I’ve put my first novel on Amazon. It was great fun putting together, and I hope great fun to read.
I’ve started proof reading a second novel. This one is called ‘Brown Eyed Girl’ and is far more character driven. I’m also working on adding paperback versions.
The blog has taken second place at the moment, for now, but not forgotten.
When I was growing up my grandmother had a phrase for every occasion, which would usually encapsulate the entire situation. It was something passed on from generation to generation: these wise sayings which in a few words held much thought.
There are a few I can remember now : ‘the difference between a rut and a grave is about 6 feet’; ‘old sins cast long shadows’ and ‘like father, like son.’
I don’t have a repository to pass on to my son. I tried a phrase once and he just looked at me blankly. It is a shame but I think these old words and compact wisdoms are being eroded. A shame, but there it is.
The problem is old as man himself. In our democratic societies (which calls for another debate) there ought to be a fundamental morality. Mills called it a judeo-christian consensus, a set of common values, beliefs and moral precepts acceptable to all good people around which our public policies could be formed and acted upon. Liberals have long argued that such a shared morality is required for the smooth running of a society. Unfortunately pluralism means that common morality isn’t a possibility, there are simply too many models of what is good and bad to be in an all inclusive morality. One mans meat is another’s poison. So many turn to empathy. Instead of having an inflexible list of values, ten commandments style, why not use empathy as a tool to create an understanding which will serve as a common morality.
It is not so simple, for lots of reasons. Firstly, can one be sure empathy is truly possible? Can you stand in another man’s shoes without actually being that man? All else being equal how do I know my reactions to a certain set of circumstances are truly empathetic? Additionally is empathy truly an ideologically neutral value around which we can organise public life. Isn’t it more likely that empathy can be fine tuned to represent any argument?
Warped empathy is a far more likely outcome, I fear true empathy takes us into the realm of fairy tales.
Remember in 1990 when Kevin Costner released ‘Dances With Wolves’, nearly four hours long.
It was based on a novel by Michael Blake. There was an equally good sequel called ‘The Holy Road’, which delves into the coming of the white man’s ‘holy road’, the railway. There’s a great bit in it when one of the indian folk, ‘Wind in his hair’ is invited into a white man’s home, or ‘box’, as he sees it. Blake then describes Wind in his hair’s complete alienation from such an existence. There isn’t even any ‘moving air.’
We generally accept our ‘boxes’ now but maybe there is another way…
She waited for the words to come.
They came, sluggishly but purposefully.
And everyone thought them hers.
But they were not.
She was just a sculptress.
The word transformed themselves
into stone statues.
She took them to
the summer of the garden.
Making it a better place,
and larks sang their song.
I’ve been a bit under the weather for a while, but enough of that. Just a quick post today: To be explored in depth later.
Is empathy possible?
Whilst many of us would like to think so I think of it more as an aspiration. Understanding and sympathy are definitely within our grasp but empathy remains aloof. If it didn’t it’d be a different world.
What was the enlightenment? What happened to it? Was it all that important, or relevant even?
This period in history has aptly been called ‘The Century of Philosopohy’, or equally ‘The age of reason.’ It was generally believed that if one could apply the techniques of scientific reason to any problem then it could be resolved. So what went wrong. Why aren’t we all living in a non problem world?
There have been many explanations for this. The one I like best was by a guy called Habermas. He thought that history produced a duality in the seventeenth century. All cultures produced norms, expectations and values. Collectively he called these the lifeworld, an aspect of living reproduced by communication in which human actions are seen as important and significant. The lifeworld is a community, made up of commonality, a social world. But then comes along the system, equally important. But this is where it all falls down. The system is not about community. It is solely practical, its intention is governance and economic control. The lifeworld and the system differ fundamentally. The system functions through the use of money and power. It promotes individual success. There is nothing communal about it. Whilst the lifeworld produced the system they have nothing in common and this fundamental dissonance, this lack of harmony, means in the modern world there are problems galore.
Whilst the age of reason identified a myriad of problems at the same time it produced no prescriptions for any of them.