I often receive emails or private messages when on websites like Twitter or Facebook. These message seem to wish me to answer questions that are often large in scope, and perhaps important on a cosmic scale. And I get asked my favorite band. I am not hard to find, I have had a public email since working as a journalist, and my worldviews are such that people are often curious why I think things.
So this entry into my column will deal with those questions. These questions might cause other questions, but that is the nature of existence. I am not, btw, obligated to answer questions that are rhetorical, but I've done that in the past. It never really happens that anyone is happy when I do so, other than me, though.
Question 1. From a Twitter friend from Europe.
How the hell can you not vote for Clinton over Trump? Are you insane?
I am insane. But mostly I don't see much difference between the two, and without going into hours of debate, I am really not a political thinker. Despite have a Master's Degree with work in Political Science, my personal religious convictions keep me from choosing the least evil, and I am happier that way as well. My guess is that I will vote for a 3rd party not named Libertarian or Green. The choices from those two are as messed up as the GOP and Democrats.
Question 2. From a reader of my work, sent by email.
Why don't you write more comics?
I have many ideas, but comics require working with artists, many of whom have a need to make more money than I do, for their labor. It isn't a complaint, it isn't me saying they suck, I just have not been blessed with a ton of people who want to give me their labor for each project. (Which often, to them seems like I am asking for Free labor, until the payments for work come back.) I love art, I love comics, so, I love many artists.
I also did a number of collaborative works with people who were truly talented, but, never had the fortune of going beyond the pitch. One specific work was accepted by an editor at a big company, and he was either fired or quit the very next day. Another work was accepted, and then never happened because the publisher changed directions and focused on a certain format and genre. And I had five full length works accepted, with an artist assigned, and projected dates to be published, only to have the publisher disappear. Comics work ain't easy.
I should say, I honestly am not at my best writing sequentials. I am a poet, an essayist, and prose comes ok too. But comics for me is too much incremental events, I paint bigger brush and big scenes. So, it doesn't move me to write as much in them.
Question 3. A Facebook friend did an informal Q/A.
Who moves you to write love poetry?
This is not an easy question to answer. Just because I am married to a beautiful redhead and love her, and have been together since 1988, it doesn't mean my heart doesn't long for or my passions don't strike up for various other women. But saying that, also note, I've never cheated.
The number of others who cause longing are few, not because I am without longing, nor for my attempts (failed) at moral perfectionism. Simply put, until 2008 I had no idea that women found me attractive and so to guard my heart, I made certain not to look. It was a good way to keep my marriage safe. But, I have to say, it killed my self esteem. So when my love poems started (not that I ever wrote them in enormous amounts) and women responded, I was a naive dork who had no idea what was going on.
There are many women who are beautiful, and a number of them who wrote to me ended up inspiring poetry. At the same time I don't feel regret, I did learn a great many lessons in the 2008-2012 period. And I am no longer naive.
Question 4. A email question from a reader of my blogs
Why are you so focused upon death?
This is one of the larger questions to answer, with regards to the issues causing me to write, as I do. So I will reply with a four part answer, hoping to give you an understanding of reasons for my focus.
1- While I do not fear death, it is due to my belief system that I think that way. But I watch the news, I read about all of the work to extend the human lifespan. I read about how cloning might change human life, by creating a living form that has the ability to donate organs, all the while, perhaps not being recognized as "life". In other words, I might not fear death, but a great many people do just that. As a writer of essays I try to cause a focus upon important truths that have been ignored or there are those who wish to amend those truths. Death has consequences. When you are gone those you love or lived amongst are still there. You've left footprints on the planet, and how you lived has had an impact upon others. Death is a point where the living now understand that there is no more time with the dead person. That alone is a wound that some cannot recover from.
2- Death is a point for which some believe there is nothing afterward. Whether this is true or not depends upon your ability to believe in spiritual things. I am a Christian, although, it is important to say that the sort of Christian I am is not the kind many assume when hearing the word. My life goals are not to change anybody. We are all of a mind to make our own life decisions, we are all responsible for our own path, spiritually and in our material life. I have chosen to use my life to demonstrate that sin is not good, and that overall I do not revel in any sin. I am flawed, as we all are, but I have been flawed in ways that I use to assist others. (Isaiah 53). My body has been broken, the lashes from the whip have left stripes upon my back. But rather than cry out for revenge, I seek to forgive, and to understand. Death for me is something I do not fear, but I fear it for others. You have only a limited time upon earth. Making your choices and learning who God is will change your view of death.
3- I have had a lifetime dance with suicide. My brain has suffered from PTSD, another disorder, and chronic depression. When highly stressed and depressed, my mind can often break with the way I know is right, and turn to the comfort of thinking that death is a doorway to final silence. My personal struggles have not, necessarily, made me stronger, but I live to share that I am alive, I have overcome, and that all of my life has had a purpose. If I lived my life, and struggled and experienced pain, but found out in the end there was no God, I'd still have done good things, still have had a purpose, and would not, in the least, regret what I've been through, or the life I have lived.
4- I realize, obviously, at the age 53 that people die. But experiencing my mother dying was a brutal event. I cannot go deeply into it here, it is just too painful, but, there isn't a moment in a day when I think of her that I wouldn't want her to be here. I recognize that she was broken by Alzheimer's, the disease is horrific. But, her loss to me, and the entire 9 or 10 years of watching her disease take her led to an intense period of reflection. And following my loss of my mother, I learned I had cancer, and I ... well this is hard to say, and I haven't really in print before... I almost decided not to deal with the cancer so that I could just die and if there is heaven be with my mother, or if there is no god, be dead and finally sleep forever in oblivion. But I have a wife and son who urged me to fight, and I did. I almost lost the fight when staph got into my heart and blood system during chemo treatment. But I won. And at the end of the fight, in 2014 August, one of my closest friends killed herself. That was the point at which I had to decide what I was going to do, live or surrender. My books are proof of my answer.
You seem to me to be more of a Hindu than Christian. Why do you call yourself one religion when what you are is much closer to a Universalist or practiser of Hindu? I love you but you need to be who you are and call yourself what you really are to reflect your faith.
The person who sent this is a person I truly adore. They are deeply spiritual and honest, delving into their own heart as well as others and asks probing but beautiful questions. I cannot say this was in anyway a question that hurt or bothered me, and I think people need more honesty in their lives.
But I am a Christian. I am more of a Theist who is a Christian, since loving and knowing God is the first thing one must do, but there is so much more. I am not an universalist regarding other religions or the mass acceptance into heaven. But I do not think that I know everything, that God is limited to my imagination, nor that the paradigms created by theologians are necessarily the best that one can discern from the bible.
But I am flawed, I sin, and Christ's blood saved me and brought me into communion with God.
Question 6. Facebook acquaintance...
What is your favorite sport and why?
I don't play any sports. But my favorite to watch is hockey. For me the why of my love of hockey can be found in the speed, grace and violence of the game. And when I say violence I don't mean the fights, which overall I am not a fan of, but rather, the speed of the game on ice causes random disasters, and these athletes have to be able to not crash into the boards from the limits of the rink, the momentum, the obstacles in the path... It is a glorious spectacle. I understand fights in hockey, I just don't dig them.
Question 7. Can't remember where they asked me from, but I am sort of friends with them.
What is your favorite period of history to study, and would you want to live there?
I love numerous areas of history. I am interested in most periods of the past and follow anything that catches my attention. So, that said, being forced to choose, I honestly think the era of the Samurai and Shoguns in Japan to be the most interesting and my favorite. But Ancient Greece is a very, very close second.
Question 8. Twitter person, not really a friend, actually kind of antagonist to me, but, I also find their dialogues with me to be good and instructive.
What artist was the most important of the 20th century, and who will be that of the 21st century?
My personal preference is Picasso or Dali, but I am aware of the vast world of art and haven't a single choice for who is the most important. I would say that I am not a good one to ask, I tend to be appreciative of art, and, I love it so, that my preferences and ideas are not able to be set in stone.
Question 9. From a Facebook friend who I have worked with.
Are you ever going to go berserk and kill everyone as you often say?
I do suggest that if I get any more bad comments or experience any more bad things I'll go bongo and from there probably run amok. But no , there will be no going berserk.
The Last Question
Question 10. From a close friend via email
What books are coming out in 2017?
I have a few nearly complete and ready to publish, but I always have more books in mind than I can possibly finish writing.