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Thoughts on Writing

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What is a writer?

Well, the simple answer is, a writer is someone who writes. Easy enough to explain something by citing its definition. Bricklayers lay brick, dancers dance, musicians make music, and writers write. Simple.

But why do writers write?

The answer to that question is a bit more complex. It is, as they say, a whole other ball o’ wax. The reasons people choose to write are as varied as the writers themselves. I could list all the reasons for writing by it would take up more time that I’m prepared to spend on this post. For those interested in exploring the topic, l suggest you pick up a copy of Margaret Atwood’s Negotiating With the Dead, A Writer on Writing. She offers an extensive, although by no means comprehensive, list of reasons why writers write; some of them surprising, others not so much. One reason that appears elsewhere in Ms. Atwood’s book, although not among the listed reasons for writing, is that it’s a comparatively easy thing to do. There are no prerequisites; no intellectual or educational background is required beyond a certain facility with one’s native language. That, and the determination to see the process through from beginning to end. After all, it is, as Neil Gaiman is supposed to have said, simply a matter of putting one word after another on the page until you’ve finished saying whatever it is you want to say. Simple, right? Not really.

There’s a small addendum to Mr. Gaiman’s description that’s worth noting if one aspires to be a published writer. (Not all of us aspire to that lofty goal, but I’ll get to that in a bit). The addendum is, that along with putting one word after another on the page, a should be able to put the right word in the right order after another on the page. Makes this ‘writing thing’ a bit trickier, don’t you think?

Ernest Hemingway once described the act of writing as, “You just sit down and open a vein.” Ironic, considering Hemingway did a lot of his writing standing up. I’ll confess that Hemingway’s description is a bit more strenuous the Mr. Gaiman’s, and anyway most writers – not all, but the majority – manage to confine their bloodletting to the page. Suffice it to say the actual process of writing lies somewhere between the two extremes. I, myself, picked writing because it was one of the few things I was suited to that didn’t require an inordinate amount of time trying to dislodge the dirt from under my fingernails.

So, what’s it like, being a writer?

For the most part writers live pretty much to way everyone else does. Most of us have ‘day jobs’. We get up, get the kids ready for school, go to work, attend PTA meetings, grocery shop, pick the kids up after school, get the car washed, the tires rotated, go to the barber or the hairdresser, maybe go on vacation when we can afford it. Pretty much the same thing everyone else does, except when all the other stuff is done, we write; usually late at night or early in the morning, and sometimes on the weekends if there are no soccer, baseball or football games, or piano or ballet recitals to attend. We’re just like everyone else. We’re kind of like witches in that respect; you can’t tell just by looking whether we are one or not.

Writers also tend to be avid readers, and we read across a wide variety of subjects and genres. I’ll give you an example. My own small library contains books on history, biography, memoirs, religion, business, art, writing, cooking, science and politics. I have thrillers, literary fiction, classics, philosophy, occultism, humor. books on photography and crafts, wine and winemaking, books and book collecting. And these, in one way or another, inform my own writing, as well as the way I tend to see the world around me. By reading how others viewed their world, I gain insights into my own world, and how it came to be the way it is. It’s also a handy how-to for using words, a turn-of-phrase that, with practice, helps me improve my writing.

Writers have always experienced a peculiar, Janus-like relationship with the non-writing public. Being among the ‘creatives’ in society, we are encouraged, even celebrated, in our ability to provide entertainment for the masses; to allow them to slip the bonds of their work-a-day lives and enter realms where good and evil battle endlessly for supremacy, and where good doesn’t always prevail, at least not until the next installment rolls off the presses. Then the god smiles on the writer, and the critics praise his efforts and lament the dearth of creativity in society, and presses roll out another spate of how-to books exclaiming, “You, too, can be (or become) more creative!”

Writers – and this applies especially to journalists, whether they write books or newspaper and magazine articles – have also always had the responsibility to “speak Truth to Power”, to expose, whenever possible, the misdeeds of governments and corporations, and provide the public the information necessary to combat the abuse of power. Then the god frowns on the writer, and governments and corporations berate him or her for the “misleading information”, “the lies”, “libels”, “unfounded accusations” and “unsubstantiated rumors”. These centers of power and influence have always viewed the writer as suspect, unreliable, and possibly subversive. Writers who continually joust with those in power have often been described in stereotypical terms; alcoholic, drug-addicted and mentally unbalanced, all to discredit those who question authority; and not only those who currently challenge authority, but those who would do so in the future.

That’s what it means to be a writer. It’s just like any other job or avocation. You have your good days and your bad. Like my mother used to say, “You pay your money, and you take your chance.”

In the end, I guess, it really doesn’t matter what type of writer you are (or become); whether you labor in the public eye like Stephen King, John LeCarré, or Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, or you labor in secret like Winston Smith, the reluctant hero of George Orwell’s 1984, or even if you write a single word. It doesn’t matter what you do, what matters is that you do it. But if you’re human, and I’m betting you are, sooner or later you’ll give in to cacoethia scribendi, “the itch to scribble”. Just be warned, if you scratch that itch once, you won’t be able to stop.

 

 


 

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Revisiting an old post. . .(kinda, sorta)

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Find your PassionFive – nearly six – years ago I wrote a post entitled, “You Have To Know the “Rules” . . .(before you can break or bend them)”. It was a not-all-that-subtle attempt to explain how to approach the interview process; how to dress appropriately combined with an attempt to advise job-seekers on the (then touchy) subject of tattoos. The job market had tanked and I felt there was a need for information about finding work, and the various problems that arise during the job search. There are a lot of them, and not all of them have to do with “pounding the pavement”, submitting resumés, etc. . . There was nothing new in the post, nothing that shouldn’t have been “common knowledge” or “common sense”. Still, the article seemed a “good fit” so I posted it, and then promptly forgot about it and moved on to different topics. Then a funny thing happened.

Of all the posts I’ve written on this blog (and I’m the first to admit there haven’t been all that many), “You Have To Know the “Rules” . . .” is the one post most often referenced by people stopping by this blog.  I began to wonder why. I’ve written on a variety of topics, not all of which have to do with job-hunting.  Many have been (at least to me) humorous or autobiographical; some have been straight fiction.  So why did this one post elicit so much popularity after so many years? Are there still people “out there” who need help job-hunting, or dealing with the interview process? Or was it something else?

Were people looking for some “magic bullet” that would allow them to find the perfect job, the most satisfying career, the most blissful life? Was the title of the post misleading? Were my readers referencing the post in hopes of finding some “inside track” that would magically supply them with the key to finding happiness? Is that why people were reading “You Have To Know The “Rules”. . . ? God, I hope not!

Because the simple truth of the matter is, there aren’t any. There are no one-size-fits-all “rules” for anything. In fact, the only “rules” are the ones you make for yourself. Everything else is a “guideline”, a “suggestion”. Sure corporations large and small have “rules” for how the work gets done, how the employees should behave, etc. . .(but they’re the corporation’s rules, not yours) and you can accept them or reject them, along with the job. That’s entirely up to you.

What it comes down to, in the final analysis is this: “Rules”, whether they’re set up by your parents, teachers, pastors, employers or friends are really their expectations of how you should behave, or what you should learn, or what you should believe, or what you should do to try to fit in and nothing more. It’s up to you to decide those things, not someone else.

You have your own ideas of what constitutes a good life, a happy life. You have your own dreams and plans and hopes for the future. It’s up to you – and you alone – to make those plans and dreams and hopes reality. You’ll never get there if you spend your time (and it’s a very limited amount of time) trying to live up to someone (or everyone) else’s expectations, or “rules”. (Image courtesy of gapingvoid,com)

 

 

 

 

Written by stevewthomas

May 9, 2016 at 11:55 am

True Believer pt3 . . .(it could have happened this way)

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          Pilate’s summons was not unexpected.  For the past week the city had been rife with rumors of the arrest of the Baptist.  The outcry prompted by the rumors had thrown Jerusalem into a state of near chaos; leaders of the various factions within the city had flooded the Temple with pleas for the High Priest to intervene on the Baptist’s behalf.  For his part, Caiaphas could not believe Herod was act so rashly as to arrest as popular as the Baptist, one whom many considered a holy man.  The summons from Pilate could only mean the rumors were true, which put Caiaphas in a precarious position. 

          While he did not agree with the Baptist’s teachings, he could not deny the preacher’s right to interpret Scripture as he chose, regardless of the official interpretation.  The Baptist’s sermons were a powerful attraction for the masses who flocked to hear him speak.  Many saw him as the Messiah, or as Elijah reborn.  This, combined with his recent vocal criticism of King Herod, a less-than-revered monarch,  proved irresistible; many deserted the Temple when the Baptist preached.  Herod’s arrest of the charismatic preacher had only served to increase the Baptist’s standing.  Caiaphas had to admit one thing, though; with the Baptist’s arrest money would, once more, flow into the Temple coffers now that the troublesome preacher was no longer distracting worshippers.

          The civil unrest created by Herod’s actions was, undoubtedly, the reason for the Procurator’s summons.  Pontius Pilate took a dim view of any action which disturbed the status quo, and the arrest of the Baptist had done precisely that.  Caiaphas knew there was no love lost between the Procurator and the Galilean tetrarch.  If the High Priest could find a way to ingratiate himself with Pilate, perhaps offering his services as a mediator, he could garner some much needed political capital and improve his own rather tenuous standing with Procurator.  As his caravan, with its heavily armed escort, sped through the countryside toward Cesarea, Caiaphas pondered how best to accomplish his goal.

          When the High Priest arrived at Pilate’s seaside residence, the Procurator was storming about, ranting about the “asinine, inbred fool who supposedly ruled in Galilee.”  A guard stood nervously at attention outside the door to Pilate’s suite, unwilling to risk his commander’s ire by announcing the visitor.  Seeing the guard’s hesitation, Caiaphas  announced himself.

          “I see the Procurator has taken the news of the Baptist’s arrest with his usual good grace,” he said.  The High Priest’s sarcasm, under different circumstances an unwise move, had the desired effect.   Pilate stopped in mid-rant and turned to face the High Priest.  The expression on his face showed a marked lack of appreciation for Caiaphas’ sense of humor.

          “Good grace be damned!” he snarled.  “If not for the fact Herod enjoys the Emperor’s favor, I’d have one less troublesome Jew to deal with in Galilee.”  Pilate strode to his writing desk, riffled through the documents scattered there, produced a parchment and handed it to the High Priest.  “Herod’s spies have convinced him this Baptist person is responsible for the attack on Sepphoris.”

          “I take it your Excellency doesn’t agree,” Caiaphas said and dropped the parchment onto the table.

          “My own sources tell me this Baptist is a preacher.  Oh, he draws crowds, sometimes several hundred, but he never preached violence, never incited the people to rebel against the king.”

          “But Herod thinks otherwise?”

          “It appears the king has thin skin when it comes to having his relationships criticized.” Pilate responded.  “It seems the Baptist took exception to king marrying the wife of his half-brother; something about its being against his god’s law.”  Pilate had been pacing about the room but with this last statement he turned to face the High Priest, an unasked question in his expression.

          “The Baptist was not the only one to question the wisdom of Herod’s divorce and remarriage,” Caiaphas said.  “Many of the more conservative among the Sanhedrin refuse to accept the king’s marriage to his brother’s wife while his brother lives.  Of course, it doesn’t help that she is a gentile, a non-believer.  The Baptist and a number of Pharisees believe the king should dissolve this marriage; a union they see as an abomination before God.  The Baptist, of course, was the most outspoken of the king’s critics.”

          “So you think this has nothing to do with the attack on Sepphoris?”  It was clear Pilate wanted to steer clear of becoming embroiled in a religious dispute.  He had no understanding, nor appreciation of Jewish law and no desire to acquire any.  If this matter of the Baptist was, in fact, a religious quarrel, he would leave its resolution to the Jews.

          “I believe the king is using Sepphoris as an excuse to censure his critics,” Caiaphas replied.  “It would appear he is having little success in tracking down those responsible for the attack and is using this as means of retaliation.”

          “Leave it to that fool to try to douse a fire with oil.”  Although he was angry with Herod, Pilate was more disturbed by the distraction the incident with the Baptist was creating in dealing with the Zealots.  His spies in Galilee had been unable to identify any of those responsible for the attack on Sepphoris.  These criminals disappear into the wilderness like ghosts and the people refuse to help ferret them out.  They fear the Zealots more than they fear the Romans, and with good cause.  Those who give aid to the authorities, Roman of Jew, against the Zealots are killed without exception.  “It’s hard enough dealing with rebels without something like this happening,” Pilate complained as he lowered himself into a chair, his brow furled in concentration.  “You seem well-informed in this matter, Caiaphas,” he said.  “Perhaps you could use what influence you have with Herod to resolve this problem.”

          The High Priest smiled.  This was the opportunity he had been waiting for.  If he could remove the burden of dealing with what was, in effect, a religious dispute, the Procurator would be in his debt.  It was a rare opportunity and one Caiaphas was quick to exploit.  “I have already dispatched a delegation to Macherus, where the Baptist is being held, Excellency,” he responded.  In fact, Caiaphas had done no such thing, but would see to it upon his return to Jerusalem.

          “Very good.  That will allow me more time to deal with rebels instead of preachers,” Pilate said, pushing out of his chair.  “My spies suggest the Zealots have camps here, in Judea.  I’m sending troops into the wilderness to hunt them down.  If Herod’s mercenaries can’t find these rabble, perhaps my legionnaires can.”

Written by stevewthomas

April 21, 2014 at 1:45 pm

True Believer, pt2 . . .(it could have happened this way)

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Yeshua shivered awake.  The fire of the night before had long since died out and the early morning chill crept under his thin coverlet and rudely brought him to wakefulness.  An occasional chirp interrupted the silence that enveloped him as the life of the surrounding wilderness began to stir.  He laid for a moment, awake in the surrounding stillness, and felt more than saw the dawn insinuate its thin light into the cave.  He threw off his blanket and sat, stretching and rubbing the remains of sleep from his eyes.  He was alone.

The morning air smelled clean and fresh after the rain, as though God had washed all that was impure and foul from the earth, leaving only the sweet, clean fragrance of His creation.  Yeshua stood at the edge of the river and stared blankly into the racing water,  Had the previous night’s cleansing encompassed him, he wondered?  He removed his robe and stepped into the river, wading out into the flow then submerged himself in the water, remaining beneath the surface for as long as he could hold his breath.  Suddenly, his lungs near bursting with the need for oxygen, Yeshua broke the surface of the water, a child expelled from the river as from a virgin womb.  He stood in the midst of the river and, pushing the water from his face and hair, drew huge gulps of air into his lungs; invigorating air, cleansing air, God’s breath of life filling his lungs.  He spread his arms wide and laid back in the water, floating there and looking up at the heavens now fully lighted by the sun as it moved above the surrounding mountains.  He marveled at the sky, the few high, drifting wisps of cloud scudding across the blue.  An osprey, wings outstretched and floating on the wind, glided across the blue, eyes keenly searching the ground below for signs of movement that would be its morning meal.  The hawk, Yeshua thought as he stood in midstream, had better expectations of obtaining food than he did.  He shook water from his hair and waded to the riverbank to retrieve his clothes.  The early morning sun was bright but had not yet warmed the air and he shivered as a breeze swept by on its way to somewhere else.  As he started back to his hiding place he stopped here and there to collect a twig or a bit of scrub to use as kindling for a fire, heartened as much by the thought of having a good fire as was at the prospect of at least one meal, meager though it may be, before he gave himself over to hunger.

Shadows played on the cave wall and gave the impression of a crowd milling about as Yeshua sulked.  Earlier he had wept, ashamed of himself for his desertion of the Baptist.  He had committed himself to Yohanon’s cause, to helping prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah and Kingdom of God, and yet when faced with adversity in the form of armed soldiers he had bolted.  He ran away.  Yeshua stared with red-rimmed eyes as the shadows danced in place on the wall.

“What choice did I have?” he said aloud to his accusers.  “There were too many of them and they were armed with swords and truncheons.”  The crowd stood mute in response to his protestations.  “I could have been killed!  What would that have accomplished?  Nothing.”  The shadows continued to mill about, ignoring his protests of innocence, mocking him with their silence.  Yeshua’s grief was slowly replaced with anger.  He stood up and began to pace the floor of the cave.  This group of inquisitors infuriated him.  What right did they have to accuse him?  Where were they when he traveled Judea, urging the people to come out and hear Yohanon?  Where were they when peasants threw stones and bits of offal at him and ran him off, preferring to live in ignorance of the Word of God?  Where were they when he tried to warn Yohanon of the danger of his attacks on Herod and his family?  Hadn’t he tried to dissuade the Baptist from criticizing the king?  Hadn’t he warned him of the possibility of Herod taking action against him?  Where were they when Yeshua did all these things?  They were right here, smugly milling about in this cave, safe from all the privations and danger.  How dare they chastise him!  He had done everything in his power to persuade the Baptist he had no chance of winning in a test of wills with Herod.  The king would surely arrest him and put an end to his crusade.

 

End part 2 . . .to be continued

Written by stevewthomas

April 20, 2014 at 9:12 pm

Coffee & Creativity . . .

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What, you may well ask, does coffee have to do with creativity?  Well, aside from powering me through many a late-night struggle with this blog, or trying for the umpteenth time to resolve an especially intransigent jewelry making problem, not a great deal.  In fact, the title of this post refers not to the rich, dark caffeine-laden liquid, but to a device that was, for many generations, the primary kitchen implement responsible for its creation.  Those of my readers who have attained “a certain age” will, of course, realize I am referring to the percolator.  Before the advent of Mr. Coffee and the now ubiquitous Keurig coffeemaker, the percolator was the essential kitchen appliance (second only to that most venerable of tools, the cast-iron skillet).  Percolators came in a seemingly endless variety of shapes, sizes and materials; from the mundane percolatorto the “futuristic” Percolator -- 1937 (this particular model was created in 1937), and from the commonplace 60s Perk (As I recall, it seemed everyone had a Corelle coffeemaker (made by Dow-Corning glassware) to the, shall we call this iteration of the coffeepot, “sublime”? rio percolator  .  Percolators were everywhere.  And so was the language of percolators.  To serve one’s guests anything less than “fresh-perked” coffee after dinner was seen as a culinary “faux pas”.  There was even a “top 40” record entitled, “Percolator”, composed around the sound of percolating coffee.  (Thanks to the folks at Maxwell House for creating the commercial that inspired the record.)  Even women’s styles were “coffee-oriented” with then-current dress-and-hairstyles giving one a “perky” appearance.  Anyway, you get my point.  And that brings us, in a roundabout way, to the subject of today’s post. 

I was reading an excerpt from Graham Wallas’ 4 Stages of Writing when the memory of a conversation I had with my brother, Mike, re-surfaced.  We were discussing writing and I mentioned how often I found myself “blocked”.  “Don’t force it”, Mike replied.  “Just let it “percolate” for awhile.  It’ll come to you.”  After reading Wallas, I was struck by the similarities to be found in Wallas’ 4 stages and the process of brewing coffee.  Wallas’ stages are, Preparation, Incubation, Illumination and Verification.  When you brew coffee, you select the grounds (or beans, if you prefer fresh-ground), add water, add the grounds to the basket (preparation), place the percolator on the stove, apply heat, watch as the liquid erupts into the glass knob on top of the percolator, paying at least passing attention to the liquid as it changes from clear to a steadily darkening, rich brown, (incubation), determine the coffee has arrived at the desired degree of doneness for your taste, (illumination), remove from heat, pour a cup and carefully sip the steaming, dark, rich liquid, brewed to your personal state of perfection (verification).

I was struck nearly dumb by the parallels.  Without realizing it, I had been following the advice of one of the great thinkers in the area of creativity.  But instead of using the stages in a cerebral, conscious-un- subconscious way, I was actually, physically following the 4 stages.  It’s a near-perfect example of what Einstein termed, “combinatorial creativity”; finding unconscious connections in disparate activities.  And here, gentle reader(s), is the result.  I hope you enjoy it.  I’m off to brew another pot of “creativity”.

Rainy Days . . .a love/hate relationship

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I suppose many people feel pretty much the same way I do when it comes to rainy days; we don’t like them.  They’re dreary, depressing and confining.  The last thing you want to do is leave the comfort of your home except in cases of “dire emergency”, like when the beer, snacks, cigarettes are running low and you absolutely have to venture out and replenish your supplies.  Other than those times, there’s little to do except sit around and wait for the rain to subside.  All that having been said (or whined), I enjoy rainy days for the opportunities they provide for taking pictures.  As a “budding” (actually, at my age, “late-blooming” would be a more apt adjective) photographer with a penchant for taking “contemplative” pictures, rainy days provide excellent opportunities to practice my craft.  There may be no better time to take “contemplative” pictures.  Given the drastic change of mood brought on by such days, I wonder if any enterprising psychologist has experimented with the effects of barometric pressure(s) on the fluids in the human brain?  I mean if you could conduct such an experiment (without having to kill the subject(s), of course), it could result in a finding of something other than “lack of natural sunlight” as a cause of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  But I digress. . .

Of all the things that could be done on a rainy day, I prefer to take pictures.  I could, of course, do other things.  I could read a book or watch TV (I do more than enough of that already!).  Or I could take a cue from my cats and find a comfy spot and take a nap DSCF2485  Or I could stare out the window, contemplating all the things I could be doing if it wasn’t raining 012  Or I could just hide from the world and wish it would all just “Go Away” DSCF2402  Of course, I don’t do any of these things.  What I do is, I grab my camera and start taking pictures.DSCN0931  I took this one standing in the open doorway of my garage.  The water pouring from the slightly crumpled spouting over the garage afforded me an opportunity to capture water in motion.  I don’t like to go outside to take pictures when its raining (at least not all the way outside).  The necessity of donning poncho, toting an umbrella (more to protect the camera than myself) and old sneakers and slosh around looking for suitable subject matter is not what I would call an “enjoyable” activity.  There are alternatives, though.  The large tree at the end of the driveway offered enough protection from the steady drizzle to allow me to snap a picture of water running in the gutter under it.DSCN0937  After a brief dash from tree to house, I upload my pictures to the computer and select a couple (the only ones that actually turned out well) for inclusion into this post.  After an hour or so of “scribbling” I glance at my watch and reach for a cigarette to relax and enjoy the results of my day’s efforts.  Alas, the pack is empty.  Looks like a “dire emergency” has arisen, forcing my brave the inclement weather and replenish my supplies.  BTW, what do you, my few devoted readers, do to pass the time on a rainy day?  I’d like to know.

Senators Mitch McConnell (R-SC), Robert Menendez (D-NJ) . . .(and George Orwell)

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 A 1984 commercial for Microsoft’s new MacIntosh personal computer promised  “. . . 1984 won’t be like 1984”.  They were right.  1984 wasn’t like 1984.

In his classic novel, 1984, George Orwell presents us with a totalitarian dystopia, Oceana, in a state of perpetual war with the two remaining “superpowers” in the world, Eurasia and Eastasia; siding first with one then the other of the two, but always in a state of war.

It is now 2013 and we may be on the verge of realizing Orwell’s nightmare.  Two United States Senators, Mitch McConnell (R-SC) and Robert Menendez (D-NJ) are planning to introduce a resolution urging the United States government to support Israel militarily, economically and diplomatically should the Jewish state be compelled to attack Iran.  Basically, what this resolution is saying is, “Go ahead.  Attack Iran.  It’s okay with us.  We’ll even help.”  We wouldn’t have to start another war; we can have our “ally” do it for us.  The United States would be obliged, for a number of reasons besides this resolution, to go to war with Iran.  Essentially, we would find ourselves at (or very near) a perpetual state of war (the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are “winding down” but they’re still being fought); a war started, not for “our way of life” or “to defend our freedom”, a war fought for profit.  There’s a great deal of money to be made in a war, apart from oil and the territorial spoils.

Defense contractors like Halliburton will provide men (security contractors — read “mercenaries”) and material.  Arms manufacturers, airplane, tank, troop carrier manufacturers will provide weaponry and transportation; clothing manufacturers and makers of body armor will provide support.  Armies need to be fed; food suppliers like Sodexo will see that the army is supplied with food and fed.  And all of this will be provided at rock bottom inflated prices (can’t be too cheap where “our boys” are concerned).  Back home, someone has to make all this stuff, so there will be jobs, lots and lots of jobs (at rock bottom rates, to be sure).  Think this is a little far-fetched?

Another feature of Orwell’s nightmare vision was “Newspeak“.  “The purpose of Newspeak was not only to provide a medium of expression for the world-view and mental habits proper to the devotee of Ingsoc,” Orwell explains, “but to make all other modes of thought impossible.”  Politicians, especially conservative politicians (neo-cons), have been using a form of Newspeak for generations.  We think of it as “the usual political b.s., but it’s more than mere b.s.  It’s not only a language, and for most of us a foreign one, it’s a way of thinking, often contrary to demonstrable facts.  Sound familiar?

But what about the people, you say.  Surely they can vote these jackals out of office and stop this insanity.  Right?  Presently, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 (VRA) is before the Supreme Court (see my blog post, Justice Scalia & SCOTUS . . .(W-T-F, Tony?!).  It’s being challenged as unnecessary in today’s society.  There are people alive today who remember why the VRA was created; to afford people (people of color) who were previously prevented from exercising their constitutional right to vote the opportunity to vote, free from discrimination and coercion.  It took a very long time and a great deal of blood to get the Voting Rights Act passed into law.  This happened nearly 50 years ago and those who took part in the battle (and those of us who saw the dogs and truncheons and fire hoses used on those who fought for civil rights (and their lives), both black and white) are aging and the benefits which, in many cases, allow us to continue are in jeopardy.  When we pass from the scene, who will be left to remember?  A society obsessed with its youth and an increasingly irrelevant pop culture and the ever-expanding technology which allows them to access it without interacting with it.

If a law ceases to be, it is as though it never was and if all the records tell the same tale, as Winston Smith (Orwell’s “hero” in 1984) observes, then they pass into history and become the truth.  So much for a voting population.

We are, as we have been at various times throughout history, at a crossroads.  Are we to become a nation “at peace everywhere in the world”, as President Jimmy Carter once observed.  Or are we to become like the Oceana of 1984; perpetually at war and powerless to do anything about it?

Scared yet?  You should be.  (I told you in my previous post it would be interesting!)

 

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