The rebellion.

Hello and welcome, reader.

It’s good to be here, and thanks for joining me.

First, the literary news.

Which comprises sending thanks to all for joining us at the Local Author Book Fair presented by Homexx Homes on March 24th. Thanks again to Leduc novelist Penny Benjamin for hosting the event and Homexx Homes for donating the space.

I much enjoyed the chance to meet some area novelists and talk a little about writing with a few local readers. Thanks again to everyone for the support.

Watch the Events page here and I’ll look forward to seeing you at a future Book Fair.

Now, on to the latest ravings by the long-lost pirate of the high prairie.

Once again, a period of rest, which means not writing, forces me to rail in this public forum. Though by now, more than a month has passed since work on my latest manuscript ended. I’ve done as little of anything as possible, and no writing, aside from this practice, thereafter.

So, here we go.

For while I’ve loved few things more than doing it, there are fewer yet that take more out of me than writing fiction.

I’ve long supposed it was part of what makes a novel art. The suffering writing one of them causes, I mean. Well, that, and the often genuine commitment it takes to read and make sense of them after they’re published.

But aside from that, it’s hard to say what makes a written work art. For me, anyway. Though even I know this isn’t. But what, then, is literary art?

Must the writer ground a work of fiction in philosophy and use it to define an ethos to qualify?

I would offer the work of Camus as an example of such an approach.

Or does a simple expression of feeling justify its existence?

Here, I could suggest poetry to make the point.

I mean, most of us know about genres, the boxes into which we fit the books, movies, music, and anything else that offers a choice of style, type, or use. But we do that for ease of sorting and management, and not for defining the artistic role of things. At least, that’s a usual claim.

So, one would think genre, or the box into which we place a work for sorting, should neither define nor limit a work’s artistic merit.

But that’s not what happens, in fact.

Instead, with art of all types, genres play a far greater role than either sorting or managing. Because the genre name placed on a work forever defines the critical appraisal earned by it.

Not only that, but we’ve trained ourselves to praise what’s known as high art and to belittle what’s called pop art. If one uses the terms high and pop as genres of art, that is. Of course, doing so means granting genre power beyond its actual purpose.

It doesn’t get any closer to answering the question of what makes a literary work art, either.

In my defence, I must remind that readers here should, as ever, expect to find more questions than answers. For when seeking facts, one is best to ask, not tell. Besides that, I’m serious, too, and remain undecided.

Though I don’t figure to change anyone’s mind here, either.

But as those precious few who know me would tell you, I sometimes enjoy pulling on a thread. So, what about artists?

Are they common? Does the talent to make art live in all of us, or everything, such as a room filled with ten thousand monkeys, like the internet generation lately claims? Or is it instead practiced by a small and uniquely gifted group within our species, as the evidence of history suggests?

In each case, who decides which of us goes where? And what are the criteria for selection? Is it a choice made by a few stuffed shirts hiding in a mysterious ivory tower? Or is it some kind of secret lottery, where you need to know someone to buy a ticket?

Or could it be something worse?

As usual, I’m on the side of the facts, and in this case, history offers them. Not only that, but my personal experience of decades working in these arts rackets backs its claim. So, with artists, I support the doctrine of exceptionalism.

For those inspired to protest, the lineup starts to the left, just outside the door.

Now, as far as criteria go, however, I suggest little beyond nepotism, cronyism, and the desire to keep a power structure in place composes it. To best ensure the riches of a few at the expense of many.

How’s that for a change of pace?

Outraged by such statements? Or just offended by an off-white dropout making them? Perhaps a little frightened? By an attack on the ivory towers upon which the dreams of our somnambulant world rest, I mean?

Well, there’s not a thing to be done about it. Because writing backed by nothing other than a classroom is worthless. And where a single word of rebellion gets spoken, the seed of dissent persists. As likewise, those holding power, along with their gatekeepers, remain under threat.

Once again, for protesters, the lineup starts to the left, just beyond the exit door.

Besides, if everyone’s an artist, any who don’t like what I’ve said can use their talent to compose a response that refutes my premise. I’ll look forward to reading it.

There’s no better reason to write about what you know than that, either. Because opposing a prevailing narrative is an act of personal rebellion. While for me, doing it peacefully is a big part of what makes art real.

Before going further, it’s worth noting I understand progress takes time. I know, too, of my good luck, despite the challenge of race, for my birth in the democratic west, a place of relative freedom. I thus temper the roots of my latest protest with knowledge of the blessings I’ve enjoyed and how good I’ve had it, compared to many of my fellows.

All the same, change often needs a catalyst. And a man doesn’t tend such a fire to keep it burning. Like I’ve said here, before, the point of building it is sharing light and warmth. In terms minimal and metaphoric, that’s also what I call my philosophy of art.

Within my literary work, I’ve made that too plain to be missed. As in days gone by, I did the same with my music. At least, that’s my story.

But twenty-first century life means bathing in facts. Which now must compete with as much or more outright lies and nonsense. Sadly, the relentless ubiquity of each has driven many of us to a state of vast ignorance. And left our former beliefs about things like common sense, insight, and wisdom, the relics of a bygone era.

While leading our once free society to the brink of ruin.

Now, don’t start up with the worrying, Chicken Little, because the skies have yet to begin their fall. Not so far, anyway. We’ve plenty of time to prevent it, too. But we need to take a break from the narcissistic navel gazing we call social media to pull it off.

So, it’s time to say this again.

After a longer surge to the left than ever before seen, society’s pendulum now swings, perhaps just as far, to the right. In response, the early stage of panic grips lefties everywhere. For they now fancy themselves under serious assault, despite their claims to the moral high ground.

Meanwhile, among those on the right, the call to arms has by now taken over much of the world’s public stage. As, in conflicts worldwide, both armed and rhetorical, the voices of autocrats and conservatives demand the return of their share of power.

This should surprise no one.

For despite what you may think, the people always get what they want.

Not only that, but it’s natural for a pendulum to swing. And in a society, not one of us has an inherent right to getting our own way. A society works by its people arguing back and forth about how things are going to be. There are no rules aside from those we make and enforce upon ourselves.

Likewise, as a man who dislikes being told what to do, I’ve as much trouble keeping it between the lines as anyone. So, when things don’t suit me, I’m not shy about letting the world know about it. In a democratic world, after all, I’m free to make my opinions known.

So long as I recognize my freedom ends where it infringes on that of my neighbor. And likewise, my neighbor must respect that their freedom ends where it impedes mine. These are the rules used in our supposed free democratic society.

We call it the rule of law.

Unless or until one’s ideas disagree with whatever mob is making a show on social media, that is. After which, just like everyone else, one is free to stfu, or change one’s tune. If not, one must then face the consequences.

They call it canceling, nowadays.

It’s part of the online terror spread worldwide. By competing gangs of newborn zealots. Often anonymous, enabled by tech, and driven by a toxic mix of fear, ignorance, and stupidity. Each of them not only denies the differences between people, but our right to be that way.

Whether making claims of diversity or separation, each group seeks an ideological monopoly around the globe.

Like our kind does in the age of social media, though, instead of debate, the opposing groups engage in shouting wars from inside separate echo chambers. And, of course, any talk of compromise leads to nothing but more shouting. Despite the claimed misery caused to each by the dreaded status quo.

It’s more of the same old, same old, and everything remains everything. To hell with those of us wanting only to live and let live.

Without a doubt, our latest approach to living together in peace is dumber than any I’ve yet seen. And I’m now an old man, widely traveled. As near as I can tell, the latest inmates, drunk on the anonymity granted by social media, believe themselves in charge of the asylum.

On which side they stand makes no difference.

Because extremists are the enemy we all share. All the time, and everywhere, too. It doesn’t matter whether they’re doe-eyed leftists devoted to change, or hardcore right-wingers sworn to preserve the past. Each endangers a free and healthy society.

That makes all of them my enemy. Whether you like it or not, it makes them yours, too. Because we, the people, are best served by evolution, not revolution. No matter who, or what side, claims we need it.

History makes those facts plain.

I know, too, that few of us take the time to learn from it. And these days, with every recorded moment of the past but a click or two away, our resistance to such learning does our society, and thus ourselves, far more damage than ever.

Here, one often wonders if our kind might just enjoy conflict more than anything else.

And though sure few will heed this call, I’m glad to share it. Because, to me, it means I’ve held up my end of this artist’s deal. So, from here, you’re on your own. The allegorical canary, meanwhile, may now rest in peace.

For those who wonder, I do, too, on most nights.

That’s because I know my job. And all that matters is doing it. Even if you don’t get that, it’s okay. Only a single other, somewhere, must, for an idea to survive. As we’re all here, plainly, the precedent was long ago set.

See, my job is holding up an end. Time and nature will take care of the rest. It’s not like I’ll be around to see the results, anyway. I’m good with that, too. After all, I’m the son of a farmer, and tending a crop meant for sharing with strangers is the biggest part of what I know.

Because just like it is for most of us, there are few people interested in anything I might do, feel, say, think, or write. Which makes my choosing to publish any of it a pointless exercise. Well, either that, or an act of absurd rebellion.

I’ll give you three guesses to figure out which one I think it is. But the first two don’t count.

Thanks for being here, and for sharing this with anyone you think might like to read it.


April 6, 2024

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