The Evocation Series- ‘Mirror Mirror’

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!

Blind Guardian- ‘Mirror Mirror’

Song Link

It’s a strange thing sometimes, to be a writer. Every once in a while, we must crawl out from our literary dens and take in the world around us. Like the groundhog portending the coming of spring we peek out, and a quick glimpse will usually suffice to fill us with sufficient terror and inspiration to send us scurrying back—loaded with ideas, and themes, and a terrible suspicion that the shock of venturing forth may simply not be worth it.

In the silence,

Words of wisdom.

I’ve seen the end of all,

Be aware the storm gets closer.

So, we settle into routine—reporting our fears and hopes from our places of silence and serenity. But what of the world without? The one we use to fuel our stories and mad speculations? As we create better, more hopeful worlds, what is left to those on the outside, living each day the sort of wild fantasies which we delegate to the domain of ink and paper?

Shall I leave my friends alone,

Hidden in my twilight hall?

I know the world is lost in fire,

Sure there is no way to turn it

Back to the old days.

There are moments of reprieve, no doubt. Short periods where the balance appears to be righting itself, and there seems to be some hope for the world. We can get lost in those moments. Still, the keen eye catches the small details, and it is clear, at the end of the day, that the hearts of humanity have not changed, and the course is still set for disaster.

Even though,

The storm calmed down.

The bitter end,

Is just a matter of time.

So, we create the heroes we need. We conjure them out of nothing and trap them with our words. We paint them clear as day—the honest men and women and hopeful children who could change this world in but a day if they were to unilaterally muster their passion for the purposes of decency and reinvention. They look good on those pages. Kind, beautiful, and utterly beyond our grasp.

Mirror Mirror on the wall,

True hope lies beyond the coast.

You’re a damned kind can’t you see,

That the winds will change?

In the end though, they are only stories after all.

-Brad OH Inc.

Three Political Figures You Should Know More About

Today, we’ll be looking at a few lesser-known figures from history. This isn’t the usual in-depth study so often provided here at Brad OH Inc., but rather a cursory glance at a few names who’ve played a unique role in the American political system and left their own individual mark. Some have fought for justice, others only for themselves.

So get to know these names, and if anything about them strikes you, learn more. History, after all, is so often a reflection of the past, and as it has often been said, if we fail to learn, we are doomed to repeat.

For each subject, click their names to learn more.

#1- Edward Bernays:

Edward Bernays was the nephew of legendary psychiatrist Sigmund Freud, and the driving force behind the revolution of public relations and propaganda in the 1920’s and beyond. Dubbed the ‘father of public relations’, Bernays was the very picture of a lying fiend who might have walked straight out of ‘Mad Men’.

A talented and well-learned man, Bernays chose not to pursue agriculture (his original study) or true journalism (his original passion). Instead, he used his talents to form a theory on how to ‘Crystalize Public Opinion’—a method of using cheap psychological tricks and word-associations to sell people on just about any hair-brained scheme imaginable. Notable successes include convincing Women to smoke more cigarettes by rebranding them as ‘Torches of Freedom’, normalizing techniques such as market placement in ads, and a curious effort to increase the sales of Dixie Cups by convincing the American public that only disposable cups were sanitary.

His legacy is still felt in our current world of media manipulation, truth for a price, and the ongoing mindset of the ‘people’ as a herd who need the control of the elite.

…Sounds familiar.

#2- Huey ‘The Kingfish’ Long:

Known colloquially as ‘The Kingfish’, Huey Long was the Governor of Louisiana and an outspoken populist and supporter of social programs. Likely best known for his 1934 ‘Share Our Wealth’ plan, Long was a passionate opponent of the federal reserve and big banking at large, calling for higher taxes on the rich, and a fair shake for the rest of Americans. A reasonable and virtuous position, no doubt, it should come as no surprise to any history buff that the Kingfish was promptly shot down in the street upon announcing a bid for the Presidency.

To date, the poor are yet to get a fair shake, social programs are still reviled as communist, and the rich and banking cartels continue to pillage the wealth and potential of the world.

Alas for The Kingfish…

#3- Roger Stone:

Roger Stone is a vile and egomaniacal political lobbyist with a portrait of Richard Nixon tattooed on his back.

Honestly, you probably don’t need to know much more than that.

Stone has worked behind the scenes in political fiascos ranging from Watergate to the election of the potentially-porcine President Trump.  As a lobbyist or political agent, Stone’s role is to spew as much vitriol, distrust, flat-out lies and disinformation as possible to muscle his clients into their desired position. To his credit (depending on definitions of course), he is fantastic at this…and was among the key figures behind the incredible smoke and mirrors act that was the 2016 Republican Primary election.

Motivated by legacy and influence alone, Stone is a man who defines himself by winning and losing, and doesn’t give the slightest damn about exactly what the game is, as long as the prize includes a pat on his head and some old, cigar smoking man telling him that he’s valuable.

With a legacy including the heavy use of smear campaigns, the establishment of pay-for-play political access, countless programs of disinformation, and the general subversion of the Democratic process, we consider it a matter of little to no personal bias to send a big ‘fuck you’ to Mr. Stone.

 

For good or ill, each of these people have left their own indelible mark on the nation, and world. Some did what they did according to their own sense of righteousness, some for money, and some just to be able to say they did it. Learn these names, and others my friends, for there are many types of people out there, and many ways to change the world.

Which will you choose?

-Brad OH Inc.

The Dangers of Dogmatic Thinking

People have had a lot of brilliant and noble ideas throughout the ages. The best of our intentions have—on our finest occasions—come through to provide us with incredible esoteric insights, high-minded ambitions, inspiring works of art, and other enlightened insights into the human soul and condition alike.

Then, we tend to wreck it all.

The legal system, for instance, is certainly a respectable and necessary structure for any society. Arguably, this system was created initially as a general system of laws, rights, consequences, and limitations on human behaviour with the intention of keeping the playing field even and the right to life and freedom secure. Laws were laid out to protect the sanctity of civilized existence, and the means to judge and enforce those laws were clearly defined.

So too with religion. While the source can be argued to death—and certainly has been—the foundation of most earthly religions is a set of considerations, principles, and inspiring examples of humanity’s spiritual potential. Most of these sacred texts address the nature of sin, self-control, love for one another, and other such entirely admirable ambitions.

So with such incredible aspirations, how does humanity continue to get it all so wrong?

Well, in short, we are creatures of habit. Worse yet, we adore taking shortcuts.

With most any system devised—and the two above are shining examples—we may reach fantastic heights in our state of being. But successive generations tend to skip out the hard work of exploring and understanding the nuance and reason behind such systems, and begin to rely on hard and fast rules instead.

These become mindless and dogmatic restrictions on human behaviour. More destructive still, they often become guided by a matter of precedent. Here, laws and religious tenets are continually reinterpreted to fit the needs of whoever is presently in charge of their interpretation. Then, these new bastardized definitions become the benchmark for further misinterpretation. The original good intentions are lost, and the guiding principles of law and religion alike quickly shift away from the nobility of human betterment, and become just another system of maintaining otherwise unjustifiable power structures.

In both scenarios, we see a series of great intentions written down in stone, then systematically misapplied, misinterpreted, and misused. Each new iteration of this misuse is then made sacrosanct, to be further abused and distorted. Eventually, we are left with none of the good effect, all of the high-minded self-righteousness, and very little of true grace or justice.

So what can we do to avoid these ever so common failings? Well, we can start by taking a very serious look at our own intentions. Growth and insight are never easy, and achieving any real sense of decency, grace, or virtue is seldom possible when taking the quickest path.

Without fail, the easy ways will lead to the most common of results, and with us people, that is seldom a respectable scenario. Rather, we must constantly consider the truth of our intentions. We must examine the reasons behind our needs and desires, and, rather than turning to dogmatic principles and knee-jerk reactions, we would do best to consider all angles, remind ourselves of the deepest principles we hold dear, and move forward not with expediency or—heaven forbid—righteous indignation, but simply with patience, love, and an ever-present sense of respect for our fellow humans.

This is what must surely lie at the root of all such systems after all, be they religion, law, or others. So to leave them out is a terrible oversight, liable to result in the enforcement of something else entirely.

-Brad OH Inc.

‘33’

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

It’s not that I’m getting old. I’m not feeling especially tired either. Besides, those are hardly the sorts of things I’m inclined to worry about. At least I’d like to think that’s the case. It’s just that there’s so very much to do. So many aspirations, and so dreadfully little time. Occasionally, I suppose, I get the sense I’m running a little behind.

A man can dream of innumerable potential lives, but has only one to live. With each commitment, another potential sets sail. There are always the basics to cover: a stable job, a place to live, a good group of friends. It’s not so very much, but each aspect shaves off a bit more time that could theoretically be spent elsewhere.

Each day spent on one thing is wasted to all else. We make our decisions, parse out our time and effort as we see fit, and carry on the best we can.

But the dreams, aspirations, and desires do not fade. Neither do the questions.

How does one balance the daily grind, and also seek to better himself?

Do the basics of daily living get in the way of aspirations to change the world? Or is the way we live daily the very thing which defines our world?

Can a man ever be his best self without a better half? Do we live to serve, and if so, who?

Is our duty to ourselves, our loved ones, or the world as a whole?

We all dream of answers. Of contentment, adventure, satisfaction.

Some of us actually find them. Others manage to convince themselves they have. The rest, I suppose, search forever.

Each day can feel like an effort. Sometimes they may require an exhausting exertion just to get through. Yet as each day closes, how many unanswered questions and unaddressed desires remain? The love you’ve yet to find. The voice you’ve yet to share. The world you’ve yet to live in. What about them?

…33.

It’s not so old by any stretch of the imagination.

Still, there are times—day, evening, or night—when I get that weird feeling in my gut. Like maybe, I’m just running a little behind.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Evocation Series- ‘Straight Time’

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!

Bruce Springsteen- ‘Straight Time’

Song Link

There is a precarious balance we all must face. It’s a struggle, whether conscious or not, to maintain the equilibrium between our compulsion for virtue and our desire for self-betterment. Certainly, these are not antithetical concepts, but the world can surely make them feel so at times.

In the darkness before dinner comes,
Sometimes I can feel the itch.

We all make sacrifices. With each effort to stay on whatever path seems best, we watch other opportunities slip away. Old friends, cherished memories, lost loves—all fade into the distant past, like fog giving way to morning light, we are left to what we have chosen, and must leave the rest behind.

But you get used to anything,
Sooner or later it becomes your life.

It works, for the most part. We go along our path, and we seldom pause to question it. We stick with what works, and slowly we close the door on all those other potentials—dreams on the wind; childish, silly things.

Seems you can’t get any more than half free,
I step out onto the front porch, and suck the cold air deep inside of me.

Then, there are those other times. Suddenly, all those forgotten potentials seem like just yesterday. The knot of conviction loosens, and those old fantasies feel so close to your grasp, it would take but the smallest slip to reach out and take hold. And at what cost, exactly?

If we’re lucky, we will never know.

Got a cold mind to go tripping cross that thin line,
I’m sick of doin’ straight time.

Push it down baby, bury it deep. A mind in turmoil is quick to question its course, to debate and dissect all the small decisions which have set us upon our present heading. But a placid mind, reassured by peace and comforted by contentment, may move past this unease, and with sufficient will and wisdom, will let those fleeting moments pass.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Evocation Series- ‘Nightfall’

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!

Blind Guardian- ‘Nightfall’

 Song Link

Arda, the world in which J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle-Earth is set, was once a more beautiful and perfect place. The elves were invited West to the undying lands by the rulers of the land, the Valar, to join in the eternal bliss of the two trees. But jealousy and strife were sown by the Dark Lord Melkor, who destroyed the two trees of Valinor and set off a series of events which would leave the world forever changed.

All hope’s lost it can’t be undone

They’re wasted and gone.

Mourning, the elves sought desperately to return to the way things were, but found it impossible. Greed and pride prevented any solution, and the elves soon learned that there are some wounds too deep to heal, and that even the greatest of graces in their world were not beyond the taint of darkness.

The light she once brought in

Is gone forevermore.

But Fёanor, the king of the Noldor elves, could not accept this loss. For Melkor had also stolen the Silmarils, those three jewels created by Fёanor, which held within them the very light of the two trees. Fёanor was enraged by this transgression, and against the advice of the Valar swore a holy oath to retrieve them from Melkor at all cost.

The words of a banished king

“I swear revenge”.

This oath was unforgivable, and all the Noldor who followed Fёanor were banished forever from the undying lands of the Valar—doomed to toil eternally on their hopeless quest in the dark lands of Middle-Earth to the east. Some turned back, but others refused to see their kin march into doom unaided, and set out across the seas and ice to what fate might await them.

Never trust the northern winds

Never turn your back on friends.

What became of them? Well, they died. Over the centuries, almost to the last, they were slaughtered and watched their kingdoms burn and friends fall as the devastation of Melkor came to fruition. But their oath held them, and never could they return to the undying lands.

Nightfall

Quietly crept in and changed us all

Nightfall

Immortal land lies down in agony.

Loss can be a cruel thing indeed, and many of us in this world will see the things we hold dearest taken from us, devalued, or destroyed. But it is in these times when our faith in decency must be the most powerful. For to allow the sting of death and time to turn us away from what is good and enduring is the most painful loss of all.

-Brad OH Inc.

Greed and the Village

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampSometimes, I like to think about society as a simple tribal village. It strips the world of its artifice, and takes us back to human-kind at it’s most basic. Raw and primitive. Simple.

And that’s exactly what many issues are from this perspective: Simple.

Without the nuance of modern day polarities, we can see things a bit more clearly. The significant moral leaps people manage to self-justify may be laid bare by a more straight-forward allegorical perspective.

For instance, we can easily agree that freedom is a virtue to be celebrated—but, not total freedom. Let’s explore that with an example. Imagine you are lying asleep on your dirt floor, above you nothing but the countless stars of the prehistoric night sky. You’re covered with a torn animal hide, and lay near enough the dying embers of the night’s fire to provide sufficient protection from the chill of night. In this scenario, you would certainly not want your neighbour to have the freedom to creep up as you slept and take a rock to your head just to obtain that crappy lion skin you call a bed.

Would you?

Most of us don’t need a cave man metaphor to get behind the basic idea of laws, no doubt. Shame on you that did.

But not everything is quite that clear, and the complexities of modern society make it far more difficult to discern the moral imperatives beneath the daily milieu. How do we suss out the decent path in something as complex as corporate economics, or systemic injustice?

Well, let’s imagine that for a moment. Take that same sleepy village of knuckle-dragging cave-people. Say that, as you sleep, one of the villagers has the initiative to wake up early, and gather up all the useful plants anywhere near your hut. Then he breaks your legs so you can’t gather the far away plants. Finally, he generously offers to sell you some of his extra plants in exchange for your wife and children.

You see, at some point, a free market which is free to extort and dominate no longer looks very much like freedom at all when you really boil things down.

Taking this analogy a bit further, we might ask: Just what do we want for our fellow savage villagers? Well, at first glance they don’t seem like an overly pleasant lot. They’re brutish and violent, and certainly don’t seem very smart.

I suppose that education would be a good place to start then.

Ensuring health and security is likely to make them less desperate and prone to violence of course, and some laws to protect from exploitation or economic coercion certainly seem sound.

But we don’t live in a village anymore, we live on a planet. And it would seem, somehow, that there is a disappointing lack of people who truly want any of those things for their neighbour. So then, what does this portend for our coming sleep beneath those countless stars?

The lion skin frays. The embers sputter and smoke.

…The night grows dark.

-Brad OH Inc.