Sunday, October 28, 2007
As a rule, I operate between Mile Markers 80 and 110, but may make exceptions upon request. Please feel free to contact me via phone or electronic mail to ask questions or schedule an appointment. Rates will be decided on a per-call basis, and there is currently no flat fee. Some jobs may entail sensitive or prolonged work on a computer and it's file system. In such cases it may be required that the client sign a release of liability.
Tonight I decided to share a poem that I wrote several years ago. I can't really say for certain what inspired me, but I was lying awake one night with this nagging feeling in the back of my mind, one single unifying thought that needed expression. Normally, like any sane person, I put it to the back of my mind and sleep it off; that night, though, seemed more important, so I got myself out of bed, found a pad, and started to write the rather flowy "In What Do You Believe?"
"In what do you believe?" I ask,
"In rolling hills? In blades of grass?
In ocean waves that caress the land?
Or in the feel of feet in sand?
Do you believe in forests, strong and proud?
Or in mountaintops, high in the clouds?
In blazing day, or cool night?
In rain? Or snow? Or lands of ice?
In temptation? Or desire?
Or stars above that glow like fire?
In jealousy and hatred, too?
That truth and love will see us through?
In good will towards one-and-all?
That one should never harm at all?"
And on I went, without subside.
When done, at last, she replied,
"It’s in all these that I believe,
and even more which aren’t perceived.
All these things combine to wend
from the beginning, until the end."
Tuesday, October 23, 2007
OhMiBod has a variety of optional "Acsexories" and sells for a cool price of $69.00, and as of the time of this writing appears to be backordered by several weeks. The product comes in a variety of other models as well, probably the most perturbing of which is Suki's "Boditalk," a vibrator that is powered via a cell phone for more... intimate conversations.
In a feeble attempt to fill the fairly conspicuous gap in posts from the past few weeks, I present a summary of Floyd Dell's short story, "We're Poor." The essay itself was written as a companion to my previous essay, entitled "The Civilization," for the Example essay. "We're Poor" describes the series of events that leads to a child's realization that his family is poor.
The example essay generally aims to prove a point or demonstrate a theme that acts essentially as a thesis. This is often achieved through the medium of a narrative and is commonly utilized in folk tales and fables to illustrate, through the events of a story, the value of a particular moral. Such stories are often organized in a cookie cutter fashion, opening with a point being stated and then supported by the follies of a main character. In the story, "We're Poor," author Floyd Dell refuses to subscribe to this template and instead attempts to recount - in startlingly vivid terms - the series of events that led to a child coming to the realization that his family is poor.
As is typical of any child of a young age, the narrator lives oblivious to the circumstances that set him apart in society. He accepts the conditions in which he lives to be normal and finds no need to further question his situation. Floyd Dell skillfully illustrates the various aspects of the child's life, incrementally revealing to the reader the extent of the poverty in which the narrator lives. The narrator examines these discrepancies individually, allowing the reader to connect with the character from the time the soles of his shoes are replaced with cardboard, to his embarrassment at having only pennies to donate to the poor, and finally - as all of the pieces drop into place - to the agonizing realization of why his family couldn't celebrate Christmas.
Innumerable contemporary texts have been written on the subject of the lower class and unemployment. While Floyd Dell could have easily written a dissertation on the hardships of poverty, he opted instead to show the reader a life of poverty in the most profound way that he could: from the eyes of a child. "We're Poor" takes the reader from a plodding, uncertain beginning through increasingly poignant imagery, only to climax in a wave of numbness.
Thursday, October 18, 2007
Wednesday, October 3, 2007
I was at a loss last weekend when I realized I needed to come up with a topic for Tuesday's essay, so I considered myself lucky when a friend of mine began telling me about his own writing assignment on human civilization. I decided that I was out of ideas, and I took civilization and ran with it. It might be worth noting now that I use "Civilization" intentionally as a physical object, and so as a proper noun.
Since humanity first climbed from the clutches of its primordial hovel, it has sown the seeds of creation. It has striven to master its own world, to triumph over itself, and to rise to yet greater ingenuity. Mankind's greatest achievement is the Civilization, a complex system of agriculture and labour divisions contained within an intricate evolution of mankind's total social heredity. Yet, mankind's greatest talent is not creation, but destruction. It is fitting, then, that the nature of the Civilization is that of the phoenix, and that from smoldering ash arises a new era for mankind to bask in his own glory; for the Civilization is not merely a collection of farms and social ranks, it is a cage in which lies the brutal savagery inherent in the race of man.
Even in Sumer, the cradle of civilization, is this aggression evident. The great cities that birthed writing, astronomy, arithmetic, legal systems, the calendar, and the wheel laid siege to themselves and fell to obscurity as they were annexed by another rising power. Two thousand years later along the banks of the river Tiber the great Roman Empire raised the Colosseum, a grandiose achievement in architecture and engineering devoted to the entertainment of man through spectacles of bloodshed and battle. A full millennium later on a continent halfway around the world the Aztecs erected the first Great Temple, a man-made mountain paying tribute to Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli, the gods of rain and fire. For days on end, human sacrifices would be conducted atop the great pyramid, and the bodies would be cast down the steep sides to pile at the base of the sacred grounds. This civilization, like all others before it, eroded itself from within only to be devoured by another larger, more destructive culture.
Six thousand years have passed since humanity first ascended from its cradle, and little has emerged to keep its brutality in check. Even today, so-called "humanitarian" efforts against mankind's nature uniformly fail to prevent sectarian bloodshed across the globe. In more "refined" societies around the world, violence is siphoned away from its homeland through war, only to fuel more destruction. Often, even the prospects of war and administrative action fail to completely stifle a population's violent tendencies as crime runs rampant in urban areas. Not even the impending depletion of resources could manage to abate mankind's thirst for the blood of his own; rather, it has thrown him into a panic and further stimulated his aggression. Modern civilization has no Colosseums, no warlords, and no sacrificial temples; the hunger of the populace is stymied only by rigorous regimes of violent media. Humanity has found not a way to tame its brutality, but to divert it with technology, effectively moving the gladiator from the arena to the television screen.
From the construction of the first ziggurat to the launching of the first space shuttle, mankind has struggled to contain his aggression, to move forward unhindered by his savage tendencies. Instead, he has merely set it aside, channeling his talent through his rage in order to create. The fatal flaw in the Civilization lies here, in that humanity does not overcome its brutality insomuch as it harnesses it as impetus for growth, encouraging mankind's killer instinct to grow and elevating itself higher still to create, eventually, a destructive force well beyond imagination. It is the self-destructive aspect of the Civilization that is imperative to its remarkable ability to renew itself. Like the phoenix, the Civilization will crumble with age and fall to fire, only to emerge from the ashes anew and stronger than before. Even so, all things must come to an end, and the question must be asked: can the ultimate destruction of humanity's greatest invention be deterred; or will the Civilization at last collapse - as it has so many times before - once and for all?