Eden Hill Journal

Comments, dreams, stories, and rantings from a middle-aged native of Maine living on a shoestring and a prayer in the woods of Maine. My portion of the family farm is to be known as Eden Hill Farm just because I want to call it that and because that's the closest thing to the truth that I could come up with. If you enjoy what I write, email me or make a comment. If you enjoy Eden Hill, come visit.

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Location: Maine, United States

Friday, December 30, 2005

Non Fiction

On Monday I wrote about my "flat earth" approach to writing. It seems to me that the thing that has changed the most in the past year for me is that I have found company on the Internet for exploring the world of spin-free politics. That's a bold statement, I know, and I doubt there are very many people who would believe it is possible, but that's only because we have had our minds programmed for our entire lives to think that in politics there are only two possible perspectives, the wrong way (the Left) and the right way (the Right).
Now I will definitely admit that when you go online either to the media outlets directly or to the pundits and news bloggers, you generally do get "spin". You don't get the story straight. But this year, I think the Left learned a valuable lesson. In large part, the Left has stopped talking about most of the things that made them "Leftists" in the first place, things like universal healthcare, gay rights, abortion rights, labor protections, and all the other left-wing special interests. The special interests are still out there and yes, the Left is politically working for those interests, but the public debate has shifted. The Left has all of a sudden discovered the power of being on the side of truth.
That's a big leap for them, but it was made possible by the Right's precipitous slide in the past five years to the far-Right. In order to get there, the Right had to spin the truth to the point where the general public, you and me out here in the real world, had no concept of political truth or reality. The Right did to the truth what the Left has been doing to it for decades.
So where it was the political Right who always used to represent truth in America, and where ever since Reagan's Iran-Contra and especially now under the big W, nobody in politics has represented truth, now the Left has suddenly discovered the public appeal when you start talking about political truth. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying the Left is all about truth and the Right is all about deceiving the public. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Both political movements in America are all about keeping the public uninformed. That is, after all, how politicians have traditionally maintained their power over us, by keeping us all in the dark while they do their business behind closed doors. That hasn't changed much.
What has changed is that the Left is so far out of favor now, in fact came so close to extinction, that they have suddenly realized that their one hope for a comeback is that Joe Public might vote for them if they begin to reveal some of the truth about how Republicans are now running our country. Since "truth" is "truth" and "spin" whether to the left or to the right is political deception, then it really doesn't matter if truth comes to us from the Right (the way it used to do) or from the Left (as it is now doing). The bottom line is that the truth is beginning to emerge into politics. The year 2005 is when that event really got some momentum. I'm hoping it keeps up and I'm thinking that what is really driving that momentum is that many people in the media, people close to the center of politics, are spilling the truth in their blogs!
I have hopes for 2006.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

Who Let the Cat Out?

Here's an interesting report about a study of common misperceptions relating to Iraq and where those might be coming from:
Study Finds Direct Link Between Misinformation and Public Misconception

Tap Tap

Rasmussen Reports
"December 28, 2005--Sixty-four percent (64%) of Americans believe the National Security Agency (NSA) should be allowed to intercept telephone conversations between terrorism suspects in other countries and people living in the United States."
Has anybody noticed how this debate is being framed, how it is being spun?
The terrorists involved all live outside the USA. They are talking on telephones to contacts within the United States.
One makes the assumption that the NSA has already identified who the terrorists are.
There is no implication here that ordinary US citizens are having their phone calls tapped, their emails read, or their instant messaging chats monitored.
Conservatives, including the White House, are spinning the debate to make us think that's all that's involved in this spying scandal, that it is entirely about security against terrorists and has nothing to do with ordinary civil liberties.
The thing is, if that were true, then why wouldn't the Bush people want to get court approval? Why not avoid the appearance of illegality? Why be deceiving us about this whole thing? Are they just establishing extended presidential powers? What are the chances of that?
Why would anyone bother to take a poll to determine how Americans feel about a fable? Why not poll us to see how we would feel if it was actually us the government was spying on without court oversight? Wouldn't that have more meaning?

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

No Wonder

No wonder CBS News is claiming an increase in their audience. It doesn't get much worse than this in the mainstream media:
Koppel and Brokaw Agree: Clinton Would Have Gone Into Iraq, Too
After reading that, tell me this, Did they say that it is about the oil or that it isn't?

Monday, December 26, 2005

Flat Earth

Several years ago I took a creative writing night class from the University of Maine. It was one of the strangest classes I have ever been in, but that's not my point today. I discovered something about myself by taking that course.
We were required to do three different kinds of writing, non-fiction, fiction, and poetry. I am no poet at all, so I didn't do well at that and I didn't improve much by taking the course. I didn't do well at fiction either. I tend to be inclined to write non-fiction. What I discovered was that it is nearly impossible for me to wrap my mind around fiction! I can't tear my mind away from truth long enough to concoct a good story.
Although it was then that I realized the problem, suddenly now I am beginning to see how it is affecting my life and in particular, my blog. When I write, I tend to try to write what I perceive to be the truth. People create fantasy by spinning the truth. I attempt to write without the spin.
There are several ways to spin truth to create fantasy. You can spin truth sexually. Playboys and playgirls and dime-store romance novelists are gifted in that. You can spin truth religiously. Preachers, the Pope, and Satanists are masters of that. You can spin truth politically. Truth with a strong political right spin looks just like what you hear on conservative talk radio. It comes out loaded with fear and hate and masks itself as security while ultimately favoring the wealthy. Truth with a strong political left spin is socialistic. It comes out loaded with taxation and social programs to provide for those who, for whatever reasons, don't provide for themselves. Both political spins identify the opposite spin as an enemy.
I see the challenge in writing non-fiction to be having the ability and the desire to nail one's feet to the floor, to the base, to reality. Political spin is fantasy and it creates a perception of reality that replaces reality itself. The fantasy claims to be reality. Actual reality vanishes for those who wrap their minds in the spin. So the challenge for me is to somehow unspin things, to somehow attempt to describe the reality that lies beneath the fiction, beneath the spinning fantasies.
One thing I recall from my creative writing class is that a writer wishing to be successful needs to write to an audience. In fiction writing, that translates into many different styles of fiction writing. In non-fiction writing it translates into style and topic. In politics, philosophy, and religion it translates into writing with spin. If a political writer wants an audience, the writing needs to have political spin.
But there lies the problem...
Spin creates fantasy from reality. Political spin is fantasy. Reality is what politicians do, but spin is what politicians want us to believe they are doing. There is a huge gap between the two. So if a political writer wants an audience, there has to be spin. The writing has to be fiction. Nobody wants to read about the reality beneath the political fantasies.
Unfortunately, my earth is flat. I just can't seem to get my head into the spin of things. I can't live in the fantasy of it all. My shoes are nailed to the floor and the floor isn't spinning.