Sunday 25 August 2019

Seeking a career for the end of the world?

I do realise that in a forum such as this, where people are busy promoting themselves and their marketable value in the grand scheme of things, that some of the fundamental issues in life are overlooked, or totally ignored.

That’s all fine and dandy, but I can’t help but wonder what places like this will look like after we arrive at the dystopian future we seem bound and determined to make a reality. You know—when your ability to find potable water will be the thing that you get endorsed for, or your skill in sautéing insects.

Now we are not there yet, and there are those who might say we can yet avoid it. There are others who would say that it’s never going to happen but I suspect many of those have their heads stuck up their . . . places the sun doesn’t shine. My point is that there is ample evidence that the good ship Civilization in steaming straight towards the iceberg—or perhaps given the issues around melting polar caps that should read the rocks.

Many of us once believed that while we went about our daily lives, working and creating wealth and opportunities, that somewhere in a dark corner of a government building there were people who were working on this type of thing.

Even if that was the case, and ignoring all that we have learned about government and its particular ways of doing things, there is very good reason to suspect that the flight to refuge may have very limited capacity. You could try to secure passage by amassing a fortune but, given the expected collapse of law and order, you’d probably get mugged on the way to the secret take-off point.

No, let’s deal with it, most of us are going to have to face the music and that brings me back to my point: what should we be doing about it? If we are going to spend the greater part of our day in some effort to procure individual well-being and sustainability, can we afford to be blind to the global factors? Perhaps we might be tempted to hope, like the generations before us, that this will all blow over—or will not happen in our lifetime—but the growing tomes of scientific data would seem to make that less and less likely.

There are many of us who might be tempted the excuse ourselves from the discussion because we are too busy putting bread on the table and I invite those to think it through. What’s in the bread and should you not be using the table to barricade the windows?

Yes. It is a gloomy, doomy kind of future and, to my mind, allows for two possible approaches—discounting, of course, the stick-your-head-in-the-sand option. We can quit our jobs, abandon all responsibilities, take up drug and alcohol abuse (if we haven’t already) and party like there is no tomorrow. Fill our days with frolicking and fornication, larceny and looting and . . . yes, I know that sounds a lot like working in Financial Services and that is the point. Can we not find something to do that might help to mitigate what we have sown? Can we not find purpose that, at the very least, would allow us to depart with a bit of dignity?

Or, for those of us who are still influenced by the balance sheet view of life, there is the matter of karma. Those of us with religious convictions should be factoring that in and those who don’t—well, who wants to be remembered for their grasping, selfish, cut-throat ways?

You see, I have spent time recently with people who have already begun to transition to the social economy.

What is that? you might well ask. Well it’s really a lot like the regular model except profit at all costs is not the one and only objective. And if that sounds a bit too touchy-feely consider this: what right-minded business person (other than hire-for-a-quarter CEOs) would run their enterprise into the ground for short term gain while destroying all possibilities of a future. For that matter, what type of person would work for such an outfit?

We have watched the Credit business flood the market to the point that entire nations are now so indebted that they cannot hope to ever pay their way out—no matter how much austerity they apply.

We have watched the Energy industries rape and pillage the environment to such an extent that the tipping point may well be in the rear view mirror.

We have watched the Pharmaceuticals become so invasive that if everyone got well, there would be a total economic collapse.

The list goes on and on, and to avoid doing the same I will simply state: we make the world by our daily efforts and it is not too late to try to make it a bit better—even if only to make the end less bleak and brutal.

And if you are seeking a career for the end of the world, should you not be looking for something that has a bit of real value to it—you know, something with a bit of sustainability? Maybe we should be seeking something that offers real return because when all other resources are gone, money won’t taste so good.

Wednesday 2 January 2019

A wonderful story about the complicated dynamics of family relationships

Every once in a while an author comes along who writes novels that are so powerfully compelling, poignant, and thought-provoking, that the reader will be able to relate to it on some level. In The Last Weekend Of The Summer, author Peter Murphy weaves a wonderful story about the complicated dynamics of family relationships that will simply pull at your emotional heartstrings.

The Last Weekend Of The Summer is a richly descriptive literary tale that explores the dysfunctional family relationship of matriarch Gloria and her clan. Gloria requests that her whole family come together for the last weekend of the summer at the family lakeside cabin to resolve old issues, come to terms with the past, seek closure, make amends, gain redemption and reconciliation, and reestablish the familial bonds in order to keep the family together.

The family weekend is filled with drama, humor, sibling rivalry, animosity, unresolved dysfunctional family issues, secrets, regrets, resentments, and an emotional chance to renew the bonds of family. The author does a wonderful job of intertwining the family's dysfunctional past with the difficulties that they face in their present lives. You can't help but get swept away, relate, and experience the full gamut of emotions as Gloria and her family face a crossroad in their lives as they hash out their unresolved dysfunctional family dynamic while considering the intense and difficult choices of how to deal with their current life issues.

The Last Weekend Of The Summer is a powerful and compelling story written from the heart. It is a must read that will make you ponder your own family dynamic, stir your soul, and resonate with you for a very long time.  )

Friday 28 September 2018

Yes, Virginia, there really is a rape culture

During the ongoing frenzy surrounding some American judicial appointment which struck me as Political Porn—and it was Political Porn in the true, etymological sense given that “Pornography” was once used to describe the writing about prostitution which has also been defined as “the unworthy or corrupt use of one's talents for personal or financial gain.”—I thought on ways to get out of the quagmire that social/political debate has become.

And in that I had to consider those who line up on either side of the political/social/gender divides. Those whose heartfelt conviction end up being little more than gasoline on a fire that I believe has been lit to distract us from the more nefarious activities of those who really shape our world. And that is not to detract from the validity of those statements and arguments. But they are just that: deeply held convictions about what should be right and what should be normalized.

What concerns me more about all of this is the widening of the divides between people who have far more in common than their “Masters” would want them to realize.

Central to this current “discussion” is whether or not a man can impose himself on a woman with impunity, and if that woman takes so long in coming forward with her allegations, can they be trusted. Never mind all the chatter about the Clintons and the far-left; they are just there to inflame and distract.

My observations on life, be it what I have seen, heard, or read, would say that not only can someone do that but, if they have the necessary influence, they can get away with it and leave their accuser with insult on top of injury.

However, to claim this is a “Man versus Woman” issue is a contortion and one that is contradicted by the number of women who, because of political alignment, publicly support the particular man in this situation. It also discounts the less highlighted issues of the rape of men which happens whether we want to believe it or not.

“Rape,” which was once defined as "to snatch, to grab, to carry off" and was usually accompanied by “Pillage,” is a much wider issue than the matter of sexual violence. It points to the underlying attitudes that are shared by Patrimonies, Aristocracies, Religions, and all those other gatherings of the powerful.

Without minimizing the brutal and dehumanizing impact of rape in the sexual term, considering it as a tool of power should make it easier for more people to galvanize against it. The current view that only men rape—and that other men condone it—serves only to divide and make conquerable.

However, the suggestion that there is a rape culture is impossible to ignore. Not only that, but it is endorsed and enshrined in many of the Bronze Age texts that many claim are the word of their god. Even the Greek Pantheon celebrated the sexual violence of their gods.

From the beginning, rape and pillage, have been central to the way we treat each other, the other life forms we share the planet with, and even the planet itself—Capitalism being the current glorification of snatching, grabbing, and carrying off.

It is central to how we see ourselves and it is, to my mind, the crux of the problem that we must address if we are to avoid the disastrous future we are all hurtling towards. Rape and pillage have been the cornerstones on which our empires have been built—even unto this day. The subjection of others for the sake of our sacred creeds and manifestos is rape and pillage. The extreme behavior of drunken “boys being boys” is rape and pillage, as is regime change, exploitation, genocide and all the things we endorse our governments to do on our behalf.

The use of force can be expeditious and more profitable, but we have often been warned that what goes around, comes around.  We cannot go on endorsing, by consent or disinterest, the widespread use of violence against women, children, men, and then vent our outrage when it is turned on us. We cannot go on celebrating those who use any form of power and force as a weapon.

We cannot go on arguing along political/social/gender lines. We cannot go on venting our outrage and adding to the bonfires lit to distract us. We cannot go dividing ourselves as “Left” or “Right,” “Male” or “Female.” That only leads to division and a weakening of whatever influence we might have. And switching the “brand” of our political representation may not be enough.

We must condemn all “Rape and Pillage.”

Wednesday 26 September 2018

Writing about family #3

A few helpful tips on raising writers.

In this ongoing series of posts, I, without expertise, prejudice, or agenda, will share my insights and/or observations on writing about family. The previous posts were on a more general level so in this one, lets dive into the heart of the matter that is children writing about their parents and what parents can do to avoid the worst-case scenarios.

Writing about terrible childhoods has been done to death but as long as people are foolish enough to reproduce, there will be those offspring who will grow to be writers with scores to settle. And there will be readers who will devour the resulting stuff.

Now having been someone’s child, and then someone’s parent, I have an evolving view on both roles. Growing up in Ireland, I often heard the grown-ups use the term: “who is she when she’s at home?” It always struck me as a very peculiar saying until I realized that many of us are not who we think we are and nowhere is that more evident than in the home.

It rings true for all members of a family and primarily for parents who are little more than former children now rearing children with no manual or guide book and only their own parents as role models. It’s little wonder the whole world is going mad.

You see, once upon a time, family was a much more straightforward thing. We had biblical references that glorified the role of the patriarch. We had television shows that laid it out for us, Leave it to Beaver, Father knows best, etc... Parents were wise and sober, understanding and forgiving, and everyone was happy in their appointed roles.

Or so we wished to believe. But then along came exposés and gave us a new culture where all fathers were portrayed as drunken tyrants who took out the frustration of their empty, meaningless lives on their families. Consumer driven mothers were unsatisfied and unfulfilled and managed only by popping pills while children grew up to drop out and tune in. For a number of years, it almost seemed like the most preferred pedigree.

Now here’s a question for you to ponder: were parents so bad back then or were children just whiney?

Of course, outside of the cultural stereotypes most parents get on with their lives as best they can, keeping roofs over heads, food on the tables, and trying to propel the next generation forward. These types of families are better to grow up in, but are not the stuff of riveting sensationalism. Especially in an age where dysfunctionality has become the new normal.

Now there are certain expectations that come with starting a family and being kind to children rates fairly high in most cultures—with a few obvious exceptions. I think this is wise as a general rule if for no other reason than the chance that your child could turn out to be a writer. Sadly, there is no way a parent can know such things when handed their little bundles of responsibility so it might be better to err on the side of caution.

Giving children paper and crayons and locking them in a room with a deadline would probably be frowned on in this age. And it would very likely be misrepresented in the resulting tell-all, resplendent with bug-like drawings of people with frowny faces and all the inherited traumas of life.
Sending your children off to boarding school could be an option for some, but even that does not come with guarantees; more likely a recipe for a tale of abandonment and disinterest.

Indulging your writerly child is also fraught with pitfalls. And, if you have more than one child, there is the matter of balance and equality. You run the risk of being accused of favoritism and while the conflicting views of the resulting tell-alls might drive book sales, you will come out looking badly in all accounts.

Having been a child, and then a parent, I have thought long and hard about this and many of the aspects of family life in general. The old adage that it takes a village to raise a child sounds wonderful but now that we all live in our psychologically gated communities, that becomes less relevant. No, I think the matter requires a new way of thinking for a new age.

Simply put, no one should be allowed to write about their parents until they have had children of their own.

Wednesday 5 September 2018

Just wondering who you are

Here is a list of visits to this blog by country

United States         8790
Canada         3900
Russia         2896
United Kingdom 1385
Ireland         1273
Portugal                 1152
Germany         1052
France           776
Poland           573
Ukraine           398

Now I was wondering who you all are.

Drop by and say "Hi" Peter Murphy

Monday 3 September 2018

A nice review of The Last Weekend of the Summer

THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER by Peter Murphy is a revealing tale of one family brought together in the hopes of healing old wounds before it is too late to ever do so. A loving and slightly quirky matriarch has a secret to share, and wishes her family to come together for one last summer weekend at her lakeside home. Is Gloria dying? Is she finally unable to live on her own?

Emotional and relatable, readers will find at least one character they recognize from their own families! Witness the dynamics, the shortfalls, the personality clashes, and the role each member plays, regardless of the generation they belong to. Then be part of the secret that is revealed, feel the torment, the turmoil, the anger and the love as one family finds growth, change and renewal through healing and reaching out to one another.

Thought provoking, sometimes humorous, sometimes agitating, this is a true slice of life being part of a family of flawed humans.

First published at Tome Tender

Monday 27 August 2018

Publication Day

August 28th, 2018 is the day my fifth novel, THE LAST WEEKEND OF THE SUMMER, goes out into the world. I wish it well and that it meets kind readers along its path. It is a good book—if I may say so myself—and early reviews suggest that I am not alone in thinking that. I take book writing very seriously and am happier when the result is taken seriously.

However, I have learned not to take myself too seriously and with growing insight I am able to separate the value of a book from its reception in the market place. I had to. Back when I started out, I had but an academic view of the business of writing. In frivolous moments I even indulged myself in the fantasy many people share that authors were respected and revered, adored and well-rewarded.

While I wait for that to happen to me, I have found something much more suited to the person I really am. The small, but growing, band of people who have enjoyed my books and have taken the time to express their thoughts and reactions. Now that is the real prize and it is far more useful. Hearing about what resonates with readers, and what does not, helps the receptive author with future books. Like most people, I could be tempted into believing my own hype, despite leading a very contrary life.

I had wanted to write since I was young, but did not get around to it until I was in my fifties. Life, addiction, recovery, reformation, love, marriage, and children, all had to be experienced before I was “qualified” to write the types of books that I would write. I am not unhappy about that as I like to think of all of those years as my time spent in research—and time very well spent.

By virtue of all that I had learned along the roads I have traveled, I was less bothered when my books elicited less than favorable responses from some. Readers, who are people, come to books with their own experiences and in an age of trolling and sniping, civility can sometimes be overlooked.

Likewise, consumerism and marketing strive to lead us to believe that everything we buy and consume should enrich us the way we want to be enriched. That is not always the case and especially so with books. Some books should shake us out of our complacencies. Some books should confront us and entice us to look at things differently—especially when they expose us to viewpoints that we might not already share.

Now while I do understand the vital roles certain genres of books play in offering comfort and enjoyment, I am a great believer in mixed diets. In my own reading, I do pick up books that might seem to have less appeal and often encounter pleasant surprises. I also think it is a recipe for being a better human being. Living in psychological ghettoes and only going to the churches of the like-minded disconnects us and makes us very prone to being misled by vain populists, and the like. But that is just my opinion—based on observations and experience from a very varied life.

Writing books has become essential to my health and wellbeing. Without that I could be roaming the streets, snapping and snarling at all who do not live their lives the way I think they should. Instead, I wander around and study them. I try not to judge and prefer to try to imagine what made them what they are. I believe in trying to be kind—which can be very trying—but when it comes to the characters I write, I believe it is essential. Even villains must be crafted with some love and understanding, otherwise they could turn out to be very one-dimensional caricatures. That might work in some forms of storytelling like pantomime, or history, but it just won’t cut it when writing fiction.

So after I mark the “birth” of my new book, I will get back to working on my next, next one.
In the meantime, for giveaways and other things, check out the happenings below.