Why We Write

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Keyboards are less romantic than a good quill pen. Or a pen at all for that matter. There’s nothing especially enchanting about the click of a modern keyboard. Even those unwieldly old typewriters have them beat in that regard.

Yet for the most part, they are our tool. No longer does a writer sit upon a thick leather chair and dip their quill into fresh ink as heretofore unimagined wonders etch themselves across the clean white page directly from that writer’s imagination.

It’s a lot more head-scratching, start-and-stop bursts of keyboard mashing, and the occasional slide down whatever rabbit hole of google links begins with your subject and ends with your distraction.

The style can be forced, of course, but who has time for that?

The question could be asked, why bother?

In fact, that very question was asked of me quite recently, or something rather like it at least. A good friend and colleague was wondering about whether they should continue to write, struggling to keep their head above the cold flood waters of their present self-loathing and doubt.

Those are a couple of traits which have not abandoned writers into modernity.

It’s tough. It’s frustrating.

Occasionally, it’s infuriating.

If my friend wanted me to talk them into keeping it up though, their bet was off the mark. I did, of course, tell them how much I enjoyed their work—that was true. Beyond that though, all I could do was wish them luck.

Trying to quit?

Yeah…we’ll see.

It may be a good decision to take some time off, but I’ll put it in ink…sorry, ‘.doc format’ right now—you’ll be back. Most likely, you’ll be better for the time off. In some ways at any rate.

It all depends how long it takes.

I don’t expect it will be long.

It doesn’t begin and end at the keyboard, after all. That’s just the easy image. It’s also the questions that pop up in everyone’s mind, and how in yours they turn from questions, to postulations, to weird ideas, to full mythologies. All in a moment, and how you’re left with your fingers twitching for the moment you can type it all out—or screaming into the voice-recorder of your phone in some god-forsaken alley, ignoring the perturbed expressions of the passersby as you struggle to get it all out.

It’s in the way you turn things over in your head—turns of phrase, or conversations past, present, or future—how you play things out, stop and rewind, and do it all again.

Again, and again, until it’s right.

It hurts when it’s not, and it walks beside you all day reminding you of the unloved monstrosity you have created and are now responsible for entirely.

Of course, when you get it right…well, to capture that feeling perfectly would be to find the words we’ve all been looking for all our lives.

Then, there are the times in between those others. The times when we learn, and work. When we see red ink and get a thrill, and ask for more and more not to justify our own decisions, but to hone our art—to sharpen our tools.

These are the times when inspiration does not rain from the sky, and we find ourselves before an empty screen writing about why we write rather than what we’d meant to write.

Never mind all that.

You may stop. You may question if you should. That’s natural, I expect it happens to most of us at some time or another. But if it’s in you, you won’t escape it. And when you feel it again, remember where you left your pe—fuck.

-Brad OH Inc.

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Re-Share: EViL

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

This post was originally from March 19th, 2017. It remains sadly relevant however, and we thought it deserved a re-share.


In the great old stories, it’s never hard to spot the source of evil. It may be a winged beast, or a black rider, or a simple, unblazoned ring sitting on a table, just waiting to change the world…

In reality, however, it’s rarely so easy. Evil may take many guises, and come from any direction. Is evil inherent to humanity? Can it ever be prevented?

Education, equal opportunity and the provision of basic needs and human rights is the most obvious answer, for by removing the greatest temptations towards desperate actions, we are most likely to see them decrease. Yet there seems to be an evil in this world which pervades and permeates even the best intentions. It sprouts up no matter what we do. It finds the cracks, or makes them, and it’s dark blossom unfolds often where it is looked for the least.

Traditionally, there are two ends of the polarity in response. One is to be jaded and fearful, rejecting everything different lest it bring evil in with it. This may prevent the terror from without, but it transforms the hearts of people, and creates hatred and evil within.

The other side would be unending faith in the goodness of human kind, sometimes to the open denial of the gathering clouds. This is idealistic, and often this school of thought is quickly met by the bitter reminder that in the end, best intentions cannot ward off evil acts.

We cannot be too careful, or too careless. Vigilance is the price of peace, and those who would deny the presence of evil may soon suffer its harsh truth.

Alas that we do not have a ring to focus on and destroy. Evil is a more insidious thing than that, manifested most often in the sins of pride, greed, and avarice—the strongest motivators of human vice. We cannot see it, nor cast it into the volcano to banish it forever.

Yet the discerning heart can feel it grow. Where will it strike? None can say.

Still, if you pay attention, you can feel the tension in the air, smell the fresh tinders and see the sparks dancing against the black night sky. Old threats and bedtime stories are alive again. Evil grows…now is the time for heroes.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Evocation Series- ‘Comfortably Numb’

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

The following post is part of ‘The Evocation Series’. Click Here for more information about the project, and to learn how to get involved yourself!

Pink Floyd- ‘Comfortably Numb’

Song Link

There is a strange moment sometimes, just between sleeping and waking, when the shadow of forgotten things, forgotten selves, flickers through our mind.

Hello,

Is there anybody in there?

Each passing day, the weight of knowledge grows. Wasn’t that part of the fall, after all? You see a bit more, you accept a bit more. You may settle a bit more, or for a bit less.

Just the basic facts

Can you show me where it hurts?

You learn the shortcuts, how to avoid the worst of it. Abridged and to the point, rather than wandering and wonderful. With each turn around the sun, the goals begin to shift. Avoid the struggle rather than seeking the joys. Solve the problems, rather than inventing the solutions.

I can’t explain, you would not understand

This is not how I am

It remains though, doesn’t it? Some inalienable, indefinable echo within us that calls out to be remembered. Something we once knew which has been long since lost beneath the shuffle and struggle to get by.

Can you stand up?

I do believe it’s working, good

That’ll keep you going through the show

Come on, it’s time to go.

There’s no time for that of course. Not outside of the few seconds before sleep or the first flashes of morning sun, when dreams still live and duty is a distant and shrunken thing. Then it’s gone. Back to the grind, back to routine. The rest is for another time, another life.

When I was a child

I caught a fleeting glimpse

Out of the corner of my eye

I turned to look but it was gone

I cannot put my finger on it now

The child is grown

The dream is gone

I have become comfortably numb.

 Still, we can remember it. We can if we try.

-Brad OH Inc.

Who Are We?

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

One phrase that’s heard with depressing frequency these days is the impotent refrain of “this is not who we are”.

It begs the question—who are we?

That’s a pretty deep question to anyone but an asshole.

Personally, I’m a little bit different around pretty much everyone I know.

I notice their sense of humour, the tones and facial expressions they respond to best, establish nicknames and idioms to go back to in need.

Alone? That’s a wildcard.

Still, I don’t expect that’s what makes someone something.

Is it their actions?

Their stories?

The changes they’ve made?

The happiness they’ve created?

…Who am I?

A soul, lost and confused, trying it’s best to do good for the world. Taking it all in—the good, the bad, the perverse, the fanatical. Working to process it all, to understand it all, to bring it all together, and in the light remind it.

…Who it was in the beginning.

-Brad OH Inc.

‘That’ Guy at the Bar

 

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

I’d arrived early for my flight, so naturally I found myself at the airport bar having a few last beers before calling it curtains on another fine vacation.

With the thrill of travel still having hold on me, my eyes shot about the room, this way and that, taking in all the different sorts of people gathered. Now, they were no longer the fascinating locals of a strange land, but a mixed assortment of likeminded travellers coming or going to where I would never know.

It was a fairly typical crowd. Young couples with diamonds in their eyes, old men with coals. People exhausted from long treks and people eager to start new ones. And of course, there was ‘that’ guy.

We’ve all seen him before.

Red faced and talkative. Talking too loud, talking too much. Talking too forcefully—too absolutely certain of the value of his long-winded rants, and utterly convinced he was the life of an otherwise non-existent party. He was the kind of idiot you see all the time.

The kind I do my best to avoid. And I certainly tried.

I scrolled through my phone and sipped my beer while waiting on my burger. Still, I’d glance up now and then, taking in the annoyed but patient expressions around him.

He’d already shouted out a young couple sitting on the side of the bar near him. They laughed and waved as they hurried away. I saw his laugh melt into a leer as he watched her take her partner’s hand and leave. Then he fell into blathering to a bunch of young ‘bros’ at the bar, and I figured that would keep him occupied for a while.

My burger arrived, and I thought that was the end of it.

As I finished my meal and got to work on my next beer, I noticed that the young men had been abandoned by their loud-mouthed old counterpart. He was on the other side of the bar now, clawing at some young lady as he bellowed about his life and worth and ‘stories you wouldn’t believe’.

I wondered if she could be his daughter. That would explain the perturbed expression on her face and the patience she showed as he leaned his red face in over-close and tried once more to catch at her arm. How many times had she found him like this?

Or maybe she was just another poor stranger. Perhaps she knew the younger men and was trying to make her way past him to join her companions.

They were staring at their phones now though, and their lack of recognition seemed almost intentional.

She glanced about nervously as he spoke. I felt concerned, but maybe she was just late for a flight and struggling to remain polite.

I caught her eye at one point, and it seemed the look held overlong. Nervously, I glanced away, hoping she didn’t take me for another idiot ready to cast my hand in on the action.

Was he trying to kiss her there, or just leaning in too much under the weight of his drink?

Everyone else stared intently at whatever screen was nearest at hand. But now, I was worried.

He offered to walk her to her gate and she said she would be fine.

He persisted, and she joked that she was a big girl and could handle herself.

She laughed nervously and cast her eyes downward as she tried to step around him. That didn’t work either.

Finally, I felt guilty. I’d waited too long, thought too much.

That’s the point of all this. ‘No’ is a word to be respected. And she’d said it in every way possible while avoiding making too much of a scene.

He was circling around and cornering her near the exit by the time I stood up. I caught her eye again, but spoke this time, loud enough for the bar to hear me above his commotion. “Are you ok there?”

Until that moment, she had held her countenance in a nervous, meek mask of worry and embarrassment. Now, it threatened to break as she leaned desperately around him to answer me, “…no.”

That one did the trick. I turned to him now, giving her my back and clearing a way to the door. He looked up at me with the wry confidence of a man who has been told he was special all his life and finally came to accept it as sacrosanct.

“You need to leave her alone.” Bereft of his banter, I imagine the whole bar heard me. Still, few looked up from their phones. But she took the opening, and darted through the exit.

He held my gaze for a moment in challenge, his ruddy face wrinkling with the supreme disappointment of a toddler being told they couldn’t keep the toy they’d torn from the shelf. Then he shrank back.

“Ok,” he said with a churlish sneer, and slunk off to his seat. He sat back down with the young guys, and soon they were all laughing again.

People kept scrolling on their phones.

I wondered if I was too aggressive, and sat in uncomfortable silence until the bar tender slid over a free beer. “Good man,” he said with a conspiratorial nod.

My vacation was over. She was, presumably, safe. He, I assume, would be unaffected by the encounter.

As I finished up my second beer before moving onto the free one, I reflected on the questions I’d asked myself before acting. The justifications for my potential silence.

Was she his daughter? No.

Was she just a patient stranger? No.

Was she amused by the banter but in a rush to catch a flight? No.

It was clear enough now. It wasn’t about her shyness, or her effort to be polite. Her patience in avoiding a scene didn’t matter, and my reticence to be part of one didn’t either.

She’d said no. At least four times. That was all that mattered, and that should have been the end of it. She should not have had to repeat herself, and if she did the whole bar should have risen loudly to back up her statement and support her choice. But that’s not the world we live in.

It should not have come down to one lone person accepting they would have to be the one to stand up. But I guess that’s where we are these days, and it’s probably well ahead of where we were not so long ago.

I slid the empty cup across the bar and started on the free one. It was cold and smooth.

‘That’ guy at the bar. I thought about the term. It should mean something different. Not the pushy idiot who has no place in the bar to begin with, but rather the ones willing to speak up for those going unheard.

I wondered, if I ever saw the moment to be ‘that’ guy again, would I hesitate?

No.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: Why the United States is Not Morally Justified to Limit Immigration

Today, we have an older post for you. Originally posted on July 26th, 2015, this article remains as sadly apt today as it was then. Have things changed at all? For better or worse? Can we still harbour the same hope that was expressed in this article? Can we afford not to?


If there’s one topic permeating public discourse above all others these days, it’s immigration. How to control it, what amnesty programs should be in order, and how it will affect the future of the western world are discussed daily—politicians all sounding off with their own theories, interpretations, and biases.

But the issue is simpler than it’s made out to be. Today, we’re here to discuss why the United States (and the rest of the ‘1st World’ for that matter) has no moral justification to limit immigration whatsoever.

Popular hysteria would find this claim entirely daft no doubt. As Donald Trump elucidated so profoundly in his recent Presidential bid (Link), common perception of immigrants paints a picture of a hoard of locusts come to devastate our pristine and peaceful land. He saw some backlash to be sure (Link), but make no mistake that his sentiments are shared by entirely too large a portion of the population.

So let’s examine the issue a bit more critically.

First off, it must be noted that the North American continent as it is now was built entirely by immigrants. Steel workers, factory workers, road builders and ditch diggers all came from abroad to find the freedom still sought by immigrants today. So there’s an undeniable element of hypocrisy in any claim that immigration is inherently harmful to this or any other nation.

Speaking of past immigration, even if the hotly debated Mexican border were to be shorn open completely, the resulting influx of immigration would be far less destructive to our culture than was our initial immigration to the Native population at the time. But let us not dwell on the past; this is about the present. History continues on by the day, and we must reckon ourselves to the fact that the machinations of the Western World are among the key forces driving the influx of aspiring immigrants around the world. If necessary, their concern for the laws of immigration will be no greater than we once showed.

And justly so. At present, all nations outside of the alleged ‘1st World’ are treated as low-cost production facilities, mining operations, or to put it flatly, as simple, legal sources of modern slave labour. This system produces the vast majority of luxury commodities we benefit from in our daily lives as those doing the building are left to linger in abject poverty.

Once again, Trump makes for a depressingly potent example. While decrying the potential dangers immigrants may bring, he rests high among the contributors to the need for such Freedom-bent exodus. Even as he stands at his pulpit and casts down his vitriol and hatred, he has operations going word wide paying slave-wages to potential immigrants desperate for a chance at something better (Link).

Trump isn’t an isolated example. The ‘Western World’ has a long history of supporting dictators they know will keep this system of indentured servitude in place, while reaping the benefits from the comfort of their own state-side villas.

Ignorance incarnate, this attitude is due for a rude awakening. It’s coming sooner than they think, and these entitled sycophants will shortly learn that you can’t piss in the pool, and then complain when people scramble onto the deck.

Like it or not, we are connected in this world (Link). For every ounce of unearned comfort we see, there are others who suffer a pound. To expect these benefits—at the cost of such despair—and yet expect to close the doors to any who seek only for themselves what we can barely appreciate is the height of arrogance.

If the current luxury we take for granted is to be preserved, it must be made available to all. One way or another (Link) people will find their happiness. If we find ours at the expense of others, we can only expect the same in turn. So let us invest rather in the future of all—for only by building a better world for all its inhabitants can we find justification in enjoying our own spoils.

-Brad OH Inc.

Where the Children Sleep

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Over here, the children sleep,

In warm and comfy beds,

They dream of games and food and joy,

And peace is in their heads.

Will they see their friends at school?

Will they see a parade?

Will their parents yell today?

Or will their anger fade?

Over there, the children sleep,

On ground filthy and cold,

Will they have the same tomorrow?

Perchance will they be sold?

Will they have friends remaining,

When the bombs somehow bring peace?

Will their parents hold them tight,

or dying will they cease?

Yet we continue on our way,

Dividing here and there,

With more than enough to go around,

And make it ‘us’, everywhere.

Around the world, the children sleep,

The darkening night away,

And do they dream in that deep sleep,

About a better day?

 

-Brad OH Inc.