Sunday, January 29, 2017

America the Blind

The Right wing says America is filled with fake news, CNN and other Mainstream media lie to enhance the liberals at election time.  The Left Wing says that the Right use false evidence to make their case.  A large number of Americans see the world, not with honest eyes, but with biases that cannot be changed.  America is a house divided against itself. 

But the leaders are blind, as are the people.  Each side uses the information to make arguments that their side is right, rather than, as we should hope, to find the truth. So we've all become blind to the truth, because it is less satisfying than being found right or superior to another person.

LUKE 6:39
Jesus also told them a parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit?"

An Indian Myth
Rewritten for the western mind
by John Godfrey Saxe

IT was six men of Indostan
To learning much inclined,
Who went to see the Elephant
(Though all of them were blind),
That each by observation
Might satisfy his mind.

The First approached the Elephant,
And happening to fall
Against his broad and sturdy side,
At once began to bawl:
"God bless me!—but the Elephant
Is very like a wall!"

The Second, feeling of the tusk,
Cried:"Ho!—what have we here
So very round and smooth and sharp?
To me 't is mighty clear
This wonder of an Elephant
Is very like a spear!"

The Third approached the animal,
And happening to take
The squirming trunk within his hands,
Thus boldly up and spake:

"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a snake!"

The Fourth reached out his eager hand,
And felt about the knee.
"What most this wondrous beast is like
Is mighty plain," quoth he;
" 'T is clear enough the Elephant
Is very like a tree!"

The Fifth, who chanced to touch the ear,
Said: "E'en the blindest man
Can tell what this resembles most;
Deny the fact who can,
This marvel of an Elephant
Is very like a fan!"

The Sixth no sooner had begun
About the beast to grope,
Than, seizing on the swinging tail
That fell within his scope,
"I see," quoth he, "the Elephant
Is very like a rope!"

And so these men of Indostan
Disputed loud and long,
Each in his own opinion
Exceeding stiff and strong,
Though each was partly in the right,
And all were in the wrong!

So, oft in theologic wars
The disputants, I ween,
Rail on in utter ignorance
Of what each other mean,
And prate about an Elephant
Not one of them has seen!

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Crisis world

The world, someday, will die.  And should we fear the inevitable?  Yes and no. 

America and the world around it have witnessed a US president making choices that are far different from the previous 8, and even some say ever, years prior.  We can witness the outrage, the discontent, and the fear surrounding the decisions.  But as Jesus said as to our need to help the poor, "there will always be the poor"(paraphrased), the problems being faced remain the same.  War, Disease, Starvation, and Pollution.  Global warming beckons, immigration crisis looms, slaughter of the innocent goes on, forever onward.

So we have no excuse to ignore the poor.  It will be here, whatever we do, so let us address it. I do not altogether agree with or support the president's acts.  They are overreaching.  They are war like.  But they only point with an ardent focus to our failing world policies.  America continues to orbit between two ever widening poles of views.  America spent the last 50 years being the police man of the world, since we chose this position, with the nuclear weapons used in Japan.

I do think that Trump is different than Obama.  As Obama was to Bush.  The complete insanity of the system that divides Americans every 4 years, and beyond that for certain every 8 years, we get nothing permanently done.  Thus, we are in a negative cycle where creative efforts at problem solving need to be used for an escape from the cycle.

We cannot turn our back to the needy.  They will always exist.  So we have no excuse.

Unless you prefer War, Disease, Starvation and Pollution.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Answers to email Questions

I answer questions from friends and readers usually via email or messaging, depending on the site and the messaging tool.  But some questions make for fruitful discussion.  So here are a few answers to questions.

What poets do I read?  Ezra Pound.  Lord Byron.  Percy Bysshe Shelley.  Homer.  Virgil.  Dante Alighieri.  Ovid.  Horace.   Marcus Aurelius.  William Carlos Williams.   E.E. Cummings.  Robert Browning.  Alfred Lord Tennyson.  Emily Dickinson.  Edgar Allan Poe.  

Over there on the facebook I spoke about issues with my thyroid.  As a result of sharing there on my friends only page, I received a couple emails, deeply concerned that I had cancer, from people not on my friends list.  I do not know yet if I have cancer or not, I will need to have biopsy and treatment, regardless.  I was sleeping long hours, unable to get warm, I would eat normal portions and gain huge amounts of weight.  I knew something was wrong.  The same doctor that discovered my first cancer found this.  She is a wonderful doctor.

I was asked if I will do more comic book work in the future.  My written work is in limbo outside of poems for my blog, works in edits and formatting for print, and the occasional post such as this, due to my health.  I am sick and haven't been able to get healthy.  I will say, I want to improve on my art work, and I do wish I could do so quickly.

A friend who is on the left side of the political equation asked my views on Obamacare.  I hate it.  But I hate it because it left as players Insurers and For Profit Hospitals.  I believe in single payer.  That answer would shock a great number of people thinking that I am a conservative, but I am not of the American template of conservative.  I believe in the state being responsible for the citizens' safety, well being, and defense.

What stuff is coming out I was asked?  I have two books coming out.  One is a long look at who I am, what it takes to be a poet, and what does it even mean to be a poet?  The other is about war.  Enter Oblivion is about past wars, how we view it, how we seem to love it, and why do we love it. 

In one email I was called a reactionary.  I am not.  I simply said if a person has a fence around their home, but says a border fence is racist, that they were being a hypocrite.  The concept that we should give our nation's assets freely but be able to keep our personal items as private and our own is a very large cheat.  I don't believe we need a border fence if we make our borders to mean something, and we don't give out citizen benefits to others who are not citizens.  Why bother to go through the process, the long and perhaps frustrating process, if you can get all of the benefits without the paper chase. That said, I do believe in immigration being open and fair.  I don't believe in quotas being used against the "brown" people or the disadvantaged.  I simply think we need to enforce our laws and do the right thing thereafter.

An emailer suggested that I am secretly a Trump voter.  I might not despise him in ways the Democrats I know despise him, I have only contempt for him as a person.  I suspect he might not be as full of shit as some believe, there is some merit to the idea of running government as a business, which is what my father, a life long democrat believed.  He also owned two Trump books and believed Trump would have made a great president.  My dad didn't live to see Trump.  But as foul and despicable as Trump is, I think my dad would have voted for him.  I could not.  While I am not a fan of Trump, Clinton scared me in other areas.  As I've noted prior, BHObama or GWBush would have womped the shit out of either of these two.

What would my greatest so far unrealized project be?  This is hard to answer more than any other question because it points to my flaws as a creator, to the secret projects I still have brewing, and hopes and failings that haven't yet occurred.

I want to do a couple or three big question anthologies that ask questions to smart people in any field and allow those who respond to go in any direction they might.  The question asked would be about a single area of history, or culture where one thing happened or famously didn't and then follow the consequences of that.   I don't want to be the editor.  I stink at that.  I want to write it, but I am not great at prose.  And the people might do it are not highly recognizable so, in order to make it work I'd need money to make it happen.   So I think this project is D.O.A.

I have some skills still in art, and I would possibly like to do 20-30 pen, ink and watercolor paintings, and write stories and poems to create a book of moody work.  However, my arthritis is worse with every passing day.  My skills erode and what little talent I had, ever, has flown.  So I think this project is D.O.A.

I want to do a comic with Jason Moser.  He is a very talented artist and I love him as a person.  He and his wife are wonderful people.  This is one of the three items that I think could happen, maybe after the thyroid is dealt with we can write a script or something.  ASYLUM INK is Jason's site.

Thank you for reading this.

I'll try to post more of these in the future, as I have many answers to questions I can give.

“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.”  
Albert Camus 

Monday, January 16, 2017

Choose your poison

Some of the writers of Science Fiction seek to tell stories of a positive future, where mankind has overcome the struggles of the present.  Some ignore the present and write of the worlds elsewhere, to throw a different focus upon our norms and reality.  And some use their words to question the present, using exaggeration to bring into full view areas of concern.  Authoritarian government, Theocratic government or society, the decay of society due to nuclear war or pandemic all bring the fears and worries of the present into view.

Science FICTION is especially powerful as a means of inquiry.  This is because the author is free to question the society and create the paradigms free from worries about hurt feelings, and the like.  Fiction based on wide imagination allows the reader to consider the issues at hand, and then see them in their own life.

However the society presented in each book arrived at being an authoritarian system, they all have numerous ideas in common.  A desire to achieve conformity of the individuals, the lack of rights, ethnic minorities and other smaller groups are often kept from full membership and thereby access to benefits, and there is always the implicit threat of violence should the society member decide upon resistance.  Some believe that Nazi Germany inspired much of the Dystopic government stories, but it simply isn't true.  Many of the great stories were written and conceived prior to World War Two.  But it doesn't mean Hitler wasn't absolutely lock step with the template.

I've been told that the law of entropy means that Order decays into chaos.  Society being order breaks down into chaos.  In the Dystopias found in many of the books an event happened, chaos ensued and someone instilled order.

A great fear some people have is an enormous pandemic of killer flu or other infection.  World wide germ warfare is one thing, that is human created, but, humans have not yet eradicated some horrific germs, and have allowed certain bacteria to become resistant to our antibacterial drugs.  The world is ripe for such a horrible event, and wherever it comes from, it is right to fear it.  The Last Man by Mary Shelley therefore is an amazing book, written before most people understood the power of germs, despite the knowledge of the Black Death and such.  She was first among the many  the Science fiction authors to tell a story where the earth is quickly, and brutally depopulated.  It would happen quickly, and when finished, society would be hard pressed to continue, in any meaningful fashion.

And then there was, THE BOMB.  Since World War Two the fear of nuclear war, accidental war, nuclear plants having accidents, and more.  The idea of the power of atom held in the hands humans is a bit worrisome.  Having the power of the atom and thousands of warheads scares me and a lot of other people.  Science fiction looks at it all in many varieties of ways, none of which are frivolous, none of which are foolish, and none feel wrong.  Nevil Shute's ON THE BEACH is a book that brings the focus down to life's smallest point, how do you want to die, since we are all going to die.  If anyone thinks it is at all not perfect, I'll eat their hat.  The point to all the books is not that WE WIN! but that, in the Nuclear Age, use of these weapons means, WE LOSE, THEY LOSE, WE ALL LOSE!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

War is a tragedy, no matter who wins

The tragedy of war is enormous.  Civilians, soldiers, prisoners of war, and the animals and environment all are damaged, if not destroyed as a cost of war.  However glorious war might be, it is a path that requires destruction. 

The reason I like "what ifs" is due to the cultural currents that surround me.  Many people assume in this instant gratification world that everything that happened was meant to be.  Inevitability accompanies the mindset of people who stare at their screen, listen to their music, and communicate with others only when necessary and via text.  The belief in inevitability is a result of the victory, ironically enough.  The people who never went to war, or never had to pay such a cost as those who did during World War II do not comprehend the effort given, nor the sacrifices made, to help defeat the greatest enemies of democracy ever known.  Nazism and Japanese Militarism could have won the war, if various events had not happened as they did. 

The true power of Alternate History is in the ability to show what was at stake, and how various pivots were essential for the original event.  Had the Allies fallen the world of the present would be far different, and for me knowing that, makes me feel obsessed with a need to know what needed to happen in order for the right ending.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

The Last Stand of Democracy in Europe

People tend to believe that the past happened because it was supposed to.  They aren't aware of things that happened because they don't need it to add to the functioning of their daily existence.  But the truth is, history matters because we can see the answers to what ifs, and we can understand the value of what was done.  If in 451 at the Battle of Ch├ólons Rome's Flavius Aetius and Visigoth King Theodoric I had not united forces, the forces of the Mongols would have flowed across Europe unabated.   If Charles Martel had not defeated the Moors in 732 much of Europe might not have remained Christian.  The sacrifices of the past do not become erased due to time, even if they are forgotten, they happened.  Democracy and western civilization remained as we know it due to the sacrifices made by various people at grave moments. The Battle of Britain was one of those moments.

The world of early 1940 saw Europe at war, and the world watching it burn.  After the terrible costs of World War One so many people had tried to avoid war again that it seemed to encourage dictators to make threats, commit to war, and in particular, fascism to become a way of rule that was also meant to be shared and if not accepted, forced upon others.

After neutralizing or occupying every country in mainland Europa, Hitler believed he needed to defeat and neutralize Great Britain. He did not have an abiding hatred for the British as he had for the French, who he blamed for World War One, nor the Russians, who he believed were racially inferior.  But if he was going to invade the Soviet Union, he could not afford a two front war.

The first goal was attain air supremacy over the English Channel, so that the invasion of Great Britain would be safe.  The plans for this invasion, Operation Seelowe would never come into play, unless control over the sky could be reached.  Fat Herman Goering promised that the Luftwaffe could do this.  From July 1940 to June 1941 the German air force tried to destroy first the air force of Great Britain, the RAF, secondly the great cities of Great Britain, and lastly to destroy the morale of Great Britain.

Many remarkable things happened during the battle.  While the RAF was outnumbered the Luftwaffe made countless errors in tactics, but more importantly in strategy.  Attacks upon airfields and airplane factories were a great way to limit the ability of the RAF to restore their losses.  The Luftwaffe shifted to bombing London instead days before the airfield and factory attacks would have proven worthy.  Some authors suggest that had Hitler begun the Battle of Britain and quickly launched Seelowe that the British might not have been able to respond, and eventually fall.

But the RAF and Great Britain won.  The Nazis got bored of just bombing cities and demoralizing folks, and turned to savaging the Soviet Union.  Which was not about to fall.  Didn't work for the Swedes.  Didn't work for Napoleon.  Didn't work for Hitler.

Here are some books for your further investigation:

Friday, January 6, 2017

Hibernation Readingnation

It is pretty lousy cold here in Minnesota.  And for a few months I've been shivering.  It seems these below zero temps are Wintery.  Well that just makes me want to go to sleep.  And cuddle with my cats.  And read many books.

The Alien franchise has been my favorite since the very beginning.  That it has branched out is ok, that it has been linked to other works, and has been extended, is all my pleasure.  I was introduced to it by scary as hell trailers and advertisements, then I read the book, then I went and saw it in Minneapolis during summer, in a nearly empty theatre, with only me and a huge theatre of nothing to protect me.  Alan Dean Foster's work made the fear tolerable, and took nothing from the film.  It added to it for my sake.

Sigil is a comic series from the long lamented passed CrossGen comics, who sought to write and create more than superhero comics.  What they did was create a fictional universe and created a universal event or power, the 'Sigil', that linked them.  But the book Sigil wasn't a confluence of many different works, it was a space opera, and it was pretty damn good.  And the art was even better than the concept or writing.  Scot Eaton was a genius, creating science fiction effects that only comics could do.

And then there is poetry.  Wordsworth-editions are cheap editions of great literature.  If you like poetry but think I like this or that, well, they cover most of the best of the past.  If you like poetry of the present then these might be older than your taste, but their quality is unquestioned.

I love epic fantasy.  Homer, Robert E. Howard and Lord Dunsany all wrote poetry.  They also wrote of amazing events in ways that carrying you along in ways you might not expect.

The 47 Ronin story is one of the greatest of all time.  It captures the course of events following a confrontation between a lord and his subject.  When loyalty is tested, seppuku is the result.  But the samurai of the lord who has been betrayed carry out revenge, leading to insight into the story of what the life of a samurai is worth.

Comics about samurai all celebrate the values of the warrior caste of Japan.