The Beauty of Grace.

No this is not a religious based blog post. To the contrary I won’t even be dealing with a religious issue here at all. So why the use of the name you may ask? Well it’s just the name of the song that gave me the idea as all.

The song by Krystal Meyers explores the concept that bad memories and experiences could be forgiven but also more importantly forgotton. To me this poses a rather interesting question. I am sure we have all in moments wished we could take something back or wish that something did not happen but this poses a two fold issue.

Firstly is the issue of experience and personality. All our experiences collate together to form a great deal of our personality. Would these memories being erased lead to a situation where the end result would be creating a person that is different from the person wishing to forget the memory?

Secondly a more difficult issue and that is based on bitter-sweetness. Think back to a memory that is both hurtful but important to you. Would you really want to give it up to be free from the bitter part of that situation? It also feeds into the first as it is often these sorts of moments that cause personal reflection.

Now I pose this for a few reasons. One as a hypothetical but also in the knowledge that this might not always be a simple hypothetical situation. (http://www.wired.com/magazine/2012/02/ff_forgettingpill/all/). I do wonder how professional ethics will deal with these sorts of situations of course some are much more clear cut. But even terrible memories with no redemption can change us significantly.

Would you give any of that up?

Red Character Bio – A step into creating a personality

Well this is a start to the part of my blog that deals with my book named “Over The Mountain” (subject to change). I don’t know if any more posts will be created but this is a start quite like how the beginning stages of my book in a way. What originally I thought would not breach 10k is sitting on 53k of a first draft. While it’s not massive it does mean I wrote 5x more than I thought I would! It’s been difficult at times but it’s been a lot of fun.

Still my book won’t be done until this time next year (provided my timetabling is correct). Still it is now in the 2nd draft phase allowing the drip feed to begin that is my proof readers. To allow them to potentially and hopefully untangle the grammatical mess that is my work ‘Over The Mountain’ I thought I would do a character bio of a character of which I am very fond of namely that of Red Panda. The book is a simplistic adventure story about Mr Moose as he heads ‘over the mountain’ and a large part of the book is about how he and Red interact with the other. It is a work of pure fiction which I have found very relaxing and has served to help with my English and give me a greater appreciation of fiction which previously I saw as quite useless, rather the lessons that could be learnt from a work of non-fiction served a better purpose in addition to imparting more knowledge. I can now see that I was slightly off with that assertion although I still prefer to read non-fiction it really has has opened my eyes.

Red Panda is not the most original name, she is simply what she sounds like a Red Panda and her appearance is also pretty obvious the only change being a white and bushy tail that she is proud of. It means it’s pretty simple to imagine the character in your head and that is something I really enjoy about the character. Red is a good balance to the idealistic and simplistic Mr Moose and serves to be a guiding hand and a character that is very much respected by Mr Moose. I wanted a character that provided contrast to Mr Moose and Red provides this without being a black and white styling.

She is a character that while enjoying the adventure side of the duo needs to have an escape and will not jump to admit to any joy and does not like to show weakness. She is a character that thinks she has a stone face and would never admit want to admit to herself that this can potentially be seen through. She is very well spoken and the parts In which she speaks are the more complex parts in terms of writing. I felt it was important to reflect the aspects of the book by bleeding in traits of the characters at times.

She likes a simple but refined life but is happy to be dragged away on what she states are silly adventures for the escape. She does enjoy them but like many things will play this down from time to time. The character of Red often acts as a mirror to Mr Moose despite how different the characters actually are. He learns a lot through her about himself even though both characters are not sure that they will be ever to fully understand the other. In reality we will never be able to fully understand somebody, the best we can do is make predictions. I wanted to create something where I could toss my interpretation into the mix and not become some sort of canonical god for this universe. Time will tell if my lack of writing experience has not damaged this goal.

Still like Mr Moose she has novel aspects of her personality for example being a massive fan of apple juice, something she would say is clearly superior to orange juice. She is caring but often can’t see positives. Her excellent way of speaking also seems somewhat confused to me at times.

In all she is one of my favourite characters because to me she represents a few archetypes. She is that friend that you never understand yet you have some sort of deep connection with. She is the unlikely friend that we all have and sometimes forget to be thankful for. She is somebody who does not want to be exposed as weak and insecure and sometimes feels like she has to carry the weight of others although if this weight is real or imagined is not something she can always be sure of. She also to me represents the parts of ourselves that wishes we could present an ever stone and unyielding face to the world.

The theme with Red for me in making the personality and history of the character was one of contrast. We as people are often hypocritical and we are complex and sometimes on the face of it we are self-contradictory although we often have ways to justify our actions which can often set the record straight.

While the original idea for the name of the character was not of my creation she was the first character that I wrote that was a blank slate. Mr Moose was already somewhat ingrained in my head but with Red I could mould her how I wished and then release her into a fictional world and try to see how she would react and what she would do. I wanted to write in a way that felt organic and not simply fitting characters to plot. For this reason she is also the character I care most about despite her not being the main character. She is the sort of person that if was real I would like to understand more about and would perhaps attempt to protect but of course Red Panda would never allow that, she is too proud. I’ve heard authors call their own characters ‘my baby’ or something along the lines of that and I’ve finally understood that looking back at Red. She may be a work of fiction but I am yet somehow protective over her, although as humans we often attach this sort of affection onto fictional characters whatever medium that they present themselves in.

I find it odd how close we can feel to what I know is that of a clearly fictional character, A great example from my childhood is Goku from DragonballZ.  Red is a character I don’t want to spoil beyond this but in essence she is a character that compliments those that she is with in any given scene. Red Panda is also a launch pad that helped me imagine the world and I have had great joy letting the characters loose in this fictional world. She is a character that continues to solidify in my mind in later drafts as the personality starts to cement.

Internet censorship and political activisim.

Well surprise surprise surprise It seems that the ‘pornblock’ will cover more than just porn in the UK. Which is actually fine although in one article something caught my attention.

File sharing sites? Alcohol?

Now I take these two to use as an example. In the news here we recently have had a small tale of hypocrisy.

(http://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/premier-league/papiss-demba-cisse-allegedly-seen-gambling-in-newcastle-casino-8728488.html)

Now I must really ask if these filters will be used for this purpose and what exactly the consequences of not having the ‘filesharing’ one on if this sort of route is taken. We have had a lot of information out recently about spying on domestic citizens most famously relating to the NSA.

So here we have a coupled situation wherein we know that this can be abused for political purposes to perhaps highlight hypocrisy of political rivals or some other purpose, we know from ‘the phonehacking scandal’ that such things can’t always be trusted to not be abused and we know that there is a level of spying on us. Oh and we are also more than well aware that those who leak politically sensitive information are having a hard time as of late.

While I personally have no issue with a porn block I do think it is useless in addition to feeling that it should be something that is not set on by default. I am aware that my argument does use a sliding slope argument and that often they are nothing more than exaggeration but we have seen this sort of thing before. Or have we already forgot the lessons of ‘SOPA’ and ‘PIPA’ sadly the internet has a short memory span and because of this the internet I feel lacks any sort of long term wall against such measures.

While the UK has often taken an anti porn stance both in physical and non-physical mediums arguments do exist in the argument of extreme and or child pornography. I do not wish to go into this here but rather to pose the question.

Do we really trust this system?

Acceptable sadism

As humans we seem to have a tolerance for levels of ‘brutality’ while very few of us would enjoy to see real pain or real violence there is a wealth of ‘acted’ or ‘fantasy’ violence some quite brutal. I’ve been thinking about where and why we draw that line.

One example I was thinking about relates to heavy metal music. Which has been linked to some rather chilling acts committed by people such as the Columbine Massacre. http://edition.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/Music/05/09/metal.violence/. Now while all of this has been refuted the fact it was even brought up interests me.

The genre lends itself to exploring the darker nature of human reality and this can be quite shocking to a mainstream listener. The following are the lyrics for the song Cream of the Crop by Cattle Decapitation to illustrate the point.

“Bleeding, weeping,
Coagulation sets in
A bolt in my head! The grisly aftermath of a life
Spent
Waiting for the carnage to come
I love the stench
Of my brothers, my sisters
Bloodsoaked and lifeless
Sinew, clots, cream of the crop
Bile, intestines
Scrap heap to be digested
This love never dies”

While this is clearly graphic I do wonder what separates this from things that are more acceptable. Game of Thrones? The Saw Films? Saving Pirate Ryan? Some content which can be as equally graphic at times is socially acceptable and some is not. I think this is simply based on popularity.

We are exposed to a lot of de-sensitising material on TV and this can happen from quite a small age. This of course has lines which tends not to be crossed but we also try and find justifications I feel. One example would be the brilliant anime dragonballZ in which good and bad guys are hurt quite bad and gore does exist. While gore can be justified for artistic reasons or realism I want to focus on the example shown on kids TV and while it is censored to a degree I can’t help but feel Freiza’s predicament is acceptable because he is an evil guy.

We don’t feel sorry for him therefore it is okay?

I also think something else is behind it. Metal music was attacked because it was different and while the likes of Rhianna are criticised for content such as in S&M it is not to the same degree and less blame is placed upon it. Video games have also fallen ill of this sort of issue in which because a person plays violent games there seems to be a link in a politicians head between this and actual violence. As if a mock acting of violence or watching it on TV is somehow very separate in our distinction between fact and fiction than a semi-gory computer game.  This is something that in time will become less of an issue as has the music issue simply the generation who lived with it no longer see it as the issue their parents did.

Still we seem to want to enjoy experiences that fulfil our inner desires to see others in painful or graphic situations. We also seem to enjoy to varying degrees different levels of what we consider acceptable violence or graphic content. We distinguish this based on media form as well as intensity regardless of the effects it actually has on us. (My research seems to hint at it being healthy, metal for example is relaxing acting from what I can work out as aggression without being aggressive.)

To conclude I do wonder why and how we draw the lines. This is different from the factual case for any argument that can be made about this sort of content and if something does shock us I do think that it is important to ask why.

Sources:

Is immediate gratification worth it?

Instead of posting something a little more political I thought I would write about immediate verses delayed gratification. I am currently writing a short work of fiction which is almost at the end of it’s first draft. When it reaches the 4th (At which point it will go to proof readers) I intend to write a small part on this blog relating to one of the characters. I will also in a separate post in the ‘Over The Mountain’ tab talk very briefly about what the book is.

Now this is often heard in regards to education. You might have heard somebody say something along the lines of;

‘Leaving school early and going into a job tends to give more money than your struggling student friends but stick in and it’s worth it in the long run.’

This is of course a large simplification as other pleasures can be gained though education as can issues such as student debt.

For a delayed gratification to be workable it has to be worth it in the long run. A common example is you can have one chocolate now or wait an hour and have two. There is a pleasure to eating the chocolate right now which may be larger than having two. They could be massive and you could be very hungry for example. In short it has to ‘be worth it in the long run’.

But I want it now!

In reality the argument is a utilitarian one. The example that comes to mind is the suffragette movement. I will suffer these various pains but the pleasure in the long run if successful is quite high. Although there is an inherent pleasure in “I want it and I want it now”. This mentality would likely go some way to explain ‘debt culture’ but would of course be but a small facet of a larger topic.

We often do things and don’t stick with them, an obvious example being that of new years resolutions. We gain a pleasure in the idea that we are going to change something but quickly become disillusioned.

Of course gratification can also be a risk. Winning the lottery could be an illustration of this. You pay money for a chance to win a larger sum of money. Any form of gambling really falls under this sort of pleasure.

We live in an age in which quick immediate gratification can be sought. This is a topic I’ve previously looked at and I do think it is part of the reason that entertainment seems to ‘dumb down’. Notable examples against this flow do exist and do seem to prove quite popular.

Of course people will be for whatever reason inclined towards one or the other but is one better than the other? I’m not sure for a functioning society I would imagine a mix of both is needed. Sometimes you have to act, sometimes you have to think. A society like a single individual also has to sometimes make quick decisions and sometimes needs to think things though.

Well I will leave this there and will hopefully be inspired to write something a bit more in depth for whatever reason.

The Muslim Danger and Folk Devils.

Sadly and perhaps ironically considering another post I have made I feel the need to speak on some news I recently read on the internet. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22633375. Needless to say what follows may be distributing for some. It is also very much a rant as I am struggling for time right now.

So here we have it a according to reports Muslim attacker. The victim potentially a British solider and or with links to help for heroes. It’s not fun, it’s not nice and it is something that as a society we should find abhorrent.

Backlash is another thing we should find abhorrent. We all all around the world backlash to groups after events like these be it in Asia or towards Muslims and Sikths for some reason after 9/11. Still the social media response has been… a little silly.

Image screenshotted from Ban Islam page on facebook to use as an example.

In previous posts I have talked slightly about the idea of there being a folk devil in part of a moral panic. In that there is a situation in which a group of people are targeted due to an attack. This is less the actions of a minority and more a case of the actions of a ‘nutter’. As one my friends  put quite rightly “It’s only going to cause more drama”. Which can potentially cause those in this group to feel further connected from society making extremism something easier to push. So I would make the argument that you could potentially charge all of this sword rousing as making the situation worse.

I feel this links into a lot of my previous posts but also for the need of education. When a ‘black’ person stabs somebody while yelling Allah Akbar. Does not mean it is reasonable to make the jump to ‘Lets deport all these paki muslims”. Considering the accent of one of the attackers it’s even sillier.
(http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22633269)

Sadly this is reflected in groups such as the BNP (previously talked about) and the English Defence League who take this and run with it. It takes advantage of those who are angry, ill informed and upset and just creates more hate. As Ghandi once brilliantly put. “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind”. In this case it is very much true.

Sadly hate leads to more hate and this attack and the social media reaction is a brilliant example of such. Memes of this sort can easily be spread  though hateful, ill informed and ignorant people it’s going to cause massive issues in the long run. Reading that we should ban an intolerant religion because we don’t like it seems stupefying to me. The ‘we should see all people like this hung vote’ is a bit of an issue I feel. I do partly blame tabloid paper mentality for this but surely out education system needs to leave people in a better position to think complicated issues out? Vile responses like this fail to allow us to make anything productive out of situations like this. It’s a shame and a travesty. Kids are prone to jumping to extreme ideas they are simpler but we as a species need to grow out of ideas such as “it’s simple lets hang them all”.

“From one facebook user: Big paki bastard wants fucking is head cut of the mug they all want sending back were they are from”

Ideas such as the above are worse than counter productive as is the far right making one religion something to fear and hate. As a tangential point this is the nature of religion sadly but people also hijack religion in order to justify what they wish.

So to conclude we should be shocked by these sorts of attacks and aim to prevent them. The same should also be said of such ill responses to these sorts of events. I now have to put up with an EDL rally in my home town soon. A bunch of ill educated or pseudo-intellectual hate mongers who want to prevent a religion they see as of hate? Oh if humans could see the hypocrisy more.

There’s a reason they say that ignorance is bliss.

The above title is taken from a comment on a Youtube video that I watched just before writing this post. It will be linked at the bottom but the part I took from it is that the creator of the video was finding more enjoyment from keeping less plugged into the political and news world.

My first experience of this outside of being a child was on a trip to London in which for a few days I ignored any news. Now it is of course important to be aware of the world around you as it is important to be well informed on topics. It is important for social advancement for people to be aware of what is going on in the world just as much as it is to be aware of the history. Tricks of politicians being an example as with media moral panics.

“why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship. Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars. Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.” –  Hermann Göring

I am unsure as to if this quote is real but it does spring to mind in regards to Iraq war, a media storm followed by a moral panic which still clearly exists most notably in the U.S.A. So perhaps being well informed is a very important and good thing but does this come at a cost?

Being humans we seem to have two traits in my mind. The first one relates to gossiping and the juicer or more outrageous or negative the better. The media likes the focus on sad stories and I personally see this for three reasons.

  1. They tend to be important stories with great significance
  2. If something potentially or actually effects us we take more of an interest in it.
  3. Feel good stories do not fulfil this as much being more of a novel story unless based on some miracle of heroic act. ‘The micracle plane landing on the Hudson River’ springs to mind.

A recent story that has been in metal-head circles tossed around a lot relates to the proposed picketing by the Westboro Baptist Church of a rather prominent musical figure. As more widely known as the church that picketed military servicemen’s funerals. The topic is more or less the same although the significance is of course subjective. In both cases it is upsetting and it is also rather controversial effecting not us directly but effecting us all on an emotional or personal level. Be that of a person who has died for their country or somebody who has had an impact on others in some other way.

Jeff Hanneman – Slayer.

Rather than looking at the need to have knowledge, or to know what is going on in the world I wonder what this does to us on a personal level. A constant bombardment of negative news with a few ‘sob stories’ often of a motivational nature. Perhaps this contributes to a degree in the need of a person to look at videos of a cat do something cute or humorous.

We all at times need to have a little personal time and for a lot of us a part of that will involve surfing the internet with a lot of information at our fingertips and in many cases a bombardment from news. If not from an RSS feed of the news it will be from Facebook or some other form of media. An interconnected world is hard to switch off for a few hours.

Of course this presents a catch22 position of the benefit of being informed and the benefit from taking a break from all of this. I would argue that it is vital that a person is informed on a wide variety of topics in addition to being able to take a mental break. Being wrapped away from the world is not healthy nor useful but clearly we should also peruse a level of happiness.

Looking towards my own personal example I found I was calmer rather than wondering what will be happening in whatever part of the world or being mildly upset at various stories. A sense of moral indignation also arises and I am sure any reader of this post could sympathise. Although there remains the desire to know and learn more about the world, burying ones head in the sand is not a good idea.

We instead should take a middle ground approach. We should put what we read into perspective not only generally but in our own lives. We also need time reflect on the things that we read in the news in addition to our escapes. This is perhaps why to use video games as an example Call of Duty with it’s Hollywood depiction and ease of play is a successful brand wherein the game Spec Ops: The Line which left a clear lasting impression on me is a rare example in the media form.

So perhaps it is not correct to say that ignorance is bliss but it is also perhaps not far off the mark of what is true. I would assert that it is also true that just because something gives us a sense of ‘bliss’ is not always a good thing. What we don’t know does hurt us and we can’t simply escape the reality of the world we live in. Rather than escaping from the news reading it in chunks on-line and the single block that is the morning newspaper beats the constant barrage that we otherwise subject ourselves to. A middle ground between the extremes of avoidance and news sponge has to be the way forward.

Still in an increasingly integrated world is this simply just something we all need to get used to?

Youtube video which lead to the motivation to post this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGrPnmA0T1M

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