Wednesday, February 6, 2019

My Blog and War of the Worlds

Hello Reader,
Got forgiveness?

For this post I will look at my weekly blog, and then at myself. And forgiveness. I only believe in managed self-indulgence, meaning: I only look at my blog and myself at 25-post intervals—and I will never tell you what I had for breakfast.

About This Blog
You may have noticed that since Christmas every second essay now includes poems from my War of the Worlds poetry manuscript. I am sure my choice of poetic subject matter is not self indulgent, since a good number of bloggers have put War of the Worlds as a “label” on their “about me” page. (You may click the label to get a long catalogue of every blogger with that label)

My problem is that I am trying to get into writing fiction, and my essays are distracting me. Last week’s essay on Billy Bragg and Brexit was only written a few days before my weekly posting. Having heard Billy Bragg on Friday night, I worked on Saturday from dawn until battery failure, at 3:00 p.m. Posted on Wednesday. Given such eagerness, you can understand how hard it is to switch to fiction. 

So my plan to beat distraction is to stack up enough essays to last from now until Saint Patrick’s day, using poems to take up essay space—Except for the occasional must-post-now! Such as from hearing Billy Bragg last week or skimming a book on bullying that angered me—that post, on Bullies and Teachers will run next week. It will be a long one. Then a short Martian poem one, then a long one again, about our society having Fear and Complexity. I try to vary denser blog posts with easier pieces.

I’ve already cut out my TV cable. If still distracted from fiction writing, then I guess I will need to lock up my wireless laptop in a steel safe and go write my fiction long hand.

Music of War of the Worlds
Over in Britain they have something called “the proms” at venues such the Albert Hall with “proms” being short for “promenade concert,” meaning close involvement. (And a mother’s “pram” is short for perambulator)  At my city, we might have the symphony doing a concert of music from popular movies, but at the Albert Hall, when they produce, say, Doctor Who music, they will have Daleks promenading on stage and arguing with the master of ceremonies.

Here at home, at a music store, there is a separate plastic file card for each artist, with several albums at each card. I saw a card for Jeff Wayne, with the file empty. I was startled. “What? What other albums does he have?”

The music clerk replied, “Just the one sir, but it keeps selling out.” He meant Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the Worlds. Now I know why my 2 volume CD includes pictures as gorgeous as oil paintings: They are for the prom! (see footnote)

Popular Culture
Good timing for my poems: With a release date of “sometime in 2019” (Filming was finished in 2018) the BBC is  doing a three part mini-series of War of the Worlds. While other productions of the novel by H.G. Wells have been set in other times and places, this one will be back in the original location, back in the Edwardian era, back before there was such things as radio or flying machines. Yes, the novel is that old! And still in print! Because of skillful writing.

Meanwhile, I see in the Calgary Sun for January 31 a news article by WENN: There is an eight-episode TV series of War of the Worlds debuting “late this year” in France, with a UK airing in 2020. It will be a join UK-France production, starring Elizabeth McGovern from Downton Abbey.

As for my poetry: Don’t expect much violent Martian action: When I saw a Star Wars prequel movie I fell asleep at two of the “best for a young boy” parts: The chariot race and the battle. In my late middle age, I have interests beyond ray guns, interests enough to fill a whole manuscript.

About Me
On my recent road trip to Kelowna I found in Ted’s Bookstore (sprawling and crammed, lots of comics) on Sutherland street a volume with lots of somebody’s penciled in comments and underlining. The author, a man who spent 30 years as a congressional rabbi, Harald S. Kushner, wrote How Good Do We Have to Be? Subtitled A New Understanding of Guilt and Forgiveness.

I could take notes, and parrot them “for you,” but truly such writing would be for me. I have to write or recite “things” six times before I truly internalize them. Just like the person who penciled so many comments. 

Here’s a “thing”: Dear reader, I fear I have deferred to my parent’s beliefs and values out of fear of hurting their feelings. What if this causes subconscious rebelling? What if that’s why I clutter, because I am secretly angry that in my family my cluttering meant “denial of love” and so I am thinking, “You can’t make me de-clutter,” and “How dare you!” Of course, the very definition of “subconscious” is you can’t know. But still, I can try to make peace.

Kushner: “A sensitive conscience is a good servant and a bad master.” He also says that “righteousness” may be good in theory, but in practice humans meet each other on a field of flaws. From Kushner I get an impression that God loved Adam and Eve as much as ever, even after they left Eden to take up their new complicated life with new inevitable mistakes. Innocence is only for children. 

For me life is like the last line (almost) of the five-year TV novel Babylon-5: “… Mostly though, I think it gave us hope—that there can always be new beginnings… even for people like us.”

To not “withdraw love” for differences and mistakes is a radical idea: I remember being surprised when my peers at junior NCO school thought mistakes were OK. They said: “You learn from your mistakes.” I was surprised at their gentleness.

To be OK with mistakes by self and parent, and to be OK with having a different opinion or creed than a parent-God, is not easy for many of us in our the western-middle-class-culture. No wonder in Kushner’s book I found so much penciled underlining. In fact, I could read half the book by reading only the underlined parts. Well. If “deprograming” were easy then radicals could instantly switch to believing “Islam means peace.” For me, it may take more than the proverbial “hear it six times.” Nevertheless, however obstructed my own deprogramming might be for “clutter and things”, I have to try…

In closing,
Have you seen that situation comedy show Mom? About ladies who attend AA? I like it. 
(If like me you are sans TV, then see if you can get your local bar to show it) 
They are all alcoholics who judge and correct each other… but who never stop loving and appreciating each other, from a place of everyone knowing they are all flawed drunks. A powerful metaphor…for people, dear reader, like us.

Sean Crawford

Footnote: My last 25th-post blog was archived August 2018, A Blog About My Blog.

Musical Footnote:
So there I was, on my War of the Worlds self-guided tour in London, in the lonely lobby of my frugal little hotel when, over the speakers, came a song from Jeff Wayne’s album: Forever Autumn. (“’Cause you’re not here”) I said, “Wow!”

Here is a video link of two songs, along with the dreaded leitmotif of the Martians, being performed at the prom, with close multi-media. The first song on the link is the one I heard at the hotel.

TV Footnote: I explain Babylon-5’s place in TV history (the first US “novel,” the first US on-screen death of a series hero) in my essay Death of Buffy archived January 2012.

Footnote About Me: I know now why on weekends I start composing in total dark by a plate glass wall facing west over a lake, and keep writing until after sunrise: Babylon-5’s very last line is, “As for Delenn, every morning for as long as she lived, Delenn got up before the dawn and watched the sun come up.” 

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