Archive for the ‘Super Intellectual Essays’ Category

Barack Obama wins Democratic Nomination from Hillary Clinton - Artist's Interpretation.

Barack Obama wins Democratic Nomination from Hillary Clinton – Artist’s Interpretation.

It’s that time again when we finally turn our attentions to remembering there’s a government that has a good bit of control over our lives and decide whether or not we may actually want to have some kind of say in that. Some of us might even educate ourselves on what’s going on if there’s nothing else good on TV or if somebody mentions a talking point on Twitter. Yes, it’s that time when the right our ancestors bled for is exercised by a full fraction of the American People: election time.

Don’t be fooled, though, while following these campaigns that you’re picking a Republican or a Democrat. That’s a fallacy. You’re not. When you cast that vote, you’re most likely not even voting for the person you pick. If you are truly voting for that person, then their publicists and campaign managers have failed at their tasks. Because voting is not about a battle of men, it’s about a battle of mythic figures. Without fail, every U.S. election comes down to one thing. The decision between Robin Hood and King Arthur (I’m totes stealing your myths for this, England — we won the revolution, so suck it)

You can probably figure out which figure is which. Robin Hood redistributes the wealth of those he believes doesn’t deserve it, occupies Sherwood Forest in a commune with a bunch of people who probably sing songs and don’t bathe, and he’s a savior to those who believe the powerful are corrupt. King Arthur fights for and at the will of God Almighty he says, believes he and his drinking buddies should rule all the land with good Christian honor and decency, and to his followers is a warrior-king and the only one capable of defending their homeland from constant monstrous threats.

You see what I’m talking about.

Now the thing about mythic figures, and we see it every election, is that you can’t poke holes in them, you can’t argue the logical, linear points of them even when those points are mutually exclusive. Myths are bigger than that, bigger than logic. Myths are capable of being born rich but also coming from humble, poor roots. Myths can rub elbows with the intellectual or social elite but can still relate to the common man over a beer. It can be claimed that myths were in two places at once for the purposes of an anecdote, or that they said completely opposite things but still meant the same thing. Like the myths of old, they will take on different twists depending on the region. Robin Hood may adopt the cadence of a preacher on Sunday morning. King Arthur may suddenly have an inexplicable southern drawl. The myths are made our own wherever they go, and you can’t attack what conflicts about them because myths are bigger than that. They are symbols to their base; they are what their believers believe them to be at any given moment, changing with the winds and tide of opinion like a rudderless schooner. Reality has no purchase over these candidates.

So remember that the next time one of them stumbles for something to say or completely dodges answering a question they don’t want to. They’re not meant to be about those things, those little real-world problems we want to force upon them. They are larger-than-life figures of legend created by teleprompters, body language coaches, and focus groups; simply the fleeting vessels for the myths we desperately want them to be for the next few years.

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So I’ve got this website now. I have yet to figure out how to write an article that is somehow not me talking about myself or talking about crap I have no business talking about. I can’t imagine anybody caring about my writing process or any of ‘tips and tricks’ to coming up with what I throw on a page. That, however, leaves me with few options. I do like history, though, so what I will talk about is the history of the medium of writing. Specifically, the short story.

Visual approximation of first story-teller.

Visual approximation of first story-teller.

The short story originated in the Middle East, the same place that gave us written laws, which is no coincidence. The history of the fictional short story is really the history of the lie itself, and when did lying become more necessary than with the advent of law enforcement? The first short story involved a man (most likely shirtless) explaining the murder of his neighbor to Babylon 5-0 (Not the show). You see, once upon a time, he had come home from a late night of helping lepers and totally found his neighbor that way in a pool of blood. And also, before the neighbor died, he said it was a group of Hittites who had killed him, so go find them and stop wasting time. ‘I swear that’s the truth, El Officor’ (Translated from the Middle Eastern) was the first ‘The End.’ It was all a lie but the police bought it, and his statement, the first short story, was written by dictabird into stone and into history.

Unveiling ceremony of Hercules wax statue (Plato pictured behind), Delphi, Greece.

Unveiling ceremony of Hercules wax statue (Plato pictured behind), Delphi, Greece.

Short stories stayed mostly as ridiculous self-serving lies forwarded to friends and family to entertain for about fifty years until Ancient Greece happened. Then it was on. Hermaphradites, Dudes turning into rain and geese to score, islands full of lesbians, the Greeks took short stories and ran wild with them. One day, a Greek writer named Plato (Not the toy) came up with the next advancement in short story-telling. He was on a deadline and ripping off Samson for his ‘Hercules’ story but he needed something to make the character different so he didn’t look like a hack. Then, boom, he invents the tragic hero. Hercules killed his own family. Intense. Then Hercules went on to star in twelve action-packed sequels, thus, crediting Plato with the invention of the serialized pulp hero as well. People went crazy for the stories, as crazy as when Hercules killed his family. Plato had found success, and Sophocles’ art-house indie crap could suck it.

After that was the Middle Ages, when short stories were outlawed by the Inqusition. The Templars tried to bring them back but were banished to the Middle East, where short stories began, and kept there by Vatican blood magic.

Several years after that, a holly farmer partnered short stories with moving pictures and birthed what he called ‘films.’ These ‘films’ are still around today as movies. Movies helped make short stories more palatable to depressed audiences by removing most of the words and adding pratfalls and pies in the face. Soon even that got boring, which led to the next short story innovation: the twist ending. Invented by Alfred Hitchcock (Not Batman’s butler), the twist ending was a giant middle finger to the audience to prove the storyteller was smarter than they were. The Twilight Zone guy (Not Edward) perfected this giant F You, and people loved it because they liked surprises and finding out it wasn’t really heaven, it was hell all along! The twist ending device enjoyed a resurgence recently thanks to American Indian filmmaker Midnight Shyamalan.

People put on glasses to watch stories rather than to battle illiteracy.

People put on glasses to watch stories rather than to battle illiteracy.

Nowadays, short stories are a thing of the past and can only be seen in documentaries on PBS. People still tell lies, but “It was a dark and stormy night” has been replaced with “What had happened was,” so it’s not really the same. Perhaps when future humans dig up our lies of today, they will truly be unrecognizable from the lies of the past, and their alien overlords will scratch their heads and demand an explanation for the incongruity. Then, some shirtless guy will step forward and reinvent the short story so that they are all not whipped to oblivion by plasma flogs. And that shirtless guy from Babylon will smile in liars’ heaven and know his legacy lives on.

If you’re interested in learning more facts about history, consult your local internet message board