The end of success culture?

Interesting discussion on the radio this morning about art, led by graphic designer Neville Brody. Brody was scathing about how art has been domesticated and even emasculated within our culture-

When was the last time you encountered any culture that you can say was really dangerous, that actually challenged anything?” so questions the Anti-Design Manifesto launched by the graphic designer Neville Brody. The former art director of The Face and Arena magazines has now taken over as head of the Royal College of Art’s Visual Communications department, where he plans to challenge the norm. While graphic design has become heavily associated with commercial art, Brody insists it’s a discipline that was born out of social engagement and the desire to give form to ideas and feelings, and that this role is needed more than ever in the digital age.

I am not well placed to agree or disagree with Brody’s assessment, but he suggested that for the last 20-30 years (since Thatcher,) the dominant ideology of our culture has been success.

All other ideas were swept away before the desire for success.

Tools to aid success became the most popular subject of study in our universities.

A successful life within this world view means wealth, choice, holidays, and personal happiness. We bought the idea that these things were available- almost by right- to all of us.

Success has to be quantifiable- and this usually means money. Art is not the only thing that we have monetised.

But there is a change in the air. The fluctuations in the economy increasingly dictate the kind of success we attain and for many of us, what we have strived for is simply not attainable nor sustainable.

There is a hunger for deeper, more spiritual ways of life.

And if people like Brody are right, then this might become a time of protest and challenge of the old dominant success-driven culture, and a time of new ideas…

Dave Andrews on violence and the Beatitudes…

Is it possible to turn from violence?

It is there in all of our interactions. As Dave says- plan A is usually to repay violence with violence. To take what injury we feel, and look to make someone else pay- either as an individual, or as a group.

I have been thinking about this in relation to the place of my work. Those people who treat me badly- whose interactions are characterised by hard, angry and overly rigid attitudes. Or at least it seems that way to me and those with whom I confide.

And I find myself carrying this violence into my own responses- it shapes the way that I defend, then set up my own small plans of violent resistance.

Sometimes I manage to carry the beatitudes into these interactions- not just outwardly, but actually in the way I think and feel. But not often.

So that is my prayer. To be Christlike.

To measure victory not in terms of overcoming by violence- but in overcoming by something far deeper- called (for want of a better word) love.

God grant me the serenity to not want to change the people that I want to change…

Aoradh meditations, Psalm 131, Sunday…



3 Israel, put your hope in the LORD
both now and forevermore.


In the cave of my dark days

I sometimes bear no hope


But still I hold on to a hope

For a hope to yet return


And there is a faint flicker

Of an old dancing drum

Somewhere deep within


And even when the light is bright on the statues they made

To celebrate my success

Still the sun is warming open  fine cracks

Laying me down

As dust


But when I tumble

I will fall

Into the open arms

Of the loving God

The kiln descends…

We finally managed to get the kiln down the cellar steps today. It has been a bit of a puzzle- how to move half a ton of metal and fire bricks down some crumbling narrow stairs into a confined space.

Some very kind blokes who are used to moving heavy objects around the hillsides did the job. Thanks boys!

They were able to set up a ground anchor, and use a sledge and winch line to lower the kiln.

Its a big relief- and I look forward to seeing some pots emerging out of raw clay…

Aoradh Meditations, Psalm 131, Friday…



I am like a weaned child with its mother;


The half-shadow you cast on my spirit

Is warm and soft

And I am left hollow from feasting

And ragged from all my richness


I am desperate-

Reaching out beyond these straws I grasped

Craving for the shape of you

Held in distant memory


Catch me in this simple thing

Called home


Aoradh meditations, Psalm 131, Thursday…


2 But I have calmed and quieted myself,


Time is a claw in which I am squeezed

Each day hooked on a hundred demands

Each second hard wired to the current crisis


And in all the noise of it all

You are silent

Because you were not in the thunder

You were not in the lightning


You were not in my efficiency

You were not found in my effectiveness


You were waiting

In the stillness

For an end of the me

So the we could begin

Aoradh meditations, Psalm 131, Wednesday…



I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me.


I have taken my seat at the high place of state

Sometimes I decided for life

And sometimes for death

I am the author of my own song


But then the stars shine

And I am small again

The flutter of my own heartbeat might carry away on

The whisper of the night winds


And I know nothing

But you

Aroradh meditations, Psalm 131, Tuesday…

(Easter island image from here.)



…my eyes are not haughty;


I walk with a purposeful stride

And people shuffle in my wake

Swaying at my turbulence


Because nothing is impossible for this man of God

No peak will remain unclimbed

No valley unseeded

None of your puny walls can stand against me


Why then Lord God

Would you mine my path

With these stumbling stones?