My Summer Night’s Dream

It has been said that there are two Dream scenarios, the dream of being awake in the Real world and the other form of dream when you are asleep. This dream that I had made me think about the difficulty of distinguishing sleep dreaming from wakefulness, fantasy from reality. I also remembered what Freud said:

“All dreams are wish fulfillment.”

***

It was hot and humid that night, my window was open wide to catch any wandering breeze. I only had a thin sheet over my body when I fell asleep…

I was in a forest, the trees were tall and close together. Their branches seemed like arms swaying in the wind and the lower ones would swing down and almost grab me. I started walking fast, the leaves were crunching and the soil was damp under my bare feet.

The whispering wind seemed to be talking to me.

“Writer Dave, oh Writer Dave, why isn’t your novel a best-seller?”

I was turning around and around trying to hear where the voice was coming from. I got so dizzy that I fell on the ground looking up at the stars.

My recent novel, “The Becoming”, came to mind. Fifty copies had been sold but now it seemed like it stopped selling. I had thought the novel was my best work up to now. But now, I was frustrated with the low results.

I closed my eyes, and then a woman’s voice came from behind me.

“Hello, Writer Dave.”

I open my eyes and there was a beautiful woman standing over me! She wore a gossamer dress that rippled in the breeze. Her hair was long and golden, falling over her chest. Her face was milky white, her eyes emerald green and her lips crimson.

This woman was gorgeous, like a goddess brought to life. Her eyes were sparkling like the stars in the night sky.

“Who are you?” I mumbled.

“Don’t you know me? I’m Mary, your publisher.”

I only met my publisher once and I didn’t remember her quite like this.

“What do you want?’

“I’m here to give you some tips on best-selling fiction.”

She then sat down next to me and put my head gently in her lap. Her slender fingers were caressing my temple. She continued:

“To have a best-seller you need clarity and focus on a single idea. You need the novel to bring an issue into clear view.”

“But Mary, my novel does that, I tell the reader that they are “becoming” every day of their life.”

Her fingers circled my lips.

“Relax Dave, I’m just stating the facts. You need writing that provokes, writing to make people think and act.”

“Again Mary, “The Becoming”’ was supposed to provoke my readers to think about change and their “becoming.”

Mary smiled and continued:

“Did you have a fast pace and excitement in your writing?’

“Yes, I did. I tried to inject enthusiasm into my readers.”

“Well, Writer Dave, if you did all that, you should have a best-seller.”

I told Mary, my girlfriend wouldn’t even consider marrying me if my novel wasn’t a hit.

“Dave, she’s not worth worrying about. She just wants money and fame to bask in.”

I thought about that as an owl whizzed past my head.

Then as fast as Mary appeared she was gone.

***

One of the trees started moving toward me. It was a giant in the form of a tree. Can you imagine, foliage for a head, branches for arms and roots for legs?

“Is that you, Writer Dave?” he said in a booming voice.

“Who are you?” I stuttered.

“I’m your public, your readers.”

“What do you want?”

“Your public want to know: Why should they buy your novel?”

Many voices were yelling this sentence, over and over. It frightened me!

“Why should we buy your novel? Why should we buy your novel?”

Then, after a few minutes, things quieted down.

***

“Hello, Writer Dave.” It was an angelic voice coming from somewhere.

The next thing I knew a beautiful woman with wings and flowers in her hair and a long flowing white robe was sitting in the tree above me.

“I’m Blossom, your fairy, but I warn you I’m mischievous.”

“Can you help me get a best-selling novel?”

“I’m in possession of a magic potion that might help. I was going to give the potion to your public giant, which would make people love your novel and buy it in great amounts. But I thought I’d have some fun first. So I gave some to Mary, your publisher.”

“So that’s why she was so loving toward me.”

“I’m sorry, Dave, but I told you I was mischievous. I will, now, give some to your public giant.”

***

A mist came rolling in and I found myself back with my head in Mary’s lap!

“Dave, I’m here to tell you that your novel has sold over one thousand copies in the last month. You’re on the way to becoming a best-selling novelist.”

***

I woke up in a cold sweat. A voice in my head whispered:

“What is dreamed may prove REAL and what seems REAL may be just a dream.”

You Own Your Life

“I want to have some control over my own life. I don’t want to lose my dignity. It’s torment to live with this illness when I can die right now and let death relieve my suffering.”

This was said by a person suffering from dementia, which was slowly taking their personality away.

Someone once said: “Why are many people more appalled by an UNNATURAL form of dying than by an UNNATURAL form of living?”

This is a statement that shows great knowledge and insight. Death comes to us all sooner or later. We all would like it to come without extreme pain and anguish. Often it comes naturally from heart failure, stroke or in our sleep, and it comes suddenly.

But not always. Free-thinkers, people who form their own opinions about subjects instead of accepting what others say, know that sometimes death comes after long periods of pain and loss of dignity. In that case, it’s wise to have a plan of action and, if possible, when one is in fairly good health.

Assisted or unassisted dying or self-deliverance, whatever you call it, it is a deeply personal choice. Death is a private matter. It can quickly end a person’s pain, suffering and low quality of life, allowing them to die with dignity.

The religious argument is that it is against the word and will of God. If you are not religious, that argument means nothing to you.

The other argument is that laws in favor of voluntary euthanasia are the start of a “slippery slope” that leads to practices that aren’t acceptable to the majority of society and to voluntary suicide.

Remember, we are talking about a person’s private, personal choice, it basically only has to do with the individual themselves. A person that believes in dignity in dying demands choice and control at the end of their life.

***

Ending your life, if you are facing unbearable pain and loss of quality of life with no cure, is the most personal and difficult decision you will ever make.

If you continue to go on, in the above circumstances, you will endure pain and indignity. You will wait for the inevitable end, which may be weeks, months or years away.

***

Everyone has the right to their choice in this matter without interference from the opinions of others. Religious people have the right to their belief that one’s life belongs to God and only He can take it away. But religious beliefs should not be imposed on others.

Many people believe that their life belongs to them and the laws need to be changed. It seems perverse to block the chance to relieve suffering and loss of quality of life.

***

Many people with illnesses and dementia, where there is no possibility of cure, choose to die at home on their own terms. Some don’t want to involve others, if possible, they prefer self-deliverance, which is taking their own life to escape suffering by taking a lethal cocktail, for example.

As far as palliative care by a health service goes, there are many horror stories of people dying in hospitals or care homes left hungry and thirsty. Many don’t even get enough pain relief or sufficient help with personal needs such as washing or going to the toilet. In many cases palliative care is inadequate.

***

Many people want the right to die without unbearable suffering and loss of dignity. Nobody is forcing people to take their own lives, it’s a CHOICE. So please don’t interfere with those who choose to do so.

NO ONE SHOULD LIVE BY ALLOWING OTHERS TO MAKE THEIR DECISIONS!

Journalists and Bias

With the vast amount of information going around the world constantly, I think journalists have a duty to minimize and manage bias as much as possible.

Lets define the word. It’s any inclination or prejudice for or against a person or group in a way that is unfair.

How does the ordinary person see bias? He or she sees bias in a news report when it affects how they see themselves, as a member of a group, their identity or by source.

We judge bias by the Source (who’s reporting it), tabloid or broadsheet, not content.

We make assumptions on the news according to our Identity, our age group, our gender, political preferences, race, nationality and so on.

You read bias into an article by your Group, examples: American, British or Arab—Conservative or Labour—young vs. old—women vs. men.

***

Types of bias:

Bias by Omission—leaving one side of an argument out of an article.

Bias by Labeling—labeling stories with “expert” or “independent”.

Bias by Spin—reporting one side and making that view look better than another.

Bias by Distortion—news that’s not completely right.

***

Journalists bend over backwards trying to prove they are Unbiased.

But bias does exist and it invariably is built into the choices that reporters make, when deciding what to leave in or out of an article..

And that news judgment is subjective, it’s hard to discount how you perceive things.

So maybe, some bias is a good thing!

It could make a story more understandable. It could also, prompt an organization or person to right a wrong.

We must remember, the journalist is writing for the public, not the powers that be.

All in all the journalist is making choices on how a bias could help a story or hinder it.

***

There are also ethics that a journalist should adhere to.

They must defend the freedom of speech and resist efforts to distort information.

It’s a fine line, but a journalist has political and other convictions, like all of us, but they must try to remain neutral and objective.

Both the public and the journalist have to practice Critical Thinking, to spot bias and make sense of what we read and write. They must be able to analyze and interpret what they read and write.

***

To end on a lighter note:

The first thing I do every morning, when I get up, is look at the newspaper to see if the world is still here!

 

There’s Opportunity In Brexit

The UK has made its decision to leave the EU. Instead of moaning, wouldn’t it be better to embrace it positively? When the dust settles in the coming months, I think many of the Remain people will be glad we left the EU.

Why? Because we can now grasp the opportunity to open up to the whole world and shake off the shackles of the EU permanently. Lets face it, who would want to belong to a club struggling with economic weakness, debt problems, large-scale migration and growing geopolitical instability?

The people finally won over the Establishment. By the Establishment, I mean: the elite, the centers of power, the leading politicians, judges and law makers, aristocrats, the privileged ruling class, the rich and powerful, best educated in the society. But these people are NOT necessarily the ones that make the best decisions!

This Establishment and its self-serving political elites are the people who, for years, have ignored the anxieties and aspirations of the electorate.

The Establishment has been out of touch with the people and they have had ENOUGH. Millions of people in the UK don’t embrace the liberal views of the elite. They don’t enthuse about diversity and it’s their right to object. Their values and opinions have been ignored for years and that has promoted frustration and discord in the population.

The people, were and are, fed up with being called, “racist’, just because they, were and are, concerned about large numbers of migrants breaking up the infrastructure of their country.

Cameron and his cronies have persistently represented the interests of Europe in Britain rather than standing up for Britain in Europe.

Now, we have the opportunity to make our own laws, set our own taxes, make our own trade deals and control our borders. In other words, to control our destiny, because you don’t have a country if you can’t control your destiny!

***

So, by voting for Brexit, the people have defied the pleading of the Establishment to stay in the EU. They, the elite, could not bear the idea that there might be a better way of doing things.

As far as the young people of the nation, who feel this decision is to build a wall and pull up the drawbridge, I don’t think so, just the opposite. It will open up this country to the rest of the world, which is a great opportunity and it will be a benefit to the young people. It could be a very prosperous future it they work toward it.

***

I always felt that Cameron’s Project Fear was a shameful deceit and a pulling down of this country. This infuriated the people.

I feel business will engage with Brexit and it will work with a minimum of disruption.

It’s a fact that the 28 member EU was useless at negotiating free-trade deals with the rest of the world. If the EU is to survive, it must make drastic reforms or die. And I don’t think the EU is capable of REAL reform.

***

This could be the beginning of a period of growth and prosperity and higher living standards now that we are OUT of the EU. There will be prospects of increased exports to areas in the world where we didn’t do much before (Mid-East, Far-East and North America).

With freedom from the Brussels bureaucracy there are great opportunities for the UK to seize the day.

There is no need to be frightened, Britain will not just survive, but it will THRIVE.

It might be a rocky road at first, but with the freedom to be a self-governing, outward-looking society, the skies are bright.

HAPPY DAYS ARE HERE AGAIN!

Lessons From Shakespeare

Since I am a writer in my retirement, I am starting to study Shakespeare, which I never did in my youth. I am finding many lessons in the lines of his writings. They are woven in the fabric of his plays. His words contain a great amount of good advice and wisdom.

Here are some that have stayed in my mind:

“We know what we are but know not what we may be.”

This means to me, that we are certain of who we are in the present but not in the future. We don’t realize what we are capable of.

***

“The web of our life is of a mingled yarn, good and ill together.”

This probably means our life is full of positive and negative experiences and they are interconnected. Life is full of ups and downs.

It also could mean the unraveling of the threads of our life as we grow old.

***

“What is past is prologue.”

A prologue is an intro or preface. So the quote means your past has set the scene for the present.

***

“I wasted time and now doth time waste me.”

We all waste time. When we are young, time appears to be unlimited. But as the years go by, the finite nature of our life reveals itself. So the message is: Live each day to the fullest.

***

“Give every man thy ear but few thy voice.”

This means to practice listening more and less speaking. The world is full of talkers but listening is a virtue.

***

“Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt.”

We all have self-doubts but when you wallow in them, you prevent yourself from achieving your goals.

***

“A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.”

There is wisdom in knowing that you don’t know everything. The wise man realizes there is a vast amount to understand and he is aware that he knows little.

***

Yes, Shakespeare is full of lessons.

“Words, words, give me the words and I will write wonderful stories.”

I made that one up myself!

***

What are some of the quotes that are meaningful to you?

You Must Choose!

Recently, I watched Mike Leigh’s film, Naked. It was an excellent demonstration of Sartre’s philosophy of living an authentic existence versus living in bad faith. Also, it illuminated our ability to make right or wrong choices.

Are we, as individuals, able to choose? Who, or what, is in control of you?

Who is in charge? You must decide that you do have a choice, you do have free will, if you fear this decision you will lose any free will that you had!

To begin, I think we need to define the two terms:

Authentic Living—one must take responsibility for the actions one chooses. One must not lean on preset rules and objective norms.

Living in Bad Faith—failing to recognize the many choices that are available. Bad faith is the habit people have of deceiving themselves into thinking that they do NOT have the freedom of choice. They fear the consequences of making a choice. So they fear choice, which is a choice in itself.

Naked is a raw movie, where people are stripped of their protective layer of civility and compassion. The three male characters refuse to face facts and make good choices. With pressure from society’s rules and norms, they adopt false values and disown their freedom. They don’t take responsibility for their actions.

The story is how these male characters interact with the women in the tale.

There is Johnny, the sociopath, Jeremy, the violent class conscious person and Brian, the night-watchman, who is a voyeur. They all live lives full of bad faith. They are all misogynists.

Johnny is a person with a personality disorder which manifests itself in antisocial attitudes and behaviors. He never tries to get himself out of being an educated derelict. He is naked in the sense that he has nothing of material value and he has lost his identity and security.

Jeremy believes his high social class gives him the right to be dominate over others. He is violent toward women and he takes but doesn’t give. He believes he is very masculine, which is his essential role. His personality is expressed through his massive consumption of objects, cars and luxuries.

Brian is a security guard, he guards the building at night for the daytime people. To him, he guards nothing. He has no sense of identity. He watches other people with no interaction with them. He feels he has no freedom of choice and denies any responsibility in his world.

The male characters in Naked, are all caught in bad faith, they deny their freedom of choice or try to avoid it.

In conclusion, we must choose to act and take responsibility for those actions. We must make sense of our lives. This is living authentically. We cannot feel that we are victims of fate, or mysterious forces within us, or of heredity, or pressure from society, for all this is to be living in bad faith.

The end result of your existence here on earth will be the total of the choices you made while you were here.

World Pain and Suffering–Why?

One of the problems concerning those who believe in an all powerful, good God, is reconciling that belief with the existence of so much pain and suffering in the world. The problem is known as the Problem of Evil.

We’ve all heard it before:

The theist says, “God exists.”

The atheist says, “God does not exist.”

The agnostic says, “I’m on the fence, undecided so I suspend judgment.”

As far as the vast amount of pain and suffering in the world—some of the thinking is:

If God exists and he is all powerful and all knowing, then he would get rid of all unnecessary pain and suffering in the world.

But, there is unnecessary pain and suffering in the world. So, does that mean God does NOT exist?

I watched a film recently that dealt with this subject. It was called, “The Seventh Seal”. The story goes:

In the 14th century, in Sweden, when the Black Death was sweeping the continent. People wanted to know why God was inflicting on them so much pain and suffering.

A knight who returned from the Crusades has a game of chess with Death in hope of getting some answers to why God puts up with all this pain.

The knight tells Death he can’t grasp God with his senses. He calls out to Him but there is silence like no one is there!

Death answers: “Perhaps no one IS there!”

We humans have an inclination to rely on our senses:

“Seeing is believing.” But you can’t see God.

So, how do the theists counter the argument—why does God allow pain and suffering in the world?

The defense is: pain and suffering are necessary for the production of GOOD.

GOOD requires the existence of BAD. You couldn’t have compassion or courage if someone wasn’t suffering or threatened with harm. So, to get GOOD you have to have BAD. Do you agree?

The knight, in the Seventh Seal, seems to think that the enormous amount of pain God allows in the world turns religion into a farce.

Another defense that the theist uses is that suffering is necessary to be a CONTRAST to good, so we can see GOOD as GOOD!

It’s like we don’t appreciate health as good until we get sick.

But others would say they don’t need pain to appreciate health.

So, why do we have this suffering in the world? Or is there no God?

Another of the many philosophical questions to mull over.

On a lighter note: Philosophy is common sense in a dress suit!

A Leaderless and Unrecognisable Europe

NEWS FLASH!

Migrants are coming to Europe from many countries: Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Libya, Nigeria, Somalia, Guinea, Senegal, Sudan and others.

What to do? One scenario to stabilize the Middle East and Africa would take an army of ½ million men!

This is unlikely because there is no will for that in the West.

So, what do we do? Do we wait for war to break out within Europe because of over-population? Do we put a blockade of warships down the entire southern coast of Europe and force the migrant boats to go back?

It’s not just people coming from war-torn countries, many are coming from places where there is no war just poverty and sickness. They simply seek a better life!

Human rights law makes it almost impossible to return them to their countries.

These people have a great motivation to move to Europe. They see countries of wealth and security which is missing from their origins.

In the end this mass migration will destroy Europe’s stability.

Some people reading this article will ask: “Where is your compassion for millions of suffering people?”

The reply would be: “When should the compassion stop?”

After all our infrastructures collapse? Do we want Europe to be changed forever?

The Third World is coming to Europe and if it continues it will change society beyond recognition!

Maybe, the young people of tomorrow will be content to live in a world of transformation. But if it leads to war or social unrest, contentment will be short-lived!

Also, where are the leaders? They don’t seem to acknowledge the upheaval.

We are living in a “leaderless world”. No single country or alliance of countries seems to be capable of leading in a global world.

Lots of problems but the leaders have no solutions!

Are we sleepwalking toward Apocalypse?

Can A Robot Have A Mind?

The question popped into my mind after watching two films, “Artificial Intelligence” and “Bicentennial Man”.

Recently computers have been developed capable of performing tasks as good as humans, maybe better. What came to mind was the computer “Deep Blue” that defeated the chess champion, Garry Kasparov.

The film A.I. put forward a robot, David, a child, with the capacity to “love” that would bring him close to being human. It also shows what would happen when humans became dependent on robots. The humans developed a deep-seated hatred of them. The robot, “David” displays his analytic ability to figure out how to get his “mother’s” love back.

In “Bicentennial Man”, Andrew, the robot, starts out as a “slave” for the family, but as time goes on he wants more. He wants the freedom and equality of a human. The story explores many issues of what makes a human: Humanity, prejudice, intellectual freedom and love.

These two films are science-fiction but with the continuing research and development of A.I., could some disturbing scenarios become reality? In these movies it seemed to me that the robots were being wronged.

Many questions arise when thinking about the development of A. I. such as:

Can a robot become a moral person? In “Bicentennial Man”, Andrew was taught the humanities, which supposedly made him a moral robot. But can we design morality, good and bad, right and wrong, into a robot?

What distinguishes a robot from a human? The three main differences are:

Humans have emotions and feelings, robots don’t.

Humans are organic, flesh and bone, robots are made of metal, chips and wire.

Humans think, robots are programmed.

What will the world be like if and when robots surpass their human makers in intelligence and how will humans respond?

There would be a turn around in social structure: The robots would treat the humans the way that humans have treated some humans and animals for years, with disdain and prejudice. The worst scenario would be that the robots would want to get rid of the humans!

Maybe we should proceed with caution with the research into A.I. and seriously think about what role we would give a robot, with a mind, in society.

I will leave you with this:

Any man who pits his intelligence against a robot and loses, has it coming!

 

This article was posted by David Wise author of “Web of Guilt”, “24 Traumatic Hours, Twice”, “The Becoming” and “Life Story Terror”.

All available on Amazon in ebook and paperback.

 

The Magic of Writing

I was sitting in my scriptorium (study), one late afternoon, gazing out the window, daydreaming. When there was a heavy knock on my front door. Startled out of my idea-catching mode, I went to the door, opened it, and there stood my old schoolmate, Tom. I ushered him into the scriptorium. I sat in my swivel chair and he plunked himself down on the settee.

“Long time, no see!”

“It’s been a fair few years, I guess.”

“It’s good to see you. Now, what’s on your mind, Tom?”

“Recently, I stumbled across your blog. I read your blog stories and I’ve also read your novels. I like your writing and I want to be a writer myself.”

“Thank you for the compliment. Do you want a drink?”

“No, thank you, I want to stay sober because I’m going to practice my writing later.”

“I find a glass or two of red wine helps me with my writing. Have you written anything lately?”

“Yes, I’ve tried my hand at a few short stories. My wife says they’re okay. But I question, can I write?” Tom looked confused.

“Well, my friend, there are a few measurements available to see if you can write.”

“Such as?” Tom said eagerly.

“Lets first take, “Technical Proficiency”, how well you understand the component elements of writing. Such as, dialogue, description, exposition, characterization, punctuation, grammar and narrative.”

“Oh boy, that’s a lot of elements.”

“That’s not all of them, also you have chronology, flashbacks, backstory, show or tell, tense and point of view.”

“You need to know all that?’ Tom looked worried.

“Of course, my friend, if you want to write well. Every element melds together flawlessly to create a powerful impression on the reader.”

“So, it’s like magic?”

“That’s right, the writer’s magic! You can get your reader excited, scared, angry and full of emotion. But they never see how you did the trick.”

“Anything else?”

“Yes, next comes “Structural Proficiency”, the more word count you have, the more demands on you as a writer. You have to understand pace, storyline, character arcs, suspense, conflict and twists.”

“What kind of writer are you, Dave?”

“Well Tom, I’m a blend of two types. I like to write chronologically sometimes and other times I prefer to write bits of the story separately, here there and everywhere. Just so I don’t lose the thread of the storyline.”

“Boy, this is interesting stuff, Dave,” said Tom, his eyes sparkling, “Tell me more.”

“A writer sometimes takes a strong experience in the present and it awakens a memory from his past, maybe childhood, from which he proceeds to write about a wish, or a daydream, which then finds fulfillment in his story.”

“So, what are the problems that a writer has starting out like me?”

“The problems are personality problems. The writer starts a story but loses heart and confidence, gets stuck and is blocked. Sometimes he writes good, sometimes bad. It’s frustrating! In other words, there are problems of confidence and self-respect. Then there are the demons of the subconscious, where a lot of our ideas come from.”

“Lots of problems then?”

“Yes, but you can work hard and get rid of the habits of thought that impede your progress. You must strengthen the right side of your brain, which handles expressive and creative tasks.”

“Any final words before I leave?”

“Yes, Tom, but they are on the light side. I asked a guy, the other day, what he did for a living.

“I’m a brain surgeon, what do you do?”

“I’m a writer,” I said.

“Oh, that’s what I think I’ll do when I retire,” said the surgeon, matter-of-factly.

“That’s interesting,” I said, “When I retire I want to be a brain surgeon!”

TOM LEFT THE BUILDING!

 

This article was posted by David Wise author of “Web of Guilt”, “24 Traumatic Hours, Twice”, and “The Becoming”.

All available on Amazon in ebook and paperback.