The Eternal Balance

“Everything is about balance…your breath is about the balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide in the blood; your natures depend upon the balance of chemicals you never see and rarely understand. Balance is everything. Put too much weight on one side and the balance will not only break, it will take everything else with it…”
Balance. Light with Darkness. Life with Death. Good with Evil. Happiness with Sadness…you can add any that you like to the age-old formula of balance. People die so that new people might be born. The sun sets that the darkness may have its time. Evil rises so that good may rise in turn to oppose it. Swings and see-saws, a model of Newton’s Cradle as large as the universe.
Cause. Effect. Cause. Effect. Cause. Effect. Cause. Effect.
Nothing happens in isolation, nothing exists in isolation, every action generates reciprocity. Every. Single. One.
The Great Conductor
There are numerous reactions from the moment one understands this principle. We are not talking about any particular religious dogma (or catma even) here, let me make that clear. I understand the Chronicles have been thought of a work of a religious nature but it is not. Not really. Yes, we involve religious themes but it would be facile to attempt to chronicle the history of humanity without the, because, as you will see, humans have worked very hard to make them a part of their journey, to assign identity to the Great Conductor of this grand concerto.
One side effect of looking at the universe as, we assert, it actually is allows one to realise that one is both highly important and completely irrelevant at the same time. At a local level, your actions could have far-ranging consequences, obviously but out there, if there is anyone else out there, then they’ve probably no more heard of the Planet Earth than we have the Planet Oog-Wah-Groo-Gah. We might show up in their equivalent of movies and books sometimes but nobody really believes in us.
This is the perspective one needs to consider for this next part. Let us say there is some Great Conductor, an intelligence – divine or otherwise – behind and managing the universe; making surer the right atoms spin in the right directions, keeping everything balanced so that it doesn’t just collapse in on itself. Let’s just say that this being is either directly responsible for the material manifestation of the universe (important distinction, I feel) or the first result of it. What would such a being be like?
I have always had this problem with religious systems; a being who can create everything we see out of nothing is not going to be some list-keeping, petty-minded, old man with a beard in the clouds. To claim to worship this being, acknowledge Him as supreme and so forth, only to go on and assign Him very human traits and behaviours, is a little hypocritical to my mind.
To my mind, this beings is going to be impossible to understand from our highly limited viewpoint.; His (or Its) thoughts may take a thousand years or a millisecond to complete. He may see in dimensions we cannot even imagine. We don’t know and, to be frank, we never will.
Religion always has been and always been a tool to control the masses with menaces, that’s why they hate any signs of spirituality.
The Balance
As we said before, everything is about and in a constant state of balance. Down to the deepest level we can look at everything seeks balance, it is one of immutable laws of the universe.
Darkness cannot exist without light or, at least, you don’t know it is darkness unless you have light to compare it to. Let us take someone who has never seen light (as unlikely as that is, many blind people can detect changes in light even if they cannot see them), they have lived their entire lives in complete, unilluminated darkness. To them, the darkness simply IS. It does not have or need a name because they have no need to compare it or identify it, it is there. It is the same as fish (if they have language) not really talking about the air or land much.
We need one to identify the other. We need one to oppose the other but we do not, can not ever let one of them win.
Think of Newton’s famous Third Law of Motion;
“For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
There is a universal truth to that; wherever there is light, there is shadow. Your body will cast a shadow on them sunniest of days.
What happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object?
Something has to give, right? Not necessarily.
 
Agent of Balance
To move into the realm of fiction for a moment, let us consider the Chosen One trope. It essentially goes like this;
  1. One force, that of Darkness, gains prominence and threatens to take over everything/kill everyone/conquer Light.
  2. Previous attempts to stop them from doing that not only failed but made them more powerful
  3. A Chosen One is discovered who can, usually through sacrifice or, at least, a willingness to do so, can topple the leader of badness and restore the Light.
Now we apply this to Star Wars, because we self-confessed nerds. Anakin Skywalker (he who becomes *SPOILER ALERT* the asthmatic cyborg we all love) was called The Chosen One and he was, it was alleged, created by the mythic Force in order to restore Balance to it.
Now, our friends the Jedi (except, perhaps, our small, wise, green friend with the grammar problem) thought that this meant he was to destroy the Dark Side of the Force and raise the Light Side to peace and dominance.
That is not, however, how it works and you would think an order of wise, knowledgeable warrior-monks would have figured it out by now. One cannot exist without the other. In order for balance to happen, Dark and Light must be equal.
Let us move back to combining Newton’s 3rd Law with our force and object quote. I push against a wall and, if it’s mass is great enough, it will, effectively, push back (or resist me). If the immovable object and irresistible force are equally balanced, they will remain in a state of conflict forever, in theory.
The Chosen One is never meant to be the champion of one side or another; he or she is the Champion of Balance. In the Star Wars Prequels, the Jedi Order was too powerful and needed to be reduced, the Agent of Balance helped make this happen. In the original trilogy, the representative of Darkness was too powerful and needed to be removed so the Agent of Balance again stepped in and sacrificed himself in order to restore Balance.
The darkness was not, however, gone forever while the heroes celebrated, completely failing to ask where the vicious cannibal teddy bears got all fireworks from. It remained and always will, right where it belongs, in the heart of man.
Neither One nor The Other
Or neither one nor t’other as my granddad used to say, which I much prefer the sound of.
You may well have gathered by now that the probable main/central theme of The Chronicles of Enoch is that of Balance. There is always Light in Darkness and Darkness in Light. Lucifer cannot win but neither can The Creator.
The Creator could no more destroy Lucifer than Lucifer can destroy The Creator. The universe would not allow them to do that because, to do so would result in imbalance. We need evil, we need darkness, we need a force to oppose.
If one is truly moral, truly good, truly committed to Light one is probably the immovable object. Evil or darkness, in this case, will be the irresistible force; they are in constant opposition but, deep down, each knows that they will never, ever win because, if they do, they will take the universe out together with their opponent.
Being Realistic
Now, the thing about Chosen Ones is that there is only ever one of them.
Ordinary people are not unimpeachably good or irredeemably evil. Religions, to come back to them, capitalise upon this fact by generating guilt for all of your daily peccadilloes. We are all a work in progress because your average human does not, unfortunately, come with an instruction manual.
We will all commit acts of petty evil and middling good on a daily basis; holding a door open for the person behind us, dropping some change in a homeless person’s hat, cutting queue or not telling the shop assistant that they gave us too much change or didn’t charge us for that small item.
We do not, however, have a bearded elderly gentleman in a bed sheet sitting there either shaking his head or smiling as he makes notes on a very large scroll.
We are one hundred billion billion atoms in the fabric of the universe dancing to a tune that we cannot hear.
Notice that we are making no moral judgements or arguments on this topic, that is intentional. We have our beliefs but no guarantee that they are correct and, contrary to gossip, do not know everything. Nobody died and make us the judge of anyone.
Conclusion
So, balance…it is, essentially, everything.
The battle between Good and Evil, Brahma and Vishnu, God and the Devil, Odin and Sutur, Increase and Entropy, is eternal and an essential part of all that is.
The hero or Chosen One will ultimately triumph because that is the way of things but, perhaps, his or her Light will be stained somewhat in the process because, in order to defeat the Big Bad, they had to cross a line they never thought they would and are thus, revealed to not be as pure as they thought. Perhaps they were never as pure as they thought they were.
That may well be why we need what we call the bastard; the person that is neither good nor evil but a bit of both, in the middle, doing what they know best. In our case Asmodeus can do all the things that Sable could not but that are important, essential even.
Sometimes your enemy’s enemy is your friend and, on rare occasions, the person you thought was your enemy is, in fact, the friend you thought you did not have.
That is the thing about balance, it does not care about how you feel about things, it only cares about the result and will us both sides to get what it wants.

The Very Dark Art …. Of SEO

“Thou must be Found for success to come thine way!” Goes the cry. “Thou must have traffic and, verily, it needs must be organic and regular!”
Yes, I know that last part sounds like a diet tip but I didn’t invent the terminology.
This Writer’s Journey.
I have pretty much followed three primary Rules in my journey to date;
  1. The Rule of Pocket; or what said pocket contained at the time, what I could afford. I started with what was free and what I could do myself.
  2. The Rule of Discovery; I researched as extensively as I have for my books. I read blog articles, professional circulars, investigated my competitors.
  3. The Rule of Adaptation; I tried everything and altered anything that didn’t seem to work. I improvised often as necessitated by the First Rule, but I put in the work.
That is the secret, by the way. There is no magical formula, only a lot of work which is tedious and feels deeply unrewarding at the time. It is hard and mind numbing work a lot of the time but, once it’s done, some of it is fairly self sustaining.
Let me lay it out, one step at a time, showing the mistakes I made and lessons I learned along the way;
  1. Social Media. Obviously you need a way to communicate with fans and peers, to get known, as it were. Now, of course, the majority of people you will find, initially, are fellow struggling artists but relax. I set up my Facebook Pages, first for my Author persona and then for my books. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, etc. are the go-to basics you need.
  2. Web Brand Presence. I began on wix.com with their free package and built my website myself. My first attempt was…well, a website. It had everything a website needed except presence which we’ll get to later. My website, for which I have now purchased domains on GoDaddy.com , has seen four complete re-designs and numerous less comprehensive tweaks in order to reach its current form. It is not a masterpiece but you can check out the url at the end to see what I mean.
  3. Product Presence. My wise friend, Syl Sebastian, calls this “the cine” of your art; the overriding theme. Others call it the brand. You can look at a cover, a web page, a piece of artwork and know that it belongs to a certain brand. You see a red soda can with a certain logo and can make an educated guess to what is inside of it. Your writing embodies your style, right? So too must everything you produce. Decide on a style and keep it. The last major re-design of The Chronicles of Enoch took place for that very reason.
  4. Regular ‘Customer’ Interaction. You need a blog. You need to maintain an online presence. Retweet writer’s lifts, comment on content you like but do it daily. You need one to two blog posts a day, every day. You need to keep engagement and listen to those you engage with; you’d be surprised how far a good listen goes, it makes people feel important . I recommend a good Social Media Management tool here. I use Crowdfire currently but am shopping for alternatives.
  5. Ways to Monitor and Influence Traffic. Here is where owning your domain comes in handy. You can use things such as Google Search Console and Analytics when you own your domain. You can see who visits, from where, and when and tailor your posts and interactions accordingly. Use your Social Media Manager to queue posts for peak times, cater to your audience demographics, etc.
  6. Devotion of Time and Attention. As I have said, time is your most vital resource and largest investment. You must post to your blog, interact on social media, encourage people to interact with you, every single day. There are days – I know all about these – when you don’t feel like it or inspiration appears to desert you. You know a trick I learned? I wrote about that! Nobody is going to do it if you don’t. Making sure you give the time is the surest measure of how badly you want this.
Sisyphus Had it Easy
Our friend, the Titan punished with the interminable bolder-pushing task at least had no need to adapt, to learn; he simply has to repeat or stop.
In part it’s like that for us but not always.
Let me take you through my journey in more detail, warts and all;
1. I put together and edited the then known as “Alexander Collections” from old short stories, book idea fragments, and poetry. I designed my own covers when I disliked Amazon and CreateSpace’s templates and fought every self-publisher’s hardest battle; the formatting war! It took me many hours, filled with horrible expletives, to make my manuscript files work for my chosen paperback format. My wife found these times hilarious.
2. I added an Author Page to my Facebook account. This advertising took a lot of trial and error; which groups liked and accepted what, what I could post and when. You have been There, you know the pain. I spent a lot of time in Facebook Jail and became frustrated with low engagement, with negative comments. My first efforts were, of course, fragmentary and needed a bit of work.
3. Used Wix.com to create and design my rather generic author webpage. Used my half decent graphic design skills to make it look somewhat professional. This was before I realised that my website is my public face as an author, the first thing most potential readers will see. Still, I was proud of it and excited so I shared the url extensively and added to the content and blog often. I created my Twitter and Instagram for sharing too.
4. Over the course of two weeks, I wrote five novellas and designed covers for them. I uploaded each to Amazon and decided upon a rebrand; retroactively editing the Collection stories to fit the expanded narrative universe I saw emerging. This was, perhaps my first big mistake. I was a new father of twins and they, combined with work, took up a lot of my time, obviously and as it should be. I tended to rush my writing responsibilities. I heavily advertised these works and, I am ashamed to admit, they were riddled with errors of grammar and spelling. I have since pulled them from Amazon but copies were purchased. That stigma will remain.
5. I launched my YouTube Channel and devoted an hour each Sunday to my video blog. This turned out to a good decision. My poor decision was not being able to maintain that commitment. You see, there lies the greatest danger we will face; commitment. We can take on too much, promise too much, and come up with great ideas we utterly fail to deliver on. Our excitement and passion needs to be restrained at times. You’re trying to build a reputation in a very competitive market.
6. I became rather active on Facebook and was often sought out for advice (my channel was quite popular). One such advice seeker was my friend Joe. Together, to cut a long story short, we came up with what was to become the force that dominates my life; The Chronicles of Enoch. Joe has since handed to torch entire to me as he had other priorities and projects he wants to work on. I decided, as I started work on The Chronicles and, with sterling advice from Syl, to use my creative surge to start from scratch.
7. It started with an extensive redesign of the website and ended with the purchase of the chroniclesofenoch.com domain. I decided to build, from the ground up, a new website, Facebook Page, everything for The Chronicles and, with much experimentation, cement a definite “cine” or brand. The artworks I first created we’re, in all honesty, amateurish and awful but I persevered and I realised that there was a clear and obviously persistent style throughout them all. I had to find a way to make people say “Oh! That’s definitely CoE, that is!”…So I fiddled, tried, and mucked about until I found it and translated that style; one that matched that of the writing too, into a consistent image. I made the site mobile friendly too…that’s important.
8. I brought my WordPress, Medium, and Pinterest back to life. I experimented with Metatags and Keywords, I learned how to embed them in my site and so began the Golden Age, I thought…
9. Facebook, it turned out, had other ideas. I detail the struggle in other articles but, in essence, Zuckerberg and I had a falling out and decided to go our separate ways. Take this as the most valuable lesson I am going to reach today; perseverance.
You see, before that…difficulty…I was getting traffic of 50-100 visitors a day to my website and blog, things were taking off but 75% of that traffic came from a source that was, abruptly, cut off.
I had a choice, surrender or adapt. I chose the latter and am gone from Facebook, probably forever. Instead of surrendering, I found other ways, other sources and social media.
That is the lesson; it doesn’t matter of you get panned by a bad review; learn, adapt, move on. Come up against an insurmountable barrier; be as the river and patiently find a way. Never. Ever. Give. Up.
This is your dream and only you can take it away.
So, What Does That Mean?
You have my experiences, my mistakes, my challenges, and my lessons learned. You may have found hints in there but you need, I think, a boiled down and well-presented version to tie it all together, right?
Your wish is my command;
  1. Decide your “cine” or brand early. As you write look at your themes, research any ‘competitors’ and work on the look you want. If you have that talent, look at creating a consistent look in your Social Media presence. You only get one chance to make a first impression.
  2. You’re going to need; Twitter, Instagram, Tumbl (you’d be surprised), Reddit, Pinterest and maybe Wattpad. Look at what you’re going to use each for. I use Twitter for chat and networking (I have a few famous ‘friend’s even), Pintrest for covers and art, Tumbl and Reddit for sharing blog posts, Wattpad for posting excerpts. I duplicate my blog in WordPress and Medium.
  3. You need a website. There are a lot of free hosting services out there but I like Wix. I went for their cheapest hosting package and bought my domain myself. They use a visual ‘drag and drop’ interface which is great for those of us that don’t code. I designed my own but you can find people on Fiverr for that.
  4. You need to learn SEO and web marketing. Search ‘Chronicles of Enoch’s on Google and most of the results will be mine. Add your url on everything you use. Smashwords is a great alternative to Amazon and gets you lots of exposure. I could produce an SEO or web marketing guide but there are already dozens out there. Use your Google, read them all and filter out the bits that don’t fit your needs, time, or budget.
  5. Having decided your look and brand, you can work on keywords. Wix helps you a lot with SEO and Metatags. I followed their SEO Wizard and recommend any of you that decide to use them do that same. Key words determine what kinds of search your page is found under. Metatags hide these inside the code of your website so when Google and the others “crawl” your code, they index these search terms against it.
  6. Google AdWords. You set a budget, create your ad and pay only for clicks. If it gets too expensive (download the app to monitor that) you’re not tied to a commitment so pay off and disable your ad. I reasoned it like this; if Google stands to make money from your website getting clicks, they’re going to help that happen, right?
  7. Blog every day. Use your book title and name (or pen name) as a hastag and include these in every post. I even use those popular inspirational memes as a vehicle. I share it using Crowdfire on Twitter and Instagram with my hastags hidden in the ones it came with. It gets shared and so do my tags = free advertising.
  8. Find your niche. Your book is probably going to fall inside a certain genre (top tip: do NOT make it fit a genre or to a genre that sells, that’ll hurt you long term). You need to allow the same and appropriate voice fill your posts. Post topics your audience will like. Research and find your niche. I have taken the role of ‘O Great Writing Guru and Know-it-all’ because it appears to suit both me and my style. When my YouTube vlog comes back, it’ll be purely about writing.
  9. Work hard. Learn. Adapt. Most importantly; Do. Not. Give. Up..
Conclusion
It is almost impossible to produce an absolute ‘one size fits all’ guide, as I have discovered. I have read dozens and find lots that does not suit my style, my audience, my pocket, or fit into my available time.
I tried to do everything and produced inferior results. I got myself banned from Facebook for not fragmenting my posts and content well enough. I had to pull 9 books down after trying to push too hard, too fast.
I’ve learned a lot of lessons the hard way and wasted time, work and, ultimately, my hard-won reputation on it. I’ve had to evaluate and rebuild.
Perhaps by reading this article, you can save yourself some trouble and avoid the biggest ones.
Resources.

Reconstruction of A Shattered History

“History shattered. It was the only thing that could give. Very strange event. There were cracks left all over the place. The… oh, I can’t remember the words… the fastenings that tell bits of the past which bits of the present they belong to, they were flapping all over the place. Some got lost for ever…”

Terry Pratchett, Thief of Time.

This was, perhaps, the area of research which simultaneously offered the greatest challenges and most intriguing opportunities.

The deeper we dug, the further back we looked, the more we realised that a lot of what is considered “established historical fact” is so much guesswork, gossip, and what we might call ‘fake news’ in this age.

We all know the saying that “history is written by the victors” and we know this is true. The apocalypse of the Mayans, the holocaust of the Native Americans, the genocide of Columbus; history tried to hide those stories from us but failed in the end. Sooner or later, it seems, the Truth will turn up, mopping its brow and muttering something about the traffic.

Eventually.

A Hole on History

There is a great deal of History we know nothing about, that we make educated guesses, make educated stab in the dark (first establishing with what to attempt said stabbing and the correct intensity of darkness to attempt to at least wound), hold fingers of investigation to the wind, and so forth.

Up until quite recently, your average person want to school and was taught what we could call the consensus version which, obviously, they accepted without question. Then most people get on with their adult lives after school and leave history well alone. Those who maintain an interest or take history as a profession tend to not attract too wide an audience.

Those ‘In the business’ know which way the trench is dug (or better said, the budget granted) so keep their mouths shut about ‘the secret’, wouldn’t you?

The simple fact is that a lot of the historical record was commited to perishable materials because that’s all they had available at the time. Of the vast cache of documents recovered from Qumran in 1947, it is said that at least one third were used as fuel before someone told the shepherd those foreigners paid a fortune for that stuff.

So much could have been lost that way, or been sequestered away in private collections, locked away in the fabled Vatican Archives or similar hidden vault of Forbidden Knowledge.

We know that many Mayan books and scrolls were burned as “heresy”, Aztec monuments defaced. Early Islamic expansion contributed to the destruction of ‘haram’ or unholy items such as stuff the priests didn’t like or that disagrees with what kept them in nice clothes and palaces.

The library of Constantinople contained a lot of what was saved or recovered from the fire that destroyed the Library of Alexandria centuries before. In 1204 AD., the Library was burned to the ground by crusaders and, we hear, nothing survived.

How much history was lost due to ignorance, war, ideology, brazen stupidity and, perhaps, a bit of intent?

Stitching it Up

The possible irony of that heading is indeed intentional, thank you for noticing…

When it comes to studying the history I needed to in order to properly research both The Chronicles of Enoch and Hegemony, a lot of information was missing. The main source of material, The Bible (various versions), translations of the Torah and midrash, the Qur’an and other works, ancient codices, the Book of Enoch itself, and numerous works of ‘uncertain canonicity’ (apophryca etc).

I noticed a lot of missing information, contradictions, plot holes, and explanations lacking.

Now, I know Sir Terry’s works are as fictional as ours are (we think) but we wonder sometimes…we’ve often heard of something called ‘parallel creativity’; inspiration coming from…ah…somewhere else and fiction accidentally reporting reality. Sir Terry mentioned something called ‘unwritten books’ and has a magical library containing books that haven’t yet been written, implying that information can, perhaps, persist and ‘leak’ as it were.

We wonder whether some of this information and history was intentionally repressed and hidden as The Chronicles of Enoch assert. Has history been filled with individuals or groups that do not want the truth reported; not just Lucifer (and through him, The Vatican and other Church organisations) but others too? In The Chronicles, we have the Unknown Men, the Illuminati, and others we’ll stay quiet about for now.

Hidden History?

Each one of these organisations has an agenda and aims as well as being very keen to hide their existence from the world at large. 

In The Chronicles, we have the example of The Hidden War of 79AD. The world’s greatest Heroes gathered in Meggido valley to face down a horde of monstrous Nephilim led by Lucifer and his Horsemen. Sable, Conan, and Gilgamesh led the charge and, though countless heroes of legend were killed in the battle, Lucifer’s forces were decisively broken; two Horsemen were defeated and the others fled.

The world, however, did not end and the forces of Heaven were conspicuously absent. Everyone, except for the dead, simply pretended that the battle never happened. Asmodeus erased even the vaguest of references regarding the battle from history. They existed, of course, there had been mortals present in the fifty-thousand strong Army of Heroes, there were witnesses, there were armaments and weapons as well as bodies left behind. A great many of those bodies did not look even close to human; there were giants, orcs and goblins, beast-men, and dragons among them and their bones decorated the Meggido valley.

The scale of the operation he mounted in the 1960’s, the disinformation, the sequestration of both information and remains, the neutralisation of those that couldn’t be ‘financially convinced’, and the practical rewriting of some history books is almost impossible to imagine but he did it.

Fragmented accounts remain in folklore, mythical accounts of Heroes, strange legends, they are even encoded in the “Approved Modern Version” of the Book of Revelation. It is odd to think that the great Battle of Armageddon there mentioned refers to an actual historical event rather than a future one or (as many today claim) a more allegorical struggle.

The account in Revelation is said to have been Asmodeus’ greatest gamble and success simultaneously.

Conclusion

History is written by the victor and the most powerful; money and threats have made inconvenient pieces of the historic record disappear almost as well as accidental occuraces such as fire and misapplied zealotry can.

We know there are parts missing, we see repetions, fixes, and inventions applied over some of the holes and rarely do people question them. One has to be looking in order to spot the important ommissions and fabrications. One has to pay attention to the stories and folk tales for explanations at times, the evidence that should be there at others.

Sometimes the evidence or information is glaring in its absence.

We are not talking about those shows seen on a certain channel sharing a name with the field we keep mentioning. We are not talking conspiracy this time, we’re making logical and educated forays into what is so obviously there.

Or, of course, obviously not there but has left a hole like a missing jigsaw piece will…you can imply its shape in its absence.

Maybe not all of our fictional history is as fictional as we think it is…

The Forgotten War

The year 79AD is fraught with mythological significance. There was the destruction of Pompeii, terrible Norse rumours of Ragnarok from the frozen North to stormy Lindisfarne. Several prophecies hinted at dark events on the way.


According to history, the worst thing that happened that day was that two Roman towns were buried in ash, killing hundreds in mere moments. Terrible as this event was, it was not the worst thing that happened that year, it is simply the worst thing that people remember…


Asmodeus did a very, very good job in erasing the most significant historical event since, well since anything, from anything but Viking and Celtic legend, which nobody believes anyway.
On August 25th (modern calendar) AD 79, the world ended but it also did not. It was a very close thing.


This battle, called variously ‘Lucifer’s Folly’, ‘The Harvest of Heroes’, or ‘The Neverwar’ , depending on who you listen to, two vast armies faced one another in the shadows of the Megiddo valley in Isreal/Palestine. In the foremost ranks of one army stood the greatest heroes you have every heard of; Nephilim every one.

Opposing them, the seemingly unending ‘armies of Hell’; imagine orcs, kobolds, trolls, giants, ever type of monster you could imagine and some you wish you hadn’t…


“He was most amazed by the fact that it was a lot quieter than he’d thought it would be. He didn’t really know what he’d been expecting but not this. He heard the gentle ruffle of banners being pulled at by the wind, the jingle of harness as the soldiers around him moved from foot to foot or stretched to keep muscles from cramping on them.


Otherwise, silence, pretty much, which only made the waiting worse.
Across the other end of the valley, they were gathered. It looked like a huge wall of shadow from here, so large was the mass of enemies. Some early calculations based on what their local scouts told them, said that they were outnumbered somewhere between 450-1 and ‘it doesn’t really make much of a difference we’re all going to die anyway’.


Of course, thought Fionn, as he tightened then loosened the grip on his spear, they had almost every hero that had ever lived on their side so those were pretty good odds to some of them…but only if you actually believed the stories…


He smiled as he rotated his shoulders and looked around at the men and women beside him.


There was a knot of big Norsemen over there, all axes and hammers with their winged helmets and shiny armour. Big fella with the hammer had sparks jumping all over the place which was something Fionn considered unwise in the presence of so much nervous metal. They were clearly bonnie fighters though, he’d heard that the big one with hair and beard of the purest white had cut his way out of the dragon that’d tried to eat him. He caught Fionn’s eyes and cocked an snow-white eyebrown in greeting before turning his head back to the bigger fellow with the fancy hammer and sparks.


Fionn’s group of hairy, tattooed warriors stood in a loose knot of aggression, clustered around the Big Man himself, him as had brought them here from the Eagle Isles far away in the Mist.


The Wolf was big. He held a claymore casually over one shoulder, its metal full of strange blue reflections which danced along an edge that was, from certain angles, not entirely there. A large bearded axe, heavy with runes and knotwork designs, was being used to draw patterns in the dead desert dust.


Not a good place for fighting, Fionn spat in the dust and watched the moisture vanish almost right away. Already enough death here but he could feel the thirst for even more blood rising from the barren rocks like smoke.


The Wolf looked down at Fionn, or at least his heavily carved silver wolf mask did. Fionn never had figured out how Cú saw through those blue jewels his war mask had for eyes but on those rare occasions the Big Man felt inclined to speak, he’d said “clearer than you can imagine. Like eagles on the wing and wolves beneath a full moon see, I’d wager”.


The azure gaze lingered on Fionn long enough to cause the wiry hunter to finger his fine beech bow with a barely repressed shudder.


“Big Man likes you, so he does” Bran had said through bright red moustache. “The wee giant is his best mate, sure he is.”


At 5’10”, Fionn was small for a giant, slight of build and sparse of beard. His Da had been the giant that’d built the Causeway to get across to where his mother – daughter of some distant cousin of Bran Boru, a nasty lesser Lord of Ulaid- was being held prisoner as was the fashion of the time and Fionn the half-giant was the result.


The Big Man was near a foot taller than him and a great deal older, folk said. He came from the drowned lands under the Morimaru off the coast of Albion. They said he’d fought these fellas, the Fír Bolg and Bálor’s kin before. They said him and that blue-eyed devil with the two most beautiful swords Fionn had ever seen beside him went way back. Back even before the ice left and the sea came in.


“About bloody time,” the Big Man said to no-one in particular. He gestured towards the storm gathering over the Fír Bolg with his impossible sword held loosely in one hand. He bumped the blue-eyed devil, who appeared to be asleep standing up, on the leg with the flat of his axe. “That uncle of yours has decided to show up.”


The odd significance of those words made the hairs of Fionn’s heavily tattooed arms stand up and he gripped his bow even tighter.


“I know you’re in charge here, Sable,” Big Man continued all nonchalant as one of those priests getting off a boat in his dress to chase of the snakes Eíreann never had anyway. “But I’d suggest it’s time for that signal.


The one called Sable appeared to awake and look towards his friend. Fionn felt his gut tighten as those devil-blue eyes brushed his and fought the sudden wave of terror down with great effort. Sable nodded and waved one of his beautiful silver swords up in the air.


Far off, the deep growling scream of a war horn sounded, setting Fionn’s teeth on edge and his heart pumping harder. Another answered it, this one bright and singing like the way Fionn imagined a swan’s one and only song would sound. Across the valley, answering horns and trumpets winded, their discordant cacophony bouncing off the valley walls.


Big Man nodded and indicated the horizon with his sapphire wolf’s eyes.

“Here they come,” his normally booming voice barely above a whisper. “If you’ve any ginger on you, Atlantan, I think the men’ll be needing it soon.”


Sable nodded and rolled his neck, producing some fine crackles of bone Fionn most approved of. He said nothing and kept those eyes fixed on the black storm-front, crackling with lightning that could not be natural.
It took a moment for Fionn to see how right that assessment was…


The storm was no storm, it was…
In the boiling inkiness of the tortured air he saw them, colossal figures that were nearly not there. They looked like pictures of light projected into the storm…like…like…like ideas trying to take a shape.


They were like the star-creatures dropping from above, trying to become what men said they should be but struggling. He thought he could see four creatures slowly striding through the lightning but they kept blurring and changing like pigment in water, swirling and coming apart before reforming again.
Then, his temples pounding and his eyes threatening to turn themselves inside out, his mind let him see them. His béan sidhe heritage let things hidden from mere men reveal themselves to him.


There were four figures but, seeing them clearly now was not the blessing he’d thought it would be and he prayed for ignorance now.
As big as the sky and each filled with lightning, they strode over the innumerable Fír Bolg.


In robes the colour of the grave drifted the first, his raised hood empty and arm of bones holding a massive scythe whose blade was larger than the sky itself, it seemed. A smoke swirled around it and, as he felt horror knew at his gut, Fionn swore he saw faces in that smoke or, better said, the smoke was faces, millions of them. The scent of long abandoned tomb mounds drifted towards them.


As the second figure moved, the scent became stronger, richer and riper. This figure also bore a scythe in one emaciated hand but it looked normal compared to that which the first carried. The rest of the figure did not look normal. Every inch of its bare flesh not covered by crumbling rags was the deep black-brown of the long and dried up dead yet somehow it retained an unholy gloss to it . Atop stooped and bowed shoulders was the skull of a great ox or steer in place of a head, baleful and sickly fire burning from the eye sockets.


Compared to the bandy, famine-wracked frame of his neighbour, the next creature was a giant. Corroded heavy iron armour covered all but one corpse’s hand and splayed lizard-like feet. In one iron-clad hand, it gripped a vast bow of shining metal and in the pallid, diseased bare one it held an arrow from which unhealthy light did not shine so much as ooze, like pus from a wound. Its face was an outlandish mask of dull material covered in tubes and pipes with an opaque glass plate over its eyes and two great drums either side of where a mouth should be. From these drums a fog of a colour one could only describe as unhealthy huffed in and out periodically as if the creature were breathing it.


But Fionn had eyes only for the fourth figure for it was glorious. Behind it’s heavily armoured body spread vast wings of living flame. Where the other figures appeared to now be waiting and quiescent, this one was in constant motion. In one hand it held a whip which appeared made of broken blades hammered together and ending in a glowing skull of white-hot brass; it coiled and snapped with the sound of a heavy infantry charge with only the slightest movement of the creative’s right shoulder. In its left hand, it held a double-headed axe of molten iron easily as long as Fionn’s father had been tall. Upon its jagged armoured shoulders, brutal fire the colour of burning blood blazed from the dry sockets of the skull of a great ram. The eye wateringly bright fire that filled sockets and skull grew brighter and softer, brighter and softer…as if it were the breath of the creature. As it ‘breathed’, the stench of shit, and blood, hot iron, and fear sweat washed over Fionn and he was certain that the blaze of its gaze fixed upon him and only him within the multitude; weighing him up.


Fionn tore his gaze away, counted, and thought on his impressions of them; they scrabbled at and dug up something deeply primal within him and, when realisation finally broke the surface of his thoughts, the words fell from his quivering lips before he was even aware of the thought that heralded them.


“Oh shit, are those what I think they are?” he wavered. “Now we really are f-“


Sable, who it was now clear had been watching Fionn the whole time, cut in adroitly, his voice level and deep, filled with a confidence Fionn knew his lacked. “That’s them, half-giant,” his voice had a laugh to it for reasons Fionn could not fathom. “This is, indeed, IT”

Fionn said nothing but this time, when he met those blue eyes, it was not fear that he felt, it was hope. He licked dry lips and nodded.

“That one,” Sable indicated the burning whip cracker with one silver sword. “That one is mine, Conan.”


Such was Sable’s quiet assurance that Fionn felt certain that a million Fír Bolg would barely slow a man like that down.


“Everyone’s got to die sometime!” Big Man roared in reply, butting Sable with one shoulder, over the nervous clatter of a thousand suits of armour. “I want to see what colour that big sheepie bastard bleeds for myself!”


It was not even that funny, Fionn reflected as his voice joined the rising roar from the rest of the army, but he laughed along with the rest of them.


“This blue-eyed bugger has killed giants for fun so I’m for getting to that shiny bastard while there’s still big fekkers left to fight!” He roared even louder and stabbed claymore at sky. “Who is with me?”


In a wall of noise; terror transformed into desperate bravado, screams of rage, swords beating shields, and the sounding of horns from a hundred nations which filled the plains of Meggido from end to end, fifty thousand men and women told him that they were.


As they charged forward into certain ruin, the battle at the end of the world began…

The End of All Things

The signs are all there, there is more of this and less of that than there used to be, these people are doing the things this culture or prophet predicted and it is only a matter of time before the rest of the thing he/they predicted will also happen and *poof*…


…..


You can clear all appointments for next week because, well, there won’t be a next week…


Of course, people do rather disagree about the method the Earth will decide upon for her Big Exit or, at least, ours but we all know it’s coming, right? Stands to reason doesn’t it? Bound to happen sooner or later…


I hardly think this is a new phenomenon…


Simpler Times


Back when the world was, at least from a matter of the perspective of most people, a smaller place, the End of All Things could happen fairly often. People did not know anything about other countries; gosh some people didn’t know about cities even! If the river burst its banks and flooded a fertile little valley, killing everyone except a few (who’d die later of disease), that’s the end of the world. It’s certainly the end of it for them.


The Romans were convinced that civilisation would just stop if their Empire ceased to exist to, in a manner of speaking, the world would end because, so they said, all would descend into barbarity and chaos, ultimately ending all people worth thinking about.


Smelly tribespeople who couldn’t speak Latin did not count, apparently.

This raises the question which we think is a vital one to consider and, perhaps, answer;


WHAT WOULD WE HAVE TO LOSE IN ORDER FOR IT TO BE CONSIDERED “THE END”

  1. All the humans die or, at least, most of them.
  2. Civilisation is destroyed and our comforts with it
  3. The internet goes down for more than a day
  4. Our environment is wiped out and there is nothing of natural beauty left

These are, I think, the Big Four. A fitting number, I feel, because we also have the Four Stereotyped Animal-Riders of The End Bit. The role they will play in final events does vary. Will they just ride around and watch? Will they get involved directly? Are they simply good metaphor? Nobody really knows because they only show up the one time and do not, it would appear, carry out drills or rehearsals.

The Big Show is, it would appear, very hush-hush and need-to-know.
Now, I know what you’re thinking; there are countless ways the world could end, is not the above list too simplified?


No. It is not.


It doesn’t really matter how all the humans die out; be it aliens, pandemic, natural disaster, getting dinosaured into fossils; they die out. Gone.


Whether civilisation is ended by a zombie plague, another less virulent pandemic, talking apes with great charisma, different aliens, a robot uprising or any combination of the above, it is also gone.


If rebooting the router or unplugging it then plugging it back in again 30-60 seconds later does not work then it truly is a lost cause.


However the environment is ravaged and destroyed, it will simply be a matter of deciding who is to blame. If they are dead then it makes the process much easier, utlimately.


The fact that there are so many ways, scenarios, and methods it is considered are ‘canon’ or ‘popular’ for the Big Finish should, perhaps, set your mind wandering towards where I think it should.


A Popular Passtime


Take a look inside of a bookstore, on Amazon, on Netflix or similar, at the movies or at videogames. We do love a good apocalypse don’t we? The most popular forms of entertainment all focus around either;

  1. An imminently arriving disaster that only the heores can avert.
  2. A disaster already happened and survivers are trying to rebuild
  3. Clues to a previous disaster ae uncovered and the heroes must tell the world to prevent a similar thing happening again.
  4. The hero knows what’s going to happen but no-one believes them then it either; gets averted dead on time or happens anyway.
  5. Fantasy or Steampunk or Mad Max style world arises from the ruins of the old world.
  6. Vampires or other mythical/magical creatures regain dominance with less humans around.
  7. Totalitarian regime arises “to protect” survivors of said disaster or previously benevolent organisation/government goes that way, drunkon the power of how much humanity needs them.

In essence, we do love a good disaster or look at what might happen to humanity after one. It could be said that humans are rather a dramatic species.


You see, they are rather obsessed with the extinction of their species or, at least, the extermination of a large proportion of it. We wouldn’t really call that a great survival instinct…


Imminent Doom


This past 50 years alone we have had;

  1. Global nuclear war any time now, you wait and see
  2. Terrorist apocalypse and “Holy” war
  3. The Millennium Bug
  4. Predicted year 2000 one-time meteor, magnetic field polarity switch/other
  5. Predicted year 2012 Mayan apocalypse
  6. Various delayed Raptures
  7. Various global pandemics

Yet here we remain. Of course it has also been a period of near constant wars in the Middle East that people do not really talk about any more; the lives and worlds of a great many have ended as a result of those.


The point is that it appears that humanity actually wants some dramatic event with stirring orchestral music to unexpectedly occur to the world in spite of the fact that it would kill millions including some people they know or care about. Seems odd to me.


Either that or that is what “they” want us to be thinking about. As we have mentioned in previous articles, “they” control our governments and our media; they control what we see and even what we think. Of course, we can no more agree on who “they” are than we can on how the world will end.


There is a serious point being raised though; we watch for patterns and concordance and wonder whether any of you have noticed anything recently? We’ll leave it there for now because we do not wish to repeat what we covered in other articles.
However our sense of always living under the weight of imminent but nebulous doom is created, we cannot deny that it is there and could, were someone of a mind, be made use of…


Conclusion


The world is going to end just like everyone is going to die. Sooner or later it is the one fact of which we can be certain. What each of us considers “the world” will end and none of truly know what comes next.

Therein lies, perhaps, the root of our fascination; the potential for our very personal world to end quite abruptly one day.


So, we face that fear by entertaining ourselves with disasters averted or a better life for all on the other side.

Subverting the Genre

The Wordsmith’s Anvil


It is tempting, as a writer, to conform to one of the popular genres; fold together the de-rigeour plotlines, bend and hammer in reader’s favourite character types, heat and finally temper it into a shining example of sure-to-sell. It is so easy to do.


If you do it right then you may have a functional knife, decent sword or even another hammer to shape more words on your anvil. You may well be successful. That is good, do you not think? Maybe. Molten Words Cast Out of the mould it pops. Smooth off the cast lines and flash, polish it into… …into what?


Exactly what the mould tells it to be. You see, you take your mould, fill it with the molten result of your works and leave it to cool. After a time, you crack it open and out comes….an exact copy of what the mould was made from. Vampires who have various existencial crises. Angels who, in spite of having god-like powers, still chase after a much ignored young girl who secretly has reality shattering powers.


The all-powerful evil overbeing who commands legions of fanatical followers and can murder anyone they like with a mere thought with the hidden weakness that everyone had forgotten about, killed by a precocious pubescent… Funnily enough nobody asks what happens once the hero and love interest share a kiss and the final page is turned.
The vast army or empire does not simply shuffle it’s feet and decide that unfettered evilness was a poor career choice. Will the minor villains and henchpeople turn good and they live in the cliche everyone loves? What do you think?


A Mighty Sword Forgéd


Yes, the accent is intentional for we are about to enter into a fantasy-based extended metaphour…(spelling intentional for pedantic accent)
The hero of the tale will often be seeking a weapon of some sort with which to end the Evil One forever.
No simple sword, hammer, arrow or pointy-murder-thing will suffice: a simple and enthusiastic poke into a convenient soft bit will not end the threat which means to end everything that is Good forever! It is never that easy.


A Quest must be undertook, many dangers faced and disparate characters who do not get on will find common ground and form an incredible team. Some of them might die, a traitor will be uncovered, maybe a deathbed (or death rock) redemption or two might take place. All good and fine.


The weapon being sought will be of incalculable power meaning that the Bad Fellow will be utterly destroyed by it. It might be somewhat harmful or devisive to our Bold Adventurers too but that adds to the depth and drama does it not?


A Sword is not Simply a Pointy Metal Stick


Now, not to bore you with the technicalities involved in turning non-sword-shaped metal into edged death, it is a long and arduous process.


One must select the metal, have a picture of the end result in one’s mind. One must bend, fold, hammer, smooth, beat, heat, temper and quench just right or one’s weapon will break the first time you try to beat someone with it.


For this example, too, one must also enbue the item with magic, secret knowledge or really, really fancy ornamentation in order to make sure said Evil One becomes the requisite number of Evil Pieces (none of which will be placed in a microwave oven to burn the hero’s house down and kill his parents).


One can make a sword mould and pour all the right ingredients into it. One can wait for it to cool and free it from its prison. One can tidy it up, polish it, give it a decent edge. One can even make it shine like a mirror.
One can do all of that but the first time your weapon meets a master (or mistress) forged equivalent, it will snap in two with a rather disappointing crack sound. The crack of disappointment, they call it.
Whomever it may be that they are.


Start with the Basics


As the metalsmith starts with – you got it – metal, what does the wordsmith start with? That’s right! With their brain! We got you, drew you right in and played one of those awful context jokes on you! Actually, some might call it inspiration, that ephemerous output of the Muses, others call it research. It is the same thing though, a wordsmith’s base material.


Words are, afterall, simply a process of re-arranging 26 letters into different configurations. This brings us to the First Contentious Moment; writers and storytellers. Anyone can be a writer but few have what it takes to be a story teller.


Five Minute Argument Break…

You clicked on it, didn’t you? I know, it’s an awful joke but it keeps me amused.


Author’s Self-Promotion Moment.


So, of course the author is going to mention his own work here. Why not? This is my Blog, thank you very much! In this case, I am using it as an illustration so please forgive my cupidity.


To those who have read either the current draft or the prequel: Collected Preludes one thing may well stand out. Not just the odd British spelling and strange sense of humour. What might draw the most inquisitive of minds is this; the subversion of assumptions, the twisting of expectations and the fact that the mountains of source material are questioned at each and every point.
All the stories are true, or at least that used to be. One popular genre these days involves the Bible of Christianity, just like The Chronicles of Enoch does.


This, in its way is a subversive genre started by that rather popular series of novels which started everyone wondering about what that ancient Italian Polymath was really up to with his religious paintings.


A whole sub-genre has since emerged, feeding on the doubts and controversy Mr. Brown stirred up. The good ones among therm ask the most important of questions; how did it truly begin and how did it change so drastically?


What would happen if we could prove that the carpenter from Nazareth actually meant something quite different to what was later attributed to him?


The Dramatic License

Oh, it looks like mine expired. That could be embarrassing (also I am not that young, please don’t tell)!

I have mentioned this before because, you might be surprised to learn, it is very important .


Dramatic license; not the terrible mockup I created for a few seconds of amusement but the less physical kind.
Storytellers predate writers because, should we believe the archeologists, speech predated writing. Before people discovered that making symbols mean words was the latest thing (all the other up-and-coming civlisations are doing it!) there was only one place to store all the important stuff and make sure it did not vanish forever.


The Oral Tradition.


Travelling storytellers would move from placed to place and, often for a space by the fire, free food and alcohol, would entertain their hosts with stirring tales about the exploits of some heroic figure or other.


Perhaps they would include religious or moral instruction into the mixture. They would leave but the story would remain behind, now resident in the heads of those who had just heard it.

The Travelling Story Now


Seeing as the storyteller earned their living from the quality of the stories they told, it was not unknown for a good one to…well…add bits to the original they had heard previously. Some local flavour, a bit of cultural relevence, seemingly casual observations made on their way into the village/homestead/farm/tavern as well as their own opinions and biases.

When they left and a copy of the story remained with the latest recipients thereof, the story may well not be the same as the last version told. In fact, the same story could be getting told, in a variety of slightly different incarnations, in a number of different places at the same time.


One day, newcomers would come the village or, gathered around and, lacking decent television and WiFi, the villagers would retell the story. Perhaps they would go to a local gathering and tell it there.


Storytellers being as they are, the urge to stamp their own individuality onto the tale was rarely easy to resist. Lessons and themes important to their culture and society would find their way in.


Names might well change in the process, locations, even the ending. The more the story travelled, from mouth to mouth, ear to ear, the more it changed, the harder it became to recognise the original from the new and shiny version. It is possible that facts were exchanged for the kind of drama which promised food, wine and a warm bed for the night.
Maybe the overwhelming need to ensure that an important lesson was learned or vital information passed on was factored in.


That favourite childhood game of “Ethinic Stereotype Whispers” is suddenly quite a significant learning experience. Gilgamesh became Noah and the list goes on and on.


History is as stable and as reliable as the human beings who study and repeat it.


The Point is Reached


It is easy to conform to a popular genre.


Anyone can, with effort and focus, produce a half-decent tale of what people on certain platforms like to read but will your story, neck-deep in the morass, ever be more than one of hundreds?


The point of this article was to illustrate how seemingly mundane and everyday events may well become something quite different.


A young boy on the way to market sell his family’s only cow returns with a handful of beans and concocts a fantastical lie.


Two children bearing bread through the dark forest get lost for days and agree on a spine-chilling tale to explain their absence and, to their thinking, avoid a good thrashing.


The human race prefers the gentle lie to the hard truth. That is, as writers, our job; to bear them along the path of a fantastical tale towards the final truth, the point.


Along the way, we entertain them, we show they joy, dispair, shock and perhaps horror.

We teach them without their even being aware of it and then, when they arrive at the final page and – in a mixture, we hope, of pleasure and sadness – read the final words they mutter


“Now it makes sense! Now I understand!”


And they smile as they stare off into the space you took them to.
They have accepted the truth without even realising it!

History #Villain #ChroniclesofEnoch #Discovery #PassionForTheArt #AlanJFisher #Religion #Creative #Philosophy #thoughts #Dramatic #ArtoftheStoryteller #Storytelling #WritingTips #WritingTropes #WritingMentor #Writinghelper #WritingCoach #BookWritingPixies #NewWriters #assumptions

Predisposition for Labels

An other short article I wrote many years ago but which I am going to rescue from lost-blogsville and give some modern beauty treatment to.

Oddly enough, many of you might see some of my inspiration for this piece right away, others maybe not as quickly…

I look out on the world today at times, I read the papers, watch the news, surf the ‘net, take my hound for a drag and do anything which involves seeing and meeting people and I often wander if we see the person anymore, or do we see the label? Imagine one of those old fashioned brown paper parcel labels, tied at the corner with string, but man-sized, woman-sized, child-sized, covered in what we are and what we perceived as being.

I am a big brown paper parcel label with words writ upon me, carrying my own identity, my colour, my race, my preferences, the opinions of myself and others. Sometimes others will approach me and scribble or scrawl upon my surface their thoughts – Liberal, Foreign, Poet, Writer, Animal Lover, Nutter, Crazy, Fun, Mad, Straight, Gay?, Posh, Poor, rival, unimportant, Not Required – so on and so on and so on.

But who am I really? What makes me tick, what ties all of my label together? There is a writer’s joke I may just have made up (but how will you know); there are two kinds of book; there are those where words are thrown randomly together and somehow make vaguely interesting reading when one is bored and there are dictionaries. To be serious, though, what kind of story can you make without at least making some attempt to take all fo your scattered words and arrange them into some sort of order? A story is no good without a structure right? So a label just covered in random words….how would that work? Basing me on just what my label says wouldn’t come close to explaining who I really am would it? Maybe if it did, a lot of possible misunderstandings could be avoided… Let’s be honest here; we are very good at being superficial as a species. Of doing just the most basic flying browse of people’s labels, based on the largest or scariest words there recorded, words we are told about but may not adequately understand. Words like Moslem. Chrisitian. Socialism. Universal Healthcare. Freedom. Peace. Nazi. Fascist. Gay. Straight. We understand all of these badly most of the time. Seems we really don’t like to read the dictionary in order to form up a decent narrative doesn’t it?

Those words we have listed above are some of the most misunderstood words in the English language today. Most people are told what they mean and don’t even bother to check in the dictionary for themselves. We truly are in the Lazy Ages aren’t we? People prefer to do their research by proxy yet they sit there all smug and self-important like they came up with the idea all by themselves. My advice; do your research and then come back to me when you are better informed. Use the intelligence God gave to you!

So look, I am supposed to be a Christian because I believe in Yeshua ben Josua (aka Jesus Christ), God and the Bible (although I’m perfectly ready to accept said book is full of confusion, inconsistencies, plot holes, and terrible editing work). However I don’t believe in the need to attend a certain building or to belong to a group of hypocritical people who like to make things up which are not in aforementioned Bible. Techncially I am a Christian but what am I actually? See? Someone might have heard I write about Jesus occasionally and put the same thing on my label as might apear on the label of one of those American Fundie nutters who hate everyone who isn’t white, overweight and seriously into badly designed sweaters.

It’s easy to generalise, right? It’s also an awful thing to do because it leads to a lot of misunderstandings and unnecessary conflicts. Compare the two following “labels”; this one for America itself. Two different people wrote about the same thing but how different are the words they used? Am I my label and what it says about me? Do I introduce myself to new people or do i stand there quietly while they read? Do I check what’s written or do I refuse to read and just say what I know?

Hmmmm interesting? What happens if I edit my label myself? What would happen were I to write down what I myself think and pay no regard for what others might say? Now that’s dangerous…deliciously dangerous perhaps? What complicates it even more is that different people read what is written in different ways……to some I am a good person, to others a nut, to some I am attractive, to others well… To some I am a kindred spirit, to others and enemy or an opposite……How am I to keep track of all of these things? I could edit my label maybe? I could correct some of the entries and set the record straight? How long would that take? So the appearance of my label changes over time anyway, the string gets longer or maybe frayed, perhaps it needs changing – maybe the style of the pen changes, from crayon, fibre tips, magic marker, biro, fountain pen(!) and back again……

All this creates the overall, the image….Sometimes people look at the style and look of the label and don’t even bother to read what is on it……How could I keep up? Should I wipe my label clean, change it for one of the nice shiny plastic ones I see here and there, upgrade? It does seem like the cultural nazis on either side of the great political divide want me to live my life one way or another…independant thought is not encouraged but conformity is….you have to freedom to express your individuality within preset templates.

Next I’m sure I’ll be accused of immorality because I let my dog parade around naked and will of course be responsible, in no small part, for the moral decline of some nation or another……Maybe I need a teflon label? Nothing seems to stick to those, I think there are politicians out there that use them……Io what to do with my label? Upgrade? Recycle? Repurpose? Edit? Translate? Update? Too late? Or should I take my label, hold it firmly in both hands and carefully, methodically, tear it into tiny, tiny little shreds?

#Labels #Label #stereotype #thoughts #social #philosophy #writers #outofthebox

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?