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Copyright © 2017 by Jim Emerton


Jim Emerton has asserted his right under the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.


This book is a work of fiction and except in the case of historical fact any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is purely coincidental.


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ISBN: 978-1-86151-802-6





This book is a collection of articles, observations, letters, stories, comments and verse previously published in the various Mensa publications for members, including Mensa Magazine, Cognito, Arcana, THINK!, Parnassus, Green Scene, Lyriq etc. They are reprinted with permission and have been adapted where necessary to suit the context of a book. Other short pieces were written separately for this volume…



CONTENTS


Introduction

Jim Emerton interviewed by Brian Page

Man, Humanity and the Meaning of Life

Personality and the Mind

People, Places and Pigeons

The Natural World




About the Author



Jim Emerton is a lifelong lover of the countryside and wild creatures who has been a prominent member of the pigeon racing community for more than 40 years and is now internationally known as a writer and commentator on the sport. A deep thinker and lover of philosophy, his visits to 52 countries have given him much food for thought about the universe and the human condition. He became a member of Mensa in his thirties, subsequently joining no fewer than 15 of its special-interest groups. He now spends much of his time writing for Mensa publications and the pigeon racing press.




INTRODUCTION


Writing on nature, and the nature of my writing


The whole purpose of my writing is to project what I see as the truth of my own experiences, combined with knowledge gleaned from cultural studies of the arts and sciences. Writing is a way of life, and my personal way of giving something back to the birds and other subjects I have devoted my life to. It is rewarding when people find it interesting or enlightening, although some of the ideas are poetic or philosophical.

I like to reflect my special feelings and insights into the mind of man and what we really know and don’t know about the world around us. Educated on the great writers like Blake, Kafka, Dostoevsky and Sartre, I aspire to having perhaps a fraction of their collective wisdom and penetrating insight.

Membership of Mensa has opened up a sea of writing possibilities for me in specialist newsletters and magazines, and I now indulge myself regularly in this activity. My thanks to all who take an interest in my publications and my highly-personalised writings.




Poet, Philosopher and Pigeon Racing Expert

Jim Emerton interviewed by Brian Page


Reproduced with permission from Mensa Magazine, November 2016


It was, says Jim Emerton, perhaps the most magical moment of his life. He was on a houseboat on Lake Dal in Kashmir, the air crisp and pure and the sky a startling blue against the white mountaintops in the distance.

“I was smoking from a hookah pipe that was filled with hashish and opium and it was the most amazing moment. I got to a place I don’t think I will ever reach again.”

Sitting opposite Jim, now a man well into middle age and dressed in a short-sleeved checked shirt and chinos and wearing a trilby hat, the juxtaposition is startling. He smiles at my surprise. “We were all young once,” he says and laughs.

For long-time Mensa member Jim, travel – and, you suspect, experiencing new ideas and concepts along the way – has always been an important part of life. He met his wife Jean in 1978 just before he was to go on a trek to the Himalayas.

“Jean and I fell in love, but I was still determined to go, and I did. Jean was very upset but like the movie star I said ‘I’ll be back’. I was away for four months. When I came home I had long hair, a beard, and looked like a wild man, a hippy, which I suppose I was. I got a haircut and got cleaned up and went to see her and we’ve been together ever since.”

Not that the travel ended. Jean joined him on his tours – in all, he says, he has been to 52 countries and islands.

It was while travelling that Jim began to develop a philosophical thought process of his own. “I was in the Pokhara Valley in Nepal and was at the top of a mountain and it was a wonderful experience, there was a complete loss of ego because you are so small against all that nature, and there was an enhanced feeling of consciousness, it was really very meaningful.” Jim had come to realise, he says, that he had been “brainwashed” by the education system. “I spent three years at Askham Bryan College and then three years studying at Kew and then did teacher training and then the Open University. All that time as a student listening to what other people are telling you, you are brainwashed into accepting the ideas of others. Now I have developed my own personal belief system fusing science and art in philosophy.”

And it is through Mensa, which he joined in 1987, that he expresses much of that belief process – from his desk at home. “I do not like crowds, too many stimuli in a group and I feel threatened by the group dynamic. I am quite introverted in some ways, so I involve myself in Mensa through writing and the SIGS. My involvement with Mensa is here with my computer, where I can contribute my ideas and thoughts to among others Cognito, Lyriq, Science and Mystics, Scientists and Autistic Spectrum and Bipolar. I have always been proud of being a member of Mensa and it has allowed to me to explore my ideas and my poetry through the SIGs.”

He has also taken his writing to another level and has published a series of books, including My Life in Pieces, Poems and Paragraphs, a collection, as the title implies, of his poetry and musings on the world. There will be three books in a similar style out by the end of this year, he says. It’s an astonishingly prolific output. And then there is also to be what he calls his “magnum opus”, a new book on pigeon racing. Jim is universally recognised among the pigeon racing fraternity for his writing on the sport and as a leading breeder and competitor. His latest work will be “a huge book” for which he has conducted interviews with lots of leading figures in the pigeon world, including the manager of the Queen’s loft.

“I hope it will be my masterpiece. My ambition is to be the best writer on pigeon racing in the world. It is something that I have a drive to do, to prove something, it gets me moving these mornings now I am older.” He pauses and smiles thoughtfully. It’s been an invigorating hour, full of anecdotes and tales and musings from his fascinating life.

“When I reflect on it I think I have had a great life really,” he says. “I have travelled a lot, run a business, been a salesman. I was a record-breaking shooter and until I was 30 I had never been beaten at arm wrestling.” Then there was the poetry, and now the books. “And then there is Jean, such a wonderful woman, I have been so lucky – although I am not always good at showing it – as we’ve been together for 38 years now. Yes, it’s been a good life.” And a life that’s not over yet. There’s more to come, I suspect, and hope, from Jim Emerton, writer, poet, philosopher and pigeon racing expert.




MAN, HUMANITY AND THE MEANING OF LIFE



THE VISIONARY PERSONALITY


Luminaries, seers, prophets and imagineers are all visionaries of one kind or another. The essence is their focus on future possibilities, and it can be accompanied by precognition or visions in the form of a presentiment. I have known them all on a personal level, or in the company of others on my world travels. It would appear to spring from the brain/mind synthesis – the self in juxtaposition with the external environment at large, and with cosmic influences. We know little in this complex mystery, yet science, religion and philosophy attempt to penetrate the truth of the matter. Why is it that some people are of this ilk, yet others appear not to manifest these traits? Can we examine the concept from the psychological perspective?



IS SUBJECTIVE ALSO OBJECTIVE?


When I think of what are regarded as the physical elements of the so-called objective world, as examined in great detail by scientists, I become aware that mind or consciousness is part of the overall concept of the cosmos. What do the scientists think of the idea that human minds are an integral feature of the cosmos and the sentience of other life forms too?


The self

Take me on a kaleidoscopic journey to the centre of consciousness,

to the far reaches of outer and inner space.

Trace the footsteps of primordial man

Be at one with the cosmic whole.

Take warmth from imagination’s fire,

bask in the glory of uniqueness.

Marvel at the divine beauty of the diamond,

the lotus, the archetype of archetypes. Leave

a footprint in the sands of time.



WHEN MY HEART TURNED TO ICE


There are some little devils that feed on your heart and soul and bleed you dry. After the vampire, in human form, is gorged with blood, the heart is one of ice crystals, the mind and spirit of stone. Fine words can wake you from the nothing that you became, as you tap into the well of feelings below. To those who suffer and feel alone, let my words reach out and touch you, to feel that inner glow. The love of another can light the flame, make the spirit strong again. Yet a man must walk alone, if he is to call the world his very own.



THE ECCENTRIC


Eccentrics forge a unique identity and make unconventionality a convention of their own. The psyche may express novel imagery, perceptions or original thought processes, perceived often in the mad, the gifted and people of genius who may oscillate from one trait to the next or a fusion of all three personality characteristics. Some exemplars from popular culture are Picasso, Dali, Spike Milligan, Ken Dodd and many other people who have made a great impact and influenced mainstream consciousness. Many English people are fascinated by the quirky originality and whimsical charm of these unusual beings. l love them, as all my favourite people are odd, and I would dread to be regarded as anything but eccentric.


The cruel hand of destiny

If we live long and hard

life will spring from the depths of time

and bite us hard. The good, the great,

the rich, the poor, will be forever more

at the mercy of the pulse of life and death,

wise to savour the sweet songs of innocence,

when, without care, you hear them loud and clear.

When you walk on by, high to all that is good,

so fine and beautiful, spare a thought

for the poor and oppressed

who, no longer blessed,

wallow in the trough of despond.

Into each life a little rain must fall

to us all so proud and tall, as we embrace

the journey of no return as the leaves

begin to fall.



HUNGER, FIRE AND DESIRE


Excellence in the execution of any sport or interest is fuelled in man by the brain. In my obsessive and fanatical pursuits I am fed by passions loaded with emotion. To be creative it is helpful to tap into and shape the contents of consciousness. The pilot in the process is the self-conscious ego, which you can perceive to be present in the forehead. Some people, especially extroverts, may find it alien to be introspective like this. Apparently around two-thirds of Mensans tend towards introversion – I can see why. I have been fortunate to maintain a Zen-like concentration of my interests over very many years, in an attempt to perfect my exploration of them, thanks to hunger, fire and desire.


The sweet eye of nostalgia

l sugar-coat the mists of time in the annals of my mind.

The past is crisp and even

when buoyed by the optimism of the moment, when seen through sanguine eyes.

Clouds of darkness of ages past

are suffused by a welcome euphoria of the present.

The wise man knows the saccharine of age from the cup of truth

as the sand rushes from the hourglass.

In my transient life on planet Earth,

I have enjoyed some wonderful and beautiful moments

yet when my earthly journey reaches the inevitable end,

it will have been just another little ripple on the ocean of man.



WHAT IS EDUCATION?


I see an education as a development of the total personality to a higher level of experience and function. There are expansions of knowledge in specialised and generalized areas, from the academic perspective, an appreciation of many cultural aspects – the sciences, philosophy, poetry and the arts. I found that my travels around the world in remote wilderness and exotic places honed my instincts, perceptions and survival skills, having been through Afghanistan and into the Himalaya, and indulged myself in 52 countries and islands of planet Earth.

With age the inner spiritual journey is the food of my creative work as a writer and poet. We educate to create people better adapted to the needs of society, the advancement of knowledge and the collective and higher good of humanity, and since tradition and convention have established the practice of it.

My life long and continuous education has been assisted by graduation at the Royal Botanic Gardens Kew, Worcester College, teacher-Open University, and Mensa. My writings on racing pigeons are global, on the Elimar Pigeons website, in magazines, and I write for many diverse Mensa journals on multifarious subjects. It is all stimulating, rewarding and self-expressive. I found great early insights in Bronowski, Kafka, Jung, Lawrence, Dostoevsky and the French Impressionists, and Blake, the mystic.



CAN YOU BE OVER-EDUCATED?


Many people with esoteric and specialist knowledge in obscure, unconventional subjects may encounter degrees of cerebral isolation and perhaps alienation. This trait may manifest itself as eccentricity, and there may be a human perception of it as genius. In relative terms we are defined by social value judgements. Taking an existential view of being, we are who we are as perceived by our inner selves.

Education may relate to personal identity of oneself and others. As l reach the age of the sage, I derive great pleasure from the expression of my personal education. l confess that on many occasions my gifts have made me feel estranged from close personal contacts with others. I would imagine that creative people in history have perceived themselves as isolates. With maturity, a spiritual epiphany may enhance feelings of individuation as the personality is integrated into a sense of oneness. I feel that Eastern philosophical influences, like Zen, assist the finer perceptions in life.



EDUCATION AND ELITISM


Doctors, professors and assorted academics may believe that they are superior to others. I do like to applaud originality, talent and savant genius as experienced by my senses. In the final analysis, we are no better than simple, less differentiated people. I mix with a few with so-called learning difficulties who are sensitive and lovely beings. At my age I like to feel some compassion, and can recognise the arrogance of some intellectuals who attempt superiority with verbal prowess. Status conferred by the mainstream can be shallow on a philosophical level. I plead guilty, yet am a mere human, despite my education. Formal academic education may suit enquiring minds, and that perhaps results in the wisdom of the sage, if you live long enough.



THE GRAMMAR SCHOOL SYSTEM


I am a fan of selection processes in secondary school education. Pupils can be motivated by the challenge and the seeds of academia can be sown. My teeth were cut at a grammar school, although able children may thrive without formal training. Much depends on genes, parenting and the overall impact of environmental stimuli on the psyche of the child. As a Mensan I favour the rise of the meritocracy and the elite regardless of class origins.

The corollary is that gifted children do not necessarily aspire to, or achieve, greatness. Education is a wonderful, cerebral tool and can enhance the quality of life in a material and spiritual sense.



THE ESTABLISHMENT


I value the educational establishments of Kew, Worcester College, Open University and now Mensa, where some great minds have influenced my career. Yet my real education has been life itself, on my worldly travels. The exotica, the sights, sounds and perceptions of beautiful and strange things and experiences have been mind and soul fuel for this earthling. The vast diversity, the florid brilliance of my little life, flood a memory that is refined as poetic imagery. The deep and dark complexity of shadow time, balances and helps shape the psychic whole, the pulse of my life on the ocean of being. I recognise law, order, moral, religion and virtue, yet feel invigorated at times by a sense of personal freedom – we can conform yet be free spirits in the material world.


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