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Monday, October 20, 2014

(Humanity's Way Forward) "Fitting In" to a Spiritually-Bankrupt Culture

Many of us can become consumed by the ambition of finding our own special niche in society. There's a pervasive myth that insists that we "have a place" somewhere.
But what happens when the very social structure that we're trying to function and succeed within is divorced from nature, from the life of the soul, and from so much of the inner resonance that imbues human life with its joy and significance? What might we stand to lose by fitting ourselves into a culture that's spiritually bankrupt?    Read More

Saturday, October 11, 2014

First Trailer for "What Casts the Shadow?"

This is my first foray into video for THE EDGE OF THE KNOWN trilogy aside from my own readings (links to which can also be found on this blog). The stock image of the musician I thought pretty serendipitous: He does have an image and introspective vibe that, to me, is reminiscent of narrator Brandon Chane.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Healing Our World from the Inside Out

When problems seem to come from the world then it appears obvious that manipulating that environment somehow - through political action, protest, activism, etc. - is the only way to address those problems.

Movements in an inner vein are subtler, and this is why they often seem to lack power. It's hard to see that whenever changes occur in the outer reality they do so in response to inner shifts. I have to work on myself, cultivate growth internally, to witness positive change in the environment that surrounds me.

Believing that I am the creator of my life is no easy feat when practically every message from world around me insists that the opposite is true. And it certainly seems that the exterior was "here first"; so we must all be at the mercy of its whims. Although it's become somewhat fashionable so say, "we create our own reality", and whole schools of thought - such as the law of attraction - have been built around it, it's a difficult concept to fully accept.

Despite all of these stumbling blocks, however, the fact remains that the world changes when human beings change internally. "Facts" arise from inner realities. The world's healing happens from the inside out. The world is created from the inside out.

This means that I am responsible for the triumphs as well as the tragedies that occur in my reality. If I want to change aspects of the world that are causing distress, fear and pain then I have to alter the picture of the world that I'm nurturing with my thoughts, feelings and expectations.

Otherwise one is caught in the trap of revolutionary rhetoric and reaction, where one system is done away with only to be replaced by another one that's just as destructive. This has happened countless times throughout human history.

On the other hand, there have been social movements that occurred because people's ideas changed, and it is these sorts of movements that carry the spirit of humanity forward. We sorely need such an inner revolution at this juncture.

In What Casts the Shadow?, Brandon's mentor Saul, "a crisis counselor with the soul of an ancient medicine man", puts it this way:

“If we don’t take responsibility for our own lives – or, maybe I should frame that in a more positive way - If we don’t take credit, then our only other options are to either treat everything that happens to us as random accidents or else believe that some other power ‘out there’ decides who thrives and who suffers. It doesn’t make much difference whether it’s a God who plays favorites, a society that’s against us or an aspect of our own psyche that’s bent on destroying us. The result is the same. We feel powerless.”

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Creativity and Self-Destruction: The Lives of Wounded, Gifted Artists

I used to be addicted to the biographical stories (and the various myths that grew up around them) of the many wounded and gifted artists throughout history. I had the sense that I was staring into some kind of over-sized mirror, which offered me a reflection of a more cinematic self, as I followed their lives.

It scarcely bothered me, at the time, that so many of them had died young, or that the time they did spend here on Earth was often filled with suffering. Their otherworldly creations seemed to justify such sacrifices, and it seemed appropriate that their incredible bursts of inspiration could only be sustained for so long.

But if creativity is meant to be life affirming, then why should one expect that the creative impulse will inevitably destroy whoever serves as its conduit? And why do the stories of countless burnt out artistic lives seem to confirm that theory?

We need our artists to demonstrate how one can live with a creative vision, even thrive because of its presence. Thus far, as history has demonstrated, the arrangement has seldom worked out that way. Is this failure symptomatic of some dysfunction within the artists, some lack of self-love or belief, or rather a consequence of a society that gives them little space to breathe and feel at home?

We may also have to consider the possibility that these great creators planned their destinies this way all along. Perhaps they never intended to be long for the world. It may have been their soul missions to express what they needed to - in one conflagration of inspiration akin to the passing of a comet before our eyes - and then disappear before the world and its ways began to make too much of an impression upon their peculiar innocence...

I spun the core of my novel What Casts the Shadow?, around a young artist both brilliant and (seemingly) doomed. I wanted to explore the question of whether he could be 'saved'. Could he somehow keep his vision intact and yet still enjoy a balanced anf fulfilling earthly life? Could he sidestep the ‘live fast, die young’ credo and cliché of rock'n'roll?

I knew that, in order to do so, he would need guidance.That's how his mentor Saul came to be.

Saul snapped his fingers. “Easier to pretend not to give a shit. That’s the posture of many a hard rocking band, as you know. But you never really wanted to
be in that sort of a band, did you?”

“No. But this is a cynical age we’re living in, Saul.”

“And since when do you care about the spirit of the age?” he challenged me. “Aren’t you guys the band that discards convention and bucks every trend? Haven’t you put your finger on it yet, what you’ve been seeking ever since you jettisoned all your old songs and started reinventing yourself?”

“I wanted the music to be an outlet for
everything that we feel,” I said, “not just the anger and aggression.” 

“Yes! And a big part of that, I’m willing to bet anything, is that you’ve been looking for an outlet for your idealism. Yes, being cynical and jaded is the order of business in the modern world. And you listen to a lot of cynical bands, too. But there’s that part of you that wants to say, ‘Screw it – I believe in humanity; and I believe in myself.’ Even if it means that you won’t look so tough in the arena of hard rock swagger and insouciance.”