It’s Not ALL Your Fault

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I woke up still dragging (Well, of course, I’m still dragon. Who would I be? But not Tiamat. More on that later.)

And in a spectacularly strange move, because though I’m religious I’m not pious (or perhaps I’m pious not religious. Sometimes it’s hard to tell) I found myself browsing kindle books for prayer books, over breakfast. (I could tell you how I got there: from a funny reference to a prayer book, in the current read, and then at speed down the rabbit hole. Never mind. It is worse when I’m sickish, yes.)

Most of the books I found were unexceptionable, but then I found one about “the angels prayers for creatives” or something of the kind, and since it was very short and had very good reviews, oh, and also free, I “bought” it.

First, and before I dive down that particular thread that turns into the meaning of this post, as far as it has meaning, let me tell you I HATE most “angel revelations” “angel prophecies” and “angel prayers” and “angel gifts.”

Not just because some of them have a “bad smell” (I really wish that people who purportedly believe in angels would understand that “angel” means messenger, and it is no garantee of WHOSE messenger these are.) but because most of them are bizarrely vapid and new agey, picturing angels as pretty girls in nightgowns and giving them names out of “The New Age Baby Names Book.”

It tells you how weak (minded) I feel, and perhaps how hard I was fighting sitting down and doing actual work-like stuff that I actually downloaded it.

In terms of names, this book is no exception. The bad smell is more subtle.

I’ve read about half of it, and will probably skim the rest when I take a break. But I’ve already gone “Oh, for the love of Bob!”

First, though, why I downloaded it, I think, and because, like even very bad movies have at least ONE good line in them, even stuff that’s just not right can help with an insight. One of the things it suddenly made me realize is that I’ve been trying to motivate myself to write with the idea of what it can do for my family in terms of $$.  Husband has told me this is stupid, I think, only in terms that weren’t making them through the thick skull. (I self identify as a bone-headed dragon.) Or because they’re not the right terms for me. He keeps telling me it doesn’t matter if I make money, it matters if I’m happy. But the pursuit of happiness, by itself and for itself has never motivated me, and I know d*mn well it matters if I make money.

OTOH trying to motivate myself with money doesn’t work, because to quote a friend years ago, “You might as well be driving a truck, then.”

What I mean is when any creative endeavor becomes just a way of making money, my subconscious (I won’t speak for anyone else) locks up tighter than Fort Knox back when our currency was gold-based. Because, well, there must be easier and less embarrassing ways of making money.  Like panning for gold in your shower, for instance.

Sure, making money will always be part of my motivation, but I need to …  After years of working for trad pub, after the collapse of everything in 2003 when the only thing that kept me working was “we’re paying on TWO mortgages” I need to find the place where I write because I have to, because it feeds some essential part of who I am. It’s been worn down to a nubbin, and might be mostly dead ( for 17 years now, it’s been, to be honest, like using a coffee carafe to dig in the flower beds [one of the funniest, real, amazon reviews ever. The question is not whether it broke. The question is why you thought that was a good idea.]) but there have been stirrings recently, and things that unexpectedly came alive, and so I know it’s not fully dead. Now I need to figure out where it’s hiding. And stop beating it with the “We need money whip” even if 2020 is attempting to drain all our resources. (No. Really. Between cats and cars, not counting health and other stuff. Never mind. We won’t starve. But… I have serious security issues.) I need to find where the vein of “it’s alive” runs and channel it.

Anyway, the bad smell…. The bad smell is that it seems to think you live for and by and in yourself.

One of the things it says is that it doesn’t matter if you don’t do anything creative, your life is your creation, and therefore you are creative.

Can anyone find my eyes? I think they rolled under the sofa. Yeah, that’s it, would you dust the cat hair off them?  Thanks. Oh, good. Okay. Good thing I’m a touch typist.

Most of it seems to be self-esteem pumping up, which is great, except you have to have something to be proud of. Otherwise you just become very proud of stewing in mediocrity, and you think you’re too good to actually apply yourself to anything, and at the end of that lies despair and self-hatred.

It reminded me quite a bit of other books I’ve been reading.

So, I have a near-toxic disbelief in psychology and psychotherapy. (It’s the part of me that is not very religious, or pious, or whatever. I already am forced by the fact that grandma handed it to me, to believe in a messianic religion. I don’t need a mostly pseudo-scientific one in addition.) but some psychiatric-friends of mine have convinced me to do exploratory reading to deal with some stuff (okay a lot of stuff) that I probably should see someone for, if I trusted people to go grubbing around in my mind (honestly, I just don’t want people to accidentally traipse into an unwritten novel and either break something or get broken for good.) Some of the books have been very helpful, others less so.

One of them linked childhood issues with auto-immune, and yes, while my childhood was almost exactly what they describe gives “auto-immune”, I don’t think the entire thing is that simple. Sure, stress can bring about a massive auto-immune attack. Last year, I had the experience of having a full blown one, including wounds on both hands, and it healing over the course of a day when a month-long stress inducing issue was resolved.

So I’m not going to say the psychological isn’t involved. I’m going to say “And?” Because this thing, i.e. my internal ticking clock is also not entirely under my control, just like writing isn’t. I can TELL myself I’m perfectly calm, but the asthma and the eczema know better. And I don’t think it’s a matter of “letting out my childhood anger” either, seriously, because the auto immune runs in the sanest branch of my family. Granted, those are also the depressive obsessives. (Yes, they are the sanest. Also, shut up.)

Anyway, there is a newagish branch of thought that turns to solipsism in that they ascribe everything including the common cold to “you decided to catch this.”

In the end that’s what this book does.  “You need to be your biggest fan” and “you’re your own greatest work of art.”

Look, if I’m a work of art, I want to speak to the manager. Also, on the serious side, if there is an intelligence behind it all, it’s not me making myself my greatest work of art.

Solipsism is comforting. Particularly for those of us who for various reasons felt unsafe and scared as children. It assures us nothing can happen to us that we don’t consent to.

But because it’s not real, and tons of things happen to you (and your creativity) that you not only didn’t consent to, but for which you were given no safe word, in the end it’s a self-devouring philosophy.

It occurred to me the other day that leftism is the position of terrified (or neglected) children, who, in their hurt conjure the state as the perfect parent they wish they had, and also believe they can control it.

(For this, we used to have religion, which is if nothing else safer. Never mind.)

So, if you believe that you are your own greatest art work, and know how flawed you are, that way lies self hatred and by extension hatred of humanity and everything, really.

Worse, it’s hatred you can’t admit to.

So, I’ll take the point of “I can’t do this just out of need for money, or out of obligation.  I must do this, because that’s who I am.” And I’ll try to make it accessible, understandable, and worthwhile (Not necessarily beautiful, though there’s beauty in art done right. But, you know, life isn’t all pretty women in nightgowns and with pretty wings. And worlds aren’t all pretty pink planet.) Because whatever art — or in my case craft — is, it is communication more than anything else.

But it is important not to think we Tiamat. Because if we think we’re everything, the children of our minds will tear us apart and hollow us out to build the universe.

And in the end all that will be left is a dead universe. Because you’re not the be all/end all of everything there is.

Thank heavens for that.  It is important to remember, you’re not responsible for the parlous state of our politics, the ridiculous state of our politicians, or the appalling state of our arts.

You cannot be held responsible for all the failures of the universe.  Offload that world from your shoulders, Atlas.

Tend your own garden. Do what you can do. For the rest you must trust other minds and time and world without end.

 

 

235 thoughts on “It’s Not ALL Your Fault

    1. Yeah, I blame you for pretty much everything, including the eventual heat death of the universe. I mean, what the hell were you thinking with that “laws of thermodynamics” business?

  1. I once started to write a self-help book, “The Last Self-Help Book You’ll Ever Need: You’ve found your erroneous zones, gotten in touch with your inner child, now stop jerking off and get a life!”
    I never got past the sub-title, I realized that was what I had to say and Idries Shah already did the gimmick of publishing a book with blank pages.

    1. Not pages and pages and pages of “Re=read the title.” ?

      I do recall the story of the wag of an astronomer who upon being asked for 500 words about life on Mars supposedly replied with 250 copies of “NOBODY KNOWS.”

      1. It’s a reference to a popular 1970s self-help book: “Your Erroneous Zones.” Never read it myself, or even picked it up, but for a long time you couldn’t go into a bookstore or supermarket without seeing a copy.

  2. Both the Old Testament and the New Testament have commands about “testing the words of the Spirits”.

    While the Old Testament is more concerned about “False Prophets”, it is still about testing the words of what the Prophet claims to been from G*d.

    The New Testament is more definite about “testing the Spirits” and there is a verse about the Devil being able to appear as a Spirit Of Light.

            1. Flashback from 1960s high school:

              Smoker 1: “Got a match?”
              Smoker 2: “Yeah. My ass, your face.”
              (They were twins, so no blood shed. Usually.)

        1. Honestly, with all the imagery and comparisons he was invoking (and not repudiating) I’m rather surprised he (and the country) survived his terms of office.

            1. Him losing the House in 2010 didn’t hurt either. Shame the Tea Party didn’t work out better in the long run, but at least they accomplished that.

              1. What happened to the Tea Party was our confirmation that the GOPe would rather lose than let “deplorables” win.

                1. I know. But they still managed to blunt the democrats. Imagine if Obama and company had retained full control after 2010. I suspect it would have been far worse for us.

                  And as for GOPe betrayal, well… All I can is “Thanks for President Trump, assholes.”

          1. The votive candles were unnerving. But then he was in office and not showing the unnerving competency and power that would have made him truly a force of evil. . . the sort that would unite the whole world in peace.

            1. Klavan had a good video about this way back on pjtv – the well argued premise was that Obama wasn’t an evil mastermind, just an incompetent boob with a pretty face.

              Kind of like my current PM…

  3. picturing angels as pretty girls in nightgowns

    I’m pretty sure the hot vixens & hunks in bondage gear are from a somewhat lower place of origin.

    1. Now, now, now — they all could be from the same place of origin, albeit rather low.

      Indeed, they could all be the same being. It’s not like they wouldn’t lie by appearance, and they’re certainly not interested in the sex, except as a ploy.

            1. Just the babies both refusing to be put down and wanting to be in my lap/carried by Mummy all day. Back went twinge when Jaenelle decided to do that lean backward into an almost U shape in protest to being told no, she couldn’t try to crawl on top of Rowan and I had to catch her to keep her from falling onto the floor at a bad angle. Failed my stamina check.

  4. He keeps telling me it doesn’t matter if I make money, it matters if I’m happy.

    You’ve discussed ad infinitum the impossibility of anticipating the Market, therefore writing stories “to make money” is a crap shoot: you cannot really see the target.

    What you can do is write stories that please you, that you can take pride in, that get the children of your imagination out into the world with a chance to earn a living. Write to your standards, your goals and trust the market to support that (or not — perhaps like Kafka you’ll not turn a profit until after your demise.)

    You said yesterday that one of your fears with Death looming was that your stories would pass untold — not that they’d go unsold. There is no gauging what the market will want, but stories told with care, skill, talent and love seem to find homes. You do NOT write stories to make money, you PUBLISH stories to make money — and, if you’re like Larry Correia or John Ringo*, you flog the stories once published to enhance readers’ likelihood of finding them.

    *To name but two. I could as easily have name-dropped Scalzi or even Piers Anthony (would writing endless variations on Xanth be anticipatory punishment in Purgatory?)

    1. So what the Scalzster is doing is a promotion strategy?

      Hmm, publicity through annoying cluelessness. Brilliant!

    2. The depends…. single-digit Xanth world.. or later?
      First few…alright.
      Next few.. tolerable.
      Next next FEW.. JUST tolerable.
      Double digit…. Hey, look, a new world to read about over there!
      (I forget how far in to the series I was before I consigned the current book to the vehicle’s “If I can get stranded” kit – I could read from utter boredom, or use it to start a fire. It was perhaps a decade ago I gave up and decided I had better kindling and would never be THAT bored. No sense hauling it around.)

      1. Having read several of Anthony’s series, I’m fairly well convinced that the first three books in any given series will be good but after that he should have just given up and started a new series.

        1. I read an interview with him that covered that; he said they sold better than anything else he’d ever written, and kept on selling, so it would be financially irresponsible to stop. When it came down to “muh arrt” vs. paying the bills, the bills won.

          Which is sad, because Anthony wrote some okay stuff, forty-odd years ago…

      2. In a way, I was lucky. I was at book 9 when Life(tm) hit me with several years of Gotta Do (started with MSEE and went crazier from there), at which point I stopped reading fiction entirely for several years. Non-fiction, yep, see MSEE, and for obscure reasons, my fun reading tended to be mostly nonfiction.

        I suspect I got a clue when I read something in Rowena’s art book, where the story she told about the cover of a PA (Proton/Phase) book was more interesting than the PA book itself. Oops.

        I’d been previously somewhat distrustful of series and sequels until I started encountering better examples of such. (Nods to members of the MGC and RAH, among others…)

    3. “You’ve discussed ad infinitum the impossibility of anticipating the Market, therefore writing stories “to make money” is a crap shoot: you cannot really see the target.”

      It’s more than that. You could write well-written stories that perfectly anticipate what the market is looking for… only for no one to ever discover them. Without those first few people discovering you, word of mouth doesn’t get built, which means that no one knows you exist, which means that no one reads your stories. Obviously, you should do everything that you can to draw attention to your book. Advertising, where possible. Good cover art. Etc… But random happenstance will play a role no matter how well you try to prepare.

  5. “Listen, pretty women in nightgowns with wings is no basis for a sound creative process. Why, if they don’t stop fluttering through with their drive-by banal pronouncements I’ll switch from creative writing to creative kinetics, and then it’ll be ‘Watch Out Fluttergirls’. And I absolve myself of any responsibility.”

    “Beside, they annoy my Muse.”

    1. My muse is a dainty and delicate Pre-Raphaelite creature, but she doesn’t have wings. They interfere with rolling on the ground laughing.

  6. My immediate reaction to angels of the Lord as pretty girls in nightgowns is that if you map the ‘tolerable’ line on the hot-crazy plane, angels should be alien enough to be very far over on the ‘much too crazy’ side. Beyond that, for the purposes of fiction I have accepted a great many bizarre impossibilities and improbabilities.

      1. Of course it does. To be born is to live under death sentence. The Universe cannot abide those who break the rules.

        Which makes me wonder if FTL = immortality, but that’s another wormhole. Not rabbit.

        And seriously WP. Put the hamster back on the wheel. This comment can *absolutely* be posted, I promise!

      2. So, you’ve concluded that the Universe itself is quite* sanguine. Can’t say that I blame you.

        *I considered using “bloody” as an adverb here, but that would have been bringing Newcastle to coal…..

      3. The universe is not a Safe Space.

        The universe is constantly trying to kill you, and one day it will succeed.

        Your only choice is how you face that reality.
        ———————————
        Kosh: “You are not ready for immortality.”

      1. My child has started playing at being an angel — it involves telling me to look scared, and then she swoops in and says, “Don’t be afraid!” and gives me a hug.

          1. Sure you got a picture or two, or three? To share with his children one day?

            Our son insisted on being Barney at age 3, wouldn’t be anything else. At least he wasn’t scaring his peers. Parents OTOH. We took the picture. Put picture away. It was that one we always threaten to pull out … but never did, until time for his Eagle Court of Honor. There has to be that one item (& one story) that is somewhat embarrassing, to remind the newly minted Eagle to be humble … What is more adorable than a 4 year old in a Barney costume?

  7. But it is important not to think we Tiamat

    ???

    I know you probably wrote that before coffee, but I can’t figure out what you meant by it. I know Tiamat isn’t a verb I don’t know enough about her(?) to know if there’s some reason we might think we are Tiamat.

  8. Looonnng reply on angels. Firstly, angels almost never give their names – e.g the angel Jacob wrestles with refuses to answer when asked his name.
    I am a practicing Jew (someday I might get it right – grin). But I was uncertain about angels until the day I met one. Woke up to get ready for work, and found there had been an extreme ice storm in the night. Surfaces including roadways were “slicker than snot on a rubber boot”. I thought to myself, be sensible, take the Metro, don’t try to drive in this. So I walk past my car, and slip on the driveway of our townhouse complex. In the fall, I shattered my left forearm – crushed it axially, not broken across. A car pulled behind me in such a way as to block other traffic from hitting me. The driver, apparently a young woman, laid a blanket over me. She called 911, and then went to my townhouse, and got from my daughter my wife’s work number. How she knew where to go is beyond me, since I was NOT significantly conscious at this point. She stayed with me until the ambulance arrived, called Michele again to tell her what hospital they were taking me to, and was about to leave. I had regained some sense by this time, and thanked her and asked her name. She said “I’m a nurse.” “Yes, but what’s your name?” “My name is not important. I’m your neighbor, I live just above you.” I took that to mean she lived in the next block to townhouse up the hill the townhouse complex was built on.
    When I got out of the hospital, after some rather complex surgery to rebuild my arm, I tried to find her. NO suck young women lived in the next row of townhouses, or as best I could determine, anywhere in the complex. Three nurses beside Michele lived in the complex, a man, an old woman, and a woman who weighed at least 300 pounds. For years, I wondered; I think I was helped by an angel, but what in the name of all that’s holy, have I done to deserve an angel’s help? A friend told me “You haven’t done a $^*&#% thing to deserve an angel. But Michele loves you, for some strange reason, and SHE does.”

    1. Cleats, man, CLEATS. If it’s too slick to drive… cleats. The cheap $9 ones from Costco work best. (I have ’em permanently attached to my winter work boots, or i’d be permanently flattened against the icy slope of the dog yard.) Otherwise… best story of the day. Thanks for sharing.

      I’ve heard enough tales of such angels in such situations to think there’s something to it. I’m neither religious nor a believer in G0d (despite that I occasionally do participatory religion, but as a duty toward preserving Western Civilization), but there are Things Out There we don’t understand. Maybe sometimes one takes an interest.

      I lived in a ‘haunted’ house for several years (previous tenants had tried to exorcise it — by pouring water into a light socket, wtf), and resisted believing it was real… until the day a kennel customer arrived and her first words to me were, “Do you know you have a ghost living in your house?” (Cuz once sensitized to these …things… you can reliably spot ’em by feel. Probably an electrical or magnetic field, nothing supernatural.)

      Next place had a “hollerer” and it was hilarious watching the construction crew react to what they thought was the boss calling ’em…

      1. Years ago, when I was dying of something undiagnosed, I got a similar visitor. Among other things it was made clear I should come out of the political closet.
        Lately he’s been much with me again.
        I don’t KNOW why. Seems to make my life harder. OTOH still alive.

        1. He’s back? You either have a problem, or you’re going to be someone else’s problem. Most likely the latter.

        2. Your angel wants courage. Or perhaps, given how many people are emboldened by this here blog… your angel wants you to =share= that courage.

      2. *gets all spikey looking*

        Er…have I mentioned that most of the stuff that the ghost shows point out as SUpernatural Activity match signs of an area being demonically infested? (Technical term, yes really.)

        And as one of Sarah’s books pointed out, DIY exorcisms are a really freaking bad idea. For heaven’s sake, Himself on earth was able to do it like nothin’, and people he didn’t even know could do it in His name, showing how powerful He was to the folks around at the time, but oh dear Lord!

        (Yes, I realize a lot of places don’t even HAVE a Catholic exorcist available. Or even do house blessings. It’s on my What The Frick list, along with not returning calls when someone is trying to get married in the Church.)

        1. Honestly, most of the problems with DIY exorcisms boil down to “we’re not doing it how they did it in the Bible, we’re doing it how they do it in Hollywood.” But if I was going to do one, I’d want some solider Christians than I am with me, for sure.

    2. I thought I saw an angel once. I was at the small town harvest festival, in a big pole building they were using for the grandstand and talent show and I looked over at this guy. I suppose I was 14. He was middle aged, sort of rotund, unkempt, and wearing bib overalls. I think he was eating something out of a bag. Popcorn maybe. And he was standing there by himself just listening to the performers and he looked at me and I looked at him and it was *weird* and I thought of the scripture that they’d entertained angles unaware, and… it was just weird.

      Probably just teenage growth hormones and too much sugar but really, that’s what an “unaware” angel would look like, don’t you think?

    3. My version of that: as a teen, I got lost in a bad, bad part of Atlanta and was having quite a Discussion with God about getting back to a mediocre part of Atlanta when I passed a lit-up gas station in an area where *nothing* was lit. In the parking lot were two cops doing that head-to-head parking thing that lets two drivers talk comfortably. So I pulled in, asked for directions, and got nice clear instructions.

      First step: take a left out of the gas station. But the street was divided, so I had to turn right and make a U-turn. When I did and came back by, the station was dark, boarded, and deserted.

      And I made it home safely.

    4. While I don’t disagree on the point about names– especially given the symbolic power of Naming that is spelled out very much explicitly in Genesis, I also wanted to point out that it was traditional for folks names to have literal meaning and the confusion between “my name is”/ “I am called”/ “THIS IS WHAT I AM OK?!?” was a not unknown…ah… plot device, for the Great Author.

      And I just realized– my grandfather answered to “Sarge” until the day he died, for folks who were in his company. One of those guys who got insta-sarged by keeping his head when something went wrong, during WWII. (It was training. But it was crossing a lake in the middle of winter in a boat, and the boat went down. Nobody so much as got frost bite.)
      It was what he did, it was who he was. It was his name.

    5. My mother had a friend who ever afterwards said she had been helped by an angel – friend was a girl who had been about fifteen or sixteen at the time. In the intake to a Nazi concentration camp. Friend was a Austrian-part-Jew, upper-middle-class family, totally sheltered from the awfulness of what had happened, what was about to happen to her. Old, and scruffy-looking Jew in the line behind her told her to give up her good fur coat, which she didn’t wan’t to do to the Nazi officer who demanded it. Old and scruffy-looking foreign Jew told her, sotto-voice to give up the fur coat and stop complaining.
      Friend did, and was sent to Thereisanstadt and lived, although her parents and younger brother didn’t.

  9. I would commend to you the St. Augustine Prayer Book. Also C. S. Lewis Letters to Malcolm (chiefly on Prayer), and the classic Way of the Pilgrim.

  10. One thing I remember from an otherwise too, too saccharine “Christian” new age angels book was that if something appears to you that claims to be an angel, and you are not scared out of your mind and on the floor confessing every failing you ever committed and a few you were planning on, it’s not an angel. Even more if it claims to be an angel and to want to grant you special powers because you are so good.

    Like prophets in the Old Testament/ Tanakh: If they told the Children of Israel how wonderful they were and that all was well with their souls, they were false prophets.

      1. My uncle spoke of an occasion where he lost and then found his car keys and he could hear the angels snickering at him.

    1. Even more if it claims to be an angel and to want to grant you special powers because you are so good.

      Gaaaaaah.

      I am failing to adequately articulate how disturbed I am.

      1. Well, yeah, the special powers thing is Right Out. Being told to do some annoying or.dangerous job is more likely.

        OTOH, the kids at Fatima got religious instruction from the Angel of Portugal, apparently because they hadn’t really been paying attention to Lucia’s mom giving excellent lay religious instruction. (As a teacher’s kid, I suddenly understood a lot of the kids’ group dynamics better.)

  11. “Happiness is the exercise of vital powers, along lines of excellence, in a life affording them scope” — attributed to Aristotle, though darned if I can find where.

    Do something at which you can seek your excellence, and compete in the arena where it matters, and happiness will be a result thereof. “enough” money that you don’t have to keep stopping what you’re doing to dodge the rent collector is important — that’s part of the “in a life affording them scope” bit. But the number of things that make money is semi-infinite, and the number of things that you can excel at is not. If you ask FIRST “will this make money”, you’re doing the search in the wrong order.

    Look at the intersection on the Venn diagram of “things I am good at”, “things I enjoy”, and “things that make money”. And look first at the one of those which is hardest to satisfy (that’s different for different people and in different fields).

  12. I’m a dualistic being. I’m responsible for only myself, and I’m responsible for everything.

    You see, it’s that pesky Butterfly Effect, in combination with knowing that I can personally reach out and touch anyone on this planet if I choose to do so. I could save one kid from starving to death in the Sudan, or maybe North Korea. I could sponsor someone to immigrate to the U.S. Conversely, I could pay someone to assassinate Xi Jinping, join Bernie’s campaign and help him get elected, or turn around and do the same with President Trump. I could choose to move to some 3rd world nation and set myself up to try dragging them into the 21st century; or I could join an ecoterrorist group and go around ruining biolabs and fossil fuel energy plants and producers.

    Thing is, I could choose to do any of those things, but I choose not to. Does my choosing to do nothing mean I own those outcomes? No. Because I am NOT God. I can’t be everywhere at once. I can’t do everything at once. I’m only responsible for what I choose to do. And I generally choose only to do those things that let me sleep well at night.

    Remember. You and God are a team. You take care of your life, and He’ll take care of everything else. heck, He’ll even occasionally help you out with yours.

    1. Where is the land of Luthany?
      And where the region Elenore?
      I do faint therefore.

      ‘When to the new eyes of thee
      All things by immortal power,
      Near or far,
      Hiddenly
      To each other linked are,
      That thou canst not stir a flower
      Without troubling of a star;
      When thy song is shield and mirror
      To the fair snake curled pain,
      Where thou dar’st affront her terror
      That on her thou may’st attain
      Persean Conquest; seek no more,
      O seek no more!
      Pass the gates of Luthany,
      Tread the region Elenore!’

      Francis Thompson

  13. You do not give yourself enough credit.
    You and Larry C. are two of the finest Mormon men it’s ever been my pleasure to meet.
    And you have a better rack.
    So there!

  14. Weird. There’s some guy named Job on the line. He says he wants to have a few words with the author of that book.

    Stuff happens. Sometimes we cause it. Sometimes it’s for reasons that have nothing to do with us. The important thing isn’t that stuff happens. The important thing is how we respond.

    1. Apropos of nothing, I’m half-certain that the book of Job is a script for a play.

      Not sure how it would go over on Broadway – not enough stage business, too much sitting around philosophizing – but it couldn’t be worse that any of the weird experimental plays that get put on by college theater departments.

      1. I remember the time I was reading through it and it suddenly really hit me that both Job and God get breathtakingly sarcastic.

          1. Considering the outright blasphemous jokes I’ve made as an athiest, I can only assume I’m his personal favorite. 😛

            And yes, I’m perfectly aware of the irony of the previous sentence, thank you.

        1. A good chunk of the Four Gospels in The New Testament is The Son of God snarking about the Pharisees and Saducees.

          1. And the parts where he’s not snarking it up, well let’s just say he comes by it honestly as his mom can delivery some serious snark too.

            (Go back and re-read the annunciation as a 16 year old girl, especially the part where Gabriel initially tells her she’s going to be pregnant.)

    2. I’d be surprised if Job wanted to complain to the Author again. The last time he tried that he got quite an earful (see chapters 38 an 39 of the book of Job 🙂 ). I will note that those are some of the most beautiful poetry in the Old Testament.

      1. I chuckle when I read/hear of “the patience of Job”.

        While he had more patience than I would have with his “friends”, he did lose his patience with G*d and got an answer. 😉

        1. Yeah the “friends” catch it hot and even worse than Job from the Author :-). Quite a group of jerks they were. “are you sure you didn’t do something to tick off Himself”. “You must have done SOMETHING because He certainly is really making you miserable”. Plenty of folks think that way still amongst the religious world.

  15. This is interesting in a sideways sort of way because it touches a bit on what I was working to develop as a character element: the it’s okay not to be creative because you are your greatest creation, part. I just don’t know if I can pull it off. I wouldn’t go in the “you are your greatest creation” route in any case, but my MC is trying to become human and he sees the evidence of that as art or poetry and he really sucks at art and poetry because he’s at heart a pragmatic and rather literal guy.

    So that’s what I thought when I read that part up there because there’s an assumption that something is wrong with you if you’re not creative, or “a creative”, like that’s a noun.

      1. I don’t want to call myself “a creative” because icky saccharine connotations, but personally…I *have* to create, but “what” doesn’t seem to matter to my soul. Writing? Fun! (sorta) Jewelry? Yay! Food? Yum! I was gloriously happy throughout pregnancy, and my husband observed “that’s because your subconscious firmly believes that you are crafting a baby”. So…I have to MAKE THINGS and would probably be hand-looming tiny scarves if The Resistance tossed us all into reeducation camps, but I don’t have the drive so many people seem to to throw their heart and souls into One Thing.

        Just a random observation.

          1. Do not think grandpa sold a thing. But he painted. Pictures from photos in oil. His mom drew with charcoal & chalk pastel. I have 4 of hers (cue my sister going “Hey wait a minute”). Nine or 10 of his, two still not framed (hey it is expensive to get them framed). Will get more as my share when mom passes away.

            I’ve done: Cross Stitch, Embroidery, Quilts, made stuffed animals, etc., all of them given away as gifts (including baby quilts, which I never made my baby one; go figure).

    1. Being/becoming human is a fun path to trod sometimes. I’ve a character who is made from human bits and human creations whose makers consider the whole to be “too human” and everyone else considers “not human, merely a thing.”

      In a world where sentience *can,* kinda, sorta, be created more or less from unliving parts, it’s tough on the poor gal. She hasn’t found creativity yet, but there’s hope. We shall see.

      1. That is definitely an intriguing concept. I’m also working on a couple of stories with characters unsure of their humanity.

        One of them was dumped on a strange planet all alone, with no memory of anything before that. She considers most of the people there weird and confusing. And then, she finds out she’s a cyborg.

        I’m trying to show that even without her memories, she is still herself, not just a reflection of the people she meets. There are things about her new environment that interest her, things she enjoys, things that baffle her, and things that horrify her.

        Some people will accept her, even if she’s not completely human.

        Some will refuse to accept her, no matter how human she is.

        Some will fear her, because she has great power.

        Some will want to take that power, and abuse it.

        The second character is a construct made from human DNA and a little something extra by an unfathomable alien intelligence. Physically a child, intellectually a supergenius, emotionally a blank slate, she begins to learn what it means to be human, and more than human.

        She will NOT turn into some sort of murderous mutant!
        ———————————
        Sanity is like most things — best practiced in moderation.

  16. I often say the only reason I’m alive today is that I’ve had a reinforced platoon of Guardian Angels working overtime to keep me on this side of the grass.
    On money: while I realize that some is needed. the major use of money for me is that it is a tangible measure of the utility (or Goodness, if you’re inclined that way) of what you’ve done, and your value to the world at large.

    1. Someone or -thing has been guarding me for years. I know at least three experiences before I was fifteen that should have killed me. In one case I felt a hand pressed against my chest as my mother spun out her car on ice and we went down a ditch and through a fence… right threw the fence posts. I was sitting in the front seat of a car with no seat belts.

  17. One of your sentences reminded me of the “Norse creation myth. “…if we think we are everything, the children of our mind may hollow us out to build the universe.” In the creation myth, Ymir was killed by Odin and his brother and then his corpse was used to build the world.

    I just hit the wrong key and the damn computer killed the entire post. *sigh I’ll try to say it in fewer words. Being ill causes me to lose the world of color and my ability to be creative. When it lasts too long then, I think it will last forever and that’s when I despair.

    Fear not– it never lasts forever. It is not a lose of creativity… it comes out in other ways. Hugs, and hope you feel better soon. BTW I read a few years ago that looking at writing as fun or as a game will bring the creative feelings.

  18. “Anyway, there is a newagish branch of thought that turns to solipsism in that they ascribe everything including the common cold to “you decided to catch this.””

    Ohhhhkay, that one. Yeah, that’s a special one. That’s the one that has people with cancer feeling guilty because they “cancer-ed themselves.”

    It seems to be some kind of Californian mis-translation/misunderstanding/f-ing stupidity that conflates “choosing the moment” with “you chose this you a-hole, what the f- is wrong with you?!!! Hurry up and un-choose it!” Also some mind-over-matter nonsense in there as well.

    Its magic, basically. Not very Christian, to be sure.

    1. I went through that stage where I thought that I was causing my own problems. That is the way to insanity. What stopped me from following that line of thought was when a doctor told me that there was nothing I did that damaged my health. … It scared me that I could get an illness without doing something wrong. But yet, it happens.

      1. I have gone through enough genetic/greater-genepool/where’d-that-come-from illnesses/conditions in my body/environment that I tend to forget the ones that I actually do have control over.

        It’s an interesting ride, but there is a rudder somewhere on this boat. Just have to use it properly.

          1. Yes that would be wonderful. Using the boat analogy lol, I have a small engine that slowly sputters when it used to run smoothly. Or even better, I used to have a racing engine, and now I have one of those fishing boats engines that really needs a tune-up and is hard to start.

      2. There’s always the element of admitting that if things happen that are beyond your control, you have no way to stop them from happening again. Very scary.

  19. “It assures us nothing can happen to us that we don’t consent to.”

    I have no words. A very strong desire to find whoever first started spouting that porcine fecal matter and beat them with an axe handle, but no words.

    Because, yeah, I absolutely consented to all the annoying, aggravating, and/or heartbreaking fecal matter that’s happened to me during my life. /sarcasm.

    1. As bad as the garbage that claims that we deserve all the garbage that happens to us. 😡

      1. Yep. But not quite as bad as the assholes who claim that whatever bad stuff is happening to us and/or our loved ones are our fault because our faith isn’t strong enough and/or we’re not praying hard enough.

        And my one ex-friend still a) still can’t understand why I want nothing to do with him and b) how lucky he was that there were witnesses.

      2. One of the best moments of the outstanding Babylon 5:

        I used to think it was awful that life was so unfair. Then I thought, ‘wouldn’t it be much worse if life *were* fair, and all the terrible things that happen to us come because we actually deserve them?’ So now I take great comfort in the general hostility and unfairness of the universe. — Marcus Cole

      3. Then there is the crowd that think if you are suffering then you are going straight to heaven. Just because a person suffers doesn’t mean they are a good person. That idea was mind-boggling to me.

        1. It’s a popular belief in Catholicism. You pay for your sins upfront.
          A more insane folk belief in Portugal: two forms of death that will send you to heaven straight: giving birth and dying in a car accident.
          I missed my chance at the first, but the way my eyes are going, the second is WIDE open.

          1. [raised eyebrow]

            Okay, I can SORT OF understand the first. But how the hell does dying in a car wreck get you an automatic pass to heaven?

            1. The first makes perfect sense when you consider that the first command, post-Garden, is be fruitful and multiply. That would technically make it martyrdom, yes?

          2. Wow about the car accident miracle. I don’t see how it applies. I’m pessimistic because I know a few people who suicided by car (either drove into a tree or laid in the street.)

        2. Sounds like a permutation of “offer it up” or “redemptive suffering”– in both of those cases, it’s not that you WILL go to heaven, it’s that you are being…cleansed, “as through fire.” If you put gold ore through, you get gold; if you put poop through, you don’t.

          1. Plus there is a belief from my family that even though I left their church, this suffering will make me acceptable to God and I would surely come back to the church at death. *sigh

    2. Seems to me the words would be something along the lines of (as you are beating said person with said axe handle) “You consented to this or it wouldn’t be happening.”

    3. I do not recall consenting to my conception, and according to family history I was none too willing to accept delivery.

      Events between then and now … I accept responsibility for much that has occurred but insist that parts happened without my willing agreement.

      1. Happens both ways. I have several brothers (3) who only married after their GF “accidentally” became pregnant. I am the only one who married a non-pregnant bride.

                1. I suppose some real a-holeish post adoption caretakers could go: “Well, we could just give you back.”

                  (I would refuse to call anyone who told that to an adoptee, especially a post infancy adoptee, a parent.)

                    1. Could have been better; could have been much worse. Mom says dad came back from Vietnam a much different person than before he went over, basically had a case of PTSD that he refused to do anything about.

                      It also would have been nice had CPS not “lost track” of my sister so she ended up being adopted by a different family.

                    2. I was about 18 months when we were abandoned, so I didn’t really remember her; but my adopted parents knew about her and told me when I was old enough to understand.

                      She and I are in contact now; interesting thing is that we both ended up doing theater in high school – a thousand miles apart, and ended up doing a show together in Tucson before we knew we were brother and sister.

                  1. We used to joke that they were going to repossess older (He cost us 28k for birth on COBRA.) The context: we were paying it off, so periodically it was “oh, you know, I want the steaks too, but we need to make the payment on Robert or they’ll repossess him.”
                    It NEVER occurred to us a less than three and a half year old even knew WHAT repossession was. So we made jokes, but you know…
                    At three and a half we found the kid lived in fear of being repossessed…
                    Yeah, the jokes stopped. We paid the debt shortly after.

                    1. Ouch. A downside to having a precocious kid, I guess.

                      Did he say HOW he knew what it meant at that age? Was he reading dictionaries and decided to look it up?

                    2. My maternal grandfather spent a great deal of time ensuring I could pronounce hippopotamus as a toddler.

                    3. If he had to ask you it seems unlikely he’d found how to use a dictionary.

                      Clearly his parents had been educationally remiss.

                    4. I had no idea he was reading, much less reading adult stuff.
                      BUT he never could use dictionary. He didn’t know the alphabet order. We had to get him a cheap electronic dictionary about a year later (they looked like calculators. Honest.) to stop him driving us half insane with “what does this mean” or making surmises with hilarious results.
                      In retrospect I think he learned to read because our cleaning lady gave him a complete set of Kipling on book and tape.
                      He used to sit for HOURS listening to the tapes and turning the pages on the books.
                      He was two when she gave it to him. He says he doesn’t remember not knowing how to read.

                    5. My sister & BIL figured their second, third, & forth, children were cheap. $300 copay/each, 3 years apart. At that they got off light for the first one, $15k for the private adoption.

                      I know a couple who adopted kids through state foster system, mind you this was early ’90 dollars –> $30k each … One a toddler, the other an infant. I think siblings. Toddler was in/out of foster care since birth. State finally terminated parental rights for toddler just as infant hit the scene; didn’t take long for parental rights for Infant to occur (if not voluntary due to circumstances). Both high risk health wise, as in lifetime state medical paid coverage.

                      Don’t know what friends had to pay to adopt their little boy, a lot more recently. They had him & his half sister as foster parents. Just as maternal rights were terminated/surrendered, they were going to adopt both, but the father of the little girl was located. He didn’t know the child existed & chose to parent. All three parents have essentially adopted each other as siblings to keep the half siblings in regular contact.

                    6. A family in the church I grew up in had an adopted daughter, who had previously been a foster child. There was also a family in the church named Foster. So apparently for a long time, she thought that she really belonged to that family.

                    7. Robert was born to us. But it was a horrendous three day process. So…
                      We considered adopting five years ago (three sibling group, 2 to 5.) we were contacted via our church because kids were half-Portuguese. (Stupid reason, but it makes it easier to adopt in CO.)
                      We really WANTED to.
                      But it took 50k, and we were temporarily completely broke (until other house sold.)
                      Ah, well. We’re probably too old, anyway.
                      (And the 50k was with the church providing a lawyer, etc. Sigh. It shouldn’t be that stupid-expensive)

                    8. Co-workers would have been in ’92 or so. Sister’s was ’88/’89 (niece was born Jan 1, ’89). They paid: their lawyer, her lawyer, the hospital her stay, nursery stay, and her 5 year old to see a therapist. This was her second single mother baby. Still they got off cheap. This was before it was deductible on your taxes. Semi-open adoption. They met when she turned 18. By then she had not only the older 1/2 sibling, but two younger ones too.

                      We had the paperwork all filled out. But not signed, notarized, & turned in with deposit, to the adoption agency. Sister’s sources had 3 babies mothers looking at them. First 2 choose other parents, or decided against adoption, 3rd picked them. So we didn’t turn in the paperwork … then we got pregnant & didn’t lose this one.

                      Agree. It shouldn’t be so freaking expensive to adopt once parental rights have been terminated, or when a mother determines that is her choice at birth. I understand giving the bio-mother a chance to change their mind (niece didn’t come home for 3 days, mother had another 6 months to change her mind. Not required, but bio-father also signed off.) But the rest …

    4. Some members of my family asked me why God was punishing me. And then told me that I had to get my life in order. This was after I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disease. I didn’t talk to one of them for years afterward.

      1. I utterly despise people like that.

        According to my ex-friend, a relative’s suicide was the result of me not praying hard enough and my grandmother’s Alzheimer’s would be cured if only my faith was stronger. Ten years later and I still refuse to speak to him.

          1. It seems that a lot of fringe-y (and not so fringe-y) Christians think that Jesus’ tongue lashings of the Pharisees can never apply to them.

        1. Again, idiots who claim to follow a certain Nazareian carpenter often don’t pay attention to what he said.

          1st Century Jewish belief tied heath and social status to divine belief; Jesus tried to disavow people of this notion. I guess he was less than successful.

  20. Ok, Word dePressed swallowed this before, so I may end up double posting.

    The only literary Angels I’ve liked were the various Powers at The Gate in Kipling’s ‘On The Gate, a tale of ‘16’

    I’ve often wondered if the way Kipling described the entrance to Heaven was influenced by his experience of Masonic mysticism.

    1. I went and looked it up one time, because my character had to name his Angel’s Inc robot girlfriend, and because he’s a hopeless nerd he only knew the names of robots from science fiction movies.

      Turns out there are only three angels in the bible. Gnosticism has a bunch, but they all seem very fictional. So my character has to dig through his phone at lunch time and he discovered Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy.

      Robot girlfriend was pretty happy with that. ~:D

    2. I liked the ones for “A Wizard in Rhyme” — not only do you see way more saints, but the few angels you do see are guardian angels who are trying not to be scary. And at least one person points out they’re supposed to be terrifying. (The angel has a sense of humor about it.)

      1. Now, I’m thinking of Alan Rickman’s first appearance in “Dogma” when he appears in fire before the lead character, and she tries to douse the fire with a fire extinguisher.

        Different people are scared of different things, and react to that fear in different ways.

      2. I am pretty sure I read and liked that book, but I don’t remember nearly enough. Should go back through Stasheff.

        1. Incidentally, I believe his son (kids?) got e-rights for the first several and re-realeased them, going off of the publishing house that’s listed.

          1. I’m waiting for the e-version of “The Crusading Wizard”.

            However, I somewhere heard that he was “redoing it” because the publishers “wanted changes” that he didn’t like.

  21. The best prayerbook available, IMO, proven by long usage, is the Psalms. Nos. 6, 30, 41, 88, and 103 are recommended during periods of illness; #112 for success; in times of general difficulty, 20, 38, 85, 86,102, 130 (especially 130), and 142; and I personally like #149 whenever the subject of socialism comes up with consequent feelings of violence. Use your favorite translation.

  22. For the love of whatever you hold dear, DO NOT ‘write for money’! Where do you think all that drek that spews out of Hollyweird and Main Stream Publishing comes from? DO NOT write what you think other people want to read!

    Write the stories you find in your head. Write what makes you happy. Write what YOU want to read, and then be amazed at how many other people want to read it, too.

    Most of it seems to be self-esteem pumping up, which is great, except you have to have something to be proud of. Otherwise you just become very proud of stewing in mediocrity, and you think you’re too good to actually apply yourself to anything, and at the end of that lies despair and self-hatred.


    Oh, yeah, the ‘Progressives’ are all about being proud of themselves for having done nothing at all. That’s the whole point of the various nasty flavors of collectivism — you don’t have to actually do anything to be ‘equal’. The illiterate slacker is just as good as the most profound and productive writer. The burger flipper is as important as the person who designed the automatic grill, and made it simple enough to be operated by a trained monkey.
    ———————————
    Do the ‘Progressives’ really believe that your waiter should have ‘income equality’ with your doctor?

    1. “Do the ‘Progressives’ really believe that your waiter should have ‘income equality’ with your doctor?“

      Yes. Which is one of many reasons why National Health schemes work so badly.

      1. When the government gets into health care, you wind up with doctors filling out paperwork while paper-pushers play doctor.

      2. Reminds me…

        In Cuba, everyone is supposed to earn the same salary. The sole exception is the hotel staff that serves foreign tourists. They’re allowed to keep a portion (and only a portion) of the tips they earn from the tourists.

        Supposedly, there’s a Cuban joke that goes like this –

        A distraught daughter is talking to her mother and tells her, “My boyfriend said he was a bellboy at a hotel! But he lied to me! He’s only a doctor!”

        /rimshot

    1. Does that test ii any way involve the Airspeed Velocity of an Unladen Swallow?

      Or is it more akin to the puzzle of the two villages, one whose natives always lie to strangers and one whose natives never do?

        1. So, the devil’s agents can beat the test just by adopting a “no handshakes” policy? I’m sure Satan appreciates you publishing that information, Mr. Smith…

  23. Today I saw two guys begging at an intersection with signs: ANYTHING HELPS

    How about a hefty kick in the ass and “GET A JOB, DEADBEAT!!

    I mean, the signs say ANYTHING, right?
    ———————————
    Dukhat: “I have never known the truth or Delenn to speak only when it is appropriate.”

  24. So, I have a near-toxic disbelief in psychology and psychotherapy.

    It’s just like religion.

    Most of them are not just wrong, but actively toxic…..

    1. And yet she is willing to endorse red-flag laws to deprive people of their civil rights based on the word of members of that “toxic” profession… Hmmmmm.

      That’s an interesting logic.

      1. I know you’re capable of basic reading comprehension, at least on other subjects; then again, maybe you’re just ill, since you also accused me of identifying as a freaking libertarian.

        Which might be just a thought-fart, except that you got on this war-path because I pointed out (again) that one of your pet libertarian theories was based on at best woefullly incomplete claims.

          1. On the supposed “anti-vaxx” death of a kid.

            The part that didn’t hit those news stories is that they’d literally just come back from spending the entire day in the ER (for the infant sibling, who was sicker and had the same known reaction to a high fever; the ER said it was nothing to worry about) when the kid collapsed.

            I got curious when someone mentioned the supposed “anti-vaxx” thing was based on not using tamiflu, or possibly theriflu. So I went to look, which is how I found out that it wasn’t “mom sat there boiling berries and giving mega-vitamins while kid died.”

      2. Steve, she has never advocated enacting Red Flag laws, she has merely supported discussing such in order to better persuade the naive that they are not workable.

        Not that I hold any expectations of you understanding techniques of persuasion more subtle than screaming at people. You’re the Phred Phelps of gun rights advocacy.

        1. Steve, she has never advocated enacting Red Flag laws, she has merely supported discussing such in order to better persuade the naive that they are not workable.

          *nod*

          Once you openly walk through the logic, the arguments require that you not just take guns– basically, they require that you lock the person up, as a violent threat. It’s not like it’s better to die by being repeatedly run over than by being shot.

          Which, very obviously, folks are a hell of a lot less willing to do “just in case.” And definitely not “well, the land lord they’re in a dispute with said they are angry and have guns.”

          And stuff like the case in just the last few days, where they took guns from a guy who had the same name as someone that had been red-flagged– yeah, mistaken identity arrests happen, but they are not THAT common.

          Which means that the folks who still want a red flag law have a much bigger hill to climb to get folks to agree with their “just in case” measures.

      3. Steve, she didn’t ENDORSE them. She said that some people could maybe possibly be talked out of them, but not by calling them names.
        I don’t know if I agree with her, but misrepresenting what she said does NO good, either.

        1. It’s based on two things– one, my parents, based on everything they’d heard about them, didn’t think they sounded too bad. They thought it WAS “take their guns and don’t let them out on bail“. Washington state.

          Two, the reaction of every single one of the ‘nice person’ liberal I’ve spoken to about it– which is now somewhere in the double digits. A couple of them pointed out the “Wait, that would mean an abusive boyfriend could disarm his ex, that’s BS!”

          The screechers still screech, sure, but the difference is if they get to be the only ones talking.

  25. that I probably should see someone for, if I trusted people to go grubbing around in my mind

    I have been doing that. In fact, I went today. Used my biggest shock line even remotely relevant to my life in terms of the issues I am there for. He hung and it’s a pretty big shock line (if you know me, you can guess what part of my life and the dark places those seriously into that have as filtered by a right side of the slash person).

    So, don’t worry too much about them tripping and hurting themselves. A competent one will be okay.

    that I probably should see someone for, if I trusted people to go grubbing around in my mind

    Interesting idea. I guess I have a relative. At some point, I decided everyone else is only pretending to like you. I don’t deny their reality, just their interest in me being in it.

    For this, we used to have religion, which is if nothing else safer. Never mind.

    Yep, works for my version too. Even if no one cares about you, God does.

    Worse, it’s hatred you can’t admit to.

    This is where mine has an advantage. It is admitting to all the self-loathing and accepting everyone is right not to care about you.

    Oh, and hi everyone. Missed all of you the past few weeks.

  26. “panning for gold in your shower”

    If that isn’t the most perfect encapsulation of socialism I don’t know what is.

    Going into my Big Book O’ Quotes.

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