Tag: blogging

Wish For 2018

S ometimes the wellsprings of
I nspiration dry up, as when
L ack of rain in the high hills or
E lse a lowland drought turns flowing stream to swamp.
N ew Year resolve, my friends, is writ in water:
T o read your posts and write some more as well.

 

Image result for wishing well

 

Image: Second Life Marketplace

Stimulus: WordPress Daily Prompt Silent

Advertisements

Swings and Roundabouts

Two years is a long time to spend in the blogosphere and I find my thoughts tracking  back over those 211 posts – a little over one a week by my reckoning – to consider what, if anything, they signify. Worth remembering, I think, what I wanted to achieve – here’s a mash-up of the first few posts:

My voyage of exploration begins. I want to recapture the spirit of childhood, when we would set out from home with the deliberate aim of getting hopelessly lost …

I find it sad that children today don’t occupy the streets and open spaces like we did when I was young. There have always been risks in such freedom but we made a habit of going around with our friends, rarely if ever alone. We knew the dangers and were able to avoid them. So many kids were out and about, there was safety in numbers. With more adults around, too, we behaved ourselves most of the time because we didn’t want to get into trouble. In this way, we learned how to take responsibility for ourselves.

Sitting alone in your bedroom is not a healthy substitute, especially when you factor in the online risks and bad cyberspace influences that would shock many parents. It’s a case of out of the frying pan into the fire, I’m afraid. Let’s make the open air a place for children again, providing proper facilities and a sensible but not stifling adult presence. It would be quite a challenge but I can’t think of a better way to create the communities of the future.

I love the idea that when you start saying something, you don’t know where you’re going with it …

Hmm, not sure all those lofty declarations of freedom have borne fruit. More often than not, my writing is tightly controlled: acrostic poems, haikus, hundred-word stories. Such constraints enable me to turn out posts on a semi-regular basis but there is a danger that they can become somewhat glib and formulaic. I’m wondering what became of my desire to go off-piste once in a while, starting stuff I wasn’t sure I could finish with my adult dignity and amour propre still intact!

Two years ago Obama was still in the White House and the United Kingdom still in the European Union. The future – always glimpsed through a glass darkly – at least showed signs of being recognisably and reassuringly like the past. But now all bets are off. I’ll risk a wild metaphor and say we are adrift in a sea of raw emotion clutching at puny straws of reason. At times like these, I sometimes think, only the heightened language of poetry can hit the spot:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
                                        from The Second Coming by WB Yeats
 Anyone dismayed by the surfacing of ugly prejudice in their own societies will find the poem’s final imagery disturbing:
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds …
… And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
A while back I created an imaginary town called Bafflesby because I had a strong urge to send up the sort of blinkered thinking that threatened values I grew up with:  the likes of tolerance, empathy, clarity, openness.
Just recently I’ve found it hard to invent new scenarios because it turns out that truth really is stranger than fiction. What with all these alternative facts and all this fake news, truth is a now a character in a costume drama. Remember those cheesy sword-and-sandal epics where the Romans wore wrist-watches?
Truth is now so strange that complete strangers come up to me and say, You couldn’t make it up! It’s true. I can’t. If I tried, it would be like shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted.
Actually I’m hoping he’ll get bored running around and come sneaking back home for some hay and a nice rub-down. In the meantime, I’ll read Private Eye to discover how to poke fun when things stop being fun.
I suppose most countries have satirical magazines which probe wrong-doing and parody folly. What about those in your neck of the woods? It would be good to hear about any.
Private Eye’s covers are an art-form in their own right …
Image result for private eye covers

Image result for private eye covers

Image result for private eye covers

Image result for private eye covers

Related image

Laughter is the best medicine, they say. They would say that, wouldn’t they, as it’s also much cheaper? But I don’t want to end this post on a cynical note. I played with my little granddaughter today and we just followed our noses, making it up as we went along. You don’t need toys when the whole world is yours for the taking.

Watching a bit of telly is OK, though, when invention begins to flag. And YouTube is a great way to explore past and present together. She loves the Bill & Ben colour animations – though not the ponderous old black-and-white string-puppet versions we had to endure. But I did get her to watch this little gem from back in the day, when grown-ups could poke fun at themselves without losing their dignity … and we both laughed like drains!

New Year Resolution (Late Entrant)

After a spell away from home with limited internet access, I’ve been catching up on other WordPress posts like crazy.

I follow more sites than follow me – a legacy of my early and perhaps cheeky efforts to gain readers by sending people links to my posts – although the gap has narrowed with time. But keeping up with them all means less time spent on my own posts, not to mention my own family! (They’d rather I didn’t, anyway … mention them, I mean!)

Visiting a large number of sites in a short time is like keeping a whole bunch of plates spinning on poles. It’s very easy to lapse into skim-reading, looking for hooks on which to hang witty, wise and pertinent replies … although if I have ever sent you a witty, wise and pertinent reply – or even an impertinent one – you have my solemn word that I read every single one of yours!

This time, with jet-lag threatening my concentration, I decided only to view posts from bloggers who have replied to my posts in the recent past. And I’m very glad I did. They were without exception witty, wise and pertinent to my current concerns. On my wavelength, you might say, tuned into the way I was feeling. My only question is, why the hell haven’t I done this before?

My days of chasing new readers are done. And anyway, too many of my more recent followers are concerned with self-promotion rather than self-examination. Ha, you may say, he can talk after confessing to shameless marketing of himself as a new blogger! But from now on I intend to develop more two-way correspondences with fellow seekers after the truth. In a fun way. Blogging is fun, right?

 

Image result for Too Many Spinning Plates

 

Image: http://iquitagain.com/a-year-on-purpose/283-too-many-spinning-plates

Blow Back

P eople say that writer’s block is when you
R un out of ideas. Don’t believe them. It’s when a thousand thoughts
O verflow and jam
T he
E xcessively narrow
S traw they’ve stuck in the
T urbulent milkshake of your mind.

I wrote this acrostic poem in response to yesterday’s Daily Prompt Protest but didn’t post it because it seemed, well, just too damn odd! Looking at it again, though, it does seem to summarise the way I feel at the moment about broadcasting my viewpoint to the world. So I thought I’d try to work out what’s happened. I don’t feel up to stringing a logical argument together, so here are a few random bullet-points in no particular order:

  • the political situation in post-Brexit Britain and pre-Trump America is an airless vacuum as if everyone has taken a deep breath at the same moment
  • facts are stranger than fiction, as always, but in shorter supply than usual
  • any attempt to be satirical is bound to fall short of the weirdness that calls itself reality
  • writing about yourself feels like changing the subject
  • anything you say about what’s going on in the world could become irrelevant before you finish the sentence
  • being controversial may alienate some and frighten off others
  • trying to be funny feels like whistling in a graveyard
  • whistling in a graveyard makes you look stupid
  • every word you utter reveals how you voted, which defeats the object of a secret ballot
  • when did words ever change anything anyway?

Is this just me, I wonder, or is any one else struggling with this stuff too?Image result for whistling in a graveyard

 

 

Image: freerepublic.com

Whaassup?

OK, this isn’t like Houston, we have a problem … the bravery behind those words puts my little hiccup into perspective.

My little hiccup? Well, my comments are not appearing in other people’s blogs. Or rather, mostly not appearing because for some reason the occasional one shows up. One person said they had received a message from me in a foreign language with an unfamiliar script, which suggests I’ve been hijacked or whatever the word is.

I like to comment on other people’s posts. Blogging is a community activity and any support I get is contingent on any support I can give. But my side isn’t working so please bear with me until I can get to the bottom of the problem.

I’ve posted my problem on the WordPress public forum and asked Akismet to look into the possibility that I’m being treated as spam. I don’t know what more I can do, as I’m not a paying customer. Has this happened to anyone else, I wonder? I would be grateful for any advice about what may have happened and what to do next.

Life and death it ain’t, but it sure feels uncomfortable …

Image result for puzzled

Don’t Just Say No

When I was a child my friends had a nickname for me. They called me The Preacher because I would turn every situation into a moral lesson.

Where did this finger-wagging tendency come from? My dad had a somewhat sententious manner arising from his rather straight-laced Methodist upbringing. And my mum had an unusually heightened sense of social justice which spilled out whenever anything made her angry. Climbing on a soap-box just came naturally to me, I suppose.

I can only pity my poor friends, having their ears bent like that! And now it’s your turn, WordPress people, because looking back over my posts I can’t find one that isn’t a sermon in disguise. Poems, satires, opinions – each of them a little homily to a happier future where prejudice, ignorance and cruelty are unknown.

A world without evil is impossible if you believe in Original Sin – the idea that we are all born bad and must be redeemed. I happen to believe the opposite – that we are born good but corrupted by social conditioning into bad habits. I’m reading a biography of children’s writer Lewis Carroll which explains how he was influenced by the poets Blake, Coleridge and Wordsworth towards an idealised yet honest view of childhood – his Alice books show their feisty little hero more than holding her own against the nonsensical gibberish emanating from so-called adult authority.

Carroll works through parody, a skill he honed as a child producing countless magazines for his younger brothers and sisters to read. He was just thirteen when he wrote the spirited poem My Fairy which spoofed the solemn rubrics and prim & proper prudishness of conventional Victorian society.

I have a fairy by my side
Which says I must not sleep,
When once in pain I loudly cried
It said “You must not weep.”

If, full of mirth, I smile and grin,
It says “You must not laugh”;
When once I wished to drink some gin
It said “You must not quaff.”

When once a meal I wished to taste
It said “You must not bite”;
When to the wars I went in haste
It said “You must not fight.”

“What may I do?” at length I cried,
Tired of the painful task.
The fairy quietly replied,
And said “You must not ask.”

          Moral: “You mustn’t.”

So finger-wagging isn’t the way to go. Who knew?

And how easy it is to glimpse, in this barely teenage prodigy with his natural genius for companionable hilarity, the witty man who transformed children’s literature by giving children a stronger voice in the bewildering world we grown-ups create for them.

 

Image result for lewis carroll

 
Image: ottmag.com

The Time Has Come

I have a confession to make. I am guilty of terrible crimes. My public face – decent, caring, compassionate – is a sham, a hollow mask which conceals a crawling, squirming, grotesque monstrosity you would hate to hallucinate in your deepest and darkest nightmares.

Image result for snakes crawling from mask eyeholes

  • I have voted for people who have betrayed humanity.
  • I have worked for employers who refuse to contribute to the well-being of the wider society to which they belong.
  • I have quietly pocketed my share of the spoils.
  • I have bought products from organisations who lie and cheat their way through the world.
  • I look forward to a pension bloated by financial investments in dubious, amoral and even illegal activities.
  • I have turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to countless sins and abuses committed in my name.

Thank you for listening. Just by bearing silent and non-judgmental witness, you have managed to lift my burden of shame.

As a matter of fact, I feel much better now. A trouble shared is a trouble halved, they say, or else quartered or maybe eighthed or perhaps sixteenthed …

It may even be that my sense of culpability has been spread so microscopically thinly that there is actually no vestige left of personal responsibility for anything at all … anywhere … ever …

                                                                            Did I just say that out loud?

Image result for keep it under your hat

 

 

Images: www.tumblr.com and www.comicartcollective.com and www.zazzle.com