Archives for posts with tag: opinions

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.

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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.

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.

http://www.autostraddle.com/its-time-for-white-feminists-to-stop-talking-about-solidarity-and-start-acting-240166/

The article above, about black vs white feminism, is inherently racist.
Racism is defined as “The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to an other.” This explains that lumping any set of characteristics on any group of human beings based on their race, is racism.

The quote from the article, “[Black women] are admonished by our smoother, safer, softer sisters [white woman] for holding the fight back with the suffocating scent of our lavender menace and the stings of our fists,” is subjecting specific traits, i.e., passivity and ignorance, on white feminists because they are white. That, by definition, is racism.

I’m not here to advocate white rights or to victimize white people. I am not a white rights activist or a black rights activist. I am here, rather, to defend against racism in an equally unracist manner. I am an anti-racist whatever the colour. To eliminate racism you cannot use it. Therefore, I will base my argument against racism in an unracist way.

It seems to be surprising that even as a white woman I understand what racism is. Let me explain: I understand what it means to be blamed because of my skin colour, or to be judged to have select traits because of my eye colour, or my hair colour, or my gender. A blonde haired blue-eyed white girl can understand racism. She may not have the same experience as a dark haired African American, but she can understand it. This is not to say that we all do or will come to that understanding by ourselves. But ignorance is not a quality of colour.

I’m not equating one persons subjection to anyone else’s. I’m not here to compare. I am here to point out that racism is a large and credible issue in modern society, and we can’t ignore it or pretend it’s going to get better on it’s own. But what this article should be doing is fighting against the issue of racism, and not attacking white people or white feminists specifically because they are white. That is racist. And by being so, it only adds to the issue.

The human race has one thing that no other species does: ration. We can understand points of views or direct experiences outside of our own. It’s called empathy, and it has a powerful impact.

Instead of pushing away white feminists who are trying to identify with and support others’ struggles against discrimination, why don’t we help them understand where it’s believed they’re failing in doing so, or are incorrect in how they are attempting to do so, without blaming them. We can’t forget that white feminists are not the issue. Some may partake in racism, unknowingly or not (as some black feminists do), and as everyone partakes in some form of ignorance to a varying degree. The issue of racism or passivity isn’t inherent to skin colour, however it is to ignorance.

Fighting racism requires discussion. It requires cooperation and a true understanding of what racism and equality are.

The article states that, “I balk at Black women turning their violent words against fellow black women,” but the only relation I see between these two groups is the word “black.” This is a racist oversight on the part of the author. What if a fellow black women is uneducated or ignorant on a realm of oppression? Or more specifically, racism? If you are willing to subject angry words on fellow white women for making the same mistake, in order to not act in a racist manner, you must be equally willing to subject fellow black women to that same anger in order to hope to correct that behaviour.

On a similar note, I read “We must use violence, both physically and in the vehemence of our words, because we are more desperate.” Why must we use violence? What about Ghandi? When he was getting bludgeoned within inches of his life was he not desperate?

When has deciding that violence is the only answer ever been the best option? Look at the Israeli Palestinian conflict. Is bombing the other getting either country closer to peace? Is violence helping quell the anger, the desperation, and the hatred shared by both sides?

I am offended when I read that white feminists are inadequate at fighting for other women’s rights simply because they are white. They may not have undergone the same discrimination as a black feminist, but they have undergone discrimination. It seems ridiculous to define one feminist from the other by ways of race if that is what we’re trying to eliminate as a defining factor. To eliminate racism, you must first reject your own racism.

I am sure that not every white feminist is inherently ignorant on the issues of black feminism. I am positive that there are lesbian white feminists out there that are equally relatable to black lesbian feminists, as there are in reversal. Don’t write every white feminist off because they are white. Racism is racism.

By distinguishing yourself as different and unique in your intersectionality, you are creating your own individualism. Celebrate that, use it’s unique perspective as driving grounds for your beliefs.

Don’t use it as a tool for discrimination on one side or another.