We’ve all heard about the Holocaust. An extremist German man imprisoned an estimated 15-20 million people in Death Camps, succeeding in killing an approximate 11 million. We’ve seen the stats; we know the facts. We’ve heard and read the stories; Anne Frank’s perhaps being the most famous. But there’s still so much more we don’t know, and never will. So many records destroyed, so many bodies burned or buried and lost. But have you ever wondered why it worked? And now, from where we stand in 2017, do we yet understand the magnitude of such a disastrous crime against humanity, by humanity?

Throughout the course of the war in the death camp Auschwitz alone, approximately 1.1 million were killed while it was staffed by a mere 7 thousand. Of course, they were starved, tormented, and tortuously overworked. And the Nazi’s had guns. But 1.1 million. The manpower alone could have overwhelmed 7,000, guns or no. The casualties would have been great, sure, but as we now see, and as most prisoners guessed their own fate, those fates were worse without an uprising. So, why wasn’t there one?

Well, that’s the part we don’t want to admit about Adolf Hitler. He was a racist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, mass-murdering, and abhorrent human being, to put it lightly. But he was also a genius. That’s why it worked. Because the Holocaust was conducted brilliantly.

His greatest crimes do not only lie in the slaughter of 1.1 million people. Because before they were killed, they suffered far worse than death. His system was not fragile, and so, it was not destroyed from the inside.

If you want to know more, read the book. It’s dreadfully honest. It’s real. And it gives you eyes into the self-perpetuating structure of the death camps. It will make you nauseous, it might make you cry. And to date, it is one of the most sickening and worthwhile books I’ve read. But don’t crack its spine on the dock of your vacation home. This isn’t one of those books to read under the sun with a lake lapping around you. It’s a book you read with the doors shut and a box of chocolates nearby. It’s the book you read as a tribute to those who didn’t make it out. To those who lived and died inside it’s pages. We don’t do that carelessly or with joy. But we should do it nonetheless.

Primo Levi offers a beautiful perspective on this horror. He stands apart from his torturers, and his experiences. His anger, his hatred, hardly leaks into his words until they are deserved. He does not encourage his bias. He’s an academic, and he treats his experience as a third party would. He does not relinquish them of their guilt, or forgive them their sins. He does not hate the German people, though he admits their blind participation was pivotal, if not essential, for the capture and mass slaughter of millions of human beings. Instead, he seeks to learn, to understand, to punish those who deserve it, and, above all, prevent this from ever happening again.

I cannot give enough credit to Levi’s beautiful sense of humanity, or his ability and style used to approach writing this book, with the memories of his lost friends, his shame, and his experience. He offers a unique perspective on forgiveness. His is based on logic. It is not unconditional, and it is not undeserved. Those who receive it, have also received his pity, his disappointment, and his attempt to understand. And there are still many who have not been forgiven, and who never will.

There are a multitude of lessons that we can learn from the Holocaust. From Hitler, from the persuasion and power of an entire population of people. From the mass slaughter. And unless we take heed to remember them, to understand them, we are vulnerable for history to repeat itself.

What turned me onto this book were recommendations from others. When people found out I was interested in writing On Writing came up. More than once, with glowing enthusiasm, and I’m so glad it did.

It’s not a story. It doesn’t have a plot. It’s not fantasy. All of these things made me hesitant and unsure about how much I would enjoy the read; it sat in a pile in my bedroom for too many weeks before the spine was cracked—and even then, only hesitantly. I always figured it would be worthwhile—it was Stephen King for christ’s sake—and although I’d never read him before, I’d always meant to. But a book about writing, something akin to essay writing, doesn’t have the same sort of pull others do.

I was absurdly wrong.

His writing is hilarious. His intelligence burns behind his words. On Writing’s got a comical autobiographical beginning that is punctured with sass, crass, and childhood accidents. Now that I’ve started reading one of his stories I can see how his life pre-writing-career affects his characters and his stories. His grit is bound up in reality and his own personality.

The latter half of the book is dedicated to language. It’s insightful, it’s vague where it should be (good writing doesn’t play by any One’s rules), it’s clear where it can be, and it’s packed with morsels of gold.

An important note: Stephen King is a prolific writer. He has a multitude of books, each of it’s own importance in literature. He does not write spoiler alert before talking about the process, start to finish, of writing of his stories; including the ends of them. Having never read one of his stories, I can now accurately tell you some endings and pivotal plot points in a certain few of his books. The Stand (currently on my bedside table with a bookmark stuck into the 167th page), and Misery, are two that come immediately to mind. He did so with well intended purpose, and the examples gave life to his points. Nevertheless, if you are a fan, and a fan who has not read all 53 of his other novels, I warn you. He only mentioned a small fraction of them, but he did mention some.

I’m not sure I recommend this to non-writers, or at least people who aren’t interested in the craft on some fundamental level.

If you are, however, this is not a book to disregard or overlook. It’s not a bore. Once I started it, I finished it quickly. It’s well written. It’s to the point. It’s intelligent.

And for the aspirant writer—it’s a must read.

This isn’t a comment on the portrayal of sexual violence in the media. This isn’t about the tact of A Game of Thrones. This is, however, a defense of the character Sansa Stark.

I’m not sure we’ve given her enough credit after last week’s episode, Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken. We being, by and large, the Internet: the fans, the commenter’s, the watchers, (or previous watchers), of the show.

Spoilers ahead.

The ending scene was horrific to watch. It left my stomach in a twist, a feeling that didn’t relax until long after the screen had gone silent. I reiterate: that is not a comment about the integrity of the show. My reaction had nothing to do with that. It had everything to do with the horrific scene. It was brutal. No one has argued that it wasn’t.

Now, let’s rewind. There’s the scene where Sansa is in the tub and Myranda is warning her about Ramsay’s past tendencies. We get a brief view of Sansa’s new and improved character with her line, “And how long have you loved him, Myranda? I’m Sansa Stark of Winterfell. This is my home, and you can’t frighten me.” It’s awesome. I cheered a little when I heard it. She’s so far removed from the little girl who confessed her love for Joffrey and dreamed of having his blonde haired children.

Okay, fast forward to the wedding. Sansa is hesitant, very hesitant, throughout the ceremony. She even takes her time saying the North’s equivalent of “I do.” She doesn’t have to say it. I’m not sure what would have happened if she hadn’t. But Ramsay’s face sure showed he would not have been happy had she declined him. He seemed to think she could have. That makes me think he doesn’t have much power over her. Yet.

Nonetheless, Sansa made a decision. She weighed the information she had. She saw a glimpse of Ramsay’s cruelty towards Theon in the dining room. She was warned. She’s seen the shaking, stuttering, mess Theon has become under Ramsay’s ‘care.’ Sansa knew, to an extent how, awful Ramsay really is. And she made a choice. It was a dreadful decision, but a choice nonetheless.

Remember her hesitation. What was going through her head? Her options, of course.

Okay, fast forward further. At the beginning of that dreadful scene when she starts to tug at her sleeve, I’m sure I wasn’t the only one hoping she was going to pull a knife out of there. The new and improved Sansa Stark would become a murderer, a gruesome choice, but the monster Ramsay Bolton would be stopped from enjoying any more hunts ever again. Yes, it would have been lovely. But then… what? Roose Bolton wouldn’t just let her have Winterfell after she’d killed his son. So, she escapes? How? Could we really expect Theon to just be released from his crippling torment now that Ramsay is gone? That’s a bit ridiculous, don’t you think? Could we expect Bolton to let her run off? No, there’d be hounds, there’d be mounted knights, there’d be a very thorough search sent on her heels. And where would Sansa be able to run to? No, she would have to kill Roose too, and quickly. So she sneaks into his guarded bedroom (Winterfell is full of people who hate the Bolton’s remember) and slits his throat too? Come on. Killing the Bolton’s would never be that easy. That’s part of why we like Game of Thrones isn’t it? It’s realistic because it’s complicated.

Sansa hesitated. She weighed her options. Saying no would severely affect her position at Winterfell, as would killing Ramsay. She was alone, with little help around her. The Starks may still have friends at Winterfell, but that’s hardly a safe bet against the Boltons. So, with her choices in mind, did Sansa run from what little positional power she had?

No, Sansa was playing the game.

I’m not suggesting Sansa chose to be raped. I’m offering that she understood the world she lived in enough to know what she might be putting herself through. And she knew the man she was marrying was not a good one. The marriage night she would undoubtedly have to suffer (though the magnitude of that suffering I think may have come as a shock, Theon bearing witness etc.) was part of the consequences she expected. I think she made a calculated decision. She could have hidden a knife up her sleeve, she probably even thought about it. And I have no doubts that she would have used it. Nope, none at all.

Sansa isn’t just the victim anymore. We just need to give her the time and space to prove it.

Now, if I can step back into the broader plot for a moment. Littlefinger left her in a despicable position. And though I’m sure he didn’t not know the circumstances he left Sansa in, (he is Littlefinger after all) I’m not sure he knew how much it would cost her, and by consequence, what it would cost him.

We all know he’s a creep, most of Westeros does too. I’m not entirely sure Sansa knows it, but whether or not she does, this is surely going to be a serious point of contention. He left her with the Boltons, and with very few options. She needs to get away from Littlefinger, and eventually she will. I think this might be the catalyst to that.

Sansa is becoming an independent thinker, an independent player, and I don’t think Littlefinger realizes it. He might, though, when he comes back and her own planning, her own resources, have had time to take root and his no longer fit in with hers. What’s more, she won’t care.

However it happens, it’s going to be a beautiful moment when she’s an autonomous mastermind of her own. And my point is that it’s coming.

I want to try something different.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been trying to cut television out of my life. For good. For 20 years we’ve been involved in an unhealthy relationship. It’s been intense. It’s been time engulfing. And it’s been lethargic.

Well, I’m finally cutting that fat away. Or at least trying to.

(Note: This comes with one exception. Game of thrones will never, and I do mean never, be a waste of my time. For that reason I will always, and with a happy conscience, watch that show. Even if it’s the tenth time I’ve seen an episode. Even when they receive such profoundly negative flack for their portrayals of sexual violence or other such sensitive subjects. Game of thrones and I have had a great relationship from the start and I’m not sure D&D—and definitely not Martin—could do much to make me break up with it. That isn’t a promise so much as it’s a fact.)

I must admit I haven’t been as cold with my turkey as I planned, or at least hoped. But I’ve been much better. And so I’ve been left with shockingly lengthy days and not much to fill them with. Who knew a day could hold so much time?

I’m on summer vacation. There are jobs to be done, family to visit, and sun to be soaked up. It’s been glorious, though not as busy as I am used to being as a student with a part time job and an extra course load. So, what else is an aspiring writer to do? First, drink more coffee, (though I hardly need the extra caffeine boost these days). Second, read. Read a lot. Then read more. And third, well, write of course. Then rinse and repeat. The three go delectably well together if you ask me.

So I’ve been reading a lot. Big whoop. Except that I’ve decided I want to share what I’ve read. And so this is where you come in. In the past few weeks I’ve read a total of 3 and a half books. Most of which I started at some point over the school year but never had time to finish. Some were better than others. But all (so far) have been worthwhile.

Here, under the category ‘On My Shelf,’ I plan to tell you why; in other words, whether or not I leave this book on the shelf in the living room for people to see, or if it goes into the box bound for the second hand bookstore. You don’t have to read the books after; you don’t have to like my reviews or even agree with them. Heck, you don’t even have to read them. But they’ll be here in case you’re interested. And maybe I can convince a few of you to read the books I enjoyed, or even loved. And I hope you end up loving them too. Either way, you can always leave me a lengthy comment explaining why you don’t.

This, I think, is going to be loads of fun.

This is beautiful

http://thoughtcatalog.com/bianca-sparacino/2014/11/how-to-ruin-your-life-without-even-noticing-that-you-are/

Recently in class we read a lecture by Michel Foucault, “Society Must be Defended,” that really got me thinking.

In this essay he talked about the transition between two modes of thinking: man-as-individual, to man-as-species. Before, when we had monarchy and sovereign rulers, an individual’s actions were defining. They determined, at least to an extent, life or death. If a man stole, his right hand would be lopped off. If he insulted the King, his tongue would be cut out. For even more ‘sinful’ acts, he’d be killed. Man-as-species, however, is a shift from individuation to, if you will, ‘massivism.’

I would argue that this shift of the deindividuation of the human is an era we still live in. Today man is one in a society; a nation; a population. We are all ones in 7 billion, and our governments treat us as such.

Our problems only become their problems if they are generalized: when they become the problems of the general public. The problem of one is trivial. It’s meaningless. One in the whole is nothing.

Foucault goes on to describe the term biopolitics, which is when biological processes, such as mortality rates, birth rates, illnesses etc., become political issues. An example he uses is endemics. They cause mass spikes in mortality rates, which are expensive to manage and decrease the productivity of a population. As such, there comes the “solution;” the implementation of public hygiene. It is not out of altruism, where the government personally cares for each individual’s health. Instead it’s a result of the economic consequences of that endemic. It’s a general problem, so they fix it.

What’s more is that governments use biopolitical statistics to influence our behaviour. Yes, it’s true. And no they are not manipulating our every decision. But they are feeding us grandiosely large statistics like mortality rates so that we invest in health care. They paint university degrees as tickets for high paying jobs, success, and happiness. They emphasize stats about the likelihood of accidents so that we invest in car insurance. Would so many of us pay thousands of dollars worth of insurance each year if we didn’t hear about how likely it was to get in a car accident? I’d say not.

That is the power of biopolitics.

So, what’s my point? Are we all just doing what we’re told to, in a society where our contribution to it is manipulated from us? And the summation of each citizen’s contributions creates a stable economy so that our government can function? Is our sole purpose, in their eyes, to be tax paying citizens? Foucault would say yes. Most anti-institutionalists, and countless others, would agree. And, contrarily, lots would disagree.

I would say that right now, yeah that’s probably the case. But there’s good news. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

There’s a social shift occurring. It’s becoming more evident as Generation Y graduates from college and doesn’t immediately integrate into the corporate world. We’re refusing more and more to become cogs in the machine. We’re traveling more. We’re creating new innovative jobs that we’ve never seen before. Industry as a career is fading into the generation behind us. Sustainability is a Major at University.

These are all examples of this social revolution.

Between the three children in my family, born to a businessman and a lawyer, we have three picturesque examples of Generation Y. A Canadian Athlete, who is choosing to set his sights on making a career out of sailing (check out his website here http://matthewrydersailing.com). A video game design major, who is as passionate about video games the way most people are passionate about chocolate or coffee. And a creative writing major, who is going to join the career path of the thousands of “starving writers.” None of us chose traditional careers. Each of us pursued what we were most passionate about despite the challenges we will undoubtedly face because of it.

But why should we have done any differently?

To say we know what we’re doing is a laughable misconception. We haven’t figured out how this new social attitude will fit into the world over the next fifty or so years. We’re transitioning away from what we know. We’re focusing more on what we care about. And we care less about money. We really do.

Generation Y would rather live frugally than work a 9-5 cubical job. It’s just what we want out of life. We’re focusing less on society as a whole; we’re ascribing less importance on our industrial or economical contribution. We care as much about our community as the youth always have, but we’re valuing less the monetary aspects of it.

To be clear, we’re not shifting backwards to focus on the individual again. We’re evolving into placing importance somewhere entirely new. Passion and experience. Humanity has now gone from emphasizing the individual, to focusing on us as a species, to caring about our relationship with the world, and its relationship to us. We want to get more out of life than financial stability. We want to travel because it’s interesting. We want to work towards something amazing because we’re passionate about it.

This social revolution is a shift beyond biopolitics. It’s a movement away from the institution as sovereign. It’s an evolution away being a cog in the outdated machine. We are our own machines. And our cogs are what we choose to invest our time in, not our money.

I’m not going to pretend we understand it all. I’m not to say we’re going to get it right. But we’re going to do what we love, and try to make that work.

This past January I made a new years resolution: a commitment to myself and to my writing.

I’ve been writing the same two-book series for the last five or so years. Sad as that may seem, I’ve grown exponentially as a writer doing it. My story has been cultivated, evolved, and has never been better than what it is right now. I’ve written, rewritten, and restarted. This past January I promised myself that I wouldn’t everdo that again. I would never again open a fresh Word document and start my story from scratch.

I would write my story at a bare minimum for fifteen minutes a day. Extra minutes in one day wouldn’t carry over as credit to the next. But 0 minutes today would mean the added minutes tomorrow.

This year so far I have written a minimum (and I know there’s been countless more hours added to my daily fifteen minutes that has to go uncounted) of 72 hours and 15 minutes. I owe myself another two hours and fifteen minutes as of today.

Taken that other writing, i.e., blog posts, short stories, Worth1000 contests, other stories, essays, and any other type of writing I do on a daily basis do not count towards that fifteen minutes. These minutes are a dedication to my story, not just to my writing.

I’m getting there on top of school, running, family, friends, hobbies, being a University student, homework… the list of my life goes on.

And I have more going on than this two book series that’s been brewing in my head since middle school. But I’ve made a special commitment to it, and it’s stuck.

I have a passion for writing, and I dedicated myself to it. I’ve grown more this year as a writer than any other. Part of that are the diverse outlets I’ve written in. Part of that is practice. Another part is hard work.

Mostly, it’s the 72 hours and fifteen minutes.

Beautiful 🙂

Together

A phrase appears somewhere in the bracket of brain and heart;

I am pleased.

Pleasure, however, is a thought outside my zone,

outside,

and cold.

December, it snows and I am warmed by the chatter and scotch.

A train goes by and I wonder, when will it end?

I sift through the mental filing cabinet I’ve been asked to sort out

for the most impressive documents.

Aha! Now this,

this is groundbreaking.

You’re not that special, you know?

You don’t.

No.

And that’s tough.

Hard to accept, so you try to forget

the thought that was presented to you as a gift

on an unwanted anniversary, the last stuffed dog on sale at Walmart that lacks both history and character.

You wanted the heirloom polar bear with the missing left foot because you,

you’re special.

You’re the one

in the multitude,

captured and free.

FREE from the shackles of How One Should Be…

View original post 68 more words

Every time we struggle through something difficult we change a little; an alteration here, an adjustment there. It’s a process that gives us substance and texture. We learn from our mistakes, and we grow and change. That being said, if someone has never made a mistake then they have never grown. Therefore they must be a rather boring individual.

This is why I don’t find the people with a whole lot of static personal issues and self-doubt very interesting. They’re stuck in limbo; cast there by their own problems and unable to figure their way out of it. Sometimes staying stuck there is self-destruction. These are the people that play the victim. Regardless of ones own responsibilities or personal mistakes, problems are always someone else’s fault. Surely of course, they are merely the victim in this situation.

In truth, I find that the people who are most comfortably situated in life behave oppositely to this. They are the ones who have figured out how to deal with their issues in life in their own way.They accept their mistakes and their responsibilities, and they do something about them. Not to say that they’ve gotten over their problems or that they don’t have any. But instead that they’ve moved past them, or learned how to live with and through their issues.

Everyone has problems, but not everyone can deal with theirs. The people who do, (and I think of this more as a procress and not an achievement) are the people who are the most interesting. It’s because they’ve innovated themselves more. They’ve learned how not to be the victim of the negative, but rather an active individual in the positive, despite the negative. As a result, they’re the most changed individual and not the most ragged.

These are the people that I strive to meet. I cherish their experiences as I come to find out how they figured growth out: because that process is different for everyone. And we can learn from people who’ve done it. Even though in the end we might, and probably will, do it entirely differently.

That is to say, emotions may be universal but dealing with them isn’t. And figuring out how to deal is essential.

You don’t actually have to care about the environment because of your moral values or for your own personal ethics. You actually don’t have to give a hoot about animals, or ecosystems, or life outside of your own. But if you do care about your own life, you officially have to care about the environment. Because global warming is threatening the existence of humanity, not just the existence of species like polar bears or turtles or the black footed ferret. It’s actually threatening you now, personally. So regardless of what you believe in, what you care about, and what you consider to be your values, we all need to do something to stop the quickly approaching point of no return.

Here are some cute pictures of other species who are going to care about global warming as much as you do:

dunno wierd rabbit panda seal linx polar bear fox