The End of The Story

As I’ve said before, I think that chapters are moving permanently to Saturdays because Fridays have, for various reasons, become impossible.

The main reason today, though, is that I not only have been grinding my teeth in my sleep – which is normal procedure.  I drive my dentist nuts, and once broke one of my teeth this way – but appear to have been chewing on my tongue all night, which for some reason made me very cross and not inclined to writing a chapter.

Though I’ll be honest with you, I might skip this week, because the novel is at that stage where I need to go back and read over it and “fix it up” before continuing.  This used to be a normal way of working for me 20 years ago, but now it’s only needed when writing something THIS slowly.

So instead, I’ll talk about how I got up feeling like I’d had very disturbing dreams or something (hard to tell what makes one chew one’s tongue) and groggily went down the stairs of our three-floor Victorian (not as posh as it seems, the third floor is an un-heated and largely stacked with boxes attic) to the kitchen, and made myself some tea, and just sat there, sipping it.

Not sure why but I thought how long the house has been standing here, and how it is in its way a piece of American history.  Some of the really old features are still present, and now there is added remuddling from the sixties and seventies, and the stuff we’ve clawed back (I mean, like removing the funeral-parlor wall paper from the kitchen.)

And I thought “this house was standing here when WWI happened.”  And “This house was standing through WWII” – I tried to imagine the people who lived here, what they must have felt and what they must have done.  (It is still very odd to me that we live in houses for ten years or so and move on, and strangers move in, considering I was born in a house where four generations of my family had lived before me – I know as a curious aside that another Sarah Hoyt lived here once, because Colorado College started sending me alumni stuff, until I called and asked them “What?”  Appears one of their first women graduates, way back, was a Sarah Hoyt who lodged at this address.  So they thought I was her.  Considering she graduated around the twenties, I had to point out to them I’d be over 100 years old, and while that’s not unlikely EXACTLY (Robert says he gets a lot of 100+ patients when volunteering at the hospital) it’s not terribly likely.)

Anyway, it made it all feel safe as… as houses.  But then I thought again.  The people who lived here through what were two conflicts of unprecedented scale and power didn’t know how those wars would end.

No, this is very important.

Look, I’m going to admit right now, I’m a book wussy.  If the suspense gets too strong and the writer has an history of killing main characters, I’ll actually go and look at the end of the book to make sure it turns out all right.  And this can apply even to cozy mysteries, where I NEED to make sure the character I like isn’t the murderer, so I can enjoy the book.

You can’t do that in real life, but there is a tendency to think we can.

I know this is all sounding like I’m hallucinating, and it’s probably because I haven’t had nearly enough caffeine (and my tongue still hurts.)  But bear with me.

Humans are creatures of story as much as of body.  What I mean is, you’ve been steeped in stories since you were born and part of how you learned language is stories.  Stories is how we learn, how we make sense of the chaotic information around us, and it might be what gave humans an evolutionary edge.

We are programmed to remember stories, so instead of just saying “don’t go into the woods” granny told you the story of Little Red Riding Hood.  Studies have shown that we remember stories told vividly enough as though they’d happened to us.  (This explains the false memory syndrome and also, btw, makes me question the “raped and hogtied” style of YA literature. Why would you want to traumatize an entire generation?)

The problem with stories is that they have a beginning, middle and end.  The present has only two of those, and we’re stuck in an eternal middle.

This matters, because particularly as the way to dress discontent in ideological clothes has become sophisticated enough, thanks to the media, the best narrative tends to win, whether or not it has any contact with reality.

Also because, looking back at WWII we tend to sneer and feel so superior we don’t engage in propaganda now, and we don’t give demeaning names to our opponents.

The first – the ability of the best narrative to win – explains why Marxism tends to get hold of a country again and again and again.  It presents itself as a political system, but it’s really a religion, complete with rousing redemption of the human race at the end, in the stateless system in which we’ll study war no more, and every one will be perfectly selfless.  It’s the type of story we’re programmed to like and for which countless martyrs have died.  Only because Marxism and its various step children don’t work in the real world, usually they make OTHER PEOPLE martyrs.

The second is sort of like our putting down our machine guns and refusing to fight with them, because, well, machine guns are such terrible weapons, even as the enemy advances on us, with every weapon in his arsenal.  Who knows?  Words might be more important than machine guns, in that they’re what make people willing to fight the machine guns.

Does war propaganda demean the enemy and make him a comic book hero?  Sure.  The equivalent of low information voters – low information fighters? – need things pointed to them in black and white.  Might they understand the more nuanced and realistic view?  Sure, of course they would.  Most of them.  But nuanced and realistic views rarely rouse anyone to fight.  Just like novels are better if you delineate a clear villain (even if you make him “tragic”) so with life.  Narratives that are clear cut might be less realistic, but they’re more rousing.  And they’re a weapon.

The third problem with stories is again and always that “we’re stuck in the middle.”  The temptation to write the end is enormous and either to believe we cannot lose, or that we are already defeated.  And both are fatal.

Look, like you I’ve read all the books about how WWII or the American revolution or whatever “could not have gone any other way.” – but if you go deeper, yes it could.  It all hung in the balance, several times.

So, I sit there in the kitchen and I think “Are we at the rebirth of liberty?”  I know and have said that the socialist illusion had to come to the States to die.  It’s that whole The Future Comes From America, thing.  If we let it flourish in our college campuses and take refuge in our “bien pensant” class, the rest of the world will continue embracing it.  It had to come here.  But will it infect us forever, and make us shoddy and not us anymore?  Or will we kick the fever and become more ourselves than ever?

I don’t know.  And neither do you.  And neither does anyone, no matter how convincing their reasons and accounts.  (And half of them, knowingly or not, are really Tokyo Rose.)

So – some things to remember:  Despair is a sin.  We have reality and human nature on our side, but they have a wonderful narrative.  There are no warranties.  But… despair is a sin.  The future is unwritten.  It’s up to us to write.

I say this is the rebirth of American liberty.  And I say we make it so.

Be not afraid.

 

 

146 responses to “The End of The Story

  1. “…make it so.”

    Aye, Captain! (runs)

  2. One thing we can do is cease talking about events as some inevitable product of national decay. We aren’t fighting the Second Law of Thermodynamics; we are fighting specific individuals. If we destroy those individuals, we save our nation. If they destroy us, our nation is lost. Also, can we stop the wailing on some conservative sites to the effect of “if they don’t stop this bullying someone will get hurt!” I personally am quite fine with someone getting hurt, as long as it’s a leftist who gets hurt. It eats at me when these ostensibly conservative cowards publicly show their unmanly fear in public and thus encourage the devils of the left.

    • William O. B'Livion

      We aren’t fighting the Second Law of Thermodynamics; we are fighting specific individuals. If we destroy those individuals, we save our nation.

      We’re not fighting people, we’re fighting ideas. Ideas that are like crabgrass or mold.

      Defeat the person and another one takes their place, and you keep fighting until you get tired.

      Defeat the ideas and you get to rest for a generation or two.

      • We are fighting people and ideas. It’s people that hold certain ideas.

        • William O. B'Livion

          You going to burn the books too?

          • You’d prefer to burn the people?

            The way to fight ideas is to fight them, not try to hide them, or hide from them.

          • W.O.Blivion, You’re the only one who said anything about burning books. What we need to do is simply kill the people who try to force their bad ideas on the rest of us. This tends to reduce the quantity of bad ideas along with their owners.

          • Burning doesn’t destroy ideas, discrediting does. mein Kampf is still sold.

          • It’s certainly as much free speech to burn books as to burn the flag.

            • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

              Depends on “who’s books you’re burning”. Plenty of liberals would enjoy burning Orson Scott Card’s books.

              • And as long as they pay for them, in advance, and they are toasting their own tomes without endangering others’ lives and property, go for it. Now, if they confiscate the books from libraries and book stores and their neighbors, that’s very different. That’s when I’d invite them to come to Berlin so I could show them the memorial to the burned books (Bebelplatz). http://www.house42.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/book-memorial1.jpg As seen at night.

              • I had an old memory of a bad taste from “Enders Game”, so I recently re-read it. If anything it was worse than I remembered, but I have no problem with his politics. – of course I’m not a liberal. I’m not going to bother with the movie either, but only because it’s a downer story.

                • I haven’t read any of his books, the couple shorts of his I tried I didn’t care for. But their complaints are about his politics and his religion*, which to the best of my knowledge are not present in his books, so it is all really pretty stupid.

                  *related in this case, though such are not always nearly so related as those on the left seem to think. Because their religion IS a political stance, they can’t imagine someone else having a religion separate from politics.

                  • Yeah, someone apparently took issue with my politics in… Noah’s Boy. There are NO politics in Noah’s boy. There’s a character with politics (I happen to agree with him, but that’s something else) who is a tucker of a barfly. That’s it.

                  • There is one book, ‘Lost Boys’, where the main POV character and his family are Mormons. Seems to be something which started life as a short story, and it shows, there is a lot of padding and what was perhaps the original main plot gets kind of lost for most of the book and then does a jack-in-the-box impression right in the end, but the look it gives of the religion is interesting, considering I knew pretty much nothing beforehand. How accurate – well, since he is a Mormon I’m presuming it could be at least a somewhat sugarcoated version, but interesting anyway.

                    I haven’t read any of his series, but I have liked a couple of the stand-alones, most of those seem to be kind of mixed horror/urban fantasy which is a genre I’m quite fond of and he does well enough.

                  • As someone who shares his religion, but not necessarily his politics (OSC could be considered a reliable liberal Dem before the brouhaha re: homosexual marriage) I can tell you the religion is in there. I see it all over the place. Story situations, themes, it’s in there. But it may be inadvertent in some degree. (Some of it is absolutely intentional, thinking of Alvin Maker in particular)

                    You live in a culture long enough, that just happens. I once pointed out to Tracy Hickman that the opening sequence to one of his Dragonlance books was a pretty straight lift out of the Book of Mormon. His response was “It was?” He seemed genuinely surprised, but it was very much just that. > >

                    • Yeah, I have this issue with Heinlein, having grown up in his books 😛
                      It’s not my religion, but you get brought up with something… it comes through.
                      Also, I’m told my religious beliefs come through loud and clear in my books. The fun part is considering the two sets of people who say this, they really must — unique as they are.

                    • One of the reasons I quit reading him was Alvin Maker. I did like ender… but it was really a shock and a thinking ending…

                    • I’ve read most of OSC’s books, and all the extensive “enderverse” as well as the alvin maker series, and the stand alone stuff. I recently came across one I’d never heard of, so now I know I haven’t read it all.

                      What OSC does best (IMO) is tell stories of extraordinarily gifted children. Or, I suppose, those could just be the ones I like the best.

                      I had no idea of his religion until long after reading most of his books, but I suppose it is very hard to NOT write from the perspective of your own life, and own beliefs. Certainly most of the unconscious aspects of the story would come out of your own experiences. (Ie, background stuff like the general fairness (or not) of the universe, whether people are inherently good or evil, horatio algier type beliefs, etc.) I don’t think it could be otherwise except in limited cases. It takes too much effort, and the results are generally obviously stilted. I can’t imagine a hard core socialist and trade unionist (for example) writing a whole universe of stories where everyone is a libertarian free trader, and the universe works along libertarian principles. (yes, I’m aware that part of the thrill of writing is creating those characters and places that are so different from our own selves. but it is HARD WORK, no? and the rules of the universe reflect generally our own.) And very few people are successful at creating characters or worlds that are completely different from themselves and their own experiences. When was the last time you read a story about aliens that were really *alien*?

                      So how do we learn to tell the bigger “story” that we want to tell to our political ‘others’? (I am trying not to use the word opponent or adversary, or another synonym.) If our stories include our unconscious assumptions of how the world works, and if the ‘others’ we are trying to influence have a completely different and alien set of unconscious background beliefs and experiences, we will only succeed in frustrating each other. How do we frame the story with the elements that will attract and convince those who need it most? (BTW the typical libertarian novel, a la Heinlein, Williamson, Neil ??, won’t work in my experience. It is too straightforward a political treatise.)

                      Zuk

                      (It’s funny, in terms of this comment, that OSC has Ender’s siblings adopting the politics most opposite their own when they write their political blogs. Of course, they are supposed to be off the charts geniuses too, so maybe that’s what it takes.)

                    • First, you have to write the best story you can. If it isn’t compelling to read, the message never gets delivered in the first place. Second, you never hit them over the head with the “sledgehammer of morality”. And third, get ’em young. > >

              • In the eighties and nineties I sort of resented seeing Orson Scott Card’s books on the shelf because C comes after B, and B is for Bujold, Lois McMaster Bujold. So if I got to Card, it meant the store didn’t have any Bujold (and regards to the RMN, btw). I finally got around to reading Ender’s Game; I didn’t relate to it in the way that, as related in the Foreward of the new edition, helicopter pilots, but having gone up and down Tank Hill I can grasp the idea.

                It’s interesting that our hostess has evoked the idea of “story.” The side with the prettier narrative winning is a little scary, but somewhat like Foxifier says below, I was taught in my religion courses that Christianity has a story to tell.

          • No I’m not.

  3. One of the hardest tricks to writing either narrative history or (as best I can tell) good historical fiction is to keep the reader wondering what is going to happen. Yeah, we all know that the story ended with a less-varied ecosystem, or the queen dying in childbed, or the nasty dictator offing himself while trapped in a bunker in the dying city. But drawing the reader into the story so well that he wonders if this time something will be different, and reminding the reader (gently) that the people in the past didn’t know better, because they had no way to “know better,” is an art.

    Right now, I get the sense that the media (most of it) desperately wants to write a happy ending right now. Meanwhile the universe is whispering, “Oh really? What about the oil-field worker from North Dakota who writes the essay on his little blog that goes viral and tips the balance against the Vile Progs? Remember the commodities reporter who’d had enough and said so? Those words struck a chord and started a movement that tipped elections. And then there are the gamers and writers who insist on reminding people that life, liberty, and individuals matter, and that perhaps the Anointed do not know best. But that’s OK, keep writing and opining. After all, you control the words so you control the world.” And the universe grins. “Or do you?”

    • I still remember, in high school, reading the Diary of Anne Frank, and even though I knew how it ended, as the remaining chapters dwindled down I kept thinking, well, maybe I don’t know how it ends.

    • Reminds me of when I watched John Wayne’s “They Were Expendable” (http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038160/?ref_=nm_flmg_act_71), about PT boat crews during the opening days of America’s involvement in WW2, defending the Philippines just prior to the fall of Bataan. Every time a boat was lost, the surviving crewmen would shoulder their Springfield 1903’s and march to help in the defense of Bataan. I’ve read a LOT of WW2 history, including many first-hand survivor accounts of the Pacific war, and I couldn’t stop myself from yelling at the screen “NO!!! Don’t go! You have NO idea what you’re getting yourself in to!”

  4. Bill Whittle is really pushing the “story” idea right now, too.

    I will also say that “Be Not Afraid” is one of my favorite songs from back when I went to mass.

    • You know, Bill Whittle and I might share a mind. I’ve not been listening/reading, because I’ve been so far up the fiction and the writing.
      Sometimes I wonder if he thinks I plagiarize him.

      • Whichever, it makes a lot of sense to me and informs a lot of what I in my own small way write. The more the merrier. Tell all your friends.

        And can you, can you imagine fifty people a day,I said
        fifty people a day walking in singin a bar of Alice’s Restaurant and
        walking out. And friends they may thinks it’s a movement.

        Turn it back on ’em.

        M

  5. My house was built in 1908. Folks with money wanted to build houses near the railroad at that time, seeing this as a road to “status.” These houses were later sold at firesale prices when the reality of coal smoke and an earthquake every night came home to roost. A Civil War battle was fought not far away. One remuddle was halted midway through when presumably the men went off to war and the women went off to work in the 40s.

    A kindly old couple sold it to a just-married pair (the Man Had Prospects). After a bitter divorce, remarriage, and the discovery of the wonders of cocaine, he stripped the furnishings (including the water heater for its copper!) before being forced out. Then it came to me.

    The men in the forties might have foreseen war brewing across the pond, but could they have imagined our country taking such a large part in it? Similarly, the Man of Prospects probably never dreamed his future would involve a drug habit. Sometimes the world has a way of changing, such that the choices we expected to have never appear, and the ones that do are far beyond our earlier imaginings.

    It may require luck (of the good kind). To turn Heinlein’s quote on its head, it’ll take work from all of us to give us that chance for change in the future, whenever it comes. Little things will make a difference. As a people, we’re still bursting with potential. That’s one of the things that frustrates me the most about politics in general (unrealized potential).

    One of the things that made our founding fathers great is that they didn’t- couldn’t- know what a great country this would become. Nor do we know. The choices we make today will affect the lives of generations down the line- even around the world! We can do this. The freedoms we have today are worth cherishing, and being proud of. Libertatem Aeternum.

  6. Why would you want to traumatize an entire generation?

    Pretty sure this group can come up with lots of reasons, ranging from individual (break everyone else so that I’m not so relatively weak) to organizational (people broken in a set way are easier to work with for X purpose) and probably some I haven’t thought of, all before the “just being evil” aspects come in.

    • Be careful with that last Fox. Very rarely do evil people do things for no reason. The most likely reason to teach the younger generation to be victims is so that they won’t fight back when the government grows even more heavy handed. People who don’t think they can win won’t fight. Don’t underestimate the opposition by assuming that their actions have no purpose.

      • I didn’t say for no reason.

        I said “just being evil.”

        Evil is not ‘no purpose.’

      • Often evil things are done with the best of intentions. It’s every vile prog who’s ever intoned “to make an omelette you have to break some eggs.” You don’t intend to cause shocking famine that kills millions of people. You intend to achieve some worthwhile and desirable end and you think that in order to get there, you have to do this thing.
        You don’t intend for millions of Americans to lose their private insurance. At least not in such a dramatic way, in such a compressed time period, and with a non-functioning website. But you do intend to get closer to “fairness” (for various values of fairness), and if people lose insurance along the way, well, see the above quote re: eggs and omelettes.
        That’s the real problem. They of course don’t see themselves as evil or as doing evil. All of their actions are attempts to get us closer to that great progressive utopia that they swear is right around the corner and they just need us to give them more and more resources to finally get us over the hump. Their stories armor them against reality. All that matters to them is that their intentions are good, and never mind the results, because according to their stories, good intentions never lead us to hell, but always to heaven, if there ever were such a thing. Meanwhile, those of us who have to live with results brought about by those good intentions are told that we’re really so much better off now, or that the insurance we had was substandard, or that we’re bitter clingers to God and guns, or (as a last resort) that we’re just racists.

        “Of all tyrannies, a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive. It would be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good will torment us without end for they do so with the approval of their own conscience.” – C. S. Lewis

        • Often evil things are done for the glee of being evil. Like the knockout “game” that’s been hitting the news.

          Or out of gross and egregious willful ignorance.

          • Oh, that’s a thought – and one that has me again going back to the idea of story and its importance in the culture.

            Those kids who are doing this are doing evil, that is absolutely true.

            But they don’t perceive of themselves as doing or as being evil for one of a couple possible reasons.

            One is because their own stories tell them that the people they are hurting deserve it because they’re (INSERT ACCEPTABLE HATE SUBJECT HERE). Thus, because they, themselves are the victims of whatever the scapegoat has done, any action taken against the scapegoat is justified and moral. That may be true for some of them.

            The second possibility that comes to mind, and one which I think is a bit more dangerous, is because they are completely lacking in stories that tell them that evil exists, that its potential is in all of us, and that it must be fought and overcome in order for society to function. For these kids, society is something that they take for granted, and evil is something that old fuddy-duddy preachers, crazy right-wingers and religious bigots tell them exists so they can then control people, and controlling people is tots wrong, yo*.

            Never mind that civil society and civilization require a measure of self-control. But no one is telling them those stories.

            I’m sure there are other possible reasons, but those are the two that jump immediately to mind.

            *(Yes, I do on occasion try to speak teenager around my daughter in an attempt to get her to roll her eyes at me. I need to start charting my success rate. I think it’s around 60%.)

            • What’s that line? Some people only learn from experience. And she runs a hard school. Close enough?

              Those kids — some of them at least — are going to try the wrong target (because: stupid) and end up dead behind it. And the moaners will whinge their way into another travesty of justice. But the lesson WILL be imparted, because it’s that hard of a school.

              M

            • But they don’t perceive of themselves as doing or as being evil for one of a couple possible reasons.

              A sane person behaving as a sociopath is being evil. I don’t much care what they tell themselves about why they’re treating others as not real.

              • We don’t disagree here. At least not much. The action is evil, yes. There we agree. And there’s harm being done, and that needs to be addressed, yes, and that’s true regardless of their motivations, internal thought processes, etc.

                But these kids may not be irredeemable sociopaths. We may be able to help them understand the relationship of action and consequence, the need for empathy, the need for earned success, etc., if we can just help them change the story they’re telling themselves, and we owe it to them to try to save as many as we possibly can.

                And although It’s obvious, it may also bear reminding ourselves that not all the kids are doing this. Those kids who aren’t need to be reinforced, given a reason not to participate, reassured that a belief in right / wrong isn’t in and of itself evil. We reach out to those kids especially. Because if they fall into despair or destruction or acting out, and we could have helped them? That’s on us.

                • We don’t disagree here. At least not much.

                  Pretty sure we’re in the same chapter, I just wanted it to be very clear. For some reason people keep assuring me that folks doing evil things because they want to do evil things isn’t people wanting to do evil things if they don’t say in their head, “hey, this thing is evil! Therefore, due to its evilness, I should go do it, so I can be evil too!”

                  Can probably find some folks who do that, but the sane ones would be working with a warped definition of “evil.” (incidentally, I’m using “sane” and “insane” rather strictly– folks who are actually not able to be sane, rather than having inclinations)

                  • Right. I’m not saying it’s not evil, not saying that they aren’t being evil. Am saying that their understanding of evil is warped, or atrophied, or non-existent.

                    And it’s the understanding that I feel I should be addressing in my own writing, but that I don’t think I have the chops for.

                    That’s why I get excited about this as a line of thought. “Yes! Story! That’s the thing! Somebody do something about it because I can’t seem to do it right!”

                    • If it was good enough for The Boss and His parables, good enough for us!

                    • My guess is that, especially with teens, (and far too many people also seem to get stuck on that level of reasoning) they haven’t gotten where those other people are real to them. With some it’s perhaps just because they never thought about the whole thing, and those may get there, but others may never be able to see others besides their own ‘tribe’, close family and friends (if them…), as real in any sense of that word.

                      When the victim is not ‘real’ some will also deliberately and on purpose go for evil, since aren’t all the really cool characters the evil ones in our stories, the ones who are scary and get respect and get the most results (except right in the end, maybe, and in some stories even that is not true)? Those seem like the strong guys way too often, and very often they also seem to be the ones who win in real life, or at least they can win for a long time and when they disappear there are plenty of others to take their place.

                      Much better to be Anton Chigurh than Llewelyn Moss.

              • Willful ignorance is as guilty as full knowledge — perhaps more so, because of the hardness of heart involved.

                • I think the worst is those who do evil and congratulate themselves on how much they’re helping the victim, by teaching them a lesson.

                  I wasn’t thinking of the “ugly reality” fiction-to-destroy-innocence folks until after I wrote that, actually. Was thinking about some of the “game” type guys I’ve known, and confidence thieves, and the “oh can you help me/it was your CHOICE to help me when I asked, don’t hassle me” types.

            • I was thinking specifically of those who enjoy destroying beauty for fun– innocence, something another person cares for; I didn’t say anything specifically because I didn’t want to either limit it to those examples or have another long fight with people who want all the world to be run by simple but detailed rules which can be enforced mechanically.

            • When caught, they say they do it for fun.

              Which is to say for the glee of doing evil.

              • Power fantasies? Well, sometimes not just fantasies, if you beat somebody up you do have power over them at least at that moment, the power to destroy.

                • Power…. hm.

                  With power comes responsibility, but with responsibility comes power– if you break the tie between those two, things Get Very Bad.

                  Our culture is doing its damndest to remove responsibility, and we’re getting gangs of the very males who should be building up the nation beating down random targets.

                  I think you just gave me more fodder for that @#$$#@ gift-post to send our Hostess. (Joys of Thanksgiving— be taking the kids to see my husband’s side of the family, and will effectively have not internet starting in about… an hour from now. I’m telling myself it will mean more writing time.)

            • Well, from what I’ve read on it, they just sort of don’t realize other people bleed too. I recall the interview with the one knocker who got himself shot for his efforts.

              He was the one saying that this was a really bad, really stupid thing to do, and that he wouldn’t be doing it again.

              I think most of them have simply never been taught that there are other people in the world.

        • I’d speculate that rather than traumatizing an entire generation, some of these warped souls think that they are teaching the younger generation how the world “really” works, and thus are helping the kids and teens to protect themselves and to prepare for the “real world.” After all, everyone in the writer’s/director’s/story-maker’s circle knows that [insert thing here], or heard about someone who [action], so it’s probably true.

  7. Words do have power. They can cut like a blade, or sooth like sweet balm. It is vitally important that we purposely decide which stories we will tell ourselves, and our children, because they inform our perspectives, create our viewpoint. As we tell good stories (for various values of good), we help ourselves and others to see their potential, to see beauty and truth in the world, and we inspire them to pursue good principles. That’s what I see as human wave – inspiring rather than depressing, and lifting up instead of pushing down. Humanity isn’t a virus. We are of infinite worth. And sure we screw up, and some of us can be monsters, but there is much more of good in us than there is of evil.

    From the last Harry Potter movie, a quote that I wish was in the books: “Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic. Capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”

  8. What you’re getting at is important. There is still hope. There is still time. The window in closing, but it’s not closed yet and, if worse comes to worst, there’s a rock in this yard somewhere. It could still turn out alright _IF_ we’re willing to put the work in to make it happen that way.

    That’s the important part though. Too many people I’ve talked to just assume that liberty will triumph in the end because this is America! The people I’m talking about aren’t necessarily the clueless people who ignore everything either. They’re often people who know things suck but they assume that everything will work out “because it always has.” I’m not convinced that it always has, but then I’m not convinced that it will in the future either.

    If we’re going to stop this mess in its tracks we need to take action now. Marxism is, at its core, not just a religion, but a VIOLENT religion. Marx himself advocated this use of violence and it’s not like Stalin, Lenin, Mao, Pot, Ho, etc. ever shied away from it. I’m not advocating outright violence right now, but we had best be looking for it from our government in the future. The time to fight back will be then.

    For now though, attend a protest. Hang a flag. Put a campaign sign in your front yard and VOTE G-D DAMMIT!!!! (And don’t be like me and attempt to plan a protest three days ahead of time and find out that it’s too late to get a permit. Sue me. I had never done this before. What did I know?)

    Look, I know I’m not telling a lot of the women who come to this blog anything new here and it’s not something I have personal experience of (although I’ve seen it happen) but giving birth is a lot of work. I’m assuming that “giving rebirth” would not be any easier. This is going to be, in the words of the poet, a copper-plated bitch. It’s time to come strong or not come at all. I know we can’t all be Super(wo)man but do something. Even if it’s a small thing. You know what an avalanche is? It’s forty kajillion snowflakes headed downhill and covering everything in its path. None of us needs to be the avalanche. We should all be a snowflake. Who wouldn’t want to be a small part of an unstoppable force? All we have to do is what we can, but we all have to do it.

    • That’s the sense that I keep getting. We have time. We have enough time. We have just enough time. But we do need to pick up our pace, dust off our OODA loops and get in the game.
      And we definitely have no time to waste.

  9. This is why I sometimes can not abide movies, and why, I think many movies have plots which are simplistic and predictable at best.

    In a book, I can, at need jump to the last chapter and CONFIRM that things turn out in a way I can stand before returning to the uncomfortable middle part.

    In a movie, (or life) I am stuck in the uncomfortable middle part without a way to confirm that I, or those I care about are going to be ok.

    On first watching, I will sometimes leave the room for that uncomfortable middle part, return and see the ending, and then if it’s ok, at some later date/time watch the movie again. Really though, i seldom do that because movies take so much TIME for so little story. Books are faster.

    Thus, I watch few films. Life doesn’t give me that option.

  10. A very thought-provoking post, particularly since I’ve been saying for some time now that Western civilization is in free fall, and the pavement is coming up fast.

    I’m not sure I can convince myself to stop believing that, but maybe it would be helpful if I could stop saying that.

    • We’re not in free fall. It’s a combination of really bad stories (Marxism, anti-west) and us thinking we’re way stronger than we are i.e. hubris. “We can let the enemy do all this, because they can’t touch us.” It’s time to cut both out. Now.

  11. I think Obamacare may in fact be the straw that breaks the camel’s back when it comes to the general US public putting up with statism.

    It’s such a fuster-cluck on so many levels and in so many ways that its never going to work and its mess is going to be blamed 100% on the democrats and they’ll get hammered at the polls as a result.

    I think that may actually be the reason for the fillibuster removal. The progs have realized they won’t get another chance to stack things for a bit because they’re going to lose control of the fed govt in 2014/2016

    • All the more reason to fight it, then. And the ammunition — “they’re trying to stack the courts to PROTECT this THING!”

    • I think the filibuster change also serves as a “squirrel” (or turkey, this time of year) for the Republicans and the media. As if the JFK follies weren’t enough. (I keep wanting to yell at the TV, “He’s still dead. Get over it already!”) The Dems get to try to pack the courts, but they also distract people from the mess. I thought changing the date next fall when people get dunned after their “legacy” policies get cancelled was cute. So blatant that Mark Hannah’s ghost is looking for a clue-bat to use on V. Jarret or whoever came up with it, but cute.

      • “. (I keep wanting to yell at the TV, “He’s still dead. Get over it already!”) ”

        No kidding. Oath breaking philanderer, son of a mobster, made a mockery of the office. What the hell was everyone thinking?

        Local high school had the flag at half mast and I turned on the radio to find out if I missed something. Nothing but J”Fin”K in the news. Must have been that. I do not believe that is appropriate at all.

        z

        • Google said I’m right, BO ordered it. Ghagggg.

          Texas flag is at full staff today according to the Governor’s office. I guess to be fully honorable, you would have to NOT fly the US flag if you wanted to fly the TX flag, or not fly the TX flag, as it can’t be higher than the US flag….

          z

    • Yes. I’m sure of it. I also think they’re still going to try to steal the elections, but it will become even more obvious. It’s always been obvious, frankly (Votes “found” by the box full) but when people are awake that becomes REALLY dangerous.

      • I’m sure they are going to try. They *may* get the presidential one. Although they I suspect not.

        This is what I think could happen. If Obamacare melts down as badly as I suspect/fear the republicans take the senate next year by a couple of seats (say 52-48) and extend their majority in the house. If that happens O may well be impeached in 2015 and the process of impeaching him will include Benghazi which will neutralize Hillary nicely. I’m not sure what happens next on the Dem side but a radical lefty e.g. Elizabeth Warren is quite possible as a presidential candidate and I think the general disgust with Obamacare will result in that lefty candidate losing by too much to be countered by the margin of fraud.

        • Impeachment without something at least close to two-thirds of the Senate would be a counterproductive gesture. Besides: Joe Biden.

          • Dear sir,
            Joe Biden holds NO terror at this point.

          • If Obamacare melts down the way I think it will there’ll be a bunch of democrats desperate to vote for impeachment simply because that way they can pretend they didn’t vote for obamacare and hope they themselves get reelected in 2016

            Joe Biden can probably be bullied enough so that he doesn’t do anything. That will be quite enough

            • Well, Francis, we’re in agreement. We’ll see if we’re also right.

            • BTW, gave you a shoutout in the PJM column today.

              • So yeah – that probably goes in the “how to be a beta reader” guide. As in if there’s a continuity error, flag the thing up pronto and don’t let it wait because you’re sure someone else will notice it.

                Although it looks like no one other than me (and now you) either knows or cares so maybe it wasn’t so bad. If you let me beta again I promise to tell you that kind of a oopsie quicker

                • Francis, what was shocking was that while the book was OBVIOUSLY read and carefully edited — Tony Daniel sent me a list of changes — that slipped past him too. It reminded me of when with the first shifter book, it went through like three people and it was Toni who said “You have two nights instead of a night and a day.”
                  And let you beta? My dear sir! I rather think I’ll insist on it!

        • Why impeach the President he is doing a great job of degrading the Democrats. Do you realize how miserable he will be with a Republican House and Senate?

      • If it’s not close they can’t cheat. Optimistic book by Hugh Hewitt. They will cheat even if it’s not close.

    • Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard

      The problem with that idea is that if the Democrats are the minority in the Senate, they’d *need* the filibuster. As it is, if the Democrats lose the Senate, they just threw away a valuable tool.

      • Judges will also make rulings in election disputes.

        • Which, of course, assumes that the people will honor and respect the decisions the judges hand down. I’m the one who always insists that there are no unanticipated consequences, but — really — I doubt that ANYONE is anticipating that We the People, sick and tired of it all, might just take the law into our own hands.

          If that happens, watch out!

          M

      • Immediate short term gain.

      • they just threw away a valuable tool

        Thus the speculation I’ve been reading that, if the Dems lose the Senate next year, Harry Reid has a “clever plan” to hold a switch-it-back vote on the “nuclear option” as the first vote held the lame duck session after the election.

        The problem is, precedent has been set, the egg has been broken, and the die has now been cast. And the horse has left the barn. Also the Djinn has left the bottle.

        And what’s good for the Goose is good for the Gander.

        I’m doubting that cross-aisle comity will rule the day if the Dems lose the Senate, and I don’t think any gang-with-McCain will be able to smooth things over any longer.

        Given a Republican majority House with a new Speaker who isn’t actively trying to reign in the firebrands there, plus a grudge-holding Republican majority Senate, I predict fireworks. Really big fireworks.

        • The wiser ones will try to have a “clever plan” – the ones blinded by their own ideology just might think that they hold the presidency and the senate, the media, the schools, and the publishing companies – so their triumph is inevitable, and there’s no way they can lose. And the really, really clever ones will be banking on cheating the elections so badly that they’ll never lose their grip on power, because they’re clever – but not smart.

        • But in the term of the new Senate hatt can be changed.

  12. “I’m a book wussy. If the suspense gets too strong and the writer has an history of killing main characters, I’ll actually go and look at the end of the book to make sure it turns out all right. And this can apply even to cozy mysteries, where I NEED to make sure the character I like isn’t the murderer, so I can enjoy the book.”

    You had to tell me this. Soooo much respect lost.

    • THP. It’s usually not the books you expect.

    • What! J. K. Rowling had her last chapter written before she began the first book. Before I get too far I want to know the ending. (Not that I have yet completed the middles.

      • A large part of my complaint about Martin’s “Ice & Fire” series (well, and the fact that he is no longer writing novels, merely stopping after a number of pages) is my suspicion that it will all prove to be grey goo. I know the next book will take us down into the depths, what I have doubts about is whether the final volume will make the long hard slog through Mordor pay off, or will Sauron capture Frodo & Samwise and reclaim the rin … Cersei hold the throne of Westeros against Daenerys Targaryen, the Starks or even her brother Tyrion while the dread armies of Winter overwhelm all?

  13. “looking back at WWII we tend to sneer and feel so superior we don’t engage in propaganda now”

    I respectfully disagree. Propaganda is all around us. It is just not as obvious as the “red scare” of the 40’s or the “Russian Bear” of the Regan era. Today it is more subtle and in many ways far more insidious.

    Propaganda is the careful arrangement of information in a particular pattern to elicit a specific emotional response. Sometimes it is overt, like an aborted fetus, a starving child, the fireman carrying a child, or the Marine in his pristine Class A uniform. Other times it is subtle, the incessant image of the dirty cop in the media, the lauding of a certain bill, the quiet criticism of a person or the emphasis of action over non-action.

    Once you start looking at it that way, you’ll see it .. .. everywhere.

    I think the Grand Master himself said it best in “If this goes on –“ (in chapter 10) “You can sway a thousand men by appealing to their prejudices [fears or base nature] quicker than you can convince one man by logic.” And so our media feeds us these images and stories every day using lesser emotional images to slowly sway the masses.

    • Did I say there was no propaganda? But very little of it is directed outwards…

      • Hmm, I’ll concede, to a point. We’re turning it inward, which I think is worse, like this so called War on Terror.

        (although, you did say “we don’t engage in propaganda” which I construed to mean we had stopped using it period. :-p )

        • No, I said we preen on not engaging in propaganda — which is not the same. It’s like preening on being tolerant of everyone while discriminating against males…

          • Ah. I see. (that’s what I get for reading during lunch, I miss things)

            So then the joke is on the masses for not seeing what is right in front of them. I just wish they wouldn’t drag me along for the ride. Okay, so they don’t have my teacher. [seriously, I think a quarter of how I view the world came from RAH]

            -snort- puts me in mind of some venomous diatribe I caught on the radio this morning by some member of the ultra left. Tolerant my hind foot.

            Any way, good read, even if I did misunderstand that one line.

        • She was saying we are hypocrites, because we obviously engage liberally in propaganda.

        • And respectfully disagreeing here, we* do engage in outward propaganda. It’s just anti-US propaganda. Hello, apology tour!

          *we meaning the US government and not its citizens. Hence another need for story, blah blah blah, see pretty much all my other comments on this thread… > >

    • Propaganda? Sure, I see a lot of it — I read the NY Times daily, although mainly for baseball scores. Nothing wrong with propaganda, so long as it is honest about what it is. It is when whores start calling themselves “sex workers” or “intimate companions” instead of admitting they’re for hire by the hour or the day or the week that I get offended.

  14. National Review Online’s Jim Geraghty addresses a related element today, asking whether “conspiracy theories [are] beginning to occupy the space that religious belief used to hold in Americans’ lives?”

    For many generations of Americans, organized religion was the previous primary source of reassurance, guidance, instruction and wisdom — a set of beliefs and philosophies to turn to through life’s difficulties. As we become a less religious nation, perhaps some among us are turning to conspiracy theories as a coping mechanism.

    Of course, in times past many conspiracy theories lacked the fertilizer provided by the internet and mass media, and many more focused on urban legend type conspiracies — some “alien” tribe stealing our babies, whether to raise as their own children, drain their blood for religious rites, or other outlandish practice.

    Maybe conspiracies are now merely more widely shared, still fulfilling that basic human urge to believe there is an underlying story and that life is not simply a series of unfortunate events?

  15. Reply to pohjalainen | November 23, 2013 at 3:56 am |

    When the victim is not ‘real’ some will also deliberately and on purpose go for evil, since aren’t all the really cool characters the evil ones in our stories, the ones who are scary and get respect and get the most results (except right in the end, maybe, and in some stories even that is not true)? Those seem like the strong guys way too often, and very often they also seem to be the ones who win in real life, or at least they can win for a long time and when they disappear there are plenty of others to take their place.

    I’m terrified by how much of a “push back” I get from my gamer friends– largely vets, about my age, well educated, etc– on the philosophy that the way you play is the way you live.

    Someone that, when they go into an MMO, will set about to cause as much pain as possible is encouraging the same impulse in real life; someone trying to max out the “pain” an NPC feels is likewise doing so.
    (This doesn’t mean “you can’t do story-telling,” or similar, but the difference should be pretty obvious if one sits down and pokes at it a bit.)

    Take a wild guess what I think of Grand Theft auto. *wry*

    • I was around a few gamers (D&D) when I was at my first duty station. I wish I had known “the way you play is the way you live” because I would have realized what some of these people were like while watching them play. I learned a few sad lessons about them in real life because I wasn’t paying attention. (Particularly to the Dungeon Master)

  16. GTA was one of the first games I tried when we got our new xbox, so many years ago. I quickly realized I would have to stop playing as it made me aggro. I was yelling at my wife, generally upset, and quick to anger.

    NOT what I wanted to encourage in myself or others.

    zuk

    On the flip side, I spent far too many satisfying hours killing terrorists in the Delta Force game after 911. Unhealthy I’m sure, and empty at the end of the day, but satisfying at the time.

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