Category Archives: Writing

What is Fiction?

robert-fordAt one point in HBO’s Westworld (don’t worry, no spoilers) Robert Ford (Anthony Hopkins) gives a speech about stories, about the value of fiction. He references a belief that fiction elevates — or at least illuminates to good value — the human condition. The belief also holds that those who read a lot of fiction are in some sense “better” people.

The idea is controversial on several grounds. Firstly, it’s hard to define what makes people “better,” and you can’t measure or test what you can’t define. Secondly, even if “better” is defined, not everyone will agree with the definition. Thirdly, there’s a nature-nurture aspect that makes comparisons like this very hard to tease out of any data you can gather.

Maybe a place to start exploring the idea is to first define “fiction” and go from there…

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The National Disgrace

vote-1

Do it in the name of sanity and decency.

Please.


The Penis Election

pumpkin-vomitWhat a sad and pathetic group of ape-descendants we turned out to be. After the Dark Ages, the human race had high and lofty aspirations. We saw ourselves so vastly evolved from our animal origins. We had the power of nuanced communicative language, of higher thought and rationality, of powerful evocative art, music, and literature.

I’ve come to the conclusion that the human experiment is a fail. The answer to the Fermi Paradox is that “intelligent” species actually aren’t intelligent enough. All our technical toys turn out to be exactly like giving an ape dynamite and a lighter.

And after several thousand years thinking we’re better than animals, we prove we’re not by making this election cycle about penises.

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Final Straws

trump-bustedWhen you elect for the highest office in the land a feces-flinging “damned dirty ape” (as Charlton Heston famously said), you really can’t be all that surprised when he shits all over your political process. What did you expect would happen?

What depresses, nauseates, and outrages me is what it seems to have taken (and who knows if even this is enough). As final straws go, the business of the Orange Goblin claiming (and, indeed, very possibly truthfully) that he cops feels and steals kisses with impunity pales in comparison to the sheer evil he embodies.

Once again we demonstrate that the big picture is beyond us; it’s the little things that capture our attention.

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High Ground

questionsWhen did we change? When did we decide that torture was an okay idea? When did we begin to so tolerate the very presence of nationalism, racism, and gender politics? When did we decide to so forsake the values that defined us as a nation?

Why do we think popular or successful means — even defines — what is right? Why do we cling to clearly false beliefs rather than accepting demonstrated facts? Why do we confuse what we like with what is good?

Where is our moral high ground, the set of values espoused by the founders of the USA and which, until recently, have largely been at the center of our national identity. Where is one of the most important questions of all: Is it the right thing?

What is wrong with us that an obviously unqualified raging narcissistic reality TV show star has even a chance of being elected President of the country? How can we possibly be this foolish? What makes anyone think he can even begin to deliver?

Who will we elect, someone who — like her or not — is clearly qualified to run the country, or an ignorant human monster surfing a wave of hate, fear, and angry frustration? Perhaps more importantly, who are we as a people?

Who do we want to be?

Which way will we turn? Towards the Dark Side? Or towards the light?


Weltschmerz

weltschmerz-0When the world hits your eye like a nasty pig sty,… that’s not amore, that’s Weltschmerz (best English translation: “world pain”). It’s a term I’ve been meaning to post about for years, since it — or rather what it defines — lies at the heart of most of my Rant posts. (Yeah, this is another Drafts post I’m finally setting free.)

Fundamentally, it speaks to a disconnect or gulf between what one feels ought to be true in the world compared to what actually is true. Implicit in the term is a moral bias regarding the ought; it doesn’t, for example, apply to the gap between wishing you were rich while being poor.

It seems to me very much a word for our times.

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Stupidity Is Winning

face palm - gecko

And whiplash from SMH!

I’m having a tough year; damn near everything pisses me off these days. I’ve never been angrier at the human race than I am lately. My disdain for people is at an all-time high, and that’s a sick way to be; it’s not at all natural for me.

In fact, retirement brought me a long-time-coming epiphany of sorts. I’ve long been known as one of those angry, critical types. A high school friend once named me “the angry young man” (so this has been going on a while). I’ve always accepted it as true. What I finally realized is that it isn’t me…

It’s you.

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Obstructions!

disgruntled-employeeNow that I’m retired and no longer motoring around the hallowed halls of The Company, it isn’t the annoyance it once was, but this post has been sitting in my Drafts folder for well over three years. And since it was something that annoyed me considerably for 30-some years, it’s worth recording (to me, I mean).

I find that it still does sometimes occur on the highway, and when it does, it reminds me and keeps the rant alive. In any event, I’ve been wanting to use the next paragraph for years! (It just needed the right post.)

You know what bugs me? Well, lots of things, but in this case it’s…

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More Notes

notesThere are some notes that laid on the top of my possible next posts pile for a long time. Like the notes I posted recently, these clearly migrated from the same old boxes that I’m now excavating more seriously.

The ink is faded, and I can identify a fountain pen I used decades ago. Apparently I thought they had potential. But as little statements on life — being from a younger me — they now seem trite and bumper sticker simplistic. Yet they’ve had just enough flavor to keep them out of the wastebasket.

I’m tired of looking at them. Here they are.

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The Lost Story

galaxyA long time ago (nearly four years!) I wrote a post about my high school English teacher, Mrs. McGee (see The Love Connection) and a short story I’d written in her class. I complained in my post that she’d given me a low grade on the story because she objected to its conclusion.

Turns out my memory about the objection is correct, but she give me an ‘A’ on the paper anyway. (In fact, she compared the writing to Chekhov’s The Seagull … kinda sorta.)

I wanted to share it years ago, but didn’t know where it was. I found it just last week, and here it is:

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