The Case For Supporting [Adjective] Authors*

Union Station, Washington DC, circa 2004
Americanism requires my artistry to match my organic matter.

 

I was raised an American.

I physically developed, formulated a personality, practiced social graces, and made friends living abroad, almost entirely outside of the United States of America.

Beyond America, as an American, no one gave a shit if your father was this race, your mother was that ethnicity, and certainly, without a hometown to tout, nobody cared which city/town/state in America your people came from. The determinant of a shared drink at the bierstübe or an all-out beat down was simple: conciliatory manners, meaning, demonstrating respect towards the culture one is ensconced in, for the sake of peace. This is how I came to understand “relationship building.”

Thus, my confusion when I arrived on these shores to find the Americans acting rather…feral…towards each other. As soon as I smiled hello, the marginalization began: What are you? What are your parents? Where do they come from? What neighborhood do you live in? Marginalizing box after box after box instead of just a, ‘nice to meet you’ in response. I thought it was a phase, but, twenty-three years later, that fervent need to make a person fit in a narrow-minded box is still definitive Americana.

Artistically, my race/sex/ethnicity/nationality/sexuality/etc does not matter. I have voiced men, I have voiced South Asians, I have voiced transsexuals through my artistry. It’s because I allow myself to be infused by these cultures that these stories and poems manifest, and manifest with respect to the attributes of the culture.

As an independent author, I had to manage my own marketing, so I tried assimilating into the literary world fold without utilizing Americanism, because it belittles me. If I’m only an [adjective] author, then I’m saying my art is only valuable to [adjective] people, which would be me belittling my target audience, the global community!

The last two months During the summer of 2014, I did decent with general sales but abysmal in representing my work without getting forced into a social cubby-hole. I incurred derogatory statements regarding my sex, my race, my ethnicity, and those statements then erroneously defined the quality of my novel.

While I try to respect the perspective of those who protect their “-ness,” I won’t allow my principles to be subjugated to the -ness. Does that make sense? That’s not my crutch; that’s that person’s crutch, and I needn’t lean on it. Here’s a sample of that:

There was an opportunity for I Blew Up Juarez to be featured in one of Tampa Bay’s [adjective] bookstores. This [adjective] bookstore, according to its owner, is the signature bookstore for the area’s [adjective] community. As well, the owner was a contributing committee member for a major area festival celebrating the [adjective] community, and she was THE person to talk to in order to be a featured artist in that festival. Struck gold, right?

The bookstore owner felt her endorsement of my work would be integral to achieving success in the Greater Tampa Bay reading community. It was here in the conversation I started to experience trepidation, as I observed her mentally pushing four boards together around me in the middle of her shop.

A bystander to our conversation felt compelled to declare, “We need to support all [adjective] authors!” He nodded heavily, proud of this statement. He supplemented his declaration by talking about inspiring the future generation of [adjectives], and the struggles of being [adjective].

Very rah-rah-rah this guy! I saw an opportunity and replied, “Thank you for that! I have copies in my car, would you like to purchase one?”

He blinked at me.

He looked at the bookstore owner.

The bookstore owner burned eyes into him.

He looked back to me and declared, “I wasn’t going to buy a book today.”

I retrieved my review copy of I Blew Up Juarez from her weeks later, as it became more evident her intentions were to puppet my [adjective] self, not my artist self. Even if she was a fellow [adjective] person in the literary community, she behaved like a complete asshole.

Unfortunately, it is socially expected to accept marginalization and profitable to -ness it up.

It’s disparaging, but…I suppose I’m the only one who sees it that way.

*: original post 06.24.2014 – edited content and toned down cynicism

Getting Emo About NaNo

12 days into December, and I’ve yet had a proper come-down from the literary Iron Man that was National Novel Writing Month. Because of the food holiday break and an unfortunate event involving my truck, I’ve ignored acknowledging my experience, which is important to do if one intends to continue writing. So I’ll use this slice of space-time to vent out the lingering emotions. Come along with me if you’re brave enough…

Winner-2014-Web-Banner

This NaNo was two years in the making. My very first NaNoWriMo entry was a novel titled The Black Parade. This was a very ‘thinky’ work, exploring the applicability/feasibility of Ayn Rand’s political philosophy, objectivism, to the modern American Conservative. During contemplation, the Republican National Convention was in town, sexy ass Paul Ryan was extolling Atlas Shrugged as his most influential work, and I was still smarting from a less-than-glamorous exit from Texas politics. It was a very angry work, resulting in sending the United States of America into a socio-political, economic collapse.

2014, I follow The Black Parade with The American Manifesto. I’m still running with applied objectivism in this work, but not in the ‘let’s prove Ayn Rand’s attributes wrong’ style; instead, I prove how we exercise objectivism in our daily living. All I did was, take the existing caveats of Rand’s theory, layer over them our Digital Age (technological determinism), our economic condition (class disparity), and our war attitude (Americanism mixed with Totalitarianism), and from them, tease out the ‘refreshed’ caveats applicable to modern times. Here’s the breakdown:

In which Ostands for Simeonic Objectivism in Theory and Ostands for Simeonic Objectivism in Application. Yes, I do have the right to name socio-political theorems after me, see my About page for the credentials, and yes, you’re welcome to utilize this theory in your own scientific work, I have all the background data at the ready if you’re genuinely interested.

I know you understand as a creative being, how even the most rigid, structured plans for a project can be annihilated by the spirit of the work. In The American Manifesto, I intended to create a civil war, conceptualizing the need for dominion, control, and establishing order paramount to healing, community-building, and sharing. Instead, the work became very introspective, and the characters who carried over from Book One started behaving very opposite of what they exercised before. When we last met Andrea, she was a cold, indifferent, hatchet-wielding slayer of injustice, but in this work, she becomes very nurturing, self-admonishing, and open to suggestion. This comes from my current metaphysical state, where I’ve reconciled my previous existence for what it was, and now, very open to guidance and suggestion from elders/crones.

Under the recommendation of an equally empathic friend, I read Dancing In The Flames by Woodman and Dickson, an excellent primer on the exploration of the divine feminine in her many forms. Followers of this blog have experienced my various Jungian references to archetypes, so why not incorporate them into novel form? What followed then, was the appearance of new characters representing the most common social archetypes who, in my opinion, impede our ability to be the best Americans we can be toward each other. Essentially, I anthropomorphized OA.

Of those anthropomorphized caveats emerged a theme: Wisdom over all. Wisdom over weapons, wisdom over dominion, wisdom over divisiveness. This excited me so much, I admit I spent more time sharing how each character came to actualize wisdom than I did moving the story along to its intended end, which was the meeting of all emergent leaders in the center of America to decide how to move forward. Which means, of course, this is now becoming a trilogy!

What taxed me emotionally was the case for the Republic of Lakotah. About 2009/2010, I read a National Geographic article exposing the apocryphal conditions of an Oglala Lakota reservation. I remember becoming severely emotionally invested in reaction! My soul ached. I felt a deep set fury, a mother-like protectiveness, a sensation of, ‘how dare they hurt my children!’ which was confusing because I’ve never birthed children, so I didn’t know of this intrinsic power. Later I studied then realized it wasn’t me in the ego sense reacting, but the Divine Mother voicing through me.

I knew there had to be a method in which I could constructively communicate my disgust with the United States government – which openly and unapologetically exacts colonialism upon a free-willed people – and the liberty presented itself during this NaNoWriMo. The Divine Mother took many forms – Angry Mother, Crazy Mother, Nurturing Mother – as the discussion of healing carried on in The American Manifesto. Andrea Killsen is of Lakota origin, and in this NaNo entry, I delved into her history. Her family is predominantly in Arkansas, some split between Oklahoma and North and South Dakota. I followed Andrea’s history for explanation purposes, but then folded it out to represent conflict, an identity crisis, if you will. What Andrea experiences is representative of America’s identity crisis: we collectively ignore/refuse to acknowledge our shared pain in exchange for the glamour of global superpower status. How super can we be when we abuse and torture and starve and demoralize our own?

At the time of composition, the Keystone XL debate moved to the Senate, where during discussion, one brave Lakota stood and chanted above the politicos, a reminder that the debate as to the benefit of the pipeline has to consider first and foremost, who has the right to the land that the pipeline will run through? The Republic of Lakotah formalized its sovereignty in 2007, but that sovereignty has yet to be recognized. Given fairness, given an embracing of our fellow Americans, permission needs to be asked of these people. We Americans should not be shocked that the Lakota and other nations will respond with a ‘fuck you and hell no!’ but we as Americans should delight in what they can build from a positive collaboration with ethical public servants. My outstanding thesis for The American Manifesto became thus: until we collectively right that wrong, until we recognize these nationalists and promote their right to exercise their sovereignty, and until we invite them to the head of the decision making table, we as a nation, will collapse.

America, we are young and naive and self-congratulating and ignorant and close minded and annoying, an obnoxious teenager sitting in the back of the Global Unity classroom acting up for attention, while the rest of the democratic world rolls its eyes and wishes we would choke on the next spitball we make. Wisdom. We are starved of it. And nothing amplified that more during composition than the deplorable decisions and outrageous reactions in Ferguson. This work was fueled by erratic despair, and I will need some time to personally heal before I can read through it.

I dare not pretend I have all the answers, but I feel I at least started a plausible conceptual framework for the recalibration of Americanism through The American Manifesto. I believe very much so in these straight-off-my-proud-to-be-American-calendar statements:

But I also believe it’s going to take an extremely traumatic ass-kicking before we get our shit together.

This was a heavy work, but I am proud of it. It was birthed from an authentic place, incorporating historical facts and real-world examples with the best of my cognitive ability. I exercised scientific methodology but I encased it in storytelling, so that the bitter pill could at least taste sweet and feel fun as it goes down into your spirit stomach.

If you made it to this paragraph, thank you for helping me recalibrate. I have much more writing to do…

Visit http://www.republicoflakotah.com/  to learn more about the Republic of Lakotah and the beauty of North America’s original peoples.

A Message from the Leadership at Penn State

[NOTE: I attended Penn State University and proudly earned my Master of Science in 2008, before the Sandusky/Paterno incident occurred. I was not on campus at the time these events were revealed. I abhore the actions of a small group of elitists over vulnerable children. I do not deserve the mockery, the heinous comments, and the outright unsolicited disrespect, somehow equating me to paedophiles simply because I wear a Penn State shirt or have decals on my vehicle celebrating my achievement. Most of the time I have to muster the strength to not say anything, but admittingly, it’d feel better if I could just pound those constant, ignorant bastards into the ground!

This letter is from the University President sent to all students and alumni on September 5, 2014. I’ve copied and pasted it here plus highlighted the particular statements which struck my sentiments exactly. This isn’t just an examination of the lack of civility towards Penn State; rather, I read this as an observation of the state of modern American society, and the depths we now go to make our ability to function as a community impossible.]

psuheader

 

 

A Message from the Leadership at Penn State

September 5, 2014

Dear friends:

For decades, few universities could match the considerate manner in which Penn Staters treated both friend and opponent. In particular, to see someone wearing a Penn State T-shirt while traveling was a guarantee of a common bond and warm conversation no matter how distant the location. Today, that rather remarkable bond is under stress.

Unfortunately, there are many examples in every university where differences of opinion lead to incivility. For Penn State, one issue is of particular concern. There are honest disagreements on fundamental issues related to whether our institution acted appropriately, how our institution handled a crisis, and whether the sanctions that resulted are appropriate. Reasonable people can be found on all sides of these issues. The reasons for this disagreement are clear. Much is still left to interpretation and the issues have considerable emotional significance to us all. We are likely never to have the full story. We are equally likely never to reach consensus.

The question is whether a lack of civility in discussing these issues will create a deeper divide, one that alters the remarkable bond that exists between all those who are a part of the Penn State community. Consider just a few examples that you may have also come across – the alumnus who says he lost his best friend over his opinion of the Freeh report; the alumni trustee candidate that faced dozens of unkind comments; the long time donor of time and treasure who no longer feels welcome.

Debate and disagreement are critical constructs in the role of universities in testing ideas and promoting progress on complex issues. But, the leaders of your University at every level, from the administration, faculty, staff and students, are unanimous in deploring the erosion of civility associated with our discourse. Reasonable people disagree, but we can disagree without sacrificing respect. The First Amendment guarantees our right to speak as we wish, but we are stronger if we can argue and debate without degrading others.

Today, civility is an issue that arises in many areas of campus debate. Some may argue that the lack of civility is a national issue, promoted by a growing community involved in posting anonymous comments on blogs or by acrimonious national politics. We cannot afford to follow their lead, not if we are to serve our students as role models, not if we expect to continue to attract the outstanding volunteers who serve our University in so many ways, and not if we wish to have Penn Staters take our University to new levels of excellence.

Respect is a core value at Penn State University. We ask you to consciously choose civility and to support those whose words and actions serve to promote respectful disagreement and thereby strengthen our community.

Signed,

Members of the President’s Council (unanimous)

Eric J. Barron, President
Janine S. Andrews, Director, Office of the Board of Trustees and Associate Secretary
Anne (Sandy) Barbour, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics
Susan M. Basso, Vice President for Human Resources
Blannie E. Bowen, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
Michael J. DiRaimo, Special Assistant to the President for Governmental Affairs
Stephen S. Dunham, Vice President and General Counsel
David J. Gray, Senior Vice President for Finance and Business/Treasurer
Madlyn L. Hanes, Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses
Craig Hillemeier, Chief Executive Officer, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center; Senior Vice President for Health Affairs; Dean, Penn State College of Medicine
Nicholas P. Jones, Executive Vice President and Provost of the University
Rodney P. Kirsch, Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations
Robert N. Pangborn, Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education
Thomas G. Poole, Vice President for Administration/Secretary
Neil A. Sharkey, Interim Vice President for Research
Damon Sims, Vice President for Student Affairs
Craig D. Weidemann, Vice President for Outreach and Vice Provost for Online Education
Marcus A. Whitehurst, Interim Vice Provost for Educational Equity

Members of the Academic Leadership Council (unanimous)

Francis K. Achampong, Chancellor, Penn State Mont Alto
Michael A. Adewumi, Vice Provost for Global Programs
Kelly M. Austin, Chancellor, Penn State Schuylkill
Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry, Chancellor and Dean, Penn State Altoona
Donald L. Birx, Chancellor, Penn State Erie, The Behrend College
Blannie E. Bowen, Vice Provost for Academic Affairs
Christian M. M. Brady, Dean, Schreyer Honors College
David W. Chown, Chancellor, Penn State York
Barbara J. Christ, Interim Dean, College of Agricultural Sciences
Ann (Nan) C. Crouter, Dean, College of Health and Human Development
Charles H. Davis, Chancellor, Penn State Wilkes-Barre
Barbara I. Dewey, Dean, University Libraries and Scholarly Communications
William E. Easterling III, Dean, College of Earth and Mineral Sciences
Craig S. Edelbrock, Chancellor, Penn State Great Valley
Amr S. Elnashai, Dean, College of Engineering
Gary S. Gildin, Interim Dean, Penn State Law in Carlisle
Davie Jane Gilmour, President, Pennsylvania College of Technology
Madlyn L. Hanes, Vice President for Commonwealth Campuses
Marie Hardin, Dean, College of Communications
Melanie L. Hatch, Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer, Penn State DuBois
Nancy L. Herron, Interim Chancellor, Penn State Greater Allegheny
A. Craig Hillemeier, Chief Executive Officer, Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center; Senior Vice President for Health Affairs; Dean, Penn State College of Medicine
R. Keith Hillkirk, Chancellor, Penn State Berks
James W. Houck, Interim Dean, Penn State Law at University Park
Nicholas P. Jones, Executive Vice President and Provost of the University
Barbara O. Korner, Dean, College of Arts and Architecture
Mary-Beth Krogh-Jespersen, Chancellor, Penn State Worthington Scranton
Donna J. Kuga, Interim Chancellor, Penn State Beaver
Jonna M. Kulikowich, Chair, University Faculty Senate
Mukund S. Kulkarni, Chancellor, Penn State Harrisburg
Daniel J. Larson, Dean, Eberly College of Science
Gary M. Lawler, Chancellor, Penn State Hazleton
Kenneth F. Lehrman III, Vice Provost for Affirmative Action
Paula Milone-Nuzzo, Dean, College of Nursing
David H. Monk, Dean, College of Education
Kevin M. Morooney, Vice Provost for Information Technology
Robert N. Pangborn, Vice President and Dean for Undergraduate Education
W. Charles Patrick, Chancellor/Chief Academic Officer, Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus
Mary Beth Rosson, Interim Dean, College of Information Sciences and Technology
Karen Wiley Sandler, Chancellor, Penn State Abington
Neil A. Sharkey, Interim Vice President for Research
Damon Sims, Vice President for Student Affairs
Kevin J. G. Snider, Chancellor, Penn State New Kensington
Regina Vasilatos-Younken, Interim Dean of the Graduate School
Craig D. Weidemann, Vice President for Outreach and Vice Provost for Online Education
Susan Welch, Dean, College of the Liberal Arts
Marcus A. Whitehurst, Interim Vice Provost for Educational Equity
Charles H. Whiteman, Dean, Smeal College of Business
Ann M. Williams, Chancellor, Penn State Lehigh Valley
Kristin R. Woolever, Chancellor, Penn State Brandywine

Members of the University Faculty Senate’s Advisory Committee (unanimous)

Mohamad A. Ansari, Penn State Berks, Chair Elect, University Faculty Senate
Thomas O. Beebee, Member, Faculty Advisory Committee to the President
Ellen A. Knodt, Penn State Abington, Member, Faculty Advisory Committee to the President
Jonna M. Kulikowich, Chair, University Faculty Senate
Chester A. Ray, Penn State Hershey, Member, Faculty Advisory Committee to the President
James A. Strauss, Secretary, University Faculty Senate
Brenton M. Yarnal, Immediate Past Chair of the University Faculty Senate

University Staff Advisory Council Executive Officers (unanimous)

Jeremy Warner, Security and Facility Manager, Palmer Museum of Art, Chair
Jennifer C. Blew, Administrative Support Assistant, Schreyer Honors College, Co-Chair-elect
Devon Marie Mower, Residence Life Coordinator, Co-Chair-elect
Susan A. Johnson, Manager of Planning and Operations, Liberal Arts, Secretary
Susan A. Johnson, Manager of Planning and Operations, Liberal Arts, Secretary
Madhavi Kari, Cocurriculum Programs Manager, Information Sciences and Technology, Secretary-elect
Pauline M. McCarl, Administrative Support Coordinator, Earth and Mineral Sciences, Past Secretary

Student leadership (unanimous)

Anand R. Ganjam, President, University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA)
John Shaffer, President, Council of Commonwealth Student Governments (CCSG),
Danielle C. Rhubart, President, Graduate and Professional

 

Want to discuss the matter civilly? Let’s discuss…