Education vs. Technology


These days I look at our education system with a deep sense of sadness and befuddlement.

What are the cornerstones of our educational base now?

At one point they were reading, writing & arithmetic .

Why are they no longer ‘teaching’ children these fundamentals?

They are not teaching children how to write any longer.  They are not teaching them how to spell.  Children have iPads now that they work off of with calculators to assist in the math areas.

A recent article spoke of children coming into school not having developed the muscles to hold a pencil or pen in order to write.  Here are the two schools of thought that currently seem to exist.

“One school believes that learning handwriting is important for children because they think fine motor control and how you organize your thoughts develops with your writing skills. But the other camp believes that we’re moving into a world where [everything] is done on computers, so learning how to write by hand is an outdated skill.”

I believe and know for fact that the first school of thought  is based on proven theory and writing should never be considered an outdated skill.  It should be an absolute necessity.  Now more than ever!

I am absolutely appalled though that schools are moving toward technology at such a rapid pace without any thought as to how this will impact the youth of today years from now.

One person bemoaned on their blog how ‘dangerous’ pens and pencils are and that they should be banned from the classroom!  The reasoning was infantile at best.  The writer of that blog post insisted that pens and pencils can and have been used as weapons.

It is not the pens and pencils that are the issue.  It is the children’s behaviour.  I cannot recall throwing pencils at other students.  That is not to say it didn’t happen.  The children that did partake in this type of behaviour were quickly reprimanded.

And if a child displayed such disruptive behaviour there were usually underlying and more serious issues at play that would require further investigation to help the child.

And as we know, technology has created some major hindrances in child development and brought about things such cyber-bullying.

As a child I loved getting school supplies.  I would get a new pencil case, pencils, erasers, rulers, geometry kits, pens, binders, and packs of loose-leaf paper,  We had the duo-tang folders to put the paper in and I would label each folder with the subject matter that it would contain.  This was based upon the colour of the folder as well.

I loved the smell and newness of everything.  In elementary school we were given ‘scribblers’ by the schools. This was how you practiced your penmanship and spelling.

So the big thing was having a cool lunch kit.  I do believe the last one I may have had was a Partridge Family one.  I also had a book bag made from a cheap vinyl and yet these items gave me a sense of belonging.

We were given projects to do and book reports to prepare.  There were certain things the teacher looked for.  One was indeed penmanship.  And I worked at this.  My mother and oldest sister had beautiful handwriting and I aspired to write as they did.

Writing and reading were the two things I loved most about school.  Arithmetic…well, it scared me a bit back then.  Being that I am someone who learns best by visualization, those early math books weren’t very good at allowing me to do this.

Still the problems presented such as (i.e. a train traveling 45 mph arrives at 10 PM.  Another train travelling 65 mph arrives at the same time…what distance did each cover?) always gave me pause to think.   And while they often confounded me at the beginning, they eventually became the ones I really like.

They were like a mystery to me.

What I liked about them is they assisted with critical thinking and they helped in terms of developing the brain’s cognitive and figurative functions.

Being able to assess and determine a variety of issues is a good thing.  And it is the lessons from my youth that have helped enormously to shape the person I’ve become.

I feel children are being robbed of an education if they are not being taught to read, write and spell.  If they are not being taught to calculate math manually as well and are solely reliant on technology then what happens ? For example what happened to play?

Parks and playgrounds now sit empty. Why?

Here is another excerpt.

“Of course, there are so many other concerns when it comes to kids and devices with regard to social interaction and the development of emotion.

“Whilst there are many positive aspects to the use of technology, there is growing evidence on the impact of more sedentary lifestyles and increasing virtual social interaction as children spend more time indoors online and less time physically participating in active occupations,” Karin Bishop, an assistant director at the Royal College of Occupational Therapists, told The Guardian.

Flanders echoes those concerns, and points to emerging literature that indicates that extended screen time may be creating problems for children, including an increased prevalence of ADHD, a lack of good interpersonal skills and an expectation of instant gratification.

But he also doesn’t think that it will result in scaling back on tech in the classroom.

“Right now, schools are still emphasizing learning the alphabet by tracing the letters with their fingers and writing them out with pen and paper,” Flanders says.

“But I think 30 or 40 years from now, that’s going to be a thing of the past.”

I really believe that schools need to have a concise educational plan.

For example:

Grades 1-4:  No computers in the classroom.  (All learning  is based on the tried and true methods of working with paper, pencils and pens along with text books.  The use of reference materials, such as dictionaries, thesaurus’ and encyclopedias should be encouraged. )

Grades 5-7:  Begin to introduce computers into the classroom as a tool, nothing more.

The emphasis should be on developing children’s skills and abilities to become engaged and plugged in adolescents.  The formative years are critical in terms of assisting our children to develop such skills.   To think that writing is going to be an ‘outdated skill’ is damn well frightening to me.

The page has been the one thing in my life that always listened.  I could pour out everything and anything onto that page.  It was now purged from my youthful soul that was shattered at that time.  Had I held all of that in, had I never been able to express the hurt, the angst, the fear that existed…I’m not certain I would even be here.

A counselor told me that they had encouraged a female patient to journal.  She hedged at the idea.  Later it would be discovered that the girl did not know how to write.

Writing gave me a voice.  It enabled me to express the feelings that were locked inside  that verbally I found so difficult to share.  Even if no one else ever saw the words written they were there.

Don’t take these skills away from children.

Read below what is replacing paper and pen.

‘Written communication among kids and teens today has morphed into such a confusing mixture of acronyms and emojis that it can almost make hieroglyphics more easily understood. This is why it’s important for parents to be up on the latest text slang.

“Text lingo practically changes weekly and a lot of the times, parents have no clue what their kids and their friends are saying,” says Titania Jordan, chief parent officer of Bark, a software program that monitors, detects and alerts parents to potentially dangerous conversations on their kids’ cellphones, and email and social media accounts.

“I’m surprised at how many parents still don’t know what ‘Netflix and chill’ means.” (For the record, it refers to hooking up, not actually watching Netflix.)’

And yet we readily hand our children cellphones and tablets that connect them to what, I am no longer certain.

Read Ray Bradbury’s book released in 1953 for ‘Fahrenheit 451’.

Below is a summary of the book as written by The New York Times.

‘Ray Bradbury’s internationally acclaimed novel Fahrenheit 451 is a masterwork of twentieth-century literature set in a bleak, dystopian future.

Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden.

Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television.

When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.’

This has a chilling ring of truth to it.  The T.V. has now been replaced by iPads and Tablets.

Will there come a time when books are no longer necessary, when their value is no longer worth the pages they’ve been written upon?

I for one certainly hope not.

 

 

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A Moment Recaptured


clouds

I attended a workshop last weekend based on writing and healing.  I’ve done this one before.  A few years ago when first the pull of the pen had raised its expectations from me, I began seeking out several workshops.  I met Sherry when she was first piecing this workshop together.

I now consider her a friend.

This past year has pulled me in directions I’d never intended and I’ve been feeling the desire to reconnect to this craft that I love.  Not that I haven’t been writing.  Quite the contraire.

wr 1

I wanted to take it to another level and share this.

Explore it further. Let it grow, develop and nurture my skill within this realm.

There were nine of us in attendance on Saturday.  Sherry went through the information with a congeniality and passion that always shines through.  We came to the point in the workshop where we are required to write without pause for 20-25 minutes.

A previous exercise had planted a thought for me to explore and I did.  Upon completion were asked a series of questions to which we wrote down our response using our less dominant hand.

Then came the time to share.  I understand the hesitance of sharing the written word for many. Even more so in an exercise such as this because it is so raw, so organic and so revealing.  In a sense we are baring our souls to one another.

I offered to go first simply because I am familiar with this process and it doesn’t intimidate as it once did.

And as the others shared their pieces, I found myself humbled and grateful to be a part of this group.

Each telling gave a peek inside their very being.  The gaiety of smiles previously worn now held that fragility I rarely get to experience with fellow writers.  Let me tell you, when this occurs it is truly a magical moment.

I had arrived at the same time as Eileen and Mitzy.  I would later discover they’ve shared a friendship that extends 30 years.

As to their age I would hazard to guess that they are perhaps in their mid to late 60’s.

Both women were dressed in demure fashions for an aging gal.  They dress for comfort now.  It is I think sometimes a rite of passage.  Both ladies colour their hair to cover the grey.  I guess this too becomes a personal preference as I know many women who’ve opted to just let nature take its course.

And either way that’s cool.

I loved that they’d come to this workshop.  I loved that they were still curious and wanting. Still exploring what’s in their hearts and in their minds.

james_20brown_2012james brown

Eileen began to read her piece.  Shy and hesitant as she read, I was taken into the soul of woman who had a deep love of music, in particular the Blues.  This passion of hers had taken her to many points on this globe.

She spoke of being one of two white people at a James Brown concert.  Of how the tears had rolled down her cheek as he etched the rhythms of his life into her very being.

I felt her love, her passion, her drive which is still very much alive in her.

Then Eileen spoke of books.  Of how the years fell away when she happened upon a favorite from her youth.

Eileen looks like someone’s  beloved grandmother.  You would never have guessed that she once traveled to and rocked it out at several Blues’ festivals, James Brown being just one.

Perhaps that’s the disconnect these days.

More often than not aging is now treated as disease, an affliction.  And there is a ‘cure’ for this or so we are told.

Now that we are no longer in our prime we no longer matter. Yet we do. Our energy, our love, our passions are what we pay forward.  The wrinkles and creases that will inevitably come I for one will embrace.

Then Mitzy’s turn came to read and she was so reluctant to share her piece.  With gentle nudging and encouragement from Sherry she did.

By the end of the piece I had been reduced to tears.

Mitzy had, in short order, poured her soul onto the page. All of her vulnerability was laid bare, raw and so profound.

healing

The pain of being judged, the extreme hurt at simply wanting to be seen, heard and acknowledged.   To be given that dignity that should never have been in question to begin with.

I could identify with the emotions she’d spilled upon the paper.

There was an eloquence in her words as with the others.

Maureen took us to a union with her love.  She walked us down a path lined with lilacs and sweet fragrances that seemed out-of-place for the prison that she was approaching.  Her love just happened to be in prison.

Lilac-Bushlilac

The sights and smells that her piece elicited, the surreal quality that it lent, the pain and the hope was all there in exquisite detail.

And Laurie had written about a consuming depression she’d experienced during the pregnancy and the birth of her daughter.  All the stresses in her life at that time and the guilt felt at not wanting this child at that moment in time.  Of feeling so torn and shackled.

Ronald too spoke of the birth of his daughter from a vantage point we don’t often hear about.

Queens Park August 24 696

And as I left the workshop, I felt a connection to each person there.  I was again reminded of my roots, my humanity and my deep appreciation for this life.  I left with a renewed conviction to live this life fully, with passion and with love every day!

I stepped back out into a cloudless day knowing the lives that had touched mine will forever have an impact.

That is the reward.  Right there.  I was able to look a little further into the human experience through the eyes of another and make it mine to honour.

stones

Enjoy your day.

Peace.

 

The Lost Art of Hand Writing?


How many of you are aware that cursive writing is no longer being taught in schools here in British Columbia?
I am not certain when they began to phase this out of the public school system but I have spoken with teachers recently that  have stated sadly their Grade 9 and 10 students didn’t know how to read their handwritten notes on the chalk board.
I am devastated that soon a generation is going to graduate from school never being taught the art of handwriting.  Furthermore, they don’t know and won’t know how to read the script.
There is insurmountable evidence of what happens in the right side of the brain regarding the correlation between the scientific and creative synapsis of our grey matter and the importance this plays to our development.
We are robbing our children.  When did technology become the master?  Computers are a tool…nothing more, yet in a very short period of time they have infiltrated every aspect of our lives.  I believe that computers should not be in elementary schools, that students should learn how read and write in the tried and true tradition that we were blessed with.
Being a writer, the majority of my ideas are developed through the process of what I affectionately term ‘the emotional write’.  This is pen to paper and just letting the idea pour onto the page.  I move into the zone and I cannot describe the sensation that occurs as I am often not even aware of what I am writing until I have finished it.  Yes, it is often crude and choppy but always I am blown away by the process and it is also extremely liberating.
I am deeply saddened that a generation will never know the joy, the pain the euphoria, the loneliness…all the rich emotions and creative dynamics that come with writing.  And I can’t help but wonder what the trade off will be?
I saw some statistics regarding the exposure of iPads to those under the age of 2 years.  It is dramatically high.  Yesterday while at a local diner with my daughter a small girl, likely no more than two had a computer set up for her flashing images of animals and shapes while the parents chatted with each other.
It struck me as being exclusionary.  They wanted to keep the child ‘busy’ so that they wouldn’t have to fuss over her.  Yet is there not importance in interacting with your child in a public place?  Shouldn’t the child be initiated into family gatherings of this type as a participant?
Oddly enough while communications seemingly make us appear continually connected, I am witnessing an isolation creeping into the human experience of mammoth proportions.
Tables of teenagers will sit in café texting one another.  People walk down the street glued to their iPhones.  Dating is now done online.  God help you if you’re not photogenic.
If I were to post a current image of myself with no hair, no lashes or brows would anyone perusing the site see the beauty that truly resides in my being?  Would they see my strength, my vulnerability?
I took my profile down over a year ago.  It seemed that I continually saw the same faces up there and decided that I really didn’t quite know how to do the online thing.
In any case I do know that in the last 25 years the technological changes that have occurred in our world have been moving at light-speed.  Yet, in so many ways, we haven’t changed at all.
Poverty, racism and war still exist.  I still see several ads each evening for children who are starving in what we term ‘3rd world countries’.  For the record it is all one world.  Yet we power ahead not even taking into consideration the cause and effect of removing something such a cursive writing from the classroom.  Somehow that has become too inconvenient and time consuming to teach.
It’s value now deemed unworthy.
And what will be left when we’ve raped this planet of all her resources to feed this insatiable hunger for what, I don’t know.
Education is one of the greatest gifts that can be given to a child.  Sadly, we now have people deciding what they should learn rather than giving them skills to decide that for themselves as they grow.
And that is what is being lost here.
Today I grieve.

Storytelling…The Visual Element (Part 3) Firsts


Driving home through the rain last night the exhaustion began to settle in.  It had been a long day.  I have been getting to work early to offset the time I am at the clinic receiving treatment.

Work started at 7:55 AM.  I was gone from 8:50 AM to 10:00 AM.  And really just a bunch of loose end catch up stuff that really required my attention. I finished the day by decorating the office for the festive season ahead.

We have an artificial tree at the office that really is a pathetic looking thing.  It’s about 25 years in age now and should have been tossed out a decade ago.  The box that it’s stored in is composed mostly of tape now so I hauled it out and resurrected it once again.  The top of the tree is so mangled that topper is leaning dangerously forward.  Not much I can do to correct this, though I tried.  Still, I managed to make the tree look pretty.

I’ll pick up a poinsettia and some holly branches to adorn the counter next week.

After work I met my daughter and we shared a nibble at a small bar on Granville Street.  Then she headed out to a social event and I decided to see what deals could be found on this Black Friday event that was occurring.  Wanting to get started on the Christmas shopping thing I stepped out onto Granville Street and began my quest.

This portion of Vancouver is undergoing a massive change.  We are being invaded by American stores such as Old Navy and the old Eaton’s store is being renovated by Nordstrom’s which will open next spring.

Won’t be a store a that I will frequent.  Holt Renfrew has been the equivalent in Canada all these years and I go in there periodically to ponder over why someone would spend $1,200 on a dress (and that, by the way, is cheap for that particular store).

I walked through Pacific Centre mall and the Bay and purchased a gift for my daughter.  For all the hype surrounding this Black Friday thing, I didn’t come across any fabulous ‘must have’ deals.

I went to another mall in Burnaby before heading home just after 9:00 PM.

As I drove, I thought about my first diary.  It was a small 5″ x 7″ brown padded book with a lock on it.  It contained approximately 150 pages.  I received it as a gift when I was about 10 years of age.  This little book was pivotal in the exploration of the written word for me.

The entries in the beginning were simple things.  I was never too sure what to write so I would say things like:

Dear Diary,

How are you?  I am fine.  I went to Cheryl’s after school today and we hung out in her rumpus room.  School was okay.  I’ve got homework.  Bye.

Nancy

In the beginning I wrote such things everyday.  One page would contain a week’s worth of this.  Then I started to just make entries once per week and tried to make them more meaningful.  I tucked it away then for long periods of time.  Months would go by.  Then one night my parent’s had one of their many fights and I opened my diary on that night releasing all the anxiety and fear that came with these events.

I had found my release.

I guarded the words contained in that little book more out of fear.  Should my parents find the words that I had written about them…they were not kind words.  They were bad words, vicious and hateful words.  Sometimes I found the strength in the emotions I had purged onto the page a little frightening as well.

Where was this coming from?

A life long practice was born and I have followed the written word ever since.

I would become pen pals with a young girl in England for a few years and amazingly a few years ago she found me on Facebook, so we now have established our connection once more.  How cool it that?

I was never exposed to art galleries or the like as a child.  Just movies, television and books.  I’ve been on my own from the age of 16 years.  My first venture into the Vancouver Art Gallery was at the age of 18 years of age.  At the time the gallery was located  on Georgia Street in a very cool art deco building.

I recall feeling rather fraudulent entering the building as I knew absolutely nothing about the arts.  I wasn’t sure what I was supposed to do or how to conduct myself. Timidly I walked from painting to painting.  Some I liked, others I didn’t.

Then a painting at the end caught my eye.  I was about to lose my artistic virginity.  An Emily Carr painting of some trees in the forest drew my interest.   I was mesmerized and drawn to it like a moth to flame.  I stared at this painting for a long time and the emotional connection was like no other.  Ms. Carr had captured the very soul of the tree on that canvas.

And it was in that moment that a small window of understanding opened with regard to the arts.  What we all try to do with whatever chosen form we are pursuing is to touch someone and make them see and feel what we are experiencing at the moment of creation.

All that I have learned over the years has largely been self-inflicted.  My curiosity kicks in and the need to explore takes over.  Indeed there is much I don’t know having never had the opportunity to attend an institute of higher education to pursue these interests of mine.  Still, much can learned by reading and observing.

At nineteen years of age I was living in the West End of Vancouver.  I would see my first musical on the silver screen during this time.

“Jesus Christ Superstar” blew me away.  The simplicity and harshness of the location it was filmed at was just brilliant.  The setup showing the theatrical group arriving on a bus, unloading it and preparing for their roles then departing after the deed was done never to be the same again.  So evident in their demeanor.

All this while an actual war was taking place around them.  The shots where we see the fighter pilots flying low and tanks coming over the dunes in this film was not originally staged.  These were antagonistic methods letting the film crew know that not everyone was happy with their presence and what it was they were filming there.

Indeed the contentious nature of the location lent to the quality of the experience watching this film. And the music!

I was familiar with some of the songs.  The play had been circulating for many years before the movie was made and as a result songs such as “I don’t know how to love him” and “Superstar” had been in the top 40 on the radio in the early to mid 1970’s.

The quality of the performances was superb as well.  The connection developed between Ted Neeley (Jesus) and Carl Anderson (Judas) during the filming would follow them throughout the course of their careers.  They would reprise their respective roles on stage for the next 30 or so years.

I was fortunate enough to see Ted Neeley at the age of 68 in a staged production of JCS here a few years ago.  Unfortunately Carl had passed away a few years prior.  There are many messages in this film that speaks to our humanness.  That is just one of the many things I love about this musical.

I have viewed this more than 20 times and seen the staged version.  For me, a classic, a favourite, a timeless movie is one that every time I see it…in many ways its like the first time. And every time I view it,  I take something new away from it as well.

If you’ve never had the pleasure, I would encourage you to watch this film.  If you are of a religious nature, please just view this as piece of art and think too of the time period it was created in.

This is definitely one of my all time faves.

Time to head off to Yoga and purge some of the aches from the past week.

Enjoy your day.  Peace.

In Training (Day 76)….Am I Tough Enough?


A slight altercation in my workout strategy this week.  On Wednesday evening I had my writer’s group meeting and it ended early.  I got to chatting with John, one of the members.  We discussed future projects and a host of other topics.  Finally he said he had better get going.  I looked at the time and it was 1:24 AM!

Yes, I can be long-winded.  I know that but I didn’t think that it was that late.  So I scratched running on Thursday morning and moved it back to the original Friday slot.  This morning’s run showed improvement.  I did my 5 km route.  At the beginning it felt really awesome and I debated doing my 6 km route.

‘No…listen to your body and don’t push it!’   I warned myself.  There is a rather steep incline on the 5 km route and I walked it out for about a minute in that area.  For the most part I felt the strength coming back, though I have a ways to go.  I am hoping that the race this Sunday goes well.  It is a run around the Seawall in Vancouver.  The only incline is at the end.  The last 1/2 km is uphill.  Rather cruel, don’t you think. 🙂

My breathing was not as laboured as it was a few weeks ago. I found a really nice Zone 1 pace this morning and I will try to incorporate that into my run on Sunday.  I was also fasting this morning as I needed to go for my blood tests.  So that was the other factor in taking it really easy this morning.

Ah yes, happily only four vials of blood were removed from me.  I had thought that perhaps six may be taken.

When I entered the building a pale blue sky was peeking out from the clouds.  It was quite mild out and dry.  When I walked out of the building 1/2 an hour later there was a hail storm.  Fortunately I was wearing my wind breaker that has a hood on it.  The hair suffered a little but not too badly…and I had the hair thing going on today.  Is it a sign?

Then I got to thinking about just how tough I am and what that means exactly.  Somehow when I think of being tough it has an air of impenetrability to it.  That somehow I cannot be hurt or maligned.  It surprised me with this flu bug that I picked up just how quickly all the hard work and training reduced my efforts dramatically.

I also got to thinking about the publication of the book.  I had an incident occur at the writer’s group meeting in that one of the members commented on the actual style of the book itself.  Now he probably joined when I was in the mid-way point of my book.  So he has never read the first part.  First he told me how a book should be structured than likened my book to a comedian who never comes through with the punchline.  That I wasn’t providing relief, I wasn’t summarizing.

Now this writer’s group is about reviewing the work that has been offered up and offering insight into the flow and the various components of the characters, and in my case me.  Does it work?  How might it be more effective?  That type of thing.  In fact, the original guys that I met when I joined just over a year ago helped me immeasurably and gave me such insight and perspective into my project.

So I have been pondering how to respond to this.  It occurred to me that perhaps he just doesn’t like my writing or the topic or both.  And I told him this.  I explained that this book was not for everyone.  It was strange because I realized too, that with publication I am opening myself to criticism.  For the record, I have always posted a warning to my group members if a chapter is particularly raw and graphic.  The thing about this weeks submission is there was a lot of humour inflected into the telling of this event.  That I suppose is what had me mystified.  There was a vagueness on his part of articulating his point, which is odd for this particular individual.  Then he just seemed to shut down as I  inquired further as to his meaning.  “That’s just my opinion.”  was all he offered.

An odd tension arose that I was a bit confused by.  And as I thought about it later I decided it’s not really okay to slam someone’s format for their book.  Now I have to decide how to approach this.  This group is not about dictating how a book should be set up.  It is not about whether you like the topic or not.  I would prefer someone be honest and tell me they find the subject matter disturbing and don’t wish to participate in this particular project.  I am totally down with that.

I suppose too, this fellow is an educator and has been in publishing as he pointed out ‘for 23 years.’

Again I was left with the impression that somehow he feels he is more knowledgeable in this area than I am and that my work is somehow inferior.

I suppose that I should expect such things though when I publish this, and I will publish it.  So I will have to implement some rules regarding the critiques that are offered up in group.  I am a co-organizer after all and I am ‘tough enough’ to take this on the chin.

Understand too that I only have a Grade 10 education.  Yes, I went to a community college for a year as a mature student for accounting, but much of my education has come from reading.  Do I know all the nuances of the language, all the technicalities?  No.  I have issues with tenses…that has become apparent but it is this type of feedback that has made me a better writer as it has been brought my attention and dually noted.

Should I take a writing course on such technicalities?  Well, in truth it really doesn’t interest me.  I think the best way to learn is to read and write.  My command of the language has improved incredibly in the last seven years or so and will continue I suspect.

Part of the conversation I had with John later was about certain books that are considered literary masterpieces as they are written for scholars by scholars.  While I have tackled some of these they are at times difficult to read and somewhat intimidating at times.  They are held up though in their perfection and hey, I won’t slam this at all.  After all it is a glimpse of the language being mastered and I truly do appreciate this.

My point to all of this though is simple.  Just because someone has more education does not grant them the right to dictate prose and structure to others.  After all, this also a creative process.

I am tough enough.  I realized that about self.   I will publish this book. I will finish my race even if I have to walk at times.  It is after all about the journey and what I learn along the way.

Have a great Friday everyone!

 

Unlimited Growth Increases the Divide


Happy Monday to all of you.  This morning I woke to a frozen world.  The first heavy frost was on the ground rendering the blades of grass very still with an icy white expression to them.  There was a dense fog on the water that spilled out onto a few roadways.  So the drive in saw me descending into these various realms and feeling decidedly charmed by the whole thing.  Yet another canvas is being created as this day begins that will never be repeated.  It will remain an original for as long as the mind can remember.

And various thoughts ran through the grey matter on this beautiful day here on the west coast.  A phrase has been rearing its ugly head a few times this week.  It is a statement that really gets under my skin.  For all of you who write, it might be a bit of thorn to you as well.  It is the phrase “Words are cheap. Actions speak louder than words.”

Personally I find words to be one of the most powerful tools on this planet.  Actions are in many cases a result of words, be they written or spoken. Words can never be described, nor should they be as cheap. Yes, they are misused constantly.  Are they used carelessly?  Most definitely.  I have a deep love and respect for these things we call words.

It amazes me what you can do with them.  I am sure you’ve had those moments when you’ve read a passage that just reaches inside and imprints the words upon your heart.  That’s not cheap at all.  In fact to me, those moments are priceless.  They inspire me and move me in oh so many ways.

And words cause just a wellspring of emotion, do they not?  They can cut you to pieces if when uttered, their intent is cruel.  The pain that can be inflicted is at times unimaginable in its intensity.  But they can also heal, tremendously so.  Words that are spoken out of love caress the fragile heart so very gently, like a balm they soothe.  They feed and nurture it as well.

Twice this past week I have come upon that aforementioned phrase which is such an abomination in my mind.

The thought that followed this was a building that was across from the college I attended here in downtown Vancouver back in 1993-94.  I was still smoking at the time, so during breaks I would sit outside with a coffee and cigarette in hand.  The building across from me was a small hotel with the words “Unlimited Growth Increase the Divide” written above the entrance way.  Curious about this rather auspicious statement I looked into its origins.
BC Hydro, which is quite a big corporation in these parts, began buying up the entire block.  The man who owned and ran the Del Mar Hotel offered this space to those who were on a low-income.  It was a clean and affordable place to stay.  Hydro tried to buy the property and went after the owner more than a 100 times.  Trust me, this property would have been worth a few million at that time and it would now be worth considerably more.  The owner was successful in staving this giant off and so the corporation built around the small hotel.

The inscription was put on this building as a reminder.  And where are we now?  We have an economy that surely cannot continually grow at the rate that it has.  As we saw in 2008 the weight of unlimited growth began to chip away at the base causing collapse.  I said this before and I will say it again, we must change how we do business.  It’s not about profit for the 1% anymore.  It’s about sustainability and longevity.  It is about fairness and quality of life for all of us.
I have inserted below a little write-up about this rather unassuming little building and the powerful words posted on her mantel.  Time to get a forum happening as to how we begin the process of changing the economy to a model of a more modest and usable format for all concerned.

We are now hearing phrases such as Fiscal Cliff.  Perhaps the time is right to begin to make the changes that are necessary.  The economy affects everyone in this world in some fashion or other.  For the common good, we need to make changes.  It will be painful initially, but no fingers are to be pointed.  If we value honesty, then why don’t we try living by it?

I am at a point now where I understand fully that I am responsible for my life.  I am responsible for my happiness.

I can blame my past.  I can blame everything around me, but at the end of the day theonly person that can change the circumstances of my life is me.

I have experienced some awful occurances in my life.  And you know, I could dwell on this and I could be the epitome of the the victim and all the world would tell me that I had just cause.

Do I?

I was given this life, blessedly so.  And this is what I will celbrate and explore to full advantage.

Happiness is mine, if I want it.  I accept.

Success is mine, if I want it.  I accept.

Love is mine, if I want it.  I accept.

 

About the Inscription

Description of Work:

“UNLIMITED GROWTH INCREASES THE DIVIDE”

The text consists of 7″ copper letters above the entrance to the gallery.
The text is cut from 1/4″ copper plate and installed in its original
red metallic state, inviting a “corporate” reading. However, it will
change with time and exposure, to a greenish, aged surface. The text
will be visually assimilated into the existing green color of the
building, and will remain permanently on the site.

Artist Statement:

“The strategy behind “Unlimited Growth …” is direct. It is directed at
those who operate our free-market economy in their own interests, while
excluding those interests that would be ‘responsive to the needs of the
community’. The subtext to “Unlimited Growth ..” relates to several
aspects of public art including the need to address the use of
site-specific work as a way of intervening in local issues, and in this
instance, acting as a marker of resistance by the economically
marginalized, as represented by a parallel gallery and a hotel
providing affordable housing. Walter raises questions related to the
systems underlying the transactions and power-plays that constitute
normal business in the world of real estate development. In Walter’s
art the museum without walls is also a museum OF walls, walls new and
old, as well as those walls that perpetuate economic class
distinctions. Her text on the façade of the Del-Mar Hotel will stand as
a witness to the various power-plays, including the threat to move B.C.
Hydro’s head office to the suburb of Burnaby, that led to the
development surrounding 553-555 Hamilton Street.” – from “The
Interventions of Kathryn Walter” by Bill Jeffries, Contemporary Art
Gallery, Vancouver, 1990

Somewhere in the Middle


Yesterday was devoted to editing, reviewing some of the pictures I took on the weekend and the domestic bliss of the laundry, cleaning and menu planning variety.  I had the TV on in the late afternoon and from time to time certain phrases would slip into my head.  One was on Anderson Cooper Live.  The announcer stated, ‘”Coming up, a woman claims the bestseller ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ destroyed her marriage.”

I smiled at this and shook my head.  We like to blame our problems sometimes on rather obscure things, don’t we?  I am sure if someone’s marriage was sound and solid, reading this book would not be cause for it to fall apart.  Of course, if you just happened to be a huge fan of the English language, this book may cause a certain hostility in you.  In fact, you may find yourself weeping uncontrollably at the unconscionable use of the written word in this book that claims to be an erotica novel.

I have refrained from posting my opinion on this particular book.  I have had a number of very animated conversations with fellow writers on this very topic and yes, sadly we sat there gnashing our teeth and pulling out our hair our and wept and wailed at how poorly this book was written.  We argued about erotica, porn and all the rest of it.  And I don’t even know why we were arguing!  I will blame it on the dastardly book!  We would find ourselves yelling at each other while we were in complete agreement on the topic.  Sad I tell you.  Very sad.

We  finally decided that we could no longer mention this particular book as it just stirred up far too many horrific memories for us.  Now not everyone in my writing group read this book.  One of the guys read it as did I.  I will never get back that week of my life.  I pushed through it, however, becoming increasingly agitated as I scraped my eyes over each page.

I now have nightmares due to phrases such ‘Oh my!’ ‘He murmured, she murmured’ (nobody talks in this book…they all murmur), ‘Holy Shit!  And the phrase that now makes me want cause bodily harm to myself as well as others, are you ready for this?  ‘My inner goddess…” Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

(I swear if these phrases were removed, two hundred of the five hundred pages would be eliminated…yes, that is how often they are used.)

It is interesting to me that so many ‘soccer moms’ are apparently just eating this book up.  Even more astonishing is that they think the sex scenes in this book are racy.  Good lord!  The one time that they start to get into the S & M on a heavier level, she leaves him.  He uses a leather belt or something like that, at her bequest, and spanks her damn good.  And she breaks it off.  Now the other aspect of this book that I disagree with is the misrepresentation of people who do enjoy this lifestyle.  This books make it appear that people who partake in this suffer from some sort of sexual deviancy.

Sadder yet, it’s not erotica!  It really isn’t!  It is simply a bad romance.  That’s it.  And it is a really bad romance.  I am sick of reading about virgins that have a million orgasms their first time out.  And our heroine in this book has never even masturbated!  Yet when he shows her the ‘dungeon’ for the first time, this doesn’t freak her out.   And she is still a virgin when she views this.  There are chains and pulley’s hanging from the ceiling, but of course she finds this mildly curious.  It goes downhill from there.  If I was a virgin and someone wanted me to sign a contract so that they could do certain things to me, for which I knew nothing about, I think I’d pass.  I get the whole ‘animal attraction’ thing,  I really do.  But this book is about as unrealistic as they come.

Someone told me perhaps that’s the point.  I only read the one book.  I won’t waste my time with the rest of it.  One woman I know has read all three and apparently she ‘fixes’ him.  Oh, they still have a wee bit of naughty fun, but it’s vanilla sex, baby, all the way to the altar and the 2.5 children.

I was in a year-long depression and in that year I read over 200 romance / erotica novels.  Don’t ask me why as that is a whole other aspect of psychology that would take a whole lot of explaining that I just don’t want to get into.  Suffice to say I became rather intimate with the formula of this genre.  I read really good books, I read really bad books, I read very intriguing books.  Okay, I am no expert but I know a bad romance when I read one.

So now that I have ranted about this, perhaps I will begin to sleep normally at night.  It happens quite often though when a book will become a bestseller for the strangest reason.  This quite often happens with celebrity books.  I typically don’t read books authored by celebrities or ‘unauthorized’ biographies.  Still, I know they are popular.  For me, as long as it is well written and honours the language code.

Sadly, this book shows the demise of the language in many ways.  Am I overreacting?  Probably.  I can be a little dramatic when something gets under my skin.  And this did.

E. L. James is enjoying her millions and oh, will I be going to see the movie? Not bloody likely.

So keep the faith people.  Hopefully this was one of those odd little anomalies that occur from time to time.

May we embrace and celebrate the creative spirit in its pure form.  Somewhere in the middle of all of this I will endeavor to do my part.

Have a good one.