#AtoZChallenge: Ooookay…

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By Anton Bielousov (Own work: Grouse Mountain) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

You know that feeling when something is presented as cold, clear reality, but facts demonstrate otherwise. Or when someone says something so outrageous, you simply don’t have words for it. Except the one.

Ooookay…

It is a beat; it is a non-reaction reaction. And I’m starting to feel as though it is the underlying rhythm of this alternate universe in which we seem to find ourselves lately. Four election machines are stolen in Georgia on Sunday, just ahead of today’s special election for Tom Price’s seat, and the person from whom they were “stolen” didn’t report it until the eve of the election?

Ooookay…

Ivanka Trump receives provisional trademarks from China after the state-ish dinner with President of China, Xi Jinping, apparently leveraging her amorphous White House role and likely her enigmatic security clearance for personal financial gain?

Ooookay…

Trump, in an interview, refers to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un solely as “this gentleman” — as though he doesn’t know his name — and says both Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama handled him poorly. Only Kim Jong Il was ruler during the Clinton years. And most of Obama’s first term. He died in 2011. But nuclear weapons are still on the table.

Ooookay…

And the GOP seems pretty thumbs-up about all of it.

OOOOKAY…
I don’t know how we turn this ship around and venture back into the safety of reality, where so-called presidents don’t launch bombs to distract from their likely involvement with foreign powers to influence elections. I don’t know how we stop living in the time stub that disappears when the hero arrives in her time device to save humanity from its ultimate doom.

So until then, we are left with just one thing.

Ooookay.

Check out  my full-length novels: 

Aunty Ida’s Full-Service Mental Institution (by Invitation Only)   

Aunty Ida’s Holey Amazing Sleeping Preparation (Not Doctor Recommended) 

 Her Cousin Much Removed

 The Great Paradox and the Innies and Outies of Time Management.

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Ray Bradbury’s ‘Fahrenheit 451’: A Cultural Crystal Ball

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Author’s note: This piece first appeared on the now-defunct Yahoo Contributor’s Network.

Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” is celebrated for its condemnation of censorship and groupthink, but Bradbury — a writer who has always been categorized as “science-fiction” over the tonier synonym “speculative fiction” — deserves recognition for that book’s eerie prescience of culture. What he foresaw, from six decades out, is remarkable.

Though Bradbury copyrighted “Fahrenheit 451” in 1953, as described by The Big Read, it was adapted first from a short story called “Bright Phoenix” published in 1947, and then “The Fireman,” which was published in 1950. While increasing numbers of households would get televisions in that decade, at the beginning of the ’50s TVs were new. Yet not only did he foresee them in every household, he foresaw them taking over households: huge, wall-sized televisions. Bradbury imagined ear buds with his seashell radios long before the concept existed. And, in the dreaded Hound, he saw a future of robotics far out of line with the technology of the time.

But those details are prescience of technology, which, though still a neat trick, is not quite as stunning as understanding the evolution of culture if left to its natural course. With a beauty of language also often not given the credit it is due, Bradbury says: “With schools turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word ‘intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be.” (Del Rey 50th Anniversary Edition, pg. 58).

Bradbury writes of the condensation of thought from book to digest to blurb in a way strangely predictive of Twitter, where all ideas must fit within the constraints of 140 characters. He sees the rise of advertising so incessant it’s nearly ritualistic, and long before the advent of reality TV, he predicted shows that were little more than life itself, with home participants easily joining.

He even wrote about the future of attempts to erase any signs of age, of having lived a life, of a world lacking depth and texture, with his description that sounds predictive of Botox long before people decided injections of neurotoxins were preferable to wrinkles: “So do you see now why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life. The comfortable people want only wax moon faces, poreless, hairless, expressionless.” (pg. 83).

And then there is that beauty of language that comes from its clarity, from each word in a sentence chosen for both its overt and subtle meanings while still seeing the far-off future from quite a distance. At a time when newspapers were in nearly every home, he said “I remember them dying like huge moths. No one wanted them back. No one missed them.” (emphasis in original; pg. 89)

There are classics that are classics through some sense of tradition, and then there are books that become classics because what they tell us about ourselves is unchanging, unencumbered by movement of culture in the world around us. “Fahrenheit 451” is about so much more than censorship. With amazing insight from more than half-a-century away, it is about the willing relinquishment of critical thinking.

 

2014 Pride is Absolute History

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I went to Chicago’s Pride Parade yesterday, braving the loaded sidewalks, following doggedly behind a friend of mine from my building, trying not to lose sight of her red hair through the mob. I hadn’t wanted to go, really. I’ve gone many, many times, and I simply didn’t feel like it, not yesterday.

But I hadn’t seen her in a while, and she wanted to go, so I agreed. And then I watched history unfold its long and immovable limbs in front of me, and I wondered how I thought about not going.

It was the first Pride Parade since same-sex marriage became legal in Illinois.

Someone turned to me, sarcastically, a pile of years ago, and said, “So do you think men should be able marry men and women should be able to marry women?” I’d never really thought about it before that moment, the idea of same-sex marriage. It wasn’t something that would affect me, one way or another, so it hadn’t come to my consciousness through the realization of denial. But I took a second and thought about it.

“Why not?” was my response. Why not?

Equality and justice always, for me, are sacred concepts. Why should love between capable, consenting adults be the catalyst for anyone to treat another as less than? In what seemed like a post-civil-rights world (trust me, I know better now) there was this group that people could use to take out their frustrations.At whom they could wag their fingers and tell them they a wrong simply for existing.

Yesterday, I saw evidence that the world had changed. The parade had politicians, religious groups, mainstream businesses, sports teams. The first same sex couples married in the state.

How rare it is to know a momentous flash when you see it.

Want to read more on this topic? Check out this article I wrote. 

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