Tag Archives: socialization

Hey Reader, What’s Your Angle?

Probably the most influential and impactive course I took during my college years (and for me, “college years” do not mean four coming-out-years of raucous partying and occasional studying, it means thirteen long and tedious years of night school, transferring to this college or that college depending on where the military assigned me, and all of which were completely dependent upon the sacrifice and commitment from my lovely and loving wife) was a Literary Theory and Schools of Criticism (or something to that effect) course while attending Tidewater Community College in Chesapeake, Virginia, oh so long ago.

It was this course, taught by an instructor mild in manner but powerful in purpose and ability whose name I sadly cannot remember, in which I was instructed and inspired to become an active reader — a reader who brings to a book not just a desire to be entertained, but desires to seek within the work deeper and hidden meanings, as well as to impose upon the work a personal agenda.

I quickly learned that being an active reader by itself takes more than a little bit of effort; but being an active reader with an angle, so to speak, is an exhaustive work out.

No really… thinking burns significant calories, my friend. Ergo, the harder you think, the more calories you burn, ergo once more… the more exhaustive – and rewarding – workout you have. Don’t believe me ask the Google God.

Anyway…

If you aren’t aware, I happen to be an excessively white, less-than-excessively (nowadays, anyway) WASPy kind of dude who was socialized as a youth in and by an excessively white and WASPy home, church, school, television, books, etc. kind of way. And one thing about us white, WASPy dudes — and if you are not a white, WASPy dude you probably understand this much better than we ever will — is that we have a very strong tendency to see the world through rose-colored glasses.

I mean, come on, the industrialized world we now live in pretty much has grown out of the minds of past and present white, WASPy dudes so why wouldn’t all the rest of us white, WASPy dudes think all life is just grand and peachy keen, right?

Anyway… we can have a much longer discussion about the pros and cons of white, WASPy worldviews later, but the point about it here is, when it came to being an active reader with an agenda, well, I just didn’t have one to inherently apply to the literature I was reading, since most of the literature I was reading came from the minds of those with worldviews similar to mine.

Can you dig?

Which is why the book the course was based upon was so important to the success of the class, and why, even today, it continues to be so important to me.

This is the 5th Edition. My copy of the book is an old, beat up 2nd Edition

Long story short – kind of: The book provides a survey of all the major schools of literary criticism and the coursework involved reading short stories and having to critique them by applying the various critical schools. This, of course, meant that yours truly here had to think, read, and react to the work not like a staid white, WASPy dude that I was and, much to much of the world’s dismay, still am, but as a Deconstructionist, or, gasp, a Marxist or even, deeper gasp… a Feminist!

Needless to say, I survived the severe disruption to my cozy worldview. But I didn’t just survive it, I thrived from it. It really opened my eyes to all the many ways – good and not so good – works of literature can and are interpreted and understood by those with worldviews quite dissimilar to mine.

I’ve come to find that life is much more thoughtful and clear and understanding once those rose-colored glasses were removed and seen as others without them see it.

Yeah…

So, I ask you, Dear Reader, what’s your angle?

Are you an active reader?

Do you bring an agenda to a body of literary work when reading it?

My guess is most of us don’t because being an active reader is tough work.

Even though I intend to go into a body of work with purpose, I more often than not find myself being a “casual reader,” a reader easily lured into passivity by the cozy confines of verisimilitude, until I’m wrapped up – held hostage – by the telling of a good story. And once I finally am able to break free from the stories grasp, I’ll have to go back and try once again to read critically what I had just read mindlessly.

As Kurt Vonnegut so wisely, and often, said: So it goes…

However, if you, Dear Reader, are an active reader with an agenda, or even if you are not, I’d like to know about it. Drop me a line in the comment section and let me know about your reading strategy, or lack thereof.

And if you are a book reviewer with an agenda, please provide links to some of your work. I would love to read it and, perhaps, reblog it here to share with others.

Cool?

Write [and Read] on!

 
 

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No Gun, No Respect…

Smith & Wesson Model 60 .38 Special revolver with a 3-inch barrel

The most common type of gun confiscated by police and traced by the ATF are .38 special revolvers, such as this Smith & Wesson Model 60 .38 Special revolver with a 3-inch barrel. (“S&W 60 3in“. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons.)


First off, I’m not anti-Second Amendment (if you’re an American (of the U.S. persuasion) and you don’t know what the Second Amendment is then that’s a problem)…

See, I live out in the sticks and I had to call 911 once because I thought there was a gas leak somewhere in my house and all I got to say about that experience is that our military overran countries faster than it took the emergency responders to get to my house.

It’s not their fault – I just live out in the sticks.

Heck, I found out then that I can’t even call my 911 operator direct. My 911 call goes to somewhere across the border and that operator has to re-direct it back into my state to a different operator.

I can only wonder what would have happened if that 911 call wasn’t for a gas leak (a false alarm, fortunately) but for a home invasion instead?!

You can feel me, right?

So yeah, I’m all about owning a gun as a means of protection of last resort.

But then again, I’m a nice guy.

I can be trusted with a gun.

When I say I am a not a gun-slingin’, trigger-happy nutjob with “adequacy issues” you can take my word for it…

But as for the rest of you all…

I’m beginning to wonder.

What the heck is going on out there?

Unfortunately, it has become my unfortunate belief that we, as a nation, are now just too mean and too rude and too disrespectful and, most dangerously, too short-tempered (what’s up with all the road rage?) to have so many guns – both legal and illegal – locked and loaded and at the ready out there, just itchin’ to mediate our every issue and altercation, however slight.

Something has got to change.

I mean, come on… There were over 11,000 murders committed with a gun in 2013 (according to the Centers for Disease Control (via Wikipedia)).

That’s a lot of humans made dead from mean assholes with guns.

So if we, as a citizenry, are so danged mean and so danged armed, just think what it must be like to have to try to police all of us in an effort to maintain good order and discipline in a society where that kind of anachronistic, Mayberry-like behavior is now shat upon.

Nowadays, it must be pretty darned scary to be a cop.

No wonder they all jack themselves up like Special Forces operators gone wild.

Have you seen some of these Rambo cops?

In-f’n-tense, they are…

It’s hard to believe – and even sadder – that it takes so much firepower to patrol our streets.

Seriously, we have an Intra-Arms Race going on between we angry civilians and the feeling-threatened-and-under-fire Po po, you know, the overly-aggressive-stoppin’-and-friskin’, tank-drivin’ Five-Oh.

Geez…

And then when you throw race into the mix of a messy situation where the police are a majority of the time of a majority skin tone and the citizenry they are bringing their good order and discipline to are of a minority skin tone…

These days someone usually ends up shot.

Just like last night at the protests in response to the first anniversary of the Michael Brown killing.

Look, I’ve written about these things here before and, like then, I don’t have any answers.

But when it comes to race and racism, I do know, despite what my Merriam-Webster dictionary app says, racism is all about power and who has it.

And the fact is, White male Anglo-Saxon Protestants have and, for the foreseeable future, will continue to have the power in this country.

For the record, here is what my app says racism is:

1: a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race
2: racial prejudice or discrimination

Now, I don’t disagree with what the app says, but in the national grand scheme of things, whose racism is going to hurt more – a WASPy dude’s* or a Black female’s?

Sure it may hurt our WASPy dude feelings that others not like us don’t like us just because they don’t look like us because they are racists of the first or second order, or both. But overall that’s all their racism will do to us – hurt our Privileged and Guilt-ridden White feelings.

Unlike our racism, theirs won’t keep us out of a job.

Or out of a loan.

Or out of a home…

Their racism just doesn’t have the power to do all that harm like ours does.

And sorry to burst your bubbles white racist females, you may think you’re superior to others because of your skin tone, but thanks to our historically patriarchal and sexist society (a subject worthy of a post of its own), you just don’t have as much “clout” to harm as we WASPy dudes have.

Man**, this is depressing.

What is most depressing about it all is how it all feeds off of each other…

The racism increases anger.

The anger increases violence.

The violence increases fear.

The fear increases gun sales.

The gun sales increase death rates.

The increasing death rates increase police presence.

And on and on…

Like I said, I have no answers.

But I do have a voice…

And, for what it’s worth, here I am using it to, if not provide solutions, at least discuss the problems.

Anyway…

This entire unfortunate, depressing post reminds me of that intense scene from the movie Grand Canyon, starring Danny Glover and Kevin Kline, where Glover’s character, a tow truck driver, comes to the aid of…

Ah, what am I trying to explain it for? Just go ahead and watch it…

Peace, y’all…

And remember, Being Nice is a skill that, to be effectively employed, must be continually practiced.

*gender specific
**non-gender specific

It’s Only “Weird” If… [Weird Wednesday Selection]

I are you and we are not Combat boots are left to rot Thrash the holy from the wheat Stack the stock in piles neat Refrain thy meek from honeyed dreams Sow thy saviors ‘tween the seams Left is up and down is fright The morn is black the black the light The night is ’til the way goes wrong The prisoner sings her victory song The song of prison the victor brings The victor’s prison the song shall sing — Not are we and you are I Wars of rot forever die Not are we and you are I Wars of rot forever cry Not are we and you are I Wars of rot forever lie Not are we and you are I Wars of rot forever try…


Blessed are the weirdos for weirdos all are we…

Well, this was fun. Thank you all for sharing your wonderful weird words with us.

Speaking of weird…

Did any of you notice how often the word “weird” is used in Murakami’s The Wind-up Bird Chronicles? It’s rather weird.

Anyway…

Yes, weird has a scale and some of you are a tad bit weirder than others.

Thankfully so, for it allows me great pleasure to present to you the weird that struck me the weirdest, which, in this context is a wonderful thing…


Its only weird……
Mandy Moran

I hear you ask for weird….
When all around is calm and still
There is no ripple in the waters light
Just the moon and its luminous reflection

How can I interpret weird….
Is not for lack of imagination
When suddenly the water erupted its sleep
With a crash of a hat and limb

The water felt hot like treacle
Pulling through its gulp
Bittersweet with its welcome hold
Lumps, glue, sticky and yet free

Time is but an essence
Each day bringing the weird and wonderful too
Give the weird a chance
For all things need a balance….

Capture the opposite, encounter the within
The moon has a light but dark prevails
Water will flow until its sealed
As we feel the weird from deep held in…….

Mandy.x

mandymoran.wordpress.com


Mandy, if you’re interested in a digital edition of one of my selections at Amazon let me know.

Thanks for all the wonderful weird everyone!