Stephen the King, and I…


So true. But a secretary with a profound love and respect for words. That’s key. The writer, following characters and seeing the narrative, still must make the perfect choices as to words, style, voice, metaphor, foreshadowing, suspense, dialogue, story arc, characterization and more. Without all those choices as the novelist’s responsibility, he or she would just be a secretary without a clue.


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Where the fuckahwee??



The only direction in the universe, if theoretical physics is right, is ‘expanding.’ Outside of that theory, there is absolutely no direction, no up or down, left or right in our universe, or any universe. It is all relative, to the most infinite degree, rendering direction meaningless, except in direct relation to the observer used to habits of thinking.

Imagine floating in space. You look left. Is it left? You look up. Is it up? By what measure, by what compass points? A friend posited to me this ‘solution’: that ‘down’ is the direction of strongest gravitational pull in whatever part of space you happen to be. In other words, the baddest gravitational pull equals down, and away from that equals up. But look at this notion as it plays out throughout the universe. A simple example will do. One astronaut, on one planet, looks ‘upward’ from the planet surface. Another astronaut on another planet, looks upward also, but her up is in the opposite direction to the first astronaut’s because of where she stands on the planet, and where that planet is in relation to the other. Repeat this placement of these two astronauts, ad infinitum, at all possible points on the spherical planetary surfaces. It is obvious, from this example, that up and down are utterly, inescapably relativistic and thus meaningless. Move those two astronauts thousands of light years away, in any ‘direction’ and place them, again, on separate planets. The same conundrum is evidenced. There are infinite possibilities to call up or down. Ultimately, there is no up, down, north, east, west or south in the universe. We care about compass points. The universe doesn’t.

Recently, an article discussed a possible, apparent alignment of nebulae, like so: “Most planetary nebulae are roughly spherical; they’re not visibly “aligned” with anything. One especially spectacular subclass, however, is more hourglass-shaped, and when Rees and his colleague Albert Zijlstra examined this particular kind, the long dimensions of the clouds pointed more or less in the same direction. “They’re not exactly aligned,” he says, “but they’re not random.”

“Rees and Zijlstra have an idea. The interstellar cloud of gas and dust out of which stars form in the first place spreads out into a disk shape and then condenses, with the newly formed star toward the center of a platter of leftover dust swirling around it. That dust often forms planets. If the collapse happens in the presence of a strong magnetic field, the collapsing disk could be forced to align with that field.

Since the nebulae Rees and Zijlstra looked at in this study are located toward the dense core of the Milky Way, there might well have been strong magnetic fields present when the original stars formed. Double stars and single stars with belts of dust might thus have been lined up with the plane of the Milky Way right from birth—an effect that wouldn’t happen further out from the core of the galaxy, where Earth is located.”

So, if the possibility that some nebulae seem to have somewhat aligned with a strong magnetic force at the core, with the plane of the Milky Way,  suggests direction, is that direction down, up, in, out, north, south, east west, south-south east…?  you get my drift. Even the apparent core of the universe is not an indicator of place/direction in the way we see things from our planetary perspective.

Even if we could absolutely, unequivocally pinpoint the exact core of our universe, where would we say it is, in our own expanding universe, let alone relative to all the galaxies and universes seen and possible? It is neither up, down, left , right, or any compass point you could name, because there is no context within which to decide direction. Our universe may be expanding from its core, but the only directional/spatial point we could possibly use to indicate the place of that core is ‘here’ or ‘there’ with an arrow on a photograph. Strange, how infinite space does that. It destroys even human vocabulary. The mind, appropriately, boggles.

14 - 1eye

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Love your language…

Some people wonder why I make such an issue out of language use. I can give two answers. One, I’m a writer, so it really matters to me. Two, can you imagine A Tale of Two Cities opening with, “It was dope, and it also really sucked.” ?

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… is the name I give to voyeuristic filming and watching of violence between state and citizens. I wouldn’t bring it up, except that I’m seeing websites (shared on Facebook) dedicated to collecting and streaming clips of riots from around the world. They are the porn distributors.

If you are addicted to watching riots and violence against police and other arms of the state, I would suggest that you have a problem: you feel impotent to change anything. We all have that problem to some degree, but not all of us are violence voyeurs, in particular, celebrating violent clashes between ‘them’ and ‘us.’ I’m seeing clips of riots, celebrating the ‘victory’ of ‘everyman’; that victory, of course, being little more than throwing a rock or other weapon and damaging some cop or soldier. If this is empowerment, social-media style, it is pretty infantile, and sadly lacking in insight or wisdom.

Do people not realize that watching this kind of brain pollution only makes us sicker, more anxious, more blindly angry at a target that we cannot truly name? The state claims that terrorists are everywhere. Impotence porn claims that state psychopaths are everywhere, and that the state is monstrous. How does ingesting that information day after day help anyone liberate themselves from the abuse of power inherent in the state as we know it? It merely enfeebles the voyeur, who, infected by violence (which truly does damage the body, the adrenal glands and body chemistry) cannot think beyond violence and retribution as ‘solutions.’

Retribution against something as all pervasive as the state is like the so-called ‘war on terror.’ It is a war on an amorphous target; a war so huge in scope that the main side-effect is paranoia and anxiety, and a desire for more gratification through violence. Yet this violence must remain the armchair kind: Those actually involved in riots and larger scale violence are damaged, and cannot last long – they soon become casualties of the real ugliness and sickness they experience.

All you armchair rebels, ask a war veteran how glorious violence is. Ask how they feel about making war on other states, in the name of freedom. Ask yourself, “how would I fare, mentally, emotionally, physically, in the real war zone?” Maybe then, you will not find impotence-porn so addictive and worthy of celebration. Maybe then you will understand that the state, or some cynical entrepreneur  is just as likely to be the creator of these riot/violence websites as are any ‘empowered’ citizens. Somebody is making a profit off your impotence and addiction to armchair revenge. You, on the other hand, are making yourself sick by watching it.

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Despair? Are you kidding? Get some exercise.

My friend James Shelley, in his wonderful series of books called the Caesura Letters, writes about despair.

“Despair is certainty. Absolute certainty. Certainty that you have apprehended the universe in its entirety and found existence wanting.

Despair is a destructive self-delusion — the foolish conclusion that you have perceived the whole of everything. Hopelessness is the inability to see any possibility beyond the horizon, yes, but who are you to project your own blindness onto the cosmos? Who are you, ant, to profess such omniscience?”

He concludes thus:

“What is hope, if not the conscious, humble acknowledgement that everything you perceive and contemplate is but a sliver of what is? How foolish, indeed, to project your fractional perspective onto everything you have yet to see and examine.

If despair be the disease, curiosity be the cure. Doubt, self-doubt, is the antidote. Be suspicious, mind, of your despair: for only an eye so foolish to claim that it has seen everything can claim that there is nothing worth being seen.”

My response is that of a man who has lived with lethal despair for decades. I live with what they call Major Depressive Disorder, and this is my response. It is not for the faint of heart, or those who know little about depression but want simplistic ‘cures’ for it.

What is not often discussed as regards depression is the way in which it dominates every thinking and feeling process, and, essentially, negates them totally. When major depression takes hold, it has already done its nihilistic work on the mind and world view, so that there is no ‘seeing’ beyond utter, comatose emptiness. At the time, it may be felt as despair: but it is just as likely to be experienced as a total lack of mind/body engagement with the inner and outer worlds – that is, a state close to catatonia. When such despair and catatonia or nihilism (or any combination of these) takes over, there is no reasoning with the individual, no enticing the mind to be curious about what it does not know, and thus coercing it toward a sense of meaning or hope.
This is not momentary despair, which can lift, giving room for the wedge of curiosity to open a space for light. Momentary despair, by comparison with that suffered under major depression, could be seen as a self-indulgent delusion, which sounds like what you are describing. A delusion can be ‘untriggered’ sometimes as easily as it can be triggered, or with difficulty. Arguably, it can, ultimately, be accomplished, at least in theory.

The despair that is integral to major depression is not that species of despair at all. It cannot be reasoned with, seduced or enticed into better behaviour. It does not make room for optimism no matter how much you wish it would. Often, the only way to survive such despair, because believe me, that comatose, isolated, terrifying condition cannot take  you very far into anything resembling living – is to either induce prolonged sleep (which may or may not work) or entertain the option of suicide. For many, suicide becomes the solution. With major depression, suicide is as logical and reasonable as 1+1= 2. And there is its horrible lethality. It does not listen to reason, it does not engage with hope, because you have none. Hope is an empty word, as are so many kinds of human converse. This despair leaves you with nothing other than absurdity, pain and a desire for annihilation which will end the physical pain of meaninglessness, of being worth absolutely nothing.

Curiosity comes in at no point on that existential stage. I cannot stress that enough. The despair of major depression is a cancer that devours you, piece by piece from the inside; it works for years, even decades, even while you are being treated by drugs that to some degree manage to keep the horror restrained, stifled. When the drugs work well, despair is the memory of something you have been tough enough to survive. That memory is the Croix de Guerre that reminds you just how incredibly tough and resilient you are, because you are still surviving, and, yes, finding moments of curiosity and engagement with your life.

Then, when the drugs inevitably fail you, for a multitude of reasons, and this deepest despair conquers body, soul and mind, you are doing nothing but fighting for your life, like a terrier with his teeth clamped to an apex predator out of your worst, suffocating nightmare. This despair has no antidote in curiosity and does not lessen with the help of friends or loved ones. It can only be engaged with by means of an automatic (ironically hopeless) power of will, on which you bet your life.

If that will allows you to hold on in the utter blackness beyond the visceral desire for death, beyond the suicide-planning and out the other side, then you have won the battle. The war, however, continues. Major depression, when it strikes lethally, means that you are absolutely alone; more alone than you can possibly imagine, even in the midst of family and friends. The depression that drives you toward suicide is not an external phenomenon to be battled, like two warriors engaging. It is yourself – a being you used to know, with a name and desires and hopes – who now has become absolutely nothing but annihilating, visceral pain. You are the nihilistic zero. It is not something outside you. That is what makes you the nihilistic, zero-point of utter despair. It is not outside coming at you. It is inside, destroying you.


I wish I could have added something pleasant there. Well, the fact that I am still alive; along with millions of other near-suicides, or failed suicides, has to be positive. But curiosity about life did not keep me alive. Sheer, war-zone, battlefield, shell-shocked willpower is what keeps us alive, to find, somewhere along the timeline, another moment of joy, as if stolen from the jaws of death.That, honestly, is the utterly horrible reality of major depressive disorder. I have been surviving it since I was a young teenager. Every battle is just as bad as the previous. The war is endless, its guns sounding off in the distance of even the brightest of days.

Out of such war zones come the Churchills, the van Goghs, the Hemingways, the comedians and actors and the heroes and heroines you see every day and do not know. We do not ask for your pity, or least of all your advice. But our lethal illness… we would benefit, just a little, from your improved understanding of what it is. Perhaps, then, it would not be sensationalist, tabloid fodder, only trotted out when a celebrity suicides.


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Pith and Vinegar

When tolerance at almost any cost is the Holy Grail of a society, discrimination is one of the first victims. The fact that most people today understand ‘discrimination’ to signify ‘prejudice’ is proof of this fact; they have been cultivated in a society that values tolerance to the point of lunacy, where any form of dissent with the tolerance paradigm is some version of prejudice or ignorance. The fact that many of those who understand the benign, creative meaning of discrimination still, nevertheless, laud tolerance above all, suggests that we are truly losing the capacity and liberty to truly think for ourselves.

With a gentle wave to Allan Bloom…

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Shifting Sands


Yesterday, colonialism wore the face of monarch and church. We find it easy on our consciences to admit to that kind of antique colonialism. But contemporary power lies no longer in monarchy and state but in corporate power, and that power is immense and sometimes insidious. That it is tied in with global economic paradigms, and (in the West and some other parts of the world) universal social paradigms, means that it is almost beyond reproach, criticism, or even critique. It is also largely beyond the reach of any government, any sovereign legislation or policy-making.

It is so embedded in our lives that corporatism defines culture, names and shapes our world views, so that we are constantly deceived into impotence or a sense that corporations are, ultimately, benign and productive citizens. Thus, the colonialist, predatory behaviour of many corporations is either ignored, falsified, or used, bald-faced, to intimidate those who would call it out. Bernie Sanders is well aware of the colonialist, empire-building machinations of global corporatism. Ironically, their predatory culture is, indeed, a real truism. So many of us have become addicted to its pleasures, and indifferent to its lethality (so long as it leaves us untouched) that the reality it markets incessantly appears to be self-evidently authentic, unassailable, self-fulfilling; in short, our destiny.

We tolerate this prevailing paradigm and its trappings, condone it, toady to it, and rush to its defense, from the lowest levels of society to the ‘highest’ echelons. In so doing, we, without the power, are fools. All of the big players, in all nations, including Canada, are playing the same game, a macabre, blind game of Monopoly with dire consequences. They do so because it is dangerous not to; because they are told it is economic suicide not to; it is politically unwise; it is also viscerally pleasurable and the stuff of (warped) dreams. Trump, Clinton, Bush, Cameron… the list of addicts is long…

I, for one, am not fooled, or soothed by such power or its globalist agenda. If it does not self-destruct and/or destroy our environment and us with it, its victory will nonetheless be hollow. It will have created a wholly synthetic civilization, a triumph of disconnection from nature and the planet that is the culmination of a predatory, man-against-nature paradigm that was birthed in prehistoric terror, nurtured in avarice, delusions of grandeur, empirical science and the militarist state, and now glories in its rape of our planet, calling it a marriage made in heaven. When corporate globalism wins, we all lose.

And, ironically, we are back where we started. The indigenous peoples of the world may be the only ones left who are getting it right, and who got it right all along, while we were conquering them and their lands while continuing to despoil and exhaust our own.

We have the capacity to right this godawful mess. Through new science, new technology, new social and cultural paradigms, and some ancient ones, we can build an alternative culture, and thus an alternative socio-economic reality. That is not hocus pocus or wishful, woo woo thinking. It is as real as the ground you stand on. The real ground, that is; not the shifting, artificial ground that is the playing field of the obscene powers that be. That ground exists by way of laws that they manipulate and design to their own ends, not ours. That ground is the killing ground we have known through all of our history. To continue standing that ground is killing us.

For millions of us, the war is over. We are washing our hands of it, and getting on with better work.

The paradigm shift is happening as I write this, and as you read it. Intelligent people, powerful people, geniuses, and millions more un-named people, are already drawing the blueprints and laying the foundations of this civilization. It took us a few thousand years to come to this impasse, where we could destroy virtually everything, either slowly or speedily. It may take us a few centuries to create a real, fundamentally true, ethical, sustainable civilization. That is nothing. A mere blip. But achieving it would be the ultimate, most profound justification for our existence and meaning as a species. The status quo is also profound: a profound delusion, inherently diseased. I am, literally, sick of it.


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