Saturday, April 20, 2013

Mystics and Scientists Conference, University of Warwick, 12th-14th April 2013, The Nature of Inspiration in Art Science and Spirituality

The annual Mystics and Scientists Conference organised by the Scientific and Medical Network had moved to the University of Warwick, from the University of Winchester, involving a somewhat longer journey from Havant, than usual. Apart from a slight problem with the car on the way, it worked out quite well in the end. The most interesting part was on the Saturday when my book “RememberingLorelei” came into a conversation with Ruth Padel, a well respected author and poet.

The Friday evening was taken up with the usual welcome from Professor Bernard Carr, Chair of the Scientific and medical network and Dr Peter Fenwick, the President, followed by a presentation by David Lorimer on “The Act of creation”, which included reference to his architect grandfather, Sir Robert Lorimer.

The Saturday morning session consisted of presentations by Prof Robert Turner on “Creativity and the Brain” followed by Prof Lord Richard Harries on “Inspiration and the Challenge of Modern Art to Religious Imagery”. Bob Turner talked about research he had been engaged in at his present appointment as Director of the Neurophysics Department at the Max PlanckInstitute for Cognitive and Brain Sciences. The Institute is in Leipzig and, as I found, recently, when I checked my website statistics, I am still getting an inordinate number of hits from the University of Leipzig, which I long ago put down to the connections between Lorelei, the Rhine and Richard Wagner as Wagner was an alumnus of the University of Leipzig.

The most interesting development was in the afternoon when we had a choice between a drumming session with Nihat Toslak  “Sufi Drum Circle: Connecting to the Heart through Rhythm, Movement and Chanting” and poetry from Ruth Padel, great-great-granddaughter of Charles Darwin. Over the years I have experienced the interesting effects of both drumming and chanting, though not through the Sufi tradition, about which I have read and which I respect, so I kept with the poetry reading, apart from which that was in the lecture theatre and I did not need to find the other location on an unfamiliar university campus. Not being good at concentrating for long periods, at times, these days, I missed occasional passages of Ruth’s poetry. So, after the readings, I asked Ruth if she had any readings on the Internet and she said she had, in various places, some as podcasts. She suggested that I go to her website. I said that I had already come across it while using the web to double check on the conference and its venue.

I said that I wondered if she might be giving too much away if she put her poetry on the Web but then said that I was getting round to putting sample text from my book on the Web anyway.

At that point Ruth asked about my book, so I took the file out of my bag with the first four chapters in, brought with me to begin the final reread and showed her the first page of Chapter 1, “Soulmate”, with the book title, “Remembering Lorelei” at the head of the page.

I explained that I had a discarnate Soulmate who was a legend in a previous lifetime, adding that, at that time, a few hundred years ago, I was Kurt Langerhan, a huntsman in Germany. Ruth’s reaction was,
“Wow, a very powerful book.”
That took me a little by surprise but pleasantly, of course. Presumably, the implication that my Lorelei was, seemed to be, the actual Lorelei was contributory to Ruth’s thoughts about my book, reaction to it. I added that my present wife, Jo,is Lorelei’s Soul Sister and another member of the family was Lorelei’s Soul Daughter, though it is not appropriate, at this stage, to put exactly who that is in writing. That extra information did not seem to detract from Ruth’s “powerful book” feeling, comment, more add to it as she expressed much the same sentiment again. On reflection that seemed reasonable as, even though I know the genre quite well, I have never heard of a book even remotely like mine.

During the ensuing tea break I bought a couple of Ruth’s books from the Warwick University Bookshop, “Darwin, a Life in Poems” and “The Mara Crossing”. Of course, I asked Ruth if she would sign both books when we returned to the lecture theatre for her presentation, “Inside and Outside: Breath Ear and Eye”.

I sat next to Beata Bishop for most of the Conference and what had transpired during my conversation with Ruth came up during one with Beata, who seemed to think it as encouraging as I did. I had seen Beata at most, if not all, of the conferences I had attended and remembered her making giving a presentation at ones of the earlier ones to which I had been.

Ruth’s presentation was quite impressive and certainly very interesting. On the other hand, the film by Jonathan Stedall, “Fools and Fallen Angels with Cecil Collins” was a little quaint, though, until I looked up Cecil Collins on the Internet, after I had returned home, I did not realise how old it was; Cecil Collins had passed over in 1989.

On the Sunday, the final day of the conference, the first presentation was by Shakti Maira, “Inspiration In Art: Unfolding Connecting and Forming” and the second by Prof Paul Robertson Grace and Effort: Sources of Inspiration Reconciled in Musical Experience”. Paul’s contribution I found both fascinating and inspiring, especially as he was a very accomplished musician and had experienced very serious illness. That had left him extremely insightful, though he seemed to have had a considerable degree of that before his illness. There was the added treat of a recital on a solo violin, with him sitting only a few feet from where I was and, at least in part, no intervening electronics. There was a microphone but I felt I was picking up the sound directly, to a large extent, as I was so close.

Those weekends are soon over but fascinating while they last. Invariably they leave something useful and that one was the encouragement to finalise the manuscript of “Remembering Lorelei” which at long last I have brought to the final reread stage.

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