Monday, April 30, 2012

The Bad Old Days

Today, I thought about the Bad Old Days. Bad Old Days are part of life, I think--everyone I know has the horror stories, the memories of time that seemed to stand still as misery flooded in upon misery. If you, dear reader, have avoided Bad Old Days, good for you.

As I considered just how Bad those Old Days were, I had to question my perception of them. I remember what happened, of course, but less easy to remember is the intensity, the extent, of my emotional reaction to the negative events. Three possibilities presented themselves to me:

-the passage of time has leached from my memory the minor positives I was able to mine from the Bad Days.

-the passage of time has preserved, in perfect detail, the negative experiences and my negative reactions, without distortion whatsoever.

-the passage of time has dulled the edge of the pain I felt.

I tend to think it's the latter: but I can't tell for sure. For that matter, can we say that emotion is something rememberable?

An example. "Ah, Ian, remember the Bad Old Days when you didn't have a car? You felt so helpless then."

Well, yes, I do remember those Bad Old Days, and I think I can remember the feeling of helplessness. But am I remembering that emotion? Or am I re-feeling an emotion based on those negative experiences I remembered?

My question is this: are emotions purely ephemeral? Once a feeling has been felt, is it gone, or can it be remembered? In fact, is every instance of emotion absolutely fresh?

I think so. Sound off in the comments, bitte.

Long live re-evaluating perceptions!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

"A Massive Man"

Don't worry, dear readers, I have decided to pontificate, for a change.

I think Ian Fleming, creator of the James Bond universe, had an inferiority complex about his height.

Fact: many of James Bond's nemeses are described as large--either tall, or bulky, or both. (CF: Blofeld, Dr. No, Hugo Drax.)

Fact: Fleming was 5'8".

Fact: many of Bond's experiences, characteristics, and habits are lifted from Fleming's own.

Fact: Bond's triumphs over his larger-than-life enemies are usually victories of mind over matter. James Bond outwits rather than overpowers.

My speculative conclusion: Fleming was, to a certain extent, self-conscious about his height, so he repeatedly gave his avatar-character an opportunity to defeat larger, more physically-powerful adversaries.

Maybe I'm full of it.

Long live speculation!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Upon Reflection...

Some of the feedback I got from Exit Ramp prompted these questions. I don't have answers for them. I'm not trying to make a point with them. They are in my mind, and perhaps one of you, my dearly beloved readers, can supply one of those answers I so desperately seek.

-Does a story need to have a point?

-Does a story need to have a message?

-Does a story need to do something to the reader?

-Is it okay if a story affects the author more than the reader?

-Or is that selfish?

-In fact, if the author writes a story that is primarily reflexive, does the author have any business publishing the story?

-If the author is trying to communicate a message, is it bad if the reader picks up on a different message?

-Does that mean the author has failed?

-Or does it mean the reader has failed?

-Should the author eschew conscious message-sending?

-Should the reader avoid message-searching? (N.b.--this might be an exercise in futility.)

-What happens if the author does not intend to send a message, but the reader comes up with one anyway?

-Can the reader take credit for that?

-Should the author be given credit?

-Is such a message, organic and unintended as it might be, a valid message?


I keep saying "message". I suppose I should translate that.

I refer to anything from a moral ("one good turn deserves another") 
to a theme ("the futility of silent love")
to a call to arms ("don't tase me, bro").

"Message" is the thrust of the art. Whatever that thrust may be.

-If the author intends to send a message, and readers are unclear on what exactly that message is, should the author clarify?

-Is the message what's important?

-Or is it the process of discovering the message?

-Should art entertain?

-Or should art educate?

I don't know. Seriously, honestly, I don't know.

What do you think?

(Long live reflection.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Exit Ramp

UPDATE: If you're here to read Exit Ramp, my latest short story--well, time's up. To minimize the chance of plagiarism (or perhaps merely to soothe my own suspicious heart), I decided to leave the story up for only a few days. In those few days, I've gotten significant and constructive feedback.

To everyone who's commented, I thank you. To everyone who's given me their input through other channels, I thank you. To everyone who put up with my incessant promotion of this story on Facebook and Twitter, I thank you. I'll stop now.

One last point: if you really want to read Exit Ramp, contact me on Facebook, on Twitter (@ThePontificator), or by leaving a comment here on the blog.

Long live The End.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Friends--faithful readers--yea, even you unfaithful readers--I'm doing something special. I've written a brand-spankin'-new short story, Exit Ramp, and I'm going to make it available here, on my blog, for a very limited time.

Why is this cool?

Unless you know me well (or had class with me) you've never read any of my fiction. I don't share my fiction with a lot of people, unless I have to. I think it has something to do with my fear of being told that I'm mediocre.

More specifically, I don't usually post fiction here in the Uninformed Opinion. I tend to confine myself more to, you know, uninformed opinions. Nonfiction, of a sort. As far as I know, I've only ever posted one other short story here, and that was a throwaway story anyhow. Exit Ramp is going to be the first bit of serious fiction I've ever posted here.

Most importantly (to me, at least), Exit Ramp is of the same cloth of which my novel is written. It's drawn from the same universe. It doesn't share narrative elements or characters, but it does share themes and what I call "universe details". All three of you who are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to read the novel may whet your appetites here: it's a small foretaste.


Because I don't like the thought of my creativity out there for anyone to potentially copy/paste, Exit Ramp will only be available for a few days. It will be posted Wednesday, April 11, at 3 pm. I will remove it on Friday, April 13, at 12 pm. In that time, feel free to share it and comment on it. But, y'know, please respect my intellectual property and all that.

Long live the experiment!

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why Not Rather Be Wronged?

I was teaching Sunday School last week, discussing Paul's exhortation about suing fellow believers in secular court (from I Corinthians). And a certain verse popped out at me. I Corinthians 6:7.

"Actually, then, it is already a defeat for you, that you have lawsuits with one another. Why not rather be wronged? Why not rather be defrauded?"

Those who know me well are familiar with my distaste for philosophical arguments that devolve into hairpulling, caterwauling ad hominem-storms. This verse sums up my position perfectly.

Sometimes, it's okay to be wronged. For the sake of peace, it's all right to lay down, turn the other cheek, let people walk on you. Should that be a habit? No. Should it be our first reaction to opposition? Absolutely not! But in some circumstances, it is perfectly fine to "be defrauded" for the sake of peace.

My problem with human argument is not the argument side, it's the human side. People, living breathing prideful people, are the ones doing the arguing. And without a massive dose of self-control, which is a rarity in today's self-indulgent culture, those people will let themselves, their human flaws, seep into the discussion. "Your argument is incorrect" is heard as "You are incorrect". And BOOM goes the insecurity.

My proposed solution to these repeated breakdowns, turning the other cheek, doesn't happen very much. Why? Because nobody wants to lay down. Nobody wants to be wronged. It's that ever-present human flaw, pride. People, in general, are proud, and the thought of giving up and actually letting the other guy win, well, that's just unthinkable.

Give it a try, dear readers. Just once, see what happens if you turn the other cheek. Not on something big--don't shoot yourself in the foot here. Wait for a small dispute, then lay down. See what happens.

Long live peace!