Art of the Storyteller – Lockdown Day 15

 

In these trying times, a little doubt and anxiety of only natural, as is fear. Your greatest asset, though, is your passion and your belief in the fact that you are writing the greatest story ever told….You will get through this, you are enough, you are going to do this; I believe in you.

Researching On Such a Scale

The Chronicles of Enoch is going to be a true Epic. It will have a cast of at least fifty (if not more) and will cover a period of approximately eight thousand years. That, in itself, is quite the challenging proposition. When you add a conspiracy or several, complex plots involving the military, the police forces, several religions, experimental science, and secret government projects….well, we are not even sure if there is a Kansas to be in any more, although we are sort of familiar with Kansas as a concept…
 
Let me give you a list of some of the topics we have covered so far;
 
  1. The Hebrew Talmud
  2. Kabbalah
  3. Sumerian tablets and carvings
  4. Doggerland and other antedeluvian lands
  5. Every conspiracy theory on Atlantis and lost continents
  6. Fluid dynamics, thermal dynamics, and high pressure fluid dynamics inversions
  7. Astronomy, especially regarding the Moon and Mars
  8. Terraforming and how it could happen
  9. Micro-electronics and experimental electronic theory
  10. Every religion which has ever existed
  11. The titular Books of Enoch and other Apocrypha
  12. Jewish exorcism rites
  13. Aviation history, space flight, experimental space technology, and theoretical physics
  14. The Atlanta and Georgia State Police Force and SWAT Division
  15. Child psychology and criminal psychology
  16. ASD and Aspergers syndrome
  17. Eurasian and North American mythology
  18. Ballistics, sniper theory and practises, bullet manufacture
  19. Chemistry and materials science
  20. Esoteric lore from several sources
  21. Misha of Jewish scripture and questionable sources
  22. Almost every conspiracy theory I could find (except flat Earth because even the ancients weren’t stupid)
 
I actually stopped because I don’t want to overwhelm you. There is a lot more and I am only on the first book of a five-volume series.
 
On Appearing the Expert
 
If there is one person who does this well, it was Michael Crichton, he truly did an amazing job of appearing to be an overnight expert on his subject matter. Whether it was genetics and dinosaurs, aviation and accident investigation, law enforcement, or ancient arabian literature and viking migration and culture, Michael’s books communicated a confident knowledge on the subject. One could read his books and not only enjoy the story but actually learn something. That is a rare talent and he remains sorely missed.
 
He was a remarkably intelligent man but he did not become an actual expert on every topic he wrote so convincingly about, he researched and made use of actual experts instead, which proves just how intelligent he was.
 
I think it is important, when setting your writing in real places, referencing real groups of people, places, and lore, it is important to give a sense of authenticity, a flavour of truth to your work. This, I feel, is vital in drawing your reader into to your story. There is that famous saying about ‘the best lies/legends contain a grain of truth’ and your story needs, I feel, to contain at least enough grains to quarter fill a small salf shaker or enough rice to set a fried egg on.
 
What about science fiction, you may ask? Good question.
 
I refer you to the Illium/Olympus series by Dan Simmons. He had a curious idea; combine the Trojan War with the science fiction of a terraformed Mars, involve actual Greek gods who were in fact posthuman superbeings, genetically enhanced humans, killer robots, advanced benevolent robots, Shakespearean monsters, and Lovecraftian gods. He added real theoretical science as well as decent historical research into the books and made them rather interesting indeed, while still keeping the fantasy and sci-fi elements alive.
 
My point is, research is king (or queen, or elected official) of writing; you need to add elements of reality into your unreality in order to draw people in. Even if they are not experts in the field, it is going to draw them in if done well.
 
Doing It Well..
 
In today’s world, research is no longer as challenging as it once was. I remember the good old days of researching my now-abandoned first novel in my teens. You had to go to a library and first find the section of the library your book might be in, then you had to find one which suited your need, take it back because it was no good, come back overloaded with others, then spend hours leafing through them for the information you wanted before getting distracted by something interesting you found along the way. Do not get me started on microfiche archives either!
 
Today, you have Google. With the few strokes of the keys, you have access to everything, even Wikipedia…
 
There are a few problems with that. The old addage of “if it wasn’t true they wouldn’t let them put it on there” is not, necessarily, true. For some sites yet but Wikipedia is publically editable. of course, they curate it now, but we have seem a few worrying and a number of hilarious results of such editing. They catch it eventually, I should know, my backlinks lasted a week…
 
So; you have to be careful in what information you use, myou need trusted sources such as academic ones or verifiable sources of information when it comes to scientific or academic stuff, as well as historical events. Accuracy is key because trust me, you will encounter that one person who will pull you up on a fact and you can be sure that they will leave a review about it.
 
Spend the time, is my advice, check your facts and, check them again. You’ll be amazed by the results. I know it’s hard but, until we are famous, we can’t court experts to interview or hire researchers to do it for us. I keep telling you that this job is no even remotely easy, do I not…
 
Of The Dumping of Information
 
Don’t do it. That’s the best advice I can give for you to follow. Dumping information is never good and dropping a pile of facts and figures on the reader’s lap is going to make them feel like they are reading a text book. I know you spent a long time researching it, built some impressive knowledge and thorough notes on the subject and, if you follow my upcoming advice, may use a tiny fraction of it directly but it will matter when you retain rather than lose readers.
 
  1. Use natural-sounding dialogue. Think Star Trek without the eleven syllable words and pseudo-science speak. Two colleagues just chatting about things such colleagues would naturally discuss under the circumtances. Look it how it sounds, how it flows and if it feels natural. Practise it with a friend and see how it falls off the tongue.
  2. Short bits of internal dialogue. Again, watch the flow, fragment it with thoughts, feelings, or actions to break up what we call a WOT (wall of text). Think how you think and, if it’s nothing close to that, then change it. You might be surprised to discover that most people don’t think in paragraphs, some do but most think in short sentences. A whole page of thoughts is a definite no-no.
  3. Exposition in easy to digest pieces. Ideally mix with the above, by way of short and concise explanation. Think of PBS or BB2 (or your local equivalent channel) science programs. They keep their facts short and to the point and intersperse music and action pieces. I recommend you do the same. Attention spans these days really are not what they used to be. I had to figure out a similar balance when dealing with Dr. Webb’s pieces in the ACARI facility in New Mexico and Asmodeus’ musings on the ICARUS program in Darkness Within as well as Kalshodar phsysiology in the Hegemony drafts.
 
It is all about practise, I’m afraid. It doesn’t come completely naturally and we have all suffered the consequences. Use the comparison to science and nature programs, it really does work if you visualise David Attenborough, Neil Degrasse Tyson, or Morgan Freeman speaking out your chunks of dialogue among the whistful nature shots and fancy special effects. If it sounds boring in Mr. Freeman’s voice, then you must fix it because next to nothing sounds boring with that voice; he could (British reference) read the Saturday football (not soccer) results and you’d actually enjoy it (American readers, enjoy the video below, I give you two minutes before you scream and run out of the room….)
 
 
 
So, Why Research so Much?
 
I’ve used this one before and I use it again.
 
WETA Workshop, the special effects company behind such blockbusters as the Lord of the Rings Trilogy, Bladerunner 2049, and District 9 are on record saying that there is a massive chunk of the props, details, and details they created in those movies that 90% of viewers will not even notice, consciously at least. Subconsciously though, it helps draw them into a fully realised world and immerse themselves in it because every item on every elf is a little different, because no orc’s armour is the same, or because Deckard sees adverts in the right kind of Japanese or Chinese everywhere.
 
It’s about the atmosphere it creates, how the nuggests you drop show that you know a lot more than that but chose, chose mark you, to keep them for another time. I work in Customer Service in a rather manic industry (online gambling) and have learned tone of voice and implied confidence go an aweful long way in inspiring confidence in the person on the other end of the phone. I am not a sports fan, I hate horses, and am blaise about football but I can make it sound like I know what I’m talking about because I’ve researched and trained myself to recognise key phrases in conversation. My customers think I’m just like them (I don’t gamble) and therefore trust my judgement and what I tell tell them. Remember popular business maxim?
 
“It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it”
 
To continue from my previous point, people will trust somebody who sounds like they know what they’re talking about before they will trust someone who sounds uncertain. You could be giving them completely accurate information but it you do not sound confident, they’ll listen to the tone not the words. They ask for a manager and you put them on, the manager says exactly what you did but because they said it confidently and identified as a manager, the customer accepts it, humans eh?
 
If you mention a few juicy facts, handle their delivery well, make your characters sound natural as they speak, think, or experience them, then your reader feels confident that you know your setting and your job. They enter your world willingly and relax into the story. Anything that jars against the expectations you gave them will shatter their confidence and ruin their experience.
 
If you research well, have digested it, and somewhat understood it, this will be obvious in your writing because you will drop the right fact or comment right where it belongs. I had a scientist character of mine deliver a brief keynote speech on a certain topic to see how it flowed. It didn’t appear in any of the books and it won’t. The speech is mentioned in passing here and there, and a brief excerpt or two show up but the entire 20-minute speech itself (together with a Q&A session at the end) is buried in the texture of the story.
 
Conclusion
 
If you do not know it, learn. If you find the facts, look again. if your facts clash, keep looking. You are building a world so contrary opinions are going to exist however, make your facts solid before you use them.
 
Do not infodump or include overy-lengthy expositions that stop the story dead and advance it not at all. Think of Morgan Freeman narrating and do not, just do not make Morgan say something boring. He fought hard for that reputation, try not to ruin it for him.
 
Use what you have learned, digest it, and (using a popular revision techmnique) rewrite it in your own words to show that you understood it. Do not paste directly from your source or repeat verbatim unless what you’re adding is an actual quote or there is a very valid reason to do so.
 
Use what you have learned and your ability to paraphrase it to sound confident and reassure your customer that not only have they chosen well and selected an author who did their research but one who knows their trade and can be trusted to deliver. Don’t be lazy, we readers can spot it in an instant.
 
Remember when we were readers before we were authors. Remember what you love and hate in books you have read and try not to repeat any of the things you, yourself, hate. Respect the reader enough to ensure that they will not part with their cash for anything less than your very best work.
 
Respect them and they will see it and they, in turn, will respect you.

Documenters of Insanity

“A writer is simply the documenter of his own insanity” Unknown
 
A fiction writer is many things, it would seem but what really?
 
I was reading this article today and I wondered….well now, maybe that explains a lot;
 
 
I have spent a significant portion of my life with several of my imaginary friends and, not only have I done this but I have documented it. Not only have I documented it but I am trying to present it in appealing fashion so that people will pay me for the pleasure of gawking at my insanity. I enjoy this activity and call myself writer, author, among other things.
 
“What do you do in your spare time?” People ask me
“I invent people and have conversations with them in my head and then I write it down” they usually start making excuses and backing away right about this time. This may be a not altogether conventional description of a writer’s trade but it is not inaccurate really.Think about it. At this moment in time I have…around 9 people in my head about whom I think regularly, whom I place in situations and generate dialogue for, with whom I, in fact, have conversations effectively. A lot  of the time we keep these conversations between ourselves and they never make it to the page; either because I forget about them, am distracted or, when I sit down at my keyboard with the complete intention of writing down that cracker of a dialogue from earlier down something strange happens…I start to write and it turns into something completely and utterly different. My neat little scene, my snappy chatty, my situationette turn into something completely different! I sit down wanting to write how x met z and talked about y but then w comes in and murders x and falls in love with z and y did this every happen????!!
 
I think Poe put it best “I am a writer therefore I am not sane.”
 
Therefore I ask you this question and, honest answers only please, on a stamped and self addressed postcard. Do we create our characters or were they always there, inside our heads? Do we create stories or are we the medium by which the story writes itself? Are we really crazy or are scientists just jealous b*st*ards because they don’t do anything original?
 
I open the floor to comments and questions!
 

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.

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.

Entitlement vs Resentment

“When they discover the centre of the universe, a lot of people will be very disappointed that they are not in it”
 
Well here’s a polemic one but one I think is important. I have actually been thinking of this one for a while but two factors brought out in the urge to write about it today;
 
Having recently re-read the pretty darn decent “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck” by Mark Manson (if you haven’t read it, I urge you to do so).
Watching mediocre writers get all hissy whenever someone tells them their work is not perfect.
 
So, Alan, is this a bad mood you are in today? No Sir/Ma’am/Other it is not, simply a realistic assessment of what I see around me but thank you for asking.
 
We live a world where everything comes easily; news, information, entertainment, fantasy, desire, products, movies, love, even groceries; they all come right to our device in the blink of an eye and the click of a mouse. Everything is easy and comes when we want it to, pretty much. I want a movie to watch? I go to website Z and stream it, watch it, my need is satisfied, one bunny is now happy! Is it a good thing, though, that everything is easy? Well…
 
I watch my Facebook feed, my Instagram feed (if it’s actually also called that, I don’t know) and I see it all the time..
 
  1. Oh! My x, y and z is doing this and I feel so, like oh about it, please pity me!
  2. Life is awful and we all need to commit suicide and write sad poems about it so people will like our pages and make us cool.
  3. My random musings about the nature of how important my suffering is are going to be the Unholy Grail of vampiric, suicidal,S&M, magical creatures with gender uncertainty issues!
 
The list goes on and on. There is a ready and immediate place for people to express themselves immediately and, to a degree, anonymously, and express themselves they do. The lonely and rejected can (and this is where it starts to get really ironic) meet lots of other lonely and rejected people so they can share their feelings of loneliness and rejection together. It’s becoming dangerous though, look at that whole “Blue Whale” game and “13 Reasons Whu-Ay-Uh-Aaaaay Did they make it??”.Ooooh let’s commit suicide and self harm the enthusiastic teenagers cry! What the sweet and holy f is going on??
 
Entitlement, that’s what. The world owes me something. I am important. My feelings are important. You must listen to me. You must allow me to express myself. You must accept me for what I am. You cannot judge me. You cannot criticise me.
 
Excuse me but why? If I must accept you in all your grey non-confOrmist conformity, then you had better accept me in mine and, in the words of the great Denis Leary;
 
I’m asshole and proud of it!
 
When it comes to being forced, pushed and obligated to accept someone because they feel that I should. No Sir/Ma’am/Other I am not obliged in any way.shape or form to do what you want me to. If your entitled right to do such things is to be accepted by me, my right to disagree with you in an asshole-like fashion is equally acceptable, correct?
 
Ok then, I am glad we agree, thank you.
 
Another field of entitlement has clearly affected us all and is right out there. I bet you most of us have used it. I know I have, our little dirty secret called “Self Publishing”…ooooh I said a dirty word! It used to be called, a long time ago, “Vanity publishing” but they realised that didn’t sell too well as people really do not like having the negative sides of themselves revealed do they? Unless they’re of that group of folks who talk about those kinds of feelings a lot, that is! It is what it is though, we are appealing to our own vanity are we not, somewhat? Think about it and drop me some ideas in the comments, ok? I’ll skip over that and press on.
 
We are certain, we are definite that we have produced a masterpiece and it should be made known to the world entire lest they wither and die in it’s absence. As many of you know, pre self publishing, getting your Magnum Opus into print was a Herculean effort very few achieved. We could spend our entire lives trying; canvassing agents, entering contests, submitting to circulars and journals or magazines. We could spent 5, 10, 15, 20 years or more getting rejection slip after rejection slip and that was if we were lucky! Most of the time we got nada, nothing, zipperoo! I’ve been there, many of us have. it was rough but, you know what? We kept at it and here we are today.
 
Now do you know what the opposite of entitled is? I believe it is this; knowing what you are, what your limitations are and just accepting them, being at home in your own skin. You need no validation from anyone and so do what you like because it’s pleasant. You expect nothing from anyone and so, when you fail to receive it, you’re not disappointed, you’re actually sort of relieved because that’s less hard work isn’t it?
 
In my opinion these entitled writers are never going to be successful, not in the long term. No more than these recycled pop groups, TV, books and movies will, they will rise, they will vanish, they will be forgotten. Why? There is so much information overload out there that lastest best thing will soon be replaced by next best thing before the former can even blink.
 
How can we be successful then? We have to learn how to grow, to not be entitled, to not be arrogant and think that we can do no wrong. We must be prepared to be a failure, to be discovered and exposed as failures and then have the wherewithal to stand up, dust off our pants and ask the most important question in the universe;
 
“What did we learn from that then?”
 
 

New Horizons for The Chronicles

As you all may know (we have been rather vocal about it), The Chronicles of Enoch’s days on Facebook are over. Some might be discouraged by this but we refused to lie down and expanded our horizons. We are now developing our presence on alternative Social Media Networks that are less restrictive and more geared towards the artist.
 
Below you will find the links for our new profiles, please feel free to visit them;
 
 
As you are probably aware, we do not lie down and take what we consider to be discrimatory/targeted behaviour from Facebook but where will we, a small concern at the moment, get with fighting them? Nowhere fast is the probable answer to that one so we do not lament, we adapt.
 
We have also re-activated our old alternative blogs so that those of you that use WordPress or Medium can also follow us there should you wish to.
 
We would like to use our experiences as a two-pronged message for our readers; be careful how and what you post with Zuckerberg and do not let anything get you down.
 
When we lost the site that generated over 70% of our traffic and audience; visits and feedback going from 60+ a day to less than 10 overnight, it was quite a blow and we admit to feeling rather hard-done-by and dispirited by it all but we pulled ourselves back together and looked at alternatives.
 
Our readership has been steadily rising and, though progress remains slow, we are not dispondant, why would we be? Different options and changes equal new opportunity.
 
One place tried to gag us so we found places where that is not going to happen. We actually find it rather amusing because it wasn’t like we were posting anything which was offensive; it wasn’t racist, sexist, or descriminatory in any way. The only people it would have offended were those who have no actual reason to take offense because the truth should never offend, it should enlighten.
 
As we have mentioned previously; it is rather odd that The Chronicles of Enoch Facebook page is still alive and well. It just has not been updated for almost a month. We still get the occasional visit from that source which is indeed amusing.
 
I say this is simply a time when we all get to show our true colours and they certainly did show theirs.
 
Let us continue to show ours every day, right?

Fake News & Alternate Facts.

(Owing to how things are going in the world today, I thought I would update and bring back this article I originally wrote in 2017, things have not really changed for the better. Please be aware that this article is satire and no offense is intended towards anyone except Them. They know who they are and also that I don’t care…)
 
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.
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 record 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.
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 any more 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!
 
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?
Well, OK, the fellows on the right 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!
The Sky is Blue.
 
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?
 
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 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!
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.
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?
 
tony-blair-9214379-1-402Most 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!
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.
 
I have come to realise that it is not the politicians we need to be worried about though; they’re all going to be the same from here on in because those with the real power have made us want it that way.
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?
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.)
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 and 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.
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.
Phase 4: Yet to come. A new young and dynamic saviour will come to rescue us from the excesses the last saviour 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?
 
We know that the world is changing but most of us don’t realise how drastically. We have incredibly advanced communication technology but a large proportion of the population does not know how to use it, let alone how it works.
 
We have accusations and, possibly, proof of agencies getting involved in politics and using our willingly shared data to manipulate our perceptions of reality.
 
We have both sides of the political spectrum accusing the other side of ‘fake news’ and the peddling of lies for their advantage. We have more conspiracy theories running wild than ever before but now they are political. In fact, the changing social environment has made everything and everyone political.
 
The population has been truly divided into tribes as never before in peacetime. You are either ‘for’ this person and those who agree with them or you are ‘against’ them, debate has become a thing of the past in this age of absolutes. One cannot be in the ‘middle of the road’ any more.
 
In one generation, we have had one President’s policies raise one group up and his successor’s blame them for all of their ills and drop them back down.
 
Instead of bringing us closer together “They” have pushed us further apart.
 
Conclusion
 
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.
 
How can we, peddlers of fiction, function if we don’t even know what the truth is any more?
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?

Upsetting the Established Order

“My words will either attract the strong of mind or offend the weak one”
– Unknown
 
“What is freedom of expression? Without freedom to offend, it ceases to exist.”
– Salman Rushdie
 
From the very first draft of the very first chapter, we realised that The Chronicles of Enoch were going to offend some people, perhaps a lot of people. We know that the topics we are going to be handling are some sensitive ones.
 
We ar, however, of the long-held opinion that it is, effectively, the job of the artist to challenge how people think about and perceive what is around them. It is our job not only to entertain but to challenge ideas and lead our readers (in my case) to ask questions; not only about the topics we dramatise, but our words themselves. A true writer wants debate and opposition because that means people are thinking and they are talking.
 
“As a writer, you know you are doing your job well when they try to stop you from doing it.”
– Anon
 
If we are faced with controversy, that means we are challenging what needs to be challenged but, of course, as with everything else, there are lines that should not be crossed and consequences for crossing them.
 
Lines in The Sand
 
We know that we are supposed to defend freedom of expression and challenge societal norms. We know that controversy is part of our reason of being in many cases. We remember those who stood up when no-one else would and wrote what nobody else seemed to dare to.
 
We do indeed have the right to write what we want to, it is enshrined in the values of both Freedom of Speech and Freedom of Expression.
 
I take my stick and point at the sand.
 
Just because you can does not mean that you should.
 
I draw the line and wait for the inevitable questions.
 
  1. Graphic murder and graphic rape. I do not think we should try to force these into the mainstream. I don’t mind offending people so I will just say it; if you enjoy reading that, you might consider asking yourself why. Reading is meant to be a pleasure but taking pleasure from such things is…well…now, horror and gore have their place but pure gratuitousness for its own sake does, in my opinion, not
  2. Graphic descriptions of the abuse of children. Though a horrifying trend and something which needs to be addressed and dealt with, we don’t need to know about it, we don’t need to read about it
 
Now, there are more, probably, but for me, those are the only reasons I would have for throwing a book in the bin and never returning to it. There is a worrying trend these days to represent these things, especially among new writers looking to make waves and use controversy and shock value to get immediate attention for their work but I ask them, is that the reputation you want to have as an artist?
 
Of course, my list of lines I do not cross will be different to other people’s, that is normal and part of the process of learning.
 
Some say religion cannot be touched. Others say that gender identity or race must be addressed and the book’s characters inclusive. Fair enough. I wouldn’t tolerate racism or homohobia/sexism personally so no characters I write who practise that will come to a good end.
 
 
The Controversy List
 
There will be several things which will offend the tender sensibility in Darkness Within alone. Let me tell you about them;
 
  1. The Roman Catholic Church, American Mega Church Evangelism, and most of the ‘Christian Cults’ of the USA were set up and are directly managed by Lucifer and his cohorts. The idea of this was to muddy the message and lead humans away from The Creator in order to prove his point. The demon Sammael is resident in Rome and is the Pope’s closest adviser. Those who follow almost all branches of modern Christianity are, to a greater or lesser degree depending, following the Devil, which is ironic.
  2. The angels are not pure and unblemished beings. Towards humans they are distant and slightly disdainful. The long lists of moral laws we have tacked on to the whole thing interest neither them nor their Father even vaguely. The clothes we wear, the buidling we go to on which day and what we call it is irrelevent to them, very much beneath their notice.
  3. That the US military, as well as the militaries of most developed nations are under Lucifer’s control, Abaddon uses them as a money making machine and sometimes as simple entertainment.
  4. All of our conspiracy theories, fancy fantasies of New World Orders, aliens, faked moon landings, dodgy assassinations, etc are all the invention of the being who came up with internet porn.
  5. A certain US politician in high office , who is replaced by a neutrotic demon bears quite a resemblence to a real politician and may or may not make satirical milage at his expense.
  6. The modern Bible is essentially an invention designed to keep people both confused and oppressed. Lucifer is responsible for most of it, togther with his fellow high-ranking demons. They added bits, removed parts, brutally edited others. They did anything they could to remove any clear message or possibility for confusion.
 
That is just the beginning, though. To me, everything is fair game as long as it does not cross my line in the sand or be designed to specifically hurt people.
 
The Politically Correct Trap
 
Now, before we start, there is absolutely nothing wrong in treating people of any minority or anyone who does not conform to what society calls ‘the norm’ the same way as everybody else. I encourage and applaud those who face struggle every day.
 
Here we agree, right?
 
Good…
 
Being aware of offending and conscious adaptation of your behaviour to avoid that are great but, as with everything, it must be a choice. Let’s be honest, there are ignorant and stupid people in the world, quite a few of them, who are content to blame others for their woes and hold very outdated opinions, not at all up to speed with society as a whole.
 
That is their inalienable right. You cannot force their worldview to converge with yours. There are going to be people who have highly inaccurate opinions about Black people, Asian people, LGBTQIA+ people in all their beautiful variety, Jews, Liberals, Republicans, Southerners, people from any country that is not theirs or hold any opinion which differs to their own….
 
With people existing in their infinite and all-splendoured variety, ignorant, hateful, and stupid also exists, it is unavoidable. They were either born that way or some negative life experiences may have made them that way. You can’t look at them and know.
 
You can protest, you can campaign, you can be involved in activism and work to change opinions on the matter but you cannot force people to agree with you or be unable to voice opinions they feel are justified.
 
That is what led to Brexit, that is what led to Donald Trump (not Krampus)!!
 
Look, I’m in my mid 40’s and I remember when it was fine to make racist jokes on TV and have white actors dressed up as black or Indian people in mockery and it was ok. Gay people were exaggerated and exposed to hilarity. Famous LGTBQIA+ people took the secret of their sexuality and identity to their grave, never being able to come out in public.
 
All that has changed for the better. We’re not there yet but we’re improving.
 
Education, you see, that’s how it works. People believe this, so you teach them that and the smart ones learn. The stupid or wilfully ignorant ones will not.
 
It’s just like school, college, university, etc. Everyone (in theory) attends the same classes, lectures and tutorials, everyone has access to the same books, everyone receives equal exposure to the same material but not everyone passes the final exam and those that pass do not all receive the same grades.
 
You cannot force everyone to pass. No law, no rule, and no amount of careful campaigning or protesting will encourage some people to either increase their grades or pass. They just don’t have it in them
 
You could even say that they can’t help who they are…
 
Now, stop before misquoting me because I am not defending bigots of any kind; judging anyone because of aspects, characteristics or behaviours they cannot help is always wrong.
 
Do you hate your child for misbehaving or placing themselves in danger? No, you educate them and present them with consequences. They tend not to do it again after that.
 
How Lucifer Drove in the Wedge
 
Now you see how he did it do you not? Identify differences and work on ignorance across the board. Make people scared of the different, feed the tribalism. He programmed these fears and hatreds deep into his religions and doctrines. The Dark Ages were one of his greatest victories because he bred a hatred of education and love of ignorance deep into the bones of our civilisation.
 
Before then, wisdom, even the folkesy kind those ‘witches’ had a lot of, were respected and looked up to. Being able to learn and grow was seem as a positive thing. Instead the devil replaced such beliefs that all those things came from him when the opposite was actually true.
 
Anything which could keep humans content and united was forbidden; anything that kept them divided and secretly guilty was encouraged. All the things we had in common were turned into sins and silly rules that were impossible to follow were introduced. Nobody could abide by all of them but that did not stop those who slavishly followed the obvious ones from looking down theirs noses at and feeling superior to those judged not to be doing so.
 
It all boils down to fear ultimately…
 
It was actually rather brilliant when you think about it. Afterall, feeling proud and superior for what someone else has done is an essential part of human nature.
 
Take a look at sports as an example; your team wins and you celebrate and mock supporters of the other team although you contributed nothing at all to the endeavour. It’s the same with religion, your team is deemed to be the correct one so it’s OK to do whatever you like to supporters of the other team when all you do is show up once a week.
 
The same thing can apply to socio-ethnic groups; yours is determined to be the dominant one but what do you do to contribute? You just show up and wear the t-shirt. as it were.
 
Conclusion
 
Controversy is impossible in the artist’s world; we tend to think quite differently to other people and look an explanation of why things are as they are. We tend to think not in straight lines on curves or, at times, more complicated forms. Often we are misfits and therefore have sympathy and understanding of those that society applies the same label to; those that refuse to simply sit down and accept the shoddy treatment they are receiving as “their lot in life”.
 
We see the world as everyone else sees it and decide that is not enough, so we use words, sounds, paints, and other materials to show it in a way be like better and dearly wish that others see it too as they share our hard work.
 
It is no coincidence that artists tend to be the first people to dictator rounds up during his revolution or one of many purges. We court controversy, are rebellious, and like to challenge the established way of doing things. We do not fit in with our heads down and question nothing; we question everything.
 
Nobody likes it when someone starts pointing out the holes…
 
The Chronicles of Enoch, over the course of our research, managed to find an awful lot of them and we intend to pick at each and every one.

Social Media Slavery?

I begin this with a caveat; I’ve been thinking about this a lot recently because I have been excluded from Facebook for what appears to be forevermore…
 
The strange thing I noticed was somewhat disturbing…
 
Now, I am a smoker but one that is conscious that he is addicted to a substance that is not necessary for – is actually detrimental to – his continued existence. I know what addiction pangs feel like when one’s poison is even temporarily denied.
 
I was feeling this same anxiety and what I call ‘the twitches’ when denied access to Facebook. I felt that something was missing and was quite keen to get back to that shared social space. I was even somewhat apathetic towards alternative media sources and also despondent in its absence.
 
I actually found that I no longer knew what to do with my free time…
 
A Surprising Truth
 
To date, 3.5 Billion people, or 45% of the world’s population use some for of Social Media daily. Of that number a massive 68% use Facebook daily, spending an average of three hours a day (that they admit to) on that or other social media sources.
 
That is quite significant and, owing to ease of access through mobile devices, we would guess that the figure is a little higher when it comes to time spent.
 
Add to that figure that 54% of people use social media to research products and services they consider using and 49% of consumers rely on or make use of Social Media Influencer opinion and recommendations and we see that it outranks all other sources of interest and opinion.
 
People, it would appear, live their lives in that virtual space.
 
Don’t get me started on Influencers either, it’s a funny way to get famous isn’t it? Let’s leave it there.
 
“Ok, Boomer” the chorus of inaccurate ironic apathy resounds.
 
A Necessary Evil
 
We, as artists aspiring to fame and recognition must have a social media presence, there is no escaping it. We need to;
 
  1. Engage regularly with a possible audience.
  2. Regularly advertise and expose our work.
  3. Network with other artists in our field, learn the industry and the market.
  4. We need to create and maintain a website.
  5. Run a blog with regular posts (ideally daily)
  6. Participate in on-line social events to gain recognition; contests, competitions, etc.
  7. Create and maintain a professional persona.
 
Among other things. The thing is that we are new to this, all of us, we mostly make it up as we’re going along. We do that or follow the advice of people who claim to be experts, maybe some of them are.
 
You see, one terrible side-effect of our reliance upon Social Media for everything is that we tend to use it as our first and only source of information. It is so easy, with Social Media, to come into contact with inaccurate information and opinion-dressed-as-knowledge and we are, it would appear, inclined to believe it relying on the age-old adage of
 
“well it wasn’t true they wouldn’t let them print/upload/publish it would they?”
 
No-one ever seems to explain who They are and what authority they have over the accuracy of information; we simply entrust them with this great responsibility willy-nilly. If you were to ask me, I might call that a shade irresponsible…
 
Social Responsibility on Social Media
 
Now, let’s be honest, social media is not a nice place. We know well the ‘keyboard warrior’ and troll phenomena which have gained traction over the years. A lot of people dedicate a lot of time to, it would appear, seeking out people who disagree with their opinions so that they can insult those people and anyone else. It is thought OK to verbally attack anyone you don’t agree with or like the look of, use the open to all soapbox to cry out your opinions no matter who they might offend (especially if your opinion is that those people have no right to be offended). It is a place to start rumours, spread inaccurate stories about your hated-persons/group-of choice.
 
At times, that does seem like that is all it is.
 
The corporations that run it are not free from controversy either.
 
 
 
 
 
In all honesty, none of these companies feel any need to actually do anything about any of that because they are safe and certain in the knowledge that we need them now, we cannot go on without them because they amalgamated and crushed all competitors.
 
They are half right though, we need them…
 
Of course, there will be another article on social media and its denizens another time because it warrants a while article of its own, so we will not explore both sides of the ecology of social media here., we’ll come back to that tomorrow perhaps.
 
Conclusion
 
The purpose of this article was to open a few eyes to the fact that we are quite addicted. In spite of all the negative things we know about our poison, we still support and make excuses for it; as if it were a relative who is either violent or an embarrassment in public. You try to smooth off the rough edges that you know, deep down, are there. You hide the black eyes and bruises, you tolerate the social exile.
 
You know it only ever thinks about itself and what it wants no matter how sweetly it tries to tell you otherwise when it’s in one of its good moods…
 
Its built to suck you in and keep you there because there’s a lot of money to make in them there isles and that is part of the reason we are sailing them…