Writer’s Log: 2250 Friend or Foe

I managed to log only fifteen hours of writing last month. It would seem sequestration induces the opposite reaction, that is, inaction, at least where writing is concerned.

“Son, it’s a beautiful day outside. Go pal around with your friends.”
“Naw, I’ll just hang out inside doing nuthin’.”

“Son, it’s raining and stormy, best you stay inside today.”
“Naw, I got dams to build, boats to float and puddles to stomp.”

Not that I idled away my scant free time. A few thousand words rose like fetid mushrooms in my various venues. Yet, their shallow, haphazard appearance feels as if they grew of their own accord. “Did you write this?” “Yeah, I guess I did. But I don’t remember the verve and swerve of the experience. Perhaps I penned them during a semi-lucid dream.”

That’s not how I’d like to remember my writing adventures.

~~~

Friend or Foe

I read an article recently that explored the concept of creating a personal enemy against which one battles. It didn’t matter what type of enemy, only that it represented an oppressive or offensive manifestation that must be fought. Today I’m going to fight societal bigotry with temperance and forbearance. They, who think I can’t finish this spreadsheet, are not going to beat me! Sure it hurts, but exercise pain is the adversary we must defeat—they thought I’d give up, well I’ll show them.

If you have an identifiable rival upon which you can focus your ire, then you can leverage your aggressions to spur advancement. Fight the good fight. Wrestle and win.

I wondered about this and imagined that I might not have a personal enemy, but perhaps a loved one or close friend needs defending or protection. I might not be in jeopardy, but I have someone close who is.

Bringing this home to writing, I consider protagonists often have either a friend whom they are defending or a foe against whom they personally struggle. There’s an enemy in either case. Something evil, insidious and threatening which must be confronted and defeated—even if the enemies are but one’s own demons.

Find an enemy and do everything in your power to destroy them while they do the same to you or yours. The better the villain the better the story. Of course it’s not that simple. Sometimes a character’s friend and foe switch roles. Still, the roles exist and must be fittingly characterized.

Creating compelling enemies would appear as incentive in life as well as writing. Who are your personal opponents and are you and they worthy?

From the article: “If we imagine a force working against us, we’re more likely to get fired up, resist our temptations, and work harder to achieve our goals.”

Imagination = Empathy

Humans are the only (to our knowledge) beings capable of intentionally imagining a fictitious or fabricated reality.

• Imagine you’re in a desert. There’s nothing but greasewood brush, tussocks of bramble and strange looking cactus, bulbous nodes dangling off platter sized palms like testicles on a dying mule. Overhead, buzzards like drones circle your desiccated shape, a shape barely wide enough to cast a shadow. You step aside an unsuspecting boulder to have your calf bit and pumped full of rattlesnake venom. No warning. No baby-rattle susurration before the strike. The agony hits like a hot brand. You stumble and fall, your breath squeezed from your chest. A sensation like molten mercury seeps up your leg. The beast bites and slithers off, content in the knowledge that, though you won’t be its next meal, you will most definitely feed a fellow high desert compatriot.•

OK. Did you go there? Did you read along and imagine your/their plight? If so, then it was your imagination that provided the empathy you felt for this unfortunate soul lost in the desert.

Empathy is your imagination placing you in the situation of another.

Empathy is you commiserating with, through the virtual world of your mind’s pictorial capability, another being, human or otherwise.

You can imagine, therefore you can feel another’s suffering—virtually at least.

It is due to our expansive, our far-too-large-for-our-own-good brains that we have been cursed with the ability to empathize with another creature. We can imagine their pain. Their suffering. Their soul crushing loss or failure, or shame. Our imagination gives us this ability.

Altruism is our ability to share, often to our own detriment, our personal safety, wealth and prosperity. Why would we ever do this? Dogs don’t do this. Dolphins, chimps, corvids—species with advanced intelligence, even consciousness don’t do this. Only humans go out of their way to ensure another’s survival. Why?

Because we can imagine how it feels to be that other being.

Our imagination is the source of our empathy.

Corporate Charity

Public corporation charity is a crock.

Public corporations, those with symbols on a stock market exchange, have a single master – share holder equity. Absolutely everything they (the executives in concert with the board of directors) do is with the intent to increase (or maintain) share holder equity.

Everything.

Including pretending to “care” for the environment, community or their employees.

Last week the public corporation for which I work fired 10% of the corporate headquarters staff (40 people) and 10% of the shop floor staff (1000 people).

I slipped by (||) that far from getting the ax. Unfortunately, the fellow with whom I work, everyday—side by side—on software projects got the knife. His Business Analysis partner was cut too. And so, with a single whack of their brain dead sword, corporate gutted the “tribal knowledge” of one of the more important software applications in use by two dozen repair shops around the country. “The rest of you developers will have to take on the load.” — yeah right.

The CEO, up to now, had been one of those who touted the “we’re all one big family” vibe at every quarterly all-hands meeting. — yeah right.

And so it was with incredulity that I received an email which explored how important it was for this corporation to account for all the volunteer time we had invested in the last 12 months, including how important we thought the environment, community and education was and how this corporation should pursue supporting such things.

What a crock.

No matter what a public corporation says to the world, despite all of its press releases, all of its so called public principles of business conduct, there is one tenet they must obey above all others — increase share holder equity.

Everything else is a lie.

 

Gender vs Genderless Titles

  • Waiter / Waitress
  • Actor / Actress
  • Doctor / Doctress?
  • Lawyer / Lawyess?
  • Nurse / Nurser?
  • Author / Authoress (that one is real)

Why are some titles/occupations gender based and others not? I got to thinking about such things and attempted to derive a pattern.

The only rationale I could come up with is that during the gestation of each of these occupations, if there were both male and female participants, then dual occupational titles were created. This may not hold water, but let’s see…

When did restaurants really come into their own? At the end of the 1800’s? Ergo waiter/waitress. What about film and the occupation of acting? Early 1900’s? Actor/actress.

If this concept holds true then the fact that both men and women starting out in the same field needed different names. Host/hostess? Both were necessary as both came to be when the need arose. How about: prince/princess, barman/barmaid, or steward/stewardess. Were each of those name-pairs created at the same time (because both genders were doing the same job)?

Engineer, doctor, lawyer, surveyor, conductor, tailor, sailor and so and so forth, all were originally male-filled jobs. All got names that only have the one gender.

And then there are the occupations where females originally dominated the position, like nurse, midwife, model. There weren’t male versions of those created when they came to be, women exclusively filled those positions.

These days, new occupation titles are always genderless: programmer, copywriter, consultant, developer, designer, controller.

Gender oriented titles are pretty much gone these days. And if not gone, then frowned upon: “I’m not a stewardess, I’m a flight attendant!”

What do you think?