Archive for July, 2013

From the Editor’s Perch…

July 29, 2013

Criticism

Criticism is Always of Freedom

 

            Recently I happened upon this North Korean video which a visitor to South Korea claimed was clandestinely slipped to her.  http://superchief.tv/leaked-north-korean-documentary-exposes-western-propaganda-and-its-scary-how-true-it-is/  As you can read from the title, this is a “leaked North Korean documentary which exposes Western propaganda and it’s scary how true it is”.

Well, I’ve watched this one video (there’s a package of them on the internet), and I wouldn’t call it Western propaganda.  I’d call it snippets from a Western lifestyle.  And I wouldn’t call it scary.  But, aside from a rather twisted view of racial matters, I’d say a lot of the footage is accurate.  The United States – at least in the media – often looks like this.  They talk a bit about Paris Hilton.  I’ve never met her.  They criticize Madonna, (three cheers!).  But I’ve never met her, either.

            How can the North Koreans know us so well?  It’s not like they get out and about so much.  I’d say it’s most likely they are repeating what the Left Wing has to say about the United States on a day to day basis in our own media.  The North Koreans find much to admire in the Left Wing’s criticism of the United States.  And the Left Wing, in return, finds the North Koreans’ criticisms uncannily accurate.    You have to smile.  The Left Wing and North Korea share so many beliefs.  Why can’t we all just get along?

Indeed.

            It’s been said by parasitologists that if you somehow did away with the flesh and bones of most animals and only saw the parasites that inhabit them, the animal would still be readily identifiable.  This probably could also be said about human beings and their sins.    Given unlimited freedom, a human being could probably be identified as much by the innumerable sins he/she commits as by their fingerprints.  Sin thrives in flesh like a virus.  It’s in the nature of being human to sin (or, if you’re not a Believer, to ‘act poorly’).

When you have a ‘free’ country, it would be unnatural not to see all the sins of humankind flourish and be displayed widely.  When our worst natures are given free reign to flourish and to describe us, they do – to a point.  The beauty of the United States is that a person can see themselves – and others – as they descend to become, or by determined self-criticism and effort can make themselves to be, and collectively, through self-imposed laws, continually re-create the free nation we enjoy.

The Left Wing would criticize us and our freedoms until we are beyond something lifelike… until we have become something that only criticism can create, like North Korea.  The Left Wing would take the term ‘puritanical’ to a new level… a North Korean level.  And why not?  They have so much in common.   It’s uncanny.

Cartoon taken from Google Images

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From the Editor’s Perch…

July 21, 2013

Editor:  Certainly there is a lot more that could be said, but sometimes I just get the urge to whine.

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Why Being Creative May Not Serve You Well

 

In a cartoon by playwright/cartoonist Mark Krause ( http://markrause.com/category/10000p/ ) a practical character asks the ‘creative’ playwright character why they don’t bring all the creativity they use in their playwrighting to advance their life, and to make money?

Indeed!  Why isn’t every poor artist using their superior creativity to better their lot?

Well, with age I’ve learned that there are often, if not ‘good’ reasons for things being as they are, there are at least significant reasons for things as they are.

Usually, the urging to be creative comes from the media gurus and not our workplace.  In fact, it seems the media gurus are pitching their advice as a corrective to the workplace, to fight ‘business as usual’.  Just as the Lord, in driving Jonah onto the boat, prevented fishing as usual.

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Creative people are seen as a Jonah to practical endeavor – that is, making money.

Why?

Well, gaze across an artist’s life and maybe get an inkling.

The word ‘success’ is derived from root words which mean outcome or result.  Most people are practical and want results.  They seek an outcome.  Artists generally want an epiphany.

I remember watching the Olympics one year and listening to the story of a swimmer who missed being on the past Olympic team by four tenths of a second.  So he trained for another four years shaving off those four tenths of a second and made his Olympic team.  His feat was celebrated world-wide.  This is how practical people are.  This is how they think.  This is what they admire.  A great compliment among practical people is to be called a ‘machine’.  In David Mamet’s play, Glengarry Glenn Ross, Shelly, the Machine, Levine is the top salesman.  Nothing stops his production.  Shelly Levine is successful.  Success is the practical person’s epiphany.

 

For all of the contracts, legalisms and paperwork involved, the basis for nearly all living is trust.

We trust that the sun will come up tomorrow.  We trust that the money we have saved will be there tomorrow.  We trust that our husband/wife will be there tomorrow.  We trust that we will be here tomorrow.  We trust that we’ve learned enough to try what we attempt.  We trust our family.  We trust our friends.  And trust is not established immediately.  Trust is a commodity earned over time through repetitive, consistent behavior.  A good worker earns our trust.  A good dog earns our trust.  A good car earns our trust.  A tried and true method gains our trust. Good artists work repetitively and consistently, but their behavior is anything but.  And whereas they might be honest as the day is long, their behavior and speech and actions are often unpredictable.  Even the quality of their output is unpredictable.  Artists generate distrust.

 

Artists often make the mistake of thinking that once they are successful, they will be respected by their practical relations, friends and acquaintances; as they imagine that success must be the coin of the realm for practical people.  But that’s not quite it.  According to Wikipedia, It takes just one-tenth of a second for us to judge someone and make our first impression…”  Then, of course it only takes another one-tenth of a second for us to form our second impression, and so forth…   Hence, the birth of the ‘elevator pitch’.  That is, it has been said that in the business world, in order to attract a person’s attention and backing, you must be able to condense who you are and what it is you do (and include direct benefits to them!) into a pitch that you can give your fellow passenger in the time it takes an elevator to travel from the lobby to whatever floor your acquaintance is headed.  Now imagine an artist delivering such a pitch.  Does building security enter the picture?

Even quite successful creative types have harbored this dream of achieving general acceptance and respect and have been dismayed.  Saul Bellow watched his sister sleep through his Nobel speech.  The great American poet Wallace Stevens hid his poet’s identity throughout his career as an executive for an insurance company in Hartford, Conneticut.  Blind Lemon Jefferson froze to death on the streets of Chicago.  “Douglas Engelbart set the computer world on fire in December 1968.  Standing in a San Francisco conference hall filled with the nation’s top computer experts…  Engelbart demonstrated such innovations as word processing, video conferencing, and desktop windows – 13 years before the debut of the first IBM personal computer.  He also showed how a mouse, which he’d invented four years earlier, could be used to control a computer.  … In one hour, he defined the era of modern computing.” (“The Week” 7.19.13)   “He never became rich or a household name… and in later years struggled to get funding for his research.”

Artists do not reach unknown ends by using trusted routes.  Artists run on faithArtists like trying things.  Practical people like succeeding at things more.  Practical people try things when the method tried has been shown to work.  Artists evade this dictum because where you go determines where you end up, and artists are “epiphany junkies”.  They want to go somewhere new.

The bad news is that success is payment for consistent, bankable results.  So, a livelihood, comraderie and respect are often part of the artist’s elusive dream.  Creativity will probably always have an air of desperation about it.  And people will probably always shun the creative individual.

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Photos taken  from Google Image

From the Editor’s Perch…

July 9, 2013

Editor’s disclaimer:  Just because we talk the talk doesn’t mean we can necessarily walk the walk.  If we all had to be good at what we talk about, not much would get said.

This takes place at the funeral home. BERNICE has angered her other son, BERT, who has decided to bury her in her underwear.

This takes place at the funeral home. BERNICE has angered her other son, BERT, who has decided to bury her in her underwear.

 

Two Guidelines for Relationships

 

These are two nuggets of wisdom, which in my experience, should be fundamental in guiding any relationship – but especially those between men and women.

 

This first was related to me by a psychiatrist years ago.  He said, the secret to dealing with women is to listen to what they say, and then to do what you want.  He said that the way most men get into trouble is that they either listen and don’t do what they want; or they don’t listen and do do what they want.  I believe this advice is also useful when the roles are reversed and for nearly all relationships.  It’s hard to maintain a head of steam when you really listen.  And when the other person won’t listen it’s hard not to get a head of steam.  When a man only does what he’s told, the woman comes to wonder why she needs to be married. And when a man doesn’t listen at all, a woman comes to wonder the same thing.

 

The second guideline is that doing is not listening; listening is listening.  I’ve heard this rule memorialized in a hundred country songs.  Typically the husband is brought around to the fact that he has not paid enough attention to his wife, and so he brings her flowers, buys her a diamond, gets her a dress, buys a bigger house, takes her on a trip…  anything to shut her up.  But he’s still not listening, and the resentment abides.  Or, we’ve seen this rule broken in a numerous families.  The worldly parents either refuse to take the childrens’ concerns seriously, or they don’t take the time to grant the children an audience.  To smooth their feelings, they buy them stuff.  But it doesn’t make matters better.  The parents have alienated their children and taught them to harbor and monetize their grievances.  Each family gathering becomes another trial through which the children receive punitive damages for pain and suffering.

 

Gifts have a long history of being used to shut people up.  Politicians typically greet a hostile crowd bearing gifts.   Explorers offer gifts to native tribes whose lands they are crossing.  Corporations give gifts to the leaders of the nations they exploit.  When the local theater heads finally spoke to the local playwrights, (whose plays they had refused to produce), they came for the sole expressed purpose of offering them ‘opportunities’.  Whenever anyone offers you a gift – especially one you’d like, it makes it bad form to bring up a grievance.  So you contain your bile, and smile.

 

It’s very common for someone to try and make up for some rudeness by doing something for the aggrieved party.  This is fine and good the first couple of times around.  But eventually, it becomes what it is: purchasing the right to treat another person poorly.

 

In my estimation, the best thing to do when you have refused to listen to somebody – is to listen.  That’s it.  That’s all.  All it takes is a little time.  Just listen, and then do what you want.

Photo by Candice Kerwin of scene from a play by Carl Nelson, “Into the Wild Blue Yonder”.

Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene

July 3, 2013

Dear Readers!

2010-5-16 Lizzie-1-3

NOTICE:  Murders in Progress by Eldon Cene is continuing in Part Two as The Cognitive Web, and has been transferred to authonomy, a serial fiction website.  To find the next episode, go to:   http://authonomy.com/books/53824/the-cognitive-web/read-book/#chapter

See you there!

Best regards, ur Editor

Photo by Carl Nelson


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