American Virtues…

So, we just had a big holiday celebration, here in The States. It was the 4TH OF MOTHER-FUCKIN’ JULY!

And that’s the sum total of the amount I could get worked up about it – all caps, 5 words – and now I need a nap.

But, I’m fighting the sweet embrace of oblivion to tap out a few words about ‘Merica, because holidays, even the fun ones, are supposed to be a time for reflection. (Not the whole time, of course. We need a bit o’ partyin’ as well. We’re only human.)

And there is a bucketload of things to reflect on in the midst of our drinking and blowin’ shit up.

What does it mean to be an American?

What does patriotism look like?

How can I/ you/ they be good citizens?

Should one use lighter fluid to start a charcoal grill?

You know, that kind of thing.

For me, it hasn’t been any of those things. (No, not even the lighter fluid. Get a goddamn chimney starter for fek’s sake!)

I’ve been thinking about: what are our American Virtues?

(Before you get weird about that word, virtue just means strength.)

So, I suppose one could think of it as: What makes America Strong?

Yes, I get that there will be no end of idiots spouting off about “freedom” or the military or guns, or whatever. But they’re probably drunk, and definitely foolish. So, we’re going to ignore them for now and try to hash this out like concerned adults. Well, mostly…

You see, I’m not sure I know anymore.

In fact, I’m not sure I ever did.

I have some thoughts, but, admittedly, they tend to be naturalistic analogies. That is to say, I am not prepared to present evidence in the case. It’s just observations, and if strict empiricism worked we wouldn’t need the scientific method.

Let’s start with one I’m fairly certain of:

Diversity.

America is, currently at least, just about the most diverse country on the planet. We have more and more varied cultures and ideas per square foot in this nation than anywhere else on the face of the Earth. (If you have counterexamples, please leave them in the comments.)

Why do I think this is one of the things that make America strong?

First, the analogy. Genetic diversity.

We know, from studying the world, that genetic diversity makes a group of organisms stronger. And conversely, we know that genetic homogeneity tends to spell a species’ downfall. Genetic diversity allows an organism to adapt. The most adaptable becomes the most survivable.

Our cultural diversity serves the same function for the body politic.

Greater diversity is synonymous with greater adaptability and survival.

For us, it is a diversity of ideas, of minds, of perspectives that drives our ability to adapt and overcome.

So, an example: Nicola Tesla.

An immigrant. Also a genius. (If you think Tesla is just an expensive electric car, and don’t know about the man, you should go find out. I’ll wait. It’s worth it.)

Tesla worked first with, then in competition against Thomas Eddison.

Eddison’s idea to run power across the country was Direct Current (DC). It’s fairly powerful but can not travel long distances.

Tesla’s idea was Alternating Current (AC). It was marginally less powerful but could travel longer distances.

There was a whole thing about it. An elephant was electrocuted. Not good in general.

But the outcome of this competition was that you now have AC electricity in your house, and pretty much every house connected to the grid.

Why does that matter?

For one, it’s cheaper power to produce.

For two, the fact that AC can travel longer distances means that you don’t have to have a power plant in your neighborhood. (about 55% of them still burn coal to make electricity, so, be grateful you’re not living in that post-industrial hellscape.)

Anyways, Tesla, an immigrant, that’s who we have to thank for that innovation.

And there are plenty of other stories of immigrants helping to make America better, stronger.

Check this list out, but don’t stop there.

As a country, we used to believe that immigrants were the brightest, toughest, most resourceful people, to have gotten here from their home countries. We used to welcome them because we knew that adding the best, brightest, and most resilient would increase our capacity for those things.

If you look at contemporary immigrants, you find the same thing: resourcefulness, tenacity, intelligence, drive.

You’ll see it if you look.

You can’t trust the accounts of others. I’m not even suggesting you trust my accounting of the matter.

But you look, with your own two eyes, and you’ll see.

And if diversity is one of the things that make America strong, maybe we should start electing people who know and accept that fact and make it the driving motivation behind their policies.

They think they’re representing us, or leading us.

Let’s show them where we want to go.

Anyways, this is probably just the beginning of this exploration. Certainly, there exist more than one American Virtue.

It’s just that I need time to ponder it, and also, naps.

Leave a comment if you can think of any others. I do like exploring options.

Even if you can’t come up with something off the top of your head, if you’re an American, please take the time to think about it.

There are few things that could be of greater benefit to you and your country.

I’ll be thinking about it too…

…but first, a nap.

Until next time…

 

 

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Hot Takes on Universal Truths (PT 1)…

Disclaimer: I’m not convinced there are universal truths so much as there are universal facts. Facts aren’t truth, they’re just reality. Facts are what make statements true or not. But since I may be one of the only people who thinks this way, we’re just going to run with the common usage.

Here’s a thing we all deal with:

Impermanence

better known as: THINGS CHANGE.

But, you may be asking, what kind of post is this going to be if it’s something we all know about already?

Look at you, ahead of the curve, again.

And you’re correct, I’m not really here to speak to that thing we all know already, although, I’m not certain absolutely everybody knows it as such.

Anyways, this post is about the “we all deal with” side of impermanence.

Because try to ignore it as you might, we all must face the spinning hands of the clock – even for you digital types out there.

Beyond the question of how long our consciousness continues, or what happens when we die, is the BIG Question: Am I still Me?

Continuity.

If everything is in a constant state of change, that means I/ you are changing. And if that is so, what are we changing into?

Here’s the thing, once you acknowledge impermanence, you begin to see it not just as gateways to pass through, but as a continuous process. And it is. Even now, the words you are reading are causing chemical changes in the state of your brain, leading to changes in consciousness while, at the same time your cells are dying off and replicating – in a constant state of flux, so that – while they may appear the same – they are, in fact, different.

Yeah, take a minute to soak in that weirdness.

Hard to absorb, isn’t it?

And we, as a species, have been trying to reconcile it for likely most of our existence. The first recorded thoughts on the matter come about somewhere around the birth of Taoism, in Ancient China. Taoism may have been the first “religious” practice to embrace impermanence. It’s difficult to pin down exactly. There may be something about it in the Upanishads, but we’ll need a historian who specializes, and I don’t have one of them handy at the moment. So, we’re going with Taoism. That puts us somewhere around the 6th-century B.C.E.

But even the Western Tradition – read as the Ancient Greeks – were coming to a similar conclusion around the 3rd-century B.C.E. So, since Taoism is a bit opaque for a western audience, we’ll start with the Greeks and come forward from there. Don’t worry, we’ll be getting back to the Tao, in a Tolkien-esque fashion.

So, by way of Plutarch, we have accounts of debates – in this case between Aristotle and Heraclitus – on the nature of impermanence and continuity.

Why continuity?

Because if, as has previously been stated, everything is changing, even us, even down to our most minute, atomic parts, are we still us? Do I remain me and you remain you, even in the midst of all this change?

Enter Theseus’ Ship.

It’s a thought experiment. Here’s a place to start looking, but don’t stop there. wikipedia/ Ship of Theseus

Briefly, the experiment goes like this: A ship is brought into the docks to be repaired. The mast is replaced. Is it the same ship? Then the deck is replaced. Is it still the same ship? Eventually, every board and nail is replaced with new materials. Is it still the same ship?

Starting to see the connection to us and our constantly dying and replicating cells yet?

I knew you would. I have the best readers.

Aristotle took this idea and created the “Four Causes” solution to the problem. Feel free to read up on that. It’ll be illuminating for certain modes of our modern thought.

It also has a fundamental flaw: It’s starting from a conclusion and trying to work backward to an argument/ explanation that proves that conclusion.

In less archaic parlance, it’s adding epicycles.

(Ok, I’ll admit that example isn’t really less archaic per se, but it’s fun and you should check it out.)

Basically, Aristotle and his followers were convinced of our essential continuity and tried to create a system by which that continuity was preserved, even in the light of the implications of the thought experiment.

And by way of response, Heraclitus gave one of the most understated hot takes in history, “No man ever steps into the same river twice.”

Just let that one simmer in your brain-pan for a moment.

Heraclitus’ response succinctly states that continuity is an illusion.

Think of when you were a kid, on the Fourth of July. Out in the dark, writing letters on the night with a lit sparkler. Same thing.

(We call that “persistence of vision” but as a phenomenon, it is analogous to how we perceive our own existence.)

Nothing is continuous. Contiguous, maybe. Likely. But not continuous.

By all the available evidence, that does seem to be the case. Every 7 years or so we’ve replaced all of our cells. Every new piece of information we get changes how we interact with the universe, even if in subtle ways. And if you’ve ever listened to the same song more than once you know that no two iterations of any experience are ever the same.

No two meals.

No two kisses.

No two nights, high as the clouds on acid, lying in a field, holding hands with your best girl and staring up at the stars…

…But I digress.

It is a thing we intuitively recognize about the world in which we live. Sure, we dismiss it, take it for granted and as read, but it’s always there, a part of our awareness. But it’s funny how reticent we are to ascribe to ourselves this seemingly obvious and self-evident fact of existence.

Well, not all of us.

There are non-Western cultures that integrate this way of seeing the world and ourselves. You should look into that. It’s cool in the way certain hidden things are.

Taoism is one of them. Buddhism another. Certain Native American traditions. Some Australian Aboriginals, I think. Do yourself a favor and check it out.

But, just before you go, let me give you one Western-style take on the whole affair, by way of J. R. R. Tolkien.

(Admit it, you thought I forgot.)

The Shards of Narsil.

Yes, from the Lord of the rings books. The sword that cut the ring from Sauron’s hand and broke in the process. The one Aragorn used to prove his claim to the throne of Gondor. That sword.

If you’ve read the books, or seen the movies – so really, this can’t be a spoiler – you’ll know that the sword is eventually re-forged. And after it is re-forged, it is given a new name: Anduril.

Same bits of metal, put back together into the same type of form, to make the same type of thing, to serve the same type of purpose, but with a new name.

The new name being an acknowledgment of the inherent change in the thing itself.

But, in the West – whatever that nebulous term means – we don’t give ourselves new names when we begin new stages of life. We feel as if we are the same person from birth until death, even though we recognize that we go through different stages of existence.

So, I wonder, why is it so hard to acknowledge that we’re different people in those varying phases?

Here’s the thing: when you think about it, you won’t feel you’re the same person now as you were when you were an infant, or a teenager, or in your twenties. No one does.

We don’t feel like the same person, well, because we aren’t the same person.

And yet, we want to believe that this thing in our heads, this thought we call “I” has been eternal and unchanging – in some cases since the beginning of everything – in most cases at least for all of our lives.

I’m not suggesting we take on new names with each passing phase of life, althought that would be cool. But I am suggesting that I can see that “kid” me hated broccoli, but “adult” me quite likes it, and that’s because they’re different people. (See how the language trips us up here.) And that means “I’m” different people.

And so are you.

All of you.

Yes, even you.

Something to think about, at least.

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hot Mess…

So, I was trying to write a completely different post this morning. If I’m very lucky, I’ll be able to finish it sometime this week. But that will be entirely predicated on my mind not sparking like a nest of half-stripped livewires.

Which, If I was being too subtle, it currently is.

Depression sometimes comes in waves.

(Kind of like my enjoyment of the music of Pink Floyd, anyways…)

Some days are blue. Some days are hectic, rainbow mixes of emotional states. And some days are pitch black, and you’re lucky if you can fumble your way along the wall until some light appears, somewhere.

I’ve had a few too many of those latter ones lately.

It’s a funny thing, but having and working towards a purpose – one you’re invested in – can almost make you feel like you’re not depressed. It does me, at any rate. But, here’s the thing: when you’re in between times, transition times, fallow times, your depression is always there, waiting in the wings for its next appearance on the stage of your life.

And by you, I mean me.

‘Cause really, I don’t know you. Your mileage may vary.

Right now, I’m at a bit of an inbetween, writing-wise.

I’m waiting for feedback from my beta readers for a short story project. I’m interviewing new beta readers for additional input on the second 3rd Eye novel.

Mostly, I’m waiting. And waiting gives space for my mental illness to poke its head in and ask me if I’ve heard of our lord and savior the ever-widening Abyss.

And here’s another thing you don’t often hear about depression: it makes it damn difficult to concentrate.

Dig it: I’ve never been diagnosed with any of the attention disorders, but my awareness shifts around pretty fast on the usual, and I’m accustomed to that and know how to work with it. I’m also an experienced meditator. Concentration, I got.

Except lately, I don’t got. Not so much anyway.

Imagine, if you will, a giant tornado, just a’tearin’ up the landscape of your mind. Roofs torn off. Trees uprooted. Bathtubs and mobile homes swirling in the gray-brown funnel of your attention. Now, see that note, on the scrap of paper, over there. No there! Nope, over there now. No there!

Well, maybe you’ve picked up what I’m putting down. I hope so, this shit is getting heavy.

So, that’s where I’m at.

And it’s a damned hard thing to explain to people, even people who’ve suffered from depression themselves.

Sometimes you struggle to tell people you’re struggling.

At least I do, at any rate.

Anyways. I thought this might do both: get me writing about something, and let some of the air out of the ravaging twister in my head.

I’ll have to get back to you on that second part.

For now, I’m out of juice.

Until next time…

 

 

 

 

 

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Coming Up for Air in Quick Breaths…

Breathe, that’s the thing I’ve been forgetting to do.

The dizzy spells, the inability to concentrate, the ravenous sugar cravings, it all makes sense now.

I’m fine…

Really…

I promise.

Anyway, I thought I’d drop in with a few quickies, as it’s been a while since I let my crazy run free in short bursts.

So, here goes:

Abortion, Drugs, and Guns all suffer from the same problem: make them illegal and only outlaws and the rich will have them. Georgia and Ohio, get your shit straightened out and your noses out of women’s reproductive rights.

Climate Change is the new Marijuana: Both Nixon and Trump commissioned studies on the respective topics, and both threw out the results without so much as reading them when they were at odds with their political agendas. The more things change, the more they…

…well, fuck.

The Incredible AOC and the Marvelous Marginal Tax Rates. They really don’t kick in until after you make 10 million dollars. Don’t believe the bullshit people spew about the mean old government taking 70 cents of every one of your hard earned dollars – that’s not how it works. And really, if you make more than 10 million per year, you could stand to pay more in taxes, if for no other reason than to reinforce the safety net for all the poor workers on whose backs you make your millions.

(That’s not communism, that’s just good, old fashioned American anger talking. We were founded by people who didn’t take kindly to rich folk doing all the taking and not giving back. Time we started to remember that.)

Drawn to Flame is still selling. Not as well as I’d like, but given I’ve really done no advertising for it, I’d say it’s doing better than I have a right to expect. Still not making a killing, or even a living off it yet.

Oooh, on the book front: I have a new short story out to my beta readers. This will interest you because it is a prequel story to the novel and because I’ll be giving it away for free to anyone who signs up for my monthly newsletter. (I think it’ll be monthly, hopefully, I’ll have something cool to update with every month. We’ll see.) Anyways, there will be more news about that fairly soon.

I’m about to start the third round of revisions on the sequel to Drawn to Flame.

I’ll save the title reveal for a little later.

But, if you’ve been paying attention, you might be able to guess when, in 2020, the second book in the 3rd eye Detective Series will be released.

I’ve also started working on the 3rd book in the series. Notes. Some descriptions. Maybe the first sentence or two. I plan on seriously getting to work on it sometime around the middle or end of August. Likely I’ll want to stay inside and away from the Tennessee heat by then anyways.

What else?

Oh, yeah…

…I’ve decided to try to get my posts up to a total of 200 hundred by the end of the year. That means, counting this one, I’ll need to post something like 43 more times.

Challenge Accepted!

Ok, time to get off the computer and ponder.

Until next time…

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Media Appearances…

…Well, just the one really.

The folks behind Authors in Abstract had me on their podcast. It was a good time. Maybe you’ll be interested in giving it a listen?

LISTEN!

If you dig the vibrations, check out some of their other episodes.

Check out some of their books – see if it’s your kind of thing.

Until next time…

 

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Howdy…

…So, how ‘ya been?

Sorry I’ve been away for a bit. Honestly, it was longer than I would have liked.

I had about a week after my book release, and I got Sofa King™ sick, have been out of commission and on everything but rollerskates since, trying to recuperate.

I feel like a living human today.

So, that’s an improvement.

There is a ton of stuff to talk about: politics, physical and mental fitness, strange vistas of human consciousness, writing, you know, things…

…But not today.

Today I just wanted to touch base. Let you know I’m still alive. Still banging my fingertips against the keyboard. Still trying to get the word out about Drawn to Flame:

(BTW, anything you could do to help would be greatly appreciated.)

Anyways, I’m going to rest just a bit more, and prepare for the work week ahead.

Thanks for hanging around. The place would be boring without you.

Until next time…

 

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Book Birthday!

Well, this thing that’s been in my head for too long to mention is now a thing that’s out in the world, waiting to get into your heads.

It was a ton of work getting here.

I imagine, it’ll still be a bit of work going forward, although, not quite as much because:

Drawn to Flame is in your hands now.

I hope it scratches at least one of your itches.

I’ve mentioned it, somewhere here before, but this is just the first story in the series. Caleb, and the rag-tag bunch he calls friends – and a few he doesn’t – have more trouble to get into.

Yes, the second book is already written. (I’m moving into the 3rd revision or so once I recover from this book release).

No, that won’t be the last book either.

Yes, it has a title.

No, I’m not telling you, yet.

When will it come out?

I might need a year to get it all together, and I’m fond of planetary holidays if that gives any clue.

But, before we go all a-cart-before-horse-puttin’ allow me to ask this one thing:

If you’ve taken the time to read Caleb and Company’s first adventure, would you please leave a review?

Goodreads and Amazon are great places.

There are others, as well.

Blog about it, podcast, youtube about it – whatever your medium, please, make a bit of noise for my story. It would really help.

At some point, I’m going to delineate this journey of mine with the benefit of hindsight. I’ve made mistakes, and I’ll share them so maybe you won’t make them too.

But for right now, I’m going to float for a while.

This has been a long time coming. Think I’ll take some time to enjoy it.

Thanks for walking the road with me.

Until next time…

 

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