Lent Post #10: Ramblings on Writing

I’m continuing the trend of writing about things that I never really wanted to write about, mostly because I personally feel underqualified. Or at least, I used to until further reflection made it clear that that wasn’t necessarily the case. Today, I’m going to talk about writing. Before I get into that, let me tell you a little bit about my experience. Like most people who consider themselves writers, I started writing fairly early in life. As is true with most kids, it started out with little stories about superheroes and villains and all the things I used to enjoy watching on TV and reading in comic books, most of which I still do. It all started with this haphazard blog that you’re reading this piece on after that, at least that’s what I thought.

It turns out that the gap between my childhood and my book, and on to this blog, is even smaller than I thought. In middle school, I had a drama teacher who wanted us to write our own plays, and we did a series of short skits based on my suggestion of using Aesop’s fables as source materials. I was heavily involved in writing all of those. And then, in high school, I took up writing lyrics for aspiring performers who liked to sing. Two of them (however short-lived), ended up with record deals. And after that, I found myself primarily using the title of tutor to describe what I did. This period primarily consisted of correcting other people’s grammatical and research mistakes in essays on various subjects, but at times I found myself rewriting entire papers because they were just too messy to be seen by anyone hoping to give the student a grade that was anything other than an F. All of that eventually led to me running a side hustle writing papers for other people, primarily in the humanities. Since then, in addition to my own book, my work has been published in four or five other books now. Some of my readers may look at this and say that what I did was unethical. You might be right, but I can tell you that I made every effort to teach people something, even if I ended up writing a paper for them. But I’m not here to talk about the ethics of some of the situations I’ve been in. I’m here to talk about writing.

What about it? If any of you grew up reading like I did, you will at some point invariably imagined mystical hermit writer who no doubt pulls ideas from thin air and weaves them into magical tales for our consumption. This mythological creature devotes themselves solely to the craft of writing, sitting at an oak desk with a quill and some paper (or a computer), and that’s it. That’s the life of a writer. That might’ve been true for H.P. Lovecraft, but if you look at his prose, there’s much of it that can be said to be torturous to read. Why is that? In my opinion, it’s because he essentially lived that stereotype to a large degree which produced what I consider to be homogenous tales, that lack style and fluidity in favor of the spectacle containing raw ideas and an exhibition of his rather voluminous vocabulary.

If you’re even a little like me, that’s not the kind of writer you ever wanted to be. You wanted your writing to be based on how you see life, something that imparts depth and beauty with each word you scrawl on the page. In order to do that, we first have to live. And it doesn’t matter to me how you define living, but it has to be done. Writing is the result of lived experience, sleepless nights of insane ponderings, an off-the-wall conversation with a friend, or a story from a random stranger on the street… Hell, the inspiration for your writing could even come from a bar fight you had last Wednesday. My point is, that aspect of it really doesn’t matter as long as it is in place. What matters most about being a writer is simple: it’s that you write. To be a good writer, which is not something I am calling myself, you also have to live. If you’re someone who “just writes,” you might be successful. But to have a chance at becoming a great writer, I think the word just should be removed from that sentence.

All this to say one simple thing: if you want to be a writer, live and write life. It doesn’t matter whether it’s through the lens of science fiction, fantasy, a surrealistic novel, or whatever… Live and write life.

Lent Post #9: A Short Musing On Prejudice

This has been a persistent theme in my thoughts on many social ills.  Nothing is ever this simple, but everything has to start somewhere.  If the foundation is rotten, all we build on top of it will crumble.

If we pass on our hatred and prejudices to a new generation the way we pass on our genes, all we can expect is more of what has already been. If we pass on new hatred and prejudice in the hope of change, the change we hope for will be perverted into something we don’t recognize. no change ever happens without partnership, and without sacrifice, but most of all positive change can never happen without love and compassion.

Lent Post #2: Remember

I don’t really know what to call this post. All I can really say about it is that it was born from watching and listening to hours of Joseph Campbell lectures in combination with watching a few of my friends and family members struggle to maintain a kind of peace within as the turbulence of life showed itself to be a force of reckoning. I will let the piece speak for itself. Enjoy, and thank you for reading!

In the west, in our “modern culture,” there is often little feeling that there is a connection between us, in between those who came before. There is a tendency to think there our problems are novel; therefore, they must be unexplainable. Often, this isn’t The case. We are species with multivariate cultures and lineages, with bloodlines and independent yet interconnected histories that are a constant show of human strength and ingenuity.

From this perspective I offer: when you fail, still carry yourself with the utmost Pride, for our ancestors did the same regardless of how many turbulent seas of life they crossed without maps or guides of any kind. When you succeed, look up to the starry night and picture each bright incandescent orb as an ornament upon your family tree and remember that the ones who came before you are the ones who brought you to these shores, Long before you were but you were a thought even on the periphery of someone’s mind. They shared the same hopes, fears, similar aspirations all dressed in different cloth, but the same in essence. Let them celebrate with you, let their strength be yours, remember… No matter what land your ancestors came from, each of them in some way was a warrior, Wayfinder, A craftsman, and many other things. No matter what happens in life, carry yourself with the pride of knowing that others before you have made it, and you will too. You will do it somehow, in your own way. You will. Just because we are all flawed in some way doesn’t mean that defeat, in the total and utter sense, is never a certainty

Rilke Letter 7

I wanted to try something a little different today. I somewhat recently decided to take a philosophy of literature class, and one of the secondary readings assigned was “Letters to a Young Poet” by Rainer Maria Rilke. The translation I have personally is a little clumsy, making for really bad English grammar. But he says many things in the second half of that collection with which I tend to agree. This letter particularly deals with some issues having to do with life and love. This man was a writer and poet to the core, and as such sometimes he’s difficult to understand even if you understand the words he’s using. But sometimes it takes the soul of a poet to bring light to certain aspects of our lives. My dear readers, I present you with letter seven from Rainer Maria Rilke.
Rome
May 14, 1904

My dear Mr. Kappus,

Much time has passed since I received your last letter. Please don’t hold that against me; first it was work, then a number of interruptions, and finally poor health that again and again kept me from answering, because I wanted my answer to come to you out of peaceful and happy days. Now I feel somewhat better again (the beginning of spring with its moody, bad-tempered transitions was hard to bear here too) and once again, dear Mr. Kappus, I can greet you and talk to you (which I do with real pleasure) about this and that in response to your letter, as well as I can.

You see: I have copied out your sonnet, because I found that it is lovely and simple and born in the shape that it moves in with such quiet decorum. It is the best poem of yours that you have let me read. And now I am giving you this copy because I know that it is important and full of new experience to rediscover a work of one’s own in someone else’s handwriting. Read the poem as if you had never seen it before, and you will feel in your innermost being how very much it is your own.

It was a pleasure for me to read this sonnet and your letter, often; I thank you for both.

And you should not let yourself be confused in your solitude by the fact that there is some thing in you that wants to move out of it. This very wish, if you use it calmly and prudently and like a tool, will help you spread out your solitude over a great distance. Most people have (with the help of conventions) turned their solutions toward what is easy and toward the easiest side of the easy; but it is clear that we must trust in what is difficult; everything alive trusts in it, everything, in Nature grows and defends itself any way it can and is spontaneously itself, tries to be itself at all costs and against all opposition. We know little, but that we must trust in what is difficult is a certainty that will never abandon us; it is good to be solitary, for solitude is difficult; that something is difficult must be one more reason for us to do it.

It is also good to love: because love is difficult. For one human being to love another human being: that is perhaps the most difficult task that has been entrusted to us, the ultimate task, the final test and proof, the work for which all other work is merely preparation. That is why young people, who are beginners in everything, are not yet capable of love: it is something they must learn. With their whole being, with all their forces, gathered around their solitary, anxious, upward-beating heart, they must learn to love. But learning-time is always a long, secluded time, and therefore loving, for a long time ahead and far on into life, is: solitude, a heightened and deepened kind of aloneness for the person who loves. Loving does not at first mean merging, surrendering, and uniting with another person (for what would a union be of two people who are unclarified, unfinished, and still incoherent?), it is a high inducement for the individual to ripen, to become something in himself, to become world, to become world in himself for the sake of another person; it is a great, demanding claim on him, something that chooses him and calls him to vast distances. Only in this sense, as the task of working on themselves (“to hearken and to hammer day and night”), may young people use the love that is given to them. Merging and surrendering and every kind of communion is not for them (who must still, for a long, long time, save and gather themselves); it is the ultimate, is perhaps that for which human lives are as yet barely large enough.

But this is what young people are so often and so disastrously wrong in doing: they (who by their very nature are impatient) fling themselves at each other when love takes hold of them, they scatter themselves, just as they are, in all their messiness, disorder, bewilderment. And what can happen then? What can life do with this heap of half-broken things that they call their communion and that they would like to call their happiness, if that were possible, and their future? And so each of them loses himself for the sake of the other person, and loses the other, and many others who still wanted to come. And loses the vast distances and possibilities, gives up the approaching and fleeing of gentle, prescient Things in exchange for an unfruitful confusion, out of which nothing more can come; nothing but a bit of disgust, disappointment, and poverty, and the escape into one of the many conventions that have been put up in great numbers like public shelters on this most dangerous road. No area of human experience is so extensively provided with conventions as this one is: there are life-preservers of the most varied invention, boats and water wings; society has been able to create refuges of every sort, for since it preferred to take love life as an amusement, it also had to give it an easy form, cheap, safe, and sure, as public amusements are.

It is true that many young people who love falsely, i.e., simply surrendering themselves and giving up their solitude (the average person will of course always go on doing that), feel oppressed by their failure and want to make the situation they have landed in livable and fruitful in their own, personal way. For their nature tells them that the questions of love, even more than everything else that is important, cannot be resolved publicly and according to this or that agreement; that they are questions, intimate questions from one human being to another, which in any case require a new, special, wholly personal answer. But how can they, who have already flung themselves together and can no longer tell whose outlines are whose, who thus no longer possess anything of their own, how can they find a way out of themselves, out of the depths of their already buried solitude?

They act out of mutual helplessness, and then if, with the best of intentions, they try to escape the convention that is approaching them (marriage, for example), they fall into the clutches of some less obvious but just as deadly conventional solution. For then everything around them is convention. Wherever people act out of a prematurely fused, muddy communion, every action is conventional: every relation that such confusion leads to has its own convention, how ever unusual (i.e., in the ordinary sense immoral) it may be; even separating would be a conventional step, an impersonal, accidental decision without strength and without fruit.

Whoever looks seriously will find that neither for death, which is difficult, nor for difficult love has any clarification, any solution, any hint of a path been perceived; and for both these tasks, which we carry wrapped up and hand, on without opening, there is no general, agreed-upon rule that can be discovered. But in the same measure in which we begin to test life as individuals, these great Things will come to meet us, the individuals, with greater intimacy. The claims that the difficult work of love makes upon our development are greater than life, and we, as beginners, are not equal to them. But if we nevertheless endure and take this love upon us as burden and apprenticeship, instead of losing ourselves in the whole easy and frivolous game behind which people have hidden from the most solemn solemnity of their being, then a small advance and a lightening will perhaps be perceptible to those who come long after us. That would be much.

We are only just now beginning to consider the relation of one individual to a second individual objectively and without prejudice, and our attempts to live such relationships have no model before them. And yet in the changes that time has brought about there are already many things that can help our timid novitiate.

The girl and the woman, in their new, individual unfolding, will only in passing be imitators of male behavior and misbehavior and repeaters of male professions. After the uncertainty of such transitions, it will become obvious that women were going through the abundance and variation of those (often ridiculous) disguises just so that they could purify their own essential nature and wash out the deforming influences of the other sex. Women, in whom life lingers and dwells more immediately , more fruitfully, and more confidently, must surely have become riper and more human in their depths than light, easygoing man, who is not pulled down beneath the surface of life by the weight of any bodily fruit and who, arrogant and hasty, undervalues what he thinks he loves. This humanity of woman, carried in her womb through all her suffering and humiliation, will come to light when she has stripped off the conventions of mere femaleness in the transformations of her outward status, and those men who do not yet feel it approaching will be astonished by it. Someday (and even now, especially in the countries of northern Europe, trustworthy signs are already speaking and shining), someday there will be girls and women whose name will no longer mean the mere opposite of the male, but something in itself, something that makes one think not of any complement and limit, but only of life and reality: the female human being.

This advance (at first very much against the will of the outdistanced men) will transform the love experience, which is now filled with error, will change it from the ground up, and reshape it into a relationship that is meant to be between one human being and another, no longer one that flows from man to woman. And this more human love (which will fulfill itself with infinite consideration and gentleness, and kindness and clarity in binding and releasing) will resemble what we are now preparing painfully and with great struggle: the love that consists in this: that two solitudes protect and border and greet each other.

And one more thing: Don’t think that the great love which was once granted to you, when you were a boy, has been lost; how can you know whether vast and generous wishes didn’t ripen in you at that time, and purposes by which you are still living today? I believe that that love remains so strong and intense in your memory because it was your first deep aloneness and the first inner work that you did on your life. – All good wishes to you, dear Mr. Kappus!

Yours,

Rainer Maria Rilke

Captain Gimpy Goes to Dinner

Disability and Relationships: The Family Component

Captain Gimpy
Captain Gimpy

I recently had a very interesting conversation with a good friend of mine, and he made me think about a component of relationships and disabled persons, that I hadn’t thought of in a very long time. Thank you for that.
I remember being about 17, and I was dating this really beautiful Asian woman (read: girl) I have to remember I was only 17. Anyway, we had been getting pretty serious. And the time was on the horizon for me to meet her family. She had talked about me with glowing reviews like I was some GRADE A restaurant on yelp or something. I thought that was pretty awesome.

Well, dinner night finally arrived, we had dinner at a local PF Chang’s restaurant. Her parents were a very traditional Asian family, and that usually means in my experience, that if they don’t like you they aren’t very polite about it. The dinner was horrible, they kept talking to each other in Vietnamese, never looking me in the eye. And then in English, my girlfriend and her parents began to argue. The main theme of their argument can be summed up in the following sentence: do you really think he can take care of you? Just look at him! He isn’t even a whole man. I felt like Ashton Kutcher on Guess Who?

English: Ashton Kutcher at Time 100 Gala
Yeah, I felt like him in that movie with Bernie Mac, probably nowhere near as handsome though. Or am I? 🙂

My young naïve ass was thinking that we might get married, but eventually her decision essentially came down to me or her family. Let’s just say, she didn’t choose me.

For a culture that claims to base its paradigm of romance and romantic relationships on love, we sure don’t adhere to those lofty values too often in the face of pressure, and who could blame us? We’re only human. But when were in a relationship with someone, we often don’t think about the amount of pressure our family or friends may put on us.
There’s nothing unique about the circumstances in this story, except for the fact that I have cerebral palsy. In many circumstances I’ve heard of, this kind of behavior would be considered bigotry, but in my case it ultimately came down to what a lot of people claimed was “common sense.” Just food for thought… Anybody care to share any thoughts or stories? Let’s talk!

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Duke Pornstar

DA STUDENTESSA A STAR DEL PORNO: ECCO LA SEXY ...

Duke Porn Star Belle Knox Talks Being Outed

Normally, I try to keep this blog about the things I write and as a result share some of my inspiration for those things. But today, I felt the need to write about something a little different. About midmorning, I came across an interview with the so-called “Duke Porn Star,” Belle Knox on the Huffington Post. I’ve put a portion of the interview in this post, but the interview is scripted to playing in its extended form on their website here. I encourage you all to watch it, think about it, and discuss. Discussion is the only way we come to understand complex and nuanced points of view that differ from our own. That being said, I would like to share my point of view with you.

There are two things in this interview that really sort of bothered me. Her perspective on sexual autonomy (or maybe not hers particularly, rather the way the term is been used to describe an amoral approach to sexual conduct), and the fact that in the way she speaks, she seems to be speaking on behalf of sex workers everywhere. I will touch on those topics in that order.

First of all, I want to say openly that I support anyone’s decision to get involved in any field that they choose; this includes sex work. As long as you understand the risks involved and are capable of making a decision that is congruent with where you see yourself, and have no delusions about what you’re getting into, more power to you. My problem does not lie in her profession. My problem lies in the concept of sexual autonomy as it has been used by what I like to call pseudo-feminist idiots. Most of the time the argument essentially boils down to a woman should be able to do with her body as she sees fit. That’s very true; howeve,r we have to distinguish between what’s actually good for us, and whether or not we’re just horny. I say we because I think the same should hold true for men; just because you can do something (i.e. have a lot of sex with random strangers), it doesn’t mean you should. All too often the phrase sexual autonomy gets thrown around to give people an excuse to be sexually amoral and swing their penises and vaginas in random directions without thought to how it will affect them or the people with whom they involve themselves. As a former sex worker I suppose, although I never thought of it that way, I can tell you that this approach to sex is toxic to human intimacy in the context of an attempt at an honest romantic relationship. There are some people who can handle “alternative” relationship mechanics, but not very many people can.

When people speak up on an issue such as sexual liberation or autonomy, it has to be clear exactly what they mean. If it means having the right to be responsible for your own sexual choice, then I applaud you; so long as those choices attempt to be within the realm of responsible. If by sexual liberation one means the right to be a slut or a man whore simply for the sake of sexual gratification, I wholeheartedly disagree. My second issue is that she appears to be attempting to speak for all sex workers, and that is utterly impossible. She talks about how sex workers have more control than one might think, and that might be true in pornography, but it’s not necessarily true in prostitution. There are a lot of abuses people who do see prostitutes on a regular basis, and simply see them as a commodity to be exploited for their own pleasure.

There are others, like myself who see both working as a paid companion and seeing one as a way to make up for the intimacy that they lack in normal social situations, there are a variety of reasons this may be the case, but that’s a subject for another article. All I have to say, is be careful what you mean by sexual autonomy, don’t condemn people solely on the basis of what they choose to do, and remember the scope of your argument and try not to exceed that scope. Enjoy the rest of your day people! 🙂

 

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Big Bang Theory: The Communication Aggravation

English: The Big bang Theory using simple type...

 

Returning to the plot, Sheldon believes he has discovered the world’s first super-heavy element, thus placing him on the shortlist for Nobel Prize in chemistry, even though ironically, he himself is a theoretical physicist. As a result of his purported discovery, he is thrust into the media spotlight of the scientific community, and asked to be a guest on a national public radio program to inform the public of the implications of his theory. While on the radio show, the host asks Sheldon a series of questions beginning with, “it’s been said that you discovered this element entirely by accident, some people are calling it the wonder blunder. How do you feel about that?” Sheldon then responds with “who is calling it the wonder blunder, what are their names? All of them… I want all of them. It’s Wolowitz isn’t it? I bet it’s Wolowitz.” After a bit more dialogue, Sheldon mistakes the host’s probing questions as an attack on his inadvertent discovery, and storms out (Prady, 2013). This is a prime example of violating one of the principles of effective listening, which is to listen with objectivity. Sheldon clearly goes into the situation with his own biases at play, and clearly does not want to participate in the interview, at least with any enthusiasm or care. If one fails to listen with objectivity, even if one’s intentions are good, they run the risk of missing the intent of the person speaking to them, and entirely misconstruing their message (DeVito, 2009). Sheldon clearly thought because of his own biases, that he was being attacked for not having intentionally made such a potentially groundbreaking discovery, as is in part evident by the fact that he asked if Howard was responsible for calling it the “wonder blunder.” One can hardly blame Sheldon however, being that Howard’s character is known for taking jabs at Sheldon on a regular basis.

 

In the episode’s parallel plot line, the show’s resident astrophysicist, Raj is staying with Howard for the week because his apartment building is being fumigated. Over the course of this stay, Raj quickly discovers that his two friends are having difficulties communicating in their marriage. In an effort to alleviate some of their difficulty, by doing small things for them, like cooking dinner, fetching morning coffee for them, and being their sympathetic ear; Raj embodies the empathic listener in the Big Bang Theory. He listens attentively, and offers sympathetic advice. Over the course of doing so, both marital partners begin to realize their faults through their friend’s good example, and express to him that they feel inadequate in his presence, and they were both perfectly happy “half-assing their marriage until he came along.” (Prady, 2013) Up until this point, the lovable astrophysicist was embodying the epitome of reinforcement, engaging other people in the conversation and allowing themselves to express their thoughts and opinions freely, listening, and engaging them in a true dialogue. Sometimes, as was shown in the episode however, such a tactic can be countered by unwilling participants, or participants who, as in the prior example, come into the encounter with pre-existing biases (DeVito, 2009).

 

This episode of the Big Bang Theory not only provided humor and levity to those who sought it that night, but given the parallel plot lines, it also provided an intellectual breeding ground for ideas related to the practice of conversation. Effective listening and reinforcement are key to any good conversation, which is why they are so encouraged in an academic environment; they are especially important when discussing issues that the participants may hold to be very personal. If the communicator seeks to engage their participants, said participants will be more at ease in giving their opinions. Another good thing to remember as an effective communicator, is that if one clearly communicates as little bias as possible, then others will not only feel more at ease giving their opinions, but they may be also encouraged to check their biases at the door. These are lessons that any effective communicator would do well never to forget.

 

Reference

 

DeVito, J. (2009). The interpersonal communication book (12th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon.

 

Prady, B. (Producer) (2013). The discovery dissipation [Television series episode]. In Lorre, C. (Executive Producer), The Big Bang Theory. Los Angeles: CBS.

 

Enhanced by Zemanta