Trashwalking

Acting in the community is important.
Improving the world does nothing if we cannot enjoy it, and it’s easier to become better in our world than to make the world a better place. Whenever I go out for a walk from my home, I have a simple rule: If I notice a piece of trash, I pick it up. If my walk, my break from my work, my cool down or space for thinking hard on something is disrupted, I take care of the disruption.
In all places in the public sphere it is human reflex to say “that is the responsibility of my sovereign” whether it is the modern government or the ancient kings and chieftains. It is built into mankind to look upwards for a solution to our problems, but the revelation of Western thought was that within our community it is our responsibility to portray ourselves and carry ourselves instead of looking upward for an external solution. We are the manifestation and apotheosis of our God and ways.
This came to a head with Christianity’s rise–a critical piece that makes up the walls of the West that the Hellenistic culture laid the foundations for–and the world has never been the same. Look at how Mohammadans borrowed this principle and applied it to their Eastern religion, and how their viewpoint inevitably boils down to bloodshed and slavery in the manifestation of their prophet’s way. Once present in the world, this principle of individuation became the dividing line between East and West forever, and an incredibly clear one.
The East is an old force, like fire or the Neolithic caveman inside each one of us. The West is still the new kid on the block, and there is no guarantee that it will survive another hundred years or if its light will be rejected along with all the advances it has brought. It is a living philosophy that can be embodied and strengthened in the small action of picking up a piece of trash or talking to a neighbor. When a robber breaks down your door, when a car wreck leaves a bleeding stranger lying at your feet, the authorities are a lifetime away and it is your responsibility to be as prepared as you can so you can do more than stand and panic.
Today, do something small to build up the wonderful West with its sciences, arts, and proud history that lept over all the East’s establishments: Pick up trash when you go for a walk, talk to your neighbor, replace your own light bulb instead of waiting on the landlord, step up and out of your natural state and into the light a little more.
The risk excites, but the honest cloak of authority that drapes over you refreshes and enlivens. Join with your People and do good today, for a simple act of good each day becomes a potent pile in but a little while.

Writing Exercise: Word Choice

One writing exercise I appreciate for reminding me how much I still have to learn I simply call Word Choice. I find a word with which I am unfamilar and that is the subject and title of a short story. It sometimes takes a little research, but it also stretches you.

My word today, and the title of the below story, is “Boanthropy” which has a long history before coming into English, as old as Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.

“Three today, just like this.” My host patted his belly proudly, stroking its enormous girth as he reclined on the reinforced Turkish devan. “I plan to put on another seven stone before year’s end then capping out towards the middle of next year—though if the good doctor’s tincture and injections give my bones some assistance I may go on for some more.” His squashed and swollen face beamed like a ruddy spotlight at me.
“Fascinating!” I excitedly reached for the salt shaker for my plate, dipping my wrinkly glove dangerously close to a jelly dish. “Doktor Weiss, I had read about your prowess but truly the sight is magnificent. From fourteen stone to over sixty… I can hardly believe it!”
“The effect is certainly overwhelming at first.” The German cradled his wine glass. “I plan to beat that arrogant Aussie at his own game. A specially-bred enzyme or two and a third stomach, plus my bone serum which I dare not divulge. An incredible contest, coming from that Frenchman’s archaeological find. To think, the original mutation would be found in an 18th century tomb!” His eyes were crafty, greedy with some soft and far-off gleam of honor and recognition.
“What could you possibly do for his bones? I daresay they are already stretched to the limit.” I put a careful forkful of yam and chicken onto my tongue thoughtfully.
“I dare not say. Too much is at stake, and I should hate to suspect you, friend.”
“And well he should not!” The mass of flesh at the head of the table thundered. “I’ll catch that bastard in Melbourne and trounce him right there on the red carpet!” He rose, his bulk obscuring the historic wall-sconces lighting the exquisite hall. “Bahaha! Fancy the look on his face, Weiss?”
“It will be glorious, mein Herr.” The doctor checked his watch. “Speaking of, you should go to your rest now. I think the garage for tonight–you’ll need the protein later this evening.”
“Aha, excellent. A good suggestion, I do feel a bit voracious this evening and the chicken is not doing for it this evening. Sorry to excuse myself, but such is the life of a celebrity—I trust you two will enjoy the evening.” He looked between us, and the doctor bowed his head.
“Of course. It would be impossible to hold such a generous host from his goals for mere propriety.” I lifted my wine. “To your health!” The doctor joined the toast as the titan downed the pitcher like a shot glass and took his exit, rumbling across the floor and out the expansive doorway.
“My God, Herr Doktor.”
“Impressed?”
“Overwhelmed!” I tossed back the rest of my wine and shook my head. “How does he sustain such bulk—to still move and breathe easily, to work in the gym as he says!”
“There are some…drawbacks.” He frowned, a brief flicker of discontent crossed his face. “Most of his meals are simply a matter of sustenance proper. He will go up to four dinners soon, atop of breakfast and the large repast at two in the morning. By the end he’ll be eating constantly just to keep the weight on.”
“So how does he gain any then? How do these self-styled megahumans gain against such nutritional and caloric tolls?”
He eyed me over his spectacles, grey mustache still deeply frowning. “Trade secret, I’m afraid. Just like getting started.”
“Ah. No prying intended, I hope I haven’t offended.”
His hand fluttered. “I knew you when you were born, you have been curious your whole life. Though, I must ask a favor of you.”
“To not ask again?” I chortled as I took up the spoon for the custard, but his icy grip on my hand startled me. I met his eyes, startled.
“Stay in your room upstairs tonight. Don’t go out to the show.”
“But it’s one night only, and Michael got the whole crew tickets to celebrate me being in town!” His grip tightened like a vise against my mild wriggle to be free.
“Don’t.”
“Tell me why not then. What’s going on?” I narrowed my eyes and released the custard spoon with a soggy splop, mirrored a moment later by my heart in my chest when he answered.
“It’s the full moon.”

I like it. It’s good raw material, but I was not sure what the setting was. Was I going for something like Bioshock, a vintage scifi from an alternate 1950’s universe, or was I aiming for 2077 or some nonsense? I didn’t know, so there’s not a strong sense of when the story is to really be immersive. Poor setting, even if the plot is fairly bracing: Mixing clinical lycanthropy with a specific variety and making it a man-playing-God scenario is spicy. I’ll likely revisit it to turn it into something later, it was very enjoyable.

Friendships and Adulthood

When I was young, friendships were focused on a shared reality that was overwhelmingly positive. Friends were those who I could do what I enjoyed with and alongside, whereas enemies interfered with or kept me from my peaceful fun–including occasionally my parents haha! The world was simpler and more fluid as people flowed back and forth across the line and in and out of my life quickly—my best friend growing up simply vanished when I changed music teachers in middle school!
As I have grown, I have come to understand the childishness of my perspectives and put them away for better ones. I have fewer friends, and they are dearer. I go to them when they are in need and they come to my aid too; the solidarity and permanence of the relationship is far different from the formlessness of before. I choose them carefully, and invest my time in strange seasons to deepen and enrich those relationships. I influence them and receive their advice and admonishments seriously, and the fun we have is less explosive and more lasting, whether trying something new or engaging in a time-honored bit of mutually-appreciated mastery.
In short, adult friendships better you instead of keeping you where you are. They are focused on the world around you, and you can know that no matter what comes someone has your back.
Growth and change come for all living things, and few dead things escape them for long. Civilization is built on this living growth, and all of the Eastern hierarchies and communisms and religions lock people into one permutation while Western culture unlocks the Civilized Animal in all of us, able to keep after our growth and maturity even after the initial spurt of rapid change. It admits the reality of packs, trust, and social pressures and tries to turn them to the general good as much as possible.
The world can always use more fighting for and towards the freedom and strength each individual craves in their truest heart yet cannot achieve without a healthy dose of maturation.Think on your friends and friendships, and see if you can’t make them even more Western with the play and passion of a Civilized Animal.

Book Review: Little Lord Fauntleroy

Another book review by Matthew, with an unusual take on a classic. Enjoy and consider:

“You know you always remember people who are kind to you”
– Little Lord Fauntleroy

Little Lord Fauntleroy was first issued as a serial between 1885 and 1886 in the
children’s publication St. Nicholas Magazine and later the same year in book form.
The author, Frances Hodgson Burnett, wrote this serial for children but it quickly
became a favorite for mothers of little boys—much to their youthful chagrin.

The tale features a young boy and chronicles the significant events and people
influencing the course of his life from his birth to his 8th birthday. Cedric happens to
be beautiful, wise, winsome and charming beyond his years. His long curly hair,
black velvet suit and lace collar are frequently commented upon throughout the
story. The outfit quickly became popular among mothers which may give some
insight into the pains inflicted upon young boys whose mothers’ fancy was caught
by the little lord.

The cringe-worthy “morality tale” vibe is emblematic of the literary era during the
height of Victorian vapidity and easily leaves a reader with a sticky, cough
syrupy feeling. That said, I still found the story rich in the descriptions of
interpersonal relationships. Having spent some time recently in the book of
Ecclesiastes I was struck by the correlation between the “preacher” and Fauntleroy’s
grandfather. The connection between the two books assisted the general palatability
of Little Lord Fauntleroy and allowed me to observe the story from a much healthier
moral framework. The story’s contrast between limitless resources spent upon
one’s own appetites and the joy of spending on the needs of others is a strong one.
As much as one may object to the combination of innocence, goodness, and naiveté
in one character Burnett entwines the qualities quite charmingly.

The ability of the little lord to see the good in everyone or to project good upon
those who do not possess their own is curious and invites incredulity – an
invitation best left unanswered. He is also adept at choosing contentment in any
circumstance, and showing rapturous gratitude for any perceived kindness. Cedric
is more than willing to prove a loyal friend to anyone. The sheer number and
consistency of these characteristics did eventually wear down my cynicism and I
would gladly see them embodied.

This book seems best read by ages 8-10, or read aloud to a younger audience. I
would warn against any commentary from adults – allow a child to observe,
consider, and come to their own conclusions. Caveat: I would not call the book a
classic. Little Lord Fauntleroy does, however, highlight its era of literature. Some
little phrases here and there may require explanation, as they have been somewhat
lost to history. The references to historical events and ways of life may offer an
excellent opportunity for investigation into British and American history.

Archetypes

Tales of the Common Folk provides me with endless delight as it comes together. Not only is it sliding neatly into a good size as development trims out the worst of the excess, but it hits its target so very solidly.
I got a large part of the idea initially from the gypsy tarot deck–better known as “a deck of cards” in most places. While it has well-documented innocent origins and plenty of use for mere entertainment, there remains a dubious character quality to cards and card players. The four suits relate to four different areas of fortune: Spades or work and labor, Diamonds or finances and glory, Clubs or violence and conflict, and last but not least Hearts or romance and relationships.
Fortune Telling is a common con with many charlatans. I would encourage any believers or readers who are on the fence to check out this book which deconstructs many common con artist tricks with stage magic to show how easily taken-in an uninitiated audience member can be. Like Astrology and the horoscope which runs in the local paper, the interpretations of the numbered suits and face cards are generic and interpreted via cold reading or another method of information gathering. It is an expensive and time consuming way of flipping a coin, really, to seek advice from a deck of cards as to what to do next in life.
Still, it is the reflection of the power of stories and our spirits’ ability to fill in gaps that strikes me more than any thought of anger or disdain for those who are involved with charlatanry. Why not tap into the natural human drives toward symbolic reality, openhandedness, and freedom to teach and guide the young and entertain ourselves?
Just like the tarot decks with their Major Arcana, Tales has a number of interpretable characters in the character deck to be used for inspiration or expiry of things in our chests and close to our hearts, able to unite us and bring us closer together as well as sharpening skills when approached with the same exciting causal stride that has always followed a deck of cards. We’re getting the second wave of art coming in now, piece by piece, and it is looking good. It is unusual to want demure cards, but in this case the engine is designed to get you started and then get out of the way as soon as you’re rolling.
Once we finish with it and find a method of production that suits our needs, I look forward to showing you some of my forays into this method of group storytelling.