The Overview

What’s the overview here? Day after day I keep asking myself that question.multi

Why are so many suffering in such horrendous conditions all over the world?

It’s easy to get caught up in the disasters occurring nationally and globally, especially when they directly affect you or the friends you care about in some way, but what is the overview of what is actually happening worldwide and WHY is it happening? Is that is even discernible?

There are many distinct possibilities to consider: climate change, nuclear testing, fracking, air and water pollution, over-populations, disruption of natural eco-systems, solar flares and excess solar activity, pole wobble, electromagnetic devastationfluctuations, mankind proliferating in general and all the corresponding havoc that creates, etc..

Then there are all the subheads under “mankind in general” like: stupidity, greed, self-interest, maliciousness, vindictiveness, fearfulness, fratricide, sociopathic and psychotic behavior, to name a few easily recognizable traits.

I haven’t even touched the theology-related excuses for reasons too onerous to god disastmention all basically claiming God’s displeasure over some aspect of our existence that doesn’t adhere to the doctrine being prescribed by a believer.

I don’t even want to go there!

BUT…at the same time a part of me says that to do an accurate overview you have to be able to VIEW the entirety of the situation from a perspective distant enough to allow random chaos to form patterns of coherence. And WHO/WHAT handles that type of perspective other than an omniscient/all powerful being or force that not only understands the logic of what is occurring but INITIATES the situations that create the aforementioned chaos for a reason we are not able to discern.

catch 22.jpgIt’s a Catch-22. The (book and movie) World War II scenario think-process: You’re claiming to be mentally unstable so you can’t serve in the military, but what is more mentally unstable than to want to be in the military serving combat duty? So you use saying you’re crazy as your defense for not-serving, but the military knows you’ll use it and therefore considers that you must be sane to try not to serve, so they ignore your insanity claim.

(Defined by Wikipedia as “A situation in which a desired outcome or solution is impossible to attain because of a set of inherently contradictory rules or conditions.”)

Which means that in this situation I do believe that there is an overview reason for all the chaos, but since I’m not privy to that level of knowing to declare what it is other than my guessing at it—which is what most religions do in their own unique ways, so any answer that I offer will sound eerily close to a theological argument—just slightly skewed because of my own beliefs.

Meaning my view of the OVERVIEW is not verifiable fact, it’s just a different flavor of belief.

And with that stated disclaimer, here goes:

To me it all comes down to whether or not you believe that life is intentional or accidental. Then that distills down into whether or not you believe there is such a thing as “an accident.”voltaire accident q.jpg

If there are no accidents, then everything is intentional and everything has a purpose and a reason for its existence and function in the world we recognize. We just may not know the purpose or reason for it.

Pardon me for this tangent, but I was just rereading some old Carlos Castaneda quotes this morning about the KNOWN, the UNKNOWN, and the UNKNOWABLE, time cc.jpgwhich tries to define the limits to our human comprehension ability. This description alludes to our limited ability to know or learn things that we previously did NOT know, which are represented by the UNKNOWN. Then there is the infinitely large category called the UNKNOWABLE, which is beyond our present human-existence context and our capability to comprehend.

We can’t get our arms around the UNKNOWABLE because it exists beyond our present frame of reference and mental capacity to make any sense of it or even to conceive of it.

To make my point here with no soothing reassurances what-so-ever: I do believe thatcastenada.jpg there is a reason for all the chaos and destruction happening in the world at present, as well as a reason for all the chaos and destruction that has ever occurred at any time in the recognizable history of the earth, BUT….it is likely a reason we cannot grasp with any certainty, or catalog definitively within the material-world parameters that we know.

So does my overview help to calm our fears and anxiety over the nasty situations many are experiencing world-wide?

Not in the slightest.

gods handWhich is the very real example of WHY religions grew in popularity over thousands and thousands of years of human existence—to make sense of the UNKNOWN and to speculate on the UNKNOWABLE, because it’s a pretty scary world out there if you’re on your own and you don’t have a group structure to support you.

Shared risk is shared relief.

And the knowledge we gain over the course of our lives only matters in how we use it.

I concede that some things are knowable, and to that I would say that the overview of catastrophic destruction is that it creates opportunity for change and revision—a clearing of the palate sort of thing for the next course of action.

The key point to consider is that the next course of action is truly up to each of us. How we react to chaos and devastation is how the next phase of our lives unfolds.

At present, whatever situation in which we find ourselves, no matter how horrific, simply IS. Our only choice is in how we acknowledge that fact and move forward to a better existence for ourselves and for everyone else in the world that we know, …if we can even define what that might be.

I’m not sure that I can define it other than it will likely be a shared goal, vilsack goals.jpgrather than a self-interested one.

I’ll go with that.

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A Short Story Collection of Rick Bass

Rick Bass.jpgShort stories capture little vignettes of life as compared to a novel’s more-lengthy theme exposition and character development.  A good short story is every bit as difficult for a writer to master as is a good novel because you have far fewer pages to make your point and show your world view. It requires great clarity of vision and a high degree of literary skill. In other words, it takes discipline.

Do NOT consider short stories as the Reader’s Digest version of a novel. They are very different genre and as such offer a unique and rewarding reading experience. To me they are like browsing a buffet of favorite foods all stretched out before you to sample a bit of this, and then try a little of that until eventually you’ve sated your appetite. This book is the buffet grazer’s banquet.

And as mentioned previously, I really love a good writer—a word-magician who can string a few random syllables into multi-dimensional prose with such ease and grace that is effortless to read while being transformative in the process.For a LIttle While

This book I’m now exalting is called FOR A LITTLE WHILE: New and Selected Stories of Rick Bass.

As a short-story writer, Rick Bass could be the resultant love-child of Jack London coupled with Ernest Hemingway—birthed and nurtured by a Jungian midwife. His writing style is succinct, precise, sensory stimulating; and often depicts his characters’ intimate, dependent relationship with their environment.

Bass often shows how the environment has shaped each of the characters in his stories because the characters and the land itself often seem interchangeable with and indistinguishable from each other.

As a writer he subtly captures the depth of human interaction/emotions by describing actions (it’s what you DO, not what you SAY that counts). A character’s speech or dialogue might reveal conscious, flowing thought but actions reveal the unconscious motivations at work that drive the plot (and the life).

Overall I think Rick Bass really goes places that most writers never go—into the psychological core of basic human belief that drives their behavior—a spiritual connection to the land, which he often then parallels to animals of the same region.

tree tops.jpgIn fact in this collection of stories, there is an overwhelming oneness of every living thing interacting with their environment. That natural interdependency is often ignored in the prose of other writers—perhaps because of other writers not recognizing it. Bass, however, reveals the basic matrix of life itself—exposing the soft underbelly—with all its species interconnections and dependencies.

But more importantly is that as a really good writer he does it all so simply and elegantly—and that’s what just blows me away.

He doesn’t get salacious with his story line. He doesn’t go all horrific or deranged. He takes a rustic setting with simple born-of-the-earth people and examines each character’s internal machinations that translate into daily doings in such a way that it reveals WHO those characters are as human beings.

He shows the reader that WHAT his characters are swans on lake.jpgdoing in response to life’s challenges and grind are reflective of WHO they are; but it also helps us to see WHY that should matter to any of us. Bass deftly unveils how our simplest daily actions define our lives—it frames how we view each other, discloses how we treat each other, and clarifies what true life-lessons are learned during our journey here, whether separately or together.

rooted humanYou won’t read a Bass line claiming that life is fair or unfair; only that it is LIFE with all its beauty, tumbles, and bruises. He frequently shows how those strongly-rooted-to-the-land individuals derive their very life-essence from the land itself—how those “firmly planted humans” with feet to shuffle rather than burrowing filaments can more easily flow with and/or resist the life challenges that might test us lesser humans to the limit of our strength and stamina.

Anyway, I could go on and on here, but I think the book is a great short-story collection, especially for nature-lovers. The writer, Rick Bass is a phenomenal talent, and I’ll be reading more of his offerings soon.th

It comes as no surprise that he is an environmentalist.  He writes of nature and the land that supports us like an adulating lover extolling his beloved’s attributes.