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.

Advertisements

The Brad OH Inc. Super-Challenge!

Today, I’m being lazy. Don’t judge me. Lazy, and, I suppose, there’s a lingering sense of deja-vu. I find myself wondering what to say, in a time when it’s all been said, and nothing has changed.

So instead, I leave it to my intrepid readers to do the math, connect the dots…all that jazz.

Below, I’ve re-shared two former articles. It is up to you, the reader, to find what dreadfully ubiquitous themes might tie them together.

The Polarizing Debate Around Gun Control

Nobody wants to get shot. That, at the least, is something I believe we can all agree on. Wanting other people to get shot might be a different story, but let’s take what we can get.

There is virtually no one out there eager to catch a bullet when walking down the street—or to see their loved ones do so.

If we can agree on something as simple as that, one might assume we could find some basic consensus on how to handle guns in contemporary society.

Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Fortunately, we here at Brad OH Inc. are an ambitious and defiantly tenacious lot, and today, that’s just what we intend to do. So sit down, strap in, and fasten up your bullet proof vests, because today, we are getting to the heart of the debate over gun control!

The most basic breakdown of opinions here are the classic and time-tested notions of right, and left. The conservatives argue in favour of free access to guns—usually on account of the good ole’ second amendment. The liberals, meanwhile, tend to go the other way—as they so often do—pushing for tighter gun control. This, presumably, goes back to the notion of not wanting to get shot.

But beyond this, things begin to get a little bit murky. I believe however, that if we truly break this whole debacle down to its very essence, we might best steal a line from ‘Cool Hand Luke’ (Source) in saying that ‘what we’ve got here is, failure to communicate’.

I want to introduce a new theme here, because I think it affords us a very important tool with which to explore this debate. I want to talk about the concept of ‘Polarity Management’.

‘Polarity Management’ (Source) describes a process by which we can more effectively analyze all sides of a debate—ideally finding a bit of common ground. In essence, ‘Polarity Management’ is a means of viewing typically entrenched positions which usually go nowhere—such as this one. ‘Polarities’ refer to the opposite ends of a single, connected issue. The key here is that one affects the other directly—it is not simply one problem to solve, but an imperative interaction that must be understood. Polarities are related, and persist over time—thus they must be managed, not solved.

The problem is that we tend to treat these as ‘either/ or’ scenarios—closing off debate, and freezing out both understanding and context. But dynamic issues such as these seldom reflect one single value or quality—no simple right or wrong. They are the result of multiple, interrelated factors.

An easy example of this is rain and sunshine. You may prefer either one, but without the other, your preference becomes a dreadful imposition. Too much sun leads to droughts, and too much rain leads to flooding. You need a balance, and that is why in any issue regarding polarities, we need communication, and then compromise.

Once we’ve identified an issue as a polarity, we can proceed to explore the balance between each side—the positives brought by each end, and the negatives they bring as well. This allows us to better understand how the opposing views of the issue interact with one another, and ideally find the crucial balance necessary to manage them.

I admit already—taking this approach to gun control with any shred of optimism is a tall order, but what the hell…let’s give it a go. To strip it all down to parts, the debate around the issue of gun control essentially amounts to two wildly opposing views:

1) The right to bear arms is protected by the second amendment, and must not be infringed in any way.

2) Gun ownership presents a significant risk to the public good, and should be curtailed, if not eliminated.

Now certainly, there are few who would fully align themselves with either extreme viewpoint, yet those are the sides as purported, so let’s consider them in turn.

Much of the argument from the (typically) Conservative crowd favoring access to firearms makes an appeal to safety—believing that arming ourselves for self-defence is an inalienable right, and that we must have the ability to purchase and carry guns in order to protects ourselves from others which might do so surreptitiously. This certainly makes some sense. After all, there is plenty of merit to the old adage against bringing a knife to a gun fight.

Of course, the better solution is to avoid entering a gun fight, or being anywhere in its vicinity. This isn’t always easy, and may even be a tad unrealistic depending on where you happen to be located. Further, the argument is often made that ‘if we make guns illegal, then only criminals will have guns’. This is a self-serving tautology to be sure, but it does a fair job of illustrating the impotent terror which might come from being left defenseless in a world full of armed lunatics.

On the other end of the spectrum, we find the (typically) Liberal crowd, who heavily favor significant controls on gun ownership, including but not limited to restrictions, background checks, and waiting periods.

This side argues that due to the potential of guns to inflict serious injury and death, access to them must be well regulated in order to avoid such weapons falling into the hands of those who would use them either unjustly, or in ignorance.

Much of the force from the ‘Right to Bear Arms’ side tends to focus on an appeal to the second amendment (Link), which guarantees to citizens that: “A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The ‘right to bear arms’ was initially created as an assurance that the people of America were free and able to raise a standing militia to oppose the government should it become oppressive. This is understandably justified in light of the fact that it’s exactly how America became a nation in the American Revolution against the British. But taking up arms against the government now is—sadly perhaps—a foolish and ignoble idea. The Second Amendment notion of armed war against the government is not only invalid, it’s infantile. It’s also the legal equivalent of demanding the ‘Terrorism’ trump card.

Finally, it must be noted here that even within that sacred amendment, the qualifier ‘Well-regulated’ managed to make the cut. Never was there any suggestion of handing out missile-launchers to every civilian. Handguns for self-defence may be deemed reasonable, but if you are equipped to fight an army, you are more likely to start a war.

At this point, we can see some weakness in the notion of free access to guns for all. There are few who would support selling firearms to people on a terrorist watch list, or violent offenders—and those few should certainly be ashamed of their stupidity.

But accepting some control hardly means encouraging complete control, and it may certainly be argued that the more difficult it is for citizens to legally access firearms for self-defence, the more prone they are to victimization by those who will harbor no such qualms. Further, it is a defensible case to argue that unless a restriction is demonstrably proven to be in the best interests of the citizens, then a government has no right whatsoever to enforce it. While I expect the vast majority of people who would favor that position would have a hard time defending it if pressed, it’s something to consider.

So where does this leave us? We can see strengths and weaknesses on both sides: With no control, we are inundated with guns and seduced by their increasing fetishization. With complete gun control however, we are cast into perceived subservience, and potentially left helpless against criminals who continue to arm themselves.

So here we are. Gun deaths are increasing, distrust of police/ government is growing, and America continues to have a depressing hang-up about guns being inherent to their self-worth (Source). Further, we’ve now seen that the extreme polarity of either side could potentially prove disastrous. Because we can now better understand the best intentions (public safety) of both sides, as well as the inherent risks of each extreme (uncontrolled carnage), we may find that we are better equipped to find a position of compromise.

We need balance and informed decision making. Both opinions have valuable insights—but we must actively work towards a greater and more comprehensive understanding of the issue if we ever hope to manage it. People, left with no hope, will always find ways to be violent and get what they need. We must give them hope for an achievable way if we intend to avoid strife. In the end, it is education and empathy, not arms, which shall assure the future safety of our citizenry.

-Brad OH Inc.

On the Fear of Big Government

Government infringement into personal life is a serious concern to a great many people—and the stripping away of civil liberties such as privacy is a trend which continues to show the detached relationship government has with its citizenry. With such gross violations becoming a regular trend, it’s no wonder we still toil under the outdated notion that ‘big government’ needs to be held in check.

But make no mistake about it people, this is no reason to hate big government; just bad government. In the 1980 presidential race against Jimmy Carter, it was the infernal idiot Ronald Reagan who promised to “get government off our backs” (Source). After taking office, Reagan followed through dutifully on his promise—shattering the government’s role in protecting families, citizens, and the environment. Business, of course, flourished.

This push by Reagan to reduce the size of government was founded on claims of a fictional ‘welfare queen’ getting rich off the tax dollars of the electorate, and the general claim—as off-putting now as it was then for a man seeking public office—that “Government is not a solution to our problem. Government is the problem” (Source).

This toxic line of thinking heralded in an era of anti-government dialogue which effectively allowed rights to shrink away as powers were handed off to the corporations. Social programs were cut, and people suffered. The fictional ‘welfare queens’ theorized by Reagan have been fully realized in the decades since, as corporations are given increasingly large portions of the communal pie: receiving corporate tax breaks, bailouts in place of bankruptcy, and taking eagerly the keys of governance from the discredited and disenfranchised democratic system.

Ever since then, people have been treating government like it’s a dirty word—perhaps because it so often acts like several of them. But fear of government is irrationally motivated, and exercised for all the wrong reasons. It serves only to allow government abuse of citizens. People must remember that proper governance is there to protect them, from exactly the sort of threats which corporate governance has become. We should not fear government; we should utilize and control it to our own empowerment.

Of course, the government has to remember this as well.

The very notion of democratic government is anchored firmly in the concept of representation for the people—and this includes all people, not merely the drivers of the economy. In this era of ever growing population and incredible scientific potential, the ‘free’ market has proven itself a failed notion. But let’s hope that from this mistake we’ve learned at least not to store the meat with the dogs for safe keeping.

It’s the government’s job to put these lessons into action: protecting and promoting the healthy growth of society. This is the primary and most fundamental function of any government which has a legitimate claim to authority, but the vilification of big government started with Reagan has led to a very different objective for government institutions.

By reducing government programs, the general citizenry has been left out of the conversation, while political control has been corralled into the realm of economic growth. The corporations which now run the economic and social systems are malignant automatons. For all the time humans have piddled away fearing robots or advanced and indignant AI’s, they miss that they have not only created such in the corporate human, but also given it the keys to the driver’s seat of our society.

If such a threat came from metal clad robots or from outer space, the entire world would be clamoring for government intervention. Instead, it is claimed to be ‘capitalist’ and a product of the ‘free’ market, and the electorate has bowed their heads in well-rehearsed reverence for their reckless and self-serving overlords.

The point cannot be stressed enough: it is the function of government–elected by and representative of the people—to reign in these brutes, to protect natural resources that rightly belong to all, and to ensure that whether or not commercial entities deign to send our jobs overseas (leaving all save the CEO’s destitute), the people of this and all other countries are provided for from the resulting bounty.

These are the needs of a society, and the job of the government. To fear such is the sole result of misinformed and malicious propaganda. What we have now is not a democratic government, and this needs to change. If we are to find our way out of these difficult times, it must be faith in government—true government—which is the light on our path. This is our salvation—for to fear all government is to leave ourselves alone in the dark, looking to the wolves for solace.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Brad OH Inc. Happy Times Children’s Blog Post

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampI’m afraid I must apologize in advance. I don’t have any cute cat pictures to share with you, nor will I be indulging in any hilarious memes. I have little talent for the sort of viral content which is so popular these days—I find myself grounded in my age, and can offer little in the way of contemporary distraction.

But that’s not the only apology due to you, and that is in fact precisely the purpose of this article. Certainly, you have a great deal to entertain you—the myriad distractions and novelties provided for you surpass by far the offerings of any generation prior. Sadly, you may grow to find that dependence on such toys often stands in the way of imagination—that lauded gift given to you by birthright and discouraged by reality. Do not let it wither within you—for the future depends upon the imagination, hope, and problem solving skills of your generation.

We welcome you to this world with open arms and sagging spirits—excited for your arrival at the same time we are shamed by the condition of the world we present.

Fear, distrust, and desperation are the leitmotifs of our present day. The distractions you will be subjected to have already taken their toll on us, and the failures of my generation will be the chief inheritance of your own.

The deceptions you face will inevitably be even stronger than those which sundered us from decency and good sense. You will be tempted by greed, misguided by vice, placated by contentment, and pacified by placebos—a constant stream of assurances that if you bury your head in the sand and allow time to slip by, everything will be ok in the end.

Of course, that is not the case.

It’s not an enviable situation we leave to you, and that is the reason for our apology here today. But with it, I offer something else, and that is encouragement. Perhaps a challenge even, for I expect you will find that far more enticing.

Be better than us. Expect more—not for yourself, but from yourself and all others as well. Demand that your generation rises to the incredible potential it holds in secret, and refuse to accept anything less than the beauty of which you are inherently capable. Pursue science, and knowledge, and faith, and justice. Do not blindly accept the systems around you, or fail to seek answers where there is doubt. Question all, and where you find the accepted answers do not satisfy you, question further still.

Find new answers—or create them. Evaluate what you have, challenge what you’re told, and never settle for less than you are capable. Change systems, laugh loudly, and tear down political structures which are meant not for your benefit but your containment.

Scream, bang walls, and rage like only youth can. Get in the faces of your elders and show them that you can do better—remind them of the truths you take as sacrosanct—which they have long forgotten. Be better than us—it will be a shame which we can happily bear in our twilight years, watching with unbridled pride as our failures are buried in history and your victories shine all the brighter for the difficulty through which they were achieved.

And through it all of course, remember to have fun.

-Brad OH Inc.

Will vs. When: In Defense of the Muses

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampToday, in continuing our celebration of the release of ‘Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers’, we are happy to share with you a submission from our former anthology, ‘Don’t Chew on the Sharp End of the Pencil’.

This anthology was released back in March of 2013, and much like ‘Between the Shelves’, was edited by Brad OH Inc. and Hal J. Friesen, and featured submissions by members of ‘Edmonton Writer’s Group’.

Below, you’ll find the Brad OH Inc. submission from ‘Don’t Chew on the Sharp End of the Pencil’ in its entirety. We hope you enjoy it, and don’t forget to pick up your copy of ‘Between the Shelves: A Tribute to Libraries by Edmonton Writers’ in either Kindle ($2.99), or Paperback ($12.50) copies. All proceeds are to be donated to the Edmonton Public Library System.

BetweenTheShelvesCoverWill vs. When: In Defense of the Muses

A Discussion on Timing your Productivity

-By Brad OH Inc.-

 In many ancient cultures, art was considered the work of divine inspiration, imparted unto chosen individuals by the muses. In some accounts they were daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne—the goddess of memory. Some myths hold that there were three muses, while other accounts say nine. In some legends they are each given a separate artistic domain—ranging from poetry to tragedy, and even encompassing such arts as comedy, astrology, and dance.

I am not a historian, and cannot claim a comprehensive knowledge of the muses’ origins. All that I can say with certainty is that I have yet to meet a muse, and by this fact I am somewhat perturbed. They would be most useful for anyone in a position for which creativity is a prerequisite, and I can certainly imagine that if they existed—whether there were three or nine—all art would cease, as all artists began a bloody battle for possession of one.

When writing, I often feel there is a similar conflict being waged for my productivity. This conflict is recalled to me whenever I hear other writers planning their efforts—particularly when the discussion drifts towards overcoming the dreaded ‘writer’s block’. It is the battle of will versus when.

There are myriad opinions on the matter, for there are many different writers. It might be that the ‘will’—that indescribable drive to write which often settles upon us at the most inopportune times—is lacking. This inevitably leaves us throwing crinkled papers angrily across the room, cursing our lack of creativity before giving up entirely.

On the other side is the issue of ‘when’. Writing is a demanding occupation, and we are bombarded constantly with conflicting expectations which encroach on time that might otherwise be spent churning out vast tomes of flawless material.

This conflict happens to us all. Every writer finds themselves challenged by one of these constraints—if not both. Often enough, ‘will’ and ‘want’ will double team us—a sudden brilliant idea will strike us, and we know that as soon as we’re at our desks that this cathartic flash will become the breakthrough plot of our burgeoning career. That’s the setup.

But chores abound, and when finally we find ourselves seated in our office chair—that imagined place were high art flows from our pens like fountain pop at a child’s party—we find ourselves abandoned. The words don’t come, or worse, the idea is in hindsight pretentious or cliché. That’s the knockout punch.

Wherever you turn, you’ll find advice on the matter—and I remember trying it all. I’d sit at my desk for hours uncounted as the chair constricted around me. The blinding snowstorm of my blank screen burning my tired eyes as I’d reassure myself: You just have to sit and force it, dig deep and find where you’ve got it buried.

Nothing would come.

I’d sit until I was certain to develop bedsores, and finally push away in disgust—positive there had to be a better way.

Of course, this attempt at forced productivity was duly compensated for. Weeks would pass in an apathetic malaise—I’d tell myself I was recharging or that I needed to be in the right place to write. That place wouldn’t come either.

It made me wonder why I started to write. I certainly don’t remember sitting down with an empty word processor, thinking: This is the life. I’m not sure any writer ever has.

So how did I start to write then? In fact, I can’t recall now that I look back. What I am certain of is that it happened gradually, most likely as I came to realise that I had a lot I wanted to write about—and more important still—that I enjoyed doing so.

How do we as writers find ourselves at this impasse? Whether walking the streets reflecting moodily on our recent lack of productivity, or sitting with an empty sheet regretting our inability to find the words, we are constantly relegated into the unwilling pawns as our inspiration squares off with our discipline in a match which can end only with the death of our aspirations.

When writing is such a struggle, it can be a feat to remind ourselves that frustration is an integral aspect of any endeavor, and that no matter how it may try us, we write because we enjoy it.

Enter the muses—shy ladies, they come unlooked for—bringing a sudden smile as the words fall together in your mind. Like the building of a song, the bridge of some happenstance occurrence meets the chorus of obscure connections, until we are left awestruck by the crescendo of a promising plot.

It’s not something you can look for. That’s not how the muses operate. But I do know that when I sit at my desk calling for them, there is seldom an answer. Nor do I fare better playing hard to get, pushing them from my mind hoping they’ll sneak up from behind.

Rather, we must allow ourselves to receive these inspirations when they come, yet know where our efforts are best aimed when they do not. Being a writer is a surprisingly multi-faceted pursuit—editing, marketing, research, organization, plotting, learning—all of these and more are required to find success, but not all of them demand the attention of the muses.

Productivity may be achieved even when creativity lacks, yet we must be vigilant for creativity when it does arrive. In an age of limitless accessibility to technology, it’s easy to be prepared: phones, tablets, laptops, or even a good old fashioned notebook. When the call sounds, there’s little excuse not to answer. I’ve found many of my finest periods of productivity coming unexpectedly—one idea branches into many, and I eventually get home with a notebook brimming full of hasty scribbles to decipher.

These brief triumphs don’t end the battle. Perhaps it’s not the sort of battle which is meant to end. There will never be enough time, and what little does come up will still all too often be spent futilely. But if we remind ourselves why we write—what passion for wordplay or prose grew within us to foster this mad pursuit—and in so doing maintain a positive and open attitude towards our craft, then surely we’re on the right track.

It may be an offhand remark of a friend, an unexpected sight, a nagging question whose answer plays out in our minds, or just a whisper on the wind. However it comes though, we must be prepared. For the muses—rare and mysterious as they are—still speak in ancient tongues. It is up to the writers, and indeed all artists of the world, to be ready to translate them.

-Brad OH Inc.

On the Fear of Big Government

purelyspeculationLast week on Brad OH Inc., we explored the issue of government infringements into personal data. This is a serious concern to a great many people—and the striping away of civil liberties such as privacy is a trend which continues to show the detached relationship government has with its citizenry. With such gross violations becoming a regular trend, it’s no wonder we still toil under the outdated notion that ‘big government’ needs to be held in check.

But make no mistake about it people, this is no reason to hate big government; just bad government. In the 1980 presidential race against Jimmy Carter, it was the infernal idiot Ronald Reagan who promised to “get government off our backs” (Source). After taking office, Reagan followed through dutifully on his promise—shattering the government’s role in protecting families, citizens, and the environment. Business, of course, flourished.

This push by Reagan to reduce the size of government was founded on claims of a fictional ‘welfare queen’ getting rich off the tax dollars of the electorate, and the general claim—as off-putting now as it was then for a man seeking public office—that “Government is not a solution to our problem. Government is the problem” (Source).

This toxic line of thinking heralded in an era of anti-government dialogue which effectively allowed rights to shrink away as powers were handed off to the corporations. Social programs were cut, and people suffered. The fictional ‘welfare queens’ theorized by Reagan have been fully realized in the decades since, as corporations are given increasingly large portions of the communal pie: receiving corporate tax breaks, bailouts in place of bankruptcy, and taking eagerly the keys of governance from the discredited and disenfranchised democratic system.

Ever since then, people have been treating government like it’s a dirty word—perhaps because it so often acts like several of them. But fear of government is irrationally motivated, and exercised for all the wrong reasons. It serves only to allow government abuse of citizens. People must remember that proper governance is there to protect them, from exactly the sort of threats which corporate governance has become. We should not fear government; we should utilize and control it to our own empowerment.

Of course, the government has to remember this as well.

The very notion of democratic government is anchored firmly in the concept of representation for the people—and this includes all people, not merely the drivers of the economy. In this era of ever growing population and incredible scientific potential, the ‘free’ market has proven itself a failed notion. But let’s hope that from this mistake we’ve learned at least not to store the meat with the dogs for safe keeping.

It’s the government’s job to put these lessons into action: protecting and promoting the healthy growth of society. This is the primary and most fundamental function of any government which has a legitimate claim to authority, but the vilification of big government started with Reagan has led to a very different objective for government institutions.

By reducing government programs, the general citizenry has been left out of the conversation, while political control has been corralled into the realm of economic growth. The corporations which now run the economic and social systems are malignant automatons. For all the time humans have piddled away fearing robots or advanced and indignant AI’s, they miss that they have not only created such in the corporate human, but also given it the keys to the driver’s seat of our society.

If such a threat came from metal clad robots or from outer space, the entire world would be clamoring for government intervention. Instead, it is claimed to be ‘capitalist’ and a product of the ‘free’ market, and the electorate has bowed their heads in well-rehearsed reverence for their reckless and self-serving overlords.

The point cannot be stressed enough: it is the function of government–elected by and representative of the people—to reign in these brutes, to protect natural resources that rightly belong to all, and to ensure that whether or not commercial entities deign to send our jobs overseas (leaving all save the CEO’s destitute), the people of this and all other countries are provided for from the resulting bounty.

These are the needs of a society, and the job of the government. To fear such is the sole result of misinformed and malicious propaganda. What we have now is not a democratic government, and this needs to change. If we are to find our way out of these difficult times, it must be faith in government—true government—which is the light on our path. This is our salvation—for to fear all government is to leave ourselves alone in the dark, looking to the wolves for solace.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Metaphorical Imperative Revisited

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampIn our last article, ‘Without Words’ we reflected on the idea of what the world would be like without the vocabulary to define it. The concept was an interesting one to write about and consider; ultimately, it got us thinking back on another article we wrote, ‘The Metaphorical Imperative’.

The Metaphorical Imperative, for those who don’t recall, was a notion we explored about the source of and meaning behind creativity. In a nutshell, the idea is that as human beings evolved and our cerebral capacity expanded, the ability to question our world or ask ‘why’ would have appeared around the same time as the ability to use abstract conjecture to answer the question. These activities are certainly tied to language, although they need not be defined by it. Still, for the purposes of this article, we will take articulated thought as the base point for our considerations.

The fundamental assertion behind the concept of ‘The Metaphorical Imperative’ is that if humans owe any reverence or thanks for their current state, we owe it to the incredible work of evolutionary architecture that is our own minds—not to any god, devil, or undefined miscreant in between.

The need for existential reassurance, the fear of death, and the question of what we are and why we are here; these are all the direct products of a brain grown sufficiently complex to wrestle with such abstractions, and this alone is more miraculous and better cause for celebration than any story I’ve read in a holy book.

But that leads us to the next point. If our ability to ask questions is a miracle, what can be aid of our ability to create the answers for them?

Metaphor is the abstract use of one object to find or create meaning in another. If abstract thought is the impetus for asking ‘why’, then the tool for answering it is metaphor. My contention is that these abilities would have evolved in relatively close proximity to one another, representing a true ‘awakening’ of humanity.

If we are to discuss metaphor and meaning, we might as well start with one of the most famous—and central to our current topic. In the Garden of Eden, it’s said that Eve (that reckless upstart) ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and thus doomed mankind forever.

Thanks a lot, Eve.

I find an interesting parallel in this. This fruit, the ‘knowledge of good and evil’ which caused mankind’s fall from innocence, is symbolically comparable to the notion of the Metaphorical Imperative, in which we gain both the ability to question our nature, and the skill to fashion suitable answers.

But it’s really the answers that interest me here; the nourishing apples to the terrible hunger of ennui. Via our ability to create meaning, the human race has tapped into our most fundamental and defining abilities: creation, art, and belief.

The power of this ability might be observed most directly in expressions such as organized religion, whose depth of belief has inspired acts of miraculous empathy and terrible cruelty. But the power of metaphor isn’t limited to religion alone. Any story—TV shows, books movies, video games—has the power through metaphor to provide just as much as religion to anyone with the ability to relate to it on a personal or psychological level.

Stories are the foundation of all culture; ideas, philosophy, art and religion, the fundamental basis of humanity can be defined as the ability to dream things up in a way they are not.

There are no exceptions. Whether it’s sports, gods, science-fiction, or science alone, everyone places their trust in some grand idea, anchoring their hopes and aspirations to some intangible notion that rings true to them.

Luke Skywalker, Aragorn, The New Orleans Saints, Zen Buddhism, Zeus and Allah and Jesus, all the angels in heaven and demons in hell have sprung from this one key human drive. All art is the product of the metaphorical imperative, and stands as testament to everything which makes us human.

But here an important consideration arises in our series of metaphors. If, as suggested earlier, this key drive which makes us human (for both good and ill) was represented as the great deception of the devil in the garden, then perhaps all artists are in fact worshipping the devil.

Perhaps the development of consciousness and desire in humans was an accident—a random fluke forever changing the course of our species. No doubt we would have existed in perfect harmony with our environment if we’d never developed the capacity to believe we are separate or better.

Maybe it’s a good thing, and maybe not. But although this cerebral capacity has led to great pain and suffering throughout history, I refuse to believe it is not also the thing which will see us to what we need to become. Creation and metaphor, for all our missteps, define us as the beautiful, shining bastards we are, and will someday show us just how incredible we can truly be.

All we need to find is the right story.

-Brad OH Inc.

Without Words

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

Among the many blessings inherent to being a writer, paramount among them is the gift of always having the right word for a given occasion. Any writer—and even well-read non-writers—knows the thrill of pulling out some million-dollar word that so perfectly encapsulates your predicament it seems made just for the occasion. But recently, I found myself wondering just what sort of blessing this is, and whether with every proud smile and impressed friend that comes with knowing how to effectively articulate some miniscule event, some greater thrill may be lost.

What would the world be like without words?

Not many know—and those that do would certainly have a difficult time expressing it. It’s a primal sort of idea, hearkening back to cold days huddled around small fires on the plains of the savannah; gazing with inexpressible unease into the encroaching dark.

Sitting at that fire, you might feel the cold creeping into your bones, and with no words for why, toss another handful of sticks onto the glowing coals of your salvation. The flames would lick up; tiny firefly sparks sailing up into the boundless night sky to get lost among the countless, brilliant stars that watch you each night from above as the wolves watch from below.

The heat would swell, pushing back the creeping chill of night in its eternal yet ultimately futile battle. You might smile, and your head would swim with the wonder of it all. You would understand the connections and worship the results, but you’d have no words for the meaning behind it. A smile would have to suffice.

The next day would find you rested and warm, the sun back again, reliable as ever, chasing away the nameless demons of night and promising again that the familiar cycle would continue. And you would be glad.

There would be no words for the joy that day brings, nor the trepidation you might feel when the thunder clouds roll in, covering up the sun and threatening with their deep voices to tear the sky asunder.

With all the terrible fury of an unimagined god they would come, beating down with rain and hail from above, and shattering the mountaintops with flashes of authority beyond description.

Imagine then the relief when they passed, and again the world returned to normal—like it always did. Imagine the thrill of security and the reassuring surge of faith in your pounding heart: imagine it all without words.

So too would every waking moment be defined by such wonder. In the world we live in now—there are words for everything, even if at times many seem to fall so pitifully short.

Without words, how confounding would be ideas like hate, and love, and grief. Without a means of expressing them, how could we ever let go of that which hurt or hallowed us. All would be reduced to the guttural screams of terror or triumph; communication shackled to the hair-tearing passions of inarticulate isolation.

With no weather systems or science or writing, the world would be an unpredictable place of magic and mania—and every turn would bring some uplifting new idea which would lie stillborn on lips incapable of giving them birth.

It’s a marvellous but inaccessible idea. I think about it a lot, and slide every time down an unspeakable precipice of wonder and nostalgia, as if touching by proxy upon the culturally inherited passions we all share in our ancient past. It fills me with an incredible sense of awe, but each time I’m moved to encapsulate the extent of such feelings, I find sadly that I am without words.

-Brad OH Inc.