Running alongside progress: have we gone too far?

Our pulsing star sets its gaze upon the winding pathways; it looks down at me through the varieties of rustling leaves and branches, scattering what has been a grey mist of a night and stirring it into a watery daybreak. Coursing through the woods on a mixture of adrenaline and muesli I quicken my pace up the incline. I’d started out making pretty good time but had grown too complacent nearing the 2k marker and not pushed as hard as I ought to have done. Now I’m lagging behind the 21-22 minuters who have probably already made it past the wooden cabin and hit the 4k point.

Accepting my 10th place fate with a good humoured resentment of those ahead of me, I take the time to look about at the forests surrounding my ambience. Shades of ochre moss crawl over the oaks felled by gales just off the beaten track; a dim fog still hangs in the air beneath the trees and in the depths of the woods I believe that I hear the hoot of an owl sounding through the thick brambles and beeches. Often when running through such picturesque landscapes I am struck by such sensations, some intuitive and completely undefinable understanding that I am a part of something greater than myself, something that transcends our modern day, detached society.

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All too frequently however I mistake this feeling for being literally caught up in a timeless encounter with Nature in a similar way to how our primitive ancestors once were. But as I flick from the emerald colours of the woodland to the shrill ringing of my luminous timer, I realise that this is simply not the case. My thoughts seem rarely to drift from the anthropocentric illusion that most of us seem to cling to, I am not simply enjoying my run but am concerned by time limits and training schedules, nor is my desire to run so early on a Saturday born out of anything other than the want improve my time. When I really stop and think about it, there are parameters to my experience of running that prevent me from seeing it in its true light. I am locked into similar experiences of a thing by the constrains society places on me.

Consider yourself, right now whilst reading this article, getting up and running off into the fields or beaches. Imagine that you run for miles and miles until you have no idea where you are, you don’t even know why you are doing it. Some time ago you deliberately dropped your phone so as to have no means of communication. You are completely alone and at one with your surroundings. This I think comes close to what our ancestors might have experienced in the ancient jungles and wildernesses. But will you actually do it right now as you’re reading this article? For most I imagine that the answer is no. But why, what’s stopping us? Social conditioning? Moral conduct? Laziness?

In fairness it’s likely a mixture of all these things preventing us from acting in such spontaneous and impulsive ways. And we have progress to blame for that. As our civilisation has become larger and more technologically advanced, more social ties are formed in our short lifespans, our morality has had to evolve via Kantian ethics and utilitarianism to suit the demands of a complex culture and our intake of glucose and saturated fats has increased making us less animated and more inclined to sit on the sofa watching trash TV all day. The creativity and happiness of us as individuals has been restricted to lie within certain parameters due to socially imposed factors that influence our livelihoods. The metallic cords of language, memory and society prevents us from seeing the world in the way our ancestors once did, it restricts our thought and our vision. If we ever wish to combat the epidemic sweeping this civilisation there is but one antidote: we must stop progressing. And that is all I will say on the matter. We can either continue to venture into the unknown or we can revert back to how our civilisation used to be. There is no middle ground. It’s time to choose. Our creativity or our ambition.

The Darken Peri

There are blank faces under the leafy moon tonight,
Charred spoons lay scattered on the sandbanks
Whilst pumpkins, pale as sick vultures, tumble
Down to the river,
Making blubbering splashes as they hit the frothy currents.
What is this starlit place?

Wait! A figure glides along the waters.
It has wide marbles for eyes
That trickle lost light from their deepest vaults.
A moon spirit lost in the stygian night.

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Frozen amelioration

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Etched in the Neolithic dawn,

The hexed belt of Orion;

‘Twas then but a symphony of Azure

To the tribal enchantress,

In ecstasy amongst her heterodox forces.

From the splintered lute

To the strains of Pachelbel,

That Dust, taught by the ark,

Doth climb the steep crags

From the abandoned pits

Out into the surreal daylight;

They blink in Ambiguity’s glare.

Is it but a mirage, their newly found glow?

Were they lured by some fall’n angel

To hasher nights?

To eons where the lofty spires

Do rise up o’er the billows

To howling zeniths.

Our crowns wrapped in frantic heights,

The visionaries conjure a new philosophy:

Those celestial Craftsmen

Become the ticking engines of One greater.

Chords of Scorpius woven into orbit

By Aristotle’s euphoric cries

Of ‘eureka!’

Now I stare out through a window,

A plane sketches the open clouds,

In the calm, I believe it sounds:

A stir in the ether;

The burning of the Alexandrian vaults

In Rome, as Zeus takes up his bolt.

Words

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The birds and stars are going about

Their steady evening muse,

Free from culture – who could doubt?

And so far more in tune.

I gazed ‘pon the shores and ‘pon the brooks

And ‘pon the tide drawn rills,

O ‘pon the scattered shells I looked

To capture with the quill.

How I wish I could descend

Into those curling blues, the glens

Of corralled rock and salty lanes

Down to where the sea gods reign.

Alas! My lines of inky verse

Would surely take their flight

And drain away to bot’mless depths

That never see the light.

Our thoughts are fragile things.

The Chapel Tree

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O depart foul client of mine gaze!

For ye are but the shadow of a Beech;

Your hidden stalk of Ivy stands

Amongst the golden fields of Wheat.

And when the Reapers make their rounds

Your cackling elder face doth greet

Those slicing, flaying sounds.

Tree! A day once came when, scythe in hand,

I wandered through our summer lands.

But the fields were now all scorching heaths

And the hallowed skies a thorny wreath,

That could have been thine crown.

I watched, as the warbling birds

Fluttered in light bars o’er the dry hills

To shelter in thine verdant head:

A mass of emerald scrolls.

The sands of pitch

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‘Tis ‘cursed luck that ‘pon the eye
Of newly blooded sight
The ancient ghosts should rise on up
O’er the sands so white.

The land infused with emerald skies
Their void and rapid essence,
Do tell of kingdoms gobbled up
By Time’s malicious presence.

O as I stand upon the rocks,
The granite, grit stained stones,
I look to yonder hill so high
Where lie the ancient bones
Of man and beast and godly kin
They all seem so alike,
In presence of that one so sly:
The Scottish Sea Wind Wight.

He stands upon the fertile cliffs
And gazes ‘pon the sea,
Yet only when the moon doth rise
Shall the spirit be at ease.

He glides about the murky caves
The ancient caverns sly,
With but a sword from bygone days
O where his death was nigh.

Condemned to hang for Treason’s vines
Which seeped around his lips
And plunged their vulgar poisons ‘pon
His serpentine like whip.

So lost is enraged spirit coy
He’s turned the land to dust
Where once the trees and waters sung
Even the sand doth rust.

And as I make my way up to
Where he did free the ghost,
The air around grows torpid fast
And hints at undead host.
The form I see by rotting wood
Is like that from some dream,
The rancid sort where Mortals are
Engulfed by Faerie’s stream.

A pure gaunt face, his eyes are hallowed
And sunken into bone,
And where they should have shone a blue
A tragic red doth roam.

He’s formless though he looks as man,
Yet I cannot so bring,
My eyes and mind to know of thing
That rules as Hade’s king.

Now the truth comes flooding back,
In rows of fiery gore,
The land is green, the rope is fresh
So that swift death’s ensured.

The Scottish Wight is soul of mine,
An essence yet to come,
And as I fall through open trap
I’m left to Devil’s Run.

The spirit of the ash

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A calm, gentle breeze slowly wafted throughout the sunlit giants of that still and tranquil place. The early morning dew still hangs upon the leaves so green like damp soothing crystals, projecting the warm radiant light, bestowed so graciously upon them by the heart of the sky, into bizarre and wondrous shapes like no other. The smell of ash and soot hangs fondly within the fabric of that place as if it has made its presence known many a time but those remnants of its maker remain unseen; hidden within the depths of that most mysterious of all forests. And no man whom walks upon that floor of dust shall rest their eyes upon the one, whom stirs the smell of smoke and ash within that most, tranquil of places…