Literary Zen VI

Literary Zen VI

 
 

“PRO” TIP – DO NOT MODERATE ME!

 

And by me I mean us.

At least those of us who learned as children that Sticks and Stones Can Break Our Bones But Words Can Never Hurt Us…

Okay, maybe sometimes words can hurt but that is not the point.

Okay, maybe that is the point but so what?

We’re Writers, right?

And if you’re not a Writer (which has to be just about impossible if you are posting stuff online) then you’re a Poet or an Artist or some kind of Creator who turns dreams into magical data streams for the world to observe and appreciate.

And as Creators, aren’t we the ones who are supposed to be leading the way to the Ideal?

Aren’t we supposed to be the voice of those who have no voice, or who have no means, or freedom, to express that voice?

If so, then what are most of you out there afraid of?

Okay, based upon my exceedingly-less-than-scientific observations, this post should either offend or illuminate just about every WordPress Content Creator, i.e., blogger, out there.

And my gut (where my science is explored and calculated) is telling me that most of you will mostly be in the “offend” camp.

I would say easily ninety-percent of the comments I leave in response to a thought provoking post have to first be approved or moderated by the site’s Creator before they are published.

Why would you, you the Writer and/or Poet and/or Artist, you the Creator, why would you do that?

What are you afraid of?

Words?

Are you getting so many responses to your posts that the evil hoards of Trolls have taken up arms (Words) against you in an evil effort to suppress your magic and genius?

Probably not.

But if you are, congratulations are in order.

To me, the evil Trolls are just a sign that you made it. You are a success.

Your voice is being heard.

And that is a good thing.

And we all know, because Ms Yin and Mr Yang tell us so, that with the good comes the bad.

In all honestly, I can’t wait until the Trolls come after me.

Bring it.

Anyway…

You know what I see whenever, which is almost always, I get that little message that says my comment has to first be approved/moderated?

I see fear.

I see you hiding in the shadows cast by the glow of the light of your computer screen.

I see you shaking in your pajamas, afraid of what someone might say in response to your artistic genius.

SOMEONE MIGHT NOT LIKE IT!

SOMEONE MIGHT SAY SOMETHING MEAN!

Yeah, maybe.

But while you are busy screening and redacting all the comments you are receiving, there are people all around the world fighting, and dying, to be heard.

To have a voice.

To not be moderated.

What, you think I’m being a little melodramatic?

You think it doesn’t matter whether or not you screen your comments.

If so, then I think you are being very, very (adverbs…yeah, I know) naive.

Law of Attraction, my little insecure genius…

Anyway…

At a minimum, first impressions matter.

What is one to think of you when their first interaction with you involves you first having to do a security check on them?

Trust issues, is what I think.

But then again, some of you may not even know that you are the Putin of your very own Police State.

You may be suppressing freedom and free speech literally (yes I said literally…because I mean it!) around the globe and not even know it.

So, for all the Freedom and Free Speech Lovers around the world (of WordPress), here is all you have to do to fight back against the evil forces of oppression:

Go to your Dashboard, click on Settings, click on Discussion, and then please, please, please, if checked, uncheck the Comment must be manually approved and Comment author must have a previously approved comment boxes.

Do it and I guarantee you will feel empowered knowing that you are not afraid of all the evil forces that are out there just waiting for the right time to attack.

And if you are afraid, it’s okay.

We all are to some degree.

Because, let’s face it, Words really can hurt.

And that’s a little scary.

But when the attack comes, and it will, be ready for it by building up your arsenal of creativity now.

Rise Up! to the challenge.

Work like a possessed ninja on your Writing and/or your Poeting and/or Arting skills.

Use The Force.

Be the Creation.

And when the attack comes, destroy it with Creativity and Expression!

And if that doesn’t work, you ask.

Fuck it…just delete it.

Like the Boss Moderator that you are.

Power To The Putin

Self-evident Truths

life and liberty
the pursuit of happiness
truths all should live for

Independence Day Flag

IN CONGRESS, July 4, 1776.

The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of America,

When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good.
He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them.
He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only.
He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures.
He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people.
He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within.
He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands.
He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers.
He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries.
He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance.
He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures.
He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power.
He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation:
For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world:
For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent:
For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury:
For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences
For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies:
For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments:
For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever.
He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.
He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands.
He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.

In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.

Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.

We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Putin Signs Law Banning Curse Words in Arts and Media

What the fuck is going on in Russia?

Note: not much of a curser, but after reading this felt the strong desire to express my freedom of…expression, however cursed it may be; and also to express my solidarity with our overly suppressed and oppressed and newly vulgarless Russian brothers and sisters. Curse on…

Sons of Anarchy: Hollywood’s Shakespearean Expression of the American Way of Life

FILM | TELEVISION | DRAMA | ACTION
SONS OF ANARCHY
RATING: ★ ★ ★ ★

Sons Of Anarchy

Today is Thanksgiving Day in the United States, and since I am American I must, like all Americans are doing across the nation and all over facebook, offer my thanks.

There are many things for which I am thankful: my family, my health, my freedom, football (football, the real kind, not soccer), you know, all the standard things a standard American is standardly thankful for.

But in addition to those standards, I am also thankful for the miracle of technology, for it allows me to experience right from my easy chair such wonderful, and cheap, mind melting joys like this and this and Netflix.

And I am especially thankful for Netflix, for it allows me to watch movies and television shows and documentaries and even some cartoons “on demand” (which is a very American way of putting it, no?).

And, of course I’m thankful for Hollywood, too, for without Hollywood, how else would I and the rest of the world know what it truly means to be an American?

And because of Hollywood, and Netflix, and technology, and my health (and all the free time it affords me), I just spent the past three or fours days (I’m not exactly sure how many it was because by the second day it all became a blur) watching a delightful, family show called Sons of Anarchy.

Well, it may not necessarily be a show you would want to watch as a family, but it is undeniably a show about family and the many challenges a typical — and non-typical — family faces.

Yeah, I know, as usual I’m late to the party. Four seasons late, to be exact. Season Five is already close to a wrap. Unfortunately, I will not be able to see it until sometime next year, probably right before Season Six kicks off; that is, if Netflix graciously makes it available for me to watch.

So much for “on demand” I guess.

Anyway, now, after that marathon of anarchy and mayhem I willingly subjected myself to, I can’t stop thinking, “What the hell just happened?”

You know, I’m not really sure. After four straight days of watching four straight seasons of head bangin’, rock n’ rollin’, face tattin’ motorcycle clubbin’, gun runnin’, drug slingin’, porn flickin’, bombs explodin’, race baitin’, back stabbin’ drama, I’m not sure of anything right now.

Except that the show is good.

Really good.

Once again, Hollywood did what it does best: exploiting, romanticizing, and glamorizing the most extreme of man’s deviant nature.

Hollywood did its job so well and the show is so good I gave it a Netflix rating of 4 out of 5 stars.

I briefly considered giving it 5 of 5, but it does have a few superficial flaws; however, over the entire well thought out and executed arc of the show, those flaws mostly become forgotten.

But for the curious, here are a few of the annoyances I noticed:

— A bizarre Irish Republican Army connection that put a bit of a drag on the pace and feel of the show for one of the seasons, season two, I think.

— A couple of cheezy reveals, especially at the end of season four, that pissed me off.

— Chuck Hunnam’s British accent. Mostly it goes unnoticed, but it is noticeable. It especially gets thick when he is talking with/screaming at Irish dudes.

But other than those minor flaws, the show is a masterpiece, as in Masterpiece Theatre.

Well, perhaps not but speaking of theatre — dammit, I’m American! — speaking of theater, Kurt Sutter, the show’s genius creator, is in no way shy about the show’s obvious draw off of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. For example, we have our conflicted prince (or Motor Cycle Club Vice President), we have our surrogate father king (or MC President and step-father of the VP), we have our ghost of the dead former king and father of the prince (or a manifesto written by the dead former MC President, which is found and read by the son/VP of said dead former MC President, and which conflicts said son/VP even more).

There are more parallels but I think you get the point.

Hey, if you’re gonna rip off someone’s storyline, who’s better to rip off than the Great Bard himself (who, by the way, is also accused of being a first class storyline ripper-offer in his own right).

Yeah indeed, it’s a raunchy, guns/drugs/sex-laden American version of Hamlet (heck, to make sure we slow on the uptake Americans didn’t miss the Hamlet connexion, Mr Sutter even titled the last two episodes of Season Four as “To Be – Act I” and “To Be – Act II” for us).

I haven’t watched such a deviantly fine contemporary adaptation of one of Shakespeare’s plays since My Own Private Idaho (yeah, I know — Keanu Reeves. But hey, his “style” of acting works in this flick and, besides, it also has River Phoenix (MHRIP)).

Yes sir (that would be a non-gender specific “sir”), Sons of Anarchy just about has it all; all, that is, except…anarchy.

Sure there’s all the killing and all the other subversion of societal “norms” one could imagine, but all that is done within the context of maintaining a structured and orderly, albeit somewhat illicit, motorcycle club. And clubs, especially those that are guided via vote and majority rule like the SAMCRO is (if you aren’t an SOA fan, you’re probably just as confused about the meaning of SAMCRO as I initially was when I first started watching the show…if you want to know what it means, ask Mr Google like I had to), represent anything but anarchistic ideals.

Clubs, especially those of the motorcycle variety, do not represent anarchy, they represent democracy and freedom.

And democracy and freedom, damn it, represent America!

Yes, the Sons of Anarchy, with its British leading man, and its British-owned storyline, and its Irish Republican Army and Mexican Drug Cartela dependencies and connexions–er, connections, is about as American as any television series could ever strive to be…

Or not to be.

Uhm, yeah…

Oh well, I tried.

While my dubious and corny conclusion may be in question, there is no question that, with Sons of Anarchy, Hollywood has served up yet another feast of a show for us turkeys to feed upon in our unending quest to fill our insatiable viewing appetites.

And for that, I also am thankful.

~~~~

Rating System:
★ = Unwatchable
★ ★ = Poor Show
★ ★ ★ = Average Show
★ ★ ★ ★ = Outstanding Show
★ ★ ★ ★ ★ = Exceptional Show

Toward the Happy End of Legislating Morality

You may be happy or sad over the reelection of Barack Obama.

I, for one, am happy.

You may be happy or sad over the reelection of the Congressional Incumbents.

I, for one, am sad.

And, you may be happy or sad over the historic legalization of gay marriage in Maryland and other states and the legalization of the limited recreational use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington.

I, for one, am beyond happy; in fact, I am completely and blissfully ecstatic.

Now, since I am happily married and have been so for over two score, and since my lung disease prevents me from inhaling any kind of smoke and my high liver counts discourage me from introducing THC into my system by any other means, I do not foresee me benefiting physically in the least because of the legalization of gay marriage and the decriminalization of marijuana use.

But I do benefit from it.

All Americans benefit from it because it represents a new mind set in our country.

A new hope.

Millions of Americans voted in this election to begin the end of legislating morality.

Yes, there will be legal challenges and set backs to these recent advancements toward the protection of our basic human right to live a life as we choose to live it.

Yes, we still have many states to go and many votes to cast before all Americans’s have the right to be human as each sees fit.

But we have just made a significant advancement, an advancement which sets the momentum toward even further advancement, and which minimizes the chance for significant setback.

And I, for one, am very happy about that.

The Power of Money, the Money of Power

Chinese Currency
By: Paul. B

There is much ado in the news about China’s Wen Jiabao, the supposed People’s Premier, accumulating a massive fortune, for both himself and his extended family, while serving within the highest ranks of China’s government.

According to New York Times reporting:

Many relatives of Wen Jiabao, including his son, daughter, younger brother and brother-in-law, have become extraordinarily wealthy during his leadership, an investigation by The New York Times shows. A review of corporate and regulatory records indicates that the prime minister’s relatives — some of whom, including his wife, have a knack for aggressive deal making — have controlled assets worth at least $2.7 billion.

No one is surprised by this, right? I mean, when in history has there ever been an authoritarian, non-transparent government where its leaders — and often…well, usually…okay, you’re right, always…those close to the leaders — did not become fabulously wealthy as a result of their position within the government?

We all know the quote, Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely, so it is not news that Jiabao, or any other Chinese government senior leader, and their families and friends, have profited because of their positions.

And you know what else isn’t news? The fact that China has blocked all internet access to the New York Times, as well as to other major news outlets, such as the BBC, that are reporting on the story.

Without a doubt, Western-style democracies are far from perfect; and, without a doubt, many politicians and government officials within these supposed transparent governments have amassed huge, unknowable, amounts of cash because of their positions. Still, at least we who live in countries governed by democracies, with our right to vote and with our freedom of speech, have a semblance of a notion that we can contain the corruption. Whether it’s true or not is debatable, but having a semblance of a notion is better than having none at all.

Artist Ai Weiwei on Art and Censorship

An exclusive interview from The New Yorker

In my view, nothing demands the guarantees of freedom more than how one chooses to express his or her relationship with life. Some choose to express this relationship through song, through the pen, through spirituality, through art. There are so many choice ways to express oneself that no matter how hard oppressive forces try to oppress these expressions of life, and they will try very, very hard, they will always and ultimately fail. Freedom can never be truly or completely oppressed.

The Proxy Wars

SOPA Soap Opera
jurvetson / Foter / CC BY

Oppressive governments like China, Iran, and Syria, among many others, are spending billions to censor the internet from their populations; and other governments like Pakistan, that one might not consider to be in the same oppressive category as China and the others mentioned, are also focused on internet censorship as well, mostly for religious purposes.

But as these governments find new ways to oppress, internet freedom advocates, find new ways to circumvent the oppression. Unfortunately, those seeking access to the internet usually are not as well funded as those seeking to oppress.

Just as it funded free speech initiatives like the Voice of America during its Cold War with the Soviet Union, the United States spends large sums of money each year to fund internet freedom advocacy groups who provide the proxy tools and other technology to help those in need circumvent the government firewalls.

However, like just about every other important issue the United States is facing, its massive debt is putting the internet freedom initiative in peril. At a time when the demand for the initiative is at its greatest — the demand is so huge for the proxy tools that, without additional funding to increase speed and access, its current capability is overwhelmed — cuts to the program are inevitable.

In the coming months and years, how will these cuts affect the censored and oppressed, and especially those fighting for their lives in places like Syria where their information campaign, a campaign that relies primarily on twitter and youtube postings, is crucial to making and keeping the world aware of their very real struggle for freedom?

In Honor of the End of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell Policy

An offering from POEMS FROM THE RIVER, a collection of my poetry that will soon be released.

~~~~

We War

War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things.
The decayed and degraded state
of moral and patriotic feeling
which thinks that nothing is worth war
is much worse.

The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight,
nothing which is more important than his own personal safety,
is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free
unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.

~ John Stuart Mills

We war, don’t we
We warriors
We worriers for the world

You, Red Death Warrior
You mobilized
You sanitized
Purified to perform ancient rights of battles
And to stake patriot claims of fragile freedom
In hearts alien, hearts eternal,
Hearts ignorant of all you know

You know
You know

You know, noble warrior,
While you wander through the heaven of Hell
Raking the shit scattered pieces
Of bitter and broken promises
Into neat, heaping piles made ready
For the devil’s dusty full bin,
I, Warrior of The Forgotten Peace
Arming my chair of flaccid command
Long for the glory fight that I never had
The fight I will never know
The fight you will never forget

You know
You know

~~~~

I would like to congratulate and thank all who courageously sacrificed their identities, and in some cases, their lives, in order to proudly and honorably serve their nation while Don’t Ask Don’t Tell was national policy.

The Extreme Costs of Extremities

Yes, as a nation, we love our freedom.

I love my freedom.

Freedom is so completely fundamental to the essence of who we are, of who I am, that I cannot even begin to imagine living in a country where I couldn’t speak my mind, or where I couldn’t dress the way I wanted to dress, or where I couldn’t love whomever I wanted to love regardless of his or her race, religion, sex, gender, height, blood type, shoe size, whatever, or where I couldn’t worship the God(s) I wanted to worship.

I simply cannot imagine living a life without the freedom to live exactly as who I want to be, not as just who I am born to be.

In my view, to maintain our freedom means we have to be able to tolerate a lot of ignorant bullshit, even if it’s as ignorant and disgusting as that of the Westboro Baptist Church.

The Supreme Court agrees with me.

If tolerating the non-violent, First Amendment-sanctioned views and expressions of the Westboro Baptist Church, or the KKK, or the Nation of Islam, or any other hate group is the price we have to pay for our uncompromised freedom, then it must be paid.

It’s worth every penny.

There are higher prices to pay.

People around the world are paying them on a daily basis.

Shahbaz Bhatti just paid the highest price anyone could pay.

Shahbaz Bhatti was the only Christian minister of parliament in Pakistan.

He recently was assasinated by muslim extremists because of his faith.

Muslim extremists hate freedom even more than Westboro Baptist Church extremists do.

As far as I know, no Westboro Baptist Church extremist has murdered over his or her extremist views.

They have stayed with the boundaries that our Rule of Law has set.

As messy and distasteful as the Rule of Law sometimes is, Americans should be ever so thankful to live in a country that abides by it.

Many countries don’t.

Pakistan is trying to but it’s a difficult and dangerous struggle for them.

MP Bhatti lost his life over this struggle.

He was a very courageous man.

He knew that his life was in constant danger because of his beliefs.

He testifies as such in this video.

It is a very powerful testimony of faith and courage.

 

Shahbaz Bhatti did not shy away from the struggle for freedom.

He embraced it.

He embraced it because he understood how rare and valuable freedom is.

He was even willing to pay the ultimate price for it.

And sadly, he ultimately did.

~~~~

RELATED: The 30 Best Anti-Westboro Baptist Church Protest Signs