NEVER

This is a political and social poem about modern man


NEVER

I often wonder in my head
Just how naïve man can be
Especially of the modern kind
Whose ignorance is full and deep

History, replete with clues
As evidence of what will come
Makes no impression on his soul
To theory only he succumbs

A bed he’s built with his own hands
Covered it with wondrous lies
Sheeted it with foolishness
Then pissed it full of dreams at night

Of how he wished the world to be
Though never has it been as such
No matter to him, all will see
Never never mattered much

Reason tells him little now
His every fancy sophistry
Of how his hopes are truly deemed
Though spawned by phantom artistry

A little more, a little less
A tragic tale of absent jests
Nothing gained, and no one left
To even notice his behest (bequest?)

I often wonder in my heart
Just how simple man can be
Modern to his very bones
Object, abject, yet all agree

My how he wished his self-deceit
Could ever be what never was
Just one more time, then all will see
Never never matters much

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THE MASTER OF HIS BETTER CRAFT (A LOOKING GLASS WILL DO)

I used to practice all the time before I learned to do it
Then I practiced even more to help myself accrue it
I wrote and wrestled, scribed and scored
A thousand lines a day,
I exercised with great accord
If even I do say,
By practice trained I forged my mind
Repetition’s Child,
Drill and Duty, Craftsman’s Kiln
A Master will beguile;
The modern man thinks everything
Is only thin technique, but
Training born and bred in blood
Into the Real Man seeps
If you would be the Great Maestro
Then you must toil long
The road is hard, the trail discards
Those who don’t belong;
And who does not, you might ask
Not deserve to be
The Master of his Better Craft,
The Lord of High Degree?
You need not track with Spying Glass
A Looking Glass will do,
That man who will not sharpen skills
Will soon be bid “adieu.”

(the same, of course, applies to the mastery of all things…)

 

What New Research on the Brain Says Every Writer Should Do

German brain researchers studied the brain activity of people who were actively writing, and they discovered one thing that every person should do to become a better writer. Ellen Hendriksen, the Savvy Psychologist, explains how the study worked and reveals the secret.

By

Mignon Fogarty,

Grammar Girl

August 22, 2014

Page 1 of 2

[Note: If you’re listening along with the audio in the player on this page, you can follow along with the text of the first segment by opening the Money, Monies, and Moneys page in a new window.]

Sponsor: Thanks to Audible for supporting our channel.  Get a free audiobook of your choice at AudiblePodcast.com/GG.

 

Ellen Hendriksen is the host of the Savvy Psychologist podcast, and she recently sent me an article about researchers in Germany who studied people’s brains while they were actively writing. They looked at both professional writers and novices, and they found differences. The professional writers showed brain activity similar to what researchers see in people who are good at music and sports.

Mignon: Before we get into the findings, they used something called an fMRI scanner. What does that actually measure?

Ellen: This is a great question—there are so many fMRI studies in the news these days, but much like “gluten” or “Obamacare,” most of us don’t know what fMRI really is, even though the term gets thrown around a lot.  So this is a perfect opportunity for a quick primer!

fMRI stands for functional magnetic resonance imaging.  When an area of the brain is used to think thoughts or perform a task, it requires more oxygen, so blood flow to that area increases to meet the demand.

The fMRI scanner uses a strong magnetic field combined with radio waves to create images of this contrast in blood flow—the oxygen-enhanced blood in the active part of the brain reacts differently to the magnetic field and therefore stands out against the less oxygenated blood in the quieter parts of the brain.

The images allow neuroscientists to pinpoint what parts of the brain are in use during a given task, plus there’s no exposure to radiation like in an X-ray or CT scan.

Mignon: What did you think was most interesting about this study? Is it ground-breaking or does it build on things researchers already knew?  

Ellen: I’d say both.  It is groundbreaking because this is the first time neuroscientists have looked at the brains of experienced writers writing fiction in real time.  Two previous studies have had participants make up stories in their heads while in the scanner, but this is the first time we’ve been able to catch the brain in the act of writing.

What’s the useful takeaway message for writers? Practice.

Logistically, this was hard to pull off.  You can’t have a computer in the same room as the scanner because of the magnetic field, so the researchers asked writers to write longhand.  But, you have to lie down in the scanner, so they couldn’t have the writers sit normally to write.  Finally, you have to be absolutely still in the scanner—just like with a regular camera.  If your subject moves, you end up with a blurry picture.  So the researchers had the triple whammy of figuring out how to get people to lie down with their heads perfectly still, but still write longhand.  So through a set of double mirrors and a custom-built writing desk, they jury-rigged a system.  You’ll find a picture on the QDT website.

This study was also important because the next frontier of creativity research is identifying neural mechanisms—in other words, this is the first study to nail down how the semi-mystical qualities of creativity and expertise in professional writers manifest as neurons and blood flow.  It’s a little bit like pulling back the curtain on the wizard to reveal his gears and levers.

It’s also important to say that creativity and expertise are very difficult to study.  There’s so much that goes into it: originality, intelligence, talent, practice effects, motivation, culture.  So while this study is a nice shovelful towards the excavation of creativity, there’s a lot more to uncover before we can get a definite picture of what we’re even unearthing.

– See more at: http://www.quickanddirtytips.com/education/grammar/what-new-research-on-the-brain-says-every-writer-should-do#sthash.knnnXVbB.dpuf

THE RIME OF THE MODERN ABJURER

(with apologies to a Better Poet)

Progress, progress everywhere
Of every theory drink;
Progress, progress we all share
But not a man to think

Our very souls do rot: O Christ!
That ever we should be
Like slimy things that have no will
Our voices dead banshees

About, about, we should so rout
The death-fires of our night;
Our minds like bitter witch’s oils
Our blood and bones made wights

Our darkest dreams assured are
That Spirit plagues us so;
Deep within he’s fathomed us
Our Natures now he knows

And everyone, through utter doubt
We’ve withered at the root;
We can not do a single good
For all our ways are moot

Ah! Well today, what darkened looks
From all we, old and young!
Unlike the Cross, our sins emboss
The evils round us hung

We could repent, we could revolt
If blood ran in our veins!
But ice, it will not circulate
So only waste remains

Rime she coats our inner selves
While we sails seas of death;
We travel far, but go nowhere
Our black hearts without breath

Oh progress, progress everywhere
Do we even know the term?
Our vices grow fat like a worm
That one day soon must turn…

THE EASY PAIN

I woke this morning with these lines running through my head.

(That often happens to me with poetry, I awake with a poem or a set of song lyrics already running through my head – it is a lifelong habit going back to when I was a kid. Don’t ask me why this happens, maybe it is a result of part of my dreaming or sleep cycle. To me it’s just the way it works. And has always worked.)

To me this poem is a sort of psychological or sub-conscious encapsulation in verse of how I feel about pain in general, and what purpose is served by pain in particular.

I know that a lot of people, especially modern people, think pain and suffering is something to be avoided at all costs, a thing to be eliminated, ignored, or at the very least escaped by lifelong periods of “treatments” or self-medications of one form or another. Something they would rather not endure. And truth be told, sometimes at least, even I am sympathetic to that point of view. In certain cases anyway.

But to me, at least in general and in most circumstances, pain (of most any kind) is not an enemy, it is not something to be dulled or medicated, or cured (except in specific situations – such as injury recovery) but rather you should use it as a tool and a weapon to Cure and control the lesser and weaker parts of yourself.

Pain is not something you fear or flee, but rather embrace and use to reforge yourself into a much harder, tougher, and stronger man. Pain cures you of your own smallness and frailties. It is both a method and a means to become a much bigger, stronger, tougher, capable, and a much greater man. (Or woman, or child.)

I am sympathetic, even empathetic to the pain of others in most cases (unless it is needlessly self-inflicted pain used as an puny excuse to lazily escape their better natures), and many have been the times in my life I wish I could have cured others of whatever they suffered. But not always. Sometimes I wish they had simply employed their pain for their own advantage.

As for me, and seemingly contrary to modern man in general, I think it is mostly (not always, but mostly) a grave mistake to view pain as an enemy to overcome, rather than a valuable Friend and Ally to beneficially exploit.

Pain, well used, is treasured gain.

Hence, the ultimate folly of, The Easy Pain.
Note: this poem is unfished as of yet. This is just a first draft and it is in part at least fragmented. I wrote down as much as I could compose and remember before having to go downstairs and tend my animals and start breakfast for the family. I’ll correct, edit, and finish it later.

 

THE EASY PAIN

The easy pain is nothing, the harder pain is true
Numb your pain with medicines, it dulls the things you do

Exploit you pain with action, suffer for your aim
Give your anguish meaning; give your pain a name

Modern men think hardship something to escape
A prison cell of torment, an inconvenience they do hate

So remedies attempt them, with surgeries and drugs
To treat their pain relentless, or kill it like a thug

Yet still pain hammers on them, but tempers not their soul
The longer they do flee it the weaker that they grow

Agony is iron-dust if suffered not in Truth
Corrupt the ore is broken, not forged to better use – yet,

When men make their anguish the raw drive of their life
And consume it like ambrosia it feeds them in their strife

When they shape and craft their pain into their sword and tool
They shape themselves in better ways, Grow Wise, and not a fool

Anger righteous is no vice, Justice is a christ
And pain is not a fearsome foe, but a Holy Geist

Man you flee your sacred pain, and to what avail?
Meant to grow you into gods, you’ve made it into hell

One day you should thank the God who made you suffer such
If only you might use your pain to make yourself as much…
End of fragment…

THE PEERAGE OF GREAT EQUALS

THE PEERAGE OF GREAT EQUALS

I don’t have any idols. Never have, and never will, either real or fictional. I have people I admire, and would like to emulate in some way or another (not emulate in other ways) but not idols. Certainly not like modern people seem to think of idols. In the sense that I’d like to be someone else or that I would ever fawn over anyone else. I never would. I have only ever wanted to be me. And I would never fawn over me, much less any other man. To me that is both low, and ignorant.

And I don’t think of the people I admire and would like to emulate in some way as my rivals, but rather as exemplars of some particular capability or trait. And likely and potential friends with whom I would work well together or some important project or endeavor. To me to instinctively think of other great men as my natural and necessary rivals is both low and arrogant. So in those senses I totally disagree with this sentiment.

However I think that the underlying implication is that you want to work your way up to being a Peer and an Equal (in the sense of your on capabilities) with other great men and women, rather than forever remain a subordinate or inferior (in action and ability). And in that respect I agree with the sentiment expressed below.

I have always believed in the Peerage (and Friendship) of Great Equals. I think that is what this is really trying to convey. Unfortunately modern people are so filled with the petty pop culture modern bullshit of fawning over and being obsequious towards others, sometimes of actually wanting to be and of idolizing others (rather than their abilities and capabilities), or of being jealous of others (a very petty and puny vice indeed), and just instinctively think of other Great Men and Women as natural rivals rather than what they truly are – potential Peers and Friends and as Great Men and Women with whom you could work to achieve even more together than you could separately.

So in that respect the only way far too many modern people seem to reflexively understand other Great Men and Women is as either idols and/or rivals. And thinking of other men as idols is just plain juvenile, whereas thinking of other men as natural and unavoidable rivals is not necessarily Wise at all. These habits and ideals seem more engrained by uncritical and unexamined instinct than by malicious intent. Still, I think them small and counter-productive for the most part.

But I don’t think of other men in that way at all. First of all I think of all men as my equals, neither inferior nor superior. And secondly I think of all men as being my potential peers if they so wish.

I think of it as the Peerage of Great Equals.

And that’s exactly what I mean to be, the Peer and Equal of Other Great Men.

But I will never idolize them, anymore than I wish to be idolized, nor are other men my instinctive rivals. Just as likely they are my as yet unrealized friends and peers.

 

FOR NOTHING ELSE…

Why have men become much less than ere they ever were?
Why is Truth the last true thing that they will ever serve?

Why are men devoid of honor, ambition, merit – drive
Why are they now merely subjects of their groping groups and tribes?

Why are men such hapless thralls to reckless theories and to fools?
When they were born to master all, not be the witless tools

Why do men now scrape and bow and bend to other men?
Why do others sanction them in their free and open sins?

Why are men now slave to words but aliens to deeds?
What does man now great respect, what is it that he heeds?

Where does man now lay his head to find his missing peace?
When comes the day men rise again to stand upon their feet?

How can a man so be a man when filled with fright and fear?
How secure can man now ever be when the serf within appears?

Why are men by long deception often so entranced?
A passive wish? It must be so, for it could not just be chance

Guile and craftwerk, deceit and fraud, cunning like a snake
What of these can decent men of their inner selves so make?

I long to know, above-below, how man has come to this?
Yet in his fête and revere he does not dare resist

Night and day, come what may, he toils upon the Wheel
Yet labors not the man in him, that is cold and still

Bury him, it matters not, he will claw up from his grave
A walking corpse, yet still stillborn; nothing ventured, nothing saved

An age will come when that corpse will fail and even it will rot
He’ll warrant it, I’ll grant you that, and all will mourn him not

When did man forget himself having bought his fate with blood?
Then fade away to exchange himself for some feces mixed with mud?

The modern man would sell his soul for a little hope and change
No matter that it all will fail to inflict some honest pain

The modern man would not risk himself to rescue those in need
The modern man, a puny man, from every battlefield he flees

The modern man he calculates, deserts the wounded and dead
The modern man he speculates but heeds not those who’ve bled

The modern man, bondservice man, how freely does he live?
He’s bought and sold, or so I’m told, the rest he’s forced to give

Integrity, and honesty, the Virtues fled forsooth
When did he in desperate need give up such pursuits?

The vices long, the Viking’s song, it’s all the same to him
One thing or another he will knit up as his hymns

Modern man, oh modern man, tell us all now what you bring?
I thought as much, you filthy slut, you’re just the whore of kings

Tyranny and oppression ride with your dearth and dread
Entitle you to all you’ve earned, and now, it’s all been said

Except for this, and in the end, how much smaller can you grow?
Before you’re gone, for nothing else, will then be left for show…

I SAW THE CYNIC

“Oh modern man, oh modern man, what is this that you do?
I thought you had a working plan, you never had a clue…”

The modern man thinks cynicism a wondrous form of strength
Everything to him is trope, a bitter truth, the length
Of his shortened rod by which he whips out at the world
If only his so little rod were not so inward curled

But cynic odd, or love be damned, the fulsome of it all
Seems to flee out of his mouth as if he juggled balls
Like a jongleur of old times who loved a bit too much
To hear himself recount the tale of H.R. Pufnstuf

How can love, or hero-stuff, lead to better lives?
I don’t know, I just work here, I’ll have mine with chives
For turtle soup is this day’s catch, or maybe not so fast
What the hell is this about, Odysseus at last?

Look here comes the Jabberwock to bundersnatch us up
For if you’re selling your despair we’ll all just have a cup
So drink up lads, and drink it deep, nothing really cures
Epicurus had his day, ‘gainst that we’re all inured

Yet maybe still they hope to sneak like vipers in the grass
Some little thing to give us joy or even make us laugh
None of that – now off with you! You’ll not breed hope round here!
I’ll be damned before all that – you think me insincere?

Oh modern man, oh modern man, to hear the siren’s wail
Satire’s anchor caught below, eight bells and all is well
I saw the Cynic with a lamp, Diogenes his name
He sought a man he never found, that loss his only fame

Yet we’ve done better haven’t we? Now everyman is him
We’ve no lamps to light our way, but Hell we’re in the trim
So cynic this and whine of that and wail to weeping skies
I see the cynic everywhere, his mask is no disguise

MEN OF THE MODERN WEST

The Men of the (modern) West want a Sally Knight to ride forth and do Good and Justice in the world. It’s just that most of them always want to be the Sally, never the Knight.

THE READY MAN from HUMAN EFFORT

It readily occurs to modern man to automatically doubt everything and everyone at all times, except of course, his own doubts at any time.

SOMETIMES YOU GOTTA GOD-DAMN IT TO SAVE IT…

I could not agree more with this post on Novel Rocket. The modern definition of what is considered Christian is extremely narrow and restrictive and small. It tends to completely ignore evil in a misguided and juvenile attempt to be always clean, happy, pure, and safe (especially supposedly pure and safe) while completely ignoring the fact that the World is rarely that way.

I call it Cotton Candy Christianity. A pansified, effeminate, wholly emasculated Christianity. A naïve attempt to see the World (and Man) as they wish, not the world (or Man) as it/he actually is. An attempt to make the world a world of talk shows and quaint diplomacy and and polite, watery conversations and wish fulfillment instead of what it really often is, a world of brutality and struggle and barbarism and bloodshed. But you cannot cure bloodshed with spilt ink, or curses with vapid, watery conversations and quotes about how everything will be okay in the end. A real disease requires a real Cure, not just a pretty dialogue. Everyone today wants their “Voice to be heard,” but I’ll be damned if anyone has anything much worth listening to about how damned this world really is. Or what should be done about it as a result.

Christ was a man, and all man at that. He didn’t fear evil, he ran at it. Went for the throat of it. He struggled, he fought, he was unafraid of what he faced and did not seek to shelter himself from it, the people around him, or the realities of the world he lived in. He shed his own blood and faced great physical torment and execution not to produce a feel-good story about how evil and injustice was really just a pleasant pastel-colored little tale of psychosocial misunderstanding, or that human sin and wrongdoing was really just a song of sixpence everyone could afford to sing in the shower.

He showed that evil and sin and wrong-doing and death and injustice must eventually be chased down, engaged, wrestled to the ground, strangled, and buried.

That kind of thing takes a man’s effort, a truly manly effort, regardless of whether you are a man, a woman, or a child. Yet today many people are far, far too accommodating (to all the wrong things) and soft for what is actually required.

They are more offended by harsh and brutally honest talk than they are by bloodshed, murder, rape, terrorism, malignancy, and evil. You can automatically offend a lot of modern Christians with a single profane word (that will stick deep in his craw, and his memory), but let him see countless examples of murder, rape, terrorism, slavery, and tyranny and he is more momentarily “saddened and shocked and distressed” than he is angered or offended or moved to action. (God forbid he should ever be moved to real action…) I don’t know what you call that but I don’t call it anything resembling real manhood, much less any form of spiritual righteousness. Or effectiveness.

Oh yes, the secular society cusses a lot, probably a lot too much, but never at the right things. Only about self-absorbed things. But the modern Christian is so God-damned entirely self-absorbed and soft in the middle that they can’t God Damn anything, especially those things that God just naturally deans. And that’s exactly why the world is so God Damned. The secular man thinks God-damn means nothing (it doesn’t, it means something very specific and real and important), but the Christian, the poor little modern Christian thinks the world means so little it won’t even bother to God Damn it to save it. It’s pathetic and effeminate in both directions, but if you ask me, it’s especially pathetic of the Christians who are at least supposed to have a Real Mission in this world. Most of us sure as hell don’t, of course, but we’re sure as hell supposed to, or sure as hell Hell is certain.

Today’s Christianity, especially the Christianity of the West, is that of a naïve, sheltered, spoiled juvenile who cannot and does not want to understand evil or see the world as it is – yet Christians and others who live in Syria and Iraq and Africa and Pakistan and the Middle East, and Central America, many parts of Asia and Central America, they know an altogether different world.

And an altogether different from of Christianity and manhood.

Words are but wind but here in the West the wind is composed entirely of words rarely worth the speaking. We warm ourselves with entirely ineffective and insubstantial words that comfort ourselves in our moments of petty personal distress, but Real Words we never speak.

Here, because we are sheltered like little children, we live like little children. Here our tales are all of the fables of Fairy Land where no harm comes to call and all dwell forever in an artificial and unreal paradise we make for ourselves. Naturally (or preternaturally – take your pick), as a result, even our literature is anemic, naïve, and unfailingly puny.

We insistently and persistently see an unreal world, we talk endlessly of an unreal world, we greatly desire an unreal world, yet we do nothing to truly change the Real World for the better.

Until all of that changes neither will we.

 

7 Christian Classics that Could Not Be Published in Today’s Christian Market

 

I guest posted at Speculative Faith a couple years back, and my article Why Fiction is the Wrong Vehicle for Theology garnered some lively, if not predictable, responses. One of my favorite comments was from Melissa Ortega (read it HERE) in which she rattled off “classic novels” that DO contain some heavy theological elements. She writes:

There are few books that sermonize more than Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables or his Hunchback of Notre Dame. Charles Dickens sermonizes a great deal in A Christmas Carol. G.K. Chesterton’s Napolean of Notting Hill is as Free Will vs. Destiny type of story as one can get. And who can forget his Man Who Was Thursday? with its sermon at the end on becoming, ourselves, the Accuser? The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is an inside-out sermon that preaches on a multitude of sins….from Hell’s point of view, of course. And the Great Divorce steps on very, very specific toes every third paragraph at least…