Saturday, February 18, 2017

The Leviathan

Deep calls to deep.  After Election 2016 no reasonable person could argue that the United States is intellectually deep.  The divided electorate viewed one side screaming, the other side moaning, both sides accusing, and no factual reality.  I've heard that only racists voted for Trump, I've heard that only wimps voted for Clinton.

“For such is the nature of man, that howsoever they may acknowledge many others to be more witty, or more eloquent, or more learned; Yet they will hardly believe there be many so wise as themselves: For they see their own wit at hand, and other men's at a distance.”  Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

I do not see myself as a member of either party.  I see both sides as being the problem, but I don't believe the worst about the voters of each candidate.  I believe people voted for Trump to affect a change from the previous President.  Some were racists, some were motivated by hate, but by no means was that the majority.  I believe that voters for Clinton believed they were anointing the next champion of the poor, the aggrieved, the outsiders, the downtrodden.  I also believe that there were people voting for her vagina, there were some voting because they hate the status quo and wanted a woman, to signify their desire to change the way things were done. 

“For to accuse requires less eloquence, such is man's nature, than to excuse; and condemnation, than absolution, more resembles justice.” Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

But, I don't believe anyone was voting thinking these are the best candidates they'd ever seen.   The American way is supposed to draw the best from the populace and create a meritocracy of choice.  The best should rise above, and the others recognize that person.  But we are not privileged at this time to be able to understand what is right and good.  And while I understand that, I do not know why we didn't see this approaching.

“In such condition, there is no place for Industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain; and consequently no Culture of the Earth; no Navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by Sea; no commodious Building; no Instruments of moving, and removing such things as require much force; no Knowledge of the face of the Earth; no account of Time; no Arts; no Letters; no Society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; And the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.”  Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan

I also believe that the United States has fallen from its ideals.  We are embracing cynicism, hate, rebellion, for the sake of it.  I see division having crushed bipartisanship, and divided populace cannot hope for the best because if the one side wins, the other perceives it to have lost.  That is, if Obama succeeded the conservatives and GOP in particular lost.  No matter what was accomplished the perception precedes the facts.

“Another doctrine repugnant to civil society, is that whatsoever a man does against his conscience, is sin; and it dependeth on the presumption of making himself judge of good and evil. For a man's conscience and his judgement are the same thing, and as the judgement, so also the conscience may be erroneous.” Thomas Hobbes Leviathan

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Entropy in Europe

"The term originates from the Greek: βάρβαρος (barbaros). In ancient times, the Greeks used it mostly for people of different cultures, but there are examples where one Greek city or state would use the word to attack another.[citation needed] In the early modern period and sometimes later, Greeks used it for the Turks, in a clearly pejorative way. Comparable notions are found in non-European civilizations, notably China and Japan. During the Roman Empire, the Romans used the word "barbarian" for many people, such as the Germanics, Celts, Gauls, Iberians, Thracians, Parthians and Sarmatians."

From Wikipedia

When a fall of a culture happens, the blame for such is often cast upon the outsiders.  However, the fall of any great empire or society has most often been from issues within and endemic to the society.  Greed, hedonism, refusal to serve public duty, and other reasons are more often the cause of the fall.  When people on the fringes of society or from a different society attack/invade or are involved in a war with the society, they are often called Barbarians.  Julius Caesar himself faced many tribes of so-called barbarians and it was his victorious campaigns against them that caused his great popularity. 

Those same peoples were the cause of the military fall of Rome.  In Britain where the Romans had attempted to expand power by removing kings and queens and taking the land, the Icenii tribe revolted under the hand of Queen Boudicca and her daughters.  They burned Londonium before their rebellion was put down.  On the mainland Celtic tribes in Gaul, modern France were subjugated by Caesar, but Germania stood afar from the conquests, and from Germanian Celts were among those who caused the sack of Rome.  But Rome's walls and culture had fallen long before.

Addiction to gladiatorial games, the use of slave labor, mercenary ranks filled in the Roman Legions, and more all hollowed out the culture's fortitude.  They'd lost their will to fight for their own safety.  The barbarians invading succeeded, but it was because they themselves were as hardy and powerful as the Romans who fought the Carthaginians, who had carved out their Republic had been.  The pleasure seeking Romans 800 years after the Punic wars, of the empire, were fat, lazy and arrogant in comparison.

“In my own opinion, the average American's cultural shortcomings can be likened to those of the educated barbarians of ancient Rome. These were barbarians who learned to speak--and often to read and write--Latin. They acquired Roman habits of dress and deportment. Many of them handily mastered Roman commercial, engineering and military techniques--but they remained barbarians nonetheless. They failed to develop any understanding, appreciation or love for the art and culture of the great civilization around them.”  J. Paul Getty, Billionaire

"History teaches us that when a barbarian race confronts a sleeping culture, the barbarian always wins."

Arnold J. Toynbee

Arnold Joseph Toynbee CH (April 14, 1889 - October 22, 1975) was a British historian whose twelve-volume analysis of the rise and fall of civilizations, A Study of History, 1934-1961, was a synthesis of world history, a metahistory based on universal rhythms of rise, flowering and decline, which examined history from a global perspective.

“Youths of the Pellaians and of the Macedonians and of the Hellenic Amphictiony and of the Lakedaimonians and of the Corinthians… and of all the Hellenic peoples, join your fellow-soldiers and entrust yourselves to me, so that we can move against the barbarians and liberate ourselves from the Persian bondage, for as Greeks we should not be slaves to barbarians.”

Alexander the Great

O [Roman] people be ashamed; be ashamed of your lives. Almost no cities are free of evil dens, are altogether free of impurities, except the cities in which the barbarians have begun to live...

Let nobody think otherwise, the vices of our bad lives have alone conquered us...

The Goths lie, but are chaste, the Franks lie, but are but are generous, the Saxons are savage in cruelty...but are admirable in chastity...what hope can there be [for the Romans] when the barbarians are more pure [than they]?"


Robert E. Howard was a writer who wrote prose and poetry featuring tales of adventurers, fallen empires, and the wild men who skirted the rules to succeed with a rough hewn sense of honor.  Some saw his characters as being all cut from the same cloth, but they did have many differences.  But the ways in which they were similar came from his own personal belief of the nobility of the savage over that of polite established society.

In the early 1970s Marvel Comics restored the memory of Conan and Robert E. Howard's world of characters and adventures.  First with Conan, then with tangent characters and stories, they created a wonderful print and color memory of the set of stories.

Not Conan, but the Celts versus the Romans, via Crossgen comics and Chuck Dixon.  Sadly uncollected by Crossgen or Checker or Marvel since the end.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

the funny thing about answering email questions

I am astounded by how many more questions I receive after I've written a post/article where I answer questions.  I suppose some look at it as if it is sport, a game of stump the moron.  Others might actually want to know.  Then there are those who want to get to be friends and ask for copies of my work for free.  I am not being cynical, that is simply the truth.

(All accompanying images are either public domain, fair use or self made.  I make no claim of rights or ownership of the images or copyright.)

So here we go for another round of Q&A

Do you like sports or are you similar to most creative people in that you ignore sports and prefer stuff like Classical music, opera, and drama?

I love Opera.  But I am a child of a man who loved all sports except soccer and hockey.  He didn't like soccer because he thought it was a bunch of foreigners playing a stupid game.  And pretty much I think the same for hockey.  As such, I had full exposure to the world of sports, and I like football, I love Hockey, and I love the Minnesota Twins in baseball.  There are other sports I like, such as Sumo and a parade of others.  But I will say, since I began my journey of creative work I have dropped off in my ability to follow and care about most sports.

What is it about poetry that moves you so?  If you could be the greatest writer, poet or comic book writer, which would you be?

I see poetry as being quite different than writing prose or for sequential stories.  It captures in a short amount of letters, a truth, an event, a feeling.  And it can be layered and filled with beauty.  For me it is why I read.  I don't want to be the greatest anything except father, and I know I am not that, nor will I be.

Well then who is your choice for best poet ever, and what is your favorite poem?

I can't do best ever.  While I've been educated, and took many poetry courses, I am not an academic writer.  I don't observe styles, I am less concerned by style as I am message.  I am not critical thinking endowed enough to know the various qualities beyond knowing what I like.  My favorite poem is The Ball Turret Gunner by Randall Jarrell.

What movie stars and musical bands or solo talents are your favorite?

Favorite I can do, however, this is not a permanent thing, I reserve the right to change the choices I've made.


Montgomery Clift
Tyrone Power
Russell Crowe
Toshiro Mifune
Elizabeth Taylor


The Clash
Billy Corgan
Chris Cornell
Blue October

What/where is the favorite place you've been to?

Duluth Minnesota.  I am aware of the wonderful world out there, but my experience meant Duluth is my beloved home.

What alcoholic drink do you write with?

I don't.  But the alcoholic drink that once or twice a year I get hammered with is Bushmills Irish Whiskey.  I also like Bloody Mary drinks with Stolichnaya.  But since I am now a walking medicine cabinet, 8 different meds by pill every day, I am unable or disallowed from drinking.  If I do it, it is a celebration or a consolation.

What politically person drives you mad?

I don't like Al Franken.  He is a carpetbagger.  And just to balance it out, I think Rush Limbaugh is blowhard air bag.

Why didn't you follow your education and go into politics or academia?

We all make choices in our life, some are career building, some are destroying.  I chose to follow History into Grad School so that I could teach, or research.  But my mind is more intuitive than logical, more creative that theoretical and more anti social than I could ever overcome long enough to  have a career.  However, my education did more than give me a frame work of thought, it trained me to look into anything with a focus I never had had before.  I was able to see my large picture world view, better, with more context and expertise.

I didn't go into politics because I would be a bigger failure there than anywhere else in my world.

If you could go anywhere and have it paid for, where and why?

Somewhere with castles.  I love the ancient and medieval world.

Have you any tattoos or piercings?  

I only have a tiny dot tattoo for the cancer radiation.  And I have a pierced ear.  I like jewelry and if I was a person who did social things, I'd go all out with the piercings.

Is university the best choice for a young adult for the their future?  Did you feel that your university experience merited the price you and the parents paid?  

We should not mistake gifts of talent as being skills.  You can enter life with a variety of gifts, but should you not develop them you are possibly going to let those talents wither from lack of use, and lack of technique to bring out the best in them.  If I had the foresight to know how age diminishes talent I'd have rather developed my skill in order to compensate for lost ability.  That isn't a bunch of diversion from the question, I just wanted to explain why more education and training can be so very valuable.  A person with an average singing voice may never ascend the ranks of the best, but through training and development of a talent one can compensate for lack of talent with an application of skills and knowledge.  By the time Billie Holiday ended her career her voices was fading, from the drugs and alcohol and hard living she'd done.  But she could use her voice in ways that a novice would never have known to have done. 

Attending university or entering a program where you might apprentice allows you to grow, when you are young enough to not be burdened with family, debt and lack of ardor for your future.  I received a number of college degrees, and while I was never one to worry about my grades, I soaked in so much knowledge, I was a smarter and better rounded thinker and writer.  I definitely learned from some great people, and I learned from the not so great in other ways.  My professor Ron Marchese, for instance, was beyond a simple teacher for me.  He was someone who encouraged and drew out the interest of a student and he helped it to grow, and challenged it so that it could survive and thrive in less ordered situations.

Why do you focus upon death so much in your writing?  Are you deeply dark and obsessed with dying?  

I do not become obsessed with dying, so much as I am fascinated by the thought of how my being will change, for good or ill, via the last stage of my existence.  I don't know what is beyond, I do however have hope for that point of my existence.   I find that people who do not believe in an afterlife ought to seek knowledge about that subject but often reject that idea.  I am a Christian, but my view of the afterlife is less connected with dogma and scriptural memorizing.  I simply believe that there has been in my life many events that point me to a view of existence that is, we are compose of matter and energy.  Matter might pass but energy does not, there is no way to prove or not prove the beyond.  So I choose the perspective that my intuition and experience both explain my reason for my belief.

Do you believe in the Arab/Muslim ban enacted by Trump and his advisors.   It is racist, yes?

I believe that the government's job is to protect citizens.  The ban was created to avoid the waves of terrorism going on in Europe presently.   I do not debate at all that the ban could be racist.   But I do not altogether think when situations demand action, that the groups that are committing the acts of terror obey the various government decisions and laws.  Assuming that they do is foolish.  So it is perhaps, in my mind at least, likely that a ban would keep those out who are law abiding.  It is how I see the gun laws.  If we want fewer guns in the hands of criminals, you might limit the numbers of guns, but the criminals will almost certainly remain armed.

And so it is self defeating to obsess over the ban.  It isn't going to stop the determined, and the innocent will be paying for what the determined have done, and will attempt to do.  It is similar to the prescription laws.  Because there are people who misuse and become dangerously addicted cannot stop themselves, those who DO behave and follow the law, and do not commit violations have their access to pain relief, to healing meds, and more restricted.  We treat citizens like we do children.  If one suffers, regardless of the reason, the lowest common denominator causes the lawful to be judged out of fear for the others.