Marnova – of and from a wandering mind…

Marnova's musings on life, media and Mongolia

Archive for April 2006

[Chip off the old blog] Sagacious Solomon?

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Bugger.  Was in London for much of last week and did a photographic blog of one of the days when, amongst other things, I met up with an American guy I hadn’t seen since I met him at a party 10 years ago.  Shooting-from-the-hip on the South Bank, the grime and grit north of Clapham Junction.  But the memory card has corrupted.  Damn.

Instead, there is this.  Is the internet making the world a cheaper place? ask AOL in promotion of their discussion forums.  (if that’s not asking for some babble, I don’t know what is) Single-handedly, no.  Perhaps in bed with competition and globalisation.  A significant part for sure, not least establishing a common language.  So much for academics and their Esperanto.  A truly dead language.  Power to the real people.  We shop, live, eat and drink on the internet, but are we really getting the bargain that we perceive when we look around us and see an ever fragmented society and strangers for a family?  In our culture of materialism, we value a discount, but would you have bought that CD if it weren’t on offer and what human has paid the price for the clothing on your back to be available for a song?

But getting back on track, the internet has devalued communication, relationships and when it comes down to it, human beings.  No one makes the effort anymore.  It’s ALL too convenient.  The world is a hyperlink away.  No one even makes real arrangements to meet, “txt me when ur there  I’ll c if I can join u” = “I’ll see if I get a better offer”, we catch up via annual round robin e-mails and don’t even know the last names of those we call our friends.  Friendships end on e-mails incorrectly identified as spam, relationship start and end with txt msgs.  Our worldly desires wait for us on the world wide spider web, with us ensnared at its heart.  But where is the traditional cornershop?  The pub where everyone knows your name?  The quest for a rare record made all the more savourable by the insane odds stacked against its discovery?  Even academic concepts are devalued by the collective wealth, when really they have taken just as much effort, observations and calculations to arrive at as in the past.  It’s not just about love for le object, but the experiences that make our lives.  I don’t care for collections or grand shows…I crave real people, real experiences, real touch.  Forget communication, we live in a disposable age.  Who cares to maintain a friendship when we can always find new ones in an instant (message)?  But can they be there when you need a shoulder to cry on and theres a power cut?  Can they give you a real hug when you need it or get out of bed to pay for your petrol at 4am in the morning when you’ve forgotten your credit cards?  Who can’t just block you or ignore you with the click of a mouse?  Whose circle of friends does not involved a list onscreen?  Don’t undervalue these acts and people.  And when you find them (via whatever means), hold on to them…they are what life is made of.  Read your Little Prince (Antoine de St Exupery) and understand that those close to us are special and precious because, just as they have left their marks on us, we make them who they are.  That and our world is an markedly ephemeral one.  I look back and remember a letter I wrote to a stranger and somehow, some magic was carried in those words for him.  He carried it in his pocket for two months and unwittingly it changed his life.  The power of physically written words.  And yet, I haven’t sent a personal letter in the past two years.Are we so scared of engaging with life that we can’t talk to each other anymore?  What are we scared of finding out about our world and ourselves?  What has the world come to if we can’t talk to each other, can’t greet each other on the street, ask questions when we’re curious and when we only feel safe communicating at a distance?  I’m not saying that our pursuit for friendship should be restricted solely to those who are physically close to us, nor those who remain virtual.  Good people are hard to find whatever the means.  But effort needs to be invested into making, and keeping, them real.  That means honesty and integrity, not perfection we all have our own lives to lead and the mere word human is synonymous with fallibility.  But flakiness does breed upset and paranoia.  Would Earl need his lists and Buddhists look to karma (apologies if I blaspheme) if we weren’t so bound by expectation?I don’t want to cocoon myself in remote safety, I want to go through the highs and lows, share the laughter and tears, veer between disappointment and elation, lean on my friends, be the rock.  Yes, humans are fickle, but we need to stay close (at least at heart) – remoteness breeds distrust.  Throughout, we need to maintain trust or die alone.  We build our barriers ever higher but who are we trying to keep out?  Is the reality that we are furiously bricking ourselves in (and indeed, bricking it!)  If only we would peek over these walls of our towering Babels, we would see that in the faces of our neighbours, our own fears are mirrored.  None of us are so different.  A man, Tenzin Gyatso, once said that all can appreciate compassion (  It is the one thing that unites us.  Levels us.  Humbles us.  We can’t live as islands, a network of trust must exist.Yes,  you can indeed buy everything on the internet – a schoolgirl’s virginity…even humans.  At what price?  I certainly wouldnt call it cheap.

BTW you should know me well enough to know that I’ve been plugged right into the net since Year Zero. On my terms, I’d like to think.  It’s not a way of life.  And that, I hope, can make all the difference. 

Song thing ain’t working – I’m listening to Mr E’s Beautiful Blues by The Eels

**************************************************************************Star Wars-esque conversation from last week:

“If there is this bigger entity, you shouldnt be trying to butt heads with it.”

“I’m not trying to.”

“It will destroy you.”

“I’m not trying to.”“You should divert the energy and move with it.”“Errrrr…”


Written by marnova

April 19, 2006 at 1:12 am

[Chip off the old blog] Isambard, me ol’ mucker

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Lots of celebrations across town today – all for Brunel (Isambard Kingdom no less)  and the 200 years since his birth.  As part of festivities,  round the corner tonight, will be 200 saxophonists, a music stage up by the old camera obscura and fireworks over the city and the Avon gorge.  Something like this…

If you don’t already know – Brunel is/was a dude.  A few years back, Brunel was voted the second greatest Briton of all time, after Winston Churchill, also a dude (“All the great empires of the future will be empires of the mind”).  He was responsible for many engineering firsts – still valid and in use today;  implementing innovative solutions to long-standing engineering problems. Amongst many other achievements, he built the Great Western Railway (a network of viaducts, purpose built stations, vast tunnels, broad gauge tracksand so on), the first tunnel under a navigable river, the first propeller driven ocean going iron ship, the largest ship, the longest bridge and laying the cable that enabled communications between Europe and America blah, blah, blah.  Look him up.

In Bristol, he masterminded the construction of the docks, the SS Great Britain (first iron-hulled ship), built the first rail terminus and the Great Western Railway and of course the Clifton Suspension Bridge.  But most of all, I love him because he knew he knew his stuff…the GWR (still the fastest bit of track in Britain today) passes through the long Box Tunnel. On his birthday (today), the sun shines straight through the tunnel.  That isn’t smug – that’s engineering with style!

Brunel was a bit (!) of a workaholic.  Inside his famous top hat, which he had had specially made, were pockets in which he kept the plans of his current project, pens and bottles of ink so that he could work whenever, where ever he was.  Last week, I met a guy that loved his work as much as Brunel did.  He is a chemist, working for a specialist ink manufacturer solving how they cured their inks, making them resistant to UV light.  He absolutely loved his job, championing his monomers and polymers with such passion, that it made me excited about the ink industry!

So many people hate their jobs with equal passion.  Too many people.  We spend more of our waking hours working than we do playing.  Why is it then that so many of us tolerate jobs we detest?  Familiarity can be tricksy and lull us into a sense of security.  But security doesn’t necessarily equate to happiness.  In the West at least, we all certainly have the choice. 

So anyway the wind blows, right?  Yeah same old, same old.  I only enjoy a job so long as it remains challenging and I’m treated fairly.  I can work for myself, by myself at home (and have done so), but I choose to be in a big corporate family.  Maybe I’ve been lucky and picked good companies with unusually good people.  More like an extension of university – always saw university as a place to learn about life, not just an academic subject, with codes of conduct built in.  Life made simple.  Unfortunately, after three years (the longest I’ve ever been in one company), the main job has just about finished evolving and I need to move on.  Yeeeaaah, I’ll head to the Big Smoke to see a man about a job.   Either know why you’re doing something you don’t want to, or work out what you’d rather be doing and move on. 

The Chinese ethic is to work.  Full stop.  Work is the common denominator.  Work unites everyone.  Work maintains humility.  You work for your childrens future.  You work for your next life.  Hard work is rewarded.  Part of me agrees with a good part of that, but of all the balls we juggle, work is the rubber one that will bounce back if its dropped.  The rest are made of the finest glass and need to be cherished and handled with care.   Gawd, have more I want to write, but gotta go to bed cant keep track of what Im trying to say!!

As for Brunel, he died of a stroke aged 53.  A short life, but a legacy indeed.  His accomplishments ignited the imagination of the greatest British minds of his age.  His obituary Obituary.html 

I can hear the musicians soundchecking – the party is going to be a big one.  I have no idea where they will fit all the people, but it’s gonna be good!


From Karma Slave (Splashdown) 

Today I’ll be spinning on a Wheel,
I’m a slave to a Wheel
And there isn’t any stopping
What mistake(s) could I have made?
I’m a slave serving time for a life that I’ve forgotten.

Stand in the Middle and you won’t get dizzy
Stand in the Middle and you won’t fall down
If you stand in the Middle you can keep your balance
Stand in the Middle while the Wheel spins round and round…

Who’s at the center of the Wheel
The inventor of the Wheel
or another spinning servant
I’m the Master of my Wheel of my very own Wheel
Universal and recurrent

Currently listening :
Yol Bolsin
By Sevara Nazarkhan
Release date: 25 February, 2003

Written by marnova

April 8, 2006 at 2:21 am

[Chip off the old blog] To Spring

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Current mood: sleepy

“Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?”


A balminess drifting on the breeze.  A city basking in the morning sun.  People smiling for no reason and some wearing clothes worthy of a summer day – though its really not quite warm enough.  Today I realised.  Spring is finally here.


It brings with it certain change.  An e-mail today entitled, The Wind from Outer Mongolia brought me news of the murder of a politician I interviewed recently.  Poison, they suspected.  At the time, he had warned me, with extreme gravitas, to make sure the translation of his interview was accurate, fearing the repercussions.  At the time, I thought he was being somewhat paranoid.  I wonder now. 

I think, only time will tell.

Quote for today…”If I was a man, I’d marry you.” (the power of my homebaking!)

Currently listening :
By Daft Punk
Release date: 13 March, 2001

Written by marnova

April 4, 2006 at 1:51 am

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