Saturday, 19 September 2020

Antisocial media?

Today's post is a minimalist linguistic comparison of meaning and belief. As despite popular misconceptions currently promoted by the evil, ignorant and misinformed, opinion isn't fact, rhetoric is not discourse, understanding isn't agreement and knowledge is not empathy. If you doubt these grammatical facts, read on, scroll down, or consult the nearest dictionary for confirmation.

Fortunately, appreciating the difference between the aforementioned nouns requires only enough intelligence to also accept life as both complex and subject to change. And though blessed with a species-wide and often beneficial instinct to join and belong to tribal groups, the needs and freedoms of the rational individual must not ever be sacrificed to the populist mob if we are to eventually build a just and sustainable community. The increasing worldwide popularity of various internet based 'social' media platforms, however, continues to magnify an insidious existential threat to civilisation's future.

For as software algorithms replace the feedback cycles once provided by communities of friends and neighbours in forming the personalities of tomorrow's society, immediate and long-term damage resulting from their influence is effectively disguised. Among the largest transnational commercial organisations on the planet nowadays, the oligarchies composed by these opaque media giants also routinely operate above the law in societies worldwide. With few, if any, rules to govern either business or personal conduct online, the rapid evolution of supposedly 'free' software platforms into conglomerates generating billions in profits annually has impacted societies worldwide. Their more rapid devolution into weaponized dissemination outlets for organised racism, bigotry and terrorism, meanwhile, has been little short of astonishing, and represents a significant threat to people around the globe. And despite widespread knowledge of their platforms use by foreign governments to interfere with political sovereignty around the world, denial of responsibility continues as the primary response from corporate leaders.

Also worthy of note is this delightful irony; many of those able to understand the previous statements can provide no rational explanation for denial of widely published facts about the Covid-19 pandemic, the reality of institutionalised racism or the man-made sources responsible for accelerating planetary climate change. Instead, when confronted by the tremulous anxiety of self-inflicted cognitive dissonance, the parroted echo of a nonsensical falsehood promoted by online groups devoted to hatred or ignorance will most often substitute for a reply grounded in reason. It's also best to remember friends, that language is culture and culture is language, making your ability to know and communicate the facts of life vital to our society's long-term survival.

By now, history has made clear that to be better, we must do better. One way we can start as individuals is by consciously and continually reminding ourselves to beware of the real difference between proven fact and partisan fiction when engaging with online sources. Another is acknowledging our fascination with 'social' media and accepting there are many unknown and dangerous consequences resulting from its widespread use.

As result of unregulated growth and the abundance of human rights, political and legal abuses attributed to their operations worldwide, however, we must also demand public debate and discussion regarding the future place of these 'social' Media Giants in our society. To enable ourselves to engage in them, we must understand and accept these conversations as among the most historically significant of our time, and worthy of both legal and political discourse.

For those who made it this far, as promised, the noun comparisons follow. The definitions are provided courtesy of the Oxford online English dictionary. Enjoy.

Opinion: a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge.

Fact: a thing that is known or proved to be true.

Rhetoric: the art of effective or persuasive speaking or writing, especially the use of figures of speech and other compositional techniques.

Discourse: written or spoken communication or debate.

Understanding: the ability to understand something; comprehension.

Agreement: harmony or accordance in opinion or feeling; a position or result of agreeing.

Knowledge: facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject.

Empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

If you enjoy reading these existential missives and want me to write more of them, remember to demonstrate your interest by purchasing one of my five novels. Available everywhere on Amazon as well as direct from the author here, I have been told they make excellent gifts. Thanks again for being here, for sharing the blog and most of all for your support.


   September 19, 2020

Saturday, 13 June 2020

This writer's manifesto.

I am a writer.

To varying degrees of success, I have been writing poetry, songs and stories both short and long since childhood.  My ambition, however, has ever been writing novels.  As result, most literary effort undertaken in these parts was intended first as training for the difficult task of writing them.  And to serving that indifferent goal, most everything in my life has long rated little better than a distant second.

Those close to me also know that despite an abundance of strong personal opinions, I am most certainly not a politician.  While also possessing reasoned appreciation for an assortment of existential arguments, neither do I claim status as philosopher.

Above everything else however, I am perhaps most of all not a joiner.  As result, I belong to few organizations other than those from time to time necessary to collect and receive payment for vocational effort.  And much like today, at no time in the past have I belonged to or represented either religious entities or political groups.

For I am a writer and hold independence as first necessity of the job.

That’s also why I won’t be found taking part in public and political discourse of most any kind aside from casting a ballot, be it in protest or celebration.  Because as a writer, I believe my primary value to society and self is produced by recording the times in which I lived, not in promoting either personal opinions or political positions I supported during them.

So far as I’m concerned, this writer’s job is telling how it was.

As the writer’s traditional vocational havens of journalism and teaching both require devotion to masters other than historic fact and literary art meanwhile, they were each long ago rejected here.  For journalism serves the same corporate master as education, with each promoting a whitewashed fairy tale claiming to be history while selling a story its owners most want future generations to blindly purchase.

As result, much of my professional life has been devoted to securing and maintaining personal artistic independence.

Through a combination of hard work and good fortune, to date I have managed to avoid the shame of serving as either government shill or corporate toady.  The reputation for being an uncompromising motherfucker concerning my work meanwhile, is likely well-earned.  Such a vocational approach, however, imposes several immutable ethical requirements.  First; no support in the form of direct or indirect grants, loans or opportunities provided by government and taxpayer funding is acceptable.  Second; no work producing for-profit journalism, advertising or marketing is appropriate.  From there, to a writer seeking authenticity what remains should be either apparent or impossible.

Around here, the independently published novel is considered a near ideal outlet for telling history as it was.

For this writer, the essence of fiction writing is there revealed.  As the best of it provides a historical record of our follies, unvarnished.  Where it can later be reviewed by future generations in its original state, untouched by editorial puppets acting on behalf of corporate marketing departments.  There, on the pages of stories published as fiction, will most often be found the sole factual accounts of human behavior.

I am a writer, and gratefully accepted the terms of my job long ago.

There are many who claim to be writers nowadays, and most for reasons other than those at long last provided here.  It should also be noted such proclamations can deliver little comfort when so much of today’s published content provides increasingly less reflection of the terms composing either life or literature.  I’m also going to claim the information offered above is shared on behalf of posterity, and not misguided hope of provoking awareness of sacred cows looking down from towers constructed on foundations of ignorance.

But after all, I am the writer, and who but I could really say for sure?

For myself, if no one else, that bears repeating.  I am the writer.  Because the job not only pays for shit but comes with few benefits.  And after near fifty years of struggling, I have yet to find anything that so much as approximates a better fit.

How’s that for a sonofabitch?

C’est la vie.

If notions like these are your cup of tea, you can help me stay independent by purchasing a copy of my fifth and latest novel ‘Where Some Roads End’ now available everywhere on Amazon in paperback or eBook.  And for those with access to social media, you can occasionally find me on Instagram @tfprudenthewriter.

Thanks for being here.

-          TFP

June 13, 2020

Thursday, 9 April 2020

A note for the survivors.

And should death arrive before I wake, know this.
So long as I’ve overseen my own affairs, the motto here has ever been those many stories told about me are all true, and you should be encouraged to make up more if you feel like it.  As whatever you might choose to think or believe about the man behind the words has not been a principal concern of mine.
Here, for the most part it did not matter.
What has ever received the best of my attention was the literary work to which I long ago chose to devote my life.  A simple belief in the necessity of it would not only guide my early efforts but holds me to the difficult but rewarding task to this day.
I’ve also either held or promoted specific beliefs about writing, writers and the business of literature, music and art throughout my time.  Despite a predilection for espousing a variety of often unpopular political and philosophical ideals, it has been my great joy to live at a time when doing so remained, for the most part, free enough to allow such madness.  For this real privilege, my personal gratitude to the builders of our once great society shall ever remain abundant.
That such freedom no longer exists is considered a far greater shame in these parts.
C’est la vie.  For it does go on, and despite clinging to an outdated concept of free will it has long been apparent we’re all best choosing to embrace the ruthless forward momentum of time’s relentless arrow.
What remains to be reckoned is how long a man might enjoy the ride.  But, and no matter its eventual end date, you may be rest assured the entire business has proven far more entertaining than could ever have been imagined.  And for the record, despite a lifetime of denial devotion to the world of imagination has long reigned here.
For only in fiction might the routine mystery of temporal existence be revealed.
To share an unvarnished insight worthy of it has thus long been the dream of the writer occupying this chair.  And like it or don’t, to the best of my ability the job was done.  What you’ll find here is work of an individual, not that of a hidden cabal of editors, marketers and advertising ‘professionals’ vying for your precious entertainment dollars.
When I’ve gone, the world is certainly free to decipher and claim what it might.  But while I’ve been here, my life has been devoted to preservation of a solitary vision.  And for that brave few who dare consume the stuff eventually produced by it, you may ever trust what here reflects is not elsewhere found.
I hope most you long enjoy figuring it out.
Know always, the work consumed me and was the great joy of my life.
Long ago, I began a habit of making notes.  I did it to avoid having to later rely on memory when conjuring fiction, which as a young man I realised could often differ between witnesses to the same event.  Upon this private habit, the verisimilitude of my work should later rest.  Long holding great regard for the characters inhabiting my fiction however, as the work was completed those private notes seen by none but myself, were destroyed.
Aware of the relentless need for homo sapiens to pick over the bones of its dead, my hope was to impede posthumous investigation.
At last, enough work is complete to have near exhausted not only the ghosts of the past, but many of the notes made about them.  Now, with the breath of life so strong within me that only death could be near, it appears what remains might best be left for later discovery.  Or perhaps the infirmary of old age has blunted my discretion, as concern for either those moved to one day search or what they may find no longer seems of interest.
These last years off the road changed a man, that I will not deny.  My eldest son is charged with responsibility for whatever I leave behind.  His decisions, much as my own made on behalf of my intestate father at a similar point in time decades ago, are final.
While here, I’ve had my say in every way that mattered and I’m grateful to and for the family, friends and lovers that made it possible.  More than anything you should know I’ve had a wonderful time.  And ever remember, when you read or listen to my words, I’m alive and closer to you than I could hope to be while here.  There, from between each line I will be smiling always, a long-gone pirate forever doing my best to help you navigate the endless vagaries of life’s magnificent ocean.
Enjoy the ride.  Do your best.
Thanks for being here.

April 9, 2020

Sunday, 9 February 2020

A call for evolution.

Literature isn't dead in Canada.

It's been co-opted, subsidised and corporatised to serve a fiscal agenda.  Only by returning to the roots of publishing independence is rejection of this illegitimate shadow regime possible.  Reject all so-called independent companies or businesses enabled by unaccountable government subsidies.  Reject the so-called literary art promoted by them.  Reject any practitioner, business or politician supporting their continued funding.

This is a call to evolution, not arms.

For time as ever calls for relentless change.

Solitary Press is dedicated to serving writers seeking independence.  As one of its founders, I’m also pleased to reveal our dedication to the above stated principles and talented writers sharing the same commitment.

All others should return to previously scheduled programming.

Solitary Press does not take money from any government.  We are an independent POD (Print On Demand) publisher.  Solitary Press is an imprint owned by a privately held Canadian corporation and a business operating for profit.  We neither pursue nor accept grants or financial assistance made available via the shadow world of political insiders popularly identified as arts funding organisations.

Inspired by the decades-long independent music career of the man from Harwill, the Solitary Press works for change in the world of professional arts in Canada.  Effective immediately, we call for immediate dismantling of the unaccountable government bureaucracy annually siphoning hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars into multi-national and small business purveyors of so-called Canadian culture.  These backroom operators, accountable to none but the privileged cliques controlling them, must at long last be denied.

For many decades, forces of cronyism and nepotism have controlled the shape of public and private discourse concerning not only literature but the entirety of Canadian arts.  Now, with the twenty-first century well underway and a generational moment of change at hand, the time has come to deny these privileged few this unearned and illegitimate access to virtually unlimited taxpayer funding.

As result of the worldwide rise of Amazon and their KDP publishing services, we now have technology necessary to rebuild the literary arts scene in Canada via an independent and tax-funding-free model most beneficial to artists.  For what was old is new again, and independent POD publishing offers freedom to pursue a supporting public without relying on tax dollars to make it happen.  This return to the democratic roots of publishing presents an opportunity to free artists and taxpayers from an unrecognised but incredibly destructive and creatively stunting burden.

As ever, we acknowledge that nothing is perfect all the time.  But to continue doing the same thing while expecting a different result is a widely accepted definition of insanity.  So, if you’re looking for someone to underwrite your expenses while doodling self-indulgent peons to individual interest, we’re not the publisher for you.  However, if a sounding board for artistic literary ideas, an editorial review of your work or help with the myriad details associating with publishing independently is what you’re after, we might be able to help.

Beware however, as a for-profit business, our assistance comes with conditions.  Though we’re certain they’re more generous than anything you’ll find elsewhere as our services are based on a percentage of sales of the books we publish.  Here’s the five-cent tour.  First, to engage our service does not require a cash transaction.  We instead require a six-month exclusive publishing term from which we derive whatever fees due to us and upon which we have mutually agreed.  After the six-month period ends, you can do what you like with your book, including leaving it with us to manage any ongoing record-keeping and future royalty distributions, once again based on a percentage of sales to which we have mutually agreed.  No matter if we earn anything publishing your book or not, by terms of this agreement you retain ownership of your work and its copyright.  Solitary Press serves strictly as the POD publisher, providing itemised accounting of all transactions annually as well as on demand.

If you’re a writer interested in knowing more or perhaps getting involved changing the world of Canadian publishing, drop me a line here or DM me on Instagram @tfprudenthewriter.

Meantime, thanks for sharing and watch for my latest novel ‘Where Some Roads End’ soon available on Solitary Press.

-          TFP
February 9, 2020