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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

IS LIFE ABSURD?


"Good works do not make a person good.  A good person simply does them."
- Wolf Howl



“A fire broke out backstage in a theatre. The clown came out to warn the public; they thought it was a joke and applauded.

He repeated it; the acclaim was even greater.

I think that's just how the world will come to an end: to general applause from wits who believe it's a joke.”
― Søren Kierkegaard


Our base desires seem to hoodwink our higher-reasoning selves and drive us mad with one unmet expectation after another.

Modern life has made things worse,

deepening our cravings and at the same time heightening our delusions of importance as individuals.

Not only are we rabid in our unsustainable demands for gourmet living, eternal youth, fame and a hundred varieties of sex,

but we have been encouraged –

by a post-1970s "rights" culture that has created a zero-tolerance sensitivity

to any perceived inequality, slight or grievance –

into believing that to want something is to deserve it.

Universities has watered-down the term happiness to "Selective Well Being." 

But lifeless jargon does not enpower us to live fully each moment.

Happiness is elusive. 

If you have it, you are unaware of it.  And once you are aware of it, it evaporates.

Think back on a moment in your past when you were happy. 

You were unaware of how precious that happiness was.  Ironically, you probably felt you were unhappy.

Now, you would give almost anything to go back and enjoy the happiness of which you were unaware.

So upon reaching a certain maturity, we realize that there are many forms of happiness. 

I wonder if any two people who feel themselves happy are experiencing the same phenomenon. 

As we live in an age so the age lives in us. 

And this is the age of the glamor of potential.

Sadly, as soon as we get the things we wanted, we no longer want them ... that is the "glamor of potential."

It is an eternal loop of frustrating desire

by which the things we have are devalued by the things we want next.

One way out of such a loop is the one found by the Stoics, Sarte, and the ancient Greeks:

a detached grasp of the futility of things which leads to accepting responsibility for your actions.

Not a favored view in the 21st Century. 

This is the age of the committee, herd instinct, team playing. 

Understanding comes from solitude, but solitude in the Digital Age is a mirage, isn't it?

What do you think?


Tuesday, November 18, 2014

ANGEL OF VERDUN, ANGEL OF KOBANE


Remember Emily Blunt as the Angel of Verdun in EDGE OF TOMORROW?



Reality has now followed cinema and become myth:

Meet the Angel of Kobane -


 It's late August and Swedish journalist Carl Drott is in Kobane. 

He watches a ceremony marking the creation of a new home unit of Kurdish fighters. 

They will serve inside Kobane to keep order and support the army and local police. 


Among the new soldiers is a young woman. 

She tells Drott that her father was killed by the Islamic State

She left law school to come fight. 

He takes a picture of her surrounded by other fighters, some female.




The woman catches someone else’s attention, too. 

Their camera focuses on her and she smiles and holds up her left hand to make a V-for-victory sign.

The photo goes to a blog that supports the Kurds and then to Twitter.

ISIS tweets a photo of the severed head of a female, claiming they have killed her.

Newspapers dub her the "Angel of Kobane," and claim she is not dead and has killed more than 100 ISIS terrorists. 

No more pictures of her have surfaced, but do they have to?

Does she have to have killed so many terrorists?

Is it not enough that she volunteered to defend Kobani and risk her life?


WHAT DO YOU THINK?



AND BECAUSE I WANTED TO:

Monday, November 17, 2014

WHY CRITICISM?

A friend of mine, Helena of BECOMING LAYLA:
http://www.becominglayla.com/


just was rejected by a second agent,

though this one zinged her a criticism that was polar-opposite to the one the first rejecting agent wrote her.

Even the giants of the writing profession suffered many rejections.  

As Helena herself pointed out Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's A Study in Scarlet, was rejected by one publisher 

because it was “neither long enough for a serial nor short enough for a single story.”

The secret is perseverance and courage.  

Hard things to come by when your heart is bleeding.

Many of us are called upon to critique the works of others.  

It occurred to me to write for both sides of that equation:




The best prose leaves us with a new clarity and a sanction for living it out in our own days. 

 Our hearts tremble with the awakening of a truth that had been lurking deep within it all along.  Or the words throb with the truth of life, of what it means to be human.   

The story takes on a semblance of life for the actions feel authentic.


A good story can mirror back to us our condition, changing as we change, 

clarifying as our vision becomes clearer, until its insights become as familiar and obvious as our own face.   

A good story is forever.


We keep our dreams in silk, protecting them from the harshness of the world.  

 We are vulnerable through our prose as with little else, for our dreams are being laid bare.   

To be given a story to critique is no slight matter.



You are being entrusted with something fragile, something precious.


As we struggle to get published, to flourish in our chosen craft, we walk alone in what seems one long, terrifying damnation. 


The best criticism speaks of what has been achieved and a vastly enlarged sense of what is possible.


Nothing touches a work of art so little as words of criticism:

 they always result in more or less fortunate misunderstandings. 

Things aren’t all so tangible and utterable as people would usually have us believe. 

Most experiences are unutterable as they happen in a realm where no word has ever been uttered: our minds.   

And more unutterable than all other things are works of art, 

those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory one.

Writers, you are looking outside and that is what you should avoid right now.  No one can advise or help you ... 

to be yourself ...

they can only advise you on how they could write your story. 

Go into yourself and see if what you have written rings true.


Sunday, November 16, 2014

THE NEW CAVIAR ...CHOCOLATE





There's no easy way to say this: 

You're eating too much chocolate, all of you. 

And it's getting so out of hand that the world could be headed towards a potentially disastrous 

 (if you love chocolate) scenario if it doesn't stop.

 Chocolate deficits, whereby farmers produce less cocoa than the world eats, are becoming the norm. 

Already, we are in the midst of what could be the longest streak of consecutive chocolate deficits in more than  50 years!

The problem is, for one, a supply issue.

 Dry weather in West Africa (specifically in the Ivory Coast and Ghana, where more than 70 percent of the world's cocoa is produced) 

has greatly decreased production in the region. 

A nasty fungal disease known as frosty pod hasn't helped either. 

The International Cocoa Organization estimates it has wiped out between 30 percent and 40 percent of global coca production. 

Because of all this, cocoa farming has proven a particularly tough business, 

and many farmers have shifted to more profitable crops, like corn (or cocaine), as a result.

 Then there's the world's insatiable appetite for chocolate.  

China in particular is growing more chocolate hungry every year.

Then, there is the rising popularity of Dark Chocolate 

which contains a good deal more cocoa by volume than traditional chocolate bars 

(the average chocolate bar contains about 10 percent, while dark chocolate often contains upwards of 70 percent)

 “In 20 years, chocolate will be like caviar,” says one conservation researcher. 

“The average Joe just won’t be able to afford it at $11 a bar.”

Saturday, November 15, 2014

A QUESTION


Take the Library of Congress:


 It is now the largest and most international library in the world. 

It is located in three buildings: 
Thomas Jefferson Building, 

John Adams Building, and James Madison Memorial Building.

In its 838 miles of book shelves, you could easily spend a lifetime reading and admiring its lovely architecture.


Take the Louvre Museum ...

{Image courtesy of Gloumouth1}

 Nearly 35,000 objects from prehistory to the 21st century are exhibited 

over an area of 60,600 square meters (652,300 square feet). 

The Louvre is the world's most visited museum, and received more than 9.7 million visitors in 2012



Ask D.G. Hudson how much time you could spend wandering this museum, 

finding new delights with each day.


BUT FOR ME, IT WOULD BE 
THE SAN DIEGO ZOO:


It consists of 100 acres (40 ha) of parkland leased from the City of San Diego

and ownership of all animals, equipment and other assets rests with the City of San Diego. 


 San Diego Zoo pioneered the concept of open-air, cageless exhibits that re-create natural animal habitats.  

It is one of the few zoos in the world that houses the giant panda.

A lifetime spent among those beautiful wild animals being protected from Man's savage lust for killing.  

Helping lost children find their parents after having becoming obsessed with their own favorite animals would be fun.


Perhaps I could learn from the zoo keepers and help them.  

The Lakota in me would suffocate inside a library or museum for life.  

But under the sun of California, learning about the wonders of all those animals, 

hearing the laughter of children and their parents --

I would choose the San Diego Zoo.


What about you?  
Library?  Museum?  Or Zoo?


Friday, November 14, 2014

INNOCENCE LOST



In the 1950s kids lost their innocence.

They were liberated from their parents by well-paying jobs, cars, and lyrics in music that gave rise to a new term ---the generation gap.

 

In the 1960s, kids lost their authority.

It was a decade of protest---


church, state, and parents were all called into question and found wanting. Their authority was rejected, yet nothing ever replaced it.

 



In the 1970s, kids lost their love.

 It was the decade of me-ism dominated by hyphenated words beginning with self.

Self-image, Self-esteem, Self-assertion....


It made for a lonely world. 

 Kids learned everything there was to know about sex and forgot everything there was to know about love


and no one had the nerve to tell them there was a difference.

 

In the 1980s, kids lost their hope.

Stripped of innocence, authority and love and plagued by the horror of a nuclear nightmare, 


large and growing numbers of this generation stopped believing in the future.





 

In the 1990s kids lost their power to reason. 

Less and less were they taught the very basics of language, truth, and logic and they grew up with the irrationality of a postmodern world.

 

In the new millennium, 

kids woke up and found out that somewhere in the midst of all this change, they had lost their imagination

Violence and perversion entertained them till none could talk of killing innocents since none was innocent anymore.” 


   - Ravi Zacharias

IS THERE ANY HOPE?
OR 
IS THE WORLD SHORT OF HAPPY ENDINGS?

Thursday, November 13, 2014

IS OUR CULTURE DECAYING?


Some days it is hard not to ask, 
"Is our culture decaying?"


“The five marks of the Roman decaying culture:

Concern with displaying affluence instead of building wealth;

Obsession with sex and perversions of sex;

Art becomes freakish and sensationalistic instead of creative and original;

Widening disparity between very rich and very poor;

Increased demand to live off the state."

 - Edward Gibbon


 “Civilizations die from suicide, not by murder.” 
   - Alfred Joseph Toynbee


 “Sick cultures show a complex of symptoms such as you have named...but a dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners. 

Lack of consideration for others in minor matters. A loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.” 
   - Robert Heinlein


 “A decline in courage may be the most striking feature that an outside observer notices in the West today. The Western world has lost its civic courage.
   - Aleksander Solshenitsyn


“Of the twenty-two civilizations that have appeared in history, nineteen of them collapsed when they reached the moral state the United States is in now."
   - Alfred Joseph Toynbee



"The Nation that makes a great distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting done by fools.”
  -Thucydides


"We killed Martin Luther King and now make an icon of  Kanye West.  Something is dreadfully wrong with this country."
   - Lady Lovelace


WHAT DO YOU THINK?


Our friend, VR Barkowski
is included in a new anthology!
 BEST NEW ENGLAND CRIME STORIES
ROGUE WAVE!
 
RogueWavefrontcoverFINAL