The idea that nobody is above the law is trotted out fairly regularly by various lawmakers, pundits, late night comics, and social observers. I hardly need to explain what the idea entails but for sake of completeness I’ll simply say that it means that everybody, no matter their social status or position, is subject to the law. No exceptions.
You don’t have to have been on planet USA too long to realize that this idea – which sounds principled and proper – isn’t at all true. You could say it’s an ideal that should be aspired to. You could say it’s theoretically true. You could call it a reassurance that’s doled out to the masses that they may be convinced of the law’s impartiality. There’s many approaches, but underneath it all, the proclamation that nobody is above the law is simply false. Some might even go so far as to call it…
We all hear quite a bit from the so-called president Trump how he’s down on the haters. As if anyone not in agreement with his world view can be easily dismissed as baseless and unreasonable. Haters are irrational; they don’t think about what they’re hating; it’s an unconscious reaction to anything Trump.
According to Trump.
However, back in the real world, people have values. For instance, I value the truth. Good or bad, I’d rather be confronted with it than pretend it doesn’t exist, or try to lie my way out of it.
And I’m not alone. Millions of decent people around the world feel the same. And like them, I stand against people like Trump who twist reality to shield themselves from criticism.
According to Trump, that makes me a hater. It’s true I don’t like narcissistic, narrow minded ignorant braggarts like the current occupant of the White House.
But. He would have you think that anybody who opposes:
- Pussy grabbing
- Fucking porn stars on the side
- Lying through your teeth all the time
- Changing your beliefs with your socks
- Throwing tantrums and calling people who don’t agree with you schoolyard names
- Refusing to take personal responsibility for your mistakes
is somehow just an irrational leftist. He doesn’t give us credit for our own eyes and ears. He thinks we somehow can’t see his horrible personality. He thinks we somehow can’t see both his ignorance and his arrogance. He thinks we are only inventing reasons to dislike him.
If you think that too – and I know there are plenty who do – then you are part of the problem, not part of the solution. We are way past the time when we need to stand for what’s right, not merely for that which blows a favorable wind in our direction.
I notice that lately Trump supporters are pivoting to the argument: we know he’s not a saint, but he gets things done.
I understand what you mean, but there’s a couple of problems.
First, you’re saying that the ends justify the means. Anything that gets the job done is okay. No matter what. Which in turn means that you – like Trump himself – have no guiding moral compass, no firm belief of what’s right or wrong. Expediency and convenience are your watchwords.
Second, it’s not true. He doesn’t get things done. His time in office has been marked with inefficiency, turnover, and scandal. He tells people what they want to hear, knowing that most won’t keep tabs to see if he’s followed up on his rhetoric. Moreover, he tries to convince people that all complications, snags, difficulties, and setbacks are the fault of a shadowy group of unnamed, unidentified people. Never himself. Never his decisions. Never his inability to think beyond his ego. He is spotless, intelligent and powerful, but somehow always gets tripped up by losers and inferiors.
It doesn’t pass the smell test. Nobody’s perfect and we all make mistakes, but Trump has all the markings of an incredibly ignorant and narcissistic braggart. He’s right there for us to see – and I don’t like it. In fact, you could say I hate it. I despise, or at least strongly dislike:
- Willful ignorance
- Intellectual dishonesty
- Childish immaturity in adults
- Lack of self awareness
- Delusions of grandeur
- A belief that one is superior to another simply because of an accident of sperm, an accident of birth.
Donald Trump embodies all of these character defects. He represents the worst aspects that a human being can possess. No matter what you think of his effectiveness or his policies, you must recognize the example he sets. You must ask yourself if this person – the most powerful and most listened to person on the planet – is who you want your children to look up to.
Will you tell them when they are older that:
- You didn’t approve but you went along?
- You didn’t care?
- You weren’t paying attention?
- You saw benefit and so shut your eyes and ears?
It’s not just a question of short term gain or owning the libs. It’s not about this side or that side. It’s a question of who we want to be. In some seasons pond scum rises, but we don’t have to dive in.
We have much more potential. It’s time to live up to it.
Sometimes I wonder if the world will come to its senses.
In my lifetime.
Would be nice, but it’s starting to seem unlikely.
Eventually, yes. Humanity grows.
But real progress is not measured in years. Nor in centuries I’m afraid.
But look back. Study how the world was two millennium ago and you’ll see that we have progressed. We have grown. That at least gives me hope for the long run. A long run I won’t see and my grandchildren probably won’t see, but the fact that I may not experience it personally doesn’t mean that it isn’t there.
Few people it seems think beyond the next paycheck / election / lover. Planning for the long term spiritual survival of humanity is a task best left to others. Ensuring the long term physical survival of humanity so that it has a chance to embrace its long term spiritual survival is also a task best left to others.
Actually, it doesn’t even go that far. Leaving our future for others to manage is more of an unconscious habit than a deliberate choice. A habit acquired and ripened through a lifetime of being consumed and possibly overwhelmed by the task of getting past the wall that separates today from tomorrow. Once in a while we may cast a ballot or take part in a poll, but these are in the short term largely meaningless gestures that satisfy the need to say we’ve done something, but when we immediately return to our normal day to day concerns, the effect of these cursory actions is minimal.
It's good to remember, especially in these times, that humanity arcs towards justice. Sometimes that’s hard to see, or even harder to believe, but we must see. We must believe. The other choice is to give up and let the worst aspects of humanity prevail.
That won’t do. More to the point, that won’t serve the potential that humanity offers. The best among us: the noble, generous, compassionate, helpful, and insightful are also the majority among us. At times it may seem like that’s not the case, but there’s a multiplicity at the heart of goodness that propels the basic decency of humanity toward the future.
Another way to say that, and which has been said before, is that the good parts present in people will overcome the bad parts and that eventually the characteristics of avarice and malice that are all too engraved on the very bones of the societies we inhabit will fade. They may not disappear but will eventually become inconsequential.
Meanwhile, we must live our lives.
We go to work, go to the store, go to school, church, or the local bar. We can also knock on our neighbor’s door and let them know we are in the same boat. We too have troubles, children, children with troubles, joys, worries, and causes to rejoice. The most hidden truth is that we have more in common than not.
But this truth is only hidden because we don’t seek it out. It’s there for the gathering. The television brings the world to your eyes, but it can’t take your eyes to the world.
At first we live on the same block. In the same neighborhood.
A few steps more and we’re in the same city and state. Cross a river or two and you’re in the same nation.
From there, even with oceans, it’s an easy stretch to see that we share the same world.
I’m going to have to quit reading the news. Every time I tune in, it’s another disgusting Donny Trump episode that reminds me how far the United States has fallen. My mind should be on other things I suppose, but I find myself fascinated by the shit-flinging monkey spectacle that is called Trump. The people have spoken – and I accept that. I accept that enough people wanted a shit-flinging monkey for president to make it happen.
By the way, no offense to monkeys. They’re actually kind of cute and all. I just don’t want one near the nuclear launch codes.
Hey. Maybe it’s just me but I hate crime movies where the criminals are a bunch of dumb asses. Like this one. In fairness, it’s not so much that their character is stupid, but that the script calls for stupid things in order to advance the plot.
See, the main hacker kid was supposed to be brainy and knowledgeable, even if he doesn’t know hacking exactly. More like a bunch of idiotic clichés like all you gotta do is cruise on over to darkweb.com and create an account.
Anyway, some Columbian guy forgets his credit card in a strip club so Mr. Hacker and his beer buzz buddy decide…
This film had a lot of promise, but it veers off course pretty rapidly.
Let’s recap. Seven septuplet (is that redundant?) sisters conveniently named Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, etc. live together in a rooftop apartment. Each can only go out into the world on their namesake day because it’s against the law to have siblings. Overpopulation, scare resources, all of that stuff. You know the drill. No more double cheeseburgers.
At the end of each day, that day’s sister - who has ventured forth under the singular identity of Karen Settman – must pow wow with the other six…
It’s times like these that I wonder how a particular trajectory of society intersected at the correct moment with a man of courage, conviction and love. I’m not usually a believer in fate, but it’s times like these when I question my confidence in the randomness of events.
I know little of Martin Luther King outside of the legend. I was a teenager when he was assassinated and although his struggles didn’t at the time seem to affect me personally, we had been living in the decade of assassinations of decency and I knew even then, perhaps with only a faint intuition, …
Another week, another story about how Donald Trump did something sexist, treated a woman flippantly or contemptuously; or how he moved to cop a feel on stage without even trying to pretend that all his judgments about woman aren’t based on their looks and the size of their tits.
I moved on her like a bitch. Grab em by the pussy. Indeed. About a year ago, with the release of the Access Hollywood tape, we were handed a sordid glimpse into the small but greatly diseased pile of gray mush that resides within the skull of Donald Trump. We were repelled and revolted, aghast and put off, but not enough…
We used to want a president who inspired us to do better, who called upon our better angels. Now we have a pretender who inspires the worst parts of society to crawl forth from their prejudice and hatred so that he - a man without a moral compass - can fill a twisted need within the black hole of his being with applause and adoration.
We used to want our leaders smarter, more knowledgeable than ourselves that they might search higher and deeper for solutions to a society's problems. Now we have a man who revels in his own ignorance, takes pride in his unwillingness to learn, his unwillingness to grow.
We used to value maturity and wisdom. We used to want a president that, although imperfect, strove to be a decent human being. Now we have petulance, smut, obscenity and indecency personified in the creature named Donald Trump, and daily he excretes a widening stain on our norms and institutions.
It’s hard to admit I was wrong about Donnie Trump. I thought he was just a toddler, pushing more yellow drops into his diaper every time he demanded attention.
I was wrong. He’s turned out to be a very fine so-called president. He gave a speech the other day and stayed on the teleprompter. I was very proud. He didn’t play with his poop. Good boy.…
This morning a large brick fell on my chest. It’s hard to find the words to describe how I feel after the United States went to the polls yesterday to decide what type of country they’d like to be – and decided that what’s important to at least 60 million people is blaming immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, and journalists for their problems. What’s important is venting rage against mostly phony targets. What’s important are scapegoats and staying as far as possible from self examination. The U.S. is a country without a collective consciousness sufficiently elevated to look in the mirror, and has played into the hands of a one of the most flawed and manipulative human beings on the planet.
What are we supposed to tell our kids and our grandkids now? Hey son! Want to get ahead in life?
- Be a rude and crass sociopathic bully without an ounce of empathy for others.
- Have a vengeful heart filled with spite for anybody who doesn’t agree with you.
- Disregard the truth when it’s not convenient. Live in your own fact free reality.
- Make fun of others at every opportunity. Bonus points if you denigrate their looks.
- Create enemies even where they don’t exist. The people don’t care.
- Treat women like shit. Kiss them without consent. Grab their pussy.
- If you want to stop violence, kill the parents, grandparents, and children of those who practice it.
- Be racist, bigoted, dogmatic, intolerant, and narrow-minded.
- And don’t worry, you can just pretend to be pious. The country is full of religious hypocrites who just want the right words, not the right actions.
The U.S. has demonstrated…
In the summer of 1970, when I was 18 years old, I walked down to my local Army recruiting station and signed up for a three year hitch. I had some vague, noble notions of serving my country, other urges of moving from youth into manhood, the desire to vent an amorphous anger with three round bursts, but my main objective was to make my father (a world war II vet) proud. One thing that I never expected, asked for, nor wanted was public acclaim. I knew as well as anyone that soldiers returning home during this era of the Vietnam war were often reviled for participating in what was broadly seen as an unjust action.
Four and a half decades later, I saw a post on social media of a soldier holding a cardboard sign asking for viewers to “like this picture.” “We need your support,” it read. Following were thousands of comments, mostly of the “thank you” or “God bless you” for your service variety.
I have to admit the whole thing rubbed me the wrong way.…
A few days ago, after Tom Egeland, writer for the Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten, posted to Facebook the iconic Vietnam War photo of a young girl, Kim Phuc, fleeing a napalm attack, Facebook removed the post and suspended Egeland for questioning their decision.
Much has been written about Facebook’s decision (which they later reversed due to the bad publicity), but the outcry and condemnation missed a vital point. Critics rightly argued that the nudity in the photo is not pornographic in any sense of the word, but is rather an important and powerful statement in respect to our shared history.
What’s missing in the criticism however is the idea that we can avoid the truth by covering it up with a little fig leaf of falseness. Take Facebook’s notice to the poster:
We place limitations on the display of nudity to limit the exposure of different people using our platform to sensitive content… Therefore I ask you to either remove or pixelize this picture.
This is a perfect example of the other idiotic nature of censorship. Not the primary part where certain things are considered offensive in the first place, but the secondary aspect in which we think a small substitution will change the perception or the result.
Absurd. Pixelated genitalia are still genitalia. Blurring the image in this respect does nothing; the viewer knows what’s behind the pixilation and fills in the gaps. This pretense may satisfy a sort of puritan proof, a proof that the censor did indeed exert due diligence and control, but it changes nothing for the viewer.
This same do-something-that-accomplishes-nothing approach drives a television network to bleep certain words, even at times going to the nonsensical extent to blur the speaker’s mouth movements. This same impulse causes otherwise reasonable people to write site algorithms that change “asshole” to “a**hole”, or to say that fricking clown instead of that fucking clown.
Why bother? The speaker or writer is still communicating exactly what they wanted to in the first place. The reader or the viewer is not deceived. The only thing that happens when this type of idiotic censorship is deployed is that we give the vulgarity (or the nudity), a slap-dash coat of cheap transparent paint.
It’s residual Victorianism that serves no useful purpose, an emperor without clothes. It only makes the company or person that employs these tactics look like dunces who don’t understand how people perceive and think.
Thank you for electing Donald Trump as your new president. You’ve saved me a few sleepless nights where I might have been contemplating returning to the land of my birth. I hadn’t really considered it too hard (all the bullets flying every which way and all) but there is a lot that’s great about the USA, and it is tempting. Now, I’ve reconsidered.
Oh, wait. I forget too easily. The USA is a shithole. Don Trump says so, or at least he implies. He’s going to make it great again, as in once more. Meaning: it's fucked up now. He's going to restore its former glory and make sure no one goes without (offer not valid where prohibited by discrimination or by presidential decree.) He’s going to make sure …
This is the part that scares me. If it scares you too, you may belong to my tribe. The tribe of incomprehensible blankness. Oh, I don’t mean blankness of mind, I mean that which is probably worse – blankness of spirit.
Allow me to explain. I have lived a million miles of landmines and have come to expect that the rest of world has too. Probably worse. So I feel that everything I might have to say has been said by people more worthy of their suffering. I’ve been hungry but I haven’t starved. I’ve lived under bridges but it was my choice. I went for many long periods without love, but it was of my own volition.
These days it seems there’s a thousand-fold bout of suffering that my own trials – as if they might be ants trying to leap atop in one bound a boulder – cannot possibly match – and to which their effort cannot possibly compare. Every day, it’s more: kid killed by cop, gun-hungry cop afraid of kid, bang bang, leaders afraid of truth, lies the new baseline.
To whom or for what to I have to complain? I’m outside the grid, an ex-pat who goes cold-turkey from the news every few months just to escape the madness. Now we approach an election. Okay, we’re always near an election. But this time, things have gotten way beyond rational. Now we’re talking fear. And not just any fear, but fear of everybody and everything. Mexican workers, Muslim worshippers, dead voters, Chinese hackers, even encrypted cell phones.
There’s no end to this madness. In fact, it must escalate to even hope that it can stay relevant and keep pinging the radar of the average attention span. We live in an era of intense competition for information; calm facts are buried in the avalanche. Most people are afraid of the other who they see as coming to take their hard-earned gains.
This is of course exactly what most leaders want. To lead, most leaders need an enemy. It keeps people focused on what’s important. It’s not what you’re for, it’s what you’re against that counts. When an enemy runs out of steam, when the image of one organization or one individual starts to inspire a ho-hum fatigued response in the populace who has seen the endless images of these enemies, a new enemy must be created.
The only way out of this cycle is to jump off the bandwagon that keeps endlessly circling, to start making decisions about what is right and what is wrong for yourselves. Ask if something makes sense on its own, or if it only makes sense in a certain light. When truth is no longer considered important to those who would claim to circulate it, it is up to rest of us to publically shame the lies – and to demand in their place the unvarnished truth from which we can make informed decisions.
Came across a poetry discussion group the other day where somebody said “Scattering your work among freebie e-zines is not going to impress anyone who counts in the publishing world.” Well, gotta say, statements like that are so annoying (to me anyway — your mileage may vary). (a) Who says who “counts”? My god, there’s enough wannabe gate-keepers in the poetry world, now we’re got gate-keepers to the gate-keepers. And (b) who cares if it doesn't impress somebody on a list that somebody else claims are the important people.
Like it or not, the publishing world is changing. Some of it for the good, other parts not so much so. But it’s time to stop worshiping “the gods”. Many people have made their way quite nicely without them. There’s no need to hang onto the old herd mentality thinking.
That’s not to say that there aren't respectable, established journals with good work. Of course there are. And I support celebration of culture heritage. Read the established mags, support them, submit to them. But they’re not the only game in town. Dismissive attitudes towards startups who aren't sufficiently “worthy” don’t serve innovation or freshness. It’s a form of cultural fossilism.
I’m tired of the mind set that studies your resume with the intensity of an anthropologist and makes a decision on your work based upon your standing with others.
Think I’m kidding? Look in the last few issues of any of the so-called major journals and you're likely to find a mediocre piece by a VIP. They took the name of the person over the work. They were either blinded by the blaze of the return address or were simply afraid to reject it. (that doesn't mean that the VIP doesn't have great work, yes they do, but that's another matter)
Sure, I operate an independent publication. I’m an outsider. So I’m biased. And when I read a submission that has a cover letter, I always skip over it, at least at first. I’m not that into your track record, I just want to read the work.
When you rely on others to tell you what is valuable, you’re helping to perpetuate more of the same old. That’s not necessarily a bad thing – it can be comforting and useful – but don’t make it a habit or a “must-do” rule of publication. Whether poet or editor, you’re likely to miss out on a great deal.
It sort of dawned on me recently what it is I don’t like about Facebook, or social media in general. For a long time, I’ve had this sort of inarticulate feeling that I didn’t bother to think about, a sense of looking through a window fogged by the cold into a large house with hundreds of parties going on simultaneously. I can hear but not follow the music; each party has their own sound system blaring as trumpets and tubas compete with screeching guitars and monotonous thumping trance beats to try and capture the fickle electorate of the dance floor.
Despite the noise, I can hear a few voices, but they’re mostly repeating other people’s words as everything is endlessly reposted, mostly without even the an interpretive comment. It’s as if nobody has an original thought any more.
If we could somehow wave a wand and remove the inanity from social media, it wouldn’t cease to exist, but it would shrink considerably, very considerably. I suppose it might resemble a hot air balloon that ran out of hot air and lay collapsed and flaccid on the desert floor.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but these days that saying has been devalued. You can’t enter the social media sphere without encountering post after post of some saying or quote that someone felt had to be placed inside a rectangular block of JPEG pixels. I realize this practice is a gambit for attention, but it seems as if the puritanical has overrun common sense to the point that even words aren’t allowed to be naked. Furthermore, the social media equivalent of a Hallmark greeting card is still a Hallmark greeting card. It may provide a brief warm fuzzy, but it provokes little contemplation, as triteness will, and besides, it is quickly lost (to be replaced by another) in the grinding machine of a news feed that must change every 30 seconds.
Fecebook is like high school. Within the circle of your acquaintances, there’s a small group of top cool kids. No matter what they say, no matter how shallow or unimportant, all the not-so-cool kids follow them around licking the so-called cool words like a dog will lick an ice cream cone. Of course, the not-so-cool kids want to become the cool kids and I’m sure some of them do eventually. The cycle repeats.
I guess I’ve never had much use for it, although I admit that ever since actual high school, a part of me wants to, badly actually, at least sometimes. But another part of me – the stronger part, the part of me that values originally and individualism, the part of me that wants to move away from the stale feel-good that everybody seems to need these days in order to shield themselves from the world – this part of me won’t let me lick the cone.
I know a lot of wonderful people, but I’ve come to the wonder of them in person. Or at least through individual one-on-one correspondence. The very broadcast nature of Facebook rules out the one-on-one. Except for personalized messages, people don’t care what you or I think, as an individual. They only care that somebody – anybody – acknowledges their existence. Social media has become a world where everybody shouts into canyons, hoping to hear a trace of the echo.
Over the years, I’ve attended many poetry workshops, and usually enjoyed them to one degree or another. But little by little, they began to be less helpful. Too many times, the workshop leader attempted to steer the participants into the direction that worked for him or her. They were good poets but not good instructors. For instance, one iconic poet [no point in naming names] said: read the piece you brought to share, but “leave out the bad parts.” Another: “My book costs more than it says because I’m going to sign it.”
Attitudes like this don’t work well with me. I frequently have different ideas and am not afraid to voice them to the teachers, iconic as they may be. Not in an argumentative way, but to present other ways of looking at things, and mostly for the other participants. But some instructors don’t take very well to that, as if we aren’t allowed to have ideas of our own.
The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind. Khalil Gibran
I've been in many group settings and am willing to listen to what others have to say, but I change my work based on the reaction of others infrequently. Sometimes what somebody says seems like a good idea, but I tend to think of these things as more of a reaction than a criticism. My most common reply is simply “Thank you for your feedback.”
I believe that we are all our own best critic. We know what we want to say – and perhaps more importantly – how we want to say it. It’s not generally the way someone else would want to say it, but that’s part of the point. On a bit of an amusing note, I once had someone pounce with glee over my word order because it wasn’t grammatically correct. Seemed odd since he had been with the weekly group for a long time and would have known by then that I do these things on purpose.
When I have my editor hat on, or I am participating in a group session, I frequently see work as too unlabored. That is, it seems that words have been selected to serve, but only to serve. There’s nothing wrong with that per se and at times it’s quite effective. However, I like to choose my words – or more precisely: my word combinations – with precision. There’s always a certain quirkiness, nuance and musicality that I want to convey. I appreciate it greatly when others do so also.
Mostly, when it comes to workshops and critiques, I’m a loner. I have enough life experience and exposure to a variety of writing and cultures that I feel good about being my own critic. I’m more interested in staying true to my vision than following the path of others. There’s like-minded souls among my friends and I’m very thankful for that. With them, it’s okay to share work before it gets published. And because they are good and generous people that I trust, I do take their comments under advisement.
Was thinking about this the other day, how the idea of testing for drugs ahead of any actual evidence or reasonable suspicion is repugnant. American society has come to accept the practice because it’s prevalent in the job hunting market, but that doesn’t make it right. Society has come to accept it because not enough people are willing to say no. I had a job offer a while back that included drug testing. I said no, I won’t be treated with that level of disrespect. If you think I’m a drug user, don’t hire me. They said, okay and waived the whole testing.
More and more people are being treated as if they had broken the law, before there’s any actual evidence or indication of that. I for one am sick of it. Drugs can be a problem, but much of the problem comes not from the drugs themselves but from obsolete ideas that permit society to enforce their general lack of trust upon other people and from archaic ideas of what is right or wrong.
Used to be you got punished if you did something wrong, these days the punishment is handed out ahead of time, regardless of whether or not you deserve it. It’s humiliating, disrespectful and wrong. Count me out.
As you may know from an earlier post, Noris Roberts, a poet from Venezuela has been working towards the causes of peace and justice through her international project, a project in which others poets and musicians participate by reading her work and composing music to accompany it.
I recently had the priviledge of recording two of her pieces, which have since been set to video and published on her YouTube channel.
This latest piece is titled Manifesto of Pain. The video work is outstanding. Kudos to the video producer and of course to Noris for her strong words and unflinching observations. As she says:
This is my humble tribute to those who sadly died between February and May, 2014; to those who were imprisoned; to those that, ever since 1999, have and are being persecuted and discredited for thinking differently; to the reviled and humiliated; to the people who took to the streets with courage and hope, leaving up to their last breath, trying to restore democracy and justice to Venezuela, and its return to the rule of law and freedom for its citizens.
Noris Roberts, a Venezuelan poet is an Ambassador of Peace. She presents her poems in her international project, a project in which others poets and musicians participate by reading her work and composing music to accompany it. The completed works are then published on her YouTube channel.
As Noris says:
I'm in the process of recording some of her works and putting music to them. As you may know, I love doing this kind of thing and this project is certainly for a good cause. Please note that Noris and others participate on a volunteer basis and that she isn’t looking for contributions or subsidies.
It seems that most people who read poetry want to understand it. They want to be able to “get it.” If you’re at a table discussing somebody’s work, you’re likely to hear comments that focus on the meaning of the piece, comments that either (a) praise the unambiguous language as a direct line to the meaning of the work, or (b) seek to decipher the metaphorical and symbolic significance of the words.
It’s generally in the second case that we run into differences of understanding. It’s here that we enter into the uncertainty of interpretation. And it is here where we find the most complaints of inaccessibility, complaints that the work is not understandable, complaints that are based on a subjective ability to make sense of the words.
Open Your Arms
But it’s not necessary to understand a poem in order to enjoy it. If you are able to extract some sense of resonance with a piece, whether or not you understand it in the literary sense, whether or not you can articulate what it is about the piece that resonated with you or what the piece is “about”, then the piece has reached you at some level and therefore has been effective.
Everybody has a threshold of understanding beyond which they don’t want to go. I do indeed find some works to be – as DE Navarro so elegantly put it – “a pile of esoteric, obfuscating goo.” Other times though, I catch a thread of something that may be difficult to explain – or fully understand – but I have an intuitive sense that there’s something deeper, and I might just have to dwell on it for a while, maybe come back to it later. Or just let it be the sweet aroma of fog.
Dignity Of Understanding
As westernized human beings, we tend to be rational. We want explanations with those fries. It’s almost as if: when something can’t be explained, it doesn’t exist. Interpretations and explanations give us an opportunity to identify with a school of thought, to find like-minded individuals with whom we can form a collective. And frequently, in a sort of coagulating force, people are drawn to the interpretations of others.
But in the arts, unlike science, explanations – which are a form of rationalization and understanding – aren’t needed as much. Yes, sometimes they’re helpful, especially in the lecture hall, but in the end, the individual must decide what something means to them. Instead of handing out explanations as gospel from the creator (or more often, from the creator’s professor proxy), it’s healthy to our thought processes when we encourage the readers / listeners / observers to draw their own conclusions.
Most people don’t want to look dumb. They generally avoid that which they don’t “understand” or – in lieu of avoidance – passively accept the prevailing explanations and interpretations of their day.
But there is another way of looking at this. As with life, poetry is a vehicle for more than rational thought. It can propel us into the into the unknown, the unfamiliar. And we don’t always need to know where we are. We don’t always need to explain how we arrived there. Sometimes, it’s enough to simply realize – and marvel in the fact – that other worlds exist.
This morning, when I logged in to LinkedIn, I came across a photo of a U.S. Army soldier holding a cardboard sign that reads: “If you support the troops please ‘like’ this picture. We need your support”. When I saw it, there were more than 43,000 ‘likes’ and more than 2,400 comments. Many of the comments were of the “Thank you” or “God bless you for your service” variety, although some comments appropriately pointed out that the whole idea of supporting the troops by clicking a ‘like’ icon from the comfort of your chair is not only ineffective but absurd and lazy as well.
This is the sort of thing in which people participate as a feel-good exercise. It’s nothing more than jumping on some quasi-popular craze to collect intangible bonus points on a social media site. It’s yellow-ribbon bumper stickers without the need to get up and go to the garage.
If you really want to support the troops, do something real. Give some money to a veterans organization. Volunteer your time to work with returning vets. Write letters to your representatives. Bring some chocolates to a hospital. Or – if you’re of the right age – get out of your chair and join the military.
Better yet: put your time and energy towards efforts to reduce the need for so many troops. Work for the cause of peace. Organize events. Speak out at events. Do what you can to reduce the number of men and women coming home mangled or dead.
These sorts of things go a lot farther in demonstrating “support for troops” than mindlessly hopping on some patriotic-click-me bandwagon. It’s not mandatory to support troops, but if you really do, then quit faking it on LinkedIn or Facebook. Get out and do something.
Well, I’ve been hard at work updating the web site. Trying to simplify the navigation somewhat and keep up with mobile friendly technologies. I'll probably continue to tweak with this and that in the next few weeks.
Recently, Ditch Poetry accepted five of my pieces and have included me on their Editor’s Choice page. Ditch operates out of Canada and has an incredibly rich library of pieces from a wide variety of poets. Take a look, there’s something for everybody.
I’m pleased to say that Poetry Salzburg Review has accepted my piece Only When Gods Arrive Covered In Red Dust Will We Recognize Their Child Faces for publication in upcoming issue #26. PSR has published many authors, including Naomi Shihab Nye, Jerome Rothenberg, Rae Armantrout, and Brian W. Aldiss. I’m very happy to have found a home for this piece among such notable and accomplished writers. PSR is published at the University of Salzburg in Salzburg, Austria.
From The Generations Literary Journal website:
I'm pleased to be part of this issue with a piece from The Second Book of Muwadi titled How I Arrived Here. Other artists and writers in this issue include Latisha Baker, Rosebud Ben-Oni, Andrea Hernandez Holm, ire'ne lara silva, Alan King, and Phillip B. Williams.
Please consider supporting this small, independent journal. Issues are now available for pre-order at the Generations Literary Journal Store
Two poems of mine were accepted by Cerise Press a few months ago and now have appeared in their Summer issue. The poems are Incrimination and The Madmen Among Us. Cerise Press has a great looking magazine and I'm honored to appear with distinguished poets such as Dorianne Laux, Patricia Fargnoli, and Vénus Khoury-Ghata.
The web site of Subprimal Poetry Art is now up and running - and submissions are open for the inaugural issue.
39 Boys on Ground is now available on Smashwords as an ebook. There’s several formats to choose from including Kindle, EPUB (for Apple devices, Nook and others) or just regular PDF file for reading on just about any computer.
Lately, I’ve been studying up on ebook publishing as I prepare my manuscript 39 Boys on Ground for ebook distribution.
First, take two corned beef sandwiches and post them on YouTube. While everybody is eating...
What if there was a guy sitting in a room somewhere drinking dog juice who decided if you lived or died? Let’s say that after your plane rolls a few times, spilling luggage and cocktails, you’re going straight down. You can see the city lights getting closer, turning into grids of streets…
Gene Krupa and his orchestra performing the classic Drum Boogie, from the movie Ball of Fire (1941) starring Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper. Fun movie!
So, I’m watching a movie on Hulu the other night and since they’ve gotten very good at making sure that ad blockers don’t work, I get to see the usual bunch o adverts for cars, cell phone plans, celebrity sightings, and my all time favorite: psychotropic medications.
I guess they’re running out of kids because now we’ve got ADHD meds for adults, too. But don’t worry. The pharmaceutical companies that make them assure us that it’s a real disorder. As in, not made up. They tell you that just in case you were wondering. You know, just in case you thought they might be pushing their goods only to make…
Yep, we really showed em, we really did. We saved the hell out of our freedoms.
Wow! Badlanders (aka Prison Planet in some releases) is the greatest movie ever made! Seriously! But not for the usual reasons.
If I was not a guru, I would not have known that a simple operation would turn out to take two minutes.
Oh boy. A high school boy was arrested for writing an essay.
When I was a child, I once read about a boy who heard music in his head. His parents feared something was wrong with him...
Recently, I heard an engaging and sympathetic poem about a homeless old man. He was run down, shabby, wandering the streets. While listening: I am there, on an avenue in a busy part of the city. I am with the old man. I see his stained corduroy coat, his gray bristled shopworn face, his dirty jeans, and his jagged fingernails. I forget that I am sitting in a chair inside a carpeted room with the heat on. The gray streets, wet with drizzle and busy with colorful streaked cars stare back at me. The old man, as he makes his way through skateboarders, off duty waiters, and bus bench businessmen is a real person with needs, wants, his own brand of pride, a reason for being there – and a reason for living.
The poem then ended with…
Blind carbon copy is used in email when you are sending the same message to many people at the same time. When you use BCC, it prevents the recipients from seeing each others email addresses.
Why is BCC important?
First of all, it's common courtesy. Unless you know that your recipients want to expose their email address to each other, you should address the individuals using blind copy.
It also minimizes spam and…