Legends Made Truth

“At the heart of every legend there is a grain of truth”
– Michael Scott
 
In Frank Herbert’s Dune, the gifted hero of the tale used his military skills, natural leadership, and participated in the legends seeded by the order of manipulators to whom his mother belonged. He won and ousted the current Emperor of the Galaxy, marrying his daughter and ending all conflict…or so he thought. We later discover that the religiously inclined people he had helped achieve freedom decided to found a church upon his deeds, make him the living Messiah and launch a jihad throughout the galaxy in his name. In dispair, he walks out into the desert, apparently never to return.
 
Paul Atreides was fighting for revenge and recruited the Freman to his cause by listening to his mother’s advice to play along with the legend. As it happens, he exceeds the expectation but that is anothe matter. What is important is that the truth is soon overshadowed by the Legend and, once those directly involved in real events are gone, nobody is left to say “that did not happen” so people are free to believe the more exciting version.
 
This is a manifestation of the phenomena we like to call “Storyteller Syndrome” or, in simple terms, storyteller’s exaggerating or, more accurately outright lying in order to draw their audience in better.
 
Let’s compare the following two versions as an example;
 
 
  1. A large and violent man, while engaging in his normal activities of reaving and raiding, kidnaps a woman who was held prisoner by his latest ‘clients’. I turns out that she is the princess or somewhere or other and had, in fact been kidnapped by a rival of the king’s. The king is an old man and the princess his only heir so marrying her would grant her father’s rival the kingdom. Our hero realised that she is going to be worth a great deal of money so does not do anything that could reduce the reward as he normally would under such circumstances. Of course, our villian learns of this and makes numerous attempts to recapture his bride and murder our hero but, being a man of action and quite well versed in the art of murder, our hero prevails every time. Arriving at the king’s castle, our hero confronts the villain, who snuck in and tried to murder the king, but is stopped by the hero because that’d mean he could kiss his money goodbye. The king, though grateful, is quite old and rather crazy. The kindgom is also rather poor so he marries his daughter off to our hero and has the villain executed; killing two birds with one stone. Having heard that the king’s advisors are planning to do away with him after the wedding, our hero murders the king, seizes the throne and traumatises the princess. He goes on to lead a brutal campaign against the holdings of the rival. The princess dies less than a year later of a broken heart during childbirth.
  2. Son of the Gods of the mountains, a noble barbarian exile is sent by his father, the God Muklebuckle to save the princess from a terrible wizard who infiltrated the kingdom and enchanted Lord Flafflefarst of Overhereia. The noble hero defeats a band of evil monsters guarding the princess and rescues her, carrying her off into the forest for her safety. The wizard hears of this and sends beasts, monsters, and demons after the hero but he defeats them all, with a little bit of help from the gods, of course. During the journey, the princess falls in love with the hero’s noble spirit and rather rugged good looks. Upon arriving at the castle, the hero engages in terrible battle with the wizard who is actually O’Deer’Jhez’Uz the dragon demon whom he barely defeats and almost dies, but love saves him at the last minute as the princess swears to marry him if he lives. Her father, unfortunately, perishes in the melee. Our hero marries the princess and, in honour of his departed father, leads the army to cleanse the land of Overheria and Rhihttheretu of demons and magicians. Lots of people die but the end of the world is avoided and the gods are happy…probably…
 
Of course, history does either tend to be written by the victors or to flatter them and ensure the writer retains the ability to continue writing…and breathing, of course.
 
History and Myth
 
We are pretty much certain these days that a great many of the old stories are not accurate representations of events. We are less credulous as a society than people once were, blame it on knowledge. Back when many of the older stories were written, great swathes of the world were unexplored, unknown, and undocumented. Monsters could live there because nobody could say for sure that they did not.
 
People had few other forms of entertainment so liked to tell and be told stories on dark winter nights. Their lives were also quite short and brutal in earlier times; ordinary people had rather unfulfilling lives or constant work and few prospects. Hearing tales of a common man going on adventures and eventually becoming king was bound to go down well, give them something to dream about.
 
That’s the purpose of stories, really, isn’t it? To give people something to believe in outside of the humdrum of normal existence. That the good people will triumph over the evil, that common people can do uncommon things, that there is a sense of justice to the world. Each era has it’s fashions in stories; in medieval times, the common man getting one over on the aristocracy or the church was popular. In today’s time, the unregarded individual, who is often persecuted for being different is found to be different because of a previously undiscovered heritage which makes them uniquely suited to save the world and gain romantic affirmation.
 
Stories are a way of escaping our everyday lives; they always have been and they always will be; they are about finding sense and meaning in a world where such things are in short supply. We like to believe that these things can happen because if they can’t, then what’s the point?
 
The Persistence of Belief
 
Heroes of the Ancient Greek, Roman and similar eras were the action movie stars of their day. The gods were both the stars and vilains, depending on who the hero was. It was like a great series where you never know what’s going to happen next, who’ll form an alliance with whom, who’d get jealous of which other god, who’d father or mother a demi-god to commit heroic or villainous acts next. It was like that rather popular fictional series involving dragons everyone liked.
 
The grand an heroic heroes of the scrolls were the embodiments of justice, fairness, and nobility that everyone could aspire to and admire. The villains were everything the people disliked at the time or those on charge disapproved of. Often subtle stabs at those in power found their way into them. They had to be subtle in those days because the reaction from an those in charge rarely would be. Critics? Oh dear, I’d rather get figuratively stabbed in the heart than actually…
 
These days we look for more depth because ideals and paragons are no longer our thing. We still like the justice and reason behind everything parts. Our world, in spite of the vast increase in knowledge and education, still hasn’t found where Truth and Justice live. Governments are still filled with egotistical liars, the poor still suffer more than they should, life is much unfairer than it needs to be, the status quo see-saw tends to be much heavier at one end than it is on the other.
 
It is no coincidence that the majority of villains we see suffering a variety of dramatic deaths in movies are mega-rich people of highly questionable morals and an enjoyment for taking over the world by killing all the poor folks. The hero is usually a working – middleclass nobody who gets an unexpected chance to restore the balance and take out the rich guy that makes their life unfair and miserable.
 
Yet, as much as our fiction appears to be making the rich pay for their crimes and suchlike, we desperately want to join them also. Billionaires coming down from their high eeries to notice a much-ignored nobody and make them rich too is quite a common theme also. It seems like quite a lot of people are not happy with their position is society and are seeking all kinds of ways to get out.
 
Conclusion
 
The truth is not as important as the dream. Nobody feeling in need of a cheering up picks up a history book or looks for a documentary on famous dynasties, well some people might but fewer in number than those that won’t.
 
We all like to believe that the world can be fair, that a reward awaits those who live well and are good, that there are heroes out there somewhere, opposing the evil we see in everything. We like to think that people will get what they deserve, especially if it isn’t good. We like to believe that fairytale love exisits and will come to sweep us off of our feet. We like to believe we could be attractive, powerful, in control, and decisive.
 
We read about it because we can escape for a while from reality and dip our toes into the fantastical and truly believe that if it can happen to them, then maybe it can happen to us one day too.

A Long and Lonely Road…

“You can write. Good story well told. No idea where you go with it or if you really want to go down this road, it’s a long hard road being a writer….”
So said Matt, a very good friends of mine, taking time out of his very busy schedule as author, director, screenwriter and generally very interesting family man to review my short story Embodied.
Writing involves losing oneself in other places and times, other people’s lives, inside of the words themselves. We lose ourselves. The great philosopher M. Mathers made mention of this in his deep tract of the same name and, despite what some may think of Eminem’s value as a literary source, he has a point. Writing fiction is where we see this most, I believe. We invent lives, worlds and events and bury ourselves in them, to become them and inhabit them so we can write about them. Another friend of mine spoke about a “cult of multiple personality” in describing a group of fiction writers and he too, is right don’t you think? I mean we, in any given novel, inhabit the heads of 4 or 5 people we invented with the hopes of making them real and believable to other people. We become them, we live as them, we make them real. The late and great Sir Terry Pratchett perhaps put it best. “The better a writer is, the crazier they are..”. So we are here, every last one of us hoping, praying, putting in late nights and long sessions to be utterly, utterly insane because no-one does all that sacrifice and work to be mediorce now do they? We want to be the best there the craziest!
So we walk this long and lonely road collectively alone. Walking inside of our own heads we follow the pack, we set off down another track, we turn round and come back, we set off on our own path and truly go alone? We write, we invent, we create, we become!
Nothing is harder are more difficult than pouring your heart and soul, your everything into a novel, a story, a collection, a blog or any such thing for months, even years and then when the DAY comes, when you see the “published” come on and the excitement threatens to explode to wait….to wait…and then…well….dum de dum….well….nothing. one sale. Diddly squat, zippo, nada. Bummer! It is beyond aweful. You placed a gosh darned piece of your SOUL out there and bared it to the world and not even a solitary handclap?? Well damn. So now what?
I told Matt, in response to his questions at the beginning of this article the following, which i quote;
“you know this is in the blood and being a writer isn’t a concious decision…being brave enough to share it and strong enough to take the criticism; rough enough to dust off and improve…those’re the choices. For me writing is a pleasure, a release, an outlet….I even dare say stuff writes itself! That shorty started very differently and kind of morphed as i wrote it; make sense? You know i don’t know; I write because it is ME….there are so many times when I’m not sure I am writing about my characters or whether they are writing themelves and i am simply observing…the words, often it’s as if the words are in charge and I’m just the one giving them shape..”
So here’s my advice. Your write and self publish, like so many of us do, and it bombs. Find out why…be brave and publish bits of it on groups and blogs, have friends and family read it and listen to what they have to say! Alexandria wasn’t built in a day, the most perfect of paintings were done over the top of older paintings, the best of steel is made by failing over and over and over again! Brush it off, stand up, wipe your hands and carry on!!
“Only those who dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.” Robert Kennedy

An Escape from Blame

As I mentioned in my previous article, passing on through it, humans don’t like to take blame. If something happened; either close by or far away, we let it happen one way or another. In fairness, before you all attack me, there are some things far away we can not really do anything about due to distance or circumstance but, in today’s Age of Information of everything is shareable, tweetable and so forth, as Obama started, we can continue in saying “Yes! We can!”.
 
Let us step backwards one moment though and come back from saving the world to beginning where what makes such a thing possible is begun. Let’s begin with this thought;
 
“Everything which ever happened to you is your fault”
 
Think about that for a moment, digest it, mull it over. Now argue with me! That’s right, you do not have control over what other people choose to do, how they are, the things they do. You are right but you can control how you react to those circumstances. I know ths is going to be a tough article because it is one which is most likely to upset a lot of people for a number of simple reasons. There are some things which we genuinely feel we cannot control but ask yourself to consider these scenarios first;
 
A friend of mine was brutally and horribly raped. I cannot even come close to imagining what that is like. Nothing I have lived can give me true understanding of what she went through. This same woman founded a local charity for helping other victims of rape move past the guilt, the suffering, the hate and rebuild their lives.
Another woman I know lost her husband of 40 years to cancer, she now fights for cancer research to be better funded and recognised.
A man who lost both of his legs climbs Mount Everest.
 
Alright; these are extremes but it does not change one simple fact; it is me who decides how I shape my future and how I look at myself. Look at this, I was in a long series of terrible, bad and downright awful relationships, ending with the one I left the US because of. She was controlling, abusive, nasty, hateful and all that stuff; mentally and physically abusive. I let her be. Here’s the thing, I read a while ago letters and emails and cards I had written to her, missives to myself as part of my therapy and my first thought was this “what a spineless little worm!” but this obvious invertibrate was me! I allowed her to control me and I allowed her to get away with all that I did. I did then and always do decide what happens to me and what I deserved. The day I decided that I deserved better was the day that I left No-one could make that decision for me but me.
 
So why, Alan the image from Atlanta’s Martin Luther King Museum clearly displaying the struggle for racial equality? Is this an article about personal struggle or a large struggle? Are they that different really? I experiecne what I allow, we experience what we allow. Surely you cannot say black people are responsibile for what white people did to them? In part yes they are. Why? Fear. Everyone fears to be the frst to stand up and go against the flow, the staus quo, the very tide itself. Ms. Rosa Parkes refused to move ona bus and they beat her. MLK refused to accept the status quo and they killed him. Various black and white people refused to accept division in the world and were harmed, beaten,. even killed for their refusal. Their resistance changed the world and, like that single stone they started the avalanche! By refusing to be beaten they gave courage to everyone else and the movement was begun! So, MLK, Rosa Parkes, Malcolm X and others decided to NOT let things just happen to them and look what they began! After they started others followed. Jim Crowe was destroyed, a black man became president, the N word is no longer acceptable. Why did no-one rise up before? They were surely afraid, they would be singled out and they and their family punished and even killed. It remained that way until along came someone for whom ideals, justice, RIGHT were more important than life itself. Such people are indeed rare and, while I say this I ask myself; would I be one to stand up in the face of tyranny knowing my life is forfeit no matter what I do? Knowing my wife and kids could be harmed because of what I say or do? I truly do not know there but I hope so.
 
But it boils down to this and I will ask you simply; what are you prepared to allow yourself to endure? What do you deserve to suffer? Can you end your suffering or make it matter?
 
Today’s society of share everything on Facebook or tweet it, compose a sad video on YouTube etc is all geared to denying responsibility for our circumstances;
 
My life sucks and and it awful, please pity me! What are YOU doing to make it better? WHAT is wrong with your life? WHY is it like that?
People don’t understand me and treat me awfully. HAVE you tried explaining yourself differently or better? have you tried asking people WHAT they don’t understand?
Everyone criticises me and is cruel. MAYBE criticism is good and your skin needs some thickening? WHAT are they criticising you for? HOW are they criticising you? WHAT are you doing about it?
 
You see maybe I’m weird, maybe I’m odd but I came out of that awful relationship I mentioned and, like I said she put me through the mill and I went through a significant degree of living Hell. When I got clear adn my family were talking to me they may well have noticed something strange; a reticence, an unwillingness to talk about it. Not due to PTSD, bad memories, denial or any of that. I was angry. I was incandescently enraged; not with her; she had behaved as she thought right but with me, myself, for allowing it to happen! I did not want sympathy, I did not want comfort, I did not want understanding. I caused that situation, I let it happen, I did not stop it earlier than I did.I had to make sure it would never happen again! It was me who drive my family sick with worry. Yes she did stuff to me but I allowed her to and I let me do it AFTER she had already shown me what she was; her nature. See look at this, if a dog bites me, I cannot truly be angry at the dog, it is his nature to bite when afraid. If I keep going to where he’s hiding knowing he’ll bite me, then I am to blame and, frankly quite stupid! You laugh but we have all been guilty. That job, those relationships, that family, those friends, that lifestyle, We’ve all been there, we’ve all done it. Until it became enough, right?
 
What made Rosa Parkes decide not to move back on the bus that day? What made Dr. King start preaching as he did? What made Ghandi refuse to back down? Why did Jesus start preaching, John the Baptist? We may never truly know why but we do know one thing for sure; they did. We know they did and we also know this; we can too, even if our Big Moment is smaller, more personal, it doesn’t change the most important part of what saying “this shall continue no more” involves. The bravery; the sheer undeniable unshakeable faith in doing what is Right! Not everyone is brave enough and to teach and every last one of you who won your struggle; whether you changed the world or your job; I here today salute you! I salute you all! Here is the secret I can now tell you;
 
“It doesn’t matter what others think, it matters what you think, period. Your struggle is yours alone, your victory, huge! Fight on and be proud you fought, but fight!”
 
Let’s be honest, everyone can post on Facebook and receive sympathy but very few can fight like lions to change their world and maybe other people’s. Very few, remember that.

One Emotion to Rule Them All

“…what humans ultimately fear is nothing” “That makes no sense…” he began to protest. A sharp gesture with a black-gloved hand cut him off. “Not of nothing…not like you.” The hat inclined downward in something approximating a nod of respect. “They fear it all coming to an end and that, as it we’re, being that.” It paused to light a black cigarette, the void where its face should be simply drinking the light. “They fear becoming nothing…”
I have asked myself this many times, what is it which makes a human most human, what makes a human most essentially human, what defines people?
Fear. Small word, many meanings, many interpretations, many manifestations… Fear of failure, fear of change, fear of what other people might think of you or not think of you, fear of belonging or not belonging, fear of difference, fear of control or lack thereof. Ultimately fear of the one thing human beings have a knowledge of which all other creatures on the Earth appear to lack understanding of; death.
You see, it is a consideration, quite a large one, in a series that involves immortals of many kinds; they fear death or are they immune to such things? If they do not fear death what do they fear instead?
The Fear of the Known
So what does it boil down to? Where am I going with this? Well, all the other fears which rule human lives, I think, are rooted in fear of death. How so? Well we all fear death and are uncertain of what comes thereafter thus we worry and obsess about how we shall be remembered when we are gone, what our legacy shall be, what we leave behind.
Politicians worry about how History will remember them; average people about how their family and descendants will remember and honour them. So they spend what little time they have (never knowing how long their allotted span shall be) in worry and fear of being accepted, acknowledged and thought of. It does afterall have a large affect on life does it not, spending the majority of it (the adult portion) feeling the weight of the one certainty in life (that we have it for rent only and that the time shall come to return our loan) but never knowing when it shall end….
I know when it shall end and have to take my lesson to heart and realize how many of my fears are misplaced.
So why be afraid of change, or others’ opinions, of what I’ll have time to do?
I know I will be here for a period of time, I will live and have life for that period of time. I had dreams before of time beyond the time I had left to me, of old age, old things I might see or experience and those dreams are not to be but they may never have been anyway; I, under other circumstances, would not have known and….well you know the story.
To fear known consequences, those of a failure to act as you know you should perhaps?
So to live without fear, without unnecessary fear (logical fears have value, fear of an angry animal, a rapidly approaching vehicle, of hurting someone’s feelings) … to sensibly fear the Known, how that’s sensible. Fearing the know is wise and a good survival trait.
Fearing the Unknown, though…
How can that make any sense? If course, to be human means doing much that makes no sense. Our imagination has helped us achieve much and is a writers bread and butter, after all.
We spend much of our life embroiled in unknown fears, though. We devote a great deal of time to “what if” scenarios, to possibilities, and to things we are close to certain will never happen.
But they might…
What if they happen and we’re not ready because we thought it was stupid?
How would I live with myself if x happened because I didn’t pay attention to y?
They want you to think that this isn’t real because….
It seems like the human brain is very much wired to be prepared for quick flight at all times, anticipating potential dangers and always ready for them, even if they never happen. Seems a little wasteful to me…
I mean, let’s look at this logically; anything could happen, the universe is a rather random and chaotic place. In theory, the Earth could be wiped out in an eyeblink by a rogue asteroid or exploding star. Aliens could invade and either enslave or liberate us all. Nepharious secret societies could realise their plans and start the Big War again and bring down civilisation as we know it.
You could cross the road tomorrow and get killed by a car. This crazed man with a gun could decide you look like a nice target. You could catch the latest deadly virus that the media are making us frightened of. You could touch the wrong thing at what could be determined as the right or wrong time, depending on your point of view.
You are going to die at some point, that is one thing of which we can, as humans, be absolutely certain. At least you only have to do it once.
Bearing in mind that we, allegedly alone in the animal kingdom, know that dead is inevitable, you would think that this knowledge would give us a kind of strength. You would think that knowing this extra fact would be an advantage.
Instead we spend our entire existence coming up with stories as to where we go once the inevitable pays us a visit. We don’t like the idea that the inevitable vistor might come alone.
Fear as the Prime Motivator
Let’s take a look at people. I don’t mean individual ones, I mean the species as a whole. This is a theme which does indeed run deeply through The Chronicles and even has a character who exists primarily to drive it.
Excepting a small group of shaven-headed men and women that live in inhospitable places, have that tranquil and smug look, and like to dress in saffron; the majority of people alive spend the entirety of that blessing worrying about when that stops. Every decision we make, every interaction, every choice is driven by the knowledge that, one day, we will no longer be here.
Think about it; humanity’s prime motivation is not the improvement of our world or discovering something that will make existence a better place, it is about achieving immortality.
Serial Immortality; through children, we pass on not only our genes but our knowledge, our values, our social identity.
Historical Immortality; there are many ways to achieve this but we’ve all heard of Shakespeare, Einstein, Newton, Lincoln, Julius Caesar…
Digital Immortality; these days, people’s Facebook accounts outlive them so their memories, thoughts and, somewhat, their personality endures. It’s like eidactics but less interactive.
Our lives are driven to achieving one form of immortality or another, humanity is desperate to find the secret;
How to live longer; by exercising more, health fads, pills, and potions
How to look younger; and therefore trick Death into not realising it’s our time by using, guess what? Pills, fads, and potions!
Daring Death to Take Us; extreme sports and activities, so-called adrenaline activities. We survive that so we feel immortal.
Vampires, Zombies, etc; Literature is just filled with them now but what’s the fascination? Immortality and a stylish and sexy one at that, how could that be bad? Oh, the blood, right.
Obession with The Afterlife; we have to go somewhere when we die, right? Even people that don’t believe in any deity or religion have ideas about the afterlife, that there is one. Some don’t but, it would appear, the majority do.
Think about it, it is rather funny when you bring it down to that; we’re obsessed with vampires because one does not need to ascribe to a particular religion to be one of the Children of the Night. Zombies existing means something endures after death. Ghosts and spirits mean there is something immaterial beyond the physical. If we do something worthy of remembrance, then we’ve won, right?
To Live Without Fear?
Again, this theme runs right through Darkness Within. It is often discussed and debated. The idea that utter fearlessness is not a desirable condition seems to be what most characters conclude. Many are accused of being fearless but they will correct the speaker when this opinion is voiced.
Asmodeus will respond sarcastically, Sable will just smile.
Let’s take a look at what being truly fearless means; it means to be without fear, to fear nothing, not even the things we should fear. A fearless man would not hesitate before leaping off a cliff. A fearless man would plunge his hand into a fire to get the treasure. A fearless man would charge twenty heavily armed soldiers and not worry about how many ways he would die.
Fearless, as Asmodeus would put it, means insane. Fear is sensible, he might add, as long as you remind it who is master;
“Fear is good if it remembers who is boss; if it can control itself and focus more on being Caution than Terror. Fear must be controlled and never allowed off its chain. Keep it shackled and allow it to counsil but never rule…”
Fear keeps you alive and doing that for as long as possible is, as previously established, quite important to the average human. Insane, mouth-frothing fearlessness gets you killed everywhere except in the stories. Fear is useful as long as you do not let it dominate.
Letting Fear off the Leash
What happens when we let fear take control? Well, let’s talk about fear first, shall we?
Fear is a primal force, older than the human race, he lies that deep and left-over reptilian node, long overlaid by ‘more civilised’ layers of mentatation. It lies where those ancient instincts about running away from anything with teeth longer than our arm slumber in the primordial darkness.
It doesn’t always take much to have humanity stampede like the herd of wildebeast that have seen the lion, though.
Corona Virus.
Terrorism.
Cybercrime.
Russia
The Middle East.
Fear came into our make-up before emotions, logic and even language were invented. Fear doesn’t consult, it doesn’t go through any checks, it has its own express lane to the adrenal gland. It is capable of shutting off the brain almost entirely, cutting it out of the loop.
Terror is the deadliest weapon in existence because, in terror, people will destroy themselves, in panic they will run blindly into a far worse situation than the one they fled. People are crushed in the resulting stampedes. Panic is contageous and very hard to control; people will join in without actually knowing what it is the people running towards them are fleeing.
It is visceral, it is illogical, it is deadly.
It is also rather easy to manipulate in much less dramatic a fashion. Fear is also a very useful resource for a smart man or woman to exploit.
Timor Indominus
“Humans fear that which they do not understand and hate that which they fear”
Politicians seem to be the masters of this art in our current climate. Fear switches off emotions so if you can make your supporters fear those that oppose you, then they will lap up any old trash you give them. Neither ‘side’ of the political spectrum in America, Britian, or elsewhere are innocent of this.
The media have long made use of it to sell papers. Sensationalism, was their term for lying, exaggeration and fear-mongering. It sounds much better than propaganda doesn’t it?
It didn’t take long for powerful people to realise that this could not only be useful but used for something much more important than the distribution of gossip, scandal, and cheap pornography.
Though Asmodeus is often credited with coming up with the idea, he isn’t the only truly devious creature in existence; he’s one of the best at it but not the only one.
It has been well proven that, if you make a human nervous enough, their decision-making ability is impaired. Higher brain functions are overruled by emotional ones, impetuous thinking dominates, strong emotions such as anger are the strongest in this case.
If people are ruled by this fear/hate relationship, they will tend to believe anything that you say about the target of their fear as well as anything those who say they oppose the hated group, in turn, assert.
The world today is pretty much devided along these lines.
Let us use America as an example; Democrats are certain the Republicans and their chosen ‘Leader’ are the most currupt, dangerous, and hateful people in existence. We will believe anything we are told about said President, no matter how ridiculous it might sound.
In contrast; Republican supporters believe that said President is the victim of a vast conspiracy involving inhuman corruption and Anti-American secret societies who want to undermine everything they stand for. They, too, will believe any outlandish story they hear.
Social media, as we have mentioned in other articles, has made this incredibly easy to achieve and manage. It is easier to feed stories, rumours, and titbits to people. It is easier to employ people to comment and sprinkle stories in a seemingly innocent manner.
To be subject to fear is, therefore these days, to be subject to manipulation. Now that is a scary thought.
Conclusion
To live without fear utterly is pure insanity. To fear the unknown is, perhaps, a lesser though common insanity. To fear the known is, we are led to believe, sensible.
People are described as fearless but think about that for a moment. To be completely fearless is to be utterly insane. Fearless is a person who charges the enemy guns alone holding only a knife and a couple of grenades, laughing while they do it.
They might survive by the pure luck if any watching gods wanting to see what happens next but, sooner or later, they get bored and luck runs out.
Judicious fear is finding the long-forgotten drainage culvert and crawling up it at night to plant the grenades in weak spots and get out alive.
Fearing the Unknown will paralyse you and hold you back. Fearing the Known and respecting it, that’s the ticket, we are told. Respect and give fear a voice but make absolutely sure that it knows its place.
The secret is being afraid but doing it anyway; that’s real bravery; looking fear in the eye and smiling.

The Human Animal

I originally wrote this article in the hidden backwaters of my much forgotten WordPress account back in 2008 or so, maybe even 2007, I honestly forget now. I was – haha – inspired by the little picture here above and, in typical oddball writer fashion I began making stories and thinking about this strange image…It was doing the rounds for Facebook of whatever served as a medium for the rounds being done in at the time. I, of course, entered ‘Social Commentary’ mode and began to take off on mental wanderings.
 
It is a well known fact that writers are arrogant little buggers almost universally. We all think we are the best, that our insight into current events hold The Answer. That our social commentary, as represented in our latest work, is going to affect The Big Change! We all feel like M. Night Shyamalan’s character in The Lady in the Water as we go off on a writing binge, knowing we are going to do it this time. We might even be right. However, how we see, perceive and think about things, often in a very non-linear and very much odd fashion, that makes us writers isn’t it? We start by observing, commenting and then making out our own little sequences of explanation.
 
As I said, I wrote this long ago but am resurrecting it now because it’s just as valid now as it was then. Also I like the photo, the fake chimera looks cute and slightly pensive. Finally, I was thinking about some things related to this very topic earlier on today, let’s see whether I add them on or not…
 
 
How can we humans say we are not animals? Can one look around the world today and observe animals on the TV, in zoos or, for the more fortunate, in the wild and not say we are so unlike them? Are humans, as it has often been said, just a thin veneer of civilisation away from the ‘roughened beast’ and not as superior as we like to believe?
 
It seems human civilisation, in many ways, exists simply to prove the animals wrong, societal norms and rules, laws; they exist to try and hide what we secretly know and are deeply afraid of. If the rules went away, if the consequences were no longer there, if no-one were to judge….
Watch the wars and the conflict around the world and, when we break it down, it can be seen as the ago old act of marking and expanding (or defending) one’s territory, of establishing dominance, ensuring feeding and breeding rights. War is one example, fame is another, business is yet another. In all three we will tread upon, ‘defeat and cause to retreat (tail a-tween legs) our rivals and detractors in order to gain the dominance and success we think is ours by right. And what is this success but achievement of the most deeply programmed of biological goals? Look at how the young and not so young idolise the famous, the successful and why? Because success is shown as someone who has good genes to pass on, will mother or father good children and bring success and therefore status to anyone who is closely involved with them. So are we so unlike animals, the wolves and lions and other pack animals who have their Alphas who the others challenge or fawn upon, even emulate? Can we say we are so different or even better than them? Or are we actually worse?
 
Think of the war stories we keep hearing about. When Order breaks down, brutality, survival and killing become all too common, think of the stories we always hear about. The rapes, the murders, the doing as thou wilt which becomes all too common. The Rule of The Gun makes men believe they are above other laws, that they are the law and so can do as they please. Every major war or extended conflict which has taken place ever has been witness to this behaviour. Every single one.
 
Add to all this that we humans have something ‘other’ which animals apparently lack, the seat of conscience and reasoning. Some call it the soul, the ki, the yin and yang, the anima; many different names for the same thing; we have a knowledge and understanding of the concept of the future and our place in it, of our own mortality. We know what the possible consequences of our actions may be. We can choose to do or not to do a thing. An animal, we are told, behaves according to it’s nature, a human can overcome or alter their nature. We have the moral judgement, no matter the creed or person who drives or inspires that creed, of what is right and what is wrong. We can, in effect be better than animals – so many say – by doing that which gives us no immediate or noticeable benefit, improves our status not at all and may even cost us more than it gains for us. All the religious doctrines of the world touch upon the same thing, have the same laws, to do well by others has it’s own reward. That to take advantage of or damage others is not right, and we know this down to the very depth of our souls. We seem to have a hardwired desire to help those less fortunate than us, to preserve and protect our own children or even the children of others and to revile the murderer, the rapist, the selfish boor who takes but does not give back and so…animals do that too don’t they?
Maybe they do it in a more bestial, less ‘human’ way but your dog will protect you if you’re attacked, all baboons protect their young, elephants have been observed mourning their dead. These instincts are built in deep in order to allow groups of the same species to live and to survive together. But we break the rules, many of us consider ourselves only above the herd and will disadvantage many without blinking.
 
So are we worse than animals in that we choose to bend or even smash what appear to be the ultimate set in built in rules of Nature or have we reached the point where we are so many, that our prejudices and beliefs now define who our herd or pack are? No longer do species or genetics matter but country, religion, region, belief, idealistic viewpoint. But we crossed the single line which no ‘lower animal’ has crossed, we kill for the things they merely posture and frighten each other for in the most part. To kill a threat to your species is one thing and can be considered right, to kill for words on a page or shouted by a demagogue can never be.
So, back to the initial premise; are we better or worse than animals? Some would still say better, because we’re at the top of the food-chain and yes, as a species indeed we are but place one human or family against one African predator and we see that we are like ants, in huge numbers we are safe. Others will say we are worse because we have the intelligence, the judgement and the ability to choose, to improve, to REASON our actions and overcome our ‘baser’ instincts yet we do what some animals do (and others no animal would ever do) for pleasure or satisfaction. Others would say we are the same because all we do is just the same as any animal does, just exaggerated by our ability to study and reason these actions through and our vastly superior numbers.
 
Others would say it doesn’t matter, because in a generation or few, there’ll be no animals to compare ourselves to anymore, because we’ll have wiped them all out. And here, in this fact lies what makes us better or worse than any animal – depending on your viewpoint – so scared are we, with our reason and intelligence, of being just another animal, the thinking animal, that we have embarked on the largest and worst war of all, the war against Nature herself in order to prove to our confused minds that we are better than animal, that Nature has no power over us at all. Now there is a thing no other animal does so judge for yourself.
 
Judging…that’s the other side. I have also ascribed to a rather unpopular view of evolution. I think that maybe evolution happened as Darwin etc. described it but am also of the onion that they got it wrong. You see; here is my premise. Humans like to think that they are special, right? They like to think that they are superior and the very Apex of Creation’s Ladder. All religions give us hints of that. Earth was special. The Human race was special. This or that Nation, People or Ethnicity was special. This interpretation of the Bible is the right one and everyone else goes to Hell for Heresy. I am a Christian, by the way, as many of you know. I believe in God and Jesus, though, not in some fancy building or man wearing a dress which costs more than their average congregation earns in a year, between them all. So what does that make me? Me I suppose, I’ll have to make up a word, I suppose. Come on writer-man, do your thing!
 
Oh, I did it again didn’t I? Right! So, the human race thinks that they have to be the best and the top of the chain, right? Stands to reason that we evolved from a predator because they’re the best right? We had to have been carnivores at least, stands to reason. Except for some very vital evidence no-one likes to talk about.
 
That’s right! There are many thing we SHOULD have in common with our purported ancestors but don’t. Things we should have IF we direct-line evolved from them. Things like higher strength, endurance, larger teeth, better eye-sight, a digestive system which is actually built to digest red meat well….we need a Missing Link and there isn’t one! See this is the biggest misdirection in human history. There is no missing link. We will never find it but they will keep ‘looking’, want to know why? The human race doesn’t want to admit to it’s actual roots does it?
Take a look at human behaviour with me and answer for me a few questions as we go along. Ready? Look at our teeth. OK. Now, look at our behaviour, when disaster strikes what do we do? Look at what happens when panic sets in on a group of humans. Look at how we blindly ‘follow the leader’. Look at how we want to belong and be accepted. Sound like familiar behaviour? Sounds a lot like herd behaviour to me, what about you? But chimpanzees do… apophenia. Coined by German neurologist Klaus Conrad, it means looking for patterns where there are none, something humans do a lot of. Trying to find similarities which we are desperate to find. It’s not fudging the facts as such, we’re not doing it on purpose…
 
Now, before you get all excited; I am not going on the whole meat-eaters vs vegetarians angle here. I don’t care what you choose to put in your body nor by which orifice it gains egress. Humans enjoy making generalisations and assumptions too but we’ll get to that another time. I’m simply looking at the evidence we do have and not the evidence we are certain we will find one of these days to prove what we want to be proven.
 
Look at your average human and tell me one thing, your average human, not Chuck Norris clones or people who’re like how you think you are. How long would one of them last in the wild? Now, take your dog, evolved from wolves, domesticated by man. Most breeds couldn’t look less like wolves if they tried. For example;
 
I still bet you cash money that this spoiled little bugger, this seemingly ineffectual puffball of an animal would last at least twice as long as your average person would. See here’s the thing. When you read about people surviving in the wild by themselves you realise there is one vitally important thing that they learn in the process. A man, by himself, will struggle to bring down large enough game for himself and be able to eat and carry it because we have no natural adaptations for it. We have to make things to kill with, we have to make fire to cook it with, we cannot eat raw meat, we don’t have the teeth for it.
 
There was a favourite story of mine which spoke about the last human in existence 9 million years into the future and lost in his space craft. About the time he was in stasis (the reason for his advanced age and absence of other humans), a feline race had evolved in pretty much man-shape. The elite and the best had all killed one another in a religious war and left the idiot behind. He was the last member of his species too. If we did evolve from carnivores, we evolved from the idiots, the retards, those lacking even the most basic means of survival. If we evolved from meat-eaters, we evolved from a bloody useless one!
 
The only thing we seem to have kept from said ancestor is our love of violence and fighting. So maybe there was a carnivorous ancestor of ours somewhere along the chain of our history. Either that or we came from some rather belligerent omnivores/opportunistic omnivores. It really would explain an awful lot, right?

The Devil Made Me Do It

Oh dear, how often do we hear that phrase spoken?

Mass murderers or those who carry out shocking crimes say it. Idiots that do idiot things use it. It is seen as the one phrase which will either assuage them of all guilt or convince those who’d listen to such tosh believe them to be insane and, therefore, not responsible for their actions, get a reduced sentence or something of that nature. We all know how it is.

It’s almost become a cliché…

They ignore one basic fact however, we all do; Free Will. According to everything ever written about the devil prior to 1998, free will is a large part of the Arrangement. He cannot subvert it, apparently. He can suggest, he can manipulate, he can cajole and torment…he can try to break someone’s will down as he is said to have done with Job, but he cannot actually ‘make’ anyone do anything.

That, my friend, is ultimately your choice.

Free Will is Inviolate

You see, that is what the argument between Lucifer and his Father was all about apparently. Lucifer was of the opinion that the human race did not deserve it, that they would use it and abuse it. He felt, perhaps rightly, that because the Creator had made us from animal stock that we would behave like the animals we came from.

“A dog will love it’s master with while there is plenty of food and comfort but, should the master die and food be scare, it will have no compunction about taking advantage of convenient and abundant food source…”

He likes to say things like that, he can be quite smug about it. He will tell you he’s clever, he subtle, and he’s good at what he does but he never holds a gun to their heads. What a silly idea, he has People to do that for him!

They usually only tend to do that when money or loyalty are involved however.

For someone that is not really known for his own loyalty, that might be considered somewhat ironic but there it is.

Lucifer is convinced that humans, as organic creatures, are unreliable and impure, nothing compared to spiritual beings such as him. As far as Lucifer is concerned, though, everyone is inferior to him, including his own brothers. Especially Asmodeus, apparently.

As such, Lucifer is certain that mankind, with very little help from his Fallen angels and nephilim, will disappoint The Creator and break each and every one of His Laws.

That Lucifer did the same things is not a topic one wants to broach in his presence.

Given enough free will and encouragement, he is certain that humans will simply think of their own desires, needs, and wants. He is certain that it is a fear of the consequences only that prevents them in doing exactly as they please and no more. Remove the consequences, he says, and you will have beautiful chaos as all the fancy notions of a minority of humans implode under the weight of the selfish indulgances of the rest. He says it will be like a symphony.

Lucifer’s Plan

In order to give humans every opportunity to express their unfettered free will, Lucifer has not been idle these past millennia. In fact, he has been busier these last two centuries than ever before, it is claimed. This is due, in no small part, to his promotion of Asmodeus to his inner circle.

The Fallen are, as immortal and eternal beings, slow and resistent to change. They will follow the well-worn path of slow and gradual success because it works rather than try something new that might fail for the most part so the innovative Asmodeus had his work cut out in convincing the Horsemen from the very beginning. In all honesty, he has not completely succeeded yet.

Lucifer appears to have a careful eye on him and, if such rare coin is available among the Fallen, appears to trust him to some degree, something which is irritating enough to his ‘brothers’ to allow Asmodeus to enjoy it all the more. Of course with great power comes great danger but he’s prepared to take the risks when they are are so potentially profitable. Add to that the fact that the low opinion his fellow Fallen have of him is exactly what he wants them to think, you start to wonder what is really going on.

As Lucifer’s plan was always to subvert those things humans drew moral strength from and pushing out more and more of that which weakens and divides them, he cannot deny how effective Asmodeus’ methods are in furthering those goals. What might have once taken years of heavy, hard, and patient work can now be achieved in mere minutes. The infrastructure is there, one simply has to tweak the message to suit the need.

The Over-Used Excuse

“The devil provided you with the necessary tools to carry out your own desires” is a term Lucifer likes to employ when feeling of good humour. Let him explain;

“Just as you can lead the goats to water but cannot make them drink, nor can you do so with sheep, such as those who occupy this world’s largest cities in such profusion. I could hand a moral man a gun and he would either return it to me politely or put it away somewhere and forget about it. Now, if someone decides to keep that gun and later murders a number of people with it, claiming I made him do it? Am I really to blame? Yes, i provided the means but I did not provide the will and the desire; those were always there and would have found a way without me…”
Simply put, Job did not break and Lucifer did far worse things to him than most other people have suffered; I don’t think I’d have lasted close to half as long as he did to be honest, I think few could.
“Remember that forest, in the movie with those small people with hairy feet? it had elves, dwarves, and all those people in it? I remember how well they described it. ‘There is no evil here except what you bring with you’, one of them was told. That is how it works. I pull levers, I push buttons, I whisper, and I weedle but I did not place that which reacts to it where it is. I can push, I can weaken, and i can break. I can visit upon their mind nightmares such as they cannot imagine, I can kindle fear in their hearts but I cannot make them decide. I can influence only but if they decide to commit the sin, that is – excuse the pun – their affair.”

Now, there are few people on the world that possess the native strength to resist what Lucifer is capable of sending their way. He has refined and improved his techniques over a very long time but he is no longer an angel on the Earth, he cannot really give his ‘personal attention’ to that many people at a time.

To be honest, if you are receiving special attention from Lucifer and his cohorts, particular and focussed attention, then you are a very special person indeed, in his eyes. Either that or he or one of his Fallen are in need of a new body.

Now, like vampires, a Fallen does not come uninvited, there is a form of verbal contract required. Lucifer will tell you that he can invade a body against the will of its host but to do so is exhausting because a soul fighting for its very future is very strong and, afterall, it is on its home turf and he is not. A soul that is prepared to sit back passively is much preferred because, in 7 out of ten cases, the native soul will expell the invader sooner or later. So if you are hearing voices or seeing such things, it is likely a regular disembodied soul or run-of-the-mill standard mental illeness that is to blame.

It is clear that a great many more claim having experienced such a level of intimacy than Lucifer has, in fact, involved himself directly in. Even his nephilim are, compared to 6 billion humans, few in number and not an effective force in the war Lucifer is waging. The internet made it much easier and made certain formally taboo material much more readily available but nobody is forced to view, access, or read it. It is often said that exposure to certain material corrupts people but that is not true, the desire must exist in order for that to happen.

Perhaps it is easier to blame an unseen devil than accept that we have always had and always will have our own monsters.

Believing that the devil made them do it is, perhaps, a much easier pill to swallow than considering the fact that we all have, within us, the potential to do exactly the same thing if we’re pushed just the right way

That kind of thinking is exactly what Lucifer wants us to be having, of course; we told you he was clever.

The BIG Secret

Many people talk to me and ask me things like, “Alan, with your incredibly busy life, how did you fit in all the time for your incredible success?” or “How do you manage time for all those Hollywood interviews, questions from movie directors and still fight off all of the book contract offers?”…it is often around that point, as I am about to explore the great bounds of my literary success, that one of my babies tends to wake me up. I never get to see the rest of the dream…

So, maybe success has not come knocking at my door just yet. Maybe success has not even looked up my address in order to think about at least knowing where I even am. It’s getting to me, it’s just very, very busy…it’ll be around….


The road to success is a long and winding one, there is no doubt about that; it will branch, it will divide, it will double back, it will twist and circle, it will often do things worthy of an Escher drawing… 

If one were to describe the true path to success, one would be both completely correct but also somewhat unpopular. People prefer more friendly images….

Not quite the fairy-tale image we had imagined as neither kids nor even the one we thought of in our early adulthood but there it is. The truth is boring, the truth is a frustration, and the truth could sometimes use a change of clothes and be transported to a nicer locale and spiffed up a bit. People don’t like the everyday truth of their regular lives. That is why we exist. The writers and creators; we invest other worlds and situations where people can lose themselves from reality for a time. We are, to coin a term, the true escape artists, for we are in the business of creating mental escapes for other people.


I have a colleague who states that we writers actually are professional liars and I do see his point somewhat. We do invent and we do write fiction which means “made up” but do we actually lie? I disagree here, we do not lie, and we tell the truth in a new way, one which is more palpable. We’re set-dressers; we fancy the truth up in allegory and metaphor until the people accept it with a tear or a smile. If you want to look at it literally, all art could be considered a lie because only the original inspiration would be the actual truth. Everything else is just methods of making the same truth more enjoyable, more pleasurable, and more exciting. Giving them fantasy. Not the genre though, the purer concept. Fantasy; dream…reality as we wish it was or could be. My goal as a writer is to pick readers up from page one and to take a journey with them. A journey which will have something to teach us both. It really doesn’t matter how big a rebel writer you are, how much you want to challenge establishment and shake the roots of literature; we all have the same goal – we want to teach. We want people to understand. We want them to learn. So we invent worlds, situations, people, and things, mythologies and so on in order to tell our story and teach our lesson.


Now let’s take a momentary pause for a lesson of my own for you, my legions of readers.
Writing Tip: What is Your Lesson?


We always have a lesson.

If we write without a direction or a goal, what are we writing for? Be you – to use the popular parlance of NaWriMo – a pantser or a planner, you always have a plan, whether it’s in your head or on paper. You know – if you are what I prefer to call an impulsive writer, like me – where you pretty much want your main characters to end up and which ones you want to end up there. The ways between may be a little fuzzy right now but already have the reader’s ultimate destination pretty much planned out, right? What awaits both the reader and your characters there is the conclusion of your lesson. The resolution. If you don’t know what your lesson is or think you have lost sight of it, it is time to sit down, put the pen or keyboard down and think. If you encounter writer’s block here is my advice; remember your lesson. If you recall what you want to teach your reader and how, you’ll find a way through the labyrinth. You see your lesson is your compass, your direction, your map. Your compass and map which helps keep your story on track so it doesn’t wander and get lost. So if you are suffering writer’s block and are lost, ask yourself “what is my lesson?” and the way will present itself to you.

So, I digress, quite a lot actually, just ask my family…with that neat segway, we return!
How do I do it? People genuinely ask me this question or others like it, often. They neglect to mention my coming fame and how many thousands of copies of my book I am going to sell (or when they are actually going to but some like they promised…) but they exhibit curiosity at least, which is nice. Let me break it down for you.


I am 45 years old this year so not an altogether young man. I have five kids at home; they range from 16 years to just over 3 (two of the latter, you’ve all seen them), I work full time on an odd schedule five days a week. I am rarely at home and when I am, I am either eating, sleeping, showering or looking after my girls to give my dear and much overworked wife a rest. How do I fit all this writing in there? Quick answer? Babies sleep!

That is not me; he’s younger and has much better hair than I do. Neither of my babies have writing across their faces either (they have yet to learn that skill) but the principle is the same. This is how I often write, I have no real choice. There I am, immersed in my moment of great cathartic revelation when young missy #1 boots young missy #2 in the head and wakes her up. Both take this well but decide to broadcast their own version of events to mum and dad and we end up with one each, or some similar scenario. My daughters are becoming rather good critics it would turn out; they are constantly trying to edit my work on the fly, as it were. Their spelling could use some work but the will is there…seriously, they love touching the keyboard, it’s like it has magical baby attracting dust on it or something!


My writing career, over this four years, has thus been quite the learning curve. I tired to work around this; I set myself goals and fought to stick to them. I missed things because there was just no way could I give 100% of my attention to one single task. I would be proof-reading my latest soon-to-be best-seller and one of my sweetie-pies would politely request a moment of father’s time. I would return to my task later and possibly have forgotten where I had left off. Bad system maybe. I learned from that. I learned a lot and applied a lot of what I learned. I hear that is called self-improvement or something, I call it “hard work” or, as a nod to my Northern British roots, “graft”.

You see here is a controversial standpoint; everyone can write. It’s true. Everyone can. Just as everyone can learn a language, sing a song, play an instrument, cook a meal. Anyone – excepting those who have a physical or mental condition making them truly incapable of performing a task – can do a thing. Anyone. It is a commonly misused aspect of language that confuses people. I can sing and, either in the rare moments I am alone or occasionally in the shower I do, with great enthusiasm. I cannot sing well however. I have variously been told thing such as; cats under electroshock torture have better vocal control; a broken engine has better rhythm. That is our common omission these days.

Everyone can write but can they write well?

Now I am sometimes in two minds about this (nothing unusual there) one. Writing, like a language is something one can learn. Just as I arrived in Spain at the age of 14 with a very basic understanding of the Spanish language but now live in a home where English is only spoken by me to the babies, one can improve with practise and willpower. I forced myself to learn, apply and improve my Spanish. I was often alone practising my “rrr” (“Round and Round the Rowan, the ragged rascal ran” thank you all of my Scottish friends, especially the old hotel concierge who taught me that) before a mirror, I would force myself to think Spanish (like Clint Eastwood did in the film with the plane…oh no, that was Russian) for longer and longer periods. Then I cracked it and it became automatic. Writing can be like that too. You can learn it, improve at it, learn its usage, its rules and it’s “ins and outs”. You can do that. You can do that very well and you can make money that way.

Time for another distinction right? Indeed it is. One can learn to write but can one learn to story tell? Ah, there is that rash the Danish Prince had which he desired to ease with judicious application of friction. You can write, you can follow the rules and you can be technically perfect but you still won’t sell. Why? Your books are more boring than ones you learned all those rules from that is why. You see it’s not you skill at writing which draws the reader in, it’s the story. It’s always been about the story. You call a certain Hawaiian actor know for his muscles representing Hercules in a certain movie? This illustrates my point clearly. People wanted the unkillable hero slaying, vanquishing and so forth; they wanted the mythic, the story, and the tale. Deep down though they wanted to be inspired and to be told that there is justice in a world where none appeared to exist. First, though, they wanted to be entertained. Fail to entertain or “hook” your audience and it’s bye-bye fame, fortune that movie or TV deal and sex with that famous actress you want to have in your movie. Won’t happen.

“Can we learn story-telling like we did writing Oh! Great and wise Bard?” I hear you all crying, all two of you, in oddly syncopated unison. “Can we, one day be master or mistress story-tellers like you?”

The answer is no. Not like me, not every because there is only one me (thank God) and only one you. No-one can teach you to story-tell, that comes from you. What does that involve? Let’s take a look at some of the elements of story-telling shall we;

  1. The actual setting and world; most people don’t realise this is more important than the characters in my opinion. We are a product of where we are from. Your characters have to be believable as people therefore they must be influenced the same way people are, am I right?
  2. The rules and laws of that world. Again ignore these at your peril because these too shape the characters and will determine stereotypes and how to break or define them.
  3. Your lesson. Your main character is going to embody the lesson and deliver it’s teachings, or receive them through the course of his/her development. Your lesser characters will be smaller parts of the lesson and will help direct the story to its resolution accordingly.
  4. Your story. What is the basic premise of the story? What will the journey be? What is the actual point of your writing? What do you want to create? How will you present your lesson and how will people begin from ignorance and arrive at enlightenment?
  5. Your Main Character. Once you know what you need, you can start to personify it. You need to know what you want to achieve before you give it form, I think. Your main character is going to be important but you need to decide what type of main character is he going to be? A Master or a Student? Will she be enlightening others or will be point of the story be about their journey mirroring that of the reader; that they discover together?
  6. Villain or Opposing Force. What is your main character in opposition of, how does defeat of this concept, force, idea or actual persons help their story be learned and their lesson driven home. What is the opposite of their lesson? What type of villain do you want? Tragic, Anti-hero, Faceless, inscrutable? Is the lesson delivered by defeating or even ‘converting’ the villain or must the villain be diverted, avoided or destroyed? The type of the villain or force which must be faced will add aspects to the Main Character or, of course…
  7. Allies and Friends. Or supposed friends, traitors and secret helpers. Once you have established the basics, you can start to add the dynamics, the flesh and the details. Once you know your lesson and the basic lesson, task, quest or purpose of your main character, where you want them to end up, you can start figuring out how they get there and who they will need along the way to help or hinder them (sub-lessons which could either be preludes to the main lesson or distractions). Of course you need to determine how much about these others we need to know and, as always measure it against whether their backgrounds and lessons distract from the main lesson or add to it, deepen and enrich or muddy and confuse.
  8. Language. Now I know that if there was a different language appearing in your story, you should have determined this in Step 1 and, I hope you did. You shall not be writing your entire book in said tongue however, selling it would be difficult were you to do that. You’ll be writing in English or your native language I would image but how? Is you language going to be modern, post-modern, idiomatic/slang/ dialect, historical/archaic? This will also determine your audience, obviously and affect the flow of your story as well as you…
  9. Style. Of course we have our points of view styles which you all know so much about, folks love to talk about them so I won’t go over the same ground every “writing coach/guru” treads. Suffice it to say, POV or, as it used to be called Voice has huge effect on both your characters and your story. The Voice you choose will add or remove limitations to your narrative that which is, finally..
  10. The Journey. This is the hardest part, combining together and maintaining whole all of the elements so far laid out. This is the part which talent lives in. How to make your characters believable. How to use humour in just the right amount for it to be both relevant and funny (everyone thinks they are funny, few of us actually are, like with my singing). How to develop your characters. How to handle and represent conflict. How to play language like a musician would play and instrument. How to lead the reader up the right path, down the wrong one, back to the right one (maybe). How to create tension, fear and suspense, realism or workable fantasy.

 

Throughout I want to stress something vital; your voice, your story, your lesson. There are hundreds of vampires falling in love with angels, to save the world from a demon they are also secretly in love with. The coming of age girl beloved by the mysterious immortal and then introduced into the secret ‘adult’ world has already been done ad-nauseum. You’re never going to make your name by writing what is popular. You will do that by writing your story. This way IS going to take longer and won’t net you as many fickle fans who’ll abandon you for the next great and popular thing in an eye blink but, to quote “you don’t crap today’s food until tomorrow.” You have to work today in order to rap the rewards tomorrow, plant the crops on time to harvest them later. Work your butt off now so that in one year, two or more, you will see the benefits.

Here is my vital and greatest lesson. There is no lesson! Well there obviously is or I’d have just been waffling for the past however long this has been (I have been told I do this on occasion..). A better way to say it is that there no formula to success. There is no quick hop, skip and jump. There are no pills which will make you lose weight without exercising. There is only hard work, hard lessons and a willingness to learn and accept that one needs to learn. You see that is, if there needs to be one, the lesson;


“Be modest enough to know your failures, intelligent enough to see a lesson and wise enough to accept your failures. Also be strong enough to refuse to surrender. Accept criticism and assistance and be clever enough to know the difference”

 

The Big Secret

That is, essentially, it; there is one big secret and that is that you are the secret. There is the other secret, of course that all those people who advertise courses etc. lied to you but they were charging money so of course they lied. I’m doing this for free as lying benefits me not at all, plus I dislike it anyway. Not lied as such but exaggerated, a lot. Anyone can write it is true but is everybody prepared to put in the hard work to get to the point of being able to write well? Let me finish by telling you what I think this involves;

  1. Take a risk and do not write about ghost-hunting, demon loving secretly half angel saviours of the world fighting against cheese-hating aliens with butts for mouths unless you can make it somehow different and original; seriously different. Maybe nothing at all to do with those over-used tropes is better.
  2. Find your Voice first. You can know all the rules, have read all of the greats (and not so greats), you could have taken courses, attended seminars and been fed the best lines money can buy but your Voice is what will sell your work, nothing else. Proscribed ‘rules’ to success at x,y or z will only sell books for the writers of said rules.
  3. Experiment. Try to be different. Make up words. Invent your own language. Doodle bits about your main character, play with them and throw them into situations to see how they react. Never write the first thing which comes to your mind unless it gives you the chills when you re-read it.
  4. Allow your characters to occasionally develop by themselves. I can tell you that Sham (a central character to BOTH of my upcoming trilogies) started life as a throw-away wise mentor, ancient wisdom delivering holy man, keeper of secrets type trope. He had plans of his own, it would seem. He managed to work his way into other scenes and story lines until I had to just let him have his way and it was too late to get him out anyway. Also he added just what that scene had been missing; some humour, an odd interpretation or a crude one, a very human aspect it had lacked. Thanks to him the tradition of Lupernikes stew came to into being, he also managed to link all the disparate story lines together. I don’t know how he did it, and I don’t think he knows either. I let him develop though and it’s often scary to do that but very worth it.
  5. Don’t be afraid to do something completely new. We are artists, do you remember? Tell me of one artist who got famous for doing exactly what everyone else did? That’s right, none opf them. If you want to write what everyone else is, good luck to you but you’ll be stuck in the realms of fanfic forever.
  6. Ultimately decide WHY you’re writing. For money? For someone you love? For yourself? To prove a point? To speak for the voiceless? Because the Voices tell you to? Or because you need Words like others need oxygen? Is it Passion which drives you or is it something else? I can tell you that, if it is NOT Passion, you’re not going to make it in the long term. Passion is the only thing which will keep you going through it all.
  7. The rejection, the disappointment, the rebuttals, the criticism, the insults, the mockery of your skill and your work. There are people who will rip everthing you do because they arfe jealous or they simply enjoy doing that, the internet is full of them. They’ll complain about your use of words or a simple grammatical error. Roll with the punches and persevere. You cannot avoid them. They are all coming, doubt it not. They are not avoidable, you are on the internet, and they are coming, get ready.Ticken your skin ahead of time. You will need your will-power, a certainty of your Lesson and your Vision, as well as your Passion to face down the obstacles however. If you’re in this for the money, the girls or the fame, you’re in for a shock. Just saying. Those things may come but you will have to earn them first.

 

I am in it for what I consider to be all the right reasons and I admit to being at least moderately surprised. I have been at this for a year and things are only now starting to pick up. Why? Every day I am promoting, trying new things, refining my work and developing it. Next year I am going to do a major overhaul of everything I have written and polish it. Once it is perfect I have a plan. That is coming in the next post. For now believe in yourself because of if you don’t, how can you convince complete strangers to?

Writers #WritingTips #AspringAuthors #authors #eBooks #motivation #BookWritingPixies #creation #Inkslingers #Wordsmiths

We Don’t Need Another Hero

(Or the Rise of the Anti-Hero)
We thank the incomparible Ms. Turner for the inspiration and the fact that your song is now stuck in my head.
The idea of the anti-hero is hardly a new one; literature is full of examples and several of these have served as inspiration, to some degree, in The Chronicles.
  • Conan the Barbabarian (or Conan the Cimmerian originally) was a thief, a killer, and a rogue who was more interested in his ongoing survival than helping people, that sort of came as a happy coincidence than his primary concern.
  • Elric of Melnibone, a necromancer and power-hungry beast who was looking for revenge rather and personal satisfaction predominantly but he ended up hailed as a somewhat hero all the same.
  • Lestat de Lioncourt, he is mostly interested in being a great vampire and surviving. He gladly uses people and even makes others vampires so that he isn’t lonely. He is mainly concerned with his pursuit of sensation and hedonism but has a loyalty towards his friends and will protect them. That does not mean that he’d risk his life for them, though. He is selfish and vain.
All of these characters and others are not, in themselves, heroic beings but they do heroic things and that is part of what makes them popular, we think. let us analyse it more closely.
The Hero of Olde
Imagine your typical hero, hero. They tend to be attractive to look at, they are muscular if male and lithe and slender if female, they are excellent in combat, and virtuous to a fault, usually ascribing to some antique Code which fell out of fashion among everyone else. They are a paragon.
  • Will always help the weak and defend them against evil
  • Will confront evil wherever they find it
  • Be at the front of any charge
  • They never lie or deceive people
  • Never do anything for personal gain; they will not cheat, steall, or murder
  • They will always go back for an injured colleague that falls behind
  • They would risk their life to save that of a person in danger
  • They will see everyone else as Good as they are
There is quite a depressing quote on heroes, I think you know it, though Asmodeus has paraphrased it a little;
“There are two types of people in this situation; dead heroes and live bastards. Remember that it was that live bastard that pulled your arse out of the fire while the dead hero is still down there…”
Heroes are well and good, they have their uses, but they do tend to become rather predictable after a while.
How the Hero Did Evolve
A long way back in time, when genres were much more tightly controlled, the hero would often be the one diguised as a member of the ‘lower classes’ and, despite his diguise being about as convincing as Superman’s, would remain anonymous until it was time to realise his destiny. Now, narrative causality would ensure that he learned to get in good shape, not catch any horrible or disfiguring diseases, and get the right amount to weapons training to be useful.
Through various adventures, which he would enjoy with a number of interesting sidekicks, who served to help him learn and essential skill, he arrives where the villian is waiting and kills him in a dramatic battle. Sometimes, for variety, his first attempt fails and he is imprisoned, only to escape and kill the villain in a more unexpected and less-evenly-matched final confrontation.
It worked for centuries, that good formula and, oddly enough, it came back with some subtle differences and remains quite popular in two or three different incarnations. Let’s summarise it and let you figure it out;
  • Unregarded and hidden away in less than idea surroundings.
  • Conditioned to believe they are unattractive and worthless.
  • Some form of abuse suffered, at least subtly but enough to make the reader uncomfortable.
  • Secret destiny revealed by mentor type character.
  • Become immediately attractive to pretty much everyone at that moment
  • Get a lot of cool friends, at least one of whom dies in heartwrenching fashion.
  • Are usually the scion (often unknown or illegitimately) of some powereful monarch or PowerFul Person and heir to an Amazing Thing.
  • Have martial or other gifts unlike “anyone we have ever seen”.
  • Have a fully-functional deflector against even the most dramatic forms of death until they arrive at their destiny, where it malfunctions but, it turns out, actually did work because they’re not really dead afterall.
See? It makes sense when you break it down properly.
Predictable. Lacking in nuance. Lacking in Depth.
Entertaining and enjoyable obviously if that’s what you are in the mood for, there is no doubt about that. It’s like a straight action movie, it’s fun to watch but you know they’re going to win in the end, you’re just enjoying the journey, the explosions, and the witty one-liners; usually from the morally-flexible ethnic sidekick.
The Anti-Hero
The anti-hero is, as one might expect, the hero that isn’t. They do, as we mentioned, do acts of heroic scale; they fight monsters, kill bad people, resist oppression, defeat the villain, etc. but they are, more of than not, motivated by their own needs and desires rather than those of others.
Take Deadpool; he’s out for revenge initially; then he moves onto being worthy of entering whichever heaven or afterlife his girlfriend is in. He does heroic things and defeats evil but he’s doing it for himself, ultimately. This does not make him any less likeable, though. His wisecracks and excellent repartee of course help with that but, and here’s the key, him not being perfect makes him more accessible.
Look at it this way; these paragons, you’re born as one of those. You’re born Chosen and with amazing talents, you can’t become that. The anti-hero, though, they’re just like us, warts and all. They tend not to be attractive or popular but, they tend to not really care about that.
Like all great comedians, they tend to use humour as a defense and to be liked or, at least, considered inoffensive or, in Deadpool’s case, obnoxious enough to be left alone.
Enter Asmodeus
He would certainly have a joke about that title, and no hesitation in telling it to you. Asmodeus enjoys making people squirm, he likes making them uncomfortable, and out of their depth.
It is commonly thought that he gains pleasure from people’s discomfort and, ultimately, pain and suffering because, to many, one thing leads to another. He does nothing about this talk though, of course, he is aware of it.
Instead he makes silly and dirty jokes, makes people uncomfortable in his presence, shares socially unacceptable observations (often of a sexual or anatomical nature), hides away in his little hidey-hole and buries himself in his ‘work’, he lets people arrive at their own conclusions. He works very hard to make sure that those conclusions are the wrong ones.
He has a plan and is not shy about people dying along the way as long as he is not one of those people. He will take risk but never direct ones because he is, to a point, very careful to make sure that no trail can lead back to him.
He is in no small amount of danger should he be discovered but, then again, he has gone to incredible lengths to make sure that he is not.
Add to this that he has spent a lot of time and effort making sure that people do not even consider suspecting him of doing anything intelligent or creative.
Conclusion
The tagline of The Chronicles of Enoch : Preludes includes the following
“In a time of danger and the rise of the shadow….one would think we need a hero.
We don’t.
….We need a bastard..”
This, to me, encapsulates the need for the anti-hero. Let’s be honest here, if the hero type is predictable and follows certain rules without exception, they are both predictable and a liability. If they are going to behave in a certain manner when faced with certain circumstances, they can be manipulated.
Take Sable. He is not a typical hero in a number of ways but, in his essence, is a moral and honourable being. He will endanger himself in order to protect his friends or the innocent, he would stop a nothing to protect Enoch (something Gilgamesh manipulates masterfully in Darkness Within but, thankfully, for a good reason). He allows himself to be captured and brutally tortured so that his friends can get away, resulting in a lot of pain and suffering for himself along the way. All of this happens because Sable can, as a hero, manipulated, his actions predicted.
Asmodeus willingly sacrifices people who trust him, would shoot the hostage and then the enemy without compunction, he would ‘trust’ his friends to act as he anticipates they would when they are in a dangerous situation he created but not cry too much if they failed to escape unscathed.
Why? Because very few people know Asmodeus as he really is, they know one or more of his personas but they, very importantly, don’t know him so he’s not invested in anyone. Well, almost anyone but that’s as much of a spoiler as you’re getting.
So; that is why we don’t always need heroes because an anti-hero is more interesting, more entertaining, more frustrating and engaging, more unpredictable and, with all of that, they are a much deeper and enjoyable character. People love the anti-hero because they can identify with them, see themselves as them, and even admire them.
Or maybe we still need heroes because sacrifice is what really gets things done when everything is in the balance but we also need a capable bastard or two to help them out.

Secret Societies and Hollow Men

(and women, of course)
There are dozens, if not more, relatively new and ancient secret societies in the world today; all of them have a single aim driving their existence and continued survival; world domination.
There is, to my mind, one small problem with that picture; how can they all be working towards world domination? Surely we only need one shadow government subverting everything? They cannot be competing to be the dominant subverter surely?
That would, we believe, be rather silly.
So, a more logical mind would come to a different conclusion; either there are no secret societies at all or there is only one of that that is real; the others are inventions of people like Dan Brown. perhaps he is responsible for all of them but the secret masters let him live for their amusement.
Everybody Wants To….
Tear for Fears references aside, there are, at last count, over 100 secret societies operating either large-scale or minor subversion. Let us list some of them, at least those we get to meet to a degree in The Chronicles of Enoch;
  • The Illuminati; Made popular by Mr. Brown though few remember the original Illuminati Trilogy that started it all. They are, allegedly, an organisation formed by some of history’s greatest minds whose primary objective is to bring down the Catholic Church and usher in a new age of secular equality for all. As long as said people do what the Illuminati tell them to do. They are “always watching over” us and are said to monitor all communications and surveil every single person in the world for their own protection from unnamed evil forces (possibly the Catholic Chruch).
  • The Rothschilds; A massive banking legacy that controls all the world’s politicians and decides who wins elections. They own all of the world’s banks and control all of the wealth; therefore are dominant in pretty much every aspect of society and life if you think about. It is supposed that there might be a mild antisemetic element to this conspiracy but when has that ever stopped someone?
  • The Nine Unknown Men; a society formed in India somewhere around around either the beginning of the 19th Century of the current era or 270 B.C, depending on who you listen to. These nine men were elected to hide away and guard knowledge deemed dangerous to the human race but vital for its eventual survival. They were to watch and guard until the time was deemed right. They have supposedly leaked secret knowledge on advanced technology and so forth to trustworthy individuals (such as Nikola Tesla) over the years.
  • The Knights Templar; on Friday 13th October 1307, all members of this order were supposedly arrested and executed in quite a well-synchronised operation for the time. They were tried for heresy and devil-worship but, it was thought, their accusers were either after their vast fortune in cash and land deeds or whatever it was that they found under what is now the Western Wall in Jersusalem. Though thought to be extinct, many believe that the Order survives today and may even have morphed into Freemasonry and Roscrucians, and even the modern Knights Templar.
  • The Skull and Bones Society; based out of America’s elite Yale University “Bonesmen” as members are called have included men such as George H.W Bush, George W. Bush, members of Fortune 500 corporations, and the CIA. They are said to be part of a plan for these wealthy and influential individuals to, you may be surprised to learn, take over the world.
  • Opus Dei; Formed by a Spanish priest in 1928, “The Work of God” is an orthodox Catholic organisation recognised and funded by the Vatican. They are said to own and control a number of banks in Spain, Latin America, and a number of other predominantly Catholic countries. Their exact aims are uncertain but Catholic domination is seen as one of them.
  • The Bilberbergs; not a secret society as such because everyone knows about their meetings and where they take place but nobody except the very influential attendees know what happens at those closed-door meetings. The Premiers of the world’s nations, important academics, financial risining stars, and others deemed worthy of an invite. The fact that the Chatham House Rule nondisclosure is applied to all attendees, conspiracy is rife in regards to this group.
That is, of course, not even a fraction of the number of shadowy organisations out there either. They all seem to share a number of important things in common;
  1. World Domination
  2. Secret Knowledge
  3. Hidden Sources of Wealth
  4. Influential Members
  5. A Lot of Rumours But Nothing Proveable
The question of why there are so many of them is one nobody seems willing to provide a decent answer to or, how they are going to share the world once they have dominated it to their satisfaction
The Chronicles Makes its Move
Those of you who have been paying attention to our artworks will have noticed that a number of those secret societies get at least a nod in The Chronicles. It might be their symbolism being hidden in such an artwork and, therefore, being associated with certain characters, it might be characters either claiming or truly belonging to one of those organisations, it might be a certain character claiming to be feeding all rumours related to a number of these societies on the internet but they are there.
The Chronicles cannot be a work that deeply involves conspiracies and not included at least two of them.
The Illuminati; we meet at least three Illuminati characters towards the end of Darkness Within;
  • Douglas Fairfield; their Chief of Operations and Intelligence based out of Home Base, an artificially created island somewhere in the South Pacific. This island is hidden from all forms of detection using technology of unknown origin. Fairfield is a former Met Police and Mi6 operative and manages a vast surveillance network that uses covert drones, hacking into metropolitan CCTV networks, and backdoors into the monitoring networks most governments use to keep an eye on their citizens. Asmodeus has womed his way undetected into some of their servers.
  • Kaleb Aristedes; a billionaire playboy (there must always be one) and accomplished pilot who acts as ‘taxi driver’ for the Illuminati. He ferries whoever needs to be taken between Home Base and anywhere else in the world using a series of hidden fuel dumps across the ocean.
  • Lord Sir James Perrithwaite; former politician, distant cousin to the Queen who died over 30 years ago. The Illuminati like to pick their Grandmasters from the dead as it makes things less complicated, ultimately. It also means that Perrithwaite may never leave Home Base or be seen in the world, especially considering his former position.
An amusing note to add at this point is that my decision to include the Illuminati was inspired by how easy they are to join these days. I got an email telling me that all I had to do to join is sign up. I could rise through the levels of their ranks by purchasing their cheaply made jewellery and associated tat. I’d always thought it was more challenging than that was signed up with no hesitation. I kept getting thier well-written motivational emails for a while until they realised I was unlikely to make a purchase.
The Nine Unknown Men; there is only one of the Men present in Darkness Within but we do have plans to involve others later on in the series;
  • Rabbi Tav Pachowski; rabbi Pachowski was recruited into the Unknown Men by Marcus Vanderbilt, the father of Charles and Peter. At this time, the rabbia has actively been collecting intelligence on known Fallen angels and Nephilim around the Atlanta area. He has been tailing Sable for what may well turn out to be very personal reasons.
Of course, there is no denying that Asmodeus is very much involved in an awful lot of conspiracy traffic these days; many of the stranger pieces of information regarding the weirdest of the secret societies tend to come from his archives and bots. He especially likes the ones which cause arguments and mistrust, they are the kind that, he’ll tell you, require hard work and artistry.
Conclusion
There is no question that people are fascinated by the possibility of secret people, doing secret things in secret places which affect the rest of us. There is a lasting appeal to knowing a little bit more about these shadowy figures we can influence in no way whatsoever, or at least thinking that we do of course.
Just like ancient peoples invented gods and demi-urges to explain difficult, unexpected or inexplicable natural events, modern people need explanations too, it would seem. We need to believe there is some kind of sense and order to it all in direct opposition to all evidence.
Nefaerious secret people manipulating everything from the shows on television to the words you consciously see in the newspapers are as good an explanation as any other.
Asmodeus has one final word for you, though;
“…these people who told you about these organisations, these societies that hide in secret places and, basically control everything, right? These people who provide the information you read about; how do they do that when said organisations seem rather keen on secrecy and privacy and, it is hinted, are not shy about discouraging – terminally quite often – interest in their activities? How did they stay alive long enough to actually report it?
“So, I think we can safely say that any information you are seeing on the internet either comes from this very room or, you can assume that it is faked by someone else because the mere fact that it is ‘out there’ means that it is in no way a threat to Them; whichever They it happens to be referring to or popular at the time…”

How The Truth Became Unfashionable

 propaganda
We live in a world which is, as most of us are aware, dominated by information. Thanks to smart-phones, smart TV’s, tablets, phablets, crablets (that one isn’t real) – smart everything except for people – we are connected and appraised of events from around the corner or around the world twenty-four hours a day. We never miss a single thing. If a politician farts quietly while leaving an interview, somebody will tweet, twerp, fwerp or burp about it. You can guarantee it.
SMXLL

 In fact, you can pretty much guarantee that should you get shot, murdered, assaulted or hit by a car these days, people will, thankfully be on hand with a telephone…to film your final moments and share them on social media later with a frowny face or two…maybe even a frowny face with a tear falling from one eye if you’re lucky. Did you think I was going to say that would call 999 / 911? Oh dear me, somebody has been living under a rock for a while, haven’t they now? That would indeed be responsibile and the right thing to do but how many likes would they get for that? How many followers? Come now! Who wants to accept responsibility these days?
This leads me onto my principle, actual point, I’ll be back to social media later on, don’t worry, it’s important but I have other things to cover first. Social media plays a very large role in what I’m about to talk about, actually a very large part so we will be coming back here.
Lets talk about lies, shall we? Untruths. Misdirections. Misleading statements. Falsehood. Or, as they are more popularly termed  – in a very nice and nonjudgemental fashion – today,  alternative facts.
SMXLL

I believe we used to call them lies but that could be Russians hacking the Merriam Webster database in order to make me think that. That is what they do isn’t it? They want to destroy our freedom and replace it with their freedom which isn’t even communism anymore so…..well…yes…right…ah…I don’t know! See that is just it, the age old trick; keep them confused and fighting while we control what they know and fight about.  Let me summarise The Rules right here;
  1. Identify the Enemy. Ideally someone who looks a little different, acts a little differently or speaks differently. Someone who can be held responsible for everything which has gone wrong since things were better; everything from The Economy to the store running out of peanut butter last night
  2. Identify their Agenda. They want to destroy something we consider important. Taco Tuesday for example. Those £%&*$£”* Mexicans want us to eat Tacos every day! They plan to introduce Fajita Law into America! Our Grandfather’s father died in the battle of Ruby Tuesdays to defend our right to American versions of foreign cuisine on set days of the week goddammit!
  3. Identify the Group which is Right. Make it so that one of the Values the target population holds dear is betrayed by not supporting The Group. Identify those who have left the Group as having copulated with the wives of goats from Afghanistani muslim, lesbian, mixed race, transsexual haters of Freedom and Truth!
  4. Identify your Stand. Choose something nebulous and undefinable. Identify how They are attacking said Value and the Group is defending it but don’t tell people how either is carrying out their activity. Choose something like Freedom, the Right to Bare Feet, Freedom to sacrifice cats to Anubis every 3rd Friday evening, whatever, it doesn’t matter. Just be sure to focus on the fact that Jesus or (diety of choice) is said to approve of said value.
  5. Alternate your Facts. Now you have established that the Donut Hating, Spanish Speaking, Grey-Haired, People from Around the Corner will do anything to destroy your right to eat a donut with enough calories to fuel a battalion of horses for breakfast and will take all of your donuts from you, we can now ensure that nobody will believe anything they say. They will lie to undermine our basic right to sugary fried dough snacks, they will not attack directly, that is not their style, they will try to discredit and negatively influence people about us. They will talk about the C-word and the F-word, they will bribe doctors to talk about calories, health and life expectancy but it will all be lies! Lies I tell you!
SMLXL

We used to call it propaganda and it was used to manipulate perfectly reasonable people into doing rather stupid and objectionable things. Nothing like what is going on today then right?
MXLLSSLXLM
Well, OK, the fellows on the left ARE better dressed and somewhat more organised, this is true. Both groups, however are convinced that folks who don’t look like they do (for which said folks are extremely grateful each and every day) are responsible for every Ill of Society and that removal of said people (though they do not view them as people, oh no, not at all) will Make Everything Great Again, just like that. It’s magic. Actually I am not joking, it is!
We know the sky is blue, except when it’s night time or cloudy or any weather condition you would care to name. I used that example intentionally because it is very open to interpretation. There are a large number of people here who will come up with all kinds of alternatives and caveats. That is the point, an illustration for this excercise.
Let’s illustrate;
  1. The sky is blue. This is fact. During the day, they firmament surely does take on an azure cast which is rather apparent.
  2. But what about when it’s cloudy? Well, it’s still blue underneath the clouds isn’t it?
  3. It might be but how do you know? Well that’s what I heard and read and what they taught me.
  4. Oh what THEY taught you? Yes, my teachers and …
  5. No! Servants of the Donut Haters! Eh what?
  6. They want you not to think for yourself. How do you know the sky is always blue? It goes black at night. Maybe cloudy is the sky changing colour, right? Not all cloudy days are the same colour. Well that is true…
  7. And the Donut-Hating Transsexual orang-utans from China don’t like colors other than blue. They don’t? But why?
  8. Nobody knows. They do say that Donuts make blue look bad on people who eat them and only want people who don’t eat donuts to be able to wear blue. But I like blue, it brings out my eyes they tell me. My friends and family I mean. Good Donut Eaters I can trust!
  9. That’s right! They are trying to take both out Donuts and the colour blue away from us! I have heard too that they want to change the colour of the sky in order to keep blue for themselves. They’ll start with our Donuts but they’ll want waffles next, then churros… No! They can’t do that! Hows can we stop them?
SMLXL

Ok, ok I may have simplified slightly for cheap comedic cracks but the principles are sound. You’ve seen it today. Something will happen and the truth of the situation is obvious right? Some guys buys a load of assault weapons and murders innocent people, the answer is simple; why does no-one else see that? How could people think that living exclusively on donuts and nothing else will make you look like Arnold Swarzenegger in his prime, who could possibly believe that to be true? Then you see people who do and will vehemently defend that point of view against all detractors, defend it more viciously that they would defend their own children. They will also defend as strongly ALL opinions of their Group from anyone who does not belong to it and may be a hidden traitor. Lets us entertain ourselves with some examples from real world social media interactions but altered to protect anonimity and to add amusement;
  1. You I think yellow frosting on strawberry donuts is just silly, Dunky-Dream are just being ridiculous….How dare you! Dunky-Dream are the defenders of donut freedom and protect us from the evils of salad munchers who will take all our blue away! What are you doing? Do you want they to be blue so that only you and your lot can eat them?
  2. Roland Runce forcing a diabetic to eat a donut on television is evil and he really is a bad President! You hate donuts and you hate Jesus! Jesus ate 12 donuts a day, it’s in the bible, Mister, you go read that! People who don’t eat donuts shouldn’t be living here! Let them go back to Diabetia or wherever they come from! Hail Runce! Make Donuts Breakfast Again!
  3. Maybe square donuts would be cool? I mean they’d be easier to box and carry around…Maybe Bob Amba has a good point…Square donuts? You are going to Hell sir! Donuts have been round since they were invented in Jesus times because the Earth was round back then . The hole in the middle is to remind us that we are always missing something, God’s love! Love God and love donuts and love America! If you don’t like your donuts round, get out you freedom hating, homosexual cat sniffer! Bob Amba destroyed America and now Runce will save us!
  4. Dunky-Dream doesn’t sell diabetic, gluten-free diet donuts since Runce became President. Five people have died now from mistakenly eating the wrong donut and Runce says nothing! I suppose you want all your Anti-American donuts to be blue too don’t you so Ordinary Americans can’t eat them, only your 1%! Runce is making donuts better for everyone, not like Bob Amba making folks eat all those fancy donuts that don’t even have real sugar in them! Trying to make normal decent folks eat that evil! Thank God and Baby Jesus for sending Runce to lead us!
  5. Blue donuts for Freedom! Runce is trying to make the blue ones evil and replace them all with yellow ones. Stop him before it’s too late! God save  President Ronald Ray Runce from people like you! Refusing to eat yellow donuts shows that you hate freedom and disrespect your veterans! You want us all to be muslim communists who only eat falafals or something like that! Those rich black fellows who ate blue donuts on TV during the Dunky-Dream anthem should be fired! Stand up and eat your yellow donuts with pride!
  6. The new Yellow Donut Frosting has a chemical in it which makes us all like cats! Dog lovers unite before They try to wipe us out! You and your nasty smelly butt-sniffers can keep your nasty blue donuts from North Korea! You just want to end freedom and force your blue on everyone! You want to free up the cats so that your Chinese masters can eat them! Defend your cats and buy my special Cats for Runce yellow collars today! Miaows for Runce!
SMLXL

As you may see, there are crazies on both sides of the argument, those identified as the Enemy or Sympathisers of theirs, starts to pick up ideas and behaviours either intentionally contrary to those of the Group or ones the loudest defenders of the Group (or their pet politicians) say the enemy displays – sometimes just as a protest, others to be contrary. Just because they can, you know? Stockholm syndrome is incredible when you notice it actually happening. The Left is behaving in the ways the Right expect them to and vice versa.
Now I have been messing around here a fair bit but I hope you are seeing my points, right? My manner may be less than serious but my point is very serious.
SMXLL

We have Two Truths out there, two versions of the same facts but neither of them is actually accurate. The Left ascribes actions to The Right and accuses them of doing this, that and the other. The Right ascribes actions to The Left and accuses them of going here, there and everywhere. There is some truth to the points of both sides and the current choice for President is far from ideal, there is no denying that one. A failed business man and ex-reality TV star? Not really ideal qualifications for The Big Job now right? Right? Well…let’s think about that one.  Recognise this man?
SLXLM

Most of you will at least know what Tony Blair used to be (The Prime Minister of the UK for those who don’t). Not many will know what he does now. Suffice it to say that he’s set for life. I know some of your will see where I am going and say “But no! Kennedy started that!”. You’re right, he got the experiment going but it wasn’t the right time yet. That’s not why they killed him but it also was. Now we’re ready. In 1997 we were ready. The internet was just taking off, social media hadn’t taken off yet but communication was changing in ways no-one had anticipated. What old Tony started was what we could call “Cult of Personality Politics”. We get the young, dynamic and change-bringing upstart who is going to better the world and everyone goes crazy! The year he (they’re usually men) wins, voter turnout had never been higher, nor had hope or optimism. Realk Change is Coming. The heavy boot of the Right is removed and Ordinary People can rise again. Isn’t that wonderful? Only the change does not come. The Bright Young Man turns out be be rather disappointing and the usual crowd of old and boring politicians berate us with wagging fingers for our stupidity.
Then The Right tried it and look what we ended up with. The Saviour from Oppression was always a tactic of the Left but The Right realised they were drowning so they did something amazing; they adapted. The republican party backed a horse unlike any it had backed before. They actually seized the zeitgeist of today and it  worked!
SMLXL

Let’s take a step back and think about it;
  1. Ask anyone for their Top 10 TV shows of today and I bet you money that 85-90% of them will mention at least one reality TV show.
  2. Ask anyone for a way to contact them and they’ll either give their email or Facebook.
  3. If you need to locate somebody how do you do it (you use Facebook or Google at least).
  4. What happen when you leave the house without your phone these days?
  5. How many people, hold up your hands brothers and sisters for you are safe here, admit to their first thought when the power goes out as being along the lines of “how will I charge my phone/have WiFi?” or something similar?
Be honest. I know I have done it. I also know I don’t watch ‘real TV’ anymore because it’s been taken over by incessantly cloned, talentless drones doing exactly what we do every day but in a exaggerated manner and in the presence of significantly more money than you or I will ever see. I admit to getting into ‘Facebook Scraps” and doling out dire warnings online about the dangers of Trump, what the change he is bringing would really be. I admit it, I have done it. I have berated his ‘foolish’ supporters for their short-sighted blindness. I came to realise how pointless these arguments actually were. As vapid as a reality TV talent show star; here today, gone tomorrow. The world, it turns out, has developed the attemtion span and (an alleged fact) memory of a goldfish.
SMLXL

Think about it. Politician X does all kinds of horrible things and it gets forgotten about. If a scandal which could threaten deeper  investigation and unmask the real villain too soon appears, out comes a distraction, a red rag waved in the public’s face until they forget all about it. They will rage and fight both sides of the argument, they will insult each other, they will be divided and conflicted. Right where they are needed to be. You remember what propaganda is for? That’s right, it’s for control. Let’s finish for this week by upsetting just about everyone or, at least 75-80% of you. Let’s look at how propaganda was developed and used by politicians of the Left and Right over the last twenty years. How neither “side” is winning. Neither side needs to, we just need to keep thinking about sides…Left & Right, Liberal & Conservative, etc. etc…Consider this scenario. It might be fiction, maybe itr’s exaggerated, it may even be the undiluted truth….you tell me. I’m a fiction writer so how could you know for sure?
  1. Phase 1: In 1997, Tony Blair’s Labour government started it. Nominally to prevent upset to minorities but soon seen as overdone, Political Correctness was born. One could not call a fat person fat, a black person black, a glass-wearing person short-sighted. One could not point out the disabilities of the disabled. The N word was relegated to where it belonged. Now a lot of this was good. Racism is NEVER acceptable and never should have been. Sexism neither. It went too far though but that was the point. Stage 1: Discredit the Left. Success. Left = Big Governement, Nanny State, too much control, letting immigrants take over. Political rights over actual right. War on Christmas and the Church. White people less important than black, other religions less important than Christians, layabouts who don’t want to work, just pop out more children are more important than working people who pay taxes.
  2. Phase 2: In 2009 Barack Obama became the first black man to be President in a country where black people could not even vote intil the 1970’s andc Jim Crowe laws were still in effect until rather recently indeed. He ran on a raft of equality encouraging legislation and policy. The downtrodden and ignored dared to hope. Little did they realise that Blair did this in the UK and had left ofice just two years previously. He had  been replaced with ineffective and pointless suits without charisma. Obama’s Presidency, of course, saw improvments in the lives of black people, immigrants and the disadvantaged. It of course had a more Libreral lean to policy. He tried to bring free healthcare to all but failed. He tried to bring reforms to many areas but failed. Like Blair he promised big and delivered little. Many people say he gave America a political correctness greater than Blair gave to the UK.
  3. Phase 3: The downtrodden are no longer ethnic minorities or people of this, that or the other. Well actually they are because they still don’t have great jobs, prospects or mansions yet. However, other people are ALSO downtrodden, still not paid attention to and they are starting to realise it. Economic conditions created by banks and other entitities outside of the control of ANY government are responsible but it’s considered wiser for each side of the political spectrum to blame the other. The era of taking no responsibility begins. Assignment of blame is seen as infinitely more important than fixing the actual problem So a saviour of the downtrodden and the ignored who also have money emerged! He would go on to polarise world opinion and politics like none before him but he would be popular no matter what he did. Why? He and those who are behind him have perfected ALL which we have detailed so far today. They have touched the vein of the people who felt left out by the inclusiveness and fairness of the previous governments. They dislike the ones said loud voices blame. They feel excluded and hurt by not being the center of attention, of having to share the stage with others. They are afraid but they don’t want to show the others that they are afraid; neither side does.
  4. Phase 4: Yet to come. A new young and dynamic saviour will come to rescue us from the excesses of Trump and his folks. He will save the oppressed and bring us back from the brink of war and we will love him (or her) for it. The the cycle will begin again because they don’t want us getting on. Oh no, that would not be good. We might start actually thinking if we did that!
So my point today? Some of you are writers, you make your living thinking as others do not. Some of you are bloggers, you do the same. Most of you are intelligent and therefore already know how to think for yourselves and this may well not reach the ones who will not. But for those of us who do; Left or Right; think about this; nobody is right because nobody can actually win. Think of the tic-tac-toe problem in the original War Games movie. For Left to win, Right must lose and vice versa. There is never a way to please ALL the people. Change will always be resisted, people will always want to belong to one team or another, it’s human nature. Maybe though, if we pause and ask ourselves this; who is profitting most from the current state of affairs? Then you’ll see who is winning and who is really in control.
Then you’ll realise our world of fighting online over stupidities is just stupid. They’re just keeping you distracted from what really matters while you are bashing moslems on a forum; berating a christian on facebook; fighting homophobes on instagram. Your bill are getting no cheaper, your gas no more economical, your salary isn’t increasing, your quality of life is no better, your rights as a human being is not better, your bills are rising each and every year. When are you going to realise? You are not winning and they are not here to help you?