Aftermath

Similar to afterthought except as applied to actions, aftermath describes the consequences of causal events.quart arm

While afterthought can be considered more benign, cerebral, and sort of “arm-chair, quarterback”-ish on 3rd down plays; …aftermath can be more like “sacked quarterback goes out for the season with broken arm—team in turmoil”-ish.

Afterthought can be second-guessing and reconsidering one’s better options afterwards instead of beforehand.

Aftermath can be the seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, even decades following a questionable decision or wide-spread disaster that can irrevocably change the course of lives forever.

Afterthoughts of what we might have done better, rather than what we did do at the time, may haunt us indefinitely.

bombingAftermath is the inevitable result of our bad decisions, choices, or actions that adversely affect (and keep affecting) others besides ourselves long after the initial action occurred.

Where we as global citizens are right now is caught in the aftermath of decisions made by unscrupulous leaders throughout the world many decades and even centuries prior—decisions made by those who were trusted and depended upon at the time, to put humanity’s welfare above their own personal greed and self-focus.

What does this mean to all of us in the NOW?

We are presently living in the aftermath of bad decisions—decisions traditionally based on fear and hatredintegrity—decisions based on self-interest and bids for power and control of resources, finances, and real estate—decisions based on short-term, more immediate benefits and gratuities, rather than long-term sustainable values that help raise people from crushing poverty and provide a solid chance at self-determination.

So with the American election season presently underway, as these latest supposedsaviors of family values and middle-class economic stability trot out their inflammatory one-liners and slash-and-trash campaign tactics, please keep in mind that any afterthoughts you might United States presidential election, 2016have the day after the election for NOT voting in primaries and in November 2016, mean nothing to the rest of us; because we will be too busy dealing with the aftermath of voter apathy and irresponsibility to even consider it.

Listen, …and I mean REALLY listen to what ALL candidates say and claim as his or her platform of beliefs; and then ask if he/she can provide verifiable records of action taken in that same regard before making a decision to give that person your valuable approval.

I think most of us are tired of living in the aftermath of a power-person’s bad decisions made through self-interest and adhesion to conventional party-politics.wisdom integrity

Actions, like wars, have consequences.

Let’s make sure that we all aren’t someone else’s afterthought this time.

Let’s be their primary consideration for a change.

Let’s stop living in the aftermath of someone else’s personal ambition.

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Shifting Timelines

RCWAgain, been reading lately and have another Robert Charles Wilson book in process. Evidently I enjoy his writing style and skills.

I won’t mention which book it is at this point, but it is one of his earlier ones where he isn’t quite as subtle dipping into his extensive bag of tricks. It’s much easier to see how he’s introducing the characters, settings, and scenarios then interweaving them into the storyline.

Mid-way through this one I realized what an excellent teaching tool his books can be to frog disectcreative writing students—no matter the age. It just takes a little extra time, a few margin notes and a coil notebook to trace all the components as you read through it. Lay the gathered info out like an old-school frog dissection if you want to see what’s inside it—pinning those guts out onto the matrix-cardboard, gore everywhere—all over your desk—all over your shirt—all over the notebook.

Then using a white board to display each chapter (represented by small sheets of paper spaced evenly across and down the board), and using some colored yarn for each significant character, one can track character introductions, interactions, and crescendos across the entire whiteboard—which represents the entirety of the novel. This can be very revealing of an author’s intentions and message.

stephen kingIn novels where the narrator (voice and tone) is the main character, it is easier to follow character timelines—because you basically have one point of reference, but when the perspective is more omniscient or limited omniscient, it is more difficult to effectively regulate the writer’s tone and tempo. Then more obvious time descriptors are often used as headers, such as: “a day later”, “the year after this”, “two years prior,” etc.

Exposing too much information too soon makes for clichéd writing; but offering toodark night little information during early chapters creates reader confusion and lack of interest. So it becomes a balancing act of what and who is introduced when and where.

The big question the writer must always answer is the WHY of what, who, when, and where.

WHY is this character appearing early, middle or late in the story? What makes that character significant to the situation as well as to the integrity of the book itself? There are many ways to tell a story—why is the writer using this method? What’s his rationale?

For instance, right now the Wilson book I’m reading is a story about time-travelers, and as one might imagine, scenes switch all over the proposed timeline represented: present, past, future, past, present,…until you start to wonder aloud: “Wait,….which present am I in? The present in the past or the present in the future, or IS THERE ahere and now PRESENT at all?”

I think that might have been one of his themes for this particular novel: “Is there really a PRESENT?”

It’s interesting to me, because that is the same question that I’m sometimes asked when conducting hypnosis Past-Life Explorations with my own clients.

Mid-journey, the client can be describing to me the events and feelings that she is experiencing during a particular past-life situation in a different time and place—a different body—a different setting—a different country, while I sit in PPFthe chair beside her in the NOW. And to the client who is effectively bi-locating in two places at the same time, she may be asking herself or me, “Which PRESENT am I really in? Am I there? Am I here? …..Where is the present?

Well, as the narrator of this story and my client’s tour-guide through her then-current Past-Life Exploration, I simply tell her: We are right here, right now …wherever that is in your timeline because the PRESENT is a constantly moving target.

It comes. It goes. Yet it still remains…the PRESENT, ….at least as we know it.

Memorable Reads

There are spells when I’m a voracious reader. Every two weeks or so I’ve been going to the library—which is really an excellent library with continual supplies of NEW books, both Fiction and Non.

What I’ve noticed is that lately there are some fine quality Fiction books (as well as Non-Fiction—which are usually coleridgemy favorites) available; and then there are some, how shall I say it, less than well-written books with flashier covers and more provocative lead lines. Those tend to be more melodramatic and trite, and unfortunately, they are quite predictable by mid-story.

As a writer myself, I can admire and marvel at a writer’s skill in not only telling a story, but I also like to note the techniques used to create that story’s setting, how the main subjects’ character traits are defined, and how the author handles the passage of time.

Skilled writers are masters of the subtle details hidden between the covers. They can be tricky—like a sleight of hand artist palming a lesser card mid-deal and replacing it with an ace. A flick of the wrist and an unsuspecting eye could miss a persuasive key stroke.

There is far more to a quality novel than just rolling out a somewhat believable plot. Voice, tone, and tempo are all important factors to how a story is told. It’s a lot like that slogan “Destination is not what is important in life—it is the journey along the way.”

readerA good writer can make it a revelatory journey—show you the terrain—the winding curves, the bumps and potholes, the vegetation massed along the side—help you feel comfortable or uncomfortable with your tour guides who are describing scenes, and allow YOU to form your own opinions on what is really occurring in those faux interactions and situations where the main characters are challenged by extreme emotions or passions.

Ensconced in the telling, you even become the helpless witness when they eventually succumb to their own character flaws, allowing the story to play out like a true Greek tragedy—rich in pathos.

So I want to mention that reading-material wise, I was very impressed with The Affinities by Robert Charles Wilson. the affinitiesIt is a bit Sci-Fi but not a far stretch for the possible future of social and cultural evolution where emotional attachments and character tendencies become group-based behavioral classifications. The book is more so a group character study (philosophical and psychological) than action-based, but it is so well-written that I will read it again just to take notes on how Wilson transitioned characters, defined settings, and massaged the passage of time.

Another good book (non-fiction that reads like fiction) is A Death on Diamond Mountain: A death on diamondTrue Story of Obsession, Madness, and the Path to Enlightenment, by Scott Carney, which is a masterful telling of truth and hard-gathered facts as if they were unfolding before you. An investigative journalist allows us to see behind the smoking mirrors of a popularized religion.

So how can you tell good writing from mediocre tries at such?

Good writing is easily distinguished from lesser attempts because it is effortless to read and yet deeply satisfying in effect—a bit like a spicy-hot Italian Sausage Pizza that lingers on your palate long after the meal is done.

Every after-burp is a reminder of its potency on your very being.

Generalizing Specialists

One might think I was referring to the medical profession with this title, and in a sense I guess I am because I was reading a bit on the schism between Humanistic Psychology and Transpersonal Psychology when the bells went off in my head.

I’ve always been a fan of Dr. Abraham Maslow—the self-actualizHumanistsation guru of the last century. While reading a summation of his work and early mentors, I recognized certain well-established names in the psychology profession, especially Dr. Carl Rogers as the one of the primary founders of Humanistic Psychology which was considered in some circles as the third branch of 20th century psychology with Freud’s Psychoanalytical approach and Skinner’s Behavioral approach being the other two branches.

That’s all well and good, but again, what’s the application here?

I had just read about Ken Wilber’s critique of the Transpersonal Psychology approach and preference for his own Integral Psychology approach (everybody has an angle), and my mind shifted back to my early college days when I pyramidonce thought I wanted to be a psychologist. All these offshoots of mainstream psychology weren’t even mentioned back then or I might have chosen a different career-path because I’ve always been fascinated by the workings of the human mind and during my early college days thought that course of study would be an amazing odyssey for personal and professional expansion.

So I took a few courses in that designated “PSYCHOLOGY” pursuit as defined by the university that I had attended. And what did I find?

The professors who taught all the courses in that university’s psych department were some of the strangest, most unsociable, unlikable people I had ever met. After a semester immersed in that influence, I changed my major to Art. But head connectedin hindsight, I should have just changed schools if this subject matter had truly interested me. You know—it’s those things you know NOW that you didn’t know THEN….. like: Authority figures aren’t really authorities. They just pretend to be ones.

Back in my early adulthood, I wondered how any student of psychology could possibly be trained by people who themselves were teetering at the very edge of sanity?

Those instructors who seemed to be in charge of judging normalcy in society and the interacting members of such seemed to be themselves standing near the very periphery of normal, interactive social behaviorIF they ever claimed to occupy that location at all. It would seem that during my early years in college the collective WE were all being categorized and judged by society’s ostracized social misfits who had their defensive shields set high and their adolescent vendettas ready to avenge.maze runners

It boggled the idealized mind—at least it boggled mine. Those in the psych department at my university had Ph.Ds in statistics, testing, rats (maze-runners), research documentation, and abnormal behaviors—that means they were primarily Behavioralists.

Where was the Humanistic Psychology or the Transpersonal Psychology back then? Where was even the broader field of Social Psychology at that university? It didn’t exist THERE at the time even though it had been around since the 1950’s; meaning that those who were training budding Psychologists at that university were training students like a Dermatologist might train a Digestive Specialist. You teach what you know, and if you don’t KNOW it—you don’t teach it.

pool in headThe point being for this post (finally) is that even in today’s broader minded and more main-streamed social-psychology movements, practicing psychologists and psychiatrists have specialties. Psychology is NOT a one-size-fits-all profession. Behavioralists are NOT Psychoanalysts are NOT Humanists.

And because all these particular specialties are off-shoots of that larger Psychology field, there is little agreement among the competing branches as to what the tree-trunk looks like, or from which transplanted graft they first emerged, or which branch needs the most sunshine to grow the best humans.

So when people say the state of Mental Health is presently in disarray, it comes as no surprise to me since the main profession can’t even decide what constitutes normalcy in a world of striving individualists and constantly-merging, world-wide cultures.

I’m giving notice to ALL Universities: Please …for all of our sakes,… hire some Humanistic Psychology instructors for the next batch of yearning psychologists, so they aren’t taught by the apoplectic maze-runners that taught during my bachelors degree because a society is only as good as the models that it holds in esteem.

schools of Psych