The Small Dark Light’s mission statement

My previous post was about who I am, this post is about what I write. Read on if you’re curious about what this publication is for and where I hope it ends up going. Hint: you may be involved.

  • I want The Small Dark Light to be a meeting place between mysticism and rationalism // philosophy and religion // East, Middle East and West // left and right // tradition and progress // the personal and the political // psychology and objectivity // pragmatism and emotionalism // honesty and sympathy // essays and stories // seriousness and humour. The more…

Killing Eve, James Brown, Scorsese & De Niro, Beyond the Fringe

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You know the drill: I share the best stuff I’ve been reading, listening to and watching lately. Let’s get right to it.


Ray Bradbury, Regina Spektor, Aaron Sorkin, Larry David

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Greetings and welcome to the second edition of Wabi Sabi’s Culture Club! The general idea with this series is that I hype the best media I’ve come across over the past week — books, music, movies, TV — but this week I want to backtrack a bit and talk about the highlights of the year so far. Otherwise I’ll be punishing some amazing work for no worse transgression than coming to my attention slightly before I started the series, and what kind of a writer would that make me? No, what kind of a person?

Books, albums and films that have been shaping my lockdown

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One of the ways I’ve been making the last year a little more interesting for myself is keeping a record of every new book I read, film I see, show I watch, album I hear and game I play. (That last one isn’t a long list, my gaming tastes being stuck somewhere around 1999. Just don’t take me on at Crash Team Racing, I promise you it isn’t worth it.)

It’s a fun project. I don’t have an amazing memory, and somehow my aesthetic adventures seem much more solid when I archive them like this. The Buddha might have said…

Is it possible to judge a piece of work apart from the person who created it? If not, what do we do about it?

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Well, that was a long gap. I’d love to say I spent the time attaining enlightenment on Mt. Ararat, but “irritating health issues and various urgent things that needed my attention” is a more honest account of events. Hoping to get back into some sort of regular schedule from here on out, but who can predict the future? Anyway, good to be back.

This post is about the separating-the-artist-from-the-art dilemma. There aren’t any easy answers on this one, but I believe that with most thorny questions in life the point isn’t to definitively answer them so much as keep reformulating…

Try sunyata on for size

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There’s nothing to do. You have no goals. You have no plans. You have no targets. You don’t need to achieve anything. Actually, you shouldn’t achieve anything. Why should you? That sounds like a lot of effort. Stop trying to do things. Stop pretending there’s anything for you to do, even if you wanted to. There’s nothing out there to act upon. You can’t influence a thing.

No-one else exists. They don’t possess anything, not even existence. They have no status, not even the status of being alive. They haven’t done anything. They haven’t achieved anything. They haven’t acquired anything…

An inside view

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This is Part 1 of a series on anxiety and depression. I’m not a psychologist but I do spend a lot of time sorting through my own feelings, pulling them apart and seeing what gives them their juice. I hope these posts will be helpful to anyone who’s ever felt similarly to me for similar reasons.

This post is about some of the things that cause anxiety and depression. The next post will look more closely at what they’re made up of and what they feel like. And the posts after that will discuss some management techniques. …

A different perspective on the love of God

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‘If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire…’ (Matthew 6:30)

The implication being that God loves us more than He loves birds, flowers and grass. But a few months ago I was in the garden watching grass grow — yes, I went through a phase of that when it was last warm enough to sit outside — and it occurred to me that He loves us the same way He loves those things. And I find that weirdly comforting.

Here’s what I mean. God is a…

And it may be more original than you think. Here’s why.

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You have something to say.

It may be something that’s already been said, but all of us habitually forget the things we already know and need to be constantly reminded of them. Maybe what you say is exactly what someone needs to be reminded of, and you’ve said it at exactly the right moment.

Have you ever read something that was so well put and so relevant to the things you’d been thinking and worrying about that it made you cry? I have.

Even if what you say has already been said, you’re using slightly different words to say it…

Some stories, thoughts, metaphors and open questions to stick under your tree. My treat.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

Hey all. I’m working on a few looooong posts at the moment that I’m going to have to break up into series, but in the meantime I thought I’d try something different for my first Christmas post. I’ve put together a few stray thoughts, analogies, stories and quasi-poems that have come to me over the last few months, and made them up into a seasonal hamper for your delectation. Hope at least one of them strikes a chord.

Merry Christmas.

‘I think of self-improvement as spending your life painting a picture of the ideal you. Every day you add a…

Wabi Sabi

Writer, composer and filmmaker, into soul music and Chinese philosophy. Editor @ The Small Dark Light

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