The Chestnut Tree: The Experience of Contingency. An excerpt from Sartre’s ‘Nausea’.


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Image from

All at once the veil is torn away,  I have understood, I have seen…. The roots of the chestnut tree sank into the ground just beneath my bench. I couldn’t remember it was a root anymore. Words had vanished and with them the meaning of things, the ways things are to be used, the feeble points of reference which men have traced on their surface. I was sitting, stooping over, head bowed, alone in front of this black, knotty lump, entirely raw, frightening me. Then I had this vision.

It took my breath away. Never, up until these last few days, had I suspected the meaning of “existence.” I was like the others, like the ones walking along the seashore, wearing their spring clothes. I said, like them, “The sea is green; that white speck up there is a seagull,” but I didn’t feel that it existed or that the seagull was an “existing seagull”; usually existence conceals itself. It is there, around us, in us, it is us, you can’t say two words without mentioning it, but you can never touch it. When I believed I was thinking about it, I was thinking nothing, my head was empty, or there was just one word in my head, the word “being.” Or else I was thinking — how can I put it? I was thinking of properties. I was telling myself that the sea belonged to the class of green objects, or that green was one of the qualities of the sea. Even when I looked at things, I was miles from dreaming that they existed: they looked like scenery to me. I picked them up in my hands, they served me as tools, I foresaw their resistance. But that all happened on the surface. If anyone had asked me what existence was, I would have answered in good faith, that it was nothing, simply an empty form added to things from the outside, without changing any thing in their nature. And then all at once, there it was, clear as day: existence had suddenly unveiled itself. It had lost harmless look of an abstract category: it was the dough out of which things were made, this root was kneaded into existence. Or rather the root, the park gates, the bench, the patches of grass, all that had vanished: the diversity of things, their indi viduality, were only an appearance, a veneer. This veneer had melted, leaving soft, monstrous lumps, in disorder — naked, with a frightful and obscene nakedness.

I kept myself from making the slightest movement, but I didn’t need to move in order to see, behind the trees, the blue columns and the lampposts of the bandstand and the Velleda, in the middle of a clump of laurel. All these objects — how can I put it? They made me uncomfortable. I would have liked them to exist less forcefully, more dryly,more abstractly, with more reserve. The chestnut tree pressed itself against my eyes. Green blight covered it halfway up; the bark, black and swollen, looked like boiled leather. The sound of the water in the Masqueret Fountain trickled in my ears, made a nest there, filled them with sighs; my nostrils overflowed with a green, putrid odor. All things, gently, tenderly, were letting themselves exist like weary women giving way to laughter, saying, “It’s good to laugh,” in a damp voice; they were sprawling in front of each other, abjectly confessing their existence. I realized there was no mean between non-existence and this swooning abundance. If you existed, you had to exist to excess, to the point of moldiness, bloatedness, obscenity. In another world, circles, musical themes keep their pure and rigid lines. But existence is a yielding. Trees, pillars blue as night, the happy gurgling of a fountain, living smells, little mists of heat floating in the cold air, a red haired man digesting on a bench: all these somnolences, all these digestings taken together, had their vaguely funny side. Funny — no: not quite that, nothing that exists can be funny; it was like a floating, almost entirely elusive analogy, to certain situations in vaudeville. We were a heap of existences, uncomfortable, embarrassed at ourselves, we hadn’t the slightest reason to be there. none of us, each one confused, vaguely alarmed, felt superfluous in relation to the others. Superfluous [de trop — literally “too much”] : it was the only relationship I could establish between these trees, these gates, these stones. In vain I tried to count the chestnut trees, to locate them by their relationship to the Velleda, to compare their height with the height of the plane trees: each of them eluded the relations in which I tried to enclose it isolated itself, and overflowed. Of these relations (which I obstinately maintained in order to delay the collapse of the human world, of measurements, quantities, directions) I felt their arbitrariness; these relations no longer bit into things. Superfluous, the chestnut tree there, in front of me, a little to the left. Superfluous, the Velleda.

And I myself — soft, weak, obscene, digesting, juggling with dismal thoughts — I, too, was superfluous Fortunately, I didn’t feel it, rather it was a matter of understanding it; but I was uncomfortable because I was afraid of feeling it (even now I’m afraid — afraid that it might catch me behind my head and lift me up like a wave from the depths). I dreamed vaguely of killing myself to wipe out at least one of these superfluous existences. But even my death would have been superfluous. Superfluous, my corpse, my blood on these stones, between these plants, at the bottom of this smiling garden. And the gnawed flesh would have been superfluous in the earth which would receive my bones, at last, cleaned, peeled, as clean as teeth, it would have been superfluous: I was superfluous for eternity.

The word Absurdity is emerging under my pen; a little while ago, in the garden, I couldn’t find it, but neither was I looking for it, I didn’t need it: I thought without words, on things, with things. Absurdity was not an idea in my head, or the breath of a voice, only this long serpent dead at my feet, this serpent of wood. Serpent or claw or root or vulture’s talon, what difference does it make? And without formulating anything clearly, I understood that I had found the clue to existence, the clue to my nauseas, to my own life. In fact, all I could grasp beyond that comes down to this fundamental absurdity. Absurdity: another word. I struggle against words; beneath me there I touched the thing. But I wanted to fix the absolute character of this absurdity. A movement, an event in the tiny colored world of men is only relatively absurd — in relation to the accompanying circumstances. A madman’s ravings, for example, are absurd in relation to the situation in which he is, but not in relation to his own delirium. But a little while ago I made an experiment with the absolute or the absurd. This root — there was nothing in relation to which it was absurd. How can I pin it down with words? Absurd: in relation to the stones, the tufts of yellow grass, the dry mud, the tree, the sky, the green benches. Absurd, irreducible; nothing — not even a profound, secret delirium of nature could explain it. Obviously I did not know everything, I had not seen the seeds sprout, or the tree grow. But faced with this great wrinkled paw, neither ignorance nor knowledge was important: the world of explanations and reasons is not the world of existence. A circle is not absurd, it is clearly explained by the rotation of the segment of a straight line around one of its extremities. But neither does a circle exist. This root, in contrast, existed in such a way that I could not explain it. Knotty, inert, nameless, it fascinated me, filled my eyes, brought me back unceasingly to its own existence. In vain I repeated, “This is a root” — it didn’t take hold any more. I saw clearly that you could not pass from its function as a root, as a suction pump, to that, to that hard and thick skin of a sea lion, to this oily, callous; stubborn look. The function explained nothing: it allowed you to understand in general what a root was, but not at all that one there. That root with its color, shape, its congealed movement, was beneath all explanation. Each of its qualities escaped it a little, flowed out of it, half solidified, almost became a thing; each one was superfluous in the root and the whole stump now gave me the impression of uncoiling out of itself a little, denying itself, losing itself in a frenzied excess. I scraped my heel against this black claw: I wanted to peel off some of the bark. For no reason at all, out of defiance, to make the bare pink of a scratch appear absurd on the tanned leather: to play with the absurdity of the world. But, when I drew my heel back, I saw that the bark was still black. Black? I felt the word deflating, emptying of meaning with extraordinary rapidity.

Black? The root was not black, there was no black on this piece of wood — there was something else black, like the circle, did not exist. I looked at the root: was it more than black or almostblack? But I soon stopped questioning myself because I had the feeling of knowing what the score was. Yes, I had already scrutinized innumerable objects, with deep uneasiness. I had already tried — in vain — to think something about them: and I had already felt their cold, inert qualities elude me, slip through my fingers….Weird [louche, literally “squinting” but here suggesting ambiguity]: that’s what they were, the sounds, the smells, the tastes. When they ran quickly under your nose like startled hares and you didn’t pay too much attention, you might believe them to be simple and reassuring, you might believe that there was real blue in the world, real red, a real perfume of almonds or violets. But as soon as you held on to them for an instant, this feeling of comfort and security gave way to a deep uneasiness: colors, tastes, and smells were never real, never themselves and nothing but themselves. The simplest, most unanalyzable quality had too much content for itself, was superfluous at heart. That black against my foot, it didn’t look like black, but rather the confused effort to imagine black by someone who had never seen black, and who wouldn’t know where to stop, who would have imagined an ambiguous being beyond colors. It looked like a color, but also — like a bruise or a secretion, like an oozing — and like something else, a smell, for example, it melted into the smell of damp earth, warm moist wood, into a black smell that spread like varnish over this nervous wood, in a flavor of chewed, sweet fiber. I did not simply see this black: sight is an abstract invention, an idea that has been cleaned up, simplified, one of man’s ideas. That black there, amorphous, weakly presence, overflowed sight, smell, and taste. But this exuberance became confusion and finally it was no longer anything because it was too much.

This moment was extraordinary. I was there, motionless, paralyzed, plunged in a horrible ecstasy. But at the heart of this ecstasy, something new had just appeared; I understood the nausea, I possessed it. To tell the truth, I did not formulate my discoveries to myself. But I think it would be easy for me to put them in words now. The essential point is contingency. I mean that by definition existence is not [logical] necessity. To exist is simply … to be there; existences appear, let themselves be encountered, but you can never deduce them. Some people, I think, have understood this. Only they tried to overcome this contingency by inventing a being that was necessary and self-caused. But no necessary being [i.e., God] can explain existence: contingency is not a delusion, an appearance which can be dissipated; it is the absolute, and, therefore, perfectly gratuitous. Everything is gratuitous, this park, this city, and myself. When you realize this, your heart turns over and everything begins to float….

How long will this fascination last? I was the root of the chestnut tree. Or rather I was entirely conscious of its existence. Still detached from it — since I was conscious of it — yet lost in it, nothing but it. A consciousness which was uneasy but nevertheless let itself fall with all its overhanging weight on this piece of inert wood. Time had stopped: a small black pool at my feet; it was impossible for something to come after this moment. I would have liked to tear myself away from that atrocious joy, but I did not even imagine it would be possible. I was inside; the black stump did not move, it stayed there, in my eyes, as a lump of food sticks in the windpipe. I could neither accept nor refuse it. What effort it took to raise my eyes! Did I raise them? Rather did I not obliterate myself for a moment in order to be reborn in the following moment with my head thrown back and my eyes raised upward? In fact, I was not even conscious of the transition. But suddenly it became impossible for me to think of the existence of the root. It was wiped out, I could repeat in vain, it exists, it is still there, under the bench, against my right foot. It no longer meant anything. Existence is not something which lets itself be thought of from a distance; it must invade you suddenly, master you, weigh heavily on your heart like a great motionless beast. — Or else there is nothing more at all.

There was nothing more, my eyes were empty and I was spellbound by my deliverance. Then suddenly it began to move before my eyes in light, uncertain motions; the wind was shaking the top of the tree.

It did not displease me to see something move; it was a change from these motionless existences who watched me like staring eyes. I told myself, as I followed the swinging of the branches: movements never quite exist, they are processes, transitions between two existences, moments of weakness. I expected to see them come out of nothingness, ripen by stages, blossom; at last I was going to surprise existences in the process of being born.

No more than three seconds and all my hopes were swept away. Viewing these hesitant branches groping around like blind men, I could not succeed in grasping the process of coming into existence. This idea of process was a human invention. An idea too clear. All these trifling agitations, each of them, asserted themselves. They overflowed the leaves and branches everywhere. They whirled around these dry hands, enveloped them with tiny whirlwinds. Of course a movement was something different from a tree. But it was still an absolute. A thing. My eyes only encountered fullness. The tips of the branches were seething with existences which unremittingly renewed themselves and which were never born. The wind existing had just lighted on the tree like a huge fly, and the tree was shuddering. But the shudder was not an emerging quality, a process from potentiality to actuality; it was a thing; a shudder-thing flowed into the tree, took possession of it, shook it, and suddenly abandoned it, going further on to twist about itself. All was fullness and all was active, there was no weak moment in time; all, even the most imperceptible stirring, was mode of existence….

Had I dreamed this enormous presence? It was there, deposited on the garden, tumbling down in the trees, all soft, sticky, soiling everything, all thick, a jelly. And I, was I inside, with the garden? I was frightened, furious, I thought it was so stupid, so out of place. I hated this ignoble messiness. Piling up to the sky, spilling over, filling everything with its gelatinous slither, and I could see depths upon depths of it reaching far beyond the limits of the garden, the houses, and Bouville, as far as the eye could reach. I was no longer in Bouville; I was nowhere, I was floating. I was not surprised, I knew it was the World, the naked World revealing itself all at once, and I choked with rage at this gross absurd being. You couldn’t even ask where all this came from, or how it was that a world existed, rather than nothingness. It didn’t have any meaning, the world was present everywhere, before, behind. There had been nothing before it. Nothing. There had never been a moment in which it could not have existed. That was what bothered me; of course there was no reason for its existing, this flowing larva. But it was not possible for it not to exist. It was unthinkable: to imagine nothingness you had to be there already, in the midst of the World, eyes wide open and alive; nothingness was only an idea in my head, an existing idea floating in this immensity; this nothingness had not come before existence, it was an existence like any other and ap peared after many others. I shouted, What filth, what filth! And I shook myself to get rid of this sticky filth, but it held and there was so much, tons and tons of existence, endless. I suffocated at the bottom of this immense weariness. And then, all at once, the park emptied as through a great hole. The world disappeared as it had come, or else I woke up — anyway I saw no more of it; nothing was left but the yellow earth around me, out of which dead branches rose upward.

I got up and went out of the park. Once at the gate, I turned around. Then the garden smiled at me. I leaned against the gate and watched for a long time. The smile of the trees, of the clump of laurel, meant something: that was the real secret of existence. I remembered one Sunday, not more than three weeks ago. I had already detected everywhere a sort of conniving mood. Was it addressed to me? I felt with weariness that I had no way of understanding. No way. Yet it was there, waiting, a sort of look. It was there on the trunk of the chestnut tree — it was the chestnut tree. Things — one might have said thoughts — which halted halfway, which were forgotten, which forgot what they wanted to think and which stayed like that, hanging around with an odd little meaning which was beyond them. That little meaning annoyed me. I could not understand it, even if I had stayed leaning against the gate for a century. I had learned all I could know about existence [namely, that it is inaccessible to the intellect].

On Vladimir Putin. Comments from a friend that I couldn’t have put better.

Brian Fitzgerald 

I try to have a clinically cold eye towards Putin. For the life of me, I cannot see the sense in extrapolating pure evil from him being former KGB. Where else were Russian leaders with real skills and training in managing a complex mass society going to come from?

And the KGB in the 1980s was a very different beast from the KGB in 1954 or OGPU in the 1920s. People might be surprised to know that towards the end of the USSR period the KGB did such enlightened things as release their files on Babel, Florensky, Pasternak, etc, and let the world (or as much of the world as was interested) see the truly dreadful things it had been up to in former eras.

We have more verified facts about the gulags from the opening up of Soviet files even in the Soviet era, and from interviews with survivors published in Russia, than we do from the works of that celebrated dissident Solzhenitsyn. And I do not say that as an excuse for the gulags or the repressions and purges – they were terrible things and reading the genuine detail about what happened to these real people is a very tough experience. But for me the people who are far more difficult than Putin are figures like Gorky, who maintained himself in an aristocratic lifestyle in Italy by dobbing in writers to an increasingly paranoid Stalin, whenever he felt his own position was fragile, and consigning the people he was responsible for as secretary of the writers’ union to torture, imprisonment and death. Such are the attractions of a plate of mortadella and a glass of prosecco!

But back to Putin. His real achievements have been:

  1. to reunite Russia under a new national mythology,
  2. to win the war with the plutocrats who emerged in the 1990s and threatened the existence of the state,
  3. to punch way above his weight in international fora despite Russia having a fairly weak economy for its size,
  4. to protect the Russian diaspora communities in the Ukraine, and to take back for Russia strategic control of the Black Sea.

All these things go directly against NATO policy and dominant European interests. Apart from the first item in that list – the point about national mythology – they are generally unrelated to Putin’s domestic policy of extreme moral conservatism, which imposes severe restrictions on Russians in terms of aesthetic expression, sexual preference, etc.

This anti-libertarian theme is convenient from two points of view: It aligns with the anti-Western rhetoric and sentiment inherited from the Soviet and helps define a specifically Russian and non-Western identity and keeps the Orthodox Church on side. Putin understands better than anyone that the force that ultimately brought down the USSR was the enemy the Bolsheviks should never have made: the priests. The wound with faith in a people who had been sustained by faith through centuries of hard lives and dreadful repression was poisonous. Putin understands that, and is too clever to repeat such a mistake.

None of what I have said above means I approve of Putin. But I cannot see anything to be gained by placing him in a narrative of heroes and villains. History is not like that.



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I don’t speak German and have only rarely been tempted to learn, but there are certain German words that are so deliciously evocative that I simply fall in love with them.

Weltschmerz for instance — and if you can find a better word for that particular feeling I’d love to hear it — or gemutlich — “More tea?”— and my favourite of all seiltanzer, meaning tightrope walker or even better rope dancer.

In English the term tightrope walker triggers a purely mental process in which the mind after some fiddling around generates a mental picture. Rope dancer is marginally more visceral, whereas, say Seiltanzer and there you are in perfect kinesthetic balance looking down into the abyss.

I first came across the word during a period of intense reflection on my creative process while I was working towards my Masters in Writing.  It came to me as the name of a poem by British poet and academic Peter Abbs.


If on the road you should meet Socrates –
And fail to kill him,

Then avoid his ironic eyes,
His enticing invitations,

Teasing aporias: Refuse to shake his hand,
Decline the olives and the wine.

And not a word in answer to his questions.
The smallest concept

Sparks the engine of his mind, that machine of refutation
No-one survives

So, not one word of explanation,
Not one word of greeting.

Then, if he should pester you, be brave
And simply dance.

Let your body rise before him,
Every gesture conjunctive, assertion of your blood,

Your breath, your life,
Your death. An acrobat child dancing on the grave,

A self propelling wheel, a yes and (again) a yes.
Then without a pause, pass on:

Artist, the vessel of life, the self-maker,

Peter Abbs

The juggling tightrope walker seemed to encapsulate the very essence of what it is to be in the creative zone. Perfectly centred and cool all the while juggling the many different elements that must be fitted into the final offering.

And then there’s Roland Barthes idea of the Death of the Author which, it seems to me fits very nicely in here somewhere. I’ll get back to that sometime.


As soon as a fact is narrated, no longer with a view to acting directly on reality, but intransitively, that is to say finally outside of any function other than that of the practice of the symbol itself, this disconnection occurs, the voice loses its origin, the author enters into his own death, writing begins.

To be continued…

The Daughter: A Review


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I saw The Daughter back in March and wrote this on returning home the same evening. It somehow got stuck in the draft area of my blog, so here it is now, late, but still of interest I hope.



As a writer working to complete a screenplay adaptation myself, I have become hyper-sensitive to screenplay and screenplay structure. This one is a real inspiration; a brilliant reworking of Ibsen’s play The Wild Duck by Simon Stone the film’s director, who also directed another of my favourite movies Jindabyne.

Stone directs theatre as well as film and it shows. That he also directs his own screenplay allows him to use all the filmic techniques necessary to bridge the gap between the two forms. What works on the stage can lack energy and tension on the big screen. In The Daughter, Stone strikes a delicate balance between the requirements of the two forms giving the film a wonderful theatricality which elevates it the level of the heroic. At the same time it has all the reality and energy required to work on the big screen.

This achievement would not have been possible without the cast, including big names Geoffrey Rush, Sam Neill and Miranda Otto, working in a harmonious ensemble that must have made directing the film a real delight.

I heard Jason de Rosso, on The Final Cut , say that he felt there was a “hole in the film” where Geoffrey Rush should be and that Rush’s character “casts no shadow”, “lacks charm”. The way I see it is that Rush plays Henry as morally passive and the fact that he “lacks charm” is part of the conundrum of the powerful man and his ability to dominate others. Who ever said that Rupert Murdoch was charming?

It’s almost as if de Rosso wants Henry to be more “villainous”, but for Rush to have played Henry more to de Rosso’s taste would, I believe, have disturbed the finely balanced interplay of the ensemble cast. It would also have diminished the impact of the story’s premise, which is that evil happens not necessarily through evil intent, but more often as a mere side-effect of blind selfishness. Sometimes even as a result of good intentions on the part of flawed, short-sighted people, operating without self-insight.

There was one bit of acting that didn’t quite work for me though and that was Paul Schneider’s take on Christian, I just couldn’t get a coherent grasp of his motivation or rather of what he saw as his motivation at any particular time. Clearly his character was a divided and emotionally confused man but somehow this didn’t take roots in the energy of the character, rather it contaminated the performance.

The musical soundtrack is composed by Mark Bradshaw whose work also features in some of Jane Campions films. It threads itself sinuously through the film, never intruding, but sometimes taking centre stage in a subtle dance with the landscape.

As in his earlier movie Jindabyne Stone uses the soundtrack as a seperate narrative tool.  One technique I remember from Jindabyne was the sudden disappearance of the soundtrack in silence. This is used to great dramatic effect in The Daughter. When one of the characters, Christian, smashes a chair in a rage we hear nothing. The act is merely destructive, conveys no truth, brings no relief, just as his attempts to bring out what he sees as the truth are merely destructive.

David Stratton talks about some other uses of this ‘division of sound from image’ device, in his review of March 12, 2006 The Australian

The first few minutes of the film are filled with lucidly presented information, achieved by the division of sound from image, so that often a conversation is heard on the soundtrack while quite separate visual information is depicted on screen.

This device not only allows Stone to establish characters, relationships and a certain amount of backstory swiftly and clearly, but it also dramatically depicts the complex linkages between the characters.


The ending is truly powerful and brings the drama to an emotionally satisfactory resolution at the same time as it leaves the story dangling. Another example of the way Stone is capable of separating out the individual threads of a process and weaving them in new exciting ways.

This is definitely a movie I would watch again.


The Perfect Boiled Egg




I wrote this recipe down for my friend Cindy as she so much enjoyed the boiled eggs I brought to our picnic one perfect day when she took me for a big driveabout in the Darling Ranges and Swan Valley.

Sometimes I cook boiled eggs without a timer. Just kind of ‘tuning in’ to what I’m doing and I usually get it pretty spot on. But this apparent simplicity is not fool proof. I sometimes stuff it up, especially when I just don’t need an exploded egg in my life. So for Cindy, and for myself in my less-present moments, here it is.

How to cook perfect boiled eggs — reliably.

You have to get good eggs. Eggs from happy chooks make happy eating.

This is what good eggs look like raw: the lovely orange yolks indicate that the chickens have had access to lots of green feed and the penumbra around the yolk shows it is nice and fresh. These eggs are pastured with less than 30 hens per hectare so I figure they have a nice high Omega 3 levels, if you like to concern yourself with that sort of thing.


I often boil up half a dozen and store them in the fridge in case I need a snack or something to put in a lunch box.

(These directions are for a 70 to 80 gram egg and will give a moist but not too runny egg. If you want to dip soldiers or have the egg spill its contents over a dish as a dressing then reduce the cooking time to 3 ½ minutes.

Bring a decent sized pot of water to a rolling boil.

  1. This helps to give the eggs plenty of room so they don’t knock against each other. It also allows you to lower the eggs smoothly and gently into the water so they receive the initial heat of the water evenly. This is especially important if your eggs haven’t quite returned to room temperature after being refrigerated as the rapid expansion of the shell can cause cracking.
  1. Watch the pot till the water returns to the boil, then turn down the heat to a simmer.
  1. Allow to simmer for 4 minutes.
  1. Remove eggs from the water and give them a sharp tap with a spoon to make a small break in the shell. This will stop them cooking any further.
  1. Plunge eggs into cold or even iced water.
    This can make it easier to detach the membrane around the egg from its contents as you peel it.
  1. Roll the egg gently between your palms until the shell is all cracked and starting to loosen.
    Peel being very careful, especially at the beginning, to get under the membrane.

Eat and enjoy.



Mens Sana in Corpore Sano


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As one who has experienced long periods of depression and mental chaos, I write this  as a way of sharing some of the ideas that have helped me gain a measure of stability and creativity in my life. It is also a record of what has worked, for the times I need reminding. As such is a work-in-progress,  as is my life. The piece didn’t start out that way or I might have written it in a different format, perhaps blog style. That will teach me to think there is such a thing as a final solution!

I write it also for you, beloved reader, as a challenge to you to embark on your own journey to health and happiness, if you haven’t done so already. And if you have begun the journey to say “You are not alone, Charaiveti, charaiveti. Keep going.”

I remember someone wise saying that the best way to live to a healthy old age is to get a serious disease and use it as a teacher.  Let you bodymind speak to you, listen to it’s needs. Tune in. Look after yourself!

The truth is that the healthcare system in Australia is groaning under the weight of our demands for the quick fix, the final solution, the magic bullet that will absolve us of responsibility for our own wellbeing.

An increasing number of scientifically trained medical doctors have experienced severe health problems themselves; and seeing the limitation of the “Here take this pill” approach to health have embraced a more holistic way of healing disease, of returning the bodymind to optimum health. This means that there are some well qualified people to turn to and much of it is free, via the internet, youtube and so on.  Be intelligent and discerning who you listen to, as you would or should when consulting your GP.

It can take time for new ideas to become part of medical orthodox treatment and no wonder when you look at the workload Doctors are expected to undertake and the burden of responsibilty most people drop at their feet.

However it does help to have someone to discuss what you are doing to tackle your dis-ease and many GPs are really open to being supportive of your plans to improve your life.

Some years ago both my sister and I were diagnosed with the same physical disease. We have tackled it in different ways over the years, she by going down the medical route with a specialist to advise her and me muddling along experimenting with diet and supplements and meditation. To our delight, the advice she is receiving from her specialist is now converging with the regime I have put in place after years of exploration.

This approach of course, is not for everyone, to many people the ideas are foreign to their way of seeing the world and the body. I hope you aren’t one of them. Vibrant health and mental clarity allow such joy to arise…

This approach  relies on a willingness to make significant lifestyle and dietary changes if necessary and to take responsibility at a very fundamental level for our own health. Taking responsibility is, in a way, both the cure and the goal of the cure. Order is the environment in which our creative flow can manifest.

The recognition that we have a mental illness can seem disempowering. “There’s something wrong with my brain.” or “I am crazy”,  so while we go about the task of “fixing” the brain, we need to cultivate the freedom and strength that comes with the recognition of who we really are underneath the chaos. From that platform we can lovingly parent ourselves into a more fulfilling and meaningful life.

I  remember hearing Osho say something to the effect that solving problems is the never-ending obsession of the mind and that if we can only get a bit of distance from it – recognise that we are simply the still silent watcher of its games – then the solutions to many of our problems become obvious – they may simply evaporate.

Wittgenstein,  beloved philosopher, said the same thing slightly differently:

“The solution of the problem of life is seen in the vanishing of the problem. (Is not this the reason why those who have found after a long period of doubt that the meaning of life became clear to them have been unable to say what constituted that meaning?)” Tractatus Logico Philosophicus (1921)

Fighting with the mind and emotions, trying to control will always be a losing battle. Getting a distance from them allows us to see the choices we need to make to allow healing.

But meditation, the process whereby we attune ourselves to our inner stillness and silence can be a real challenge for anyone with mental dis-ease.

Osho designed his Dynamic Meditation to cater for those of us for whom sitting silently is not (yet) an option.

Dynamic Meditation to clear the bodymind

I have often observed in myself that when I am at my most mentally chaotic my mind is behaving like an unruly and insecure two-year-old. The thing about meditation is that it helps strengthen that centre of awareness that is unaffected by turbulent thoughts and emotions, where you can retreat, get a break from it all, and where you can watch what is going on in your bodymind system.

This means that you become more able to monitor the effects of the various physical supplements and dietary changes you are making. Over time it will empower you to take full responsibility for your own journey to health and freedom.

There are also some very important lifestyle considerations to take into account that can give you some practical ways of leveraging yourself to a position of greater mental integrity.

Getting out of the swamp. How lifestyle can keep you stuck.

Professor Jordan Petersen, Professor of Psychology at Toronto University –  and clinical psychologist – outlines in this video the kind of lifestyle that will almost inevitably contribute to mental illness and offers some ideas on how to get out of that swamp.



We have become used to treating the delicate self-healing mechanism of our bodymind as if it were a mechanical thing and leaving it in the hands of the medical profession just as we leave our car in at the mechanics for servicing.  The fact that medical solutions are free – paid for with our taxes –  while supplements can be expensive means that leaving it to the Doctor can look like the obvious solution.  I have no answer to this except to say that the fact that something is free doesn’t add anything to its real value. “Here take this poison – It’s free!” Although if you are severely depressed to the extent of contemplating suicide a pill may be just the trick while you get your life in order.

Lithium deficiency?

Lithium Orotate Supplementation.

There is some negative stuff about lithium orotate on the net. The Wikipedia entry on Hans Neiper, who did the original research on the this form of mineral salt  claims: “His therapy has been discredited as ineffective and unsafe”. The references used to substantiate this claim are anecdotal and out of date and do not actually address his research findings  scientifically.

In this video Dr John Grey discusses his longterm use of this supplement both for his family and in hsi medical practice. What he says tallies with my own experience, although as my general diet has improved I seem to need to take it less and less.


Lithium Orotate. Orotic acid is a substance found in large quantities in breast milk and facilitates the uptake of minerals by the suckling infant.

Neiper found that orotic acid when combined with a mineral such as calcium , magnesium or lithium enhances uptake – bioavailability – by a factor of 20. The value of this is enormous when it is remembered that “the therapeutic dose of lithium when administered as lithium carbonate is close to the toxic level (i.e., there is a narrow therapeutic window), and for this reason blood levels and organ function need to be monitored continually.” 1

There’s more info about how to get hold of Lithium Orotate at the bottom of this post.

Other supplements your brain may need

These following are links to a series of videos where John Gray gives detailed advice on other supplements for restoring healthy brain function. There’s nothing outrageously expensive on his list.

Lifestyle and dietary changes for a healthy brain

Doctor Mark Hyman is another scientifically trained doctor whose first-hand experience of the limitations of the “Take this Pill” approach  to healing led him to look at a more holistic approach.



The Advanced Research Brand is the one I have always taken. They claim to be using the method Hans Neiper advocated to manufacture the product, I don’t know what that means or if it is important but it is a product that has always worked for me. I am still trying to find the New Zealand supplier I got them from a couple of years ago, as the postage from the US is a bit steep. There is a Sydney supplier but their price is ridiculous. So here are a couple of US options. There are other cheaper brands on the net but some of them are only 5 mg per pill rather than 120mg.

From Lucky Vitamins on EBay $US8.98 per 100 pack, postage $US25.04


From $US13.49 – I think this is where I got them from last time can’t remember the postage, and it’s not on the site, but I think it may have been a  bit less than the Lucky Vitamins charge.

DOSAGE. One tablet a day is the usual dosage but you can take two a day for the first week to get the blood levels up, if you have stong symptoms of deficiency. Eventually you can simply take one whenever you begin to notice that you are feeling ‘off’ for no reason.