Hate: The Embarrassment of Humanity

I avoid mainstream media as much as possible. Yesterday, Husband told me about the shooting in Florida. My heart cries for humanity. The lives lost – over fifty human beings – at the hands of terror is a horrifying truth to accept. But, looking deeper, the social factors at play here are also of strong concern. The message the shooter expressed is “My will is greater than yours – you deserve extermination.” There is not a single human voice that can authentically support this claim – all species are flawed. What is important is what we make of our journey. That journey is subjective, unique to each person, and there is no authority – not animal, mineral, or vegetable – that holds any inherent right over another. Not here, not now in the twenty-first-century.

We cannot allow these injustices ground to breed. We cannot turn a blind eye to violence, cruelty, and dehumanization. We cannot let fellow Americans be targeted by “wrath-worthy” vengeance. The fact that terrorism continues is an embarrassment to human progress. The fact that other people think they have a right to determine who a person should marry, love, or what have you is not only ridiculous, it’s rather childish. Why is Betsy’s life bothered if Tim down the street prefers Dave over Sue? Why does Betsy care? …she’s not in the picture. Why is society so nosy about people’s sex lives? Isn’t there enough reality TV to go around? Why is there so much animosity for groups of people who are trying to love and live?

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Why would any of that be motivation for terrorism? Now, as a rational individual, I have to say I cannot see a genuine reason for terrorism, period – other than to enforce one’s will over another. I don’t care if a god, a government official, a newscaster, or a peanut-butter sandwich whispered in one’s ear and said terrorism is okay… it’s not. It is never cool to dehumanize. Each human has inside the self the a priori understanding of right from wrong. When religion tells one to ignore those morals, something is up. When government says to reject those morals, again – something is wrong in Denmark.

What can we do?

1. I don’t know. I’m thinking. It’s been a long think, one rolling for years now. One thing I’ve recognized is the authority found in individualism. No, it’s not enough, but it is something, a starting point – a personal choice. Make the personal decision to reject hate – in all forms. Hate is a nasty creature; if let in for one group it will easily spread to another.

2. Heighten awareness by talking, posting, commenting, or participating in social issues. Raise the call to arms for justice but when arming the self: reach for love. Hate and terror breed more violence – violence is not the answer. Read MLK and hold onto his message.

3.  When you hear others negatively supporting injustice, do not silently absorb their message. If you feel strong enough to defend – by all means do, in a rational manner. If your voice is still soft, or if you notice entering into debate will only lead to harm: leave. Silence is powerful when others realize you will not tolerate barbarism. One cannot change another person, but one does not have to expose the self to negativity. If one person is able to refuse listening, then others may follow. They may admire your strength – regardless, by leaving you have improved your environs.

4.  Redirect conversations by implementing “good” stories or examples. If you do not have any personal examples, widen your circle – oftentimes, when one steps out of their comfort zone they learn valuable lessons. Personally, my go-to story when I hear people complaining about LGBT marriages – I ask them if they’ve ever attended a ceremony, and once the guffaws clear out, I inform them that the lesbian wedding I participated in, Septemeber 2013 was the most beautiful celebrations. This holds clout because I was a stylist for over twenty years and trudged through many a wedding. All brides have some shade of fickle, all weddings issue stress and drama, all weddings (typically) bum me out. Why? Well, I feel like marriage holds a lot of limitation, conformity, compromise, and domination. Yes, Husband and I struggle, lol…I am not an easy wife nor is he a basket of sunshine. Every bride that ever sat in my chair received my last minute getaway speech and promise of an Ocean City holiday if she just wanted the beach. Every bride save two – the two that married each other. I’ve prepped hundreds of heads for their “big-day” and only one couple – a same sex couple – demonstrated what I envision as a “perfect love.” Not only my Brides, but their maids were also delightful. The guests were all happy. The décor was fabulous. I actually stayed for the wedding, took a cabin, and shared breakfast with the whole bridal party the next morning. When I think of a happy marriage, their lovely faces come to mind.

5.  What do you think we can do? “We” as in society as a whole, “We the Human Race.” How can one person’s action affect the world? Let’s see…try to implement positive change where one can. I will keep thinking, and I hope you will, too.

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Peer-Review: When are Comments “too much”?

Writer Workshop / Peer-Review

I love a good hangloose (a mental hangout for ideas). When writing, a workshop fits the needs better than just exchanging ideas. Critiquing comes into play, however, that may come with negatives. The following are a few tips I cling to when considering the work of others.

1.  Find errors and offer suggestions.

A writer writes often, which means much time is dealt with creation and personal editing. However, writers develop almost x-ray lenses as they’ve lived in their topic for sometime. While editing, the writer may cut information required for a reader to understand, but… since the writer wrote the material, they may not realize their stepping stones vanished. Reader’s can see the slip. I know this to be true as I just cut forty-three percent of my paper and lost much. It happens, and it is horrible. However, critiquing can fix misconnections. “Silly-slips” are found this way, little things like typing “in” instead of “it/is” or “there” instead of “their”…you know. When I suggest a different word or sentence structure adjustment, I end the comment with a question mark as this shows the author I am not certain only curious. This allows the author to make the ultimate decision without feeling forced. It’s a small thing – a “?” instead of a “.”

2.  Stick to your guns – grammar, structure, sense.

If there comes a moment when you’ve lost interest or cease to understand, leave a thoughtful comment noting your confusion and ask for explanation. Do not give up on the review. The author still needs your help – possibly now more than ever. However, as an editor/reviewer, one cannot demand the piece change, or reach for something that is not there. What one is left with is grammar, structure, and as much sense as one can see. Even if one does not “like” the piece, it is proper etiquette to complete the review. Failure to do so makes the editor/reviewer look bad, not the author. Keep that pen poised and assist with fundamentals if theory has escaped.

3.  Balance negatives with positives.

Authors are looking for correction assistance, but they also appreciate praise. Remember, the words one reads are the sentiments of the author – their views, feelings, perspective on the situation. Authors bear their soul, if their work is passionately written. Critiquing can be an act of bravery, with the author’s courageous effort laid naked at the reviewer’s fingertips. Show decency and appreciation for the effort the author put forth. There are many pieces I have not “personally liked” but find numerous ways to offer appreciation for the author’s work. One thing to keep in mind:  the author did not write the text for you – it was written for an audience. The reviewer’s voice is one among many. Surely there is something good one can say about any given text. ie:  “Crime and Punishment details elements of human nature, expounding on guilt and anguish” – sounds rather interesting, right? The secret is that I hate that text in an absurd way {I literally threw it into the fire}.

4.  Read as if there were two papers – the first as information, the second as confessional.

As mentioned in point two, the author {if the text is good} has exposed their inner soul. When critiquing, imagine one is two editors:  the first reads for fact and information while the second reads for artistic expression. Topic or genre is irrelevant. If fiction, the “fact and information” would mean the fictional rules and order. Are the character described? Can one visualize certain images by reading? If essay or non-fiction, is the information true or accurate? If literature, was the lesson learned and the protagonist changed – can you see more than one story within the story? Editors and reviewers look for structure with one eye and creative flow with the other.

5.  Remember:  suggestions are just that, the author may not accept or agree.

The editor is not the final word on the document – the author is. If during the initial workshop the author ignores or rejects the editors suggestions, the editor should not take this personally. Sometimes it is hard to do, but one must drop the issue. Shake it out. The piece belongs to the author, and while they appreciate critiques they are the last gasp and will write how they choose.

Where you been Ole Girl?…

On Becoming…

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Funny you should ask, I’ve been rolling through theory for ten weeks. I am evolving, twisting turning. Shedding old skins that no longer fit my season. Its weird, to say the least…but we like weird. And the further I crawl in evolution research – the more I begin to see that we are all a little weird in our own right {not just the “us-es” that live in me, all those “you-s” too}. And that’s not even opening the can of “species” in which one is indeed many different things. Most recently, I’ve considered transcending dualism…you know, asking “What is next?” Are we really two? Or a form of one with multiple expressive components. A large, flexing plurality micro-sectioned into millions of individuals. Creepy, I know<>. If there were a choice, to be be all body or all mind, which one would you select? Here, I see the need for unification. What would be the point if action held no meaning, or if thought could not experience? The two go hand in hand. We must have both.

Anyway… The rest of my Grad School update – I’ve constructed a reviewable rough draft! The original, rougher-rough draft, is a sprawling beast. However, when I began the cuts I could not bring myself to really “throw the draft out.” I saved it, and – as recommended by my peer – will possibly look into book form once my degree is attained. Really, this is a bonus – now there will be a paper and a book possibility for the future. That is not to say that I am not nervous as all get out that the paper will bomb from the heavy cuts. O Fortune! smile upon this wayward researcher. Motivation is for the degree, but also… I’ve grown to love my topic, and I see much truth in the words – I hope that publication is possible because I want others to read my discoveries. I think it will help with real-deal life. I know that the research and writing helped me with my daily issues. This thesis led me out of the valley of despair. I want to lead others out, that valley is not good for the genes – much pickling and souring goes on there.

What else…?

My music journalism internship was officially complete 27 May 2016. A hectic day – my SweetJane graduated High School and James Bobin’s Alice Through the Looking Glass released. Exhaustion seized me, and I went to sleep around ten p.m. What a day!

I use the term “officially” because I still have one music assignment waiting to complete. An amazing interview with Bev Zizzy will be published 17 June 2016 – in conjunction with her new album release. I say “amazing” because I am the one that interviewed her – she is hands down the most interesting woman I have met in my physical life.

Followers of this blog will note that I am not a “believer,” but I am a “seeker.” Unfortunately, my MO in the past has been “seeking” to shatter “belief” with “truth.” Ultimately, a lesson I learned nearly a decade ago resurfaces:  truth is subjective. I know this, yet seemed trapped in that terrible Pursuit of Truth. I broke free, and switched it up for the Pursuit of Optimism – but positive living is dependent on will power and forcing the good. Needless to say, it takes work and effort.

I went through a stage where I thought “signs” were pointless, or rather, imaginary. A trick of the mind, leading to delusion. Now, after the internship, after speaking with living, breathing artists…

After the strange Tibetian Monk approached me in New Orleans with a message… After I randomly met the YouTube TruthTalker I once followed online and danced with him in the street… After I philosophized with a new friend of Middle-Eastern culture… After much contemplation of “the egg”… After Bev Zizzy released “Stay Soft”…  I am not certain.

Embedding issues :-< apologies… Watch for the interview on 17 June 2016. MTF

“Stay Soft” by Bev Zizzy. Click HERE for preview and purchase on iTunes.

I am curious again, maybe not fully “curiouser” yet, but I see my own purpling underway. I’ve come to the point where I am seeing more and more signs, but I am trying to ignore them. Trying to cling to science, reason, and the physical world. One thing – I am reminded that I am an Artist. Whether I am a “good” one or not is to be determined, but I am one. Not a musician or songwriter, not a painter or sculptor…but an Artist all the same. I am an Artist because I look at reality and see more than other people do. Sometimes, I see more absence where there should be presence, but that is still more than meets the eye. Mundane life is not enough, there is more if we make there be more – juice it up like a turkey.

I am an Artist, and life can get thick.

My canvas is the mind, my brush dripping in consciousness. I wrap words and break down complex situations. We Artists see the beauty most vivid, and we relate that to others. We Artists see the horror in thirty-three tints of terrible, and we relate that to others. We see

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the “good” and the “bad.” We share awareness for altruistic encouragement. Artists revive other Artists, reminding them of the meaning hidden behind it all.  Artists bravely look in reality’s face and demand more. Recognizing this makes me monitor what I share, say and side with – I am an Artist, and others will follow. Careful then, as to where we lead them.

Artists are a light, guiding species through evolution… We may not know the answers, but we are brave enough to explore possibility. #RageOn fellow Artists. There is much to be revealed.

Friday Fictioneers: “Cowboy Camp”

Friday Fictioneers * Rochelle Wisoff-Fields *

* Photo prompt by Madison Woods *

“Cowboy Camp” * 100 Words * Angela Shaffer * 23 April 2016

Cowboy Camp

Summer camp looks like heaven when daily life drags on. However, if one winds up in the desert-mountains, eating carmelized-in-the-can pork-n-beans, surrounded by Christian-rock hymns – you quickly realize this is Cowboy Camp. Illusions of fun evaporate. The ruins drew my curiosity. I was eleven. I left the herd, took up with the Natives. I met kids who would love the beans I ignored. Starvation. When I cut the wire, the stupid cows stared at me, wouldn’t budge. One didn’t make it, but the rest of the cows trotted across the bridge I made from a plank. They used it all.

 

Dear Readers and Fellow Writers ~

Apologies for the day late post and absence last week. As soon as I saw Madison Wood’s photo I immediately thought of my childhood experience. “Cowboy Camp” is based on the cult-like event Mother thought would be good for my “bad” attitude. I wanted to set the cows free because in my mind I thought the Native Americans could benefit. In truth, I could not find anything strong enough to cut the wire. Even if I had, the real cowboys would have corralled them back. I did, however, take what food I could sneak from the chow tent. The saddest part was that I had to go back to camp eventually. Though we did not speak the same language, we connected.

Thank you to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for weekly fiction fun and special thanks to Madison Wood for the photograph. Click the Blue Frog below to read and/or contribute to Friday Fictioneers weekly Flash Fiction challenge.

What a Week: Research Splendor, Texts, Interview

Traces of Connectivity

Researching Darwinism and the Alice texts this week, I came across a slang terminology that applicably embodies half of my theory<>…so very exciting. Also reading Alice beyond Wonderland ed. Cristopher Hollingsworth and The Selfish Gene by the great Richard Dawkins, but today I need to do a lil research assistance for a fellow scholar. The topic is political {gnashing-of-teeth} so I approach with caution – timidly toting Max Weber’s Essays in Sociology. The Capstone is progressing, and I am enjoying the process. Again, I apologize for not disclosing these amazing concepts I’m working, but I cannot take my info public until the end of session (August).

Interview with Earl Pereira from The Steadies

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My editorial internship with Punchland.com proved positive this week with an exciting opportunity to chat with Earl Pereira from The Steadies. Click HERE to read the full interview, “Silver Lining Sensation:  Love Revolution by The Steadies,” and listen to their contagiously-happy tracks. What brings me extra <smiles> is that The Steadies incorporates positivism with music. As followers may note, my #PursuitofOptimism research has been lacking since the project was rejected as Capstone theory. Picturing positive vibes pinging off Pereira recharged the authority of optimism. I’ll make sure to visit the group today with an up-lifiting update, inspiring poem link, and band website. Listening to this album invokes reggae-beach-happiness. My fav track:  “Phoenix.” Check out The Steadies latest video below to energize your weekend.

“Take Me Home” by The Steadies from Love Revolution:

 

Picture and video c/o @TheSteadies

Dr. Faustus in 2016: Twisted Lyrics

“I Took a Pill in Ibiza” by Mike Posner from At Night, Alone.:

Looking for Meaning…

Song Interpretation:

I am so busy with research, but I cannot get this song out of my head. Nor, can I think of anything else until I unburden my mind of this flexing metaphor. There’s not time for a lyrical breakdown, but I’ll return to expound.

Philosophical Bend:

I feel Faustus lurking. Once one knows too much, they can never go back. Posner says, “You don’t wanna be high like me, never really knowing why, like me. You don’t wanna step off that roller coaster and be alone. You don’t wanna ride the bus like this, never knowing who to trust like this…” University and individual research presents more, and often conflicting, information as to what a person learned during their childhood and adolescence. Learning can enlighten the mind, but one must lose their innocent understanding in the process.

Sure, he’s referring to singing and his life devotion to music. Same concept applies to diverse artistic expression. High Philosophical Art questions and prods at reality, consciousness, meaning, and purpose. What happens when the “rules” are really figments meant to ensure group delusion? Philosophy demonstrates subjective and objective truth, reaching for but rarely attaining universal implication. Break that down:

nothing is real, nothing is true

amounts to feels, what can one do?

Well…once you kneel, then you must stew.

{read that last line in a deep baritone, just for snickers}

Posner’s chorus:  “All I know are sad songs…” – When one has searched for knowledge, toyed around with epistemology, learned to bend fact to one’s purpose, innocence is lost. Not sexual innocence, deeper than that – fundamental understanding. All that is left of personal experience is “sad songs” or a seriously hollow existence. Philosophically, there is a sense of false comfort that cushions the harshness of reality for those who accept “belief” or conform to society. Once one “knows” the rampant delusions, meaning is lost.

Man, the meaning…it has to come back. See…I feel that we can create meaning. Mount up, Artists. Lady World, she needs creative spin.

Friday Fictioneers: “Motherland Initiation”

Friday Fictioneers * Rochelle Wisoff-Fields * Photo Prompt by J. Hardy Carroll *
“Motherland Initiation” * 100 words * Angela Shaffer * 8 Apr 2016

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Motherland Initiation

Cali choked down senior sorrows and put on a brave face. Pennsyl-tucky, Mother called it, with a laugh and a snort. Determined to make the best of a bad hand, Cali followed the scrawled directions. She wasn’t prepared to see the building that haunted her dreams looming ahead. Nor did she find the welcome comforting.

“You’ve finally come,” hissed a voice like razors, slight on her neck.

“The doctor’s been looking for you.”

Cali struggled but found her arms secured.

Laughter from the dark, …a prank.

but that didn’t explain her déjà vu or the organic pull towards the darkness.

***

Hello Fellow Writers and Readers ~

As always, special thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for a mini-break from reality with Friday Fictioneers. Thanks this week to J Hardy Carroll for the interesting photo prompt. I can’t wait to read everyone’s take!

If you’re new to Friday Fictioneers, click the Blue Frog below to read and contribute.

Friday Fictioneers: Morning-After Vertigo

Friday Fictioneers * Rochelle Wisoff-Fields * Photo by Maria Gail Stratford *
Morning-After Vertigo * 85 words * Angela Shaffer * 1 Apr 2016

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Morning-After Vertigo

Wind whipped tangled locks,

traces of late-night havoc still

clinging to the skin. Seeping

regret tinged red and green –

jealous as an itch on missed flesh.

 

The edge altered reality, tilting

the grip, slipping the step, blurring

the hold – slighting gravity.

 

Double the trip and let the mind

dip farther past matter. Stretch out,

reaching, grasping, swiping –

pregnant as a pause on hushed lips.

 

If tottered too far up the steep sweeping

stoop – binge on delusion in last fleeting

moments. Until the bottom comes quick.

 

~ Hello dear Readers and Writers …

Thank you, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for fun Friday fiction. Thank you, Maria Gale Stratford for the photo.

Since April is Poetry Month, I crafted a few lines inspired by how dizzy I got thinking how high up the building was – and how much further the Marriott stretches. I saw a party-girl waking up disoriented and curious, foolishly teetering on the edge – the edge of the building and the edge of decency.

 

Click the Frog to read diverse interpretations of this photo prompt from Friday Fictioneers writers.

Thank you for reading!

@MmePhilosopher

 

Friday Fictioneers: Pretty Up

Friday Fictioneers * Rochelle Wisoff-Fields * Photo by Ted Strutz *

“Pretty Up” * 100 words * Angela Shaffer * 25 Mar 2016

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Pretty Up

Imogene is known for dawdling. Most parts of the world would label her as “mentally deficient,” among other harsh titles. Not here, not down in the holler. We’ve a way of taking care of our own, especially when those outsiders come a calling. They like to think they’ve got us all figured out – like we’re simple – but they can’t kin the lengths we go to for loyalty. Imogene heard they were a coming for her, and she high tailed it into the woods. I reckon these flowers she planted was her way of prettying up this holler, a final farewell.

 

“Energy Ooze” for Friday Fictioneers

Friday Fictioneers * “Energy Ooze” * 100 words * Angela Shaffer * c/o Rochelle Wisoff-Fields * Featured Photography Artist:  Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

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Energy Ooze

Glass bottles filled with tinctures and mixtures littered the shelves. The mortar and pestle was tinged with traces of herbs left behind. Arranging the brass devices, Tanner noted a slight bubble inflate and burst in his latest tonic, an unusual blend of Digitalis purpurea Juniper Catawba, pomegranate energy drink, and a dash of absorbent earth. The carbonated elements should have evaporated last night – when his energy drink accidently spilled into the pestle – yet bubbles were taking shape. Thick bubbles, sticky pops and clinging splatters, revealed an odd shifting underneath the surface that advanced toward the mouth of the glass decanter.

* * *

~ Day late this week, apologies. I am entering hazardous waters with studies, but I enjoyed this refreshing fiction break.

~  As always…thanks to Rochelle for creative energies encouraged by her weekly fictional challenge!

~ Make sure to click on Mr.Froggy-Blue-Face below to enjoy diverse flash fiction inspired by the photo prompt.

 

Shout to Sources:  Rochelle’s Friday Fictioneers, AntiqueBottles