Archive of April 2009

Fri 24 Apr

Thoughts on author/reader relationship

One of the unexpected outcomes of my nanowrimo experience last year was a conversation with my father where he was insistence that my novella was an expression or reflection of my own life and myself.  Since I had intended to write something of an anti-hero and a character I would feel sorry for and ridicule I took issue with him and was not particularly pleased!  But trying to take an objective perspective and after talking with others and reflecting I can see there is a lot of truth in what he was saying.  I would qualify it by saying it can never reveal the whole person, rather aspects.  Sometimes only background.  Perhaps it depends how open the person is?  Perhaps it depends how much they have taken to the old maxim "write from what you know"?  But having met one or two authors in person when I have read their works I can see it seems to bear out.

Perhaps it is obvious to readers.  But as a writer and in this context I was quite unprepared for this, and have to admit it has given me pause for thought.

I recently "discovered" a new author I enjoy; Tobias Hill.  I first read "The Cryptographer" and enjoyed it enough to go on to read his first novel ("Underground").  When I check Wikipedia I certainly discover many biographical details that tie into his first work.  Which makes me think that just maybe the extent to which one reveals of oneself is especially apparent in early works.  Perhaps it is a feature of being new to fiction writing, and as one becomes more adept at spinning out a tale of fiction one can remove more of the personal and write more that is truly imagined?  I'm not sure I have more writing in me, at least not right now.  But when and if I do I shall perhaps return to consider this.

I really like Tobias Hill's style.  I'm not surprised to read he has a background as a port also.  One fo the little details that caught my eye was his take on technology in "The Cryptographer", I loved the near future setting and the corelation with the "credit crunch" phenomenon.  Also his coining of the term "Soft Gold".  As someone with a fairly good knowledge of information technology some writers ill-informed use of the subject as a fictional device can really grate on my nerves, but not in this case.

On a personal side note - the reduction in post activity can partly be attributed to simply beign busy with "real life".  But I have to admit the other main reason is a complete absence of comments and an awareness that not many read my blog.  So it is a little like talking to myself.  Please do not get me wrong, this is not a "pity posting" whining for comments.  I am also fully aware that comments are largely made by other bloggers and it requires me to be reading and commenting for the favour to be returned.  I'll confess to a nice feeling when I found someone on my blogroll has also added this blog to theirs.

I have made this blog extremely easy to comment on - I think I just want to say that any comments passed will be very well received and if you are a reader of blogs and you have enjoyed that you read a comment is probably the best way to encourage the author to write more.

Sun 19 Apr

Evil Haiku

The Quaker meeting which I attend has been doing a series of workshops along the lines of "Twelve Quakers and ...." where the ellipsis might be various things including God, Jesus, Equality, Simplicity, and, this month, Evil.

During the closing session on "evil" we were invited to write Haiku and although many felt the form could only be used in the traditional Japanese way to describe natural beauty, but I had no issues with taking the verse form and mocking the traditional Haiku stereotype with these efforts to capture something of the subject of evil.

There are four, each standing alone, and alternating the traditional with the free format form of Haiku.


Bloody splash

Taking life


No love

Just hurt

Abandon hope you

Held in the thrall of

All that is not love

Child eyes



Innocence lost


Mass graves were filled

Without thought or care until

Evil stared back



I was concerned with the etymology for clues; which I now realise is really a red herring since the exploration of the spiritual meaning to a Quaker only concerns the modern udeage really.  However I did find what I turned up interesting, and I learned that any ideas of derivation involving "devil" or "Eve" are mistaken.

"Evil" has gotten distinctly worse over the millenia. Originally it seems to have signified nothing more sinister than "uppity," and in the Old and Middle English period it meant simply "bad"; it is only in modern English that its connotations of "extreme moral wickedness" came to the fore. It probably comes ultimately from "upelo-", a derivative of the Indo-European base "upo-, under (source of Greek hupo, under, Sanskrit "upa", at, to, and English "up" and "over"), and so its underlying connotation is of "exceeding due limits, extremism. Its Germanic descendant was "ubilaz", source of German übel, evil as well as English evil."

It seems this finding by John Ayto lines up perfectly with Scriptures. An example of this is found in Ezekiel Chapter 16 verse 49. When most Christians think of the sin or evil of Sodom, they usually think of the immoral sexual sins of Sodom of which homosexuality would be considered the height of their depravity. Yet this is how the Creator describes Sodom's condition:

Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy. And they were haughty and committed abominations before Me; therefore, I took them away as I saw fit.

This passage seems to line up very nicely with the original meaning of the word "evil." The modern church generally teaches that the "evil" of Sodom is the height of wickedness and that its fate of destruction by fire is an example of the destruction of the world which has not become a part of the church. However, the Creator says there is a worse condition of "evil" than that of Sodom's. Jerusalem is a type and picture of His own people, the "apple of His eye." Here is how He describes the condition of His own people, those who certainly would not consider "Sodom" as their own sister. Speaking to His own "chosen" people He says:

Samaria did not commit half of your sins; but you have multiplied your abominations more than they, and have justified your sisters by all the abominations which you have done. You who judged your sisters bear your own shame also, because the sins which you committed were more abominable than theirs; they are more righteous than you. Yes, be disgraced also, and bear your own shame because you justified your sisters. When I bring back their captives, the captives of Sodom and her daughters, and the captives of Samaria and her daughters, then I will also bring back the captives of your captivity among them, that you may bear your own shame and be disgraced by all that you did when you comforted them. When your sister Sodom and her daughters return to their former state, then you and your daughters will return to your former state.

It seems the word "uppity" seems like a good definition for the word "evil." It also seems like the "chosen" people are more "uppity" than Sodom and Samaria. It seems almost blasphemous to think that the wickedness of the Creator's own people will justify the likes of Sodom and Samaria and that they will be restored to their former state. That Sodom, in the eyes of God, is a sister to the "chosen" people. It certainly is not a sermon I have ever heard preached in the 200+ churches I have attended. But then I never heard that Sodom's primary sin was "uppityness," fullness of food, and abundance of idleness, and not strengthening the hand of the poor and needy. I have been in many churches that are exhibiting the very sins that are ascribed to Sodom. I have never heard a preacher describe their congregation as "sisters to Sodom." Can you imagine what would happen to all the hot air evangelists spew out if we actually believed the plain Word of God that the "uppityness" of God's own people have "justified" the worst sinners in the world? Why, it would completely stop all the hot foul wind coming from these "last days revival" messages preached by thousands of "ministries" trying to raise millions of dollars to save a few more before God finally destroys this "uppity" world. We just might repent of our own "uppityness" and let God restore this whole fallen mankind to its former state. We might then find the time to "strengthen the hand of the poor and the needy."


Credit to Gary Amirault for the above