August 1, 2018

The Satire Paradox: Part Two

by lisa st john

“Satire is, by definition, offensive. It is meant to make us feel uncomfortable. It is meant to make us scratch our heads, think, do a double-take, and then think again.” Maajid Nawaz

sat·ire
ˈsaˌtī(ə)r/
noun
  1. the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues.

I wrote a post back in February of 2015 called “The Satire Paradox Part One,” so I thought I would try and finish my thoughts here, in Part Two. The problem is that I am not at all the same person as I was 41 months ago.

Unbeknownst to me, the term Satire Paradox is an actual phenomenon written about in a study done byHeather Lamarre. A good explanation can be found in the article, “Stephen Colbert and the Pitfalls of Modern Political Satire.”

Basically, it is when satire backfires and people actually BELIEVE what the satirist is making fun of. For instance, when I assigned a group of students to read Jonathan Swift‘s “A Modest Proposal,” some of them came in angry and disgusted. Not, however, angry and disgusted at the level of Irish poverty Swift was bringing to light, but angry and disgusted that someone would actually consider eating children. Uhm…he didn’t condone eating children. Swift was making a point about the English ignoring the poverty. Sigh.

Back in 2012, the satirical online newspaper The Onion published a headline that fooled China (yes, the country of China). It read, “Kim Jong Un: The Sexiest Man Alive.” Much to the delight of the Twitterverse and The Onion, China took the story and ran with it. “The Chinese website had underscored its story by including its own 55-page photo gallery to accompany the text… .”

Satire Definition:

 

But my original post back in 2015 was more about paradox than satire.

“My mind teased me this morning in that nano-moment; Kent wasn’t gone, and I wasn’t a widow and then–But that’s what makes us human, right? Caring? Suffering? Therein lies the paradox (and is the joke ever on us): we live to love and be hurt so we know what love is and what it means to hurt so we know what life is. Humph. Or is it all a big satire created to change us into better humans? …This morning he wasn’t gone, he just was… almost here.” (“The Satire Paradox Part One“)

Since 2012, I have:

published a chapbook of poetry,

taken a sabbatical to explore the writing life,

become a mother-in-law,

attended somewhere between 25-100 writing workshops/classes,

begun a memoir about Kent’s long illness and eventual death,

started a new blog about widow/ers,

created my professional website,

become a grandmother∗,

and commenced peace talks with my grief.

 

The irony (not really a paradox and certainly not satire) is that I still have those nano-moments when I think Kent is just about to come home from a long trip.

The days are long but the years are short. too.

 

 

 

A video on paradox that I couldn’t resist:

 

 

 

 

∗A Grand mother. Una abuela.

I cannot begin to describe what this feels like. I cried and cried when he was born and I saw him with his parents. I did not cry because I was sad, but because I was grateful. Grateful that my son and his wife have what they need to raise a beautiful human: joy, music, love, empathy, gratitude, creativity, soulfulness, compassion, humor, intellect, curiosity, magic, honesty, truth, strength, and grace.

I need new, more specific, words for bliss and love when I hold my grandson.

For me to put this feeling into words, it’s going to take a while, maybe my whole life.

July 1, 2018

Birth and Death? Let’s Ask the Poets.

by lisa st john

Death does not concern us, because as

long as we exist, death is not here. And

when it does come, we no longer exist.”

Epicurus

 

 

What’s so bad about death? Why can’t we celebrate the circle, the cycle? I do not understand the fear of death. Won’t it be just like before I was born? Why can’t we laugh about it?

As if I couldn’t love Ricky Gervais any more than I already do, he says this:

When you are dead, you do not know you are dead. It’s only painful & difficult for others. The same applies when you are stupid.

 

The only reason I am thinking of death is because I am thinking about birth.

 

IMG_2606.jpg

It’s like the incongruous nature of my favorite flower arrangement, roses and daisies.

To some people, daisies are a weed. To some people, roses are the ultimate expensive gift.

I am not some people.

They bloom at the same time in my yard, and I love their paradox, their contrast.

Why can’t we love death the same way?

Doesn’t it just remind us of the grandeur of birth?

What mystical being is woman? No creature of imagination, no Pegasus, no  Phoenix, can compare to the power and majesty of the human female.

 

 

 

Creation and destruction are our basest states, aren’t they? As for the soul, isn’t that what makes up our life, our living?

 

 

 

Excerpt from “Nothing But Death” by Pablo Neruda

Death arrives among all that sound
like a shoe with no foot in it, like a suit with no man in it,
comes and knocks, using a ring with no stone in it, with no
finger in it,
comes and shouts with no mouth, with no tongue, with no
throat.

Nevertheless its steps can be heard
and its clothing makes a hushed sound, like a tree.

I’m not sure, I understand only a little, I can hardly see,
but it seems to me that its singing has the color of damp violets,
of violets that are at home in the earth,
because the face of death is green,
and the look death gives is green,
with the penetrating dampness of a violet leaf
and the somber color of embittered winter.

 

Excerpt from “There Was a Child Went Forth” by Walt Whitman

There was a child went forth every day,
And the first object he looked upon and received with wonder
or pity or love or dread, that object he became,
And that object became part of him for the day or a certain part
of the day . . . . or for many years or stretching cycles of
years.

The early lilacs became part of this child,
And grass, and white and red morningglories, and white and red
clover, and the song of the phœbe-bird,
And the March-born lambs, and the sow’s pink-faint litter, and
the mare’s foal, and the cow’s calf, and the noisy brood of
the barn-yard or by the mire of the pond-side . . and the fish
suspending themselves so curiously below there . . . and the
beautiful curious liquid . . and the water-plants with their
graceful flat heads . . all became part of him. …

The horizon’s edge, the flying seacrow, the fragrance of
saltmarsh and shoremud;
These became part of that child who went forth every day, and
who now goes and will always go forth every day,
And these become of him or her that peruses them now.

 

“Soulshine” by Warren Haynes (Because nothing makes the soul shine more than sons and daughters and grandbabies and everything else that makes up what we call love.)

 

June 1, 2018

Flying Through Time

by lisa st john

I have been living the writing life for almost 12 months. My time to return from my sabbatical as a high school English teachers draws nigh. Like many things I do, this year has been an experiment.

Can I work all day as a writer (instead of spending it binging television)? Yes. Have I learned from workshops, conferences, and–most importantly–trial and error? Yes. Have I made some progress in publishing as well as writing? Yes. Whew. All good.

Here are some snags:
When I am writing my memoir I am reliving the days, months, years of Kent’s cancer. So I can’t always write memoir all day.

When I am writing memoir I miss writing poetry. When I do write some poetry I feel like I am cheating on the memoir behind its back!

When I look at my calendar I am bewildered at the movement of time.

When I look at what I do all day I realize I won’t have this much time come September.

When I think about time it all revolves around Jack. (More on him in a later blog.)

It’s not all snags.

 

I have learned many things.

-It is okay to have two desks; one for emailing and editing and sending work out, and another one for actual writing.

-It’s okay not to write every day; some days are for reading.

-I can organize all of my information at my website, HERE, like when I am doing a reading or how to buy my chapbook.

-I can collaborate with fabulous artists like Anna Gilmore to create a new environment for my work. See DINNER video below.

-Thinking is writing without commitment. 

-Voice memos on my iPhone are surprising golden nuggets when I bother to listen to them.

-Not leaving the house for a day or two (or three or four) is somehow liberating.

-Finding writing venues at which to read and finding publishers for my poetry is a different Lisa than the Lisa writing the memoir. Sometimes they hang out on the same day, sometimes not. They are going to have to get together soon, though. They have to teach September Full Time Teacher Lisa how to cope. I have every confidence in them.

I have Tweeted and Instagrammed and Facebooked about some of these things that happened, but here is a run-down of the latest.

2Elizabeths published nine of my poems in their first anthology, Volume 1: Love and Romance.

Light: A Journal of Photography & Poetry published my poem, “Of Light and Mornings” in their Spring 2018 Issue (available in both digital and print versions).

Eyedrum Periodically published three of my poems in Issue 17: The Future.

I started a new blog for widowed people called Widows’ Words.

My updated publishing creds are on my website and here on this blog’s home page. What I am most impressed with, that aren’t listed here, are all of my rejections. I save them in an email folder and look at them and think, “I did that. I got that out there.”

This blog will always be about writing and poetry and random thoughts. I am enjoying the world of creative non-fiction though. When those pieces get published I will put them on the website.

Time is moving along at her own pace. I move at mine. Sometimes we meet up. The only thing I am certain of is that I am not done yet.

 

 

 

April 30, 2018

Do We Really Need Definitions? In Defense of Michelle Wolf

by lisa st john

 

I really wanted to write about television binging this month–how I love it. The pros and cons, but I am too flummoxed by the news. Ironically, I was also going to post an analysis of Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale Season Two Episode One, but what is distracting me?

The White House Correspondent’s Dinner controversy. Apparently, we actually need definitions of some of these terms, WHY?

So critics of Michelle Wolf can catch up a bit. And then class, after we learn the words we can explain what they mean, okay?

First Amendment: Freedom to say what we want to say (specifically allowing the PRESS to say what it wants to say).

Satire: Using humor to expose stupidity IN ORDER TO PROMOTE CHANGE AND HELP HUMANITY SEE ITS FLAWS.

Sarcasm: Witty language used to insult. Often used in satire.

Sarcasm is the lowest form of wit but the highest form of intelligence –Oscar Wilde. 

Okay. What I find so disconcerting about the backlash of Michelle Wolf’s correspondent’s dinner speech was that people misunderstood the Sarah Sanders eyeliner joke yet totally missed the Aunt Lydia reference.

I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. She burns facts, and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies.” (Wolf transcript)https://www.visitcharlottesville.org/listing/charlottesville-historic-downtown-mall/337/

Now we need to explain the joke, apparently. This is NOT a joke about Sanders’ looks.This is a joke about Sanders’ LIES. Sarah Sanders always has great smoky eye make up. I love it. She burns the facts and uses the ash to make her perfect eyeshadow. Get it now?

I have to say I’m a little star-struck. I love you as Aunt Lydia in The Handmaid’s Tale. Mike Pence, if you haven’t seen it, you would love it.” (Wolf transcript)

Okay. Aunt Lydia is one of the scariest villains ever. If you haven’t read the book by the incredible Margaret Atwood, you must. In the novel, she is in charge of indoctrinating (here is the definition of indoctrinating for those of you who need help getting Wolf’s jokes) the sex slaves (handmaids). The Hulu version of Aunt Lydia is even more terrifying because in the novel, we never know if Aunt Lydia is just going along with the new regime (albeit extremely) in order to stay alive and in power or if she is a believer in the new tyrannical police state. Hulu expands her character to show just how bat shit crazy she has become.

“She’s most comfortable making room in the world so violence can flourish. Actress Ann Dowd takes full advantage of the role, heightening Aunt Lydia’s zealousness to a point where it almost seems like a caricature … Aunt Lydia is carved in the lineage of villainesses like Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, Annie Wilkes in Misery, and Mrs. Danvers in Rebecca. Cold, brutal, and obsessed … .” ()

But that’s not what critics are complaining about, no. They are complaining about an eye shadow joke they didn’t get, the use of the word “pussy” (WHO SAID IT FIRST?) and “tampon.”

[Ivanka] is about as helpful to women as an empty box of tampons.” (Wolf transcript) OMG, did she say (whisper) “tampon”? Women use tampons. An empty box does not help a woman when she is menstruating. Get it?

It’s up to comedians to shine the light on what’s wrong in the world, and we don’t want things swept under the rug.” –Jeff Ross

I almost forgot the Uncle Tom reference! Okay kids, Uncle Tom refers to a subservient character in Harriet Beecher Stowe‘s infamous novel Uncle Tom’s Cabin. It is not a compliment to call someone an Uncle Tom.

So when Wolf said, “…what’s Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women? Oh, I know. Aunt Coulter.” She meant that Ann Coulter betrays her people (women) by sucking up and being subservient to the conservative agenda (men). Get it now?

“One of the most bizarre uses of Uncle Tom as an insult, directed at women occurred…when Jane Fonda wanted to criticize conservative women for not performing the women’s movement.” “She said, ‘Let’s face it, you’re all a bunch of Uncle Toms,’” (“Uncle Tomisms” from Accuracy in Academia)

 

 

You’ve just made yourself a new fan Michelle Wolf. You comedian, you funny, me laugh. I’m in.* Can’t wait for THE BREAK on Netflix!

 

 

 

 

 

*Sorry about the multi-syllabic content in this post. If you need moe definitions here you go: Dictionary.

April 3, 2018

How Blue Can You Go?

by lisa st john

ontology:
1a branch of metaphysics concerned with the nature and relations of being  Ontology deals with abstract entities.
2a particular theory about the nature of being or the kinds of things that have existence

How real are Blue Spaces in terms of being good for us?

blue space is defined as; ‘health-enabling places and spaces, where water is at the centre of a range of environments with identifiable potential for the promotion of human wellbeing’. (“Blue Space Geographies: Enabling Health in Place” Foley and Kistemann).

Of course it seems obvious that looking at water or blue skies makes us feel better, but why? How much better? IMG_1610

According to Dr Saliha Afridi, a clinical psychologist and the managing director of The LightHouse Arabia in Dubai, studies show that spending as little as 15 to 30 minutes in nature can increase positive emotions and the ability to reflect on a life problem. “This is best explained by nature’s effect on physiology – heart rates decrease and blood pressure goes down when people spend time looking at nature. When this happens, we are psychologically in a calmer state,” she explains.
IMG_5819-2867282905-1522773783946.jpg
I like a scientific fact to back up what I already want to believe: the ocean makes me feel as good as I can get. In a recent Widow’s Words blog post, I talk about my connection to the ocean and to my late husband, Kent. There is a purity to the inevitability of waves, a homecoming. I also love the duality of the ocean–beauty and danger, calming and fierce.
Scientists are exploring the idea of blue spaces regarding our health and mental well-being. Groups like BlueHealth and other interdisciplinary research teams are paying more attention to blue spaces.
Here are some of the “what ifs” for me:
A virtual reality headset can put me in the ocean for ten minutes so I feel rejuvenated.
Businesses start giving people “blue” days in addition to sick days.
New stores are created where you can purchase “blue time” in individual IMAX rooms.
Doctors can prescribe “blue time” (and you thought medical marijuana was controversial!)
Urban areas start creating blue parks (intentional water spaces both as horizontal lakes and vertical aquariums). 
Fantasy? Maybe. For now. But the fact that the facts are backing up common wisdom gives me hope. Old wives tales, huh? 

 

 

 

ON MAGRITTE’S THE VOICE OF BLOOD (Originally published in The Ekphrastic Review)

Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist ― René Magritte

I think we should listen more to
old wives and their tales.

Learn how not to get caught in a storm             (of fear),
not to enter the                                                       (wrong)
doors,
how to avoid the falling stars                               (or catch a ride).

How to let go                                                            (and know)
when trees are silent they are free.

The voice of blood is captured in the geometry of trees and the lie of open windows.

Meandering greys bend in
moonlight’s fortune-telling whispers.          Listen.

There is no color without light.

Listen
to the moonlight shape our
monochromatic truth.

Listen, old wives, to our prayers for fairytale endings ever,
ever,
after
grey is washed in morning, graffiti of the light revealed.

 
March 1, 2018

Writers’ Paradise

by lisa st john

#ebags #eaglecreekWelcome to March 1st. From now on, I am going to post here on the first of every month. Not that often, right? Except that I now have another blog: Widows’ Words. This one is focused on my memoir, The Beds We Live and Die In. It’s about loss and widowhood and moving through it all.

I also launched a website to keep everything together: lisachristinastjohn.com

I hope you check them both out. I am excited. I really am living the writer’s life and I wake up every day full of energy and ready to work/write.

I am forever grateful to the International Women’s Writing Guild for starting me on this path. If you haven’t been to their amazing online webinars and real-life conferences you are missing out. They are “a global powerhouse & digital village for mighty, soulful women writers.” I can’t wait for the Boston Retreat in April. The summer IWWG Conference is where I heard about the San Miguel Writers Conference in February. I got to attend, and it was like a gift from the ancient gods.

Parish Church

San Miguel de Allende is not only a UNESCO World Heritage site; it’s a mecca of culture and beauty. I have been to this amazing city before–once with my late husband and our son, twice to visit friends, and now to experience the writing community. It was beyond amazing. Workshops in tents outside the gorgeous grounds of the Hotel Real de Minas, round table discussions with authors, pitch sessions with agents, excursions, and fiesta! The keynote speakers are world famous: Rita Dove, Sandra Cisneros, Wally Lamb, and Joseph Boyden just to name a few. 

The air was electric with creative energy. I re-focused, rejuvenated, remembered, and released. I worked on the memoir, but also crashed into some poetry with the astounding Judyth Hill. Here is an excerpt of a fragment that will someday grow into a poem, thanks to Judyth’s prompts.

“Blue brushstrokes of longing
are the impasto of my memory,
and my heart is in Orion’s star.
La Llorona comes for me in a blood moon the texture of hunger.”

Hill was so right when she said that “poets are the grievers of culture.” It’s our job as artists of all kinds to bear the heart of our time.

Check out the CDC Poetry Project, for example. Check out Amanda Palmer’s “Strength Through Music.” Dictators fear artists and intellectuals. Why?

“Art creates pathways for subversion, for political understanding and solidarity among coalition builders. Art teaches us that lives other than our own have value.” (Eve L. Ewing)

There are beautiful, loving groups everywhere who believe in art, who promote art, who value voice. Check out this Children’s Art Foundation in San Miguel. Check out the American Library Association. They need us now more than ever. 

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By the way, loved Interjet Airlines. I left San Miguel to fly to Puerto Vallarta to visit a jungle village they don’t want me to talk about (even though it’s all over the travel sites). I guess I’ll just say I may not miss the Chachalaca birds in the early morning. 

January 26, 2018

March on 2018

by lisa st john

 

The Women’s March on Washington in 2017 was one of the most powerful experiences of my life. One year later there is still so much work to do, but positivity is key to keep the energy going. And there was some beautiful energy in the New York City Women’s March 2018.

I’m going to rely mostly on images for this post, but one of the best parts about the march was the

abundance of men, boys, young women…families. We are not alone in this fight.

Intersectionality (the theory that the overlap of various social identities, as race, gender, sexuality, and class, contributes to the specific type of systemic oppression and discrimination experienced by an individual) is crucial, and the signs showed this idea.

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This talk is wonderful. The video towards the end is disturbing but necessary and artful, with music by Abby Dobson .

 

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Together, we rise.

 

January 9, 2018

Gifts

by lisa st john

“Who is that pretty mask for?”IMG_0018
“For me.”
“You can give yourself presents?”
“Yes. We have to give ourselves presents.”
“Why?”
“To tell the universe how grateful we are.”

“I’m telling Santa.”

If giving feels so good, why don’t we give ourselves gifts more often? And why do we give people gifts on their birthdays? We should give the gifts to their moms, no?

ɡift/
noun
1. a thing given willingly to someone without payment; a present. “a Christmas gift”
synonyms: present, handout, donation, offering, bestowal, bonus, award, endowment; More
2. a natural ability or talent. “he has a gift for comedy”
synonyms:talent, flair, aptitude, facility, knack, bent, ability, expertise, capacity, capability, faculty; More

IMG_0020

I am Cleo, and I will be around 21 years old this August.

My old cat wakes up sometimes and yowls like a B horror movie beast. I think she wakes up and wonders where she is, who she is, and why she is still here. But what do I know? Cats can get senile I am told. I give her the gift of gabapentin; she’s lucky I don’t put it in my coffee instead.

The “gift-giving season” is a diabolical (irony intended) stressor. So this year I gave my family flowers. Bouqs was a hit for out of town people, but I like my local florist best. They are artists (gifted, if you will). The Green Cottage is like no other florist/store/magic place. For them it’s not just about making money–it’s about sharing beauty; and that is a gift we can give ourselves every single day. Like Blake said, it’s all about seeing … “a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower.” The following two images are both extraordinarily beautiful to me. Why? In “The Neuroscience of Beauty,” authors Steven Brown and Xiaoqing Gao say that:
As much as philosophers like to believe that our brains contain a specialized system for the appreciation of artworks, research suggests that our brain’s responses to a piece of cake and a piece of music are in fact quite similar.

Louie Schwartzberg says that “We protect what we fall in love with.” Watch this video and see what he means.

 

 

The gifts we give ourselves are right here, right now.

I am on the hunt for the perfect, secular word for “grateful” and/or “blessed.” Please let me know if you find it. “Lucky” implies I have nothing to do with it, and I don’t buy that. I choose to see a bend of turquoise because if I don’t notice the magic of the world then I have nothing to give others. I send money to students in Mexico not because I feel guilty for some American white (ish) privilege reason. I give because I can. A new pair of shoes for me is a semester of college for them. I have all the Crocs I need.

My late husband, Kent E. St. John, used to get his college buddies to go out with him even if they had no cash. He’d say, “If I have enough for one beer, I have enough for two.”

With everything going on in the world, we need more gifts for ourselves and each other. We need humor

and music and art and gratefulness and dessert before dinner and swimming and snuggling and reading and cookies and things. Let’s share them. Let’s Tweet our gifts as well as our arsenals.  Right now, we need both.

 

You can buy my chapbook of poetry HERE at Finishing Line Press. This is Genevieve. She is asymmetrical but still wants treats.

November 9, 2017

Immeasurable Heaven

by lisa st john

Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion 
And the act…                 
  –T.S.Eliot’s The Hollow Men” 

 

 

As I sit at the Detroit airport picking past the pretzels in my bar mix (say honest to god pretzels don’t taste the same as tree bark) I wonder about the in between.

The crumbs of the salty nacho bagel chips have to affect the smooth, oriental rice crackers. They are in there together, right?

Together and in between.

If I got nothing else out of the Women’s Convention it was this: we are all in this together, and to win we must work together and for each other. I don’t have what it takes to run for a local political office, but I DO have a hand on my sister’s back who does have the courage to run.

It’s changing. American society really is changing this time. Five years ago a female student argued with me about women being minorities. “Not anymore they’re not,” she decreed. I asked her to come back to me when she finished medical school to tell me I was wrong and that she was treated equally alongside her male peers. She hasn’t come back. I hoped she would be right. Not yet.

Between the conception
And the creation 
Between the emotion
And the response…

But standing next to my daughter-in-law in a hall with 3,000 other women who are working to change the status quo has given me real hope. We (I am 52 years old. Boomer? Gen X?) didn’t raise our daughters OR OUR SONS to be anything other than equal. Men are a huge part of this movement, and we need to make that a big part of the discussion.

Rose McGowan’s speech gave me goose bumps. But is was when Rev. Mark Thompson (the only male speaker) said, about sexual assault, “This didn’t start in Hollywood…it began when they first stepped off the boat here…continued throughout slavery…the white man turned on his own women…the true history of sexual assault is a straight line…” I realized that this isn’t just another movement. This is real. 

We aren’t rookies either. Look at how long it took to get marriage equality. We have been working on many levels for many causes, but it’s time to focus on women again.

Senator Nina Turner reminded us, “We have been here before.”

Side note: if you haven’t seen the documentary about the history of the Women’s Movement, SHE’S BEAUTIFUL WHEN SHE’S ANGRY, please watch it.

I cannot imagine my friends’ daughters letting someone tell them, “No. You can’t. You’re a girl.” They are the strongest generation because the daughters and granddaughters of the 1970’s are raising them.

“There is no Trump white house big or bad enough to stop women who are determined to shake this world.” (Sen. Turner) Pre and post Trump? Pre and post the social revolutions of the 70s and 80s?

Republicans versus Democrats? “Dr. Bernice King gave a speech earlier this year to the DNC. She said that, today, people are not looking for people just based on whether they’re Democrat or Republican — they’re looking for people who will stand up for humanity” (Nina Turner). Are there natural dichotomies? Or is everything in a state of in between?

Laniakea: immeasurable heaven. It’s where we live, in a supercluster of galaxies.
It’s in between

gorgeous galactic collisions. Tom Chi explains, in his awesome TED Talk “Everything is Connected” says that, “Every one of our heartbeats is connected” through iron. Fe. He explains it much better than I could. 

We are in between and we are together. “Every breath contributes to countless lives after you…Each one of these things that we put out into the world through the creative process … allow us to expand the Palate of Being for all of society after us” (Chi). We have to continue to fight for equal rights (that sounds so redundant and obvious when I type it out). My point is, we CAN make this happen. We CAN smile when our grandchildren ask us what is was like before the Equal Rights Amendment passed.
So we are in between right now. And in immeasurable heaven. And we are all connected.

Between the desire
And the spasm 
Between the potency
And the existence
Between the essence
And the descent…
falls the shadow. 
What falls next is up to us.

 

October 13, 2017

“JUST” Words?

by lisa st john

“Language exerts hidden power, like the moon on the tides.” Rita Mae Brown

 

Poetry especially could have a “hidden” power. But just like the moon, we know how it works. It all starts with gravity

 

“The limits of my language means the limits of my world.” Ludwig Wittgenstein

 

If I have no name for snow, does that mean it doesn’t exist? Of course not. But if I have no word for freedom, that could be a problem. Although, the word freedom has multiple meanings in different contexts for different people. 

The language we use certainly does affect the way we think.

Everything from neuroscience to linguistics points to this. Language affects our perception of the world, not the world itself.

Philosophically, we could argue that our perception IS the world, but that’s another debate.

When our Secretary of Education has no background in education,
when our Federal Communications Commission wants to get rid of net neutrality ,
when the term for lying becomes alternative fact,
is it time to get scared?

Before I decide we are truly living an Orwellian nightmare, I have to think about …thought. Thought and language.

Words shape thought.

Watch this amazing talk on sexual violence and language (or, if you are pressed for time, scroll to 2:35 for his sentence structure example from Julia Penelope). 

Language matters.

“For a long time, the idea that language might shape thought was considered at best untestable and more often simply wrong. What we have learned [however] is that people who speak different languages do indeed think differently … Appreciating its role in constructing our mental lives brings us one step closer to understanding the very nature of humanity.” -Boroditsky from EDGE (an amazingly fabulous website).

What language are we speaking? That’s it’s okay for a man to grab a woman’s pussy? Our children are listening.

“New brain research by USC scientists shows that reading stories is a universal experience that may result in people feeling greater empathy for each other, regardless of cultural origins and differences.” (“Something universal occurs in the brain when it processes stories, regardless of language” Science Daily)

empathy: the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

 

“The basic tool for the manipulation of reality is the manipulation of words. If you can control the meaning of words, you can control the people who must use the words.” Philip K. Dick

 

 

Those who speak and write and make art have the power. For now.

 

 

 

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