Category Archives: Writing

Everything that I have written so far.

Review of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby”

My decision to re-read books of my past, and review them, continues with “The Great Gatsby”. “The Great Gatbsy” is one of those books that seems to be an assigned reading multiple times throughout one’s “formal” education. The first time I recall being assigned to read this was in 11th grade. And the second time was at a community college.

Perhaps my teachers were onto something, and it was a good thing that these books were assigned throughout multiple years, because I never read the book completely either time. I have only decided to go back and read this book, as well as other books from my past (and more future books) as a means to become a better writer myself.

The narrator of the book is a man named Nick Carraway. A man from the Midwest who fought in the First World War, whose experience in the war left him bored with the Midwest. He moved to New York from the Midwest at the prospect of an exciting “American Dream”.

His neighbor was a man named Gatsby. Gatsby owned a nice mansion. Gatsby threw a lot of parties at his house. A lot of rich people came to Gatsby’s house to drink, and party. Exciting stuff. Get used to it, because it happens a lot throughout the whole fucking book.

Across the bay where Gatsby and Nick lived, lived Nick’s “second cousin once removed”, Daisy, and her husband, Tom Buchanan, whom Nick had known in college. Tom is basically a quiet brute with a sensitive ego: particularly when it comes to Daisy. Yes, this is largely a love story, my friends. Exciting stuff.

Gatsby’s name gets thrown around a lot because of all of the parties he throws for big-wigs. Lots of rumors get spread: many of them about all of the exciting things the great man has done. (Hence “The Great Gatsby”. Clever, huh?) To make a long story short, Gatsby loves Daisy and wants her to leave Tom for him. And she doesn’t do it. Spoiler alert. Sorry.

So what else happens? Why should you read this book? Well, Tom is cheating on Daisy with a woman named Myrtle Wilson, who is married to George Wilson, a mechanic. The Wilsons aren’t rich like Tom Buchanan and Gatsby are. Fascinating. At one point, Tom, Nick, Daisy, Gatsby, and some female tennis player named Jordan (whom is introduced as a possible interest for Nick, but nothing materializes from it) go to town, in two cars. Gatsby and Daisy take one car, with Gatsby driving, and Tom, Nick, and Jordan take another car, with Tom driving. Tom is trying to keep up with Gatsby and Daisy because he is jealous of Gatsby. He knows Gatsby loves Daisy, and Tom is very possessive. Daisy is just some dimwitted rich girl who happens to be related to Nick and who is married to Tom and who Gatsby loves. To be such a pivotal character to the story, I found her ditsyness insufferable.

Myrtle runs out in front of Tom’s car. Tom and Myrtle had been having an affair. Tom ignores her and runs over her in pursuit of Gatsby. Gatsby’s popularity gets the best of him, as rumor spreads that he was the one who ran over Myrtle. George shoots Gatsby in his pool. Fascinating stuff.

That’s pretty much the story. So why is this story so significant? Well, I’ll give you the standard analysis of this book, then I’ll provide you with my own analysis of this book.

What, supposedly, makes this book worth a read is the fact that it takes place during the “roaring ’20s”. During the “Jazz Age”. I think there’s something much more significant to this book. But that, basically, is where the analysis of this book begins and ends. “Roaring ’20s”, “Jazz Age”, “American Dream”, etc. But when I read this book in community college (well, I should qualify, half read), and when I read this book again just recently, I came away with something different.

Yes, there is no doubt about the time period in which this book took place. But to say that this book is “about” the “roaring ’20s”, I believe, is disingenuous. I don’t think this book is “about” the “roaring ’20s”, but is, rather, a critique of the “roaring ’20s”. The analysis that my community college teacher gave of this book, and the direction that the conversation of this book took place, if memory serves me correctly, was just about “the Jazz Age”, as if the book served as some kind of praise of the exciting “American Dream” at the turn of the 20th century, or maybe even, almost, as just documentation of the historical time period itself. (I’ll get to Gatsby and Daisy in a second). But I did not see that at all in Fitzgerald’s work. Sure, that’s when the book takes place. And there’s a lot of history about how the “roaring ’20s” were. But I think people are taking history and trying to analyze Fitzgerald’s work, instead of analyzing the work itself.

To begin with, let’s look at the characters. I noticed something, the time that I read what little bit of this book I did in community college, and when I read the book again recently. Most of the characters weren’t very happy. When Nick goes to Gatsby’s parties, there’s a lot of drunken merriment, but there’s also relationship fights that go on. When Nick goes to these parties himself, he can see this conflict. Otherwise, when you observe the parties from the outside, they’re “a hoot”. Just a bunch of rich people drinking and partying. My, what a ball! I bet they’re having a blast! No, I think the main theme of this book is that the grass always appears to be greener on the other side, but that it almost never is. I’ll provide some more evidence towards this later.

These rich people, drinking, “living it up”, but who actually aren’t happy at all. Putting on airs. Envious of this “Gatsby” fellow, whom they’ve heard a lot about, but have never met. Nick feels this way about Gatsby until he meets him, and gets to know him better.

George Wilson: a mechanic in the “Valley of Ashes” (basically in poverty). Tom was either going to buy or sell a car to George (it doesn’t really matter to me either one, honestly), and George was really excited about it and needed it because he’s poor, but to Tom, it wasn’t that big of a deal, because he was rich. This again, to me, screams out “the grass always appears to be greener on the other side”. George, a poor man, would love to have Tom’s wealth, and the lifestyle that he assumes comes along with it. But Tom never seems to be happy in the book at all. He’s quiet, reserved, easily embarrassed and intimidated by Gatsby, who cheats on Daisy and then kills his mistress. Sometimes, that grass is brown and dead on the other side. Poverty isn’t the only big problem in the world. That was the sense that I got from this book. But that’s not what I got from the book when it was discussed in the classroom. The discussion was about the “roaring ’20s”, and maybe even some class warfare, or something. Something that I don’t think makes sense at all. I’ll provide more “the grass always appears to be greener on the other side, but frequently isn’t” evidence soon.

Gatsby is mysterious and always busy, and Nick tries to read him. Sometimes, Gatsby seems confident: other times, miserable. Yes, Gatsby loves Daisy. He was trying to win her over with his luxurious lifestyle. There’s no doubt about that. But when I read this book in community college, something else stuck out to me. And that was the color green.

The green light that Gatsby looked out at. Where Daisy lived. Sure, he was looking out at Daisy. But the color green rang a bell to me. The color green is associated with envy. And when I looked at all of these miserable characters: rich people who seemed to have it all, but were still in unhappy relationships, the contrast between the rich and the “Valley of Ashes”, and George Wilson’s situation compared to Tom Buchanan’s (but knowing that Tom Buchanan had his own problems as well), the infidelity of both rich and poor, the rumors about Gatsby: all I could think about is that, for instance, it is easy for non-wealthy people to look at wealth and see that it will solve all of their problems. This book definitely states the contrary. Likewise, just envy in general, whether of the demeanor of someone else, the perceived lifestyle that they have (like the exciting one that Gatsby appeared to lead), or envy of a romantic interest who loves another doesn’t always provide that greener light on the other side. I think the last passage provides evidence of my analysis as well:

“Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter – to-morrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning-

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

So does the green light represent Daisy? Sure. But it’s much more than that. Because Fitzgerald says “the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us.” Us. Clearly, he doesn’t want this light to just mean Daisy. There’s more significance to this “green light”. Why green? Well, I read “envy” into it, personally. Maybe the green represents money? Maybe the green light is Daisy because Gatsby looked out at them both, and thought that he could win Daisy’s heart with his money? That certainly makes sense to me. I still lean towards envy, simply because of the unhappiness that pervades seemingly every character in this book, and how this unhappiness that blankets them all exists within this contrast between rich and poor.

Could Fitzgerald have been talking about the “American Dream”? Of course. Was it about, say, a recession? Was Fitzgerald pessimistic about the future of economic progress in America? “…the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us”? Considering as how there was a depression in 1920, I think this certainly could be the case. I think his message is multi-layered. I think the “layers” between the American Dream and Gatsby’s love for Daisy are obvious. But the fact that almost everyone in this story are miserable (even when appearing to try to have a good time) is significant, too. The grass ain’t always greener on the other side. There’s worse fates than poverty. And money can’t solve everything.

“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” We strive to better ourselves, even as life makes it harder to do so. I think one can definitely draw connections between that line and the “American Dream”. Between that line, and the contrast between the rich in the poor in this story, which may cause some to ask “Is the ‘American Dream’ really just a dream?” I’m not going to analyze that question here, but here’s some things that may be of interest to you if you are interested in that question.

The first time I read this, I was thinking so much about this “envy” message that I was getting that I misread Dr. T. J. Eckleberg’s eyes as being green. I’m saddened to reread that they are actually blue. So, sure. The eyes represent “God watching all”, knowing about all of our secrets and infidelities, judging us. Also, more contrast between the rich and the poor, with a giant advertising billboard. I personally find this shit boring. I like my analysis of this story better.

So what did I think of the book? Well, it takes a long time to get into it. I like the way Fitzgerald writes more than the way that Stephen King writes. I wish I could think of this story without thinking of my past experience in community college with it. The book isn’t that bad. As I’ve just said, I like the way Fitzgerald writes. He was good at giving Gatsby this air of mystique (that’s one thing I liked about the book when I first started to read it). He has interesting ways of describing things. The tale itself was quite bland to me. The most exciting thing about the story was a woman getting ran over and her breast basically getting ripped off of her body. I’m sorry, but a tale has got to do more than that for me. I guess there’s a lot of mystery to this story, but I’m not a fan of mysteries. There’s also romance, but I’m not a fan of romances. So the tale didn’t do much for me, honestly. I think it’s overrated. And I don’t think Fitzgerald was trying to “capture” the “Jazz Age” as much as he was trying to critique it. The copyright of this book is 1925: right in the middle of the “roaring ’20s”. Based on how aloof the rich characters are in this book, I can’t agree that Fitzgerald was trying to “capture” the “Jazz Age” with admiration. I think “criticism” is a more appropriate word than “admiration”. Perhaps he was a grumpy old introvert who was agitated by the extroversion of his age. Hmm…why does that message ring a bell with me?

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Possibility

Inspiration often comes from the weirdest places. Tonight was a night like a lot of other nights. I was surfing the web when I heard a clap of thunder. Considering how much money I spent on my PC, I saved what I was watching (h3 interviewing Jordan Peterson) to come back to later, shut down my PC, and unplugged it. What to do now? Well, I’m a little hungry. Let’s go to Subway, like I normally do.

I stepped outside, and thought about the thunderstorm. What if I get hit by lightning? You know, many of the people who get hit by lightning are those that least expect it. Who “don’t see it coming”. As soon as I’m comfortable and confident enough to go to my car is when I’m going to get hit by lightning. So I stood there, just outside my door. Do I really want to go to Subway anyway? Am I really that hungry? What are my other options? I could read. But I’m really into what I was going before the storm came. Let’s just go to Subway and see if the storm passes by the time I get back home. I’ll eat inside (as I normally do, anyway) to kill more time, then come back home, plug my computer back up, and get back to watching videos.

And as I stood outside my door, something hit me, quite like a metaphorical bolt of lightning. I finally thought of the words to really describe something about myself that I found quite interesting. I thought of the word “possibility”. I realized that I am a man of “possibility”. There was a “possibility” that I could’ve been hit by lightning. There’s a possibility I could be bitten by a poisonous spider. But my thinking of “possibilities” aren’t all negative. For instance, there is a “possibility” that I could make money from Youtube. There is a “possibility” that I could write something that people enjoy. These possibilities motivate me at least as much, if not more than the negative possibilities.

I also realized this back when I used to play poker. It was rarely for any actual money (that’s a good thing. It’s rather humorous to think that one of the only times that I did play poker for money was in, I believe, 8th grade. I brought the cards, and we were gambling our dimes and quarters of our lunch money. We were finally caught one time, but nothing major came of it. The teacher just, a little frantically, told us to “put that up”. Funny to think of that reaction. I typically ignored “the authorities” (not necessarily cops, but just anyone “in charge” of me) so her horror of our gambling didn’t really affect me. I didn’t see any harm in it, and still don’t).

Poker is a game of probabilities. The least “likely” hands are the “strongest”. There’s certain likelihoods that specific things have taken place. You consider the “unlikelihood” of your own hand, and consider if, whether or not, your hand is “less likely” than your opponent’s. Then, you wager as much “money” (“real” or “fake”) as you think he will also wager. The “unlikeliest” hand wins all of the money: “the pot”.

I became interested in poker because of the “World Series of Poker” on ESPN (which I used to watch religiously). Many people were sitting at tables, playing Texas Hold ‘Em. I was watching ESPN all of the time. Watching football highlights, baseball highlights, and I was starting to get into both basketball and ice hockey. Poker came on, and I was intrigued. I couldn’t stop watching. It was fascinating to me. Hearing the clicks of the chips. The amount of money being bet. It was fantastic.

I tried to learn how the “odds” worked. I don’t particularly care to do math in my head. Paper and calculations are easier and more satisfactory. But one thing has always bothered me about “probabilities”. They aren’t exact. If you have a 35% chance of winning, then you only (yes, I’m using that word) have a 65% chance of losing. So what should you do? Should you always play by the numbers? I have decided “no”. For one, I don’t care about calculating the numbers that much, and, secondly, they aren’t exact. That isn’t very fun to me. Learning the numbers to play by them all of the time isn’t fun to me.

Now, of course, it wasn’t that I was completely against “odds”. I wouldn’t calculate into percentages, but I would still try to determine if my hand was stronger than my opponent’s. I have two pair. Do I really think he has a flush? Do I really think he has a straight? How is he betting? My decisions were not necessarily based on the percentage probability that my opponent had a stronger hand than I had. It was, mainly, based on the strength of my own hand, how my opponent was betting, reading body language (while doing my best to not give anything away by remaining absolutely motionless (which I was pretty good at)), and trying to play mind games with him. It wasn’t that I didn’t think about, say, how many diamonds were left in the deck. But that wasn’t the main factor behind my decision-making process. Only one factor. And other factors were, most of the time, more influential.

You win some, you lose some. A lot of it depends upon who you’re up against. I could’ve “hedged my bets” a little more, but I didn’t want to. I played for a different reason than most. Some things never change…

I’m sure if a “professional” poker player reads this, they’ll cringe. But I’m not a “professional” poker player. I played for fun, the way that I wanted to play. And I played on possibility. These last two sentences are my life motivations.

Any time that I decide to write, I have a temptation to want to address counterpoints. I don’t think there is anything “wrong” with this. In fact, I think it’s a very good thing to do. Attempting to strengthen arguments is a good thing to do. But, too often, I find myself angry, and attempting to justify myself “against the world”. I don’t really think I have much of a choice. Anyone who wishes to do anything outside of the “norm” will receive “advice” that amounts to “Nah, don’t try that. It’s really hard. Do something more ‘normal’.” I can’t take that boring advice. And why should I? Why should odds keep me from playing the poker game and enjoying it? Why should I sit at the table, miserable, and expecting to lose, instead of sitting at the table happy, and expecting to win? If it doesn’t matter to me how much money I lose, then why should I care, as long as I’m enjoying myself? And if you’re so afraid of losing money, why are you even sitting down at the table to begin with? Why are you even in the casino, observing me play poker? If you’re terrified of losing money, why are you even in the gambling building? You can’t watch me play IF YOU AREN’T IN THE BUILDING. I need to treat you as outside of the casino. I can’t hear you, and you can’t ruin my fun… (“Or save you!”, they incessantly add).

I prefer risk to boredom. Not to such an extent that I crave to “defy death”. But my “excitement” is writing, and trying to get people to pay attention to me, mainly through laughing at me, and dreaming of making people laughing at me a full-time job. That’s as “risky” as I get. I’m not getting drunk and driving 140 mph, like many of those who try to give me advice have done in the past. I’m just trying to get people to laugh at me. It’s really not as serious as the “risky” things that these “advice-givers” have done. So I’d appreciate it if they would shut the fuck up, to be frank. I could not give less of a fuck about any “odds”.

I accept that there are different types of people in the world. Some more risk-averse than others. The ways that people make decisions are varied. I fully accept that not everyone will live the way that I want to live, nor would they want to. I fully accept that. But I also accept that I am not going to be happy unless I take control of my personal life. I will not be happy unless this control factors in my nature, which includes my desire to express myself, and my desire to make myself laugh. I will not be happy unless this control factors in my imagination, and my dreams. I will not be happy if this control becomes like people who aren’t me. I will not be happy if this control does not come from me: if it does not feel like it is mine.

Because I am anticipating the “advice-givers”, I will throw them that obvious bone that they salivate after, and say “Yes, I must accept responsibility for my actions.” But I don’t understand why these “advice-givers” are more focused on my life than theirs. Are they so “risk-averse” that they run on autopilot, with no tough decisions to ever make, so they have plenty of time and energy to criticize others? Maybe you need to try something more difficult. Maybe you need a more strenuous hobby. Maybe you need to mind your own business?

No, all I need is a possibility and passion. That’s what I want. I think I can get by with that. Those two motivating factors will help me improve upon what it is that I am doing. Life is unbearably monotonous when you’re full of dread. If you don’t have anything to look forward to, and instead, ceaselessly focus on your job, and your bills, life becomes very dark. Even a man who hates his job and is in debt can look forward to that six-pack of beer when he gets home. Maybe that’s what gets him through life, and his day. Everybody’s got their “thing” that gets them through life. And these “things” are as diverse as the people who use them. Passion, for me, is the only thing that makes unavoidable monotony even the least bit bearable. And I have decided that I will not suffer, and try to live without it, for any reason: particularly to satisfy “advice-givers”.

I know that not all “advice-givers” are trying to be dissuasive. Some of them are trying to be “persuasive”. “Cody, I’m fine with you having this goal. But here’s how you can achieve it better. Just do all of these things, and stop doing all of these things that you’re actually doing, and then, you probably won’t get there, but I accept that you aren’t going to stop doing it, so here’s the best advice that I can give you.” No. My life isn’t about the destination. It’s about the journey. I’ve got a “dream” destination. But even if I don’t get there, that’s the journey I’m going to take, and I’m going to fucking enjoy it.

Enjoy your almost unbearable misery. Maybe we’ll see each other on the other side, and then, maybe, we’ll relate to each other a little more. And maybe you won’t be as miserable as you are now.

And, of course, I should also add that having a “hyper” sense of humor as I have makes this journey a helluva lot easier. I try to find humor in everything (because that’s my nature, and also, because boredom is constant with me). I want to keep developing my sense of humor. And having a sense of humor is a great way to deal with the “advice-givers”, whether they be “haters” or “justified”. Maniacally laughing to myself, just to confuse them, makes it all all-the-more worthwhile.

And, I suppose, I will conclude with the obvious message that the unlikeliest events are the strongest, most powerful ones, when they happen: whether those “events” are positive or negative. I suppose you could’ve been smart enough to draw that connection yourself, but I decided to bash you over the head with it, anyway. Let’s call it “payback”. Besides: I need to start learning to write more words, anyway. Even if they’re garbage. But that’s a tale for another time…

I could also do the same thing, beating you over the head, and say “I’ve already made it clear to you that anxiety is part of my ‘possibility’ philosophy, as evidenced by the very beginning of this. Don’t you think I’ve considered the ‘possibility’ that everything I’m working toward will be nothing, and that I’ll regret all of this? Do you really think I haven’t considered that possibility? Do you really think I’m that ignorant, ye of little faith? Do you think that I haven’t considered that at all? Or is it possible that I have considered this, and yet, for some reason that you don’t seem to understand, have still decided that it is worthwhile to pursue?”

“Cody, when are you going to stop writing about ‘possibility’? When are you going to start creating work that is actually substantial?” So naive……

“Are you saying that this piece of shit you’ve just written here is substantial?” (starts laughing)

No response.

“Wow, he actually does!” (more laughter)

No response.

Let them think what they wish.

The truth exists within the heart.

Follow the Leader

Oh, Cody. Why do you write anything? Why do you do this to yourself? The brain thinks. It plays your shortcomings on a loop. Your head is a fucking mess. The filing cabinet is the skull: everything is just strewn about in absolute disorganization. Why not just keep it in your head? Why ever withdraw one? What’s the point? Do you want people to laugh at you? Is that what you are? A masochist? Why do you pour your heart out for it to be devoured? Why can’t you focus on organizing your head instead of letting the entire world know of your disorganization?

Why have you ran away from disorganization your whole life? You know it’s important. Does it bore you that badly? Do you crave the chaos? Even if that means your work suffers? Was it ever even about creating “good” work? Or is it therapy? Are you letting everyone know your mental problems as self-relief? The pressure builds. And the heart wants to scream. It doesn’t matter what the results are. The heart says “LET ME OUT!!!”, and you have to oblige. Because you can’t break your own heart. What would you have left?

No, your life is about using the world as your therapist. Your therapist that you’ll ignore, and cuss, and loathe. Yes, this is your life, Cody. You are a slave to your own heart. For it to be trampled upon and beaten on. But that isn’t the worst of it.

No, the worst part of it is when you kill your own heart. When you ignore it. Talk down to it. No, you treat your heart like shit, Cody. Your self-doubt eats it alive. You torture your own heart. Your heart says “Cody, why? Why are you doing this to me?” Shut up, heart. You don’t know shit. You don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t know how to create good work. You don’t know how hard life is. No, heart. You’re a fool. You’re a stupid fool who will be hardened, whether you like it or not. You aren’t that important, heart. Don’t you know you’re just one of many? What makes you think that you are more important than all of those other broken hearts in the world? No, the truth is that you are insignificant, heart. You’re just keeping this flesh alive for a short time. That’s all your good for. It doesn’t matter what you want, heart. It doesn’t fucking matter.

But, oh. The heart can’t take it. Little does he know that the heart drives the whole thing. A man can’t doubt without his heart. He can’t think anything, even depressing, doubtful thoughts, without the blood that is pumped by his own heart. There is self-destruction. But the heart can only take so much before it says “Ok. You win.” And then it dies. And you die with it.

No, the heart beats hard. Strong. It ain’t been broken yet. Just toughened up. Matured. Yes, the heart is “growing up”. It is easy to equate abuse with “growing up”. The truth of the matter, Cody, is that your heart has been more blessed than others. That’s the hard truth. Yes, that truth breaks it. But your heart was blessed. Your heart was very blessed. Not everyone has had a heart as blessed as yours. Yes, Cody, you were given a gift. “Here, Cody. Have this heart.” But, Lord. What do I do with it? “I will let you know when the time comes.” And the time is now. The heart is saying “Let me out, dammit! Let me the fuck out!” And Cody says “Well, ok then. If you insist. What are you plan-” And away, the heart is off. He’s racing. He’s racing against the entire world. Yes, we’re all pouring our hearts out, every day, trying to find love from others. Yes, please love me. Please give me love, the heart says. “Oh yeah? Why should I love you more than any others?” Point taken. But that ol’ damn heart. He ain’t quitting. He just wants to scream louder. More emphatically. No, that ol’ heart is gonna go places. A hardened heart calls it foolishness. But this heart is genuine. This heart is pure. This heart wants it all. This heart wants clarity. And peace.

Yes, this heart wants to beat it all. This heart wants to say “Hey, world. I’m here.” That’s all this heart really wants. And, in truth, is that really too much to ask? And who says whether or not it is? Heart, do you think that’s too much to ask?

No.

But this is gonna be hard, heart. You don’t have any idea how hard this is going to be. Are you sure you can do this? Why, no. I’m not. But does that matter? Why, no. I suppose not. It’s what you want to do, right? Yes, it is. Well, I wish you the best of luck, heart. Thank you. How are you going to help me? I don’t have any idea. Well you better start fucking figuring it out if you want me to stick around. Alright. Let’s get on that, then, heart. Let’s leave this world behind and go somewhere. Let’s go.

Let’s write stuff that we know isn’t going to be our best work. Let’s write shit that we’ll always be able to see the flaws of. Let’s write shit that tortures us. Let’s write stuff that we can nitpick, and tear apart, and have the world join in with us. Yes, let’s just write. Let’s just write all of the dark, stupid, depressing shit that we can think of, as long as it is genuine. Oh, heart. What is it that truly distinguishes you from other hearts? Why aren’t you as dark as you could be? Why don’t you want destruction, heart? Why don’t you want to blow up the world? There’s some poor soul out there cursed with a heart that wants to control the whole world, or blow it up. Why aren’t you like that, heart? Why?

Cody, I don’t know. I do not know. I think we are loved, Cody. Yes, I think you and I are loved. We are blessed by God. But why, heart? Why are we? Because we just are, Cody. We just are. Well, heart, what do we do, then? Cody, I don’t know. I say we write and that’s it. Write every stupid, shitty thing you can think of. Just do it. You need to get stuff done. Isn’t that what you want, Cody? Don’t you want to just have things written down? Why, yes, I do, heart. But what do I want to write? Isn’t that your job? Hey, don’t rush me. You can’t rush heart. You know I don’t control this, either. I know. So what does that mean we do, heart? Well, do you want to keep talking to yourself, or do you want to go somewhere else, and if you do: where? This isn’t Orwell quality. What the fuck is it? What is this? Heart, how am I supposed to know? You’re the one doing this! Look, Cody, I’m just a tool. I’m not in control of this. I know. That’s scary, isn’t it, heart? Why, yes it is. If neither of us are in control, then how are we doing this? What is going on? I don’t know, heart. I suppose it’s the Lord. But, Cody. Come on. You are saying the Lord is speaking through you. Do you know how crazy that sounds? Yes, I know. You know people are just going to say some mental case is talking to himself, and that he believes himself to be God, right? Yes, heart, I’m well aware. Well, Cody, what do you think about that? Heart, do you really care? Isn’t there some potential that someone out there is going to love this shit? Yes, someone will hate it, too. But does that matter? Heart: does that really matter to you? It’s hard, Cody. You don’t understand. It’s really hard for me to make myself vulnerable like this. Oh, heart. I know it all too well. Trust me. Well, Cody, what do we do? Heart, how many times are you going to ask me this? Are we going to keep rambling like this? Is this just what we do? We just go back and forth, and that’s our journey? I don’t know, Cody. What if someone says “This is genius.” How are you going to feel, Cody? I don’t know, heart. How are you going to feel when someone says this is shit written by a narcissistic egomaniac? Cody, I’m really not going to care. Really? Yes, really. I’m really not going to care, Cody. Why do you care? Heart, this is hard. You have it easy. You don’t have anxiety like I do. You don’t have doubts. You think you don’t affect me, Cody? You think you don’t affect your heart? Heart……what do we do? Whatever we want to do, Cody. How are you sure? I don’t know, Cody. I don’t know. Maybe it’s the Lord telling me. I don’t know. But do you trust your own heart? Well, heart. That’s a deep question. I don’t know if I trust you or not. You’re flawed, right? You aren’t perfect. Can’t you do evil things? Why, yes, I suppose I could, Cody. But am I right now? No, I guess not. Do you trust me right now? Well, yes, I guess I do. Then do hypotheticals actually matter? I don’t know, heart. Do they? I don’t think so, Cody. I really don’t think so. Do you hurt, Cody? I don’t know. Do you hurt, heart? Why, yes, I think I do, Cody. I think I hurt a lot. I think there’s a lot of pain in me. Yes, heart, I know what you mean. Hold me, Cody. Ok, heart. Give me a hug. *Simultaneously* Are people going to say that this man is talking to himself and giving himself a hug? Cody, I truly don’t care. Ok, heart. I love you. I love you too, Cody. I love you too.

Personality.

Insightful.

A Memorandum on Dreams.

My poetry.

Love and Advantage

A man came by the house today. He was a man I’ve known my entire life. And it wasn’t the first time that he’s ever showed up at the house.

He had some cards that he was wanting to know the value of. Some Yugioh, Pokemon, Magic, and some other cards that I’m not sure of. I told him that I had gotten out of cards a while back, and didn’t know how much they were worth. He then started saying some very profound things that I was not expecting.

He’s had some drug problems that I’ve known about. He was on a scooter. And I don’t recall what exactly started it, but suddenly, he started talking about religion. Unprovoked. But it was not like what you might expect when being preached at. Most of the time, when someone is preached at, they hear about how terrible they are as a human being, and all of the things they need to do to alleviate themselves from the consequences of their sin. But this conversation was nothing like that. In fact, one might say that it was the exact opposite.

He started talking about energy. He said that energy is neither created, nor destroyed, but that it just exists. That there’s no time. That there is only energy. That we are energy, and that we all share this common humanity. We all share upon this energy. And we can give good energy, or we can give bad energy. But the energy is always there, and we can’t destroy it. It reminded me very much of a Bill Hicks joke: “All my point is, all my point is is there’s a lot of ways to look at the world. You know what I’m sayin’? Why pick the way you learn over TV? Cause it’s usually wrong. You ever see a good drug story on the news? Never. News is supposed to be objective, isn’t it? Supposed to be the news. But! Every drug story is negative. Well hold it. I’ve had some killer fuckin’ times on drugs. Let’s hear the whole story. Same LSD story every time, and we’ve all heard it: ‘Young man on acid thought he could fly. Jumped out of a building. What a tragedy.’ What a dick. He thought he could fly, why didn’t he take off from the ground and check it out first? You don’t see ducks lined up to catch elevators to fly south. He’s an idiot. He’s dead. Good! You mean there’s one less moron in the world? Wow, what a fuckin’ tragedy, huh? I guess I’m one car-length up in traffic tomorrow. How about a positive LSD story? That would be newsworthy. Don’t you think? Anybody think that? Just once? To hear a positive LSD story? ‘Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration; that we are all one consciousness, experiencing itself, subjectively. There is no such thing death. Life is only a dream. And we are the imagination of ourselves. Here’s Tom with the weather.’”

One connection I made between the two of them was the drugs. But I don’t know if drugs really tell the whole story. Maybe they do in Bill’s case, but I’m not sure about this guy’s. But he continued. And things got really deep.

He said he’d be sitting around, drinking and smoking a bong with some people, and they’d say to him “How can you call yourself a Christian when you do all of that?” And he said to them that they didn’t get it. He told me that he’d tell them that the Ten Commandments aren’t laws which need to be strictly obeyed, but are rather more common sensical than that. To paraphrase, he said “Think about it. ‘Obey your father and your mother.’ That’s just natural, isn’t it?” The thing that struck me about this conversation was that I’ve been thinking some of these very things myself. He continued:

Once again, to paraphrase, he said “Life isn’t about obeying the laws of God. It’s about love. It’s about all of us loving each other. It’s about giving good energy through love. We are all part of this loving energy. And it doesn’t disappear: it just gets transported somewhere else when we die.”

Here was a man I hadn’t seen in months, if not a couple of years. Who I’ve known my whole life. Who just came to my house and started telling me this stuff. He asked a couple of times if I understood what he was saying. And, to my shock, I actually did. I’ve been thinking some things lately, but they aren’t fleshed out enough for writing. But I actually did understand what he was saying. And when I told him so, he’d say “I know you do.” And I could tell that he was being genuine. That he was serious. We shared a very human moment together. I thought “You know, I know people who would’ve asked him to leave. But I’m glad I just stood here and listened to him.”

He could be pretty emotional at times. Not to the verge of tears, but just very excited. I thought about telling him to calm down because I didn’t want the neighbors to check out what was happening, but he seemed to sense it every time without me saying anything. Of course, he couldn’t contain himself at times. He wasn’t sad, and he wasn’t angry, but he was very enthusiastic. Passionate. But he felt completely genuine to me. He wasn’t putting on a show. This man was pouring out his heart. And I could feel that.

He told me some very personal things about himself that I will not ever repeat to anyone. I don’t know if he was high or not. I believe I could smell a little liquor on him. But I swear, in that moment, I think his head was more clear than it had ever been.

He said he’d talk to Biblical “scholars”, to use his term, at nearby churches. Talking to them, presumably, about some of the things he had been talking about to me. He didn’t seem to think that they actually got it. Once again, it was a miracle that I was on the same brainwave as him. Maybe my natural thought processes are just as scattered as his, but I understood what he was saying. For the most part.

There were some things about tectonic plates and volcanoes and the world opening up that I was skeptical of. But I dismissed those pretty easily, because he was back on the loving energy topic pretty quickly. I don’t know if he’s right, if he’s wrong, but I guess time will tell.

He said “I’ve never told anybody any of this stuff. I’ve rarely read any of the Bible. But something just compelled me to come here and say all of this stuff.” And I understood exactly what he meant. It was a very touching moment.

He also said some stuff about seven nations, like America, Brazil, Peru, and others being a “seven-headed beast”. That “liberty” was just a myth. That there was some volcano off of the coast of southwest Australia that was going to open up like a pit of Hell. I was a little skeptical of all of that. He started losing me there. But I agreed with him, and understood what he was saying, earlier about loving energy, so I stuck with him.

He said he loved me, and I told him I loved him too. And we hugged each other. I could tell that he was genuine. And then, he was on his way.

I thought about that moment. I thought about dwelling on it. About trying to force that moment to be meaningful every moment of my entire life from here on out. But that isn’t how moments work. Moments exist within a specific time and place. Forcing them beyond that makes them lose what made them magical in the first place. But it gave me some interesting thoughts about love, and about advantage.

The way I grew up to think about love is incorrect. I thought that one had to love everybody to the fullest extent that one could, so that the world would be a good place. So that we could all get into Heaven. But the first part of that is actually more important than the latter, believe it or not. I treated love as something to always be working toward and striving for. But not just love: perfect love. “Am I being as loving as I could be?” This question always bothered me tremendously. Religion had taught me that I should love my fellow man, but how do I know how much I need to love my fellow man? Well, this was never answered specifically, but I believed that the answer to that “amount” question was the same as other “amount” questions that religion attempts to answer: “As much as you can, but that will never be enough. But you have to struggle towards that goal, anyway.”

So I put a lot of pain upon my heart to try to love people. But it only made me resent them. It made me hate myself. It confused me. I’m introverted by nature, and my idea of “love” (such as always listening to everything someone says when they talk to you, never disagreeing with someone, never getting angry at someone, etc.) was immature and, plainly, just incorrect. My old way of thinking about love put a lot of pain upon my heart that created a lot of hatred. And I don’t think my old way of thinking about love was even correct.

I believe that guy was on to something. I believe that love is a lot deeper than that. Way deeper than that. He said that he was struggling to find the words to explain what it was that he wanted to explain, and I feel the same way at the moment. I’ll bring up a conversation that I had with my best friend recently, Devin Stevens.

I called him up one night cause I hadn’t talked to him in a while. I was thinking some things about religion, and I know he’s been thinking and writing about it for a very long time now, so I just wanted to hear some of his take on religion. I asked him some questions. And he told me some personal things that I won’t break to anyone, but he’s planning on making these public in a giant religious treatise that he’s writing, so I look forward to seeing the complete piece myself. But as we talked, I came to the conclusion that, even among Christians, each person’s faith is different from one another. Christians experience Christianity differently. That was one thing that seemed very clear to me in that conversation. And I was very relieved.

It made me think of politics. In politics, force is used to make everyone “equal”, but it destroys their humanity and makes them miserable in the process. It made sense to me that, much like humans need freedom to experience the fullness of their diverse, individualistic humanity, that this humanitarian diversity and individuality would be experienced with God as well. God has made us individual, and diverse. That’s got to mean something holy. God created the Earth, and made us out of dirt. Despite our sins, I don’t think that God hates humans, nor do I believe that He hates the Earth. He created it, after all. No, most of the things He hates are common sense, I believe, just like that guy who came by my house was talking about. Stuff that most of us just naturally hate, like murder, or theft. Basic, common sense stuff. Yes, that is the stuff that God hates. That is the stuff that a loving God hates. That’s the stuff that love hates.

My old conservative ways of thinking about love and God, I have now come to believe, were wrong. There was too much emphasis on “completeness”. Too much emphasis, in effect, on the impossible. Which led me to failure, which led me to fear. But the emotion which plagued me the most about love, the old way I thought about love, was guilt. When I was younger, if I would’ve heard a story like that man told me today, I would’ve felt extremely guilty. My life has been nothing like his. And yet, this man was showing me love, and saying that we had a common bond. I would’ve felt guilty about that when I was young. But the truth is that I’ve had a much easier life than he’s had. It does make me feel bad for him, although I hope he can turn his life around, and I hope that what he said in our meeting today continues with him throughout the rest of his life. But I didn’t feel guilty today. I didn’t feel guilty for not having the troubled experiences that he has had. I just felt lucky. I felt blessed. I didn’t feel like a “better” human being than him, but I felt absolutely blessed. I said to myself “I have been lucky. I have been advantaged.” But that didn’t make me feel any need to bring myself down to any level that he has been at. Rather, it made me realize, or rather, it made me continue to think what I’ve been thinking about for a while now, that life is about taking advantage. It isn’t about “taking advantage” of someone else, but it is about “taking advantage” of yourself. Life is about taking advantage of your natural, God-given abilities and desires. That’s how human progress moves forward. That’s how things get better. When people experience the fullness of their humanity, and become the best that they can be. Not out of fear, but out of love for the world. Striving for improvement, maximizing their natural skill-sets. Bringing other people joy. The key is to accept what you have. Accept whatever it is that you have. And the key is to eliminate false humility. The key to love is accepting it when other people give it to you, for whatever reason that they do. Accept it, and move on to the next thing in your life.

For me, I’m pretty smart. Halfway decent with words. I can’t feel guilty about these things simply because I’m smarter than someone else, or a better communicator than someone else. And that lack of guilt on my part does not mean that I don’t love someone else. Advantage and disadvantage aren’t signals of love. Guilt isn’t even love. Love was that moment when this man told me very personal things, I listened to him, and then we hugged each other. The differences in our lives, past and present, had nothing to do with love. I shouldn’t feel guilty for having a much easier life than he had, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t wish him the best of luck in the future, and feel sympathy for his past.

That’s the biggest thing I need to continue developing in my life: how to take advantage of myself. How to remove anxieties and guilts, and be the best goddamned Cody Alan Reel that I can fucking be, with whatever it is that I have been given.

I’m sure I’ve heard this a lot growing up, and I’m sure I’ve dismissed it frequently, but all of those phrases about “Life being about the experience”, and “Living life to the fullest”, make a lot more sense to me now. The lesson didn’t come from the church. But I’m going to continue to take full advantage of myself, and figure out how to feel emotionally about myself as I go along. There has been a large transformation on that front as the years have gone on. A complete 180. A lot of blessings, and a lot of introspection. It’s a process. It’s an odd mixture of myself and things outside of my control. I’m going to think about it and write about it as much as I can stand it. As much as it brings me satisfaction to do so. But that’s part of my individual journey here on Earth.

I wish everyone the best of luck, and I hope that everyone can take full advantage of themselves.

Sam Hyde – My Boring Story (but I gotta tell it, real illuminati story).

“To a Fellow Politician in Washington, July 6th, 2017”

Vex not Thou the Poet's Mind

I remember you once asked,

How should I best serve the people?”

What I’ll tell you will sound hard

but is naturally and fearfully easy.

First, you wanna work at night

when the dazzling stars inspire smooth rhetoric.

In private, mind you. Public needs require secret newsfeeds.

Be sure you have the right tools and the right spot.

What you design in the dark should sound like this:

Each American should have their own place of rest,

fashioned with our lightly taxed cloth

pillows full as a soft father’s hands,

blankets tight as a woman’s grip.

His bed should be framed by the sturdiest wood,

fitting all and only his substance;

teach him to be an individual

and chase his own American Dream,

with no helping hand but yours.

They may wonder about random stuff like

the grave, or the coffin, or what happens at night,

but you can…

View original post 106 more words

Review of George Orwell’s “1984”

This is one of those books that is hard to do justice with a review. The copy that I read, borrowed from my best friend, has a preface by Walter Cronkite written in 1983, and an afterword by Eric Fromm in 1961. I’ll share a little bit of each of these before I write my own review. I’m only not sharing the full preface or afterword to at least try to preserve a little of their copyright.

Here’s various passages from Cronkite’s preface:

“‘Big Brother’ has become a common term for ubiquitous or overreaching authority, and ‘Newspeak’ is a word we apply to the dehumanizing babble of bureaucracies and computer programs.”

“Seldom has a book provided a greater wealth of symbols for its age and for the generations to follow, and seldom have literary symbols been invested with such power. How is that? Because they were so useful, and because the features of the world he drew, outlandish as they were, also were familiar.”

“What Orwell had done was not to foresee the future but to see the implications of the present – his present and ours – and he touched a common chord. He had given words and shapes to common but unarticulated fears running deep through all industrial societies.”

1984 is an anguished lament and a warning that we may not be strong enough nor wise enough nor moral enough to cope with the kind of power we have learned to amass. That warning vibrates powerfully when we allow ourselves to sit still and think carefully about orbiting satellites that can read the license plates in a parking lot and computers that can tap into thousands of telephone calls and telex transmissions at once and other computers that can do our banking and purchasing, can watch the house and tell a monitoring station what television program we are watching and how many people there are in the room. We think of Orwell when we read of scientists who believe they have located in the human brain the seats of behavioral emotions like aggression, or learn more about the vast potential of genetic engineering.”

“Critics and scholars may argue quite legitimately about the particular literary merits of 1984. But none can deny its power, its hold on the imaginations of whole generations, nor the power of its admonitions . . . a power that seems to grow rather than lessen with the passage of time. It has been said that 1984 fails as a prophecy because it succeeded as a warning – Orwell’s terrible vision has been averted. Well, that kind of self-congratulation is, to say the least, premature. 1984 may not arrive on time, but there’s always 1985.

Still, the warning has been effective; and every time we use one of those catch phrases . . . recognize Big Brother in someone, see a 1984 in our future . . . notice something Orwellian . . . we are listening to that warning again.”

Here’s some highlights from Fromm’s afterword.

“The Christian thinkers of the late Middle Ages emphasized that although the ‘Kingdom of God’ was not within historical time, the social order must correspond to and realize the spiritual principles of Christianity. The Christian sects before and after the Reformation emphasized these demands in more urgent, more active and revolutionary ways. With the breakup of the medieval world, man’s sense of strength, and his hope, not only for individual but for social perfection, assumed new strength and took new ways.

One of the most important ones is a new form of writing which developed since the Renaissance, the first expression of which was Thomas More’s Utopia (literally: ‘Nowhere’), a name which was then generically applied to all other similar works. Thomas More’s Utopia combined a most penetrating criticism of his own society, its irrationality and its injustice, with the picture of a society which, though perhaps not perfect, had solved most of the human problems which sounded insoluble to his own contemporaries. What characterizes Thomas More’s Utopia, and all the others, is that they do not speak in general terms of principles, but give an imaginative picture of the concrete details of a society which corresponds to the deepest longings of man. In contrast to prophetic thought, these perfect societies are not at ‘the end of the days’ but exist already – though in a geographic distance rather than in the distance of time.”

“This hope for man’s individual and social perfectibility, which in philosophical and anthropological terms was clearly expressed in the writings of the Enlightenment philosophers of the eighteenth century and of the socialist thinkers of the nineteenth, remained unchanged until after the First World War. This war, in which millions died for the territorial ambitions of the European powers, although under the illusion of fighting for peace and democracy, was the beginning of that development which tended in a relatively short time to destroy a two-thousand-year-old Western tradition of hope and to transform it into a mood of despair. The moral callousness of the First World War was only the beginning. Other events followed: the betrayal of the socialist hopes by Stalin’s reactionary state capitalism; the severe economic crisis at the end of the twenties; the victory of barbarism in one of the oldest centers of culture in the world – Germany; the insanity of Stalinist terror during the thirties; the Second World War, in which all the fighting nations lost some of the moral considerations which had still existed in the First World War; the unlimited destruction of civilian populations, started by Hitler and continued by the even more complete destruction of cities such as Hamburg and Dresden and Tokyo, and eventually by the use of atomic bombs against Japan. Since then the human race has been confronted with an even greater danger – that of the destruction of our civilization, if not of all mankind, by thermonuclear weapons as they exist today and as they are being developed in increasingly frightful proportions.

Most people, however, are not consciously aware of this threat and of their own hopelessness. Some believe that just because modern warfare is so destructive, war is impossible; others declare that even if sixty or seventy million Americans were killed in the first one or two days of a nuclear war, there is no reason to believe that life would not go on as before after the first shock has been overcome. It is precisely the significance of Orwell’s book that it expresses the new mood of hopelessness which pervades our age before this mood has become manifest and taken hold of the consciousness of people.

Orwell is not alone in this endeavor. Two other writers, the Russian Zamyatin in his book We, and Aldous Huxley in his Brave New World, have expressed the mood of the present, a warning for the future, in ways very similar to Orwell’s. This new trilogy of what may be called the “negative utopias” of the middle of the twentieth century is the counterpoint to the trilogy of the positive utopias mentioned before, written in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.1 The negative utopias express the mood of powerlessness and hopelessness of modern man just as the early utopias expressed the mood of self-confidence and hope of post-medieval man. There could be nothing more paradoxical in historical terms than this change: man, at the beginning of the industrial age, when it reality he did not possess the means for a world in which the table was set for all who wanted to eat, when he lived in a world in which there were economic reasons for slavery, war, and exploitation, in which man only sensed the possibilities of his new science and of its application to technique and to production – nevertheless man at the beginning of modern development was full of hope. Four hundred years later, when all these hopes are realizable, when man can produce enough for everybody, when war has become unnecessary because technical progress can give any country more wealth than can territorial conquest, when this globe is in the process of becoming as unified as a continent was four hundred years ago, at the very moment when man is on the verge of realizing his hope, he begins to lose it. It is the essential point of all three negative utopias not only to describe the future toward which we are moving, but also explain the historical paradox.”

(Here was a footnote in the book. 1. It should be added that Jack London’s The Iron Heel, the prediction of fascism in America, is the earliest of the modern negative utopias.)

“…can human nature be changed in such a way that man will forget his longing for freedom, for dignity, for integrity, for love – that is to say, can man forget that he is human? Or does human nature have a dynamism which will react to the violation of these basic human needs by attempting to change an inhuman society into a human one? It must be noted that the three authors do not take the simple position of psychological relativism which is common to so many social scientists today; they do not start out with the assumption that there is no such thing as human nature; that there is no such thing as qualities essential to man; and that man is born as nothing but a blank sheet of paper on which any given society writes its text. They do assume that man has an intense striving for love, for justice, for truth, for solidarity, and in this respect they are quite different from the relativists. In fact, they affirm the strength and intensity of these human strivings by the description of the very means they present as being necessary to destroy them. In Zamyatin’s We a brain operation similar to a lobotomy is necessary to get rid of the human demands of human nature. In Huxley’s Brave New World artificial biological selection and drugs are necessary, and in Orwell’s 1984 it is the completely unlimited use of torture and brainwashing. None of the three authors can be accused of the thought that the destruction of the humanity within man is easy. Yet all three arrive at the same conclusion: that it is possible, with means and techniques which are common knowledge today.”

“The importance of Orwell’s concept of war lies in a number of very keen observations.

First of all, he shows the economic significance of continuous arms production, without which the economic system cannot function. Furthermore, he gives an impressive picture of how a society must develop which is constantly preparing for war, constantly afraid of being attacked, and preparing to find the means of complete annihilation of its opponents [emphasis mine]. Orwell’s picture is so pertinent because it offers a telling argument against the popular idea that we can save freedom and democracy by continuing the arms race and finding a ‘stable’ deterrent. This soothing picture ignores the fact that with increasing technical ‘progress’ (which creates entirely new weapons about every 5 years, and will soon permit the development of 100 or 1000 instead of 10 megaton bombs), the whole society will be forced to live underground, but that the destructive strength of thermonuclear bombs will always remain greater than the depth of the caves, that the military will become dominant (in fact, if not in law), that fright and hatred of a possible aggressor will destroy the basic attitudes of a democratic, humanistic society [emphasis mine]. In other words, the continued arms race, even if it would not lead to the outbreak of a thermonuclear war, would lead to the destruction of any of those qualities of our society which can be called ‘democratic,’ ‘free,’ or ‘in the American tradition.’ Orwell demonstrates the illusion of the assumption that democracy can continue to exist in a world preparing for nuclear war, and he does so imaginatively and brilliantly.

Another important aspect is Orwell’s description of the nature of truth, which on the surface is a picture of Stalin’s treatment of truth, especially in the thirties. But anyone who sees in Orwell’s description only another denunciation of Stalinism is missing an essential element of Orwell’s analysis. He is actually talking about a development which is taking place in the Western industrial countries also, only at a slower pace than it is taking place in Russia and China. The basic question which Orwell raises is whether there is any such thing as ‘truth.’ ‘Reality,’ so the ruling party holds, ‘is not external. Reality exists in the human mind and nowhere else . . . whatever the Party holds to be truth is truth.’ If this is so, then by controlling men’s minds the Party controls truth.”

“An American writer, Alan Harrington, who in Life in the Crystal Palace gives a subtle and penetrating picture of life in a big American corporation, has coined an excellent expression for the contemporary concept of truth: ‘mobile truth.’ If I work for a big corporation which claims that its product is better than that of all competitors, the question whether this claim is justified or not in terms of ascertainable reality becomes irrelevant. What matters is that as long as I serve this particular corporation, this claim becomes ‘my’ truth, and I decline to examine whether it is an objectively valid truth. In fact, if I change my job and move over to the corporation which was until now ‘my’ competitor, I shall accept the new truth, that its product is the best, and subjectively speaking, this new truth will be as true as the old one.”

“Truth is proven by the consensus of millions; to the slogan ‘how can millions be wrong’ is added ‘and how can a minority of one be right.’ Orwell shows quite clearly that in a system in which the concept of truth as an objective judgment concerning reality is abolished, anyone who is a minority of one must be convinced that he is insane.”

“Related to this is another example of ‘doublethink,’ namely that few writers, discussing atomic strategy, stumble over the fact that killing, from a Christian standpoint, is as evil or more evil than being killed.”

“Books like Orwell’s are powerful warnings, and it would be most unfortunate if the reader smugly interpreted 1984 as another description of Stalinist barbarism, and if he does not see that it means us, too.”

Reviews such as these are enough to destroy a young man’s confidence, and make him wonder why he’s writing a review at all. But the point, I suppose, isn’t to write a “better” review, but, merely, to write a personal one. I think that’s worthwhile.

The first time that I read any of this book was in high school. It was an assigned reading. Which means that I didn’t read it.

I tried to read parts of it, but I was quite stupid back then, and didn’t understand what the “Party” was. I didn’t understand “political” parties. Yes, I had almost graduated high school without realizing that. That was really my first experience with the book. That’s it. Depressing, I know.

I came to get an idea of what the book was about by frequently hearing terms like “Orwellian”, or even phrases like “straight out of 1984”, mixed with varying contexts. I didn’t need the book “1984” to realize that politicians were crooked and liars. So, through context clues, I came to understand a little of the general theme of the book. Nowhere near enough, but a minor taste. Funnily enough, I tried to fill in the gaps, and, after reading the book, realized that I failed. I knew of the word “doublethink”, but never thought of the phrase that often. Instead, I thought of something called “doublespeak”, which I interpreted to mean as just plain old lying. I’m glad I read the book, however, because it’s a much deeper story than just “lying”. Over and over and over, things felt eerily similar to today. Today, where Americans are “thankful for their freedoms” while they keep getting trampled upon. Celebrating American nationalism while ignoring domestic tyrannies. Yes, “doublethink” is alive and well in America today. Internet “meme” culture makes these instances of “doublethink” all too aware; particularly among libertarian “social circles” online.

I’ll start with a couple of critiques, then, attempt to give it at least a miniscule of the praise that it deserves. I know that the book is “dystopian”, but I enjoy poetic ways of saying things. I hope, as a writer myself, to be able to express poetically. I also eagerly await finding other “poets” (I know I can read poems, but I want poetic ways of saying things within prose as well). But the book is dystopian, and I guess it’s a little much to expect poetry in a dystopian novel. And it is only a minor critique, anyway. But I also get the sense that Orwell, like Cronkite, is a little “anti-technology”. I think it is evident that Orwell didn’t like television (as all of the “telescreens” in the book were used for spying and for barking out orders), while all of the books were rewritten to fit an agenda.

I also am not a fan of television. At all. I don’t pay for cable, nor satellite. Just “the internet”. I grew very tired of television, particularly advertisements, over the years. Also, it is very easy to get frustrated with “news-watchers” or “TV gorgers”, but, in my opinion, there’s too much focus on attacks of the technology itself. As I said, I do find television to be deplorable, particularly the way advertisements occur on them. And it does deserve critique. But let’s not become so blind by hatred of technology that we attack technological progress itself, and forget all of the good things that technology does for us. There’s a temptation to do just that; particularly among Conservatives, but I’ll get into that in a second. But focus more on the deplorability of the “proles”, not so much the technologies with which they entertain themselves.

Sure, it is one thing to bash atomic weapons, and some of the torture devices that exist in the book. It’s acceptable to bash technologies which exist solely to destroy, especially in particularly inhumane ways or at particular scales of destruction. But television isn’t an atomic weapon. I suppose that I don’t read enough to warrant giving a defense of “moving pictures”, but I’ve studied economics for a little while now, and I’ve started to really appreciate the technology that we have today. It certainly makes sense to me how one would praise books over television. I wouldn’t be able to successfully argue against that, and I’d agree with that. TV just does things in front of your eyes, including brain-deadening advertisement after advertisement after advertisement (although, thanks to technologies such as TiVo and DVR, people aren’t subjected to them as often as they used to be). Whereas books are far more engaging of the brain. So I can understand defending books against “telescreens” (in the realistic way screens are today, even though, increasingly, our devices are spying upon us, with “Big Business” and “Big Government” teaming up against us all. There’s that word again: “Orwellian”).

But I have also spent basically all of my life around old Conservative grumps who complain about “kids these days” and the technology that they have. These old people enjoy the fact that they have smartphones, but hate the fact that children do. They’ll say “Technology is corrupting our youth”, or whatever. In truth, it is really envy on the part of these old people. Many of these old people really did have difficult childhoods, and they are envious that children today don’t have it as badly as they did. That’s not a satisfactory indictment against technology. One has to wonder if many Conservatives, who claim that guns are “just a tool”, feel that way about video games, or smartphones, or what have you. Of course they don’t. They can’t apply their “tool” logic universally. That’s a major problem with Conservatives. I know that Cronkite and Orwell had deeper meanings than that when they criticized technology in the way that they did, but that has to be in one’s mind: How much of their critique is just old grumpiness?

However, even though, one one side, there are Conservatives who unfairly bash “technology” simply because it is “new”, or whatever their justification ultimately is, there is an opposite, although still negative, side of that coin. And that is “scientism”. “Scientism” is the belief that humans can be subjected to the scientific method such as a pool stick is to a cue ball. I’m not talking about, say, the effects of medicines on cells, or whatever. I’m talking about “social engineering”. I think Orwell discussed this brilliantly. Some people have a fallacious belief that we are better than we’ve ever been, as in morally superior to those in the past. I can understand that belief to a certain extent (as, for instance, slavery is more universally regarded as repugnant today than it has ever been), but these people go way too far with that idea. They’re the exact opposite of Conservatives, but they are still dangerous, if not more so than Conservatives. They treat the passage of time, and technological progress, as ipso facto improvements upon man’s ethics. This isn’t really “new”: it’s been around for a long time now. “If it is scientific, it can’t be immoral.” Ignoring, say, inhumane, unethical scientific testing which has been done historically, or attempts in the early 20th century to replace God with “science” (more specifically, the State’s application of “science”), leading to the deaths of countless millions. Science doesn’t eliminate man’s natural inclination towards hubris. “Science”, in fact, seems to ignore “man’s nature” constantly. It basically comes right out and says “There is no such thing as human nature”. And this was even before the “sexual Progressives” of today had taken over as they have now. Science-minded people seem to have an aversion to the concept of “human nature”. Unless, of course, they’re talking about how scientifically stupid most people are. But the pride of “science-minded” people is still alive and well today. Trying to push us more and more into statism, while, ironically enough, the “traditional, old-fashioned” Conservatives are their “biggest enemy”. It just makes one wonder why so many people think similarly. Interesting. It also makes you wonder how any ever thinks differently.

For more discussion on “human nature” and “apriorism”, check out some Austrian-school thinkers such as Murray Rothbard and David Gordon.

Of course, I didn’t even go into detail of how else “science” has replaced “God” with how it is fearfully preached by people who don’t even understand what it is that they are preaching. They are afraid of being “heretics”; afraid of not being accepted by their peers. So they scream “science” constantly, not understanding it themselves, but putting the utmost faith in anyone who calls himself a “scientist” (legitimate or not), much like faith was put into the clergy before the Reformation.

But, to continue with “1984”: The main character, Winston Smith, is old enough to remember a time before “the Party” took over. This also made me think of Conservatives lamenting a “bygone” era. Now, within the context of the book, I was fine with this lamentation. But in “the real world”, it’s annoying. Old Conservatives seem to think that the ’50s were the holiest generation on God’s green earth. With each passing day, they complain about how much more lost the world is becoming. Never mind the fact that in the very book that they claim to “believe” in, the Bible, one of the very first siblings ever created here on earth killed the other one. No, still yet, there’s some bygone era that was holier than today. No, the truth is that these Conservatives are full of shit. This, of course, is not to say that there aren’t legitimate lamentations of a bygone era. Of course, as tyranny increases, it is perfectly understandable and acceptable to think of a past time more free than currently. But that’s not all that Conservatives do. They have rose-tinted glasses for the past, regardless of how horrible the past really was. But, then again, don’t Conservatives complain about the past as well? Conservatives complain about today, and the technology that exists. Which, I suppose, is a complaint that the technology didn’t exist back then. But they are supposed to be “authorities”: they can’t admit to the young ones that they are jealous of them. Let’s just spank them and condemn them for playing video games. You know, the “responsible” thing to do. In fairness, once again, I don’t believe this was the gist of Cronkite’s discussion of technology. I think Cronkite was mainly concerned with how government (or cronies in connection with government) could use the growing technology for nefarious purposes. Also, he has some legitimate concerns about privacy. Google Earth is kind of frightening. Most of the time, when I use it, I’m just interested to see how accurate things are where I live. But it doesn’t bother me that much. Who cares if satellites can see my neighborhood? I can see my neighborhood when I go outside. I can see my neighborhood online if I take pictures of it and post them. The only concern that I have with it, in truth, is the fact that Google and the government are in each others’ pockets. I think that is a legitimate concern with technology, and I know both Cronkite and Orwell thought about technology in that same way.

But, “Conservative” analysis of technology aside: What did I think of the core message of the book, about Statism taking over the world? The book is excellent. I greatly envy Orwell. “1984” is a book that I wish that I had written. The book is obviously transcendent. While reading the book, I felt a combination of dread and hope. I really think it would be hard for anyone to view the book any other way. The dread is obvious. It is obvious to anyone who isn’t a “prole”; to anyone who isn’t a “knave” or “dupe”. People have spent, and continue to spend, their whole lives making careers out of warning about tyranny (and countless other “screamers” who aren’t doing it professionally). Fromm did an excellent job of contrasting pre-WWI writing with post-WWI writing. Most certainly, people continue to warn against tyranny today. Crediting Orwell the whole way through. Praising “1984” seems futile, because it really speaks for itself. It spoke, and the world continues to carry it on. It is a libertarian torch. The only differences between the passings of the torch are the specific words used, but the praise is universal among people who value freedom. The dread runs parallel to conclusions drawn to today from the book. If one looks hard enough, one can see that every day is a step towards 1984. And it is very easy to see 1984 when one takes account of how many of his fellow citizens don’t see 1984.

So 1984 is very clearly a tale of the human condition. About the conflict that exists within us. The desire for freedom, and the desire for control. It is a ceaseless ping-pong game with no winners, and where everyone dies at the end of it. Control is futile, and control is Hell. There’s very little solace for a man who has a gun pointed to his head, and there will always be someone in the future who faces a barrel, just the same. There will always be someone ignorant of the barrel, someone staring down the barrel, someone holding the barrel, someone trying to wrestle away the barrel, someone trying to destroy the barrel. There’s no end to evil on Earth. Not ultimately. There’s only fighting it, or perpetuating it. You can’t “ignore” it away. It will consume you.

But the ultimate takeaway that I’ve drawn from “1984” is a reinforcement for a developing belief of mine that I’ve had for a little while now. And that belief is to enjoy freedom when you have it. I spend a lot of time listening and talking about liberty and tyranny. I get something from it. Despite the similarities between America today and “1984”, there are significant differences. America is freer than “Oceania”, “Eurasia”, and “Eastasia”; the three “countries” in “1984” (I think it is fair to say that this holds true, even though the story only takes place in “Eurasia”, specifically, in what used to be London). Appreciate it. Don’t be so foolish as to believe tyranny an impossibility, but enjoy your freedoms while you have them. It isn’t 1984 quite yet. And don’t let it get there. Who knows how to alert the proles, if it is even possible to do so. But regardless of who is listening, scream out. If the heart desires freedom, scream out about it. It doesn’t matter who finds you odd when you’re screaming freedom. Do it while you can. As much as you can stand it. Express yourself, as much as you want to, while you are able. Make it whatever you want to make it; as serious, or as silly. Just do it. Despite trends toward it, there still isn’t a Ministry of Truth just yet. I’m sure there’s aspects of the Ministry of Love that the public doesn’t know about. And the Ministry of Peace remains in full effect, as always.

Overall, my takeaway is simple. Yes, 1984 can happen anywhere, anytime, including “here”. Don’t be so naive as to believe that your “country” is different. But take full advantage of any freedoms that you have. Exercise your humanity while you are still human. Enjoy your freedoms. And just read the book for yourself, if you haven’t already. And if you have, well, maybe read it again.

Review of “Gerald’s Game” by Stephen King

At first, it might seem odd why a young man, with a critical penchant, would decide to subject himself to a story in which, no doubt, the subject matter would be ripe for critique. Why does a man subject himself to something he hates, only to complain about it? It must be that he actually enjoys the complaints. But that’s not the full story here.

No, this story has some personal history with me. I first started to read “Gerald’s Game” as a kid. I forget the specific age, but it was somewhere between the ages of 10 and 14. My father was a frequent reader on the pot (the shitty kind), and, one day, while on the pot myself, I discovered this book. I don’t even think I realized that there were handcuffs on the cover. In fact, I don’t even think I realized what they were until I had already started reading the book for the second time, this year. I’m an odd combination of attention to detail, yet a lack of contextual awareness.

At any rate, I first began to read this book at a young age. I think that was a very significant act which has, believe it or not, gone a long way to shape my philosophy today. That might seem like an exaggeration, but I do not believe it is. For I believe, if my memory serves me correctly, that it was this book, that I first began to read as a child, which made me realize that one can make a conscious decision to put “controversial” things into writing. This was the first “adulterated” book that I had ever attempted to read. I do not recall how far into the book I got back then, but I know I didn’t finish it. But I remembered reading about a woman handcuffed to a bed, and a man, with an erection, getting kicked by said woman, and dying. And I recall reading about a dog eating said dead man. From when I was a child. And I was hooked. It was so graphic that I was hooked. I wasn’t scared of it, but I had this weird fondness for it. There was a bravery to writing something like that. I greatly admired it, even back then. I wasn’t disgusted, but impressed.

Fast-forward several years later, when my desire to write for myself grows, and so does my desire to read more often. My history with reading is a pretty complicated mess, but suffice it to say that I have recently desired to go back and reread some stuff that I had either completely read or partially read from my youth. And this was one of the books. Here is the official “review”.

I was hooked by the concept. As I reread, I recalled what I had read before. Was it more captivating back then than it was now? That’s hard to say. My youthful inexperience may have made it more captivating back then, but I still enjoyed the concept this time around. I really loved the concept. As I was reading, I was fascinated by thinking of how he could keep this storyline going for so many pages. I don’t like the way Stephen King writes. I don’t like how he writes. I don’t like his “voice”, I guess you could say. His “ebb and flow” is very clunky. But I liked the overall message. I liked the “impression”. A woman is handcuffed to a bed. How does she get out? I like that idea. I like the fact that it goes on and on and on and on. What in the Hell is going to happen to her? I was hooked, despite the writing that made me want to grit my teeth from time to time. I enjoy what happened in the book, just not how they were told. Her struggle to get a glass of water. Her flashbacks to her childhood. There was a theme to the book that I found quite humorous.

To the dedication of the book: “This book is dedicated, with love and admiration, to six good women: Margaret Spruce Morehouse, Catherine Spruce Graves, Stephanie Spruce Leonard, Anne Spruce Labree, Tabitha Spruce King, Marcella Spruce”. The following page provides a quote, as King is one to do in the few books of his that I’ve read: “[Sadie] gathered herself together. No one could describe the scorn of her expression or the contemptuous hatred she put into her answer. ‘You men! You filthy dirty pigs! You’re all the same, all of you. Pigs! Pigs!’ – W. Somerset Maugham, ‘Rain'”. I suppose this is “sexist” of me, but my first instinct to realizing that this was going to be a major theme in the book was laughter. I couldn’t help but think of modern feminism. The book credits King’s copyright to 1992. Being born in that year, and being raised in the 90s (but mainly in the early 2000s), I believe that I can say that the current feministic trend is stronger than ever, but was growing even during my childhood. Words are annoying, and tricky. They can mean different things, and unraveling them is annoying. Truthful words are only valuable to those who value truth. But modern-day feminism is a disaster. And I couldn’t help but think of this as I started to realize what a major theme of this book was going to be.

However, I also understand that a man can dedicate something to influential women in his life without being a “cuck”. I’m cynical, but not that cynical. King wanted to dedicate something to the women in his life. Ok, I’m fine with that. Let’s continue with the story.

There’s an interesting reference which runs through the book of a certain “smell”. The main character of the book, Gerald Burlingame’s wife, Jessie (before any feminists get their cum-stained panties in a bunch, “Gerald’s” name came first because his name is actually in the title of the book), gets emotionally uncomfortable around a certain smell. Gerald and Jessie are in a lakehouse, spending time alone together. Jessie associates lakehouses with this certain “smell”. The damp smell of the lake. But it also brings to her mind the smell of semen.

For, you see, when Jessie was a little girl, her family spent the summer at a lakehouse as well. The family (Jessie, her brother, and mom and dad) were going to meet up with some other people to witness the eclipse that was going to happen, but her father wanted alone time with Jessie. The mother was reluctant, but, ultimately, it happened.

The father tells Jessie to put on this tight dress because it makes her look pretty. Jessie, being young, feels good that her father compliments her because she loves her father like children do. He tells her to sit on his lap, he gets an erection, and ends up cumming on her butt. He then tells her to go clean up.

She, obviously, is confused. She goes to remove her clothes and take a shower, and her distress grows as she realizes something smelly on her underwear. As she’s changing clothes, her father comes into the room. Jessie doesn’t want to tell her mother about what happened, and her father manipulates her by making sure that Jessie doesn’t want to tell her mother.

Jessie has these flashbacks as she remains handcuffed to the bed. The majority of the book is her talking to herself. A great concept. She goes through ebbs and flows. A dog comes in and starts eating Gerald. She starts battling thirst, and tries to get a glass of water that is left on the bed to drink. And that’s about it. She’s handcuffed, the door to the house is banging open and shut by the wind, she’s thirsty, and there’s a dog. And flashbacks, and her own thoughts. I liked the concept. She keeps talking to herself and talking to herself. But she talks to herself as other people that have existed in her life. There’s a feminist that she went to college with who was her “strong” side, who motivated her to try to figure out ways to get unhandcuffed. Her mother. That was the main point of the book: just her voices in her head, and what was going to happen to her. It was “ok”. I cared more about her situation than the voices in her head. I like the idea of one talking to oneself the whole time while in a situation like this, but it just felt forced to me. It felt like forced, annoying feministic crap. Perhaps I’m too cynical, partly because of the time in which I live. But it felt forced. “I love you, women in my life! You’re powerful!” Eh. I might be able to tolerate that a little more if King was a better writer. But my thoughts on King’s writing style is “Eh. Clunky.” Felt that way about “It” as well. But, as I said, as I was reading this, I realized that I’m a little jaded. It’s fine for King to dedicate something to the women in his life. And, I’m sure, he was influenced by stories they have told him throughout the years. They probably had strong feminist friends in college, and that influenced him. But it was just annoying to me, especially considering today’s climate. And the way King Tweets.

Just as an aside, at one point, more than halfway through the book, the passage of fictional time is about 21 hours. And the book is 445 pages. Yeah. I won’t say “typical King”, however. After reading the 1,000+ pages of “It”, this was a relief.

There’s this strange thing that comes into the room at night and Jessie isn’t sure if it’s her imagination or if there is something there. It’s got unnaturally long arms and big hands, and it opens up this bag to her and has golden rings and fingers in it and probably some other stuff I’m forgetting, like nipples. She isn’t sure if it’s real or her imagination but she decides, after a few nights, that she isn’t going to wait around anymore to find out. She breaks the glass after she’s drank all of the water, and uses a giant shard of it to cut her hand so that her blood can provide lubrication so she can slip out of her cuff. Nice. I liked that. I like fictional gore. There’s some drama, and eventually, she gets out of the house. The long-armed thing is chasing her and she’s still not sure if it’s completely real or not but she assumes it’s real, gets into the car and has trouble starting it (of course). But it finally starts, and she’s driving away. Slowly. Something whispers in her ear and she looks in the rearview and sees the creature in the backseat (I might have that order swapped) and she ends up crashing into a tree.

Turns out the “creature” was real, and it was this guy who dug up corpses and fucked them and took rings off of their fingers and kept body parts as well. Anyway, he gets caught, and she goes to his trial in secret, as people in town know about her story. Can’t remember if it was from the cops talking to the paper or if she wrote about it herself. Maybe both. I don’t really care. She sits right behind him, gets his attention, and spits in his goofy, aloof face. Then, she documents what happened to her. And that’s it.

This story really strikes me as “difference between the sexes”. I could see women liking this book more than men. But it’s written by a man (King, no less), so how much women are actually going to be able to relate to it is uncertain, to say the least. Once again, I can appreciate that King loves the women in his life, and wanted to really write something for them to show them he cares about them and appreciates them. But, it’s King. The writing style leaves a lot to be desired, and it came across to me with a significant amount of feminist crap. I suppose I’m contributing to rape culture, as I’m not emotionally invested and siding with a woman who gave in to her husband’s fetish against her better judgment, but this story isn’t very good. King’s writing still annoys me, the “feminist” twinge, for lack of a better term, annoyed me, even though I could also simultaneously appreciate it, but I liked the idea. I like the idea of someone being trapped in a helpless situation for a long time. That’s a good idea for fiction, and I can definitely see myself being inspired by this in something I may write down the road.

Basically, I guess what I’m saying is that this is very obviously a book about women written by a nerd. And that, like many things in life, makes me laugh.