Hi folks, Mark here with a bit of a rant. I’ve reached a point where my frustrations take precedence over tact. I’m a small player in the publishing industry, a new voice in the fantasy genre, and I don’t have that extensive network of connection yet that many other more established authors have. And yet I find myself reacting strongly to some of the flame wars and controversies that have energized the arena since the spring. It seems like everywhere I look I see argument and accusation, insinuation and supposition. From the internecine squabbles in the SFWA, contested toast-master choices, fringe groups agitating against commencement speakers on college campuses, publishing fights between Amazon and just about everybody else, corporate types pontificating, political dupes excoriating, pumped up nobodies mugging a microphone trying to be a somebody…
I’ll take “Pictures of Kitties” for $2000, Alex.
I’m not seeing enough civility, people, anywhere. What happened to our ability to engage in intelligent discourse without stooping to character assassination? What happened to telling a story to tell a story? It seems we have fallen into a deconstructionist pattern where every tale, essay, novel, film, speech or blog post is immediately set upon and examined from multiple perspectives by folks with pre-set agendas. This writer is a misogynist. That writer is a racist. This series doesn’t have enough people of color. That trilogy doesn’t have enough strong female characters. Not enough gay, not enough straight, not enough love, not enough blood, not enough real, not enough myth. And so on…
What we really lack is enough patience not to judge too quickly. The world we live in demands instant reaction to every stimulus. Folks don’t even bother to breathe; stuff just comes out in a constant stream of non-information laced with praise or invective depending on the speaker/writer’s preconception.
To paraphrase Bilbo, “It puts me off my breakfast, it does!”
I posted the stuff below on Facebook awhile back, and I thought I would trot it out once again to finish this entry off.
Pay attention, Mephistopholes!
I stand in the middle of a muddle with proportions gargantuanBeset by nuances of half-formed decision
Ridiculed by voices raised in derision
That emanate from my own subconscious…
And then, clarity:
There are those that conspire to foment conspiracies dire.They act on us like the rope around the condemned man’s neck.
And the fanatics on the right, and the egotistic socialists on the left
Swing about on their lines as if in play
Like some dance macabre from the Cirque d’Soleil,
Making wild rhetorical slashes in their pendulum passes
While the noose ever tightens, choking off
Freedom of movement
Freedom of design
Freedom of thought
Speech, or belief in the divine;
A slow asphyxiation of will
Made more tragic because we are aware of the loss
Even as our sight dims
To that point of candle-slight truth
Where wisdom speaks to us.
And yet that is the tragedy of these days
Because we come to KNOW
But cannot tell.
Man is always seeking thus. We are a race of
Intuitives doomed, like Sysiphus, to push our
Distracted from our course by contradictions
Presented as answers
That are, in reality, only definitions of symptoms
Of the diseases that make the slope we ascend
More challenging than it needs
In our quest for cures…
And so we come to it.Despair is too easy
And too easily used by those that choose
To follow the politics of greed
And wear their wealth as insulation from the real,
Protected by their binary codes and cash
From the effects of their solipsistic mantras.
And who benefits when the pundits turn
All questions into colors in conflict
And discourse caustic becomes the stagnant
Credo of the hyper-informed but unenlightened?
Pay attention, Mephistopholes!
For all promises made to the dark have their payment come due
In the dark:
A horizon limitless…
And we loiter on our collective gibbets
While the shadow rises like a metaphor
But that single candle-flame
Where hope still lives…
I, for one, refuse to accept defeat,And choose to be the flame rather than the victim.
There is no wind
Real or imagined
That can extinguish me.
Have a great week and keep it civil! J