Deception

Oh, what a tangled web we weave…when first we practice to deceive.

∼ Sir Walter Scott, 1771-1832

I found myself contemplating deception when a poem emerged from my pen in response to The Secret Keeper writing prompt:

What dark web have you woven?

what tight-spun disguise?

humanity pad-locked and stowed

its key lost in lies

no steel claws could scratch you free

deception’s sad victory.

This poem was inspired by the five magic prompt words from The Secret Keeper Weekly Writing Prompt #29:  WEB | LOST | BLACK | SCRATCH | LOCK

∼   ∼   ∼   ∼   ∼  ∼   ∼    ∼    ∼    ∼  ∼

Human deception is a vast topic ranging from a magician’s slight of hand to lies, half truths, and concealments that plague interpersonal relationships, sales,marketing, political speeches, and corporate public relations campaigns.

The English language has 112 words for deception, according to one count, each with a different shade of meaning: collusion, fakery, malingering, self-deception, confabulation, prevarication, exaggeration, denial.

Robin Marantz Henig

Evidence of private and public lies  can inspire attitudes of cynicism.  In my opinion, a cynical view, when generalized to every situation, blocks trust, engagement and participation.  An example of a cynical view could be: ‘all politicians are phony.’  That thought could lead to a decision to not vote in an election. To me, a decision to not participate is unfortunate and stems from an over-generalization.  Some politicians are insincere, but that does not mean there are no politicians with ideals and integrity.

Insight into character comes from listening intently to the spoken word.  The physical peson, their charisma, charm and dramatic flair is more often used to persuade audiences, as they use these stealth tools of disgiuise and deception.

Maximillian Degenerez

Rather than adopting an overall cynicism, I try to focus on a ‘buyer beware’ frame of mind. Whether I am reading a food package label, hearing about a corporation’s green commitment or evaluating a politician I keep my mind immune to broad assurances that are designed to persuade or impress. I try to question and seek reliable second opinions.

There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what isn’t true; the other is to refuse to believe what is true.

Soren Kierkegaard , 1813-1855

We are so accustomed to disguise ourselves to others, that in the end, we become disguised to ourselves.
This post is in response to  Writer’s Quote Wednesday Writing Challenge–an inspiring community event focusing on combining quotes with fresh poetry, fiction, or creative non-fiction.

 

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Language of the people

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Bain News Service, P. (1920) W.B. Yeats, portrait bust. date created or published later by Bain. [Image] Retrieved from the Library of Congress

Think like a wise man but communicate in the language of the people.

W.B. Yeats, 1865-1939

I find this thought, attributed to William Butler Yeats, worth considering.  We all are governed by life experiences,  our own knowledge base, local/cultural linguistics, etc.  We have stylistic choices as well.  My leaning is towards simplicity–or attempting simplicity–attempting to use words and phrases that are  understandable by an imagined collection of readers. Whether I am successful will depend on the reader, but I nevertheless see accessible language as an ideal goal. Below I have reproduced Yeat’s ‘Lake Isle of Innisfree’, which I find very easy to absorb though written in 1888.  I have also reproduced a quote below the poem, in which Yeat reflects about the language that he used.

Lake Isle of Innisfree
 

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;
Nine bean rows will I have there, a hive for the honey bee,
And live alone in the bee loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

– W.B. Yeats

I had begun to loosen rhythm as an escape from rhetoric and from that emotion of the crowd that rhetoric brings, but I only understood vaguely and occasionally that I must for my special purpose use nothing but the common syntax. A couple of years later I could not have written that first line with its conventional archaism — “Arise and go”—nor the inversion of the last stanza.

W.B. Yeats

“William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th-century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms.” Wikipedia

I would like to thank Elusive Trope who recently posted The Second Coming by Yeats –a brilliant poem reflecting on the social/political climate of  Yeat’s time, but feeling relevant today. My choice of quotes for this Writer’s Quote Wednesday post had a circuitous journey of its own branching off from The Second Coming.  If you are in the mood for more nature poetry of the same era, please visit Silver Threading at the Writer’s Quote Wednesday link above, where Colleen Chesebro features poet Mary Webb.

Forests, trees, and people–Writer’s Quote Wednesday

forest-411491_640.jpgIt suddenly came to me: ‘This week I will post quotes about trees.’  A  TreeHugger article had presented itself in my email —it was about a book to be released in English in September, The Hidden Life of Trees by  German forest ranger, Peter Wohlleben. Applying experience and science, he talks about how trees communicate and cooperate with each  other. I have no quotes from his book as the English version is not out yet.  Instead, here is an example of  what scientists are saying about trees from The Secret Life of Trees by Colin Tudge:

The revelations build by the week: ….. how they speak to one another, warning others downwind that elephants or giraffes are on the prowl, how they mimic the pheromones of predatory insects that are eating their leaves.  Every week the insights grow more fantastical—trees seem less and less like monuments and more and more like the world’s appointed governors, ultimately controlling all life on land…but also the key to its survival.

Colin Tudge, The Secret Life of Trees: How they Live, and Why they Matter, 2005, Crown Publishing Group, New York.

forest-56930_640.jpgA second tree-themed discovery: a  recent blog post by Your Nibbled News called Caring for trees the ultimate job–Taking care of the future today.  It opens with a photo with this caption:

Caring for trees would be the ultimate job for me. This desire has no direct relationship to the biblical Garden of Eden. Trees protect the planet and humanity from imminent disaster. They should be protected, respected, groomed and nurtured. They are this planet’s oldest sentinels. They deserve our care and consideration.

Warmed by these ideas and words, I found two more quotes  to feature. In the first, Sylvia Earle, scientist, speaks about the intricate web of life visible to those who have the opportunity, time, and inclination to look.

Look at the bark of a redwood, and you see moss. If you peer beneath the bits and pieces of the moss, you’ll see toads, small insects, a whole host of life that prospers in that miniature environment. A lumberman will look at a forest and see so many board feet of lumber. I see a living city.

Sylvia Earle, American Scientist, 1935-

I have lived in cities most of my life.  The house I grew up in had one maple tree in front and one maple tree out back.  The whole yard, except the part facing the road, was surrounded by a tall cedar hedge regularly trimmed by my father. Sometimes in the autumn my father took us for walks in the woods; and for three weeks in the summer, I explored the woods near a rented cottage.  These were exciting times.

The tree which moves some to tears of joy is in the eyes of others only a green thing that stands in the way. Some see nature all ridicule and deformity… and some scarce see nature at all. But to the eyes of the man of imagination, nature is imagination itself.

William Blake, 1757-1827

robin-534826_640.jpgThese words, written so many years ago seem to still reflect the world–there are many people who see the natural world as a backdrop to be utilized and organized by humans.  Yet there are many people who care about nature.  I believe everyone has the capacity for imagination and experiencing joy in the natural world (and of course, having imagination isn’t necessarily tied to appreciation of trees).   I  believe that both imagination and connection to nature are desirable human qualities that can flourish or fade away. These potentials can be eroded by pressures of survival, ambition, religious worldviews, and economic philosophies.  Whether or not people connect with trees, birds, and so on, is influenced strongly by life experiences  and choices from birth onwards.

Photos are CCO Public Domain, courtesy of Pixabay.com.
In response to Writer’s Quote Wednesday and Be Writing on Wednesday (BeWoW).

 

The powerful play goes on…

I have been so wrapped up in considering chocolate, consumerism, and free trade, that I need a break.  For my Wednesday quote, I looked for a poem.  I came upon Oh me! Oh Life! by Walt Whitman—it starts with a world-weary tone, but ends on a positive note. Putting aside the 19th-century language, it could have been written today. If the white print on blue is difficult to read, please keep scrolling for the black on white version.

oh me oh life walt whitman

Oh me! Oh life!
of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

 

Answer.
That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.

Source:  Leaves of Grass, 1892, by Walt Whitman

Walt Whitman was an American poet, essayist and journalist who lived from 1819 to 1892. Whitman’s poetry often deviates from traditional poetic form; his writing often seems more like prose than poetry. Critics often refer to Whitman as ‘the father of free-verse,’ even though he did not invent this style — he just popularized it”.

My post is in response to Writer’s Quote Wednesday and Be Writing on Wednesday. Please follow the links to find inspiring and thought-provoking quotes.

A fundamental right

The-environmental values suzuki

The environment is so fundamental to our continued existence that it must transcend politics and become a central value of all members of society.

∼ David Suzuki, The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature

Did you know that roughly 100 nations have environmental rights enshrined in their constitutions along with human rights?  This means that their highest law guarantees environmental rights such as clean water, clean air, safe food, and uncontaminated soil. Ironically, the nations that do not yet have such protection embedded in their laws include industrialized countries such as the United States, Canada, Australia, China, Japan and New Zealand.

The Blue Dot movement, backed by the David Suzuki Foundation, is endeavouring to win support across Canada for enshrining environmental rights in our constitution.  Their strategy is to work from lower levels of government up.  In December, Toronto was the 100th city to sign a Blue Dot declaration enshrining citizen rights to clean air, safe water and food, a stable climate and a say in decisions that affect their well-being.  The end goal is a federal environmental bill of rights or a constitutional amendment.

Why is it so important to embed environmental rights in the constitution?  A constitution reflects the fundamental values of a society and is not easily changed. Constitutional rights to a healthy environment and stable climate will promote strong environmental protection laws that cannot be easily overturned. Such rights will empower the courts to make decisions that reinforce those laws.

Interested in reading more?  My best source was The Constitutional Right to a Healthy Environment, by David R. Boyd, Environment Magazine, July-August 2012.

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Visit our quote hosts’ websites to read their writer musings for today, and links to other submissions

 SilverThreading  and RonovanWrites

 

Canaries in the coal mine–haiku and quotes

Fumes seep and spiral,
Canaries in the coal mine
Chirp their last faint song.

RonovanWrites’ prompts of the week (trill and final) made me think of canaries in a coal mine.  Initially, I had an image of canaries singing to warn of danger.  However the canary warning is not their chirping–it’s their death.  Miners used to bring caged canaries into mines to warn them of dangerous gas leaks. When their feathered friends passed out, they knew it was time to get out of the mine.

As Wednesday is the day I do a quotations post, I searched for  a ‘canary in the coal mine’ quote.  I was not disappointed.  I found three interesting candidates–the first two have an environmental theme and the third one offers artistic inspiration.

roger-payne-quote-whales-are-humanitys-canary-in-the-coal-mine-as-ocea

“Whales are humanity’s canary in the coal mine,…As ocean pollution levels increase, marine mammals like whales will be among the first to go.”

Roger Searle Payne (born January 29, 1935) is an American biologist and environmentalist famous for the 1967 discovery (with Scott McVay) of whale song among humpback whales. Payne later became an important figure in the worldwide campaign to end commercial whaling.

Wikipedia

frances-gulland-quote-i-believe-that-these-sea-lions-that-are-washing

“I believe that these sea lions that are washing up along the coast are actually acting as important canaries in the coal mine, warning us of some ocean changes that contribute in fact to human health.”

Dr. Frances Gulland is the Director of Veterinary Science at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, CA. Dr. Gulland has been actively involved in the veterinary care of stranded marine mammals and research into marine mammal diseases since 1994.

State of California Ocean Protection Council

I-sometimes-wondered kurt vonnegut

I sometimes wondered what the use of any of the arts was. The best thing I could come up with was what I call the canary in the coal mine theory of the arts.  This theory says that artists are useful to society because they are so sensitive.  They are super-sensitive. They keel over like canaries in poison coal mines long before more robust types realize that there is any danger whatsoever.”

What do you think about Kurt Vonnegut’s theory?  I believe he was pondering human survival and asking ‘how do the arts promote the survival of humankind?’  His answer, quoted above, is that artists (writers, painters, photographers, dancers, actors, musicians, etc) are more sensitive; in touch with feelings, senses, imagination, intuition, and such.  Artists notice more of what is going on in the world.

A bit elitist or grandiose?  Perhaps, but Vonnegut may have been onto something.  Another approach would be to attribute sensitivity to artistic endeavour rather than to those who pursue it full-time.  In other words, people are more fulfilled and aware when they can incorporate the arts into their lives. We all have the potential to be canaries in the coal mine.

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (November 11, 1922 – April 11, 2007) was an American novelist known for works blending satire, black comedy, and science fiction.

Wikiquote

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In the mood for more quotes? Visit RonovanWrites and SilverThreading.

 

Difference between a firefly and lightning bolt–#Writer’s Quote Wednesday#BeWoW

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The difference between the almost right word and the right word is really a large matter–’tis the difference between the lightning-bug and the lightning.

This quote resonates with me.  There are many ways a thought can be expressed–even a single word can make a difference.  Sometimes words just flow.  Other times, a better phrase comes to mind after a break.  One thing I have been enjoying about blogging is that the process encourages spontaneity and sharing,  as opposed to hiding thoughts in a drawer, embarrassed by their imperfection.  However, knowing there is such a thing as a lightning flash, as opposed to the spark of a firefly, inspires my attention.

According to Bartleby.com, Mark Twain (1835-1910) offered this advice for George Bainton’s compilation, The Art of Authorship, 1890. Best known for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of  Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain was a prolific American  writer, humorist, and public speaker. Writing under a pen name, his real name was Samuel Langhorne Clemens.

This post is a contribution to SilverThreading’s Writer’s Quote Wednesday and RonovanWrites’ Be Writing on Wednesday (BeWoW).  Have a great Wednesday!