In Defense of Clichés

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

There are few literary critiques more scathing than to call something ‘cliché’. Whether written work, movie, theory or idea, the accusation of ‘cliché’ is an attempt to strip an idea of all originality and reduce it to a rehashed, tired idea worthy of little to no real consideration.

At times, the accusations carry weight. Originality, after all, is the hallmark of the creative mind. To discover new ways of phrasing familiar concepts, or new metaphors to capture the intricacies of our particular perspective is the high-water mark of self-expression, and to rely on cliché in such an endeavour is to devalue our individuality and relegate ourselves to playing stock-characters on the stage of our own lives.

Others are more forgiving with the careful use of cliché. A red rose in a romantic moment, a moving if familiar pledge of commitment until the end of time/ mountains crumble/ last rains fall—there are plenty of clichéd tropes which still serve their purpose with poignancy—even if it’s at the expense of personalization.

Still, there are other sorts of clichés which go moreover ignored or unnoticed by most people. In his book ‘The Hero with a Thousand Faces’, Joseph Campbell explores the idea of the ‘archetypal hero’ found in mythologies the world over.

This idea of the ‘monomyth’—the familiar journey told by countless cultures throughout every period of time—asserts that there are certain commonalities to the human experience and imagination—a familiar chord touched on no matter the background, language, or experience of the people in question.

The implications here are quite interesting. If there are indeed common strands of myth and story which echo across time and culture, it would be easy enough to disregard them—casting them aside along with all the other worthless and overly familiar clichés we so adamantly oppose.

Alternatively, we may be able to learn something from these enduring strands of the shared human experience. What motivates these similarities, and what conclusions might we glean from their timeless resilience?

Clichés, myths, legends…all have grown to such recognizable stature as a result of their ability to speak across cultures and great lengths of time…to connect with something deep within us all and speak to our inner-most truths.

So, do not shudder the next time someone reminds you of the colours of roses or violets, or offers some other tired yet comfortably trite piece of wisdom like that. Rather, recognize it for its history and accuracy. Rather than blaming the familiar for our own occasionally drab existence, let us look inside to find the underlying reasons for their ubiquity.

Beneath the worn-out stories and faded metaphors may lie a secret to our shared humanity, and the deeper we go into the genesis of these ancient comforts, the closer we may find ourselves to the echoes of the old and glorious themes of our common past.

-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 Bushido of Bogney, Part II

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Bushido: (武士道) literally meaning “the way of the warrior”, is a Japanese word for the way of the samurai life, loosely analogous to the concept of chivalry in Europe. (Source)

 Bogney: A tiny dog, wise for his years.

Today, we once again combine the old and the new for a fresh new perspective on life through the eyes of our classy canine friend. This is the daily living of a small dog. This is the extrapolated wisdom of the ages…This is the Bushido of Bogney.

-Click Here for the Original Article-

Lesson #1:

At the start of each morning, Bogney is given his portion of food for the day. When I am out of the house, he will rarely touch it. When I return, he eats it ravenously. This is a clever concept lost on even most people. When earthly pleasures are limited, we must be prudent and careful. When the source of these pleasures is close and there is bounty for all, we must remember to occasionally indulge ourselves.

Lesson #2:

Bogney is a creature of habit, and learns quickly what are the expectations on him, and the proper etiquette for any situation. When at home, he knows his walk times, when to go to the bathroom, and the expected rewards of each. When he is at another residence, this is thrown off. At times such as this, Bogney will divide up his washroom breaks, hoping to be rewarded for each tiny movement. It is a clever trick, but rarely successful.

Nevertheless, he will continue with the ruse whenever the possibility arises. To pursue with creative vigour any potentiality we desire is the mark of an ambitious soul.

Lesson #3:

In the company of his master, Bogney is a model of restraint and composure—entirely content with life, and his place within it. However, on the occasion of company arriving at his home, he becomes cloying—clinging to his master’s leg in a desperate bid for constant attention. We most value the things we have when we can see that they are also valued by others.

At this point in our lessons, I’m afraid Bogney became quite distracted in an effort to catch a piece of dust from the air, and is well beyond any further insights. Perhaps there is some gem of wisdom to draw from this as well, but this writer, for now, will remain content in watching the show.

Fear not though, as soon as the air is cleansed of foreign particles, there is no doubt Bogney will be back with further enlightening anecdotes for us all.

-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.

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 Canadian Juggalo Weekend

On the days of April 7th and 8th 2017, the Marquee Beer Hall in Calgary, Alberta was the scene of the first ever Canadian Juggalo Weekend. From all across this great northern nation and beyond, painted faces converged on Cowtown to revel in the frenetic madness that is the Juggalo world.

Featuring live JCW Wrestling, carnival freak shows, and countless live music acts including the likes of Swollen Members, Onyx, 2-Live Crew and the one and only Ice T, each night was capped off in the blaze of Faygo drenched glory that only the Insane Clown Posse can provide. Night one featured a cover to cover performance of their seminal album, ‘Riddle Box’, while night two featured a raucous ‘hits’ show—both with more than enough Faygo to drown several dunk-tank carnies.

As if that wasn’t enough, each night included an after party, which saw ICP back on stage again to play the Juggalo equivalent of an acoustic set (sans Faygo) of rarely played songs like ‘I Get Mad’, ‘Get Off Me Dawg’, ‘Falling Apart’, ‘Santa Claus…’, and ‘Everybody Rize’. Needless to say, this made quite the impression on the eager Juggalos in attendance.

Of course, like any event put on by Psychopathic Records, the main event highlight was the Juggalo Family itself. If Juggalos live up to their reputation as a wild and crazy bunch, so too do they stay true to their own creed as a supportive and inclusive group of nut-jobs who would be hard pressed to fit in anywhere else besides an event such as this. Playful chants, wild mosh pits, crowd-surfing wheelchairs, and a greater sense of kinship and camaraderie than you’ll find at most real family reunions made the weekend a special treat both for those long acquainted with the ICP and their Juggalos, and first-timers alike.

While far from an inclusive list, much love goes to our good friend Hal for showing the gumption to check the scene out, and to Rick and Kim for being such fine compatriots and outstanding representatives of the Juggalo world. Much love to ICP and all of Psychopathic Records for bringing their one of a kind madness to Canada.

For so many songs and memories I could never have anticipated, and will now never let go, much clown love goes to ICP, Psychopathic Records, and the entire Juggalo world.

-Brad OH Inc.

Chekhov’s Gun is Bullshit

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

‘Chekhov’s Gun’ is a dramatic principle for writers, meant to teach us that ‘every element of a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed’ (Source).

In its most basic form, it famously states that if there is a gun on the wall in one chapter, it must go off in a later chapter. Otherwise, it should not be there.

What a load of bullshit!

While certainly well-intentioned—for it is good to avoid the extraneous, and reductive editing is almost always the surest route to perfection—the principle at its simplest entirely ignores the myriad reasons to include such an item in a story.

To say that a gun must go off or not exist at all is to limit the writer’s freedom and usher all creative narration into cookie cutter niches of content. Guns must equate to shootouts. Attraction must result in sex. Loss must evoke retribution or vindication. It’s all very formulaic, and in the end we end up with a far less promising array of potentials.

The notion itself only attempts to force stories and thought into a more linear pattern, allowing less growth in exchange for more action. It’s predictable, trite, and self-limiting.

Let us look briefly to an example. The Bruce Springsteen song ‘Galveston Bay’ (Link) tells the story of two Americans with very different experiences of the Vietnam war and its resulting influx of immigrants. Le, a native of Vietnam, flees his war-torn country for the alluring promise of America. Billy sees the immigrants coming and changing the life he’d always known. When, at the end of the song, Billy waits for Le in an alley with a Ka-bar knife, Checkhov’s principle would clearly state that the knife must come into play.

But it doesn’t. Billy slips the knife back into his pocket and lets Le pass—finally understanding the joint nature of their struggles, and realizing that his destructive impulse was not a true solution.

This is a far more interesting and dramatic narrative than another simple back-alley knifing. Had the knife not been included, we would struggle to understand the tension and conflict of Billy’s mindset. Had it been used, we would not see his development.

So, dear writers, while catch-all principles can serve as useful reminders, let us not fall into the habit of taking them as sacrosanct. Tiny details can serve to develop character, and show choices far beyond their most obvious functions. Guns aren’t always fired, hurt doesn’t always result in glory, and kisses, sadly, aren’t always forever. Sometimes, they are simply experiences we must pass through, learning what we can.

After all, owning a gun can tell you a lot about a character, but the decision not to use one when provoked can show you far more. We should always be mindful of this.

-Brad OH Inc.