with each reading. Rock & Roll lyrics sung by dakinis erupt in counterpoint to the paradoxical hymns of a 'vicar or vajrayana' - a trans-Atlantic Englishman who raves, tongue-in-cheek, on the nature of reality. This is the first volume to be published in the contemporary genre of 'Critical Mass Poetics' as defined by the author and his students.

On the phenomenon of having two names, he writes:

"I appeared on FaceBook as Doc Togden because I wanted a fresh start in terms of the Arts. I have often found a dual prejudice to exist. If one presents as a musician / artist one is not taken seriously by Buddhists. If one presents as a Buddhist one is not taken seriously by musicians / artists. This is obviously a generalisation – and as such, probably meaningless for anyone apart from myself. It is true however, that Captain Beefheart had to give up his Rock musician persona to be taken seriously as a painter. A few Tibetan Lamas—such a Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche—have managed to evade the censorious radar of common opinion – but the same largesse of view would not seem available to the inconsequential eccentric yogi and yogini. Doc Togden is as much my name as Ngakpa Chögyam because the name on my passport—and other legal documents—is Dr Chögyam Togden. The Tibetan designation ‘ngakpa’ is hard to pronounce for most people and so, as I have a doctorate in Vajrayana Psychology I use that in everyday association outside my rôle as Lama. The title doctor releases me from having to designate myself by gender and appeals to my sense of humour vis-à-vis my fondness for Doc Holliday and a variety of musicians who have ‘Doc’ as their first name. I have five FaceBook friends called Doc and they are all musicians.

The time has now arrived to merge Doc Togden and Ngakpa Chögyam – and to allow them to be as they have always been. Hopefully those who may have looked askance at either will feel reconciled to the fact that they can talk with me as an artist and Buddhist teacher without feeling wary on the one hand or fearful of potential religious polemic on the other. I have no desire to convert anyone to Buddhism – but I do have a desire to offer aspects of Buddhism to the world of Art and Art to those who practise Buddhism. I believe there to be a common language – an essential language that speaks of the timeless efflorescence of the elements. The Arts arise from vision—from the empty space of primal creativity—and that space is the space everyone can access. Buddhists say that everyone is essentially a Buddha. I take from that that everyone is essentially an Artist. Now . . . did Ngakpa Chögyam say that, or did Doc Togden say that? Who ever said it, he’d also like to say that there is essentially no difference."

On Facebook, Doc Togden (Ngakpa Chögyam) describes himself as a "Teacher / Artist: painter; poet; author; life-style choreographer, and musician (vocalist, harp, rhythm bass, and 12 string / resophonic guitars)."

In reference to the roles of "Teacher" and "life-style choreographer", the informed reader will notice the uncanny resemblance of Doc Togden (Ngakpa Chögyam) to Ngak'chang Rinpoche, whom together with Khandro Déchen are the lineage holders of the Aro gTér. The Aro gTér is a stream of Vajrayana Buddhism in which ordination is congruous with romance, marriage, and family life that focuses on the teaching and practice of the Inner Tantras from the point of view of Dzogchen, an essential non-dual teaching.

As a writer, Doc Togden's (Ngakpa Chögyam) most recent books include an odd boy and wisdom eccentrics.