Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Drones of Propaganda

 Throughout your early and middle-aged years, you were subjected with some frequency to the propaganda that experience and maturity brought with them the gift of the degree of empathy known as mellowness.  

Because you spent some time each day in one or more of those areas known as cranky, sarcastic, irascible, or mean spirited, you hoped the propaganda was on target.

There is scant fun in being cranky.  Sarcasm is every bit as difficult an emotion to convey as intended in real life as it is in narrative.  Explaining sarcasm is of a piece with explaining the behavior of open carry gun enthusiasts who persist in taking automatic weapons to stores and public places where they are more apt to see families and otherwise engaged adults than possible opponents, much less assailants.

Irascible is okay once in a while in a classroom setting, if it helps emphasize a learning point.  Meanspiritedness is, for all practical purposes, parading one's sense of entitlement, mixed with that splendid German word, schadenfreude, or taking pleasure in the misfortunes of others.  Alas, quite often, true mean spiritedness produces the misfortune the schadenfreuder wishes on his object of meanness.

You hoped the drones of propaganda would single you out as a suspected snark, whereupon it would blast you with rays of empathy, which you could share with all those with whom you had contact.

Once again, conventional wisdom underestimated you; here you are, skipping into the wilderness of the years beyond the so-called middle years, not the least laid-back.

True enough, you've described an arc from another great social marker of Type A Personality, critical, competitive, and work-obsessed to the point of diminishing the competitive part by turning the focus of your competitiveness onto yourself.  What a relief it is to be able to see yourself losing steam by turning the light of inquiry or competition from another to yourself, and doing so by making positive suggestions to yourself about goals you consider necessary.

Over this long course of self-education, you have encountered any number of persons you did not like.  Investigation into this aspect of yourself produced multifarious results.  You had--and still have--a large spectrum of reasons for not liking a particular person, some of which you recognize as seeing the similarity to a trait in you you wish to remove from your tool kit, but have yet to find the means.  This has resulted in what you like to think of as creative misanthropy.

Such persons become great candidates for characters in your fiction, the stipulations being (1) you do not demonize them, portray them as pure evil, evil for the sake of evilness or, for that matter, stubborn for the mere sake of being obdurate, and (2) you must cause them to be recognizably better at something than you.  This last is helpful in two ways; it makes for a more dimensional character, and it allows you to deal with your competitiveness in a positive way.

Your protagonists are heroic because they persist, often beyond your own tendency to open your hands in the dismissive gesture that often accompanies the condemnation of a person, place, or thing to the expression, "Fuck it."

Your antagonists are heroic because they more than your protagonists see a valid reason for change.  What this has come to mean is that vision is not about you, it is about what you see and how you present it in narrative.

Early on, you noticed how bolts of lightning seemed to single you out, come after you like schoolyard bullies.  Unlike schoolyard bullies, all they seemed to want was to charge you with enough energy, enthusiasm, and edge to get you beyond the promise of propaganda and into the real powers.  Thus you wander about, waiting to be struck again and again.  If there is the slightest sense of static in the air, you become alert, extend your arms like lightning rods.

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