|D enis P ostle's H ome S creen
W hy S hould Y ou T ake A ny N otice O f M e?
It's a curious question and I feel a bit embarrassed with it, as though self promotion was a form of corruption. I suppose I tended to think that, years ago. Not any longer.
So what might you need to know about me? I was a film-maker for thirty years, I was also a husband for 15 of those years, I am a father. I founded a film production business that traded for 30 years. I'm a photographer, and a writer, with three published books.
I make a living these days as a facilitator of personal and professional development, coach, supervisor and graphic designer and dare I say it, landlord.
As a facilitator of personal development, I help people find themselves, help them settle into themselves, and find ways of cooperating with each other so as to make or find what they want.
My aim in life is to get older and wiser, I try to live what I teach.
Writing this feels risky. Scary. Exposed. Like a wire-walker heading out over a chasm with no safety net. But that's me.
If you're bored with it, here's an escape to netspace
If you passed that link by, you may be wondering - where would it have taken me? So where shall I link it to? The most technocratic and frame-ridden site I can find, like the 'ourworld/whizzsiteoftheweek', hard to be more technerdead than some of that.
You know Denis, this is getting to be l-o-n-g,
Back to the facts.
I went to art school in the UK in the fifties when it was possibly the best creativity education to be had anywhere. After the Royal College of Art I rejected graphic design because I wanted to generate 'content', and that's off-limits to designers. So I headed for tv and film-making and the BBC.
This eventually led to twenty very privileged free-lance years of 'doing what I liked and liking what I did' producing and directing documentary and drama films for tv. That's a world that seems to have quietly died sometime during the early eighties. I guess I got out as it peaked.
Somewhere hidden under all this was an artist who was overwhelmed by the need to be 'on time', 'on budget', to 'make sense', to appeal to huge audiences, to 'get the point over', 'to be useful'
TThe trouble with this is that if everything has to be useful, then all those things that aren't useful but that exist, that have value, which is most of the human universe, tend to get denied.
AAnd the artist used to get real scratchy and disatisfied. Lately he has begun to extricate himself from this huge burden of utility. As you can see, he enjoys the net takes lots of photographs and at last he's figured out how to play a bit of jazz.
Over a period of about five years I gradually withdrew from film-making and trained intensively and extensively as a facilitator of groups and individual work. And thirteen years ago I started to work with both groups and individuals.
Both the artist and the facilitator are creatures of the margins. Trans-marginal maybe, but always the innovative outsiders. Tied up to, moored adjacent to, and yet not belonging to, the 20cent culture of suits and kentucky fried heritage. I sometimes feel I've paid a high price for this marginality but I've seem to still have a bit of soul in the bank, so it's been worth it.
Some days I see all that TV film-making I did as an aberration, a twenty year mistake. But then the thought passes, replaced by other concerns such as.....
.....I was lately 67, yes sixty-seven. I didn't like it much. A recent photo showed that I'm not just getting old, I look old. I don't feel old, at least not often, and when I do it's mostly because I've been enjoying life for too many days without a day off.
Hmm, you're still here, so maybe I should wind up with a moment of enlightened self-interest. If you've painted yourself into some kind of corner in your life and this conversation amuses you and you're within reach of West London or central Brussels, and want to continue face to face, give me a call for rates and dates.
The great thing about facilitation as an occupation is that it keeps me focused on what matters in human well-being; belonging, being present, self-care, staying alive creatively, and not least, the politics of the soul.
Ioften say to myself, when somebody has made a deep and long-desired shift in themselves, or in their lives - 'What else is there to do?' - 'What else would be more satisfying or more socially relevant?'
If only it was that simple, because the next moment my artist is buzzing with 'to do' lists that are pages long . He wants more time for jazz, he wants to draw again, he wants to re-do these screens again. And then there's Juniper, my goddess, she wants to transmit all my creative goodies to the whole planet.
Is there enough life for it all? I hope so.
These screens are intended to convey something beyond the facts about me and who and how I am.
Am I succeeding? I suppose I must be, you are still here.
I want these screens to be personal in the way that TV and most other publishing that I've been involved with are not. Like, you can tell me what you feel about this with an e-mail message.....
Day by day we swim in a positive feedback, sound-bite culture that impoverishes our lives though eliminating the local, the personal, the deeply felt, and the marginal.
No doubt all this mass-media positive feedback is collectively very valuable, a basket to hold a fragmenting society but it's also damaging, it undermines the ecology of human rapport by tending to devalue, or eliminate diversity. Not least, it does this, as Starhawk says, through concentrating too much esteem in too few hands.
Also much of what reaches us from magazines, newspapers and TV is intentionally trance-inducing. The kind of trance that sells goods and services. And so far as it entrances whole populations, we repeat our long history of religious enchantment by other means. Or so it seems to me.
The net demonstrates that this doesn't have to be so. The net contradicts this hypnosis, it supports self-direction rather than spoon-feeding. It promotes diversity. Here I can be distinct, I can be me. I can think aloud, make mistakes, I can embarrass myself, I can even embarrass you.
If you read Macluhan in the sixties when he was first published, you'd immediately recognise that the net is a new medium that in a stroke obsoletes TV and magazine culture. Suddenly their recycling of the same stale journalistic values looks archaic, stupid, and befuddled.
Here I can say, or not say, what I like. Why? Because I own the means of production and I have cheap and easy access to distribution networks. In my creative life that has always meant a lot.
But is there anyone listening? Well, there's you. Here we are, tasting the contents of each other's minds. Or at least we will if you take up the options to respond, to say hello, or thanks. Or even just Hmmm.
Hmmm....Back to the Facts
I directed or produced over 50 films between 1963 and 1989, mostly documentaries, but including about 6 substantial dramas, almost all for UK network transmission, many for the BBC.
Here is a selection:
- 1964 THE WORLD OF BILLY WALKER BBC1 documentary about boxing
- 1965 HOW TO BE FIRST a film about the Massachusetts Institute of Technology BBC1
- 1967 THE INFORMATION EXPLOSION a film about technofutures ABCTV
- 1971 GUITAR FARM. Script for MGM Musical (not produced)
- 1971-5 Several films for, and with BBC2 and CERN the nuclear research facility in Switzerland. Deep exposure to the world of sub-atomic physics and the subtle energies of quantum worlds.
- 1974 Dramatised biopic, for BBC2 Horizon series, of an episode from the life of Carl Jung.
Visited Switzerland met many batty analytical psychologists, was attacked by his ex-assistant over copyright, etc., etc.
- 1976 'CRADLE OF CIVILISATION' a drama series filmed in Iran. Camel and cavalry battles, Roman skirmishes, Mongol hordes, pillage, massacres.400 extras £1,000,000 budget, helicopters, but regrettably no Yul Brunner.
- 1979 DOCTORS, a film about stress and GP's that featured University of Surrey GP training developed by John Heron.
This was the beginning of the end of film-making for me. The group work I got to see through this production was infinitely more interesting than film-production.
- 1980 BEAUBOURG a film about the Pompidou Centre in Paris for The Arts Council of Great Britain
- 1979 FLASH GORDON Special effects sequences for Mike Hodges feature.
- 1981 BEHAVING OURSELVES a film about human nature. For Central Television's Science in Society series.
- 1982 THE NUCLEAR STATE a video about a cooperative enquiry into the psychological effects of the nuclear threat. for Central Television's Science in Society series
My four published books:
FABRIC OF THE UNIVERSE Macmillan, Crown 1975
This is a heavily illustrated introduction to high energy physics and the Eastern philosophical traditions. I took many of the photographs and designed and drew most of the illustrations. Until the Mind Gymnasium: digital edition I have tended to think it was the best thing I'd done.
CATASTROPHE THEORY Fontana 1981
Catastrophe Theory, [CT] is an area of mathematics that lends itself to modelling any situation where behaviour is susceptible to polarisation or splitting, or sudden catastrophic change.
The first half is a reliable lay person's introduction to CT that was checked line by line by my mentor in this work, Professor Christopher Zeeman FRS, then of the University of Warwick UK
The second half contains a variety of speculative models of how CT can be employed to make very useful maps of human behaviour (among other things)
By some faulty arithmetic, the third of the three books got left on the shelf when I origirnally wrote this text. The Mind Gymnasium which the publisher Gaia Books persuaded me was a 'newage guide to self-realization' came out in 1989 in several editions and languages, most recently, Russian. It did well and though out of print is still easily available second hand through Amazon. If you are curious you can follow it up here.
An NHS person-centred therapist sent me the following unsolicited appreciation:
"I have recommended this book to several of my clients, chased up copies on the internet for them and advised many clients to purchase it. I believe it to be the single most effective resource to assist a person to 'find themselves' without a therapist being with them."
A much enlarged highly interactive digital edition - Letting The Heart Sing - Mind Gymnasium: was released on CD-ROM at the end of 2003.
And since then I have published ten years of material from the eIpnosis web site that I edit. Called Regulating the Psychological Therapies - from Taxonomy to Taxidermy PCCS Books 2007, it chronicles the appalling story of the industriaization of the psychological therapies in the UK.
I initially trained as a facilitator with The Institute for the Development of Human Potential [IDHP] which has produced hundreds of facilitators in the UK during the past twenty years, gaining a diploma in Humanistic Psychology.
My training on this part-time two year course was supported before, during and after, by something like 2000 hours of other training/experience of gestalt, psychodrama, primal integration, and other practitioner and groupwork skills.
Alongside the groupwork, I gradually developed a one-to-one practice in personal and professional development, and coaching. Other important influences have been Anne Dickson, Dick Saxton, Jill Anderson and Ian-Gordon-Brown and Barbara Somers.
Dr James Kilty, Director of the Human Potential Research Group of the University of Surrey, and John Heron, then a director of the British Postgraduate Medical Federation [BPMF] were principal mentors during and after this time and both signed off my Humanistic Psychology Diploma in 1985.
My early education was in creativity, I gained a First at the Royal College of Art in the late 50's and whether in groups or one-to-one, so far as I specialise, it is in freeing client's latent creativity, so that they can discover/create their own solutions to their difficulties. I have a long standing commitment to holding both a political and transpersonal perspective on client and professional issues along with the psychological.
I have been in practice in London since 1985, working primarily from a learning model of development and restricting my practice to people who have Sufficient Available Functioning Adult Autonomy [SAFAA]. I also do not generally work with anyone who requires significant support from medication, nor do I presently work with children.
I have lately been pre-occupied with working out ways of helping people move on from problem-solving to 'creating' ie from survival and recovery to flourishing.
I am a founder-participant of the Independent Practitioner's Network [IPN] which comprises several hundred therapists, counsellors and facilitators who have set up a self and peer assessment based accreditation system in the UK which is both more rigorous than the system administered by training schools and more focused on the client's interests. It consists of a network of cells of practitioners who are committed to under-writing the quality of each other's practice through continuous Self and Peer Assessment, together with supervision links to other such groups. There is more information on IPN here
Facilitator signals an educational rather than a medicalised view of human values and experience.
The trouble is that few people know what facilitation is.
The tradition of facilitator education in the UK to which I belong, is both broad and deep, it encompasses any human concerns that can be processed within a culture of self-direction. The fundamental caveat about facilitation in this tradition is that all development of facilitation is based on deep and searching personal development and a high awareness of about power and its deployment. Pat Young has written a short piece the Art of Facilitation that introduces it well.
In recent years, as the market for training and development has changed here in the UK, facilitation is beginning to emerge as a viable occupation and those of us who have been teaching it are intent on increasing our public profile.
I've always admired ChogyamTrungpa's injunction, in 'CUTTING THROUGH SPIRITUAL MATERIALISM' Shambala 1976, p17, that:
'The teachings have the quality of warm, fresh baked bread; the bread is still warm and hot and fresh. Each baker must apply the general knowledge of how to make bread to his particular dough and oven. Then he must personally experience the freshness of this bread and must cut it fresh and eat it warm. He must make the teachings his own and then must practice them. It is a very living process'.
Take note out there, parent associations, teacher's unions, university lecturers, and helath professions councils.
The Royal College of Art was a fascinating and highly charged place when I was there (1957-60), contemporaries included David Hockney and Ridley Scott. It now seems to be a dowdy shadow locked into some kind of post-modern industrial servitude.
A measure of it's present dullness is the number of people writing PhD's and other theses about the period 30 years ago when I was a student. However, one such effort, Alex Seago's recent book 'Burning the Box of Beautiful Things' Oxford University Press 1995, to which I contributed the title, gives a very accurate view of the tremendous influence that the RCA Graphic Design school had at that time.
I no longer see innovation as the hallmark of creativity, if you want to find out why check out in the Mind Gymnasium: digital edition.
Viewed from the margins at the start of the sixties, it was obvious that a new world was on the way, just as it is at the moment. And we were right, pity it turned out too often to belong to the suits, if not then, later.
However, in the mid-sixties, inspired by Archigram, a group of radical British architects, Mike Myers and I made a handful of shoestring underground independent films - 'Tattooist 1,2, 3 and 4. They led to the foundation of an independent production company of the same name, Tattooist International Ltd, for thirty years (until its demise in the 90's) a well-established UK servicing company renting equipment and supplying film and video crews.
I await the call from the PhD student who discovers these films and the other stuff we did at the time. Will it be you?
Then, as now, creative vigor and integrity depended on owning, or at least having a lot of control over the means of production, or making enough money to be able to side-step the established media.
Sadly this very vibrant, innovative stuff ran into the buffers in a way that took me ten years to recover.
Having been head-hunted by Herb Solow of MGM, the original exec. producer of Star Trek ('enjoyed your stuff, what would you like to do for us?') Mike Myers and I, in collaboration with Pete Townshend, wrote a musical for them called GUITAR FARM. It was in production when MGM was bought by Kirk 'smiling cobra' Kerkorian and the UK arm was turned into a cold store for meat.
Myers and I also made broadcast films, circa 1967 about 'Waste', 'Obsolescence' and the 'Information Explosion'. Not many people know that! Since I first wrote this, they have been discovered by academe and were shown, with the rest of the series at the London Institute of Contemporary Arts, in the autumn of 1998. Some excellent editing (Gene Ellis) in Dick Fontaine's film that included Roland Kirk.
These screens (and much of the internet too) seem to me to pick up where that 60's underground tradition left off. As though the intervening thirty years, while the stage was occupied by Nixon and Lyndon Johnson and Ceaucesceu and Thatcher and the Russian tyrants Leonid....? whose names I've forgotten, had been a temporary glitch in service.
This is an August 2002 picture of me.
If you are looking for personal and/or professional development, here are some details of my practice.
I work in West London and Brussels. Because I divide my time between both places more or less equally, I can't take on working with anyone who needs meetings weekly or more often.
I presently charge £40 an hour. In Belgium 80 Euros for a session up to 1 1/2 hours. Many of the people I work with find 1 1/2 hours every ten-fourteen days suits them very well.
I always suggest an initial meeting, for which I charge, without obligation to either of us.
You might fancy taking a look at Advice for Psychotherapy Clients elsewhere on mind-gymnasium.com and The Mind Gymnasium: digital edition has a substantial section devoted to hiring a psycho-practitioner.
I'm a participant the UK Independent Practitioner's Network [IPN] And if you work with me you will have the back-up and support of the six other practitioners who form the IPN accreditation group of which I am a member.
I'd prefer first contacts to be via e-mail
Yes I know, if you're not familiar with sub-personalities, which is one of my specialities as a facilitator, it probably sounds a bit weird.
If you take time to explore your inner world you'll likely find that there are a number of inner voices or characters, i.e.sub-personalities, who from time to time affect how you do yourself.
For example people often say I was in two minds, or I had this voice telling me that I should.... or there's a bit me that wants to... and so on.
Juniper is one of my sub-personalities, she's is a goddess who lives in the Columbia Pictures trade mark, you know, the woman holding up the torch.
Positive feedback creates a trance-like state in the beholder through recycling a narrower and narrower range of stories, formats and personalities that have proved to be appealing.
In the case of TV, the trance-mission, is to sell goods and services, this also includes non-commercial providers such as the BBC who have to sell themselves.
Of course success often breeds success but to the extent to which positive feedback presently dominates publishing and broadcasting, diversity is undermined.
StarHawk TRUTH or DARE HarperSan Francisco 1990, p134
'In this society, art has become a commodity...The work of art becomes valued for it's success as a commodity. Artists are only taken seriously if they achieve the tokens that mark success - money recognition - and are sometimes taken seriously far beyond any semblance of reason. The adulation and praise heaped on the few successes maintains the myth that everyone can make it, that if you don't the flaw is in you, not the system. Esteem like capital in Marx's vision, becomes concentrated in fewer and fewer hands'.
An excellent book, highly recommended
Except where otherwise indicated, these screens are maintained and © 1995,1996,1997,1998,1999, 2000, 2002 Denis Postle.
All rights reserved. Last updated 3rd March 2007